Sunday, December 31, 2006


I ran into Isosceles. He had a great idea for a new triangle! ~ Woody Allen

I am not young enough to know everything. ~ Oscar Wilde

When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not. ~ Mark Twain

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
~ William Butler Yeats ("The Second Coming")

Real diamonds! They must be worth their weight in gold! ~ Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) in Some Like It Hot

No dancer can watch Fred Astaire and not know that we all should have been in another business. ~ Mikhail Baryshnikov

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye. ~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Who's the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows him? ~ Obi-Wan (Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope)

23-Mar-2011If someone's dumb enough to offer me a million dollars to make a picture, I'm certainly not dumb enough to turn it down. ~ Elizabeth Taylor

Sometimes people are layered like that. There's something totally different underneath than what's on the surface. And sometimes, there's a third, even deeper level, and that one is the same as the top surface one. Like with pie. ~ Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (Joss Whedon, et al)

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. ~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

You fear the powerful eye of genius, that is why you encourage ignorance. 'Tis opium you feed your people... ~ Marquis de Sade

I have no doubt that we will be successful in harnessing the sun's energy... If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago. ~ Sir George Porter

He who binds to himself a joy, does the winged life destroy; But he who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity's sun rise. ~ William Blake

The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me. ~ Ayn Rand


I don't know who invented the high heel, but all men owe him a lot. ~ Marilyn Monroe

No dancer can watch Fred Astaire and not know that we all should have been in another business. ~ Mikhail Baryshnikov

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer. ~
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you. ~ Satchel Paige

I make so many mistakes. But then just think of all the mistakes I don't make, although I might. ~ Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery)

In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield. ~ Warren Buffett

1-Apr-2010The serving size is two cookies. Who the hell eats two cookies? I eat fig newtons by the sleeve. Two sleeves is a serving size. ~ Brian Regan

11-Mar-2010If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. ~ Earl Wilson

20-Feb-2010All you really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt. ~ Lucy van Pelt (Charles Schulz)

30-Nov-2009I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein

27-Sep-2009There was once a boy named Pierre
Who only would say, I don't care!
Read his story, my friend, for you'll find
At the end that a suitable
Moral lies there ~ Maurice Sendak

24-Sep-2009While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. ~ Stephen Covey

16-Sep-2009Ice-cream is exquisite - what a pity it isn't illegal. ~ Voltaire

19-Aug-2009If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough. ~ Mario Andretti

17-Aug-2009It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend, one's present or future thirst, the excellence of the wine, or any other reason. ~ Latin proverb

Between the optimist and the pessimist, the difference is droll. The optimist sees the doughnut; the pessimist the hole! ~ Oscar Wilde

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation. ~ Herman Melville

Define irony. Bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash. ~ Garland Greene (Stephen Buscemi) in Con Air

The first rule is not to lose. The second rule is not to forget the first rule. ~ Warren Buffett


Consider that two wrongs don't make a right. But that three lefts do. ~ National Lampoon "Deteriorata"

30-May-2009Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish and he will eat steak. ~ Jay Leno

28-May-2009Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment. ~ Robert Benchley

So never say fuck you to me! Because you haven't earned the right yet! ~ Otto Plettschner, Repo Man

I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries. ~ Frank Capra

The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. ~ Franklin P. Jones

The only "ism" Hollywood believes in is plagiarism. ~ Dorothy Parker

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action. ~ Godlfinger (Ian Fleming)

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry. ~ Albert Einstein

Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half. ~ Gore Vidal

Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Although your customers won’t love you if you give bad service, your competitors will.~ Kate Zabriskie
My purpose is to entertain myself first and other people secondly. ~ John D. MacDonald
How many of you have ever started dating because you were too lazy to commit suicide? ~ Judy Tenuta
I believe in opening mail once a month, whether it needs it or not. ~ Bob Considine
I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else. ~ Lily Tomlin
An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while a pessimist sees only the red stoplight. . . The truly wise person is colorblind. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Critics search for ages for the wrong word, which, to give them credit, they eventually find. ~ Peter Ustinov
Whiskey is a slap on the back, and champagne's heavy mist before my eyes. ~ Jimmy Stewart as Macaulay Connor in Philadelphia Story

14-January-2009Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you'll get one thing done. ~ Unknown

When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It's a whole different way of thinking. ~ Elayne Boosler

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you got to do is call
And I'll be there
Yes I will
You've got a friend ~ Carole King

We'd all like to vote for the best man, but he's never a candidate. ~ Frank McKinney "Kin" Hubbard

It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues. ~Abraham Lincoln

11-December-2008Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. ~ Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh

I used to wake up at 4 A.M. and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness. ~ James Thurber

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love chocolate, and communists. ~ Leslie Moak Murray

I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. ~ Mark Twain

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. ~ H.L. Mencken

3-November-2008I shall stay the way I am because I do not give a damn. ~ Dorothy Parker

I believe in trusting men, not only once but twice - in giving a failure another chance. ~ James Cash Penney

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it's just possible you haven't grasped the situation. ~ Jean Kerr

If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else. ~ Yogi Berra

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. ~ Paul Boese

The cruelest lies are often told in silence. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

In Texas, we do not hold high expectations for the [governor's] office; it's mostly been occupied by crooks, dorks and the comatose. ~ Molly Ivins

If you're playing a poker game and you look around the table and and can't tell who the sucker is, it's you. ~ Paul Newman

The wise man does at once what the fool does finally. ~ Niccolo Machiavelli

I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position. ~ Mark Twain

In Seattle you haven't had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it's running. ~ Jeff Bezos

The problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished. ~ George Bernard Shaw

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. ~ Isak Dinesen

What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others. ~ Diogenes

It's a sin to kill a mockingbird. Well, I reckon because mockingbirds don't do anything but make music for us to enjoy. ~ Atticus Finch ("To Kill a Mockingbird")

You're the top!
You're Mahatma Gandhi.
You're the top!
You're Napoleon Brandy.
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.
You're sublime,
You're turkey dinner,
You're the time, the time of a Derby winner
~ Cole Porter

9-July-2008I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas? ~ Jean Kerr

7-July-2008If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to go to the forest to gather wood, saw it, and nail the planks together. Instead, teach them the desire for the sea. - Antoine de Saint Exupéry

3-July-2008When one door closes, another opens - but it's hell in the hallway. - Deidre Dale

People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it's safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs. ~ Unknown

25-Jun-2008You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six. ~ Yogi Berra

21-Jun-2008Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity. ~ Unknown

17-Jun-2008The essence of pleasure is spontaneity. ~ Germaine Greer

16-Jun-2008Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. ~ Vince Lombardi

11-Jun-2008He was my cream, and I was his coffee... And when you poured us together, it was something. ~ Josephine Baker

You know I'd die for you, only sometimes it's so hard living with you. ~ Margaret Turner, The Bachelor & The Bobby Soxer

You've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes, you will
That you're beautiful as you feel. ~ Carole King

5-Jun-2008Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous - not just to some people in some circumstances - but to everyone all the time. ~Thomas J. Watson

Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical. ~ Yogi Berra

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

2-Jun-2008My favorite animal is steak. ~ Fran Lebowitz

30-May-2008Genius is the recovery of childhood at will. ~ Arthur Rimbaud

28-May-2008Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth? ~ Joe Turner (Three Days of The Condor)

19-May-2008The secret of love is in opening up your heart...It's okay to feel afraid... But don't let that stand in your way. ~ James Taylor

16-May-2008Some things have to be believed to be seen. ~ Ralph Hodgson

15-May-2008Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. ~ Malcolm Forbes

It's always nice to be nice. ~ Toni Shore

10-May-2008The embarrassing thing is that the salad dressing is outgrossing my films. ~ Paul Newman

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. ~ Philip K. Dick

Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for. ~ Clarence Darrow

6-May-2008But the silver-tongued devil's got nothing to lose. And I'll only live til I die. We take our own chances and pay our own dues. The silver-tongued devil and I. ~ Kris Kristofferson

5-May-2008We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by. ~ Will Rogers

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

30-Apr-2008Never judge a book by its movie. ~ J. W. Eagan

24-Apr-2008Nothing is impossible. Some things are just less likely than others. ~ Jonathan Winters

23-Apr-2008I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours. ~ Bob Dylan

22-Apr-2008What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left. ~ Oscar Levant

21-Apr-2008An onion can make people cry, but there has never been a vegetable invented to make them laugh. ~ Will Rogers

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. ~ Henry Ford

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go. ~ Oscar Wilde

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. ~ Dorothy Parker

Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

Organized crime in America takes in over forty billion dollars a year and spends very little on office supplies. ~ Woody Allen

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.~ Douglas Adams

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cause marketing, because...

I like the Dove campaign, "Real Beauty," for multiple reasons. I like the message it's trying to send to females young and old about beauty, looks, and expectations. I like the means - the TV ads are eminently watchable, over and over again. I like the production values - the magazine ads are beautifully shot and lit. I like the models - they are real and they communicate Dove's message that beauty comes in many sizes, shapes and colors; they all look beautiful in these shots.

What I particularly like, however, is Dove's ingenuity. We all know that linking your brand to a cause can be a very effective and 'sticky' method of creating brand preference. It certainly helps your cause (pun intended) if there are sincere motives behind the effort, but sometimes those are difficult, if not impossible to gauge. Several brands spring to mind as having done an excellent job, both for the cause itself as well as for creating that indelible link in your mind. Revlon is to ?? as ?? is to AIDS Research. (answer: women's cancers, MAC Cosmetics - mind you, these are not the only correct answers - thank goodness!).

Dove has taken this one step further. They've created their very own campaign for their own cause. I'm not sure if the ad campaign begat the cause or vice versa, and I'm not sure it matters. The Dove campaign for real beauty - and the corrollary "self esteem fund" - fills a hole that you (or at least, I) didn't realize existed - and in such a way as to make you say "why hasn't there been such a campaign before?" For a 'beauty' company to tackle so directly the notion of female beauty in our society, for a consumer product goods company to attempt to lift the curtain on the actuality of how those images hocking those goods are created - this is big stuff.

Don't get me wrong - I can see where the whole thing can be considered somewhat (or very) self-serving, but that is, after all, the nature of campaigns. Nonetheless, I think there is merit and value in Dove’s Real Beauty campaign – and I am happy to see it on billboards and TV screens everywhere.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Departed

This is what I want to know: how did Mark Wahlberg get all the good lines? Okay, not all of them, but most of them - and for sure the best ones. "I'm the guy doing his job - you must be the other guy." Come on. Wahlberg may be one of the most watchable actors to come along in a long time. The screen lights up when he and Martin Sheen are up there, sparring and volleying, tossing jabs and punches to the poor schmo on the other side of the desk.

But that's the only time the screen really lights up. The cast in this movie is ridiculous, bordering on the sublime - Nicholson, Damon, DiCaprio, Sheen, Baldwin? Ridiculous. And amazing. And even so, not quite enough. The chemistry is missing. It's an odd, ephemeral thing, chemistry. Remember DiCaprio and Hanks in "Catch Me if You Can"? Baldwin and Kidman in "Malice"? Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in "Good Will Hunting"? (Ok, maybe that's not fair, but it was there.) How about Sheen and Douglas, Douglas and Bening, Fox and Sheen, the whole damn cast really, in "American President"? "The Departed" just doesn't have its necessary share of this magical movie ingredient.

The twin focal points (is that an oxymoron?) of the movie revolve around the two young policemen, played by DiCaprio and Damon, both undercover on opposite sides of the law. But while DiCaprio's performance is translucent, even transcendant, Damon's characterization is muddy. Damon's character, Colin Sullivan, should be the (a)moral epicenter of the movie; instead, his character seems never to settle into place. Never quite angry enough, or venal enough, or cold enough, Sullivan drifts along, seemingly run by the criminal hand of Nicholson's mob boss. But that level of aimlessness doesn't make sense - Sullivan, to be where he is and do what he does, needs to be driven from the inside. He needs to feel greed and fear, he needs to be remorseless and cold. And he's not. As presented by Damon, Sullivan is, well, he's like a criminal Charlie Brown. Wishy-washy.

Nicholson is magnetic; he is ruthless, acerbic, capricious. But even that can't support the lack of the ineffable something that would make his devil's bargain with Damon make sense. It is logical to think that Costello is a father figure for Sullivan - and if you didn't get that all on your own, Costello even calls him "Dad" when making his tip-off calls from the station house. But the magic chemistry to drive the love/hate relationship is missing. And without that, Damon is left twisting in the wind, aimlessly.

A great screenplay, great performances and the incredibly sure hand of Scorsese make this movie more than watchable, and I wouldn't miss it. Unfortunately, it's just not great. It's maybe a hair too long. Maybe a hair too slow. Most of all, however, the screen just doesn't light up enough.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

If you can't make your legs longer, make your ceilings taller

For those of you living in, ahem, smaller spaces than you might dream of - here's a tip: mirror the walls. You've heard it before, I know - mirrors reflect light, reflect the opposite wall/window/whatever, all in all they "expand the space in a room." This is all true and incontrovertible, honest.

But today, think about this: mounting a mirror close to the ceiling (and I mean inches away) will draw the eye up, bring more light to the ceiling, double the space and adorn the wall. Instant height, interest, glamour and style. Not bad for a piece of glass and some picture hooks, hmmm?

And, if one giant mirror seems like a little too much reflection (internal or external), mount a bunch of smaller mirrors. You'll get all the benefits of light and reflection, without necessarily having to stare at yourself from across the room all day long - though if you're into that, go for it.

Glamour, glitter, light, luxury - if your room seems small or dark, or the walls look a little bare - take it from the Evil Queen: mirror, mirror, on the wall...

Monday, August 28, 2006

sunglasses at night...

Okay, let me confess, I am a sunglass junkie.

I cannot resist that new pair of sunglasses, that pair that, when resting perfectly on your nose and ears, renders you beyond cool. That pair that, when sauntering oh so casually down the boulevard, wraps you in a cloud of insouciance and hipness. That pair that boosts your confidence to levels unreachable with naked eyes. That pair that is, in a word, perfect.

Joy of joys, I have found that pair - the Prada shields, swirled just subtly on the side, fading from rich grey to pale smoke, lending the perfect air of mystery to every outing.

As to where? Well, certainly these glasses are available, ahem, "wherever fine glasses are sold," but I only buy my glasses, sun and otherwise, from one man - David at Opticali on Montana Avenue. He knows his stuff, his service is impeccable, and he's always playing good music - essential to any shopping experience worth having, don't you think?

If you're in need, or want, or just curious to see how these glasses will turn you from plain Jane to Agent 99, stop by Opticali - and tell David that G sent you.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

bye bye chicken skin

I seem to have uncovered a big secret, which I didn't even know I was keeping... Amlactin moisturiser.

The secret I did know I was keeping was the yucky little bumps on my knees (and other places I am not revealing - ever). Amlactin, which you can buy online or in your local drugstore, works like a dream - bye bye bumps. By the way, it is my most awesome dermatologist who calls these bumps "chicken skin" - a technical term, I'm sure.

So for all you out there suffering from chicken skin - wherever you may have it - venture thee forth and buy yourself a bottle at once. Use once or twice a day, religiously!, and say farewell and sayonara to those pesky little bumps. And as an added bonus, you can also say adieu to those other obnoxious red bumps from bikini waxes - yes, the all-purpose Amlactin takes care of those too.

Fine print? Only that it is not the most delicately fragranced lotion, so use it where you need it, and use some lovely Kiehl's or Aveeno (I like their stress relief lotion, myself) everywhere else. Oh, and it is a bit sticky, so leave some time for it to sink in before you dress or get into bed.

Friday, August 18, 2006

It's not bad enough?

I'm not going to weigh in on who's right or wrong, or whose side I take, or what is just, justified, or justifiable, other than to say that, to me, terrorism must be considered the lowest, meanest, most reprehensible form of aggression and political 'voice.' And, as it is based on a level of unparalleled fanaticism and irrationality, it is also, as we have seen time and time again, the most difficult tactic to defeat. To paraphrase Tim Rutten from last week's Los Angeles Times: one side views death as a tragedy and the other — the terrorist organization — sees it as an opportunity. And how do you fight that?

There is nothing good about people being killed, buses bombed, homes and neighborhoods destroyed. Just to be clear, when I say "nothing good" I am talking specifically about the loss of life and devastation of lives. I am NOT, N-O-T, talking about the political, military or strategic gains that warfare may or may not accomplish. Not in this blog anyway.

Much of what I know about the horror of the current Middle East conflict I have learned from reading the paper and looking at the photos published along with the articles. So reading Rutten's article regarding doctored photos of Lebanon provided by war photographers to be published by Reuters and other news organizations was eye-opening and crushing. The reality and brutality of what is happening in the area is beyond words - photographs have an impact and resonance that communicate the horror in a way words never can.

But, and this is what slays me, what is actually happening is bad enough. Photographers staging photos to enhance their "dramatic effect" is a betrayal of the truth, and a further commentary, not that one is really needed, on the graphic saturation of the general public. I suppose that to compete with pictures of Shiloh, and Jennifer/Vince, and Suri (oh right, that one hasn't been taken yet) the pressure is on to create dramatic and compelling images. But, you just can't do that with war, with real life, because then it no longer is real life. It might be art, it might be fiction, but it is no longer photo-journalism.

There is supposed to be a responsibility honored by news purveyors (photographers, journalists, editors, publishers, et al.) to recognize their role to report and inform, and not to "create" the news. A responsiblity to uphold the unwritten contract between news organizations and their readers. Toward the end of his piece, Rutten points out that the American media is by and large ignoring this story, and that too is a betrayal of the trust placed in these outlets by us, their readers.

It is ironic that just yesterday, Jennifer Aniston finally made a statement exclusively to People Magazine regarding her non-engaged status, stating "When it starts to travel over into the 'Today' show and CNN and supposedly reliable and accurate news programs, then you just go, 'This is insane. People are getting fed a lot of bull.' The American people need to believe (the news). Please. Get it together!"

And she's right, the American people do need to be able to believe the news, and the images in the news.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Relationship saver...

Have you ever heard this from your partner (mate, significant other, resident pest, spouse, roommate, life partner, afterlife partner)? "Are you turning out the light soon?" when you're in bed and you happen to be reading a life-changing book or heart-stopping thriller or the current "O"? And you basically want to reach over and swat him (or her, or them) with your pillow?

I mean really - generally speaking, can't they snore and drool their way through anything? Movies, speeches, classical music, business meetings? But leave a bedside lamp on for 30 seconds when they are ready to go to sleep and you'd think you'd hired a timpani band to play next to the bed. Nonetheless, in the interest of peace, I have made it a personal quest to try out every little book light out there - honestly. And, equally honestly, not only were most of them a total nuisance, they never shed enough light, and certainly not where you wanted it.

But despair not - heaven sprung a leak. One light is so good, so easy, and so "why didn't they think of that before?" that I even use it when I'm ALL BY MYSELF! The LightWedge is perfect - it's not heavy, it doesn't have cords, it takes normal batteries - I don't care what they tell you, C and D batteries are a pain. Who ever remembers to buy D batteries?

So, if smothering your bed-partner is out of the question for now, get yourself a LightWedge and call it a night.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Small Big City

I traveled last Thursday. Normally, that's not such a big deal statement. I mean really, so what?

Well, apparently, while I was pre-occupied that morning with preparing the house for sale and packing, the rest of the world was tuned in to breaking news of Britain uncovering a plot to blow up transatlantic flights with bombs compiled from ordinary carry-on items, including peroxide-based solution and cameras or music players. See what you miss when CNN isn't on in the background?

Arriving at the airport, I was asked to remove all liquids and gels, including lipgloss, contact lens solution and moisturiser, and place them in my checked luggage. No liquids would be allowed to be carried on the plane - significantly impacting Starbucks' business in the terminal I would imagine. Each flight was subject to a second bag inspection, conducted on the jetway at each gate. Not surprisingly, my flight left an hour late. No worries, I had 20 lbs of magazines with me, and I was soon happily ensconced, browsing away.

Until there was a disruption at the front of the plane - a passenger who wouldn't stay in her seat. At all. Would not sit down in her seat with her seat belt fastened. This went on most of the flight, rather entertaining once we had been reassured by the quite competent flight crew that she had been judged to be cuckoo, but not dangerous. Still - cuckoo in flight on this of all days? And then, just about 20 minutes before we should have been landing, the captain announced that we although we are about 40 minutes outside of New York, and although we have already been circling in the air on orders from the JFK tower, we will nonetheless continue to circle.

An hour of circling ensues until we finally touch down, only to sit on the tarmac for yet another hour. You could be dead, I remind myself. The airplane could have blown up, I say silently. We are all safe. I keep repeating this to myself as the clock heads around to 12:30am, 1:00am, 1:30am. And frankly, it does help. Late is better than dead, at least in this instance. My grandmother always said she'd rather be dead than late -- but I think she'd make an exception here.

The taxi line - you cannot imagine. Endless and growing. I am standing behind a couple - she is very pretty with the kind of curly blonde hair you pretty much want to kill her for having. You know the kind - curly but not kinky? wavy but not frizzy? blond and silky, not dry? Damn her! Anyway, there they were, laughing and apparently unfazed by the late arrival, behaving the way you wish you and your boyfriend would, instead of being cranky and grumpy and argumentative. So of course, you hate her more.

The next night I meet some very good friends for dinner at A Voce, on 26th and Madison. As I'm walking up Madison, I notice the very same couple I had been behind in the taxi line - sitting and having drinks one table away from my friends at Tabla. I notice the blonde head even before I notice my friends. What are the chances of that? As Rick famously said, "of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world - she walks into mine?" But there they were - making me realize that New York City isn't that big really, after all.

As for dinner - I thought A Voce was delicious. It is the chef from Cafe Boulud (76th and Madison) - but terribly Italian, but light and interesting at the same time. We all thought the gnocchi with the lamb ragu was outstanding, but I had a ricotta cheese spread of some sort with perfectly toasted bread that was out of this world. I could have eaten a gallon of it.

And then, oh boy, and then... we hightailed it down to 8th Street and Fifth Avenue, where, if you don't know, some of the best gelato in town is served. Otto - Mario Batali's 'pizzeria' - is everything you want it to be. I've been there for dinner at a table, delicious. And Friday, I walked in and my friend looked around the bar and asked "is this a singles bar?" only half-jokingly.

But to my point, which is not picking up singles, but, not surprisingly, FOOD (are you beginning to sense a theme here?) - specifically, the olive oil gelato served at Otto. I could write a poem, an ode, an entire essay on this stuff. First, admittedly, it sounds disgusting. Agreed. But you couldn't be more wrong. Everything you love about ice cream? The richness, the creaminess, the salty sweetness? It is simply more so in this concoction. Second, it is the most addictive ice cream you will ever have, and I've been around the ice cream block. Though I still have Blue Bell ice cream from Texas on my list - but that's another story. Here it is in a nutshell: if you have only one night in New York - you have to make it to Otto for the gelato, and you have to try the olive oil gelato. That's it - end of subject.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Basta Pasta

Santa Monica, CA

okay, so I'm out to dinner the other night with a really cool guy, a screenwriter, and of course, we start talking about movies. All about movies, which, of course, I love (see and the envelope went to...? if you're in doubt). I could talk about movies for hours, for days, weeks, months...

We started the evening at Sushi Roku on Ocean, sitting at the bar; I'm not sure where or how the conversation began, or even which movie we were discussing, anyway, soon enough the bartender joined in, and he know his stuff - being from New York, he also had an opinion or two, go figure. More importantly, he made a stiff drink. What more could you ask for? Get this -- his name is Pasta. Honestly, I asked, and that's what he told me. Pasta. Don't believe me? Go sit at the bar an see for yourself...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Run, don't walk

So I have started to read “Eat, Pray, Love,” and you must run, not walk, to find it and start it and devour it. It is about a year this woman, the author, spent in Italy, India and Indonesia. Then again, perhaps it is so much a book I wished I'd written, about a year I wish to live, about revelations I am having and hope to have, that it seems to me to be the best, most perfect book, but perhaps it won't seem that way to you. And you'll wonder what the hell I am thinking, that I think this book should replace the bible in every hotel room. But I do.

Do you find that some books are narrated by someone you wished were your friend, who could be your friend? I remember reading “Good in Bed,” by Jennifer Weiner, and thinking by the fourth page (in case the first three pages were just some fluke) that this woman, this writer, this storyteller, should be in my book group. I KNEW her, her way with words, her tone, her inflection, her diction. I knew her sense of humor (damn her, funnier than I ever am). I remember reading this book slower and slower, because she was so much fun to hang out with; at the same time I was reading it faster and faster – she was such great company, I couldn't help myself. I remember saying "S#$%!" on the last page - because it was a perfect last page and because the story was over and because I missed her already. Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote “Eat, Pray, Love” should also be in my book group. And going out for drinks with us. And on the other end of the phone when I’m having a meltdown.

“Eat, Pray, Love” feels like a 300 page letter to the principal explaining that G will not be in school today because she has to go follow her heart, listen to her spirit, pray to God. In fact, it is not clear when or if G will be coming back to school, as this trip is much more important and instrumental to her well-being, as well as perhaps to her growth, but growth is besides the point of happiness.

I am not so much reading this book as swimming in it, breathing it, sweating it out my pores. It makes me see my trip to Bali as if I were just putting my toe in the water -- is the temperature okay? Can I actually swim? Can I make it out to that little island that looks so far away? I knew I needed a break, and yet, at the same time, I had all these rules and regulations in my head: I can take a 'short' break. When I get back I'll 'buckle down.' A breather is okay, but then I'd better get serious. A vacation is okay - but not a major detour in my 'life path.' For crying out loud, who knows what my life path is? I sure don't. And frankly, I'm sort of tired of pretending I do.

This book, and Liz, the writer, is a giant 'get out of jail free' pass - she's a writer (hey, I'm a writer), she doesn't want what she's 'supposed' to want (I don't know what I want, but I'm learning to recognize what I don't). Most of all, it seems to me, Liz decided to take a journey, not to get somewhere, but to GO somewhere. (What a concept. Truly.) She took the luxury of attempting to talk to herself, and listen to herself, and ended up having the most wonderful conversations.

That's how the book reads to me - a record of the conversation she had with herself during this year she spent with I, in countries beginning with I (an irony pointed out, I must confess, by her early on in the book). And it makes me realize how long it has been, if ever, that I have had such a conversation with myself, let alone an ongoing dialogue with the one who should be my biggest fan and best friend.

And I haven't even gotten to her months in Bali yet; we're still in Rome, eating and learning to speak Italian. Which, all in all, is a fine old way to spend four months.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

the Santa Monica lifestyle - ain't it grand?

My roommate and I bought the most adorable cruisers from Nicole at Chubby's Cruisers - mine is the color of vanilla custard and has a wicker basket up front. Really, a wicker basket. It's ridiculously cute. I have to wear a white flowy dress and a sun hat when biking or I might end up being pulled over for not being as cute as my bike.

And so off we went last week, biking down the strand by the beach, weaving down to the Santa Monica pier, past Shutters and Casa del Mar, passing runners and rollerbladers, being passed quite speedily by helmeted bikers on sleek fast contraptions (my bike is cute, but it in no way belongs to the same genus as those 32 speed, aerodynamically engineered machines), and generally having a splendid time. We made our way down to the very end of the strand, finally stopping at the edge of Marina del Rey, looking across the water at the beginning of Playa del Rey, before turning around to head back to Santa Monica.

And yesterday morning, it was on the bikes and off to the gym. How amazing is that? I didn't have to get in my car, and go 6 levels underground to park - instead I hopped on my cruiser, sped off down Montana Avenue and cabled my vanilla custard beauty outside the gym for an hour or so. It was quite the feeling to walk out the doors of the gym - onto the sidewalk, mind you - rather than get into the elevator to descend into the bowels of the building after working out. Back on the bike, up 2nd Street, the wind against my face - really, could there be anything better?

And today, or maybe tomorrow, my big life plan is to cruise on down to the ice cream store and park my wicker basket out front while I mow down an enormous ice cream cone. Because how guilty can you feel, when you biked your own self to and from the store? Not very.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Never too much down time

Two weeks in Bali. Really, two weeks in Bali. Need I say more? This is a blog, so the answer to that is yes, probably I do.

The beach in Bali is gorgeous and breezy, but it is the interior of the country, riverside, that has stayed with me. It is extraordinary, lush and green and verdant - it feels as though you have been shrunk and are leaving within blades of the most beautiful grass. I never knew there were that many shades of green - sunlit grass green, deep emerald green, mossy wet green, pale jade green, translucent birch green, greens without words. The river rushing outside my room provided the perfect background noise – you know, the kind you see in travel ads, but then never actually see for yourself when you get there? Bali is the ultimate example of a destination that exceeds your expectations - surpasses the ads - makes your dreams come true. I defy anyone to go there with fantasies or dreams of their ultimate resort experience and not come away completely fulfilled.

I spent days in silence, sitting with a book, thinking about NOTHING. Which, after all, is not as easy as it sounds, even in Bali. When you try to think about nothing, to empty your mind, it is easy for the first 3, maybe 2 seconds. And then, WHOOM, thoughts come rushing to fill that void from every direction. Did I really need to buy those shoes? Should I have bought that dress? Does the skirt I wore last night make me look fat? I shouldn’t eat any pasta tonight. Boy the pizza at PJ’s was good yesterday. And all of a sudden, nothing is everything, and you might as well be home on the couch.

Suffice it to say, other than reading (I wanted to read one book a day, and I did) – I exercised my mind with nothing. I truly focused on not thinking about any of the worries and anxieties I had left behind and that were no doubt waiting for my return.

Getting to Bali is a commitment – there’s no question. But unlike many commitments, this one lives up to its side of the bargain, I promise you. I flew from Los Angeles, changing planes in Tokyo, and spending a brief night at an airport hotel in Hong Kong, before the last leg of the trip deposited me on the southern tip of Bali, to be greeted by a smiling woman in a green suit, who ushered me through all the processes and paperwork necessary to let me into the country. And then I was in a car, on my way to the Ayung Gorge.

From the slender bridge leading to mahogany stairs down to reception, from the pools of reeds waving subtly to and fro, from the 20 foot high ceilings, from the moment I arrived, the Ayung Gorge enveloped me in a sense of silence and peace unlike anywhere else I have traveled. Not thirty minutes after arriving, I was ensconced on my private patio, with a gingerade by my side, reading my first book. Later on, I meandered up to the restaurant, where I met Denny, the world’s best hotel chef, bar none, who was serving up a gorgeous spread called Rijsttafel, or “rice table” – a remnant of the days the Dutch ruled of Indonesia. Dish after dish arrived at our table, infused with spices and flavors and all served over Balinese rice, which is grown throughout the country, but only enough for local consumption – it is not exported.

Five days by the river, soaking up the greens and the water and the sun and the peace. Five days by the river, catered to by the most gracious and serene staff. Five days by the river, reading a book a day. Five days by the river, and then it was time to go to the beach.

But more about the beach later this week. This is long enough, dontcha think?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Lucky Number Slevin

This one sort of begs that question - is all art, or are all movies, derivative? And if so, is that necessarily a bad thing? I've heard all sorts of dismissive reviews of this movie - it's lightweight; it's not as good as its predecessors; it thinks it's smarter than it is, etc. It is lightweight, and based on the art direction, I think that's intentional; it may not be as good as some of its predecessors (The Usual Suspects jumps to mind), but it is surely better than most (so forgettable, I've forgotten them); and part of its charm lies in its sure-footed arrogance.

If you are willing to be entertained, to relax into a universe where everyone lives with hallucinogenic wall-paper and lamps shaped like bongs designed by Jonathan Adler show up everywhere, to experience Morgan Freeman and Sir Benjamin Kingsley playing kingpin shut-ins, then this movie fits the bill.

I enjoyed my two hours in this world, inhabited by characters and caricatures, nicely played by Bruce Willis, Freeman and Kingsley, Lucy Liu, Stanley Tucci, and a particularly well-suited Josh Hartnett, heretofore not high on my list of favorites. The pacing is brisk, the dialog snappy, and the story hangs together; watch carefully from the beginning and, being well trained after "The Usual Suspects" and The Sixth Sense, you will catch the clues that build the ending brick by brick.

So, to answer my question - sort of - most movies are dependent on the legacy of film that came before. How, really, could it be otherwise? I was re-watching Mission Impossible II (dir by John Woo) the other night - a movie I love to watch - check the (not-so) small nod to Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief in the car chase scene between Tom and Thandie at the beginning. Besides the obvious sports-car-on-a-twisty-mountain-road-with-no-guardrails wink, there is also a great full-screen close-up of Thandie's high-heel sandaled feet shifting gears - a nearly picture-perfect quotation of Hitchcock's close-up of Grace Kelly's feet during that famous drive. What is derivative, what is respctful, and what is just plain bad? That's like asking whether vanilla or chocolate tastes better.

So do I think Lucky Number Slevin a great movie in the pantheon? No. But a good watch? Absolutely. And these days, that's no small shakes.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

oscar oscar oscar

So - as usual, the men's race is chockful of amazing performances in great movies, and the women - who was nominated again? I'm not saying anything new... but that doesn't make it not worth saying, or at least, repeating. What's interesting to me is that the female performances may have been great - but their movies, were, well, blah. I've seen all but one of the Best Actor movies (sorry, Terence Howard - but I loved you in "Crash") - and only one of the Best Actress movies - seriously, did anyone see "Pride and Prejudice"? Is that a marketing issue? A societal issue? A culture issue? Or is it just me?
Working our way through the "F" movies -- saw "Firewall" - predictable but worth it until the last 1o minutes - who directed those??? Yikes. "Freedomland" - a movie I think I'm supposed to be affected by, I'm supposed to 'discuss' - but I just left confused, confused as to the point, the message, the motivation. Samuel Jackson played his role - just as you'd expect. Julianne Moore, seemingly out of character, but yet not. It's not easy to jam multiple moral imperatives into one story line, and somehow "Freedomland" just ended up with rambling deep thoughts, sort of Jack Handy meets Spike Lee.
Next week, yet another "F" movie, "Failure to Launch" - don't tell me, don't tell me, I am still hoping.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Great Books for Kids (of all ages)

Some notes on this list, if you will:

  • there is no age limit (in either direction)
  • not all books by each author are listed - which only means that I either
    • a) don't remember them all
    • b) didn't read them all
    • or c) got tired of typing and wanted to move on.
    • please note - I am a firm believer in reading ALL books by a great author
  • author links are usually to sites about the author or their books
  • book links are usually to the book on

A great site for more book recommendations, from James Patterson: Read Kiddo Read

Also, although this is by no means a complete list (not universally nor even personally)... it's a good list nonetheless...

From my Serious Series Obsession Phase:

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

It's Marketing Day

If they can't close the deal before they film - not to worry - there's still time. From the New York Times today (Advertising's Twilight Zone: That Signpost Up Ahead May Be a Virtual Product) "digital placement gives advertisers and producers the option of cutting multiple deals with advertisers, placing one brand of soda in a first-run movie, selling placement for another brand in that movie's DVD release and a third in the portable video player version." So it may not exactly be Reeses' pieces in E.T. (will M&M ever get THAT egg off its face?) - but it's pretty darn close.

And then there's that article from the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago - It's the Purpose Brand, Stupid - brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Until I read Grant McCracken's response - which seems equally brilliant. And absolutely contrary to Mssrs. Christensen, Cook and Hall. Hmmm. If, and pardon the heresy, one were to combine the two theories - that good brands do start with a purpose, a "job" for which they are hired (whether the consumer is looking for that "employee" or is nicely surprised), but that great brands take that job and make it their own - they impart the wow factor that the best brands deliver seemingly effortlessly (or, as McCracken puts it, they "deliver... an understanding of not just what the product does but what it stands for, how it may be used, for whom it may stand, and where it is located in the larger scheme of things, commercial and cultural"). That is so true that I would argue that McCracken's examples are not only disingenous, but that they in fact prove the first point. Patek Phillippe is different from Timex, and therefore it performs a different 'job' - it would be naive to think that one buys a PP to tell time, and only to tell time. But if one were entranced by the history of time-keeping pieces, by their complexity, their elegance, their potential complications, by their very beauty, then one would look to PP. If all one wanted was a clock on one's wrist, one would look to Timex. The same can be said for Ford/Volkswagen (an odd pairing after Patek Phillippe vs. Timex - did Porsche, Bentley or Ferrari not come to mind?) and Intuit is only a few features away from MS Money... It is not that marketing and branding are not important - they are all-important - it is that without a valid category (or "job") to occupy, they are meaningless. Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote "be first", and if someone else is already first in your category, then create a new one where you can be first (if this is unfamiliar, run, don't walk, to the nearest copy of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - some of it may be out of date, but there are some gems, absolute gems, in this book). The WSJ article doesn't claim that there is only one brand per job, or that all brands are created equal - simply that marketing a solution can build a brand, but marketing a brand will not build you a solution (or revenue).

I never go home without having the prosciutto pizza and fried baby artichokes (Carciofi al giudea) at Fiorello's on Broadway and 63rd street. They're open late and you can almost always get a seat at the bar, perched in front of platters upon platters of fresh antipasti. I've yet to eat there without being offered a complimentary glass of Muscat with my coffee or dessert - a nice gesture of hospitality to cap off what is always a verrry tasty meal.

When I was taken to Maroon's (a hidden gem of a restaurant on West 16th Street - if you go, make sure to have their ribs!) for the first time, I ordered a Manchester cocktail to start the evening and I've been hooked ever since. Make them at home yourself - with Appleton's light rum, ginger beer (try D&G, or Barritt's) over ice with a squeeze of fresh lime.

On the recommendation of my friend David, I picked up Eragon - a book he described as a cross between Tolkien's trilogy and Harry Potter. I devoured it on the ten hour flight home from London - David told no lies! And then I found out it had been written by a 16-year old from Montana - have I mentioned my inferiority complex lately?? The good news is, if he's starting that young, we can hope to see tomes and tomes from young Paolini! In return, I sent David the first trilogy by Mercedes Lackey in the Valdemar series - Arrows of the Queen, Arrow's Flight and Arrow's Fall. Great stories, really great. I've also just finished Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point) -- thin-slicing may be the one of the most interesting things I've read about in ages. Of course, I've had a thing for Gladwell ever since he published that fabulous SUV article in The New Yorker... if you haven't read it, do!