Saturday, December 31, 2005


Not a creature was stirring in front of Starbucks this morning, but it takes more than rain to keep the truly caffeine-addicted away.  While no one was sitting outside, the crowd inside ranged from our favorite building manager to television actress Alyssa Milano.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Move over wacky chicken mobile (see Photo #2), we have a new candidate for the Santa Monica Hall of Automotive Absurdities.  This morning a six-year-old girl went tooling by our favorite Starbuck's in her very own fully-loaded pink corvette convertible.  To her credit, she did a better job than most drivers at avoiding the pitfalls of our favorite parking lot!   

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


If cleanliness is next to Godliness then we had a taste of heaven and hell today at Starbucks.  The fun began when a suspicious looking van -- pictured here -- rolled into our favorite parking lot advertising a "Car Wash."  Judging from the occupants/residents of this vehicle, I for one have my doubts!  Moments later, as if to generate business for the would be cleaning crew, Bob inadvertently spilled his coffee all over the table.  Richard:  Maybe you should have asked our friends in the van to give Charlie a quick once over?  In any case, thanks for the photo and stay dry, everyone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Quick, call The Daily Planet!  Veteran television actress Noel Neill -- perhaps best known as Lois Lane on The Adventures of Superman -- swooped into Patrick's Roadhouse today for a quick Taco Salad.  "That was great, I was starved," said the beloved actress.  The rare photo on the left features the back of Neill's head.  Photo #2 shows the actress in her prime.  For more information on Noel Neill, click here:   Everything You Wanted to Know About Noel Neill.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


In local news this morning, even the closure of our favorite Starbuck's couldn't dampen the 7th and Montana holiday spirit.  Like many, I migrated South today in search of caffeine and good cheer.  And while no one was exactly roasting chestnuts, there was quite a gathering around the perennial open fire at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, where the crowd ranged from our friendly neighborhood news hound Dennis to the kooky assistant manager-in-training who sent Nada flying to the emergency room on December 4 (E.R.: The Starbuck's Edition).  I don't know what was scarier, the fact that this disaster-in-training has hit the Coffee Bean or that he was allowed near an open flame.  Meanwhile, back at 7th and Montana, not a creature was stirring ... except for Gary and Princess who had the place to themselves.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Thanks Terry and Fabrizio for bringing a taste of old Italy to 7th and Montana this morning.  The Cialde di Montecatini was the best I've ever tasted.  O.K., so it was the only Cialde di Montecatini I've ever tasted but what a great way to ring in the holidays!  Rumor has it that our favorite Starbuck's is closed tomorrow.  The one over at 15th and Montana will be open but who wants to go all that distance?!?  See you Monday.

Friday, December 23, 2005


It was foam for the holidays at Starbuck's this morning as 7th and Montana regular Kathy gave a stirring demonstration of her cappuccino foam drinking technique.  If, as James Bond once said, a Martini should be shaken but not stirred, then perhaps a cappuccino should be whipped before sipped.  Thanks, Kathy, for the demonstration.  Even Charlie was practically foaming at the mouth!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


The crowd at 7th and Montana was all ears this morning as two mysterious newcomers horned in on our favorite Starbucks.  Yes, a pair of ace musicians -- friends of Howard -- provided an impromptu concert.  While I personally missed the fun, I, too was on the horn:  stuck on a never-ending conference call.  Thanks to Richard for providing the great photo and thanks to Howard and his friends for the trumpet act!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


It was water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink this morning at the site of Santa Monica's favorite fixer-uppper.  It seems the City of Santa Monica has "red tagged" the property and shut off its water supply for failure to comply with city regulations.  I guess that means there won't be any plants filling those holes in the ground for a while.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Is it my imagination, or does the "Angel" atop my sister's Christmas tree look like it's having a bad hair day?  While inside sources claim the unusual holiday ornament is "possessed," I think it bears a striking resemblance to a woman last seen ordering a double latte at 7th and Montana.  In any case, the fright wig alone was enough to scare the antlers off my sister's cat (see photo two).  Karen:  I don't know what possessed you to buy this ornament, but I'm sending you and Doug an Exorcist for Christmas!   

Saturday, December 17, 2005


He's baaaack!  Our favorite slumlord made a brief appearance today at Starbuck's in his snazzy BMW SUV.  Recently described by The Los Angeles Times as "one of Los Angeles' most notorious landlords," Mr. Slumlord is as much a fixture at 7th and Montana as the umbrellas he steals on sunny days.  Today, however, he took his cappuccino to go.  Rumor has it he was in a rush to get to the Toys-for-Tots donation center!


Is it a Yule Log or is it Santa Claus?  That's the question puzzled onlookers asked themselves this morning at the scene of Tsukuba's most unusual Christmas display, a life-sized statue of Kris Kringle and his reindeer friends made entirely of driftwood.  The statue, pictured here, stands guard at the Tsukuba-Narita Airport Bus Station, alongside a gigantic, driftwood Godzilla.  Let's hope the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau doesn't get any ideas!

Thursday, December 15, 2005


HOLD it in YOUR hand

LOVE it IN your TUMMY.

new soft WRAP sundae.

No, friends, this isn't an advertisement for fermented soy beans and bright pink fish mousse (see photo 2).  It's the sign in front of Tsukuba's latest taste sensation, Atlanta CRAZY Crepes.  Who knew that Atlanta was known for its CRAZY crepes?!?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


This photo of my lunch tops today's list of things you'll never see at 7th and Montana.  Even my Japanese colleagues seemed at a loss to identify the contents of this mysterious but colorful Bento box.  I've long since learned that a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is best in such matters.  Stay tuned:  Tomorrow I'll try to snag a photo of Tsukuba's favorite breakfast buffet.  It includes fermented soy beans, pureed bits of fish and a pungent fish mousse encased in bright pink gelatin.  Quick, somebody FedEx me a Cranberry Bliss Bar!   On a more festive note, check out these photos (2 and 3) of Christmas in Tsukuba.  Where else will you find an entire courtyard filled with Christmas Trees festooned with ornaments ranging from waving cats to astronauts to fish? 

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I stopped by our favorite Starbuck's today on my way to Tsukuba City but the only thing percolating was my Grande Drip.  Not that I'm complaining ... things could always be worse.  I could be chug-a-lugging a steaming cup of "Drip On," the Japanese instant coffee of choice.  Just one look at the container, alone, is enough to make this Drip sign off for the evening.  Sayonara!

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Actor Elijah Wood stopped by 7th and Montana this morning for a quick Egg Nogg latte and a Sunday stroll with his mystery date (see Photo #1).  The Lord of the Rings star barely missed the arrival of a creature wearing jeans that looked like they've been to the Middle Earth and back.  Even Bilbo Baggins wouldn't be caught dead in these holier-than-thou duds (see Photo #2).

Saturday, December 10, 2005


In a startling local development, Santa Monica residents flocked to the corner of 7th and Montana this morning on reports that a lone Building Manager was precariously perched atop our favorite Blockbuster.  While inside sources maintain that he was simply "performing minor repairs," others speculate that he was actually scouting locations for Montana Avenue's first-ever Mediterranean Rooftop Restaurant.  Careful, Ralph, that first step's a doozy!   


It was a warm reunion for everyone this morning at Starbucks as Kelly -- daughter of Andree, our favorite Harley-riding, Equestrian Barista -- stopped by for a cup of coffee and an earful of gossip.  Kelly:  Even though we never met, it was nice "reuniting" with you all the same.  Tell your mom "hello" from the "Grande Half-Caff with the L.A. Times."

Meanwhile, for anyone wishing to "reunite" with human beings instead of those evil, automated voice recognition systems we discussed this morning, here is a link to the information Kathy was describing: - Digital Edge - Learn How To Bypass Computerized Operators.  And for those who really hate these systems as much as I do, here's a link to a special list of phone numbers allowing you to reach actual human beings at businesses ranging from Ikea to Bank of America:  IVR Cheat Sheet(tm) by Paul English.  My advice to you:  Brush up on your Indian languages before trying to call anyone!  Here's a link to a Hindi language translator:  Word AnyWhere: Hindi English and Other Indian Languages Dictionary.

Thursday, December 8, 2005


In local news this morning, the crowd at 7th and Montana turned out in full force to wish our friend Joyce a very Happy Birthday.  Even Starbucks management joined the celebration.  Happy Birthday, Joyce, from your friendly neighborhood Drip!


Well, friends, today was something of a milestone.  Tanya, head honcho at our favorite Starbucks, actually asked me my name.  Our friends behind-the-counter have evidently been calling me "the grande half caff with the L.A. Times" for over a year now.  Had I been ordering something fancier, something requiring a Barista to immortalize my name on a cup, things might be different.  As Tanya put it, "It's hard to keep track of you drips."  Don't worry, Tanya, I've been called a lot worse!

Tuesday, December 6, 2005


It was anything but Happy Days this morning for Actor-Director Ron Howard as he tried unsuccessfully to find a parking spot at our favorite Starbucks.  After briefly blocking traffic, he came up with a solution worthy of Opie:  He sent someone to get his coffee while he circled the block repeatedly in his snazzy new BMW (pictured here).  Always the entertainer, Howard put on a show for us all by hitting the curb with a resounding clunk on his third spin through the parking lot.  

Monday, December 5, 2005


They say you can never be too rich, too thin or have too many trellises in your yard.  Then, again, check out the latest blunder at 7th Street's favorite fixer upper, where the trellis action seems to never end.  Locals were aghast this weekend as a construction crew worked overtime building a trellis that extends well beyond its cinder block base.  In a rare interview, one source close to the project said of the homeowner, "She relishes her trellises."

Sunday, December 4, 2005


In local news this morning, Howard's bagel was once again Toasted to Perfection.  For those who don't know, Toasted to Perfection means that it was golden brown on the outside and reportedly soft and chewy on the inside.  Congratulations, Howard.  A toast to you, Kathy and your new toaster oven!

Thanks, also, to Howard for sharing this link to an important address from President Bush:  Badmash

E.R.: The Starbucks Edition ...

The caffeine crowd was buzzing today on reports that one of our favorite Baristas, Nada, took a nasty spill and had to be rushed from 7th and Montana to the emergency room.  At precisely 7:10 this morning, a slip-up on the part of a new Assistant Manager in Training set off a chain of events leading Nada to slip-up herself, fall to the floor and injure her shoulder.  In an exclusive, on-the-scene interview, Nada (see Photo #1), was the picture of heroism as she recounted the incident at length.  As for the Assistant Manager in Training, who left a wet rubber mat in a precarious position behind the counter, we're taking bets on his future.

Meanwhile, as if to say "Nada mas," neighborhood news hound Dennis could be seen trying to get a copy of The Los Angeles Times out of the machine as if his life depended on it (See Photo #2).  Sorry, Dennis, I guess no news is good news ... !

Saturday, December 3, 2005


A super-stretch limo was seen circling repeatedly around our favorite Starbucks this morning like a dog with an urge.  The occupants, however, remain a mystery.  Could it have been Ron Howard returning for another cup of Joe or was it, perhaps, the notorious slumlord who lives down the lane?  If anyone has any information, please let me know.  In other local news, Zoey made another new friend today (see photo two).

Confidential to those who saw me running after "The Singing Bicyclist:"  The photo was a disappointment.  I really need to get a zoom lens for my cell phone before "The Singing Nun" shows up.


File this under "adding insult to injury:"  I've complained to AOL about the intrusive advertising they've added to their blogs.  Nothing against ads, but I personally think that placing large banner ads across the top of a paying AOL member's journal with graphics that obscure even the name of the journal, is an insult.  The injury came this morning when I noticed that my own company has placed one of these ads (probably without realizing how it is being positioned on the AOL service).  I'll have a word with our head of advertising about this and share with him the many complaints from AOL members that have been posted online about this particular advertising practice along with the negative media coverage AOL has received on the topic.  Read more here:  AOL Journals: You've Got Ads

Friday, December 2, 2005


In case you were wondering, I'm NOT fixated on the building across from our favorite Starbucks.  However, my news gathering process has hit a snag:  On mornings when I arrive prior to 7:30 a.m., the only available news seems to relate to the building across the street.  Hence, the following:

Inside sources reveal that the parking lot at our favorite Blockbuster will be completely repaved.  An asphalt crew should be arriving any day now.

Thursday, December 1, 2005


Sorry, friends, no news to report today as I was unable to stop at Starbucks due to work.  Sheesh.  Friday isn't looking so promising, either.  If anyone has any news nuggets to report, e-mail them to me at!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


A mysterious new tenant is in advanced stages of negotiation to rent the commercial space above our favorite Blockbuster.  Sources close to the discussions say a deal to rent the popular space could be finalized in the coming week.  The tenant, a purveyor of golf equipment, is described simply as "a man with a black dog."  The space is said to include five offices and a sitting room.  Stay tuned for further developments.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Friends, it was a slow news day today at Starbucks.  Not much to report other than the creative "mad scientist" method of cooling a hot cup of coffee that seems to be catching on in certain circles.  The process is simple:  Ask Starbucks for an extra, empty cup and continuously pour coffee from one cup to the other, as though you're mixing a secret formula.  The result?  Your coffee gets cooler faster and you raise a lot of eyebrows. 

Monday, November 28, 2005


It was nice to see our favorite building manager back on the scene at 7th and Montana today, flush with his surprising success at the casinos near Palm Springs.  He and his cousin evidently hit the jackpot in more ways than one.  While the rest of us were carving up turkeys, he was carving up the dance floor at the Ramada Inn in Palm Springs.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Call it the Starbucks Wind Ensemble.  Spectators at our favorite intersection were treated today to an impromptu Opera performance as a would-be virtuoso (pictured here) made his way across 7th Street and into Starbucks, belting out Opera tunes all the way.  Whether he was waiting for his wind ensemble or just three sheets to the wind remains to be seen.

In related news, a wind advisory remains in effect along the Santa Monica coastline until noon today.  Watch out for falling Palm fronds!

Saturday, November 26, 2005


In local news this morning, a scary looking Rottweiler made an appearance at Santa Monica's favorite construction project.  Sources say that the ferocious beast is standing guard over valuable building materials ranging from lead pipes to cinderblocks and cement.  Most area residents, however, agree that this project went to the dogs long ago.

Elsewhere in town, puppy love was in full bloom as Starbuck's regular Zoey fell paws over heels for a stylish newcomer in a hand-knit sweater.



I never knew Dennis, a Starbucks regular who passed away before I came along, but he was the talk of the town today at 7th and Montana.  How nice that his friends remember him so fondly, that stories about him still make people smile.  On learning he was sick, Dennis apparently came up with a list of everything he wanted to do, everywere he wanted to go and one-by-one, he covered it all.  Here's to you, Dennis.  We'll keep a candle burning -- or coffee brewing -- for you at Starbucks!

Friday, November 25, 2005


Today at Starbucks we discussed the connection between success and health.  Research in the U.K. suggests that even when health care is the same for everyone, "successful" people are healthier than "unsuccessful" people.  So, what comes first, the success or the health?  Are some people more successful because they're healthy or healthy because they're more successful?  The mind reels.  Maybe the Japanese have it right ... successful businessmen there wear surgical masks to the office.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


The Turkey of the Year award this Thanksgiving goes to none other than frequent Starbucks gadfly "Mr. Slumlord."  To many of us, Mr. Slumlord -- exposed today in the Los Angeles Times as "one of Los Angeles' most notorious (slum)lords" -- is perhaps better known as a petty umbrella thief.  However, today's news -- Lawyer Alleges City Atty. Donor Deal - Los Angeles Times -- suggests something far more sinister might be at play.  According to previous local reports, Mr. Slumlord, who once played guard on the University High School football team, describes himself as "tough but scrupulous, a man whose life work is saving old buildings from decay."  You can read more about Mr. Slumlord here:  State Moves to Pull Real Estate License of L.A. Landlord - Los Angeles Times and here:  KTLA The WB | Where Los Angeles Lives | Alleged Slumlords Donated to Delgadillo.  Promotional literature depicting Mr. Slumlord as a hero can be found here:  Success in Bricks - from Zero to 27 Buildings in 16 Years.  Happy Turkey Day, Mr. Slumlord.  Next time bring your own umbrella!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

CRUNCH ... BEEP ... $%$#@

At precisely 8:37 a.m. this morning, onlookers at 7th and Montana were treated to that now familiar sound -- Crunch ... Beep ... $%$#@ -- as a white SUV (pictured here) pulled into our favorite parking lot.  Witnesses, as usual, seemed filled with glee as the driver inspected her car for damage.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Tip of the day:  Check out Kovar's cool Alaska photos here:  A L A S K A

Monday, November 21, 2005


Shortly after leaving Starbuck's this morning, I was very nearly sideswiped on Sunset Blvd. by a nimrod driving a Comfort Control van.  There I was, heading due East at 35 m.p.h., when Mr. Comfort Control started working his way into my lane without so much as a look, a gesture or indicator light.  Naturally, I blew my horn -- not to mention a gasket -- and whipped out my camera for photographic evidence.  If you enlarge the photo, right below the cute puppy dog logo, you'll find the Comfort Control Corporation brand promise:  "Cozy at your Door."  A little too cozy for my taste and much too close to my door!!

Umbrella, Anyone ...?

Whoever said, "Let a smile be your umbrella" didn't hang around 7th and Montana, where umbrellas are in short supply on sunny days.  Today, with the morning sun in full force, all eyes were on one especially shady lady who tried to quietly inch an umbrella away from a poor unsuspecting sap as he read the newspaper.  The solution?  Turn to mother nature (see photo two).  Of course, this strategy wouldn't work in Chicago, where Kovar reminds us that even the sturdiest golf umbrellas don't last long.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


While everyone else at Starbucks today was buzzing about the heat, Noah surprised us all with his nose for news.  His headline of choice?  German sources reveal that President Bush and Colin Powell knew full well that their primary source of information about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction was less than reliable.  Doggone it!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Quick, call Ripley's Believe it or Not!  Actual construction workers appeared on the scene today at Santa Monica's favorite fixer upper.  In an exclusive interview, one worker -- pictured here during one of his breaks -- noted, "This project is moving quickly."  I left before he tried to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge. 


Big news yesterday at Starbucks as dynamic duo Richard and Charlie returned to 7th and Montana after a brief hiatus.  A big Welcome Back to them both. 

Click here for a special serenade:


This entry is a test.  I am currently online with AOL tech support.  The process is testing my patience.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Faithful Readers: I'm sorry to report that due to AOL technical issues, I've had to utilize a "back door" approach to posting recent blog entries (am Instant Messaging them into the blog). Until I sort this out, this means no headlines or photos in my entries. Sorry!! At least I know who to call at AOL ...


More than coffee was brewing at our favorite Starbucks this morning.  A controversy began over the lack of counter space for cream and sugar.  General consensus is that the "new" cream and sugar space is poorly designed and that 7th and Montana needs more space.  Leah, our favorite frequent jogger, suggested that Starbucks should invest in more counter space, and I fully agree.  Let's take this to the top!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


If the early bird gets the worm, our friendly neighborhood building manager must have a lot of fishing bait.  Imagine my surprise when I walked into Starbucks at 6:30 this morning and there he was, perched on a stool, in deep conversation with another early bird.  After engaging in the usual small talk, I decided to put a new theory to the test by saying, "Always a pleasure, Ralph."  Judging from his surprising reaction -- laughter -- I'm afraid it was just yet another blunder in the name game.

Monday, November 14, 2005


It was coffee to go today and a meager assortment of pastry in the office instead of the usual half caff and food for thought at 7th and Montana.  So, no neighborhood news bulletins for today.  The forecast for tomorrow calls for a crack-of-dawn jaunt to Irvine followed by intermittent meetings.  If anyone else has a Starbucks update, feel free to reply!

Sunday, November 13, 2005


It was a leisurely Sunday morning at Starbucks, the perfect day for a coffee break.  Evidence suggests that even Santa Monica's busiest bee took a break from her massive home renovation project to grab a quick cup of coffee, bringing construction on her 7th Street property to a screeching halt.  While her construction manager couldn't be reached for comment (See Photo #3), sources say the crew is taking its own sweet time.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Despite appearances to the contrary, research suggests that New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol E. Higby is actually quite open-minded.  "Every time I've been in front of her, I felt she's been fair," said Joseph Garvey, a defense lawyer in Toms River. "Some judges will look at a case and throw it out, or take positions. But she's down the middle."  Of her current assignment, overseeing 3,500 Vioxx lawsuits filed in New Jersey, Higby noted, "A mass tort is a mountain of work."  Whether tackling a mass tort or a massive torte, I for one think Higby is more than up to the challenge.  Higby was the subject of much speculation this morning at Starbucks based on her photo in the business section of today's Los Angeles Times.  Learn more about Higby here:   Everything You Wanted to Know About Carol Higbee.


Spectators were abuzz this morning as the long-awaited reconstruction of the house across from Starbucks kicked into high gear.  We all held our breaths as a lone construction worker went for a morning stroll across a rooftop support beam moments after a crane had lowered it into place.  Later, when asked the purpose of this death-defying walk (see photo #2), one source on the construction team commented, "I don't know."

Friday, November 11, 2005


So sue me ... I went somewhere other than Starbucks this morning.  In any case, the buzz at Patrick's Roadhouse suggests that those greedy, good-for-nothing owners of the gas station in front of Patrick's are in no rush to complete what seems to be a year-long renovation project.  Rumor has it that "Chevron corporate" is footing the bill and we all know what deep pockets they have.  Meanwhile, good luck finding a parking space ...


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Gone Fishin' ...

This just in ... the long-awaited repair job on the roof of our favorite Blockbuster has been delayed due to inclement weather.  In an exclusive interview this morning, our friendly neighborhood building manager speculated that his entire roofing crew went fishing.  Knowing how the flood waters tend to accumulate in that building when it rains, I for one will be avoiding Blockbuster for a while. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

This Just In ...

Save a seat for Charlie at Starbucks ... he's all suited up to brave the elements today.  The question remains whether his sidekick Noah is equally prepared.

Let's Ride the Weatherman out of Town on a Rail ...

It was a rare moment at Starbucks this morning ... tables and chairs to be found everywhere during today's "early" shift.  Even the "Sex and the City" crowd migrated inside.  And let's not forget, one of the weathermen said we wouldn't get any rain (was it Channel 7?).

Phew ... Proposition 76

Good thing voters rejected proposition 76.  It would have been hard to face that nice lady giving out anti-Proposition 76 bookmarks at Starbucks if it had passed.  According to her bookmark, Prop. 76 would have meant, among other things, granting the Governor "unilateral powers to slash school funding."  Maybe Arnold should have swung by 7th and Montana ... then he'd know what he was up against. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Here's to Charlie

This blog is dedicated to Charlie and all of his friends at Starbucks.