Confessions of a Pizza Snob

I’ve now lived in Glendale 25 years, and as of May it will be 30 years in California. I was born and raised in New Jersey, and if you know anything about the people of New Jersey (excluding exaggerated reality TV shows) it is that we take our food, especially pizza, very seriously. The crust should be thin and have some crispness to it. Toppings consist of any or a combination of the following: cheese, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green pepper, onion. PERIOD. The mere mention of Hawaiian pineapple pizza triggers my gag reflex. Fruit has no place on or near a respectable pizza. The addition of “gourmet” meats such as chicken or ham is not at all repulsive, but if you want chicken or ham and cheese on bread, go eat a sandwich. A fancy-schmancy 10″ circle of baked dough with toppings is called an appetizer. Real pizza should yield 6-8 respectable slices, and still leave room for a side of pasta and/or salad.

Over these past 30 years, I have been on the hunt for good California pizza, and I must confess it has been a herculean quest. Most often my disappointment lies with the crust. I’ve been told the “problem” is the water. I’m not sure if there are too many or not enough minerals in Southern California water, nonetheless, I’ve tolerated soft, doughy pizza crust, while not unpalatable, simply isn’t the pizza I long for.

Now the good news. It’s taken me almost three decades to find, but good pizza does exist in our area. I wish my #1 choice was closer, but through sheer tenacity and optimism, my #3 and #4 picks are within five minutes from home. I generally prefer to eat at the establishment because fresh out-of-the-oven pizza is always better than one that has to be reheated.

1. North End Pizzeria – Burbank

2. Vito’s – West Hollywood

3. Giuseppe’s – Montrose

4. Rocky’s – Glendale * Rocky’s Gourmet Pizza

* I am acknowledging Rocky’s, located across from Verdugo Park on Canada Blvd., for its excellent taste even though its crust is the soft variety, and it’s really close to home.



No News is Good News


I turn on the news with total trepidation, and more often lately, dread.  Typically the first five stories are about death, political unrest, the failing US economy, or terrorism. I seriously don’t know why I bother, yet I am literally aware of the latest breaking news throughout the day.  We no longer get our news only at 5:00 or 6:00.  We see it on TV throughout the day, hear it in our cars, and browse for it on our computers at will 24/7.

Unfortunately, mainstream news is morphing into tabloid sensationalism.  Breaking News – Lindsey Lohan is heading back to jail.  Really?!?  Taylor Armstrong’s husband commits suicide.  Taylor who?  Why does the news media think, no, insist we care?  Are hard news issues so depressing that we’re offered News Light as a friendly diversion or is good news simply not exciting enough?  Not to give the impression that I am totally down on what’s considered news, I have been riveted with the Conrad Murray/Michael Jackson trial, much as I was with the Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson trials. Allowing cameras in the courtroom incurs a level voyeurism that incites (and seduces) the public to form opinions, sometimes erroneous opinions; however; it doesn’t stop here.  There’s the recap programs.  Specifically, Headline News (HLN/Charter Channel 49) with Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell, and Dr. Drew asking a variety of talking-head experts who discuss and disseminate the day’s testimony, which further frustrates armchair jurors like myself.  The defense in the Michael Jackson trial will be resting soon, deliberations will begin, but as we’ve learned from the Anthony and Simpson cases, nothing is a slam-dunk.

Several years ago I made a concerted effort to avoid watching late night news based on the premise that I did not want to go to bed with sad thoughts and images freshly implanted in my brain.  Instead I’d watch reruns of Friends, Seinfeld, Sex and the City, or The Daily Show.  At least I’d be laughing myself to sleep.  This experiment lasted a month.  I needed a reality fix – good, bad or otherwise.  I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.

On the bright side, the best news I’ve heard in years is a clinical study that confirms dark chocolate is healthy to eat every day.  EVERY DAY!  That’s the kind of news we can all agree is a relevant breakthrough in medical science.  I’ll continue to monitor the news because one day the stock market will turn around, our troops will come home, Republicans will pick a candidate, and dammit, I want to be the first to know.

REVIEW: Last Man Standing (ABC Monday, 8:00pm)






Tim Allen returns to the small screen as Mike Baxter, an aging baby boomer, father of three daughters, and a relatively new grandfather .  He is married (never divorced – I feel compelled to qualify that) to Vanessa, played by Nancy Travis (3 Men and a Baby), who recently returns to the workplace after years as a stay-at-home mom.  Their eldest daughter Kristin is a 22 year old unmarried mother of little Boyd living at home with her sisters, 17 year old Mandy, and 14 year old Eve. The laughs are driven by Allen’s solo frustrated alpha-male surrounded by estrogen-overload.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.

I decided to give this new sitcom a shot since I am also a former stay-at-home mom of daughters who recently returned to work, and I loved Tim Allen in Home Improvement.  Grandparenthood is still far off in my future, but I am increasingly surrounded by friends who have crossed over into that final frontier.  This show had promise.  I wanted to like it, I really did.  Sadly, the situations and dialogue come off forced, and good ol’ Mom and Dad act like buffoons.  Case in point, Vanessa, who is likely in her late 40s gets upset when another woman, clearly in her 60s, refers to her as, “women our age,” which flusters Vanessa and drives her to recapture her youth, if only through fashion.  Amid blasting techno-pop in a Forever 21ish boutique, Vanessa admires herself in colorful sweater only to be told by the teenage clerk that she’s wearing shorts.  Mike attends Grandparents Day at his grandson’s preschool and instantly clashes with the New Age, ultra-liberal, politically correct director.  When Mike/Tim notices a cute child with curly hair, dressed in a tutu then finds out his name is Doug, he blurts out something insulting to both parent and director, and is promptly asked to leave the preschool.  He thinks he’s prepared to take care of his grandson himself at his place of business, but after one too many poopy diapers returns to the preschool with his tail firmly between his legs and begs for forgiveness.

Last Man Standing may be able to limp through the season thanks to the strength of its star, Tim Allen, but this otherwise uninspired comedy needs to step up the writing and pull situations from real life if it expects to stroll into another season.

It’s a Love/Hate Relationship

There are downsides to everything; there are unintended consequences to everything. The most corrosive piece of technology that I’ve ever seen is called television – but then, again, television, at its best, is magnificent.– Steve Jobs, 2003

It may not be PC to admit I love television.  I’ve always loved television.  Yes, I believe I could live without it if I had to, but I would miss it terribly.  That said, there are programs on TV whose premise is simple despicable to me.  First and foremost I hate reality show “faux-lebrities” (fake celebrities).  The reality is there is no reality. Honestly, who are these people?  They don’t possess any talent other than the ability to focus our attention on their dysfunctional lives.  The situations are planned, staged, arranged…call it what you will.  To say it’s dramatized is to suggest they can act.  Furthermore, they crossover into entertainment news media, i.e., Us Magazine, The Insider, and insist “everybody’s talking about them.”

Here are the shows on my PLEASE GO AWAY list

  • Teen Mom (MTV)
  • Sister Wives (TLC)
  • Toddlers & Tiaras (TLC)
  • 19 Kids and Counting (TLC)
  • Kardashian-anything (E)
  • Housewives of Orange County, Atlanta, New Jersey, New York City, and Beverly Hills (Bravo)
  • The Bachelor (ABC)

The top three shows on my list are simply disturbing and creepy.  Teen mothers, polygamists, and baby-women are not to be revered or envied, yet that’s exactly the message these shows are sending.

The “I Don’t Get It” Award has to go to Extreme Couponing.  I love to save money as much as the next person, but to frame a show about the ability to buy 50 tubes of toothpaste for $1.00 at the checkout is absurd.

Now that I got that out of my system, there is an abundance of programs I do like.  Based on genuine laughs, intelligent drama, educational, and irreverence, here are my Prime Time Top 10:


  • Modern Family (ABC)
  • 30 Rock (NBC)
  • The Soup (E)
  • Criminal Minds (CBS)
  • What Not to Wear (TLC)
  • Project Runway (Lifetime)
  • Whitney (new) (NBC)
  • Hoarders (TLC)
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
  • Sex & the City – reruns (E)

I could go on and on singing the praises of shows about biographies, medical reality, history, mysteries, UFOs, and the paranormal, but suffice it to say there’s far more out there to love than hate.  The sheer abundance of information available is enough to develop just a little crush, no?  What shows are on your Hit List?

Channel Surfing – Indecision or A.D.D.?





In 1992 Bruce Springsteen released a song titled, “57 Channels and Nothing On.”  Here it is almost 20 years later, and as a long-time Glendale cable subscriber I find myself saying the same thing.  On any given day you’d think I’d be able to settle on something among 177 channels (and those are just the free ones).  Personally, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to commit to watching anything running over 30 minutes.Typical example, on a lazy weekend afternoon after flipping through the full cycle of channels, not once, not twice, but three times, I come across the 1960 classic La Dolce Vita, a movie I have amazingly never seen.  Just 15 minutes into it, I’ve run out of excuses to pass it by.  Though it’s over 50 years old, the theme is still very current – confused, unfulfilled Italian man-about-town meets vivacious American actress hounded by paparazzi in Rome and all the reckless consequences that follows. Eventually it becomes tedious to divide my attention between the subtitles and action on the screen.  After 35 minutes, my wanderlust is reactivated.  I change the channel AGAIN, and end up watching the last 10 minutes Toy Story 3 (which I’ve seen before).  Terminal cuteness wins over sophistication and nostalgia.

More often I find myself sitting in front of the TV while simultaneously browsing the internet on my laptop.  In between checking e mail, looking for recipes, and Google-ing random trivia.  That’s not to say I don’t have favorites: Modern Family, 30 Rock, Criminal Minds, Project Runway, and What Not to Wear.  Don’t hate me because I don’t watch Dancing with the Stars (recaps on Access Hollywood are enough) but I totally get why it’s so popular.  I’m not above lovingSouth Park and Family Guy.  Hoarders is a guilty pleasure.We’re inundated with information more than ever and feeling truly satisfied with none of it, which is why we conclude there’s nothing on.  I’ve never believed that television is the “vast wasteland” as some detractors portray it. In fact, those people really piss me off.  There’s something out there for everybody.  Finding it is now a major challenge.

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