Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In Search third summer read

I'm not sure if I should have taken it as a sign, but today, for the second time, I found myself scrambling to finish one of the shortest books I've ever read. Yes, twice now, I've taken out Nora Ephron's I Remember Nothing from the library and neglected to actually read it until it was past due with no renewals.

I can tell you that I came away feeling as if I remember more than Nora, but then again, I should. I'm younger than she is. I can tell you that she and I differ in our opinions of red coats, email, and Christmas dinners, but that it comforted me in some weird way to learn that she wrote When Harry Met Sally for the money, that it was not an easy task, and that some of what she considers to be her best work flopped. Somehow that knowledge, coming from someone as acclaimed as she, gave me the distinct impression that this is how it goes for us all. We feel the sting of the flops long after we feel the sweetness of success. Bummer, really.

Equal parts underlying heartbreak and humor, I Remember Nothing was a nice distraction on a hot July day.

Now I'm on to a book I've been dying to read - Steven Tyler's memoir, Does the Noise in my Head Bother You?  Oh yes, boys and girls, I'm buckling in for one crazy ride. Rock on.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

In Search of...ACTION!!!!

If you're like me, you are shaking your head every time you hear the words "debt ceiling," and your blood begins to boil ever so slightly at the mention of social security and medicare being on the auction block by our President in order to appease Republicans who want nothing more than to oust him in 2012.

This discussion is not one we can afford to look the other way about for one more second. This is something we must make our voices heard about NOW. Did I mention I mean RIGHT NOW?!!!!

Word has it that President Obama and John (cry me a river) Boehner are making a back room deal as I type this. This deal, if my liberal sources are accurate, includes deep cuts to what the right likes to call "entitlement programs," but what the rest of us call necessary to be able to live. I'm referring to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

I don't pretend that we live in a world where fair is fair, and the wealthy have enough decency to pay a proportionate amount of taxes for the privilege of living in a land where they could get rich. But I do still hold out a modicum of hope that our democracy is predicated on our representatives getting reelected sometime soon and knowing that they can't screw us over and then have our votes.

So I'm imploring you all to call and email your representatives, including the President, and let them know that you oppose any debt ceiling deal that would include cutting benefits to social security, medicare, and medicaid. This is the right thing to do, and our elected officials need to know that we will not stand for them representing interests other than those they were put there to represent. This is of monumental importance. Below are some links and information to make it easier for you.

Thank you so much for reading this and taking action now. Please tell your friends.

White House:


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In Search of...a book review

While I'm still searching for the summer of my youth, I continued my book fest with Craig Ferguson's memoir American on Purpose. I know, only those privy to the Scottish comedian's late night antics can fully appreciate the need for knowing the life that led up to being host of the Late, Late Show. And truthfully, I don't recall what bit of insomnia led me to discovering him in the first place, but suffice it to say that he is the only talk show host in the history of that format whom I have ever made it a point to watch purely because of the host himself. It matters not to me what guest he has on any particular night, just as long as he declares it "a great day for America, everybody" and as long as there's a hand puppet or mini disco ball in sight.

Yes, I'm a sucker for Craig Ferguson's brand of silliness, and the self deprecating humor that clearly masks a past far darker than any I could have imagined for him. In American on Purpose, he spared himself no embarrassment and was so refreshingly honest about his lesser choices in life that I'd recommend it as a handbook for scandal-ridden politicians as well as anyone in recovery of any sort. They might learn a thing or two about the depth of forgiveness and human resiliency by reading this book.

If there's a lesson to be learned, it is embodied in the saying, "It's not how you start, but how you finish." Craig Ferguson is someone who begs not to be taken seriously, and yet, this high school dropout has a work ethic that is nothing short of admirable.

We who are born in this country seldom appreciate the uniquely American notion that with hard work and a little luck, you can achieve anything. But Craig Ferguson knows that from the vantage point of someone on the outside with his nose pressed against the window pane of America, gazing longingly at vast opportunities which we who are born here mostly take for granted.

It says something about the man that despite his behavior as an alcoholic and more than occasional drug user, he has managed to sustain relationships with family and friends that were solid enough to survive the damage his substance abuse caused, and work with many of them again.

If you are a fan of Craig Ferguson, or if you just want an entertaining read that will leave you more appreciative of your own life and of our country, read American on Purpose. It was a well written, great read.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

In Search of...what else could possibly go wrong?

Back in May I went to the wedding of a friend of mine. I had been looking forward to it for some time, and when the day finally arrived, I joyfully began getting dressed for the occasion.

As I noticed the small hole in my Spanx, perhaps I should have taken it as an omen - oh, not for the bride and groom, but for how the rest of my evening was going to go.

After deciding that the hole was noticeable, I opted to change to regular pantyhose. I figured it was safer to forgo the five pounds thinner that the Spanx was going to make me look in favor of not having to worry about the hole manifesting into a bigger hole and eventually a run that I would have to deal with while at the wedding. Simple enough, right? So I dug out a plain old pair, and put them on - the operative word being "old." You see, if you let things with elastic in them hang out in your dresser drawer for a few too many years, then the elastic doesn't work anymore. "No time to worry about that," I said to myself. It'll be fine.

I finished dressing with no more incidences and left for the wedding. I was in my typical New York dress attire - black cocktail dress, black hose, and my favorite DSW black dress shoes with a rhinestone t-strap. I arrived at the wedding and headed to the chairs surrounding the gazebo where the ceremony was to take place. A few steps into my destination, I felt something go terribly wrong in the direction of my feet. The sole of my left shoe completely separated from the rest of the shoe, making it impossible for me to walk at all. Immediately my mind began racing with ways to remedy this calamity. Could I go home and get back in time for the wedding? No. Take off my shoes altogether? No. Could I hop on the one good shoe, limp, drag, or otherwise saunter? Nope, not an option. Oh, what to do. So the friend I drove with ran to find the bridal family and see if anyone had any ideas or possibly a shoe in a 9 Narrow. Not exactly an average size, to be sure. That's when my friend Anthony had the idea for a solution - the band.

You would think after schlepping my own roll of duct tape to enough gigs, I would have thought of that tidbit of brilliance. However, there was no band, but a DJ. So off to the music men I hobbled, where lo and behold, the roll of duct tape appeared in time to save the day for me. After taping my shoe together, I gingerly walked toward the chairs for the ceremony.
I noticed that many of the guests surrounding me looked like extras for the show Jersey Shore, which only served to make me and my taped together shoe feel, well, let's just say not brimming with confidence.

I survived the ceremony intact, and made my way to the cocktail hour, where I basically sat, too afraid to put my duct tape to the test. When it was time to go inside for the reception, I had the strange sensation that something was creeping down my thighs. It was the pantyhose with no elastic falling further and further with each step. I slapped my hands to my thighs, hoping to keep it from falling past the hem line of the dress until I could waddle to the ladies room to assess my options.

Under normal circumstances, this occurrence would have been cause for more than mild hysteria, but I was taking migraine medication, which left me with the unusual ability to go with the flow. After tucking the stretched out stockings as far as they could go into the girdle-like undergarment I had dug out to replace the Spanx, I walked back to the reception, trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

The music started and I got up to dance. This was a risky move considering the precariousness of my clothing situation. But I couldn't just sit there all night. This was a celebration, for goodness sake! Besides, what else could possibly go wrong?

Well, I didn't have to look too much further for that when the evening was over and it was time to say our goodbyes. I'm a hugger...which is how my bracelet got caught on the grooms jacket. A slight moment of panic ensued as I tried to remove the bracelet and not tear the jacket in the process. I'm sure the bride had a moment, too, of justifiable bewilderment at the scene.

I got myself untangled and left as quickly as I could. By this time, the dancing had moved the sole of my shoe that the tape was still holding together. I made it home in time to relegate the shoes to history as well as the pantyhose. I made a mental note to never hug anyone while wearing that particular bracelet, and I thanked God that this disastrous evening belonged to me and not the bride and groom. Surely their life together would go more smoothly than my night at their wedding.

I marveled at my continuous, uncharacteristic calmness throughout obstacle after obstacle, and I made a mental note about buying some more duct tape. All in all, these seemed like valuable lessons to take away from a challenging evening.

Long life to the bride and groom. Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Monday, July 4, 2011

In Search of...the summer of my youth

It's summer, the season in which I traditionally turn off the TV and read as many books as I can that strike my fancy. So while Oprah is gone from my afternoons, and the notion of a book club is appealing to me, I thought I'd start my own little book review. Rest assured mine will not be the stuff of great literature, but rather of the triumphs and flaws of human nature found in the very real lives of famous people.

The book market is flooded with my favorite genre - the memoir. It seems that everyone who ever lived has written a book about themselves, and frankly, I don't mind one bit, because I think people are inherently interesting. Everyone from Rick Springfield to Dick Van Dyke to Steven Tyler has books out. And I intend to read them all. I want to know the real stories, the inside scoop, the truth behind the illusion that fame masks so well. Or do I?

This influx of celebrity memoirs comes at a time when I long for what I call "my happy place," an alternate universe where good triumphs, and justice prevails, and all is truly well that ends well. This is a place that seems like a distant memory in our current world. I want to revisit a time where my dreams seemed possible and felt probable. I want to remember a time where what I loved in all forms of entertainment was current, a time before my favorite songs were played on oldies stations and my favorite stars were still recognizable before plastic surgery. Ah yes, I long for the sound of the Good Humor ice cream truck - before the diabetes kicked in. I'm asking for the impossible, I know. But this year, I am longing for the summer of my youth.

I don't want to waste any time about it, either. So my first read of the summer was Brady, Brady, Brady - The Complete Story of The Brady Bunch as Told by the Father/Son Team Who Really Know by Sherwood Schwartz and Lloyd J. Schwartz. Whew! That's already a mouthful, isn't it?!

Yes, I started with the show that was my earliest favorite memory of TV. Perhaps I should have let myself stay blissfully ignorant, untarnished by reality. Did I really need to know that the Brady backyard wasn't a backyard at all? That the grass was plastic and that Bobby was really a blond? That Gene Hackman was the top choice for the part of Mike Brady? Can I ever go back now to a time before conjuring the visual of all the "siblings" lusting for each other in Hawaii? Yes, I wanted the back story of the show, but what I realized as every last childhood illusion was shattered, was that this show was real to me. These people were real. To a four, five, six year old Ilene, Marcia, Jan, and Cindy were who I wanted to emulate. Their hairstyles and clothes were what I wanted mine to be. Alas, my thick, curly, frizzy hair would never look like Marcia's. On the upside, I never had to overcome a cocaine addiction. But still, somehow I wish I didn't know so much.

As a book, Brady, Brady, Brady is a quick, easy read - the book version of episodic television. The chapters are short, but it always kept my attention and gave interesting heretofore unknown tidbits. I would describe it as a good chaser for the darker subject matter to follow.

Well, on to the next book...

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