BEST, WORST FOOD ON A STICK

The Los Angeles County Fair (Aug. 31-Sept. 30) offers more food than you can shake a stick at. In fact, there’s food that even comes on a stick. The fair has helped pioneer such culinary classics as the deep-fried Twinkie on a stick and the deep-fried ice cream bar on a stick.

Here’s a list of the best and worst food-on-a-stick items actually served at county fairs around the nation, as compiled by buzzfeed.com:

The best
Deep-Fried Pie on a Stick
Chocolate Dipped Cheesecake on a Stick
Corn on the Cob on a Stick
Deep-Fried Cheeseburger on a Stick
Deep-Fried Chocolate Covered Twinkie on a Stick
Caramel and Cheese Popcorn Ball on a Stick
Deep-Fried Jimmy Dean Sausage Wrapped in a Pancake on a Stick
Deep Fried Mashed Potatoes on a Stick

The Worst
Deep Fried Squid on a Stick
Deep Fried Sea Horses on a Stick
The Spamsicle
Deep-Fried Pig Intestines on a Stick
Deep-Fried Scorpions on a Stick

‘SIN TAXES MAY OFFER SALVATION’

Reader Erin Mueller of Redlands makes a number of interesting points in response to a recent column …

Mr. Weeks,

I’ve just finished reading your opinion piece headlined “Sin’ taxes may offer salvation” (http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/sanbernardinocounty/ci_21202791/john-weeks-sin-taxes-may-offer-salvation) in the Redlands Daily Facts and I had several questions and a comment or two for you.

 
You mention several items or practices you think should
be taxed.
 
1) Political campaign signs.
No one likes looking at them, I’ll grant you, but why should we
only tax signs? Why not political radio, television and newspaper
advertisements? Or, better yet, since, as you say, these ads only get us
useless politicians, who based on the current local, county and state
situations can’t figure out or don’t care how to manage money anyway,
why don’t we stop paying politicians altogether? Why don’t we make the
politicians either take no salary and perks or make them pay for the
privilege of serving in public office? After all, that’s what paying a
tax on their advertisements would be, wouldn’t it?
Granted, one would need to be independently wealthy to run for
office in that case, but they’d probably pay a bit more attention to the
job, then, wouldn’t you think?
 
2) Spray paint.
Surely, no one, except possibly the taggers, could disagree that
graffiti is ugly, expensive to repair, worthless and irritating. But
what about the family that wants to change the color of their patio
furniture and is now required to pay a “sin” tax for the horrible,
immoral act of using a can of spray-on paint for the purpose for which it
was actually produced?
 
3) Ice cream trucks.
In an hour period in the
evening, I might have as many as three ice cream trucks and carts come
down my street. Many days, I’d love to tell the man with the handbell
exactly what he should do with it or wave down one of the trucks just to
tell them to turn the music down. But it’s only a mild annoyance,
really, to know the three men who operate these mobile businesses are
doing something to provide for their families.
And, frankly, their legal businesses are much less irritating than
the illegal pizza shop that sets up directly
across the street from my front door a couple times a month. They sell
chain-owned pizzas for three or four hours, with a megaphone, for $5,
clogging up what is already a street generally lined with parked cars
even further. I don’t think we should put a sin tax on pizza companies
because this one illegal operation inconveniences me, any more than ice
cream trucks deserve a tax for the noise or that the government should
tax “unhealthy” food to save me from my lack of willpower.
 
4) Panhandlers.
Exactly how do you propose to
separate the “hopeless unfortunates” as you put it, from the people
just taking advantage? I know you mention the “strapping, able-bodied
people who feel they don’t need to earn their own money,” but, still,
how do you tell someone who’s just recently down on their luck from
someone who doesn’t feel like working?
 
My final question is this: the city of Redlands has
proven they can’t handle money, the county of San Bernardino has proven
they can’t handle money, the state of California has proven they can’t
handle money, and the government of the United States of America has
proven that they can’t handle money. So what about that situation should
inspire any resident to give more money to any of these entities by way of
approving a tax increase? As I’m sure you know, Albert Einstein is
quoted as saying, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again,
but expecting different results.” Isn’t it time for citizens, and
journalists, to start telling the government, at every level, that we’re
not insane and they won’t receive any more money until they prove they
can use it wisely?

THE OFFICIAL ELVIS PRESLEY SANDWICH

There are many Elvis cookbooks. My favorite is “Are You Hungry Tonight? Elvis’ Favorite Recipes” by Brenda Butler (Gramercy, 1992). It’s displayed in the kitchen of the King himself, at what now is called the Elvis Honeymoon Haven at 1350 Ladera Circle, Palm Springs. Presley leased the home from 1966 to 1968, and he and Priscilla honeymooned there in 1967. Today it’s open for tours and events (760-322-1192, www.elvishoneymoon.com).

Here’s how to make Elvis Presley’s favorite sandwich. Sometimes, when he was in a hurry, he would eat it without the bacon and/or honey, so those ingredients are optional. On occasion, he would substitute grape jelly for the honey, it is said.

Ingredients:

2
rounded tablespoons peanut butter 

2 slices thick sandwich
bread
1 small ripe banana, coarsely mashed
4 slices bacon, cooked, optional
1 tablespoon honey or grape jelly, optional
2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

Assemble sandwich. Melt butter in frying pan. Fry sandwich in butter for three or four minutes, turning once, until golden brown on both sides.
Slice sandwich in two and eat hot.

WORST INFLATABLE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS EVER

Here’s a list of actual inflatable yard decorations for the holidays that can be found online. If you don’t have any of these on your block, you can thank your good luck … and your good neighbors.

  • A blow-up nativity scene features Santa Claus in the role of Joseph. That’s right, Baby Jesus is in for a real surprise when he wakes up! Mary probably has a few questions, too.
  • It’s Trailer Trash Santa! Wave back as Father Christmas and a couple of reindeer greet you from the windows of their mobile home sweet home.
  • A snowman looks on in horror as he is eaten alive by a reindeer. It doesn’t look good for the continuing friendship between Frosty and Rudolph!
  • Are you among the millions who remember the burlesque leg lamp in the movie “A Christmas Story”?  Are you among the much smaller number of people who wish they could put a giant inflatable version in the yard? Good news!
  •  Elves ride bareback on a hippopotamus. Script check, please!
  • Santa drops his drawers and “moons” the neighborhood. So, when it’s Santa who is being naughty, who takes the report?
  • A reindeer drives a steamroller over Grandma. Is this one of those “reindeer games” we always hear about?
  • Santa looks back in alarm as he notices a squished elf on the back of his britches. You know what, these inflatable Christmas characters need to lighten up a little!
  • A snowman totes a rifle. You don’t like it? Go ahead, make his day!
  • A “soldier” Santa wears battle fatigues. Is there something going on in Christmas Land that the rest of us need to know about?
  • Santa and his reindeer play cards in a lively game of “North Pole Hold ‘Em.” Ah, a gambling Santa … that sends just the right message to kids.
  • Oh, no, the polar bear’s tongue is frozen to the North Pole. Tell Santa to stop playing cards and get out here and help!
  • Hey, that’s no sled! Santa is driving a dump truck! This does not bode well for the quality of toys this year.

 

HAPPY TRAILS WITH ROY AND DALE

Whenever I drive through the Victor Valley these days, I get a little wistful.

I miss Roy and Dale.

Their museum is gone — in more ways than one. It used to be such a landmark presence in Victorville, right next to the freeway.

In 2003, though, the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum, featuring all the Western and Hollywood memorabilia the two Western stars had collected during their long careers in TV and the movies, moved to Branson, Mo., where it ultimately folded in December 2009.

Meanwhile, the distinctive stockade-style building in Victorville was torn down and the lumber sold for fence wood. Today, the site is occupied by a car dealership.

Yes, I get a little wistful.

But then certain things will come along and I take heart, because I remember that they still are here, in a way.

Roy, who died in 1998, and Dale, who died in 2001, both are buried in nearby Apple Valley, not far from the dream home they built in 1967 and lived in for the rest of their lives.

And their work goes on. The annual “Friends of Happy Trails Banquet,” for example, is a charity benefit for the Happy Trails Children’s Foundation, established in 1992 with support from Roy and Dale to aid young victims of abuse and neglect.

I had the privilege of meeting and talking with both Roy and Dale on more than one occasion. I interviewed Dale at an event at the National Orange Show grounds in the 1980s. Later, I did a phone interview with Roy. And some time after that, I met with both of them in Roy’s office upstairs at their museum, where we spoke for more than an hour.

During the conversation, they often would tease each other affectionately, and they never hesitated to interrupt or contradict each other.

They talked about their differences as well as the many things they shared in common. Dale’s favorite food, for example, was soup, she said. But Roy couldn’t stand it. “I like to CHEW my food!” he said.

Roy loved to go bowling. Dale didn’t care for it. “I let him go as much as he likes,” she said. “It’s the only way I can get some peace and quiet around here.”

On most things, however, they agreed as a team. And the one thing upon which they agreed the most, and about which they spoke the most often, was their love of children.

The couple adopted as their own a number of children from challenged backgrounds. And their love extended well beyond their own family. They devoted much time, energy and resources to the Happy Trails Children’s Foundation. “It not only is a duty to help those little ones who cannot help themselves, it is an honor,” Dale told me.

The foundation has rescued more than 850 children from abuse and neglect, providing shelter and treatment at the organization’s care facility, the Cooper Home, in Apple Valley.

More info: happytrails.org.

AMERICA’S TOP 13 SCARIEST CITIES

As reported  on businesswire.com, Hauntworld Magazine (www.hauntworld.com), the leading trade publication for Halloween and the haunted house industry, has released its list of the Top 13 Scariest Cities in the U.S. :

1. Philadelphia – The City of Brotherly Love is also the City of Fear. Haunted house attractions include The Bates Motel with Haunted Hayride (TheBatesMotel.com) and new Pennhurst Asylum (PennhurstAsylum.com).

2. Detroit – The once-roaring Motor City is now a ghost city. It includes the four-floor Erbus (HauntedPontiac.com).

3. New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La. – The historic hotbed for voodoo is home to The 13th Gate (MidnightProduction.com).

4. St. Louis, Mo. – With its foreboding Lemp Mansion, St. Louis is known for its leading haunted house attraction, The Darkness (Scarefest.com)

5. Kansas City, Mo. – The onetime “haunted house capital of the world” claims two of the best: The Beast (FullMoonProd.com) and Edge of Hell (EdgeOfHell.com).

6. Poughkeepsie, NY. – The Headless Horseman (HeadlessHorseman.com) is considered the biggest haunted hayride in America by Hauntworld.

7. Atlanta – The biggest haunted house and monster fest in the Peach State is without a doubt Netherworld (Fearworld.com).

8. Dallas/Ft. Worth – Check out Cutting Edge Haunted House (CuttingEdgeHauntedHouse.com), the Guinness Word Record-holder as the longest running haunted house in the world.

9. Greensboro/Raleigh, N.C. – Kersey Valley Spookywoods (Spookywoods.com) is family fun by day, full-on horror-themed amusement park by night.

10. Denver – The Mile High City can boast three of the best in The Asylum Haunted House, 13th Floor Haunted House and Blood Shed. Visit GetScared.com.

11. Cincinnati – The Dent Schoolhouse (Frightsite.com) is a bona fide haunted site with its own grisly back-story about a janitor who was a homicidal lunatic.

12. Austin, Texas – House of Torment (TheHouseOfTorment.com) is a three-course horror fest.

13. Houston, Texas – Built next to a graveyard, Nightmare on the Bayou (NightmareOnTheBayou.com) can claim a REAL ghost haunting.

GEEK TREK

Here’s the Top 12 list of global “Geeky Destinations and Smart Side Trips” as selected and described by Wired magazine (more information: wired.com). Note that 2 of the 12 sites are right here in the extended Inland Empire (No. 2 Riverside in Riverside County and No. 8 Mojave in San Bernardino County).

Match that, Rest of the Earth!

1. The Autodesk Gallery, San Francisco: If you’re in the Bay Area on a Wednesday, head to the Autodesk Gallery at One Market Street to see the best work done by customers of the design software firm. We’re partial to the 62,500-piece dinosaur built by Lego.
    
2. Eaton Collection, University of California, Riverside: The world’s largest nonprivate athenaeum of science fiction, fantasy, and horror includes an original copy of Thomas Moore’s Utopia, more than 500 editions of Philip K. Dick’s writings, Ray Bradbury’s personal letters, and 125,000 superhero comics. Pow!

3. SEG Electronics Market, Shenzhen, China: Eight floors of tiny booths packed with electronics equipment, from microprocessors to cell phones. This is where our robot overlords will one day force their human slaves to shop for spare parts, so you might as well familiarize yourself with the layout now.
   
4. Trinity Site, Alamogordo, New Mexico: On the first Saturday in October (and then again in April), you can visit the site of the first atomic bomb test. Don’t pick up the glassy Trinitite you see lying on the ground — it’s still hot. And bring your own food. And gas. If you drive in with the convoy, it’s 150 miles round-trip.

5. Ride of the Rings, near Queenstown, New Zealand: Attention Hobbitses! Book a horseback tour at Dart Stables to see several of the “Lord of the Rings” filming locations: the Misty Mountains, the road to Isengard, the fields of Rohan, and Amon Hen.
   
6. Paris Sewer Museum, Paris, France: Always wanted to join the French underground? Next time you’re in Paris you can, with a tour of the City of Lights’ sewers. See the centuries-old, nearly 1,500-mile tunnel network! Smell the millions of gallons of wastewater!
   
7. Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan: Use the world’s second-tallest building as a sundial, with adjoining Millennium Park as the clock face; ride the world’s fastest passenger elevator–it goes almost 40 mph; visit the observatory to see the 660-metric-ton wind damper that keeps the building balanced during severe weather.
   
8. Mojave Air & Space Port, Mojave, Calif.: You could plunk down a $20,000 deposit to reserve your spot on the Virgin Galactic flight to (almost) space. Or you could spend $5 for a tour of this bustling space port in the California desert.

9. CERN and tzi the Iceman, Geneva, Switzerland & Bolzano, Italy: When you finally wangle that invitation to Davos (Switzerland, home of the World Economic Forum), give yourself a few extra days. One to visit CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider. (Plan ahead — the group tour books up four months to a year in advance.) You’ll also want to visit tzi the Iceman — the 5,300-year-old is the world’s best-preserved “wet” mummy — at Bolzano’s South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.
   
10. Arecibo Observatory, Arecibo, Puerto Rico: You know the end of “Golden Eye,” where Bond and Trevelyan battle on a platform over a giant satellite dish? That was the Arecibo Observatory, home to the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope. It’s open to visitors, but don’t get your hopes up — sliding down the face of the satellite is prohibited.
   
11. Arcosanti and Biosphere 2, Mayer & Oracle, Arizona: People in Arizona live in weird places. There’s Arcosanti, the Tatooine-ish “ecological” settlement of boxes and domes north of Phoenix, and Biosphere 2, near Tucson. The latter is a museum now, and you can visit the five biomes that, for two years in the ’90s, enclosed a clutch of hungry, squabbling researchers.
   
12. Baikonur Cosmodrome, Baikonur, Kazakhstan: Mourning the death of the Space Shuttle program? Visit the Baikonur Cosmodrome: If you time your tour right, you can witness one of the four manned launches scheduled throughout the year.

THE SCARIEST PLACE ON EARTH!

The Halloween Time celebration at Disneyland, now through Oct. 31,  starts the moment you enter the park. Oversize pumpkin versions of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy are on display at the park’s main gate. Once inside, you’ll see that Main Street has been decorated with a “Pumpkin Festival” theme. In Town Square there’s a 12-foot-tall Mickey Mouse jack-o-lantern and more than 300 carved pumpkins are displayed in shop windows. Holiday bunting in Halloween colors graces light poles and stores.

The Haunted Mansion has been transformed into Haunted Mansion Holiday with a Tim Burton “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme. 

“Mickey’s Halloween Party” is held on selected nights during the month and is open only to those who purchase separate tickets. Music, treat stations, creepy crafts and Disney characters in Halloween costumes are among the party features. Guests are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes, too.

At 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. nightly, Disney characters in costume march in Mickey’s Costume Party Cavalcade on Main Street. A special Haunted Castle Float is decorated with bats, ghosts, spider webs, pumpkins and skulls.

New character photo locations are featured this year. Guests can greet “Star Wars” stormtroopers in Tomorrowland, Phineas & Ferb at Carnation Plaza Gardens and Duffy the Bear in Town Square. 

Party with Goofy at Piratepalooza or with Buzz Lightyear at his Intergalactic Space Jam  on the Tomorrowland Terrace.

The Space Mountain ride has been transformed into Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, with a spooky soundtrack and holiday special effects.

At the Big Thunder Ranch Halloween Roundup, join Woody and Jessie from “Toy Story” to celebrate Halloween with a Western twist. Holiday arts and crafts, pumpkin carving and a petting zoo are part of the fun.

Halloween treats will be available throughout the park, including Silly Halloween Carmel Apples, Pumpkin Muffins topped with Cream, Mickey Halloween Cookies, Hot Carmel Apple Cider and Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Even the nightly fireworks show has been recast for Halloween, with Jack Skellington from “Nightmare Before Christmas” serving as host and Disney characters dressed in holiday finery.
 
For more information and tickets, visit http://disneyland.disney.go.com/events/halloween-time

ZAGAT’S LIST OF INLAND EMPIRE’S BEST STEAKHOUSES

The 2012 Zagat guide to Southern California restaurants lists the following steakhouses as being the best in the Inland Empire (San Bernardino and Riverside counties):

Arnold Palmer’s, La Quinta

Chop House, Palm Springs and Palm Desert

Davey’s, Palm Springs

The Falls, Palm Springs

Fleming’s, Rancho Cucamonga and Rancho Mirage (Zagat ‘Top Spot’ designation)

LG’s, Palm Springs and La Quinta (Zagat ‘Top Spot’ designation)

Morton’s, Palm Desert (Zagat ‘Top Spot’ designation)

Outback, multiple locations

Ruth’s Chris, Palm Desert (Zagat ‘Top Spot’ designation)

BAD JOKES HAVE A ‘RICH’ TRADITION IN SAN BERNARDINO

Here’s an expanded version of my Sept. 28 column with extra jokes from the Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino’s 31st annual Lyman Rich Joke Telling Contest:

Jokes are good. They lighten the mood. They ease tension. They offer a measure of much-needed relief in troubled times.

Obviously, we need jokes more than ever.

Thank goodness the Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino is doing its part to keep the supply strong.

Last week the club hosted its 31st annual Lyman Rich Joke Telling Contest at the San Bernardino Golf Club.

Almost two dozen Kiwanians tried to outdo one another in earning laughter, applause and groans from their colleagues.

They earned plenty of groans, that’s for sure.

After all, it’s a contest named after Lyman Rich, the local civic figure, pioneer Kiwanian and legendary corny joke teller who died in 1981.

This year’s contestants competed in three categories: “Best Joke,” “Worst Groaner” and “Most Like Lyman Rich.” Only a fine line separated best from worst in this competition, which made judging a challenge.

I know, because I was the judge.

Yes, for the seventh straight year, I was asked to serve as arbiter in this distinguished and time-honored event.

I have no idea why the Kiwanians think I’m such an expert on bad jokes, but I don’t want to screw up a good thing. It’s a free meal, after all.

Without further ado, here are the three winners:

Laura Gonzales triumphed, if that is the correct word, in the “Most Like Lyman Rich” category.

She told a joke about two cannibals who are sitting around the fire, eating and talking. One guy says to the other guy, “You know what? I can’t stand my mother-in-law.” The other guy says, “Well, just eat the potatoes, then.”

Carrie Schmidt was victorious in the “Worst Groaner” category with her joke about the convalescent hospital patient who was a bit of a playboy.

The old gent scandalized the whole institution when when he started up a relationship with Lorraine, but then started cheating on her with another woman named Claire Lee.

When Lorraine suddenly passed away, everyone went to the funeral in the hospital chapel, and the old geezer was asked if he wanted to say a few words. He shocked everyone when he stood up and broke into song:

“I can see Claire Lee now, Lorraine is gone!”

Jay Zercher won in the “Best Joke” category. He told a yarn about the late comedian Bob Hope and his wife of many years, Dolores Hope, who recently passed away at the age of 102:

About 20 years ago, Zercher said, when both Bob and Dolores were still alive, they were sitting outside one evening, enjoying their lovely home in Palm Springs.

Bob said, “Dolores, we’ve been married a very long time. Sometimes I wonder how you’ve put up with me all these years.”

Dolores replied, “Oh, I have a system, dear.”

Bob said, “A system? What is it?”

Dolores answered, “Whenever I get angry at you, I work it off by going around the house and cleaning all the toilets.”

Bob laughed and said, “Cleaning the toilets! How does that help?”

Dolores replied, “I use your toothbrush.”

Here are selected additional jokes told during the competition:

Steve Weber: This short, dumpy balding guy was at the gym one day and he saw a beautiful woman. He was smitten. He went to the trainer and said, “I really want to impress that new girl. She is so beautiful. Which of the machines here should I use?” The trainer said, without hesitation, “The ATM machine out in the lobby.”

Rex Ramsey: A woman holding a baby was walking on the sidewalk. A drunk stumbled toward her from the opposite direction. As they passed, the drunk said, “Madam, that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen!” The woman burst into tears. A mailman saw her and asked what was wrong. “That man just insulted me,” she cried. The mailman said, “Now, now, don’t cry. Everything’s going to be fine. Here’s a tissue.” The woman stopped crying and said, “Thank you. You’re very kind.” The mailman reached into his bag and said, “You’re very welcome. Oh, and here’s a banana for the chimp.”

Christney Barilla: A guy had a curse put on him. He could speak only two words per year. He figured out that if he said nothing for a year he could save those two words and combine them with the next year’s words. In fact, he could keep doing this year after year, building up his supply of words. One day he met a princess and fell in love. He spent five years in silence, thinking of the perfect words to say. At last he met the princess and spent all his words at once: “How I adore you, my Princess! Will you marry me?” The princess said, “Pardon?”

Verlene Riddle: How do you catch a unique rabbit? Unique up on it! How do you catch a tame rabbit? Tame way!

George Gorian: The beautiful blonde boards the jetliner for a nonstop
flight between LAX and New York. She sits down in first-class. Shortly
before takeoff, an attendant approaches her, points out that her ticket
is for coach, and offers to take her to the correct seat. She refuses.
Next, the co-pilot tries to reason with her. Same result. Finally, the
pilot says, “I can handle this.” He approaches the woman, leans down and
whispers something. She immediately stands up and walks back to coach.
The co-pilot and attendant are amazed. “What did you say to her?” they
ask. The pilot said, “It was easy. I told her this section isn’t going
to New York.”

Dick Bueermann: Jose was visiting America. He wanted to go to a baseball
game. His friends took him, but the seats were bad. They were way out under the
flagpole in center field. Afterward, his friends were apologetic but
Jose said, “No, no, I’ve never had a better time. The game was
wonderful, and the fans were fantastic. I loved the way they all stood
up at the beginning, looked toward me, and sang that song that starts
‘Jose, can you see?’”

Gwendolyn Nelson: A man enters the health care center and announces, “I have shingles.” The receptionist takes his name, address and insurance information and tells him to have a seat. Fifteen minutes later, a nurse’s aide takes him in back, records his weight and height and asks him to take a seat in the examination room. A half hour later, a nurse checks his blood pressure, asks him if he has any allergies, tells him to disrobe and leaves. An hour later the doctor steps in, finds the man sitting naked on the exam table, and asks, “How can we help you today?” The man says, “I have shingles.” The doctor asks, “Where?” The man says, “Out in the truck. Where do you want me to unload them?”

As anyone can see, the Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino is a fun bunch, if ever there was one. They meet at noon every Wednesday at the San Bernardino Golf Club, 1494 S. Waterman Ave. For information on joining the club (and the fun), visit online at www.sanbernardinokiwanis.org.