Pan-Fried Denim and Other Delights of the Holiday Season

This being the unofficial start of the holiday shopping campaign, public service-minded Only in L.A. wishes to offer a few handy tips derived from seasons past (see accompanying). For instance:

* Don't waste your time at sales that offer minor discounts on everything (photo by Gerald Jones).

* ... Or major markups (contributed by Sue Siani).

* Men, guard against buying trousers that could walk out of your closet (contributed by Fred Stone).

* And, guys, no matter how nice that frilly frock looks on you in the mirror, check the price (from Janet Paulson).

* If you're searching for an antique, try to find something with a little age on it (from David Freed).

Speaking of prices: "Movies shot on location, especially since the '60s, often represent a time capsule," points out film historian Rick Mitchell.

"For instance, in 'Dirty Harry,' shot in San Francisco in the summer of 1971, the prices for two grades of gas at a station seen in one shot are $ .24 and $ .28, I assume for leaded.

"In 'Thunderbolt and Lightfoot,' shot in Montana two years later, prices are up by a nickel.

"In 'Die Hard,' shot in the winter of 1987-88, the prices for unleaded at the Arco station on Olympic Boulevard, just west of Century City, are $ .74 and $ .78." Remember when gas stations used to have price wars?

Sour note: The Huntington Beach Independent reports that a resident called police the other evening about a man "standing next to a house singing folk songs in a cowboy hat." It was not Glen Campbell, in case you're wondering.

Stop the music! I'm starting to wonder if I haven't stumbled upon some sort of a musical conspiracy.

You'll recall the recent sighting of a bagpipe player outside a Rancho Santa Margarita residence and a harmonica player in the Mission Viejo area.

Not to mention the woman who drew a complaint in Seal Beach for walking down the street while "carrying a 40-ounce Budweiser and singing Elton John songs."

miscelLAny: At least there are no reports of accordion players on the loose.


Steve Harvey can be reached at (800) LA-TIMES, Ext. 77083; by fax at (213) 237-4712; by mail at Metro, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A. 90012; and by e-mail at

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