Saturday, August 31, 2013

Calorically-Retro

Remind me why I volunteered to make Chicken Divan?
It's not often the SJG cooks a supremely goyisha dish, but sometimes even I stray from my own culinary rules. What do I mean by goyisha? And why must I insult an entire group of pastrami on white bread with mayo lovers?   I can't help myself.  So stop being so sensitive and let me get on with this blog, which I was hoping to keep short, but if you keep asking me huffy questions, and getting all hurt, I'll have to stretch this thing out and my editor told me to cut to the chase for once. That bitch. Who does she think she is? Oh, wait, I'm the editor. What else would you like to know?  What is the goyisha dish I made in advance? And why did I make it?  Don't rush me. The editor just took a coffee break. We've got all the blog space in the world.

I made Chicken Divan for a retro-progressive "Mad Men" era dinner party hubby and I are attending tonight. Mid-50s-mid-60s. Here's hoping I get spanked on the butt and called honey by someone who's had too much scotch. Anyway: Hors d'oeuvres at one home, main course at another, dessert at yet another. Much like kugel, there are 180,000 different ways to make Chicken Divan. The first recipe I found in an old cookbook involved too many steps, so as usual, I went the simple route. Shredded cooked chicken. Condensed mushroom soup (May my mother forgive me.) Sour cream.  Mayo (hence, the over-generalized goyisha label).  Cheddar cheese.  Parmesan cheese.  Buttery bread crumbs.  And broccoli.  Plenty broccoli.  It looks something like this:
God willing, it will taste good. Chances are, I'll never make it again. But I will have fulfilled my assignment. With any luck, no one will have a coronary while consuming it.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Master Texter

A new tradition in the family of the SJG.  We text-watch "Master Chef." The eldest watches in the comfort of his swinging bachelor pad. The SJG watches in the comfort of my cozy 12,000 square foot master bedroom. The youngest sits next to me.  Hubby is downstairs, watching the Watch Channel.  Together, mother and sons watch and text, text and watch "Master Chef." In this way, we bond.  What could be more fun than making fun of struggling, sweaty home chefs?  I'm sure they'd do the same if they ever stepped foot in my kitchen: "The short one is about to overcook that chicken." During last night's two-hour show, the youngest was stuck in class.  He forgot to arrange his schedule around "Master Chef."  Whose fault is that?  Not mine, but somehow I feel responsible.  I should've reminded him.  "Don't have any classes Wednesday night." How selfish of me. Oh, well, I'll feel guilty later. In the meantime, his brother and the SJG engaged in non-sensical, emoticon-fused texting:

"This is gonna be a good 2 hours."
"I am personally jazzed on several levels."
Insert: tiny slices of cake.
"Yummy pastry."
Insert: tiny chocolate bars.
"Restaurant quality."
Insert: idiotic smiley faces.
"Your guess is as good as mine."  - Luca
"Lucaaaaaaaa!"
"Krissi!  That bitch!"
"You can kick me, you can stomp me, you can
beat me with a bat -- but I'm going to keep
getting up and win this competition." - Krissi
"This show should win an Emmy."
"You should win a huggy."
Insert: Deranged smiley faces.
"Vietnamese soup?  Yikes."
"Tasty."
"Where's the salt, Bill?  Where?"
"Lucaaaaaaa!"
"Krissi or Natasha?"
"Nastasha?"
"I'm not here to just look pretty on camera 
and just chop some basil." - Natasha
"Damn.  I think so...."
"@#$%!!!!"
"Booooooooooo!"
"Oh yay!  They faked us out!"
"Best show ever!"
Insert: clapping hands.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jazz Hands Optional

Last night, the class of nice middle-aged (and then some) jazz dancers got seriously confused when our fearless leader, Mr. Double Hip Replacement, announced that we'd be twerking after the warm-up. I'm pleased to tell you that no one knew what the eff he was talking about, except, of course, the SJG.   It helped that I had spent the entire day preparing, just in case. I watched and re-watched various hilarious spoofs of the shanda that is Miley, should the opportunity to twerk arise.  "Carol, show the girls how to twerk," Doug commanded. Always happy to be the teacher's pet, I obliged with some tentative hip thrusts, some low squats, and of course, some serious booty shaking, courtesy of the sumptuous Jewish butt that came with the original genetic packaging. My performance was brief, but effectively cringe-worthy. The room cleared out in seconds flat, and I had the dance floor to myself.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Oy Vey, Miley

Dear SJG,
I did everything you told me to do. I wore the cute outfit. I twerked my tush. I stuck out my tongue. I totally worked it, dude. It was hot. But now, I'm getting, like, nothing but sh*t for my performance.  I'm getting, like, shunned or something. This is the last time I take your crappy ass advice, byotch.
Eff you,
Miley xoxo

Dear Miley,
I told you to dance the hora, not dance like a 'ho.
You're welcome,
The SJG

Sunday, August 25, 2013

To Dream The Impossible Dream

The Jewish Holidays are upon us.  Soon, people.  Soon.  And that can only mean one thing.  Cooking.  Okay, two things.  Cooking and cleaning.  Okay, three things.  Cooking and cleaning and setting the table.  But in this busy life we lead, who has time to cook and clean and set the table for relatives who are just going to come over, eat everything in sight, make a mess and leave?  Is this the only reason we were put on this earth?  To cater to everyone else?  To put our own needs last?  Of course, silly.  Why are you even bothering to ask?  And yet, there must be a way to get it all done without cutting into the day and robbing us of all the fun.  Like watching the Barefoot Contessa make kugel, instead of us.  She uses half and half and ricotta.  Who knew?

Here's the good news, my close personal friends. A new sleep aid is about to hit the market, courtesy of SJG Pharmaceuticals: ChoreWhorePM.  A superior formula of top secret herbal ingredients and guilt allows you to do all your High Holiday tasks while you sleep. That's right.  You heard me. Make a brisket while you doze.  Make a pot of chicken soup while you catch some zzzzzzzz's.  Make the house look nice while you Samba with the Sand Man. ChoreWhorePM is gentle yet effective.  It helps you do your chores in record time, and still wake up feeling completely refreshed.  You'll come downstairs in the morning and find the table set, the dust bunnies gone, the cooking done and in the fridge, wrapped tightly in foil, so no air should get in, God forbid.  A miracle?  You betcha, bitches.

ChoreWhorePM is available at your local pharmacy or temple gift shop. Supplies are limited.  So hurry.  Be the first on your block to tell your friends about the honey cake you made after you went nighty-night. Side effects may include inexplicable bruises, sprains, fork-related injuries, oven burns, weight gain and uncontrollable flatulance.  But come on, isn't it worth it?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Jonathan Livingston Siegel

"Why, boychick, why?" the Short Jewish Siegel asked. "Why is it so hard to be like the other birdies, who listen to their mothers? Why do you sit there, like a lump, staring into  space?  What are you looking at?  What's so interesting?  What?  What?  Enough with the staring, son, the philosophizing.  Get up off your tuchus and fly, boychick, fly already.  But first, have a nosh.  I don't want you should get hungry.  Here, have some kugel, son, you're bone and feathers. I'm embarrassed to be seen with you at shul." "No kugel, Mom, thanks.  Unless it's glutten-free.  Is it glutten-free, Mom?" "Please.  I'm not even going to answer that.  What the hell is wrong with you?"  "Nothing.  I just want to know what I can do in the air and what I can't, that's all. I just want to know.”  "Then stop with the sitting, son.  Stop pondering your pipik and flap, flap, flap."  "I will when I'm ready."  "I won't hold my breath."  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Love And Marriage

So true.  Today marks 33 years of uninterrupted marital bliss.  Happy anniversary, hubby.  I think the Chairman of the Board sums it up best.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

It's All In The Details

Don't tell hubby, but I'm planning a surprise recreation of our wedding, 33 years ago tomorrow.  I still have a few details to work out.  I need a bearded rabbi who looks like he stepped out of Central Casting.  I need the backyard of a famous movie director.  I need a chuppah that threatens to fall over during the ceremony.  I need two authentic totem polls.  I need the swimming pool of a famous movie director, so that later, when everyone's more than a little schnockered, we can dance the hora around it in celebration.  I need two body guards to guard the table full of nice gifts, most of which I probably won't return, but please, people, no popcorn makers, no yogurt makers, no peanut butter makers, nothing that makes anything.  I need a Dorothy Hamill haircut.  I need the body of a 22 year old.  I need hubby standing beside me in a beige tuxedo.   I need the same guests who were there 33 years ago, especially those who'd have trouble mailing back the RSVP:  My mother.  My cousin.  My grandmother.  Hubby's grandparents, even the one who drank too much and had to be carried out of the party.  Don't tell hubby. I still have a few details to work out.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The SJG State of Mind

Dear SJG,
Jewish Angst.  What is it and how do I get some?  Two of my friends have enough to power a small planet.  I feel left out.

Sincerely,
Freakishly Calm

Dear Freaky,
I'm so glad you asked.  And a two-parter yet.  Even better.  Already I'm excited. Jewish Angst is an existential state of mind.  A life sentence of constant agitation.  A festering clump of mounting complaints.  A never-ending search for the right temperature, the right deli, the right doctor, the right --- oh, you get the picture. Jewish Angst is an overdose of the Human Condition.

How do you get some?  You don't.  Jewish Angst is not something you can order online.  Jewish Angst doesn't come in a bottle.  Jewish Angst is something you're born with, meaning you're genetically predisposed to a lifetime of annoyance, impatience and worry.  Go ahead and convert.  You still won't get it.  Jewish Angst is not something you can catch, like the intestinal flu.  There is no shot, no antibiotic, no cure. Consider yourself lucky and move on.

You're welcome,
the SJG of Sherman Oaks

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Lifetime of Eyewear

According to SJG calculations, iffy at best even on a good day, I've been wearing glasses for about... oh dear God, I'm old... 37 years.  I was 18 when I joined the family of near-sighted people.  I don't remember anyone throwing me a party.  "Welcome Four Eyes."  I don't remember any sort of celebration.  In fact, it was more of a big universal shrug. "Good luck finding glasses that look decent on that oval face of yours." It's been a long, never-ending quest, let me tell you, to find the right pair.  Round glasses.  Rectangular glasses.  All shapes.  All sizes. All kinds of failures. Big glasses.  Small glasses.  Designer frames.  Cheapo frames.  In the '80s, I had a pair I really loved. They wear purple.  I thought they were the best.  My father hated them.  One day, he took me aside.  "Lita," he said.  He calls me Lita.  Short for Carolita.  That's Yiddish for Little Carol.  Or maybe it's Spanish. Anyway, he pulled me aside.  "Lita," he said, "how about you pick out another pair of glasses? I'll pay for them."  "Why?  Don't you like these?" "I despise them." "Okay, Daddy."  Well. I didn't want my own father to cry every time he saw me.  What fun would that be?  "Stop crying, Daddy.  I'll get a new pair.  A pair you'll like."  The perfect daughter, I went and got a different pair.   That's how accommodating I was... back then.  Pre-motherhood. I can't remember if that pair was any better than the purple pair.  All I know is, my dad never pulled me aside and told me he couldn't stand to look at me again.   So, there's that.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Where Should We Sit?

Billy:  "Let's go see 'Spectacular Now.'"
Me:  "Okay."
High School Boyfriend:  "I'm not going anywhere."
Scotty:  "I don't want to see another stupid, sappy love story."
Billy:  "You @#$%'n slacker."
Me:  "So, it'll just be the two of us."
College Boyfriend:  "A nice mother-daughter day."
Billy:  "Daughter?"
First Husband:  "I mean son."
Me:  "I'll order the tickets on line.  Where should we sit, Scotty?"
Billy:  "First, Dad calls me a girl and now you call me Scotty."
Carol:  "Sorry.  We're old."
Billy:  "I know.  You just clicked senior citizen."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Old Men

Lately, the old men who populate the life of the SJG keep sharing a similar theme. It goes something like this: "Getting old sucks." Of course, when you consider the alternative, it's better than not getting old.  But still.  Rumor has it that the body starts to say, "Enough." And strange things start to happen.  Things the old men can't exactly explain. "When did your back start hurting?" I ask my father-in-law. "A few weeks ago."  "What happened?" "Who knows."  "How did you fall off your chair?" I ask my dad.  "I don't know.  I was sitting there and the thing broke. " "What thing?" "The plastic thing." "The tray you keep the keyboard on?"  "Yes." The result of the thing breaking:  a black eye, a hurt shoulder, many weeks of pain.  The old men in question:  Both born in Brooklyn.  Both Bar Mitzahed in the same temple.  Both stubborn old Jews.  God forbid you should offer to help either one of them.  "Let me drive you to the doctor."  "I'll drive myself."  "Let me go to the market for you."  "No, thanks." "What can I do for you?" "Nothing." "I'd be happy to -- "  "No."  "What about -- " "No." The old men.  They drive me crazy sometimes.  God willing, they'll keep doing it for a long time.  Kina hora, poo poo poo.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Sales Pitch

Ding Dong.
Mr. Conehead:  "Bark, bark, who dat?  Bark."
Me:  "Who is it?"
Girl:  "A neighbor."
Mr. Conehead:  "Bark, bark, who who who dat?  Barky bark."
Me:  Hush.
Open door.  See neighbor girl with sad little basket full of forms.
Me:  "Hi."
Mr. Conehead:  "Bark?  Bark?  Treat or what?"
Girl:  "Hi, I live across the street."
Me:  "Hi, how are you?"
Mr. Conehead:  "Bark?  Where we at with that treat?"
Girl:  "I'm raising money for my school."
Me:  "Oh, uh huh."
Mr. Conehead:  "Not interested.  Bark bark."
Girl:  "Would you like to buy something?"
Me:   "Such as?"
Mr. Conehead:  "I'm bored.  I'm going back inside to lick myself. Bark."
Me:  "Don't you lick yourself."
Girl:  "What?"
Me:  "Sorry, I was talking to my dog."
Mr. Conehead:  "I wasn't listening.  Woof."
Girl:  "A magazine subscription..."
Mr. Conehead:  "This sales pitch gets an F.  Bark bark."
Me:  "Go to your room."
Mr. Conehead:  "Bark me."
Girl:  "Or a bag."
Mr. Conehead:  "A bag?  A doggy bag?  Woof woof woof!"
Me:  "No, thanks."
Girl:  Cold, unfriendly stare.
Me:  "Come back when you're selling chocolate."
Mr. Conehead:  "Come back when you're packing a doggy treat."
Girl:  "Okay."
Me:  "Bye."
Close door.  Eye Mr. Conehead.
Me:  "No treat for you, mister."
Mr. Conehead:  "Woof-ever."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons

.... make something zesty.  When my neighbor/fellow dog walker/confidante Cheryl gives me lemons off her lemon tree, I make lemon spaghetti.  It is so easy, so satisfying, so summery, I'm going to share the recipe with you, courtesy of, who else, Giada D.  You can thank me later.  Or go ahead, and thank me now.  It really depends on how you were raised.

Ingredients
1 pound spaghetti
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mr. Conehead

In the home of the SJG, we've found some new pet phrases for the dog named Dusty.  Mr.  Conehead. Coney for short.  Oddly enough, he's not terribly fond of these nicknames.  In fact, he's a little tired of his latest accessory.  He's just about had it with the plastic shield of shame.  So today, I take him to his expensive doggy dermatologist.  A week of treating him "holistically" has brought the following results:  Bupkis.   I take the cone off, he goes crazy with the licking.  I put the cone back on, no licking.  But plenty of banging and bumping into things and shoving me out of his way.  Lots of dirty looks and strange antics at bedtime. There's a word for this behavior.  What is it?  Hang on.  It's coming to me.  Revenge.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Don't Go

Today a lot of public schoolers schlep back to school.  In August yet. This seems cruel on many levels.  Why are they schlepping back to school so early?  The SJG can't tell you.  It has something to do with something.  Maybe the parents got together and held a secret meeting. "We can't take another second of summer vacation.  They're driving us insane.  Take them back early, please.  Take them back, we're begging you."  Maybe the powers-that-be said, "Okay, calm down, already." This much I do know:  I get a nervous tummy just thinking about going back to school, something I haven't done in a very long time. Once the nice people handed me a degree -- "Here, take this piece of parchment, good luck, there's the door, English Major" -- I thought my nervous school girl days were over.  There was no reason to get anxious about going back to school ever again.  I was 21. What did I know?  That I'd have two little nervous boys of my own one day?  Little boys I'd have to schlep back to school?  No, I didn't know that.
"We do all our own parenting."
Here's what back to school meant for the little nervous school boys. The eldest starting preschool. That didn't go well. He hung on to my leg until the teacher had to pry him off.  He screamed hysterically as I left.  I cried all the way home. The eldest starting kindergarten.  That didn't go well, either.  I had to drag him out of the car and force him into the classroom, while he screamed hysterically and swore at me.  I cried all the way home.  Who do you think taught him those words, anyway? The Mother of the Year Committee ignored me that year, too. The youngest at preschool.  That didn't go well.  A bad case of separation anxiety.  On my end. The youngest starting kindergarten.  That didn't go well, either. For an entire year.  I let him wear sweatpants and a hockey jersey every day. One more fight over what he was going to wear and I would've been carted off somewhere.  Where, I can't tell you. But I might still be there. Every year, for years and years, another Back to School nervous tummy. Another visit to Staples for school supplies. And then, the inevitable readjustment.  Okay, gang. We're back.  We're in school again.  Let's make the best of it. We're all in this together.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Fifth Beatle

"You have a collect call from England.  Will you accept?"
"Who's calling?"
"Sir Paul McCartney."
"Sir Paul's calling collect?"
"Yes, ma'am."
"Okay, put him through.  Hello?"
"Is this the Short Jewish Gal?"
"Who wants to know?"
"This is Sir Paul McCartney."
"How do I know it's really you?"
"You'll just have to trust me."
"Name the other members of the Beatles."
"Sam, Max and Jacob."
"What can I do for you, Sir Paul?"
"I understand you've been telling people you're the 5th Beatle."
"Is that a problem?"
"Yes."
"Why?"
"You're not the 5th Beatle."
"I'm not?"
"No."
"If not me, then who?"
"That's for me to know and you to find out."
"Give me a little hint.  I won't tell anyone."
"No."
"Is it Yoko?"
"No."
"Brian Epstein?"
"No."
"Mick Jagger?"
"No."
"Then it might as well be me."
"It isn't."
"Then who is it?"
"I'd rather not say."
"But Sir Paul, don't you understand?  It's just a metaphor.  Everyone feels like the 5th Beatle sometimes. The one on the outside looking in. The one who's close to the action but not part of it.  The one who didn't quite make the cut."
"When you put it that way, welcome to the group.  Do you play any instruments?"
"Left-handed guitar."
"Sorry, that spot's already taken."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Don't Ask

Dear SJG,
A quick glance at my jammed social calendar - so many parties!  not enough party dresses!  -- tells me the High Holidays are right around the corner.  How did that happen?  Didn't we just go through this a year ago?
Sincerely,
What To Wear To Temple

Dear What To Wear,
Another year.  Another excuse to buy a new dress.  Another reason to atone.
You're Welcome,
The SJG


Dear SJG,
Will you atone for me?  I may be too busy this year to stop by the synagogue.
Sincerely,
Overbooked

Dear Overbooked,
I'd be happy to atone for you.  Send me a list of your worst offenses, and I'll send you a breakdown of costs.
You're Welcome,
The SJG


Dear SJG,
Rosh Hashanah makes me nervous.   Is there a therapist for this?
Sincerely,
Afraid of Dry Brisket

Dear Afraid,
There's a therapist for everything.
You're Welcome,
The SJG

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dress Up A Broom


Occasionally, the SJG stumbles upon some Jewish proverbs I've never heard before, and when this happens, I do a short interpretative dance. Unless I'm a little tired.  Neighbors kept me up late last night with their noisy party.  I should've followed the first proverb on the list.  I share these wise words with you now, free of charge.  Unless you feel like contributing a little something to the SJG Fund.  A nice coffee cake would go very far.  I'm just saying. 


Ask about your neighbors, then buy the house.
Don't live in a town where there are no doctors.
If the rich could hire the poor to die for them, the poor would make a very nice living. 
He has more in his head than in his pocket.
Rejoice not at thine enemy's fall - but don't rush to pick him up either.
Worries go down better with soup than without.


You can't sit on two horses with one behind.
They are both in love: he with himself and she with herself.
With horses you check the teeth; with a human you check the brains.


The hat is fine but the head is too small.
He's meditating on whether a flea has a belly-button.
All is not butter that comes from a cow.
If he were twice as smart, he'd be an idiot.
If a girl can't dance, she says the musicians can't play.
Even a bear can be taught to dance.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Mammy!

To get me in the mood for today's early morning smush fest, here's Al Jolson, singing "My Mammy." Should technical difficulties ensue: http://youtu.be/j0zvgbDzULc

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mirror, Mirror

In honor of the gal who stopped looking at herself in the mirror for an entire year, and went on TV to talk about it, and even wrote a book about it, the SJG will stop looking at other people looking at themselves in the mirror for an entire year.  The challenge begins today, when I visit my favorite beautification spot and get my hairs done, as my grandma used to say.  Looking at other people looking at themselves in the mirror does nothing to boost my self-esteem.  I have enough problems with my flat, baby fine hair.  Looking at other people looking at their thick, lustrous hair will only make me feel bad about the fussy hair on my fussy self.  The same goes for clothes-shopping.  Looking at long-legged gals modeling their skinny jeans in the mirror helps me how?  I'm drawing a blank.  It doesn't help me.  It makes me covet their long legs.  It makes me realize I will never have long legs.  Here's my thinking:  If I don't look at other people looking at themselves in mirrors, if I only look at myself in the mirror, I will learn to ignore my own flaws.  Either that, or my own flaws will be magnified to such an insane degree that I'll have to cover every mirror in black funereal cloth like the gal who stopped looking at herself in the mirror for an entire year, and went on TV to talk about, and even wrote a book.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Impatient One

Turns out, the Short Jewish Gal is short on patience. Who knew? Everyone who's ever met me.  I believe the first one to point it out to me was my mother. We were waiting for a table at a restaurant.  I was a pre-teen at the time. "When are they going to seat us?" I asked. "Soon." "How soon?" "Why are you so impatient?" I can't remember my answer, but I'm sure it involved pouting. A few years later, my mom was the one to show her impatience with me. I was now a full-blown, angsty, hormonally-inclined teen SJG. "Carol, you're going through some kind of a phase. I don't like it. When is it going to be over?" I  can't remember my answer, but I'm sure it involved pouting. I was very big on pouting. I still am. But patience? Not one of my strengths. Seems I'm always waiting, always in line, wanting things to resolve quickly.  As a result, everything slows to a snail's pace. Nice. Thanks so much for that. I've worked on my issue with patience. I've tried to become more patient, with mixed results. I've meditated on it. I've medicated because of it. There are times when I'm better. I'm fairly patient when I'm asleep. Until something wakes me up. Then I'm impatient to get back to sleep. As my mother might ask, when is this phase going to be over? Soon, Mom. Soon. When the SJG controls the universe, I'm going to master it, once and for all.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Planned Dessert

When the SJG was growing up in a quaint little town called Westwood, we ate dinner at exactly 6 o'clock.  The whole family was present.  How my dad, the one, the only Ben Starr, made it home in time for dinner, I have no idea, but he was always there.  Dinner was a well-planned meal.  Baked chicken. Artichokes.  Melted butter.  My mom was a great cook.  One of her favorite dishes:  Pork chops and apple sauce. What we were doing eating pork, I can't tell you.  My dad even worked this non-kosher dinner into a "Brady Bunch" episode he wrote.  Peter Brady, in search of a personality, takes on the persona of Humphrey Bogart, and says, "Pork chops and applesauce" like Bogie.  An instant classic.
Dessert was also a big event.  Nightly, my brother John would ask, "Is there a planned dessert?"  The answer, for the most part, was yes. Chocolate Whip n' Chill.  Broiled grapefruit.  A nice cake.  Something altogether delish. Occasionally, it was a grab-a-cookie, fend-for-yourself situation.  But not often.  An unplanned dessert was a letdown. Fast forward to the house of the SJG, where every dessert is unplanned, every meal is a last-minute decision.  If I ask the current tenants what they want for dinner, they say, "Whatever's easiest," which helps me how? Not much.  Maybe tonight, I'll make more of an effort.  Then again, I could just throw together a salad.  I'm not sure how my mother pulled dinner together, so magnificently, night after night.  If only she were here to tell me.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Squeal Heard 'Round Studio City

Thanks a lot, SJG.  Stop by again real soon.  Not.
There's a Spanish-Yiddish term for my behavior at the lovely baby shower I attended on Sunday.  This term comes courtesy of my mother-in-law, who uses it any time she trips or collides with an unexpected object:  "El Klutzadoro."  Although I remember little of what I learned in high school Spanish (other than "Donde esta la biblioteca?") I do believe the feminine usage -- "La Klutzadora" -- is preferable.  But "El Klutzadoro" sounds funnier, so let's stick with that, shall we?  I don't really need your permission.  I'm just being polite.  What exactly did the SJG do yesterday to earn this title?  Oh, it pains me to tell you.  Seconds before the ceremonial opening of the baby gifts, just before the first "aw" was uttered, I tripped over an adorable, recently-rescued canine.  It was the epic squeal heard 'round Studio City and surrounding areas, including Sherman Oaks and North Hollywood.  Who knew such a tiny doggy could give such an astonishingly bold geschrei ?  Everyone in the room, for starters.  God forbid my moment of extreme klutziness should be witnessed by only one or two shocked bystanders.  It had to happen in front of all the nice ladies.  All I wanted was a good seat for the show.  Who doesn't love to watch a pregnant gal gush and weep as she clutches onesies and burpy cloths in ecstasy?  In my rush for better seating, I stepped on the dog's tail or paw or maybe both.   I swear to you, he wasn't there when I began my brief journey across the rug.  He appeared out of nowhere.  And down I went with a big thud.  How quickly the nice ladies in attendance turned on me.  Someone yelled, "Dog squasher!" Someone else screamed, "Who invited her?"  "Sorry, sorry, is he okay?" I said, 42 times.  "He's fine," the hostess promised, as her newly-acquired pet limped away.  "Don't worry.  I step on him all the time."  Still, I felt awful and continued to milk it the rest of the afternoon.  "Is he still alive?" I asked at random intervals. "Is there a veterinarian in the house?" I inquired, ad nauseum.  Of course, everyone else forgot about "the incident" quickly, but it continues to haunt me.  El Klutzadoro strikes again.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Cone of Shame

Alpha: Now, you must wear the cone of shame.
Dug:  I do not like the cone of shame. -- "Up"
It would be hard to find any dog that likes, let alone tolerates,  the cone of shame.  Here an 11-year-old pup named Dusty shows his displeasure after the SJG and her long-time junior high beau performed a complicated procedure on his hot spot.  Calm down.  A hot spot may sound like something fun but it's the opposite.   Just watch one of the many YouTube videos featuring mellow New Age veterinarians speaking very slowly about the care and maintenance of Le Hot Spot. Yesterday's operation required advanced barber skills, the application of various unpleasant ointments, and the ability to cover the designated area in gauze.  Let's just say the pup named Dusty wasn't the most cooperative patient.  On his end, he gave the amateur vets two paws down on Yelp, and is threatening to sue.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Jewish American Private Benjamin

The news this week that Eileen Brennan passed away made me long to see "Private Benjamin" again, a movie I've watched 182 times at least. And, as if by magic, without an assist from Netflix or Vudu or Hulu, there it was on cable last night, "Private Benjamin," waiting for the SJG.  No matter how many times I've seen it, I always remember my initial love/hate relationship with the movie.  Behind the humor and the fun of seeing Goldie Hawn go up against Eileen Brennan, there was always the question in the back of the SJG brain:  "Good for the Jews? Bad for the Jews?"  The decision:  Mixed.  When "Private Benjamin" came out in the early 80s, the whole Jewish American Princess stereotype was big.  JAP jokes started in the 70s and spilled into the 80s.  "What does a Jewish American Princess make for dinner? Reservations."  Ha ha.  Fresh out of college, the Short Jewish Feminist (back then, we called each other women, not girls or gals), didn't know whether to laugh or shake my fists at the plight of Judy Benjamin, who epitomized every cliche of selfish, overprivileged, spoiled-rotten young ladies whose ancestors came from Russia.
"I want to go to lunch."
Was it okay to giggle when Judy refuses to sleep with the cute French doctor she's only known for two hours, until she finds out he's Jewish? Yes, I decided.  Judy works hard throughout the movie to break the stereotype the only way she knows how.  She kvetches.  She whines. She threatens to quit.  She hangs in there. She almost marries the selfish, overprivileged, spoiled-rotten French doctor, and then, thank God, she retreats.  She's going to make it on her own, with or without the mansion.  "Private Benjamin" still makes me laugh, and still makes me a little comfortable, which makes sense.  That's what comedy is supposed to do, anyway.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Mystery of the Missing Tweezers

If there's one thing the SJG doesn't like, it's when things go missing in the vast wasteland of my elegant estate.  So many rooms.  So many servants.  So many people to blame when I can't find something.  The other day, my tweezers vanished.  My tweezers are an important tool in the SJG Beauty Routine (patent pending).  Without my tweezers, I cease to exist.  I must have my tweezers.  There's always something that needs tweezing.  No, I'm not going to give you specifics.  You're just going to have to trust me on this.  I live to tweeze, which explains why I only have half an eyebrow at the moment.  No biggie.  It'll grow back.  So, when this coveted item disappeared from one of the eight places I stash it, I got a little panicky, a little frantic, a little loony.  I started opening drawers and cursing the Goddess of Grooming.  "Why did you take my tweezers, o Goddess of Grooming?  What are you trying to teach me? That I can go without my tweezers for a day? That not everyone is lucky enough to have a bejeweled pair of tweezers like mine?  Lesson learned. Bring them back to me, Goddess, bring them back and I'll never over-tweeze again."


Much like any of your favorite Greek tragedies, I know, there are so many, it's hard to pick just one, the Goddess didn't return my tweezers. She made me suffer. She could've put the tweezers in the freezer.  That would've made for a fun rhyme.  But she didn't do bupkis.  I was on my own.  I needed help fast.  So I made an emergency appointment with a nice shrink who only charged me $600 for the first visit. She gave me the best advice I've ever received from someone who's been to medical school.  "Look again, maybe the tweezers will show up."  Well, spank my tush and call me Charlie.  My tweezers showed up that very afternoon, in one of my many hiding places.  I couldn't wait to share the news with the man I'm currently married to, in the form of an interpretative modern dance and a declaration of unbridled joy: "Hallelujah!  I found my tweezers!  I found my tweezers!"  "Oh, sorry, were you looking for them?  I borrowed them." "What?" "I needed them."  "Why?" "To fix the sink.  It was clogged and -- " "No more. Please, I'm begging you." "But -- " "You've tarnished them.  For life."  "I didn't mean to --"  "Silence!  Get thee to Tiffany's, tout suite!  Get me new tweezers.  I'd like them engraved.  To SJG.  With Love.  Encrusted in diamonds.  A few sapphires wouldn't hurt.  No pressure.  Helpful hint.  Our anniversary's in a few weeks."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

May The Forced Smile Be With You

There are many types of smiles.  Just check the emoticons on my iPhone:  Crooked.  Cocky.  Sweet.  Sarcastic.  Angelic.  Devilish. Toothy. Tight-lipped. There are smiles that are orthodontically-improved. There are smiles that are dentally-challenged.   Lately, I've been thinking about one smile in particular.  The forced smile.  What exactly is a forced smile?  I'm not entirely sure.  But I keep forcing characters in the script I'm writing to smile in a forced way.  "She forces a smile." "He forces a smile."  So today, in honor of my forced smilers, I'm going to force myself to smile at things that aren't smile-worthy.  I need to experience this forced smiling thing firsthand. When someone cuts me off in traffic, I will force a smile before flipping off the driver. When someone cuts in line at the market, I will force a smile before yelling, "No, cuts, beyotch!" When someone tells me something I don't want to hear, something like, "I ate the last Skinny Cow mocha ice cream bar," I will force a smile before removing him from the will.