Friday, October 31, 2008


Confusion reigned supreme at 7th and Montana this morning as a multitude of Costumed Characters made the scene ... just in time for Halloween. "Heaven help us," I said, "It's that time of year, again!" Indeed, it's hard enough on a normal day at Our Favorite Starbucks to tell who's wearing a costume and who isn't, but on Halloween, all bets are off. Moments later, the Greasiest, Scraggliest-Looking Barista I've ever seen appeared out of nowhere to take my order. "May I help you?," he asked. He was wearing a black leather jacket and skin-tight red jeans. His shirt was halfway open, exposing mounds of Chest Hair, and he had enough oil on his head to power a small nation. I paused, briefly, before working up the courage to ask, "Are you wearing a costume?" "Yes," he replied, "I'm Freddie Mercury!" Say what you will, there's something unsettling about about watching "Freddie Mercury" pour you a cup of coffee. I guess I'm just afraid of Mercury Poisoning ...!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Eyes were popping at 7th and Montana this morning as an Attractive Young Woman announced that she was Going Topless. "Help," she cried, cutting in front of me in line, "I've lost my top!" Naturally, I did a double-take, only to realize that she had merely flipped her lid. The top of her coffee cup had fallen on the floor and she was "desperate" to get a replacement. You'll have to forgive me for assuming she was about to do a Strip Tease, but let's face it, stranger things have happened. Does the name Boobs Mahoney ring a bell ...?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


It was a Duel at Forty Paces yesterday at 7th and Montana as The Notorious Newspaper Thief, known for stealing The Los Angeles Times from Our Favorite Starbucks, made the mistake of crossing my path, once again. We both entered Starbucks at the same time. He used the entrance on Montana. I took 7th Street. He looked at me. I looked at him. He snarled and reached for the Newspaper Bin. I smiled and whipped out my Camera Phone. I fired the first shot. "I have a Zoom Lens, you know!," I cried. He recoiled, backed away from the newspapers and ran out the door as fast as his spindly legs could carry him. Let this be a lesson to criminals everywhere: The Camera Phone is mightier than the Sword ...!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Anyone who has tried pulling out of the Parking Lot from Hell behind Our Favorite Starbucks knows how difficult it can be ... but imagine attempting the same maneuver with a group of Paparazzi commenting on your every move. Actress Courtney Cox found herself in just that predicament last week when, after joining real-life friends -- Screenwriter Brothers Mark and Rob -- for a cup of coffee, she became the latest in a long line of "Parking Lot Statistics" at 7th and Montana. She had trouble backing her SUV out of its space and the fact that a camera crew from TMZ was videotaping the whole thing didn't help. At one point, a photographer yelled "Can't she drive?" and her husband, David Arquette, politely explained, "She's a great driver. You don't understand how nerve-wracking it is to have cameras on you when you're trying to pull out!" Don't worry, Courtney, everyone has trouble backing out of that space. I'm just surprised that Mark and Rob didn't warn you in advance to park on 7th Street ...!

Monday, October 27, 2008


It was curtains yesterday for an Unfortunate Fashion Victim who made the scene at 7th and Montana wearing what appeared to be her drapes. "Get a load of that," I said, as the woman made her way across 7th Street, "She's wearing her living room curtains." Indeed, her skirt -- a shimmering, ankle-length train wreck-- had so many pleats and swoops it looked like she pulled it straight off the valance. "All that's missing is a pull chord so she can turn it into a mini-skirt," said Susan, dryly. Perhaps, like a modern day Scarlett O'Hara, she was using her last remaining possession, her curtains, to save her plantation from foreclosure. Unfortunately, that look went Out with the Wind ...!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


As anyone who has ever watched the classic Ginsu Knife Commercial can tell you, "In Japan, the hand can be used as a knife." But I'll bet you didn't know that at the Tokyo Narita Airport Hilton, the elevator can be used as a Guillotine. The elevator doors at this hotel open and close so quickly that, if you're not careful, you can be seriously injured. Last night alone, I saw a Flight Attendant get her luggage crushed and an elderly couple nearly topple over when the doors caught them by surprise. This morning, it was my turn. I stepped towards the Lobby Elevator seconds after the doors opened but I wasn't fast enough: They slammed shut on my face before I could jump out of the way. There is obviously no sensor to prevent the doors from closing when a guest is standing between them and no rubber padding to soften the inevitable blow. It was like being socked in the jaw. I made my way to the front desk, blood dripping from my mouth. "Your elevator doors just hit me," I said to the front desk manager, angrily, "They only opened for a few seconds and then closed on my head!" At first, he didn't understand me. "Do you see this blood?," I continued, "It's from your elevator." He stammered, but didn't say much. I took him to the scene of the incident and showed him how quickly the doors open and close, then asked him to send some antiseptic upstairs as soon as possible. While it turned out that I only had a split lip -- easily handled with a combination of ice and antiseptic -- I found myself wishing I could start the morning over. So that's exactly what I did. I got on a plane and flew back in time to a Better Sunday morning at 7th and Montana. This time, the tables were turned. Shortly after we finished the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle, Kathy spilled a bottle of water all over the place ...!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


After a week of meetings here on Jeju Island, I decided yesterday that it was high-time to do a little exploring. So I grabbed a map, got a little advice from the concierge and jumped into a taxi. My first stop was the Seongeup Folk Village Museum, a recreation of Jeju Island life in the 17th and 18th Centuries. The Village contains more than 3,000 thatched roof cottages, all moved from their original locations throughout Korea, along with rare artifacts and cultural exhibits. Life in the early Jeju villages wasn't easy. For example, before there was indoor plumbing, the average native would construct his own "Tongsi" or "Traditional Toilet" out of Lava Rocks. After a brief stop for some "refreshment" -- a package of freeze dried Octopus Meat from a local cafe -- I continued on my journey, stopping at the Seongsan Ilchulbong or Sunrise Peak, a giant Lava Cone rising more than 182 meters above the island like a giant punch bowl on steroids. Created by an underwater volcanic eruption more than 5,000 years ago, Seongsan Ilchulbong today offers visitors a birdseye view of the island. I climbed to the top and wasn't disappointed. I ended my tour at Manjang Cave, the world's largest Lava Cave created centuries ago by the eruption of the Hallasan volcano. As the lava pushed outwards, it created a network of underground tunnels that extends for miles. My next stop: A plane to Tokyo ...!

Friday, October 24, 2008


It must have been a slow day yesterday for the Caricature Artist stationed in the lobby of my hotel on Jeju Island, Korea. All week long, he had been standing at an easel, alone, trying to drum up business among passersby. "Come, come," he would cry, "Pictures for you!, Pictures for you!" Little did he realize, the hotel was filled with Hollywood executives, business travelers who could care less about having someone draw their picture. It all came to a head last night when the artist, out of sheer desperation, thrust a portrait in my direction. "For you!," he cried, "I make picture for you!" The implication was clear: He was trying to pass off one of the portraits that had been sitting on his easel all week as a picture of me. And it might have worked, too ... if I wasn't wearing my glasses. "Thanks," I said, "But you can't fool me ... This is a Korean!"

Thursday, October 23, 2008


My policy regarding food in Korea has always been "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," but this morning -- after taking a pass on a plate of "Spicy Steamed Gastropods with Vegetables" -- I finally worked-up enough courage to ask my colleague from China what she was eating.
Me: What on Earth are you eating? It looks like it just washed-up on the beach!
Judy: Seaweed.
Me: Yuck ... I've had that in Japan. Unless it's wrapped around a piece of Sushi, I'm not a big fan.
Judy: Korean Seaweed is much better than Japanese Seaweed. It's good for you, too. You should try some.
Me: Silly me, I thought Seaweed was Seaweed.
I decided to give it a try. Korean Seaweed comes in handy, foil packs, sealed with a Gold Sticker proudly proclaiming that it has been "Triple Inspected" by a panel of experts. I tried not to think about why they would need three separate inspectors to examine a piece of seaweed -- or what qualifies someone to be a "seaweed expert" -- and I took a big bite. It was delicious: Tangy but not too overpowering. Salty, with just a hint of plankton. It melts in your mouth. Who knows, when I get home, perhaps I'll swing by the Santa Monica Pier and scrape myself up a feast ...!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


They say a picture's worth a thousand words ... and that's a good thing considering that most of the locals here on Jeju Island speak very little English. Instead, they resort to an elaborate system of hand gestures and symbols when it comes to communicating with foreigners. Take the restaurant I went to for dinner last night. Instead of the usual signs one would expect directing you to a restroom, here on Jeju they take a more pragmatic approach. To find the Men's Room, you just follow the signs that show a man urinating on the floor. Women, however, have a bigger challenge. They need to follow the signs showing a woman doing her business while crouched on the floor. As for the menu, there was no need for translation. This restaurant served only two items: "Fatty Black Pork Belly," barbecued at your table, and a "salad" consisting of scallions with hot peppers and onion juice. All I can say is, "Thank God for the directional signs." A lot of my colleagues found themselves running back and forth, again and again ...!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


My hotel here on Jeju Island, The Shilla Jeju, was the first five-star resort in Korea. Built on a cliff overlooking Jungmun Beach off the South Coast of Korea, the property includes 21 acres of lush garden pathways and waterfalls leading to the South China Sea. Jeju is often called "The Island of the Gods" or "The Honeymoon Island" of Korea. I'm here for work, of course, but I did get a chance to walk around the hotel today and it was spectacular, a lot like Hawaii with its volcanos, lava tubes and sandy, white beaches. The only thing missing is Starbucks ...!

Monday, October 20, 2008


It was "Hello Kitty" and "Goodbye Dignity" at Tokyo's Narita Airport this morning as I stumbled my way into a Freakishly Embarrassing situation. There I was, waiting in line for a Customs Official to stamp my passport, when I felt a Gentle Tap on my shoulder. "Pardon me, is this the line for Foreigners?," asked a woman in a squeaky voice that sounded vaguely like Minnie Mouse. I turned around and, to my shock, came face-to-face with what can only be described as an explosion in the "Hello Kitty" factory. She wore a bright pink and purple fur coat festooned with stuffed animals including a Cottontail Rabbit clinging to her back and a Cheshire Cat wrapped around her neck. Her shoes -- a pair of Purple Platform Boots offset by Lime Green stockings and Bright, Red Hearts -- made it look like she was on stilts. Her hair, a mass of Pink and Purple Dredlocks, was held firmly in place by a pair of Sparkling, Plastic Orbs. She looked like Pippi Longstocking on Acid. "I ... err ... yes ... this line is for Foreigners," I stammered. Then it struck me: She couldn't possibly be for real. "I like your costume," I chuckled, "You really had me going there for a second!" "It's not a costume," she smiled, "This is how I dress everyday!" And with that, we parted ways: I boarded a flight to Jeju, a "remote and mysterious island" off the Southwest coast of Korea, and she, no doubt, went back through the Looking Glass ...!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "Tse Tse," the delightful young woman sitting near me tonight at the Terrace Restaurant in Tokyo. I just arrived in Tokyo after a day-long flight, so, understandably, I was a bit tired and decided to grab an early dinner near my hotel. Apparently, "Tse Tse" was a bit tired, too. She was sleeping soundly at the next table like a Japanese version of Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping in public is perfectly normal in Japan -- people here grab quick cat naps all the time -- but "Tse Tse" took it to a new extreme. She slept through an entire meal. By the time I finished eating, I knew I had to come to her rescue. When the waitress asked whether I'd like anything else, I said, "No thanks ... but you might want to bring the woman at the next table a cup of coffee before Rigor Mortis sets in ...!"

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Tongues were wagging at 7th and Montana this morning on news that Joe the Plumber has a new assistant ... only this Plumber's Helper is Beautiful, Blonde and hangs out at Our Favorite Starbucks. The Woman-in-Question, pictured above, caused a commotion when she bent over to reveal a Gaping Butt Crack for all the world to see. "There you go," said Neighbor Richard as I zoomed-in for a close-up, "She'd make Joe the Plumber proud!" As for the woman, she seemed oblivious to the commotion around her. I guess she's never heard the expression, "Step on a crack, break your mother's back ...!"

Friday, October 17, 2008


Bells were ringing at 7th and Montana this morning as "Lady Godiva," the woman known for occasionally waltzing around the neighborhood Half-Naked, brought a telephone with her to Starbucks. No, I don't mean a Cell Phone. She unplugged the phone from her wall at home and -- as if to say "I'm on call with the Institute for the Perpetually Wacky" -- she carried it around with her up and down Montana Avenue, coddling it like it was a Prized Possession. Frankly, I'm starting to worry about her. I wish there was someone we could call ...

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Shock waves rippled across 7th and Montana this morning as Screenwriter Mark made the scene without his brother, Rob, the other half of the Dynamic Duo known for cranking out Hit TV shows and movies from a table at Our Favorite Starbucks. "I'm not expecting Rob this morning, so I'm not really working," Mark explained, though his eyes occasionally darted to his notebook as if it were calling to him. The fact is, work never seems far from his mind. Moments after regaling the crowd with Tales from the TV Trenches, he dove into what he called his MacGyver mode, creating some badly needed shade with just the use of a pair of Coffee Stirrers. Meanwhile, as for Brother Rob, he was last seen Late Last Night paling around with Jennifer Aniston and Heidi Klum at the Beverly Hills home of Courtney Cox and David Arquette. Arquette was hosting an A-List Fashion Show to celebrate the launch of his new clothing line, Propr. Rumor has it the Screenwriter Brothers raided the hors d'oeuvres while a team of "Water Dancers" performed a Busby Berkeley-style musical number in Cox's pool. I'd say more, but it wouldn't exactly be Propr ...!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


It was a lesson in Local Politics this morning at 7th and Montana as Our Favorite City Councilman, "Mr. B," briefed me on some of the key local initiatives on the ballot next month in Santa Monica. The first -- and perhaps most complicated -- is Proposition T, a measure designed to establish an annual limit on commercial development within the City until 2023. Proponents of this measure have wisely tried to position it as a solution to the City's growing traffic problems. The theory is that less construction means less local jobs which, in turn, means less traffic. Opponents -- which include Teachers, Police Officers and Firefighters -- are quick to point out that the measure would put millions of dollars of school funding at risk while slashing funds required for Emergency Services. "It's a tough one," said Mr. B, "There's no easy answer but opponents are acting like the Sky is Falling. I'm voting for it." Personally, I'm much more worried about another initiative, the so-called Proposition SM. "You're going to hate SM," said Mr. B, "It will charge you a tax every time you use your cell phone." Indeed, the City cooked-up this initiative to generate revenue by imposing a tax on cell phones and texting to start, with the possible addition of Internet Access and Satellite TV in the future. A tax on my Camera Phone?!? Forget "SM" ... I'd have to be a masochist to vote for it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Heads were turning at 7th and Montana this morning as the Notorious One-Eyed Bandit -- known for his Uncanny Resemblance to Popeye -- made the scene wearing a pair of White Underpants on his head. "You've got to hand it to him," I said of the Bandit as he made his way across 7th Street to Drugtown, "The man has Style!" The Underpants-on-the-Head look was first popularized by Captain Underpants, a Local Contortionist who regularly stands on his head in front of Our Favorite Starbucks wearing a pair of Blue Boxers. As for the Bandit, it's unclear why he would make a similar Fashion Statement at Drugtown. Perhaps he's suffering from Diarrhea of the Mouth ...!

Monday, October 13, 2008


It was a Cross-Country Race this morning as I left Boston at the crack of dawn, intent on making it back to 7th and Montana in time to grab my usual Half Caff and continue with my workday. I thought for sure I'd win the award not only for traveling the greatest distance to Our Favorite Starbucks, but for jumping through hoops, as well. To my surprise, someone beat me. Barista David apparently drove all the way to Tuscon, Arizona last night to pick up his dog, only to turn around and race back to Santa Monica in time to start his shift at Starbucks at 4:00 a.m. He was stopped for speeding along the way. Ay, Chihuahua ...!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


It was a Picture Perfect Day today in Massachusetts. The sun was shining, the fall foliage was at its peak and the Topsfield Fair, the nation's oldest agricultural fair, was in full gear, attracting kids of all ages. I checked it out with my family and we ended up staying all day. Afterall, where else -- other than perhaps 7th and Montana on an average day -- can you see Prize-Winning Turkeys, Racing Pigs and Pumpkins in Disguise. Jackson was in his element. He seemed to be especially mesmerized by a Kiddie Hot Rod Ride, even though he didn't quite meet the size requirements this year. As for me, I enjoyed watching folks gather around an award-winning, 1,500-pound Pumpkin-on-Steroids ...!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Kids sure grow up fast these days! It seems like just last month that my nephew, Jackson, was celebrating his first birthday. Now, he's riding a motorcycle and cursing like a sailor. The motorcycle, a "Kiddie Kawasaki," was a gift from a neighbor. We're not sure, however, where he picked up his new found "profanity." Somewhere along the line, in recent days, he's added a couple of choice words to his rapidly growing vocabulary. I'm sure it will pass, that he'll forget about it in time, but he's obviously drinking-in everything around him at an astonishing rate. Let's just hope he doesn't drink and drive ...!

Friday, October 10, 2008

GERMS, AHOY ... AT 30,000 FEET!

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Miss Fidget, the Professional Germ-o-Phobe who sat next to me last night on United Flight #166 to Boston. Shortly after she boarded the plane, Miss Fidget produced a box of Antiseptic Towelettes from her carry-on bag and proceeded to carefully, methodically wipe herself down ... again and again. She recoiled at the sight of me, as if I were a Giant Streptococcus. Just for kicks, I tried coughing loudly in her direction several times but it was no good. She blocked me out with a set of earplugs and a facemask. Next time, I'll wear a T-Shirt that says, "Don't Worry ... the Doctor Says I'm not Contagious!"

Thursday, October 9, 2008


It was a Traffic Snarl of monumental proportions this morning at 7th and Montana as a Time Warner Cable Repairman inexplicably prevented customers from entering Starbucks by blocking the entryway to Our Favorite Parking Lot with his truck. "Howdy," he said, oblivious to the traffic backing-up onto 7th Street, "This is my dog, Spot!" Granted, cable service has been Spotty throughout the neighborhood ever since Time Warner bought its way into Santa Monica in 2006, but I never imagined they would have hired such an Appropriate Mascot. Spot, a happy-go-lucky Boxer mix (pictured above), apparently makes housecalls. I hope he also protects cable repairmen from angry customers. Time Warner Cable has been in the Doghouse since June, when the City of Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against them for "fraudulent business acts" and "shoddy service."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Ever get the feeling you were being watched? There I was at 7th and Montana this morning, trying to mind my own business, when a Frazzled Woman shuffled by, looked me straight in the eye and pulled up a chair at the table next to mine. Moments later, she swiveled to face me directly, obviously trying to get a close-up view. I tried using my newspaper as a shield but it was no good. I could feel her eyes boring a hole through the Business Section. Finally, I decided to confront her head-on. I whipped out my Trusty Camera Phone and pointed it in her direction. "Don't mind me," I said, cheerfully, snapping picture after picture, "I'm just an Incurable Shutterbug!" It worked. She spun around, turning her back to me faster than you can say "Matahari." Of course, I know full well that her backside can be equally disturbing. This is the same woman who -- back on April 6th -- showed up to Our Favorite Starbucks Half-Naked.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008



My cup runneth over this morning at Our Favorite Starbucks -- and so did everyone else's -- as an Overcaffeinated Barista went into what can only be called Pike Place Overdrive.  In fact, he brewed so much of Starbucks' new signature blend that it was pouring out of the urn, leaking onto the counter and floor.  "Help!," cried the Cashier-on-Duty as she did her best to capture the overflow using a stack of paper cups and a dish rag.  Jorge, pictured above, ran to her rescue.  "Can I get a refill?" asked the man standing behind me in line, somewhat impatiently, while a river of coffee accumulated behind the counter.  "Not to worry," I replied, "It looks like the current is flowing in your direction ...!"

Monday, October 6, 2008



What does Our Favorite Starbucks have in common with a Roach Motel?  Thanks to the nice folks at the Sunshine Auto Park -- better known locally as "the Parking Lot from Hell" -- guests check-in, but they don't check-out!  The parking spaces are so tightly packed that it's sometimes impossible to back out without hitting a pedestrian or damaging your car.  Take the woman driving the car pictured above.  She arrived at Starbucks at 8:00 a.m. this morning for what she thought would be a quick cup of coffee.  At 8:30, she was still trying to maneuver her way out of her parking space.  A number of Good Samaritans tried to help, but it was all to no avail.  Every time she managed to inch her way a few feet towards freedom, she'd hit an obstacle and retreat back into her parking space like a turtle in its shell.  Finally, after much effort, she backed herself out, only to become "beached" on the "Island of Lost Auto Parts" behind Starbucks.  She looked at me in desperation.  I would have rushed to her aid but I was far too busy trying to capture the moment on video.  Fortunately, the story has a Happy Ending:  I got at least five-minutes' worth of Mesmerizing Footage, all of which can be yours on DVD for the low, low price of only $4.95.  As for the woman, rumor has it she's still stranded in the Sunshine Auto Park ...!

Sunday, October 5, 2008



Politics reared its Ugly Head this morning at 7th and Montana as Screenwriter Nat reminded me of my status as "Unofficial Mayor" of Starbucks and hinted that I should be campaigning for re-election.  "Tell me," he said, channeling Jim Lehrer, "Are you a Maverick?"  "You betcha," I lied, "I'm a Doggone Maverick!"  Moments later, as if to prove my point, I fended off a Political Attack from Our Favorite City Councilman, who accused me of cheating on the Sunday Crossword Puzzle.  Of course, there's more to campaigning than simply lying and fending off misleading attacks.  You have to be nice, too.  That's why, when our Friendly Neighborhood Antagonist (pictured above) made the scene, I violently agreed with everything he said.  "I'm telling you," he began, "I just watched the Gold Diggers DVD and it's the most hysterical thing I've ever seen.  It was so funny that I practically had to tape my mouth shut to keep my guts from popping out!"  I smiled and nodded my head in agreement, despite reviews calling the film "overwhelmingly unfunny" and "moronic."  Stay tuned tomorrow as I kiss every Ugly Baby in town and wolf down a plate of Apple Fritters ...!

Saturday, October 4, 2008



Spots were in season this morning at 7th and Montana as a Would-Be Fashionista made the scene, sporting what can only be described as a Polka-Dot Hairdo.  Indeed, his head was so covered in Bleached Blonde Spots that it was hard to tell whether he was a Dalmation Mutation or the Tragic Victim of some Hair-Raising Experiment.  "I love my Hair," he said loudly as he walked into Starbucks.  To each their own, I always say, but this guy must be Completely Dotty ...!

Friday, October 3, 2008



Something fishy was in the air this morning at 7th and Montana as the man known locally as Mr. Gorton's of Gloucester removed his Fisherman's Cap and weighed anchor at the Bus Stop in front of Our Favorite Starbucks.  Famous for giving Genevieve a Nearly Constant Fish Eye, Mr. Gorton seemed a bit lost this morning in her absence.  Buses came and went, but he just continued sitting there, staring off into space.  To be honest, I felt badly for the Poor Guy.  With any luck, one day he'll realize that there are plenty of other fish in the sea ...!

Thursday, October 2, 2008



Someone's been "drinking the Cool Aid" -- or Hot Chocolate as the case may be -- at Our Favorite Starbucks and something tells me it's Barista Amanda.  She made the scene yesterday with a tray full of free samples and a Perfect Pitch.  "How would you like to try our new Signature Hot Chocolate?," she asked, sweetly, "It's Rich, Creamy and Delicious with four kinds of chocolate and a sprinkling of Italian Salt."  It looked like a Diabetic Coma in a Cup.  "I'll take a pass," I said politely.  A man sitting at a table near me couldn't resist.  "I'll give it a try," he said.  "You won't be sorry," she replied, smoothly, "It's Rich and Creamy!"  He waited until Amanda was out of earshot before offering-up the following critique:  "Oh my God!," he said, "It's so sweet ... I think I feel my cavities from ten years ago kicking-in!"  As for me, I might just buy up Starbucks' full supply.  Afterall, thanks to the Jittery Nutcase, Hot Chocolate has become a Weapon of Mass Destruction at 7th and Montana ...!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008



It was the Last Straw at 7th and Montana yesterday as Richard flipped his lid over what is fast becoming known as "Strawgate."  Starbucks has evidently changed the size of the lids it puts on its Iced Coffee and the change has really put a crimp in Richard's style ... or, more specifically, it's put the squeeze on his straw, sealing it shut.  "I guess they don't want anyone to actually sip anything," Richard scoffed.  Said another Victim, "It's enough to drive a person to drink!"