Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pumps aren't for picketing

With the Writers Guild strike lasting long enough for the seasons to have changed, clothing became an issue. Weather is one of the factors that makes picketing on the East Coast more problematic than it is in LA. Two young writers on the picket line were carping that they're happier picketing on the West Coast, setting forth as the reason, "My best feature is my legs." I responded that I prefer picketing in New York, explaining, "My best feature is my coat."

Along with the many other complications of a long strike, the drop in temperature made it impossible to continue picketing in my comfortable Mephisto sandals, causing me to purchase shoes and appropriate cold weather attire, including layers, a scarf, hat and gloves suitable for marching on the city streets while holding a sign.

Though there are holiday sales and cruise wear lines in the stores, nobody has introduced a line of picketing fashions, which would have been a supportive and useful show of solidarity with the Writers Guild. If there are stores selling pasta shaped like a penis, someone might have conceived of clothing for labor strikes.

Imagine, therefore, my horror when my husband/writing partner called out with glee, "They're back at the table and may be close to reaching an agreement!" Why didn't the Writers Guild hint that I shouldn't snip off the tags of my newly purchased picketing garments?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Your kvetchy man: maybe he has too much chemical substance P?

To my women friends who are losing patience with their kvetchy mates, I pass on what I've learned about the naked mole rat. These tiny hairless, bucktoothed rodents are among the ugliest of creatures but, unlike other rodents and some husbands, they're invulnerable to the pain of acid or the sting of chili peppers. From a mole rat you won't hear, "I can't do it because my back is hurting."

These small critters are said to have sweet, gentle dispositions, which is also often said of humans who can't get by on their looks. It's the mole rats' inability to experience pain that makes them useful to scientists studying chronic pain. This is attributed to their lacking chemical substance P. So, women, cut him some slack; maybe he has an excess of chemical substance P?

diamonds are not forever

yesterday, out to lunch, i and my lunch date were seated next to two young girls in their thirties. one had recently gotten engaged and she was showing her ring to her friend. her friend, properly impressed, was oohing and aahing over the sparkler. the bride to be thanked her, held out her hand in the classic new ring owner's pose, to allow the diamond to catch the light, and then exclaimed, "it's really not so bad for a starter ring".

i almost dropped my fork. now, i am used to the term "starter house" and of course, "starter wife". we all know how young people these days get married, often for the wrong reasons and then move on - throwing away their marriages and their vows like paper towels, but somehow - i don't know - i thought a diamond was forever. and so, in the interests of research i asked around. it seems, that contrary to what i thought and what the de beers ads had led me to believe, diamonds are not forever. not only are they not forever, but apparently, they shrink with age. according to one of my friends, the proud owner of an eight carat ring, with time, the engagement ring that seemed so large, in the first blush of love, magically grows smaller, in the eyes of the wearer.

so, i guess another fantasy has bit the dust. nothing is forever anymore. if there are "starter wives" and "starter rings" than i guess, an old broad like me, who has been married since the beginning of time, would probably just be referred to as a "fixer-upper".

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Woman runs ad on Craigslist looking for someone to kill lover's wife

If it works for selling a pine dresser, maybe Craigslist will allow me to find someone willing to kill my boyfriend's wife, a 49-year-old woman in Sacramento reasoned.

Her ad was posted in November as a generic request for somebody to perform a "freelance" job. When she got responses, she replied saying she wanted "to eradicate a female living in Oroville, California," providing a description of the intended victim, her physical description, age and employment address. To two serious contenders, she offered a payment of $5,000 upon completion of the job.

The intended victim and her husband have not been identified, but the lover acknowledged meeting this woman through an online college course, after which they developed an intimate relationship.

Issues raised by this:

The company says this appears to be the first murder-for-hire scheme posted on their site. Will they be adding that category?

What online course had the lovers taken? If it wasn't in the self-help category, that would be an appropriate follow-up.

Is the wife staying with her husband?

Does the mistress worry this could hurt her chances for another relationship?

Can't you earn $5,000 just by stuffing envelopes?

Monday, January 28, 2008

there's no business like no business!

there's funny business and monkey business and risky business and show business (like no business i know) - but what is my business?

My card, if i had one, which once would have read "mother" must now read "mother-at-large". the space for daughter would be filled in with "in absentia" and as for a trade - while a working writer once, that was so very long ago.

and so what is my business? i am a corporation of one. each day i awake, ready to gear up my factory, open the doors of my office, straighten out my desk and answer my phones. i have no product to sell nor service to provide. i merely exist to service me - a charity here and there - a worthy cause will draw me in - but day to day it is me. i am a full time job. no time off for good behaviour or vacations. wherever i go i take my work - me - with me.

i am a work in progress and at the end of each day's toil, i take an accounting. my pluses and minuses are added up and run through my fingers like a maddened scrooge. who, i ask each day have i helped or hurt? have i insulted or been insulted - slighted or been slighted? i try to be a good wife, mother, friend but am i good enough? did i exercise? check. shower, manicure, pedicure, facial, hairdresser...the list goes on and on. pay the bills, market, call the repairman for the plumbing, dishwasher, refrigerator, stereo, tv. computer.

clean out the garage, call the travel agent, the art consultant and the gynecologist. take my daughter shopping. i would go to the car wash but it has been raining for a month and i would walk the dog if i had one. the list, while endless, runs in a silent loop. no matter how many times i go to the market, someone eats the food. every month i pay the bills, only to have to pay them again.

i looked at some old photos of me the other day and i was shocked - not at how young i once was but at how old i had become. who will i be when i can no longer run my own business? will i be like the old lady in the market, with her walker and her hired companion? i don't want a walker and i don't want a paid companion and i don't want to end up in the business of just staying alive.

An honest State of the Union Address

If we could give Bush truth serum, this is what I'd expect to hear tonight in his State of the Union speech:

Ms. Speaker - (or Nancy with the laughing eyes and face pulled ever too tightly, the nickname I've resisted giving you), Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished citizens (the paranoid 30% who still support me) and less distinguished citizens:

We gather in these chambers to say...thank God I'm almost out of here. You're happy about it?!! Not even close to my euphoria (didn't think I knew that word, did you?)

Iraq - and I'm as sick of defending it as you are of carping about it - I believe by staying the course and supporting the surge, we're getting closer to victory but, hey, what else can I say? Now is hardly the time to admit it's been a colossal mistake. Hope I'm gone before Pakistan flares up.

I believe we'll see peace in the mid-east before my term is over. And if we don't, that "I believe" thing covers my ass. If I turn out to be wrong, I can't be accused of lying, just being a little too optimistic. And we're all distracted now by the fucking recession. Not my word. I won't call it a recession until after the next president takes office. I have a last ditch plan to save my legacy. If my stimulus package doesn't bail out the economy, I'll blame Congress. Oh, like you wouldn't do that if you were in my shoes?

And don't think I've taken my ball off the AIDS problem in Africa. I'm going there in mid-February, when it's off-season at the ranch. I'm also doing my part for global warming. We don't use paper napkins at The White House and nobody's chopping down trees so I can read a book. As for the oil crisis, Darfur and all the other problems...how many things do you expect me to solve?

It's easy to pick on me. You'd be a lot happier if you'd delude yourselves, put a spin on everything, pretend we're on an upswing, chill and surround yourselves with sycophants. It works for me.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

it's not easy being green!

as a loyal viewer of the today show (in spite of the fact that the very sight of ann curry makes me want to run screaming from the room) i have been avidly following their series on how to save our planet. as i already drive a hybrid, in a land where cars are akin to second homes and do my best to recycle our trash, i felt i was well on the way to doing my bit for the earth, but matt, meridith and yes, even the evil ann showed me a few simple other ways that i, as one person, could make a difference.

changing my light bulbs to those funny looking squiggly ones that last for ten years seemed simple enough. just using one of those bulbs was equivalent to taking 50,000 cars off the road - or something like that. so, i went out and replaced all my light bulbs. of course, it seems that every upside has a down and in the light bulb's case, it seems there is a slight problem with the disposal of the mercury content in the bulb. home depot has volunteered to be the official disposer of these bulbs but i am wondering - where does home depot go to get rid of them. do they own some toxic dump some where in guatamala? but then i decided not to think about that. after all, these bulbs are guaranteed to last ten years. in ten years who knows what will be, or for that matter if we will be, so bulbs i bought.

next, ann told us about a web site called catalogchoice.org. where with just a click and for free, you can discontinue all those pesky catalogs from your life. it is really very simple. you just scroll through an alphabetical list of hundreds of catalogs and every time you come across one that lands in your mailbox every month, you just press delete and it is gone. i deleted 44 catalogs and could only think about how much my mailman was going to love me. i felt purged, clean and so proud of myself for saving so many trees. but then i noticed as i scrolled through the list discarding anthropolgie (those clothes have been too young for me for years) and levengers (nobody need that much stationary) that there was a whole list of catalogs that i had never even heard of. some of them were quite intriguing. a "taste of britain" caught my eye. what could that possibly be. every one knows that britain has never been famous for it's cuisine so i must admit that curiosity got the best of me. i had to see that catalog. i signed on - after all- i had already cancelled 44 - signing on for one new catalog was not such a big deal. but then i saw the "pajamagram" and the "great american hanger" (i am always on the look out for good hangers) and then there was "the popcorn factory" and who could resist a catalog titled "make life easier"?

i am hopeless. for all my good intentions i ended up cancelling 44 catalogs and signing on for ten new ones. i guess i am an addict. addicted to shiny paper and color photos and the promise of a new life with each days delivery of mail.

Whom do we want whispering to the next president?

This campaign has dragged on like never-ending foreplay. There's nothing more to say, to promise or for us to learn, which is why the candidates, their spouses and handlers, the pundits, the pollsters and bloggers are burned out. We voters are having trouble holding onto our initial hope and enthusiasm.

In today's New York Times, Garry Wills has an op-ed titled, "Are Two Presidents Worse Than One", maintaining that team Clinton would be one too many. His point is -- and he cites Bush & Cheney as violating this rule -- there should be one accountable chief executive.

I can't imagine any president not soliciting and welcoming a spouse's input. And while this was not Bill Clinton's finest week, I remain convinced his input will be valuable. Unlike Nancy Reagan, he does not take advice from psychics, astrologers or extra-terrestrials. Moreover, the ear he whispers into may not always be Hillary's.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Study Shows US Army Recruitment Standards are Lower: did they include the Commander-in-Chief?

According to a Defense Department study, recruitment standards of the Army have fallen off as the percentage of new recruits with high-school diplomas has plunged from 94 percent in 2003 to 70.7 percent in 2007, a huge departure from the Pentagon's longstanding goal of 90%.

This creates serious problems, placing national defense disproportionately in the hands of our most downtrodden citizens. High school dropouts also tend to drop out of the military, forcing the Army to continually replace its recruits. A study by the RAND Corporation evaluating military performance found that aptitude is key, true even of basic combat skills, such as shooting straight. Today's Army is much more high-tech, making competence even more critical, and our soldiers are required to make crucial decisions during counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Did the study include the Commander in Chief? Could this be another example of the Trickle Down Theory?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

old and overweight - what's a girl to do?

while we are on the subject of doctors - i finally went to see a pulmonologist after coughing for the last three months. my internist recommended this man and said he was very good and had been practicing for a long time. what she didn't tell me was that he was one hundred and two years old and deaf as a stone. while he was examining me he took out his hearing aids - both of them - in order to use the stethoscope - and declared my chest clear. i don't know, call me crazy, but if this man needed two hearing aids in order to hear me speak, how in the world could he hear a wheeze in my chest without them?

he prescribed an antibiotic and some steroids. then he asked me if i had had a flu shot. i said "no." he had a blank look on his face and so i said "no" again. still nothing. then i shouted "NOOOOOO". he heard, me but the shouting brought on a coughing fit. "how old are you?" he asked. i shouted my age and he smiled. "you need to get a flu shot. when they say old people need to get a flu shot every year, they mean you. you are an old person." now, compared to him i am brittany spears, but none the less i felt old.

between american airlines telling me i am overweight and this ancient man telling me i am old, it just doesn't seem to pay to go out any more. from now on, i plan to stay home, eat cookies and cough to my heart's content.

Anti-rejection drug: will it work for a relationship?

Doctors have developed a new technique so that patients who have received organ transplants may no longer face a lifetime of taking anti-rejection drugs. The treatment involves weakening the patient's immune system, then giving the recipient bone marrow from the organ donor.

This could be a big boom not only for people who've received organ transplants, but could also prove helpful for those who are considering rejecting their mates. Perhaps accepting bone marrow from an annoying, offensive or unfaithful partner will suppress the urge to reject them.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

i'm not heavy - it's my luggage!

the husband and i have just gotten back from a ten day vacation. it was the kind of trip that required the wearing of a bathing suit - never my most favorite thing - but we were headed toward a beautiful island and meeting up with a group of friends, so displaying my thighs seemed a small price to pay for a week in paradise. in preparation for the baring of the thighs, i had invested in cover-ups of every type and color. i must admit i had more cover-ups than i had days at the resort but, when it comes to packing, better safe than sorry is my motto.

when we checked in at the airport in los angeles i was feeling excited. this was an unusual feeling for me, as i am one who usually approaches airports with a sense of dread and impending doom, but i was really looking forward to this trip and the husband kept reassuring me that i was curvy not fat and that i looked great - with or without my ten thousand cover-ups. while i didn't really believe him, his positive thinking was rubbing off on me and i was actually smiling when we checked in our luggage at the american airlines counter.

"hi" i said to the man behind the desk - we are on the 9:30 flight to miami". he nodded, took my bag and then without looking up said "you're overweight". how could he say that? i thought i looked quite slim in my favorite black jeans and all forgiving black sweater. i felt my entire body blush - i knew it. i was too fat to go to st. barth's or for that matter anywhere. this total stranger was the only one to tell me the truth. i could kid myself all i wanted - american airlines man knew where i stood and was not afraid to say it - out loud. "what?" i heard myself say. "your bag - it's fifteen pounds overweight. that will be $50." i was so happy to hear that he was talking about my suitcase and not me, that i gladly handed over the money - only to panic, once again, when he adhered a bright orange tag to my luggage that proclaimed, in big black letters, HEAVY.

american airlines really needs to rethink it's policies. walking around with anything announcing that i, or anything that belongs to me, is less than perfect is more than i can bear. it is a good thing that they no longer serve food on airplanes because i didn't want be tempted. as long as i had to walk around with a scarlet letter of over-indulgence attached to my luggage, there was no way i was going to let anyone at american airlines ever see me eat.

Super Tuesday: why must there be a morning after?

What kind of name is Super Tuesday? It sounds like a day for sitting in front of a flat screen TV watching a sporting event with a six-pack. I suspect it was named by kids who get the day off because their school has been turned into a polling station.

Maybe I should be more reverent about voting. It's said to be a privilege...even if you end up with a leader like George W. Bush. My candidate almost never wins. If I were superstitious, I’d vote for the person I don’t want. I’d never not vote...for all the obvious reasons, but also out of deference for the people who volunteer at the polls. Those are the oldest people you see anywhere. They're so old, they have early bird dinners at noon. They've shrunk enough to be comfortable using the teeny, low toilets in elementary schools. Did they only hold one training session for working at the polls…and it was back when Harry Truman was on the ballot?

In some ways, voting is like dating...especially when there are propositions to consider. Though you know better than to believe the promises, you convince yourself this one will be different. And regardless of how many times you've done it in the little, private room, you’re never totally confident you know what you're doing. "Am I sure I'm making the right choice..Is it okay to pick someone just because of a Jewish name? Which way am I supposed to pull? Could I catch something in here? Will I be sorry in the morning?"

Then -- suddenly -- it’s over, and when you're done in that little room, there’s always another woman eager to take your place.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

UFO reportedly seen in Texas

In the farming community of Stephenville, Texas, several dozen people, including a pilot, county constable (whatever that is) and business owners, have reported seeing a large silent object with bright lights flying low and quickly.

Though federal officials are insisting there's a logical explanation, locals swear it was larger, quieter, faster and lower to the ground than an airplane and that its lights changed configuration, unlike those of a plane. People in several other towns have also claimed to have seen it and described it similarly.

These are, very likely, the same people who saw George W. Bush as a viable politician.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Compact: ask yourself, "Do I really need a new fondue set?"

A group of friends has joined together and formed The Compact, committing to "a 12-month flight (calendar year 2008) from the consumer grid. Their intention is to go beyond recycling to counteract the negative global environment of disposable consumer culture.

To reduce clutter and waste in their homes (as in trash Compact-er).
To simplify their lives (as in Calm-pact).

They've agreed not to buy new products of any kind, whether from stores or web sites, instead will borrow, barter and buy used items. And, no, they're not being sponsored by Craigslist, Goodwill or e-bay, but are acting according to their own consciences and consciousness. The Compact is not a religion or cult. They will buy groceries and bare essentials, but suggest if you're inspired by this program, you tailor it to your own needs.

If you suspect they're in northern California, give yourself ten points. I'm a New Yorker, steps away from seductive boutiques and art galleries. In the commercial space of our building, they sell puppies and fancy paper, making my cutting back that much more virtuous.

Yes, I'm a few weeks late but have bought nothing since the beginning of the year except for some Spanx, tummy-firming pantyhose, so I've almost been onboard, however unwittingly. Luckily, I've been extravagant in my indulgences and have enough make-up, clothing and kitchen appliances to take me well into the next decade.

Anyone interested? If so, please find me and let me know what you'd like to barter or trade for a selection of old Skitch Henderson and Jerry Lewis records, rhyming dictionaries and outdated Zagats.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Canada accuses U.S. of torture: not very neighborly

Responding to complaints by the United States, Canadian officials have been instructed to rewrite a government manual used in their torture awareness training that included the U.S. among countries such as China, Egypt, Iran, Mexico and Syria as potentially torturing prisoners. The order was issued by Maxime Bernier, Canada's minister of foreign affairs, who said, "I regret the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual."

Could it be that Bernier's change of heart was inspired by his northern neighbor depriving him of sleep or waterboarding him?

Canada is fortunate in having been endowed with a natural method of torture: exposure to winter temperatures in Manitoba.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hillary: the over-examined life

It takes effort to come up with something that hasn't been said about Hillary, but I may have succeeded. Unlike a performer who is adept at creating a winning and seductive public persona that belies their true dark, demanding, diva-like core, Hillary appears to have done the reverse.

Friends, staff members, even the media critics who've gone after her most harshly, come away from private encounters reporting, sometimes reluctantly and sheepishly, that Hillary is actually warm, witty, extremely likeable. One reporter concluded from the way Hillary listens and shows a genuine interest in others, that she must have had excellent parenting. Ironically, she's kept her charm at bay, no doubt in an effort to present herself as "strong".

As the first woman to make a serious run for the presidency, Hillary has had no role model. The entire nation has been serving as a focus group in a campaign that's felt like trial and error. And though we've seen the many faces of Hillary, it wasn't until this week that she revealed the one she reserves for intimates. Her softness moved many of us to feel an unexpected fondness for her, hell, even to vote for her.

Skeptics characterized Hillary's mini-meltdown as an attempt to win sympathy. We've seen her try to perform. In every commercial she's been conspicuously uncomfortable and unnatural. She's many things, but she's not an actress, which is why I trust that her tears were sincere and not scripted. If Hillary were a facile performer, she'd have shown us the lovable public persona actors present so convincingly, and we'd have seen huggable Hillary long before now.

A Burned out Bush in Israel

Bush in Israel is truly a carp out of water. When greeted by Israeli children singing "Hava Nagilah", our president could not have looked more surprised, unsure how to react. In typical Bush fashion, his reddened face was expressionless. He was clueless as to how to respond. "Holy cow, what's this?" is what he appeared to be feeling or, "Ehud, we're out of Texas"!

He then made a blanket statement that it's important the Israelis and Palestinians come to an agreement to live in peace, adding with an emphatic, "They will and they'll do it before I leave office".

His agenda, as underscored by that statement, is totally narcissistic, less about improving lives in the area than about this president's image, a sudden death attempt to try to change his legacy.

In Iraq, it would be fair to say his policy was "too much, too soon". In the mid-east it may be, "too little, too late".

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

hillary could go the distance.. with just a carry on

i too, have been thrilled and invigorated by this roller coaster ride the democrats have been taking us on. with obama's win in iowa i felt, for the first time since jfk, a sense of hope and renewal. i was ready to abandon hillary - old school as she was- for the freshness and youth of obama. i was ready for a miracle. when hillary won last night i was sad for barak and then thrilled that a woman had come this far. after all, she probably is the smartest politician on the stump - i could live with hillary.

but i have far greater problems than who is going to be our next president. i am leaving on a one week vacation to a land where bathing suits must be worn. "hi, my name is judi and i am incapable of packing". when someone suggested i take carry on, i laughed. carry on is for people who know who they are on any given day. i am a person who reinvents herself every morning as i step out of the shower and into my closet. how am i supposed to know who i am going to be a week from thursday? in order for me to feel secure i must take all my options with me. i have been accused of traveling like elizabeth taylor or the queen. that may be true, but i know for a fact that the queen, and probably liz as well, have people who do things like pack and schlep for them. all i have is the husband and, as he is getting older, he seems less and less inclined to be my sherpa.

and that folks is why i am voting for hillary clinton. any woman who can exist on the campaign trail for months and months with just a couple of, while not stunning, serviceable pants suits and a few scarves, deserves not only my vote but all of our votes. she is the person who may be able, to not only right what is wrong with america, but to also reestablish our good will throughout the world and she will be able to do it all with just a carry on.

What do Iowa & New Hampshire say about me?

"He's inspiring the young people to get interested in politics," I said with what felt like genuine enthusiasm following Obama's overwhelming victory in Iowa. I was thrilled for him, for us, for Oprah.

When confronted with a less enthusiastic response, "As inspiring as his speeches are, there's no content," I countered that he's making us feel good, infusing us with optimism.

Then Hillary stole his thunder, and my feminist pride was reinvigorated as I applauded her, agreeing with those who insist, "She's the one most prepared to take over on day one". I was thrilled for her, for us, for Madeline Albright.

I immediately let Hillary off the hook for her relentlessly shrill and unpleasant stump speeches, reasoning she'd had no choice but to appear tough. Now that she's revealed her softer, more vulnerable side, the face she presents to those she trusts, I switched to team Hillary.

Okay, maybe both candidates fall short of perfect, but so do I. I'm on my own listening tour, swayed on a daily basis, able to rationalize why either candidate creates a personal victory for me. Does that make me the political equivalent of bi-sexual? Or can I defend my waffling by admitting I'm not sure I trust any campaign promises and would just feel better about America if we were to elect a president who's a member of a minority group?

Maybe we can't be sure that our candidates will do better than their predecessors (however low that bar), but this is our chance to vote more thoughtfully.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Yikes!!! Bill Kristol is in my house!

Okay, it's not as if Bill Kristol is actually in my home and I'm being forced to offer him a drink and appear civilized, if not actually cordial, while recoiling at his snide, cocky, right wing pronouncements. But today, The New York Times has deposited his pomposity at my door and he's on our breakfast table, transforming what had been a comfort zone into no man's land.

Kristol's introductory column supports and praises Huckabee. Bill Kristol studied science. He's not a religious zealot. How can he honestly support and defend a presidential candidate who doesn't believe in evolution? No, I don't really want to hear it. I don't want to hear anything from this smug, irritating man. I wonder if the Times would agree to remove the op-ed page from my paper on Mondays.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

I'd be the best candidate for change

If America wants a candidate that says "change", no one can fulfill that dream better than I can. I'm a woman, I'm Jewish, I was born in Canada and I never voted for this war. I sort of understand how a bill gets passed and have a vague idea where Georgetown is in relation to the Mall, but no one is less of a Washington insider. Ask anyone on the Hill; they've never heard of me.

I'm beholden to no interest groups, have made no bogus promises, never avoided serving my country, could not be accused of being a people pleaser or saying what others want to hear. Karl Rove would have trouble trying to smear my reputation, especially since I'm admitting right now that I never took botany in college and, though it was a requirement, I was awarded a degree.

With change being all the rage, I'm keeping my telephone lines free in anticipation of being recruited to run for office.

Friday, January 4, 2008

enough already with the politics!

last night while the country was tuned into iowa i was entertaining the family. i had invited about 25 people over for dinner - children, sister, brother-in-law, nephew and assorted aunts, uncles and cousins. i had them all come early so we could watch the returns from iowa, thinking that it would make for good dinner table conversation. what a huge mistake!

we have an open kitchen and when the guests saw that the main ingredient for dinner was ground beef, i heard a rumble and then a grumble and suddenly, when i looked up, i found our dinner guests had divided themselves up around the room. my son and about five other people were standing under a hastily written sign that said "meatballs and spaghetti", my daughter seemed to be leading a group crowded around a "meatloaf" sign. my sister was agitating for tacos and a cousin, who i barely even speak to, seemed to have taken a firm stand on chilli. there were just two lone souls who were promoting hamburgers, but since one of them was only three years old, they were not taken too seriously. my guests were caucusing on my dinner menu. it was obvious from the first count that the chilli and hamburger contingent was not viable and so those small groups had to move on to their second choice. the three year old did not take it well.

as the meatballs and spaghetti group seemed to have had the winning numbers, they triumphed, though i did hear some muttering about negative campaigning and over spending, but i chose to ignore it. my son made a stirring acceptance speech and dinner turned out well. except for the three year old - he threw a tantrum and i ended up making him hamburgers anyway. perhaps there is a lesson in that.

ShuckHuck: new product to hush Huckabee?

HeadOn promises -- in commercials repeated frequently enough to cause headaches -- with a mere swipe across the forehead, to relieve the pain of headaches and migraines. But take care not to confuse it with your mate's FreedHem, said to work similar magic for hemorrhoids. These new products, promoted for ease of application, have names like Painenz and Activin, and claim to banish pain while PreferOn is designed to minimize scars.

Currently being developed are:

MenNoMore: goodbye to those 'time of the month" cramps and blues;

BlahBore: shuts up boring dinner companion;

ForwardFinale: stops gag e-mails;

FrenzyFree: anti-anxiety roll-on;

BanBush: apply to TV and Bush speeches go mute;

EndImp: controls impulsive behavior, including addictions;

FatAway: double duty agent that goes after fat and fatigue;

DenyDel: destroys delusions;

PooDoo: ends need to breed poodles with every other breed of dog.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A new do-good search engine: www.goodsearch.com

Everything comes under the heading, "breaking news," which is why we've become inured to it after repeatedly leaping out of the tub or slamming down the phone to turn up the volume and give full attention to a story only to hear about another athlete accused of taking steroids or a Hollywood blonde going into rehab.

What does qualify as breaking news is the new search engine --- www.goodsearch.com -- which has the guts to go up against google, providing the same service but adding a brilliant incentive that allows the user to designate a charity, which will receive a donation for each search. Instead of squirming when checking wikipedia to see if the guy you chatted with has a criminal record, you'll feel honorable and benevolent. You're not stalking; you're contributing to a worthwhile organization. I

An equally inspired aspect of www.goodsearch.com is they give a percentage of what you spend when you shop, using their site, at participating stores, which include perhaps forty well known companies, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bloomingdale's, Apple, Nordstrom and Hotels.com.

That's what I call breaking news...and I'm off to get a jump on my 2008 contributions.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Writers and Entertainment Execs need mediator to resolve restaurant issue

As if it's not awkward enough in Los Angeles for ex-spouses to run into one another at A-list restaurants, the social situation has become yet more complex, according to a recent New York Times article about striking screenwriters being at the bar of the Bel Air Hotel at the same time as moguls, who are currently the opposition. In a display of loyalty to their own position, unusual in a business where fierce professional enemies routinely play kissy-poo to advance their careers, neither group acknowledged the other.

To avoid future embarrassment, I propose having a mediator designate eating establishments for each group so that writers and executives won't have to confront one another. The WGA says the average writer earns $60,000 a year, so it makes sense to designate the cheaper restaurants in Chinatown, Monterey Park and the San Fernando Valley as out of bounds for executives, who will be able to live with this restriction. As a consideration for writers reluctant to travel distances, perhaps Louise's Trattoria, The Daily Grill, The California Pizza Kitchen, all Thai joints and Pink's Hot Dogs would be considered writers' restaurants, marking those frequented by executives with expense accounts as writer-free zones.

No doubt this conflict will result in a musical, a long-overdue sequel to "West Side Story", hopefully, less violent than the original. My plan may lead to a quicker settlement as the executives, no longer able to write off checks as freely as they did in happier, pre-strike days, might eventually notice what they're paying for meals at The Ivy, Morton's and Matsuhisa and relax their demands.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

i a too old to have the flu, happy new year and other thoughts on not having blogged for weeks

for those of you loyal readers who may have noticed i have been missing from the blogging ranks these past few weeks - i am back! first off, i would like to thank my sister in all things blogging for not only holding up her end but mine as well while i lay languishing in my sick bed. sybil is not only bright and funny but a true trooper.

now back to me. i had the stomach flu. temperature, vomiting, runs, the whole nine yards. i remember when being sick was the best thing that could happen. it meant days off from school and unlimited mommy time. snuggled deep into my parent's big bed with a thousand pillows to prop up my fevered brow i was waited on and cosseted. homemade chicken soup was lovingly spooned into my mouth when i was too weak to eat and hours drifted by while my mother read to me from "stuart little". "charlotte's web" or "nancy drew" depending on my age at the time.
every few hours my mother would take a cool damp wash cloth and wipe down my face and hands helping to cool the fever. every time i got up from bed i would return to the sheets freshly smoothed and the pillows fluffed.

fast forward to today. while the husband truly did do his best to take care of me, he is not, let's face it, my mother. his soups were delicious, the little i could manage to eat. no spoon feeding here. and while there was no reading aloud to me there was plenty of football to hear as a background to my delirium. at one point, when i asked why he was watching football in the sick room he said "to keep you company". it was so sweet but so wrong. for days i lay in fever soaked sheets with pillows flattened into pancakes. no fluffing going on and the one time he attempted to cool me down with a wet washcloth i ended up having to change both my soaked nightgown as well as the sheets.

so the two things i have learned going into 2008 are, yes, i am too old to have the flu and the husband is not my mother. does this knowledge make me wiser, better equipped to start a new year or possibly become a more empathetic person? doubtful, but there is one thing i have learned from this whole experience - next year i am getting a flu shot!

Why ONLY a Passengers' Bill of Rights?!

"Travel Weekly Magazine" recently named Kate Hanni as one of this year’s most influential people for positive changes in the travel industry. After being stranded on an American Airlines jet, she became a forceful advocate for the “little guy” in the struggle against the airline goliaths, insisting that the airlines will not effectively address the problems without a government mandated Airline Passengers Bill of Rights.

The Coalition for Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights set up a number (877-FLYERS-6) so travelers and airline employees can report airline problems. While applauding Hanni's efforts, I'd like her to go further and create a general number we can call, maybe 877-CRANKY-6, to report:

-The endless wait to pay at chain drugstores;

-Being left on hold indefinitely when calling Medicare;

-Employees refusing to consider your request and say, "It's our policy";

-Needing credentials to get a table at Nobu or Babbo;

-Having 40 people ahead of you at the post office;

-Being unable to get into the 2nd Ave. Deli;

-Seeing Sally Fields' Boniva commercial way too many times;

-Weekend subway service in New York;

-Doctors routinely keeping patients waiting;

-Moving companies tacking on additional charges upon arrival, holding your belongings hostage;

-Blog readers who refuse to comment.