A bad idea poorly executed

Hey there!  Shannon had the stellar idea that I should take photos of the many wacky things I see from my office at Via Corona and write an equally madcap send up of said various and sundry items.

A terrific idea in theory if say, a.) all (or any) of the critters would stand still for photos and b.) I were even a passable photographer (hint:  they wouldn’t and I’m not).

A lesser man probably would’ve chosen a different (easier) topic, but I come from a long line of frontiersmen and outdoor types to whom quit is a four-letter word.  So, as we begin 2017, this is exactly the idea I will now ram down your throat in one of those annoying listicles that everyone reads like 2016’s Hottest Waffle Toppings.

Before we get started, a quick photo quiz from a shot taken at Rocketship Park in Torrance.

Q:  What is this? (Scroll down for the answer)


Quiz answer:  An attempted murder.  Get it?

Top 6 Airborne Things

#6 Fireworks – If you know me even a little, you know that I’m not exactly pro-fireworks.  My stance has nothing to do with safety mind you.   In fact if you want to blow your hand off a la Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Google it), be my guest. Those things are like Darwin’s dynamite. My issue is more with fireworks shows.  Specifically, why I must I make any effort to attend them since they are free  . . . and in the sky.  Generally speaking, I kinda prefer to stay a respectable distance from crowds, traffic and people saying, “Ooooohhh!” while marveling at a “technology” that hasn’t advanced one second in my lifetime?!  I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts if I played you a fireworks show from 1974 this 4th of July and told you it was happening live you could not tell the difference.

I say all that to say this.  Because my wife has heard this rant for nearly 20 years now (actually almost exclusively because of this), we can now enjoy the South Bay’s finest fireworks shows from the Via Corona deck.  The Manhattan Beach holiday fireworks pictured below are a proof of concept.  You’re all more than welcome to visit the heated Via Corona back deck and watch the fireworks with Shannon.  I’ll probably be off yelling at some kids to get off my lawn (once I get a lawn).  I can’t wait to see what the 4th of July has in store for us.

#5 WWII Planes – Growing up my older brother was always fascinated with WWII aircraft.  Oddly he would torment me by asking me to name WWII planes by sight, passing out noogies for every incorrect response.  Needless to say I got pretty good at it – and that’s a weird thing to be good at.

One day I was running near the beach when an old war plane came roaring overhead flying low over the ocean.  It was a restored B-24 Liberator like the one flown (and crashed) by Torrance native, and 1936 Olympian, Louis Zamperini.  Could I get my phone out of my pocket for an out of focus snap?  Not on your life.


Louis Zamperini is something of a local legend in these parts.  He’s also the subject of the book and movie Unbroken.  The locals renamed Torrance Municipal Airport to Zamperini Field in 1946.  We have a prime view off the airfield off the back of the house.  Now and then you get to see cool WWII planes flying in and out of Zamperini Field and, like a dork, I can name most of them when they fly by the window   . . . B-17!  P-51 Mustang! Whee!  I’m told Torrance also has a WWII store that I’ve never visited but here’s a link in case you want to sing Happy Christmas (The War is Over) and/or just get your Axis on: http://www.wwiistore.com

Tangent Alert!  Before we move on with the countdown, can we discuss what the odds are that Paul McCartney and John Lennon, the collaborators and genius musicians who gave us scores of great tunes would also came up with two of the absolute worst Christmas songs ever recorded?  If I live to be 1,000 I will never understand this.  Happy Christmas (The War Is Over) AND Wonderful Christmastime?!  Sure, I expect this kind of dreck from no talent hacks like Elmo & Patsy and The Waitresses, but 50% of the Beatles?  I swear if I had any musical ability whatsoever I would record a Christmas song first so I could live on forever.  Case in point, we’re still listening to Happy Christmas (The War Is Over) and Wonderful Christmastime and those songs suck.

Moving on to solid holiday fare, you probably know that the great Johnny Mathis did voiceover for our ESPN documentary ’51 Dons a few years ago.  Because he is one of the nicest guys on the planet, he relayed this story about his first Christmas album Merry Christmas (the one with Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, etc.).  For background, that album dropped on my Mom’s 22nd birthday and it’s a classic (so was she), so I had to ask how it came to be.  He said when he finally became a star in 1958 the suits at Columbia Records asked him what he wanted to record.  He said, “I want to do a Christmas album to thank my parents for all they did for me.”  Shortly thereafter a freak dust cloud kicked up in the booth and my eyes watered some.

You might think I don’t have a terrible, grainy picture to commemorate the experience  . . . and you would be wrong.  This is the only selfie I’ve ever taken.  And it shows!img_0848

#4 Helicopters – Zamperini Field is also the home of the Robinson Helicopter Company – the world’s leading manufacturer of civil helicopters.  Apparently Robinson also makes the most crashed helicopter in the game.  One model has 78 crashes in the last 22 months.  They’ve been grounded in New Zealand.  They’re pretty cool looking when they’re airborne here of the good ol’ US of A though.


#3 Peacocks – If you head just a few blocks due south of Via Corona you can hear the – ahem – love dance of the population of peninsula peacocks.  There seems to be some debate on how the peacocks got there in the first place which also seems like an awful waste of breath.  My favorite story is that they were stolen from chewing gum magnate William Wrigley’s estate on Catalina Island in 1924.

In a controversy so white it should be snowboarding, the peacocks are actually a major source of partisan bickering amongst the residents of the four towns that comprise “The Area Where No Really Bad Stuff Happens”  Will the people of Flint, Michigan please sit the f&@k down, we’ve got peacocks ruining our hydrangeas here on the penninsula!

Apparently the birds are as destructive as they are horny and loud, so much so that the city of Rancho Palos Verdes passed an ordinance that calls for up to 150 birds per year to be shipped off to a mysterious, unknown location (read:  probably the same “farm” where you’re childhood dog lives).  This was in response to – I swear I’m not making this up – a string of 47 unsolved peacock murders in nearby Rolling Hills Estates.  Yes, we have a serial peacock killer in our midst!  Your move, Mannix.


#2 Hudson the Hawk – Much to my delight, there’s an adult red tailed hawk living in a tree just outside my office.  He takes wing pretty regularly to practice his awesome hawk scream while ruling the skies like a boss and wreaking havoc on any and all unsuspecting neighborhood mice, squirrels, bunnies, peacocks, lambs, sloths, orangutans, Robinson helicopters, fruit bats and breakfast cereals (If you’re one of the 4 people who will get that reference, I salute you).


There is also an owl we hear in the evenings but have yet to see.

#1  The Goodyear Blimp – Growing up on the gritty streets of Carbondale, Illinois, I realized pretty early on that there was more to life than what I could see out my window.   As a kid, the Goodyear blimp was always the symbol of the big time.  On New Year’s Day I’d see it flying over the sunny Rose Bowl and think, “Man, how do I get to where the blimp is?” before going back to staring out the window at snow piled knee high to a tall giraffe.

The short answer is, you eventually move to Via Corona.

Here’s a shot of the blimp (Wingfoot Two to be exact), based in nearby Carson, California on its daily rounds, showing its precious cargo of cheerleaders and supermodels the sights of the South Bay.  Flights on the blimp are by invitation only and I would kill to get one, so let me know if you know of anyone of the non-peacock persuasion who deserves a little dirt nap.

Here’s a blimp shot from some excited fanboy.

And here’s a professional shot of the blimp in action over the peninsula, no doubt in search of the elusive peacock serial killer.  That’s Malaga Cove down below and  Catalina Island in the deep background.


That’s it.  That’s the list!  Next week we’ll return to our regularly scheduled ranting about our 33rd month of renovation including progress being made on the the addition.  Speaking if which, guess who showed up at 8:45 AM New Year’s morning?  Not sure where they were the Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of the week before but for some reason even the builder couldn’t explain, they decided to install headers first thing 2017.

‘Round here


Step out the front door like a ghost
Into the fog where no one notices
The contrast of white on white.

TD Here.    I never was much of a Counting Crows fan (much = not at all), but this was the title Shannon gave this post, so here we go.  Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think you can trust a suburban white guy with dreadlocks no matter how jaunty his bowtie. [TMH:  Much of my marital contribution is teeing them up so TD can knock ’em down.]


As the year comes to a close, we’re pleased to report that Via Corona is finally rounding into shape (silly readers, segues are for kids).

As you can see below, her crumbling exterior was replaced with shiny, new HardiePlank(R) siding – “the most popular brand of siding in America” and a fresh coat of sparkly white Cool December paint to boot.

Her lower half also got a slathering of rough coat stucco.  In the fullness of time it will be Cool December as well – a color that looks for all the world like white, but Shannon assures me is not, in fact, white.  Did you also know there’s more than one kind of white?  I know, right?!  Apparently the corporate goons at Crayola sleep on a bed of lies.

A Cool December and there’s reason to believe

Maybe this grey will be whiter than the last

I can’t remember the last time I could lock my front door

Let us hope this addition is done fast

[TMH: and now you know where the title of the post came from.  Having Adam Duritz stuck in your head is some kind of torture.]

Have we mentioned the permitting process in Torrance is broken like Joe Theismann’s femur?  We have? Oh yeah, that one time.  Alrighty then, here are the first visible signs of progress on our “addition.”   First they build the foundation, then they bring the walls out, then we add the doors and you’ve got yourself a family room.

NOTE:  The City of Torrance comes out to inspect and (presumably) approve each stage.  Buckle up, this might take a while.

Welcome to our museum exhibit powder room – now with fixtures [TMH: minus the mirror and cool accessories]!  Mind you, I am forbidden from using the sink because of the potential to splash water on the precious wallpaper [TMH: it’s because the mirror isn’t up yet and TD washes his hands like an alligator taking down a water buffalo].  You might rightly ask, “then why in the name of the sweet chocolate Christ is the wallpaper near the sink?”  Oh,  you can ask.  Just don’t expect an answer that makes any logical sense.  Indeed, let this be a warning to you, potential visitor and/or harried traveler, you may freshen up but do so at your peril.

Oh, and when you’re freshening up, everyone in a nine mile radius will be able to see you through the conveniently placed bay window!  I swear this house was designed by chimps . . . or exhibitionists . . . or maybe the rarest of all – exhibitionist chimps.  [TMH: the only one who is ever going to see you is that neighbor down the street  who inexplicably stops to use the porta-potty in our driveway both coming and going while walking his dogs.  Every day.  WTF?].

We’re going to frost the glass in here and maybe add some kind of window treatment.   I will undoubtedly be restricted from touching the window treatment any way, shape or form. For now though, enjoy the nice view of our construction dumpster.

Speaking of, doesn’t window treatment sound like something that’s much cooler/more important than it really is?  Look up souffle cup . . . box tent . . . desire path . . .  then imagine my surprise/disappointment when I realized the “digital rectal” involves the use of exactly zero devices with digital readouts.  You win this round, doctor. [TMH: What is you talking about?]

As you can see, the kitchen now has a backsplash.  Hell, the wall has a backsplash.  Whereas using the powder room faucet requires the calm resolve and icy precision of a Marine sniper, in the kitchen you can be Red Adair with a firehose.

Not to get off on a rant here, but it’s not lost in my consciousness, or bank account, that we replaced a previous overabundance of tile in the kitchen with an overabundance of different tile in kitchen 2.0. [TMH: Overabundance? By my calculation TD’s shower includes no less than 136 square feet of marble tile.  It makes the kitchen look restrained by comparison].

Someday soon you’ll see we also did this with our replacement shutters which, save a barely noticeable arch at the top, are the exact same shutters as the ones now taking up permanent residence in Davy Jones’ Locker!  Notably, the new ones are black. God forbid we buy a $3 can of spray paint when there are exact replicas for sale at 21st century prices.  Imagine the horror when Architectural Digest comes to Via Corona and we have reused humpback shutters!?  This will not stand.  Good day, sir! [TMH: This from a guy wears athletic slides held together by duct tape.  Those shutters – like the complainant – were 50 years old.]

Ok, now I feel better.  Where were we?  Oh, the kitchen.

Here I’ve asked Santa Trump for an H2B visa – Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature.

No question I’m an interloper here, so I’ll treat it like a Cleveland Browns QB and try not to get too comfortable.  Then again, Shannon keeps asking me about a home security system.  Maybe it’s just for this room.

I’m being told this is the court-ordered safe distance I am allowed to inhabit while Shannon is doing that voodoo and that she do so well.

The stools in the photo are, to use a technical term, comfort adjacent.

The master bedroom is in a state we like to call “mostly complete-ish”.  At this point it’s just missing the art which is currently so deep in storage that we’ll be lucky if we don’t have to pay a customs tariff for re-entry into the U.S. when we finally retrieve it all #wedontdogooddealsanymore #Chinaiseatingourlunch.

It’s a bit hard to tell from the photo, but there are 12 effing pillows on our bed.  I have no idea exactly when or how this happened.  One day I had one drool-covered place to lay my head, and the next thing you know I’m bedding down with enough pillows to outfit the entire Duggar clan.  We use exactly 1/3 of them nightly.  The rest are chucked haphazardly about the room so I can trip over them in the dark on the way to the bathroom. [TMH:  the remaining pillows are so that I have options when I finally decide to smother you in your sleep].

To be honest, when we got married nearly a decade ago I had no clue how much of my life would be spent shopping for, buying, placing and discussing pillows.  Needless to say terms like “throw pillow”, “pillow fight”, and “pillow talk” bear no resemblance to visions in my head  [TMH: funny what a guy will do for health insurance].

Make no mistake, our pillow game is STRONG.  So strong, in fact that we now have custom pillows like the one Gracie the Seasonal Reindeer is resting her tiny noggin upon. [TMH: This snap?  Not staged.  The cat actually sneaks into the guest bedroom, snuggles under the covers and naps, Goldilocks and the Three Bears style.]

Shannon has also spoken a great deal about a furry pillow that I’ve yet to see . Not exactly sure when or where it will make its debut (largely because I don’t care), but rest assured it will be feted with Winfrey-level fanfare.

You get a pillow!

And You Get A Pillow!


[TMH: the pillow is hairy not furry and it goes on the couch in the room that hasn’t been built yet.]

Via Corona and me

Look into the future

Yeah, we stare at the pretty vi-ew

She’s lookin’ at downtown

I don’t think so

She’s looking at Malibu

Standing on the back deck

I bought myself a train wreck

When she is finally done

I will never use her powder room

I will never use her powder room

Said Shannon won’t let me use the powder



Want more?  Go here: Via Corona.