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I’m not sure if you’ve been reading “Doonesbury” this week, but Gary Trudeau – still churning out first class satire after all these years – has been riffing on the nation’s obesity crisis in general, and the practice of posting calorie counts in fast food joints in particular.

The high point so far has been this rather ample fellow trying to choose between the “Bad Boy” breakfast, which comes in at 4,750 calories, or the “Wee Willie” breakfast, which is a mere 2,300 calories. Of course, it has been named the ‘Wee Willie” to embarrass men so much that they dare not order it.

Great stuff.




Agence France Presse has a story about a new study conducted by Rotterdam’s Erasmus University suggesting that happiness may have as much of an impact on longevity as not smoking – and could, in fact, lengthen one’s lifespan by between 7.5 and 10 years.

I’ll buy that, though I have to admit that I was taken aback by the place where the original study was published: The Journal of Happiness Studies. Seriously.

According to the AFP story, “Among healthy populations … happiness appeared to protect against falling ill, thus prolonging life. Happy people were more inclined to watch their weight, were more perceptive of symptoms of illness, tended to be more moderate with smoking and drinking and generally lived healthier lives.

They were also more active, more open to the world, more self-confident, made better choices and built more social networks.”

Of course, maybe one of the reasons happy people live longer is because, as Aristotle said, “Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient.”

And I’ve always thought that self-sufficiency and autonomy are keys to a long and happy life.




Interesting piece in the New York Times this week noting that the one-year ban on fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles – imposed by the LA City Council as a way of addressing obesity concerns – actually could have a negative impact.

That’s not because of a sudden shortage of McDonald’s or KFC restaurants, but rather because the ban applies to “any stand-alone restaurant that dispenses food, to stay or to go, and that has ‘a limited menu, items prepared in advance or prepared or heated quickly, no table orders, and food served in disposable wrapping or containers’.”

According to the Times, Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic for LA Weekly, “worries that the law could keep out places of more culinary interest. South Los Angeles has the best barbecue in the city, he said, and it has a growing number of cooks from Mexico and Central America making lamb barbacoa and pupusas.” Such restaurants also could be affected by the ban, and this could have a deleterious effect on local residents by restricting some of the better choices they might have available to them.

I have to admit, I hadn’t thought of this. And it certainly speaks to the law of unintended consequences when it comes to government intervention.

I also have to admit that while I have no idea what it is, I want to taste a pupusa. It sounds delicious.




Here’s a big shout-out to Krekor Ohanian, who turns 83 today. Of all the TV heroes I idolized as a kid, he was the best.

(How’s that for an obscure cultural reference?)

By the way, in case you were wondering, “Taredartzet Shnorhavor!” is “Happy Birthday” in Armenian. Which would be appropriate in this case.




I really wanted to like the film version of “Mamma Mia!” Really. I never liked Abba, never saw the Broadway show, but I wanted to like the movie, mostly because it stars Meryl Streep. I’ve been passionately in love with Streep since I saw her in “Taming of the Shrew” in Central Park back in 1978; I was one of a few people brought on stage to serve as props during the “play within a play” staging, and most of the evening she was just a few feet from where I was sitting. I was besotted. (Mrs. Content Guy knows all this, and is aware that if Streep knocks on the door some night, I’m gone. Alas, she isn’t worried.)

That said, “Mamma Mia!” is awful. Truly, truly awful. There are some nice moments, and Streep has a terrific singing voice, but the whole thing is so badly staged that the director manages the impossible – a Meryl Streep performance that is less than memorable. (The best number in the movie is Christine Baranski singing ‘Does Your Mother Know?” Baranski is a Broadway pro who has done plenty of musicals, and she knows how to sell a song…and so manages to survive the lousy direction.

Now, to be fair, I have to admit that the young people at the show I attended seemed to really like it. And the old people in the audience seemed pretty enthusiastic. But not me. And not Mrs. Content Guy, who hated it more than I did.

Wish I could recommend it. But I can’t.




Couple of really good wines to recommend this week.

The weather cooled off this week, so I made a nice thick lasagne and opened a bottle of the Il Brecciolino 2001 Castelvecchio that my son got me for Father’s Day. This is an unbelievably good wine…a little pricey, but thick and rich and robust and perfect with spicy Italian food.

When the weather was warmer, we opened a 2007 Tramin Sauvignon Blanc from Italy, which is light and spicy and really good with shellfish.

Just great.




That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

Sláinte!!
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