Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

New York Times blows it on Henry Winkler’s kids book – Hank Zipzer is not “underachieving,” he’s dyslexic.

Except for one thing, Sarah Lyall wrote a strong NYT article about the British theatre’s pantomime tradition.

She mentions all the stars who’ve been glad to perform in these farcical fooleries, from Pamela Anderson to Sir Ian McKellen, with extensive quotes from Henry Winkler. But then she writes of Winkler:

He is also the co-author of the Hank Zipzer series, about an underachieving fourth grader, which has sold about three million copies, he said.

Doh! Hank “underachieves” because he’s got dyslexia, which is the whole point of the series. Winkler co-wrote these fun books (with Lin Oliver) to tell his own story about dealing with dyslexia, and to help kids (and their parents) deal with it.

I would not want to be standing near a fan at the New York Times anytime soon.

By the way, you can buy the Hank Zipzer collection from Amazon, and have part of the proceeds go to KPCC. The books are fun to read and enlightening without being messagy.


Snow-shoveling tips – or, another reason to not use mass e-mail programs

Here’s an e-mail I got today that tickles me. Not because 99% of Off-Ramp listeners won’t be shoveling a single flake of snow this year, but because of schadenfreude. Having spent about 30 years shoveling snow (in Sault Ste Marie, East Lansing, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia), I take pleasure in being reminded that I don’t have to do it anymore.

Foundation for Chiropractic Progress

December PSA—Avoiding Winter Injury: 60 seconds

Every winter, millions of Americans grab their shovels and start digging their way out of the snow and into pain. Shoveling snow improperly can lead to potential spasms, strains, and aches. When shoveling snow, the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress suggests the following tips to maintain overall health:

- Always stretch and warm-up before shoveling
- Wear extra layers to maintain muscle warmth and flexibility
- Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions
- Limit the amount of weight lifted per load
- Bend your knees, not your back
- Take frequent breaks to avoid body fatigue


“jellies” -- a new Off-Ramp movie from 89.3-KPCC’s John Rabe

I got an iPhone recently and have been testing its video capabilities for my weekly show, Off-Ramp. Here's the result of a trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach Saturday, where I was entranced by the jellyfish.

Yes, this movie is a little long. It's meant to be a meditation more than a news piece. Close the office door, turn the lights down, turn the speakers up, and watch the jellyfish.

Here's the movie on YouTube if you can't see the one above.

Thanks to Julian, Mary Kate, Jenn, and Katie for their patience while I got the jellyfish ready for their closeups.


The Tar Pit – Mark Peel, Audrey Saunders, et alia, aim for 1940s supper club feel in new LaBrea bar/restaurant

Mark Peel had a twinkle in his eye when he said, “you want to see the wine cellar?” It was a couple hours into the press preview of his new venture, The Tar Pit, at 609 N. LaBrea. Wine cellars in nice new restaurants are usually classy, with custom-built racks filled with tasty wines you and I will never get to taste. If you had a down vest and a corkscrew, it wouldn’t be too bad to be “accidentally” locked in one overnight. Hence Peel’s twinkle. Ten steps down the hallway, he opens a room that looks like a closet, except for the utilitarian racks on both sides, with room only for a ladder and a mischievous chef.

The tiny wine cellar reflects the philosophy of The Tar Pit. They’re only serving 27 wines -- 12 whites, 13 reds, and two sparklings -- and all bottles cost $38. Peel says in most restaurants, people pick wine from the list by going down the right-hand column, checking the prices. “We take that out of the equation.” So there won’t be any Screaming Eagle or Two Buck Chuck. Instead, the list goes for interesting, like a 2005 Oremus from Hungary … “resurrected after the fall of the Iron Curtain…” and a 2004 Slovenian from Ivan Batic, “the madman of … the Vipava Valley.”