Monday, March 31, 2008



Quick, call Rod Serling!  In what some insiders are calling "a mystery worthy of the Twilight Zone," a number of Baristas have been reported "missing" from Our Favorite Starbucks.  "I don't know what happened to them," said a source close to the situation.  "One minute they were there and the next minute -- 'Poof' -- they were gone.  It all happened sometime during the Renovation!"  Some say the missing employees were inadvertently "buried alive" when the new Splash Walls were installed.  Others fear that the Construction Crew somehow opened a Black Hole into a Parallel Universe.  Whatever the reason, several Baristas -- including Ramone and Jenny -- have vanished without a trace.  Their memory lingers on, but their names have been Quietly Removed from the "Starbucks Promise" that hangs over the Espresso Counter ...!

Sunday, March 30, 2008



It was "Hello, Helena" this morning at 7th and Montana as Baby Helena made the scene, staying long enough to wave to the crowd before today's chilly, sub-65 degree temperatures -- and the promise of a Blueberry Muffin -- sent her inside.  Indeed, the cool breezes this morning made me wonder for a moment whether we were in Helena, Montana instead of Southern California.  Cathy -- who just returned from her winter sojourn in Vail -- set the record straight.  "It could be worse," she said, "We had 140 inches of snow in Vail this season ...!" 

Saturday, March 29, 2008



Tongues were wagging at 7th and Montana this morning as an Anonymous Grease Monkey made the scene, oozing an Unknown White Substance which clung to his hair and slowly dribbled down the back of his neck.  "Get a load of that," said Kathy, "It looks like he forgot to rinse his hair ... it's full of conditioner or something."  Genevieve and I briefly followed him into Starbucks, intent on identifying the Mystery Substance, but we faced an almost insurmountable obstacle.  How do you ask someone about their Unsightly Goop without appearing rude?  I considered asking, "Are you Gellin'?" or "Nothing beats Extra Cappuccino Foam, eh?," but decided against it.  In the end, the mystery was solved when the Grease Monkey slid out of Starbucks and into the Hair Salon across the street ...!

Friday, March 28, 2008



Head for the Hills, folks!  Elmira Gulch -- the Despicable Spinster from "The Wizard of Oz" -- is alive and well and living in Santa Monica.  She surfaced this morning at 7th and Montana just in time to catch Rita in the act of trying to help a Homeless Dog.  The fun began when Rita arrived on the scene with Riley, a homeless Pekinese she wants to adopt as a companion for Max, her Fearless Poodle.  While Max knows how to sit quietly outside and wait for Rita when she grabs her coffee, Poor Riley -- a newcomer to Our Favorite Starbucks -- threw a Conniption Fit the moment Rita disappeared.  He barked, He yelped, He dragged a chair across the sidewalk ... all of which prompted Rita to come running, empty handed, to his rescue.  I went inside to get Rita her Iced Vanilla Latte ... and came face-to-face with Miss Gulch.  "So, you're getting her coffee, are you?," she hissed.  "I tell you, what does Rita expect, bringing a Homeless Dog like that around here?!?  Does she actually think it will behave when she runs in for coffee?!?"  And with that, she glared in Rita's direction -- as if to say "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!" -- and flew out the door.

Thursday, March 27, 2008



Cheers erupted at 7th and Montana this morning as the marathon, three-day renovation at Our Favorite Starbucks came to an end.  Inside sources report that construction crews were working until the last minute, installing new lighting, doors, wall splashes, countertops and more.  Manager Gabe was still sweeping up debris when I walked in.  "Hmmm," said one Critical Observer, "The place hasn't really changed that much ... it looks a little more open."  Be that as it may, it's nice to know that some things don't change.  I couldn't help noticing, for example, that a solitary Apple Fritter remained in the Display Case.  Perhaps the Construction Crew worked around it ...!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008



It was a Comedy of Errors this morning at the Starbucks at Lincoln and Montana as dozens of refugees from 7th Street were greeted by "the Cashier from Planet Xanax."  I first knew something was wrong on Monday when it took the Cashier-in-Question several minutes -- and a brief consultation with a colleague -- to calculate the change he owed me.  I had given him exact change.  While some say his elevator doesn't go all the way to the top, local experts have a different theory.  "Maybe he's high," joked Elevator Repairman Jeff.  Personally, I think he's just bored ... and who can blame him?  Nothing exciting seems to happen at Lincoln and Montana.  It was so quiet this morning, I found myself asking Jeff, "So, what's new in the world of Elevator Repair ...?!?"  Evidently, like everything else, it has its ups and downs ... 

Tuesday, March 25, 2008



"Quick, call the National Guard ... we're under attack!"  That was my first reaction after arriving at Our Favorite Starbucks last night to check on the status of the Big Renovation.  It looked like a bomb had gone off.  Rubble and trash were everywhere, the counters were askew and equipment was piled all over the place.  The door was open, so I poked my head in and tried to act nonchalant.  "I'll have a Grande Half Caff and the Los Angeles Times," I said to one of the Construction Workers, who merely laughed and gave me an update regarding work-in-progress.  They're adding new countertops, seating, wall panels, electrical outlets and additional lighting.  At the same time, they're also repainting the exterior and installing new doors.  The Jury is still out, however, regarding whether they can re-open on Thursday, as planned.  In related news, the Jury is also out for me, personally:  I was "dismissed" from Jury Duty yesterday after waiting all day at the L.A. County Superior Court ...!

Monday, March 24, 2008



The Verdict is in:  After months of speculation, Our Favorite Starbucks is getting a Facelift, meaning it will be closed from Monday to Wednesday this week while a construction crew works round-the-clock on a major renovation.  Rumor has it that some of the changes -- including new wall panels, more interior seating and extra power outlets -- come directly from the Top.  Local reaction was predictable.  "What are we supposed to do when you're closed,?" I asked, "Walk an entire block to the Starbucks at Lincoln and Montana?!?"  Barista Trina looked me straight in the eye, offered to grind some beans for me and suggested I try making coffee at home on a trial basis.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I have enough trials this week as it is.  I've been summoned for Jury Duty ...!   

Sunday, March 23, 2008



Local Police took what appeared to be a break from their investigation into last week's murder at 6th and Montana to respond to the scene of a "crime" this morning at Our Favorite Starbucks.  At approximately 11:00 a.m., a Suspicious Vagrant who had been continuously circling the block for 30-minutes -- asking anyone who would listen for money -- walked into Starbucks and applied for a job as a Barista.  Barista Trina, a Certified Starbucks Coffee Master, merely smiled, handed him an application and quietly called the Police.  Trina, of course, is well-acquainted with Starbucks' New Advertising Slogan:  "Life Happens Over Coffee."  I guess in some cases it's more like 20-Years to Life ...!

Saturday, March 22, 2008



Our Favorite City Councilman, Bobby Shriver, was seeing (RED) this morning -- and so was the rest of the crowd at 7th and Montana -- as news spread that both he and Actor Clint Eastwood have been removed from the California State Parks Commission based on their opposition to the construction of a toll-road through San Onofre State Beach.  For Shriver, the announcement came as a Double-Whammy given that it was engineered by his Brother-in-Law, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  "One of Arnold's underlings called me 45-minutes before they put out the announcement," Bobby said.  "I called Arnold and told him this is going to backfire ... it's going to make the Toll-Road issue even bigger than it was."  While Schwarzenegger's Press Secretary tried to downplay the incident, telling reporters that "the Governor is just looking for some fresh legs" on the Commission, no one really believes him.  "Besides," joked Bobby, "There's nothing wrong with my legs!"  When he's not busy protecting California's coastline, Shriver heads-up Product (RED), an initiative he created to raise funds for women and children affected by AIDS in Africa. 

Friday, March 21, 2008



Shock waves rippled across 7th and Montana this morning as Local Newshound Dennis left his usual perch inside Our Favorite Starbucks to join the crowd outside.  "I had to get out of there because I was being stalked," he explained, noting that a Mysterious Woman was cozying-up to him in ways that might annoy his wife.  While some remain doubtful that Dennis was in any real danger, you can't be too careful these days.  Actually, the neighborhood is still reeling over the discovery on Wednesday of a corpse -- an apparent murder victim -- at 6th and Montana.  Police have ruled out Apple Fritters as a cause of death.

Thursday, March 20, 2008



What would you do if the person sitting next to you on a plane suddenly turned to you, laughing, and said, "Frozen Poop ... What will they think of next?!?"  Such was my quandary yesterday aboard United Flight #856 to Washington, D.C., as the woman sitting next to me tried to engage me in a discussion about -- you guessed it -- Frozen Poop.  Sensing my confusion, she called my attention to page 147 of the Sky Mall Catalogue where they're actually selling something called POOP-FREEZE, an "emergency pet product that every pet owner should have."  The concept is simple:  Just point a 10-ounce can of Poop Freeze at Fido's Feces, press the trigger and, voila, a quick burst of liquefied gas flash freezes the poop-in-question to minus 62 degrees, instantly hardening it for easy pickup and disposal.  "Just Frost and Toss," say the good people at Poop Freeze, Inc., "It's that simple!"  By the time we landed, I was a convert.  I don't have a dog, but a little Poop Freeze might go a long way here in Washington where, Lord knows, there's plenty of shit flying around ...!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008



Tongues were wagging this morning at 7th and San Vicente as "Rusty the Clown" made a rare appearance to mark the opening of the "whimsical" new home better known as "Casa del Bozo."  "It's the least I could do," said Rusty, "It's not often that a new home doubles as a Circus Attraction!"  Indeed, the Controversial New Home -- known for its topsy-turvy twists and turns, periwinkle blue paint scheme and rusted metallic sheeting -- has been the subject of much speculation as locals wondered, "Who in their right mind would commission something like this?"  Now, at last, the truth can be told:  No one commissioned it.  The architect built it for herself and moved-in several weeks ago.  Meanwhile, as for "Rusty the Clown," rumor has it he's been hired to squirt Seltzer Water at the home at various intervals to ensure that the entire edifice is Rusted-to-Perfection ...!    

Tuesday, March 18, 2008



The crowd at 7th and Montana was all fired-up this morning as a group of Santa Monica Firefighters descended en masse on Our Favorite Starbucks.  "I sure hope there's not a Five-Alarm Fire in progress anywhere," I said, suspiciously.  "Not to worry," said Susan, "Those guys come here all the time.  At least we know they're fully caffeinated!"  I have a somewhat different theory.  Rumor has it that Starbucks' new Honey Latte -- an obscenely sweet "blend of honey, warm spice flavors and espresso, topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of pure, golden honey" -- makes a Great Flame Retardant ...!

Monday, March 17, 2008



Egg-citement was brewing at 7th and Montana this morning as word spread that Sophia -- our Friendly, Neighborhood Bearded Dragon -- just laid another batch of 18 eggs last night.  "I cannot believe all these ovoid objects fit in her body," said Susan, amazed.  "First she raised her tail a bit, or arched it near her hips.  Then she slowly wagged that portion of her body back and forth a little bit each way until the eggs emerged, all shiny and white!"  Meanwhile, as for Sophia herself, new information suggests that she lost her "Virgin Queen" status some time ago, despite the fact that these particular eggs are unfertilized.  So much for the Immaculate Conception theory ...!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


It was a morning of Cool Ocean Breezes and Sandy White Beaches as I spent the last day of my vacation visiting Anna Maria Island, a small "barrier island" off the Gulf Coast of Florida.  Actually, I only had time for a quick trip -- a brief stop with my parents on the way to the airport -- but sometimes a quick visit is all you need.  We walked along the shore, reminisced about old times and checked out a quirky Arts and Crafts Fair featuring everything from Wall-Hangings made out of Dead Lobsters to "Face Products for Moldy-Oldy People with Turkey Neck!"  The smell of the ocean was intoxicating.  In retrospect, it all seems somehow appropriate given that on the first leg of my flight home I was seated directly downwind from World Wrestling Champion and American Gladiator Host Hulk Hogan who evidently rushed to the airport directly from the gym.  The experience practically transported me right back to Anna Maria Island ... at Low Tide! 

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Six-Month-Old Jackson flew back to Massachusetts today with my Sister and Brother-in-Law as our family vacation drew to a close.  One of my priorities on this trip was to get to know my new nephew a little better.  Something tells me we're going to get along very nicely.  Every time he sees a cup of coffee, he tries to grab it ... a habit that can be downright scary at six months but, over time, will give us a lot in common.  My sister, of course, has already told him that he cannot drink coffee until he's in Medical School, studying for his exams.  I'll start saving a seat for him at 7th and Montana ...!

Friday, March 14, 2008



A Narcissistic Nincompoop had something to crow about today at The Crow's Nest Restaurant in Venice, Florida ... and my family had a Ringside Seat.  The fun began when the Nincompoop-in-Question, a teenager, sat down with the Restaurant Manager at the table next to ours for what was obviously a job interview.  "Tell me," said the Manager, a woman in her early forties, "What is your greatest weakness?"  "Well," began the Nincompoop, "Obviously, it's my extreme good looks."  The Manager laughed it off -- and gave him a job -- but I can't help thinking she'll have a problem on her hands.  After she left, the Nincompoop confided in us:  "They hired me as a Server's Assistant," he said, "But with a face like this, I'll move up quickly!"  My family was astonished.  "Who is he kidding?," said my Brother-in-Law, Doug, "His head is so flat it looks like a Shoe Box!"  No doubt the shape and size of his head will come in handy when he gets the boot ...! 

Thursday, March 13, 2008


It was an affair to remember today in Sarasota as my Grandmother celebrated her 90th Birthday in High Style.  In my family, that means she's earned the right to wear a Highly-Coveted Propeller Beanie that says "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" out in public.  To add to the fun, I presented her with a Portable, Electronic Megaphone which spews out insults at the push of a button;  a Singing, Dancing Stuffed Dog;  and a special "Happy Birthday Fan" to help her blow out the candles on her cake.  I don't know who was more excited by the festivities, my Grandmother or Six-Month-Old Jackson.  Said my Grandmother, "As long as I'm on top of the grass, I'm happy."  Happy Birthday, Nana ... and Many, Happy Returns!     

Wednesday, March 12, 2008



Heads were turning at the Starbucks at Palmer Ranch in Sarasota today as I stood transfixed over the Pastry Counter taking photo after photo.  "What are you doing?," asked one of the locals.  "I'm taking shots of this pastry for my blog," I said.  Indeed, the Pastry in Question -- called the "Guava Cream Cheese Joya" -- makes the Apple Fritter at 7th and Montana look downright appetizing ...!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008



A Happy-Go-Lucky-Quackpot was the Star of the Show at the Sarasota Square Mall today, at least as far as my six-month old nephew, Jackson, was concerned.  The fun began when we entered the Hallmark shop in search of a greeting card.  "Look what we have here," said the Daffy Salesperson behind the counter.  "I have the perfect Dancing Duck for you!"  Without further ado, she produced an "Animated Stuffed Duck" and pressed a button on its stomach which made it dance and sing.  As the Duck went through its merry routine, gyrating and singing up a storm, the Saleswoman began flapping her arms and quacking like a cross between Daffy Duck and a Demented Loon.  Jackson was highly amused.  As for me, I quietly "ducked" out of the store before the saleswoman could produce a Prancing Elephant ...!

Monday, March 10, 2008



I may be in Sarasota -- on Florida's Gulf Coast this week -- but it feels more like Jacksonville now that my six month old nephew, Jackson, arrived here to take his first-ever vacation with the family.  Actually, it's my first vacation in a while, too, and we're having a ball.  We spent today walking all around St. Armand's Circle, a popular destination near the Lido Key, filled with quaint shops and restaurants.  Jackson is almost always all smiles.  While some skeptics might say he's just exceptionally "gassy," I think he's really a gas ...!

Sunday, March 9, 2008



Heads were turning on the "Early Shift" at 7th and Montana this morning as an Anonymous Schlep wandered-in to Starbucks wearing his Pajamas.  "Maybe he's sleepwalking," I said, amazed that anyone could even find "My Little Pony" Pajama Bottoms in his size.  "Perhaps it's best not to wake him."  No doubt the time-change this morning to Daylight Savings Time threw him for a loop.  As for me, it's time for me to set my clock three-hours ahead:  I'm heading back to the East Coast ...! 

Saturday, March 8, 2008



An Immaculate Collection of bystanders arrived at 7th and Montana this morning to witness an Egg-straordinary event:  Sophia, the Bearded Dragon, is expecting another batch of 20 eggs -- her second this season -- despite an Obvious Lack of Suitors.  Could this be an Immaculate Conception?  I don't know.  But, judging from the Mischievous Glint in Susan's eyes today, I -- for one -- will be boycotting Yogurt Covered Almonds, Malted Milk Balls and Easter Eggs for the Duration ...!

Friday, March 7, 2008



Roll out the Red Carpet, folks!  It was Celebrities Galore today at 7th and Montana as word spread that Actress Demi Moore and "Brit It Girl" Amanda De Cadenet made the scene at Our Favorite Starbucks.  The two could be seen slurping whole milk lattes and enjoying a perfect beach day in Santa Monica.  In related news, our very own One-Eyed Bandit achieved Celebrity Status today as a Commemorative "Plaque" bearing his name was installed on the "Wall of Fame" at the Federal Express office on Sunset Strip.  Indeed, I must take credit for this.  Throughout March, the Federal Express store near my office will put your name on its wall if you make a small donation to the March of DimesI donated this afternoon, but gave full credit to the "One-Eyed Bandit"...!

Thursday, March 6, 2008



It was a case of "The Bald and the Beautiful" at Our Favorite Starbucks this morning as a Beautiful, Young Woman charmed her way to the front of the line and a free cup of coffee.  The Soap Opera began when the woman-in-question bypassed a long line of customers and threw herself on the mercy of an Unsuspecting Dupe standing by the counter.  "Sir, I'm in a terrible hurry," she said, "Could you buy my coffee for me?"  The Dupe (pictured here) obliged, only to set off a storm of controversy as the customers standing behind him, led by Local Newshound Dennis, started complaining loudly.  For my part, I can't help wondering, was the woman-in-question really in more of a rush than everyone else ... or was she simply telling a Bald Faced Lie?!? 

Wednesday, March 5, 2008



I'm in New York for an industry meeting today but something tells me that there won't be any Big Apples on the menu this time.  My hotel, the Crowne Plaza in Times Square, is right next to a Hershey's Chocolate Store featuring a 16-story chocolate bar and across the street from M&M World, a candy emporium selling nothing but M&Ms.  Not so long ago, Times Square was considered dangerous.  Now it looks like Candyland and smells like Hot Chocolate.  Who knows, maybe all this "revitalization" is really just a conspiracy from the American Dental Association ...!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008



A Transcendental Trio arrived on the scene at 7th and Montana on Sunday, intent on introducing Susan to the Finer Points of their New Age Philosophy.  Their theory -- gleaned in part from their own Past Lives -- is that the world will undergo a "dramatic shift" in 2012.  Those who embrace Gaia (the Greek Earth Goddess) will inherit the Earth and achieve an Unparalleled State of Nirvana.  The rest of us will be quietly "relocated" to a Mystery Location, elsewhere in the Universe.  "I can't take much more of their philosophy," confided Susan as she saw me walking by.  "And it's not just me.  They've driven Poor Sophia crazy!"  Indeed, Sophia -- the Australian Bearded Dragon -- began furiously trying to claw her way into the pavement within an hour of meeting the Philosophical Trio.  For my part, I'm keeping an open mind.  I don't mind being relocated, as long as there's a Starbucks on the other side ...!     

Monday, March 3, 2008



"Fresh Blood" was in the air this morning at Our Favorite Starbucks as Manager Gabe introduced his new Assistant Manager, Jenny, to the crowd.  The two were huddled together for an In-Depth Orientation during which Gabe seemed to be tutoring Jenny on the ins and outs of 7th and Montana.  Admittedly, the exchange left me wondering:  Would it make more sense to forewarn Jenny about the Evil Munchkin, the One-Eyed Bandit and Our Friendly Neighborhood Antagonist ... or should we save that for later?  Meanwhile, it was "Fresh Blood" of another kind for Screenwriters Mark and Rob.  They're considering a short-term assignment involving Literary Triage for a Vampire movie ... !

Sunday, March 2, 2008



Cathy kicked-up her heels this morning at 7th and Montana in anticipation of a much-ballyhooed "Slumber Party" tonight with 80 of her friends.  But don't jump to any conclusions:  Tonight's shindig is unlikely to include Sleeping Bags, Pillow Fights or Jiffy Pop popcorn.  It's being held at the Four Seasons Hotel to celebrate a friend's 65th Birthday.  Still, one wonders what they'll do when Cathy's friend turns 70 ... a Pizzafest at Chuck E. Cheese, perhaps?!?  Meanwhile, as for Howard, Pizza might be a Safe Bet for dinner in Cathy's absence.  Rumor has it, last time he was in the kitchen, he accidentally incinerated a copy of The Wall Street Journal while trying to "dry it off" in the Microwave.  Now that's what I call a Hot News Flash ...!

Saturday, March 1, 2008



Robin made the scene at 7th and Montana this morning, still aglow from her latest workout at the Fitness Factory in West Hollywood, where she exercises alongside the likes of Scarlett Johansson and Hugh Jackman.  What new Fitness Regimen could possibly compel her to cross the 26th Street Mason-Dixon Line out of Santa Monica?  It's called Kettlebells and Robin swears by them.  "It's quite a workout," she said, "It involves lifting big, metal balls.  After my first session, I couldn't walk for four days."  Kettlebells are castiron weights resembling cannonballs with handles.  Russian Athletes have used them for years to increase their strength, endurance and agility.  I guess this means that Robin will be in Tip-Top Shape this Summer.  Either that, or she'll grow a mustache and have to change her name to "Olga" ...!