Thursday, January 31, 2013

Music Track - Tailor of Panama

I always liked this movie, the Tailor of Panama, and I'm surprised that it only played to mixed reviews.  I particularly liked the music as well, so here it is - Hang on for the sad song at the end - the last two minutes sung by Rita Connelly

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


These are what we call chips!

For my UK Friends, the older one's at least!!!
* Pasta we don't think had been invented.
* Curry was an unknown entity.
* Muesli we knew about; it was called cattle feed.
* Olive oil was kept in the medicine cabinet - people put a teaspoon of it in the ears.
* Spices came from the Middle East where we believed that they were used for embalming.
* Herbs were used to make rather doubful medicine.
* A takeaway was a mathematical problem.
* A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.
* Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.
* The only vegetables known to us were spuds, peas, carrots and cabbage, anything else was regarded as a bit suspicious.
* All crisps (Chips to the Yanks)were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not. The salt came in a little twist of blue paper.
* Condiments consisted of salt, pepper, vinegar and brown sauce if we were lucky.
* Soft drinks were called pop.
* Coke was something that we mixed with coal to make it last longer.
* A Chinese chippy was a foreign carpenter.
* Rice was a milk pudding, and never, ever part of our dinner.
* A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.
* A microwave was something out of a science fiction movie.
* Brown bread was something only poor people ate.
* Oil was for lubricating your bike not for cooking; fat was for cooking
* Bread and jam was a treat.
* Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves, not bags.
* The tea cosy was the forerunner of all the energy saving devices that we hear so much about today.
* Tea had only one colour, black. Green tea was not British.
* Coffee was only drunk when we had no tea….. and then it was Camp, and came in a bottle.
* Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.
* Figs and dates appeared every Christmas, but no one ever ate them.
* Coconuts only appeared when the fair came to town.
* Salad cream was a dressing for salads, mayonnaise did not exist
* Hors d'oeuvre was a spelling mistake.
* Soup was a main meal.
* The menu consisted of what we were given, and was set in stone.
* Only Heinz made beans, there were no others.
* Leftovers went in the dog, never in the bin.
* Special food for dogs and cats was unheard of.
* Sauce was either brown or red.
* Fish was only eaten on Fridays.
* Fish and chips was always wrapped in old newspapers, and definitely tasted better that way.
* Frozen food was called ice cream.
* Nothing ever went off in the fridge because we never had one.
* Ice cream only came in one flavour, vanilla.  OK, occasionally strawberry!
* None of us had ever heard of yogurt.
* Jelly and blancmange was strictly party food.
* Healthy food had to have the ability to stick to your ribs.
* Indian restaurants were only found in India .
* Cheese only came in a hard lump.
* A bun was a small cake that your Mum made in the oven.
* Eating out was called a picnic.
* Cooking outside was called camping.
* Eggs only came fried or boiled.
* Pancakes were only eaten on Shrove Tuesday – and on that day it was compulsory.
* Cornflakes had just arrived from America but it was obvious that they would never catch on.
* We bought milk and cream at the same time in the same bottle.
* Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.
* Prunes were purely medicinal.
* Turkeys were definitely seasonal and came with feathers attached; it was your job to pluck them.
* Pineapples came in chunks in a tin; we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.
* We didn't eat Croissants in those days because we couldn't pronounce them, we couldn't spell them and we didn't know what they were.
* Garlic was used to ward off vampires, but never used to flavour bread.
* Water came out of the tap, if someone had suggested bottling it and charging treble for it they would have become a laughing stock.
* Food hygiene was only about washing your hands before meals.
* Campylobacter, Salmonella, E.coli, Listeria, and Botulism were all called "food poisoning."
However, the one thing that we never ever had on our table in the fifties …. ELBOWS

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Wall

This is the 1000th piece that I've posted on the blog since I began in mid-summer 2010.  As it's a sort of milestone, I thought I would mention it.

I own a piece of the Berlin Wall.  I never saw it in reality, but its presence was a living scar that most people of my generation knew, and hated.  It was erected in 1961  And one of the images that we all remember so well was that of the "vopo" Conrad Schumann jumping over the wire that was the predecessor of the concrete slabs.

The piece I now own was bought at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.  It is fitting that it was bought there, as Reagan above all people was  responsible for the fall of that dreadful badge of failure to communism, and its many hateful flaws.  It's surprising to me that there are still people out there who believe it is a desirable system.  I'm unlikely to ever feel that way, but if ever I do I can always pick up this little piece of dirt and remember what it stood for.

Monday, January 28, 2013

English Accents part II

This fellow is pretty good.  If you have an interest in the many accents of the UK, he covers most of them.  The video lasts over nine minutes so you may not want to invest in all of it, although once I began I couldn't stop.  It will certainly show you the diversity of this subject.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday's Column - History

This Sunday's column was a look at the history of where I came from and where I am now.  Quite a bit of difference in the two places, but both very interesting nonetheless.

Perhaps it's not fair to compare the majesty of St. Paul's in London to the relatively small "chateau" type dwelling of the late nineteenth century with Kimberly Crest in Redlands, CA.  But I did it anyway!

You can read the reflection at

Saturday, January 26, 2013

RIght Track - Woolery

My friend Brian sent me this wonderful video of how to cut the 1.3 trillion dollars we owe each year from the national budget.  Of course the politicians always threaten social security payments and no wages for vets and the military if we pare things back, but why not these cuts?
Having watched it a couple of times, I can't find anything wrong with his logic, can you?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tirade - Sexism

Is it me or are others being annoyed by the stupid sexism displayed on some TV adverts?  The most recent egregious example has a man caught by his "ever so smart" wife stealing office supplies from his child's room.  To make matters worse the child is obviously female as the room is done out in a sickly pink color. Or maybe the "ever so smart" woman is deliberately causing gender confusion.  The man is stealing staples and other supplies and when confronted looks particularly stupid, as he is also found to have a number of toilet rolls hidden under his coat.  His efforts to save money for his firm are thwarted by his "ever so smart" wife, who saves money by using some vendor!  Why is it OK to portray men in TV ads as stupid, greedy and untrustworthy?  Maybe in this case the "ever so smart" wife is really not so smart as she chose to marry this creature.  Come on People!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Music Track - Swing

My thanks to my friend in England, Tony, for sending me this outstanding clip.  It makes me realize what a great departure from the norm - Swing - was back in the days.  And these are young girls; Goodman would be proud.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bald Eagle

On our walk the other day we heard a very strange sound; it was a sort of high pitched chattering.  I thought it might have been a trapped puppy as we had seen three coyotes running up the road earlier.  But eventually we spotted a bald eagle sitting high up in a tree.  We are known to have them visit us in Big Bear Lake regularly each year, and several days are devoted to counting them by the local biologists.  I have seen them occasionally in the distance but not this close up.  It was quite a thrill, as he/she was magnificent.  No wonder it is the symbol of America.
The white head only appears after about four years, and is the reason that it was called bald, although as you can see it is far from that.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


As a cyclist and an avid Tour de France fan, I have to say how sad and disappointed I am at the recent "confession" of Lance Armstrong.  Having watched his glorious successes in seven Tours, it is tough to realise that all along they were the false wins of a cheat.  Perhaps everyone was on the "juice" but even so, his vigorous denials and the many clean drug tests show how bad this entire facade was.  I'm sure that most people who have any interest at all must feel as I do, and that is a feeling of being betrayed and made to feel stupidly gullible, which is perhaps the worst of it.  Also we have lost a huge amount of face to the French!  It will be hard to watch future races with the same enthusiasm.  Having amassed a $100 million fortune, I still can't work out why he would want to go on TV and make this confession.  Why not just find a country with no embezzlement extradition treaty and go away?  The saying of "confession is good for the soul," may be true for the transgressor, but what about the rest of us?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Video - Egg

My friend Paul sent me this interesting video of how to separate an egg yolk from it's white.  You'll have no trouble understanding the commentary I'm sure.
I can still do it with the shells and a bowl, but this is quite good fun.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday's Column - The Opera

As I've taken on the role of cultural advisor to my grandson, Evan, it was only a question of time before he was to experience the high point of man's creativity - the opera.  Now taking him to a crowded opera house with the rich sounds of an Italian opera set in 19th century Japan was of course, likely to be a little risky, but we survived.
The plaza at the LA opera house - the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
He did quite well and certainly perked up at the return of the dastardly Pinkerton to Madam Butterfly after an absence of three years.  This time with his American wife!  Butterfly's end was tragic and as striking as any Hollywood ending could be.  When asked later how he liked it all, he said there were some good tunes. High praise from a 17 year old!  You can read the entire column at

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tirade - Chains

We had a particular case of bureaucratic nonsense the other evening here in Big Bear.  It was the Saturday evening in between Christmas and New Years and the ski slopes had been doing a roaring trade.  As usual, at 5:30 the principle road out of town was jammed.  Not wishing our evening cocktail to be halted by such conditions - it was snowing slightly - we pressed on against the traffic to a watering hole in the middle of town.  There was no movement in the on-coming traffic at all.  When we left the establishment, the road was blocked going back and that was on both westward bound lanes.  We decided to go around the lake, and when we arrived back to our area having traversed about 15 miles unnecessarily, we found the cause of the trouble.  A sheriff was parked in the middle of the road, stopping every car and checking with a flashlight to see if chains were attached.  Why?  Normally the traffic is so slow at that time of night under such conditions that they were hardly going to fall off the edge of the mountain.  What was the reasoning behind this particular bureaucratic foolishness?  Most of the people who didn't have chains had to return to town in a very small turning area.  Chains can help in certain conditions, but these were certainly not the ones to stop an entire town from functioning.  How much harm did that experience do to future visits and the local economy?  Come On People!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Right Track - Lilliput

Back in 1726, Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels. It was a brilliant satire of life as he saw it.  But its parodies are still relevant today.  For instance in Lilliput, the Emperor had decreed that boiled eggs should only ever be cracked or cut open at the small end.  This decree had given rise to six rebellions, and the country was still locked in debate with Big-enders and Little-enders at each others throats.  The law had come into effect after the Emperor had cut himself opening the big end.
We seem to still be locked into fierce debate on other matters, like guns for instance with both sides ready to do battle.  And of course, logic has little to do with the matter.
Wayne La Pierre, the VP of the NRA, drove liberals crazy by saying: The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!"  Well, if you look at the tragedies of recent mass shootings that is true.  Mostly if the gunman is not shot by arriving officers, he will shoot himself.  But you never want facts to get in the way of a good panic, do you?  Incidentally, I'm a Little-ender myself!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Music Track - Chanson de Nuit

Last week I put Elgar's Chanson de Matin (Song of the Morning) on the Music Track.  Here is its sister piece.  Chanson de Nuit (Song of the Night)  See what you think, it only takes four minutes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I was told of a New Year's resolution the other evening.  It was full of trying to be more positive and more careful of relationships - also to try and be more productive in life.  I though it was piffle!  Now as She Who Must Be Obeyed (SWMBO) knows, you can't improve on perfection, which is why I never have such resolutions.  However it did occur to me that there might be one resolution that would improve my life, and was certainly better than trying to save mankind and the planet into the bargain.
When our English foster daughter left us many years ago she gave me a wonderful glass tankard.  She had thoughtfully engraved it and I liked it a lot. However, I felt it was so thin that it would break in normal use and so I only used it for special occasions - like when she visited!  So my New Year's resolution is to use it  instead of the rather shabby plastic one I've had for years.  Now that's what I call a real resolution.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I try not to post too much about the weather as it's mostly boring to people.  However we did hit a new record here the other morning - well, at our house anyway.  Since records began - about eight years ago - our lowest recorded temperature was eight. 

Well, the other morning we hit ONE!  Yes, and that's got an "F" after it; not one of those wimpy "C's" we often see in foreign countries!  Fortunately when I took the dogs out there was no wind blowing as that would have been wicked.  As my father used to say "Cold enough for a back collar stud!"

Monday, January 14, 2013

Accents I

When I first came out here to live in 1982, my ear was very attuned to English accents.  It's not something many English people talk about and I don't know if I'm particularly sensitive to them.  England is a very small country and yet it has an amazing range of accents.  Like America there are basic changes in speech in the North, South, East and West.  I'm not too good at spotting the smaller variations out here I have to say. 
But in England, the differences are quite marked and I think we become very aware of exactly where people come from by their speech. 
On one of my first trips to Big Bear I heard an English woman talking in a restaurant and I knew exactly where she came from.  I spoke to her as she was leaving; "Do you come from the New Forest?" I said.  She turned on me and said quite abruptly: "No, from Totten!"
Totten is about ten miles from the center of the New Forest in Hampshire.  But the fact is she didn't want me to think she had been a forest dweller.  I don't think I could be as accurate these days with my long absence.  Here is Jane Horrocks, who has a rural Lancashire accent.  It's one of the few Northern ones I like.  I takes about a minute to hear her speak.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday's Column - Desert Discovery Center

Many years ago a large rock fell from the skies.  Nobody knows exactly when this happened, but the rock itself is 4 1/2 billion years old.  It's known as the Old Woman Meteorite as it was found by three prospectors in the Old Woman Mountains not far from where it currently rests in the Discovery Center in Barstow.  Since the three men found it, the rock has been all over the country and wound up at the Smithsonian, where a piece was removed for permanent exhibition there.  But the large part has found it's true home.  The column thei Sunday tells of the rock and also the many other things to see at this interesting place just off the 15 Freeway in Barstow. is the site to visit, when The Sun finally posts the story on line!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tirade - Visitors

Finally it seems as if our annual holiday "rush hour" is over.  It's now possible to go into town without a line of flatland visitors gawking and generally driving slowly and badly.  I know it's not fair to criticize people who are unfamiliar with new surroundings, but believe me it gets old really soon.
But as of this Monday, most of them seem to have returned to their work, welfare lines (Oh sorry, we don't have those any longer) and schools (Ones hopefully staffed by gun toting teachers and guards!)  Now all we have to deal with is the waste left behind by humans and dogs.
Now for those of you who don't understand this, waste, does not evaporate at an elevation of 6,750 feet above sea level.  It has to be removed by others.  Come on People!

Right Track - Deficit

Hooray!  We've fixed the budget problem in the USA.  No more looming fiscal cliff.  We've finally soaked those wily rich people and just like our President promised on the campaign trail we're going to fix the deficit.  It's easy, just make the evil rich people pay more.  They've been getting away with not paying their fair share for decades now.  And of course, all this time it's been a revenue problem - it's not the spending, is it!
Of course all those zeros and 'illions we keep on hearing about are just so confusing.  So here is a little picture of how well our leaders have done in fixing the problem.
The deficit is the red bit on the right, and the solution of taking from the rich is the green part on the left.  See, we fixed it.  Problem solved!  We can get back to normal now and carry on borrowing $.46 of every $1.00..

Friday, January 11, 2013

Music Track - Chanson de Matiin

I think it was on a Sunday, just after the war, that the BBC used to put on a radio play.  (That's WWII, if you're wondering!)  The theme tune was this, Elgar's Chanson de Matin.  It was a great favorite of my mother's, and we had to listen quietly until it ended.  It's quite short - about 4 minutes.  It is a lovely melody from a different time.  See if you like it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Raider Fans

Firstly my thanks to Victor Vaszquez for the season tickets to the Raiders game recently.  It was on my bucket list and Victor read about my desire to go.  It was a lot of fun, but not like going to a baseball game at all, with which I have some experience.  My visit to the game was the subject of last Sunday's column.
Firstly, it seemed that many of the fans at the Oakland Colliseum suffered from glaucoma, as they were using a lot of marijuana to control the symptoms.
Most of the females were very fat.  One young lady near us arrived at the kick off, her mouth already half filled with a large ham and cheese sandwich.  She had bought a flask of margarita from the consession stand and started on that pretty early.  A note here to the organisers:  Do you really think it's avisable to serve hard liquor to an already over excited people, who are likely to become even more excited?  Just a thought!
The same young lady soon switched her beverage to two large beers, together with a couple of  hot dogs.  There was more activity going on with her than on the field, where they spent a lot of time waiting for the TV ads to finish.  So that's what they do while we're sitting at home watching beer commercials - hang around.
After the hot dogs, she went back to the beers and in the second half a couple of chorros - those Mexican type doughnuts.  Then no doubt feeling replenished she finished off the afternoon with a joint.  This she shared with her father - now that's what I call responsible parenting!
Two gentlemen arrived wearing San Francisco Forty-niner uniforms.  This upset many of the crowd who offered up five dollar bills - the toll - to get back over the F*ck*ng Bridge!
A gentle shy retiring group all round.  But as the late great Al Davis was fond of saying "Just win, baby!"  Sadly on this occasion they didn't.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


We have a very good theater in Big Bear, in fact we have two although I've not been in the other one.  The Performing Arts Center put on an interesting play the other day.  It was "It's a Wonderful Life," the classic shown many times on the screen with James Stewart.
This play however was set in a 1940's New York radio station and we were the audience there.
It had quite a big cast and they all had a turn at the various mikes located around the stage/set.
Perhaps the most fascinating was the sound effects team.  The head of that often changed his shoes to bright red female ones to walk around a floor mounted microphone before the door was banged, telling of a woman's departure from the scene. 
Once again I was amazed at the sheer professionalism of these local actors.  It was a most interesting experience.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Homo Slackass-erectus

I'm grateful to my friend Don for sending me this amazing discovery of a new genetic mutation of the human species - wonderful.

These are referred to as “homo slackass-erectus” created by natural genetic downward evolution through constant spineless posturing, and spasmatic upper limb gestures, which new research has shown to cause shorter legs and an inability to ambulate other than in an awkward shuffling gait. The "drag-crotch" shape also seems to affect brain function. Expect no eye contact or intelligent verbal communication. History shows that this species mostly votes left while receiving food stamps and full government care. Unfortunately most are highly fertile.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Video - Accents

I was sent this a long time ago by my friend Jim, in Pasadena.  I kept it in the archives as I think it's really funny.  Coincidentally it has an amazing array of British accents.  This prompted me to think about the subject of accents and I'll be doing a couple of posts on this in the following week.  In the meantime enjoy these voice overs - it takes 4:43 minutes.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday's Column - Raiders

This Sunday's attempt to win a Pulitzer prize was about my trip to Oakland to see the Raiders game.  It was a very interesting experience and I intend to go next year and this time take S.W.M.B.O., who can be quite vocal with sports. 
Plenty of insignia on the entrance to the ground
It's too bad that LA doesn't as yet have a football team as taking an airplane to a game is quite an imposition.  You can read the entire column at

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Right Track - Guns

I find it fascinating that many of the very people who are promoting gun regulations, send their children to Sidwell Friends School in Georgetown, who have 11 armed guards to protect their charges.  These people include and have included the Clinton's, Obama, David Gregory, Al Gore and Joe Biden.  When I researched this the following comment was on a site...
...So if sitting in an office building protected by armed guards, employing armed bodyguards, and sending your kids to a school with armed guards is OK for the elite, why are they trying to attempt to limit the ability of the masses to defend themselves... 
Always remember Animal Farm and the wall in the barn where the controlling pigs rewrote the rules:  "All animals are equal," but then added, "but some are more equal then others."  It is ever thus!  If the argument that these privileged children are higher targets than others, then you must also accept that these same children therefore have a higher worth than ours.  Arm and train the teachers!

Tirade - Twelfth Night

Today is the 12th day of Christmas and that means all the Christmas decorations MUST COME DOWN!!!!  Otherwise it's very bad luck, I was told as a child.  Naturally I hated the decorations coming down but then I was very young.  Perhaps it's time this year to remove the decorations that have been hanging high up on a fir tree locally for THREE YEARS!!!!  But somehow I doubt it.  I know you like to see the pretty stuff around but please Come on People!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Music Track - Beach Baby

I'm not much of a party person - I don't really like them.  However, I used to love going to ones that a friend in Surrey used to hold about three times a year.  It was back in 1974, and this was played all the time at those parties.  I'm surprised to learn that it was an English band, although there's nothing English about the video portion.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I'm not quite sure when I became old.  Obviously it's happened.  Perhaps during one night I turned from being just me to being an old man.  I climbed on board a bus the other day and the charge was $3, but only $1 for seniors.  The driver immediately said to me: "You're senior!"  I was with my son and we started putting money in the slot, and once again he reminded us: "You're senior; you're not!"  As if to cement the brand on both of us.
It is an odd thing that we old men can get away with lower prices, as being at the further end of the road, we usually have more money that those only halfway along.  But society has deemed it necessary to charge us less.  Perhaps as our appetites have diminished some, our weight is less so we don't use up as much fuel to run the vehicle.
I appreciate the fact that we are treated this way, but I can't help feeling that it would be nicer not to be so readily obvious to a bus driver or anyone else for that matter.  Ah me!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Model Planes

About three years ago I wrote a column on local model plane makers up here in Big Bear.  We have a miniature landing strip at the end of Baldwin Lake and on wind free mornings they gather and fly these exquisite models, many of them now powered by electric motors with rechargeable long lasting batteries.
My friend Stan in England sent me an article about a man called Maynard Hill who died back in June.  He was 85 and was perhaps the ultimate model plane maker.  You can read all about his amazing career in this article
Perhaps the highlight of his long interest in models was the first and only attempt to fly a model plane across the Atlantic.  It took him a long time to finally achieve his goal with over 20 different planes failing in the attempt, before he had success.
As one observer said.  "It was the equivalent of landing Armstrong on the moon."

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year - and an Anniversary


Today is a quite important anniversary for She Who Must BE Obeyed (S.W.M.B.O.) and I.  It is 30 years since we gave up smoking.
Yes, it was 30 years ago yesterday that we stubbed out our last "fags" into the ashtray.  It wasn't easy as we'd both smoked on and off since we were teenagers.  But coming out to California, where the lifestyle was so much healthier we decided it was time to pack it in.  A few years later pressure all around made it difficult to smoke anywhere it seemed, but we were already off the weed, by then.  So 30 years ago we became two of the non-smokers around.  It was the best day's work we ever did.