Red Velvet Swirl Brownies or “THE WORST DAMN JOB IN HOLLYWOOD”


I quit my job at a legal servicing firm when I was twenty-four to pursue a career in film and television. My very first interview in the business was for a three-week temp assignment assisting a talent manager named Celia Burr, who worked out of a large production office in Beverly Hills. I was nauseous in the lobby while I waited to be taken in to meet her. Having worked in the law, I had been accustomed to a clear understanding of procedure that all parties involved had to follow. I had been warned that in entertainment, all bets were off; every company had its own method for getting the job done. And at the sign of your first mistake, word would get out that you were a disaster, and you’d never find work again.

The manager of the office, Deborah, fetched me from my spot on the sofa and took me through a pass-coded door. From there, she led me down an under-lit hallway lined with other twenty-somethings at outer-office desks, all eyeing me suspiciously, bored faces and cheap shoes. Deborah had a tightly woven perm wrapped around her head like a helmet, and a skirt that extended below her knees. I noticed as she put one leg forward, she added a last-second kick before pulling it back to replace it with the other leg. This move caused her skirt to fire out ahead of her, as if she was clearing a path for herself, and anyone who was smart should get the hell out of the way if they knew what was good for them. Before we had reached the end of the hallway, Deborah had already told me plainly that the company had a very complicated copier machine, that they were heavily financed by investors from Saudi Arabia, and that she was a lesbian and people who had problems with it didn’t last long.

RECIPE for RED VELVET SWIRL BROWNIES – Click Here!

French Pork Pies (Tourtières) OR “Keep on Looking Busy for the Love of TV”




Don’t tell anyone this, but sometimes when I’m bored at work I go into the men’s room and watch myself in the mirror while I angle my arms in different directions and pretend I’m a hieroglyphic.

Other times I sit at my desk and stare silently, with a balance of frustration and thought on my face.  You’d swear I was trying to work out a production issue.  But in my head, I’m actually deciding what music I want played at my funeral.  I’m nearly ceratin that the “thinking theme” from Match Game ‘76 is what I’d like for when they carry my casket out of the church.

Working in television is not glamorous.  Appearing on television is glamorous, but working in television is just long hours.  Minimum ten to twelve a day, sometimes sixteen or more, almost all of it on your feet when you’re in production, and then far too much of it in a chair when you’re in post-production.

You’re often working out of rooms with no windows, overhead Gestapo lighting, a shortage of trash cans, and heavy, boxy old Mac desktop computers that crash when they try to bring up a website and auto-save a phone list at the same time. The kitchen has nothing but diet sodas, Hershey’s Miniatures and Cheez-Its.  You may start a television show eager and optimistic.  But by the time the show spits you out the other end, you’re pale, your pants don’t fit, and you discover all your house plants are dead.

But there’s no time to express how tired you are while you’re in the thick of it.  You’re almost always behind schedule.  Your shows aren’t being edited fast enough. The network has decided your set should be red instead of lime green even though you wrapped production six weeks ago and the set is sitting in a dumpster in Lancaster.  Also, you can’t use that shot of the breaded chicken strips you desperately need because the camera caught some idiot standing where he shouldn’t have been standing, and upon closer inspection, it turns out that idiot is you.

You just have to keep working.  You have to always be busy.

And when you’re not busy, you have to make it appear to everyone else that you are.

When I absolutely can’t concentrate on work any more, I’ll pick up a piece of paper and walk around the halls for ten minutes or so with a look of rushed worry on my face.  Another producer might say, “What are you working on?” and I’ll say to them, “Trust me.  You DO NOT want to know.”  And then they’ll run away from me as fast as they can, like I’ve just started talking about my experiences with prison sex.

Sometimes I have the phone up to my ear and when someone comes up to assign me another task, I just hold up the “can’t do it right now” finger, then point at the phone and make a sad face.  They’ll walk away thinking I’m trying to convince a contestant to sign that release form no one remembered to have them sign before they appeared on the show. They’ll never know what I’m actually doing is listening to what time Inside Out is playing in theaters across the country, one zip code at a time.

I believe in breaks, but television production does not, so I have to make them happen any way I can.  I’m really not qualified to participate in any other field except show business.  Thankfully in show business, with a lot of stamina, a little bit of brains, and a massive talent for being able to trick people into believing what you want them to believe – home viewers, studio audience members, the person about to hire you –  you can go very, very, very far!

I’d share more tricks on how to always “look busy,” but I’m under the gun to get these pork pies done in time for dinner tonight.

Or am I??

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Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Crackle Cookies OR “If You’re Wimpy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands”

A 22 year old man died trying to swing by a rope from Utah’s 110 foot tall Corona Arch. The Corona Arch is a natural landmark made of sandstone and shaped like, you guessed it, a giant arch. People climb up to the top, secure a rope to it and then jump off with the other end tied around their waist. The idea is when the rope reaches the end of its slack, the person attached at the bottom will swing wildly back and forth beneath the arch, suspended in mid-air like a human pendulum. But the guy who died miscalculated the amount of slack he needed on his rope. So when he jumped off the Arch, he just plowed straight into the ground. And that’s that.

When I read that story, I realized something wonderful. I realized that nothing like that could ever happen to me because I am a complete wimp.

I don’t mean to say that I’m a coward. I have courage. I just know where I don’t care to apply it.

The reason I would never jump off the Corona Arch is not because I’m afraid. It’s because I know me! I’d be that one hapless ninny up there who miscounts the number of feet in his rope, jumps off the top thinking, “Look at me! I’m really out of my comfort zone!” then slaps straight into the ground, ending my life at the center of a giant dust cloud just like Wile E. Coyote.

Don’t feel sorry for me. It’s wonderful when you finally accept being a wimp as part of your natural human make-up. I no longer have to pretend I’m okay with things that make me afraid. Like the iron. I hate the iron. Do you know how hot those things can get? You might as well keep a fuel rod from Fukushima under your sink. Most people don’t worry about using the iron. But again, I know me! Enough time around one of those things and I’m sure I’ll find a way to accidentally burn off my appendix.

I’m a wimp and I’m ok! I no longer have anxiety over it. Meditation and has freed me from it. Meditation and the little blue pill I have to take every morning. So what if I run from danger? Lots of people do that. Don’t ask me who right now because I can only think of C-3PO, and he’s not actually a person.

But they’re out there! Lots of them, all waiting a full three hours after eating before they get in a pool, and hiding in the basement when the stove needs to be re-lit. So what if I’ll never jump off The Corona Arch with a rope tied around my waist? I do other things well. I’ll keep to them. And I’ll also keep wearing shoes whenever I’m on shag carpet, just in case there’s a scorpion. I know me! It’s just a matter of time before one shows up. I plan on being prepared. And that’s that.

Click here for the recipe for Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Texas Dogs

Please understand that I have no interest in discrediting the standard summer hot dog served up on that doughy white bread bun and weighed down in yellow mustard or store-bought ketchup.  Plant one of those babies in front of me right now and I dare you to predict how long it lasts!

The whole experience of the low-brow, shiny stadium-style dogs clumsily wrapped in cheap wax paper and dripping with salty juices will never get old. Forget that they’re considered traditionally American, family-oriented, and best of all, cheap.  They just taste good!

But a simple, inexpensive hot dog can go so much further.  And right now is the perfect time of the year to take this standard summer staple out for a test drive, and see what it can really do for you.

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Habanero Pizza Sauce – The Sauce that Bites Back!


If you want to ruin delivery pizza for yourself forever, start fooling around with making your own crusts and sauces.  New York Pizza and Pasta at 7123 Sunset Boulevard used to send at least two pies my way every week.  The delivery guy once saw my face so often he’d chat me up at my door like I’d been best man at his wedding.  Well, New York Pizza and Pasta’s delivery menu has been replaced on my refrigerator door with my recipes for homemade pizza dough and this habanero pizza sauce.  That’s how often I’m making them both these days.

This is a pretty standard sauce recipe with the exception of the habanero which kicks things up a notch.  But not too much.  Those who like to avoid foods that make their eyes water will not be put off, though they will receive a subtle indication with each bite that there’s something sneaky going on.  It’s just a pinch of heat that won’t linger on the tongue but will definitely make its inclusion known.

Homemade mozzarella is next!

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Prosciutto Pepper Puffs


Here’s a simple twist on the recipe for crab puffs I posted a while back to accomodate those heathens who dislike crab. There were more of them out there then I originally realized – my mother and father being two of them – so out with the crustacea and in with a hot and zesty one-two punch of prosciutto and serrano pepper that’ll keep these babies flying into your mouth faster than you can keep count. And being as light and mouth-watering as they are, you won’t want to keep count.

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