Friday, November 30, 2007

Did Donna Hanover Pay for her Cheating Husband's Security

Why was Giuliani's security so costly? Was he needing protection from his wife, Donna Hanover? Was her tax money used to protect her errant husband?

A senior aide to the former mayor defended the handling of the expenses, incurred from 1999 to 2001, calling them "completely proper." The aide contended that the billing followed longstanding procedures in which legitimate travel expenses for the police detectives were spread among the budgets of various mayoral offices. "Proper"? "Legitimate"? Are New Yorkers expected to assume the burden of a cheating mayor?

Giuliani is calling the accusation, revealed just two hours before the Republican debate, "a hit job." Another curious choice of terms for a mayor who was hitting or, perhaps more accurately, being hit on.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

come fly with me

coming home yesterday from new york was, as always, a drag. this time, the fact that the husband and i were traveling with our two grown children, only added to the drudgery of the supposed, six hour and fifteen minute flight.

when it is just the two of us traveling, i get to be the big complainer and the husband is the calming influence. with the kids on board, the stakes are doubled and my complaining has to take a back seat to the two i bore. we flew on virgin america. i was sure the kids would love it since it has all the nifty computer gadgets any new age young adult could possibly want. in addition to movies, t.v., radio, seven thousand choices of music and video games you can also order food, drinks and snacks while text messaging the cute blond in row 14B.

unfortunately, all the nifty computer stuff does not work while you are stuck on a runway FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF waiting to take off. starvation was not too much of an issue, because we are savvy travelers and today's savvy traveler knows enough to bring their own food on board, but you could most definitely die from thirst, not to mention boredom. because we were traveling west, we had head winds of 160 miles an hour so the trip took an extra 45 minutes. add that to runway time and we could have been in a charming tuscan village in the time it took us to go from new york to l.a.

and then the computers broke. when we finally got airborne our little t.v. screens went blank. not every one's, just our little family seemed to be cursed. without a computer, not only was i sure we would die of boredom, but it seems that you are unable to order anything to eat or drink. the husband was sound asleep and my son was happily plugged into his own computer, so it was just the princess and i, left to languish for almost eight hours, without even a vodka.

all's well that ends well, and by ending well, i mean we landed without incident and let's face it, that's all we really pray for when boarding a plane these days but jeez....

every year when the husband asks me what i want for hanukkah. i always say "nothing, really, i have everything i want". well this year i have changed my mind. this year when the husband asks i will be ready. this year, for hanukkah, i want my own plane.

What I Learned From the Republican Debate

The one who dies with the most guns wins...unless you're Mc Cain, in which case you've already escaped death

Waterboarding may not be torture...unless it's happening to you or you're Mc Cain

Ties should be red...unless they're blue

Being gay may or may not rule you out from serving your country...unless you already have

Immigrants are a problem...unless you need them to do work at your mansion

Don't worry about "the other"...unless you're Giuliani and she's "the other woman"

Hair matters...but that's bi-partisan

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Bright Side of the Malibu Fires

In the face of a tragedy, it seems to help to look for the bright side.

Though it’s true that 49 homes were lost in the most recent Malibu fires, many of them multimillion-dollar, ranch-style mansions, including one belonging to Flea, bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it could have been worse. There could have been more homes involved and, at least, Paul Mc Cartney who's got enough trouble, wasn't among the musicians affected.

Pre-deployed firefighters responded quickly and worked tirelessly. They were well equipped and gained the upper hand on Sunday against a fierce wildfire, which allowed residents to return and assess the damage. Pets were lost, but it could have been worse: no people lost their lives.

Officials called it the worst fire to strike Malibu in 15 years. Six firefighters suffered injuries, but they were mild. It could have been worse: Nobu still stands and nobody had to sit on rooftops and wait for help from FEMA.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Which candidate would you prefer to take to Disneyworld, Whole Foods, a Bat Mitzvah?

Campaign fatigue has obviously hit the pollsters. An AP-Yahoo News survey is asking for an evaluation of the candidates, not about their policies or experience, but their likeability. What next? Will we be asked to assess them as poker players, dog trainers, guardians for our kids?

Obama, who takes hits in the experience area, is perceived as “most honest”, an area where Mc Cain and Giuliani also fare well, so these candidates would likely be the favorites as housesitters and guardians for our kids though Rudy, whose kid is pro-Obama, may be more likely to get our house keys than our children.

Hillary, acknowledged to be most likely to “hit the ground running”, loses ground when voters are asked which candidate they’d choose to have along on a vacation. Expect to see Hillary and her handlers at Club Med, perfecting her backhand as well as warm and fuzzy stuff. Edwards does well in this category, but I wouldn’t want to wait for my morning coffee while he fusses with his hair, so I'd sooner take Giuliani, who surely spends far less time at the bathroom mirror post comb-over. Rudy's decisiveness could also be a plus when the family is split on where to eat.

According to the poll, Democrats are weighing personal traits more heavily than policy positions this time around while Republicans care more about policy.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

O.J., Natalee Holloway, fires in Malibu: are we getting recycled news?

They’re back!!!

O.J. in court trying to make the statement in photos, “Even if I did it, I’ll mug and try to convince you the accusations against me are totally absurd and implausible”;

Wild fires ablaze near Malibu;

The tragedy of the missing Alabama student, Natalee Holloway, in Aruba with the three suspects arrested;

A Peterson husband charged with killing his wife;

A former employee in the administration leaking from an upcoming book in which he accuses high members of the Bush team of having been involved in something dirty;

Israeli, Arab and American leaders convening for talks in an attempt to make peace.

It’s hard to distinguish between today’s newspapers and those that went into the recycling stack. Is it possible that news writers are picking up stories from reruns of The Daily Show, now being run because of the WGA strike?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday: Slow Day at Bicoastal Broads

Sadly, our readership has fallen off, and since the timing corresponds to the premature stringing of holiday lights and stores offering bargains to people willing to line up, we’re wondering if you’ve abandoned us for discounts at K-Mart, the Apple Store and Nike outlets.

We think of you as valued members of the Bicoastal Broads family, an amazingly broad range of readers, including regulars in Tokyo and France, and we want you back, but how can the two of us compete with big chains? What if we offer to do holiday cards, blogs, meals for you? You can submit topics and we'll be your online improv team. Want to insult a relative? Tell us how they annoy you and we'll blog about it. It won't change them, but you'll feel better.

Instead of lining up at some ungodly hour (at a time when we’re supposed to be doing godly, not ungodly, acts), I’m proposing you stay home and order your holiday gifts online, which should include our blog. You’re in no danger of someone saying, “I already have it, okay if I exchange it for something else?” It’s the gift that keeps on giving, and no one will be insulted if it’s regifted. Best of all, it’s free!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tips for Older Writers Trying To Be Cool on the Picket Line

Leave your "Newhart" jacket in the closet

Try to remember when someone refers to a Blackberry, it's not a fruit

Don't wear sponge-soled shoes with a wide toe box

Shove your hearing aid way into your ear

If someone says, "Sean", they mean Penn, not Connery

No Dean Martin anecdotes

Don't wear the strike t-shirt with the typewriter on it

Don't respond to cars honking with the "peace sign"

Attention, Men, beware of marrying younger women!

A new study shows a surprising turn - more women under 45 are dying of heart disease due to clogged arteries, this while the death rate for men that age has leveled off. Statistics for older women have improved. No definitive interpretation has been made, but the findings should be meaningful to men considering spurning their older wives in favor of younger, “arm candy” sequels.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Disaster in NYC: Entertainment Industry Strikes Continue

After a weekend of marathon meetings between Local 1 and the League of American Theatres and Producers, negotiations broke down. More than two dozen Broadway shows will remain closed this week. With The Writers Guild of America strike entering its third week, New Yorkers and the many tourists visiting the city over Thanksgiving will be unable to attend tapings of The Daily Show, Colbert, SNL, etc.

It's not yet clear how many will be affected and forced to read newspapers, books and rediscover the art of conversation. Mayor Bloomberg is expected to declare a state of emergency.

Friday, November 16, 2007

barry bonds or lyndsay lohan - who is the biggest criminal?

i am very confused. just today we found out that barry bonds may be facing up to thirty years in prison for steroid use and lying about it, while lyndsay lohan has just completed her time in the slammer for drunk driving and being found with cocaine. ms. lohan walked out of jail this morning, after completing her sentence of 84 MINUTES!!!! that's right folks, 84 minutes, which is actually 2 minutes longer than her friend nicole richie who spent exactly 82 minutes in jail for drunk driving and driving on the off ramp of a busy los angeles freeway.

now, here is where the confusion lies. while i think it is stupid to shoot your body up with steroids and endanger your health just so you can hit or throw a ball faster or farther, i don't really feel that barry bonds is, in any way, a threat to society. like prostitution, it seems to me that steroid use is a victimless crime. if grown men, are willing to pay other grown men, millions of dollars to hit a ball with a stick and run around bases dressed like little boys, well then, why are we so surprised when these same grown men act like little boys? thirty years in prison seems like a pretty severe punishment for lying about stupid behavior that only harms the steroid user and, of course, hank aaron's record.

on the other hand, less than an hour and a half in jail seems no where near enough time for a drunk driver. endangering the lives of others, due to driving under the influence of alcohol and possibly drugs, is no laughing matter. drunk driving, unlike baseball, is not a game and far more people can be murdered or maimed by an out of control driver in a one ton car than a juiced up athlete with a wooden bat.

What not to do at Thanksgiving Dinner

The etiquette mavens are back, this time with a list of the worst offenses you can commit at Thanksgiving dinner, things like:

Talking while you have food or drink in your mouth. Who other than a professional puppeteer can talk with a mouthful of liquid?

Using an eating utensil to dig out food or dirt lodged under your fingernails and leaving your findings on the plate. What, then, are you supposed to use? The serving spoon is too won't get in there.

Piling as much turkey, potatoes, peas and stuffing on your fork as you can and shoving the entire mass into your mouth. Isn't that the point of Thanksgiving??!

Picking food from your teeth with a toothpick, fingernail, dinner knife or your tongue, even more egregious if you examine the findings. So my husband and son were right when they told me to stop.

Miss Manners and company haven’t had a holiday meal with us or they’d have added:

Turning up with someone you just met on the subway, presenting the same Godiva chocolates you'd been given a long time ago by the host, setting down a wet glass and leaving a stain on an antique table, opening all the windows while extolling the effectiveness of soy for hot flashes, showing the scar from your recent surgery, offering suggestions on how to make a juicier turkey and, and getting into an argument about parenting, the mid-east, Bush or Hillary.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Viennese Table at the WGA Picket Line

This is the worst of times: 431 more days of George W. Bush and a Writers Guild strike. Looking for a bright side? It's not 432 days…and there’s food on the picket line, at least in New York. That didn’t happen when I struck with my West Coast colleagues. Maybe there were too many writers to feed, or maybe it’s not possible to march with a picket sign and a chopped salad.

Here we feasted on sandwiches. Writers picketing in downtown New York on Tuesday were rewarded by a gift of lunchtime sandwiches and cookies from The Knickerbocker, a Greenwich Village restaurant, where, for years, a group of writers has gathered for a weekly lunch. Yesterday, in front of the Disney Store, writers chose between pulled pork and barbecued beef sandwiches from Daisy May’s BBQ, followed by ice cream being passed out in plastic cups. Side dishes were left untouched as there was no way to serve them so we're hoping SAG and AFTRA members, preferably those experienced as waiters, will come by to serve the food.

In addition to providing the address of the picket line, the guild should be including menus as I'm sure all the restaurants that have been frequented by writers will see this as payback time, The Carnegie Deli, Elaine's, Michaels, Da Silvana and Nobu, just for starters.

lunch time in malibu

while my east coast counterpart was freezing on the writers guild picket line in new york i was eating, outdoors in the eighty degree sunshine in malibu. the sad part was that i ran into a lot of writers that day in malibu as well. just not picketing. while i am sure that many of their fellow writers were out on the lines in hollywood and in front of all the major studios and t.v. stations, this malibu group had better things to do.

i recognized one woman, a well known writer who has had quite a career in television. she was lunching at the next table and we struck up a conversation. she was there with her daughter and what appeared to be her grandchild right next to her daughter in a baby carriage. it was a very fancy baby carriage with cup holders and mesh sides so the privileged baby could enjoy the balmy malibu air without having to suffer the ravages of the malibu sun.

the grandmother and i chatted for awhile. we spoke of the strike and it was obvious that this woman, who had made her fortune as a writer, was not so anxious, at this point in her life, to walk the line. her career was more or less over, she had tons of money socked away and felt no need to express solidarity with her less fortunate and dedicated fellow writers. i really didn't like her very much and was about to end the conversation when i heard her grandchild...bark. she saw the look on my face and started to laugh. "that's not a baby in there, those are my daughter's dogs." i looked more closely and sure enough inside the carriage was not one but two very fluffy white dogs. the kind of dogs you would see on the arm of paris, britney and nicole. it was the hollywood dog of the moment. the daughter, a pouty young thing, without a glance in my direction, corrected her mother. "those are my babies." her mother sighed and rolled her eyes. i looked around at my fellow diners to see if anyone else, besides me, thought this scenario was weird. i made eye contact with as many people as i could and not a one seemed to indicate that what i was witnessing was the least bit unusual.

malibu is a very strange place. woman, who should be picketing, were dining in the sunshine with furry, faux grandchildren and i was the only person in the restaurant who thought it was odd.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Georgia On My Mind: What if prayer works?

Georgia’s Governor Sonny Perdue bowed his head outside the Capitol and led hundreds praying for rain to end the area’s drought. With bibles and crucifixes, many linked arms and swayed with a choir singing hymns. Perdue appeared to be acknowledging that the water shortage was both natural and because of a human disregard for conservation. "Oh father, we acknowledge our wastefulness,”, the governor, a Baptist, prayed, “but we're doing better.” His choice to wear a green suit may have been a statement about his commitment to “think green”.

If I believed in the power of prayer, I, too, would pray (forgive me, Georgians, it’s neither personal nor vindictive) that Georgia get rain, lots of it, just not in time for it to be connected to prayer. My reasons, however shabby and selfish:

Those pea green suits will be all the rage;

It will encourage women to keep praying for him to leave his wife;

We could end up with another fundamentalist president;

The price of Gospel brunches will go up;

Members of The Writers Guild will turn from picketing to praying, “Please, God, we’ll give up bottled water for a fair share of the profits".

Vanity License Plates: why?

I don't wear monogrammed jewelry or t-shirts that say, "I'm with stupid" so it's not surprising that I've letters and numbers issued me by the DMV even if means shrugging with some degree of embarrassment when a parking attendant asks, "What's the plate number?" Three years is too short a timem for me to memorize all that. The plate I should get would rightly say, "Don't ask".

9.3 million Americans have vanity license plates with the highest percentage (16%) in Virginia, most likely because they’re only $10 and arrangements can be made online. This must be sending shivers of alarm through the state's tattoo parlors as a change of heart allows a guy to go from "Stacy" back to "Mama" without having a laser applied to his skin. I wonder how many relationships have stayed together because of a tattoo.

Personalized plates are an industry with states hiring individuals to screen for profanity and objectionable messages, in English and other languages. There’s a website -- CoolPl8z.com – where people post pictures of their vanity plates. None were as amusing as “HIS DO”, affixed to her new sports car by a recently divorced woman in Los Angeles.

In New York we have our own system. If there's something we want to communicate to another driver, we holler it out the window, often accompanied by a gesture. We choose to comment on the other guy, rather than on ourselves.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Alzheimer's Defense: "Oops, I forgot I was married"

Sandra Day O'Connor retired from the Supreme Court in 2006 to take care of her husband, who has Alzheimer's, and now John, at 77, has forgotten that he's married and fallen in love with another woman in his Phoenix facility. Experts say the scenario is fairly common with this condition.

"Name the presidents backwards?" I can hear Bill Clinton saying to the physician testing his memory,"Easy. George W. Bush...uh...Help me out here, will ya?"

from the waist up

just about the time the frost is on the pumpkins and millions of american turkeys are beginning to fear for their lives in the upcoming holiday season, i used to begin to experience my yearly bout with "gentile envy".

i am jewish and proud of it. for eleven months of the year i had absolutely no problem living my religion and my culture, but come december i felt an overwhelming desire to convert. from my earliest memories i had wanted to be gentile at christmas time. my parents tried to convince me that eight days of channukah were far better than just one day of christmas but i was not a stupid child. how could eight colored candles and some potato pancakes possibly compete with the glory that was christmas. i had absolutely no interest in the father,son or holy ghost. jesus and the virgin mary held absolutely no allure for me but oh my gosh - the tree with it's tinsel and stars, the deep, rich, piney smell that filled the air in the homes of my friends was intoxicating. and can we talk about candy canes, and popcorn and cranberry ropes and fake snow that you could sprinkle all over the floor around the base of the tree and christmas cookies! can we just stop for one minute and think about christmas cookies. yes as a child christmas was a wonderment and to top it off you got to meet santa claus. who ever came up with him was a marketing genius. trying to fend off gentile envy, as a child, at christmas time, was next to impossible.

as i got older, i outgrew santa and while the tree and christmas food still called out to me it became more about fashion. i remember every year in college, just before winter break, all the whitney's and muffy's and tipper's would appear in class each day in a new and fabulous christmas sweater. in retrospect, the sweaters were pretty tacky, but on a long legged, six foot blond shiksa those sweaters spelled fashion heaven for me, as well as yet another christmas tradition i was barred from participating in.

as an adult, i used to wander the streets of the upper east side at night, at christmas time. i would stare longingly into the townhouses of the rich and famous watching from afar their holiday celebrations. the women in long black velvet skirts and white silk blouses and the men in plaid dinner jackets. with a fire going in the fireplace and the ten foot tall tree in the corner of the room these homes were out of a christmas catalog - often complete with silver punch bowls and maids, in uniforms, doling out egg nog.

a few year ago, i was relating my christmas fantasy to a good, gentile friend of mine and she started to laugh. it seems that, according to her, what i saw from the street in all the townhouse windows was only part of the picture - from the waist up. what i didn't see, she told me, was grandma passed out under the dining room table with a bottle of scotch cradled in her arms and aunt missy and aunt taffy in the kitchen having a knock down, drag out over who was the rightful owner of an heirloom teapot and dear old dad doing the nanny in the upstairs linen closet.

what a revelation. i was cured. i guess it's true. no matter what religion we are, deep down, we are all the same - CRAZY!!

My Right Thumb: A surefire, post-WGA Strike Oscar contender

Early in our careers we writers learn a way to inspire confidence in a pitch meeting is to claim your concept is reminiscent of earlier, successful projects, which is why we say, with great enthusiasm, “It’s Casablanca meets Airplane", even if the only commonality is both films make use of airplanes.

Though meticulously not working on WGA material during the strike (something I got a jump on shortly after the last strike), I’m using the down time to flesh out a recent event in my life that's clearly destined to be a movie. On the picket line and everywhere I go, I'm greeted by gasps of horror from people reacting to my right thumb, swathed in gauze to create an enormous white mass so overwhelming as to make everything else about me extraneous. “What happened?!!” I'm asked and I see winces though I leave out the details of how I was injured when trying to catch boxes falling off a dolly.

The interest and emotional responses suggest this is crying out to be a movie. My Right Thumb, even if not as dramatic as My Left Foot, has huge potential when combined with elements of My Kid Could Paint That (though I'd admit it's my husband who's been opening jars and helping yank up my pantyhose). My ingenious solution for washing my hair -- a rubber glove with an elastic wrapped twice around my wrist to insure no water messing up the bandages -- would make for an exciting promotional trailer. I can hear the whispers in the audience, "How do you suppose she brushes her teeth?" "Do you think she can still text message?"

The surefire box-office appeal is what sustains me as I walk in the cold with a picket sign, anticipating the Tuscan villa we'll be able to buy with the increased net profits and internet coming our way.

Monday, November 12, 2007

an epiphany

the husband and i have just returned from vacation. we were gone for a week and in that time experienced a total media blackout. it was not due to geographic isolation (we were vacationing in new york) nor a show of solidarity with the striking writers or a deliberate experiment - it just happened. we were so busy, and stimulated, that somehow we never found the time to stop and read, watch or log on.

the experience was amazing. you can not imagine how liberating it is to not know that on thursday you might suddenly be poorer that you were on tuesday or that while things might be about to blow in pakistan you are not obligated to worry about it. an entire week without a word on brittany's custody battle, or yet another horror story out of iraq, was the best vacation of all. while, i was sorry to hear of norman mailer's death, finding out about it a few days late was just as impactful as if i had heard it on breaking news.

i am back home now with a weeks worth of newspapers, news magazines and tivo'd shows to deal with, not to mentioned the 224 emails that must be read and deleted. it is monday morning and i am back in the swing of things. the two morning papers are waiting to be read and they will be. nothing has changed in my daily habits as a result of this experience except there is one thing that i now know for sure - with or without my constant and conscientious vigilance the world, as we know it, will still keep on spinning.

Is The Actors Studio now giving a degree in medicine?

I remember back when we'd report our symptoms to a doctor, who'd make a diagnosis, but now we learn about new medications from TV commercials, go online to read about side effects and drug compatibility and then run our findings by a doctor for what feels like a second opinion. Our HMO will likely deny the claim, and why shouldn't they? Why pay an astronomical fee to a doctor, who's done little more than write a prescription?

We're not only the patient, but the paraprofessional and medical bookkeeper, which is why I'm glad I had my tonsils and appendix out before everything was dumped in our laps. I'd have had to hope that an aging actor who'd had a ruptured appendix would come on screen to tell me how best to deal with it.

TV is the new Merck Manual, Actors `who once starred in sit-coms advise us what to take for overactive bladders and sleep disturbances. Sally Field has replaced my internist while Suzanne Somers is my hormone specialist. Topping the field of mental problems are Brooke Shield (post-partum depression) and Patty Duke (bi-polar disorder). We'd all be fools to start a diet without consulting Kirstie Alley.

Do medical schools still exist, or is medicine being taught at The Actors Studio?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Musical Code Found in "The Last Supper": real or like Jesus on a grilled cheese sandwich?

In the book, La Musica Celata" ("The Hidden Music"), Giovanni Maria Pala, an Italian musician and computer technician, reveals how he uncovered musical notes cleverly encoded by Leonardo Da Vinci in "The Last Supper”.

By placing a musical staff on the painting, the loaves of bread on the table as well as the hands of Jesus and the Apostles can be seen as musical notes. This is consistent with the relation in Christian symbolism between the bread (representing the body of Christ) and the hands (used to bless the food).

Pala wasn't able to decode the message until he tried reading the score from right to left, following Leonardo's particular writing style. This allowed him to find a 40-second “hymm to God", which he feels, “sounds like a requiem that emphasizes the passion of Jesus”.

Going in the other direction, you come up with the message, “Paul is dead”.

Was Curious George the first bad boy in our daughters' bedrooms?

Girls have, sadly and inexplicably, been attracted to bad boys, which may explain the popularity of Curious George, whose private and not so private parts were found to contain excessive lead levels. This week some 175,000 Curious George Plush Dolls, manufactured in China for Marvel Toys, were recalled. We’re aware that today's girls are quicker to take a boy’s bodily parts into their mouths, making Curious George a threat to their health.

Parents of pre-school girls are now compelled to deal with issues earlier generations didn't confront until the teen years. This should be a boon for the pop-up book companies, who are surely working on, "See Jane say no to Curious George".

Is George W. the worst president ever?

When asked last week what we need in the next president, Jeb Bush answered, “Someone with intellectual curiosity”. Might we assume, then, that Jeb agrees with the 23% of American adults polled by the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation who feel George W. Bush is the worst president we’ve ever had?

34% of the 1,024 people queried said they approve of Bush’s performance. Those are the sort of undemanding, easily satisfied types we hope to get as bosses, especially when it's time for our annual review.

1% named Bush as the best president in history. Who are these 10.2 people? If relatives have given up on him, his fans can only be cronies, appointees (overlappiing with cronies) and Halliburton employees.

72% of Republicans polled approve of Bush’s performance, but this is the same group that approves of golf pants, cowboy hats, bullying, swiftboating and waterboarding. 12% of Democrats still support him, all of whom I suspect are my relatives, maintaining, perhaps just to irritate me, that despite conditions in the mid-east, "Bush is good for Israel".

1,024 respondents is a small number. We've had that many people come to dinner over the course of this administration. True, I didn't conduct an official poll, but 100% of our guests have expressed violent disapproval of everything Bush has done. We’re the ones counting down the remaining 436 days of his term.

Friday, November 9, 2007

America: Support the WGA troops

Until we get the full report from General Petraeus on conditions at the front lines of the Writers Guild strike, this will serve as the Sage interim briefing, providing coverage of East Coast operations.

Day one of New York picketing would - had not a version of the name already been used by the Federal Government - been titled Sugar Shock & Awe. Doughnuts and lollipops were donated to the writers, wearing WGA-East t-shirts. Credit must be given to members of the Musicians Union for providing spirited musical accompaniment that helped boost the morale of the marching troops.

In the tradition of Bob Hope, SAG and AFTRA members turned up, not to entertain the embattled writers, but to talk to the press. Among them were Tina Fey, Sam Waterston, Roseanne, Susie Essman and Richard Belzer.

Weather conditions aren’t on the side of the writers with cooler temperatures creating a need for Uggs and scarves. Fans of The Daily Show should note their jackets are thin and these writers would surely welcome care packages containing insulated underwear and mugs of hot coffee. Those missing The Sopranos may want to send over ziti to the creator/executive producer of the series.

Casualties: An East Coast writer was “egged” at Chelsea Piers while on the West Coast a writer was hit by a car. Al-Jazeera is not covering the strike since nobody has taken credit for the assaults. President Bush has yet to show up to give support to families of the injured. Look for him to pretend to be carving a turkey on Thanksgiving, after which he's likely to get The Love Boat out of storage and make an appearance in a West Wing jacket with a premature "Mission Accomplished" banner.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Let Them Eat Cake

Yesterday we were all abuzz over an article showing that fat people appear to have fewer health problems (setting aside diabetes) and to be living longer than those of normal weight, sending those of us who’ve been dessert-deprived and taking spinning classes into a spin. We’d been misled into feeling protected by our normalcy.

This shocking reversal of everything we've believed came on the heels of a Readers Digest article cautioning us that vitamins we’ve been taking to fight colds, Alzheimer’s and free radicals (the mysterious enemy of our cells that could be destroyed by adding antioxidants to our daily vitamins) may actually be damaging.

Should we all meet at our local green markets and file a class action suit against the health gurus of yesteryear? Personally, I'll find it less of a struggle to give up vitamin E than to pass up churros.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Writers Guild Strike: Take One

Our shows get harshy reviewed, our contracts may not get renewed, and now striking TV and motion picture writers are being attacked for the lame slogans being heard on the picket line.

“What do we want?”

“Contract!”

“When do we want it?”

“Now!”

It’s true the slogans aren't inspired, but the words for “Network” and “Chinatown” didn’t spill onto the page ready to be shot. The slogans should be seen as evidence that writing is not easy; it's all in the rewriting. This early stage of picketing is the equivalent of a first draft.

It was difficult for the writers to move in the narrow, enclosed bike lane near Rockefeller Center, far too small for the group in black, WGA-East shirts, not chic enough to wear to the New York Sports Club, let alone lunch at Michael’s Restaurant. We were as spirited, committed and collegial as any out-of-work group identified by the rubber rat, the mascot of a New York union strike.

Rumor is the networks are grateful for the strike as it frees them from continuing with lackluster programs. This suggests the guild will have no bargaining power unil business falls off at Michael’s and network executives are being served day-old crab cakes and wilted mesclun.

A IATSE member showing support at the picket line predicted, with lament, that a long strike will revise television, resulting in scripted shows being replaced by yet more reality shows so we writers might be voting ourselves off the island.

In response to the negative comments, I've come up with a few picket line slogans:

We can’t write
For Jay’s “Tonight”

Dave's top ten list
Does not exist

It's now dawk
At "30 Rock"

You’ll despair
Without Colbert

We earn less
Than Les Moonves

Feel free to submit your own ideas.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Your Feet May Give You Away at Starbucks

An anthropology professor at Rutgers, Dr. Helen Fisher, who studies human mating rituals, has written a book, Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. Her lab is the cafe or bar. Fisher contends the way you sit with your cappuccino or Apple (the laptop, not the fruit) is sending off a signal. She’s broken down the ritual from stirring to steaming to five steps:

You catch someone’s eye
Cock your head to the side
Raise your eyebrows (a problem if you’ve had Botox)
Look down
Look away.

The professor has spent enough time at Starbucks to have observed that looking away has developed into an art form at this chain. Nobody picks up a napkin or Splenda wrapper -- not the man or woman in pursuit, nor any employee. It's recommended that you have a tetanus shot before going in.

To launch a conversation with a stranger, the professor suggests questions ("Excuse me, do you know a good place around here to grab dinner?") and compliments ("That's a great laptop case. Where'd you get it?") She calls these “grooming talk” because they require a response, but what you’re saying is of no consequence. Unless, of course, the answer to the first question is, "There's a KFC across the street" and to the second, “The laptop case was a gift from my wife. What’s it to you?”

Do we need a professor to tell us that women gain intimacy from face-to-face interactions while men choose to avoid it...or to learn that men love sitting at a bar and watching a game with their buddies while women prefer staring into their lover’s eyes over a candlelit dinner? There's nothing less sexy than decoding mating behavior. If we can read, we already know a book won't propel us from a large skim latte to a chopped liver mold.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

gone are the good old days

this is it! i have had it. if it weren't enough that woman have to work, raise a family, keep a nice house and look like pamela anderson, only with an i.q. of 185, now we have a new situation to deal with.

it seems that a british woman, paula radcliffe, who holds the world's record in the woman's marathon, ran throughout her entire pregnancy last year. she even ran the day before she gave birth to her baby and twelve days later she started running again. during the first five months of her pregnancy, she ran an hour and fifteen minutes in the morning and then another forty-five minutes in the evening. further along in her pregnancy, she cut back to only an hour of running in the morning and then she rode her stationary bike in the evening.

now, here's the thing. none of us ever wanted to be superwoman but somehow society has thrust that on us women. the only time in my adult life when i felt it was o.k. to relax, let my stomach hang out and put my feet up was when i was pregnant. for nine months no one expected anything of or from me. i was seen as doing a very important job. just eating and sleeping was all that was required of me and if i actually did do something like say, cook a meal or go to the market, not only was i applauded but then i was told to go lie down and rest. it was heaven and don't even get me started on that eating for two thing. now i understand why some women have eight or ten kids - that nine months of pregnancy was well worth it.

until now. this paula radcliffe chick had to come along and ruin it for us all. no more lolling around on the sofa watching the soaps while the husband is doing the vacuuming. because of this british bitch, whose story made the front pages of the new york times, we are all now going to be expected to do more than just lie around expecting. i can just hear it now, the next time any of us ask the husband to run to the market for a container of milk, "why don't you run down to the market yourself - if that radcliffe chick can run twenty-six miles pregnant, i think you could slow jog a half a mile to the grocery store and back. it wouldn't kill you you know".

yes, the good old days are gone. first they took away our right to stay home and be supported by a man, then they made it practically a sin for a man to hold a door open for us or pick up the tab on a first date - now this. it's just no fun to be a woman any more. as far as i can see, we have only two choices - tie on those running shoes and start training, or sign up for a sex change operation.

Cell phones, like pork & shellfish, are unkosher

There are ultra-orthodox in Israel now using kosher cell phones, which are extraordinary inasmuch as they do what phones were originally intended to do -- make and receive calls. Users can’t take a break from studying or praying to ring up for phone sex and dates, take photos, text message and connect to the Internet. The phone, unlike the I-Phone, has no catchy name, but I'm guessing in contention is the OU-Phone or K-Phone (using the widely recognized symbols for kosher) or the Oy-Phone.

More than 10,000 numbers for forbidden sites have been blocked by rabbinical overseers, who keep the list current. You have to wonder who gets that job. Rates promote observance by charging less for calls to other kosher phones. On Sabbath, when talking on the phone is a lo-lo (“no-no” in Hebrew), calls are pricier, a levy for Levys. A surprising omission from the equation is the free calls to Jewish mothers.

They're planning to introduce the kosher mobile to Jewish communities elsewhere. The phones will, like all technology, surely be modified and upgraded. I suspect Manischewitz, Carmel and Mogen David are looking into incorporating a breathalyzer test to check for the consumption of unkosher wines, which would then make the current model obsolete, “so 5768”.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Waterboarding: a recreational activity for Michael Mukasey

Bush remains convinced (the one thing he excels at) that Michael Mukasey is a reasonable candidate for Attorney General despite the public response to Mukasey’s statement that he’s not sure if water-boarding is torture or legal.

How is it the rest of us, those who aren’t up for the job, know that even if water-boarding sounds like an activity at Club Med, it was used during The Spanish Inquisition, by Pol Pot's genocidal Khmer Rouge and during World War II by Japanese soldiers against civilian detainees and U.S. military POWs, leading to their later being prosecuted for it by U.S. military tribunals?

Prior to the B.C. (Bush/Cheney) era, the U.S. government and courts took the position, along with the rest of the civilized world, that water-boarding is torture. Could is be we’ve found kinder, gentler ways of water-boarding? Maybe we've learned something from painless dentistry.

One of the issues, according to Mukasey, is it depends who's doing the water-boarding, his thesis being there are good and bad practitioners. I propose we get a master water-boarder, someone who’s not burned out, maybe a Democrat, to hold him underwater until he gurgles up a clearer position. With an adept person holding his head in the tank, that wouldn’t be torture, just part of the interviewing process.

Bush protested that the media's criticism of his nominee was "unfair". Interesting from someone who's never called torture "unfair".

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Why I Don't Buy Into Astrology

Would you choose to be lumped with Jerry Lewis, Ivana Trump, Svetlana Stalin and Alan Thicke? They, too, are Pisces.

Most days everyone's horoscope promises, “Your goodness will be appreciated”, which only leads to disappointment.

I live in Manhattan and have no reason to believe there are still stars in the sky.

Marlene Niche, who did a study of Criminal Impulses, reports Pisces showing up in charts of criminals characterized as egomaniacal, narcissistic and paranoid and frequently in the charts of rapists who were into BDS&M.

My sign is said to 'go with the flow' and 'not make waves.' I’m best known for making waves and get calls for pro bono advice when someone wants to return an item or lodge a complaint.

Pisceans are supposed to put the needs of others ahead of their own. I'm always first in line at a buffet and freely grab the one empty seat in the subway while my husband, an Aries, lets everyone go ahead of him.

It’s mostly dopey people who believe in astrology, and when you challenge it as a science, they cite things like the moon and rising signs. If you’re going to put all that effort into reading about something, you're better off learning a new language.

what if you gave a halloween and nobody came?

last night was halloween and my doorbell was silent. it has been seven years since i moved into this canyon. a beautiful, leafy glade with no sidewalks or street lights and as rural as one can be in los angeles and still be four minutes to the nearest supermarket. it is very quiet and like so many west side neighborhoods these days, priced way out of reach of most young families.

the first halloween we lived here i bought my usual five, giant bags of candy - always careful to choose my favorites - snickers, nestles crunch, m&m's, milky way and twix - and then i waited. the doorbell never rang and for let's say, two months (alright - two weeks), i ate my way through the left over halloween candy.

this year i got smart. i only bought two bags. it was hard to narrow down my choices but narrow i did. a bag of snickers, which you can store in the freezer until the end of time and m&m's which i really don't consider candy at all. with all the greens and yellows, i have long considered m&m's a basic food group. if you count peanut m&m's you could probably live on them forever.

so there i sat with my two bags of candy. i turned on all the lights, played loud music and even opened my front door to let everyone know i was home and ready. not one ghost, goblin or witch dropped by. by 8:00 i was so desperate to share my candy i was even willing to entertain some of the child molesters that according to a new local web site are living around the corner from every single one of us in los angeles.

our local police, in their infinite wisdom, had issued a curfew for all pedophiles on halloween night. in an effort to make our streets safe for trick or treaters the powers that be ruled that all sex offenders must be home between the hours of 4:00 and 10:00 p.m. good idea with only one small problem. these are the very same men who refuse to obey society's rules by not molesting small children - do you think they would have any problem breaking a curfew? and if they do, here's where i come in. i am much to old to be threatened by these men. they served their time and who i am to judge. i just want someone to eat this candy before i do.