Saturday, September 30, 2006

safety first

My mother sent me a safety-tips laden email yesterday, even though the only dangerous thing I do on a daily basis is read two newspapers and occasionally walk by Cranes of Doom. Being a dutiful daughter, I did the email's instructions one better: instead of merely forwarding them on to some chicks I knew, I decided to post them here for the edification of all. My personal favorite is #7, but feel free to pick your own.


After reading these 9 crucial tips, forward them to someone you care about. It never hurts to be careful in this crazy world we live in.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

2. Learned this from a tourist guide in New Orleans . If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you....chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse.RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won't see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON'T DO THIS!) The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.

a. If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF, repeat: DO NOT DRIVE OFF! Instead gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:
A.) Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor, and in the back seat.
B.) If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
C.) Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out.
IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)
6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. This is especially true at NIGHT!)

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control,ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN, Preferably ! in a zig -zag pattern!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP. It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked "for help" into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

9.Another Safety Point: Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird. The police told her "Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door."

The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The policeman said, "We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door." He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby's cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby's cries outside their doors when they're home alone at night.

Please pass this on and DO NOT open the door for a crying baby ----This e-mail should probably be taken seriously because the Crying Baby theory was mentioned on America's Most Wanted this past Saturday when they profiled the serial killer in Louisiana.

Monday, September 25, 2006

... and so on

Does anyone else see these headlines for articles about the Pope meeting Muslims to work out their differences like this one, "Pope says 2 faiths must overcome enmity," and imagine that they continue "... in order to be united against the Jews"? Or is that just me?

Happy Rosh Hashanah! Especially you, George Allen, you racist lying liar. Things are going so badly for Allen that I almost feel bad for him -- the news cycles about him lately have gone revealed that he is a Racist, a Jew, and a Racist again -- but mostly I spend my taking shaking my head over the fact that my ancestors and his may have at one point swapped garlic-scented spit or hid from the Cossacks together. Ugh. Allen is definitely from what I like to call the Abramoff branch of the family: those of which we are ashamed.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

it took exactly one year

I have finished the first draft of my nahvel. I have just under 350 pages and no title. Please feel free to offer suggestions or just tell me your favorite title. I'm trying to tap into how they work.

Meanwhile, whee! One year ago I sat in Rosh Hashanah services, reading the story of Hannah and her son Eli, the priest who becomes the kingmaker. And I thought, "Gee! Wouldn't it be great to break the monotony of my shallow, dead-end job with a project? Set in Brooklyn Heights? About a family who could be sitting here with me right now? Wouldn't it be great to write a book?"

I didn't have Lindsey Lohan threatening legal action to entertain me while I was in my old office, you see, and after three months as a receptionist I could feel my brain leaking out of ears. Although I hadn't written any fiction since a sour experience in a class my freshman year of college, I figured what the hell, give it a shot. While I was at it, I could try to immortalize my first out-of-college professional experience at the Very Important Talent Agency.

If I hadn't, three months later, lost that shallow, dead-end job, I would never have had the time to devote to writing that enabled me to put together the bulk of the book. So thank you, employers, by the way, for cutting me loose right before Christmas, during the transit strike, after I had trekked all the way in from Brooklyn and gotten in EARLY. Thank you for reminding me that there are things I am better at than loading and unloading the dishwasher, cleaning up after models' children and dogs, answering the phone, mopping piss off the bathroom floor, and taking out the garbage.

Although, in the spirit of this season of atonement, I should add, also, I forgive you.

And, again, whee! First draft done! Now I can entertain dizzy fantasies of the book getting sold and made into a movie, wherein all the Jewish characters will be played by totally goyish types like Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson. One thing for sure: the sexy angel? Definitely Jude Law.

ETA: I finally pasted all parts of the first draft into one document and got the word count. 110,591. Yowza.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

You, too, can be treated like Katie Couric!

This is the most disgusting thing I've ever seen. Granted, I've never been in a Bombay slum, or public school in Boston. But still: a camera that SLIMS DOWN its subjects. Isn't that great? You will notice, of course, that in the ad, the people worthy of slimming are white women. Why not just call the camera "the Male Gaze C3000"?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Primary day! Considering that I had little knowledge of and no personal investment in any of my local candidates, and that I wasn't sure I was even going to vote, I hit quite a high after pulling that level. Self-gratulation maybe. I fairly glowed with it.

Of course, I couldn't help but wonder how awesome I'd feel if I'd voted in a race that mattered. One race! Any race! Casey v. Santorum, DeWine v. Brown, Allen v. Webb! I mean, most of the time, I love living in a lefty area. If I needed the morning after pill, for example, I could be confident that I'd have access in a safe, well-lit pharmacy, probably for free, and to the soothing accompaniment of a string trio. But when it comes to casting a vote, MAN do I wish I could cast it in Missouri or Arizona, where it might conceivably make a difference.

My book group this evening discussed, at my suggestion, Baker's the Fermata, which is about a guy who uses his ability to stop time to fulfill certain fantasies. Not an uncontroversial book, and I was, to be honest with you, a little nervous as to how it would be received. I shouldn't have been: my book group rocks the Brooklyn casbah. One of the things we ended up discussing was what we'd do if we had the same power -- would we, for example, stuff ballot boxes?

One of the women, who has in her own words been increasingly radicalized lately, said why not. Especially if the other side is doing it. Couldn't it just be seen as keeping up with traffic?

I argued that by subverting democracy, ultimately, you'd lose even more faith in the system. And while going back to stuff ballot boxes in Germany 1933 would avert disaster, we're not facing a facism certain enough that immoral measures would feel worth it. At least not yet.

Basically the only legal (and physics-permitting) thing I can do is give money. I'm happy to do it, but I make under $30K a year; I have to be judicious. So where do I go? The TN race, where Ford looks ascendant, maybe? But could still easily lose? The PA race, just for the thrill of contributing to the ignominious defeat of that dumbquatty asswipe Santorum? Except I buckle internally, a little, at the idea of giving money to Casey (you know, THAT Casey). Somewhere else entirely? I'm open to suggestion.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Six degrees of separation + one bad idea

Considering that I've been officially diagnosed now with a Crazy (I mean, everyone has one, sure, but this one's mine and it's my first so I'm naturally a little defensive / protective / ashamed of it) and I've realized that this is going to be a hard year for my Crazy since thinking about the future is what tends to trigger it, and one's engagement year often entails thinking about just that -- with all of that in mind, what I really shouldn't be doing is reading Heartburn from start to finish.

Who knew I did so much of my living on the edge?

Part of the appeal of the book is that Ephron is a straightforward, drama queen type writer, not afraid to let herself look bad. That she's telling an engaging story, the break-up of her marriage to Carl Bernstein, doesn't hurt. Part of the appeal is that it's a roman a clef set in Washington, which means, for those of us who grew up in Washington, that it's fun to ponder who's who and what's what and I wonder which bench at Dupont Circle they were making out on.

But part of the appeal is also the funny coincidences. This book, which was made into a movie, started Ephron's film career (and gave Meg Ryan a reason to exist, for better or for worse). Meryl Streep plays Ephron and Jack Nicholson of all people plays "Mark," or Carl Bernstein, or, as I like to think of him, Dustin Hoffman. Coincidentally, Streep and Hoffman share the screen as a divorcing couple in Kramer Vs. Kramer, a movie that you really should see if you haven't. None of the issues it brings up are passe today. None! That's incredible!

To proceed: Ephron's writing (and, to a degree, her life) reminds me a lot of Carrie Fisher, who also grew up with literate, witty, alcoholic Hollywood types and eventually wrote romans a clef about the experience. Fisher herself co-starred in Ephron's brilliant When Harry Met Sally AND paralleled Ephron's trajectory when her most famous memoir-type book, Postcards from the Edge, was made into a movie. And who played the Fisher character? Who else? Meryl Streep.

I guess when they say she can do "accents," what they really mean is she can play all KINDS of real-life privileged LA women who get cheated on. Just kidding, Meryl! I love you!

To add redunancy to redundancy, both movies were directed by Mike Nichols. And I'm pretty sure the handsome, randy actor the Fisher character meets at the funeral is supposed to be based on Jack Nicholson. And I'm going to stop now, because I imagine you get the point.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

late to the party

I am not nor will ever be a You Tube junkie. That means that other people have to separate the wheat from the chaff for me. Here, friends, is some serious wheat: the can-you-believe-they're-American indie boys of OK Go dancing on treadmills. Wow.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Nothing makes me miss college more than attending the kind of entertainment that was rampant on campus. You know the radical cheerleaders? We had some of those. And though the choreography of cute, earnest, androgynous adolescents never convinced anyone of anything, it was totally great to watch.

Circus Amok, the subversive clowning show which Mr. Ben and I trekked out to Coney Island to see today, reminded me a lot of them. In fact one of the performers looked SO MUCH like a thicker, butcher version of my friend and former radical cheerleader S. Kelly that I felt a pang go all the way out to Seattle, where S. Kelly is currently buttering cupcakes for the ACLU. Or something. S. Kelly, and all those other fugitive '04ers on the west coast, come home!

More to the point: Circus Amok gathered a huge crowd, and when I say it was diverse I don't mean that it was, like, black. I saw black families, Hispanic families, Orthodox Jewish families, Muslim families, and lots of assorted vagabond types like Mr. Ben and me. The parents in general didn't seem to be turned off by the cheerfully political bent to the show (one of the acts is a gymnastic tribute to the lefty governments of South America) and the gender playfulness of the performers.

While the performers managed to weave a statement on immigration or health care or race relations into every one of the acts I can remember except the one wear a guy takes a wire coat hanger and works it all the way up his body and eventually over his head, none of it would have worked if the clowning and acrobatics weren't so much fun to watch. All of the details, from the colorful ragtag costumes and the klezmer-style band, worked to the troupe's advantage and made sure that, first and foremost, their show was entertaining.

The rest of the weekend was notable principally because I began eating adult food again. Three cheers for feta, scallion and tomato omelettes! They taste especially good when you've been eating nothing but noodles for DAYS. And while I participated in two social situations where I felt like I had to play hostess (ick), I also got to spend a lot of quality time with my nahvel. I will have a first draft done by Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. So help me, I will.