Saturday, June 30, 2012


Blogger, who host this blog, is very careful to stop unwanted comments from getting through. The procedure is so efficient in fact that I've had a lot of emails from people who couldn't get into the comments section.  There's nothing that I can do about this except to suggest that if you can't post a comment easily and want to make one, please email me at and I promise to answer you.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Music Track(s)

This week I'm putting in a link to a site that has literally thousands of tracks by hundreds of artists.  It's called songstube and it allows you to click on an artist and then choose from all their popular songs.  I'm grateful to my friend Alan for sending this to me.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bucket List

My friend Paul in England suggested that I list my ten favorite works of art, which ended last week.  He also suggested that I post my "bucket list" - the things you want to do before you kick the bucket - a name that was made famous by the film with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman some time ago.

So here goes, in no particular order. 

There is a cruise that goes from Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo, to Buenas Aries, to the Falklands, round Cape Horn, to Oshaiea and up to Santiago in Chile.

I don't know S. America at all and my father turned down a job in Buenas Aries in the late 40's which gave the place a sort of "what if" romance factor.

This is certainly a cruise I'd like to do as it takes in a number of other interesting places I don't know.  The weather in the Falklands is sometimes so bad the big ships can't get in there, which would be a huge shame.  Also dear Christina, the President of Argentina is starting up that old nonsense about Las Malvinas again.  Will they never learn?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Some time back I wrote a post about how much better I thought driving skills were compared to years ago.  It accompanied a video of some Chinese driving which was still going through the learning stage.  I should also have mentioned that I considered my driving skills to have improved immeasurably in the 50+ years I had been active in the area.  However as we saw from the Chinese tape there is always room for improvement.
The other day, I was positioning the car onto the trailer - I'm sure my neck doesn't swivel as much as it used to - and it seems that I hadn't got the distance quite right.  When I got out to see exactly where the wretched ball was, I found it was sunk into the wrap-around plastic on the rear quarter - I thought I was still about a foot off.
I was pretty PO'd about it I can tell you, having been accident free since I can't remember.  But Nick, our local garage guy, was able to push it out completely once he got it on the ramp, so no harm done.  Thank Heaven for plastic!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Are you ready for some football, er, lawsuits!

In a few weeks, we shall be watching the start of football pre-season, or perhaps not.  Currently there are several thousand lawsuits lining up by players wanting to sue the NFL - National Football League.  It seems that over their careers they have sustained injures due to the violence of the sport and now they want compensation.  Now it seems to me that if you elect to join a game where large 300 pound men throw themselves at you and in particular your head, you are likely to get hurt.  Surely everyone gets that, don't they?

It appears not, as now we are going to tie up the lawcourts with cases where mind dumbed robots are going to say that if a warning label had been placed on their helmets they wouldn't have used their heads as weapons.  Ah me!  Perhaps we could take the helmets and the padding away and see how hard they hit each other then.  I don't think you get the same injuries in Rugby, but in that game if you don't want to be hit you best get rid of the ball quickly then you're safe - or at least supposed to be.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Video - Red Sparrows

I'm indebted to my friend Stan in England for this dare-devil video of some of England greatest acrobatic flyers.  It takes about 4:30 mins.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday's Column - Medical Museum

I'm sure you often receive those emails that laud how things were years ago.  Funnily enough, medicine is never one of the things that people want to experience how it used to be.  Just as well.
In Riverside is a museum devoted to things medical and it's one of my favorite places.  It's quite refreshing to see how far we've come along in that area.
This is one of the big cabinets that shows the range of medicines that were doled out by the medical profession 100 years ago.  A few years ago I met a docent here and he explained to me that most of the cures were 80% to 90% alcohol.  It had the effect of making people feel better.  I guess that one way of dealing with the problem.  You can read the entire column at Oops, I see that The Sun has not yet posted the piece on the Web site.  I'll have to see about that!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


The other evening we had popped out for "a couple" at our local watering hole. It was mid-week and so it was fairly quiet, until a large party came in - they come every month to talk about their group's activities.  There were about 50 of them.  I was sitting at the bar and could watch the waitresses doing their thing.  Of course, I've seen it all before but this time I really took notice of what they had to do.  Granted, there is a computer system to log all their orders and which sends the food orders down to the kitchen.  But the drink's orders were filled by the waitresses themselves with some help from the barman.  They ranged from plain water, with ice of course, to iced tea and a strange one called an Arnold Palmer - half ice tea and half lemonade I was told.  Then there was a bewildering array of wines - Pinot Noire, White Zinfandel, Chardonnay etc. etc.  Frankly apart from the fact that I would no doubt not be able to read my own writing, there would be the problem of remembering in which order the drinks were supposed to be served.  I would have wanted to put the tray down in the middle and get the customers to sort it out.  After watching this for about half-an-hour I came to the conclusion that this was yet another job in life I would be unable to do!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Music Track - Ella

I saw a little of the film De Lovely the other day.  I had seen it when it came out, and I found it to be an interesting movie.  No doubt Cole Porter was one of the very best of American composers of popular songs.  Here is one of his finest sung by the "First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Favorite Works of Art - Last one!

On April 12th I posted that I was fulfilling a request from my friend Paul in England to give a list of my ten favorite works of art.  It's been quite difficult to do this as our lives are so full of beautiful images.  In fact I have sometimes dodged the actual work by substituting just an artist on occasions and merely listed the name with a couple of examples.  Also this has not been a list of favorites in any particular order.  For the last one I cannot leave out the greatest of the innovators of modern art - Picasso.

This picture, Les Demoisselles d'Avignon painted in 1907, is believed to have been his first cubist painting. Another of his cubist works is Friendship painted around the same period.

Even far along into the 50's when I was starting to pay attention to art, Picasso was still very controversial, but today his art has a feeling of great familiarity about it.  Next week we begin a series of my personal Bucket List.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Today is the start of summer.  As usual with the change of season I change the lay-out of the blog together with a new photo. 

I hope you like the alterations but I am to some extent limited by the choices that Blogger offers.  I also hope you have a wonderful summer filled with sunny things, and happy moments.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ducks Update

A new pair of Mallards enjoying their free breakfast.
Recently I posted that S.M.B.O. had formed an attachment to a pair of Mallards that had been coming to our garden for the last couple of years.  Well, it now seems that they have been quacking off in the local Mallard Bar about their treatment, and several of their friends have cottoned on to free grub.  We are definitely on the list of watering holes for other Mallards.  Naturally, She Who Must Be Obeyed is catering to their needs as well.  She's pretty sure she knows "her" ducks as they are bolder and a little larger.  This means that the smaller ones are younger, and like our glorious federal government we are certainly building dependence at an early age!
But like many of our human young it seems that there are problems.  The other morning there was evidence of fighting - feathers strewn around - as there were some four or five of them waiting for us to get up and feed them. Once the seed was thrown too, they started fighting over it, and also the females.  Who could have seen this coming?!!!!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Video - Geography

I have problems watching this as it's so depressing.
As Churchill once said: The greatest argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday's Column - Father's Day

Fishermen at Lake Arrowbear
This Sunday's column was a suggestion that for Father's Day take Dad out to one of the mountain lakes.  Of course, there's always Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear, but there are a number of smaller and interesting lakes in the San Bernardino Mountains.  For instance, Lake Arrowbear is a very small lake that will almost certainly dry up by the end of September - it does most years.  Currently it is full and has some fish in it.  Green Valley Lake is across the same highway (18) but on the other side about four miles up.  It's higher than Arrowhead too and you have a view of that one on the way up.  No motors allowed, but row boats and canoes are available for rent.  You can read the entire column at

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Firstly, apologies for the poor quality of the picture, but occasionally my camera refuses to get the flash and focus right under low lighting circumstances.  However the subject of this post is "Strawberries." 
They were quite a luxury when I was growing up and very expensive.  I've never quite lost that feeling of overabundance when eating them.  Having bought a supply the other day we decided to make a pie and used one of the ready-made pie crusts available.  (Does anyone actually make pastry for this operation these days?)  S.W.M.B.O. (She Who Must Be Obeyed) had a recipe and accordingly made the filling; she went out leaving me to provide the whipped cream topping.  It was suggested on her return that I might have overdone it a little.  But I don't think you can overdo it with cream, can you?  It was amazing!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Favorite Work of Art

Of all the impressionists, perhaps Claude Monet is the most recognisable.  Here his "Water Lilies" painted in 1920 is typical of his work.  He produced over 100 works of art and I always like his round haystacks too.  Many of the impressionists were early travelers on the first railways out of Paris.  A lot of their paintings are of places reached by train.  It's hard to understand why this art was so shocking when it first appeared.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


The other day my dogs detected that another bout of infidelity had overcome me.  I have no excuse, but I couldn't help myself.  We were in a local watering hole and I saw a black standard poodle come around to the back where there is an outdoor seating area.  She was called Nicki and was quite small for a standard.  She was beautiful, and I made a great fuss of her and a bit of a fool of myself.  She was just two, and had all the energy that they have at that age.  When I returned home Frankie and Johnny knew immediately that I had been with another dog.  I was forced to give them extra treats to placate my sorry and shameful behavior.  They forgave me.
The incident made me go back in my files and look at how the boys have progressed in the 7 1/2 years we have had them since they were puppies.
This is Frankie on the left and Johnny on the right at six months old.
Here they are today, in reverse order.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Video - Omaha Beach

Last Wednesday on June 6th was the 68th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.  Here is a video of the event using stills, videos and archives from the attack - both sides.  I can only imagine the horror of having to charge up that flat beach in the face of the German machine guns.  We have much to be grateful for.

Monday, June 11, 2012

2nd Birthday

I suppose some sort of celebrations are in order as this is the second birthday of the blog.  I normally try to post a video on Monday's but that will be on tomorrow.  I can't believe that I've managed to write 766 posts since I began and if you add the Right Track and the weekly Tirade on to it that makes a staggering total of 974.  Thanks to all of you for reading it.  Year three begins tomorrow!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday's Column - Hammer Museum

On this occasion I took my grandson, Evan (16) along to one of LA's most prestigious art museums - The Hammer at UCLA.  It was bequeathed to the university by Armand Hammer the well known oil man, billionaire and philanthropist who died in the 90's aged 92.  His name was taken from the Arm and Hammer Brand of household items as his father was the leader of the Socialists of America and the brand used a mark similar to theirs.  Hammer himself became a controversial figure with his ties to the Soviets and it would have been interesting to hear his views of wealth compared to his political ideals.
The museum houses an interesting collection of old masters and also some traveling exhibits like the one here, which is a self-portrait of one of those unpronounceable Polish people.  I don't think her view of herself was too good!  You can read the entire article at

Saturday, June 9, 2012


She Who Must Be Obeyed (S.W.M.B.O.) is a soft touch for unfortunates.  And unfortunates can fall into a lot of different categories - I am not one of them!  Usually ugly dogs out of the pound can catch her eye; certain little children with grubby faces can too.  But over the last three years a couple of ducks have done the job.
They are Mallards and every spring and summer they fly over our fences and land close to the house, often announcing their arrival with a couple of loud quacks. This will cause the lady of the house to rush outside and grab a handful of bird seed and throw it over the inner fence to them.  They gobble it up at once.
The two boys are rather annoyed at this diversion of Madam's attention when it should all be focused on them.  If they can make it out there they will rush the inner fence and try to scare the two birds.  But the Mallards have learned over the years that they are quite safe behind the barrier and barely give the Poodles a glance.  I checked up on potential ages of Mallards and it seem they can live up to 15 years.  It's proving to be quite a commitment.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Music Track - Leo Sayer

I quite like the TV program Cold Case and enjoy the scenes back in the past.  The other evening they were back in the 70's and I had quite forgot this piece by Leo Sayer.  It's much better listening than watching.  I'm sure you'll all remember it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Favorite Work of Art - Hepworth

In the seventies, the Dutch produced a funny little metal shape to put in your pocket.  About the size of a fat quarter, it was to help those trying to quit smoking by being a comfortable shape for your fingers to play with.  I was trying to quit at the time and found the shape of some help.

Oval Shape by Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth's statues are often in a similar shape although with her work there is mostly a round clean hole through it.

Here is a work of hers at the Palm Springs Art Museum, called Two Forms with White (Greek) from 1969.

In this case her round shapes have been cut off flat at the tops, but otherwise there is no doubt as to its origin.

She also produced quite heavy bronze works that were more square in shape, such as her Family of Man located in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Hepworth was a British artist who lived from 1903 to 1975.  She was a great friend of Henry Moore who also produced interesting statues.  She spent many years in St. Ives in Cornwall and sadly died there at her studio in a fire when she was 72.

She was made a dame in 1965.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I must confess to not being a "bunches of flowers" type of fellow.  I just don't think about it  And yet, having a vase full of blossoms is a lovely thing to have on the coffee table.  Tulips and daffodils grow really well up here and so it's easy to go out and pick some.  Soon we'll be growing bedding plants, but remember never put them in until several days after Mothers' Day.  We still have the risk of a frost that will kill them overnight.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Lake

Our lake is pretty full.  As of last Monday (5/21/12) it was one and a half feet from the top.  If you want to see the current level this site will tell you all you need to know, including past years.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Video - Venice

My thanks to my friend Jeffrey for sending me this wonderful time-lapse video on the city of Venice.  It is an incredible place and I count myself lucky to have been there, even if it was back in September 1969.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday's Colulmn - Wende Museum

This Sunday is about the Wende Museum in Culver City.  Normally I'm about three or four years between visits but I was anxious to return here and meet up again with Justinian Jampol the founder and curator, so I revisited within about 18 months.

During my visit, he told me that he had met with Conrad Schumman, who leapt to freedom across the barbed wire beginnings of the Berlin Wall back in the early sixties.  Schumman committed suicide in 1998 suffering with depression, but this photo of him is one of the lasting images of the Cold War, which lasted from 1945 to 1991.  It was a long time, and is an integral part of the world view of those of us who lived through it.  To read the entire column click on

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Long Live the Queen!

Today is the Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth's reign.  Lots of Brits are having a big party.  I well remember when King George VI died and immediately Princess Elizabeth ascended to the throne.  At the time she was in Kenya staying at the Tree Tops Hotel with Prince Philip.  But she flew home immediately to be greeted on the tarmac by Winston Churchill.  It was another 16 months before the coronation took place at Westminster Abbey.  My father, who was a member of Toc H, had a service in the Abbey the following Sunday and took me along.  All the decorations were still in place and I shall never forget the experience - I was 13.  Perhaps someone can tell me why the celebrations are being held this year as the King died in February 1952, and the coronation was held in 1953.  Usually on a Friday, I post the Music Track, but this week in honor of my old homeland, here is perhaps one of the best loved and most patriotic pieces ever composed - Nimrod by Sir Edward Elgar.  It takes about 4 1/2 minutes.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Requital now on Kindle

My publisher has informed me that my book, REQUITAL, is now available on Kindle.  It is also available on The Nook by Barnes and Noble.  REQUITAL is a big book that swops two central characters' lives.  Both of them are experiencing very big changes in their futures, separated by a couple of hundred years.

On checking, I notice that my other two books, TRANSPOSITION, and McCONNELLS are also available on Kindle.   They are extremely cheap in this electronic format. 

You can also check out these books on my Web site - - happy reading!