Friday, February 28, 2014

Bachelor Number One

My brother John:  Bachelor Number One
Not everyone has a brother who has appeared on "The Dating Game" not once, but twice, and won both times.  Was it a life-changing experience for Mr. John Starr?  Let's find out, shall we?

1979 Dating Game Win Number One: "The girl in the photo in the skin tight spandex red disco outfit was a stripper who lived in Long Beach. She was really ditzy and I made fun of her with my answers and made Jim Lange laugh a lot. They warned us before the game that the prize date was a cheapie and not to look disappointed when they announced, 'You've won a 'Night on the Town!' She couldn't get off work so I took a friend (our contract said it had to be a member of the opposite sex.) We were limo'd to the old Huntington Hartford Theatre on Vine and saw 'Getting My Act Together And Taking It On The Road.' Afterwards, we had dinner at Danny's Apple, a restaurant/nightclub in Encino (where everyone called us The Dating Game Couple.) The place was raided that night by the narcs and it was covered the next day in the LA Times."
John and Spandex Girl 
1982 Dating Game Win Number Two: "They called and asked if I'd do the show again. I won again and the girl was a 6 foot tall gorgeous model. When I came around the separation wall to see her for the first time I dropped to my knees and clasped my hands like praying and said directly into the camera, 'Thank you, God.' Jim Lange laughed and the girl and I blew kisses to the audience and we partner danced over the closing credits. Neither of us bothered to go on the date." 
R.I.P. Jim Lange

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why Is It Always The Left Shoe?

An L.A. Mystery
Here's a column I wrote about a zillion years ago.  It  first appeared in the Century City News, and then the Los Angeles Herald Examiner on April 16, 1982.  I found a copy in my dad's file cabinet.

   A strange Los Angeles phenomenon has come to my attention lately, leaving me at a loss for some reasonable explanation. Why do people discard their running shoes in the middle of the street? Why is it almost always the left shoe? I can't figure out what is going on. Is everything in this fast-food world that disposable?
   Every day I drive down Olympic on my way to work, and at least once every other week discover (or nearly run over) an abandoned shoe. It just lies there, lost and all alone. Once in a great while, I'll see the right shoe several blocks away, in a similar state of degradation. I suddenly feel a wild urge to leap out of my car and rescue the neglected shoe so I can reunite it with its mate. But something always stops me from committing this act of humanity, if that's the right word. Should I be so rash as to open my door in traffic, I, too, might lose my left shoe, or maybe my right, and several parts of my anatomy. Why tamper with fate?
   What mystifies me is that I never actually see the culprit in action, tossing his or her sneaker recklessly to the wind. I just don't understand how this odd disrobing occurs. Here's one possible scenario:
   It's early morning. In the distance appears a lone runner, preparing for his next 10K event. The theme from "Chariots of Fire" surges out of his Walkman radio. Transcending his pain, he imagines himself on the beach, running in cinematic slow motion through the surf. As the music swells, his left foot strikes a huge wad of bubble gum, which grips his sole and tears the shoes off his foot. Failing to notice, the runner -- and the music -- fade into the distance.
   But in my search for the truth, I realize this hypothesis makes no sense. No runner in his right mind could fail to notice the disappearance of a shoe during a recession. Have you priced Nikes lately?
   If this weird phenomenon gripping the city were occurring only on the streets, I might not be as alarmed. But here's the scary part: It's spreading to the sidewalks. A while back, my friend and I were walking in Century City, and we came across one cowboy boot, right in the middle of the pavement. Can you imagine that? One damn cowboy boot -- for the left foot, of course, sitting there helplessly, without a foot to call its own. My friend, a sucker for the downtrodden, gently tried on the boot, only to find it was a size too small. We were stumped. What could we do with one man's cowboy boot, probably made from the skin of an endangered species? I'm ashamed to say we left it there on the sidewalk, hoping its irresponsible owner would one day come back to reclaim it.
    All of this sole-searching has launched me on a new research project which, much to my dismay, no one seems willing to fund. I'm trying to establish a link between UFO sightings and abandoned shoes. If anyone out there has information, please contact me care of the Foundation for Homeless Shoes. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Important Jewish Questions

1.  What happened this time?
2.  What's wrong now?
3.  Who said it was okay to act like a moron?
4.  Can you remind me why I gave birth to you?
5.  Do you ever listen to me?
6.  Are you leaving the house in that?
7.  Are you totally meshugenah?
8.  Did you forget our address?
9.  Have I taught you nothing?
10. Are you sure we're related?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Innkeeper!

Monty Hall in my backyard.
A lovely day.  Nice people coming and going.  A few nice impromptu speeches.  The wonderful Monty Hall told us how my dad used to get the attention of the waitresses at Factor's.  He'd call out, "Innkeeper!" That got a big laugh.  My whole life, I never heard my dad call out, "Innkeeper!" in a restaurant. Complain that it was too cold, or that the service was slow, yes. Ask for more hot water for his tea? Always. When he wanted to flag down a waitress, he was old school, and by old, I mean circa 1952.  He'd raise his hand and call, "Dear!" What I wouldn't give to hear him say, "Dear!" again.  Or better yet, "Innkeeper." (Here's my real backyard. Photo courtesy of Eric Schotz.)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Look Who Dropped By

Did someone say open bar?
Today we celebrate a wonderful life. The life of my father.  He didn't want a funeral.  No eulogies.  No tears. Just a nice party with nice people saying nice things about the guest of honor.  Unable to  attend. But here in spirit.
"Our Man Ben" memorabilia

Saturday, February 22, 2014

To Binge, Or Not To Binge

Just the word makes me feel bad about myself.  Binge.  I'm not much of a binger.  More of a snacker.  A little cookie, okay, maybe one more, and uh oh, the pants are too tight.  I'm the same way when it comes to my TV consumption. A show here, a show there, and uh oh, I'm in it till the programming gods cancel the series. I don't identify with the current trend of binge-watching.  I did it once, I admit it.  Binge-watched the first season of "Homeland." But that was only because I was sick.  I have friends who've binge-watched "Breaking Bad" and never recovered. They're still wandering the streets of Albuquerque, looking for "the blue stuff." Gee, I miss them.  I really do. I sure hope I see them again some day. They were nice.

And so, on principle, I pretty much refuse to binge-watch anything. Even.... "House of Cards."  I'll be honest with you. I watched the first eppie.  I was all, "Yeah, okay, whatever." It felt a little too self-consciously dark and aren't-we-the-hippest-show-ever. A little too self-aware of its edginess. Of course, the rest of my mishpocha sorely disagreed. They tried to do a "House of Cards" reverse intervention on the SJG. They tried to get me hooked on it. I resisted. The SJG can't be forced to watch just anything.  But then, my people know that already. What were they thinking?  How many times have they said, "Mom, watch this game with us," only to have me wander out of the room, in search of something I can actually comprehend. Like "Project Runway" or "Seinfeld" repeats.
Fine, I'll watch, I'll watch. Quit staring at me, Kevin.
But back to "House of Cards." I refused to play that hand... see what I did there?... until last night.  I blame the Olympics. I'm so done with it. Done, I tell ya. I looked at hubby. "Okay, okay, I'll try it, but you'll have to give me frequent recaps." I knew in advance this wouldn't work. It would be like that time he offered to teach me how to ski, gave up in about a minute, and hired an instructor.  The first episode of "House of Cards" (Season 2) started, and so did the questions. "Who's that?" "I think that's so-and-so." "What do you mean, you think?"  "I haven't seen it a long time." "I need answers!" Well, it was like that for two episodes, hubby sort of filling in the blanks, me bombarding him with questions.  Didn't matter, though. Later, I binged on recaps I found online, including a four-minute video that summed up the entire first season. I'm up to speed on "House of Cards." I'm now the one explaining all the plot points hubby forgot. Who has the upper hand now? Why, the SJG, of course.  And let's keep it that way, shall we?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Who Put The Funk In Funky?

At least once every decade or so, someone, maybe even you, asks me the following highly personal question: "SJG, where o' where did you get your awesome dance moves?" Where o' where to begin?  How to pinpoint the exact moment when the booty first discovered an inclination to shake, shake shake? Well, this morning, it came to me, the original location from which the SJG Soul Train first departed.  It was at school, of course.  Smart ass that I was, I found 7th grade Homemaking to be most enlightening, in an adorably retro, you've-got-to-be-kidding-me kind of way. A female-only course devoted to turning little girls into skilled housewives?  Sign me up for that action. Actually, I had no choice.  Sewing (Part I) and Cooking (Part II) were mandatory.

I'm not going to lie. Part I proved challenging for the SJG. I was more interested in mastering the Funky Chicken (desktop version) than Threading A Needle.  It was all LaFaye Baker's fault.  She taught me the Funky Chicken and then urged me to perform it on top of the table whenever the teacher's back was turned.  What did I get for my interpretative, free-style funk? Not one, but two U's.  Did those soulless "unsatisfactories" deter me from pursuing my love of dance?  Not even! They spurred me on to get funkier. However, I strongly believe had there been cute boys in Sewing, or even not cute boys, I would have reverted to my standard shyness.  My God!  I might've fashioned a fabulous gym bag, scarf or outfit, like my more obedient classmates. I might be a seamstress for the Olympic Figure Skating Team right now. Yet in this alternate version, I might never have mastered the Funky Chicken, which would have been a tragic loss for humanity. Without dudes to impress - that would come later -- my attitude was, "Oh, eff it, bitches, let's dance." This non-academic attitude explains so much about my underwhelming scholarly pursuits.  "Give me rhythm or give me a U." That's the SJG motto and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Your Slideshow Starts Now

The photographic results of Condo Mania, as opposed to Condomania, a term which, according to one close friend, has disturbing prophylactic connotations, appeared in the SJG inbox yesterday. The experience of seeing my dad's de-cluttered, de-tchotchked Spacious Two Bedroom in Desirable Area captured in a slideshow, with a dreamy musical track, has set me back, emotionally, about 37 years. I only spent a few months living the chic condo lifestyle, and yet, I feel my life all over that slideshow. There's the living room, the center of many birthday parties, from my dad's 60th to my son's first.  There's the dining room, where we fressed and laughed and cream cheesed our bagels. That spot right there... that's where Andy and Allison announced their engagement and we all started screaming with delight. And the den... excuse me, Second Bedroom with Walk-in Closet, that's where I sat with my dad after lunch, and talked about life and writing and what kept him going after my mother died. Oh, and there's the Sunny Kitchen, where the caregivers made my dad the few things he'd eat, and of course, the all-important Hot Black Coffee... Decaf.  And look, there's the Master Bedroom with Patio, where he stubbornly fought off the inevitable. Those slides were much harder to watch. Even the dreamy music didn't make it easier. After about the fifth viewing, the insurmountable shock started to transform into a semi-managable, overwhelming sadness.  So now we turn the place where he used to live, so happily with my mom, and then later, alone, over to the real estate mavens.  Let them work their magic.  Let them promote all the amenities. Apparently, it's time to move on, whether we like it or not.  It's time for someone else's slideshow to start.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

That's One Way To Handle It

Dear SJG,
What can I do about conversation hijackers? Should I turn them into the authorities? Tackle them to the ground? Slap them upside the head? Sew their mouths shut? Please, short Jewish etiquette guru, I need some guidance. I'm about to lose my sh*t.
Thankie,
Etiquette Seeker
"You were saying?"
Dear Etiquette Seeker,
I'm so glad you came to me with this important issue of national security. I, too, have been the victim of conversation hijackers, those folks who barge into a private discussion, take over, so rudely, and make it about them. In those moments, I must exercise extreme self-control, something I lack 99 percent of the time.  I prefer another, less taxing approach. Here's what I suggest. The next time someone commandeers your conversation, try this:  Rock back and forth, as though having a mild to severe seizure, and laugh (or scream, your pick), uncontrollably. Trust me, this will get the message across. The downside is that you may seem certifiably insane, and drive everyone from the room, including the chronic interrupter.  It's quite possible no one will ever talk to you, or interrupt you, again in a social setting, and would that be so terrible?
You're Welcome,
The SJG

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Call Putin

"When is it over?"
"A few more days."
"I want it to be over already."
"I thought you like the skating."
"It makes me nervous."
"Why?"
"I don't like when they fall."
"Everybody falls."
"They fall, they get hurt.  It upsets me."
"Then don't watch."
"But there's nothing else on."
"It'll be over soon."
"How soon?"
"Call Putin and ask."
"He stopped taking my calls."

Monday, February 17, 2014

All's Wall

... That Ends Wall
Isn't it lovely when things work out? All it takes is a bucket of money. And a silly pun. I guess I should apologize to Willy the Shake for ripping off one of his beloved titles, but then, I'd have to apologize to Somerset Maugham, as wall, er, well, and there's only so much forgiveness I'm willing to beg for in one lifetime. I feel that a silly pun is a minor infraction, compared to the more offensive puns I've inflicted on certain academic types. Allow me to explain, won't you? Back at UCLA, when my friend Marc talked me into taking "Medieval English History," and then hardly ever showed up, an act of betrayal for which I have yet to pardon him, I had to write a paper on fealty. Fealty, as I'm sure you already know, is what I demand from my children every time they have the honor of my presence: "Bow down to me, mine kinder, and show some freakin' fealty." Had I not taken "Medieval English History," I might never have expected such well-deserved allegiance from those two bouncing bundles of testosterone. On an ill-inspired whim, I titled my dumb-ass paper, "Of Human Homage." Homage is just a fancier way of saying fealty, and I thought my clever take-off on "Of Human Bondage" was hilarious. I was mistaken. My carefully-selected pun didn't go over too well with Professor Stick Up His Tuchus and the grade reflected his displeasure. Me being me, as opposed to you, I took his rejection badly.  I'm not proud to tell you that ever since that horrifying moment in "Medieval English History," for which I naturally blame Marc, I sometimes pepper my important scholarly work with the lamest and most wretched of puns, just to piss off someone I haven't encountered in, oh, 37 years.  You could say it takes me a while to get over things.  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Something Like This

And now a short lesson on willpower, short because I'm running low on it these days. What is it and how do I get me some? I decided to call up an old shrink, or as she prefers, Former Shrink, to ask her opinion. The conversation went something like this:
FS: "Not that again."
SJG: "What do you mean... again?"
FS: "We spent four years on the willpower thing."
SJG: "We did not."
FS:  "By the way, how did you get my private phone number?"
SJG:  "I made up my mind to get it."
FS:  "So you do have willpower, after all."
SJG:  "Sometimes."
FS: "How much have you gained this time?"
SJG: "This time?  You say it like it's a pattern."
FS: "Five pounds up, three pounds down.  Six pounds up, fours pounds down.  It's been this way your whole life."
SJG: "What makes you such an authority?"
FS: "I took notes."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Letter From Frank

"Guys and Dolls," "How To Succeed" 
composer and lyricist Frank Loesser
Among the many treasures I've managed to unearth during Condomania is this amazing letter Frank Loesser, a close friend of my dad's, wrote to my brother Peter on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah, dated April 19, 1965.

My dear young man:
   I am sending this to you at the address of your parents, on the assumption that you have not yet run away from home.  That is quite proper, as you should not make your exit empty-handed.  Sound and mature judgment has no doubt already prevailed in favor of your leaving fully loaded with Bar Mitzvah loot and money.  I write you this note on receipt of a handsomely-engraved and typographically impeccable invitation from your folks to attend your Bar Mitzvah on this coming May 22nd.  It happens, alas, that neither Mrs. Loesser nor I will be able to attend.  To assuage our sense of regret about this, there is the consoling thought that your folks can make the chopped herring supply stretch farther.
   There is an almost fundamental reason why we can't attend.  It is as follows:  my daughter Susan -- an only slightly Jewish girl -- is getting married to a total Gentile on that very same day.  You can understand why we must prefer this occasion, even though the speech will not be as stirring and determined, and the food won't be anywhere near as good.  But the whole picture represents a happy sort of balance.
   While you're up there proclaiming to your parents and your congregation and the world that you are indeed a Jewish man, my little daughter will be in effect establishing her alliance with a member of a goy family.  That means that my future grandchildren will have to learn chopped chicken liver, the way to pronounce "meshuggeh," an appreciation for George Jessel, and various other chochmis which is yours from the very beginning.  On the other hand, my grandchildren may very likely be fine and upright people, like Lindbergh, or Thomas Edison.  They probably will drill for oil or raise cattle.  They probably will see something in the Republican Party.  It's a cinch they will have less cholesterol.
   The whole idea of populating the world with various kinds of people is part of what your father will tell you is my master plan.  If there is any cockamamie motto that goes with this, maybe it is BE PROUD OF WHAT YOU ARE AND LET OTHERS BE PROUD OF WHAT THEY ARE.  If everyone felt that way, world peace wouldn't be hard to arrive at.  Of course, today there are too many mixed-up people with strange and sometimes compulsive loyalties.  Take for instance your father.  I say this in absolute confidence that you will not spill the beans to the Rabbi.  Your father worships ME.  So much for calm, judicial Jewish solidarity and world peace.
    But wait.  That there should be this monstrous flaw in your father's otherwise fine character -- is, in a way, very valuable to you.  A Jewish boy must sooner or later find something fallible about his father -- some weakness -- some capacity for error.  And there you have it.  Now when you get up on May 22nd and tell everybody that you have become a man, you can do so with a tone of superiority -- and even maybe with a baleful glance in mid-speech -- at the old man.  I congratulate you in advance, and wish you a most joyous Bar Mitzvah.
    Respectfully already,
    Frank Loesser

Friday, February 14, 2014

How Random

In the parking lot of Gelson's, a nice-looking dude approaches the SJG. How random is that? "Excuse me," he says, a dozen roses in his hand. "Can you tell me what my T-shirt says?" I smile, weakly.  I think, oh great, he wants something. A dollar. A donation, no doubt. I shush my inner-cynic, momentarily. I play along. "Random... Acts... of... Kindness... Everywhere," I say, grinning now.  Getting it. He hands me a rose. "Oh, wow.  Really?" "Have a good day."  I'm touched by this RAKE moment. Surprised and touched. Even, dare I say it, teary-eyed. How often does a perfect stranger hand you a rose and ask nothing in return?  Not that often.  Not often enough.  It's so random. So unexpected. Works for me. So... Happy Valentine's Day to you... and you... and you, too.  Now go out there and be romantic. Go get mushy and overly sentimental. Sing someone a love song.  The whole song. Don't leave out a single verse. Do a dance to love. Do something random. I dare ya.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sid-ela

So strange to learn of Sid Caesar's death and not be able to call up my dad and talk about it and get a few anecdotes.  Sid starred in two of my dad's movies, "The Busy Body" and "The Spirit is Willing."
Sid was part of the group my dad broke rye bread with for many years, first at the Friar's Club, and then at Factor's Deli, all captured in Donna Kanter's wonderful documentary, "Lunch."
Bottom row:  Hal Kanter, Arthur Hiller, Rocky Kalish, Sid Caesar
Top row:  Ben Starr, Monty Hall, John Rappaport
So, what would my dad have said about his good friend, the man he kissed every time they met, and called "Sid-ela"?  Well, he would've been heartbroken, that much I know.  He would've said, "Sid was a genius. The funniest guy on TV ever."  Here's hoping Sid and my dad, Hal Kanter and Groucho's son Arthur Marx finagle a nice booth at the big deli in the sky, where they can gather every other Wednesday, rewrite each other's jokes, interrupt each other, speak a little Yiddish, and laugh their tushes off.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Possibilities

Or at the very least, my own backyard.
There comes a time in every short Jewish gal's life when she looks in the mirror, screams briefly, and sees someone different.  Her face looks weary.  Her eyes look tired.  Her hair looks choppy and questionable. When a gal, a short Jewish gal, let's call her the SJG, looks in the mirror and sees her own punim reflected back, as opposed to someone else's punim, say, Christie Brinkley's, that short gal starts to wonder if she can still be the same short gal she used to be.

Is it possible?

Is it possible to be the same person she was a week ago, before the slab and the Lab bills put her in near-bankruptcy? Can she look in that mirror, which needs a strong blast of Windex, and admit defeat, admit that she can't keep skating by on her Olympic enabling skills, admit that at some point, she must let go of the changing table she used to diaper her sons on?  Can she accept that the changing table isn't going to change anything or anyone anymore, plus, it doesn't really fit with the decor?

With all the wisdom she's acquired, not to mention the costly therapy bills, and the six-pack abs that come and go, mostly go, depending on her caloric intake, can she settle for leaving her beloved homeland without one eff'n medal? Not even bronze?  At some point in her life, a life whereby she's thrived on the impossible, on proving everyone wrong, on proving that every decade or so, someone will actually employ her and let her write a TV movie, a TV movie that is miraculously in pre-production right now, not to brag, but if not me, than who, can she still feel proud of her accomplishments on and off the ice?

Can she continue to be the same gal she was before?  Fearful? Kvetchy? Overly-protective? Can she boldly go to Gelson's and back and not get stuck in traffic like she did the other day when they closed the freeway onramp and made her life a living hell? Can she continue to root for herself, even when her teammates have shunned her after she wore that pink, bejeweled onesie that did her figure no favors?  At what point can she start to wonder what else she has left to prove?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

For The Man Who Has Everything

Hubby's birthday is today.  What to get him?  What?  What?  A nice sweater? A nice shirt?  That was so last year. And, come to think of it, the year before. This year, I went rogue.  Yep, I decided to up my gift-giving game. "Close your eyes, honey.  No peeking," I said, walking him over to see his big birthday surprise:  A nice new wall.  A nice new concrete slab.  "It's wonderful," he said, wiping away tears of gratitude. "I thought you'd like it."  "There's just one thing."  "If it doesn't fit, I'll get you another size."  "No, it fits."  "So, what's the problem?"  "It's not finished yet." "It's a work in progress, honey.  Much like life itself." "That's deep." "Tell me something I don't know."  Happy birthday to the man of my dreams.  And please, hubby, use your partially-finished wall and floor in the best of health.  Kina hora, poo poo poo.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Identification Required

1.  Identify the Short Person in this 1975 photo:
a.  Sally Field in the wrong habit.
b.  Someone who forgot to iron her graduation gown.
c.  The future prime minister of Sherman Oaks.
2.  Identify the Short Person in this 1958 photo:
a.  An up-and-coming worrier.
b.  A gal who would one day make a great kugel.
c.  A tot in need of a hairstylist.
3.  Identify the family in this 1966 photo:
a.  The first Jews to vacation in Hawaii.
b.  The founding members of Temple Beth Kahala.
c.  The people who never went anywhere without their canoe.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Slab, The Lab...

The Slab
The Lab
WHAT'S THE TAB?!!?

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Little Leak

"I gotta say, the wall looked better
before I banged the sh*t outta it."
So, yeah, uh, hi, hi, I'm Marty, the plumber/guest blogger today. I gotta warn ya, folks, I'm better at writing out estimates and plugging up leaks than coming up with whatever this thing is the short lady of the house does daily.  But, uh, I had no choice in the matter. The short lady threw her laptop at my head and said, "You write it, Mister," right after I told her about the leak in the slab and took a mallet to her wall, and said, "It's not gonna be cheap, ma'am." I'm not sure what made her madder, the hole in her wall or the fact that I called her ma'am. Oh, ya know what?  It might've been when I said, "Kiss the bamboo floor goodbye, we gotta jackhammer through this mutha, whatcha gonna do?" That last part really pissed her off, but I gotta say, I don't know what she's so heated about.  She doesn't have any hot water. Ha! Well, she didn't like my crack about the hot water, and she started swearing at me like a truck driver, Christ, the mouth on that one.  And then I told her, hey, I'm not a dry-waller, you gotta find someone to do that and patch up your precious bamboo, too, cuz that's not gonna look good when I get done with it, and at that point, whoa, she really lost it, especially when her husband, nice guy, a lot more reasonable, if you don't mind me sayin', piped in and said, "I know how to dry wall, honey, don't worry," and well... things got really ugly after that. I don't know if she started laughing or crying or screaming, seemed like a combo platter to me, but she sounded cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.  She needed something strong to calm her down, but I don't think they've come up with it yet.  So yeah, uh, this is Marty signing off.  I gotta go find the source of the leak. This could take a while. But it's been fun blogging with ya.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sorry, Moses

"Then Ceramic Moses toppled into the shopping cart the SJG was schlepping to the trash bin in the condominium, Moses with the two tablets of testimony in his hand, tablets that had broken so many times over the course of, what, 40 years, that no amount of super glue could bind them. Ceramic Moses wore no clothes, did I forget to mention that? And as soon as Naked Moses tumbled into the cart, the SJG knew in her heart that his anger burned hot, for she hadn't used her keppy, she hadn't wrapped Clay Moses in a nice warm Hebraic blanket of protection. She meant to, she really did. But she was too tired and achy from all that schlepping. And Hand-Crafted Moses was her favorite tchotchke, the best tchotchke of all, the one she'd fully intended to display in her humble Sherman Oaks shrine. Given her worship of Folk Art Moses, why had she been so careless as to perch him precariously on the mount of the shopping cart, a reckless decision for which she deserves to suffer for Eternity, if not longer?  Then Moses threw the tablets out of his hand, in a biblical gesture of disgust, and crumbled into pieces before her eyes.  Whereupon she begged forgiveness, said a quick kaddish, and tossed Broken Moses into the bin, along with the patio chairs and the paper clips, the carbon paper and the 400 rubber bands, and went home to mourn Moses in silence."
SJG 2-6-14

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Show Some Restraint

Now you tell me.
Yesterday the SJG showed such restraint, I just had to share it with you. And by you, and I mean my worldwide, not to mention, intergalactic readers. Thanks for coming back, especially the 45 of you in Moldova.  I had to look it up to find out where it is -- Russia, of course. The Ukraine, where my grandparents hail from. I bet Grandma and Grandpa are kvelling from somewhere, as my dad liked to put it, "up there."  But back to the restraint I demonstrated, as opposed to the restraining order I don't like to talk about.  Listen, it was years ago.  I was a kid.  Davy Jones forgave me.  We both moved on.

And speaking of moving on, Operation Condo continues at a snail's pace. I start off with the best intentions.  I'm going to empty this closet, I'm going to throw out this... oh, hang on just a minute. What have we here? A whole pile of letters I wrote home, in the most minuscule handwriting imaginable, from my year as a broad in England? These deserve my immediate attention. So I stop and travel back in time, instead of Feng Shui-ing the condo of clutter and ghosts, and I wonder why my parents -- addressed in every letter as "Cita and Beanbag" for reasons that escape me now -- saved them.  My letters are filled with the most mind-numbing, microscopic details ever.  At 19,  I sound so self-involved, I'm embarrassed on my own behalf. Still, they're hilarious to read. I use "bloke" every other sentence.  "And then this bloke..."  "This bloke downstairs." "This bloke in my seminar." I want to tell the younger me, "Pick a bloke and get over yourself."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Hips Don't Lie

I sit in the lobby of my dance studio, an old copy of People on my lap.  Footsteps clomp up the stairs.  I overhear the following conversation, between my dance teacher, Doug Rivera (DR) and a new student (NS) who hasn't taken much jazz before.  Poor gal.  She's struggling. 

NS:  "It's hard to follow the little blonde in the front.  I do better when I follow the girl that stands in the middle."
DR:  "Which girl?"
NS:  "The short one, with the hips."
DR: "Oh, you mean Carol?"
NS:  "That's the one."

DR enters the lobby, turns beet red when he sees me.  From the NS, not even a smile.  She doesn't recognize me sitting down.  Besides, it's my hips she's interested in, and she can't follow them when they're glued to vinyl.  Class begins.  I'm feeling snarky.  It's not often you hear folks talk about your butt when you're nearby.  What to do with this commentary?  In a huff, I decide that on this day, I shall not move my damn hips.  Not one little bit.  Let the new gal follow someone else's big booty.  Mine is staying put!  Of course, my resolution only lasts so long.  Cue the music.  My hips move involuntarily.  As usual, they have a mind of their own.  There's no holding them back.  Like Shakira's, my hips don't lie.  They need to shine.  And just like that, it hits me, a bumper sticker moment: 

It's better to have hips that others follow, than get left behind.   

Monday, February 3, 2014

Thanks, Anyway

When I told my dad's favorite caregiver -- there were so many coming and going, getting into shoving matches, getting fired by the SJG -- that he was welcome to various items in the condo, I did my best to specify what was and wasn't part of the offering.  The text message exchange went something like this:
"I'm sure he'd love for you to have some things."
"He was a great man.  I'm just wondering about your dad's refrigerator.  If no one wants it, I will take it."
"The refrigerator stays."
"Ah.  Okay.  Thanks, anyway."
"But the treadmill is yours for the taking."
"It was an honor working for him."
"You took great care of him."
"What about the TV?  Do I get it?"
"No."
"Ah. Okay.  Thanks, anyway."
"You can have the bedroom furniture, and stuff in the kitchen.  The microwave, the toaster.  And did I mention, the treadmill?"
"I'll rent a U-haul.  I think of your father every day."
"Me, too."
"What's happening with the sofa in the living room?  Can I have it?"
"No."
"Ah.  Okay.  Thanks, anyway."
A few days ago, the caregiver and his friend showed up and got busy with the lifting and the schlepping.  Down the elevator, up the elevator. Such hard work.  They took everything I offered but the one item I wanted to get rid of the most.  The treadmill.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Most Kosher Super Bowl Ever

What a wonderful idea!
And then there's this from Anna Goldenberg of The Jewish Daily Forward:  "If you have tickets for the Super Bowl at the MetLife Stadium today and you’re planning to munch on some kosher snacks while watching the battle between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos, you’d better bring some extra cash: This stuff’s not cheap. As the Forward reported, this year’s event is likely to be the most kosher Super Bowl ever.  A significant number of the ticket holders for the 82,000 seats are expected to be Jewish; the stadium features a praying area — and a solid selection of kosher food. But it comes at a hefty price: The kosher caterers charge $13 for a turkey or chicken wrap, $13 for chicken wings and $11 for a hot dog with chips (Hebrew National, of course). And don’t forget to tip! If you want to save money, we recommend a knish: The dough snacks go for $6 per piece. After shelling out $1,000 (at the very least) for a ticket, $13 for a wrap might actually seem a bargain. If not, you could always bring your own food." 

Well, there's no part of the SJG that wishes I were at the Super Bowl at the MetLife Stadium, searching for affordable knishes. There's no part of the SJG that wishes I were even watching the Super Bowl in Sherman Oaks. What's wrong with me?  Why can't I embrace this popular sporting event?  Probably because I can't embrace any sporting event, unless my sons are playing, and neither has been on a real team since high school.  Not to mention, what Jewish mother in something resembling her right mind encourages her boy to play football?  That said, I'm in generous mood.  Today I'm going to encourage my sons to watch and scream and throw things at the flat screen along with their father.  I'll be skipping out after the coin toss, dancing defensively, flashing the jazz hands, returning in time for a super bowl of hubby's chili.  See what I did there?  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dream On

Nothing irks the SJG more than Dream Interruption (trademark pending).  Dream Interruption happens when I flip over in bed and wake up, mid-dream.  Dream Interruption happens when someone I'm married to wanders in, past midnight, because he's fallen asleep on the sofa (nightly occurrence).  Dream Interruption happens when my bladder directs me toward the bathroom.  Last night, my dream took me to a hip, happening party. I was all dressed up, I was looking fine, I was... oh hell, right when the party was kicking into gear, I turned over and woke up.  What happened at the party?  Did I meet George Clooney?  I'll never know. The not knowing is the worst.  A great party like the one in my dream only comes along once a decade.

But then this idea came to me: What if I could invent a special remote control to pause my dreams when necessary?  What if I could turn over, reposition myself, tap the remote and I'd be right back in nocturnal bliss with (insert celebrity name here)?  Wouldn't that be fantastic?  Granted, it's a little derivative, a little like that Adam Sandler movie "Click," where he gets a universal remote and can rewind or fast-forward his life.  But I don't want any of that sci-fi nonsense.  I just want to pause my dreams so I can get right back in there and see how they end.  I want closure.  Is that too much to ask?  I plan to spend every waking moment making the Dream Remote (patent pending) a reality.  Call me a dreamer, but I think I'm onto something.