Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sentimental Journey

Scott D reppin' the Kings in kindergarten
A text exchange with the Santa Cruzan:  "You don't have that picture of me wearing that old King's jersey when I won student of the month do you?" "Probably. Why?" "I wanted to post it. It's the Stanley Cup finals tonight. Take a pic if you can." "If I can find it."  Easier said than done.  Photo albums.  Not my forte.  I started off with the best intentions.  Babyhood for both boys is well- documented.  After that, I fired myself as family historian.  But I have boxes and drawers full of photos in various locations throughout the house.  All afternoon, I stepped into the time machine.  I took a sentimental journey, reliving my sons' preschool days and sporting events and birthday parties.  I cringed at my array of hairstyles, eye wear, fashion sense and fluctuating weight.  "Oh, I look pretty good here."  "Oh my God, what happened here?"  "Hang on, are those Mom jeans?"  At random intervals, another text would arrive:  "How's it going, da mamala?  Any luck?"  "Not yet.  I'm still looking."  I figured this assignment would be a piece of cake.  The boy wore his Kings jersey for the entire year of kindergarten.  I used to pry it off his back to wash it.  Surely, I'd captured it on camera?  No.  Not really.  Hours of searching for the stupid photo left me weepy and unmoored.  Each time the face of another lost one floated to the surface, I wanted to quit.  And then, another text:  "The game starts at 5:10.  Just sayin'."  Clever boy.  Give the SJG a deadline and I will deliver.  "Found it."  "You're the best."  "True."  By 5 o'clock, he'd posted his punim for his friends to see.  By 9-something the Kings had won in overtime.  Next assignment?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Humble Pie

A Jewish website informs me that:  "A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people announces she never did care for pie."  Ex-squeeze me?  This doesn't sound like me at all.  I'd go another way.  In a loving way, I'd tell the fifth person, "You don't need pie."  Okay, fine.  You know me too well.  I'd never say that.  I might think it, though.  The reality is, I'd never put out a rinky-dinky half-ass pie.  What kind of hostess would that make me?  A lousy one.  It's either a full pie or no pie at all.  That's how this mother rolls.  Oh, sure.  The SJG is happy to go without many things, to sacrifice for my family. When someone gives hubby three Dodger tickets, not four,  I'm the first to say, "Go.  Have fun.  Take the boys.  I never cared for baseball.  I'll stay home and watch reruns of 'Bitch, Please.'"  See?  Sacrifice.  (Just between us, unless Babe Ruth is pitching, I'm happy to stay home.) When my sons bring home In-N-Out burgers for everyone but the gal who birthed them, I say, "Don't worry about me.  Go ahead and eat.  I never did care for hamburgers.  I'll just gnaw on this apple.  Yum."  See?  Sacrifice.  (The fact that I haven't eaten red meat since the '70s is besides the point.)  But pretend I don't like pie?  Never.  No one would believe me, anyway.  Give me a Boston Cream, a Boysenberry, a French apple a la mode, and I'm in an altered state of bliss.  No pie for me?  Sorry.  That's where I draw the line.  I've come too far to deny myself a dainty sliver of pie, cake or anything born in a bakery, just because some stranger materialized out of nowhere and wants to horn in on dessert.  Who raised such a person?  On second thought, "No pie for you."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Gee, that's a little harsh.
As I get older, a disturbing development that continues, without my written permission, I've simplified my needs. Scaled back on my big dreams.  Dialed down my lofty goals.  Lowered my expectations.  At this stage, it's all about acceptance, baby.  The long legs, the lustrous hair, the math brain.  Not happening.  Those trains left me behind at the station.  Fine.  Let others be tall and swing their shiny locks in slo-mo and explain String Theory.  Does the world need another cute, lanky physicist with a thick, fabulous mane?  No.  Not really.  We've got enough of those types already.  I'm down to the basic essentials.  It doesn't take much to make me smile these days.  A good book.  A good cup of joe.  A good dog by my side.  And yet, I'll admit, there is one thing I'd like to achieve.  Yeah, I know it's wackadoodle.  It's out of my comfort zone.  It's beyond my grasp.  Still.  Just once, I'd like to remove a t-shirt from the cluttered nightmare of my closet.  I'd like to put on said t-shirt, or nice blouse, depending on the occasion.  Gardening.  Marketing.  Accepting the Nobel Prize in a non-science, non-math category.  Kvetching.  That works.  The Nobel Prize for Kvetching goes to the SJG of Sherman Oaks.  I like the sound of that.  But, really, more than anything, I'd like to go downstairs and out into the sunlight and greet the day without a spot on my clothing.  It has never happened.  There's always a spot.  I look down and there it is, the remnants of olive oil or red wine or ice cream and it's never coming out in the wash.  These spots must be addressed, immediately, or forget it.  The evidence that I'm incapable of eating a meal without dribbling on myself is there for the universe to see.  But a gal can dream a simple dream.  Or start wearing a bib.  Like everything in life, it's up to me, isn't it?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sinatra On The Side

Recently, Cheryl and I dined al fresco while the young lovers frolicked in the backyard.  (Important disclaimer:  We still think of them as puppies, but in dog years, they're senior citizens.  How did that happen?)  "Look," I said, "Dusty and Scout are doing that thing little kids do.... parallel play."  Cheryl, who taught preschool and knows enough about parallel play to last two lifetimes, was more focused on the food.  "This salad is delicious."  "I made sure there's no Sinatra in it," I said.  Cheryl started to laugh.  "No Sinatra?"  "Oh, @#$%.  I meant cilantro.  I know you don't like cilantro."  "But I love Sinatra."  "Me, too."  Sinatra.  Cilantro.  The SJG may be the first human in history to confuse the two.
And this is Cilantro!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

What Can't I Stand?

Ben Starr, post-salad
When my dad arrived home after a long day at the sitcom factory, he had two questions for the children who never gave him a moment of aggravation.  The first:  "What's the most important thing in the world?"  We were supposed to say, "Love!"  But we never did.  Instead, we yelled, "Money!"  The second:  "What can't I stand?"  "Happy children!" we'd shout.  On Friday, I asked him about it.  "Remember when you used to say, 'What can't I stand?' and we'd say, 'Happy children'?"  He looked at me.  "I never said that."  "Yes, you did.  My entire childhood."  "I did?"  "You'd call it out while you were going up the stairs."  "Oh, wait.  I do remember that."  "Why'd you say it?" "I said it because happy children, especially when they're in a group, get crazy and charged up and run around and do dumb things.  Someone always gets hurt.  They bang into a table or bump heads and soon, they're crying and they're not happy anymore.  It's true.  Why do you think parents hate it when teenagers are all in the same car?  They're laughing and having fun and not paying attention to the road and  --"  "Wow, Daddy, this story's taking a dark turn."  "You wanted to know why I can't stand happy children."  "And now I do." "Anything else you want to know?" "What's the most important thing in the world?"  "Love."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cat Woman

There are cat people and dog people and people who like both and people who like neither.  Until my 40s, I fell into the latter category.  Before our sons threatened to disown us if we didn't get them a dog, the only animal to ever steal my heart was Stuart Little, my childhood guinea pig.  I named him after my favorite book of all time.  Such a cute guy.  I loved him so much I got him a playmate.  I named him King Sol.  I was going through a biblical phase.  King Sol and Stuart Little got along famously.  And then Stuart got chubby and a red flag went up.  And then the baby guinea piggies arrived.  It was a confusing time for me.  I'm still not over it.  But anyway, back to the issue at hand.  Cats vs Dogs.  Cats, I can live without.  I'm allergic to them.  I don't understand their allure.  They freak me out.  My friend Carrie, on the other hand, loves cats.  She owns two, and even when they manage to turn on her faucets and flood the house while she's at work, she still loves them, unconditionally.  Who am I to judge? A certain Labrador once ate through the carpet on the stairs, straight through to the wood, while we were at a Bar Mitzvah.  I love him just the same. 

Carrie and I have a mutual friend who's completely meshuganah about cats.  She has many cats.  Many, many.  Too many.  And a live-in boyfriend.  How long he'll live in is anybody's guess.  The fact that animal control hasn't come around is a miracle.  Until that happens, Carrie and I must decide whether to send our friend Terry (not her real name, in case she wants to hang on to a shred of dignity) the following article that Carrie found online.  It's a cautionary tale, one Terry should probably read (in case she wants to hang on to that live-in boyfriend.)  

The headline says it all:  "Cat Divorce: Israeli Man Divorces Wife Over Her 550 Cats."  Can you blame him?  Here's the story, courtesy of the Times of Israel.  "A man from southern Israel is divorcing his wife because she adopted 550 pet cats.  The unnamed man complained in his divorce documents that the hundreds of kitties hindered his home life at every turn: they blocked the entrance to the bathroom, swarmed the kitchen, and stalked him at mealtime by stealing his food off the table.And though the couple reportedly gave reconciliation a shot at the behest of the rabbinical court, the wife ultimately choose the cats over her husband, and the pair decided to go their separate ways." Hmm.  I'm thinking maybe Carrie should send this story to Terry, cat woman to cat woman.  I'm thinking I should stay out of this. It's really not my place to stick my claws where they don't belong. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pitch Me

Laura Zigman, author of "Animal Husbandry," "Dating Big Bird" and other comic novels, has a hilarious video series called "Annoying Conversations," featuring the Lavender Bunny, "who's always getting [her] stupid writer feelings hurt by [her] nemesis, Xtra Frenemy."  Each vignette explores the ridiculous and humbling life of a writer, bombarded by insensitive souls who always want to know, "What are you working on now?" Not that I can relate, or anything.  Well, maybe a little.  Okay, a lot.  Double click for full screen. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Suspicious Minds

Mr. Distrustful
The minute I walked in, Dusty went detective on me.  He started circling.  He had a few questions.  "Where have you been?" he asked.  "At lunch with Helen," I said.  Dusty came closer and started sniffing.  "Anyone else?"  "No, just Helen."  He zeroed in on a stray dog hair, lingering on my black skirt.  "What's this?"  I played dumb. "What's what?" " This!  It's not my hair."  "Of course it is."  "Hello?  I'm a yellow lab."  "I've noticed."  "This dog hair is white!"  Busted.  "What's your point?"  "You've been hanging out with another dog, haven't you?"  "Maybe." "Don't lie to me."  "Fine."  "Who is he?"  "His name is Walter.  He's a golden retriever.  His hair is ivory."  "An ivory golden.  You expect me to believe that?"  "It's the truth.  I swear.  He's just a puppy.  Helen's new puppy."  "Did you play with him?"  "A little.  I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself.  He's so cute!  But he's crazy.  First he slammed me against the door, then the cabinet, and then the umbrella stand.  He likes it ruff.  Get it?"  "Ha ha.  The point is, you played with another dog."  "I only played with him because he reminded me of you, when you were a puppy."  Dusty sniffed a few more times.  "In my heart, I'm still a puppy."  "Tell me something I don't know."  "So, are you going to see him again?"  "Not unless I'm wearing protective gear."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How To Avoid Jet Lag

Answer:  Don't go anywhere.  Ever.  You're welcome!
Even in my zombie state, the SJG never stops working on your behalf.  I know you turn to me for answers and wisdom.  Not a day goes by that someone doesn't stop me on the street and ask me an important life-altering question.  Yesterday, it happened again.  "Excuse me, ma'am.  You look semi-intelligent." "Why, thank you.  How kind of you to notice."  "Can you tell me where Central Park is?  I'm a little lost."  "That makes two of us.  I thought I was back in L.A."  "Silly SJG," said the directionally-challenged individual.  "If you were in L.A. would we be standing under this scaffolding?"  "Good point," I said.  "Turn left at the pedicab, go past the hot dog cart, and keep walking.  You'll get there eventually."  Well, I'm glad I cleared that up. Next question?

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's Only A Paper Sun

I stumbled home from dance class to find father and son in the backyard, entrenched in a science project.  Back in the day, such a dicey endeavor  would've involved yelling, door slamming and "fine, figure it out yourself."  But not on this day of the Solar Eclipse.  On this day, father and son were united in their cause to view the eclipse via the ol' Pinhole Projection technique. Of course, I didn't know that at first, so when I found them holding up two sheets of paper, and staring intently at nothing, I thought they'd joined some secret recycling cult while I was away.  "What the eff are you doing?" I asked.  "Watching the solar eclipse," the eldest explained.  "Really? How's the barbecue going?" "We haven't cooked anything yet," hubby said.  My tummy growled.  I was still on NYC time.  "Show me, show me," I demanded.  And there, courtesy of a pinhole, I saw the teeny-tiny crescent silhouette of the slowing emerging solar eclipse.  "Very cool," I said, trying to drum up enthusiasm, but just between us, I was underwhelmed.  This morning's solar eclipse images, courtesy of news orgs and zillions of crazed eclipse worshippers, were far cooler than what hubby and the eldest offered up, instead of grilled chicken.  But don't tell them that.  They thought they were onto something awesome out there in the backyard, and who am I to deny them their moment of Zen?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My DVR, Myself

The jet-lagged SJG came home to an angry DVR.  I couldn't wait to sit my tush down and watch all the shows I missed while gallivanting around NYC, looking chic and adorable.  I couldn't wait for a marathon of "Mad Men" and "The Killing," "How I Met Your Mother" and "Modern Family."  Turns out, my DVR  is my doppelganger.  It gives and gives and all it asks for in return is a little respect and appreciation.  A simple thank you now and then.  Much like the SJG, when taken for granted, my DVR lays on the guilt and refuses to cooperate. I understand this, I really do.  I come from a long line of people who invented this technique.  Still, effn' up my beloved programming, DVR?  Not okay.  I gotta draw the line and send you back to therapy.  Or, at the very least, trade you in for a younger DVR that doesn't run on bitterness alone.  A dozen roses, a nice box of candy, a two-hour Swedish massage, won't bring back the last half of "Mad Men" you denied me in my stupor.  A fancy restaurant, a shopping spree, won't make up for what happened mid-way through "The Killing."   Bupkis.  That's what happened.  And then I had to start over and reprogram you, while steeped in my heavy travel fog, and quite frankly, DVR, I didn't have enough brain cells to pull it off.  I'm scared to look at you this morning.  You want me to apologize?  Fine.  I'm sorry I didn't bring you a gift from the Big Apple, DVR, but I thought you had everything you wanted in life. Plus, they don't make I Heart Manhattan t-shirts in your size.  Next time I go away, I promise, I'll bring you something.  A piping hot knish.  A giant pretzel.  Whatever you want.  From now on, DVR, I won't take you for granted.  I'll remember to thank you for all your hard work and dedication, and for all the joy you've brought me over the years.  That said, DVR, if you don't get your sh*t together and bring me the second half of "Men Man," if you don't tell me whether that guy lying half dead up against a tree on "The Killing" survives the episode, I will never forgive you.  Never.  You see what I did there?  Guilt works both ways.  My DVR.  Myself.   We're one and the same.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Back In The S.O.

See ya, NYC
It only took an hour and a half to get to JFK, not bad, considering last year's death-defying chase scene through Queens.  As we crawled toward the airport, serenaded by honking horns, I was sad to see that Wiggles, the gentleman's club, had gone out of business.  Last year, they had a "dancers wanted" sign that grabbed my attention.  "So much for that career opportunity," I said to hubby.  By the time we arrived back in Burbank, late Friday night, we decided we'd had enough of NYC for awhile. We like our cocoon in the S.O., free of scaffolding, pedicabs and horse droppings.  Sure, I'll miss the museums and the Broadway shows and the nonstop buzz of activity.  But not really.  I'm just a homebody at heart.  I've got my dog napping by my side.  What more do I need?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Good Feeling

Flo Rida sings "Good Feeling" at CW Upfront
Ian Somerhalder of "Vampire Diaries" woos me from afar
Just another day in NYC, meeting and hugging thin, gorgeous TV celebs who lucked out in the DNA derby.  Thanks to a guy I know who works at the CW, I got to sit in the audience and watch the big splashy presentation.  "Behave yourself," hubby told me, and I did my best.  But when Flo Rida got up on stage and sang "Good Feeling," it was hard to control myself.  Flo commanded, "Put your hands up, CW," and I did just that, bopping around in my seat.  I needed to warm up, in case one of the dancers fell off the stage -- whoopsie! -- and Flo asked me to fill in at the last second.  (That didn't happen.)  In the evening,  the SJG went to a big splashy party, and, thanks to a guy I know, got to meet TV stars.  "This is my wife," hubby told the genetically gifted:  Mamie Gummer ("Emily Owens, M.D.), who happens to be Meryl Streep's daughter; Stephen Amell ("Arrow"); Rachel Bilson ("Hart of Dixie"). There were friendly chats and handshakes.  And then, there was hugging.  "She's one of your biggest fans," hubby told Ian Somerhalder ("Vampire Diaries.")  Ian offered a cozy embrace and I accepted.  "I loved you on 'Lost,'" I said.  "Oh, that's so nice to hear," he said, ready to leave his co-star girlfriend, Nina Dobrev, and run away with me. Or maybe I read too much into the hug. It's possible. "I'm so glad you're alive," I gushed.  (Sly reference to Boone, the character he played on "Lost," who met with a nasty demise.)  "It's good to be alive," Ian said. Yes, we shared a moment, one that left me feeling warm and fuzzy about my stay in the city that never sleeps.  Or maybe it's just me who never sleeps in this city.  Next visit, I'm asking NYC to turn down the volume on all the noise.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Popeye Defense

How nice to find my entire philosophy summed up and on display at a mid-town sidewalk kiosk, and in large print, too:  "People say I have a bad attitude.  I say screw 'em!" "Sarcasm:  Now Served Daily." "Wine! How classy people get wasted." "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups." "Some call it bitching.  I call it motivational speaking." "Amazingly enough, I don't give a sh*t." "I don't expect everything handed to me,  just set it down wherever."  "I can only please one person per day.  Today I choose me." I'm happy to report I've applied some of this inherent snarkiness throughout my stay in NYC. Whenever someone approaches me with an aggressive sales pitch -- every 15 minutes or so -- I'm armed with an appropriate answer. On the street:  "Pedicab ride!  Through the park!  What's wrong?  Don't you want a pedicab ride?"  "I could live my whole life without a pedicab ride."  At the fancy-schmancy department store:  "Give me your hand. See this lotion?  It takes all the redness out."  "Don't spray that on my -- @#$%!  What is that?!" "It's magic.  Look at  your right hand!  Now look at your left!  Which looks better?"  "Are you Israeli?"  "Half."  "I'm not going to buy this."  "It's a shame, because your right hand looks better than your left." "You're trying to make me feel bad about myself. And guess what, it's working."  At the theater last night, a young man (who just climbed over me) asks his friend, two seconds before "Peter and the Starcatcher" is about to start, "Do I have time to pee?" I lean over and look at him.  "No!"  I want to add, "I told you to go before we left home," but I show restraint.  Only because the actors are now on stage.  Much like Popeye, I yam what I yam, wherever I go.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


On the way to the Met
Sometimes, art is worth schlepping in the rain to see.  I walk and walk and walk to the Metropolitan Museum of You-Know-What.   By the time I arrive, I'm sopping wet, despite my raincoat and umbrella.  In NYC, I've lost my ability to keep dry in the rain.  Sherman Oaks rain is much gentler.  NYC rain is a little pushy.  I get in line outside the museum and get wetter.  I go inside and fight my way through crowds so I can consume art:  The Schiaperelli-Prada exhibit. I see a Prada dress decorated with crushed bottle caps.  I see crazy shoes and hats.  I offer commentary to total strangers who don't speak English.  They look at me funny.  I'm having a very bad hair day.  I'd laugh at me too.  I move on to gobble art that Gertrude Stein and her brother collected, before Picasso and Matisse commanded the big bucks.  Smart Jews.  I'm so impressed with their smartness, I take forbidden photos till a guard snaps, "Hey!  SJG!  No freakin' photos!" "Oopsie," I say.
Picasso:  The Blue Period
Matisse.  Pretty, pretty Matisse.
Now I need a nosh.  I stand in another line for 40 minutes just to get a salad.  To pass the time, I talk to total strangers.  "Can you believe this line?"  The couple in front of me look at me funny.  They don't speak English.  I eat a salad not worth 40 minutes of waiting.  I share my table with two ladies who do speak English.  We bond.  We say goodbye.  I see more art.  Then I spend 10 minutes trying to figure out how to leave.  I ask the guards.  "How do I get out of here?"  "Look for the exit signs."  Helpful, as always.  On the long walk back to the hotel, in the rain, I decide it's time to guilt a certain family member who made promises he can't keep. "Hi, Daddy.  It's raining."  "I'm boiling an egg."  "Did you hear the part about it's raining?"  "Can you call back?"  "Sure.  Don't worry about me.  I'll just keep trudging through the downpour."   A half hour later, I call him again.  "Hi, Daddy.  Done with the eggs?"  "Just cleaning up.  Sorry about the rain."  "That's okay.  I don't blame you for it.  I blame you for other things."
"One Man, Two Guvnors"
The day ends with no rain -- guilt!  a magical thing! -- and a screamingly hilarious British farce.  I'm a happy, no longer soggy SJG.  Today I will do my hair and hope for the best.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Less Than 50 Shades of NYC

Why visit when I can take you there, vicariously? It's so much cheaper.  Here I am, in Central Park with my brother Peter.   
Star-gazing at the NBC Upfronts, Radio City. Jimmy Fallon, Debra Messing, Peter Krause, Marsha Gay Harden, Ellen Barkin. I was too far away to get decent photos.  But this guy, I got. The Donald.    
Art appreciation at MoMA:  Monet.  Why can't my agapanthus look like this? 
The Picasso from back of the store.  And everything!
This would've made a better Time Magazine cover.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

We Meet Again

The infamous NYC scaffolding
Ah, scaffolding.  There you are again.  I've thought of you often.  In my nightmares, mainly.  NYC, the SJG must ask you:  What up with all the scaffolding?  I thought we discussed this the last time I was here.  I thought I'd made myself pretty clear.  Enough with the scaffolding.  Get rid of it.  But you didn't listen, did you?  You ignored me.   I'm a little hurt, to be honest, but I'll deal.  I'm cool with adversity.  Ask anyone.
So.  Don't worry about me, NYC.  Just go about your business while I'm here.  I've got some key scaffolding moves in my arsenal.  I've taken my Scaffolding Preparedness Training.  I'm certified now.  Endless renovation.  It's a situation I can relate to, easily.  I've been under construction since 1958.   Smoothing out the rough edges takes time.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Early Mother's Day

Over at the palatial estate of the SJG, featured on the cover of this month's "KVETCH" magazine, the celebration of mothers will commence.  My peeps.  Such an unconventional group of noshers.  Why wait till Sunday when we can nosh on bagels and lox and the famous, highly-caloric SJG Blintz Casserole one day before the appointed Hallmark event?  The underlying fear:  if we wait till Sunday, all the best bagels in the Valley will be gone, and that, my friends, would be tragic.  Years ago, after that unfortunate incident at the late-semi-great Webby's Bakery, I vowed, as God is my witness, to never go without fresh bagels on Mother's Day again.  You see, there'd been a run on bagels at Webby's, and what they had left looked questionable at best.  "Are these fresh?" I asked the grump behind the counter.  "How should I know if they're fresh?" he said. "Either they're fresh or they're not fresh."  Excuse me for living!  It was certainly the most sarcastic sales pitch I'd ever received.  "Well," I said, "you just lost this customer."  Then I turned on my heels and high-tailed it out of that dang deli.  Today there will be the freshest of bagels.  There will be pithy discussions.  The titillating, wackadoodle Time Magazine cover.  The Lakers.  The four-week luxury European cruise none of us will be taking.  These will be just some of the hot topics we'll examine.  And, as I do every Mother's Day, I shall regale the group with a lengthy interpretative dance, during which I reenact the joys of giving birth to two bouncing baby boychicks. Happy Early Mother's Day to one and all.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Top Ten Packing Tips

1. Write strange notes to yourself, leave them around the house.
2.  "Rct!"  "Brla!"  "Cgrs!"
3.  Ask hubby if he can decipher your notes. 
4.  Make new packing list, one you can understand.
5.  Walk around saying, "Where the eff did I leave my list?"
6.  Wing it without list.
7.  Yell, "I hate to pack."
8.  Dump entire wardrobe in suitcase.
9.  Weep when zipper won't close. 
10. Cancel trip.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Weather Man

A phone conversation with my all-time favorite human, a real mensch of a guy who used to make it rain during WWII, so his squadron wouldn't have to fly missions over Germany.  My entire life, he's had the uncanny ability to control the weather.  But just between us, his track record in recent years has been a little spotty.  "Hi, Daddy.  Are you eating lunch?"  "I'm about to.  I've boiled two eggs.  I took one out of the water.  I'm going to take the other one out now, and then I'm going to make egg salad."  "Sounds delish. You want me to call back?"  "Sure."  "Can I tell you one thing, though?"  "Okay."  "You need to get busy with the weather in New York."  "Please.  I've got it covered."  "That's what you said last year when I went to New York, and the year before, and it rained plenty and I got very wet."  "I don't remember that." "Are you sure you still have the power to control the weather?"  "Of course.  Why are you even worried?"  "Because the NY forecast calls for rain twice next week."  "Relax.  I'm taking care of the whole week for you."  "Okay, Daddy.  You better.  Enjoy your lunch." "I will, if you ever let me off the phone."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

So The Lion Ate Pierre

Property of SJG since early '60s
One of my earliest regrets in life was loaning my Nutshell Library of Maurice Sendak miniature books to a careless friend down the street.  I've always been too nice.  I should've said no.  But I said yes, and when I got my miniature library back, the little books I treasured dearly were falling apart, the pages loose, the bindings ruined.  I cried and cried and thought twice about loaning books again.  My mom took out the scotch tape and salvaged the collection.  I still have my Nutshell Library today. "Alligators All Around," an illustrated alphabet.   "J: juggling jelly beans.  K:  keeping kangaroos." "One Was Johnny," a counting book.  "3 was a cat who chased the rat.  4 was a dog who came in and sat."  "Chicken Soup With Rice," a book of months.  "In January it's so nice/while sipping on the sliding ice/to sip hot chicken soup with rice./Sipping once, sipping twice, sipping chicken soup with rice." My favorite tiny Sendak, the one that's stayed with me, thematically, all my life:  "Pierre: A Cautionary Tale." 
Pierre:  He does care!
Pierre is a pissy little boy who doesn't care about anything.  "One day his mother said when Pierre climbed out of bed, 'Good morning, darling boy, you are my only joy. Pierre said, 'I don't care!"  Throughout the story, the first chapter book I ever read, Pierre is such a pain in the ass that his fed-up parents leave him at home.  (Hello?  Abandonment issues?)  But Pierre doesn't care, not even when a hungry lion pays a call, and asks if he'd like to die.  The answer:  "I don't care!"  Well, you can probably guess what happens next.  When Mom and Dad come home, they find the lion in bed and fear, "Pierre is surely dead!"  They rush the lion into town, the doctor turns him upside down, the lion gives a roar and Pierre falls out upon the floor.  Lesson learned!  "The moral of the Pierre is: Care!"  I always sensed some darker subtext in Sendak's books:  Be good, or else.  "Where The Wild Things Are,"  "In The Night Kitchen." I adore them all.  I loved reading them when I was a kid.  I loved reading them to my kids.  So, rest in peace, Mr. Sendak.  And thank you for sharing your brilliance with the SJG.  You formed the foundation of my core belief system.  Some days, the lion spits you out.  Some days, the lion eats you whole.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Future Mrs. Rapper

The rapper known as Scott D sends me a text: "The Avengers was really funny! I want to marry Ms. Johansson."  I text back:  "I hear she's available.  And Jewish!  You have my blessing."  Of course, I realize I may have jumped the gun.  I'm not 100 percent positive she's Jewish.  I better verify this important info.  I wouldn't want to mislead the lovestruck Santa Cruznik.  So I drop in on one of my favorite websites: Jew Or Not Jew and here's what I learn: "Count Scarlett Johansson on the list of people whose Jewishness first totally surprises us, but is quickly accepted and celebrated. But "Johansson"? That's a bit Nordic to be Jewish, isn't it? If that's Jewish, shouldn't we be profiling the rest of Scandinavia? The answer to that is simple; if other Norwegian, Swedish or, as in this case, Danish Johanssons married Jewish women, we would gladly profile their offspring on this website, provided their resume is as accomplished as Scarlett's. Will that happen? We doubt it; not because of the Johanssons' aversion of Jewish women, but because Scarlett has set the bar pretty high for these Nordic Jews.That said, we welcome all gorgeous Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians to try to beat Scarlett's standard. Far be it from us to discourage such a noble cause.Verdict: Jew." Is it too soon to start planning the wedding?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Top That! (Part 2)

I can top that!
A while back, I googled "kvetch" and up came my photo and blog.  I'll admit, it was a personal highpoint.  It pleases me to know I've made a slight dent in my on-going quest for fame and glory.  Well, this morning, another highpoint.  I googled, "Can you top that?" and up came another blog I'd written, about people who always try to top you with a better story.  I'd forgotten I'd written about that particular quirk of human nature.  And now I'm going to write about it again.  At the gym on Saturday, I told my friend Gene about my parking lot nightmare, embellishing it as I went along.  "It was awful," I said.  "I felt like I'd never get out of there.  I thought it was my fate to stay in that parking lot, till the end of time, that my sons would go on with their lives, get married, have children, and I'd still be in that parking lot.  'Has anyone seen Mom?' 'Not since she went to Westwood, back in 2012.'"  Gene nodded and smiled.  She's an empathetic gal.  She'd never try to top me with a better story.  Oh, wait, that's not true.  "My husband was stuck in the Galleria parking lot for two hours," she said.  "They had a power outage and everyone tried to leave at the same time.  For two hours, he kept calling me. 'I'm still in here.  I'm never going to get out.' He was going insane."  I looked at her.  "You topped me."  She buried her face in her hands, horribly ashamed.  "Oh, my God, I hate when people do that, and look what I just did."  "You topped me."  "I'm so sorry."  "Don't let it happen again."

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Moon Over Mojito

Super Moon!
Super Moon or Super Mojito?  Which one won the night?  It was a toss up.  Both were divine and in generous supply at the fancy backyard soiree.  The SJG loves a pretty moon and a pretty drink now and then.  Lightweight that I am, one mojito is more than enough, so naturally, I had two.  Two mojitos make for a very silly SJG.  When I wasn't laughing, indiscriminately, I was wondering about my mojito.  What is it, exactly, that makes a mojito so delish?   A little rum, a little lime.  Some mint, some sugar.  A splash of Club Soda.  That's a mojito.  Add a super moon and you've got yourself an evening.
Super Mojito!

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Why, yes, I am.  What gave it away?
As a rule, I've never been all that fond of enclosed places.  A little claustrophobic, you could say. Working on a submarine?  Not a good career path for the SJG.  So, getting trapped in a parking lot in Westwood for 45 minutes wasn't my idea of  "fun."  And yet, there I was yesterday, stuck in my car, inching along, wondering what the eff was going on.  I never got an answer.  It was just one of those inexplicable L.A. things.  There was no bomb threat, thank God.  No one's battery died, which might've explained the hold-up.   And yet, I still needed to ponder why I was stuck.  Why was this happening to me?  Why had my little world ground to a halt?  Was the universe telling me something?  "Just sit there, SJG, and have a good think."  I didn't need to have a good think.  I think too much as it is.  What I needed to do was not think. Of course, I wasn't the only one stuck in the parking lot.  There were 20 cars in front of me, and 20 cars in back, snaking toward the exit.  But you know how I like to personalize things.

Had there been a sense of camaraderie, of hey, we're all in this together, I might've enjoyed the collective hostility.  But it was all pretty Darwinian in there.  When a passenger in the car in front of me got out to investigate, and came back to report to his friends, I yelled, "What's going on?"  He ignored me.  If he knew, he wasn't sharing.  It was every car for itself in that parking lot.  I was on my own, baby, with little cell phone or radio reception.  All I had was the sound of my own kvetching to keep me company. 

Finally, about 35 minutes into my quest to escape parking lot hell, a woman in beige khakis and a white polo shirt walked by, projecting a hint of authority.  "Excuse me, do you work here?" I called to her.  "Yes," she said.  "I've been sitting here forever, inhaling toxic car fumes.  What's going on?"  "I don't know.  I just got here." But that didn't stop her from blaming the new girl in the booth.  "I'll go see what's going on.  Sit tight," Miss Khaki Pants said.  She never came back.  Another 10 minutes crawled by before I found myself at the pay booth.  "I'm not paying!" I barked.  The new gal shrugged.  Big whoop.  Whatever.  "And I'm never parking here again!" I added.  The new girl didn't seem too upset about not seeing me again.  The fact that I'd just spent 45 minutes trapped in a twisted version of my favorite Seinfeld episode -- "The Parking Garage," when Jerry and the gang can't find their car -- didn't hit me till later.  "We're like rats in some experiment," George says.  My problem was a little different.  I found my car, but was stuck in it, indefinitely.  Just part of some weird cosmic test, I guess.  Oh well.  That's L.A. for ya.  Onto the next episode.

Friday, May 4, 2012

3 Golden Sisters

The Golden Sisters react to the Kim Kardashian sex tape
If you haven't heard of Mary, Teresa and Josie, aka 3 Golden Sisters,  let me introduce you to these hilarious Italian ladies/YouTube sensations who grew up in the Bronx, but now live in Tarzana.  Teresa and Josie are 72-year-old twins, Mary is 81.  They’re all hairdressers who like to dispense free advice and offer outrageous commentary on Kim Kardashian, bong usage, and other important topics of the day.  A while back, Teresa set down her scissors and bought a talent agency (why not?) and wound up discovering Shia LaBeouf when he was 11. Leave it to my friend Mr. Eric Schotz, reality show maven/topper of LMNO Prods., to find the Golden Sisters before they went viral and plan a reality show around them.  Such a smart boy, that one.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Men At Work, And One Gal

No one enjoys a road closure more than the SJG.  What could be more fun than coming home to find you can't turn onto your own street?   Oh, the challenges of suburban living!  So character-building!  Sure, the discovery of a bright blue outhouse parked in front of your home might throw some folks off their game.  But the SJG refuses to be defined by useless rage and bitter resentment.  When giant trucks and jackhammers mess with my peaceful existence, I turn Zen-like.  I say pithy things like, "This too shall pass."  I remain positive.  "Look, honey, there's a pretty blue outhouse in front of our house!  I feel so blessed.  You know what this means, don't you?"  "What?" hubby asked.  "It means the only creatures peeing on our lawn will be canines, not humans.  God forbid the men in neon green, and the one woman, shouldn't have a comfy place to relieve themselves."  Naturally, hubby admired my upbeat attitude.  The outhouse, the road construction, the endless noise are signs of progress.  Inconvenience is a good thing, depending on how you look at it.  "I bet when they're done putting in those new pipes, they'll pave our street with gold," hubby said.  "Fingers crossed," I said, and went outside to watch my neighbor try to back out of his driveway without crashing into the bulldozer blocking his path.  Oops.  Better luck next time.
Men at work, and one gal

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Quiet On The Set

Johnny the Mime
My brother John likes to send me hourly updates on what he's doing, especially when he's working, or trying to get work as an extra. So pretty much, I'm getting updates all the time.  This morning he sent me the above photo, in case I wanted to hire him as a mime, or know anyone hiring mimes. That's a no on both fronts.  Go on, say it:  What kind of sister are you, SJG?  Correct answer:  A quarter Ethel Merman, a quarter Mother Teresa, a quarter Joan Rivers, a quarter Freud.  When I'm not dispensing brilliant advice, unconditional love and blessings, I'm singing show tunes and cracking off-color jokes.  Anyway, during our daily morning call -- you heard me, daily -- I asked John to regale me with some of his recent adventures in mimeland.  He was more than happy to share a few tidbits he'd probably already shared with me, but I can't keep track of everything, can I, I'm not a memory bank:  "Recently I had a mime commercial callback that went great until the director asked me to walk against wind. It has been over 30 years since I had learned it and I couldn't do it. I tried a pathetic attempt at doing the moonwalk instead, but it didn't cut it. Johnny the Mime needs to work on his wind walking. That said...they loved me leaning on an invisible pedestal. I've got that down. And my 'stuck in a box' is pretty good. Just don't ask met to pass wind."  Trust me, I won't.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dear NYC

Hey, NYC:  None of this while I'm there
Dear New York City,
Hi, it's me again.  The SJG.  Last year, right around this time, we had a long talk about the weather, and you completely ignored my requests.  I'm still a little resentful, but even so, I thought I'd give it another try before I arrive in your city that never sleeps and never removes scaffolding.  I notice you're raining today.  That's okay.  The eldest is visiting you and he's not bothered by such inconvenience.  He thinks the rain is cool.  I beg to differ.  I don't think the rain is cool when I'm visiting you.  Precipatation makes for a soggy, cranky SJG.  So, NYC, please, for once, would you just listen to me?  I give so much, and ask for so little. I don't need a parade down Broadway to welcome me.  I understand that's hard to coordinate.  I don't need your permission to get up on stage and dance.  I'm doing it with or without your blessing.  All I need is five days, rain-free.  Five freakin' days.  Can you do that for me, NYC?  Can you put your own selfish needs aside, just once?  What must I do to make this happen?  Is some sort of payment involved?  Do you take VISA, Amercian Express, the SJG Gold Card?  Just tell me, NYC.  Must I pay in full or can we do this monthly?  What sort of interest are we talking?  Come on, NYC.  Don't be chintzy with the info.  You've got two weeks to get your sh*t together.  I anxiously await your reply.
the SJG