Veteran commuters will not be surprised by the 40-minute length of the documentary, "Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405" (see photo).

Everyone knows that nothing involving the 405 takes less than 40 minutes.

The movie, nominated for Best Short Documentary this year, is a profile of Mindy Alper, who has battled depression and anxiety problems to become one of L.A.'s top artists.

As for the title, Alper says she finds it relaxing to sit in stalled traffic and watch how other drivers are reacting.

Perhaps that's an attitude more commuters should adopt.

• Then again I have to admit that, as a user of the 91 Freeway, I sympathized with a driver whose license plate was snapped by a reader several years ago (see photo).

• Turning to surface streets: Drivers who complain about the various traffic islands popping up in Long Beach should be thankful they don't face the obstacle that L.A. drivers did on La Cienega Boulevard in the 1930s and ’40s: an oil well in the middle of the street (see photo).

The derrick actually dated back to 1907 when it was in a bean field. When La Cienega was extended from Santa Monica to Sunset boulevards, the city tried to buy it, but couldn't reach an agreement. Stand-up comics of the era often joked about the thing, whose only ornamentation was whiskey billboards.

When a deal was finally reached in 1946, and the derrick was taken down, Times columnist Fred Beck joked that it was about time — it was "squeaking badly and needs oil."

• Low crimes and misdemeanors: A reader of the local column reported that someone stole a doggie bowl (empty I think) off his front lawn.

Another reader wrote: "Someone stole my doormat. Who does that? Someone who steals a dog bowl, I guess."

• Caffeine chronicles: A mother and her 6- or 7-year-old son were looking over the goodies at a Second Street coffee shop one recent morning.

"What do you want?" Mom asked.

The lad hesitated, then said: "I want not to go to school."

When he's not in a traffic jam, Steve Harvey can be reached at and @sharvey9.

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