Sexy, Schmexy

Ok, so the interweb pretty much blew up (in a matter of speaking) over Miley Cyrus’ recent performance on the VMAs.

Here’s my one and only statement on the matter:

Miley Cyrus does not shock me with her recent behavior. She looks ridiculous. It’s like she’s trying SO HARD to be edgy and hip and putting the fact that she has a functioning vagina out there that it all just winds up looking stupid and trashy. The collective response to the whole thing was not, as I’m assuming she had hoped, “Wow, Miley’s an adult artist now!” but more like a very big, “Hrmphythsgh?” followed by a lot of squinting, brow furrowing and head tilting.

And she needs to just keep her damn tongue in her mouth. That’s not sexy. It makes her look like a cow.

I know she’s trying to look mature, but I’ve checked with my friends, who are all grown-ass women, and none of them do this. None. (Unless they have chocolate sauce in the corner of their mouth.)

Besides, I’m concerned that her chiropractic bills from all that twerking will be astronomical.

Goop, Schmoop

I seem to have a growing irritation with all things Gwyneth Paltrow. I think she’s a decent enough actress — that isn’t my issue. I think it’s her declarative statements about how she’s just a normal gal, and her recent self-positioning as a “lifestyle guru” that have me a bit irked. (She also considers herself a nice Jewish girl, and while I appreciate the shout-out, when your mother is the ultimate shiksa goddess you really can’t claim to be of the tribe. Well, I guess you can, but we don’t have to claim her back.)

One day I decided to visit her website, just to see if it was as “out there” as I had heard. Turns out that it’s full of super down-to-earth, helpful hints. For example, do you find yourself wondering what to wear this season? Gwyneth has it in the bag:

“The ubiquitous sailor stripe is not going anywhere.”

Well, thank G-d.

“Big bold stripes in jarring colors are the way to go, and the really daring will wear stripes with other stripes, patterns and lots of color.”

I don’t really think I want to look like a circus clown on speed, thank you very much.

“P.S., get on this trend right away, because NEXT season is all about the polka dot!”

You know, I think I’ll ride this current trend out. That’s a lot of pressure.  I need to rest up for the polka dot, which apparently will be the entire focal point of our collective existence.

“Worn by day, the long skirt—whether full or pleated—is completely at ease anywhere. I like to see this silhouette paired with flats; the juxtaposition of the two make it a more casual and languid look. Wear with an oversized blazer, a belted cardigan or even a bomber jacket to complete the look.”

First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever looked languid in my life. I wouldn’t know where to begin. Also, you need to weigh about three pounds to pull off this look. The rest of us would look like bag ladies.

“The Best Accessory: A smile! Just remember, you are never fully dressed without a smile!”

This is not helpful. I think if I were smiling while wearing a long skirt, oversized blazer with jarring colors and big stripes, I’d be committed.

By the way, in another area of her site, she also offers a nice gift suggestion: a $52.50 flyswatter. (I am not making that up.)

I think if she just owned up to the fact that she has had an extremely privileged life and basically has had her career handed to her, I wouldn’t be as annoyed. But no, she is trying to be an Everywoman, who has worked so hard to earn everything she has, and true, while she is married to a rock star and is besties with Madonna, she really understands what the rest of us need to live our best lives.

I speak only for myself, but I can’t take advice from this woman. I am single, eat compulsively, I have a cat who yells at me,  and I have days where I’m just grateful my socks match and I haven’t spilled coffee down my front.

I should write my own lifestyle guide. It would be about a paragraph long, and would contain pearls such as:

  • This season is all about clean clothes. Do your laundry occasionally. Stripes? Paisley pashminas? Feh. Just try not to look homeless.
  • Please microwave your leftover veggie burger before eating it standing over the sink. It is not a burgsicle. While you are waiting, pour some wine in your coffee mug, but let it breathe. Or just blow on it. It’s a $8 bottle of pinot from Trader Joe’s, for Pete’s sake.
  • Need a last minute gift? Forget the French boutiques. Try rifling through your closet for that pen set someone gave you two years ago, throw it in a gift bag, and hope to G-d the recipient isn’t the person who originally gave it to you.

I think it would be a best seller. At least my Mom would buy it.



In Vino Veritas. Kinda.

Apropos of nothing, I’ve decided that I’m going to lay off the Pinot for a while. True, I only have one glass (-ish) on the rare occasions that I do imbibe (we’re not talking a Mad Men level here) , but there’s some sort of chemical change-over that happens with the first sip of wine and all of a sudden whatever my table companions are talking about becomes FABULOUS and FASCINATING and I must ask them what I am sure are absolutely BRILLIANT and INSIGHTFUL questions because they are just the must INTERESTING dinner companions I have ever had. And yes, nice server person, everything at the TABLE is WONDERFUL and I’m just so pleased with the MARGARITA PIZZA that my friends insisted that we order, it’s just GREAT, THANK YOU. Oh my goodness, EXTRA NAPKINS!

And, friend of my friend who I just met, could you PLEASE tell me more about the home appliance you just bought (immersion blenders are AWESOME), and the show you that you saw at your niece’s school sounds SO WELL DONE I’m sure she was EXTREMELY TALENTED and was the BEST DINOSAUR in the play.

I’m still a little queasy, but that’s probably due more to the feigned interest in a stranger’s life story.

I wonder if I can feign enthusiasm in other areas of my life. Let’s try…COFFEE! I must have some coffee RIGHT AWAY!

And it will be WONDERFUL coffee and I shall put SPLENDA in it! And perhaps I will also make myself some OATMEAL! That would be GREAT! OATMEAL is good for CHOLESTEROL! Oh, I MUST do the DISHES! Think of all the SOAP! Oh look, the MAIL! I love LIFE!

Yeah, never mind.


Fighting Crime With Really Big 80s Hair

Ok, this is HUGE news.

According to the news feed I get from Yahoo…

“KITT, the flame-throwing, river-jumping, talking muscle car from the `80s TV show ‘Knight Rider,’ is up for sale. Restored to its debut-season glory, the modified black 1982 Pontiac Trans Am is offered at $149,995 at a Dublin auto dealership.”

Let’s start a collection. Who’s with me?

“It is one of four documented “camera cars” used for close-up shots and scenes where David Hasselhoff, who played Michael Knight in the series, was behind the wheel.”

David Hasselhoff! Behind the wheel! But does that increase the value or lower it?

“Although it cannot achieve the 300 mph speeds that KITT reached, soar 50 feet in the air or throw smoke bombs, key features of the star car are intact. Perhaps most important, the red scanner light on the nose glows and makes a humming noise.”

OOOH. A humming noise.

The red nose glows? Is this the Rudolph of television cars? Did all the other cars laugh and call him names? You know it’s pretty bad when you get dissed by the Munster Mobile.

“The car has two working video screens on the dashboard, and the cockpit features buttons that light up in green, yellow and red: ski mode, rocket boost, micro jam, silent mode, oil slick and eject.”

Ski mode, rocket boost and eject I understand. This is important when you’re catching ’80s criminals on the slopes or in space. (Just make sure you dress in layers under your “Member’s Only” jacket.) But what the hell is micro jam? Something you put on tiny little pieces of toast?

“’Most of the buttons don’t do anything,’ Verhoek said. ‘Nor can the car hold a conversation or drive itself.’”

I think it’s funny they felt the need to be specific on the last two points.

“’KITT isn’t even street legal because of missing smog equipment and other modifications. Whoever buys the car will probably keep it in a private collection, or it may be purchased by a museum,’ Verhoek said.”

As long as it goes to a museum that also houses Alf, anything from “Manimal” and Joan Collins’ wigs. Or just Joan herself. I would go there.

Wait – it isn’t street legal because of MISSING smog equipment? Like if you stuck a new smog machine on there it could be cruising on I-55?

“The car belongs to Tim Russo of Livermore, a Kassabian customer who figured now was a good time to test the market, with the 25th anniversary of the show’s debut coming up. Russo purchased the car 10 years ago at an auction in San Diego, and has spent the last decade finding parts to restore it.”

I bet ejector seats and car skis were very hard to come by. I don’t think they have them at Wal-Mart. And he’ll probably spend the next decade trying to find someone to buy it.

“The winning bid at auction will also come with a private concert by the Hoff himself.”

It will cost you another 15k to make him go away.

I hope KITT finds a home. And no one is subjected to a Hasselfest. I’d love to bid on it, but I’m saving up for when Wonder Woman’s invisible plane goes on the market.

Idiot Mittens

There are some people who make my face twitch. People who I just can’t stand, for any concrete reason. They come from all walks of life – city, suburbs, Fox News (sorry, easy joke from the obvious liberal). I’m reminded of a kid I used to work with who fell into this category. Not only was he particularly irritating, he was generally clueless in a way that really made me fear for his overall well-being. We had a conversation once that left me mind-boggled. It featured me, the co-worker whose desk was next to mine, and Irritating Guy:

Guy Who Sits Next to Me: Hey, is the Heritage Festival this weekend?

Me: Yup. If you go, you should stop by my booth. I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday.

Irritating Guy (IG)(interrupting conversation): Why do you have a booth? Are you working there?

Me: Yes, my theater company has a booth.

IG:  You have a theater company?

Me: I’m part of it.

IG: What do you guys…do?

Me: (Pause) What does a theater do?

IG: Yeah.

Me: Ummmm….plays?

IG: Oh. So why do you call it a Company?

Me: (Flummoxed) Because it’s a group of people…

IG: (Blank stare)

Me: It’s a business.

IG: Oh. What kind of plays do you do?

Me: Well, we just did “Hamlet”…

IG: Shakespeare.

Me: Riiight…we did “The Glass Menagerie” last year.

IG: The what?

Me: Glass Menagerie? Tennessee Williams?

IG: (Blank stare)

Me: Tennessee Williams? Ever heard of him?

IG: Nope.

Me: Really? One of the preeminent playwrights of the 20th century?

IG: (Blank stare. Picks up a pen to write the name down.) T.S?

Me:  TENNESSEE. (Pause) Look him up. (Pause) Really? You never…really?

At that point I just smiled benignly at him, sighed and went back to my desk where I immediately emailed my mother. We had just had a conversation about incorrect punctuation, mostly regarding my major grammatical pet peeve — inappropriate use of the apostrophe — so I figured she was the best person with whom to share this item. (She’s an English teacher.) I wrote for several paragraphs, going on about how this guy had never heard of Tennessee Williams, the state of public education, and should I be surprised that he hasn’t heard of him, what are they teaching kids today, boy I won’t let that happen when I’m an English teacher, yadda yadda yadda. Her response?

“He’s an idiot.”

My mother has a gift for nutshelling things.

Some Enchanted Evening…

I’ve had some weirdo dreams lately. I’ve been on summer vacation for exactly a week now, so maybe it’s my brain finally starting to relax and let loose. Not too loose, however. In one part of my dream last night, someone started to break out into song – a song I didn’t recognize. I thought, “Great. One of the three songs in the Western cannon of popular music that I don’t know. Stop it. Stop it now!”

I guess I won’t allow song and dance numbers even in my dreams.

Speaking of songs and dances, Liza-with-a-Z made a cameo appearance as well. I asked Ms. Minnelli for career advice. I don’t remember what she said, but it may have included staying the hell away from David Gest.

The other night, I did synchronized swimming with Keenan Ivory Wayans, found out Jane Lynch did not want to be my best friend, and discussed repairing microwave ovens with Howard Wolowitz from “The Big Bang Theory.”

I may want to revisit my pre-bedtime diet, because, damn.

Don’t Send Me Email Forwards…

For some reason, I’m exhausted. And then I get stressed about being exhausted because I always feel like there’s something I should be doing, but I’m just too tired to do it. Consequently, I haven’t slept more than about 3 hours in a row in the last week and a half. I’m so tired I’m almost giddy. However, tired as I am, “Two and a Half Men” still doesn’t make me laugh, so obviously I haven’t completely lost it.

An acquaintance recently sent me this email forward. It’s a cute list, written by someone, entitled, “Things I’ve Learned.” Usually, I just skim through them, think, “Oh, that’s clever,” and hit delete. I was feeling a little punchy, so I decided to write my own responses to the list. Below is the original list that she sent me, (numbered, italicized and it quotations), followed by my responses.

1. “I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid Ghetto” routing option.”

I wish when you typed in an address in satellite “street view” they actually showed you that street, not something kinda close. I want to see where I’m going, not something over yonder.

2. “Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.”

Then you have to get creative, and change the point of the argument. Then when the person says, “Wait, aren’t we talking about car tires?” you can wail, “I can’t BELIEVE you think this is about CAR TIRES!”

3. “I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.”

Well, you can’t. Suck it up and be tired. Put down your blankie and deal.

4. “There is a great need for a sarcasm font.”

Yeah, sometimes the little winking guy icon juuuust doesn’t cover it.

5. “Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what was going on when I first saw it.”

I could watch “Syriana” in 10 years and I still won’t know.

6. “I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.”

I do this, but I only make it about 3 feet into the house before I simply plop the bags down on the floor and yell, “Food!” And then if I get no help, I wind up taking each bag into the kitchen individually. Takes twice as long, but I get to feel indignant and that’s always fun.

7. “I think part of your best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die…”

<Whispers> Bottom drawer…nightstand…

8. “Was learning cursive really necessary?”

How else would we identify the serial killers? “Oooh, look at this manifesto…he had a weird L. See that L? That’s the L of a killer, everyone…oh hello, Pastor Johnson….”

9. “Whenever someone says ‘I’m not book smart, but I’m street smart’, all I hear is ‘I’m not real smart, but I’m imaginary smart.'”

Because it’s usually some white kid from the ‘burbs who says that. In their case, “street smart” means they use Google Earth to find the nearest Starbucks.

10. “Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using ‘as in’ examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss’s last name to an attorney and said ‘Yes that’s G as in…(10 second lapse)..ummm…Goonies.'”

I once said, “P as in pork chop.” Hand to G-d.

11. “MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.”

They could start on #1 if they were more detailed. Like, “Go out the back door because your annoying neighbor is washing his car and will want to chat.” Or, “Take care not to hit the whiny kid who is riding his bike down the middle of the street and doesn’t have the sense to get out of the way.

Or even better…

1. Are you sure you want to be wearing that outfit?

2. Seriously?

3. It does nothing for your ass.

4. Last time you wore it, you complained that it rode up. Ok, but don’t bitch about it.

5. Merge onto 355N

12. “Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.”

Only if the obituary read, “Details are sketchy, but the death appears to have involved a watermelon, a pair of leiderhosen and a spatula…” That would be interesting.

13. “Bad decisions make good stories.”

 Bad dates make better ones.

14. “Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I’m from; this shouldn’t be a problem…”

Usually the name and place part goes ok; it’s when people try to be funny that it goes horribly wrong. Look dude, you’re not Jon Stewart. Just say you have two kids and coach soccer and MOVE ON.

15. “You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you’ve made up your mind that you just aren’t doing anything productive for the rest of the day.”

For me it was always 1:25 PM. Can’t explain it; it was just always 1:25 PM. If I was in a meeting I would just sigh loudly. People never knew why.

16. “Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don’t want to have to restart my collection.”

Look, we all said that after videos and cassette tapes. There is a point in the technology stream, however, when we all just have to throw up our hands and just start acting out the films for each other in our living rooms.

17. “I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.”

I’ve learned the hard way that the answer is always YES. YESYESYESYES.

18. “I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it’s on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.”

And if it’s on shuffle, why does it always play all the same artists together? Or if not the same artists, then the same era. Can we just get past the ’70s, Mr. iPod? Pleeeeeze? Shuffle! Shuffle! Like a deck of cards!

19. “Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.”

That’s how you know it’s time to put down the Pinot and go home.

20. “Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, phone in their purse, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet my ass everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time…”

I can reset it in my sleep. I’m THAT good.

If this trend continues, I may wind up sending out responses to family newsletters. I don’t see that ending well.


Out Of The Mouths Of…

As the school year is winding down, I find myself dreaming about the hot weather of the coming summer, which is weird, because before I became a teacher I hated the summer – the humidity, the sweating, the flip flops. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be teaching, as I’m in the middle of a career crisis (after three years), but every so often I’m surprised by the things that come out of the mouths of my current students. I’m not talking about the cursing, or the grammatical snafus, but of the odd, out-of-left-field stuff that plops itself on my desk every so often.

Take yesterday. I had just assigned my sixth graders an autobiographical poem — ten lines, and I pretty much tell them what to write on each line. Line four was to be “Three things I don’t like.” Francisco came up to my table and asked if he could write that he didn’t like the Romans.

“What do you have against the Romans?”

“Well,” he replied, “They stole all the Greek’s gods because they couldn’t come up with any of their own.”

Fair enough. But wait for it…wait for it…

“And they tortured Jesus.”

There it is.

I have another student who apparently was “almost arrested” the other day. I asked him why.

“I don’t know, miss. I wasn’t doing anything.”

“Well, you must have been doing something.”

“No, I was just sitting there.”


“In front of the One Stop.”

“DeShaun, that’s a liquor store. What were you doing there?”

“I was with some people..the cop thought they were…”

“You need to stop hanging out with these people.”

“No, miss. Can’t. One of them has the new Xbox.”

Glad to see priorities are in order.

I’ve also been asked if I thought Obama was the antichrist, and if I was worried about North Korea. (P.S. No, and yes but there’s really nothing I can do about it now.)

At the other end of the spectrum, I had two boys in my class last quarter who thought that, “Guess what? Chicken butt!” was the height of hilarity. So it’s all kind of a mixed bag.

On the plus side, some of my students were impressed when I told them that I wrote a book, despite the fact that there aren’t any zombies in it.

Spring Has Not Yet Sprung. They lied.

So it’s supposed to be the first day of spring. Uh, no. The thermometer on my car said 16 degrees. That’s not spring to me.

(By the way, I almost typed, “The thermometer on my cat.”)

The days are getting longer, the weather is SUPPOSED to be getting warmer, and this not-so-young lady’s fancy turns to…

I don’t know. Cookies?

I recently read a blog post by another writer who said we should have no excuses when it comes to writing. There will always be something else that has to get done, and there are myriad excuses as to why we can’t find the time to write. My top five excuses usually consist of: I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m tired, and I’m worn out from dealing with middle schoolers all day.

Valid? Sure. Am I using these excuses as a crutch? No doubt.

The thing is, one can’t just call oneself a writer. One actually has to, you know, write.

So what does that say about me? The characters in my new project are calling to me, but these days I always seem to have a reason to ignore them. And like petulant toddlers, they’re getting cranky.

Like any worthwhile endeavor, I think sometimes we have to push past our own immediate discomfort and do what we need to do. Notice I didn’t say “have” to do,  or “should” do. When it comes to our passions, the word “need” is paramount. I need to be writing. The world may not come to an end if I don’t, but I might. (Well, maybe that’s a tad over dramatic. But, point made.)

So I will get myself back on track. Right now. In the words of Linda Loman, “Attention must be paid.”