Sunday, September 30, 2007

"It's good for you, it's bad for you" is the new, "He loves me, he loves me not"

Today's story is they may ban over-the-counter cold medications for children under 6. Do I have reason to worry retroactively about my 24-year-old son, to whom I gave Triaminic? Why didn't they do this study years ago, instead of putting things on the shelves only to reassess them later on?

How do we know what to believe? Bacon is good if you’re on the Atkins diet, bad if you’re not. Three cups of coffee a day cuts a woman’s chances of colon cancer by half while doing nothing for men. Vitamin C and Gingko, once all the rage, have fallen out of favor. If you're in New Jersey, this week's threat is chopped beef. Red wine is good for the heart, certainly if you’re a lab rat, less so if you’re a post-menopausal woman, who should have no more than one glass a day. Protect yourself from bugs with Deet, even though it’s toxic. Sugar substitutes may be more harmful than sugar. Eat fish at least twice weekly for a healthy heart unless you live in New York, in which case expect elevated mercury levels. Aerobic exercise! Good for everyone, right? Not quite. Repetitive motion can damage your joints.

Nothing is for sure except that red meat, processed foods, partially hydrogenated fats and soda (including diet soda) are said by pretty much everyone who gets to say these things to be bad with the hot dog being the trash can of the food chain. Darkly colored fruits and dark chocolate provide anti-oxidants. Both taste good so expect the news to change and show them to be the cause of chronic fatigue or restless leg syndrome.

It's hard to feel confident in a country when you can't trust the Food and Drug Administration anymore than you do Homeland Security. If you're not worried enough about what you're putting into your body, consider the answer given to the question, "Would terrorists be able to ship plutonium into the United States?"

"Yes, by hiding it in marijuana".

And that's not a joke. The smell of weed apparently masks that of plutonium. Marijuana smokers, not only are you in danger of getting busted, but you may be inhaling plutonium.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Will I Ever Ougrow Being a Chump?

“We can’t go out tonight,” I’m tempted to say to my husband on a daily basis. “They’re going to be doing a story about a plant whose DNA may contain the key to curing cancer.” While watching TV at the gym each morning, I’m sucked into what they’re promising to reveal that night. There are three popular categories: a major medical break-through, an administration blunder or a celebrity mishap. The latter I can ignore, but the others make me wish we didn't have tickets for Jersey Boys or a dinner plan.

“TIVO it,” is Martin’s solution. He doesn't get sucked in the way I do. We never stay up to watch it that night and by the next day, it’s clear that Sloan-Kettering and the administration haven't shut their doors. We erase what I recorded to make room for tomorrow’s hot announcement.

I’m embarrassed, both because I’m old enough to know better and a New Yorker, that I'm so gullible. Not only am I seduced by these news story teases, but I believe infomercials. Make-up you buy directly from Victoria Principal will, I'm sure, do more to improve my skin than anything sold at Sephora or CVS.

While driving a rental car in LA, I pulled over to call in an order for liquid vitamins being touted on the radio as entering the bloodstream immediately, so an improvement over the sluggish multi I'd been taking because. When I told the friend I was staying with that I was about to become more energetic, expecting she'd want me to order these mega-vitamins for her, she looked concerned and asked, “Could you be bi-polar?”

I’ve managed to restrain myself from buying an Oreck Vacuum promoted on TV only because, try as I have, I can find no fault with our Miehle. But I did flick on the light last week to get the number off the TV screen for “Direct Buy”, which held out the promise of becoming a member and getting wholesale prices. It was only after arranging the appointment that I googled them to find out the membership fee is $5,000, which they’d refused to disclose on the phone.

The lesson I never seem to learn is, "Don't believe everything you hear". And I should have gotten it in my 20's from guys who said, "I'll call you during the week".

Thursday, September 27, 2007

get me out of here!

california has been my home for 36 years but i finally think it is time to go. it is just not safe anymore. i have lived through earthquakes, fires, mudslides and floods. i have managed to survive governors moonbeam and ahnald, reagan and even mayor riordan and kept my mouth shut while i watched the best public school system in the nation be destroyed. i live among face lifts and botox, tanning booths and teeth whitening salons, yoga studios, pilates and dog psychiatrists. i am pretty sure that at least 50% of the population has had an implant of some kind be it breast, cheek, hair or butt. the one implant it seems not a californian has tried is a brain implant.

yes, once again a jury of twelve good citizens has allowed yet another woman murderer to walk free. phil spector, a weird little gnome of a man, managed to convince at least two of the twelve jurors in his trial that a beautiful young woman, he had never before met, chose to come to his home, stick a gun in her mouth and blow her brains out. the fact that he ran from the house after the gunshot and told his driver "i think i just shot someone" seems to have meant nothing to the brain surgeons serving on his jury. the fact that many, many women came forward to testify that they too had been threatened, with a gun, by spector, in the past apparently also meant nothing.

i mean, lets face it. is impossible for a los angeles jury to convict a celebrity, of any kind, of anything. it seems that once you have had your face on the cover of people magazine or been even a runner up on "dancing with the stars" you get a free pass to run amok. it looks like the only way we can ever put any of these men behind bars is when they misbehave out of state. murdering women and getting away with it seems to be our state's favorite sport and so i am moving. but not before i make a mint on my new bumper sticker. look for it soon in your supermarkets and 7-11's. it is simple and to the point - help make murdering women in california illegal!!!!

Oops, the president can't pronounce what???!

Someone at the White House goofed (guu-fed) by putting a marked-up draft of Bush’s speech on the U.N. Website, showing phonetic (fo-net-ic) spellings for words the prez was thought capable of stumbling on.

The expectation was Bush, despite having just spent time with him, might have trouble pronouncing the name of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy (sar-KO-zee), and Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe (moo-GAH-bee as well as Kyrgyzstan (KEYR-geez-stan), Mauritania (moor-EH-tain-ee-a) and the Zimbabwe capital Harare (hah-RAR-ray). As for the Iranian President, well, they simply decided to omit him entirely. We can only hope that Bush's difficulty with the name may put off our attacking Iran. Could it be that the president's fondness for doling out nicknames is because they're easier for him to pronounce?

Bush, when speaking extemporaneously, can be counted on to misspeak. At a recent summit meeting in Australia, he called APEC, “OPEC” and referred to the troops in Iraq as “Austrian”, instead of Australian. It's fair to say he has a limited range of expression...as well as expressions. About anyone who resigns or dies, he says, "He's a good man" before licking his lips and smirking. It would be interesting to compare a typical third grader's vocabulary with that of the leader of the free world. For me, Bush's most egregious gaff was saying, “I will run”, when the right choice was, “I will not run”.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

O'Reilly: Methinks da man doth protest too much

In an effort to diffuse the response to his recent remarks after attending an Anita Baker concert and eating in Harlem's Sylvia's restaurant, Bill O'Reilly clarified that this was not a reflection of a bias on his part. Rather, he was communicating to his viewers that African-Americans are well-dressed and that the experience at Sylvia's was no different than eating in a suburban, Italian restaurant. Might we not conclude from this defense that O'Reilly assumes his viewers, who'd benefit by hearing this, are the ones with the bias?

How Dare you Break Up After a $3.5 Million Wedding?

Forbes compiled a list of the most expensive celebrity weddings, which was of interest to me as I hadn’t been invited to any of them. I didn’t feel hurt. We don’t actually know anyone on the list, which is headed by:

• Liza Minelli and David Gest: $3.5 million
• Paul McCartney and Heather MIlls: $3 million
• Elizabeth Hurley and Arun Nayar: $2.5 million
• Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes: $2 million
• Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky: $2 million

People are entitled to fly guests to a private island they rent, import thousands of exotic flowers and have an ice sculpture made of Rodin’s The Kiss, which was Keely Shaye Smith’s wedding gift to her husband, Pierce Brosnan. (A silver frame could, I suppose, seem tacky at a $1.5 million event). They had 120 guests, roughly the same number we did, and we brought it in for $4000 – kosher, yet, which adds to the cost! They should have used Papilsky Caterers.

We also did better than Brad Pitt & Jennifer Aniston, who laid out $1 million for a party that included 50,000 flowers to create a “Zen garden look”. Jen could have consulted me. I insisted the florist take the flowers from the shul after the ceremony and use them in the reception area. Not to boast, but our mariage outlasted the flowers.

I don’t know what the total of all the Trump weddings is, but the one to Melania Knauss, alone, ran about $1 million. I guess Donald didn't have the foresight to negotiate a bulk rate from the wedding planner. The bride's gown was made from 300 feet of satin beaded with 1,500 crystals, punctuated by a 13-foot train. That’s not something you get to wear again, which is why I spent $400 for the dress.

At $3.5, Liza Minnelli & David Gest topped the list and though they gave each of the guests personalized favors encased in satin candy boxes embossed "Liza and David 4 Ever," they divorced the next year - sans party favors. Our only extravagance: 21 miniature bouquets I threw to each of the unmarried women, calculated to preclude overly ripened, single alpha females getting into a brawl over a single bouquet.

Interestingly, 40% of the couples on the Forbes list are now divorced, including Brad and Jennifer, who are also on the most expensive celebrity divorce list, characterizing their union as a huge financial blunder. Specific to them is the Angelie Jolie factor, but the number of divorces on the list supports my theory that a lavish party can obscure the significance of making a commitment. That’s why it’s critical a couple reflect on whether the priority is the relationship or the excitement of wearing a Vera Wang and unlimited pigs in blankets.

I have a formula for what’s appropriate to spend on an event. If it’s enough to send a village of Cambodian children to school for a year, cut back on the band and lose the Viennese table. For every dollar above what a reasonable party costs, send the equivalent amount to charity. Squandering money doesn’t demonstrate generosity of spirit. It's self-indulgent and not an admirable way to launch your married life. Do you really want to be on a list with Liza Minnelli and Donald Trump?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

bill o'reilly needs to get out more

today it was reported that after dining with al sharpton at a famous harlem restaurant "sylvia's", bill o'reilly told reporters that he was surprised that eating at sylvia's was just like eating in any other new york restaurant. what surprised him most was that no one said "m-----f---er i want some more ice tea". what he didn't say, but implied by his thoughtless comments, was that he expected to find diners eating with their hands and throwing bones on the floor.

with all of new york, and the rest of the country, up in arms over ahmadinejad's visit to the united nations and the invitation, he received and accepted, to speak at columbia university, perhaps we should take a closer look at our very own, home grown bigots and morons. i don't see much difference in the ignorance factor between the president of iran's statement (with a straight face no less) that there are no homosexuals in his country and bill o'reilly's stunned surprise that, not only do black people eat in restaurants just like white people, but that they actually have table manners.

i have no objection to allowing ahmadinejad the right, while in our country, to practice free speech nor do i object to o'reilly spouting off. they both are entitled to say what they want. my only objection is, that if we are smart enough to protest the very existence of an ahmadinejad, we should get those picket signs out to protest the very existence of bill o'reilly.

From Making the Big Bucks to Making Lattes by Michael Gates Gill: Could've, Should've Been Me

Universal Pictures optioned the rights to the book, How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else, written by a former high-powered advertising executive who'd been fired at the age of 53 and replaced by someone younger. He's now 67 and claims to be happier these days makng lattes and cleaning toilets at Starbucks. The story sounds credible except for the toilet-cleaning. There's no evidence that anyone employed by Starbucks cleans. After a few small, skim lattes, disgusted by the mounds of napkins on the floor and torn Splenda envelopes on the tables, I bought my own espresso machine.

This is a book I could have written. Okay, so the writer/latte maker is the son of well known New Yorker writer Brendan Gill, which adds to his cache, but I, too, outlived my career as a highly paid TV writer in Hollywood and my fall has been even more dramatic. Mike, as he's now known, is getting $10.50 an hour plus health benefits; I rely on Medicare and earn nothing from my blog, for cleaning bathrooms or making cappuccino. Inspired by his resourcefulness, I just put tip cups in our bathrooms and on the kitchen counter.

Universal Pictures was, no doubt, intrigued both by the upbeat attitude of someone who’s made lemonade from lemons as well as the personal saga, which includes a divorce and brain tumor. Having been single until the age of 38, I, too, had enough low points to fill a feature-length film. My series of miserable blind dates would have to be compressed to create room for the ruptured appendix I had while ski bumming in Vermont that led to peritonitis, putting me at risk of dying. Worth noting for the purposes of a movie is the setting would provide exciting cinematic ski sequences. Also, I have a tape of the surgery that was performed to open my Fallopian tubes, something I've never seen in a movie, making it potentially ground-breaking, something that could lead to an HBO series. The rest of my medical history -- psoriasis and an overactive bladder -- is less interesting visually.

Everyone, I know, has a sense of grandiosity and mistakenly believes there's a movie in their life. But now I see in my case, it's true.

Monday, September 24, 2007

why i never go to sleep in hospitals

a venezuelan man woke up the other day in a morgue. he had been in a car accident and was declared dead. he said the excruciating pain of the beginning cuts of the autopsy woke him.

now, here is what i want to know. shouldn't you have to be more than just appear to be dead, before they crank up the chain saw and start cracking your ribs? this poor man was just in a deep sleep. i am glad this venezuelan doctors are not around my house on a sunday afternoon when the husband is in the middle of one of his marathon week-end naps. i am positive it would take more than a chain saw to wake him.

and what about this poor man's wife. she was told he was dead. she went out, i am sure, and bought a proper mourning ensemble, only to show up at the hospital to find her husband alive and kicking. now, if this were a happy marriage, i am certain there was joy all around and let's face it, you can always use a good black dress. but, what if they weren't happily married? what if, on hearing of the untimely death of her husband, the merry widow immediately ran into the arms of her lover? and let's say the lover, on hearing the news, finally told his wife of twenty-five years that he was leaving her for his true love. i think you can see where this is leading.

i know the doctors have labeled this event an unfortunate accident but still....this is exactly why i never go to sleep in hospitals.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Is He Cheating On You? - 829 Telltale Signs"

A study at the University of Chicago reports that 22 percent of men and 13 percent of women admitted to having cheated on their mates. Sneaking around requires lying, so how much confidence can we have in statistics provided by liars? My sense is even more than 22% of men have affairs, which raises the possibility that in some states more men cheat than vote.

The surprising news is a happy marriage doesn't assure fidelity. 17% of those with extramarital partners rated their marriage "pretty happy" with 10% describing their marriage as "really happy". The ones who'd put a check next to "the marriage from hell" probably didn't participate as they were off somewhere with their lovers.

Ruth Houston, identifying herself as an infidelity expert (a title no woman is eager to claim), has written a book, “Is He Cheating on You? 829 Telltale Signs”. If someone needs more than two or three hundred clues, her husband may have grounds for fooling around. With so many men cheating, the book may be a more useful wedding present than a toaster.

The author makes recommendations for subverting the bastard, such as limiting his opportunities. She urges wives to attend company picnics because your presence may keep him from flirting and announces to other women that he's not available. To avoid having to do this repeatedly, you might consider handcuffing your husband to you and dressing in matching mu-mu's, which would surely be a topic of conversation at all future picnics and obviate the need to go more than once.

Another suggestion is if you're away on vacation while he's at home, you check in on him by phone and, if possible, in person by coming home unexpectedly. I'd insure that he needs to spend time on the premises by getting a new puppy and new rug beore leaving. If unable to pop up without notice, as the book proposes, you could have someone call in a bomb threat and ask a neighbor to see who'd come running out of the house or, in the case of Israelis, out of the bomb shelter.

If he's the one who's away, you're urged to get the number of the landline where he's staying because cell phones don't reveal a location. The overly zealous or jealous wife might also insert a Lojac device under her husband's skin and greet him upon his return with a polygraph specialist prepared to administer a lie detector test.

Bottom line, the premise is a naive and trusting wife is the last to know, so we should all be on the alert.

Why are all the "save a marriage" tips directed at women? We're alternately instructed how to please and spy on our husbands while men are reading articles on lowering cholesterol and where to go fly fishing.

kaye ballard - i still hate you!

when i was 16 years old i had a geometry teacher named mr. guiliani. i hated geometry and i think mr. guiliani hated me. actually, i think he hated all his students. he was a gruff, middle- aged man of the old school and i am sure he couldn't understand why we, his students, could learn the words to every one of elvis's insipid lyrics and not remember one word of one theorem.

one day, as i was leaving class, he called me to stay behind. i was terrified. i knew i was pretty close to failing and the thought of summer school loomed darkly over my head. i walked up to his desk and he said "i like your new haircut (a buster brown look with bangs). you look just like kaye ballard".

i was stunned. first of all, the fact that a teacher noticed things like haircuts was too much to believe. the fact that mr. guiliani noticed was beyond comprehension. i smiled and walked out of the room and then when the shock wore off, reality set in. i looked like kaye ballard? how could he say that? i was sixteen, kaye ballard, at that time was probably thirty-five which to a sixteen year old might just as well have been ninety. she was short, dumpy and had an enormous mouth. i am sure, in retrospect, that mr. guiliani meant his remark as a compliment. here he was an old italian teacher and here was kaye, a young (in his eyes) italian girl who had made good.

i was devastated and for the next forty-six years i would walk out of the room whenever ms. ballard would appear on television, fearful that, seeing us both together, people would immediately notice the resemblance. i don't think it would be an exaggeration to say, that i hated, through no fault of her own, kaye ballard. i know i am no longer a teenager but i still hate her. and up until yesterday i felt guilty about it.

yesterday i read that the actress alice ghostley had died. for those of you who may not remember, alice was a character actress who actually looked a lot like paul lynde. she worked in theater, winning a tony award for best supporting actress, and on t.v. in the first paragraph of the new york times obituary, her age was given as 81. in the second paragraph, who should pop up by my old nemesis, kaye ballard. apparently kaye and alice were old buddies and kaye could not let alice rest in peace with the whole world thinking she was 81. nooooo...kaye had to tell us all, that in fact, alice was 83.

i felt badly for alice. to be outed, by an old friend, after death is criminal. but i was delighted for me. suddenly, i no longer had to feel guilty about hating kaye ballard. i was right all along. even as a young girl i must have known - deep down - that kaye ballard is a bitch.

Friday, September 21, 2007

You may not need anti-depressants; just get rid of that air freshener

Americans are expected to spend 1.72 billion dollars on air fresheners this year, which is enough to buy 82,100 new Toyota Prius cars. A study was done following the health and development of 14,000 children that showed 32 percent more babies suffered diarrhea in homes where air fresheners were used daily, as opposed to homes where they were used once a week or less. I can't help wondering which precipitated which, but the air-freshener kids, as they are known nowhere, had significantly more earaches also. It was found that mothers who use fresheners suffered 10 percent more headaches. Women who lived in homes with daily air freshener use had a 26 percent increased risk of depression. The study concluded that some air fresheners, when used in the presence of ozone (a form of oxygen), can produce toxic pollutants.

I’m a little surprised to learn this much is being spent on air fresheners. I’d rather see the money going to Darfur or medical research but, hey, maybe people cook cabbage and then have to do damage control. The larger issue for me is who came up with the idea of trying to correlate air freshener and mood swings...and why. Had there been an overriding number of depressed people exuding the aroma of pine that gave rise to this study?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

i'm ready for my close-up

yesterday i received a very official looking letter in the mail from the beverly hills police department. since i don't live in beverly hills, i was intrigued. i opened the envelope, half expecting a summons for all the nasty things i have written in the past about some of beverly hills finest residents - lindsay, paris, nicole and britney - but that was not the case. inside the envelope was a traffic ticket and attached to the ticket was a very attractive photo of me.

the camera caught me, sunroof open and hair flying, just as i was singing along with the radio to the chorus of "bye, bye miss american pie". it seems, at the very moment of the photo, according to an officer hartman, i was also flying through a red light. i remember the exact moment and what i was doing, because, just as i sang "drove my chevy through the levee and the levee was dry", and passed through an amber light, there was a flashing strobe that nearly blinded me.

now, i am all for catching criminals. i think murderers, rapists, child predators and cat burglarers all deserve to have their evil deeds captured on film. all the better to convict them and throw away the key. there have been many incidents of kidnappings and bank robberies that have been caught on tape and the perpetrators identified and captured. so hooray for hidden cameras. HOWEVER - to quote a famous past president "i am not a crook". i can not imagine that beverly hills doesn't have better places to spend their money than on hidden cameras on one of the fanciest thoroughfares in their fair city. i feel my privacy has been invaded. what if i was cruising through that amber light with, say, a lover? all of a sudden a photo would arrive on my doorstep with me and said paramour. that would be just plain wrong. besides, i didn't go through a red light and so i am going to fight it.

the husband just wants me to go to traffic school and move on. i refuse. traffic school in los angeles is worse than prison. you have your choice of regular traffic school - six hours of watching car crashes in a hot and stuffy room with murderers and rapists, who were not caught for their felonies, but are being held captive for not making a full stop at an intersection. you can also go to comedy traffic school. same six hours, same murderers and rapists but instead of an under qualified, unemployable teacher you get six hours of an under qualified unemployable comedian. i, personally, would rather sit through six hours of head on collisions than 15 minutes of a bad comic. you can also choose traffic school for ice cream addicts or chocolate lovers. same drill, only instead of jokes you get sweets - for six hours. what would make you sicker to your stomach? bloody wrecks or six hours worth of lousy ice cream or even worse milk chocolate?

no, no traffic school for me. i am going to the mat on this one. i am taking my summons and my very attractive photo (it is a good thing, in los angeles, to always be camera ready. you never know when you might get caught in the crossfire of dueling paparazzi - in an effort to catch the olsen twins, not eating at the ivy, they could accidentally get you, seated at the next table, in the frame. next thing you know you are in people magazine. trust me - you do not want to be caught on a bad hair day or even worse with no make-up on on the glossy pages of people magazine.) straight down the beverly hills court house. just standing in the very spot where zsa zsa gabor faced down the policeman who dared stop her for speeding, gives me the chills. knowing that this is the same court of justice that granted wynona ryder her freedom makes me want to stand up and sing "god bless america".

i am going to fight for truth, justice and the american way, get cameras out of my private space and get these moving violation points off my license. unless, of course, you can get frequent flyer miles for those points.

Sexual Harrassment: Do you say, "thanks, no thanks" or do you sue?

A friend likes to tease me that while working as a secretary in Hollywood, I looked at sexual harassment as a job perk. There was profanity, to be sure, and off-color jokes, but I was involved with comedy, where schmoozing and quipping are background noise. I was never called a “bitch” or “ho”, which would have, I’m sure, gotten my attention.

I’m not clear if I’d have made a distinction between whether it had been said by a black or white man, an issue raised in the $10 million sexual harassment suit filed by Anucha Browne Sanders, a Knicks’ vice president before being fired, against Isiah Thomas. Thomas admits he’d be more accepting of a black man calling a woman a “bitch” while a white man doing that, “would have violated my code of conduct”.

I, too, would respond differently to the same remark, depending on the source. It might be a function of race, religion or gender, or reflect what I know about the person’s value system. Context, intent and tone enter into if I'd be amused or offended. What overrides everything else is if a joke's not funny, in which case it's irritating across the board.

Each profession has its own moral code and traditions, more ambiguous to outsiders than if you’ve had personal experience in the field. Several years ago a female assistant on a sit-com series filed suit against the show, claiming that the atmosphere in the writers’ room was hostile to women.

I’ve been in many, many writers’ rooms, both as the assistant and later as the sole woman writer among a large group of men. Comedy writers don’t expect to be taken seriously, and the understanding in the room is everyone needs to feel free to spit out whatever comes to mind without editing or censoring. There may have been something extraordinary that supported this law suit, but my suspicion is the assistant reacted to things that might not have troubled someone else.

What does this all mean? That it’s cheaper to laugh than to sue. That it's hard to judge what's been said or done if you've not witnessed it. I was lucky in being quick enough on my feet to spritz back at a spritzer. A writer once hit on me by saying, "I'm horny, why don't you come over?"

My response was, "I'm hungry. Why don't you eat something?"

Not every ho has the capacity to come up with a quick retort, but every bitch can make an effort to speak up and try to create a comfortable work environment before things get out of hand.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Patients Without Patience: My Health Care Reform

"I believe everyone should have quality, affordable health care in America," is a statement presidential candidates are making. I agree, but nobody’s addressing my big concern. With all of us affording to see doctors, how much longer will we be kept waiting? I once sat there so long, the paper gown turned yellow!

Yesterday, after thirty minutes in the filled-to-capacity waiting room at a radiology lab, I approached the receptionist to ask, “Did they check if you have skills for managing crowd control?”

She didn't laugh. She didn't look at me. “We’re running a bit late,” she said, her tone scolding as if to suggest I was a fool to take my appointment time seriously.

Twenty minutes and two chapters of my book later, I returned to say, “A bit is ten, twelve minutes”.

“There are just two people ahead of you,” was her response, again avoiding eye contact. What did this mean? Would they be having a brief consultation...or surgery?

This was my second experience of the week (and it was only Tuesday) of waiting far too long for a doctor. “”Let the doctor know I’ve waited almost an hour,” I said. “I have the same number of hours each day she does. If she’s willing to take me now, fine. And in consideration of the time I’ve wasted, there should be no charge. Otherwise, I’m leaving the practice.”

She looked at me. A victory! I was no longer a shtummy, not yet a term included when they take your medical history, yet an apt description of the others sitting passively in the waiting room. A few short minutes later, I moved to the head of the line and was getting a free sonogram.

I’m not unreasonable. I make allowances for a doctor who’s had an emergency as well as those who are genuinely distressed at being unavoidably late. The latter category actually involves just one doctor, who'd come into the waiting room to apologize and tell me that in deference to my long wait, there would be no bill.

While the candidates are formulating health plans, I'm proposing that we, the patients, create an unofficial network and lay out our conditions, which we submit to the politicians. If waiting time is included in patients' rights, doctors will be forced to reconsider their scheduling practices. We will be the founding members of the not yet established group, Patients Without Patience. We'll have a place in history, not unlike the signers of the Bill of Rights. If anyone knows how to create a website for Patients Without Patience, please do so and make it interactive so readers can make note of the time spent in their doctors' waiting rooms.

The formula I’m proposing (and you can write to me, or ir may be more productive to write to the candidates) with your suggestions, which might be something like:

We arrive on time (necessary if we’re to feel entitled to make demands) with any records we’ve been asked to bring and fasting if we’re having a cholesterol test or colonoscopy

After 10 minutes of waiting – a polite question to the desk

After 20 minutes – we give notice that we’re leaving if not taken within 10 minutes

At the 30 minute mark, the ultimatum: a free appointment or we’re leaving. If we're really cranky, those who've been fasting call to have a pizza delivered to the office and those who are sick call the paramedics, which should embarrass the doctor.

If colleges suggest the appropriate time for a student to wait to meet with a full professor is twenty minutes, this seems more than fair.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Blogger's Block

This morning the well was dry, but with two TV’s tuned to Sunday morning shows, I was optimistic I’d come up with something.

One channel had a feature on procrastination. Perfect! I could mull it over and wait to post on the blog until later in the week. Nobody beats me at the procrastination game. I didn’t get married until I was 38, I’ve put off dieting for 65 years, delayed cleaning out my desk since the day I got a desk. But I once wrote a piece on procrastination, so that would be cheating.

Cheating! Yesterday’s New York Times had a piece on e-mails and Blackberrys alerting people to the fact that their spouses are cheating. A woman told me she’d found out her husband was having an affair when she came upon a loving instant message on the computer screen as she was making her way to e-bay. But she swore me to secrecy.

E-bay! I could blog about my addiction, that my husband worries I'll buy used shoes. This would be embarrassing and I'd be in danger of revealing my bidding strategies.

The New York Times is always a good source. Today there’s a front-page story on being tested for the cancer gene and confronting whether or not to have prophylactic surgery. This resonated. Having seen my relatives’ aged bodies and weathered faces, I had reason to consider offing myself before becoming middle-aged. But they've come up with, if not a cure for my genetic imperfections, improved hair coloring products, so I have options other than turning my grey hair blue, and Restalyne has minimized the Howdy Doody lines I recognize as both a paternal and maternal legacy. But relatives who haven't made cosmetic changes might feel insulted and think me frivolous.

While falling asleep last night, I’d considered my next blog might be about the topic du jour – the debate over our obligation to stay in Iraq and if additional time and troops will be productive. Bin Laden, O.J. and I are more popular over there than Bush, which says volumes about our PR and so-called success. I’m angry that we’re there and pissed that we’ve targeted terrorists in Iraq at the expense of so much else, that we're still not feeling safer, and resentful that Bush’s able-bodied daughters aren’t over there supporting his cause along with other American sons and daughters. Then my husband made the point, “If we hadn’t spent all those trillions in Iraq, we could have used the money to become energy-independent”. While toying with this, I interrupted myself (a familiar tool for procrastinators) to read Frank Rich, who, as he always does, analyzed it more richly (not a pun, trust me) than I could. Puns! I could blog about hating puns, maybe expand it to include jokes and jokesters. But that didn’t feel like a rich enough (denial repeated) topic.

The story about Hillary preparing to announce a health care plan triggered my anger that declining services have hit home. Every week I call Medicare, hold endlessly, shout my ID number into the phone as if the agent needs a hearing aid, in an effort to find out why my chiropractic charges not only haven’t been reimbursed since March, but have yet to show up on my online Medicare account page. The explanations vary, nothing gets resolved and my sciatica has flared up from the stress, which I won't have treated as that would create new bills and require more calls. Adding to the mix is my new cardiologist refusing to become my internist because Medicare makes it economically unsound. I can’t try to persuade him when Medicare is the best argument for Christian Science.

Clearly there’s nothing to address today…except perhaps ADD, which I obviously have. But anyone with ADD who started out reading this diatribe is, by now, long gone and into a million other things.

Friday, September 14, 2007

not so fast

just when we had finally seen the last of the hollywood car wrecks (lindsey,britney, paris and nicole) and were able to concentrate on really important matters, like the never-ending war and general patraeus and his "let's make george happy" report to congress, a new scandal, a re-cycled scandal, a scandal from days of yore, has reared it's ugly head.

the goldman family, father fred and sister kim, are making the talk show rounds promoting o.j's book "if i did it". according to the goldman's, who won the right to publish this book as part of the judgement owed to them by o.j., claim that his book is a confession by the killer who brutally took the lives of their son and brother, ron, and o.j.'s ex-wife nicole brown simpson.

i along with many others don't think this piece of garbage should ever see the light of day but i do understand why the goldman's are doing this. it is not for the money - the goldman family will receive only seventeen cents for every book sold - it is for what they see as justice. they want to prevent o.j. from profiting in any way from his crime. i agree. just to see the look in the eyes of this father and daughter and you know this horror will be with them for the rest of their days. there is never any closure for the loved ones of victims of violent crimes - especially when they believe the killer walked free. o.j.'s very existence - his carefree days on the golf course is a constant and continuous reminder of how the justice system failed their family. and so the goldman's are out stomping through the media, drawing attention to this disgusting murderer. this is all bad enough. just enough rehashed scandal to draw us away from the blaring front page headlines and allow us to bury our fears and anxieties, once again, on page six.

and then o,j, gets arrested - for robbery. of course he claims he didn't do it. what else is new? on the very day this book is coming out that son of a bitch manages, in the only way left to him, to grab the headlines. you would think that if the whole world thought you were a cold blooded killer and you were lucky enough to be declared innocent by a jury, you would just quietly go away and live in a corner somewhere. this man is so sick that his need to be in the headlines is far greater than his common sense.

come to think of it, he is sounding a lot like another publicity hog - rosie o'donnell. if she weren't gay they would make a perfect couple. as a matter of fact, in rosie's new book, also coming out today (it is a great day for readers) she tells how, as a child, in order to get attention, she would break her own bones with a baseball bat. hmm? are you thinking what i'm thinking? maybe, instead of murdering and robbing, we could teach o.j. to wield a bat. he was a good athlete in his youth - maybe, he too, could get attention by breaking his own bones and leave the rest of us alone.

Do the Math, Mr. Prez, you need more Qaeda for the surge to work

In his recent speech, President Bush credited the surge for improved conditions in el Anbar province and announced a plan to leave troops in Iraq indefinitely. He supports this decision by pointing to the success we've experienced in having Sunni fighters ally with American troops to respond to the violent attacks by al Qaeda terrorists, aka al qaeda in Iraq or AQI, as their baseball caps will read.

The president is, however, ignoring a crucial component of the formula. Creating and maintaining American/Sunni unity requires the continuing threat of AQI, without which we're in danger of the Sunnis reverting to their anti-American hostilities. Our surge, without a parallel AQI surge, would, therefore, be likely to fail.

How can we be sure of AQI's commitment to staying in Iraq? What if they decide it's too hot or they're not getting enough TV exposure and take their bombs elsewhere? They're just as happy trying to kill people in London or Madrid. The reality is we need them in Iraq -- more than they need us. And we'll be even more dependent on their presence once we feel confident about el Anbar province and start looking to branch out and team up with yet more Sunni and Sh'ia in other parts of the country.

Clearly, we can't recruit AQI, and I wouldn't count on Craigslist in Baghdad as a resource for rounding up jihadists, which is why I've come up with a proposal to maintain the Qaeda quota in Iraq. America has somewhere between 400 and 1100 terrorists (thought to be al Qaeda, al Qaeda-light or some variety of wanabees) tucked away in Guantanamo. There's probably not a lot of current intelligence to be gotten from them, so we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by releasing them and deploying them to Iraq to replenish the diminishing AQI.

Our prisoners are from some 40 countries. For many it would be their first trip to Iraq, the equivalent of the Birthright program for American Jews who've never visited Israel. Surely our captives will be excited by this opportunity to travel. After years of having medicine withheld and prayers interrupted by guards, along with the indignities of being photographed nude and tormented by dogs, they'll surely be pissed off enough to stir up trouble, which is precisely what we need. Plus, with the CIA having just ruled out water boarding, the guards must be having considerably less fun with the prisoners, who will be far more useful to us in Iraq these days than they are in Guantanamo.

But we should move on this quickly before more of them commit suicide.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Actors' names are the first to go. When does forgetfulness become dementia?

Everywhere I look, even everywhere I'm not looking, I come across tests to assess memory problems with questions like, “Do you often forget the name of someone you’ve just met?” Often? I almost never remember the name of a person I’ve met. I used to remember every name, but it mattered more. There was a chance I’d end up in bed with them. Not to boast, but I can forget the name of someone I’ve met several times, even if I’ve had dinner at their house.

Friends try to be supportive. "Your mind is like a hard drive,” is one thing they say, “and all the bytes have been taken”. If only I could send useless facts to Trash, like Gene Kelly’s address from a job I had in the late 60's. Those are the things that make it impossible for me to retain the name of the movie I saw three days ago or what I read in a previous chapter of a book.

Forgetting is scary. And forgetting a name seems rude. I know the tricks, but there’s no way to meet six new people, associate each of their names with something and repeat the name aloud several times. That's way harder than just remembering a name, which now feels like a crowning achievement, the Iron Man competition for those taking vitamins with the word “silver” in them.

When I admit I’m afraid of Alzheimer’s, everyone tries to reassure me. “If you’re worried about it," is a typical response, “you don’t have it”.

Yet,” I point out. “And it's not a reliable predictor. I was worried I had arthritis and I do!”

My friends and I are at an awkward stage -- too old for happy hour, not ready for early bird dinners. We’re fighters, trying to hold onto our faculties, frantically doing crossword puzzles and Sudoko, Saduko, Tsidoka or whatever that numbers puzzle is called, trying to figure out who the actress was in the movie by the director whose name once would have come to us without a struggle. We work out, take antioxidants and statins, replace caps and hips, avoid cigarettes and trans-fats, some of us are learning Chinese and how to text message on a Blackberry,

We’re still laughing about senior moments, but that’s only because none of us has yet wandered off and been returned home in a patrol car.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

the day i thought would change our world forever

today is september 11th and no matter how many times i hear that it has been six years since that terrible day, it is always hard for me to accept that it wasn't just yesterday that we witnessed the twin towers falling. like all of us, who were old enough to understand, september 11th has become our pearl harbor, our kennedy assassination. there are only a few dates like that in our history, dates that we all experienced collectively - dates that instantly remind each of us exactly where we were, what we were wearing and who we were with at that moment.

i remember hugging my children and sobbing over the fact that our world, as we knew it, would never be the same again. our children would never feel safe to travel, never feel carefree and frivolous, ever again. as far as we, as a nation, were concerned, nothing would ever be the same.

we were wrong. everything is exactly the same as before. my grown children still travel the world with the confidence and freedom of pre 9/11 travelers. true, the airports are a greater hassle, carry on shampoo is no longer an option, and for some reason, having nothing to do with that september attack, the airlines no longer offer free food, soft drinks, pillows or blankets. but let's face it, none of us ever flew for the food anyway, so, as my daughter said on her way to europe, "what's the big deal?"

i really believed that after our country was so brutally attacked we, as a nation, would start putting things in perspective. i really believed that the mere fact of 9/11 would force us to grow up. in the company of most of the civilized nations of the world, we were, although the mightiest, certainly the most immature. i thought that the unprecedented attack on our own soil would shake some sense into us. i was wrong.

in spite of the fact that we are mired in a never ending war and our economy is heading once again into the toilet (it seems like every time those wall street boys get those astronomical bonuses, it is a signal to the rest of us to batten down the hatches) we as a nation are still obsessed with the trivial and the insignificant. in spite of the fact that general petraeus ( or as move on. org. likes to call him, general betray us) and his non-report has garnered all the front page headlines and despite the fact that all the news channels are covering the 9/11 memorials as though it had just happened yesterday, the big buzz around our town is britney.

while i am ashamed to live in a world that is so superficial and dumb that we get our jollies out of watching an out of shape and out of control young girl make a fool of herself in front of, not just her peers, but millions of viewers, i am also glad. as long as the talk around the water cooler is about britney and her post baby body, than maybe the terrorists haven't won after all.

Do you want people who believe in an after-life servicing your plane?

In recent years, in response to post-September 11th flying fears and because we’ve traveled to more exotic countries, I've studied the ground crews servicing planes we’re on, concerned not only about their training, but their mind-sets and religious beliefs. As we were about to take off from airports in Cambodia and Thailand, I was unnerved to realize that our lives were in the hands of people who believe in an after-life. If you're convinced you're coming back, you might be a lot less fastidious about safety. Were they entrusting us to some golden Buddha?

My concerns seemed unfounded, laughable even, until this month when officials at Nepal's state-run sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its two Boeing 757 aircrafts. The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft at Nepal's international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions.

"The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights," a senior airline official announced, without explaining what the problem had been. It's common in Nepal to sacrifice animals to appease different Hindu deities.

This leaves me in a quandry. Should I be rethinking my own convictions? I may do an experiment next time I have a computer problem. Instead of calling Tech Support, I'll try sacrificing a goat. If it works, I'll book a trip to Nepal.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

What Bush Will Say In Response to the Petraeus/Cocker Report Before He Says It

“He believes the same thing Wednesday he believed on Monday…no matter what happens on Tuesday,” is the way Stephen Colbert characterized President Bush, which is why there's no point waiting until after Petraeus and Cocker present their report to Congress to know what W will be saying about it.

The president, in the predictable dark suit and white shirt, will read, referring to his notes, his tone ranging from resolute to self-righteous. He will be unable to mask his frustration that we never appreciate that everything he's done is right and rational. Get out your pencils while listening to his speech and check off which of the following points he makes. Then comment to let me know how close I came. Here's what we should expect:

“Fellow Americans, I asked that you be patient and wait for the report from General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. As I expected to hear, there has been progress in Iraq. By sending more troops, we've reduced sectarian violence. In other words, the surge has been effective in stabilizing the nation. Many Sunni tribes that were once our enemy have allied with American troops to defeat al-Qaida. This portends(note: do not say “pretends”) a military victory. But this will not happen next week or next month. These things take time. In other words, don't go thinking I'm bringing anyone back right now.

I believe we are going to succeed. There is no other option. Failure would allow radical Islamic extremists to grow in strength, which would create chaos in the region. In other words, it would be a hell of a mess. We owe it to the Iraqis to stay the course but we expect them to step up to the plate. There is more work to be done, but to anyone who still thinks otherwise, I say, 'We’re kicking ass!'

The United States of America has a good friend in the Australian (note: do not say “Austrian”) Prime Minister John Howard, who has assured me that the roughly 1600 troops now in Iraq will remain there. In other words, he supports my policies. He's a good man. I went to Iraq last week and saw for myself that life in parts of the country is returning to normal. Don't be surprised to see Starbucks and Nobu opening branches in Anbar.

Tuesday marks the sixth anniversary of the worst terror attacks on U.S. soil. We have not been hit again. In other words, (note: try not to smirk)our strategy is working. We can see from the recent video of the evildoer that we’ve got him on the run and worried. The terrorists had hoped to drive us out of Iraq so they could create a safe haven and launch attacks against America and our allies. But we're not letting them win. We will continue to show resolve and determination, which means bringing the war to them and each of us taking care not to get onto an airplane with more than four ounces of shampoo. In other words, clean hair is less of a priority than our national security.

This is a war between good and evil. A democratic Iraq will not be perfect, but it will be a country that fights terrorists, instead of harboring them. We have to finish what we started. By finishing the job, we will insure a future of peace and security for our children and our grandchildren. In other words, we may have a mess on our hands right now, but eventually someone will find a way out of it. By sending over (note: take care not to say “sacrificing”) more troops, we will actually hasten the day they get to come home.

No question there's still work ahead of us. This is no time to cut and run. I believe we're doing the right thing. We can and will prevail.

I thank the noble men and women who are fighting for our cause. We mourn the loss of every fallen American. Thank you and God bless."

you're wearing what?

every time i think i have heard everything i have only to pick up the newspaper or turn on the t.v. the latest "can you believe this" involves a twenty-three year old college student who was thrown off of a southwest airlines flight for "inappropriate dress". apparently the flight attendant (male) deemed that ms. kyla ebbert's white mini skirt, white tee shirt and green sweater did not live up to his idea of what an acceptable flying outfit should be. after humiliating the poor young girl, he allowed her to stay on board, but only after she had rearranged her garments in a way that he found modest enough.

the airline, instead of apologizing to the young woman, has staunchly defended the flight attendant's actions. i am confused. since when does a flight attendant, bus driver or train conductor get to weigh in on what their passengers are wearing. last time i looked, this was still america. if southwest airlines has nothing better to do than monitor the attire of it's passengers, then perhaps they should start passing out burkas at the door.

it would seem to me, in this time of diminishing services on all our airlines, that southwest should be more concerned with safety, taking off and landing on time and re instituting free nuts and pillows and blankets. i would think they should be much more concerned with how their flight attendants were servicing their customers, than defending the prudish sensibilities of a fashion challenged steward.

What I Didn't Know When I Was Younger

There are two good things about being older: senior discounts and not getting so nervous (except while waiting for results of medical tests)

Spending more on wine and make-up doesn’t make them better

You can never stop working out

Being able to get anything on demand is good, whether it’s food, sex or just HBO

If you want to kill someone, hire a celebrity; they seem to get away with it

It’s dumb to fall for someone who’s married

One size does not fit all

Many hairdressers, therapists and diets will disappoint you

Though acupuncture can be extremely helpful, it’s hard to convince people to try it

Jet lag has a mind of its own and pays little attention to your resetting your watch

You can’t change a narcissist

My parents were wrong when they told me, "The people in Washington know what's best"

Don’t buy anything that’s advertised on TV in the middle of the night

Use more sunscreen than you want to

Trendy people are likely to be more insecure than they may appear

And, sadly, you'll have to learn all this for yourself!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Analyzing the Osama bin-Laden tape: a bad hair day?

“He’s using Just for Jihadis!” my husband exclaimed the moment the terrorist appeared – his first time on our new, flat-screen TV, his beard as dark as Bob Dole’s hair.

Bin Laden let us know he's on top of things, aware that Japan just marked the 62nd anniversary of the attack on Hiroshima, that Democrats had a congressional victory last fall and that Sarkozy was elected in France. He alludes to global warming as well as Americans "reeling under the burdens" of a mortgage crisis. Clearly his hair stylist has a supply of current magazines, not just old copies of "Allure" and "Country Living", which is what I'm given while sitting under the dryer.

Counterterror and intelligence officials confirmed it was, indeed, bin Laden, not the Osama impersonator who managed to get past Australian security forces to close in on Bush this week. Other experts studying the tape have speculated that the speech was at least partially written by 28-year-old Adam Gadahn, an American charged with treason for supporting al-Qaida.

CIA analysts and celebrity hairstylist, Frederic Fekkai, will be studying the beard to determine if there is any connection to the dye once used by Saddam Hussein, which could lead to the outing of an al-Qaida Pakistan/al-Qaida Iraq underground hairdresser franchise. One TV pundit characterized the jet black coloring as an indication of vanity, saying he'd understand if Osama's hair had been colored with henna, which is an Arab (and Larry King) tradition. No one's considered that it could have been Grecian formula overzealously applied.

The timing has been said to be linked to the anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks, the regrouping of al-Qaida leadership, pretty much everything except the death of Luciano Pavarotti. Some, commenting on OBL's handsome gold cape, suspect he may have been waiting for Fashion Week to learn about this season's hot colors. Yet to be heard from is Michelle Barack, who will surely want to weigh in on Osama's grooming and personal habits.

Friday, September 7, 2007

even gloria vanderbilt has needs

i have a confession to make. i am addicted to the first twenty minutes of "live with regis and kelly". i don't even like regis philbin that much and kelly ripa is way too skinny for me to ever consider haveing her for a friend, but there is something about host chat that has me hooked. perhaps it is seeing two very well dressed, well coiffed folk bantering as they sip their morning coffee. there is a lot being said in my house at nine a.m. but i can promise you none of it would fall under the heading of banter.

at any rate, regis was out today and in his place was, cutie pie, anderson cooper. somehow, during host chat, the conversation turned to technology. anderson disclosed that his mother, gloria vanderbilt (the original "poor little rich girl") was hopeless with anything electronic and called him often for help. he went on to say that one day his mother called and said "anderson, i am having trouble with my t.v., it won't go on." he answered "mom. i can't help you right now, i am on t.v." "i know honey, that is why i am calling you - i can't see you". "try pressing the power button, mom".

apparently, gloria doesn't just call her boy at the office. she called him when he was knee deep in flood waters in new orleans, when her printer wouldn't print and one time as bullets whizzed by his head in iraq. true he was in danger, but there is nothing worse than when you can't retrieve an e mail. i undrstand gloria and her needs. it is not our fault, we of the dial phone generation. you just can't teach an old dog new tricks which is why old dogs have puppies.

i too have a son who is also a cutie pie and also happens to have a job. he is as patient as a saint when i call him over and over and over again to explain the same simple process i just can't seem to get. he never yells at me, as i am sure he must often want to, and i don't ever remember him hanging up on me in mid-sentence. in spite of his super-human patience, however, i feel guilty bothering him. i often feel like the stupidest woman on the planet. i feel sorry for my first born child that he has been handed the burden of a technological incompetent for a mother. and that is why i love host chat.

had i not been watching "regis and kelly live" today i would never have known that gloria vanderbilt, who apparently has everything, still has to call her son at work for tech support. it just goes to show you, you never know what a person has to live with until you walk a mile in her jeans. i am sure, as soon as my son finds out that anderson cooper has to help his mother, he will feel much better about having to help me...constantly.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

where have all the bad girls gone?

i never thought i would say this but i miss paris, lindsay, brittany and nicole. now that the summer is over and the harsh realities of the world are once again making front page news, i could sure use the bad girls of summer to distract us.

who could even think about the war when we had paris going to jail, being sprung and then forced back to jail again. just the memory of her release from the slammer, walking that gauntlet of paparazzi and then falling, sobbing into her mother's arms still gives me chills.

and brittany - brittany. that head shaving incident made me and, i am sure, the rest of our nation, completely forget the economy and our lack of universal health care. it was so much easier the fixate on brittany's bald pate than on the thousands of young people we have sent to their deaths in iraq for no reason at all.

nicole, with her hour and a half jail sentence and her tiny, little anorexic baby bump, just made me want to run out and knit booties, leaving me little time to fixate on alberto gonzales and his lying ways.

and then there was lindsay, how i miss her. just one drunk driving incident could banish all the ugly news off the front pages for days. all we have heard from lindsay lately is that she was doing a fellow patient in the bathroom of her rehab center. even larry craig can do better than that.

somehow, when men are involved in a scandal, a la michael vick or the aforementioned larry craig, while it does take up air time and newsprint, it is never as captivating and distracting as our girls. with the new fall season still weeks away, the war showing no signs of winding down and 502 days, 3 hours, 23 minutes and 11.5 seconds left in bush's administration (it feels like my countdown key chain is moving about as slowly downward as my scale) we could sure use a good, old fashioned all girl scandal. come on paris - do it for your country!

Advice to General Petraeus

I’ve been there, done that. Okay, it wasn’t Iraq; it was Hollywood. But they take things seriously, and everyone in power has someone whose job is to make the boss look good. Okay, it wasn't defending an indefensible war; it was coming up with ways of dismissing callers, canceling lunch dates and rejecting scripts without creating bad feelings. The rule in Hollywood is you can destroy someone but leave the door open in case you want to be involved with their next project. How does this apply to you? Come through with a good report and you might get to Iran!

True, I never had to put a good face on a cholera outbreak, the collapse of the government and a third of the country’s people going hungry. That's more challenging, but I have some thoughts. Stick with what’s working. “Two third of the people have food”, is the way I’d suggest phrasing it and hope nobody thinks about the others. As for the weapons we’ve given to the Iraqi army which they’ve sold to the insurgency, the way I'd put it is, “The weapons we’ve provided are being put to use” (just don’t say by whom). As for all the people who’ve been killed or fled, that can work in your favor. Point out that every day, fewer and fewer people can be said to be suffering in Iraq.

A bit trickier to deal with is the statistic that 70% of Iraqis have reportedly said, "the presence of US forces in Iraq is making security worse". If you have to include that in the report, be sure to point out that polls are known to be skewed, particularly when the interviewees are distracted by shelling, which probably raises the margin of error. And here's where my Hollywood experience can be really useful. Behind its gates, Bel Air is home to contentious, demanding celebrities and studio heads, many of whom have in their history conflicts as intense as those between Shias and Sunnis, yet they co-exist with no violence. It may be worth your while to put in a call to the Bel Air Patrol, the private force that maintains the calm, to see if they can come over and help put a lid on things.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Craigslist: internships, movers, no-fee apartments, last-minute tickets, used coffee tables...and hookers

If the existence of God is controversial, Craigslist is not. It's a godsend. Before Craig, we had to haul off old bookcases to thrift shops, post signs on telephone poles with photos of our lost dogs, hold tag sales and pay a hefty broker fee to find a new apartment.

I hadn’t, however, realized until I read in today’s New York Times that because of Craig, we no longer have to drag our asses to brothels and massage parlors or deal with escort services and street walkers. Hookers are posting on Craigslist. This is not only a time saver, but with the price of gas, can mean formidable savings. Law enforcement has taken to monitoring the website, at least the erotic services category, and setting up stings. I wonder if any veer off to score a used TV set or Barcolounger.

We can do everything we need to do using our computers -- whether it’s hire an assistant, learn how to drill holes in tile, find other raw vegans and haiku fans for on-line discussions, or track down the soul mate we stared at earlier in the week on the E train.

Even if you’re neither lazy nor agoraphobic, Craigslist is there to simplify your every activity. My own research came up with some amusing, albeit g-rated postings, including:
________________________________________
Lost black dress sock. Size 8-12. Ribbed. Cotton blend. Last seen doing laundry. May have joined the circus. Any leads appreciated. Reward.

Location: Leipzig


Another demonstrated in the ad a desperation for help with spelling:

I am looking for a writer who can describe elequently (sic) a short bio of mine.

A little about me, I am a facial plastic surgeon and I am starting a practice in the west village.

Basically a (sic) I am looking to have a statement written on my website and broshures (sic).


I shouldn’t have been surprised to find prostitutes on Craigslist. Everything else that’s been used is available there.

Too bad for Larry Craig he didn't think to use his namesake.

Katie Couric and George Bush: off the record

It may be that neither was invited to any splashy Labor Day parties or that they're working to be taken more seriously and boost their sagging ratings, regardless, Katie and George flew to Iraq, where they met up and talked in a tent.

Katie is facing her one year review as CBS anchor while Bush has to get through 502 more days, regardless of how dismal the report from General Petraeus. The two were surely commiserating about their upcoming reports cards, and this is the conversation I imagine might have happened off the record:

“Do you ever wish you’d done anything differently?” the perky CBS anchor asks the prez, flashing her gummy, aren’t I adorable and non-threatening, smile.

“Nah, do you?” the ever-reflective leader of the free world would have replied, smirking his, I know better than all of you, attitude.

“I should have brought my hairdresser,” – Couric, lowering her voice. "Iraq is hell on hair. I see why everyone is wearing helmets".

“Hair is Condi's department. If you want a hair spray for all seasons, she's the one to ask." Dubya pauses, then adds, "At least, you can always show your legs. I have darn good legs, but a lotta good it does me” -- the prez in what's becoming perceived as his self-pity mode.

Katie would seize on the moment to ask, “But don’t you ever feel at all responsible for what’s gone down?”

“Heh, heh,” the leader of the free world smirks, “look who’s talkin'. You’ve blamed everyone from the network to the audience when things didn’ go your way”.

Katie, always more comfortable connecting than confronting, shrugs, pats his shoulder and says, “Well, I’m glad you get regular colonoscopies”. She pauses, allowing him to think on his feet, which has become increasingly more difficult, before realizing it's not going to happen. She continues, “If you think of a good way for me to end my show, please have your people call my people”.

I should be saying that to you!” W, pleased to have come up with a retort, starts off, then turns back to ask, “Do you happen to know of a good speaker’s agent?”

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith, Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead: more trouble

Just when it seemed safe to turn on the TV, there’s more on Anna Nicole Smith, thanks to the new book, Blonde Ambition, by former NBC journalist Rita Cosby, which alleges the former model had accused her former manager Howard K. Stern of being responsible for the overdose death of her son, Daniel.

The book also claims that Stern and Larry Birkhead, the biological father of baby Dannielynn, were gay lovers and the two men cut a secret deal after Anna Nicole’s funeral, in which Birkhead got custody of Dannielynn in return for Stern being named executor of her estate. The baby, who’s turning one this week, may inherit hundreds of millions of dollars.

Neither Stern nor Birkhead could be reached for comment as they’re both tugging on the leash of the world’s most famous Maltese, Trouble, the hairess/heiress who came into $12 million upon the death of owner, Leona Helmsley.

Monday, September 3, 2007

uh oh, trouble's in trouble!

i knew it would happen, it was just a matter of time. trouble helmsley, the 12 million heir to leona helmsley's fortune is being sued by a former housekeeper, zamfira sfara. it seems that trouble had a nasty little habit of biting people. not just a friendly little "hi, good to see you" kind of nip but real bone deep bites. trouble, who was never referred to as a dog, but went by the nickname "princess", didn't only bite ms. sfara. trouble apparently bit anyone who got to close to her or mrs. helmsley.

ms. sfsara sued her former boss over one of the dog bites in 2005 but a judge threw it out of court claiming mrs. helmsley was covered for liability under workman's compensation. now that mrs. helmsley is gone, it looks like ms. sfara is going to sue trouble directly.

where is johnny cochran when a pooch needs him? i am a little worried for trouble. we all know how those lawyer's fees can run out of control. trying to defend himself, trouble could run through his fortune in nothing flat. perhaps he should take a page from o.j.'s story and write a book of his own to raise some money. he could call it "arf i did it". i just know it would be a best seller.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

it's my hair and i'll dye if i want to

being a baby boomer, i have grown used to my every passage being chronicled on the cover of time and newsweek. in the early days, when the stories were about our long hair and torn jeans, our mini skirts and our loud music, i thought it was cool. it was another way to drive our parents crazy. not only were we breaking all the rules, we were getting lots of attention for doing so.

as the years passed, the news media continued covering our life styles and choices but it no longer felt so cool. i didn't need time magazine to add their two cents when i was trying to convince my parents that not being a virgin or smoking pot was not the end of the world. every move, i made whether it was dropping out of school or moving in with a boyfriend, had some sort of poll in print, either for or against. by the time i got married the debate of whether or not to keep my maiden name had already been discussed and covered by every magazine on the stand on the corner of my parent's block.

having a baby was another cover story and to work or not to work - forget about it - that warranted a t.v. special. stay at home moms versus working moms is still being played out today on oprah. in all my years as a cover girl i don't remember anything quite as big as when my generation hit menopause. you could not pick up a book, magazine or turn on the t.v. or radio without the endless discussion of hormones and mood swings. what once was a subject rarely, if at all discussed, and then only in the privacy of your bedroom or doctor's office, suddenly strange men at dinner parties were asking me how i was coping with hot flashes and what was my stand on hormone replacement therapy.

i thought i had seen the worst of the attention and now that i was old the focus would move on to generation x or whatever they call themselves. i had hoped that what with lindsay and nicole and paris all serving hard time, they would finally get tired of covering us aging boomers and move on to greener pastures. i was wrong.

it seems that, according to the new york times and time magazine (can newsweek be far behind?), there is a new baby boomer issue to be discussed ad nauseum. to dye or not to dye - that is the question. of all my friends, acquaintances, and associates i only know two women who are grey. i am lucky - at my advanced age i still only have a few grey hairs but i know i will not be this lucky forever. so what's a woman to do. it seems, according to the polls, in person, men will gravitate toward the non- grey haired woman but on line - nine out of ten times they choose the grey haired one. since i usually don't meet people on line, that one statistic holds little meaning for me. what does resonate, though, is the fact that once again, what i do is a matter of public discussion. they say that a woman who chooses to go grey is making a statement. i would think it were just the opposite - that the woman who dyes is the one making a statement. in either case, who cares? why can't they just leave us alone - we are old and let's face it, not that many people are looking at us anyway. when we have brittany shaving her head and leaving her house without her panties, i hardly think that what color hair the grandmothers of the world are sporting should matter all that much. do you?

Coming Out: Confession of a Heterosexual

Had I realized undercover cops have been stalking us in public bathrooms, I’d have relied less on automatic flushers to be sure everything is as it should be when I leave the stall and probably more guarded about flossing, particularly when a food pops out from between my teeth that's no longer in season.

If they're going after homosexuals, how long before the net widens and they target heterosexuals? The last thing I’d want is for my husband and son to have to stand next to me at a press conference in a show of solidarity after I’ve been accused of untoward behavior in a bathroom.

Sure, my accusers would insist the charges were unrelated to my being heterosexual. And it's something I'd be foolish to deny. There are too many men who would step forward to dispute it. And there are my teenage diary entries, an obsessive account of crushes on high school basketball players. We didn’t use the word “heterosexual” then. It was frowned upon, as was any form of sexual activity. If my parents suspected, they never questioned my sexual preference, and I was equally unwilling to discuss it with them. Sure, there were signs -- the crinolines and Go-Go Pink lipstick, but everyone preferred to keep it quiet. Behind closed doors my parents were surely hoping, "Maybe it's a stage and she'll outgrow it".

But it’s not simply the fear of my heterosexuality being disclosed that causes me to be concerned about the ever-mounting encroachment on our privacy. Dateline, using online chat rooms to lure sexual predators into making dates with teenagers, has Chris Hansen and hidden cameras waiting to pounce on the guys when they turn up. Once Chris has finished berating and humiliating them, they're told they're free to leave, at which time they're accosted outside by cops, who arrest them.

The show claims to be trying to discourage predators, but success would mean they'd be shooting themselves in the foot. Without sexual predators, they'd have no choice but to station Chris Hansen in public bathrooms. I'm not sure where we draw the line between bonafide, public-service coverage and entrapment.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

an open letter to hillary clinton

dear hillary,

i happen to have caught your appearance, last night, on david letterman's show and i just had to write. i know your people booked you on dave's in an effort to promote your warm and funny side. it worked - you were warm and funny, but hillary, can we talk about your outfit?

many years ago, when woman were first entering the work place in number's never before seen, when ms. magazine and betty friedan and gloria steinem were all telling us that we deserved equal pay for equal work and also something about a fish and a bicycle - we women felt, no, we knew, that in order to succeed in a man's world we had to dress like men. a whole generation of women went out and bought black, gray and navy suits, sensible blouses and in many cases ties, in order to dress themselves for their assault on wall street and the boardrooms of major companies across the country.

that was then - this is now and what we learned, between then and now, is that it is not how we women dress, but how we perform, that matters. it is already a given that no one can outperform you. you are probably the smartest and most capable politician to come down the pike in a long time. not since, let's see, oh yeah, bill clinton , have we seen the likes of you. we know you are bright and funny and capable you don't have to dress like the p.t.a. president of a mid-western elementary school. i know what you are trying to do. i know that you think you have to look relateable to all the american women out there, but you are wrong. american women don't want their movie stars or their politicians to look like them - they want them to look better than them.

hillary, you are our first shot at the white house. of course we want you to be wise and sensible and not frivolous, frittering away your days, and our money, wondering about what shoes to wear to the next cabinet meeting, but on the other hand, you are representing us - america and american women. we want you to be chic and classy. nothing over the top - we are not asking for madonna or jlo, but a page from nancy pelosi's fashion book wouldn't hurt.

i know you and bill are doing well now, kinahura (for my yiddish speaking readers i apologize - i don't know how to spell that word. if you do speak yiddish, however, you will know what i mean) and you can afford to spend a little money on clothes. hire a stylist. ban pastel pantsuits from your wardrobe. you have a nice figure - a little full through the hips but you can work with that. i am seeing something a-line, perhaps with a belt to show off your waist - come on hil - don't make me work so hard - you know what i mean.

believe me i have your own best interests at heart. i know that you will end the war in iraq and help us get universal health care and help fix new orleans and restore all the good will throughout the world that we lost during the bush years, but you can't do any of that, and so much more that needs to be done, if you don't win and guess what? you can never win an election in a country that truly believes it is more important to look good than to be good, unless you look good.

thank you for taking the time to read my letter and remember, when in doubt, think armani

sincerely yours,

judi sadowsky
bicoastalbroads.com

A Hand from the Neighboring Stall...A signal?!!!

Any sort of scrambling around in the next bathroom stall would have been construed by me to mean, Can you pass some toilet paper? It wasn’t until the Larry Craig interrogation went public that I discovered I’ve been naively misinterpreting signals.

Someone waving a middle finger in their car was taken as a harsh comment on the way I’d changed lanes. I never suspected it was an invitation for a tryst, not even when it was accompanied by the “F” word. As it turns out, I may have been far more desirable than I had reason to believe. Unfortunately, self esteem is not retroactive.

To find out what else I never knew, I turned to Google, where I learned from the website, CruisingforSex.com, that, “Tapping of the foot is pretty standard for men who cruise in toilets”. Another site decodes pocket handkerchiefs, explaining that a grey hanky worn on the left side of the butt signals, “bondage top” while on the right it's, “fit to be tied”. A gold hanky on the left indicates, “looking for one” while on the right, it’s, “looking for two”. Maroon L says, “cuts” while R means, “bleeds”. Pale yellow L says, “spits” but R indicates “drools”. The system is efficient though it could present serious problems for colorblind or dyslexic gay. I now understand the derivation of the phrase, "hanky panky".

Straights would do well to study these codes and consider replacing the time-consuming, getting to know you process of posting on Match.com and Friendster, introductory drink dates and endless rounds of text messaging with something more immediate. The hanky thing won’t do since few of us know the difference between royal blue and periwinkle. Purses, on one hand or the other, might work. Those retailing at $750 or more carried on the left could be the calling card for those who, "Will do it only on the good side of a Dux bed after dinner at Per Se" while a cheap, Asian-manufactured knock-off flung on the right announces, "Cost conscious and will do most anything on an empty stomach even if you're affiliated with the Taliban."