Friday, July 31, 2015

The Key To My Sanity

No, not Jack Nicholson, but good guess, you.

"The head-what?"
"Hang on, they're in one of these 89 boxes."
"Never mind."
"Calm down. Here they are."
"Why are you yelling?"

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Call It

Hello. I'm Anton, the city inspector/guest blogger today. I lost a bet with the short lady. Or maybe I won it. I'm still not sure. But here's how it went down:
"What's the most you've ever blogged in a day?" she asked, right after I wrote FAIL on the inspection form, and told her the re-pipers didn't follow the codes.
"The most. You ever blogged. In a day."
"I've never blogged."
She flipped her laptop over. "Call it."
"Call it?"
"For what?"
"Just call it."
"Well, we need to know what we're calling it for here."
"You need to call it. Give me a word count. I can't call it for you. It wouldn't be fair."
 "I never put any words up."
"Yes, you did. You've been putting words up your whole life, you just didn't know it. You know what the date is on this laptop?"
"2013. It's been traveling two whole years to get here. And now it's here. And it's either put words up or don't. And you have to say. Call it."
"Look, I need to know what I stand to win."
"Maybe a comment. A few likes on Facebook."
"How's that?"
"You heard me. Call it ."
"Alright. I'll put words up."
"Well done." She handed me the laptop.
"How many words you want me to put up?"
"Your call."
(Apologies to the Coen Brothers and the Simpsons and anyone else I should say sorry to...)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

So Long, San Francisco

Today the eldest leaves San Francisco and takes his heart and soul, his bicycle and his helmet, which, God willing, he wore more than once, with him. What it comes down to is this: He just couldn't stay away from his mother. Last night, I verified his position, so you shouldn't think I was making it up. "Yes, Mother. I'm moving back just to be with you," he said. "Sure, San Francisco is a great city, with its hills and fresh ocean breezes and countless gourmet opportunities for a raving foodie such as myself." "Go on." "But Mother?" "Yes, Son." "Mother, the thought of being without you for another second hurts on a level I can't begin to describe." "Try, my son. Try." "Don't pressure me." "I'm waiting." "It hurts physically, spiritually, psychologically and, of course, gastronomically." "As well it should, my son. I can't be the only one suffering in this scenario." "Why not?" "Cuz I said so." "Makes perfect sense, Mother." "Thank you. And the fact that you and the lovely one, the pretty gal, are moving in with us, permanently, well, that's just icing on the babka." "What the @#$% is a babka?" "If you don't know, I'm not going to tell you." "Fair enough, Mother. But there's one slight correction I need to make." "What would that be? And please, be careful with your words. You know how easily I bruise." "Tell me about it." "No, you tell me." "Okay, Mother. We're only moving in with you till we find an apartment." "So, a year from now?" "No, Mother. A month at the most." "But you'll live in Sherman Oaks, right?" "Uh, no." "Studio City?" "Nope." "Then where, for @#$%'s sake, and I say that with an extra helping of guilt?" "Somewhere on the Westside. Who knows? Maybe Beverly Hills adjacent." "I know the perfect place for you, my son." "Go on, Mother." "It's at the intersection of Put A Knife In My Heart and Don't Worry, I'll Be Fine. It's a lovely tree-lined lane littered with my tears." "The moving truck just pulled up, Mother." "I bet it did." "See you Friday." "Not if I see you first."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

All That Really Matters

(Sherman Oaks) News crews descended on the home of the Short Jewish Gal to record the historic moment immediately apres her first hot shower in days. "Dear God in heaven. You people have no idea how I've suffered," she said, wrapped in a towel. "I've taken nothing but insultingly cold baths. It's been absolute hell. I don't know how I survived. To have one working bathroom, it's a miracle. Of course, there are 18 holes in the wall. It was a little drafty in there. I hope I don't get the sniffles. I need a sinus situation like a kick in the keppy. Now if they can get the rest of the bathrooms working, it'll be a real mitzvah." "Mazel tov," yelled a reporter. "With all the serious problems in the world, it's nice to know that you're squeaky clean." "Which is really all that matters," she said, and went back inside to dry off.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Contain Your Jealousy

Listen, I'm not trying to make you jealous on purpose. I'd never do that. I'm but a humble blogger, an occasionally-employed TV writer, a petite kugel-maker born in an Oldsmobile on the ramp of the hospital. What right do I have to brag? Still, I think you need to know what's happening at the SJG palace at this very moment.
Hunky tattooed men have invaded my property. How many? At least eight. I've lost count. All I know is, they're drilling holes in the walls.
They're taking over the laundry area.
And the bathrooms. They're making a lot of noise. Creating a lot of dust. I can't flush the toilet. I can't do anything but kvetch. Why is this happening? I have no memory of inviting these studs to come on over and re-pipe my entire house. I like to spend money on visible stuff. Like giant wallhangings of half-naked hora dancers. Classy stuff. Let's face it. No one can see your plumbing. So whose crazy idea was this, anyway? Hmmm... oh wait, it's coming to me. Hubby. This is his doing. "Let's re-pipe," he said. "That way, we'll never have another pinhole leak that destroys our bamboo again." "Oh hubby, you think of everything." Meanwhile...
This explains why I haven't had a warm shower in days. 
How dare you? 

Saturday, July 25, 2015


In the jungle, the bamboo jungle of Sherman Oaks 

It's true. We are a bamboo-loving family. And why not? It's so friendly, environmentally speaking. We started our bamboo journey some 12 years ago, thwacking away in the jungles of Sherman Oaks until we had enough bamboo to cover our entire downstairs. Such hard work, you have no idea. Our backs have never been the same. Then, about a year and a half ago, the bamboo turned on us. It went from friendly to unfriendly. I hate when that happens. It warped and got weird, thanks to an ungrateful leaky pipe. We fixed the pipe, and by we, I mean other people "fixed" it, and I use the term loosely. We went back into the jungles of Sherman Oaks and thwack, thwack, got just enough bamboo to cover up the trouble spot.

And then, we forgot all about the bamboo and the now-"fixed" pipe and selfishly went on with our lives. But now for some karmic reason we're back where we started, with the pinhole leak and the buckled up bamboo. Hubby was just about to go back in the jungles of Sherman Oaks and thwack us some more bamboo, when I said, "Hang on, you, how about we report this to insurance?" "They'll never cover it." "Maybe they will." "They won't." This went on for a while till the SJG won. I love when that happens. Insurance said, "We cover slab leaks." And then insurance said, "We'll cover the bamboo, too since you'll never match the floor you have now." Turns out, all that thwacking doesn't produce identical bamboo. And we need to be matchy-matchy at all times, otherwise, our personal planet slips off its axis, which is never good, I promise you. "How much should we thwack?" we asked insurance. "Thwack nothing, you dummy, you. You can order boxes of the stuff and we'll pay for it. Or most of it. A box or two. We'll see." "Whaaa?!" "There are places that deliver." "No sh*t?"

Well, there's nothing the SJG loves more than getting a delivery of something wonderful. Food, flowers or flooring, who cares, as long as I don't have to go out and get it. Yesterday, 54 boxes of affordable, luxurious bamboo arrived, so friendly, it said howdy on the way in. As for that pinhole leak I keep bothering you with? Still not fixed. About to be fixed. Not fixed yet. Scheduling issues. Really hate that. But soon. Monday soon? Please, God. I'm begging you for Monday, and I ask for so little.

Friday, July 24, 2015

It Could Always Be Worse

This week, with the ripping up of the floor....
... and the cutting of holes in the wall, I'm thinking a lot about "It Could Always Be Worse," a classic Yiddish folk tale that has formed the basis of the SJG Philosophy.
Yesterday, when they took down the plastic zippered barriers, I felt reborn, as though my house had returned to normal, even though it's still in total disarray, and next week, it only gets worse. Here's the story, my people. Study it, please. There will be a short quiz afterwords.
Once upon a time in a small village a poor unfortunate man lived with his mother, his wife, and his six children in a little one-room hut. Because they were so crowded, the man and his wife often argued. The children were noisy, and they fought. In winter, when the nights were long and the days were cold, life was especially hard. The hut was full of crying and quarreling. One day, when the poor unfortunate man couldn’t stand it any more, he ran to the Rabbi for advice.
“Holy Rabbi,” he cried, “things are in a bad way with me, and getting worse. We are so poor that my mother, my wife, my six children, and I all live together in one small hut. We are too crowded, and there’s so much noise. Help me, Rabbi. I’ll do whatever you say.”
The Rabbi thought and pulled on his beard. At last he said, “Tell me, my poor man, do you have any animals, perhaps a chicken or two?"
“Yes,” said the man. “I do have a few chickens, also a rooster and a goose."
“Ah, fine,” said the Rabbi. “Now go home and take the chickens, the rooster, and the goose into your hut to live with you.”
“Yes indeed, Rabbi,” said the man, though he was a bit surprised.
The poor unfortunate man hurried home and took the chickens, the rooster, and the goose out of the shed and into his little hut. When some days or a week had gone by, life in the hut was worse than before. Now with the quarreling and crying there was honking, crowing, and clucking. There were feathers in the soup. The hut stayed just as small and the children grew bigger. 
When the poor unfortunate man couldn’t stand it any longer, he again ran to the Rabbi for help.
“Holy Rabbi,” he cried, “see what a misfortune has befallen me. Now with the crying and quarreling, with the honking, clucking, and crowing, there are feathers in the soup. Rabbi, it couldn’t be worse. Help me, please.”
The Rabbi listened and thought. At last he said, “Tell me, do you happen to have a goat?” 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I Just Had This Schmatta Washen

Badminton anyone?

Or would you prefer chess?
In honor of George Coe, who passed away the other day, I present his Academy Award-nominated short film, "De Düva: The Dove" (1968):  My favorite of all time, it parodies Ingmar Bergman's "Wild Strawberries"  and "The Seventh Seal." The Swedish-ka sounding dialogue combines English, German, Latin and Yiddish.  The principal character, Professor Viktor Sundqvist, 76, is on his way to a lecture at the university, when de duva strikes, splattering the windshield and unleashing a few twisted memories. Could Death be far behind?  It's 13 minutes, but worth it. Has the SJG ever steered you wrong?  Look for a young Madeline Kahn smoking her cigar at a picnic, as she makes an unusual offer to Inga, Viktor's sister: "Phallican symbol?"  Inga prefers Viktor. Double click for full screen.  You're in for a treat.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Sherman Oaks Strain

"Is it safe?"

"The Sherman Oaks Strain," by the SJG, esteemed blogger and Goddess of Kvetching, is a techno-thriller that documents the efforts of a team of plumbers trying to stop a deadly extraterrestrial microbe from escaping through a leaky pipe, noshing through a plastic barrier and contaminating all of Sherman Oaks, even the nicer parts. 


Monday, July 20, 2015

Oy, Danny Boy

Oy Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are leaking
From wall to wall and down the freaking side
The summer's hot and all the grass is dying
'Tis you, 'tis you, the plumber, who makes me cry
So come ye back on Monday with the fellows 
When the valley's humid and bupkis will grow 
And I'll be here, complaining and in sorrow 
Oy Danny boy, oy Danny boy, I loathe you so

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Serious London Withdrawal

(Sherman Oaks) The blog must go on. A case of extreme jet lag and an inexplicable fear of lukewarm coffee nearly jeopardized the Short Jewish Gal's ability to write her blog this morning. There were reports that another blogger might step in and ghostwrite her blog for her. But then her allergist, who conveniently lives two blocks away, stopped by and diagnosed her with a rare form of SLW.  "She's got Serious London Withdrawal," the doctor said. "A minute ago, she couldn't stop speaking with that terrible Eliza Doolittle accent of hers, saying, 'I'm a good girl, I am,' sneezing convulsively and singing 'All I Want Is A Room Somewhere.' To shut her the heck up, I gave her a nice big shot of something wonderful and told her to stay away from pollen. She's fine now, I think, but with her, you never know. Just don't ask her to reenact 'Elephant Man.' You're asking for trouble." After her doctor left, the SJG stood on her front step and shouted, to no one in particular, "I'm here and I'm ready to blog now, bitches." She went on to blog with no apparent problems.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Double Your Silliness

"Darling, does that giant wave look like it's headed our way? 
I don't wish to be swept off to sea in a bathtub."

Here's what happens when you ponder the silliness of certain commericials, such as the one for Cialis, that suggest a mood-setting strategy from an alternate universe. The likelihood of finding side- by-side bathtubs on the shore seems pretty slim, if you ask me. And even if you don't ask me, I'm telling you, anyway, because that's how I roll. The chances are remote. 

One of our favorite WTF moments in England

Would you settle for side-by-side baths at a Brighton hotel? If so, then get yourself to Hotel Du Vin, where you can double your pleasure, wink wink, or, if you're anything like the SJG and hubby, giggle yourself stupid -- did I mention the bathtubs are inside the bedroom? -- and threaten to take juxtaposing soaks, and then never get around to it because it's just too silly. Check out the telescope in the corner, perfect for star-gazing or spying on neighbors at adjacent hotels. 

Our other favorite WTF moment: On keyboards, the musical stylings of Zebra Man.

My Royal Pavilion by the sea. You like? Sleeps 30 on a slow night. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pinkies Up

Tea time at the Wolsley. Best behavior... excuse me... behaviour required. Did the SJG pull it off, or was I tossed out on my bottom?

Happy to report my manners were spot on. Didn't spill a drop of tea. Lifted my cup, pinky up. Ate my scones and clotted cream like a royal. Nibbled my cucumber sandwiches ever-so-proper. Henry Higgins would've approved. 

"Sunny Afternoon"

"That was awful!" a woman said at top volume, on the way out of the Harold Pinter. "If I were going to review this play, I'd do it in two words: Don't go." Oh you Brits. You are so entertaining. And pray tell, what's with the ice cream cups at Intermission, or as you call it, the Interval? You are all about the ice cream cups. You pre-order them and have them delivered to your seat. Is this some sort of snack ritual dating back to Shakespeare? I don't understand. No one screams for ice cream at the Neil Simon in New York. And what was Little Miss Cranky Pants going on about? "Sunny Afternoon," the story of Ray Davies and the Kinks, was in one word, fabulous. The great hit songs! The complete rock n' roll debauchery! The ups! The downs! The love! The hate! The violence! The brotherly animosity! Let's just say "Sunny Afternoon," you really got me goin'. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday In The Park

"Get out, this is too gorgeous," I said, near-giddy, as we strolled through Regent's Park.

Why can't I have water like this cascading over rocks in my backyard? 

I'm a lunatic about this landscaping. A lunatic. 

I'll take one of these. 

And one of these. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Vague Sense of Unease

A lovely discovery: Carnaby Street, around the corner from our swanky-swank hotel. We felt ever-so mod schlepping here, there and everywhere. (Sly Beatles reference.)

Liberty House

At Liberty House, I inadvertently invented a new word whilst admiring the jewelry. "It's all so delicant." Delicate + elegant. Feel free to use it, as long as you give the SJG credit.

In the novelty section, I found a spooky collection of hard candies that accurately sums up what makes the SJG tick: Creeping Dread. A Vague Sense of Unease. Escalating Panic. I ordered up a lifetime supply, just in case I run out.

The very posh Criterion Restaurant, where we dined with best-selling novelist Kerry Fisher and her charming husband Steve. Kerry and I met online years ago in a UCLA Extension novel-writing class, taught by the wonderful Robert Eversz. Kerry went on to publish two novels. I went on to... er... um... do other things. What things? Oh, you know. This and that. 

The hilarious Kerry taught us a new word she invented, a word we fully plan to bring back to America (and pay her royalties to use): Assholian. As in, "He was acting terribly assholian." Now listen, you. If you haven't read Kerry's books, "The School Gate Survival Guide" or just-released "The Island Escape," you seriously need to have your head re-examined. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I'm Also Just A Girl...

... Standing in front of a boy, asking him to love me." Julia Roberts

I'm also just the SJG, standing in front of a sign, asking where to find Hugh Grant.

"He's right over there," said no one. Oh, well. In the meantime, we sauntered, Britishly, up and down Portobello Road, encountering some very twitchy antique sellers, including the red-haired crazy woman at a jewelry table who seemed most unhappy to see us. "Don't touch that... Please don't bump the table. If it goes, I go with it... That's very precious, you know. Very few left... Straighten that necklace out, would you? It's not going to straighten itself." Guess what we bought from her? Bupkis. We preferred to throw money at the nice, welcoming Solomons, an old Jewish couple who ran an adorable stall full of lovely things, and invited us to touch everything.

Saturday night, I got talked into seeing Dave Chappelle. I'm still not sure how it happened. Oh, wait, it's coming back to me. "Mother Dear, Father Dear, Dave Chappelle is at the Hammersmith Apollo Saturday night," the youngest mentioned, ever-so-casually. "Might we see him? The tickets are only $$$$$$$$$$. Please, oh, please, Mummy and Daddy." Well, how could we say no? It's a word that's rarely in our vocabulary. We only had to pay the concierge at the hotel an additional $$$$$$$$ to procure these elusive tickets. And then away we went in a taxi. Once inside the arena, it became quite clear that hubby and I were the Oldest People in the audience by several decades. "Oh, look, Granny's here," I thought I heard someone say.

How to sum up the Chappelle brand of comedy? Hmm. Let's start with raunchy and take it to its farthest extreme. Hubby and the youngest were in heaven, laughing their arses off, slapping their knees, practically rolling in the aisles. I, on the other hand, chuckled now and then. On the SJG comedy scale, Chappelle's penile-centric humor earns a low-hanging B-. I would've preferred Alan King. But then, I'm not Dave's target audience. (Although I liked him very much as Tom Hanks' sidekick in "You've Got Mail.") After an evening of prolonged weenie jokes, it seemed only fitting that we should take the tube back, and at every stop, hear this on the loud speaker, over and over again: "Picadilly Line. Cockfosters." All night, it played on a continuous loop in my dreams. "Piccadilly Line. Cockfosters. Piccadilly Line. Cockfosters." Seriously. Does such a place really exist?


Friday, July 10, 2015

Make Way For Ducklings

The sun was shining, the feet were fully operational (more or less) so off we went, three merry Jews in search of greenery. We found some in Hyde Park and Kensington Park. As the Python Boys would say, "Isn't nature wonderful?" Yes, indeed it is, except for all those peeps pedaling by my personage, nearly flattening me into oblivion. Apparently, the sign that commanded, "Bicyclists Dismount" didn't quite register with these reckless individuals. Don't worry. I reported them all to the authorities.

Well, I'll be D, as my daddy used to say. There are two galleries right there in the park. Fancy that, bitches. And you know how the SJG loves art. I do. I do love art, so much, even though I can't paint for sh*t. At the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, we found Duane Hanson's lifelike sculptures, so freakishly real that we were collectively freaked out. Eventually, we got over it, but it was Twilight Zoney and disturbing on at least four levels, if not five.

This sculpture threw us the most because it resembles a close friend.  A very close friend.

And then there was this couple, foreshadowing the Twilight Years of Hubby and the SJG. A cautionary tale? A warning to stay away from purple shorts? If so, point taken.

In the evening, we saw Bradley Cooper become "The Elephant Man." Dear God in heaven, we're talking complete transformation, from hot and hunky movie star to tortured Victorian. It was a tour de something else.