Thursday, March 31, 2016

No Cuts!

True that.

The SJG loves a short cut, but then, who doesn't? If there's a way around traffic, I'm going to find it. I'm a fan of the side street, the alley, the secret maneuver that gets me there faster. Only, it rarely works. Sometimes my short cut lands me in worse traffic than if I'd just stayed on the more straightforward path. Or I turn down the wrong street and end up lost.

So, what does this tell me? I'm so glad you asked. I've always adored you. What it comes down to is this: Short cuts fail more often than they succeed.  Most importantly, short cut can also be spelled shortcut and it means exactly the same thing. You save one space with shortcut, but what does it really get you in the long run? Not much.

Any time I've tried to fast forward through anything, it's only worked when I'm holding a remote control.

Raising kids, cobbling together a career, sorting through assorted heavy duty life issues, all of that stuff takes time. A lot, a lot of time. There's no jumping ahead, no taking a giant leap past everyone else. "Ha ha, bitches! Outta my way. I'm going places and I'm getting there before you!"

The only significant thing I learned in school: "No cuts!" Back then, I thought it meant, "If you step in front of me in line, I will hurt you." But now, I realize it goes much deeper than that. "If you try to rush past me, in your pathetic quest to save time, get ahead, succeed, or get the new iPhone before me, you'll just get sent back to the beginning and have to start all over. Much like an endless game of Candy Land."

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Two Of A Kind

In the SJG's tender little girl keppy, there was nothing better than “The Patty Duke Show.” I wanted to be Patty. I wanted to be Cathy. I adored them both because they represented two sides of my personality.  Patty Lane was my favorite.  She was perky and upbeat, a fun-loving, trend-conscious teenager who “loves to rock and roll.” And, as everyone knows, “a hot dog makes her lose control.” Patty was so me! I was tiny for my age like her, and perky comes with the territory. I'd just discovered the Beatles. And what kid didn't go crazy over a hot dog?
Cathy, her identical cousin from Scotland (who knows why) showed a more reserved and sensitive side. She was into “the minuet, the Ballet Russes and crepe suzette.” I certainly related to her serious, perceptive nature. Even then, I was way too tuned into the universe for my own good. I experienced Cathy’s confusing adjustment to America as if it were my own. Like all little girls, I loved to dance (still do). I fully planned to join the Royal Ballet as soon as the invitation arrived. We shared culinary similarities, as well. I worshipped pancakes, the kissing cousin of the crepe suzette. Sure, these girls may have been “different as night and day,” but the three of us had a lot in common. Patty and Cathy were the sisters I would never get to sit across from at breakfast. I could live with that, as long as I got to watch them on TV every week. In my mind, it was a fair trade-off.

Then one day, something happened, something so unexpected, it made me question everything. There I was in Beverly Hills, walking with my mom when we bumped into her dear friend Pat Harris, a well-known casting director. Pat stood next to an attractive young woman in her late teens. She had a troubled, far-off expression. I was only six or seven at the time, but right away, I realized that Patty Duke on TV and Patty Duke in person came from different planets. They didn’t laugh alike, walk alike or even talk alike.
As Pat introduced us, Patty Duke barely nodded. She didn’t make eye contact; she just stared off into space. I smiled shyly and inspected her many freckles. Here was a young woman caught up in some private battle;  it was all right there on her face. Later, I asked my mother, "What's wrong with Patty Duke?" "I'm not sure, sweetie," she said.  Many years later, when Patty Duke went public with her struggles, I still felt a bond.  I was relieved that she was okay.  Back there on the sidewalk, I'd had a tiny glimpse into her complex life, but it stayed with me. TV can give you that sort of connection, one that doesn't fade, no matter how many years have gone by.
RIP, Anna. You were the best of the best. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hang Ups

Oy, Mommy Dearest! Faye-as-Joan Crawford knew what she was talking about. Wire hangers are evil. Wire hangers give you this: 

Hanger Bumps. Or if you prefer, Hanger Humps. Or, my personal go-to, Shoulder Nips. Call them what you will. They are the bane of the SJG's fragile existence. 

I already know sweaters should be folded, not hung. I'm doing my best. I really am. But what about the daily shlepwear? Who has time to fold all of that? Who has the space? Is there a sensible way to deal with this unsightly garment abuse?

I ask you: WWMD? What would Martha do? Dangle a scented sachet from a non-wire hanger and be done with it? God no. Martha always has a plan. Martha believes wooden hangers are the answer. But just between us, I've gotten shoulder nips and humps and bumps from those, too. Haven't you?

Of course, you have! Martha can't always be right. So here's what I plan to do:

Recite the SJG Prayer:
Today I will kvetch about the things I could change,
if only I had the energy. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Tradition

The SJG Easter Bonnet

You may be surprised to learn that the SJG has a special Easter tradition.  No, I don't wear a bonnet, although if they fashioned one out of matzoh, I'd absolutely wear it.  Every Easter, I experience an uncontrollable urge to shop.  Normally, I'm in no hurry to try on clothes.  A three-way mirror, a badly-lit dressing room.  Why would I subject myself to that?  But Easter Sunday feels like the perfect day to hit the stores.  While some folks hunt for pretty painted eggs, why shouldn't I hunt for bargains?  So, I go online and ask this question:  What stores are open today?  And up comes the answer:  You're in luck, SJG!  Everything's open!  Go out and spend!  But every Easter, it's a total misdirect.  I drive around and guess what?  Nothing's open.  It was just a cruel joke.  You'd think after all these failed attempts, I'd get it, but on an annual basis, all I get is amnesia, because in my mind, the stores should be open.  After all, the malls don't put up a sign:  SORRY, BUBBELEH!  CLOSED FOR PASSOVER!  I know, I know.  I should just accept it.  I should stop wondering why, on this day, am I not allowed in Macy's or Bloomies or Banana Republic.  I should give up the dream of shopping on an important holiday, unless, of course, that holiday happens to be Passover, when the mall is open for business, but the last thing I feel like doing is trying on jeans.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Jewish Easter

Dear SJG,
Is it wrong for a Jew to hunt for eggs?
Just wondering,

Dear Shelly,
It's never wrong for a Jew to hunt for eggs, especially if they're on sale at the market.
You're welcome,
Dear SJG,
Is it wrong for a Jew to wear a pink bonnet on Sunday?
Curiously yours,

Dear Chapeau,
A Jewish dog can pull it off.  Maybe.  Otherwise, no one under the age of two looks good in a pink bonnet.  Trust me on this.
You're welcome,
Dear SJG,
Is it wrong for a Jew to dress up like a bunny on Sunday?
Hopping for an answer,

Dear Sheldon,
It's never wrong for a Jew to dress up like a bunny, especially if you're starring in a local production of "Rabbi Rabbit."
You're welcome,

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Goodnight, Earl

Earl Hamner, Jr. (1923-2016)

Back in the '90s, a decade some of you may or may not remember, thanks to childbirth and extreme sleep deprivation, the SJG had the pleasure of working with Earl Hamner, Jr. on a Family Channel series that never got made. So what else is new? It was a brief but lovely professional encounter. What could be more fun than sitting across the table from the Virginia gentleman who created "The Waltons"? I'm sure a few things might be cooler to you, but then, how reliable are you if you don't remember the '90s? My point, exactly.

Here's how our introduction went:
Me: "You're looking at the woman who wrote 'Spring Fling!' "
(cheesy spring break '90s TV movie)
Earl Hamner Jr: "You're looking at the man who wrote 'Palm Springs Weekend.' "
(cheesy spring break '60s movie)

A moment I'll always treasure. Goodnight, Earl. Get some sleep.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Red Phone

"Our Man Flint": The Red Phone 

"I just called Dad."
"What'd he have to say?"
"Not much."
"Maybe you should've called him on the Red Phone."
"You think he would've answered?"
"God only knows."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Meanwhile, Over In Sundries

The SJG always knew that one day a lifetime of dancing my hearty-party out would pay off. Either my soulful dance skills would land me on the Broadway stage (still waiting) or land me at Target, where a jazzy sashay to the left would save my life. You think I'm exaggerating, don't you? How dare you. Details: On Wednesday, I schlepped to my former favorite hang, Westwood Village. Back in the day, we called it the Village. As in, "Let's meet in the Village." If I said, "Let's meet in the Village" today, you might think I'm referencing the Sunset Retirement Village, conveniently located three miles north in scenic Van Nuys. But back to the Village in question, where I used to meet my friends at the movies and hope a nice adult would take pity and buy us tickets for an R-rated movie like "The Owl and the Pussycat."

Westwood Village when it was great 

Yesterday I met Elena, a simply great gal I've had the honor of knowing since junior high, in Westwood. Instead of meeting her for ice cream sundaes at Wil Wright's, which would've required a time machine, I met her at Corner Bakery for egg white scramblers. Later, we headed back to City Target, the only place in Westwood that offers a free two-hour validation. Nostalgia: Target used to be Macy's which used to be Bullock's, and when I went to UCLA, I used to pretend I worked at Bullock's and park there for free. After lunch, Elena and I had just walked into Target when we heard a commotion over in Sundries. They don't call it that anymore because no one knows what it means, other than, a little this, a little that; nothing worthy of its own section. Much like my career.

The commotion involved a shoplifter, yelling "I'm not on drugs!" as a store employee and a security guard tried to calm her down and drag her across the store, simultaneously -- two activities that don't necessarily go together. "Let's get the eff out of here," I said to Elena, in my dainty way. A nimble gal with quick reflexes, Elena made a quick move for the sliding glass door. The SJG wasn't quite so swift. I found myself a moving target in, of all places, Target. Coming right at me: the security guard, the store employee and the wailing shoplifter. With the grace of Laurel and Hardy, I flashed my jazz hands and Fosse'd out of the way, avoiding a nasty run-in, head injury and potentially lucrative lawsuit against Target.

In the parking lot, Elena, an excellent dancer since birth, not to mention a lover of all things Zumba, felt compelled to recreate my life-saving Fosse move, over and over, while I bent over laughing, struggling not to wet myself. Hmm. I just might be ready for the Sunset Retirement Village, after all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Some Days

Some days I go Gandhi.

Some days I go grudgy.

The SJG teeter totters between the two.

Until someone tells me to let it gooooo.

Then I go full Golem.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Jewish Dictionary

AFIKOMMENTS n. Adult arguing that occurs as children search for hidden Passover matzo.
BIALY ACHE n. The result of lunch at your mother's and dinner at your mother-in-law's.
BLINTZKRIEG n. A late-night assault on the refrigerator in search of leftovers even though "I won't be able to eat for a week!" Particularly common four to six hours after special-occasion gluttony.
BUBBEGUM n. Sweets one's mother gives to her grandchildren that she never gave to her own children.
CHUTZPAPA n. A father who wakes his wife at 4 a.m. so she can change the baby's nappy.
DEJA NU n. Having the feeling you've seen the same exasperated look on your mother's face but not knowing exactly when.
DISKVELLIFIED vb. To drop out of law school, medical school, or business school, as seen through the eyes of parents, grandparents, and Uncle Sid. (In extreme cases, simply choosing to study art history when Irving's son, David, is studying biology, is sufficient grounds for diskvellification.)
DISORIYENTA n. When Aunt Sadie gets lost in a department store and strikes up a conversation with everyone she passes.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Oy Variations

Dear SJG,
What's the diff between Oy and Oy Vey, Oy Veysmere and Oy Gevalt? I'm so confused, I could plotz.
Dear Oy-Challenged,
Relax. Oy works in many combos, but allow me to break it down for you. The singular Oy is best reserved for mild frustration. As in, "Oy, I can't remember if I took my anti-depressant." The Oy Vey duo works beautifully in moments of pre-panic. As in, "Oy vey, I can't remember if I left the stove on." Oy Veysmere, on the other hand, goes well with self-flagellation. As in, "Oy veysmere, I'm such a porker." What? Still not satisfied? You'd like more oomph with your oy? May I suggest, Oy Freakin' Gevalt, a triple threat best uttered in the presence of animals. As in, "Oy freakin' gevalt, Dusty, what is it with you and cat poop?" And finally, when the aforementioned Oy Variations just aren't enough emphasis for you, and nothing else will suffice, then your vocabulary needs Oy Effin' Vey. As in, "Oy effin' vey, there's an alligator in the kitchen."
You're Welcome,

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Scream Heard Round The House

It's early on a Sunday morning. And there's screaming downstairs. "Yes!" screams the youngest. "Yes!" screams the hubby. "What the eff are you two screaming about?" screams the SJG. "We scored!" screams the youngest. "And by 'we' you mean?" "Us." "Us who? The Bruins?" "Ma! The Bruins didn't even make the tournament." "Oh, then who are you screaming about?" "Manchester United." "A second ago you were watching basketball." "I'm jumping back and forth."
Hello again, March Madness, a pileup of hockey, college basketball and soccer. An invitation for the SJG to hide upstairs in my own Bracket of Solitude until it's over. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Keeping Time, Jewishly

It's true. Jews keep time differently than other people. Here's how it all starts. You sit in temple, fidgeting. You're a kid. You want to get out of there, already. All you keep hearing throughout the service is this: "There was evening, and there was morning." Let's be honest. It's a little vague. You figure, "Great, I'm stuck here for eternity." A few specifics would be helpful, but do you get them?  No. "It was 6 p.m. and Moses said, 'My God, these tablets are heavy.' " You don't get that. "It was 7:15 a.m., Eastern Biblical Time, and King David turned to Queen Esther and said, 'You call this breakfast?' " You don't get that, either. This explains so much, historically, that I'm surprised I haven't been asked to help craft an updated Old Testament. I'm convinced this iffy approach to time has permanently rejiggered the internal Jewish clock to one, and only one setting:

Run. Run for your life. Keep running.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Blanket-Less In Studio City

In Sherman Oaks, they know me. They understand the SJG. In Studio City, they don't understand me all that well. For example, they don't know that the sight of two young hipsters asleep on sofas parked outside a hipster cafe will disturb me. Why? Because I'm a mother. A mother doesn't want to see two young hipsters asleep on the sofa, outdoors or indoors, and not be able to cover them up with a nice blanket. Such is my instinct when I see my own two sons asleep on the sofa. From babyhood on, I've covered them with a blanket. It's one of my main skills. Blanket-provider. It's right there in the job description. It's what I do, what I take pride in. Doesn't matter if it's cold or 100 degrees. I still cover them. That is the SJG way. So to see these two unknown patrons of the hipster cafe asleep without blankets... well, it made me feel badly for their own mothers. The fact that these two were slumming it in public for all to see only added to my angst. Clearly, it was time for someone to wake their lazy asses up. Someone other than me, of course. So I went inside and told the gal behind the counter, "You've got two sleepers on the patio." "Not again. Hey, Kerouac!" A waiter with a knitted cap pulled down over his eyebrows appeared. "Hey, Tangerine." "Can you go wake up those two dudes in front?" "Fo' shizz," Kerouac said. As he went outside to rouse the napsters, I grabbed a booth and texted my sons. If I couldn't cover them with blankets, at least I could smother them with emojis full of love.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

You Don't Have To Be Irish

Top of the morning to ya!

Shalom and begorra! It's St. Patrick's Day, doncha know! Festive and fun and whiskey-driven, this holiday has absolutely no meaning in my life, on any level. I wouldn't know how to behave at a St. Patrick's Day Parade if you paid me. But if you'd like to pay me, I will attend your parade of choice and behave however you want me to. I will do a jig if necessary. I will perform "Riverdance" for you, or at least a very poor imitation thereof. Yes, that's how easy I am. Hebraically-speaking, not that I can speak Hebraically, but if I could, I'd like to read a passage from the Torah about the meaning of St. Patrick's Day. I'm pretty sure it's in there somewhere, but I don't have time to hire an important Talmudic scholar, or even a semi-important one, to investigate. You see, my friends, today's blog is just about over. Don't cry. I'll be back tomorrow. But now I must go in search of four-leaf clovers. If can't find a four-leaf, I'll settle for a three-leaf, I'm not that picky. Basically, my friends, I'm off to find that elusive pot o' gold. If I can't find it, on account of it being elusive, I'll settle for a little bit o' luck, Irish or otherwise.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Nice People Only

In a world that isn't always so nice, I've decided to carry this sign with me wherever I roam. I'm pretty sure that this sign will protect me from the not-so-nice. I'm pretty sure this sign will send the following message to the universe: "Be nice, people. Nice is better than mean. You want to go through life being a prick, or a mensch? Be a mensch. I'm sure you've got some menschiness tucked in there somewhere. So dig it out and get going with the nice thing. But if you can't be nice, if you really don't have it in you, then do your best to fake it. Fake nice is better than no nice at all."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Frozen Bagels

It was a terrible evening in New York City. The wind was blowing hard, it was snowing and it was very, very cold. The streets were almost deserted and Bagels! Bagels! Bagels! was just about to shut when Sidney entered. He looked absolutely frozen. He was wearing two sweaters, a thick scarf and an even thicker coat. His umbrella had blown inside out and he looked thoroughly miserable. As he unbuttoned his coat, he said to the baker, "Two bagels, please."
The baker looked surprised. "Only two? Don’t you want anything else?"
"No. I only want two," Sidney replied. "One for Esther and one for me."
"Is Esther your wife?" asked the baker.
"Of course, she is. You think my mother would send me out on a night like this?"

Monday, March 14, 2016

We're Just Brainier, That's All

Dear SJG,
Is it true that women are so complex, we use more of our brain than men do?
Brain User
Dear Brain User,
You're Welcome,

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Daylight Saving: Spring Forward

Due to sleep deprivation, the SJG is taking the easy way out this morning, and offering up a video. Go ahead and judge me. I'm too tired to care. Shout out to Connie Ray, famed star of stage and screen, for introducing me to the ultimate horror movie of all time -- "Daylight Saving: Spring Forward." Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Taken 8"

"If you let Vacheron go, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you,
I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you,
I will find you, and I will kill you."

Coming soon to a movie theater near you: "Taken 8: Stolen Time."
Premise: Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), a retired CIA operative, now living a quiet life as an antique watch collector, can't find Vacheron-Constantin anywhere.

"Have you seen my Vacheron?"

Bryan's worst fears become real when he discovers that his sacred timepiece has been TAKEN by evil Daylight Savings Enforcers and held for ransom at a scary undisclosed location on the edge of a town no GPS knows from. With just one hour left to spring forward and lose precious sleep, Bryan must call on every secret skill he learned at the Tough Guy Academy to rescue Vacheron from tragic overwinding. Will Bryan pull off a miracle? Will he come up with the gelt? Or will Vacheron get tragically undersold on the black market? If you're smart, you'll go see the movie and find out.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Steppin' Out

"My sister Sheila's seeing a life coach."
"Mazel tov. How long have they been dating?"
"They're not dating."
"They're not?"
"No. He's coaching her."
"On what?"
"What's he telling her to do?"
"Step out."
"Step out? Like Fred Astaire?"
"No. Not like Fred."
"Like Ginger?"
"No. There's no dancing involved."
"Oh. Then I'm lost."
"Let me clarify. The other day, we're going to lunch and we can't agree on where. I'm driving up and down Ventura Boulevard, wasting gas. I want deli. Sheila wants sushi. It turns into an argument. Deli. Sushi. Deli. Sushi. And then she says, 'I'm stepping out of the conversation.' I look at her. 'You can't step out of the conversation. We haven't decided where to eat.' 'My life coach says any time I want to step out of the conversation, I can. I'm stepping out of the conversation.' So I say, 'You want to step out? Be my guest.' "
"Then what?"
"I slowed down long enough for her to get out."
Steppin' out.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Plenty Gifted

The first time the SJG heard the expression "gifted," the eldest was in kindergarten. The "gifted" buzz was suddenly a thing. Is your child gifted? Has your child been tested? Is your child highly gifted, moderately gifted, semi-gifted, or, God forbid, NOT gifted? Oy vey. Such a shanda to be un-gifted.  Everything was about gifted this, gifted that. Seemingly overnight, "gifted" meant something big.  You wanted your kid to be academically gifted. Your kid, on the other hand, didn't give a bleep about being gifted. Unless it meant toys and Game Boys and other fun stuff coming his way. That was the only gifted he cared about.

Where did this gifted business come from, anyway? I can't tell you. I'd probably have to go back to school to find out. I don't want to go back to school. In school, I was never gifted. In school, I spent time in remedial math just for getting a "C." So, don't talk to me about gifted. Once, I landed by accident in an advanced class. Someone in the front office messed up, and there I was in Advanced Sitting, surrounded by smarties. I did my best to sit in an advanced way. Advanced was a big thing, back then. In college, the SJG took Advanced Kvetching. I excelled. I took Advanced Worrying. I aced it. I took Advanced Denial. Yeah, I failed that one. These days, I'm into a different type of advanced. Advanced Bone-Creaking. Advanced Nasal Difficulties. Advanced Where-Did-I-Put-My-Phone. When it comes to advanced, at this stage of the game, I'm plenty gifted.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Right Spot

As I waited for my friend Chartreuse to arrive at Caffeine Scene, a very loud, crowded venue full of laptop squatters, I channeled Carlos Castaneda. I called forth the rules of his spirit guide, Don Juan, Yaqui warrior.

My reasoning was simple: If Don Juan could guide Carlos Castaneda on his many mesquite-infused trips in search of barbecue... he could guide me, too.

I'm sorry, what's that? Don't I mean mescaline-infused hallucinatory trips? Thank you for clarifying that. I may need to go back and re-read a few passages. In any case, I went in search of the right spot. The right chair, the right table. The most Zen-like place where I could sit across from my friend Chartreuse and actually hear what the bleep she was saying, and vice versa. And yet, like so many things in life, the search proved elusive. I sat down, slung my handbag over the chair and heard Hollywood-infused chatter from a nearby table. No thankie. I got up and went to another table. I was almost settled in, when two laptop squatters lay claim to the table next to mine. Just then my friend appeared, eager for her half-caff Americano. Once again, I had erred in my selection.

"Chartreuse," I said, getting up, "we need to move. I'm deeply unhappy." "Alright. What about over there?" She pointed to the spot I'd briefly occupied before her arrival. "I can't go back there," I said. "I just can't." "Alright," Chartreuse said, calm under pressure. "What about over there, across from the register?" "It might work." We claimed our caffeinated beverages, sat down and began a fruitful exchange of ideas... until the coffee grinder started grinding and the people lined up in front of us and started in with the ordering and the hipster music blared and I couldn't think. I just couldn't. "Forgive me, Chartreuse, but we need to move again. I'm having some sort of metaphysical crisis. This isn't the right spot for me, I'm afraid." "Alright," she said. "What about over there?" We gathered our things and moved closer to the front door. "How's this one feel?" Chartreuse asked. "I've had better," I said. Right or wrong spot, or somewhere in between, we'd arrived at our destination. I could sense Don Juan's disapproval. But we'd run out of tables.