Friday, April 28, 2006

WWJD - Who Would Jenna Do?

During her uneven one-woman show now running at the Daryl Roth Theater, Sandra Bernhard takes a shot at Laura Bush for pushing abstinence as the proper means to prevent transmission of STDs. Noting the press accounts of her daughters’ boozy adventures, Bernhard rightly points out the hypocrisy of pushing a demonstrably ineffective method of sexual (non)expression that her own family almost certainly doesn’t practice. I mean, how many photos of a sauced Jenna crawling on the floor do we need to be treated to before serious questions about her own predilection for abstinence are raised?

And it’s exactly this kind of hypocrisy when it comes to those in power that is just getting to be too much to bear. But any attempt to point this out is often declared “out of bounds” because it infringes on the private lives of these public figures. Well, duh. That’s the point. Since these people are making law and policy that have a very direct impact on the private lives of certain groups of people, why shouldn’t their own private lives be at issue? Some of you might recall a story from a year ago when an NYU law student asked the visiting Justice Scalia whether he sodomized his wife. And of course the student got a lot of blowback for the comment. But he raised a good point. If Scalia is going to make pronouncements about individuals’ right to consensual sexual activity, shouldn’t his own be fair game? (Although, God help us should that sex tape surface). And Dick Cheney on his daughter Mary? Sweet Jesus, it was the only time the man showed the faintest hint of a soul when he refused to toe the party line and demonize two women’s constitutional right to wear robes and get blessed in a field by a Wiccan priestess.

So I say everyone’s now fair game. Did you shag Jenna in college? Then shout it out. (And get yourself to a clinic). Seriously, if abstinence is so important to the First Lady, let her explain why her daughters get a free pass.

Of course, it easy for me to advocate the exposure of private lives. I’m a total angel. Ask anyone.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Celeb Baby Pandemic!

Have there always been this many celebrity babies and celeb moms and preggie starlets? Are we experiencing some kind of weird Hollywood baby boom? A baby's always been the accessory of choice on Park Avenue, but it seems like all those Apples and Barrons and Prestons and Lilas would kind of get in the way of your basic starlet duties, like drinking, dancing on tables and posing on the red carpet (you don't see Paris Hilton getting knocked up, do you?). What happened to the good old days when real stars like Nicole Kidman and Sharon Stone just adopted their kids?

Fact is, those days are gone. The movie girls (even the indie movie girls like Maggie Gyllenhal) are popping out the tots like their celebrity depends on it. So get used to it. Learn to love it. Embrace it. Or, better, just admit that you already have, that you've been devouring the news of Suri and Moses--and now a new baby for Britney!--like Entemann's donut holes.

Well, celebrity baby news addicts, here's your crack: a blog devoted exclusively to all the news and hearsay about celeb babies that's fit to blog about. It's called Celebrity Baby Blog, and when you take a quick click-through you'll disocver that there are stars procreating out there who you didn't even think were still fertile! Let alone registering for obscenely expensive baby shit (oh yes, the registry lists are hyperlinked!), and wearing seriously heinu maternity outfits (uh-huh, the picture links are there too).

The incredibly popular blog was created by Danielle, a new mom herself, and married to another well-known blogger, Josh Friedland of The Food Section.

Go ahead, just bookmark it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

For Your Consideration

Dear Aspiring Plagiarist,

In light of recent news that Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan's book, How Opal Mehta Stole Lines, Plot Points and a Movie Deal, was but a rehash of author Megan McCafferty's books Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, I present for your consideration SHAKING HER ASSETS.

Published almost precisely one year ago, SHAKING, a book largely ignored by dumbass motherfucking critics (ed. note: not bitter!), is the story of another young striver who gets knocked around by life, her job and her boyf, but through hard work and a cheeky personality, she manages to builds herself a new business and become a better human being. Or something like that. Anyway, it's a touching tale with dialogue that "crackles, spackles and raises hackles," to quote myself. In short, it's the perfect book for you to copy!

And you're in luck, my dearest little cheater who is so assured of his or her own precocity that coming up with one's own lines feels somewhat unbecoming-bordering-on-declasse, because SHAKING is now practically being given away for the fire sale price of $5.20 on! That's right, you can order thousands of copies of our horrendously underpublicized little book and it won't even put a dent in your gargantuan and gargantuanly undeserved advance.

So go for it with our blessing! Copy away. Credit us later. Credit us never. What have you. It just seems an awful waste that such excellent fodder for someone else's success should be ignored by you, too.

Friday, April 21, 2006

It’s Your Turn, Harriet Miers

In the White House’s latest attempt to “clear the air” from the decay-ridden, corpse-like stench that is the second Bush term, rumors are floating that new chief-of-staff Josh Bolten is looking to slap a big ol’ pink slip on Bush’s counsel and general punching bag, Harriet Miers. Man, this woman has taken more abuse than Tina did when she was back with Ike.

When Bush dangled the Miers piñata last year, also known as her Supreme Court confirmation, you just had to feel sorry for her. It always seemed to me that Ms. Miers was just an extremely loyal individual who simply tried to do the best job she could as the president’s private counsel. Now pledging allegiance to that man in the first place is a glaring error in judgment, but, that aside, she always seemed like a genuinely decent individual. So it was either monumental stupidity on Bush’s part to think she wouldn’t be torn to shreds by the media and political pundits when he trotted her out as O’Connor’s replacement or just cruel indifference to the humiliation that he had to have anticipated. Now, some people might say that she should have declined his offer to be the next member of the gang of nine. But, really, was that even possible? I mean, the President asks you to do something and, well, you just kind of do it (see Powell, Colin). Besides, I have a law degree and am WAY less qualified than Miers to be a Supreme Court justice, yet if I were asked to accept the nomination you bet I’d jump on that. Lifetime appointment. That’s an even better deal than those whiny French kids got a couple of weeks ago.

And now she’s getting fired? After conducting herself with grace and aplomb, quietly fading away while the jackals (me included) laughed and threw food (metaphorically, mostly) at her? Nuh-uh, Harriet. Girl, you’ve been wronged. It’s time to get angry. Like, Oprah-angry. And that means only one thing….Nasty Tell-All Book Time! Get on the phone with Kitty Kelly. Schedule a lunch with Paul O’Neill. Make some calls, honey. Because you came to Washington to do two things: protect the President and kick some ass.

And you’re all done protecting the President.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Perils of Technology

C'mon, admit it, when you saw this picture on the front page of the New York Times this morning, didn't you think to yourself "Cooool, that just looks like the most fun amusement park ride EVER!" And then when you read the story and learned that it was, in fact, not a ride operated by carneys but rather by the NYTransit Authority (a fine distinction, I realize) and that it was the Tramway bound for Roosevelt Island that got stuck midair, you still didn't chuckle just a bit? Okay, I admit it, this might have been my precise reaction, too. Well, I also thought to myself: Roosevelt Island? People seriously go there? Weird.

I'm sure were it me and not Kelsey Lazio, the 12-year-old daughter of NY Senate also-ran Rick, who got stuck up there that I probably wouldn't have mused, "Hey, didn't I see this precise scene in the last Spiderman flick?" or "Wasn't the publicity campaign for Mission Impossible III being put on hold in honor of TomKat's kitten?" or "Feh, that doesn't look so dangerous, you should have been in the cab with me last weekend as we bumper-carred through midtown."

But it was when I learned the cause of the midair suspension, that my cold cold heart started melting for them just a bit. Turns out the tram didn't stop running because of the evil Dr. Octavius. Nor was it the result of a Thetan invasion. And most surprisingly, MTA Union President Roger Touissant had nothing to do with the tram stoppage. It was a simple power outage that froze that tram. And power outages are a bitch! I hate them not only because they kill perfectly good containers of Heath Bar Crunch ice cream, not only because during the August 14, 2003 city-wide outage did they ruin Renee's birthday party, but because they remind us precisely how dependent we are on technology.

You see in a rather interesting twist of fate, my remote connection to the big techie server at my company went down this morning and rendered me an even more ineffective worker than usual. My dependence on all things technical made me aware of just how useless I am without it. Made me think I might as well just call it a day right now. Might as well just go outside and bask in the beautiful weather or something. Frolic in the loveliness that is springtime in New York. What a horrible fate... Damn you, technology, for forcing me into the sunlight. So if you see me tomorrow with a golden suntan, don't think it's because I decided to take a day off to celebrate this outrageously good weather, just blame it on technology.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Namibian Names

If you have a heartbeat, you know that Brangelina are having their baby soon, that unlike their TomKitten counterparts, they're not doing any crazy scientologist shit like silent birth and adult-size pacifiers. No, instead they decided to have the baby at a beach resort in a remote Southern African country called Namibia. You know, Namibia--famous for its diamonds and its maternity wards. Just FYI, Namibia is sometimes called The Land God Made In Anger.

Apparently Angie and Brad did a little baby-shopping in Paris (as would I if I were super-pregs and about to burst) and then hopped a flight to Africa (which I wouldn't do for a trillion Euros and a lifetime supply of business-class upgrades). But Angie's taking this goodwill ambassador shit seriously, and she's doing a lovely job of proving that Western medicine is really overrated. Or that free-ranging lions are are an effective anti-papparazzi tactic.

Best of all, it appears that as the baby is going to be born in Namibia, they're going to give him a Namibian name (as reported by the prez of Namibia, who breakfasted with the Brangelina a few days ago). But what exactly are some Namibian names? What might possibly be the name of the little sister to Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt and Maddox Chivan Jolie-Pitt? Well, I did a little research and here are a few possibilities. Readers should feel free to vote on their fave.

1) Nehason Jolie-Pitt
2) Namholo Jolie-Pitt
3) Ueyulu Jolie-Pitt
4) Mandume Jolie-Pitt
5) Onomastikon Jolie-Pitt

Tha last one sounds a bit like an oral surgery procedure, but just go with it. Think of the nickname potential: "Ono Pitt."

Friday, April 14, 2006

McCain: Liberty (University) For All!

Like most people on planet Earth, I’m a huge Daily Show fan. And of course one of the real coups of the show has been its ability to attract such compelling guests, often ranging from extremely high-profile politicians to journalists and academics that otherwise would be relegated to the tumbleweed-drifting-through-ghost-town feel of a Charlie Rose interview. But Seymour Hersh, Calvin Trillin, Studs Terkel and the host of other cultural and political luminaries deserve the limelight and it’s a distinct pleasure to see them on a show with such mass-appeal. (Of course, this always makes the token Drew Barrymore interview all the more embarrassing and cringe-worthy. Stick to The View, Drew.)

So, of course it was no surprise to see John McCain check in with his good buddy Stewart on a recent show - prompted, no doubt, by an attempt to defend his decision to deliver the commencement speech at nut-job Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. And McCain’s defense? I’m doing it for the kids, John! Pressed (slightly) on his decision to speak at a school run by a man who represents the fringe of the fringe, McCain stated that he speaks at a lot of schools, such as the dreaded Ivy League universities, whose policies he disagrees with and thus this is no big deal. How bold, Senator. Seriously, is there any difference between speaking at Harvard despite your disagreement with its military recruiter policy and gracing a school with your presence despite your disagreement (he does disagree, right?) with its president’s expressed belief that gays, abortionists, feminists, the ACLU (read: all of New York City) were to blame for the 9/11 attacks? Feh, six of one, half dozen of the other. Another triumphant stop on the Straight Talk express!

Now, of course it was a sickening display by McCain. And, frankly, it is one we should all get used to. You see, watching that episode of the Daily Show, I finally got it. Knowing he will have trouble surviving a Republican primary where his party’s lunatic fringe holds tremendous influence, and yet not wanting to alienate the general electorate, McCain has devised a carefully calculated strategy to batter the public into a dazed confusion about his political leanings by taking increasingly extreme positions on both the right and the left. And it’s working. From Krugman at the New York Times to Jacob Weisberg at Slate, no one really knows what this man stands for. So kudos, Senator McCain. I, for one, am very looking forward to the next several months, where he will undoubtedly treat voters to a thrill ride that includes (1) not only coming out in favor of gay marriage but actually getting engaged to an old army buddy; (2) declaring not only all abortion illegal but also calling for state-sanctioned killing of fetuses whose mothers don’t show sufficient enthusiasm about their forthcoming maternal role; (3) granting immediate asylum to all Mexican immigrants while simultaneously green-lighting a nationwide “Wanted: Dead-or-Alive” manhunt for any Canadian playing fast and loose with the visa rules; (4) legalizing marijuana and outlawing Xanax; and (5) proposing a Constitutional amendment barring any Bush from ever seeking an elected office again.

Hold on to your seats, R&Rers. It’s going to be a bumpy ride on the Straight Talk Express.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

If Only They Had GPS

Tonight is officially the beginning of Passover, a holiday commemorating the triumphant exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt and the beginning of our 40 year ramble through 2 miles of desert. For forty years my ancestors' ancestors were in that desert searching for a proper homeland... And after 40 years, they settled in Israel. Israel, the ONE country in the Middle East not floating on a huge oil reserve. Israel, a country of the size and charm of New Jersey. Israel, a place wedged between extremist states that seek its complete annihilation.

Now as someone who diligently looked for a one bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village for the better part of a year, I know how difficult it is to score good real estate. This place has a five flight walk-up. That one smells like cat pee. And I know my peeps have the reputation of being finicky... But 40 years in the desert to wind up in Israel? Seriously, my tribesmen, what up? I mean yeah, hindsight is 20-20, but one would think that if you'd searched for a new home for forty years, by the end you'd at least have found someplace with nicer neighbors. You chose the functional equivalent of living next to Webster Hall, that horrific club near NYU. I mean why didn't you just set up shop across from the Sunshine Men's Hotel on the Bowery while you were at it?

But okay, okay, neighborhoods change and one could argue that a lot was accomplished in those forty years of Survivor Samaria. We got the 10 Commandments and lay the groundwork for the career of Charlton Heston. We learned about the hazards of worshipping golden idols. (Hmm, maybe "learned the lesson" is being a little generous considering our love affair with bling still rages on.) We coined the phrase, "Are we there yet?" And, truth be told, it was then that we came up with a game plan to control the media and international banking systems.

So tonight and tomorrow the good Jews of the world will be sitting around the holiday table, reading the Hagaddah, drinking the required seven glasses of wine (but since most Jews I know are teetotalers, it's more like seven sips), and gnawing on that particle board we call "matzoh." It's very festive. But mostly it's a reminder that we freed ourselves from the Pharoah's oppression, and that was a good thing. Now if we could just free ourselves of the constipation that inevitably follows the week long matzoh-fest, I think as a people, we will have come a very long way.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sordid Central

Every once in a while there comes along a true-crime story so sordid you'd rather not see the movie. The story of the Kissel brothers--two rich financier brothers, each brutally murdered in his own unique way--is "tragic" and "sad" say the papers, above all because the two left behind five now-fatherless children.

One brother, Robert, a successful financier in Hong Kong, was sedated (with a pill-laced strawberry milkshake) and beaten to death (with a metal figurine) by his wife. The other brother, Andrew, a once phenomenally rich real estate developer, was just murdered last week, stabbed to death in his Greenwich mansion. Frankly, it all sounds like a bad Hollywood pitch, an amateurish Desperate Housewives meets Dynasty meets CSI: Connecticut.

Except it's much too distasteful even to thrill, which is exactly why I'd like to lay out a few details that are just way to unbearably and deliciously unpleasant to have been invented.

Robert's wife, Nancy, now serving a life term for murder, claimed at her trial that her husband abused alcohol and cocaine and repeatedly forced anal sex on her. Oh! right--and she was also having an affair with a Vermont TV repairman. If my husband were a coked-up butt-rapist, I'd probably do the same. Well, maybe not a Vermont TV repairman--maybe Brooklyn. Maybe a plumber.

And Andrew, who once lived in a tony Manhattan co-op, owned a multi-million dollar yacht, collected classic cars, and was renting his Greenwich mansion for a respectable $14,300 a month, was evidently also a lush who drank in front of his kids--and a big-time thief who was all set to admit in court last week that he'd defrauded financial companies out of tens of millions of dollars. And his wife was divorcing him--and he was asking her for alimony. The good news though, is that Andrew had a $15 million life insurance policy. And that there was no sign of a break-in at his house, which means his killer just walked right in, invited...

The papa of these two dead gentleman says that if Andrew actually arranged his own hit it was an incredibly unselfish thing to do. But here's what I wanna know from papa: if you spawned these creatures... what did you do to them? Not to point fingers or do any gratuitous armchair psycho-analyzing, but your two boys were sad sick fucks and it's kinda hard to see that coming out of nowhere. I'm just saying. It's possible, of course, but what are strange bunch of coincidences.

Most of the reports of the affair feel bad for the kids, fatherless and burdened with this sordid legacy, but it's important to remember there's a grandpa still in picture. Wanna sit on his knee, kids?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Katie Dearest

In one of the most over-reported stories in recent memory, Katie Couric finally announced this week that she is leaving “Today” for the CBS Evening News. Honestly, show of hands on who really cares. I mean, I get that she’ll be the first woman anchor, a breakthrough long overdue, but beyond that….nothing. All newscasters, be they male or female, come off as clones and thus the long-running game of musical (anchor) chairs is less than intriguing. It’s not like CBS hired Mandisa for the job, who is now available after getting the boot on American Idol. Now that would be news. But Katie’s out, Meredith’s in, big whoop. (A side bet, though, with any R&Rer out there – ten bucks she changes her name to Kate. You can pull off Katie at 7a.m. while playing footsie with Lauer, but it doesn’t play so hot when you’re filling Cronkite’s shoes.)

But (there’s always a but), in the deluge of coverage dedicated to the wanderings of Ms. Couric, one priceless item: a reporter profiled a family meeting at the Couric household where the decision to leave for CBS was finally made. Gathered at the table were Katie’s two kids, ages 14 and 10, and her parents. In what is undoubtedly the most flagrant p.r. con-job ever perpetrated, Katie’s kids are described as giving mom a big ol' thumbs up and chanting in unison “Go for it!”


Now, I wasn’t there, but I have a fairly good idea of how that scene really went down. First, Katie’s burning desire for the CBS gig was no secret. And the stories of “Today” staffers cowering under desks when they heard those heels clicking down the hall are legendary. So, why do I think that while Katie was presenting the new job opportunity to her spawn, she was oh-so-gently sliding a certain European boarding school brochure across the kitchen table, maintaining piercing eye contact, perhaps slightly arching one brow. “O.K. kids, who thinks Mommy should go to CBS? Hmmm? Carrie, honey, can you say ‘lycée?’ That’s it. Sound it out.” I mean, really, the whole thing seemed a little Mommie Dearest.

So Good Night and Good Luck to Ms. Couric at CBS. Let’s hope wardrobe remembers to lose the wire hangers.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

No Way

With all the important news that's going on today--DeLay resigns, Skilling takes the stand, Couric jumps ship, all I really want to discuss is the fact that it's snowing here in NYC right now. Snowing! That's not a typo, people. I'm talking big, wet dollops of snow. Chocolate chip cookie-sized flakes. On April 5th. WTF?!?

Just the other day I'd broken out the capri pants and espadrilles. I was ready for spring. I was looking forward to packing away my ungainly brown winter coat, a coat so fuzzy and large, dogs walking on the street assumed I was a bear. They growled at me in a pathetically weak attempt to show that they were still members of the animal kingdom. I suppose they wanted to make it seem like they weren't as domestic as they appeared. (Of course they only summoned the low growl after tucking their tails under in fear, clearly hoping that if it came to a fight, their owners would jump into the fray to protect them. Like right, Fluffy, I'm sure someone who has dressed you in a rhinestone collar and a rugby from Scoop is going to know how to wrestle a bear. Get real, dog!)

And speaking of getting a real dog, that's one of the things I have on my list to do for spring. Yes, I know, I've said this manymanymanymanymany times before and it has always amounted to idle jabberwokky (can I get a spell check on jabberwokky, please?). But this time, the little girl crying wolf dog just might actually do it. Of course it'll have to stop snowing first... cause I mean who wants to walk a dog in the snow? That would be a bear.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Pimp It Again, Sam

A few months back, in January, my honored co-author Robin did a beautiful and touching job of promoting a little essay that I wrote for a little anthology that was to be coming out in a few months. Robin is an incredible mensch, people--you all know that--and she gave me super-fabulous heartwarming props.

Not that I can come close to reproducing that kinda love--and not that I need to--but when you've got a blog, you may as well try to spread the love. Even when it's self-love. My point is this: it's now a few months hence, and that little anthology, home to that little essay is coming out this week!

It's called Half/Life: Jew-Ish Tales from Almost, Not Quite, and In-Between. It's lots of very clever tales about being half-Jewish. It's funny, it's Jewy, it's possibly a little insufferable in parts, but, well, it's good people. Feel free to buy it and give it to all your Jewish friends who may not know that it's safe to consort with the half-breeds.

So, check it out, yo.

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