Monthly Archives: February 2020

the story of coconut rum

I still don’t know what coconut rum is . I’m pretty sure I’ve never tasted the stuff. I’d remember something like that .

About seven years ago or so I found myself riding in my friend’s car along a highway in Connecticut on our way to buy booze in Massachusetts for his upcoming wedding, Evidently the liquor taxes are lower in Massachusetts than in Connecticut . We were buying a lot of booze for the wedding , so it seemed like a good move to pay significantly less tax for it . At least , that was my understanding of it ; it could have been that my friend just wanted to take a little drive .

‘Derek’s taken up the Blues, so I’ve done gone left him.’

His bride-to-be had hired a wedding planner who had worked out a list of liquor that needed to be acquired for the wedding reception . My friend is a musician and friends of his would be arriving from all over the country and from Europe . The bride-to-be grew up in the same little Connecticut town where her parents had grown up , where her grandparents had grown up , where their parents had grown up . Her mother’s clan came to the town in the 1600s , she said , and her father’s a hundred years or so later . Newcomers . She knew everyone in town . Half of the town would be coming to the wedding . Big reception .

Now , I was just the hanger-arounder for a few days , trying to help out wherever I could . I looked at the liguor list that the wedding planner had concocted , the one that the bride-to-be insisted be followed to the letter . It was a page long . Ridiculous .

” Hey , you’re not opening a bar , ” I said . There was everything on the list . ” Look , get wine and beer , and maybe some whiskey and gin in case someone wants something harder . Or just stick to wine and beer . “

” I’m not going to fight that battle , ” he said . That battle !

” Okay , ” I said , looking at the list . ” At least eliminate the six bottles of coconut rum . I’m a drinker but I’ve never even heard of coconut rum . I guarantee you no one at the reception will ask for coconut rum . “

So he cut the list down . He bought only one bottle of coconut rum . He decided to take the risk ; live dangerously . I’m not saying that that one brave but defiant decision eventually interfered with their relationship , but hey , we’ve got to throw it in there as something that needs to be considered .

I’m pretty sure that that one bottle of coconut rum is still sitting in his garage . Well , so are the other bottles of exotic stuff he bought .

They hired bartenders for the reception . Unopened bottles could have been returned to the liquor store , but opened bottles could not . That’s how it works . I think someone tasted every one of those bottles during the reception . Curiosity . What’s coconut rum ? What’s this ? What’s that ? Let me have a taste —- just a short one ! Maybe the bartenders opened the bottles ; made a bit of cash from the liquor store owner on the side . I don’t know . All I know is that the wine and beer was gone by the end of the party but most of the hard stuff remained and was carted over to my friend’s garage later .

Wonderful party , though . Great fun. Everyone danced and laughed as a host of fine musician friends played . Dinner was served . The whole thing cost them a small fortune , I’m sure , but they could certainly hold their heads high in the town .

The marriage ceremony was fabulous , too . Her nieces were flower girls . Her best friends were bride’s maids . His brother was best man . Yes , the marriage ceremony had gone very well ; the marriage not so much .


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houseplant homily

I saw a headline in the New York Times today : You Can Pay People to Style Your Houseplants . Nice . I haven’t got the money right now to budget for this kind of service , though . But , nice !

We’ve got six or eight house plants at the moment . Ada has instructed me how and when to water them . That’s one of my responsibilites while she is in Poland . I didn’t see the NY Times headline until today , and Ada has been gone for a week or so , so I didn’t ask whether or not she wanted me to style the plants .

Most of them are African violets , so I’m not sure they need much styling . You may already know that African violets are the little plants that thrive when someone else is caring for them . They flower beautifully and the soil in the pot is always just right : not too dry but not too wet . Just right . I mean , that’s when the primary caretaker is around . It seems so simple .

I’m a pretty good plant caretaker most of the time . African violets are another story , however . I suspect those little potted plants knew exactly the day Ada left for Europe ; they took one look at me ( although it could have been anybody ) and immediately went into a deep depression . I don’t understand depression , so I have no idea how to deal with it .

Oh , I’m not saying they keeled over so far . Plants plan these things out for awhile before they keel over . By the time they do keel over it’s probably way too late to do anything about it . Calling in the plant stylist wouldn’t even help , I’m pretty sure . I wonder if there’s an Urgent Care plant stylist service . That might be an opportunity for some young career-searcher just starting out , with an open mind , some creativity , and at least some shade of a green thumb.

So I’m waiting and watching these little devils . Should I add just a few drops of water ? Or not ? Probably not quite yet. Maybe tomorrow . Of course tomorrow might just be a few hours too late .

How did these things survive in the wild ? Maybe they didn’t ; who knows !

I am aware , of course , that it doesn’t really matter if I give them a bit of water today or not . Maybe it should be distilled water , anyway . They’ve got their plan hatched , I know , already . They may wait a couple of days before Ada gets back and then instantly completely dry up and wither as if I hadn’t been watering them at all all the time that Ada was away . It’s a suicide thing common , I think , to some sorts of houseplants , especially African violets. Part of it is just to make me ( or anyone ) look bad . To appear irresponsible .

I’m still not ready to go out and find a certified plant whisperer , though —- I mean a plant stylist . Maybe they are just reserved for the 1% anyhow . I’m not the 1% ( yet ! ) , so I’m probably out of the running . At any rate , they maybe charge too much I would guess . And then , would I be expected to give a tip ? What if the African violets die anyway ? Those stylists must carry adequate insurance , wouldn’t you think ? We’d probably have to go to arbitration , though .

Too many complications !

So , I’m doing the best that I can in the meantime ( not being a plant stylist ! ) , although I already know that these little plants are plotting and are way ahead of me . They’ve got a strategy not unlike suicide bombers . I just don’t get that mentality .

Ada should come home early and surprise the buggers . We could outsmart the little bastards ! She could get back before they can execute their insidious and sinister plot . One point for the humans !


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bits of old times


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ghost band

civ war sax horn playerciv war bugle playerciv war drummerguitar playing womanillustration15one xx 20man with violin

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a few los angeles icons


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best intentions

Back in a previous century I used to volunteer at a summer camp up in the San Bernardino Mountains . In the fall , after the camping season , some of us gathered to clean up the camp and to prepare it for winter .

I found myself cleaning up an attic in the cafeteria building. There was a large carton full of rolls of toilet paper . The corner of the cardboard carton had been chewed-through by rodents . Some of the rolls of toilet paper were yellow with rodent pee .

The camp director told me to throw the whole thing out . I didn’t. I threw out all of the peed-on rolls and I threw out all of the surrounding rolls , and I threw out a buffer zone more of rolls and then , to be overly safe , I threw out another layer of rolls . And then I asked the director if I could keep the remaining rolls of toilet paper . He okayed the idea.

Well , here’s my story for today . I was teaching in a small elementary school in Venice . The principal had a faculty party at her house . I got one of those fancy bags to hold bottles of wine . You know ’em . But I put in there three rolls of toilet instead of wine . Good joke , eh ?

The principal met me at the door that evening. She was so happy to see what she thought was wine . But it wasn’t wine , of course . When she took it from me she misjudged its weight and she nearly threw it over her shoulder . Surprised , she looked inside and saw the toilet paper .

Well , perhaps I should have thought that one out a bit more carefully before loading the wine bag with toilet paper . I’m pretty sure she read several interpretations into the situation that appeared obvious to me a bit later but that had not been intended . She shot me an evil eye that could have melted an iceberg . Opps ! , I thought . Ah , sometimes with the best intentions……………

“When things go wrong or don’t turn out the way you pictured them in your head , you just have to go with the good intention defense . I have a lot of good intentions .” ——–Blake Sheldon


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