Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Enough Is Enough

I had a friend.

It took a while to learn I couldn't trust her.

She's no longer my friend.

Good riddance.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Too Loud For Comfort

What do you do when you have an inconsiderate neighbor who refuses to respect others? It's a dilemma that unfortunately disrupts the harmony of living in close quarters. If not handled carefully it can lead to physical confrontations and emotional turmoil.

There are times we all crank up our favorite songs a little bit too loudly. We sing along, we dance, and when it's over we lower the volume to a respectable level. Not everyone loves the same music and your neighbors probably don't welcome your moment of self-indulgence. Being considerate you keep the self-indulgences to a minimum, and know there are times your neighbors will indulge too. If you're asked to lower the volume you do. It's neighborly. It keeps the peace.

In my neighborhood the inconsiderate neighbor is forty-something Roger. Short. Bald. Mean. He lives in the apartment building next to mine. He loves listening to the Carpenters, disco, and National Public Radio. I have nothing against any of these but I want to listen to them when I want to listen to them not when Roger's pretending he's a chanteuse, a disco diva, or intelligent. Truth be told he sings flat, he's certainly not a genuine diva, and I question if his IQ is more than double digits.

I, along with other neighbors, have spoken to Roger on numerous occasions about the volume. He responds by being nasty, cruel, and vulgar. He was so horrible to one elderly neighbor she moved to another part of the building, afraid of what he might do. Another neighbor he tormented so badly by spitting at her and calling her names that she filed a restraining order. He had the audacity to file one against her. She too moved and he celebrated with blaring disco.

It's been suggested he purchase earphones with a very long chord so he could move about doing whatever he does in his apartment and still listen to whatever he wishes. He refuses to entertain such a thought.

The numerous complaints to the landlord fall on deaf ears. The landlord says there's nothing he can do about it. We think the landlord's afraid of him. Should we grin and bear it? Should we let his unacceptable behavior continue? If Roger doesn't want to abide by neighborly considerations what is everybody supposed to do?

My good friend has a neighbor who refuses to close and lock the door to their complex. This woman also refuses to put her trash in the proper receptacle. She puts her household trash in the compost trash barrel whereupon the trash collectors refuse to empty it. What happens is someone in the building, usually my friend, has to go through the trash barrels and fix it. This twenty-something woman has no regard for anyone, and feels she's entitled to do whatever she pleases. She's too young to be so mean. I guess she feels immune to robbery, rapists, and rats. Though something tells me she'd change her behavior if something terrible happened. Hopefully it won't, but is that what it will take for her to change her behavior?

Living in close quarters there are bound to be things I do, you do, we all do that irritates our neighbors. Most times we are not doing it deliberately and if we know it bothers someone we do our best to remedy the situation. Compromise is key. There's nothing worse than warring neighbors especially when a simple act of consideration will bring resolve. Life's too short to live with constant tension and anger, and volumes at overbearing decibels.

Roger doesn't seem to understand his bad behavior is unnecessary. Like a defiant child he stomps his feet and rants and raves. After someone complains he likes to crank the volume louder just long enough to incite everyone to the breaking point. Maybe he never got enough attention as a child? That's something he and a therapist need to discuss. Hopefully he'll get into therapy soon.

Right now I can hear Roger and Karen Carpenter cooing "Close To You." Oh Karen, it’s nice to hear you singing, but not now. Maybe later I'll brush off my own Carpenters LPs and give you a spin. And Roger, please lower the volume and grow up. You’re too old to be acting like a child.

(c) 2006 MC528. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Favorites On My CD Shuffle

A good song is like a glass of good wine. It's priceless.

I love all kinds of music. When people ask what I'm listening to and I tell them they often distort their face like they've just sucked on a bad lemon. I just stare at them long and hard until they feel uncomfortable and begin blubbering about their own musical tastes (or lack thereof).

I used to have a friend who always sneered at pop music or anything she considered "mainstream." She was one of those transparent self-proclaimed "alternative" music lovers. She declared it was beneath her to listen to such trivial pop songs. Then one day I was at her rather dumpy apartment when I sneaked a peak at her CD collection. She was a closet Tiffany fan. I soon dumped the bitch from my roster of friends not because she loved Tiffany but because she laughed at people who did. I'm sure if I looked at the rest of her collection I would have found some Barry Manilow CDs stuffed in the Red Hot Chile Peppers CD box.

Here are a few songs (in no particular order) I cannot seem to get enough of. They take me out of the mundane and bring me to places I've never been.

Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" and "Me and Bobby McGee:
Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Co'deine" and "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee"
Holly Cole's version of "I Can See Clearly Now" (slow and torchy and simply beautiful)
Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe" (a true classic)
Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man"
Madonna's "Ray of Light"
Paul Young's "Love of the Common People"
Tom Waits' "Martha"
Jennifer Warnes' "I'm Restless"
Marianne Faithfull's "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan"
Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up In Blue" (actually, almost everything from Bob Dylan)
Bette Midler's version of Tom Waits' "Shiver Me Timbers"
Kim Carnes' "Brass and Batons"
Dolly Parton's "Down From Dover"

So what are you waiting for? Go grab a glass of wine (preferably a nice Malbec), curl up on the couch, and check out these songs. Let them take you away. You might be surprised at where you go.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Taste This...

Earlier today I took a break from pondering the evolution of mankind and plopped myself down on the couch to watch some television. I channel surfed up and down the dial looking for something to grab my attention. Nothing did yet I couldn't stop myself. Click, click, click. I was having more fun clicking than watching anything for more than a split second.

Suddenly my stomach growled rather loudly reminding me I hadn't eaten in hours. It was then that I landed on a cooking show. Ciao Italia to be exact. The hostess is the delightfully delicious Mary Ann Esposito. She was cooking Hunter-Style Chicken (Chicken Cacciatore).

By the time she finished my mouth was watering, my hunger pangs were louder than a ringing bell, and I almost leaped across the room and licked the television screen. I refrained myself but the urge was overwhelming. I jotted down the ingredients and ran to the market.

For dinner tonight I had a glass of white wine (okay, two glasses) and scrumptious Chicken Cacciatore.

Mary Ann's website is

I think I love her.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chocolate Truffle Cake

I love the hot weather and yesterday It was over 100 degrees in Los Angeles.

So what did I do?

I turned on the oven and baked a chocolate truffle cake. It's a guaranteed party in your mouth!

Here's the recipe:

1 pound unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons strong coffee
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 ounces milk chocolate
8 large eggs
Cocoa or Confectioner' sugar

Whipped cream
Raspberry or strawberry puree

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom of a 10-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.

Coarsely chop chocolate and set aside.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter, sugar, and coffee together, stirring to blend. Remove from stove and add chocolate, stirring to melt. Let cool, then whisk in eggs until thoroughly incorporated. Pour into pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes until cake is done. Cake is done when top has a slight crust and seems set.

If cake rises too fast, reduce heat to 325 degrees and let cook slower.

Chill several hours. Serve cold or room temperature with whipped cream or raspberry or strawberry puree.

Dust top with cocoa or confectioner's sugar.