Friday, August 10, 2018

Take Note!

Ann Margret took notes with a pen.

It’s been some time since my last anti-technology rant so I feel I’m overdue.

In addition, I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal that prompted a lengthy diatribe which, fortunately or unfortunately, was heard only by the cats (who barely glanced up from their ipads). 

Written by a millennial (millennials are an amalgam of two factions -- Generations X and Y – who, with their artisanal mustard and microbrews, are very similar but X-ers can vaguely recall a world less electronically connected while the younger Y-kids are too young to remember anything a time when you actually had to use your brain to think)…it was about the taking of notes in a classroom setting

Forget notes. No one is learning because they're all on Facebook.

It appears millennials of both variety have discovered they comprehend and retain more information when taking notes the “old-fashioned way.” By this, I mean the use of those clunky and pre-historic tools remembered by some as pen and paper. Ha. No, I really mean that—HA! Maybe mom and dad, with our supermarket condiments and cans of Bud from the gas station cooler, might not be such imbeciles after all.
You are so right, Ned!

Unfortunately, the article goes on to explain that new “tablets” have been designed that are almost as thin and “flexible” as—guess what?! --PAPER!!! HA again! And, with these conceptually amazing and ground-breaking devices, you can purchase an electronic implement suspiciously similar to a “pen” for a mere hundred bucks or so. Personally, I prefer my pens from the dollar store.

Tom, my older son (very tech-savvy, yet the more likely of my boys to run off and live in a hollow tree), read the article at my behest only to inform me that these so called “pens” retain your written notes as would a computer. After shouting and windmilling my arms for a bit about how this is nothing but evil sorcery, he placed me in a headlock until I accepted this madness as fact. 

Upon release, and when my breathing finally returned to normal, I countered with the personal knowledge that it is possible to “save” hand-written notes in something known as a file folder which, barring an explosion in your basement artisanal pickle lab, will outlast anything with a computer chip, withstand power surges and be referenced by later generations just as I utilize my great aunt’s recipes from carefully stored index cards written neatly in ink over a half-century ago. 

Tell that to your stupid little electronic pen that you accidentally dropped in the toilet.

This leads directly to another article in the (non-web version) of the same newspaper about how millennials are also starting to install land lines in their homes because -- wait for it -- they are more reliable

They blame poor connections, annoyance with the need to constantly monitor re-charging needs, dropped calls and the frustration of locating a dead phone. Again-Ha!! Seth and I have kept our trusty landline for those same reasons. And, while I fully acknowledge the many advantages (Pinterest on the go!) of owning a cell-phone, my land line is an old friend. 

I even make sure there’s a corded version in the house: easily found in an emergency, less likely to give me brain cancer and often needed to call Seth’s number to locate the smart phone that’s slipped between the couch cushions.
Who didn't have one of these in their kitchens?

The "Slimline." What a
I’m not advocating one of those no-frills wall phones we all had that came in several colors with a dial and a long, tangled cord or the pretty pink princess phone I coveted as a teen (never got one) or even the comparatively new-fangled “slim-line” from the 70’s that blew our minds by having the dial in the handset. 

Get something modern and sleek with all the fancy features you want! As a side bonus, you can slam the receiver down in fury at anyone who’s pissed you off or wants to clean your chimney. Angrily jabbing at a screen is a poor substitute for a good slam.

Is, as I’ve heard it said, everything old, new again? Nah….and, in many instances, that’s a good thing. Even we fossils acknowledge that technology has made life easier, safer and opened doors for medicine, science and the vital transmission of information. But try picking up a pen and giving your handwriting a new lease on life. Make that call on a land line for a clear and uninterrupted chat and then discuss, over a frosty mug of barley wine and lentil chips, how some old things are worth keeping around. 

And, kids-you might even want to try one of those fancy erasable pens for your note-taking…now that’s technology

My preference for a landline.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Guardians

My son Tom is visiting for a bit. He’s heading back to where he lives in Virginia in a few days but while he’s here, he’s been catching up on his sleep. 

Emerging from his childhood bedroom, he’ll come out tousled and stretching to comment that he doesn’t know “what the hell we do to him” but he sleeps, and naps, more here than anywhere else. He says this somewhat accusingly as if Seth and I might be slipping potions into his milk for the purpose of rendering him unconscious. While this would have been a fabulous idea during his terrible teens, I can assure you that we have never and would never.

The reason Tom sleeps better here is due to the same reason that when I would walk past the living room to my mother’s quarters, finding her either seated in her wingback, watching TV while plying one of several handicrafts she enjoyed or ensconced at her desk writing and humming along to something from her eclectic CD collection, I would start –as had been my original intent – chatting about one thing or another. Inevitably, however, I’d soon be curled up on her bed, enjoying deep and restorative sleep. She might have been a bit disappointed because she always welcomed a good talk but she’d never disturb me.

Simply put, our mothers are the guardians. We are they who will keep the wolf from the door, successfully wrestle the bogeyman into submission, vigilantly protect our sleeping angels -- tiny or full grown -- while they slumber.  That unconscious and restful abandon is why Tommy sleeps so deeply here and why I, a restless and fitful sleeper, would slip into a rejuvenating abyss when my mother sat near.

If you’re lucky, this is the kind of mother you have…or, as in my case, had for the blessed years she was with me on this earth. She’s still with me every day…showing up in dreams, as far away only as a thought or a prayer.
Here’s a little something I wrote once for Mother’s Day…

Mother’s and Trees
At first, you might not think that mothers and trees are similar beings but, upon closer inspection, the similarities cannot be ignored.

Trees and mothers come in many different sizes, shapes and colors. Sofas do, too, for that matter...but sofas are not brave, steadfast and proud. Trees, and mothers, are.

Trees put down roots so their branches will grow strong and be nourished just like mothers do for their children. And, trees are appreciated, respected, enjoyed and also, occasionally, peed on, just like mothers.

They are also sometimes taken for granted as we lean against them for support not unlike how mothers are occasionally thought of by their children. They are part of the landscape, dependably blending into the scene but when it’s raining we rush beneath their boughs for comfort and they become exactly what we need.

And, trees are beautiful…..just like mothers.

Happy Mother's Day

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


IHOP and I--both
60 this year.
I am writing this exactly one week before my 60th birthday. Sixty. The big 6-0. The start of my seventh  decade knocking around this planet being a smartass. This day, when I was little girl -- up to a point,  probably, in my thirties -- seemed very far away.

Sixty seems more daunting than other benchmark birthdays. Thirty was nothing. Forty was a minor shock and fifty was, literally, overlooked. Fifty? Bah---who cares! Especially when others (people in their fifties) insisted that fifty is now considered the “new thirty.” I knew that was nonsense but I was busy, the kids appeared to still need me (although that was a mirage) and my knees hadn’t started hurting in earnest…yet.

But sixty sounds formidable. Even though I didn’t need any special skills to get here, it carries a sort of gravitas.

It’s the gateway to another chapter---one where you become a little more cranky, creaky…and more invisible.

It’s when women of my mother’s generation began wearing lower heels and crisp snap coats to the corner store. They might even have fastened one of those schooner-shaped net kerchiefs, designed to keep their beauty parlor coifs safe in the rain, under their chins. Nobody cared. After all, you were sixty.

Today, women’s uniforms don’t seem to change much. If we were cleavage baring, stiletto-wearing hussies, we continue to be---apparently unto eternity. I’m not saying this is a bad thing as I, myself, hope to wear my jeans and Birkenstocks until the bitter end. But sixty cannot be turned into something “young.” We’re not spring poultry anymore.

My generation fights to stay youthful. We’re capable of spending hefty sums on one (or several) of twenty trillion available skin treatments, endure boob and tushie lifts and text in disturbing abbreviations on our little phones. Men get hair plugs and take viagra. Aging has become something to fear, something to hide from by utilizing a variety of sophisticated defenses. And, while I fret endlessly about diminishing collagen, eye bags and wrinkling knee caps, I realize that, every day, something else has begun sliding downward in need of an artificial boost…and it ain’t stopping.

I have a photo of my grandma, taken soon after her sixtieth birthday. Perched on a swing in a playground, she’s wearing a sensible dress and the saddest expression you’ve ever seen. She wasn’t bemoaning the encroachment of age. I was only two at the time but now understand that this woman was too worn out to have spent much time worrying about getting older. She still worked like a dog everyday, dealing with all kinds of problems and all kinds of people. 

She might have slapped some Jergens on before toppling into bed every night but she didn’t have the luxury to wonder if she should join a gym. Her leisure time was spent with Lawrence Welk or chatting with her sisters, all of whom lived in the same house. She looked and behaved like an “old lady.”

I may look like an old lady but I prance off to the gym, wear sweatshirts with words on them and  shove pedicured feet into fluffy UGGS when it’s chilly. I text (in full, perfectly punctuated sentences, for the record), listen to current music (sometimes) and occasionally use the word “cool.” That doesn’t, however, make me cool. My grandma was cool. She baked every week, washed the floor every night and sewed much of our clothing on an old factory Singer in the damp cellar of our Brooklyn home, sometimes late into the night. I hope someone acknowledged her sixtieth birthday.

I’d also like to say that I greatly appreciate still being here. We all know a startling number of wonderful friends and family who were snatched away and who would have loved to be planning for their sixtieth birthdays. I miss you all terribly and, in your names, promise that I won’t whine too much about it but will truly celebrate, in my heart, that I’ve been given these years, months, days and minutes to enjoy a sunset, browse the aisles of Sephora (where I’m ignored) and tirelessly plot against Justin Bieber.  

I cannot promise that I will always use my time well and never be a jerk, and -- as Seth loves to remind me, a cinder block could fall on my head tomorrow -- but sixty, here I come!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Another Bitchy Review: The 2018 Grammy Awards

Last night at the 2018 Grammy’s, Bono – gray roots showing and looking (and acting) more like the Crypt Keeper every day, escaped his attendants and wandered out on stage during Kendrick Lamar’s pyromaniacal opening act. Obviously confused, he quickly retreated. 

Dave Chappelle, who, apparently, needs his name emblazoned on every article of clothing he owns, soon followed. Rambling a bit, he, too, seemed slightly confused, also disappearing quickly.

Giant duck or swan?
I, myself, had been a bit baffled by Mr. Lamar but it all made sense to me when, soon after, Lady Gaga sang her huge hit about having “one hundred million reasons to fall asleep.” Wait—what? Those aren’t the lyrics? Well, they should be since I nodded off frequently throughout the evening. I did kind of like Gaga’s piano even though it had, obviously, been hit by a poultry truck on the way over to Madison Square Garden.

Rihanna at work

I have, in previous reviews, admitted that I may be getting too old and farty for these musical award shows. Known to scroll for crock pot recipes on my phone during performances that bore me, last night was no different despite many of the chaotic production numbers reminding me of performances from variety shows of the past. For me, this further confirmed the creaky adage that there really is nothing new under the sun--except twerking hadn’t been invented yet, profanity didn’t need to be bleeped from song lyrics and, in those days, Rihanna might have been arrested – mid zumba demonstration—for public indecency. And, while I have finally come to like the song “Despacito” and harbor a strange fascination for the gentleman known as “Daddy Yankee,” I was distracted by the endless crotches and ass cheeks to the point where I forgot what they were singing. 

Miley in 2013 with Robin Thicke.

Miley, last night.
Naughty stuff, but the vice squad didn’t storm the stage because we’ve all become numb to this sort of behavior. Thank you, Miley Cyrus who, last night, dressed for a performance of “La Boheme” in contrast to the nude two-piece she wore to the 2013 VMA awards while rubbing up to Robin Thicke's privates during a hilariously shocking performance of “Blurred Lines.” Thicke’s wife divorced him soon after.  
Jim or Philip Seymour?

Since I did doze a bit,  I do have several questions about what went on last night: Why was Jim Gaffigan pretending to be Philip Seymour Hoffman? Why did Sarah Silverman travel though a wind tunnel that puffed up both her hair and boobs to alarming and uncharacteristic proportions? Is Childish Gambino really childish? Why does Scissor spell her name SZA? Why did the airlines lose Pink’s luggage and from which lunch lady did she borrow her outfit? Why was Rihanna wearing a shower curtain early in the evening? Why was Sam Smith wearing a lab coat and pajamas? Why didn’t Elton John, dressed as an extra from a Marvel Comics movie, sing his own song? What motivated Sting to untangle himself from an extended session of tantric sex with his wife long enough to show up for the telecast and, most importantly, why won’t my husband, Shemar Moore, return my calls?

What the heck, Sarah?

Regular readers of my reviews know I love Gary Clark who – in a glorious purple velvet suit -- paid tribute to the recently deceased Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry, if you’ve forgotten, is known both for the groundbreaking style with which he approached early rock and roll as well as for placing multiple video cameras in the stalls of the lady’s room of the motel he once owned and -- while we’re at it -- will someone please remember that Jay-Z, who is treated like the second coming of Christ, once sold crack on the streets of Brooklyn, New York.

Patti Lupone still has the pipes to awe the crowd, Cindy Lauper, even singing background for the ever- grubby Kesha (yes, I know what happened to her)) and the diminutively dynamic Bruno Mars always warm my cold heart.

I kind of missed this....
Last night’s audience, responding with more recognition to the far, far less accomplished Ben Platt (one-time Tony winner for a leading role in a Broadway play) than for the legendary Leonard Bernstein, was missing the obnoxious front row dance stylings of Miss Taylor Swift. Instead Lorde sat like a zombie, apparently dead until someone waved Elton John's sneakers under her nose.

No, not this Shaggy....
This one!
Refusing to be subjected to anything about politics and/or current “movements” that pinned wilted white roses to everyone’s lapels, and preferring an era when the Grammys were all about the music, I fled at the slightest indication that something of that nature was on the way. Thank goodness, because rumor has it that Hilary appeared and that would have definitely harshed the mellow I’d achieved during the all-too brief appearance of my beloved "It Wasn't Me" Shaggy. I also tried to minimize (more recipe searches on my phone) the giddy blathering ("Oh, there are celebrities around me!!!") of the self-besotted James Corden who, like Hilary, just won’t go away. 

Afloat  in the harbor....

To my horror/gratitude, my DVR went only until eleven and I awoke to find I’d slept through the final awards. I hear Bono made it back from the floating stage in the river but, reportedly, the “Edge” panicked after his cap was blown off, diving into the frigid water after it. Luckily, Lady Gaga, floating by on her piano, was able to rescue him though the cap was never recovered.

That’s it, friends. I know I’m nasty but tough times require a hard heart…or something like that. I now have several good crock pot recipes lined up and look forward to trying them. I’d be happy to share them if you’re interested!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Betty Boop is Dead

Yes, Betty, you should look worried.
Archie (a cat), hates our Christmas tree. Or, just maybe, he loves it so much that he wants to become one with it and I (not a cat) might be interpreting this love as destructive behavior.  Either way, thanks to Archie, our tree looks like hell.

We stopped getting real trees after a mysterious blight caused the prices in Brooklyn tree lots everywhere to skyrocket. 

Combine this with Seth’s discomfort with the equation of drying greenery plus electricity and, suddenly, a fake tree seemed appropriate. Realistic fakes were a new concept back then but we found one that looked legit. Or, that’s what we chose to believe. We also vowed that this was only until the prices of real trees returned to acceptable levels. Thirty years and a few incarnations of artificial tree later, we’re still faking it.

Enter Archie the Cat. We adopted him last November and despite our doting, he feared if he wasn’t polite, he’d be out on his little cat ass, spending new Year’s Eve back at the shelter. He might have thought the tree, with its’ multitude of temptations, was some sort of test. So, Archie circled and sniffed but didn’t do any of the things those naughty internet cats do like roosting in the branches, swinging at the decorations or even tipping the whole thing to the floor. 

Don't get too comfy in that
champagne glass, Betty.

We were thrilled, assuming we’d been blessed with a miracle kitten who was charming in every way yet had no interest in Christmas trees (this, obviously, being a huge asset on cat resumes). The closest the tree got to getting wrecked was after Seth had a third martini at a party and tried to slow dance with it once we got home.

So, we bragged to our friends --many of whom had awful cat-related tree stories -- that Archie understood to stay away from it because he was that smart. As readers of this blog, you know that if Szolds brag, they will be punished…

Acting coy will not save you.
So, this year, not only did Archie appear to be on some wild hallucinogen while the tree was being assembled but he broke the sound barrier racing around the room, attempted to string the lights all by himself, picked up ornaments in his mouth and ran away with them and dipped a paw in everyone’s eggnog. What is happening, we wondered! Why had dignity and restraint turned to mayhem? Why was our little genius behaving like a total maniac (or, an actual cat)?

It got worse. Archie enjoys snoozing midway up the tree or drowsily cleaning himself on a 'shelf" of branches, flailing wildly at the fragile baubles and clambering straight up the side of the tree in one swift ascent. He’s also removed every ornament from the bottom branches, happily rolling them into the far corners of the house.

And pouting will get you nowhere.

Soon, there were sharp slivers of paper-thin glass all over the floor. My dust buster lost its charge from working overtime and we had to put away special ornaments, including precious specimens made by the kids and already held together by yellowing tape. Cowering downstairs, we hear crashing and tinkling every night, followed by the clatter of whatever he’s destroyed bouncing down each step as it becomes a plaything for this madman.

Yes, I'd be pissed, too.
The tree is a disheveled mess. Every morning, I pick up more ornaments he’s kicked around, readjust the lights and bend the branches back into position. Every night Archie does all he can to undo my work. Today, we found Betty Boop in pieces on the stairs. We thought we’d removed all surviving fragile ornaments but Archie found Betty and murdered her, leaving her carcass in silvery shards under the coffee table.

If Archie weren’t so cute, this would be more of a problem. Clearly, he feels secure in our love and doesn’t fear eviction. In fact, I am guilty of chuckling indulgently at many of his hijinks. When poor Seth recently dropped a delicate ornament, I screamed bloody murder at him so his nose is a bit out of joint about this whole double standard type situation but he, too, is enchanted by all things pussycat though he will vehemently deny that.

Archie says hi.

Uh-oh, I just heard a crash from upstairs….enjoy your pre-Christmas prep, friends! And thank God it comes but once a year!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Fightin' Around the Christmas Tree

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree….When Charlie was at college, we started the practice of putting up our Christmas tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving. School schedules often interfere with family traditions and, since we enjoy decorating the tree together, it was either do it right after the leftovers were put away or wait until so close to Christmas that there wasn’t enough time with the tree to make all that work worthwhile. 

At the Christmas party hop…College days are behind us and Charlie is a new husband yet, this year, based on everyone’s busy schedules, tree day arrived right on time. So, just as the Thanksgiving dishes were finally washed and digesting was officially over, the moment felt right.

Mistletoe hung where you can see…Let’s move the end table and chairs out of the room, boys…let’s send poor Dad into the attic for the cartons and boxes while Mom grits her teeth and bakes cookies so if Martha Stewart barges in to measure festivity levels in our home, we get a good grade. And, hey--Tom and Charlie, don’t forget---it’s time to painfully rehash sibling rivalries and childhood vendettas as favorite ornaments are unwrapped and hung with care on pine boughs that, yet again this year, have nearly scratched off both of Dad’s corneas.

Every couple tries to stop…The difference this year is that Charlie’s wife, Anastasia, is with us on tree day for the first time. She may not yet be aware that Szolds often say “I love you” by screaming themselves hoarse over hot cocoa. Anastasia is also about to learn that Mom expresses her deep affection for her family with a crying fit or two. Often brought about by an artifact of her children’s youth making an appearance, Mom is easily unhinged since she’s already deeply overwrought by repeated failures to recreate scenes from mainstream America as dreamt up by the minds of the sadists who write for the Hallmark Channel.

You will get a sentimental feeling when you hear...This year we took it a step further and wove politics into the mix thereby upping the time frame for shouting, hand waving, eye rolling and, of course, Mom’s crying. Anastasia, having prepared for this by studying books about conflict resolution in wartime, stood up, chose an ornament and began decorating. The shiny object in her hand distracted us and we followed suit, slowly becoming absorbed in our project. Tom and Charlie sought out their first baby ornaments which prompted more tears from Mom but the brave daughter-in-law knew what to do...bustling into the kitchen, she freshened the marshmallows in everyone’s mug and patted us all on the heads. “That’s a good girl,” she said to Mom, pressing a tissue into her hand so she’d stop using her sleeve and ruffling what’s left of Dad’s hair to encourage him to add a string of lights to a bare spot in the back.

Voices singing…Bravely stepping between the boys who suddenly remembered they were supposed to be fighting, she tossed a handful of silver-wrapped Hershey kisses into the air and, with the laser pointer, diverted not only Tito the Cat from dismantling the tree’s bottom branches but also distracted Tom and Charlie as -- with chocolate on their lips -- they scurried off to chase the beam of light with the cat.

Let’s be jolly…Before we realized it, the tree was complete and the negativity dispelled. Feeling a sense of accomplishment, we sat back and admired our work. While the men nibbled on treats and happily batted at the shiny bells and balls, I thanked my lucky stars that we have Anastasia in the mix. Not only did she help us refocus upon the task at hand but also restored the theme of peace on earth that’s generally encouraged at this time of year.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly…I hope those of you who get, shall we say, a bit emotional around this time of year and before the conversation inevitably turns to whether there’s truth to the allegations that Santa’s been sexually harassing the elves for years -- you get yourselves a great daughter-in-law like I have. 


Friday, November 3, 2017

Touching Base

Weeeehooo! Sometimes, as a Mets fan (yes, I said it), I forget that baseball doesn’t have to be an angst-ridden nightmare but can actually be fun. Game five of the World Series last night, extending well into the wee hours of the morning, was proof of that!

Yuli Gurriel of the hair ever.
Is a baseball game -- with countless pitching changes, juiced-up baseballs creating endless home runs and jarring close-ups of the player’s grooming trends (flapping rooster combs of tonsorial insanity, flowing ginger locks and scalp carvings in shades of the rainbow) – a bit too long? Perhaps. 

Is the use of instant-replay a buzz kill…yep. Are steroids still a problem…maybe. Are umps still blind…often. But it’s baseball! And baseball is fun! For me, the best parts are when these overgrown babies in cleats smile.

Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers and his 'do.
Having raised sons, I am innately programmed to enjoy smiling males. It’s a give-away that they’re not trying to murder one another in the pool, on the trampoline or at breakfast and it, automatically, makes a mother happy. Watching on hi-def TV from the comfort of my recliner, puts me right at home plate where I can enjoy the action…and the smiling.

Justin Turner needs a trim.

The best moments also include jumping, bounding, leaping, high-fiving, pitchers hugging catchers, catchers hugging pitchers and similar acts of jubilation. As for the smiles, my favorites are the ones that cannot be suppressed. 

These are the smiles that occur after a great hit or play when the player wants to appear cool and detached despite his good fortune. But the smile of a happy boy cannot be contained. It sneaks up on the smiler, often appearing on base, on the bench or even on the lips of those grim managers as they pace behind rail or net. Last night, as the Astros took us on the extended odyssey of game five against the Los Angeles Dodgers, there was lots of smiling in Texas.
A dark time for Brooklyn.

I’m rooting for Houston for many reasons. First and foremost, the Dodgers are stinking traitors who left Brooklyn in 1957 and Walter O’Malley can kiss my….oops, sorry. But, after the misery Houston continues to endure thanks to the waters of Hurricane Harvey, I think a world series victory would be very nice.

Baseball has a long history of being an excellent distraction during troubled times. During the great Depression of the 1930’s, attendance sagged yet fans still managed to come to the ballpark to forget their troubles. They couldn’t afford a hot dog but they were able to sit back and, for nine innings, concentrate on something other than their woes. In fact, some say that time period fostered the greatest era baseball has known to date.

This need for baseball increased its popularity so, that by the time World War Two enveloped the United States, even President Roosevelt endorsed America’s national pastime. His famous “Green Light” Letter emphasized the importance of keeping baseball vibrant during such darkness. "I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going," the president responded when asked by baseball’s commissioner if it should be suspended during the height of the war. If that’s not proof it’s a grand distraction, what is?

It’s always been an escape and source of joy for my own family. Early on, baseball became a happy distraction for my immigrant clan as they adjusted to life in America. Inevitably, they embraced the rag tag heroism of the Brooklyn Dodgers, later signing on as Mets fans since rooting for underdogs had become a family tradition.

My sons were schooled by my baseball loving mother to embrace the concept that baseball is, indeed, life. Both Tom and Charlie love playing and watching. Often, as a family, we’d gather to become absorbed in what was happening on that green jewel of a field. Arguments -- some friendly, some distinctly not – kept our adrenalin pumping. You need to know the rules and appreciate its nuances. You must understand that its pace is not boring but, rather, a garden of potential for the exhilarating split second that will make you either holler or smile…even the oldest on the team, or the couch, becoming boyish after a great grab or hit.

I look forward to the remainder of this World Series and, hopefully, plan on doing some smiling myself! *

*Obviously the World Series is over and I was very happy with the outcome. Congrats to the Houston Astros---what a great series!

Friday, October 6, 2017

The News Today

This was written as a column for my local paper just a few hours after the shootings in Las Vegas.
I offer it as a post for this blog with a heavy heart but not one without hope for the future....XO

Ironically, my topic for this week’s column was going to be about my recent hijinks at a casino. 

A venue I so rarely visit, I found myself developing a sore elbow in front of a slot machine during a family get-together in Saratoga Springs, New York. It was a wonderful weekend.

But, this very morning, we all awoke to more terrible news. And, as residents so very close to the site of another horrific massacre, we had no choice but to revisit the all-too familiar feelings of anxiety, fear and sorrow. My original topic was no longer appropriate…and my weekend was, virtually, forgotten.

This column is not going to be about gun control vs. the Second Amendment and the many variations upon those themes (not that I don’t have my opinions). I can only wax on about the issues we face today as sentient beings in an increasingly unmoored society--the growing number of worries that jockey for position in our overwhelmed brains…the apprehension that accompanies our every waking step, often trailing into our subconscious at night.

I wish I had some lovely optimism to fluff on about here. That’s hard to muster not 24 hours after this tragedy. Originally unaware of where this nightmare unfolded and making sure none of my kids were in the vicinity, I was able to calm my pounding heart only to remind myself of the parents whose children just wanted to enjoy a concert and are never coming home.

Right after the Newtown shooting, while bathed in anxious grief and rage, I spotted a small hand-lettered sign stuck into the ground outside of Target, visible to those waiting in line at the light. It simply read “Good things happen, too.” It made me burst into tears yet it also made me feel better.

I recently read about one of my favorite celebrities, Mr. Rogers. A man as kind and sweet in private as the persona he embodied on his television show, he shared something his mother said when he was little. She’d told him that, in times of crisis, to always “look for the helpers.” There will “always be helpers,” she advised. That made him feel safer and when I read it, it made me feel safer, too.

We all value our “first responders” as we now call them. There was a bunch of fireman shopping in a local supermarket last week and I watched them appreciatively, happy even to be near them. Fred Rogers’ mother understood long ago how these “helpers” make such a difference to us all. To say we “thank” them is an understatement. We deeply love them. The “helpers” were there last night.

Just today, I had a conversation with a customer service rep named Evelyn after placing an order. While she clicked about on her computer, we discussed what had happened in Las Vegas. Both parents, at first we fretted together about the usual things parents fear most. Afterward, Evelyn wistfully recalled a time where people were comfortable about disagreeing with one another, family was strong, we weren’t muzzled by the very extreme end of the political correctness spectrum and the internet didn’t pollute minds and indoctrinate people into evil. We were both very sad, concluding our exchange with a sincere wish for each other’s peace and safety (plus, she adjusted my shipping charges). Evelyn was a philosopher with a headset, solving the trivial dilemmas of shoppers and pondering life. Like all of us.

So, while I have no words and my balm will be cat videos and phone catch-ups later with my kids, I send love to you all as well as prayers for the apparent impossibility that people practice love instead of hate. But nothing is impossible--isn’t that what they say?

Maybe if we can achieve this, one household at a time, things will look up a bit. Maybe it will even catch on. And if you’d like to discuss all this with Evelyn, I can get you her number. I think she’d be happy to hear from you.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The 2017 Emmys Review: Brief and Mean

Hollywood and I are breaking up.

I’m waiting for the right moment to tell it since, after last night’s Emmys, I realize we have nothing in common. Other than Carol Burnett, that is…we're both still pretty gaga over her. 

But that’s no longer enough, Hollywood…we are through.

When, during a three hour award show, the classiest woman to be found is RuPaul, in full regalia, pretending to be an Emmy Statuette, you know you’re in trouble. No, you cannot count Emmy Rossum no matter how good she looked because, thanks to "Shameless," we've all seen her boobies more times than I can count and even Alexis Bleidel, looking more like a baby deer caught in the headlights than ever, is disqualified after her recent participation in the unnecessarily atrocious (as in it could have been wonderful) revival of “The Gilmore Girls.”

Last night’s women, who illustrated -- en masse -- that the fashion statement of the evening was matching the colorful gems in their borrowed Chopard earrings with the gem in their borrowed rings, were the tackiest bunch of potty mouths I have experienced since I was caught in traffic on the George Washington Bridge. But I was alone and not on live TV.

And, if they weren’t discussing peeing, or expressing their interest in owning a vibrator or naming their boobs (Dolly Parton is guilty of both of these crimes), they were actually getting bleeped by the network censors. And censors are relatively chill these days.

...there are no good roles for women
out there.

Several also spent their camera time bleating about how grateful they are that Hollywood is finally beginning to provide good roles for women. What in the name of Scarlett O’Hara are they talking about?

Have they forgotten about Vivien Leigh, standing in the ravaged fields of Tara, shaking a gnarled carrot at the sky? Or, Vivien, again, depending on the kindness of strangers or Merle Oberon on the English moors with Heathcliff, Bette Davis experiencing a “bumpy night,” Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce or, more recently, Cate Blachette, Kate Winslett of Whoopie Goldberg showing us all how it’s done?

Oh, Archie.

But, since this was a night about the “small screen,” how about Diahann Carroll as the independent Julia, Maureen Stapleton’s “Edith” who showed up the small–minded Archie almost every week with her innate wisdom and dignity or Mary Tyler Moore who proved to women everywhere that you don’t need a husband to be successful or content. Roles for women? Where have Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and others, been hiding? If Cecily Tyson had been alive last night, she might have had a sharp word or two for them.

Not in favor of inclusion.

Inclusion was also a big theme. I’m all for it. But if I’d been a member of any of the groups specifically mentioned again and again, I would have been cringing by the night’s end. If any group needed defending last night, it was whatever birds gave their life for the second fashion statement of the night-- feathered dresses. Those birds had zero representation based on the look of things.

It only got uglier. Literally. 

Enter the misguided trio of unfortunate surgery--Lily Tomlin appeared with very oddly shaped cheek implants that were so low I nearly mistook them for breast implants. Her companion, Dolly Parton, looked as pumped up as the mutant chicken breasts I avoided in Stop ‘n’ Shop last week but the worst offender was Jane Fonda, fresh from her lastest alteration. Her gleaming face was so tight that her odd braying laughter and wink to the audience were barely achievable. These two brilliant women, plus Jane (have you actually seen her act?) should have the gravitas of years of combined experience. Instead Dolly made bra jokes.


For me, there were a few highlights: Donald Glover made me want to binge watch “Atlanta: asap, I love Dave Chappelle almost unconditionally and Alexander Skarsgard needs only to Alexander Skarsgard to make me smile. Speaking of smiling, I’m happy when Kate McKinnon is happy and I love (and am a little afraid of) Ann Dowd although she was far better in “The Leftovers” than in “The Handmaid’s Tale” for which she won her Emmy. I also want to thank Debra Messing for forgetting to pack her dress but improvising with not one but several shower curtains ripped from the rods of a local Ramada Inn.

I was also very happy for newcomer Riz Ahmed who won for his break-out role in “The Night Of.”  And, for the record, I also wish that someone would help Viola Davis find a pair of shoes she can actually walk in. 

Welcome to the dark side, baby....
Rumor has it that Alec Baldwin’s current wife was surreptitiously passing out notes requesting that people “Please help!” her and that the man pretending to be Dennis Quaid last night has been taken into custody for kidnapping the real Dennis Quaid. Dennis, why? At least he and his ex, Meg Ryan now look equally terrifying thanks to unfortunate choices in cosmetic surgeons.

Over all, the night was dismal but I have yet to acknowledge the absolute worst of it….his name is Steven Colbert. Self-satisfied and predictable showcaser of his self-perceived gift for comedy, he ran the show the same way he hosts the formerly excellent “Late Show.” It’s all about him…no, really. 

I just love......ME!!!
He and Jimmy Fallon are tied for who can focus less on their guests and more on themselves. The generations who loved Johnny Carson (and even Leno and Letterman), understand that it’s the guests who are there to shine and the hosts responsibility to make sure that happens. Or at least it used to be. Colbert is unequaled for smugness and self appreciation. Feh.

I may finally be done with award shows.

Hey, wait a minute...I WAS there last night!!!!!