Little Black Sambo

I always wondered why people got so uptight about the name of Sambo’s restaurants.  What was so offensive about that well dressed little kid in India outsmarting some tigers, and turning them into butter for his breakfast?? As my sister brought it up, i did some research:

Sambo’s is the name of a former American restaurant chain, started in 1957 by Sam Battistone (who later became the owner of the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association) and Newell Bohnett. Though the name was taken from portions of the names of its founders, the chain soon found itself associated with The Story of Little Black Sambo. Battistone and Bohnett then sought to capitalize on the coincidence by decorating the walls of the restaurants with scenes from the book, including a dark-skinned boy and tigers; once critics began voicing objections, the use of the boy’s image was eliminated but the tigers remained. By 1979, Sambo’s had 1,200 outlets in 47 U.S. states, but two years later the company went bankrupt, having changed the name of some of the outlets shortly before going out of business to "No Place Like Sam’s," apparently in response to complaints about the name "Sambo’s" from African-American organizations. Today, only the chain’s flagship restaurant in Santa Barbara, California still exists.  In its last days of existence Sambo’s was sued by Dr. Pepper for allegedly plagiarizing the latter’s popular television commercial in a spot Sambo’s ran to promote its newly-established senior citizen discount program — and even more interestingly, was also sued by non-white employees and applicants who were alleging discrimination in hiring and advancement decisions. Battistone’s grandson, Chad Stevens, expressed a desire to revive the chain at various times in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The Story of Little Black Sambo (1898) by Helen Bannerman, was the story of a boy named Sambo who outwitted a group of hungry tigers. The setting of Bannerman’s story was clearly in India – as can be seen by the presence of tigers and the reference to ghee – and thus it is likely that the "Sambo" character began life as an Indian boy.  Today the book has been renamed, The Story of Little Babaji, and the illustrations that reflected the character’s Indian origins in a non-marginalizing manner.

Which remind me — this may sound spooky, but did anyone see THE HUMAN STAIN starring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman? What a horrid name for a book/movie. Good movie, I thought. Anyone read the book? Well, obviously SOMEONE read the book — i mean did YOU read the book?


Lee Goldberg, who’s daughter is the same age as the University Village Barnes & Noble, asked if HIGH TENSION ranks right up there with DRACULA’S DOG when it comes to fine cinematic experiences.  First of all, as many movie pundits have previously discussed (ie Michael Medved’s "Dracula’s Dog and the Pawing Liberals’ Attempt to Elicit Affection by Rolling Over and Playing Dead" published in "You’ll Never be Semi-Rational at Lunch in this Town Again Quarterly" — a 25cent publication dedicated to absurdist nuevo-orthodox critics who got busted selling good reviews for bad movies and had to leave town and attack Hollywood — small subscription base, but dedicated) Dracula’s Dog was also released with the alternate title: ZOLTAN, THE HOUND OF DRACULA.  If both these films are featured on a double bill, you may notice similarities in cast, production, script, and all aspects except title sequence.

Lee remembers Dracula’s Dog (and Dracula’s grand-dog — a red eyed puppy destined to be denied the sequel the world feared) because we saw that film at the drive-in movie the same night we saw Bruce Springsteen live. Well, in truth, we had 10th row center seats for The Boss for his concert at the Paramount Theater in Seattle but we left early so we wouldn’t miss a moment of Dracula’s Dog!  Good thinking on our part! You notice that Bruce is still hanging around doing concerts and putting out CDs, but have you seen any tours of Zoltan? Didn’t think so. We saw the Dog on the Dog’s only Zoltonic Tour performance.

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High Tension

To keep my heart calm, Jordan and I went to HIGH TENSION — the gory French psycho film featuring a non-stop creep-out of straight razor murder, dismemberment, and mental perversity that is beyond the beyond.  It is so disgusting, Norman Bates wouldn’t take his mother to see it.  Of course, I loved it.  The movie has occasional subtitles, but mostly is dubbed in English for wide American appeal. Jordan was unimpressed. "The actors in that movie were lip-syncing," he complained. "And they didn’t do a very good job."  Now that I’ve seen it, I want to catch it on video to see the "clues" to the revelatory ending.  It was far better than Boogyman — the movie sooo stupid, the entire theatre audience yelled insults at the screen and the projectionist had to run for his life.

Yes, it’s true — there IS a movie entitled ROSCOE’S CHICKEN AND WAFFLES!  I have eaten at Roscoe’s, and the chicken/waffle combination is excellent.  I’m thinking of starting Burl’s Beef Steak & Pancake Restaurant, but I’m too busy right now writing STEALTH and polishing "Secrets of a Hollywood Private Detective."


It’s hard to believe that this morning, before breakfast, I was shot up on morphine and watching Edward G. Robinson in Damon Runyon’s "A Slight Case of Murder."  I enjoyed that tremendously.  Before that, I watched a new digital remix/restoration of AFRICA SCREAMS starring Abbott and Costello.  Also featured were Joe Besser and Shemp Howard. Shemp would later rejoin the Three Stooges, and following his death, Joe Besser would take his place.  It was a treat to see Besser, Howard, and Costello working together.  Very funny, of course. 

It is not my normal routine to get shot up on morphine and watch old movies — i had a medical procedure at Swedish Hospital in Seattle (3 stents in the heart), and the chest pain from the wire being shoved in there earned me the morphine shots….made the Edward G. Robertson film sooooo dreamy. LOL

The procedure went fine, from what I hear.  They said I can have S-E-X in FIVE DAYS! YAY…I must remember to call them and find out who it is I am supposed to have sex with, as they didn’t write down anyone’s name on my instructions.


Three Stents in my Ticker — not exactly Three Coins in the Fountain — is on my agenda for Wednesday afternoon.  The doctors say it is a piece of cake. Nothing to worry about. They do it all the time.  Of course, I am worried. 

Why Worry? I dunno.  If it were sudden and life threatening as it was on the 23rd, then I would have no apprehension. Now, however, I have anticipation/apprehension. I didn’t see it comming on the 23rd, but I can watch the clock as the event approaches today.  I’m not worried about being dead — dead i can deal with. I worry about some screw-up with anesthesia that wipes my brain’s A-drive or something. It happened to Mark Tobey. He went in for a piece of cake hernia operation and could never paint again.  This is the type of thing that scares me. What if i come out of this and I can’t type, write, dictate or think, but I can play the violin? I don’t own a violin, so I would never know that I could play it.  This is very troubling.  Stan (my brother) and I are going fishing in the morning. I think a trout or two will calm my nerves.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: I would love to compliment every friend, family member, and former co-worker who has be so kind as to inquire into my health and well being in the past few weeks. It really means a great deal to me.  Some folks, however, don’t feel comfortable being praised in public. So, I WON’T MENTION YOUR NAMES — YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, AND I LOVE YOU. 


Remember when Karen fell in the Lake?

I must have watched my neice Karen step out of our fishing boat a hundred times, but I remember with absolute clarity the time she stepped out of the boat and missed the dock!  Sploooosh! We laughed so hard at her sudden and unexpected exploration of Loon Lake’s shallow dockside. When you look back, the events that leap out are those that rise above the predictable, the normal, the "uneventful." 

Pizza Hut has delivered numerous pizzas, yet the ONE i remember is the one that came with only crust and pepperoni because when they asked "what do you want on your pizza," we answered "Just Pepperoni" and that is EXACTLY what we got – a pizza with no sauce no cheese — JUST PEPPERONI.  Because it was out of the ordinary, i remember it.

Experts link this "out of the ordinary" business with keeping a good working brain in your old age.  The more diverse experiences an old person has, the younger their brain stays.  After all, when you are young, everything is new to the brain. When you are older, you need more diversity of experience for your brain to bother remembering it! So, if your memory is starting to fade, start doing things that are different and therefor memorable. I do not suggest, however, ordering a JUST PEPPERONI pizza.


My friend Zippo, famed not only as an award-winning newscaster, but also for being in several of my books (both fiction and non-fiction), is a virtual Sam’s Place of paranoia.  He recently suggested that homicidal stalkers and sex perverts could track down, for example, my nephew Tod Goldberg, famous author, and do kinky things to him.  These same sickos could show up at one of Lee Goldberg’s signings of the latest Diagnosis: Murder paperback and make rude noises by slapping their cupped hand under their armpit.  Zippo is right.  It is to help people such as he sleep better that we have the Patriot Act that says, in essence: “We the people of the United States, fearful of losing something, hereby give up everything.”

It is true that bad people can do mean things to nice innocent people. I know about that stuff. I write true crime books, remember?

I also know that being a Public Person means you take certain risks. I have already had my “Play Misty For Me” obsessive fan, complete with standard issue cliché dialogue, “if I can’t have you, no one can!” (cue Bernard Hermann score), and the babbling inane emails from self-published authors who want to know what I would charge to turn their non-selling book into a hit movie. If I had the power to “turn a book into a hit movie,” I assure you that I would start with at least four or five of my own books, all of Tod’s and Lee’s and Jan’s and Linda’s and Karen’s before I started working my magic formula on books by people whom I have never met, and who have never helped me catch a trout or de-hook a tinch. Yes, I know the Bush family has given nepotism a bad name, but I proudly admit that I value family and friends, and if I could shower them all with blessings equal to the love I have for them, it would be my greatest joy.  Devoid of such magic powers, however, I content myself with blog reading, posts of encouragement, and augmenting my personal library with their literary accomplishments.


"The reason you are asleep," the doctor explained, "is because your blood pressure is too low. Stop taking the medication we just had you spend $500 on, and you should wake up. You see, everytime you wake up it drains you of energy and causes you to fall asleep. That’s why you are sleeping all the time. Of course, it could also be due to the ingenue in the Philo Vance movie on TCM — you have the hots for her, and she is old enough to be your Nana."

Ok — here is medical update: Wednesday afternoon i have two more stents put in. Thursday afternoon they let me out of the hospital. A week or so later i should be strong enough to return to Santa Monica. The other good news, is now that they are adjusting the medication so i wont be asleep all the time, I will make more progress on STEALTH – my action packed political thriller novel based on the wowie-zowie thrill-a-minute action movie of the same name. The movie comes out in August in USA; the book and movie come out in October in Japan. Jamie Foxx co-stars in this film from the fine folks who brought you Fast and Furious and XXX.

Am I Awake Yet?

All I do is sleep. I wake up long enough to decipher that William Powell is NOT the actor playing Philo Vance in this black and white detective movie on TCM. Maybe I fall asleep from depression?  I get the hots for the cute ingenue, then realize she’s already deceased — maybe that’s what’s doing it. I’ll ask the doctor today if i can stay awake long enough to ask him.  Somehow I doubt his profound medical analysis will include "Well, you’re probably depressed because ya got the hots for the sexy actress playing the ingenue in one of those Philo Vance mysteries on TCM, and then realized that if she were alive today she would be older than your 93 year old mother."

Oh, I’m sure you were on pins and noodles wondering about my Office Depot order — fretting over it with the same degree of intensity you do when ruminating on my sister’s moving stories or the progress of my sister-in-law’s wine cellar.  Office Depot, in a fit of frugality, apparently left the order on the roadside curb rather than bring it to the door of the residence. Can you imagine Dominos doing that? No more,"get the door, it’s dominos!"  The new slogan: "That box in the ditch is  your dominos dinner"  may take a while to catch on. 

Office Depot 2 Go

Office Depot, like Pizza Hut, has an online order service. You just click, pay, and await delivery.  They will deliver your order prior to five pm on the date specificed on your receipt.  I don’t know about YOUR receipt, but mine says June 2nd. Guess what? It is 6:17pm, and Office Depot has not delivered my order.  As I cannot complete a certain time sensitive project without the product, and the sensitive time is evaporating as I type, I wonder what consolation prize Office Depot offers for failure to deliver and not even bother to call and say "Hey, man we don’t deliver to that part of town — a brick could fall off a parapet from one of the mansions, or one of the heated driveways could pop the tire on our delivery van."

Maybe I’ll get a coupon for a free real estate sign, such as "Restrictive Covenants Reconsideration Zone." 

I recall visiting my late Uncle Sid when he moved into his "new house" in Seattle long ago — he had a golf course right across the street! Of course, he wasn’t allowed to play there, but it was a great neighborhood. I always wanted to build a synagogoue and not allows Jews. 

Oh, regarding my health. My heart is still beating. My head is screwy as ever, as you can tell. As for me — I’m looking out the window awaiting Office Depot.