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A brief history of my evening with Stephen Hawking

Patt Morrison and Stephen Hawking at Cal-Tech.
Dave Coelho/KPCC

The renowned physicist, cosmologist and lover of Indian food is at Caltech for his annual dinner and lecture visit. I broke naan across from him Thursday at dinner, which was cooked by a class of adept Caltech students.

I had a short interview with him, and with the student-chefs, which will be airing on “Off-Ramp” soon. As we took the photograph, I had just made a little joke, which accounts for his smile [producer Dave Coelho didn’t get a smile, but maybe he’s not as funny nor as glamorous as I am].  


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Patt's Hats: An ensemble in honor of the late Margaret Thatcher

Patt's Hats for Monday, April 8.
Michelle Lanz/KPCC

The twinset, in russet and camel colors, was my ‘homage’ to Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first woman prime minister, who died Monday at the Ritz Hotel in London.
If you're unfamiliar with a twinset, it's the classic matching sweater-duo ensemble, sleeveless or short-sleeved sweater under a cardigan, a style much favored in the U.S. by June Cleaver and sorority girls in the 1950s, like the classic insufferable rich sorority girl parody from “Auntie Mame":

And in Britain by a lady of a certain age and certain class. It is usually worn with pearls, ideally three strands. Odd numbers of strands are considered more chic than even numbers. It’s probably what she wore “off duty” as prime minister.

One can’t see her [see, I’m channeling her already!] lounging about Number 10 Downing Street in velour sweats, but on duty and on display in her prime ministerial position, though, she almost always wore a kind of uniform, a brightly colored suit, ladylike but not alluring, and not unlike what the Queen wears. [In the same spirit, the Queen wears twinsets when she’s off-duty and having fun, which is to say at some horsy event or another.] 


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Sandi Gibbons on journalism, working for the DA, and why she's retiring

Robert F. Kennedy's speech at the Ambassador Hotel. Sandi Gibbons the woman in the white dress on the bottom right.

She’s spent her life on both sides of the microphone.

For half of her career she was a reporter, finding herself in places like the Ambassador Hotel ballroom on the night Robert F. Kennedy was shot, and in the courthouse covering Charles Manson.

For the other half of her professional life, she spent a lot more time in L.A.’s courthouses as the spokeswoman for the L.A. County District Attorney’s office. She served three DAs, and now she’s hanging it up. Her retirement lunch was attended by three past and present DAs, with a fond message from a fourth, and as many of her reporter and DA friends could fit in the restaurant.

RELATED: Veteran reporter, DA spokesperson Sandi Gibbons is retiring

Sandi Gibbons has tales to tell, and here she recounts a few funny, moving and plain old perplexing ones from her life in court. And I can tell you from knowing her, she is one great dame.


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Patt's Hats: Think pink!

Audrey Hepburn I am not, but every once in a while, a girl’s gotta go for the gamine look, right? The ankle-length or capri trousers, the ‘50s pink and black color scheme. This is not the ‘’Breakfast at Tiffany’s” Audrey Hepburn, but the 1957 “Funny Face” Audrey, the intellectual beatnik girl who agrees to do a photo modeling shoot for Fred Astaire in exchange for a trip to Paris, where she can to worship at the feet of her “empathicalism” guru, Professor Flostre, who turns out to be just another “mec” on the make.
Of course I had to sneak in some commentary in this ensemble: the shirt in sweetheart-pink with stylized black silhouettes of classic runway shapes over the years …  and the shoes, with the pink-and-black face of a sassy manga girl. This one I like. Some of the sex-bomb manga girl illustrations look more like teen boy fantasy porn versions of those classic Keane portraits of solemn-faced, big-eyed children.
If you think Meryl Streep was a tough cookie in “The Devil Wears Prada,” check out the original: Kay Thompson and her star turn as the glamorous, tyrannical fashion mag editor in “Funny Face”! [Why do the handbags carried by women in the movies always look empty? Par for the fantasy, I suppose.


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Patt's Hats: Brown and orange and rose gold all over

Patt Morrison's outfit for March 26, 2013.
Michelle Lanz/KPCC

For good or ill, I have six-months’ worth of winterish wardrobe in a part of the world with six weeks’ worth of winter. Indoors and AC are great equalizers, yet I am rushing to get in the wools and tweeds before we start sweating – probably in April. [President Richard Nixon loved to have a fire in the fireplace of the Lincoln Sitting Room in the White House, so much so that he cranked up the AC so he could enjoy a cozy fire even in August.]

So I had to give a season’s last hurrah to this Jacquard brocade coat with coppery embroidery and brown velvet piping, worn over your plain ol’ brand X brown jersey dress.

Rose-gold is such a flattering shade, hence the bracelets. [The lampshades at the Belle Epoque Paris restaurant Maxim’s were made of soft pink silk because it made ladies’ complexions look so much better.] 


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