Elena Kagan….

Posted April 9th, 2010
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Based on this picture, I predict that if  Elena Kagan gets confirmed as the new Supreme Court justice,  she will do for Patton Oswalt what Sarah Palin did for Tina Fey.

Well, I’m in the Wall Street Journal

Posted March 27th, 2010
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Because, you know, I’m such a big player on Wall Street.

Actually, that’s misleading. I’M not in the Wall Street Journal. A piece I wrote is in the Wall Street Journal and you can see it for yourself right here. I was asked to write something about how the coming holidays are more than the usual amount of difficult because of all the divisive political opinion right now. So I wrote about America’s two big hobbies: Celebrating and Freaking out. I have never written anything so quickly in my life. And not because I was celebrating or freaking out. Though I did, at some point, start freaking out because I was only given 24 hours to write 1800 words. Its hard to write six pages and have them make sense in the English language in a time frame that small. Well, hard for me.  Steven King probably can do it and be texting at the same time. And of course, when I say “six pages”, I mean in a theoretical notebook sense. That’s how I always keeps track of pages. In my head they are on imaginary paper.

This is the photo the Wall Street Journal used for an illustration. None of these people are me. Although every photograph that I have of myself in this kind of a family context is nearly as horrifying.  I was saving all of the afore mentioned photos, in the original scrap books  assembled by my mother at various points in the sixties and seventies, because it seemed like a thing I must do.  Some of the pictures of me were so unflattering that I carry them, as a cautionary note, imprinted and enlarged,  in the masochistic portion of my brain where they surface almost every single day. Recently it was pointed out to me, by my beloved, that I didn’t have to save photographs that I truly hated. It took me a while to realize that he was, of course, right. And it was a happy day when I pulled out those bad looking images and threw them away.

Now if I could just figure out how to also get them out of my head.

The poems of Dorothy Parker: Damn!

Posted March 20th, 2010

May I humbly suggest that everyone who stumbled upon this entry go immediately to google and enter “Dorothy Parker, poems of”. Every so often I re-read them and  just want to sing her praises, that’s all.  Brilliant is too often repeated a word to describe her work. Here is a perfect 4 line example that makes me gasp every time I read it. Its the end of a poem called “Ballade of a Great Weariness.”

“Oh, beggar or prince, no more no more!
Be off and away with your strut and show
The sweeter the apple the blacker the core
Scratch a lover and find a foe.”

Wow. Could that last line  possibly under any circumstances be more perfect? Answer: No. Not possible. But okay, okay… here is one more randomly selected poem. However they’re all this good or better.

Love Song

My own dear love, he is strong and bold
And he cares not what comes after,
His words ring sweet as a chime of gold,
And his eyes are lit with laughter
He is jubilant as a flag unfurled
Oh a girl, she’d not forget him
My own dear love, he is my world
And I wish I’d never met him

My love, he’s mad and my love he’s fleet
And a wild young wood -thing bore him!
The ways are fair to his roaming feet
And the skies are sunlit for him.
As sharply sweet to my heart he seems
As the fragrance of acacia
My own dear love, he is all my dreams
And I wish he were in Asia.

My love runs by like a day in June
and he makes no friends of sorrows
He’ll tread his galloping rigadoon
In the pathway of the morros
He’ll live his days where the sunbeams start
Nor could storm or wind uproot him
My own dear love he is all my heart
And I wish somebody’d shoot him.

She’s amazing.

Wanna be a member?

Posted March 12th, 2010
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Now that I have gotten in to the habit of blogging on here, I feel kind of guilty when I don’t.  I might as well have been raised Catholic. The truth is, I haven’t written anything in a while because I bought a green screen.  It started when I saw Avatar and I thought “Hell, I can do that.”. No no. Just kidding. It started when I saw two 8 year old boys on You Tube making green screens with chartreuse construction paper.  I said to myself, I said I said, “I can’t be stupider than an eight year old.” Even though I didn’t really want to test myself and learn the horrible truth.

But since that day I actually purchased a green screen and a stand for it. Now there is no place to sit in my office. I have gotten so pre-occupied playing green screen games that I haven’t been thinking of things to blog about. It did occur to me, somewhere along the way, that I might want to write about  how irritating it was to hear them play the Helen Reddy song “I am Woman” at the Academy Awards when Kathryn Bigelow walked up to receive the prize for Best Director . Geez. Could they be a little dorkier? That song was lame and never  even genuinely relevant when it was new. But perhaps I am not understanding something. Maybe  the basis for picking the “walking to the podium song” is to reduce the winner to an embarrassing sociological stereotype. If that is the case, then I would like to insist that in the future, when that other gender starts to dominate the director prize again and Martin Scorcese or Steven Speilberg wins the award, the Academy play “I’m a Man” by the Spencer Davis Group . But its too late to be talking about this now. My infatuation with my new green screen made me lose my window of opportunity . Damn.

And its too teeth grindingly frustrating to even begin to whine about the way the health care bill keeps getting derailed. More so for the fact that I am in that category of people who is in line for a 39% increase in health insurance premiums. I don’t really understand a country that wants to protect and defend insurance companies like these.

Then I thought about my other pet peeve of the moment: the non-negotiable pressure to join a million things. My father used to give a lot of advice. His worst piece of advice was  “Don’t let the dogs sleep in the same room with you. They’ll use up all the oxygen.” His best piece of advice was “For Chrissakes, Merrill, just stay out of the stock market.” But his most frequent piece of advice was “Why don’t you  join more clubs.” Back when I was in high school and a member of almost nothing, I would throw his words right back at him. “Why don’t you?.” I would say because he was a member of nothing. We didn’t even have a religious affiliation.But now, despite my genetically inherited inclination toward being an unaffiliated loner,   I find myself an involuntary member of many many things.  Why, just in my neighborhood alone I am a card carrying member of  three different supermarkets, a beauty supply store, an office supply store, a pharmacy and a gym. Fingers crossed they haven’t noticed I don’t attend meetings.  (Although that might be a good weight loss technique: having a look at who else  is on the membership roster for the Ralph’s Club.)

I also had no choice but to become a member of three unions, (even though I only wanted to join one) and seven internet sites, ( even though I wanted to join none. Spammers were opening fake accounts in my name and I needed to reclaim my online birthright. ) I guess my father would be bursting with pride. But  of all the wonderful wonderful  clubs whose cards I now carry in my wallet, there is only one club card that has any real meaning to me.   It is the one club on whose board  I would proudly serve . I have a feeling I might be the only member in my demographic sample. Perhaps by a good 4 or 5 decades. But I believe I could use that to my advantage. I bet  I would  dominate at those meetings! I would rule that club. There’s no debate I couldn’t win . I would be their queen.  Well, back to my green screen.

`

NEW extra strength Spam: Now with several exciting updates

Posted March 4th, 2010
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Remember the olden days of the internet , when your aol or earthlink mailbox would fill up with  spam for penis extenders and discount viagara? I’m getting a little misty eyed just thinking about  that bygone time, back at the beginning of the new century, before sophisticated spam filters came on the scene and disappeared all that stuff for us. Of course that didn’t mean the end of spam by any means. Earlier this year, I  had my name stolen by spammers  who were running around opening up Twitter and Facebook accounts for me. One minute I was a professional smart ass and then just like that, I was a shill for hot hot hot naked girls. (Although I confess, for a minute I suspected it was part of  some kind of massive conspiracy to prevent me from being the last person without a Facebook page.)

Anyway, its no surprise that spam marches on, I guess.  But as it does,  it continues to grow increasingly wily. In fact,  I think we might be in The Golden Age of Spam because currently I am getting spam that, although  still annoying, is almost but not quite  hilarious.  The newest batch of spam about which I have been obsessing  is disguised to sound like interested remarks by  commenters.  Just imagine  the challenges this kind of spam presents to  the spam provider who now has to prepare  a  ” one comment fits all” disguise for whatever they are selling. It has to seem equally applicable as a comment on a blog about spring break or one about the health care bill. Finding a way to say something that sounds simultaneously specific yet generic has got to be a lot trickier to write than the copy for those penis extenders. (One of my favorite of the latter category: “Giving your lovemaking the charge of passion and activeness is what our pilules are REALLY good at!)

In a way the task the spammers are now facing reminds me a little of my first job in TV, writing jokes and sketches for a show called The All New Laugh In.  It was the tail end of the seventies and the original producers of the  show from the sixties decided to revive their hit topical weekly comedy  for a new audience.Oonly this time they wanted it to be available for syndication. Toward that end they instructed the writers to try and focus on current events that would also be evergreen. When I asked how that was possible, the head writer offered me subject matter examples: Pollution. Corporate greed. Corruption. You know, generic but still in the news. Needless to say, the show did not catch on like the original version. In fact, I think it only aired twice.  Maybe that head writer guy is in the passion and activeness pilule business now.

Anyway, I have been collecting some of my favorites of the new generic spam comments. All of them contain a live return address link  which is , of course, the real point.

Example #1. is an instant classic. Here it is in its entirety, minus the live link:

I love the tips on this site, they are always to the point and just the information I was looking for. Theres a link at the bottom of the page its not working, please send me the link at!#%&*+

While this comment probably goes undetected on at least half of the sites on which it appears, it was absolutely hilarious on this blog because one thing that no one has ever accused me of  being is “to the point and just the information I was looking for.” If I have ever made an actual point, it was probably accidental. To say nothing of the fact that there was no live link at the bottom of the page  on which it appeared. Of course, another give away was the fact that the commenter was named of Celeb Videos…although, for all I know, Gwynneth Paltrow has a new daughter named Celeb Videos. Or Ashlee Simpson does. Or Nicole Richie.

#2 one came from someone named Mortgage Modification. I call him Mort. He was using my rambling thoughts for his research. What a piece of research that must be!

Thanks for the Blog ! I found it insightful with some research I’m doing right now. I’m going to bookmark this blog and return. What other resources are there on the same subject? Keep posting!”

I gotta give Mort credit where credit is due. His comment has it all:  a few generic complements (Insightful!! Keep posting!) , a statement of purpose (“Some research I’m doing right now”) and then a careful but completely generic question to substantiate the research claim (“What other resources are there on the same subject?). Had I written anything that connected to “other resources on the same subject” , I would have perhaps answered him back and been the lucky recipient of  whatever it is that might be of interest to a guy named Mortgage Modification.  I guess I’ll never know what that might be.

#3 was especially funny considering it was supposed to be a comment about a “corporate video” that I made on behalf of my dog Puppyboy.  It came from an e mail address that had something to do with mascara.

Hi there internet marketer, commenters along with anybody different !!! Your blog has been completely wonderful! Lord details and also creativity, the two that many of us have! Preserve ’em coming… everyone make this kind of a fantastic job with like Ideas… are unable to explain how much When i, for around understand most of you are doing!”

Nice that this person was so positive about Puppyboy’s corporate statement. But then again, it takes a special person to understand most of he are doing.

#4 comes from a site that has something to do with “she-males” and the general pursuit of “trannies.” It was left as a comment for the blog I wrote a few ahead of this one that is called “wanna be a member” and is about all the supermarkets I have had to join lately.  The she-male lover has something very nice to say about the work I have wrote.

I just think you have wrote an hot piece of post , thank you and … bookmarked!”

But my current favorite has to be this one , that I just got (4/3/2010) as a comment on my blog in which I made fun of a word I read in someone’s obituary.  Check  it out. This is a generic comment masterpiece from an online gaming site. Yet its so…contemplative!:

#5:” i probably would not have contemplated this had been awesome two or three years in the past then again it is funny how years evolves the way you experience unsimilar concepts, thanks with regard to the posting it’s pleasant to read anything intelligent now and then instead of the ordinary rubbish mascarading as blogs on the web, i’m going to have fun with a smattering of hands of zynga poker, cheers

The truth is that I wish all these spammers would just dry up and blow away. But in the mean time, since at least this variety of spam is a almost(but not quite) making me laugh, I think I will begin to return the favor to them by leaving  generic complements for them at the end of each spam. This is the draft I am planning to use:

Thanks for the chance to partake of your timely valuable services . What you are offering is a welcome addition for anyone of my gender,  lifestyle or demographic sample . I look forward to giving  you my personal information, social security number and credit card security code so that you may contact me repeatedly in the state and zip code of the country in which I am presently living! PS. Giving your lovemaking the charge of passion and activeness is what our pilules are Really good at!”

Yet another UPDATE #1:  comes in response to “Narcissists say the darndest things”…my longest running entry on this site. This “comment” comes from “my friend” Tony Luci, whose track back or ping or whatever they call it indicates that he apparently is some kind of a dating site.  Poor Tony.  Despite his diverse vision, he is strapped for time and his programming friend is slacking off on him. That is why he didn’t have time to give his opinion. He had just enough time to write this amazing thing:

I have a diverse vision on this and I truly wished I had the time right now. I’ll go forward and subscribe and when I have a chance I’ll give my opinion. Stunning blog by the way. I’m trying to get one going but my programming friend is slacking off on me. Thanks again for your post!
Your Friend – Tony Luc
i.”

UPDATE#2. OKAY THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE. this is a response to “My Explanation of Narcissism”. It comes from a site with the words Extreme Fitness in the URL.

Let me tell you…without doubt my fave movie star right now. What an amazing superstar. Just fabulous!”

This may be proof that there is such a thing as being TOO fit

UPDATE # 3: This was also a response to my article about.Narcissism, one of the few things on this site where I have not closed the comments to cut down on the spam.  This comes from someone with the unusual name of Clothing Rack.  I guess that’s a Czech name? Or is it Irish? Anyway, Clothing thinks that Narcissism is a precious topic.  I’ve never thought of it that way, but I suppose he or she is right. Still I was surprised to learn that it was the sweetest as well.

Comment:
Comfortably, the article is really the sweetest on this precious topic. I concur with your conclusions and definitely will eagerly look forward to your upcoming updates. Just saying thanks will not simply be sufficient, for the phenomenal clarity in your writing. I definitely will directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Pleasant work and also much success in your business endeavors!”

How lovely of Mr. or Ms. Rack to find my work so pleasant.

UPDATE#4, No THIS is my ultimate favorite.  This also came to my essay about narcissism from a forlorn person named Financial Help.Yep.  I think it was sent to me from God.

I was browsing tonight, unsure of what I was looking for, but knew that I needed help with my finances, and your site just popped up. (Divine intervention, or what!)”

How Westminster always looks to me.

Posted February 18th, 2010
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Every year I watch the Westminster dog show and I think about making this. This year I did it. Here it is.

The Greatest Love the World Has Ever Known: An analysis

Posted February 12th, 2010
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Well, its Valentines Day, almost. I’ve actually had a few nice ones in a row since I am happily co-habitating with someone I genuinely like. But as usual for me this time of year,  I start thinking about the lack of reasonable romantic role models in the world at large.  My family didn’t provide one. And come on… don’t we all want to see  a functioning hopeful model?

Where public couples are concerned, I am always cynical at first. But then, if  they persist  for enough years, I   start to buy that maybe they know something that I don’t .  It always takes me a while but damn…as soon as  I make that leap of faith, the next thing I know they are  filing mutual restraining orders.  A good example is Brad and Angie. For a long time they seemed ridiculous  both separately and together. Then recently I started to think that maybe they actually had defied the obvious shallow cliches. I no sooner spoke that silently to myself than  I read that she is trying to kill herself. Boom.  Not only are they both disqualified but I am pissed off at them because  they have made me feel like an idiot for  cashing in my cynical chip . (And as a bonus, in this case,   I want to strangle her for dragging all those children in to such an apparently neurotic mess  of a life .)

And that is why this year ,  it behooves us all to re-examine the greatest love story ever told: Romeo and Juliet.Here we can truly gain wisdom.

If you have not had the occasion to do so lately, please allow me to reacquaint you with the details of a timeless model of romantic love .
When we first meet the teenage Romeo, it is a Sunday night and he has decided to crash a ball just to catch a glimpse of Rosaline, a girl with whom he is desperately in love. Instead, he meets the thirteen-year-old Juliet. And even though, only seconds before he was deeply in love with Rosaline, now he knows instantly that this new thirteen-year-old girl is the greatest love of his life. Really. She is. He’s not kidding this time.

Juliet has never been in love before. All she knows about Romeo is that their two families hate each other. But so what? No ones parents ever like anyone cool that you like.  The important thing is that by Monday afternoon, so beautiful is their love, that they go ahead and get married.Just one day later. Maybe it seems hasty but back in those days, time moved so much more slowly than now that a day was more like two days or even three.

Anyway, in lieu of a honeymoon,  Juliet goes back home to spend the night at her parents’ house because her parents do not know about the marriage yet. But  to mark the day in a way that will make it memorable, Romeo kills Juliet’s cousin.  So by the time Juliet gets home,  her family is consumed by  grief.  They are so sad, in fact, that Juliet’s father decides there is no time like the present to arrange for Juliet to marry an older man. Perhaps he is thinking about how life is fragile and time is a-wasting. After all, Juliet is thirteen and not getting any younger.

However, because he’s Juliet’s father is a full grown adult, not a hot-headed teenager with raging hormones, he  knows better than to rush things. So he sets the wedding date for Thursday.

Naturally, the already-married Juliet realizes she must defy her father’s wishes. She is , after all, in the seventh grade.  She has boundaries and  she must  let her intentions be known. She probably could corner him at dinner and ask him to sit down with her for a serious talk. But instead she takes the most sensible course of action under the circumstances. She pretends to be dead.

This choice of action certainly bodes very well for the future of her marriage to Romeo since we now know that the core of any “love-at-first-sight” attraction is usually “repetition compulsion” – wherein a person reenacts the identical behavior and problems first seen in the parent-child relationship. In that respect, perhaps its for the best that Romeo and Juliet decide to  kill themselves a few pages later.. long before we are able to chart their marriage any farther into the future when it most certainly would have descended into scenarios like this:

Romeo (enters parlor) “Juliet! Juliet! My Light! I’m home! And I really have to talk to you about something that is bothering me….You know they say ‘Never go to bed mad’ and Juliet? Juliet? Oh no. Honey. Not dead again.  Please don’t be playing dead again. You were just dead on Monday. I can’t call 911 twice in one week. It is too embarrassing. Juliet? Juliet?”

So, summing up: A thirteen-year-old girl who likes to pretend to be dead married to a teenage murderer who has no trouble falling in love with two different girls on the same Sunday night.

Which leaves us with this slightly comforting fact. There is no reason to lament today’s lack of viable romantic models. Things only seem worse now.  The main difference between love now and then is that back then no one watched Oprah or went to therapy so they didn’t mind calling deranged neurotic behavior “the greatest love story ever told.”

New worst word ever: This time from the 1950’s.

Posted February 7th, 2010

As if show business in general and television in particular wasn’t hard enough on women. there is an  obituary today in the NY Times about  the first woman  ever to direct a TV show. She looks like a lovely woman. She had a nice long life. But wasn’t it punishment enough for Frances that it had to come to an end? Did she really need to be further punished by having the word FEMCEE disinterred, even momentarily,  in her obituary?  SHEESH!

FRANCES BUSS. PIONEER OF EARLY TELEVISION, DIES AT 92.

Frances Buss, who at the dawn of commercial television parlayed a job as a temporary receptionist into a pioneering career as a director whose work helped establish the talk show, the game show and the cooking show as television staples, died on Jan. 19 in Hendersonville, N.C. She was 92.On July 1, 1941, by declaration of the Federal Communications Commission, the era of commercial television broadcasting began, and it was that same month that Ms. Buss, an aspiring actress in New York, took the temporary job at CBS. By dint of her skills at drawing and mapmaking, and because of the poise she had developed as an actress, she was asked to stay on, assisting in the production of what was then rudimentary news and features programming.“I was put on the air almost right away,” she said, in a 2005 interview for the Archive of American Television, a video library compiled by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation. “I was capable on my feet, my voice was audible — and I had good legs.”

Ms. Buss was the prototype for Vanna White; she held props and kept score for television’s first regularly broadcast game show, “CBS Television Quiz.” She was the M.C. — or “femcee,” in the showbiz lingo of the time — for a series of instructional shows demonstrating first aid; she was a dancer on “The Country Dance,” a sort of antediluvian “American Bandstand.”


Frances Buss Buch in 2008.

“Something Extremely Important”: my new video

Posted January 31st, 2010
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I just turned a draft of my newest book in to a new editor. That means it is a very tense time for me. Therefore I have been doing what I always do when I am tense: edit my little films.  This is a video I have been working  a while. I was trying to make it as a stand alone film, but now I have decided to combine it with footage I was given of me reading the piece at a benefit for Tails of Joy, a great dog rescue run by my friend Elayne Boosler.  SO….here it is:

Better intended games to entertain prisoners

Posted January 27th, 2010
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Hopefully this ruling will encourage prisoners to play more Monopoly, which will help  foster an inmate’s obsession with remaining in the real life correctional environment,  buying it,  and eventually turning it in to apartments and  hotels.

Dungeons and Dragons Prison Ban Upheld

Robert Caplin for The New York Times Published: January 26, 2010

In an opinion issued on Monday , a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected the claims in a lawsuit challenging a ban on the game Dungeons & Dragons by the Waupun Correctional Institution in Wisconsin. The suit was brought by a prisoner, Kevin T. Singer, who argued that his First Amendment and 14th Amendment rights were violated by the prison’s decision to ban the game and confiscate his books and other materials, including a 96-page handwritten manuscript he had created for the game.Prison officials said they had banned the game at the recommendation of the prison’s specialist on gangs, who said it could lead to gang behavior and fantasies about escape.

Dungeons & Dragons could “foster an inmate’s obsession with escaping from the real-life correctional environment, fostering hostility, violence and escape behavior,” prison officials said in court.

Cleaning out my office: A potpourri of stuff I saved

Posted January 24th, 2010
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Because I am a writer, I am always at work. What I mean is that I regard everything that comes toward me as potential subject matter.  And although I am not a hoarder, my fascination for the show “Hoarders” on A&E probably comes from my own tendency to save stuff in case I ever need it as a detail , if not a topic, for something I am going to write. I guess its kind of a relief to see how far I am from a worst case scenario. Nevertheless, my office is always a mess.  And not only because I am not tidy. Its because I save  tons of articles and pamphlets and books on surfaces around me, thinking I am going to need them someday. Then when that day comes ,  I never  find them because they are buried in a file (or a pile) called “Ideas for Stuff.”

When I first met the man with whom I am currently sharing what I laughingly refer to as my life, his solution to my problem was to have me hang everything up in the guest bathroom. Here is the result of that. It was a good idea but there is no more room on those bathroom walls .

So today I am pretending to clean my office. I am trying to throw out books that are hurting my soul because I bought them and know I am never going to read them. Its not that hard for me to throw out clothes I never wear. I should be able to do it with my unused subject matter collection. Therefore, in the interest of encouraging myself to  discard some of this stuff, I am going to write a few words about some of them now.

1.The book: Extended Massive Orgasm: I bought it because …come on. But I just opened it up to a page at random and read this sentence:”Remember that the sensation in your genitals is the most important thing for you to concentrate on.” Um…I kind of think I knew that. I need shelf space.

2. Ann Chamfort’s Great Book of Secrets: Once, about ten years ago, I subscribed to a metaphysical newsletter  under the name Zontar Mozinky because I wanted to see what mailing list bought the name. And I was richly rewarded. I got special personalized mail for Zontar Mozinky for many years, always offering him amazing prophesies of coming riches. I also got this book as a bonus offering. The secrets are mainly magic spells. For instance Prosperity Pasta Sauce: “full of ingredients that bring prosperity and riches: tomatoes, onions,basil ,dill, marjoram and pine nuts. It also contains garlic and cumin for protection from theft. The moon shapes of the zucchini and shrimp will bring you luck.”( I had forgotten that the reason my house has not been foreclosed on is that I always have onions, basil, dill, marjoram and pine nuts on hand. I guess the fact that the basil is pretty moldy isn’t a deal breaker.)

3. The Brainy Echidna: (from the New York Tiimes)  “They are one of the most pacifistic of mammals.” Dr. Rismiller (of the University of Adelaide) said, “Nobody bothers them. They don’t bother anybody. There’s a lot we could learn from them”

And in that level head sits a mighty brain. Among humans, the neo-cortex that allows us to reason and remember accounts for 30 percent of the brain. In echidnas that figure is 50 percent…  To reach them you must hike in to the highlands of Australia on treacherously steep and slippery terrain where it rains 275 inches a year… “If you hold them against yourself, they’re friendly and they won’t struggle,”said Mr. Opiang (founder of the PapuaNew Guinea Institute of Biological research.)”

Damn. I want to hike in to the highlands and hold echidnas against myself.

4. Regarding the disappearing/reappearing nature of duck phalluses: (from the NY Times) : “Some ducks grow phalluses as long as their entire body. In the fall the genitalia will disappear, only to reappear the next spring….A bird phallus is similar-but not identical -to a mammalian penis. Most of the time it remains invisible, curled up inside the bird’s body. During mating, however, it fills with lymphatic fluid and expands in to a long, corkscrew shape. The bird’s sperm travels on the outside of the phallus, along a spiral shaped groove, into the female bird.” (Also: “97% of bbird specie have no phallus at all.  Most male birds just deliver their sperm through an opening.”)

(Who knew that the book I mentioned in #1. was possibly written by a duck.)

5.An article from the NY Times that defines EDNOS, a word I have never heard before.  Its an acronym for “Eating disorders Not Otherwise Specified.” “Ednos remains the nation’s most common eating disorder.”

6.An article from the NY Times about OCD in animals.:” 8% of dogs- five million to six million animals- exhibit compulsive behaviors. Males with the problem outnumber females three to one in dogs whereas in cats the ratio is reversed.” There’s something to be learned from this.I am not sure what.

7. Snackertainment: I have been saving pamphlets and entire magazines on this topic since…(wait for it) 1990. I can’t bring myself to throw away the physical evidence of such a hilarious new word.  In this photo we see Snack Food Association President Jim Shuflet presenting the Top Crunch Award  for snack promotion at SNAXPO ’90.

Well, back to cleaning. I think this blog solution to my problem has not been the raging success I had hoped. Because I can already sense that I am not going to be able to part with my information about the echidna, or my SNAXPO souvenir.

I also might need to make prosperity pasta someday. Perhaps after my extended massive orgasm.

This new supreme court corporate donations ruling: here’s the sane solution

Posted January 22nd, 2010
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Now that this new Supreme Court ruling has opened the door officially to unlimited campaign control on the part of giant corporations,  it seems like it will no longer make  sense  to pretend that the “people” holding our nation’s highest political offices are actually not just figure heads for consortiums of international corporations. It’s easy for us to get confused and think of them as “people” (as in individuals, human beings) because they do peopley kinds of things like get haircuts, go on vacations, have sex with people they are not married to,etc. But the truth is that the only path to truly understanding the behavior of these so-called “people” depends on being able to see through the glossy veneer of their indecipherable yammering to the lobbyists and corporate interests who are really at their core.

When some senator you have never heard of gives an impassioned speech about the first amendment, is he really just a mouthpiece for ClearChannel? When a majority of them support the invasion of a struggling impoverished country in the name of freedom everywhere is it because they are seeking real estate to build a Home Depot? Understanding this stuff is like watching a foreign movie without subtitles.

Usually it isn’t my job to propose solutions to these kinds of problems, but I think I have a way to try and minimize the confusion we are all having trying differentiate truth from lies. Maybe it would make everything clearer if we just let the corporations run for office.

I know It sounds kind of harsh at first, but it might not be any worse than our present method for selecting presidential candidates which is essentially to cast a Presidential sit com with a lovable reformed rake character as the romantic lead and a whimsical- but blunt curmudgeon- next-door-neighbor-and-best-friend as his side kick . This old system has worked very well telegenically for decades , but as with all sit-com actors, you never can be sure who these guys are in real life.

With my new plan perhaps the Republicans might create a ticket that would offer Rockwell Manufacturing for President; tough on terrorists (The B1 bomber) but still forward thinking and cutting edge: (Rocketdyne! The Space Shuttle! The semiconductor!) Then perhaps balance the ticket with the friendlier and more gregarious sounding Beatrice Foods for Vice President: Progressive, (Beatrice sounds like it could be a woman) yet traditional (Orville Redenbacher) and concered with domestic security ( Blue Bonnet Margerine , Chef Boy Ardee!). Also, since Beatrice foods is a division of ConAgra, the minority vote would be assured.(Rosarita Refried Beans! Hebrew National! LaChoy! Swiss Miss!)

In opposition the Democrats might run the very relevant to the twenty first century Presidential candidate of IBM; big on leadership (consultants in 170 countries!) and stability (a continuous history since the 19th century!) then add to that the friendlier more youthful and up-to-date Apple for Vice President. (I-tunes! Ipod ! Mac!!)

It makes sense in other ways too. Witch hunts concerning mysterious campaign donors would become a thing of the past. And although many people are inherently suspicious of corporations, all Americans love logos . So between tee shirt giveaways and Nascar races there’d be no more need for those old fashioned empty speeches and slanderous ad campaigns. Instead it will all just boil down to which tee shirt do you want? The one with the lovable Chef Boy Ar Dee astride that cool B1 Bomber? Or the one with that rocking silhouetted iPOD lady dancing atop the more graphically tasteful two-tone IBM letters?

Never again will there be a problem getting the young people out to vote. Imagine the enthusiasm for an election that pitted Mountain Dew against Sprite. Or the Hummer against KFC.

Okay, I know it isn’t a perfect system, but it makes as much sense as what goes on now.  And it certainly is a good match for the new supreme court ruling. Plus it’s completely up front. If the Bush administration had simply run as the Pennzoil/ Halliburton ticket, no one would have had the slightest doubt about what was going to happen to the country in the next eight years.

He had every last attribute. He Was Perfect.

Posted January 15th, 2010

Damn. Just my luck to find out about this after enrollment is closed.

But since I can’t join, I still wish I could have been there when he explained what he meant by “nonsense’ to seventeen Jewish women.

Goel Razon, a 60-year-old Israeli, was brought to court in Tel Aviv, Israel. He is accused of sexual enslavement, rape, extortion and sexual assault.The police said that the suspect was either 59 or 60, and maintained his cultlike community in several apartments in a neighborhood of south Tel Aviv.
Explaining what he saw as his attraction, Mr. Ratzon said: “I am perfect. I have all the attributes a woman wants.

Police on Monday seized a book of rules written by Razon for his 17 ‘wives,’ hours after he was arrested .His  code of conduct sets out fines to be levied for each infringement. Regulations include:

1. No women shall marry nor shall any woman attack another, either verbally or physically. Fine: NIS 2,000, to be paid into the family kitty.

2. No woman shall question another about her whereabouts. Fine: NIS 100

3. No conversation is permitted in rooms other than the living room. It is forbidden to talk nonsense. Fine: NIS 200

4. No woman shall sit idle when there are dishes to be washed, cleaning to be done, children to look after etc. Fine: NIS 2000

5. Any two women caught fighting will be punished equally. Fine: NIS 2,000

6. It is absolutely forbidden to question Ratzon on his whereabouts or intention. Fine: NIS 400

7. It is permissible to ask to accompany him; but refusal is to be accepted without appeal. Fine: NIS 300

8. No woman shall interrupt Ratzon or intervene in matters not concerning her. Fine: NIS 500

9. All orders are to be obeyed immediately. Fine: NIS 300

10. No woman shall work while a ‘man’ of over 12 years of age is in the house. Fine NIS 3,000

Police began investigating Ratzon in June 2009 after receiving a complaint about abuse from one of the women.

He is considered by his companions to be the savior (Goel in Hebrew) of the universe, and is attributed godly and supernatural abilities. Many of the women have his name and portrait tattooed on several parts of their bodies.

Goodbye disgusting string: I AM HEALED!

Posted January 5th, 2010
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The string of which I speak.

The string of which I speak.

It appeared that I was apparently stuck wearing a piece of smelly filthy string around my wrist for the rest of my life.
The way it happened was that I arranged to have myself  blessed-and- healed by Buddhist Monks in 1996.  I did it for a couple of reasons, some of them ironic.  For instance , the fact that the healing was to take place in the upstairs loft of  a trendy  Malibu clothing boutique was a detail that really made me laugh. Especially because at the time I had a magazine column and was almost always seeking a topic I could write about for at least 1500 words.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t also own up to the fascination I had for new age frippery back then.  I was never sure how much of what I attended I also  sorta believed . All I knew was that I liked to hear about  a  variety of strange, vaguely spiritual, occasionally spooky, metaphysical type things.    So that  Saturday morning, about a week after I signed up and paid a fee,  I climbed a staircase just behind a table that was piled high with animal print Capri pants on sale  and was directed to a room where I met with my own personal healer monk.  He was dressed in a traditional saffron colored robe, although I remember being kind of amused by his standard issue scuffed up western footwear. Diaphonous robes just don’t look right with Bass Weejuns.

He was also sporting some rather stylish wireframe glasses.

For about half an hour he chanted, or we chanted together. Sometimes he described vivid  tableaus upon which I was supposed to meditate. I seem to remember one that involved a thousand flying swordsmen because I also remember fretting that perhaps I wasn’t visualizing them well enough, and would inadvertently compromise my results.
I do remember how the whole thing ended;  I was splashed with some very special water and then my monk (if I might be so bold as to call him that) tied a red string around my left wrist.

“When the string falls off, you will be healed.” were his famous last words.
On my way out of the store, I felt so good I bought some Capri pants and a purse.

Cut to: Now.

The string was moldly, and kind of stinky. The red color been replaced by gray, which was good in a way because I didn’t like the idea of people assuming I had taken up the kaballah.  But, it had also acquired a patina of yellow paint from the last time I redid my bedroom. It was one truly disgusting looking piece of string.  But after a lifetime of watching horror movies and episodes of Twilight Zone that involved someone who had received and then ignored an ominous warning, I didn’t feel  I could simply  cut it off and throw it away.  And anyway, it had to fall off on its own.  The monks promised.  But it was wrapped around my wrist in three unbroken strands that showed no signs of fraying. If they had said “This will fall off sometime around 2010” I think I might have run out of there screaming.

Then last night it fell off! It actually fell off, all on its own. I was so relieved and happy that it was almost worth the long wait. After fourteen fucking years of ugly wrist syndrome, I am finally  free at last. And I guess I am  finally also HEALED, though its not clear from what. At the very least I am healed from the ever present irritation of having to wear a decrepit string bracelet.  And since I bothered to spend 14 years regarding the removal of this string as a bad omen, I think its only fair that I go ahead and take the falling off of the string as a good one.

I think 2010 is going to be the best year ever. At least in matters related to wrists and string and healing.

Happy Nudibranch!

Posted January 2nd, 2010
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starfish 1anemone 2pelican and gull

So…it was a holiday season full of catastrophes and family emergencies for the residents of my house. It was a scary ride over an unpredictable landscape. But happily  the moon decided to proceed with the previously scheduled tides,  as planned. Therefore  New Years Day was one of the lowest tides of the year. A beach near where I live has a nice assortment of tide pools to look at.  They  generally contain the usual suspects: live sea anemones, starfish. pelicans, and sea gulls along with the spiky remains of sea urchins, and craw fish. Not too much else turns up, as a rule, except this year we saw some nudibranch! At least I think that’s what they were; (also called sea slugs. But I didn’t think anyone would keep reading if I played the sea slug card ahead of the nudibranch card. )  Below is a little video documentation of that momentous event. I admit it is not the most exciting footage you will ever see. In fact, an argument could be made against deciding to post it at all. But if you had as crazy and scary a holiday season as I did, and also had attended as many underpopulated low tides as I have, you would understand that it was a kind of a thrilling running in to this odd creature. So why don’t we all pretend, as we watch it, that it is one of those incredibly colorful, and exciting nudibranchs like we see in the photo to the left180px-Heterobranchia_composite_03. Just imagine the vibrant colors as I invite you come with me now to the magical world of the nudibranch at low tide.

Happy New Year!

Posted December 31st, 2009

PS: I saw AVATAR and really liked it. Its a thrillingly beautiful trip to a fully realized imaginary world. Don’t let the wooden cliche driven dialog stop you from getting on board a really great amusement park.  ride.

Some Amusing Christmas thingies

Posted December 22nd, 2009

Well, this has been a weird Holiday Season for me so far. My brother got in to a car wreck so I went to Cincinnati for a few days to help out, etc. Upon arriving home yesterday,  I was perusing my local papers to see what if anything had happened while my back was turned, and came upon this very festive holiday greeting from the local septic tank pumper. My heart was instantly warmed because after all… how cold hearted would you have to be to not find yourself moved, at this time of year, by the emotional story of the little septic boy .septic boy

While I was in Cincinnati, Andy and I cooked dinner for some extended family. Not able to find much in the way of traditional  table decoration materials at my brother’s house, Andy made  little pine bough wreathes and then started looking around for something red to make them more Christmassy. My nephew Noah came out of the bathroom carrying the bottle that contained what became these cheery red pill decorations. I think , over all, these might be my favorite holiday centerpieces ever, (despite the fact that I only realized when I finally viewed the photos that no one bothered to remove the price tag from the candle.)  If only this were hundreds of years BC,  I believe that we would have had the essential ingredients for an annual religious rite.candlecloseup 2

And last but not least, here is a bright happy little video we made of a song that we, at my house, like to sing this time of year, though I think you’ll agree that its certainly appropriate any time of year. Happy holidays to everyone who  is reading this…Well, back to watching  the rest of my free movie screeners. If anyone is interested, I’ll update that blog with the details.

New category: Pretty but horrible

Posted December 13th, 2009
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My first two nominees:

1. Sarah Palinsarah palin. No explanation needed. She defines the category.

2. Rainbow Twizzlers

rainbow twizzlers

I bought a pack of these yesterday because I love Twizzlers. And I love rainbows. But, as they say here on the internet: Fail. Whatever flavor that is in the regular ones (a flavor I like to think of as RED) is the only acceptable Twizzler . The purple is especially wrong. And I refuse to dignify the green or yellow with a discussion. While I was taste testing the other colors, I thought to myself “Pretty. But horrible.” Then I thought of Sarah Palin. Now I will build the rest of the category as the content occurs to me.

289704683_3dd8ca6d653. Air pollution at sunset

petit fours

4. Weird little inedible widely hated cake petit fours.(Thank you Ellen.)

5. Graphics for Grand Theft AutoGraphics for Grand Theft Auto

6. The always grotesque Speidi (Thank you Barb and Laurie)

Contributing Photographer

sno balls7. Hostess Sno Balls. Thank you Laurie. Again. This is a perfect one. As a kid I wanted so badly to love these because they were so beautiful and so theoretically delicious. Then you take a big bite of that rubbery spongy coating and…well, you never fully recover. Its not just awful, it represents the death of hope. It SHOULD have been a dream come true

8. Copper mining damage.copper mine pollution

9.. Elizabeth Hasselbeckelizabeth hasselbeck

10. Staph bacteriastaph bacteria

11.Boots with 5 inch heels. I can’t last more than a short period of time in 3 inch heels. 31/2 are out of the question. Once, for a TV appearance, I bought a pair of Manolo Blahniks. They were very pretty. I made it from the backstage area to the guest seat. Period. But I had to find a chair during the wait for a table at the restaurant afterward. Even a few minutes of standing in them was unbearable. They were so painful and so expensive that I took them to a shoe repair and had  the heel shortened, understanding completely what kind of a sacrilege that is…and of course it wrecked the careful architecture of the shoes,so I’ve never warn them since.  But I couldn’t wear them before either.

Now all the shoes I like have 4 and 5 inch heels. I love how they look but…they certainly fit my qualifications for this list.  Pretty but horrible.5 inch heel

4 inch

12. Sheet cake. Always pretty. Always horrible.sheet cake Thank you Elayne.

13. Mel Gibsonmel-gibson-smile

14.Salmonella300_58795

A very Bob Dylan Christmas from me to you.

Posted December 12th, 2009
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Bob Dylan's Christmas Lights Bob Dylan has a new Christmas album out. Here is a link. Click on this:(  I’ll Be Home for Christmas) and let’s listen to him sing “I’ll be Home for Christmas” together as I tell you the heartwarming story of what Bob’s version of the song means to me.

Lets begin with Exhibit A…the photo above which I also use as my blog header. I’m that fond of it.

But first a little back story: I live in lovely Malibu by the sea; fabled in story and song.  I have a nice, kind of modest A framey home, but my neighborhood  also contains some private residences that look like The Pitti Palace .  And when the holidays roll around, some of the inhabitants of these homes spare no expense in terms of their decorating. They hire professional crews to  transform their grounds so that you  might easily confuse any of them  with the courtyard at The Helmsley plaza  or The Beverly Wilshire Hotel.  Their tree trunks and branches are evenly wrapped with mini lights. There are multitudes of inflatable  and electronic figures.

Down at the end of one of these streets , two years ago, I took the above picture of the Christmas lights out in front of the Bob Dylan residence. They were so casually tossed on to a vine out in front of the fence, almost at street level, that they made me laugh. As someone who grew up in awe of Bob Dylan (and my awe list is a very short one) I spent a lot of time that Christmas enjoying the idea of a drunken pissed off Bob begrudgingly trying to get those lights on to that hedge somehow to please someone or other , then getting frustrated and fed up because they were getting tangled and he couldn’t  make them look right, plus it was taking too much time, how much time was he supposed to waste on these damn things anyway? After all, he didn’t exactly know how  to fucking do it since he was raised Jewish and spent the other 364 days on the road , dammit.

(To be fair, I have no idea if Bob Dylan had a hand in putting them up. I know he owns a house that is hidden behind that fence. But all that is visible from the street are some old aquamarine dumpsters and a couple of rusting car corpses. I have no idea if he ever actually sets foot on these premises. That didn’t effect my enjoyment of his overall decorating prowess.)

Cut to 2009: Bob’s got the new Christmas album out. He’s Mr. Christmas now and its time to wrestle with the damn lights again. So  I went out tonight to see how he did. And I’ve got to give him some props. It looks to me like this year Bob apparently bought a ladder. The lights are higher up. They’re more evenly lined up,except in a few places. I think he’s definitely improving his over all decorating technique. I’m am very impressed, sort of.Bob Dylan #3Bob DYlan 2009 #1

Worried about health reform? Just relax.

Posted December 10th, 2009
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Perhaps you have also been fretting over the health care reform bill in its many and mysterious myriad mutations. I started out excited, especially about the public option and the idea of presenting a counter-punch  to those miserable insurance company behemoths,  their continually rising rates and their hideous unknowable opt-outs for pre-existing conditions etc. Then the public option started to blink on and off like a bunch of quantum dots and  the rest of the bill became more or less incomprehensible. So I decided to stop following the ongoing debate too closely.It was becoming too upsetting.

Today in the NYT I decided to take the bull by the horns and do some catching up on where it all stood. I would read the article entitled “Democrats See Room for Hope on Health Bill” with its sub-headline  “Obama Hails Deal- Details are Scanty.” I made it through the first sentence which is ” Senate Democrats said on Wednesday that they were not sure exactly what was in a deal that the majority leader said would surmount a disagreement over a proposed government health plan. But they voiced guarded optimism that it would ultimately help them pass major health care legislation.” Then it dawned on me “Well, if THEY don’t know what is in it,  why in the world am I getting myself upset because I don’t know?”

Its bad enough that for the last decade I have been co-dependent with the presidents.  During the 8 miserable years of the Bush administration, I was so filled with disgust and rage toward the president and vice president for their millions of arrogant amoral affronts to everything I held dear that I couldn’t even look at either of them when they appeared somewhere, let alone bring myself to listen to their public statements. It was just too upsetting. Now I have started to do the same thing with Barack Obama, but for the opposite reason. I like his intelligence and demeanor and analytical abilities so much and am so afraid that the quicksand  left behind by the Bush administration has put him in untenable situations to which there is no reasonable solution that once again I can’t watch. It is also  just too upsetting.

And then last night when I was walking around the market  in search of some comfort food that wasn’t too bad for me, I realized that all my worries about health care reform are for naught. Because as usual the wonderful 21st century world of American commerce and industry has stepped in to the void and is handling my health concerns for me.  Just like Milton Friedman predicted with his  free market economics. Even in the pre-packaged hot chocolate section there is more attention than ever to salubrity. (look it up.)Nestles Health drink

Behold.

The Women’s Wellness version of Nestle’s Hot Chocolate. Why, its as if the marketing department at Nestle’s designed it just for me! I’m a woman! I’m health conscious!  And look..its not just a steamy foamy cup of hot chocolatey deliciousness. No!  It says right there on the front of the box that its also an excellent source of calcium, antioxidant vitamins A,C and E, B6 , B12 and Iron!!! Pinch me, I must me dreaming!! This is the very treat I have been looking for all my life. Now let’s see whats in it because it can’t taste very good and be that good for me, can it?ingredients

First ingredient: sugar. Second ingredient: Corn syrup solids and partially hydrogrenated coconut or palm kernel and hydrogenated soybean…

Wow. Those are the same first three ingredients in candy!

So hats off to Nestles. Somehow they managed to get sugar, corn syrup and hydrogenated oil reclassified as health food!

I’m  been waiting for this moment my whole friggin life! How long can it be til they throw a little b12 and calcium in to Marlboro Reds and Jack Daniels? I can’t wait.

I finally figured out why everyone is so goofy at my gym.

Posted December 8th, 2009
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fact reduction2
The place was never an institution of higher learning or anything but lately they started posting signs indicating they are selling additional services. Tonight I bothered to read the signs more closely. I don’t know what Hydrolipo Sculpting, Carboxy Therapy or Lymph Drainage are… But Mesotherapy for FACT REDUCTION? Sorry. I don’t want to seem judgmental.But judging from the looks of things around there, I doubt that its a good idea.fact reduction c.u.

My favorite holiday tradition:thirteen free movie screeners(updated)

Posted December 2nd, 2009
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Its the happ-happ-happiest time of the year for me. This is the time of the year where  all my union memberships finally pay off each time Fed Ex shows up unannounced in my driveway  to bestow upon me unexpected ‘for your consideration’ movie screeners. And generally the movies are all the ones I already put on my netflix queue;  the weird or smart indie films that were well reviewed and had light attendance. Yes, each screener comes complete with  an accompanying threatening message which sometimes go so far as to ask you to destroy the screener after you have partook. These warnings seem to get increasingly dire every year. I will not be surprised to get one this year that asks me to kill myself after I am done enjoying the film. But know what? It will be a small sacrifice to make considering how much I love getting these darn things delivered unasked for, for free. And last year this approach paid off for Slumdog Millionaire in spades. I don’t know how many people saw it before the free screeners went out. I know I didn’t. But I was instantly riveted by my free screener . In fact you can probably use that as a standard of comparison as to whether or not you agree with my taste/and/or recommendations. Some people had complaints with that movie. I watched it twice in a row and loved it.

So far this year I have gotten six seven ninethirteen free movies and spent the past few days watching some of them.

Here are my first six sevennine ten eleven reviews.

1. 500 Days of Summer: A better than I expected twenty-something dysfunctional romance full of nice performances, good writing, imaginative directing. Zoey Deschanel is appealing and believable as a commitment phobic girl (a nice twist on the usual marriage obsessed members of her gender in this kind of movie.) But I adore Joseph Gordon Levitt. He’s fantastic in everything. And he’s  great in this.

2. FUNNY PEOPLE: Zzzzzzz.  When it started I heard a voice in my head saying “Okay. I can hear structurally that the written intention here is humor. But since I am not finding it funny, per se, I will just pretend it is funny so that I can comprehend what happens when he…Zzzz.”

3. A SERIOUS MAN:  This movie is a Jew-centric re-telling of the Book of Job set in a 60’s suburbia by my beloved Coen brothers.  I LOVED it. If you are trying to gauge whether or not you would like it, you should know that I also REALLY loved Burn After Reading , one of last year’s free screeners  for which many did not share my enthusiasm . A Serious Man is very dark and really funny and full of the puzzling, hilariously detailed, eccentric egomaniacal characters  that fill me with delight and make me think the Coen brothers might be making these movies just for me.  I am their ideal audience.

4. PRECIOUS: Well, its dark. Its a tragic realistically told story about poverty, sadism, incest and dreaming big. It does have a kinda sorta happy ending. But its the tragedy that stays with you. You would never know Mo’nique was a comedian based on the impressive dramatic acting she offers in this movie. She was really great. But its a very dark story.

5.IT’S COMPLICATED: A very watchable if hard to believe woman’s fantasy film from Nancy Meyers,  a writer director who lately specializes in Geezer Rom Com and actually writes lines for men to speak to women over fifty like “Your age is the thing I like best about you.”. Meryl Streep stars as the  woman in question who begins having an affair with her ex-husband. And she is great. She actually makes being older look appealing. But then she makes everything she participates in look appealing. And the same can be said for Alec Baldwin as her ex husband who turns in a very sexy performance despite the fact that when he takes off his shirt, he appears to be in his second tri-mester. Nancy Meyers even somehow pulls  human performance  from Steve Martin, who, as an actor , in my opinion, usually looks like a Martian trying to mimic what the earthlings do when they experience those things they call “feelings”.  But the ending of the movie is really wrong and that ruined it for me. Still, this would probably be a good rental for women  over forty  who long to see physical evidence of the bright side of aging.

6.PUBLIC ENEMIES: Everyone in residence at my house was excited by the premise and fell asleep to this movie. Including my insomniac hyper active 20 year old fraternity boy nephew. So the producers are to be congratulated for that. Its hard to get Carey Markoe to go to sleep.

7.BRUNO: I didn’t go see this movie at the theater because after the massive publicity campaign that accompanied it, I had a feeling I was over Mr. Baron Cohen. I was wrong. I still love him. He is relentlessly silly and astonishingly brave. There’s a fair amount of male frontal nudity in this movie and a lot of things that probably will make some people very uncomfortable so if naked dicks are a problem for you, or squirming homophobes, then forget about this film right now. Maybe its a little long but when you watch it at home…not a problem! That said, it made me laugh over and over.The premise is just Mr. Cohen’s German narcissistic-exhibitionist gay fashionista character’s search for wider fame. Toward that end he does a lot of funny/uncomfortable stuff in the midst of scary people who rarely know he’s kidding.  One part I was particularly fond of  has him chatting with what appears to be an actual leader of The Al Aasa Martyrs Brigade as he pursues the goal of being kidnapped by terrorists.  ” I’m gonna say something to you that will get you so angry that if you have a gun, you’re gonna pull it out and shoot me:” he says to this unsmiling terrorist guy, ” You hair is sun damaged.”

Another scene has him trying to become straight by getting counseling in Alabama from someone who specializes in re-programming homosexuals. Here is a clip I pulled from this section of one of these guys discussing how Bruno might learn to better cope with women. I thought the reprogrammer guy’s spin on the good things  a woman can bring to a relationship with a man that make heterosexuality worth the effort was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. (There are also some extra scenes on the DVD that show Bruno acting seductive with that delightful Bush U.N. appointee John Boulton and getting on Pete Rose’s last nerve that are  worth sticking around for. No other movie in this or any other decade will ever contain footage of any one doing a booty dance in hot pants in front of the head of the department of homeland security. And when you think of it…who deserved it more!)

8. The  Lovely Bones:I loved the book. I loved the movie. Its riveting, it has great acting and its really beautiful to look at. Great. I love Peter Jackson.

9. CRAZY HEART;  Jeff Bridges is amazing as he totally inhabits the role of a Kris Kristofferson-like alcoholic country western singer song writer named Bad Blake who is broke at 57 and still out on the road performing in bowling alleys.  Seriously, he’s fantastic. And he can sing! And so can Colin Ferrel ( who is good as Blake’s former collaborator.) The original songs by T-Bone Burnett are almost a co-star. The whole score is just right. And its beautifully directed. In fact, I liked everything about the movie except the ending, which reeks of studio committee meetings and focus groups. I can not imagine that the ending that is in the movie right now was the original ending. So I am just going to pretend that I never saw it… thats how much I liked the movie. It has earned the right for viewers to make up a better ending. I am going to come up with a perfect one and then edit it  in my brain.

10. BROTHERS: ZZZZ. At least in the opinion of one hyperactive insomniac fraternity boy and one overly judgmental sort of cynical middle aged writer. We were both asleep by minute 15 ( which means it failed my ‘first 10 minutes’ test..a test that is rooted in good sense since the development process of a movie really forces the poor beleagured film makers to load up the first ten minutes with everything they’ve got.)

11. HURT LOCKER: Great. Insightful, engaging, absolutely riveting, and this from someone who doesn’t usually like war movies. Beautifully directed by the impressive Ms. Bigelow who I am proud to say used to be in my yoga class. (Or rather, I was in her’s . I’m the one who stopped going. Maybe she is still there.)

12. UP IN THE AIR:.I read so many glowing reviews of this movie that I saved it for Christmas Day. And…all five of us who watched were very disappointed. Its a great premise that goes all disjointed, hodge podge and even a little maudlin pretty quickly. Reflecting back on why we all hated it, I decided that it was missing all of what  I wanted it to have: motivation and back story for the Clooney character, and some involvement with the consequences of his actions. Instead it takes a dopey left turn in to a lecture about the value of family that  seems to have just been left over from some other movie . I could go on but I didn’t even like it well enough to want to write a well thought out piece of criticism for it. Also: the music was horrible.

13. JULIE AND JULIA: Its a great pleasure to watch Meryl Streep doing Julia Child in this film. I love cooking and I love Julia Child so I found it all very enjoyable. And Nora Ephron wrote a great funny script. My two nephews, however, had never heard of Julia Child until we watched this. It turns out they didn’t know she wasn’t a fictional character and so found the deadly accurate impression Meryl Streep is doing annoying. So I took them to clips from “The French Chef” on You Tube afterward. A few minutes later, my older nephew made an omelette the recommended French way. Apparently the movie can be of value even to twenty year old fraternity heathens.

A Holiday Greeting from E! The Entertainment Network!

Posted November 23rd, 2009
Tags: , , ,

I just got home from a week in Ohio and Indiana though it will take me a few more days before the driving, flying and attending family functions actually goes in to remission.  But as I sit here going through my e mails, trying to regain the focus required to resume and also finish writing my book , I can not help but be pre-occupied by the following:

Of all the things I envisioned for my life from childhood on, I never once imagined that I would be no degrees of separation from something like this:

Message:

Hello Ms. Markoe,
I am a producer for a new special for E! called “Doomed by Lust”.  One of our stories will cover the David Letterman extortion case. We are touching on the subject of women who have spoken out about him and we wanted to see about using your photo on our show.  In addition if you have any photos you would like to license of Mr. Letterman we would love to talk to you about that. Please feel free to contact me via phone or email to discuss this further.  We are moving very quickly so if you could get back to me soon it would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,
Sharon Sanders, Associate Producer
E! Entertainment Television
323-954-2738

Name: Sharon Sanders
Email: ssanders@comcastnets.com

Come on! Did I really just get an e mail from something called “DOOMED BY LUST”? I mean, I’ve made some ditsy romantic decisions in my day, but at no point do I recall dating Ted Bundy. This stuff is so headed for a subplot next time I write a novel.

“Doomed By Lust” might be my nomination for the single funniest name of something ever.

Here are three photos from my trip to the midwest:eat fish every dayFooMy feet stank cropped

Thanksgiving: An overlooked industry that could spawn new jobs

Posted November 17th, 2009

yard turkeyI’ve always wondered why enterprising American businessmen and women have permitted the decorations to slag off entirely between Halloween and Christmas when there are a clear cut number of weeks when people could be inspired to buy a whole other set of lights, ornaments and figurines for Thanksgiving. Especially now that we are in a recession and new environmentally harmless industries are needed. Meanwhile, over the years the Halloween train has been getting longer and longer.  The level of art direction ,the sophistication of the Halloween lights, (in a tony purple and orange) and the addition of an endless pantheon of new and much more frighteningly real looking scary figures and weird substances to hang in the yard  has been clearly increasing. Some catalogs I browse even sell Halloween ornaments and trees. Now that’s the American ingenuity I grew up with!

Yet Thanksgiving has remained a decoration wasteland. No animatronic life-sized figures of mechanically emoting Pilgrims or Native Americans. No shrubbery  strung with distinctively colored lights, perhaps shaped like pies or maize or turkeys. (Hint: Amber, gold and brown aren’t  taken by any of the other holidays yet!) What a missed opportunity for merchandising, I always say to myself. Someone could make a fortune selling a laughing robotic Halloween witch who comes with an interchangeable Pilgrim outfit that, a few weeks later, can be altered to make a Santa Outfit .Or even better, accessories that turn it in to an enticing but slightly frightening ear of corn! Celebrate 3 holidays in a row for one bargain price!

I am thinking that perhaps the fact that the turkey/pilgrim motif hasn’t generated and expanded in to more merchandise on its own means its time for an imagery shift. Personally I would like to see the “NEW Thanksgving” center more around magic and pies. No one is using the pie as a holiday symbol. It has everything. Variety! An amusing shape! An intrinsically funny word!  There is no baked goods oriented holiday. Christmas cookies are way at the bottom of Christmas imagery. Halloween is all candy.  So I say we start with pies and then slowly expand in to cakes and popovers and special Thanksgiving muffins, and the cartoon characters they can so easily become.

Here in Cincinnati and environs, I saw a few homes decorated for Thanksgiving. But its not a massive trend yet, possibly because we have let down  the adventurous re-decorating oriented families by limiting them to the old school turkey imagery.  thanksgiving decoration In the all NEW Thanksgiving, we will offer them a choice of big inflatable pies for the lawn along with strings of dessert shaped lights! There will be a Thanksgiving tree with ornaments shaped like everything you have ever served for Thanksgiving. Sweet potato shaped lights will be both weird and kind of beautiful.  Come on, Lillian Vernon Catalog or Martha Stewart or some branch of the Obama administration who are seeking to stop the continuing unemplyment trend….Seed money is all I need to get this thing going!

We might also need a new universal Thanksgiving symbol…someone we love and can take to our hearts that doesn’t require the slaughter of a perfectly nice animal. I think  something along the lines of a magical Native American who can fly and travel through time, delivering pies, with his merry band of mischevious yet industrious  colorful and oddly shaped gourd creatures. He will be one part old school Thanksgiving, one part Santa, one part Edward Cullen!  He will be irresistible and previously cynical ill tempered adolescent girls will all rush to get on board.

When I get back to California I will work up some sketches.

He probably needs one main helper….Someone with the genial spirit of a Mr. Wippity Wipes, only  shaped like a gourd. Or awippity wipes pie.

On the road: I got recognized. Unfortunately it was here…

Posted November 17th, 2009

Demon chld and dino babyAt The Creation Museum in Kentucky, a place where a little information goes a long way because, well, that’s what they make available and also you know… its God’s will. And because that’s the premise of the museum– to offer the creationist view of the world. On the plus side, it was art directed by someone from Universal studios so its got some very nice animatronics.

Like I’ve always said: I have the most useless amount of fame. It doesn’t necessarily get me career opportunities or tickets to events. It just causes a few people to eye me suspiciously.

Truth is, I love places like The Creation Museum. For example, the tableau that greets you at the entrance ( see  photo number one ) in which a “Bride of Chucky’ like child , wearing a buck skin sun dress, feeds a carrot to a squirrel while smallish and presumably friendly dinosaurs frolick all around her in a primeval garden at the dawn of time, 6000 years ago. Now that’s what I call total entertainment.

A little less enjoyable was one of the directors of the place who followed us out to the car and wanted to know if my name was Merrill and if I was a comedian. He also wanted to find out why I was there and what I was planning. I don’t know why he would think  I needed more of a motive to be there than a chance to see life-sized dioramas of people living amongst the dinosaurs, (and their mutual voyage with Noah on the Ark.)Baby dinos on the ark I for one had never realized that the eventual extinction of the dinosaurs might have come from them being over- hunted by humans!(Or, alternatively, that there might have been a possible change in the eco-system; kind of an odd after-thought by God, I guess, after he had gone to considerable trouble to help save them all from the flood. Those heavenly mood swings! It’s not like we haven’t  been dealing with them since the dawn of time 6000 years ago! We should be used them by now!

2 teens

Although as a whole we still suck at predicting them…as is clearly  depicted in the pictures  below of the part of the exhibit that reviews and summarizes some of the abominations of man’s descent. For example: The internetMan truth whateverThe evil internet.

If you are someone who does not find  Sarah Palin to be an arrogrant megalomaniac with no awareness of her own severe intellectual limitations, this might be the step by step presentation of the creation of the world for you!

Regarding dick jokes and the worlds best beet salad recipe

Posted November 13th, 2009
Tags: , ,

I am going to Ohio and  Indiana this week to visit my relatives and those of  the boyfriend with whom I cohabit. I might write something during the week. Or I might not. Meanwhile I thought I would respond to this odd question I got earlier today and also offer a beet salad recipe.

Here’s the thing about the recipe: I was not a beet fancier until i went to my friend Robin Schiff’s house and she made me this salad. Robin got the recipe from a restaurant called Ammo that she loves. (Also, just for your extra added enjoyment and apropos of nothing, Robin wrote “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.”) I am sharing it because it is Thanksgiving coming up next week and this is a perfect addition to virtually any dinner. I was so impressed by it that I make it at least once a week ever since. Its just the best combination of stuff. And golden beets are a LOT tastier than red beets (if a little trickier to find.)

First the question from someone named Min Merrell:

Read that NY Times piece you were quoted in on how there are very few women writers in comedy especially late night comedy. Can women write good penis jokes? I thought that was a good question. Is there such a thing?  I’ve been trying to think of one.  Nothing’s coming up. Blog some more about that. I wanted more of your insight in the story.

Dear Min:

I don’t know if “nothings coming up” was your idea of a good penis joke. Or if,  with a name like Min, you are a woman. If the answer is yes, I would say that the penis joke may not be your strong suit. But since the rule of thumb for writers tends to be: ‘ Write what you know’ its not so difficult to assume that the penis jokes written by women by definition do not come from the same perspective as the penis jokes that are written by the actual penis owners themselves. It has been my experience that the penis owners find penises to be funny for a vastly different assortment of reasons than  those of us in the penis-less sector. So I guess that is a yes and a no: Women can write penis jokes. But the penis jokes written by women are probably  better delivered by women comedians than by men.

On the last hand, no one in late night network television is really allowed to tell penis jokes without creating a big brouhaha with the censors  for fear of fines from the FCC. So the ability to write good penis jokes is a very weak excuse for not hiring women as writers unless you are staffing an all boy Vegas review. I don’t know if that answered the question.

And now…for some beet salad.

AMMO French Beet and Lentil Salad
(serves 4)

1Cup Lentils (green)
2 Golden Beets
2 handful Arugula
Chives
Pepitas
Crumbled bleu cheese
Dijon mustard

Dressing: 1 shallot, 1 lemon, olive oil

Cook lentils for about 25 minutes; drain, set aside & let cool.

Cook beets for about 20 minutes;drain, let cool; then peel, cut into ½â€ cubes and set aside;  (I prefer roasting them. Wrap them in foil roast at 425’ for an hour – an hour and a half depending on the size of the beets. Put more foil beneath in case they leak.)

Dijon Vinaigrette: Chop shallot and put in a small mixing bowl.. Add juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard and 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste (You can also add 1/2 tsp of sugar if you prefer it sweeter.)
Mix lentils, beets, arugula in a big mixing bowl; add vinaigrette; divide between 4 plates;

Add toasted pepitas, chives and  bleu cheese;  Seriously, its the best salad.

And when you’re finished cooking, its time for

wippity wipesSorry…this actually has nothing to do with anything. I just love the name Wippity Wipes. I also love happy little Mr. Wippity Wipe there on the package.

UPDATE: I am no longer pissed about all of this.

Posted November 9th, 2009
Tags: , , , ,

So…I have been purposefully staying off Twitter and the rest of the social networks because I felt like they would be a distraction from the stuff I want to get done.  Plus I am kind of a competitive person. If I was on Twitter, I said  to myself, I said I said,  I would start to think I had better start writing more one liners for Twitter. I would be thinking, all day long, “Oh God, I haven’t written anything new on Twitter in four hours.” And “Look! Laura’s got a new Twit. I’d better think of something.” and “Oh shit. They’ve ALL got new twits. And I’m still sitting here not writing!” And  I’d start fretting about it . And that is nerve wracking and time consuming. And I am trying to finish a book. And in order to finish a book, I need hundreds of hours of time wasted on nothing. Because writing a book is very hard.At least to me it is. I waste a lot of time pulling out my hair and conducting pointless google searches before I get down to business.

And of course, lets not forget all the rest of the time that I waste trying to learn how to run an animation program. Last night it took me three hours to learn to do this:

But then today I get a google alert that shows me that my name, Merrill Markoe, and ALSO Merrillmarkoe IS now someone’s twitter account name. And that someone is a porn spammer. And I found this very upsetting. So i started the process of contacting the head Twit in order to find out if I had any recourse. Someone (or else a someone-bot) answered me and told me I had to fax them a copy of my drivers license.Right off the bat that sounds like a scam. So I taped up my driver’s license so the Scam bot couldnt see my important personal information and I faxed it to them. Now I am waiting to see what happens.

Meanwhile, I asked one of my most social networky friends what I should do about the Merrillmarkoe porn spammers. And she said that I had better register my name at EVERY social network, and I’d better do it NOW.

SO I began to do that and very quickly it made me really really pissed off because THIS WAS WHAT I WAS AVOIDING IN THE FIRST PLACE. I thought having a website was a controllable amount of social networking .I admit I sometimes check out Facebook, secretly, using my fake identity (on a page I took out in order to keep my eye on my frat boy nephew.)( And by the way, why WAS he out somewhere wearing only a Depends and a giraffe head on Halloween?)Apparently Carey on halloween But lately on my fake identity’s page the Facebook-Bot keeps nudging me to help out this.  other friend of mine. “Ken only has 19 friends. Won’t you suggest some friends for him?” it asks me every day.  Poor poor sad little Ken, it implies, as though he is one of those children holding an empty cereal bowl  in the war ravaged Congo after the Janja weed militia killed his family and burned his village down. NINETEEN FRIENDS IS A LOT OF FUCKING FRIENDS. I don’t have nineteen plates and forks. I can’t have nineteen people over for dinner. When did it become such an  embarrassment to have NINETEEN FRIENDS that Facebook TAUNTS you with it and tries to intercede on your poor sad behalf? That Facebook-Bot is WORSE than the worst bullies in the sixth grade!

Damn.

Pisses me off. All of it. So in case anyone thinks I suddenly am making money as a porn spammer, its not me. I’ve never been that smart of a business woman.

Oh…and  one last thing– I know they’re not called twits.  But tweet is just too embarrassing for me to say or write. Sorry.  I never say Vente Latte at Starbucks either. I say Large.

UPDATE: Good news! For me, at least.

I got the porno spammers kicked off my name ! Yay! Score one for the spam and social networking harrassed little guy (or gal as the case may be.) Incase this ever happens to you, apparently Twitter does take care of it. . I half thought that when a porno spammer wants to take your name, well,its like when the government wants your house so they can build a new carport for the Pentagon or another freeway overpass. Right of Imminent Domain. Suck it up and step aside. But no! I got the following e mail from someone a few minutes ago, which is frankly more than my cynical self expected:

Hi,Thanks for your email and fax.Impersonation is a violation of the Twitter Rules, under Content Boundaries and Use of Twitter: A person may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse, or deceive others. Impersonation is against our terms unless it’s parody. The standard for defining parody is, “Would a reasonable person be aware that it’s a joke?” Because this is not the case in your situation, we have removed the profile(s) from circulation.

Thanks!
@laura
Twitter Support

So I quickly took my own name and raced to the Twitters site and opened a twitter account.

Except thats also the bad news. The conspiracy theorist who lives in the dark recesses of my furtive imagination has already suggested to me that the porno spammers were just a sham…a twitter/facebook conspiracy to force everyone to join twitter and then, as a (wink wink) additional protective measure, join facebook, diggit, reddit, and tumblr just so no one else can abuse their name. Because now apparently it is ILLEGAL for anyone not to be on all these sites. Just like it is illegal to have less than 300 friends.

Still, I will not listen to those voices today. Because today  Veterans Day takes on new and special personal meaning for me. We fought all those wars to take our names back from the porno spammers. Thank you Veterans. Now please keep your eye on Facebook.

Her ‘hideosity’ is my regular day at work

Posted November 5th, 2009

I was trying to figure out what to write here. I always think I should be weighing in on topics of importance. Like how much I am for the public option, or how much I hate the Sarah Palin/Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh edge of the Republican party. Etc. Etc. Instead, here is what I spent a lot of the morning fretting about: Mariah Carey and her transformation from theoretically gorgeous and glamorous to theoretically “hideous” and “dowdy” in her new role in the theoretically fabulous new movie “Precious.” Of course, I haven’t seen the movie yet so I can’t speak to its quality. The clips on-line certainly look compelling. But in a big feature article in today’s L.A. Times Mariah tells us that, to create the character of “a dowdy welfare caseworker”,the “drab but deeply empathetic soul” named Ms. Weiss she had to “lose all vanityHideous Mariah.”

‘Hideosity” she exclaimed raising her hands in mock horror” when she viewed a picture of her other self.

And this is precisely why I hate most Hollywood movies. And Mariah Carey. Because Mariah’s transformation in to hideous looks to me like me and plenty of people I know on an average work day. Okay, not a day where we put on mascara and  false eyelashes and then got so preoccupied by holding a gauzy translucent wrap at just the right level so it revealed the flirtacious outline that our pearls were making on our succulent sumptuous cleavage that we decided it was too much work to hold our heads up straight so we kind of let them list to one side, and eventually just leaned them on a door jamb… But rather a day at work, where we were pre-occupied by our thoughts. Yes, thoughts. Those things that don’t seem to bother the glorious version of Mariah on the other side of the line where she can only keep her eyes and her glossy lips half open because she decided, after she spent hour upon hour staring in to the mirror, that it was totally the most photogenic look. Yes, yes, I know how thoughts can get in the way of a nice empty stare. You start to let that happen and then the next thing you know you are saying layered complex things, and you sound like Barack Obama does. And no one wants that. That’s when the the trouble really begins.

Regular women have had a series of these creepy show biz side swipes lately. The other was Glamour magazine’s big break through running the photo of the theoretically  fat model. Except the model wasn’t fat. She was gorgeous and in great shape and just forgot for a minute that you’re not supposed to take your clothes off if you’re not a size two. Oops! She must have been drinking or something! And the next thing you know, everyone was all congratulatory about this amazing game changing photo and saying ” Look! She’s naked and she’s a size 8!! Can you believe that Glamour magazine has started running Diane Arbus freak show photos? ” Meanwhile, I was sitting quietly , staring at the photo wondering “Is there some other part of the solar system that is recruiting new comers? Because I think I might need to move to another planet.”

I guess my general theme here falls in to the same category as the ongoing insanity used when they cast “the frumpy best friend” in everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. Even “reality shows.” Its the same mental illness that wants to pretend that Courtney Cox , an extremely beautiful and unbelievably skinny woman by any set of standards is a reasonable stand in for a character coping with a weight problem (Friends) or  difficult symptoms of aging (Cougar Town.)  I once had a teensy part on Friends (Episode 2! I was Marcia, the irritable museum curator!) and I saw Courtney Cox in person. I kept staring at her and thinking to myself “Where does she keep her intestines and her spleen? There’s not enough room in that body for internal organs.”

So apparently the point of this little diatribe is  that  I’m seriously  fed up with a culture that only values vacant beauty . Oddly enough, it sounds like this  may be one of the main underlying points of “Precious”, the movie in which Mariah Carey had to stoop to abject hideosity. I know its not a very original thought for me to be railing about. Every shallow superficial woman’s magazine espouses some version of the same thing,( then quickly undermines it with before and after make-over photos that show a nice looking woman transformed in to someone who may look a little more trendy but is now actually less attractive.). But in my opinion it is this grotesque attitude that is as much behind the rise of the horrible Ms. Palin as anything else. Because although I have yet to hear her say anything moderately intelligent, and despite the fact that she is out selling “a book” that she and her ghostwriter cranked out in a couple of months (while it takes me a  year to get a rough draft…and that is before I even start all the tedious rewrites) I do  give her this: The woman can’t take a bad picture. She always looks very pretty. I hate that this can somehow be a factor in how seriously she is taken.

So there. I vented AND I almost hit one of the topics of importance from my first paragraph. Now I better get back to writing my real book if I want to get paid anytime this decade.

PS: I wanted to tell the person who was kind enough to buy that foot frame from Ebay (see 2 blogs ago for explanation) that I donated the money to  a dog rescue organization, and then I also donated MORE money to an elephant sanctuary. So somewhere in all of that is YOUR money. And thus the dogs, elephants and I all thank you very much.

I attended a Halloween thing

Posted October 31st, 2009

One nice thing about getting older is that you find out that some of your friends have become very successful. And it helps you get over being bitter and vengeful to learn that they  have done some nice things with their money. The Sam Simon Foundation is an example of that. Sam is one of the creators of some obscure cartoon show called The Simpsons. Apparently its done pretty well for itself over the years and consequently so has Sam. He is the only person I will ever know who owns a RODIN!! But just as impressive, he started a big dog rescue complete with free spay and neuter trucks. They get dogs out of the pound and train them to work with the deaf. Difficult to believe when you have dogs like mine who act challenged by concepts like “Stay”. But apparently it is possible for dogs to alert people when the phone rings etc.

Anyway, every year Sam has an event at the dog rescue that includes a Halloween pageant and goes by the unfortunate but well intended name of Howl-O-Ween. And every year I seem to be a judge. At least I think thats me. This year I was going to bring my dog Jimmy dressed as Ben Bernacke but he looked so miserable in his button down shirt that I left him at home. (I wish someone had thought to do the same with the real Ben Bernacke.) Last year was the only year I entered the contest. Jimmy went as Flavor Flav accompanied by my friend Dawn’s dog Halle, who went as Birgitte Nielsen. We won a prize and I felt kind of bad accepting a prize and being a judge. But let’s be honest, so far in all the years I have done this, we were the only team that actually made our own costumes.Prize winners

Halloween and dogs are really not a natural combination. Almost every costume requires someone to stand there and hold the dog upright and re-adjust the costume so it isn’t hanging off of the bottom of his or her respective belly. The lawn is alive with animals rolling on little horned ensembles and tiny hats.Most of the dogs begin to dismantle  their costumes  as soon as they arrive. Come to think of it, that’s also how I behave at a costume party.

This year the most original contributor was a woman who came as a duo with her dog. Their theme was “Marley and Me,” and they were both dressed as Rastas. (Get it? Like BOB Marley?) Kinda.Bob Marley 2

I rather liked this cave man entry. Especially since at least half the time his hair was hanging down under his chin.cave man And the dog’s costume looked pretty good too.

punk rocker

Then there was this punk rocker,even though I think he’s a little more Seattle grunge era than straight punk rock. That’s Sam in the black shirt standing behind him.

water fountain.

But my favorite part of the event is the Rescue itself, which is in Malibu on an amazing piece of property.Even more than the beautiful landscaping and the awesome view , I love these specially designed dog drinking fountains. Not only do they work as advertised, but they are constructed so the dog can stand in his drink, as God and Nature intended . Dogs must go over to one of these things and think “Good Lord. At LAST someone figured out how to design a drinking fountain.”

I’m on EBAY selling something hideous.

Posted October 28th, 2009

Okay, its not exactly the same as being on ‘Dancing with the Stars’, but its a kind of an achievement. If you define ‘achievement’ as something that  can also be accomplished by  even malingerers and people in prison.flip flop frame

Here’s what it actually is: I am  participating in someone’s art project which they call  Significant Objects. The way it works is that I (and a rotating cast of writers) have written a story about an item that was found by the perpetrators at a yard sale. They  sent me jpegs of  three items and let me  take my pick. I said yes to this because I am in the middle of writing another book and I tend to say yes to any thing that sounds remotely fun and has the potential to get in the way of my work.  Also I went to art school. I am a sucker for stuff that sounds art schooly.

Next, they put the thing up for sale on ebay. Lastly they send you a check to do with what you will. Since the object I selected has a starting price of fifty nine cents, I can’t believe much of a windfall profit  is going to accrue. But if you feel inclined to bid on it, you get the object as well as a copy of the story I wrote. And I am adding to that my  promise that if any slightly reasonable amount of money accumulates, I will match it and send the proceeds to an animal rescue organization.  (And if doesn’t, well, I will probably still make my own donation because why not?) It’s a big charitable week for me. Tomorrow night I am performing at a benefit for PAWS L.A. I am co-hosting with my friend, the very funny comedian Wendy Liebman. But the really big draw is an appearance by the always brilliant Lily Tomlin. (And possibly Elizabeth Taylor will show up to receive an award.) So that’ll be interesting hopefully. And then Saturday I am judging an annual dog Halloween pageant at my friend Sam Simon’s Dog Rescue. I’ll try to take some pictures and write about it here. I only entered one year. And it was the only costume I ever made for one of my dogs since I am not really a dress-up-your-dog kind of a person. That said, here is a picture of my dog Jimmy dressed as Flavor Flav. Oddly enough, he was the only dog dressed as Flavor Flav that year. Go figure. If we participate this year, I am thinking Timothy Geitner.Jimmy Flav Or Lloyd Feinbein.

UPDATE I: Hey! Thank you people for bidding on the Foot Frame.  Its starting to look like I can make a charitable donation with it that won’t embarrass the charity by making them feel sorry for me!

UPDATE 2: Re: Jimmy’s new costume. I am starting to veer more toward Ben Bernacke.