Archive for March, 2016

Episode: 153

Cod Worms


I like to write, and I like to talk into a microphone. And I also like to talk in front of a live audience, I’ve discovered. Teaching all those years gave me the confidence to stand up in front of a group and tell a story, even if that story was about kitchen sanitation or pork butchering.

I have a lot of stories, after being in this crazy industry for over 20 years, and I wanted to turn them into something entertaining and live, much like this very show, but in front of a live audience. So, eight weeks ago I signed up for a class called Flying Solo at the PIT, the People’s Improv Theater, where I turned some of those stories into a live, ten-minute show. The plan is to develop it into a longer piece, and perform it at a festival or two, or who knows? Could lead to some other fun and interesting stuff.

Anyway, we performed our class show on Saturday, and it went better than I ever anticipated. We started as a class of nine, but five people either dropped out, so we were a tight group of four, and I loved every single other show too. I’m going to post the video of the whole show on the LGR Facebook page, and I hope you’ll watch them all. Mine’s the only one about food, but the others are funny, sad, touching and beautiful.

Oh and the show is called “Cod Worms” Here’s a little teaser…

Cod. They’re bottom feeders. Yeah, codfish? The state symbol of Massachusetts? They’re bottom feeders. They vacuum up the crap on the ocean floor, and pick up worms, tiny, thin bright-red worms, which eat into the cod’s flesh and live there. The worms are harmless to the cod, and harmless, but gross, to the people who eat the cod. But when you serve the cod, you have to pluck out all the worms with fish tweezers before you cook it.

I’ll tell you a little secret though, If you miss a worm, and then you cook the fish, the heat makes them wriggle to the surface, so you can grab ‘em before it hits the table, a perfect slab of snowy-white fish. Life does gives you second chances.

For the last 23 years, I’ve plucked cod worms…

Episode: 152

To everything there is a season, and a dry, crumbly cookie to match


Oh my god, I just remembered, it’s Purim. Seriously, already? I feel like it was just Simchas Torah! Boy did that winter go by fast. But the question is, are YOU ready for Purim? Did you choose your costume, buy presents for all the kids on the block, bake your dry, crumbly, never-very-delicious hamantaschen? No? Well COME ON, it starts tomorrow night!! It’s Purim eve, eve! Crap, I totally forgot and now I’ll never find a perfect queen Esther costume this late. And I don’t have time to bake hamantaschen before kickboxing class tonight, maybe I’ll do it while I watch “Better Call Saul”.

Because just when we thought the winter holiday season was over, kids, just when you finally put away the Christmas lights because the first daffodils are blooming… Really, that’s the sign to put them away, when you see the first daffodil, you put away the xmas stuff. Yes, it’s true, it’s in the bible in Ecclesiastes, remember? “To everything there is a season, turn, turn, etc., and a time to every purpose under heaven, and when the first daffodil shall bloometh, thou shalt fill thy Rubbermaid tubs with thy tinsel and animated reindeer?” That first yellow bloom is the heavenly command.

And now, for spring, the holiday season is BACK. I know, Valentine’s Day is now just a fading, disappointed memory. All the unsold clearance valentine’s candy, like the red and pink wrapped Hershey’s kisses, and red valentine’s day marshmallow Peeps have been dumped or fed to beef cattle to fatten ‘em up for grilling season. And the onslaught of pink and yellow and lavender is on in full-force, the Peeps are out in numbers, chocolate bunnies are multiplying like, well, bunnies! And jars of gefilte fish and boxes of matzo are filling the supermarket end-cap shelves, it’s time, spring Holiday Season!

But it all starts with Purim. The Jewish festival celebrating something about a queen named Esther and a bad guy named Haman and some destroyed temple, and some king, and something else…and oh crap, I don’t remember. I tried to look it up but it was more than a paragraph and then I got all distracted by something on BuzzFeed. And during the Purim festivities they tell the story of those guys, Esther and Haman and the rest, and every time they mention the evil Haman, you’re supposed to make a shit-ton of noise and stomp your feet and crank these little noisemakers that they give the kids, to drown out his name. Sort of like protesters at a Trump rally. And then the thugs come along and kill them. History really does repeat itself, doesn’t it?

Episode: 151

“Go West Young Man” (but don’t forget to bring your insulin…)


Oh, California…that golden crescent by the sea. It seemed a wonderland to us East Coast kids; the land of Hollywood, Disney, tanned perfect bodies, orange groves and avocados, Jack, Chrissy and Janet roller skating along the Santa Monica pier.

Everybody was fit and healthy and glowing. California cuisine was all about fruit and arugula and grilling and being outside on a patio in the Hollywood hills, lifted right off the cover of Sunset magazine. The shining beacon of health at the other end of a country left scarred and beaten by industrialization and recession. Beckoning to us pale, unfit, polluted east coasters and rust belters to come west! Come west!

We’re all healthy and shiny and strong here! We drink fresh-squeezed OJ and sit in the hot tub and have a lot of casual sex and do yoga!  That’s what it looked like, anyway, to me. Watching it all on TV in the late 70’s. My friend Heather, who’d moved to our town in 1980 when we met in jr high, was from CA. She knew how to make guacamole and loved Tom Petty and Taco Bell, which we didn’t have yet in the east, and she missed life in California so much that she hightailed it back for college the day we graduated HS. Who can blame her? Suburban LI or Suburban San Francisco? As we’d say back in jr high school, duh? She taught me about west coast life. Or the fantasy of it..

So why am I rhapsodizing about the golden state? Well, the glimmering, shimmering dream bubble seems to have burst since its late-mid-century heyday. Because new stats are out about California, and its population, and, as they’d say on Mad Men, it’s “Not good Bob. Not good.” (That’s a quote from a scene between Pete Campbell and Bob Benson, where Pete’s upset about something, I can’t remember what.) Pete Campbell buys into the California dream in a big way, too. But it lets him down, and he realizes he’s human and misses his family so then he comes home to Trudy and moves to Kansas City to work for Lear Jets. No more hot tubs and avocados for Pete Campbell.

Oh, the new stats about California, right. Sorry. So according to an article about a study from UCLA in the LA times, more than HALF the adult population in the state are now either diabetic, or pre-diabetic. 55%!! Fifty Five percent!! More than half the population? Where are Jack and Chrissy and the hot tubs now?  What happened California? Where’d it all fall apart?

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