Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Dollop of Discretion

The SJG Kugel:  too delish to deny yourself a slice.
Why the smart rich boys who came up with Google didn’t call their fancy search engine Kugel is one of life’s mysteries. Personally, I think they made a big mistake. Sure, Google is a cute name. It’s become part of our daily lexicon. It has a nice ring to it. But Kugel is better. Kugel deserves to be a search engine and a verb, too.  For when you Kugel, you bring happiness to those around you. To Kugel is to make people smile, clap their hands and do a little hora around the dining room. To Kugel is so easy, just about anybody can do it and not mess up. I’d go so far as to say that Kugeling is practically fool-proof. I say practically because to Kugel well requires a dash of common sense. Not much, but just enough to signal the Kugeler’s brain that a dollop of discretion is necessary.

I understand, it’s tempting to over-Kugel. I’ve seen it done many a time. I’m still digesting a complicated, multi-layered Kugel from 1974. For generations, many have fought a precarious battle: how to Kugel, responsibly. It can be done, I assure you, and the SJG is here to guide you.  To Kugel wisely, you must fight the urge to open your cabinets, collect everything at eye level and dump it all into the pan. That’s just reckless and wrong.  I’m begging you to hold it right there, people, and reconsider. To Kugel isn’t all that random. To Kugel is to show some restraint.  Cherries? Pineapple? Raisins? Fruit Cocktail?

Unquestionably delish, just not in the same Kugel. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. I’m a long-time Kugeler.  Maybe you're inclined to add fruit to the mix. Far be it from me to talk you out of it. I’m not anti-fruit by any means. Just don’t go overboard, my friends.  Pick one fruit. ONE. You’ll thank me later.  Oh, and most importantly, don’t block anyone’s arteries in the process. You don’t need Uncle Seymour’s future by-pass clogging up your conscience, now do you?

And so, as you stand before your fridge, so eager to please, you’ll see cartons aplenty; calories begging to Kugel right along with the noodles. Sour cream. Cream cheese. Cottage cheese. Milk. Eggs. Butter. What else?  Step back and ask yourself the following:  How much does my Kugel really need?  What is my goal in life? To bake a Kugel heavier than a truckload of bricks? Or to cook up a slice of heaven, light enough to enjoy seconds, if not thirds?  Do I want to prevent the successful zipping up of my jeans (and those of my loved ones) the morning after? Will I Kugel like a mensch? Will I repent my Kugeling ways come Yom Kippur?  The choice, of course, is yours. To Kugel is to exercise free will. Everyone Kugels differently. It’s what makes the world go round. Here’s how I choose to Kugel. I share it with you now.

The SJG’s Kugel:
1 pound wide noodles (cooked)
7 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 pint low fat cottage cheese
3 cups reduced fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter (melted)
1 cup raisins
1 cup Corn flake crumbs

Mix together all ingredients except corn flakes. Place mixture into greased casserole. Refrigerate overnight. Next day, sprinkle with corn flake crumbs. Bake at 350 for an hour and a half.  If corn flakes or noodles start to over-brown, cover with foil.  A burnt kugel isn't doing you any favors.  So.  This is how I Kugel. My question is: How do you?

(9/8/10... reposted by request after I "humble bragged" about the global healing power of my kugel) 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

And The Winner Is...

Forbes announced its 10th anniversary of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women, with Sherman Oaks' very own Short Jewish Gal topping the list for the fourth consecutive year.  "I can't believe I beat out Beyonce again," she said, over a glass of refreshing seltzer water.  "I won't lie, it makes me a little nervous to be singled out for the dramatic impact my kugel has had on the world.  Who knew that a nice noodle casserole could heal on such a global level?  I just hope Solange doesn't show up at my door and aim those pointy Stuart Weitzmans in my general direction.  You know how protective she is of her big sister. One good kick could open up a few stitches from the ol' hysterectomy. Oy, it hurts just to think about it. Guess who else I beat out?  Sara Blakely, the genius who invented Spanx.  Just between us, that gal's done more for humanity than my awe-inspiring kugel.  I mean, she's a miracle worker.  A life without Spanx?  Please!  It's unimaginable.  I'm telling you, without Spanx, I couldn't hide the kugel consumption. Don't get me wrong, I'm super honored to top the list yet again.  But as history has shown us more than once, it's not always easy being one of the Chosen People. Maybe next year, Forbes, you could choose somebody else for a change.  All this attention is starting to go to my keppy, and that's never a good thing."

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

On The Shelf

"On the shelf or off the shelf?" -- Anisa, belly dance teacher extraordinaire.  She owns the studio and is crashing our jazz class.  
Blank stares from those of us trying to learn the routine.  On the shelf? Off the shelf?  Say what?
"You don't know what on the shelf means?" -- Anisa.
"Never heard it."  -- the one, the only Doug Rivera.
"Boobs on the shelf or off the shelf." -- Anisa demonstrates, thrusting her chest proudly, up and over her rib cage (on the shelf) and then contracting it (off the shelf.)
"Oh... cool.  I love that!" -- The SJG.
For the remainder of class, I shout, "On the shelf!" and "Off the shelf!" at least 123 times.  At last, I've found a saying that means so much, over and beyond Anisa's definition:
"That's on the shelf!" =  "So hip, I could scream!"
"On the shelf in 2015!" = "Next year in Jerusalem!"
"You found that on the shelf?" = "You paid retail for that?  You have my condolences."
"You're off the shelf, mister!"  = "Go to your room!"
"Are you off the shelf?" = "Have you lost your eff'n mind?"
Or maybe it just means if you've got it, flaunt it, and even if you don't, fake it and smile.  That works, too.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Big Sneeze

Looking for protection and peace of mind?  Who isn't.  Well, listen up, my friends.  Sherman Oaks-based The Feeling Is Mutual Insurance Group is now offering preferred customers basic sneeze protection in case you're ever subjected to one of the Short Jewish Gal's Epic Sneezes. The sporadically-acclaimed Kleenex hoarder may only be 5'1"-ish, but trust us, her allergy-driven emissions pack a wallop.  The SJG has been known to clear out movie theaters, synagogues, classrooms, markets and the United terminal at LAX with one grandiose achoo. Why, only yesterday she sneezed so loudly she broke two champagne glasses, shattered a window and fractured a darling figurine of two birds kissing.  On top of which, she busted the eardrums of various family members, and sent her 12-year-old, slightly incontinent dog running for cover.

Our SJG Sneeze Protection Policy provides you with "sleep at night" assurance that you can recover, physically and emotionally, from the devastating aftershock to your central nervous system should you find yourself in the path of the Big One, God forbid.  You just never know when the SJG's gonna blow.  But not to worry, my friends.  Here at The Feeling Is Mutual, you're in good hands washed daily with the finest generic anti-bacterial soap money can buy.  We'd never lie or mislead you, intentionally, and how many insurance companies would be willing to make such an outrageous claim?  So please, if you know what's good for you, or even if you don't and you need us to remind you, give us a call, day or night, and we'll give you a free quote and a customized sneeze guard.  Call us by midnight tonight and we'll throw in a pair of squishy earplugs in purple... unless you prefer orange, but those are on back order.  Here at The Feeling Is Mutual, we have only your best interest in mind.

Monday, May 26, 2014

When In Doubt...

Eat a bagel.
My dad had many guiding principles he loved to share.  One of his favorites: "If they put food in front of you, eat."  Toward the end of his life, his taste buds started to play tricks on him.  His beloved food just didn't taste the same.  The salad I always brought him for lunch was suddenly "dull and without personality."  It was yet another conspiracy he blamed on anti-Semitism.  Even deli had lost its luster. But on this Memorial Day, we'll honor the WWII vet's love of bagels and lox.While others barbecue, we'll brunch and drink a toast on his behalf: "To the man who made us laugh and taught us to love a good onion bagel, above all." Some life lessons you never forget, and this is one of them.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

All You Need Is...

Much like people, there are all kinds of weddings.  Big, small, fancy, casual.  Church weddings.  Temple weddings.  Hotel weddings. Outdoor weddings.  In the long run, the size and the setting are secondary. Underlying the event is love. You need love at a wedding, and lots of it.  You need love on the faces of everyone present.  You need love in the air.  Wherever you get married, you need love and lots of it.  Which brings us to today:  A second wedding.  A bride who lost her first husband gets another chance at happiness.  A groom gets to wed the love of his life.  It's his second time around, too. The "I do's" will be quick.  It's all about the dancing.  A celebration of crazy, unpredictable life and love, hope and new beginnings.  So, if I may take this moment to say:  Mazel tov to the lovebirds.  Mazel tov and then some.   Wishing you both all the joy you deserve, times ten. Personally, I can't wait to kick up my heels.  Let's get this party started. It's long overdue.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Who Moved My Cart?

(Sherman Oaks) A short kvetchy gal showed considerable self-control at Gelson's the other day, when she parked her cart, as opposed to her carcass, at the cashier's station and left for two seconds to collect a bag of beloved Lifesaver Pep-O-Mints. During her brief absence, a bad person sidelined her cart and stole her spot.  "You moved my cart," the SJG said to the "perp" in question. "I asked the checker if the cart belonged to anybody," the woman said, smugly.  Whereupon the SJG pondered what to do next:

1. Bitch slap her.
2. Recite the SJG Bill of Rights, a lengthy treatise that tends to run out of steam at the 20-minute mark.
 3. Say nothing and hightail it to another line where she felt the love.

In a surprise decision, one that exhibited growth and maturity, the SJG picked number 3.  She ignored the insensitive cart-mover, even when she called after her, "Hey! It's fine! Take your spot back! It's no big deal!"

In the universe of the SJG, everything is a big deal.   Everything.  But sometimes it's just better to walk away.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Laws of Kina Hora (Poo Poo Poo)

Kina hora - the evil eye, often preceded or followed by the act of spitting.  Example: "Oy, how could you tell cousin Rhoda you were up for the role of Yenta in 'Fiddler,' before you've even heard whether you got a call back! Aren't you afraid you're gonna put a kina hora on it?"

If there's one thing the SJG believes in, it's the laws of kina hora.  I say it many times a day.  It's the "knock on wood" that defines my existence.  This week alone I've said the following:  "God willing, you'll get a nice job and it will all work out, kina hora poo poo poo." (to the future San Franciscan.)  "Thank God the accident wasn't worse and you weren't hurt, kina hora poo poo poo." (to the youngest who got rear-ended on Monday.)

How things backfire:  The other day, I gloated about the rebuilding of SJG Lane and now, all work has stopped.  I forgot to say "kina hora."  See what happens when you tamper with the laws of kina hora?  They bite you in the tuchus.

And so, on the rarest of rare occasions when the planets align and something good might actually happen for me, professionally, I am scared to put a kina hora on it.  I keep quiet.  I share with a few friends, I tell my family, and that's it... until it becomes real.  This is how my father raised me, with plenty of proof to back up his claim.  I refer you to the hundreds of clippings from Variety he shoved in a plastic bag for safekeeping, just so I could wade through them decades later and figure out why exactly he saved them.  Somewhere on the page, I'd find a mention.  "Ben Starr jets to New York."  "Ben Starr is back from New York."  Along with this exciting news, would be mention of some project.  "So and so has optioned Ben Starr's 'Quote Unquote'... to be produced on Broadway."  That didn't happen.  See?  Epic kina hora.  In print yet!

When Hallmark Channel put my 4th of July romantic comedy into development, I said 800 kina horas daily.  TV projects fall through a lot.  I refer you to my entire career.  Things go into development and out of development every time an executive passes gas.  (Did I just say that?  Oh well, it was nice being briefly employed.)  There's the outline stage, which lasts for many months.  Then there's the first draft stage, the second draft stage, and the I've-lost-count-what-draft-this-is stage.  At any moment, the whole thing could implode and then where are you?  Nowhere good, that's where.  The more people you tell, the more people want to know how it's going, and then you have to own up to yet another letdown.  "Yeah, that didn't work out."

But miracle of miracles, this time, it did work out, and considering the crazy year I've had, getting to work on a fun TV movie with nice people was a gift that kept me sane.  And now, the movie I called "Oh Say You Can See?" will air June 28th as "When Sparks Fly."  God willing, you'll remember to record it in your language of choice, and you'll like it... kina hora poo poo poo.
Christopher Jacot and Meghan Markle
watch the fireworks in "When Sparks Fly"

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Don't Go

Dear SJG,
Why does my eldest son keep threatening to move to San Francisco? Doesn't he know that if he goes, I'm going with him?  I'm pretty happy right where I am.  What about my needs?  And have you checked rents in the Bay Area?  They're in the stratosphere.  I'm afraid we'll have to share a studio.  That's too small.  I need a lot of room to kvetch.  What happens to all that nice furniture hubby and I bought for his current apartment?  It won't fit in a dinky-ass bachelor pad.  Hell, it won't fit in a U-haul.  What's so terrible about living in one city per lifetime?  Why do my children have to grow up?  What can I do to stop this insanity? Oh, and can you recommend a decent mover, just in case my plan to sabotage his dreams goes south?
Suffering In Sherman Oaks

Dear Suffering,
There are many things you can do to discourage him from moving, including, but not limited to, cutting him out of the will.  Withholding his inheritance until he understands the severity of his actions may be your best tactic.  Of course, this may have a few unhappy consequences. A lifetime of resentment comes to mind.  Unreturned phone calls.  No more adorable emoji-cons texted back and forth 18 times a day. Depriving you of grandchildren.  If you're uncomfortable threatening him, monetarily, then you could remind him it's always chilly in San Francisco, even in the summer.  He might catch a cold if he moves up there.  When all else fails, I hear Two Shleppers And A Big Truck will get the job done for a reasonable rate.
You're Welcome,

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The End of Envy

For nearly 14 years now, we've been keeping our extreme envy in check. In private, we've longed for a street that was as smooth as a baby's butt.  We've longed for asphalt that didn't threaten to swallow us whole.  We've dreamt of a street free of potholes and bumpy terrain, a street that didn't require off-road vehicles and a certificate from the Bob Bondurant School of Defensive Driving.  It's taken courage and navigational fortitude, not to mention a heap of mazel, just to make it down our lumpy-ass street without throwing our cars out of alignment. Oh, how we've suffered.  Hubby became a pothole vigilante.  He'd go out there and cover the holes himself.  Every few months, he'd badger the folks over at Street Maintenance.  "Yeah, your street's in failed condition," they'd tell him.  "Your street's been in the repair queue for 30 years."

Everyone needs a cause, and ours was looking like a lost one.  But then, a miracle, my friends.  All that kvetching has finally paid off. This week the epic rebuilding, the asphalt makeover of SJG Lane, has begun. There are "no parking" signs and trucks and manly men with hard hats and fluorescent vests outside right now, contributing to noise pollution. It's music to my ears.  On Monday, I thought we were having an earthquake.  But no, it was just some dude operating heavy machinery, ripping up the roughest road in history. Soon... three weeks from now, maybe four... our street will be smoother than yours.  Will I lord it over you? Will I brag?  Will I do my best to make you feel bad about the crappy condition of your street?  Oh, hell yes.  That's how the SJG rolls. I like to spread the envy.  What's mine is yours.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sorry, We're Closed

In observance of National Devil's Food Cake Day, several important agencies that oversee the SJG will be closed, including the Supreme Court of Dysfunction, the Office of Enabling, the Library of Guilt, the Complaint Department and the Bank of Obsession.  The Post Office that delivers the SJG's daily dose of common household neurosis will also be closed. On a happy note, the Collection of Canine Poopy Deposits will remain open.
Happy National Devil's Food Cake Day to you and yours!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

I Didn't Mean To Do It

Sometimes things just happen.
Medical researchers have discovered a little-known condition called Early Onset Jet Lag to explain a recent phenomenon in the home of the Short Jewish Gal.  In anticipation of travel-related exhaustion, the internationally-acclaimed kvetcher/offspring enabler/kugel maker managed to DVR beloved television programs in the wrong language. "I didn't mean to record 'Game of Thrones' in Spanish," she told the New England Journal of Medicine, "but I was already tired thinking about how tired I was going to be in New York, and it clearly contributed to some screwy DVR choices.  I also recorded 'Silicon Valley' in Nerdish and 'Fargo' in Minnesotan.  Next time I travel, I'll take a pre-jet lag nap before I attempt to record anything."

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Good Morning, Sherman Oaks!

Good morning, Sherman Oaks.  Did you miss me?  Not even a little? How hurtful, Sherman Oaks.  How dismissive.  I missed you.  Well, okay.  Not really.  I missed the sons.  I missed the dog.  But I kept hearing about your heat wave.  I wasn't too excited to come back to that, not when I've been luxuriating in New York icky-sticky humidity that gives my baby fine ka-ka hair extra, much-needed lift, and temps in the 70s.  Despite all my non-stop kvetching about packing, this time, I nailed it.  I brought the right clothes, the right shoes, the right attitude.  I'll admit I was a little worried, weather-wise.  This trip marked the first one without my dad working his magic on the weather gods.  Good thing, Bubbles offered to take over.  She promised me a "no rain" week and she delivered... for the most part.  Every time it got a little misty, she sent a quick text of apology.  "Yeah, sorry about the two seconds of drizzle.  I'll get rid of it." And she did.  That's just the kind of friend she is.  But on Friday, Bubbles dropped the ball.  It rained, big time, but not until we were on our way to the airport.  "You did the best you could, Bubbles," I reassured her.  "Maybe next year, you'll do better."  Did I say next year?  Every year, when I tag along with hubby to the CW Upfront, I'm so spacey the first few days, so turned-around, so ill-equipped to cope, I announce that next year, I just might skip the trip.  And then, much like pregnancy and childbirth, events I didn't think I could do more than once, I'll forget I ever said "never again" and next year, I'll come back to NYC.  This is pretty much how the SJG gets through life:  Kvetch.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Friday, May 16, 2014

My Work Here Is Done

At the CW upfront presentation, where hubby runs around in a nice suit, making sure everything sounds and looks right and that everyone is happy, more or less.  I sit in the audience, doing nothing.

The Neon Trees perform.   I send photos to the youngest son to prove, once and for all, that I'm hip and happening.

All dressed up and bejeweled for the CW party, wearing fancy shoes that will later hurt my feet and make me kvetch about the tortured state of my toes.  Did we really have to walk the 10 blocks back to the hotel?

The Diamond Horse Shoe, a loud, pulsating night club where performers hang upside down and pole dance and make me feel old and past my prime.  I can do that at home, where I'm headed today. Makes sense.  I'm finally over my jet lag.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


"This area is frozen."

New York, seriously, you crack me up.  I thought we were impatient in Los Angeles, but we are Zen-like and decidedly gluten-free in comparison to you.  I refer you to the POTUS situation that occurred right after Bubbles and I exited the very entertaining "Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder."  
The barricades went up.  The streets shut down.  No one was allowed to cross this way, that way or any which way.  "This area is frozen," announced a New York cop, unhappy info that left many locals ornery.  "We have an important meeting to get to," a woman told the cop.  "You're gonna be late," he said.  "We've got a car waiting for us," another woman said.  "They're gonna have to keep waitin'." "How long is this gonna take?" a man asked.  "It'll take however long it takes," the cop said.  "What the @#$%'s goin' on here?" another concerned citizen inquired.  "The President's in town," the cop said.  Agonizing groans and lively curse words could be heard up and down 8th Avenue.  The general consensus:  "He should stay in Washington where he belongs." Yet Bubbles and I found the whole incident thrilling... even though it interfered with our desperate need for caffeine.
Debbi "Bubbles" Fuhrman waves hi to POTUS.
The last time I saw two Broadway shows in one day was... never.  I needed to be caffeinated and semi-alert.  Finally, the limo carrying POTUS zoomed by, presidentially, and Bubbles and I waved and shouted like good liberal Jewish gals.  And then the crowd started to turn.  POTUS or not, these New Yorkers were done waiting.  They intended to cross the street and get wherever they were going right now.  The general consensus:  Screw the barricades.  We're outta here.  "Follow me," Bubbles shouted, and off she went, the SJG trailing behind, praying I made it to the other side.
"Bullets Over Broadway"
Later on, we met up with the lovely and talented Connie Ray, and saw "Bullets Over Broadway," the strangest combination of fabulous tap dancing and old standards that have no business being in this particular musical.  The big finale: "Yes, We Have No Bananas." That pretty much sums up this hit or miss, not very good show.  But we had fun, regardless.
Two blurry gals:  The tall, lovely and talented Connie Ray 
and the short out-of-towner

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

From Heisenberg to LBJ

Next time I pose backstage with a famous close personal friend, I'll make sure the flash is on.  You live and learn, or in my case, you unlearn the things you learned when you were young and paying attention.  Flash or no flash, here I am, the humble SJG, with the wonderful, Tony-nominated Bryan Cranston, after seeing him in "All The Way."  Bryan disappears into whatever role he's playing, from LBJ to Walter White, so I was relieved when the real Bryan came out to greet me (and 25 other close personal friends), even though he was still wearing his fake LBJ ears, which I found disturbing, and pointed out, immediately.
My family has known Bryan forever, long before fame tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Right this way, sir."  Bryan is married to the wonderful Robin Dearden.  My brother John met Robin at UCLA and then I tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Right this way, you're my friend now, madam."  When Robin met Bryan, he was stuck with us, too.  This is the way it works in Hollywood. You never get rid of anyone. Of course, my dad liked to take credit for all of Bryan's success, mainly because he had absolutely nothing to do with it.  In case Bryan forgot who taught him everything, he'd send him a note every now and then, just to remind him where to send the check.  We're all so proud of Bryan, we don't even mind that he always forgets to mention at least one of us in his many acceptance speeches.
Robin and Bryan at the Met Gala last week.
They dress this way every day.                   

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. SJG

The New York Public Library 

Sometimes the SJG gets a little turned around in NYC, a little mixed up.  I think I'm going west.  I walk for many blocks and then I realize, oh sh*t, I'm supposed to be going east.  Or maybe I think I'm heading in the direction of Central Park, when in reality, I'm heading... well I don't know where I'm heading.  In NYC, I'm directionally-challenged. On Monday, I was on the Avenue, Fifth Avenue, strolling along, not paying attention, when I realized, I have no eff'n clue where I'm going.  Then I saw the lions.  You know the lions?  Patience and Fortitude?  There they were, standing guard.  I went up to say hello and wound up going inside the library.  I'm so glad I did.  I felt instantly smart and highly educated. This feeling didn't last long, however. The second I left the building, my brain emptied out and I got a little lost again. I went up to 56th, walked and walked and realized... hmm... I'm not seeing the hotel.  They must've moved it while I roamed mindlessly in my jet-laggy stupor.  Bad hotel!  Sadly, I never found it again.  Oh well.  I'm sure hubby will notice my absence at some point.  In NYC,  I'm just a wandering Jew.  
We meet again.

Where else did I wander?  Thank you for asking.  Always good to bring the focus back to me.  I wandered beneath the scaffolding, where the men in hard hats tend to hang out and argue in a lively fashion about various sports-related subjects.  "What's with all the scaffolding?" I asked one of them.  He shrugged.  "It's New York."  I found his answer unsatisfactory
                                                    The Haggling District

I wandered into the Diamond District next, a mistake on my part.  I couldn't even look in the window at all the sparkle plenties without someone coming outside to try to sell me a nice heirloom for a mere $38,000.  "Darling," a man said, "I'll give you 40 percent off right now.  Come inside and have a look.  Your earrings are lovely by the way, darling."  "Thank you." "Come on in."  "No thanks."  "40 percent off! Come back.  Where you goin', darling?"  

The 21 Club:  Jockeys line up to meet me

It was rude of me not to tell him where I was going, but then, I had no idea myself.  Eventually, I wandered over to the famous 21 Club.  Spent some quality time with all those cute jockey boys.   They seemed so happy to see me, even if I did look a little lost. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

The City That Never Lets Me Sleep

And so here I am in NYC, the city that never sleeps, a condition that must be contagious, because it's 1:15 a.m. and I'm wide awake.  Hubby, on the other hand, is peacefully snoozing.  Maybe I should wake him up to keep me company.  No, I'll let him sleep - that's the kind of considerate gal I am.  I should be exhausted after the long plane ride and battling the mass of humanity at the baggage "carousel" of non-progress.  Round and round it goes, a circle game where every piece of luggage looks exactly the same.
Maybe I'll nod off before the sun comes up.  That would be nice.  Or maybe I'll drift off while window shopping.  Of course, no one will bother to tell me I'm sleep-snoring.  This is New York, after all.

I'd like to go on the record as saying that whoever invented the term jet lag definitely had the SJG in mind.  If they held a Jet Laggers Olympics, as opposed to a Jet Setters Olympics, something I'd never qualify for, I'd enter the Kvetching Competition in a total daze, trip over myself at the finish line and still wouldn't know what time zone I'd just medaled in, heroically, on behalf of America.

I will now attempt to fall asleep again.  Wish me luck.  This may take a few hours.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Original Bathing Beauty

Gloria June Kaplan Starr
I love this photo of my sweet mom for so many reasons.  I love the way she poses for the camera like a beauty queen.  I love the sassy 'do topped with flowers.  I love the sandals.  I love the whole look.  I love the face.  Most of all, I love the original nose.  When I used to complain about mine, she'd say I could have it fixed some day if I wanted.  She'd saved and saved and paid to have hers "done" when she was 20.  Tricky mother-daughter terrain.  I don't think we ever discussed it again.  She wanted me to accept myself "as is."  She wanted me to look in the mirror and like the gal I saw looking back.  It was the last lesson she imparted.  "Don't be too hard on yourself," she said.  It took her a lifetime to figure that one out.  I'm still working on it, Mom.  Happy Mother's Day, wherever you are... at the Big Beauty Shop in the Sky... at dinner with Dad... playing bridge with all the friends who've joined you in the Great Beyond.  Beyond what?  Wouldn't we all like to know.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Hi, I'm The Short Jewish Gal

Oh, Peg, you inspire me not to do so many things.
... and I wrote "The I Hate To Pack Book" for people like me who hate to pack.  I hate it so much that if I could hire someone to pack for me, I'd do it in a jiffy.  Fact is, I've hated to pack since I was a little girl going on an overnight to visit my granny in the Fairfax District.  There's just nothing fun about deciding what to bring and what to leave at home, which explains why I tend to procrastinate.  Shucks, I'd do just about anything to get out of packing. I'd rather do 18 loads of laundry. I'd rather clean the toilet and mop the kitchen floor with Spic n' Span.  I just hate to pack.  I hate it.  I really do.  I hate it so much I have to take little tiny baby steps to accomplish what most folks would do in 20 minutes or less.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Who Let Linda Blair In?

"How'd you sleep?"
"Pretty good.  You?"
"Okay.  I had to nudge you a few times.  You were making sounds."
"Oh, please.  I heard you snoring down the hall before I came in."
"You did not."
"You sounded like a diesel engine."
"That wasn't me."
"Well, someone was making scary 'Exorcist' sounds."
"That was you."
"I beg to differ."
"I started this conversation complaining about you, and you turned it around on me."
"I would never do that."
"You just did."
"That was your other husband."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Loves Means...

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Is there a gal alive who grew up in the 1970's and doesn’t remember that line… who doesn’t have those immortal words tattooed on her brain for all eternity? When “Love Story” by Erich Segal took the publishing world by storm in 1969, I was 11 years old and barely had breasts. Puberty hadn’t taken siege yet, but I was ready. I just couldn’t wait to get my period and be a woman. I thought it was going to be great!  In the meantime, I brought “Love Story” with me to summer camp, read it in one sitting and sobbed my eyes out. I passed it along to all my cabin mates and they cried, too. Our counselor didn’t know what to do with all these hysterical girls. Then she read the book and joined our uncontrollable sob fest. A lot of tear-stained sheets went through the laundry that summer.

The story of Jennifer Cavilleri, the beautiful, feisty daughter of a humble baker, who falls in love with rich, snotty Harvard jock Oliver Barrett IV, only to die of cancer, hit me on many tender levels all at once. My own dear uncle had just passed away from bone cancer, leaving a lovely young widow and two sons behind. So I sobbed for Jenny, I sobbed for my mom who’d lost her only brother, I sobbed for my cousins who’d lost their father, I sobbed for my aunt, I sobbed for the entire universe. The experience was cathartic, to say the least.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Only Dieting Advice You'll Ever Need

Dear SJG,
My diet isn't working.  I'm counting my calories.  I'm exercising like a deranged hyena let loose on Ventura Boulevard.  I'm doing everything right.  All I'm losing is my mind.  Will I ever fit back into those hot pants I wore once on a dare in 7th grade?
Hungry in Sherman Oaks

Dear Hungry,
You're welcome,
Dear SJG,
Is it true that pulverized rocks are more nutritious than gluten-free waffles?
Just Lost A Tooth in Sherman Oaks

Dear Lost,
You're welcome,
Dear SJG,
I just ate a garden snail, and now I'm eyeing the schleffera in the corner of the living room.  Is it okay to eat a houseplant?
Trying to Make Smart Choices

Dear Trying,
You're Welcome,

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Five Stages of Sofa Withdrawal

1.  Denial - "The sofa is fine; you can't even see the rip on the side; nothing bad is happening to the sofa.  In the right light, the sofa still looks new-ish."
2.  Anger - "Why this sofa?  Why not your sofa?  How could this happen to our sofa?  Who did this?  Who sat on it and made it look old and lumpy and neglected? There must be someone we can blame."
3.  Bargaining - "I'll do anything to save this stupid sofa.  I'll give my life savings to recover it.  I'll go to hell and back for this sofa. Just make it look good again."
4.  Depression - "I feel bad about my sofa.  It makes me cry just to look at it.  What a sad sack of a sofa.  What a loser sofa.  Let's just put it out on the curb and let someone else deal with it."
5.  Acceptance - "The sofa is going to be okay.  It's in a good place now. Carlos the upholsterer is taking care of it.  He'll beef it up with extra padding.  Wait till you see the pretty fabric my mother-in-law found shlepping around the Design Center.  One day, we'll get the sofa back and we'll be happy again."

Friday, May 2, 2014

Throwback Tush Day

I won't deny it.  I kinda love Throwback Thursday.  Give the SJG permission to slip-slide into the past, and I'm there.  Why live in the present?  That's my motto.  In recent weeks, I've posted photos of my younger self with dental difficulties and photos of myself heading off to school, and on Thursday, I guess I went too far.  I posted a photo of myself at my 40th birthday party.  I'm standing with my dad and in the background is a poster my parents had blown up in my honor -- it's me butt naked at the bathtub.  I was a baby at the time.  A baby!

Well, the "likes" of my backside poured in.  So many "likes," I felt so good about me, me, me and my baby butt and the fact that I still have pretty much the same tuchus today.  All those "likes" gave me a lift.   It takes so little to make the SJG happy.

And then, it pains me to tell you this, but tell you I must, I got a message from the powers-that-be, a notification, if you will, that shook me to the very core of my being.  It felt like a big brother-ish spanky-spank of disapproval:

"Someone reported your photo for containing nudity or pornography. Your photo was reported for violating our community standard on nudity and pornography.  We are investigating this matter further."

Yikes.  I had to read it a few times to make sure it wasn't a prank. There were questions to answer (or, in my case, ignore), but I did reply to this one: "Would you like to delete this photo?"  My answer: "The only thing I'd like to delete is the a-hole who reported this baby photo."

But so many of my cyber friends had "liked" it.  The reviews were in and they were 100 percent positive.  "Adorable."  "Cute butt."  "Nice tush."  The overall approval rating warmed my heart and confused my soul.  Not one baby butt hater in the bunch.  What gives?

This morning, I got the latest update, after an exhaustive investigation:

"... Since your photo doesn't violate our community standard on nudity and pornography, it was not removed."

Well, phew! Color me relieved.  Still, that's the last photo of my ass, baby or otherwise, I'm planning to post.  I've learned my lesson... to turn the other cheek.  Oh come on, you knew it was coming.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Is There A Problem, Officer?

"Someone get the door...  there's someone at the... oh, never mind, I'll get it.  Oh, hi, Officer... lean in so I can read your badge... Markowitz.  A Jewish cop.  Your mother must be very proud.  And worried.  Very worried all the time.  Everything ok?"
"What's with all the yelling, ma'am?  We got some complaints from the neighbors."
"Oh, that.  It's Game 7, Officer Markowitz.  My husband and sons get very excited."
"I could hear them down the block, ma'am."
"Yeah, that was my youngest.  His yelling comes from another dimension.  It's somewhat demonic.  Feel free to arrest him."
"That won't be necessary.  I'm just here to make sure there's no domestic disturbance."
"Please.  I'm domestically disturbed on a daily basis.  I sweep and sweep, and I can't get rid of the dog hair.  It's everywhere.  No matter how many times I tell Dusty, 'Enough with the shedding,' he doesn't listen. No one listens to me, Officer Markowitz.  I might as well talk to the wall.  I'm losing my mind.  So go ahead and arrest me.  I won't put up a fight.  I could use a break from all this dander... not to mention, the yelling."
"No need to cuff you, ma'am.  Just tell the yellers to keep it down."
"A lot of good it will do.  Why don't you come in and tell them?  It'll be more effective.  Plus, there's a slice of kugel with your name on it."
"Well, maybe just for a minute."