Monthly Archives: December 2013

Breaking Spicy

(I’m hoping the City of Lancaster, CA can work things out with Huy Fong Foods before things get out of hand.)



Wearing bunny suits, a MIDDLE-AGED MAN and a KID IN HIS TWENTIES strain to lug the last sacks of chili, jalapeno + sugar inside. Except for shelves, the vehicle’s been stripped to the walls.


Time to cook.

They don plastic hoods and pour the ingredients into a large cauldron. The younger man picks up a modified power drill with a blade at the end and uses it to liquefy the mixture.


A faint red mist creeps though an opened skylight before deepening into a crimson fog that billows out of the old RV.


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Filed under California, Cooking, Current Events, Screenwriting

Chapter 5: Megyn Kelly’s “A Christmas Carol”*


Running to the balcony of her Upper West Side co-op, Megyn Kelly threw open the doors and stretched out her soft, manicured hands to warm them in the sun; a lush view of the park; her bare feet warmed by terra-cotta tiles with underfloor heating; the doorman’s cab whistle. Oh, glorious. Glorious!

“What’s to-day?” she cried, calling downward to a homeless man rummaging through a trash barrel.

“Eh?” returned the man, with all his might of wonder.

“What’s to-day, my fine fellow?” said Megyn.

“To-day?” replied the man. “Why, Christmas Day.”

“It’s Christmas Day!” said Megyn to herself. “I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. They’re free-market spirits. Hallo, you filthy beggar!”

“Look, I’m not breaking the law!’’ returned the man. “I don’t want trouble. I’ll just move along.”

“Do you know the Zabar’s, in the next street but one, at the corner?” Megyn inquired.

“They chase me away from their dumpsters all the time,’’ lamented the man.

“An industrious fellow!’’ said Megyn. “A remarkable man! Do you know whether they’ve sold the free-range Diestel Turkey that was hanging up there? Not the little prize Turkey; the big one?”

“What, the one that’s like 12 dollars a pound?’’ returned the man.

“What a delightful man!’’ said Megyn. “It’s a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, you smelly hobo!’’

“It’s still in the window,” replied the man.

“Is it?” said Megyn. “Go and buy it.”

“What, are you high?” answered the homeless man. “It’s Christmas! They’re closed.”

She ran back inside, grabbed her Hermès purse and rushed back to the balcony clutching a black AMEX card.

“No, no,” said Megyn. “ALL service employees now work on major holidays! Go and buy it, and tell ’em to bring it here, Come back with the turkey, and I’ll give you an O’Reilly Factor coffee mug. Come back with it in less than five minutes, and I’ll give you a genuine Fox News slanket!’’

She flicked her ebony AMEX card down into the street; the homeless man fished it out of a filthy snowbank, realizing that her instructions might land him a warm bed at The Tombs. He smiled and waved. “Merry Christmas!”

“I’ll deliver it to a grubby poor family. Brown ones!” whispered Megyn, rubbing her hands, and splitting with a laugh. “They sha’n’t know who sends it. It’s twice the size of Sarah Palin! But, wherever shall I find some deserving poors?”

Closing the balcony doors, Megyn shouted “Consuela!” until the children’s nanny appeared, flushed and out of breath.

“Señora, please: as I’ve said, my name is ‘Maria.’”

“Drop whatever you’re doing and make a list of some poor people you know. You know, real layabouts. And hand me the phone; I need to get a producer and a news van together.”

Megyn was better than her word. She did it all, and infinitely more. Her own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for her.

*with apologies to Charles Dickens, but I like to think he hated hypocrisy and sanctimony as much as I do.

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Filed under Current Events, Personal, Politics

7-day Uke challenge final song: “On the Sunny Side of the Street”

In terms of the Great American Songbook, you can’t go wrong with anything written by Jimmy McHugh and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. The song is premised on the idea that that we can choose to be happy; this may be the essence of why I so enjoy playing the baritone uke in my bathrobe for just me and my cat. When I’m playing and singing a song I like and realize that I’m doing it well, I sometimes get this strange flutter in my chest, just under my ribcage.

I’m told it’s “joy.”

I don’t know the exact provenance of “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” but it seems like a Tin Pan Alley tune that would have made the rounds in a several different revues of the time. Back in the day, more people knew how to play instruments than bought mechanical recordings, which means music publishing was where the money is. In Depression-era America, this song was a big hit.

Here’s my version: I warn you, it’s peppy:

And here’s Keely Smith’s: hers is lushly orchestrated and fairly bursts at the seams with emotion. (Show off!)

This 7-day uke challenge was a lot tougher than I thought. Part of that is my performance anxiety, since I’ve never wanted to be the guy at a coffeeshop’s open night who’s mastered four chords but still wants those in attendance to hear his stunning re- intrepretation of “Space Oddity.”

I don’t play as badly as I thought, and when I sing along, the overall quality improves. Still, I’m going to find a teacher in the new year who can teach me fingering and picking techniques (settle down, Beavis). In any event, thanks for the feedback over the last week; my fragile male ego and I thank you. I hope to improve and share more songs with you.

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Filed under Media, Music, Personal, Ukulele