Monday, November 30, 2009


Something fishy was in the air yesterday at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, where I spent the day with my family. Despite its impressive collection of sea creatures ranging from Beluga Whales to Finding Nemo-like tropical fish, I couldn't help thinking that our visit was a bit "off season." I guess my nephew, Jackson, felt the same way. When I asked him what his favorite part of the trip was, he said, "Pushing the buttons!" And the aquarium wasn't the only thing in Mystic to lose its mystique. We decided to grab dinner at Mystic Pizza, a quaint neighborhood pizza parlour on Main Street, made famous by the 1988 movie of the same name. In the movie, three teenage girls come of age while working at Mystic Pizza. In reality, the restaurant should be rated "for mature audiences only." A woman sitting at the next booth over attracted a lot of attention when she shouted, "Stop it, honey ... This is supposed to be a family restaurant!" I guess someone was pushing her buttons, too ...!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


It was "Tummy Time" for my niece, Leah, yesterday in Plainville as she took a little break from her favorite pass time -- eating -- to make the rounds. Leah celebrated her three-month birthday yesterday and is doing just fine. So is her mom, my sister, Karen. We just got great news from Karen's doctor: She is regaining the movement in her eyes which is a very encouraging sign that the radiation is starting to work. Karen is being treated for a brain tumor ... so this good news from the doctor made for the best Thanksgiving ever!


How quickly kids grow up these days ...! It seems like just yesterday my nephew, Jackson, was toddling around the house playing with his toy trucks. Now he's taken to wearing Groucho Marx-style play glasses and snapping photos with my brother-in-law's iPhone. His favorite iPhone application is a game called CEO Wars: the objective is to throw as many bankers as you can at the evil CEOs to prevent them from taking what's left of the bailout money out of the White House. Here he is pointing the phone in my direction and taking a picture. Next thing you know, he'll be starting up a blog ...!

Friday, November 27, 2009


There was good cheer all around -- and lots to be thankful for -- yesterday at my family Thanksgiving dinner as we celebrated the continuing recovery of my father and sister. And despite our plans to keep the menu from getting 'out of control,' it somehow grew into a banquet worthy of Henry VIII, complete with a freshly-brined, mineral infused, hickory-smoked Turkey and all the fixins. Maybe that's why my father (pictured above) had a little trouble getting out of my nephew Jackson's "thinking chair" ...!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Greetings, friends, from the Red Carpet lounge at LAX. Like 3.2 million other Americans, I'm flying today to spend Thanksgiving with my family. They say that today is one of the "worst" travel days of the year, that the airports are a nightmare, but I'm prepared. I have a secret weapon: The Barbour Classic Beaufort Jacket. I could wax poetic about how this masterpiece of British construction is especially designed for hunting (it's coated in wax), but the real secret of its success as far as I'm concerned is a pair of zippers that convert the entire back of the coat into a secret storage compartment. Today I decided to use it to store some gifts I couldn't fit in my suitcase. "Excuse me, sir, you're going to have to consolidate your luggage," said the Airport Security Guard, "You're only allowed two carry-ons." I knew Airport Security was going to be extra tight today and I was ready. "Well," I replied, pointing at my luggage "I only have two bags." "What do you call that?," asked the Guard. "A jacket!," I said, smugly. "It's awfully lumpy," said the Guard. Indeed, the stuffed animal I had jammed in my secret compartment made me look like Quasimodo. "Excuse me?," I said, "Are you calling me Lumpy?" "Oh, never mind," said the Guard, "Carry on!" And that's exactly what I did ...!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


It was Garbage In, Garbage Out at 7th and Montana this morning as Barista Tyler decided to take the trash out ... with his teeth. For some reason, he was walking around Starbucks with a garbage bag hanging out of his mouth. "What the hell is he up to?," asked one witness. "I don't know," I said, "But at least he has a job he can sink his teeth into!" Let's just be grateful they didn't ask him to clean the bathroom ...!

Monday, November 23, 2009


It was a balmy 72-degrees this morning at 7th and Montana, but that didn't stop a couple of Swiss Misses (pictured above) from shooshing down San Vicente with their ski poles as if they were competing in the Winter Olympics. "Excuse me," I said as they zipped by, "The Slalom Course is due North." Meanwhile, Cool and the Gang hung out at Our Favorite Starbucks wearing their Warm Woolen Ski Hats. Something tells me the Gingerbread Latte is to blame for all this. I hear it goes straight to your head ...!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


It was a sad day at 7th and Montana today as word spread the Charlie, the Irascible Sheepdog, has been "rejected" by Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan. The story begins several weeks ago when Neighbor Richard discovered that Millan -- known far and wide as the "Dr. Phil" of the canine set -- would be shooting his award-winning TV show in Santa Monica. If ever there was a dog in need of the Whisperer, it's Charlie. His Jeckyl and Hyde personality keeps the whole neighborhood on edge. One minute he'll seem perfectly at ease and the next, without warning, he'll go for the jugular with other dogs. Expensive trainers, weeks in Doggie Bootcamp, soothing aromatherapy, bribery with treats ... you name it, Richard has tried it. So, why did the Dog Whisperer reject Charlie? Apparently, before Millan will see you, you have to send him a videotape of your dog behaving badly. Who in their right mind would deliberately put another dog in harm's way just to capture footage of Charlie attacking it? Cesar: If you're out there, I have a few choice words for you and I'm not exactly whispering: "Et tu, Brute ...?!?"

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the Rabbarnacle, a self-proclaimed Rabbi whose barnacle-like tendencies raised a ruckus at 7th and Montana this morning. I knew something was up from the moment he sat at my table. "Hi!-Do-you-mind-if-I-sit-here?-No?-Good!-Are-you-Jewish?-I'm-Jewish.-I'm-a-Rabbi-but-my-Yarmulke-is-at-the-dry-cleaners!-Do-you-have-brothers?-Sisters?-What's-your-name-and-what-do-you-do?," he asked, breathlessly. I looked at him briefly, long enough to notice that he had inexplicably gathered his newspaper into a ball on his lap. "I'm-from-around-here.-Are-you-from-around-here?-Are-you-married?-Are-you-single?-Are-you-gay?-Are-you-straight?-Have-you-ever-been-to-Eastern-Europe?," he continued. By now I realized that he was one Matzoh Ball short of a soup. "Gai Ga Zinta Hate!," he said, "Do you know what that means in Yiddish?" "Yes," I said, you've already asked me that. It means 'Go in Good Health.'" "Well, in that case, Gai Kukken Afen Yam!," he said, "That means 'Go Shit in the Ocean!'" "Thank you," I replied, "An excellent suggestion ... and a big Muzzle-Tov to you!"

Friday, November 20, 2009


Most locals know better than to cross Robin, the friendly fixture at 7th and Montana with a taste for Tai Chi, but I say go ahead and cross her ... it can be rewarding. Just ask Judy, the Neighborhood Crossing Guard. Whenever the mood strikes her -- and it struck her this morning -- Robin brings Judy a steaming Grande Drip, just because it's a nice thing to do. Today I decided to secretly trail along behind Robin and her husband, Screenwriter Nat, just to see the hand-off in action. To my surprise, by the time I arrived at Judy's post, Nat and Robin were gone, Judy seemed to have guzzled down the coffee and was already talking to another couple. Perhaps they brought her some pastry ...!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "Hattie," an attractive, young newcomer who made the scene at 7th and Montana this morning wearing the most unusual straw hat I've ever seen. It was topless, forcing what looked like a beehive hairdo to stand at attention while an extra-wide brim circled her head like a halo. All I can say is, "It's a good thing she was wearing it inside." Otherwise, she might blow out to sea faster than you can say Flying Nun ...!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


It was Hip, Hip, Brulee at 7th and Montana this morning as Starbucks unveiled its latest holiday treat, the Caramel Brulee Latte. "Yikes," I said, "Was this designed for those moments when you're not sure whether you want a Creme Brulee or an Espresso?" "What next," said Screenwriter Marc, "A Marinara Latte?" To celebrate the occasion, a Newbie Barista made the rounds offering free samples. I couldn't help noticing that she was wearing rubber gloves. No doubt she was afraid some of the calories might rub off on her. The super-sweet concoction -- a combination of espresso, steamed milk, caramel sauce, whipped cream and caramel topping -- contains as much as 580 calories.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


It was a Divine Calling at 7th and Montana this morning as Rigolatte -- the man known for belting out opera tunes and laughing like a hyena for no apparent reason -- found religion. He made his way from table-to-table, calmly, rationally handing out leaflets and trying to build a congregation for a new church he has established. "Wow," I said, after declining one of his leaflets, "He sounds almost coherent. I wonder what his church is all about." "It's the Church of the Crazy," said Screenwriter Marc. And then, as if on cue, Rigolatte walked right up to oncoming traffic, flapped his arms rigorously and began squawking like a parrot -- "Wrrraaack ... Wrrraaack ... Wrrraaack ..." -- at the top of his lungs. He could be heard all the way down 7th Street. I don't know what kind of sermons he delivers, but something tells me his Church is strictly for the birds ...!

Monday, November 16, 2009


It was a Singular Sensation this morning at 7th and Montana as Barista Anthony -- the local fixture with a taste in peculiar green ear studs that resemble golf tees -- announced that one of his ear studs was missing. "Now everyone will have to call me Lobe instead of Lobes," he lamented, "What a hassle." He seemed really teed-off. "Have you tried searching the Golf Course for a replacement?," I asked. "You know, you're right," he replied, "My father and I both have a ton of Golf Tees ... maybe I could use one of them." That's the spirit, Anthony! Meanwhile, a word to the wise: Sift carefully before digging into your Perfect Oatmeal and, whatever you do, don't order a Cup of Tee ...!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Eyes were popping at 7th and Montana this morning as an Anonymous Featherbrain paraded up and down 7th Street wearing a Bright, Purple Boa. "Yikes," said one witness, "Where does she think she is, Vaudeville?" "I don't know," I replied, "But one thing's for sure, she's taken leave of her senses. Maybe that Boa has cut off the oxygen supply to her brain!" Research suggests that Boas are typically made from Ostrich or Turkey feathers but I think this woman plucked hers directly from a Loon ...!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


It was a Crime Wave of astronomical proportions at 7th and Montana this morning as a series of no-goodniks made the scene with one thing in mind: Stealing Newspapers. "Look ... Newspaper Thief!," cried Robb. "What?," I replied, "Is the Notorious Newspaper Thief back?" "No, it's his protege, that woman sitting in the corner." Sure enough, an attractive woman in her mid-to-late thirties had stolen today's Los Angeles Times and slipped it under her chair when she thought no one was looking. "Why do people do that?," asked Robin, "Don't they know that newspapers are suffering these days?" "I guess they don't realize that crime doesn't pay," I said, whipping out my Spycam. Speaking of which, according to official City of Santa Monica Police Reports, the Wild Woman who attacked her ex-husband on November 1 is one step closer to trading-in her purple jumpsuit for something a bit more institutional. She was arrested under California Penal Code 273.5(A)PC: "Inflicting Corporal Injury on a Spouse, Co-Habitant or Fellow Parent resulting in Bodily Injury." Oh, well, as she herself says on her My Space page, "I would never (almost!) turn down an adventure ...!"


Soupy Salesman, the local fixture with a taste for tall tales, was up to his old tricks at 7th and Montana this week as he regaled the crowd with tales of his girlfriend. "She stood me up for Kobe Bryant last night," he said, hinting that she and the Lakers giant are an item. I went along with it. "You're kidding," I said. But he was serious. Moments later, his girlfriend -- whose torso is pictured above -- made the scene and seemed a bit surprised to learn about the scandal. "What?!?," she exclaimed, "Me and Kobe?!? ... We were just in the same restaurant, that's all." "Right," said Soupy, trying to salvage the situation, "But you had dinner with him." "He was sitting in the same restaurant and I said hello," she said, flatly. Soupy's story was unraveling faster than you can say double dribble. By the time the two lovebirds left, I couldn't help wondering whether she'd take a free-throw.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


It was a taste of my own medicine this morning at 7th and Montana as Barista David surprised me by waving his cell phone in my direction and saying, "Smile, Marty, this is for my blog!" "Your blog?!?," I asked, quickly whipping out my Spycam and pointing it at him, "Since when do you have a blog?" "Oh, I have a blog, alright, but I'm not giving you the URL ... I don't trust you!" I looked him dead in the eye, my mind flashing back to the various photos I've taken of him in recent months -- Smoking behind Starbucks, falling off his skateboard, shooting the breeze with Barnacle Bess -- and I realized, he's right not to trust me. "What?!?," I asked, incredulously, "You don't trust me? How can this be?!?" "Oh, alright," he softened, "My blog probably won't interest you but I should at least give you the URL." But he didn't. And so now, the question remains: Do we have a pair of dueling blogs at 7th and Montana ...?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Cheers erupted at 7th and Montana as the Notorious One-Eyed Bandit -- known for wearing a signature orange bandanna that covers half his face -- made the scene after a hiatus of nearly a year. At first, I didn't recognize him. Gone were both the bandanna and his stylish, purple pillbox hat. In their place was a knit cap and a spring in his step. He walked right up to Our Favorite Starbucks, stuck his head in the door and cackled like a maniac for no apparent reason. I guess that makes it official, folks, it's Homecoming Week at 7th and Montana ...!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the Manchurian Candidate, the latest newcomer to wow the crowd at 7th and Montana with his avant-gard sense of style. What's he a Candidate for? One look at his broad-brimmed, just-in-from-the-rice-paddies straw hat and his Ming-the-Merciless beard and I'm sure you'll agree ... he's a shoe-in for the Mad Hatter Hall of Fame. In related news, it was Hats Off to Neighbor Sean this morning as word spread that he opened his home and heart last week to an underprivileged student from Uganda. He and his family hosted a young girl who sings in the Matsiko Children's Choir to help raise funds and awareness for the plight of underprivileged children in Africa. The choir performed last week at Disneyland and is currently making its way through Orange County.

Monday, November 9, 2009


It was a curious case of Deja Vu last night at 7th and Montana as an all-too-familiar scene unfolded before my very eyes. There I was, minding my own business, trying to finish the Sunday crossword with Genevieve, when I heard the unmistakable sounds of an Alumni Interview taking place at the next table over. "I love extracurricular activities," said the young man pictured above, "I live for them!" It wasn't just any Alumni Interview ... I could tell it was for my own Alma Matter. "I'd really thrive in Philadelphia," the kid went on, "I really want to expand my horizons." So far, he was doing a good job and the interviewer was asking all the right questions. "How do you feel about the curriculum?," he asked. "Oh well," the kid responded, "I probably wouldn't mind being forced to take non-business classes like French ... it might be interesting." "Mayday, Mayday!," I thought, "The kid's going down!" Sure enough, the interviewer raised an eyebrow. "Forced?!?," he asked. "Well, um, err," the kid stammered, "What I meant to say is that I'd love to expand my horizons with a class like French ... Did I tell you I was a Prefect in my Junior year?" Take it from me, kid, nobody's Prefect. And I should know ... I conducted Alumni Interviews for 15 years and in all that time the University didn't accept a single candidate I recommended ...!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


It was Many Happy Returns at 7th and Montana this morning as Kathy celebrated her birthday in high style. So far, she's enjoyed a "Scorpio Party" on Friday, two cakes this morning at the pool, lunch at the Blue Plate on Montana and, of course, her usual Grande Chai Tea Latte with soy milk, extra hot with no foam and an extra pump. Speaking of Birthdays, today is my Blogiversary, the anniversary of the day I started this blog. To mark the occasion, I've added a new feature to "Heard at Starbucks," a scrolling photo spread called "My Travels" to commemorate some of the places I've blogged from in recent years, including London, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Seoul, Berlin, Fukuoka, Turtle Bay, Kyoto, Athens, Jeju Island, Stockholm, Maui, Utrecht, Miyazaki, Taipei, Tsukuba City and Osaka. My blog turned four-years-old today. As for Kathy, my lips are sealed ...!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


It was a Collective Sigh of Relief this morning at 7th and Montana as the suspicious-looking gentleman pictured above was found "not guilty" of counterfeiting. Sure, he might look the part, with his beady eyes, sinister mustache and devil-may-care attitude, but he's certainly no Counterfeiter. How do I know? Barista Anthony spent what seemed like five minutes holding the man's payment -- a $50 bill -- up to the light and examining it from every angle. When it was my turn to pay, however, he just smiled and put my exact change in the cash register. Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'll bring some Monopoly Money with me just for kicks ...!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Tongues were wagging at 7th and Montana this morning as Barista Tyler announced the boldest move yet in his fledgling Hollywood career. "I appeared on the Judge Judy show on Wednesday," he said, smiling, "She was great." Evidently, even though Tyler was merely doing "audience work" for the show, Judge Judy Sheindlin -- known as the most outspoken judge on Reality TV -- singled Tyler out for questioning. "She kept asking me why I wasn't carrying my wallet and why I would leave it in the car," Tyler said. Tyler: Here's some unsolicited advice. Next time, try accusing the person next to you of stealing your wallet. If that doesn't get you more air time, nothing will ...!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet H&R Blockhead, the latest in a series of no count accountants to wreak havoc on my income tax returns. I went to visit the Blockhead after learning that he made a mistake while trying to correct his firm's previous mistake on my 2007 returns. "I can't help you right now," he said, "But let me make a copy of your forms and we'll set up a meeting to discuss them in a few days." He smiled, grabbed my file and disappeared into a nearby copy room, leaving me to stare at a poster promoting his Mission. In case you're wondering, it's all about Excellence, Integrity, Clients, Teamwork and Respect. Too bad Accuracy didn't make the list. Twenty minutes later, I began to worry. Afterall, how long does it take to copy a three-page letter? I went in search of the Blockhead, only to find him huddled over a photocopier, scratching his head and moving in slow motion. "I can't figure this silly thing out," he said, "It just keeps reducing everything." By this point, my patience was reduced. I grabbed my file and made a bee-line for 7th and Montana where -- not surprisingly -- I came face-to-face with the Accountant, known for spreading out his confidential paperwork all over Our Favorite Starbucks. It figures, doesn't it ...?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


It was a "Eureka" moment at 7th and Montana this morning as I at long last got a photo of the elusive Yellow Breasted Daisy in flight. Known for zipping around town at high speeds on a bicycle built for 10, the Yellow Breasted Daisy has been the biggest challenge of my blogging career. Usually, she moves so fast that she's long gone by the time I whip out my Spycam. But not today. Today I waited by her nest -- somewhere behind Casa del Bozo -- with my Spycam at the ready. Why is photographic evidence so important in her case? Just ask one of her nine traveling companions pictured below: Fozzie Bear, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Pooh, Tiger, Eeyore, a Pink Stuffed Butterfly, an Orange Monkey and a Potpourri of Plastic Flowers). She never leaves home without them ...!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "Luke," my seatmate on United Flight #959 today to Chicago. Luke didn't say much -- which was fine by me -- but what he did say sort of hung in the air like a miasma. "Do you mind if I leave this here?," he asked. It was a Barf Bag. He smiled at me and placed it snugly on the armrest between our seats. The bag was empty, thank God, but his intentions were clear: He expected to be using it shortly and wanted to keep it within easy reach. Would Luke puke? That was the question that haunted me for the duration of the nine-hour flight. Every so often I'd steal a look at the bag, then at Luke who, surprisingly enough, seemed to be enjoying the flight immensely. He ate a heavy meal, belched loudly, and nodded off to sleep. Who knows ... maybe the whole thing was just a Gag!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Shock waves rippled across the Thames last night as a Trio of Baristas -- one from Slovenia, one from Japan and one from Nepal -- grilled me on the English language at the Starbucks near my hotel in Mayfair. "Tell me," said the Slovenian, "Can you explain to me what this word means?" He held up a card with the word Spat written on it. "Are you serious,?" I asked, "You don't know what a Spat is?" "No," he replied, "We've been arguing about it all evening." "Well, then, you were having a Spat," I said, "Because a Spat is a minor argument." "No, no, no," chimed-in his colleague from Japan,"It can't be an argument ... it's something else altogether." "Look," I said, sternly, "I'm sure it's an argument!" "No," he spat, "It's the stuff that dribbles out of your mouth!" It was as if I had stumbled into an Alternate Universe, one where the Perfect Oatmeal had been replaced with Imperfect Porridge (pictured above) and the Apple Fritters (pictured below) have a certain glow about them. Meanwhile, at that very moment, inside sources report that a Major Spat took place at 7th and Montana thanks to a Wild Woman in a Purple Jumpsuit who began videotaping, then attacking her ex-husband before an astonished crowd. Genevieve, Rob and Robin were agog as the woman ripped off her ex-husband's shirt and began beating him furiously. By the time the police arrived to take her away (in handcuffs, no less), she was clutching at his knees for dear life. "It was the story of the year at 7th and Montana," wrote Genevieve in an e-mail, but I have my doubts. Now if the woman Spat at her ex, that would be news ...!


All the prayers did so much to help my sister return home safely from the hospital yesterday (she's home but has a ways to go before she begins to feel better) that I thought I'd try something new this morning. I went to Westminster Abbey where I said a prayer at St. Margaret's Church for a few of the more Unsavory Characters who have crossed my path in recent days. First, a word about St. Margaret's (pictured above): It was founded in the 12th Century by a group of Benedictine Monks to get the locals out of their hair. Sir Walter Raleigh, as famous for his exploits in the New World as for his secret affair and marriage to one of Queen Elizabeth's Ladies-in-Waiting, is buried there. He was beheaded in 1616 after what must be considered one of the worst business trips of all time: An expedition to Venezuela in search of El Dorado. Today, the Knave rests under the Nave ... and it was there I went to say a Modern Day Business Traveler's Prayer.

I prayed for the Anonymous Geezer who sat behind me on United #7549 to Chicago. He spoke so loudly and so constantly throughout the flight that I thought for a moment he was on continuous loop. Every sentence seemed to begin with "Back in my day ..." and end with "will wonders never cease." At one point, he told the Flight Attendant, "Back in my day, we would have called you a stewardess!" The Flight Attendant was a man named Steve with five o'clock shadow. Please, God, send us a Muzzle. And a Razor.

I prayed for the Pilot of United #7656 to Atlanta who seemed to be reaching into his briefcase for a Laptop. Please, God, smite all laptops in the cockpit. I like the Internet as much as the next guy, but let's not forget what happened last month when the Pilots of Northwest Flight #188 overshot their bounds by more than 100 miles thanks to their laptops. Pilots should face the control panel, not Facebook.

And, finally, I prayed for the Cab driver who took me to the airport. Please, God, deliver us from his Lead-Foot. Oh, and while you're at it, you might want to do something about his license (#687124041065). It expired last month.