Friday, April 28, 2017

The Marquee of Funny










Dinner last night:  Chef's salad.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Len's Recipe of the Month - April 2017

Barbecued ribs are messy to make and even messier to eat.   I can't help you with the second part of that sentence but I can give you a recipe that is so simple to make.   And again, it involves the trusted slow cooking crock pot.   If you pay attention, your baby back ribs will look as good as mine.

Go get yourself a rack of baby back ribs.   I vouch for ones at Trader Joe's but you can use whatever super market coupon you've got.

Line your crock pot with a cellophane liner.   Not totally necessary but it will make clean-up a a breeze.   If your slow cooker is my size, you will likely need to cut the rack of ribs into two pieces.   Liberally Kosher salt and pepper them.   Lay them in the crock pot on top of one another.

You're almost done if you can believe that.   Now add the secret ingredient.   Two cups of root beer.   Yes, you read that correctly.   Root beer.

Put the cooker on low for the next five hours.   And you can go sit in the yard or power wash the house.

After five hours, remove the racks to a plate and dump out the root beer liquid. Return the ribs to the cooker and cover them with about a cup and a half of your favorite barbecue sauce.   Again, Trader Joe's has a dandy one.  Reset the crock pot to high and let it go for another full hour.

Now you're done.   Put a bib on and thank me.

Dinner last night:  Just a sandwich.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

This Date in History - April 26

Whenever it's Carol Burnett's birthday, she will get her picture on this blog. And this date turns out to have a connection to another famous redhead.   Read on.

1478:  THE PAZZI FAMILY ATTACK LORENZO DE' MEDICI AND KILL HIS BROTHER GIULIANO DURING HIGH MASS IN FLORENCE CATHEDRAL.

Some people will do anything to avoid putting money in the offering plate.

1564:  PLAYWRIGHT WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE IS BAPTIZED IN STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, ENGLAND.

To be born or not to be born...

1721:  A MASSIVE EARTHQUAKE DEVASTATES THE IRANIAN CITY OF TABRIZ.  

Which probably started their move to the United States.

1777:  SYBIL LUDDINGTON, AGED 16, RIDES 40 MILES TO ALERT AMERICAN COLONIAL FORCES TO THE APPROACH OF BRITISH TROOPS.

Paul Revere, feh.

1802:  NAPOLEON BONAPARTE SIGNS A GENERAL AMNESTY TO ALLOW ALL BUT ABOUT ONE THOUSAND OF THE MOST NOTORIOUS EMIGRES OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION TO RETURN TO FRANCE.

And you thought Trump started all this shit?

1865:  UNION TROOPED CORNER AND SHOOT DEAD JOHN WILKES BOOTH, ASSASSIN OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN.

That manhunt took eleven days.

1925:  PAUL VON HINDENBURG DEFEATS WILHELM MARX IN THE SOUND RECORD OF THE GERMAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION TO BECOME THE FIRST DIRECTLY ELECTED HEAD OF STATE OF THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC.

After Paul gained a few pounds, people were whispering that he was a big blimp.

1933:  THE GESTAPO, THE OFFICIAL SECRET POLICE FORCE OF NAZI GERMANY, IS ESTABLISHED.

One-Adolf-12.

1933:  ACTRESS CAROL BURNETT IS BORN.

And she received flowers every birthday from Lucille Ball.   Even though....well, keep reading.

1945:  WORLD WAR II - LAST SUCCESSFUL GERMAN TANK-OFFENSIVE OF THE WAR AND LAST NOTEWORTHY VICTORY OF THE WEHRMACHT.

Wehrmacht?  There, Macht.

1954:  THE GENEVA CONFERENCE, AN EFFORT TO RESTORE PEACE IN INDOCHINA AND KOREA, BEGINS.

And thus ending any future plots for M*A*S*H*.

1958:  FINAL RUN OF THE BALTIMORE AND OHIO RAILROAD.

Although it's still running on Monopoly boards all over the world.

1960:  FORCED OUT BY THE APRIL REVOLUTION, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA SYNGMAN RHEE RESIGNS AFTER TWELVE YEARS OF DICTATORIAL RULE.

A sad Mother's Day in the offing for Mrs. Rhee.

1962:  NASA'S RANGER 4 SPACECRAFT CRASHES INTO THE MOON.

Was it supposed to do that?

1965:  COMIC KEVIN JAMES IS BORN.

A slow day for birthdays if this unfunny guy gets mentioned here.

1970:  STRIPPER GYPSY ROSE LEE DIES.

She took it ALL off.

1973:  ACTRESS IRENE RYAN DIES.

Ran out of rheumatiz medicine.

1981:  DR. MICHAEL HARRIS OF USC-SF PERFORMS THE WORLD'S FIRST HUMAN OPEN FETAL SURGERY.

Sad to say he's out of network.

1981:  ACTOR JIM DAVIS DIES.

Jock on "Dallas."

1984:  BANDLEADER COUNT BASIE DIES.

Down for the...well...you know.

1986:  ACTOR BRODERICK CRAWFORD DIES.

Arrested for the last time.

1986:  A NUCLEAR REACTOR ACCIDENT OCCURS AT THE CHERNOBYL POWER PLANT IN THE SOVIET UNION, CREATING THE WORLD'S WORST NUCLEAR DISASTER.

Think about all those hair stylists in Russia now out of work.

1989:  ACTRESS LUCILLE BALL DIES.

Lucy died early in the morning.  Carol got Lucy's birthday flowers in the afternoon.

1991:  SEVENTY TORNADOES BREAK OUT IN THE CENTRAL UNITED STATES.

Well, that certainly gave the Weather Channel something to do.

2011:  SINGER PHOEBE SNOW DIES.

Melted.

2015:  TV PERSONALITY JAYNE MEADOWS DIES.

No secret.

Dinner last night:  Leftover chicken and vegetables.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Jewel From England

I'm still smarting from some films that were well-reviewed and stunk to high heaven when I saw them.  The last one, the absolutely dreadful "Song To Song" by renowned cinematic hack Terence Malick, officially became the first movie I ever walked out.  Thirty-eight minutes was all I could muster of that tragedy.

So I hear good stuff about "Their Finest" and I head out with trepidation.  And, then single-handedly, this little film restores my faith in the medium all over again.  Leave it to England to do that.

"Their Finest" is set against a backdrop that is fascinating to me.  London, 1940 with Nazi bombs making regular appearances all over town.  I've heard the stories from two good older friends of mine.   One of them was born under the bed during a blitz.  Here, Catrin is a young copywriter going through the motions in a live-in relationship with a painter. Somehow, she is plucked out of nowhere by a film company who wants a female perspective on a movie they are making and will be used to bolster British nationalism as well as let America know what they are going through every day.   The stiff upper lip must be shared.

At work, Catrin winds up with a writing partner, Tom Buckley, and their relationship grows slowly and naturally.  Catrin also encounters the film's star, Ambrose Hilliard, played wonderfully as always by Bill Nighy ("Love Actually"). Effectively, "Their Finest" becomes a movie-within-a-movie as you watch the production staff work to make a film that will show people how strong the British can be.   This might be the most fascinating backstage story since "The Bad and the Beautiful."  You really feel like you're on that set and living the ups and downs of movie making.  

Meanwhile, the blasts outside are numerous and devastating.  Characters go home at the end of the day to find their home in ruins.    Ambrose literally seems to lose his agent overnight.   And, as a production assistant casually sipping up a cup of morning tea, she just happens to mention that her landlady was killed the night before.  How did these people make it through this? Indeed, this was a type of courage that we probably will never see again, especially here in the now-completed-dumbed-down United States.

Where "Their Finest" loses a half-star in rating from me is the ending, which turns depressing and mawkish for a bit.   In retrospect, it was the best conclusion that director Lone Scherfig could conjure up and I get it now.   But you sorely wish "Their Finest" had the happy ending that Catrin crafts for the embedded movie.  But, at the end of two hours, I realize my time was well spent and, for once, the good reviews were spot-on.  Bravo...for a change.

LEN'S RATING:  Three-and-a-half stars.

Dinner last night:  Teriyaki beef and vegetable stir fry.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Morning Video Laugh - April 24, 2017

I love this Match Game...not the current one with the bloated Alec Baldwin.

Dinner last night:  Roast chicken and vegetables.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Spring Has Sprung

Now you don't really get spring here in California.   Oh, sure, you'll get some warmer days when the temperature actually varies by about ten degrees.   It will rain less than once in every ten days.   Of course, with all the rain this past winter, things are a little greener than they have been.  And that has resulted in these huge poppy fields like pictured above.   You know how the folks back East drive around looking for leaves in October and November?  This spring, people in the Golden State are motoring all around for the requisite poppy field photo op.

I grew up on the East Coast in Mount Vernon, New York.   Now there's a place where spring really sprung.  The winter coats got moved into the back of the closet.  The Mets had started their season at Shea Stadium so WOR Channel 9 would be tuned into my television now until October 1.   My grandmother would be tinkering in the yard with her plants.  Sure, her beloved rhubarb patch was perennial, but there would be other plantings.  Perhaps some cucumbers.   Almost always a few tomato plants, the fruits of which we would enjoy for about three days at the end of August.

But there were a couple of harbingers of the season that would scare the shit out of me.   One usually began with a request from my grandmother to my father.

"Harry, don't you think it's time to take down the storm windows and put up the screens?"

Gulp.

For those of you not from cold weather states, your houses frequently came with heavy duty windows that you put in place for the winter.   Then you removed them in the warm weather and replaced them with screens that allowed you a mosquito-free environment.  Whatever, the process of making this change in October and usually April or May always spooked me out.   My father naturally needed an extra set of hands to get this done.  Those would be mine.  And I always was convinced that this would result in the mangling of my dad.

Why?   Well, the first floor...which was my grandmother's part of the house...was a piece of cake.  Naturally, the storm windows were heavy and the screens were light.   But the trading out on the front porch was a snap.  Even I could do it without screwing it up and that's saying something.

It was the front windows of our second floor that were the horror show for me. Because it required my dad to get on the roof over the front porch.  First off, he would hand me the detached storm windows through the actual window.  To do so, my father would remove and then back up on the roof in order to hand it to me.  

This was my family's annual circus act.  Because I would watch my dad walk backwards on the roof towards the edge as I grappled to get hold of the storm window inside.   Indeed, there were five different windows we needed to do this for.   I held my breath on every one of them.   I was convinced that the slightest slip from me would have my father sailing off the roof into Grandma's prickly hedges below.

Once this daredevil stunt was complete, we were not done.  And my fears would be renewed.   Because there was an acrobatic part to get the screens up there.   

My job was to get the screens out of the basement.   First I would hose them down.  Then I would move them to whatever part of the outside house where they would live till the fall.   Again, the second floor was an issue but Dad had a foolproof method to getting this solved.   

I would stand on the steps to the front porch and raise the screens enough so my dad could reach them from the roof.  Okay, again, my heart was in my throat.   I was always convinced that my father would have to reach too far and then come tumbling off the roof into a mangled mess in front of me.

It never happened but the fear was there every single spring.  That's an awful lot for a ten-year-old to handle.

So what was my other springtime fear?  Well, come back next Sunday to find out.

Dinner last night:  Corned beef reuben panini at the Arclight.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Classic TV Theme Song of the Month - April 2017

When the best thing about a TV show is the theme song...

Dinner last night:  Leftover meat loaf.