Oddities and Obsessions

A New Sorting System for Socks

Print Email
by Joshua Heller

socks.jpgI am not a totalitarian, you probably aren't either, but there are times when our leftist minds linger on a fleeting thought that fatally undermines our morality. This thought is induced, as I'm sure you are aware, by an errant sock.

Stories have been written to explain the missing sock. Some claim that gnomes are responsible. Others suggest that socks may have just fallen behind the dryer. These tales answer the ontological question: Why is my sock missing?

I am far more concerned with the political and ethical implications of this conversation. Namely, how should one judge a sock that is missing its partner. The school of thought, which I tend to follow in my daily life, is one of tolerance. I throw the singular sock in with rest. One big socky family. Beautiful.

The other school, says with fascist efficiency: "This sock is not normal, eliminate it."

On Life After Twinkies

Print Email
by Hallie Ephron

twinkies.jpghallie ephronImagine life without Twinkies? A year ago Hostess Brands went into bankruptcy. This week, in the wake of a labor strike, it sounds as if they may be winding down operations permanently.

I've never been a Twinkies fan, but I love the word. Just for example, from a Seinfeld show, Jerry describes Newman: "He's a mystery wrapped in a Twinkie." It doesn't even have to make sense to be funny.

And in Blue Man Group, the blue men watch intently as a volunteer from the audience tries to eat a Twinkie with a knife and fork. Do not ask me why this is hilarious. It just is.

And even though I may have eaten four of them in my entire life, just say the word and I can smell those sugary vapors that escape when you tear open the package. I remember what it's like to bite the yellow sponge-rubbery cushions of cake and into white filling with the resistance of shaving cream. I can feel the oleaginous residue left (for hours) on the roof of the mouth.

Waffle Boy

Print Email
by Tracy Newman
 Charlotte Dean

I was reading the waffle recipe that comes with the Toastmaster Waffle Iron and it says that you put ½ cup of batter in your waffle iron to make a 9-inch round waffle.  Seems simple enough. 

About three years ago, I was in Nashville at a weekend songwriting workshop. I stayed at a hotel that claimed to be next door to a Waffle House. To me, when you say “next door,” that means you can walk out one door to the sidewalk then walk up a path to another door.  That’s “next door.”  To get to this particular Waffle House from my hotel I had to hike up a short hill to the highway, walk about 50 feet to the next clearing, then down the same short hill to get to the parking lot of the Waffle House.  Clearly it wasn’t designed for foot traffic from the hotel. Then again, I didn’t really stay in Nashville long enough to explore this design further.

What's In a Name?

Print Email
by Amy Ephron

crepe-suzette.jpg Why is a mimosa called a mimosa? The flower is sort of pink and spikey. The drink is spiked...? The drink is actually orange, fresh orange juice and preferably good champagne and it was first served (or first served under the name mimosa) at the Paris Ritz.  But I’m still not certain why it’s called a Mimosa.

Cherries Jubilee is easier to determine.  It was invented by Auguste Escoffier who prepared the dish for one of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Celebrations in the late 1800’s and paved the way for other fruit flambéed desserts, notably Crepes Suzette which legend has it was created in 1895 at Monte Carlo’s Cafe de Paris by a 14 year old sous chef by mistake – he got too close to a chafing dish and the alcohol caught fire– as he was serving the Prince of Wales who was dining with a young lady whose name was, you guessed it, Suzette. 

The Zucchini Weenie and Al's Brain

Print Email
by Laraine Newman

fair.jpgMy good buddy Al Yankovic invited a group of his friends to attend the premiere of his short movie entitled Al’s Brain….at the County Fair!! His invitation was sweet. It included the phrase “for those of you who feel like schlepping down there..”

The film was about the workings of the brain and had cameos from the comedy world’s elite, including Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Tim & Eric) Patton Oswalt (Brilliant Stand-up Member of Comedians of Comedy and the voice of the Rat in Ratatouille) and Thomas Lennon (Reno 911, I Love You Man) to name a few. This was a special event held at the Orange County Fair Pavilion where Al’s Brain will be showing for the entire run of the Fair.

During the event, which was private and the night before the Fair opened, we were treated to  “A Taste of The OCF”.


Print Email
by Carolyn Foster Segal

better homes and gardens magazineFor decades, women’s magazines had basically three subjects: food, dieting, and sex. Gradually, a fourth one evolved, and now it has literally taken the lead. The January issue of Better Homes and Gardens proclaimed “Get Organized!” The February Good Housekeeping promised “More Calm, Less Stuff: Declutter Closets in a Day,” while the February Ladies Home Journal announced “Banish Clutter: Your New Organized Life Starts Today.”

And these are just the tip of the home-organizational iceberg. I haven’t checked Cosmo in a while (I’m more of an EcoSalon kind of girl), but we can probably expect it to jump on the clutter(ed) bandwagon fairly soon with “Less Stuff, More Sex!”

It was George Carlin who was the first to call our attention to stuff, and although we laughed, we pretty much went on our merry collecting way, blithely adding more and more, well, just plain stuff (and fancy stuff, too, along with electronic stuff). Here’s a measure of how far we’ve come—or fallen.

My husband’s and my first house was half of a double. The house was three stories tall, and you had to climb all the way to the third floor to find even the semblance of a closet. It was so shallow that it wouldn’t accommodate a clothes bar with hangers, and we settled for storing a few seasonal pieces by hanging them on the row of six wooden pegs lining the back wall. Recently I came across the following suggestion for managing the detritus of our consumerism: just turn the smallest bedroom in the house into a walk-in closet. (Ah, but where, then, would I store all those piles of papers sitting on the shelves and floor of that room?)

The Chicken Pot Pie

Print Email
by Cathy Cooper

chickenpie.jpgI am on a constant hunt for The Chicken Pot Pie. A hunt that has become dangerously like an obsession. I talk about it constantly. My close friends are pretty much bored with my singular food quirk. I, decidedly, am not. I was talking to a friend of mine at work, groaning over the lack of flavorful snacks in our immediate vicinity and she mentioned The Chicken Pot Pie. I was floored, to say the least. How did she know? Perhaps I was going on about it. Again

She directed me to a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles called WoodSpoon. I made a beeline after work to 9th and Spring, around the corner from the Fashion Mart. WoodSpoon smells like spices and the comfort of home.  I ordered one of the last Chicken Pot Pies. (Apparently, they're famous for them.) It arrived topped with a light flakey crust and chock full of savory, shredded chicken and fresh corn with just enough spice to take it from the blandness that it's chicken pot pie brothers and sisters often have.

The Life and Times Of Grizzly Adams

Print Email
by Matt Armendariz

grizzlyadams1974.jpg Does anyone remember Grizzly Adams, the movie and tv show from the 1970s about that woodsman who was wrongfully accused of a crime and set off to live the life of a trapper somewhere in the mountains? Of course you do. All God’s creatures loved him and he ended up with that cute little bear companion named Ben.  I remember it too, and boy did I love it (this may explain a certainly affinity I have towards bears but this is so not the place to address this and besides, I’m married and all that happy stuff.)  I remember thinking how thrilling it must have been for Mr. Adams (played by Dan Haggerty) to do what he wanted to without being bothered by anyone. I also remember how hard it must have been for him to do without ZOOM (or any other TV show for that matter), Tang, Atari and Toughskin Jeans from Sears.

But my biggest concern for Mr. Adams was food. What did he do? Did he have to learn to kill his own food? And what about foraging for nuts and berries? And how did he know what was safe and what was off limits? Did he have the internet? There wasn’t even an internet in the 70s so, what, did he have access to all those encyclopedias from the grocery store that you’d buy each time you went for milk and eggs? And whose bright idea was that, anyway? You don’t go to the Library for chuck steak, why would you buy books other than Mad Magazine at the grocery store? Huh, Mom? Someone answer me please I have been alone for 6 days and my dogs are starting to ignore me please anyone Grizzly Mr. Haggerty anyone please!!!!!!!!!!!

An Ostrich Egg Omelette

Print Email
by Melanie Chartoff

redwoodcity.jpgSo I’m playing tourist, mooching off my galpal Corinne’s retired Redwood City, CA dream life.  Boy, has she ever set herself up well in her hometown, recently redeveloped into a vacation paradise ideal for a freeloader like me.  Not only is her late parents’ house, in which she grew up, replete with a view of verdant hillsides and well-tended homes – and a large garden full of a festival of fruits in rotating seasons of ripeness – she’s got the sensuous cuddle cat and the darling ditzy dog, and the friendly, easy kind of community about which we all fantasize when things start to sloooow down.

Redwood City has Zydeco dancing for free with a great Cajun group in the renovated town square on Friday nights all summer, in a great contrast of stately buildings and Southern hoedown hick apparel.  It features screenings and dance classes at the local community center every week all year long. People actually picnic in its parks.  It’s got great walking areas, fine dining, funky shops with great one-of a-kind finds, a train station, and, holy shades of civilization, all the familiar franchises plus a Whole Foods with slightly different fare from local farms than the Los Angeles local branch.

They sell ostrich eggs.

Top Ramen

Print Email
by David Latt

ramenoodles.jpgI've been trying to convince my sons that ramen is good for them. They're both living on their own. They are serious about eating healthily and keeping to a budget. They keep down their costs by avoiding processed foods and fast food joints. They shop at Costco and buy in bulk.

Which is why I've been trying to get them to think about ramen. A package costs under $1.00 and if you make your own soup and add farmers' fresh vegetables, you'll have an economical, nutritious meal.

The problem is when they were kids they ate lots of Cup O'Noodles and Instant Ramen with hot water flavored with artificially flavored soup packets. In no way am I talking about that.

Tracking down a better kind of ramen takes a small amount of work. The local supermarket may only have Top Ramen which is ok but not preferred. If you live in an area with Asian markets, you'll find a wider selection of brands. In Los Angeles, we have Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and (my favorite) Korean markets where there are so many choices there's a ramen aisle.


restaurant news

Beverly Hills Meets Palm Beach at Cafe L'Europe
by Nancy Ellison

palmbeachflorida.jpgJust for fun, close your eyes. Picture Zsa Zsa dining at Bistro Garden or Liz at Chasen’s – bejeweled and pleasing to the eyes. Imagine charming George Hamilton tanned and natty in his double-...

A Visit to the Merrion Hotel
London - British Isles
by James Moore

merrion20facade.jpgWith St. Patrick's Day around the corner, I'm reminded of a spontaneous weekend trip to Ireland last December, where I discovered the warm comfort of authentic Irish cooking.
I'm always watching...

Little Rascal
New York
by Michael Tucker

littlerascalsWe went to the Lower East Side the other night to see what the young people are up to. Our son, Max, was playing a gig at the Bowery Ballroom with a great band called dinowalrus. They totally...

Dutch Food & the Amsterdam Restaurant Scene
by David Latt

amsterdam-bridge.jpgIn Amsterdam, restaurant food tends to be hit-or-miss. Most dishes are under-seasoned, but that doesn't mean you won't eat well.

The fact is, you're likely to have good cafe food; meaning great...