Archive for February, 2009

Oh, please, let all terrorists be this stupid!

February 11, 2009

And now, for all you spell-checkers out there, a bit of midweek humor.

My random 25 list, or “Keep moving. Nothing to see here.”

February 10, 2009

To accommodate the requests from my many annoying dear friends, I am posting my 25 random things list with a little help from the NYTimes.

1. Say that you hate things like this, and are doing it only to get the (oh, so many) friends clamoring for your list off your back.
Oh, I DO!

2. Describe “embarrassing” high school incident that makes you look cool.
I remember high school as a three-year social nightmare. I actually asked Doug Smoot to Preference because Vickie Cate (his girlfriend and later wife) wanted to go with someone else but didn’t want him to stay home and so she bullied me into asking him. Is that pathetic? He was such a nice guy.

3. Confess to crush on a) third-grade teacher b) obscure indie actor or actress c) your significant other, especially if he or she is on Facebook.
While I think Chris Cooper is HOT, I think The Spouse is HOTTER.

4. Identify real, but minor, flaw.
I snore. (Ask anyone who has roomed with me lately.) The Spouse wears ear plugs.

5. Identify major flaw by suggesting how it may also be major virtue.
The older I get, the less I can dissemble. I can’t fake liking or even tolerating someone or something I don’t. I skip a lot of events where I might have to “be nice.”

6. Cite mean nickname you were given as a child.
Can’t remember any. Being me was bad enough.

7. Follow with offhand mention of receipt of high professional honor or athletic or artistic achievement.
Excuse me for a moment while I fix my hair, which I can see in the reflection of my framed CASE INTERNATIONAL CIRCLE OF EXCELLENCE GOLD AWARD.

8. Describe meeting a celebrity and how it a) disillusioned or b) thrilled you or c) if it’s a really good celebrity just the name will do.
I had my picture taken with Harry Smith of ABC-NEWS. He’s tall. Oh, and I did a recording gig with Sting. He wore black leather pants. It was okay.

9. Mention small adversity, like long commute or annoying neighbor, and the unexpected, preferably funny, way you overcome it.
I’m not pretty, so I became pretty smart. And pretty funny.

10. Cite an actual random thing that comes to mind while writing this list.
I love raw oysters.

11. “Admit” that you always identified with weird ancillary character on popular TV show in 7th grade, as if you didn’t know that everyone in retrospect agrees that was the best character.
I don’t remember much TV from 7th grade, except for afternoons with “The Mickey Mouse Club” and “American Bandstand.” I did grow up wanting to be Laura Ingalls Wilder from the “Little House” books.

12. Expose something genuine and poignant about yourself, such as untimely death of close relative or rare genetic condition.
I have a mesenteric venous thrombosis with accompanying portal hypertension and esophageal varices. Cool, eh? (You’ll NEVER get it, so don’t worry.) It nearly killed me, and may yet.

13. Express heartfelt thanks to friends or family for helping you through #12, or just for being there, or whatever.
The Spouse sat by my bed at the hospital every day, with only his computer for entertainment. The Goons were both water-skiing at Lake Powell. Figures.

14. Conclude sentimental portion of list by citing the scene in movie X that always makes you cry. Could also be a lyric, or a memory, so long as it involves crying.
That moment at the end of “Carousel” when Billy says, “I love you, Julie. I’ve always loved you” to the strains of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Break out the Kleenex.*

15. Something about drugs.
Don’t do them, unless they’re prescribed (said the pharmacist’s daughter).

16. Tell a story of how you stood up to authority. Dwelling on descriptive details can help it not seem like you are making yourself out to be a hero even though you are.
I don’t generally stand up to authority, but then, I don’t always recognize authority. I just burble along, usually under the radar.

17. Recount a dramatic moment, like having your heart broken or getting arrested, but withhold details, forcing readers to ask for them in your “comments’’ section. In case you didn’t know, comments equate to status on Facebook even more than number of friends.
I was singing a solo on TV and forgot the words, so I repeated the previous verse. In Spanish, no less.

18. Make one up.
I was caught smuggling hashish and spent 12 years in a Turkish prison where I was recruited by Al Qaida.

19. Say “one of these is completely made up.”
Guess which one.

20. If you have kids, a) cite weird names you wanted for them and how your more rational, if less creative, spouse rescued them from a lifetime of torture.
Mother didn’t like “Lincoln,” so for awhile she kept calling him “Tony.” We ignored her. She gave up. Oh, and Jefferson was supposed to be Jeffrey, but we got carried away.

21. and/or b) relate story that appears to expose your inept parenting while in fact highlighting their precocious brilliance. If you don’t have kids, relate a cute anecdote from your early life to show everyone that you’re still a kid at heart.
My sons were shamefully easy to discipline. I merely had to suggest to Jeff that I would separate him from his beloved friends and he would turn into JELLO, and you just had to look at Lincoln cross-eyed and he’d burst into tears. No sweat. The only thing I had to put up with from them was the occasional LIP. Thanks, guys.

22. If you have a pet, you have one item only through which to convey its superlative nature. If you don’t have a pet, talk about how much you yearn for an obscure breed of cat/dog/reptile or, alternatively, how much you hate animals and the people who love them.
We had Mo, a Sheltie, for nearly 15 years. He wasn’t very bright, but he was sweet. And loyal. And hairy. He died seven years ago. The Spouse is still in mourning, so negotiating for another one is on hold.

23. Something about parents.
I wish they’d been straight with me. We had too many secrets.

24. Name skill that you are proud of by recounting unexpected way you acquired it.
At age 40+, I finally learned how to downhill ski, thanks to Liz. We started out doing cross-country, and it escalated from there. I can even parallel turn!

25. Close with the unusual: a) recount a genuinely traumatic event you witnessed or b) name an exotic location that is your favorite place on earth or c) cite a dubious world record that you performed.
My favorite city in the world is Florence, Italy.

26. This is important: Do not add “bonus” items.
I’m not!

Can I go out and play now? (I always say that, but this time it’s TRUE.)

*True funny story: My friend Walt was asked to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at a funeral. When the time came, the bishop stood up and solemnly intoned, “And now, Walt Boyton will sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Again.'”

(And Walt had to stand up and sing! With a straight face!)

Please! So shut up already!

February 10, 2009

E-gad. If I didn’t have enough to worry about, I’m being besieged by requests for my 25 random things list. Don’t you people have jobs/children/spouses/lives?!?

So, to shut everyone up, I’m actually going to try this on my Facebook site: 25 Random Tips for the Busy Facebook User. I’ll share the best ones here. (From the NYTimes, of course.)

The New Economy: Warehousing lives

February 6, 2009

images1Of all the words and images that have been used to describe the economic downturn, this video on the LATimes Website has touched me the most: A woman, long abandoned by her husband, and her three children are living on the street, storing their belongings in what passes in my neighborhood as garbage cans housed by the hundreds in an area warehouse.

In 2002, the warehouse was born of tension on the streets, when merchants became concerned about homeless people leaving bedrolls and shopping carts in front of their businesses.

Krystle Marage and her children, along with a lot of other every-day people, visit the warehouse daily to retrieve and exchange what they need to go on living. So many come daily to sort through their remaining belongings that the warehouse is considering putting in a dressing room so children can get ready for school and folks can gear up for the daily job hunt. It occurred to me that, in this scenario, their belongings are more secure than they are.

Many are new to homelessness. Some are educated professionals — a few still carry briefcases — and one, a few weeks back, was so confident that he was but a temporary visitor that he arrived clutching a pair of unused golf cleats. Long after it became city policy that skid row is no place for children, a jarring number of the newcomers are mothers and their children.

Along with the fear and the fatigue of living on the streets, I think the utter indignity of having so little to claim as your own is what haunts me about these stories. Most people have had something in their lives before this, if not a home, then at least an apartment and the appearance of a normal life, with work, recreation and a network of friends and family. Now, so little. After a time, would the realities of surviving overcome the sense of loss and indignation, or just feed it?

I keep making my charitable donations in money and in kind, giving my unused stuff not to the larger, more expensive thrift shop but to the one that has lower prices and weekly specials, looking forward to the local Boy Scout food drives. But it all seems so lame.

Why are we so obsessed with limiting executive pay to $500K when a few hundred dollars and a job would transform these peoples’ lives? I really like reading the NYTimes Neediest Cases series, where public and private agencies do just that, transforming individual lives with relatively small acts of charity.

Congress and the President need to look beyond Wall Street to the Mean Streets to really comprehend and deal with the misery that is defining America right now.

Great understatements of our time

February 4, 2009

This was the summary of a NYTimes story posted on my Google Reader site today:

Allegations that the former C.I.A. station chief in Algiers may have filmed himself having sex with women he drugged and raped could impair efforts to improve relations between the United States and the Islamic world.

NO KIDDING? WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CLUE? I’m so glad we have the Times to sort these things out for us…

Project Runway 6: Is it in — or out?

February 2, 2009

imagesOkay, true confessions: I am a Project Runway junkie. No apologies, even though I’m probably WAY outside its target demographic. Although I didn’t discover this little Bravo Channel gem until its fourth season, I’ve been a loyal convert, and I managed to keep up my enthusiasm even though last season was about as blah as Leanne’s color palette. The Spouse even watched it with me, and he’s better at picking who’s “out” than I am.

I particularly like seeing how the designers overcome the weekly challenges and manage to create fashion out of spit and baling wire, but I secretly revel in all the snarky moments. (There’s a shallow, lip-curling DIVA locked somewhere inside me who really would like to cut loose sometimes…)

It now appears, if I can trust The LATimes, that Season 6 will likely not be appearing on TVs near me or you anytime soon, due to that famous legal battle between the fabulous Weinstein Brothers (who own the series and want to move it to Lifetime) and Bravo (which is owned by NBC), which isn’t letting go of this cash cow without a fight. (Oh, and they want to move it from NYC to LA, which I think is a mistake, but perhaps I underestimate the Angeleno fashion scene.)

While taping of the series appears to be continuing and may have even concluded, we may just have to wait until the lawyers get paid before we get to see it:

In September, a New York state Supreme Court judge issued a preliminary injunction to keep Lifetime from airing or promoting “Runway.” Lifetime then filed its own complaint in October, trying to get the case moved to federal court. A federal judge rejected that move in December, sending the matter back to the state Supreme Court. No trial date had been set as of press time.

This standoff somehow reminds me of the great “New Coke” debacle back in the ’80s, when Coca-Cola, jumpy over the inroads Pepsi was making into its market, announced it would scrap its 100-year-old recipe in favor of a new taste. Oh, BIG mistake, the kind that gets turned into a business-school abstract on what-not-to-do. Sales plummeted, critics crowed, and Old-Coke fans rose up in indignation. (I remember because I was one of them.)

I recall attending a professional association event around that time where a Coke regional VP addressed the situation, and he summed it up thusly: Before the New Coke fiasco, Coca-Cola believed that it owned Coke. WRONG. Coke belongs to the people who love it and buy it. Coca-Cola just gets to collect all the money. If the formula works, people, don’t fu-ss with it.

Wake up, Weinsteins, or your golden goose may go the way of New Coke. Project Runway’s legion of fans could run out of patience, particularly if another show turns up that will slake their thirst. (I personally couldn’t get into Rachel Zoe or Stylista, but I’m certainly open to other possibilities.)

In the meantime, news of any Christian Siriano sightings would be FIERCE-ly welcomed.

Eight isn’t enough — it’s 14 too many!

February 2, 2009

Meghan Daum at The LATimes and I are in agreement: Implanting eight embryos in a possibly deranged woman who already has six children, no husband and no visible means of support is MALPRACTICE.