Thursday, September 22, 2011


The written media has become lazy. Case in point: the newly-minted word adorkable This hybrid is apparently self-explanatory. I disagree. It may be an amalgam of adorable and dorky, or adorable and funky, or adorable and quirky.  In the interest of accuracy I checked Wikipedia where it doesn't rate a mention. 

Therefore,  I will elaborate.

The adorkable actress as a TV or movie character is always female and is pretty enough to be deemed extremely interesting, almost hot, except for her unique ability to be unaware of her own hotness, resulting in goofy non-sexually threatening behavior. Apparently adorkable women are too goofy to remember to check a mirror. The adorkables speak in a sing-songy, word over word slurring kind of way meant to remind us of a pre-pubescent child who has all the promise of life ahead of her.

I cut my eyeteeth on TV characters like this at a time when writers took more effort to explain and flesh out a character's character. Remember Goldie Hawn on Laugh-In? Suzanne Somers as Chrissy on Three's Company? These women were practically the springboard for every dumb blonde joke told in the seventies. Imagine our surprise when we realized years later that these women were smart, accomplished business women that have successfully kept their careers current.

But I offer this, a blonde cannot be termed adorkable, with one exception--I'll get to that later. That moniker is saved for brunettes only and therefore I offer up to you that I think Mary Tyler Moore, while always elegant and sophisticated had many comical moments that could have been attributed to her naive adorableness. This unique blend of sophistication and cluelessness was the basis for her terrific chemistry with Mr. Grant that was the first sighting of adorkableness more than forty years ago.

Marlo Thomas' character in That Girl  was another classic example, as well. I am aware that many of you under a ceratin age have stopped reading at this point. Two years ago my daughter discovered some old Mary Tyler Moore episodes online. She became instantly addicted to the quirky, brave Mary who paved the way for every woman today who chooses career first, a radical idea in the seventies. We were fascinated by these women and their accomplishments, wished we were them, and enjoyed their idiosyncrasies that made them approachable and friend-worthy. 

Approachable does not equal dumb. Not by a long shot.

Back to the blonde haired exception--Taylor Swift. I'm not a follower, but I was impressed by her self-deprecating and winning turn on Saturday Night Live. She's enormously talented and remarkably self aware for someone who has grown up in the spotlight. Not to mention absolutely adorkable. But I'll add one more thing--she's sharp as a whip, you can see it in her eyes.

So, TV writers, don't be lazy. You can create a sitcom character that we can all adore and  relate to even on her most silly level, she can be blonde and most of all  she can even be smart.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Just When I Was Ready to Despair

I've had just about enough. No, I'm not talking about the frustration of having an unemployed college graduate or the decision about which colleges might work for my h.s. senior, seriously, film school? Even that sounds less crazy based on how well doctors, lawyers, and businessman are doing right now.

No, I'm talking about summer TV. Yes, we have made some strides in that department, kudos to you USA and Bravo. You really do try. And yes, I adore the craftily debonair Neal Caffrey and Harvey Specter, who has been a delight on Suits, but what lawyer wins every case? The writers got a bit sloppy there towards the end. Heidi and Tim, please, we need talented designers who are actually interesting, not fake interesting. Where are Christian Siriano and Chris March when we need them?

The economy is in freefall, mother nature is playing with us, our enemies are hell-bent on trying to blow us up, and too many people we love are sick. We feel helpless, anxious, unworthy. There is so much to worry about especially our own impotence to change anything. And the political landscape. Let's not go there. The summer movies were ghastly, except for Harry Potter and based upon how many chose to stay outdoors rather than inside, it seemed as if most of America agrees with me. All we had left was our worry. I'm sick of worrying. It's unproductive and causes wrinkles.

I need my mindless TV shows back.

I don't drink or do drugs, but there are definitely some days I really, really wished I did. Instead, all I have to bolster my spirits is a strong cup of coffee and a chocolate danish. The five pounds I gained this summer I lay at the doorstep of the Democrats and the TV executives who aired nature and cooking shows, ad nauseum. Oh, and Yankee games that seemd to go on for eight hours. And yes, I do read books.

Finally, Fall TV brings with it the shiny promise of a new leaf, budding slowly and blossoming into something beautiful. 
But returning favorites first. Vampire Diaries! Gossip Girl! Yes, I am a fifty-year old in an arrested state of development. (No, I never watched it) Good Wife! You go Julianna. Grey's Anatomy! I'm still sticking with dark and twisty Meredith and soulfully dreamy Patrick Dempsey (I came up with McDreamy, but no one in my living was there as witness). I'm not blindly loyal, nah uh. You have to earn my loyalty and staying power. I left Lost for a period in the middle, but rallied in the last year. I had one question that needed answering. Where was that damn island, or rather what was it? My question was answered, sorta. That ending made me glad I'd never started watching The Sopranos. I can only take so much.

I've ratcheted up my DVR, erasing all the shows I never watched but recorded. Just in case.  Did you know that HD shows take up lots of disc space?

My son came into the den a couple of days ago and a quick glance at the screen had him shaking his head. "You're still watching Glee? No one watches Glee anymore," said the son who speaks in absolutes. I'm pretty sure they're still getting ratings, although I have to admit I fast-forward through a lot. They're on probabtion as of now. There are only so many hours I have allotted at night for entertainment.

Back in the day when my daughter still lived at home we would watch American Idol with our finger on fast forward. She wanted to scroll past the comments (too nasty) and I wanted to scroll through the contestants (too boring). Well, loopy Paula and sacrcastic Simon are back. I give them one episode of my time. If I even last that long.

So yes, i will try out Person of Interest and Charlie's Angels even if  I already know there will be no one as beautiful as Jaclyn Smith or as charmingly paternal as John Forsythe. It will take time to warm up to the new characters, to allow them to comfort me in ways pastry goods cannot. And I'm looking forward to reconnecting with some old friends.

I hate the taste of alcohol, the political race turns my stomach, but atleast something other than shrill housewives and shrill New Jerseyans and shrill Kardashians will finally be available to those of us who want a little more highbrow from our lowbrow viewing.

There is a fine line between between mindless and brain-numbing entertainment. I intend to walk that line. You are welcome to join me. Or better yet, go read a book.

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's Time to Start the Revolution

As I sat down to drink my morning coffe, I opened the New York Times app on my iPad. I glanced at Top News as always, and then hit what has become my favorite section--Most Emailed stories. I like to keep the pulse of what the hot topics are without resorting to The View for my information.

David Pogue wrote something that I found incredibly disturbing called Internet Memes101: A Guide to Online Wackiness. David goes on to explain in exhaustive detail--(if you have to explain a joke it isn't funny anymore)  all the pop culture references that those of us from a different generation have apparently been missing out on while trying to follow the late-night monolgues.

News flash David. If I don't get the reference about the latest Kardashian foible, I'm actually glad. If I don't realize the latest catchphrase has been generated by the monotoned Paris Hilton I consider it a win in the column for those of us who think hotel chain first, media hussy second.

Maybe, just maybe, it's time for our youth to try to understand what we're saying rather than the other way around. When I was in school and attended a lecture and the professor used a word I had never heard before, I wrote it down so I could check it later. In an actual dictionary. I made the effort. And yes, that's how nerdy I was.

I was speaking to a co-worker and she was recounting a story of her neighbor who is a grown man listening unquestioningly to whatever directives his father issued.
"But that last piece of advice you told me about was so poor. Didn't he say anything to his father?" I asked.
"No, his father is European."

I'll let that statement just hang out there.

Tina Fey speaks glowingly about her father in her hysterically insightful book Bossypants. The chapter That's Don Fey says it all. He was a man who commanded respect. You stood up straighter when he entered a room--I used to say the same thing about my grandfather.

My husband is of the generation that remembers when a parent was allowed to say to a child, "Because I said  so."
I'm not advocating going back to those times because I think open communication is the key ingredient to any successful relationship, as is mutual respect. And self-respect is the first step to respecting others. I'm just saying.

So yes, an online primer to the catchphrases of the moment is an amusing page-filler. But the underlying message is disconcerting. Why do I care to learn the language of a generation that doesn't know how to fold the New York Times in its original form. Yes. The newspaper is actually available in paper format.

Let's demand more from others, not less.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Last First Day of School

I calculate that we have had just about one hundred first day of school moments in my house--that's four children times twenty-five years worth of schooling. Those stomach churning, night-before preparations akin to having one's wisdom teeth pulled. It's the right thing to do but you dread it anyway. It's hard to be circumspect when your baby can drive himself to school in his own car.

"We never had our own cars at seventeen," the others chorused. Yes, the youngest is spoiled, but then again he has to wear the moniker 'my baby' all throughout his adult life.

I was checking my emails when he came into my office the night before the last first day. "I have nothing, no notebooks or anything," he said, somewhat accusingly.

"You said yesterday that all you need is your laptop. I think there's a pen lurking around here somewhere," I said, shifting papers on the desk.

He eyed me like I'd somehow failed the parenting test. He loved being treated like an adult except for the times he loved being treated like a kid. It was up to me to be able to keep the signals straight.

Half an hour later he reappeared. "I did some digging and found some looseleaf paper and last year's binder." He plopped the pieces on my desk, expecting me to assemble them and offering me one last shot at being the mother.
I handed them back to him, "I think you''ve got it covered." 

He took them back reluctantly as he peered over my shoulder. "You're on Facebook?"
 I froze, remembering very clearly a conversation of a year ago when two of his friend's moms dared to join.

"Um, it's a private group, you know only with the other writers I met at the conference, we critique each other..." I stammered.
"I don't care. I haven't been on Facebook in months. This is what I'm wearing tomorrow," he said.

"Looks great," I smiled as he went back upstairs. Everyone needs reassurances, even super-cool, super-bright seveteen year-olds who rarely look in their rear view mirror.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


If your first thought that came to mind when you read "Prego!" was spaghetti sauce I know roughly how old you are. If you were wondering who was pregnant, well then...

My husband and I went to Italy this summer for our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Yes, we succumbed to 'vacation pressure'-- the need to have something sparkling to say at the next dinner party, or a casual opener at an informal business meeting i.e., 'When I was in Italy...'
Also, we really, really wanted to see Italy.

Anyway, my husband likes to fully immerse himself in a foreign country when he travels and by that I mean he selects one word that he offers back to the hotel concierge or taxi driver that makes him feel like a native despite his New York accent.

Prego is a great catchall word that means 'thanks,' 'you're welcome,' 'do you think the Yankees wil make the playoffs this year...' It became something of an obsession with him. In deference to the time zone issue, I would update my kids, nieces, parents, etc. about our time abroad via email. I put Prego! in the subject line.

This prompted the one and only phone call from my seventeen year-old son, who apparently had forgotten he even had parents until that email popped up on his Droid.

"Is my sister pregnant?" was the imperious question from many miles away. Mind you he has two married sisters but one already had a toddler. Of course he was referring to his recently married one.

"What?" my husband asked numbly, handing me the phone. 
"What are you talking about?" I asked stupidly, making no connection whatsoever to my subject line of the email...I was thinking spaghetti sauce.

He took that for a No. "Don't ever tease me like that again. I have to go now." Click. My son loooves being an uncle.

It seems that both my sons thought my few-months-married daughter was pregnant. I was stymied. I remembered we used to use the word 'preggers' when we'd eye our teacher's stomach, fervently wishing for the inevitable substitute we could lord over when maternity leave rolled around.  

From then on I was careful to leave the subject line blank on my emails.

When I got home, the daughter in question came to visit and see our 8,000 pictures. Another thing my husband enjoys about vacation.

"Can you believe your brothers thought you were pregnant? They thought I would leave to Italy and then share special news like this in an email." I looked at her hopefully.

"Actually," she admitted. "I thought you were pregnant."

Did I mention we went to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary?

"But then I realized you'd never say something like in an email."
Not that she didn't think my eggs had finally fried up at fifty, only that I wouldn't share that info in an email.
She had always been the logical one. Up until now.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Turkeys are back

Right on cue, the red gizzard fowl feathered beasts have reappeared. These turkeys are the meaner version of the butter-balled variety found in the depths of supermarket freezers. They are wild turkeys, not to be confused with the bourbon of the same name, and they are aggressive and hideously ugly.
 Frankenstein-monster ugly.
They appear on my lawn and the head honcho turkey, the mob enforcer Tom knocks on my glass-paned sliding door. I am not kidding. He takes his hideous blue-beaked waddle/snood contraption and pokes at my door to get my attention while I have my morning coffee. I don't know what he hopes to accomplish other than to impress the ladies, the four or five that he travels with—his harem/posse.
When I stare him down, he doesn't flinch. He opens his enormous fan of feathers and preens his victory. At what, I have no idea since I'm the one inside with all the food. Apparently, males of any species can be vexingly irritating.
And even as Fall deepens and Thanksgiving preparations begin to dot our days they still appear, unaware of their impending doom. They are emboldened having gathered many more in their flock/gaggle/pride.  Did I mention turkeys are dumb?
If you have the misfortune of trying to get into your car to go to work when there is a group of turkeys on your driveway they will form an impenetrable circle and peck at your car.
I'm serious.
They squeal and squawk menacingly and don't let you back out of the driveway lest you become known as a turkey killer.
Have I mentioned that they're dumb?
 I have a vendetta against these beasts ever since my daughter totaled her new car when she had to stop short on the Palisades Parkway because the car in front of her stopped short to allow the turkeys to cross the road—lest they too become known as turkey killers. When my daughter told her co-workers, most of whom were not suburbanites, but rather city-dwellers they looked at her agape, visions of innocuous smiling turkeys as portrayed inaccurately by the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade turkey and its crepe paper brethren dancing in their heads.
Let me just state for the record that I really, really enjoy Thanksgiving.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Glad to Say Goodbye to Summer

Summer is a lot of pressure. Why else would this season be so important as to be bracketed with an official start and end. Two starts in fact. For those anxious fans there is Memorial Day. We all know it's really a fakeout beause schoolchildren still have school, and even worse, it's a signal for the toughest month of their year to start, i.e. finals, regents, APs and the like. But you are allowed to break out the shorts.

Then there's July 4th.

This date is so revered that even if it doesn't fall out on a Monday it is allowed to exist as a stand alone. I'd say that takes some major street cred generally reserved for only Christmas and New Years Day while other weaker holidays have fallen victim to the three day weekend.

It took me many years to realize that I hate summer. During my school years (much longer ago than I care to remember), liking summer was a Pavlovian response. Now I pray for rain. Not for everyone, but just in my little area, and not too often, but oh, say around every ten days.

Then I have a great excuse for staying indoors. It's a lot of pressure having to be outside all the time.

If it's super humid, as is often the case in New York in the summer I go with the excuse,
"It's too hot to be outside."
"But you'll be in the pool."
"Yes, but I have to drive to the pool. In a boiling car."

And that's why I really dislike summer, there's an awful lot of guilt associated with ranking on something as feted as this season, sorta like hating on Betty White. Which I would never ever do. I love you Betty!

And then each Tuesday the questions begin: "What are you doing for the weekend?"
If you begin summer on Memorial Day weekend that's an awful lot of weekends to plan fun-filled activities for.

Of course there is the inevitable follow-up question: "Are you planning any vacation this summer?"
It isn't enough to have to plan every weekend, it is also necessary to come up with a mega-planned event that outshines the other fun-filled filler moments that are mere precursors of the main event...The Vacation, however, if you are taking your children, then it is referred to as a Trip.

I petition for equal respect for Fall and Spring. Sorry, I have few positive words for Winter living as I do on the East Coast. We all got pummeled last year and are not looking to revisit that.

As I head off to my second to last barbecue of the season, I leave you with a parting note. You are allowed to use the grill after Labor Day.

My First Post

Hi all. As an author of a published novel, with another one in the final editing stages I find that while I enjoy putting thoughts in my characters' heads and living vicariously throught them, I also had my own thoughts to share about my family life.. I look forward to hearing your feedback.