Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Let's Leap

On Leap Day, the SJG has plans.  Big plans.  Huge.  What are they?  Well, that's a little personal.  I'm not sure I should tell you.  Oh, fine, twist my arm.  Today I plan to take a hefty hippity-hop out of my own way.  Today I will issue myself the following orders:  Jump over those self-imposed obstacles! You heard me!  Take a flying leap at a rolling donut of self-doubt!  Woo-hoo!  On second thought, all of this leaping and whooping and self-improvement sounds like a lot to accomplish in one day.  Frankly, I'm not sure I'm up to the task, what with my recent cold and flu-like symptoms.  Better I shouldn't tax myself.  But please, don't let that stop you from celebrating.  Let me know how it goes.  I'll be here on the couch, waiting to hear how it went.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Vitamin K

When my mother-in-law learned I had a cold, she repeated the same advice she's given me many times, and by many, I mean, I knew what she was going to say before she said it, but didn't interrupt, because that would've been so rude.  Rather than suggest the time-honored Jewish pencillin, which couldn't hurt, she said, "You know, I never get sick, but once in a while, when I get a cold, here's what I do.  I drink an entire gallon of orange juice.  Not all at once, but throughout the day.  I just leave it on the counter, and take a big gulp here, a gulp there, and I'm cured.  I'm living proof that what's his name was right about Vitamin C."  "Linus Pauling?"  "Ever since he wrote that book, I've been drinking a gallon of Vitamin C and it works every time I get a cold, which is almost never."  "That's great."  "Do me favor, and drink some orange juice."  "Absolutely."  Sadly, I didn't.  I lied to my mother-in-law.  I didn't drink any orange juice.  Not even a cup.  And I'm feeling better.  I drank tea and water.  I rested.  I blew my nose 1,800 times an hour.  I kvetched like crazy.  For some, Vitamin C does the trick.  For me, it's Vitamin K.  I kvetched that cold right out of my system. Try it some time.  You might be surprised. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Award for Biggest Jerk

So not funny
In my chic jammies, clutching my bedazzled tissue box, I never felt red carpet ready for the big night. Next year, I vow to up the wardrobe and hire a stylist.  The SJG predix were spot on, except when they weren't, and for that, I'm as humbled as Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed as a dictator to promote his upcoming movie, who apologized profusely for dumping an urn full of pancake mix on Ryan Seacrest during the pre-show banter on "E!"  Oh, wait, he didn't apologize.  But security carried him off the red carpet and that was fun.  Ryan was a good sport, although he was probably seething.  Billy Crystal did a nice hosting job, not spectacular, not a train wreck, so that's good.  There were high points - the "Wizard of Oz" focus group - and low points - Viola Davis losing to Meryl.  All in all, the Academy Awards earned two and a half bagels at the SJG buffet.  We can now return to our normal activities.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar Predix

Stuffy and congested, feeling like ka-ka, the SJG got my tuchas up early to watch my brother John on "CBS Sunday Morning."  And might I say this about his brief, yet kick-ass appearance:  BRILLIANT.  He was articulate and humble.  They showed a clip of him on "Welcome Back, Kotter," seated near none other than Mr. John Travolta.  In between blowing my nose, I'm kvelling. Here's the clip: And, of course, today is all about the Oscars, which I'd planned to watch at my big shot cousin Andy's house, where they were counting on me to bring pies and may now officially disown me.  Rather than spread my germs, I will watch at home, as host of my own pity party, in my designer jammies.  I couldn't be less excited, but I will do my best to muster some enthusiasm, in between weeping. 

Here are the SJG's predix, not necessarily my personal pix.  Best Picture: "The Artist."  Best Actor:  The French Guy.  Best Actress: Viola Davis.  Best Supporting Actor:  Christopher Plummer.  Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer.  Best Director:  Martin Scorsese.  Best Original Script:  "Midnight In Paris."  Best Adapted Script:  "The Descendants."  If I help you win your Oscar pool, I expect a monetary reward, or I will come after you.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Welcome Back, Kotter: The Game?!

Shameless plug #1:  Here's my brother John's 1976 TV Commercial for "Ideal Toys: Welcome Back Kotter Game." Also in the commercial: 18 year old Steve Guttenberg & Thomas Carter ("The White Shadow"). John, then an actor and an extra on "Kotter," plays Epstein and delivers the famous "Up your nose with a rubber hose" line.  I don't think I've ever been prouder.  Shameless plug #2: John, now a full-time extra (that's show biz!) appears on CBS Sunday Morning tomorrow (6 a.m. - 7:30 a.m. West Coast, 7 a.m. - 8:30 East Coast) in a segment devoted to Hollywood background players.  (Here's the link to John's blog so you can watch it: Now, I ask you, do I win an academy award for Most Devoted Sister? Why, thank you.  Thank you very much.  I accept on behalf of myself.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Now Accepting New Members

Laurie Colton-Cohen and the SJG
The six of us, Elena, Kyle, Val, Liz, Laurie and the SJG, friends since Emerson and Uni, got together in Westwood yesterday to laugh our tushies off and reminisce.  Laurie schlepped all the way up from San Diego just to spend a few hours with her old pals.  We hadn't seen her in so long, we spent part of lunch debating how much time had passed since our last visit.  We settled on 12 or 13 years.  The next part of lunch, we spent reviewing the documentation Laurie had brought to prove to us that, guess what, she was, in fact, Jewish -- something my mother suspected all along.  "Welcome to the club," we said.  "We knew it!"  A friend of Laurie's had gone on one of those ancestral-family tree websites and traced things back to Russia.  On Laurie's mother's side, they were Kaplan.  (My mother's maiden name!)  On her father's side, they were Cohen.  But somehow, Cohen became Colton, and over time, everyone forgot they were Jewish.  Listen, these things happen.  So Laurie wasn't raised Jewish or Christian, but no one ever made a kugel in her house, no one ever put a cup of wine out for Elijah, and the family always had a nice tree during the holidays.  We drew our own conclusions.  With or without documentation, in our house, she was always an honorary Jew.  My mom would watch Laurie tear into an onion bagel with cream cheese and lox and say, "You're Jewish."   And now, it's official.  The rest of lunch, we taught her various Yiddish words that would come in handy, now that she was one of us.  Kyle said, "It must bring you such nachas that your daughter's pregnant."  Laurie turned to me.  "Nachas," I told her, "as opposed to nachos.  It means great joy."  "Knock-ass?" she repeated.  "Close enough."  We also taught her how to say tsouris.  She had a little trouble with the "ts" sound.  We'll have to work on that.  "Can you send me a list of Yiddish words and pronunciations?" "Nothing would make me kvell more!" I said.  Before we all hugged goodbye, out came the iPhones.  It was picture time.  Try getting a decent photo that six middle-aged women can agree on.  "That's bad.  Delete." "Don't delete.  That was a good one of me." "Not of me.  It's gone."  "Let's move.  There's too much glare from the window.  Okay.  Take it."  "Hey, not bad.  Oh wait, Carol's eyes are closed."  "Carol's eyes are always closed."  "Not always."  "You ruined half my wedding photos."  "But the other half were great!"  "Take another shot.  I look tired.  Delete."  "Take one with my camera."  "Take one with mine."  "How's it look?"  "Carol's eyes are closed again."  "They are not!  Oh, @#$%, yes they are.  Let's take another one."  "Wait, let me put on lipstick."  "Hang on, I need to comb my hair."  "We should've hired a makeup artist."  "No one's going to see these, anyway."  "Are you kidding?  I'm posting them on Facebook the minute I get home."  "Don't you dare!"  "You better not!"  "I always knew you had a mean streak."  "I'm just kidding," I said.  "Except I'm not."  Nothing like six gals having lunch together.  Six Jewish gals.  Next time Laurie comes to town, we're taking her to Nate n' Als. And then to temple.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pretzel Logic

The definition of chutzpah:  "A little old lady sold pretzels on a street corner for a dollar each. Every day a young man would leave his office building at lunch time and as he passed the pretzel stand he would leave her a dollar, but never take a pretzel. This offering went on for more than 3 years. The two of them never spoke. One day as the young man passed the old lady's stand and left his dollar as usual, the pretzel lady spoke to him for the first time in over 3 years. Without blinking an eye she said: 'They're a dollar and a quarter now.'" (thanks to my bro' Mr. Peter Starr, for sending me this gem!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lost At Cedars

Welcome to Cedars-Sinai
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of taking my dad to an appointment at Cedars.  It is a lost city unto itself, a never-ending  maze of where-am-I-now.  At 8:15 in the morning, we circled the hospital in our quest for parking, which remained elusive.  So we found a nice spot Cedars-adjacent, somewhere in Culver City. We chartered a party bus, hit a few hot spots, and eventually wound up back at Cedars.  By now, we were ready for anything.  Or so we thought.  We took out our map, our compass, our survival kit (water, blanket, gas mask) and read the top secret special instructions my dad received via carrier pigeon:

"Go to the South Tower.  Take the elevator to the Plaza Level.  Step out of the elevator.  Turn right at the gift shop, unless you'd like a snack.  Feel free to buy a pack of gum, a magazine and trail mix, maybe a candy bar and a Mylar balloon.  As you exit the gift shop, turn left.  Walk down the hall.  Try not to bump into anyone.  At the Starbucks counter, you'll see many tired doctors and nurses lined up, in desperate need of caffeine. Make a slight left.  Not a radical left, not a liberal left, but a slight left.  Are you getting this?  A slight left or you'll end up in the bathroom, which is fine if you need to go.  Please wash your hands, this is a hospital, we don't need any extra germs.  Exit the bathroom, and make that slight left we were just talking about. Unless you'd like to buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  If so, get in line behind the orderly with the indecipherable accent.  Wait your turn.  No cuts or you'll be cursed out in 18 different languages.  Buy your coffee.  Feel free to tip the barista.  Okay.  Ready to proceed? Wonderful. Now then, go through the glass doors that open magically, and approach the bridge.  Stop right there.  The bridgekeeper, usually a volunteer,
"What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?"

will ask you a series of highly personal, inappropriate questions.  Make sure you answer correctly, or you'll be tossed over the bridge into an erupting volcano. If you're still alive, well done!  Cross the bridge, already.  Go through another door, take the elevator to the fourth floor.  Get out.  Then make a conservative right, and walk down the hall to the doctor's office. Mazel tov! You made it!  But you're a little too late.  You've missed your appointment.  The doctor won't see you now.   Make a new appointment for another day.  And make sure you keep these instructions.  We've only got one pigeon."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hotel Carla

Fresh cut flowers at Hotel Carla
Sometimes, the SJG just has to get out of Sherman Oaks and explore the more glamorous parts of Los Angeles.  So I booked a suite at Hotel Carla, a boutique B&B in Lower Bel Air.  "I'll take my coffee in the dining room, at 6:30," I told the proprietor of this charming establishment. "Press the green button and voila, you have a fresh cup," she said last night, before retiring.  "I have to make my own coffee?  On Downton Abbey, the servants would take care of my caffeine needs." "We've lost our PBS funding and had to let the servants go," she told me.  I commenced weeping.  "Excuse, but, no chocolate on the pillow?"  "Budgetary cuts.  Good night," Carla said.  "May I have a wake up call at 6:15?" I asked.  "I'd prefer you wake up on your own," she said.  "Things just aren't the same since the war," I said.  "Which war?" Carla asked.  "All of them," I said, and thanked her, formally, for the wonderful accommodations.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Must Love Dogs

In the old neighborhood, we met through our kids.  Wonderful people we never would've known, over time, became more than neighbors. They became close friends, celebrating parental highs and personal lows and everything in between, noshing our way through it all.  In the "new" neighborhood, going on 12 years now, we met through our dogs.  Wonderful people we never would've known, had it not been for our animals sniffing each other's tushies, by way of introduction.  I can't pinpoint the exact moment Dusty and Irie first connected, but Candy and I hit it off and that was that.  It's been a mutual admiration society ever since.  Many dog walks together, many brunches and dinners with Candy and Joe and their son Colin.  Many temple services together. Many lively chats about home repair.  We've shared painters and laughter and more than a few tears.  Through Candy, I met Gina and Mary Therese, their hubbies and children.  The news that Irie had passed on the same day of Colin's bar mitzvah hit the neighborhood before Candy, Joe and Colin had even arrived home.  Gina made the discovery, while bringing leftover food from the kiddish lunch.  She sat with Irie till the family got home from the teen party in Thousand Oaks.  Mary Therese called me.  On Sunday morning, I talked to Candy and we cried together.  Oh, the agony.  Oh, the ecstasy.   A dog dies.  A son shines on the bima.  All on the same day.  You can try to make some sense of it, but in the end, some things will never add up, because, let's face it:  Life is life.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Should We Evacuate?

Krusty's Bar Mitzvah:  Happy 500th to the Simpsons
There's nothing like a fabulous bar mitzvah to send the SJG back in time.  As I sat in my temple yesterday, watching my neighbor's son Colin ace his Torah portion, naturally, I thought about my own sons' bar mitzvahs.  I think we're still paying off the catering bills.  Our people do love a good buffet and demand an open bar.  But that's not all I remembered about these joyous events.  At Billy's bar mitzvah, something altogether ooky happened, something otherworldly.  Please remain seated for this portion of the blog.  Everybody good?  Okay, here it is:  at the exact moment we said kaddish for my mother, the synagogue started shaking.  That's right.  We had an earthquake.  Coinky-dink, or my dear sweet mom checking in?  Everyone in the room knew this was our personal quake.  The Rabbi, however, thought it might be the Big One.  "Should we evacuate?" he whispered in my ear. "God, no," I said.  "Let's finish this thing."  The earth settled and we carried on.  At Scotty's bar mitzvah, after thanking the rabbi and the cantor and the best parents ever, he gave a shout-out to none other than Antonio Banderas.  It got a huge laugh.  Had any bar mitzvah boy in history ever thanked Antonio Banderas?  To this day, I'm pretty sure Scotty was the only one to go there.  Thank God, it worked.  The day before, he'd thrown it in while rehearsing his speech, just to make me laugh, and I told him to keep it in there.  Had it missed, had he done a big belly flop on the bima, guess who would've been blamed?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Royal Kateness

The Kateness in cognito 
The Kateness.  That's the official name of Kelly and Jen's daughter, not quite two, yet ready to govern a small country.  The SJG only knows from boys, boys, boys.  I've been raising them for a while now, and  when I get around a person of the female variety, I go a little crazy.  My voice gets all high and my silliness multiplies.  But the Kateness reins me in.  She dons her sunglasses and commands me to sit while she eats her yogurt.  I do as I'm told.  My favorite thing is when she says my name, or a close approximation, and goes running around the kitchen in circles.  "Garol!  Garol!  Garol!"  It makes me feel like a rock star.  It makes me feel good about myself.  During her pre-verbal phase, I was known at court as Jewish Grandma.  Somehow that evolved into Carol Friend.  And now that she's speaking a fascinating hybrid of the Queen's English, I'm simply Garol.  I'm proud to be called Garol and if I have to legally change my name to make her happy, I will do so.  In fact, I will do anything to make the Kateness love and adore me.  In her presence, I'm a puddle.  I'm happy to sit and listen to her scream the alphabet and say things like, "Silly little dawg."  Yesterday, she said, "Silly Garol."  I collapsed in a heap of joy.  Frequently, I ask Kelly, "Can I have her?"  Kelly's answer is always the same.  "No."  "Please!"  "No."  "May I take the Kateness home with me now?"  "No."  "You can visit her all the time!"  "No."  Of course, it's hard to get any work done when someone so spectacular, so regal as the Kateness, is nearby, mainly because she knocks on the door and wants in and says, "Hi, Garol," until you open the door.  Honestly, I would be happy to just stare at her for three solid hours, but Kelly keeps reminding me we're supposed to be working on our script, the same script we've been infusing with comic brilliance since the Kateness was in utero.  But hey, Dreamworks wasn't built it a day.  One day, we'll finish it.  Maybe one day soon.  But, just between us, I don't care how long it takes.  Any chance to bask in the wonder of Kateness is another excellent reason to procrastinate.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Every morning, Monday through Friday, the employed son joins us for breakfast.  Some days he carpools to work with hubby.  Some days, he schleps by himself.  Either way, sharing breakfast with his aging parents is a wonderful tradition, one I've told him needs to continue, basically, forever.  No matter where he lives, no matter where life takes him, he must come over for breakfast Monday through Friday, no exceptions.  When the SJG takes a stand, I never waver.  Most mornings, I make him pancakes from scratch, served with maple syrup I've personally siphoned from the tree out back.  I get up around 4 a.m., feed the chickens and I'm at the stove. What?  You don't believe me?  How dare you!  Oh, fine.  I exaggerated.  I don't feed the chickens.  I don't make pancakes.  I don't have a tree that makes maple syrup.  But I do make a mean slice of toast.  On the TV while we formally dine:  "The Today Show."  Much like his father, the eldest has many opinions on the mental state of random public figures, celebrities and regular people who've done something weird to get themselves on national TV.  The other morning, the giant Duggar family appeared, which inspired a 10-minute riff on their name.  It was Duggar this, Duggar that.  He decided Dusty needed a name change, to Duggar.  "Come here, Duggar."  This went on for awhile, until Willard Scott and the Smucker's Birthday Segment.  The eldest comes unhinged every time he sees the little photo embedded in the Smucker's label. "There's no way that woman is 100 years old.  She looks 70.  The Today Show is lying."  "They would never do that."  "They should stop doing this Smucker's thing."  "You feel strongly about it."  "Yes, I do."  "Why?"  "It's cheesy and very outdated and they need to move on."  "What would you suggest instead?"  "Anything.  They're showing pictures of ancient people.  No one wants to see that in the morning."  "Does this you mean you won't submit my photo to Today when I turn 100, kina hora?"  "I wouldn't do you the injustice."  "What would you do, instead?"  "Visit you every day for breakfast."  "That's my boy."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Such A Deal

Mazal?  Mazel? 
Dear SJG,
When is the right time to tell my eldest son about the nice marriage I arranged for him, at birth, in exchange for a year's worth of mortgage payments, interest-free, back in 1988?  The bank officer told me this was a one-time offer, and I grabbed it.  I may have been a little hormonal at the time.  But deals like this come only once a century, and I couldn't refuse.  His wedding to LaZealtrice is this Sunday.  From the photo her father supplied, with a little cosmetic help and some heavy facial waxing, she could be a real looker.  I turn to you, the social maven, for help. 
Panicked in Sherman Oaks

Dear Panicked,
Don't worry, the SJG is here.  Just invite your son over for the standard black-tie brunch you hold every Sunday, hand him some imported lox, and he'll be so busy noshing, he won't notice the rabbi and the guests and the unfortunate lady in the gown waiting to say "I do." Mazel tov!
You're welcome,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Funny Michelin

On Valentine's Day, Cupid shot an extra-long screw through the heart of my front right tire.  Did I despair?  Did I throw a roadside hissy?  Oh, maybe a little.  The SJG is only human, after all.  I swore a bit.  I felt letdown.  Betrayed.  Candy would've helped.  But then, I recovered.  I pulled myself together.  I headed on over to House o' Tires and learned the true meaning of the sweetest words I know:  Under Warranty.  The replacement cost?  Practically nil.  Naturally, I broke into song, right then and there.  It went something like this:

My funny Michelin, all-season Michelin
You make me smile with my heart
Your tires are sizable, safe and reliable
Yet, you're my favorite work of art

Are your sidewalls less than Greek?
Is your ride a little sleek?
When you're older, will you leak?
Are you smart?

But don't change a tread for me
Not if you care for me
Stay Mister Michelin, stay!
Each day is Michelin day

(apologies to Rodgers & Hart.  I couldn't help myself!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Do You Love Me?

"It doesn't change a thing, but even so, after 25 years... it's nice to know."  After 31 years, it's nice to know, too.  Happy Valentine's Day.  Here, have some "Fiddler." Then, eat some chocolate.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rolling In The Grammys

Adele, Adele, Adele.  Bruce.  Bruce. Bruuuuuce.  To cheer myself up from all the Whitney gloom, I watched the Grammys with the college son.  We had a three-hour text-a-thon, sending hearts and smiles, random frogs and puppies, the occasional chicken, and multiple exclamation points, back and forth to punctuate our instant reactions.  After Adele sang her heart out:  "What a performance!!! Adele looks gorgeous!" (Santa Cruz) "Great stuff, angel!" (Sherman Oaks).  "I'd say the doctors did their job!!  Great performance."  (S.C.)  "I love love love her!" (S.O.)  When Bonnie Raitt hit the stage with Alicia Keys:  "There's your gal!" (S.C.) "Woo-hoo!"  (S.O.) During the Beach Boys tribute:  "Fantastic Foster (the People) and Maroon (Five) were on point." (S.C.) "They sounded amazing!" (S.O.)  When Jennifer Hudson brought the house down in tribute to Whitney H, we kept it simple: "Flawless."  (S.C.)  "Wow." (S.O.) And, predictably:  "I will always looooove you!" (S.O.)  "Heart heart heart." (S.C.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Casa Nada

Would you like a table near the gas leak?
Last night, we went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant to celebrate hubby's birthday.  All day, we were dreaming of margaritas and crab enchiladas.  Our reservation was for 6:30.  We left our car with the valet and went inside.  Our conversation with the spacey gal in charge went something like this:  "Hi, we have a reservation." "Uh-huh."  "We'd like a booth."  "Oh, okay."  "So... can we be seated?" "Ummmm."  At this point, she walked away.  Hubby and I exchanged our classic "what the eff is wrong with that chick?" look.  There was a weird vibe in the casa. And a lot of empty tables. A minute later, she returned. "Yeah, so, we have no gas." "You're kidding."  "We have a gas leak or something."  "No way." "Yeah, so, we can't cook any food." "Wonderful.""But you're welcome to have drinks, salad and dessert." "What's in the salad?" "Lettuce.""But it's my husband' s birthday." "Aw." "We didn't come here for a plate of lettuce." "Uh-huh." "So, adios." By 6:35, we were back in our car.  By 7:00, we were home, eating delicious Mexican take-out and drinking hubby's kick-ass margaritas.  By 7:30, I was good and schnockered. Sometimes, it's just better to improvise.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nyuk, Nyuk

Relax, hubby, it's only another birthday
"Happy birthday, honey."  "I'm how old?"  "You're 55."  "Damn, how'd that happen?" "Well, one day your parents decided to throw caution to the wind and have a very willful, yet adorable, yet opinionated, yet wonderful, boychick." "Rumor has it I was conceived after a Sugar Ray Robinson championship fight." "Aha! No wonder you're so full of hell." "Anybody who knows me would say I'm not shy about butting heads." "Which explains your love of the Three Stooges."  "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk." "So, what are you going to do today to celebrate?""UCLA basketball. They'll probably lose in the last five minutes.  Then tequila with guacamole and chips." "Aren't you going to fix anything?" "I might take on the burnt-out pump in the fountain." "You really know how to party." "Just trying to save the few brain cells I have left."

Friday, February 10, 2012

When Pom Poms Were Lethal

The only surviving copy on DVD!
Shanna, whose mom went meshuggah
Step into the SJG time machine, and travel back to the early 90s.  Everybody seated?  Good. Refreshments will be served before the TV movie begins.  Keep your crunching and slurping to a minimum, please,or you'll be ejected, spit into space and never heard from again.  Harsh?  Maybe.  But time travel's a bitch.  Now then.  The movie we're about to see is called "Willing To Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story."  What's that?  Did someone in my time machine just say, "Who cares?" How dare you.  You should care, and I'm about to tell you why.  I associate produced this movie!  I'm in it, too. I play a reporter in a mob trying to get the attention of Wanda Holloway (Leslie Ann Warren).  Wanda Who?  What's wrong with you people?  Don't you read People?  Wanda Holloway was arrested in 1991, put on trial, convicted and served time in jail for hiring a hitman to kill Verna Heath, a former neighbor whose daughter, Amber, competed with Wanda's daughter Shanna in junior high for spots on the cheerleading squads. (First hint that Wanda wasn't Jewish.)  The wacky crime inspired two TV movies, the one I worked on for ABC, and the Holly Hunter one on HBO.  I got to hang out with the young co-stars and the cheerleaders pretending to be Texas cheerleaders.  I got to schlep to San Pedro, which doubled as small town Texas.  I got to watch fights break out between competing camera crews. (HBO was filming their movie at the same time.)  I got to watch fights break out between executive producers.  I got to work on the script.   I got to watch the first A.D. walk into a screen door and be rushed to the hospital.  Who said TV wasn't glamorous?

What prompted me to drag you back in time with me?  It's a fair question. Shanna, then 14, now 34, a grown up mother of two, is finally talking about that sad phase when her mother went completely meshuggah.  She's telling People (exclusively!), "I kept thinking, 'Why are you doing this to us? 'I hate you!' I felt like I had a flashing neon sign on my forehead that said, 'Pom-Pom Mom's Daughter.' I felt very alone." Well, looks like she survived the ordeal, which makes me happy.  Doesn't sound like "Willing To Kill" scarred her for life, and for that, I take complete credit.  Everybody out of the time machine.  Thanks for clapping when my name hit the screen.  Make sure you throw your trash in the recyling bin.  And thanks for flying SJG Air. 
Shanna of "Pom Pom" fame

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How To Be A Jewish Son

In time for Valentine's Day, a new DVD of an old talk show hosted by David Susskind.  "How To Be A Jewish Son," the most popular episode of the series, features George Segal, Mel Brooks and David Steinberg, circa 1970.  NPR did a wonderful story yesterday about the release of "How To Be A Jewish Son," and another DVD that captures the 1996 reunion of Sid Caesar and many of his writers from "Your Shows of Show."
Famous Funny Writers
Shout out to Mick, my friend the doctor and fellow blogger, for sending me this story.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What's So Funny?

What did the waiter ask the group of dining Jewish mothers? "Is ANY thing all right? "

Short summary of every Jewish Holiday: "They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat."

Did you hear about the bum who walked up to the Jewish mother on the street and said, "Lady, I haven't eaten in three days. " "Force yourself, " she replied.

What's the difference between a Rottweiler and a Jewish Mother?  Eventually, the Rottweiler lets go.

A young Jewish man calls his mother and says, "Mom, I'm bringing home a wonderful woman I want to marry. She's a Native American and her name is Shooting Star. " "How nice, " says his mother. "I have an Indian name too, " he says. "It's Running Water and you have to call me that from now on. " "How nice, " says his mother. "You have to have an Indian name too, Mom, " he says. "I already do, " says the mother. "Just call me Sitting Shiva. "

Jewish view on when life begins:  The fetus is not considered viable until after it graduates from medical school.

Jewish telegram: "Begin worrying - Details to follow. "

Monday, February 6, 2012

Team Madonna!

Oh come on, admit it, she rocked it.  Even hubby and the first-born had to concede she was "pretty good."  She did have one "oy gevalt" moment, when she nearly tumbled off the bleachers into obscurity.  "Has anyone seen Madonna?"  "Not since she went boom at the Super Bowl."  Thank God she self-corrected.  It was the kind of "whoopsie doodle " that any gal who walks around in giant stilettos could understand.  Cringe-worthy?  A little.  But it just means she's human... and very competitive.  Her friend Gwen Paltrow already danced on a piano in near-stilts at the Grammys with Cee Lo tinkling the ivories, so, why shouldn't Madonna raise the bar, and perform with Cee Lo too?  Still, I have "whoopsies" all the time, in flats.  Stilettos, I wouldn't attempt, especially not in front of, gulp, 110 million people.  Last night, Madonna sold her over-produced "me" brand of splashy entertainment with chutzpah and panache.  And looked hotter than most gals her 20-something boyfriend used to date before she shoved them off the stage.  The only downside to last night's extravaganza came from M.I.A., who flipped us off during "Give Me All Your Luvin."  I don't know about you, but I took it personally.  If the SJG got the chance to perform at Half-Time - how great would that be? - I'd never endorse such a rebel move.  Hey, NFL.  Give me a call.  My schedule's wide open for next year.  Just sayin'.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Touchdown or Fumble?

Madonna for the win!
Last night at dinner, the menfolk went on a rant about the designated Super Bowl half-time performer.  I did my best to defend the Brit with the crazy muscular arms, but it was hard to bring them over to my side.  "You don't think a middle-aged gal from London can pull it off?" "She's not British," hubby informed me.  "What?  Of course she is.  Didn't you hear her on the Golden Globes? She speaks the Queen's English.  And Elton John hates her.  She's got to be British."  The eldest showed me his iPhone.  "She was born in Michigan."  Well, that shut me up for two seconds.  "I still feel sorry for her.  All that chutzpah.  She's got to let it out now and then."  "They should've picked the Foo Fighters," the first-born said.  "They should've picked anyone but Madonna," hubby said. I looked at them both.  "Why all the hate?" "She's a no-talent," hubby said.  "No talent?  She has a movie coming out this weekend, too."  The eldest shared a review of "W.E."  "There are moments in this movie of such honking absurdity that one can only slump in wonder."  Ouch.  "Now I really feel sorry for her."  The menfolk looked at me like I was nuts.  This wouldn't be the first time.  "How can you feel sorry for her?  She's worth billions of dollars," the first-born said.  "She's a no-talent," hubby said again.  "Well, I don't care what you say.  I'm still going to root for her.  I hope she scores a touchdown at the Super Bowl.  I hope she proves everyone wrong.  I hope she shows the world she's still got it."  "I hope she bombs," the eldest said.  "Count on it," hubby said.  Anybody out there with me?  Anybody pro-Madonna?  Let's get our own Madonna pool going.  Let's make this Super Bowl interesting for a change.  Forget the Patriots and the Giants.  Put your money on Madge.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Search This!

"U" is for this?
This week, I seem to be in self-search mode.  So, I took a look at my search history, to see what deep insights Google might shed.  To be honest, I'm shocked, not to mention, appalled, by the weird sh*t I've been investigating.  Let's start with this:  "Seal's face."  Well.  This says so much about me.  Shallow SJG that I am, I've often wondered what caused those scars on his face, but I've never taken the time to Google it.  Finally, I had to know!  These days, Seal's face is everywhere.  On TV, on magazine covers.  When your well-advertised euphoric marriage implodes, enquiring minds want to know what up with that?   But no amount of Googling will reveal why Heidi Klum ended their super-glam, globe-trotting life.  At this stage of media blitz, it's all just speculation.  We won't really know what happened till Heidi spills it to Barbara Walters, or that perky up-and-comer, Katie Couric.  I figured, the least I could do was find out what's going on with Seal's face.  And I did.  It's a form of Lupus.  That sucks!  Moving on.

My next search, I promise you, says very little about me, other than I need to refresh my vocabulary: "Urial."  I have to tell you, this is a word I've never come across, not once in my 54 years.  "What the hey is this?" I asked Kelly, my writing partner.  Instead of writing, we were playing with her gorgeous daughter Kate, not quite two.  (Note how I said "hey" instead of something more colorful?  I try not to swear around Kate.  She's a little sponge.  Thanks to her mommies, she's already picked up a few words that will get her booted from pre-school.  I don't want to be responsible for her picking up any more.)

Now then.  Where was I?  Urial.  Right.  Kate owns some impressive alphabetical farm acreage, both educational and fun.  When you pick up an animal, a Godlike voice tells you its name.  "Cow!" "Rooster!"  Pick up the animal that resides over the letter U and you get Urial.  "It's a sheep," Kelly said.  "Then why isn't it under S for sheep?" I asked. "They needed an animal that starts with U."  "There must be an animal other than Urial," I said.  "Name one," Kelly said.  I couldn't.  All I could come up with was Unicorn.  But something tells me Fisher Price didn't want to launch a national debate -- "Unicorns:  Mythical or Real?"-- so they settled on the obscure, yet provocative Urial.  No doubt, Kate's early exposure to Urial will give her the upper hand in life.  She'll win spelling bees and scholastic awards, go to Harvard and earn three or four advanced degrees.  The SJG, on the other hand, will probably forget what the @#$% Urial means by the time I'm done writing this and have to Google it again.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

There's A Name For That

But you can certainly try
Add a new trait to the SJG list of personality quirks:  High Sociotropy. A fancy name for people-pleasing.  It's true, the SJG would rather please people than piss them off.  This morning, thanks to a new study, I found out that much like the reward for doing a mitzvah -- do another mitzvah! -- people-pleasers earn bonus points for eating too much just to make other people happier.  What's wrong with that?  Making friends and family eat alone isn't very friendly, especially if it's yummy food you whipped up in your own kitchen in their honor.  

"People-pleasers like the Short Jewish Gal of Sherman Oaks feel more intense pressure to eat when they believe that their eating will help another person feel more comfortable," said researcher Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve Universtiy in Cleveland. "Almost everyone has been in a situation in which they've felt this pressure, but people-pleasers seem especially sensitive to it.  We spent months studying the eating habits of the SJG and found that she'll eat anything you put in front of her if it'll make others happy.  Chocolate cake, bagels, a nice coffee cake.  The SJG doesn't discriminate.  She's very selfless that way. We're not surprised.  People-pleasers tend to put others' needs before their own, worry about hurting others, and are sensitive to criticism.  As everyone knows, the SJG gets very touchy about her height. Ask her how the weather is 'down there' and look out.  The only way to calm her down is to give her some candy."
According to Exline, the same behaviors that affect noshing can also affect other areas of a person's life. "People-pleasers may feel anxious or guilty if they outperform others in areas such as academics, athletics or relationship success. People-pleasers have a strong desire to avoid posing a threat to others, so they often put a lot of energy into trying to keep others comfortable."  A very astute lady.  She's got the SJG pegged.  Of course, there's a much simpler name for this syndrome: Jewish Mother.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What's For Dinner?

Saul feared his wife Sara wasn’t hearing as well as she used to and he thought she might need a hearing aid. Not quite sure how to approach her, he called the family doctor to discuss the problem. The doctor told Saul there is a simple informal test he could perform to give the doctor a better idea of Sara's hearing loss. “Here’s what you do,” said the doctor, “stand about 40 feet away form her, and in a normal conversation speaking tone see if she hears you.  If not, got to 30 feet, then 20 feet, and so on until you get a response.” That evening, Sara is in the kitchen cooking dinner, and Saul is in  the den.  He says to himself, “I’m about 40 feet away, let’s see what happens."  Then in a normal tone he asks, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” No response. He moves closer to the kitchen, about 30 feet from his wife and repeats, “What’s for dinner?” Still no response. Next he moves into the dining room about 20 feet from Sara and asks, “What’s for dinner?” Again he gets no response. So he walks up to the kitchen door, about 10 feet away.  “Honey, what’s for dinner?”Again he gets no response. So he walks right up behind her.  “Sara, what’s for dinner?” “ For @#$%'s sake, Saul, for the FIFTH time, CHICKEN!” (courtesy of my brother Peter)