Monday, February 27, 2017

They've Got The Look

The look on Warren Beatty's face.

The look on Warren Beatty's face 
as he looked at Faye Dunaway.
The look that will live in infamy. 

"The getaway car's out back. 
I hope you've got the keys, Bonnie."
"I thought you had the keys, Clyde."  

The look on the "La La Land" producer's face 
as he said "Moonlight" won and it's not a joke.

The look of chaos. 
"Hand over the Oscar 
and nobody gets hurt."

The look on Barry Jenkin's face.

The look on Matt Damon's face.
The look on Michelle Williams' face.
The look on Meryl Streep's face. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sofa-Ready For The Oscars

So you're not invited to the Oscars. You're hurt and a little bit miffed. The fact that you've never made a movie, been in a movie, stepped foot on a movie set, or even seen any of the nominated movies is besides the point. You're feeling left out and bruised. The overnight facial you gave yourself didn't quite take. Your rental gown from hasn't arrived. It's just a bad time for you, in general. Well, as the SJG likes to say, "Oh eff it! Who gives a flying eff off a rolling donut." You don't need a beauty expert to get you ready to sit on the sofa and watch the Oscars. You've got the SJG. You don't need a complete overhaul to prance from the kitchen to the flat screen clutching a bowl of chips like a life preserver. You've got the SJG. 

Despite all the tsuris you've probably brought on yourself, you still want to look fetching for the important celebrities in your midst: the nice people who co-star (and sometimes demand top billing) in the on-going dramedy called "This Is Your Life, Deal With It."
Whether you're watching the show at home, or at someone's house, you don't have much time to spruce up. So here are three easy beauty tips to get you sofa-ready:
1. Before leaving the house, put some clothes on, so as not to repeat last year's Oscar Party Snafu. The host said "voting optional." Not "clothing optional." It may be time for a hearing aid.
2. Upon arrival, ask the host to turn the lights down low, thereby minimizing your myriad flaws. Even better, demand candlelight. Everyone looks better in candlelight. 

3. If you're watching at home with your mispocha and royal rescue pup, wear the sweatpants with the fewest holes, drape yourself in jewels, including that statement necklace you inherited from Aunt Kissy, and most importantly, reserve the best spot on the sofa before someone, offspring or canine, claims it. Threaten, withhold food, whine and sob, if necessary. Do whatever it takes. You can't look fetching on the sofa if you're stuck in a folding chair. 
Have fun, and please, when someone hands you another glass of wine, remember to thank the SJG in your drunken acceptance speech.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Motion Sensitive, Among Other Things

This is how I look... much like Dr. Evil... when I'm begging motion-sensitive sinks and paper towel dispensers in airports and 99 percent of today's posh public bathrooms to just frigging work for me.

I stand there like a dumb-dumb, waving hello and goodbye, running my hand over and under, this way and that way, until maybe, if the universe is listening, it works.

If it doesn't work, which I take as a personal slight, I move on to the next sink and the next sink until, much like Goldilocks, I find one that's just right for the SJG. When the water behaves, it offers but a trickle. Then I must deal with the motion-sensitive soap dispenser. I wave hello and goodbye to that, too. Sometimes I get a happy spritz of soapy foam. Sometimes I don't. In which case, I move on to the next @#$%'n motion-sensitive soap dispenser. Then I must deal with the motion-sensitive paper towel dispenser. I must wave hello and goodbye until I get a tiny strip of brown paper that will soon disintegrate in my hand. If I'm at the airport, by now I've missed my flight. And then, there are those rare times when I find myself waving hello and goodbye to a "normal" faucet or paper towel dispenser. But I no longer recognize "normal." So like an idiot, I wave and wave until finally, 10, 20 minutes later, it hits me like a block of Halvah. Oh. I just turn this knob here and get water. I push here and get a paper towel. These are the miracles I look for in life. They don't come my way too often, but when they do, I wave hello and embrace them.

Thank you, universe, for this nice paper towel.

Friday, February 24, 2017

It's Not A Hat...

A conversation with the dermatologist:
"Are you wearing a hat outside?"
"I'm not wearing one inside."
"So you're wearing a hat outside?"
"You need to wear one."
"Hats prevent additional sun damage."
"Additional. I see what you did there."
"So, you'll wear a hat?"
"What kind of hat did you have in mind?"
"Any kind of big hat."
"How big?"
"A sombrero."
"You want me to wear a big sombrero?"
"The bigger, the better."
"It's a pink selfie-taking sombrero."

"You want me to walk my dog in a very large sombrero?"
"Your dog doesn't need to wear one, you do." 
"Aw. So my dog gets to look normal, while I subject myself to gossip and ridicule." 
"I wear a sombrero, and no one ever makes fun of me."
"Not to your face."
"Then don't wear a sombrero."
"I won't."
"Wear some kind of wide-brimmed hat."
"I think I can live with that."
"It's a selfie-taking, hat-wearing SJG and Sir Blakey."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Shady Riktor, Oscar Predictor

The other day, I called up my old gambling pal, Shady Riktor. Yeah, Shady and I, we go way back. Nobody works a blackjack table like Shady. Watch her play the slots in Vegas. She's a killer, that Shady. A bad influence. She gets me in the best kind of trouble. Shady and the SJG, we got wrecked in Reno, lost our tutus on a Mississippi cruise, made a mess in Monte Carlo, spent a night in the hoosegow in Hong Kong. Sadie's biggest strength? Award shows. I call her Shady Riktor, Oscar Predictor. Shady bought a beach house in Malibu off her office pool winnings. That's how good she is at prognosticating. So I asked her to share some of that magic with the SJG. "It's 'La La Land' for the win," she told me. "Up for 14. It'll win at least 10, including Best Picture, Director, Actress. You still want that timeshare in Boca?" "Duh." "Then go with 'La La Land.' Bet the house, the Winnebago, the kids' inheritance." "I don't know, Shady. A lotta La La Party Poopers out there." "Have I ever steered you wrong, doll face ?" "Quite a few times, Shady." "Well, then do want you want. Gotta go. My parole officer's calling. Ciao."

P.S. Thank God I didn't listen to Shady Riktor. "La La Land" only won six awards! And she didn't even predict envelope gate, so what is she good for? Nothing. Say it again. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bye, Bye, Bao Bao

Oh, say it ain't true,
Bao Bao's left the zoo!

She's hopped a Fed-Ex,
Can't be shipped direct.

She's bound for Dulles,
Sweet bamboo goddess.

Then off to Chengdu,
To breed babies, too.

Hard to say goodbye.
Makes me wanna cry.

Panda, don't you go,
Panda, don't you go,
Panda, don't you go away!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bar Mitzvah Crasher

"The board made me come here and give you this."

The President of a congregation went to visit the Rabbi in the hospital, who had just suffered a mild heart attack. He said, "Rabbi, the board just voted 10 to 4 to wish you a speedy recovery.”

This joke reminds the SJG of my brief stint as a temple board member. It was years ago, but I can still remember the boredom and discomfort as if it were yesterday. How did the SJG wind up on the board of my temple? Good question. I must have had a momentary lapse of judgment. Someone called and asked, "Hey, you want to be on the board?" And, for some unknown reason, I said, "Oh, um.. sure?"  It was only a year, but it felt like five. Before I knew it, I was in charge of this and that. I was running the Purim carnival. I was begging for volunteers. I was attending temple functions when I wanted to be home. And what was that about discomfort? Board members were expected to crash a bar or bat mitzvah, just show up and say something like this: "Hello there, I'm a board member. You've never met me. I've never met you. But they're forcing me to share this important event in your child's life, whether you want me  here or not. And the reward is a lovely certificate to the gift shop, and a silver kiddush cup. Don't worry, I'm not staying for the party, unless you really want me to." My chosen family was in the midst of a nasty divorce. Can you say awkward? They hated me instantly and wished the earth would open up and swallow me whole, or at least take a limb or two, so that the board could then vote on whether to wish me a speedy recovery.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

E-Ticket To Anxiety

Rocket to the moon? No thanks, I'll just stay here. 

"So, tell me, little Jewish person, when was your first experience with anxiety?" Dr. Freida von Shrinkwrap asks.
"It happened at Disneyland," I tell her.
"Disneyland? The happiest place on earth?"
"It wasn't my happy place."
"Tell me more, my little kumquat of angst. I'm fascinated by the roots of your neurosis."

"Take me to your leader."

"Well, Dr. von Shrinkwrap, it happened on a ride called Rocket to the Moon. I was probably around five. So, it was 1963-ish. I remember sitting next to my mom in what looked to me like a real rocket. We were in the Passenger Chamber. They should've added 'of Horrors.' "
"You're saying it wasn't your cup of Schnapps?"

The Passenger Chamber of Horrors.
My version of hell, Disneyland edition.

"I could've used a nice sedative. The whole thing felt pretty ominous. There was a big round screen in the middle of the floor, showing images of Earth. There were scary space stewardesses. And then the announcer said it was time to Blast Off! Into Outer Space! The images on the screen in the floor kept changing to make it look like we were really lifting off, there was a countdown, the whole thing, and I was a total wreck, a complete basket case. I kept saying to my mommy,  'Are we really going to the Moon? I'm scared. I don't wanna go!' And she did her best to reassure me. 'No, sweetie, it's just a ride.' But the evidence all around me proved otherwise. It was all right there, the sounds, the images of Earth getting smaller and smaller. It was the first time I really wanted to bolt, but I couldn't, it was too late, because we were on our way to the Moon, for eff's sake. We'd already left! I was terrified, Dr. von Shrinkwrap. My heart was pounding in my little chest, I could barely breathe. I had sweaty palms. High Anxiety! You win."
"What was the main thing you learned from the experience?"
"Even then, I knew I wasn't astronaut material, and clearly, NASA knew it, too."
"How did Nasa know such a thing?"
"Well, they never tried to recruit me."

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Into Each Life...

... Some rain must fall. Yesterday in Los Angeles, it was more like Noah's Ark. Sinkholes. Fallen trees. Downed power lines. Plenty outages everywhere. SJG Lane looked like a river. A river, I tell ya! And don't get me started on navigating traffic when the traffic lights are out. It's kamikaze crazy. It's every gal for herself. Better I should stay home. And yet, out I must go, into the wet, wet world, using my finely-honed survival skills to make it from here to there in one piece. I think Ella and the Ink Spots sum it up best in this soothing schmaltz-o-rama:

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Miracle of Water

Morris goes to see Rabbi Levy. "How can I help you, Morris?" asks the Rabbi.
"I'm worried about my Hannah's temper, Rabbi," replies Morris. "Quite regularly now, she suddenly loses her temper for no reason at all and it really scares me. I just don't know what to do about it."
Rabbi Levy contemplates for a while, then says, "OK Morris, I think I have the solution. Here's what you must do. When Hannah starts to get angry, immediately take a glass of water and start swishing the water around the inside of your mouth. But don't swallow the water -- just swish it around and around your mouth until Hannah calms down."
"OK Rabbi," says Morris, "I don't know why that should work, but I'll give it a try."
Ten days later, looking fresh and relaxed, Morris goes back to see Rabbi Levy. "Rabbi," he says, "that was a brilliant solution of yours. Every time my Hannah started to lose her temper, I did what you said. I swished my mouth with water. I swished and I swished, and while I was swishing, my Hannah calmed right down in front of my eyes. It was a miracle, Rabbi, a true miracle. But why should a glass of water do that?"
"The water itself does nothing, Morris." replies Rabbi Levy. "It's keeping your mouth shut that makes it work."

Naomi is shopping in Bloomies, looking for a new dress. She sees something she likes and calls over a salesman. "See that pale blue and grey wool designer dress on that dummy over there?" she says. 
"Yes, I see it," he replies
"Well, how much is it?" Naomi asks
"Ma'am, that dress over there is $1,200," he replies
"Oy vey," says Naomi, "I could get the same dress at Minky’s Shmatters for only $120.
"But ma'am, " says the salesman, "our dress is 100% pure virgin wool, whereas I’m sure you’ll discover that the dress at Minky’s is made from recycled wool.
"So," replies Naomi, "for $1,000 extra, I should be caring what the lambs do at night?"

"If I live, I'll see you Monday, if not, Tuesday."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I Need More Memory

Dear SJG,
Oy gevalt, it's panic time. Why? We'll tell you why. Because your iBrain storage is almost full! You're running out of storage space in that place where you do your overthinking. You want to hang on to all the stuff that makes you you? You want to keep all that movie trivia, Hollywood gossip and useless knowledge safe and virus-free? Then you better hurry up, sister, and upgrade your iBrain memory for just $0.99 a month. Unless you're too cheap to spend less than a buck to back up all that mishegas you keep recycling. In which case, you best start deleting the data you haven't used  in years  -- piano lessons, guitar lessons, five quarters of college French, pretty much everything you learned in college -- before you officially run out of memory and then where does that leave you? Empty inside.
Eagerly awaiting your credit card,
The iBrain Team

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Many Benefits of Mud

On Valentine's Day, we checked in with Sir Blakey, a so-called Lab Mix of royal Jewish lineage, hailing from Your-Guess-Is-As-Good-As-Mine, to find out why he simply adores mud time, post-grooming:

1. Mud time eradicates the emasculating perfume that Alessandro the groomer sprays all over Sir Blakey to conceal his natural scent.
2. Mud time makes Sir Blakey smell like dirt and dog, as God intended.
3. Mud time is way more fun than getting Sir Blakey's tushy glands expressed.
4. Mud time ruins the stupid red bow that Alessandro clips on Sir Blakey's collar.
5. Mud time drives the short lady crazy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dancing In The Moonlight

On this Valentine's Day, may you go dancing in the moonlight...

... a la "La La Land"... 

... or Fred and Ginger.

On this Valentine's Day, may you remember that 
the most important thing in the world, according to my dad, 
the late, great Ben Starr, is love.
And now, a song to dance to, courtesy of King Harvest. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sunset, Sunrise

photo by E. Schotz

As the sun sets on a long and lovely weekend of unbridled caloric intake and celebration, the SJG reflects from the balcony of dear friends who get to live at the beach, year-round. On what level is that fair, that they get to look out at a poetic expanse of water, while the SJG gets to look out at a pathetic expanse of mud? Fair? Who said anything about fair? It all comes down to how you look at the world. No matter your view, ocean or mud, I have it on good authority that the sun will come out tomorrow -- hey, good title for a song! -- and then it will set, and then... oh, you see where this is going. You saw it coming a few sentences back. A "Fiddler" moment. Sunset. Sunrise. Or if you prefer, sunrise, sunset. It's true what they say. Swiftly flow the days. Important to remember that. This thing called life. Isn't it great sometimes? 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Put Another Hanukkah Candle On The Birthday Cake...

I left 14 phone messages. I texted 12 times. I punctuated my panic with screaming emojis. But alas, Rabbi Rocky Rugelach never got back to me about the candle situation. I thought I had some tiny birthday candles somewhere. I was positive I'd find a few in a drawer underneath the manual for the toaster we haven't owned since the '80s. I couldn't find one tiny candle on the premises. So I improvised. I went ahead and put Hanukkah candles on hubby's birthday cake, without RRR's blessing. If it goes against everything the Torah teaches us about tradition, if there's some kind of karmic, or Talmudic, payback for this particular shanda, I'm sure it will bite me in the tuchas for eight crazy nights in a row. 

Unbothered by the Hanukkah candles, happy to eat cake no matter what incendiary device lights the way, the family poses, spontaneously, and in no logical order: the parents Skip and Char, the cousin Andy and his wife Allison, the sons and their lovely girlfriends, the brothers John and Dan, Dan not in the photo, why? I don't know -- the SJG and her old man (literally). Greek food. Nice gifts. A well-behaved Sir Blakey. What more could a birthday boy want? This morning, I broke the news that his birthday is over. He's not taking it well. A moment ago, I spotted him sitting in the corner, scarfing leftover birthday cake. There's plenty. Stop by for a slice if you're in the neighborhood.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Birthday Wisdom

"What's it feel like to be 60, honey?"
"Pretty much like 59."
"How long do you plan to wear those silly glasses?"
"Not long."

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Look of Surprise

Generally speaking, hubby isn't easy to surprise. But this time, it worked. The nice people at the CW shocked him with a big-ass 60th birthday party, and even let the SJG and the youngest son attend, as long as we promised to limit the champagne consumption. And then this personalized invite addendum: "No dancing the SJG Celebratory Hora on the boardroom table." Well!

The Look of Surprise, part 2.

A roomful of TV-types sing "Happy Birthday." 

Yet another surprise. Hubby and the SJG superimposed on a poster, as part of the sexy, updated, dark and mysterious Archie Gang on the CW's new hit show "Riverdale." (See what I did there, CW? You're welcome.) 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Valentine's Day Advice

Dear SJG,
I am the cutest, most popular girl in Mrs. Pumpkinstillstein's 4th grade Math Avoidance Class at Sherman Oaks Center for the Mildly Gifted. I'd like to know if I can catch cooties from all the valentines I'm forced to accept from icky kids I can't stand.
Dear Cootie-Phobe,
According to my esteemed medical advisor Dr. Sasha Shanda, cooties are the worst. They can linger for days, months, years. There's no vaccination to protect you. Be smart. Don't accept any valentines from anyone this year, or next. You need to build up your cootie immunity. Sure, your popularity may dip, bigly. You may not get invited to any birthday parties ever again. You may become a classroom pariah. You may never know the joy of scarfing those tiny Sweet Tart Hearts till your teeth rot. In general, all the kids may avoid you like the plague for being so snooty. Eff them. Sometimes in life, you need to take a stand. Better safe than sought-after.
You're Welcome,

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Hold It Right There

From the network that brought you "SJG: FIRED!", "SJG: HIRED!" and "SJG: TIRED!" comes "SJG: WIRED!", an exciting new edition to the highly-rated franchise that explores the ups, downs  and in-betweens of the Short Jewish Gal's humble existence.

In "SJG: FIRED!" we watched riveting recreations of the two times, oops, make that three times, the SJG got fired, once for looking too young to work a cash register, once for talking to friends who came into the UCLA Student Store, and once for asking an a-hole producer not to smoke a cigar in a closed door meeting. Oh, the drama. Oh, the tears.

In "SJG: HIRED!" we watched the SJG redeem her shaky employment record by actually getting hired and keeping her job at a newspaper, but not just any newspaper, a bankrupt newspaper. Let's face it, the SJG has always lived on the edge. We'll never forget the time she shuddered in fear as the publisher ran down the hall to escape the marshals who'd come to shut down the operation. Talk about scary. And character building!

In "SJG: TIRED!" we watched the Short Jewish Gal's young mother phase, when she didn't sleep for about 10 years. We empathized when she dozed off during a big meeting, baffling the TV executives. "Should we wake her up?" "No, let her sleep." We rooted for her when she napped in the car waiting to pick the sons up from school. We prayed that one day, the dark circles under her eyes would vanish. But they never did.

And now, just in time for February sweeps, comes "SJG: WIRED!", following the SJG as she switches careers -- if you can call what she's been doing for the past 30 years a career -- and goes undercover in a super glamorous way, tracking bad hombres and dudes through the back streets of Sherman Oaks, with the help of her colorful sidekick Molly, a crochet needle-toting, four-time Stitch n' Bitch gold medalist. Sundays at 8 on SJG-TV.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Say Hello To My Little Friend

Captured at a cleaner time

Meet Bear. At least, I think he's a bear. Let me take another look. Yep. All Bear. There's no proof of his gender, but I'm just pegging him a dude, mainly because in this house, I've always been outnumbered. There a boy, here a boy, everywhere a boy-boy, human, canine or otherwise. This is where grown-up boys and dogs congregate to watch sports, fart, burp and yell. This is why Bear is a guy. But where did this so-called Bear come from, you wonder. Back in October, he hitched a ride with Sir Blakey and decided to stay, preferably indoors -- on the sofa, the chair, or, more often than not, the floor.
Dirty Bear

Lately, Bear spends much of his time outdoors, getting dragged through the mud, tossed in the air, and dragged through the mud again by Sir Blakey. Personally, I think he deserves better. So every day, I rescue him from his dirt bath and the loving jaws of Sir Blakey. "Say hello to my little friend," I say, channeling Al Pacino, as I give Bear a good soak and a quick tumble in the dryer. This is my new ritual. Day after day, rinse and repeat. I know, I know. It's weird. Why bother? Why assign so much importance to a dog toy? Must I be overly maternal even toward inanimate objects? Is this Bear I speak of so fondly a substitute for my imaginary childhood friend, Mrs. Salarni? No. He's real. Duh. Wait one minute there, Short Jewish Freud. Hello! Didn't the eldest have a beloved stuffed animal named Bear? Yes. So? What's the connection? There isn't one. It's just a coinky. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Let's just say I can't quite explain this particular fixation. All I know is Bear is happier, and more importantly, cuter, clean. But then, isn't everybody? So, my plan is simple. I'll just keep washing him until one of us falls apart at the seams.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Hello, Gorgeous

Up, up and away
The only time I ever get to wear a superhero cape is when I'm at Hello, Gorgeous, undergoing extensive beautification. I sit there draped in a black vinyl number that swallows me whole, and wonder, couldn't they make a cape in my size? This cape is ginormous. I could be au naturel under here, and no one would know. In terms of fashion, this cape does me no favors. The look, in general, is the opposite of flattering. Plus, this thing's a safety hazard. I could trip on it, and then what? They'd have to change the name from Hello, Gorgeous, to Hello, Lawsuit. You know how I hate to get all litigious. But swaddle me in a major stumbling hazard and I will sue your ass. What can I say? This is the weighty stuff the SJG ponders while staring at my fuzzy reflection in the mirror. For the duration of my visit, the salon is blurrsville. I take my glasses off in case the toxic chemicals seeping into my keppy head south and drip on my pricey specs. That's one catastrophe I can prevent. The point is -- I'm sure there's a point in here somewhere, be patient -- I'd rather think about my cape -- devoid of superhero powers, I might add -- than focus on the high cost of haircare. The cape may only come in giant, but the bill comes in all sizes.  Haircut (Smallish).  Single-Process (Medium).  Highlights (Large). The whole megillah (Bank loan required). But hey, as the commercial says, I'm worth it.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday In The Park

"My, what a cute baby."
"Isn't she adorable?"
"She most certainly is."
"Have you ever seen such chubby cheeks?"
"Have you ever seen that much collagen?"
"Mommy, those old broads are staring at me."