Monday, November 23, 2009

STORM IN A B-CUP

Boobs. Tits. Jugs. Knockers.

Helloooooo there!

When I was younger, I'd go down South to visit my grandparents every Christmas. Aside from the weather, the Apple Jacks, and the all-you-eat early-bird specials, there was the shopping. Aventura, Boca Town Center, Galleria Mall, Pompano Fashion Square. They all had one thing in common, aside from Burdines: Victoria's Secret.

One of the highlights of each trip would be my annual Vicky's Secret excursion with my grandmother. My Bubby would install her plus-sized self in one of the fitting rooms - preferably with a snack - while I grabbed as many 34-B bras that I could find. At first they were simple: nothing too lacy, nothing too showy and absolutely no falsies! I'd bring armloads of bras and start trying. One after the other, until she'd find herself at the bottom of a sea of underwear - and underwire. We'd bring them back to Palm Aire and I'd model them for her underneath my various t-shirts and dresses.

This went on from my teens until well-into my twenties. Sure, I erred on the nippy side, but I didn't care if my headlights were showing. Heroine chic was all the rage. And while I couldn't compete with the waifs, I certainly had the chest for the tops I liked.

And then I tried on a WonderBra.

Well! Helloooo ladies indeed!

Victoria's Secret? Out. Marks and Spencer? In.

And so it went. I lived in London and the Florida trips became more sporadic. I still went and we still shopped, but I'd moved on from Victoria's Secret. A large and in charge Marks & Sparks bra fitter had helped me to see the light - not the headlight. I was loyal to my bras. And they were loyal to me.

And then I got pregnant. And breastfed. Repeat three times. Lovely babies. Lovely boys. Less than lovely boobs despite my fabulous M & S underthings. They helped me through the ups and the downs. And the further downs. Until I noticed there was an awful lot of...room...in them there cups. It was time. To reinvest.

And then a few weeks back I found myself staring into an enormous pair. It was a Victoria's Secret window and it was huge - as was the bust. Or was it? I stepped over the threshold and let myself go. Shopping American Style. Claire guided me to the bra area. Vivian whipped out her tape measure and got to work. Lynne ushered me into the fitting room. With a bra box. And a t-shirt.

This was not my grandmother's VS.

Gone were the rummaging through tables and rifling through drawers to find my size, shape and colour. No more undressing mannequins to find a bra that wasn't fuchsia. This was civilized.

Inside the bra box was each and every bra in the Victoria's Secret arsenal. In black. The idea being you try 'em all on and find the ones you like. And that like you. Then you ring the "service bell" and they get to work finding your choices.

Incredible.

25 minutes later, I emerged, head held high, tits even higher. Leopard-lined and seamless, biofitted and bombshelled, there were some new bras in town!

The icing on the cake? I was the same size as pre-children. A little lower, maybe, but with the new boob technology out there, who cares? Comfy AND sexy were no longer a contradiction in terms. No fuss, no muss, no knives.

Their latest bra is The Plunge - guaranteed to add two bra sizes for "hourglass ooomph". A boob job for $45! If my Bubby could see me now....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

GLUTTON FOR SAN FRAN

My man turned 40 last week. Trying to figure out where to go and what to do for this particular fellow was a bit of a nightmare. He's one of the most social cats I know, so a party could be deadly - in every way. And trying to pick a handful of pals for an intimate soiree would result in no end of ribbing, jabs and possibly even stabs, so that was out. A weekend away with the family was out of the question. Aside from the fact that we'd be going South in December, hanging with the under-6 crowd wasn't really the ideal way to ring in a 40th. Plus we do that every day, so no chance Lance. The whole thing was giving me enough anxiety to give me a mid-life crisis.

So away we went. Gone. Outta here. Sa-yo-na-ra. Adios suckers.

Aaaaahh....if only it were that simple. Planning an escape in mid-November is less than ideal. The hot spots aren't hot, the exotic spots are too far for 3 days, and the close ones had the same weather sitch as being home. Hit or miss. My man claims he'd be happy in a neighbouring basement with a couple of bottles of wine. But we all know that would suck. Everybody says that - they don't care, they could go anywhere, etc. CRAP! Having spent one birthday in Niagara Falls, and another in Los Angeles, can you guess which was infinitely more enjoyable?!? Uh-huh, go west young man.

And so we did. Our surprise destination was San Francisco. My man always talked of it adoringly and I'd never been so it really was a no-brainer (once I got the idea into my head, that is).

The big reveal came the day of his birthday. In verse. I contemplated the at-the-airport suprise but post 911 airports aren't so festive. Plus half the fun of going out of town is bragging....I mean, getting excited about it. Plus, let's face it - it's hard enough to pack for myself, let alone choosing his outfits.

He read my dare-I-say awesome poem (which I wanted to post but he wouldn't let me and it is/was his birthday) and, as I suspected, he hadn't a clue. Genius surprise! California wasn't even on his radar for this birthday, which could be why it was all the sweeter...

That, or the food.

Who knew the City by the Bay was such a gourmet paradise? "Fog City"??? Totally inappropriate. Every day was sunny and glorious. It should be renamed "Food City" because, aside from walking off all the meals on those crazy hilly streets, all we did was eat. And some other stuff which I shall leave to your dirty little imaginations. This is a family site for f&cksake!

Frisco. NorCal. SF. San Fran. In three days we couldn't possibly sample all the city had to offer....Nor did we have a chance to venture away from the city limits, let alone the rest of the Bay Area or 49-Mile Drive. But we did see - and eat - blew our mind.

First off, the Hotel. We stayed at the Campton Place Hotel in Union Square. We thought of a couple others but this was the winner for us terms of location - and price. It's part of the Taj group of hotel. Swanky swanky. Tho this once was kinda Taj-lite, it was still AOK. Especially because of the INCREDIBLE concierge, Kyle. He figured us out in about 7 minutes. Maybe he's somewhat telepathic, or maybe we're easy reads, but either way, he had us down and pointed us in the right direction.

But back to the food....

First stop, Yank Sing. Best Damn Dim Sum. Ever. Apparently there are two locations. We hit the one in the Rincon Center. As we walked through a deserted (and very clean) financial district we hit this odd - and empty - mall. And then we followed the waft of garlic and found ourselves in dumpling heaven. Traditional dim sum like Har Gow and Sui Mai? Stupendous! Szechuan chicken? Crazy. And the chili fried green beans? We wanted to take the sauce home....Oh, wait, we did! Yes, you can even get their "delightfully spiced" (their words) chili sauce to go. the only regret? That we didn't buy some more when we had the chance. And they don't do mail order (I've already checked).

From there it was a short walk to the Ferry Building. On Saturdays there's a farmer's market there. We were too stuffed from our dim-sum-a-thon to go too wild, but there's an old saying that you feast with your eyes. So we did.

After sleeping off the jet lag (and dim sum hangover) we hit Spruce in Pacific Heights. The bar and main dining room were pretty amazing sights to behold. Which is why we were somewhat amused to find ourselves sandwiched between the pensioners' table in the back room. Kinda felt like losers, to be sure, but, as would be proven time and time again in this town, the food made up for it. Fine food, fine wine, and the nicest waitstaff in the west.

Sunday found us skipping breakfast and hitting the hotel's open air gym. Nothing like a sweat to get you ready for brunch! Especially at Absinthe in Hayes Valley. Kyle pointed us in its direction, but we ordered two massive breakfasts and some (literally) bad-ass pork product sides all on our own. Duck Confit Hash? Corn Cakes with wilted chard and poached eggs? Homemade sausage and bacon? Accompanied with beers and cocktails? We were outta control. And so was the food. Again. Best Bacon we'd ever had. And, like so many of Our People, we know bacon. A little too well...This one was smokey and maple-y and ridiculous. And stayed with us for hours, so we could enjoy it throughout the day.

Next stop was Foreign Cinema. No, not a movie, another bloody restaurant! This one was in the Mission. With an enormous outdoor patio and screening of flicks on their outdoor screen, we'd heard this place was not to be missed. But to be honest, we could've. Missed it that is. The setting far-surpassed the meal. It was tasty enough, and the wines were nice, but we probably should've blown it off for a Sunday night movie instead.

Monday took us to Nellie's Crab Shack on Union Street. We stumbled across it by mistake and it was a damn fine find. Especially the Cobb Louis. And the Bloody Mary. Oddly enough, the woman who ran the place had worked at all the restaurants we had been to. In fact, she overheard us arguing about the gluttonous theme of the weekend and insisted we keep the reservation we had for dinner that night.

Yes, we argued. Once. All over Gary Danko. the restaurant, not the man. I managed to snag us a reservation - apparently quite a challenge. And I'd heard that if there was one place you HAD to go to, it was there. And my man felt full. He was finished with eating. He couldn't stomach another restaurant meal. It was our last night in Frisco and he was done with dinners.

Except, in the end, we went to Gary Danko. And, in the end, he didn't like it. He LOVED it. Riding the cable car over there helped, but the meal was over the top. The service was impeccable, the food divine AND they brought us a birthday dessert. They remembered why we were there in the first place - even tho' I seemed to have forgotten! They have a roving cheese plate that they cut 'n serve table side. They have petit-fours that come with the coffees. And they send you home with a prettily-wrapped breakfast cake for the next day. Yum yum and yum.

We did other stuff too! I swear. Union Square was shopper's paradise. A little overwhelming but we managed. Hayes Valley is a great afternoon out. Restaurants and cake shops aside, they have some awesome independent boutiques. Sean, Gimme Shoes, Flight 101 to name a few. Chinatown, North Beach, Russian Hill, Cow's Hollow... All walks, all the time. And yes, we walked UP Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world.

We also hit Alcatraz. The cruise, the walk, the audio tour. Aside from being iconic, cool and a great morning out, it saved us hundreds - in shopping and calories. We needed the break between meals. And we needed to NOT spend it shopping. Being shipped off to The Rock was just what we needed to round of our 4-pounder weekend.

If you're heading to San Francisco, enjoy....And bon appetite!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

THE GOLDEN MOMENT

January 1, 2002. D and I walk out of the Chinese Restaurant downtown. It’s freezing. He looks at me, his eyes smiling…

And thus the anecdotal Golden Moment begins...

I could write the script of my man’s marriage proposal word for word. It’s so etched in my brain now that I sometimes wonder if it happened as I remember it, or if I made up some of the lines. I could make a highlight reel of my wedding day. And night.And the fantastic once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon that followed. I could provide a play-by-play of the births of each of my three sons: the one that was induced, the one that came sailing out, the one that waited until after the needle but before the epidural could kick in to arrive. Not just Golden, these moments were Platinum, true life-changers in every sense of the word.

Don’t get me wrong, 100% pure gold they were not. Throw a few lumps of coal into these experiences to really make them true to life. That whole “best of times, worst of times” speech couldn’t be more true or appropriate if I made it up myself. Which I did not. Maybe that would’ve been my Golden Moment.

And yet, as life-changing as they were, to relive the dawning of my life as a wife and mother seems so clich├ęd…

Breaking up with a live-in lover after 5 years of unhealthy obsessions? That was a Golden Moment. Reaching my goal at Weight Watchers (unrelated to the intense weight loss after said break-up)? Another Goldie. Scuba diving at night – at night!? Blindingly gold. Even reading a eulogy for my beloved Grandmother was a Golden Moment for me, twisted as that might sound.

Then there are the times that are more gold-plated. The ones I look back on and smile, sometimes smugly. My first titled job in film and my name in Variety? 18 karat. Returning to the Kibbutz 6 weeks after bidding my temp-o-life there Shalom forever? Zahav. Watching Bono and The Edge perform in front of 100 people while seated in the third row? Gold-Record Gold.

For me, the Golden Moments aren’t what we see in coffee commercials. At least none of my moments are. Rather, they’re the forks in the road. Whether less travelled or well-trod, they’re the paths taken that lead us in totally different directions. Choose left and you’re an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, with a ton of air-miles and no personal life. Choose right and you’ve got a loving family, a cottage business and ONLY a personal life. For better and for worse. Those forks in the roads are the life-changers. The Golden Moments. THE moments. Full stop. And let’s face it, many of them are far more tarnished than they are Golden.

I guess I needed to rattle off the Golden Oldies’ Greatest Hits because a side of me wonders if those were the good old days. Or maybe throwing down these glorious slices of life onto the page plays into my suspicions that I’m still waiting for the Big One. Or worse: what if the Golden Moment has already come and gone?

And what if I missed it?!

Can you imagine? What if, while waiting for my time to shine, for that stand-out moment that would change my life – and possibly the world - for all eternity, I blinked? Would the moment be gone forever? Would I miss my chance to be something? Or someone? Someone other than who I am?

I guess what it comes down to is that life is full of so many Moments - golden, bronzed, and tarnished to shit. And you never know which are the real life changers until after they happen. At least I don’t. Retrospect is a beautiful thing. Weddings, divorces, births, and deaths. Travels, friendships, books and films. Even the blackest of moments become golden when they’re over. Because they’re over. And we’ve made it through. The beauty of life is the alchemy that helps keep us going. Turning crap into gold and hoping it sticks. Maybe it’s coming to this realization that makes up my Golden Moment. Or maybe it’s all just Fool’s Gold.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

ISA WHA??

There's a new crash diet in town. And I'm all over it. All. Over. It.

Look - I've tried every diet there is. The nutrisystem deliveries? Revolting. Nutritionists? Evolved into whack-job emotional eating therapy sessions. One summer I tried the Montignac/GI Diet/Suzanne Somers thing with a friend of mine. After a month or so we agreed we'd never felt better; never had more energy; never enjoyed so much cheese. She looked tremendous. I couldn't do up my pants. And of course as any who know me know....I'm a Weight Watcher lifer - right down to the app on my iphone.

I know what you're thinking - obviously having been on every diet means that I....erm... needed to be on every diet. Not so. OK, maybe a little, but I was rolling along quite nicely until I got pregnant. Over and over and over again!

With each weekly WW meeting I figured out new and improved ways to beat the system. And then suddenly, the system stopped working for me. Or maybe I stopped following it....Either way, I'd reached that dreaded zone we never-say-diet-it's-a-lifestyler hates: The Plateau.

So when my dear friend told me she was going to do a "cleanse" I poo-poo'd her. Crash diet now, gain it back later. That's what I'd heard, read, studied. Belittling her efforts became a bit of a sport. What was she thinking?

Question is, after she lost 11 lbs in 11 days - what was I thinking? And when could I start?

September 8 was D-Day. After all, Labour Day's the new New Years, right?

Bring on the Isagenix.

My new mantra became shake, shake, meal. Breakfast and lunch are replaced with these shakes, followed by a "healthy" meal. And I must tell you the first day was brutal. BRUTAL. I was warned I might suffer a headache or two, but when I crawled under the covers, fully clothed, ice pack on my head and gel mask on my eyes, I thought I was in rehab. Turns out this cleanse was, in every sense, a detox. I also happened to have had a tetanus shot that morning. I can blame the shot. Or the lack of Diet Dr. Pepper. Either way, I was sure this was it. The end. The end of isagenix, and the end of my life.

But the sun rose again and I carried on. Shake, Shake, Meal. Shake, Shake, Meal. I ditched the gag-inducing Ionix (a Vitamin B liquid/motor oil that failed to get my engine running) and stuck to the shakes. I added a few pineapple chunks and a smattering of mango to the vanilla and I swear, it could've passed for a pina colada. Almost.

And then came cleanse day number one. The moment of truth. I shot back 4 ounces of the Cleanse for Life liquid and waited for the magic to happen. I had to do 4 glasses of the stuff which, while not completely vile, isn't something I'd ever savour. But whatever natural speed/appetite suppressant was in there was working. It was a breeze. So much so that I went for it and did another cleanse day the next day.

Now, if someone had told me I'd drink nothing but 16 ounces of some sort of aloe vera berry juice I'd have shown them the door and ordered Chinese, just to prove them wrong. But I did it. With only mild cheating. A couple of carrots here, a cuke or two there. And then there are the oddly compelling IsaSnacks. Strange little wafers that taste like chalk and yet.....become somewhere comforting when there's nothing else to chew.

And so it went....For 11 days.

I stepped on the scale, whipped out my measuring tape - supplied by the kind folks at Isagenix to prove their point - and....Lo and behold, I'd lost 10 lbs. And 18.5 inches. I don't know how. I don't know why. And to be honest - I don't care. I did get a bit nervous that there may be some sort of heart-attack inducing natural speed in there - but according to my trustworthy chiropractor - it's all good. In fact, he wants to start taking it now too!

It's no secret that the whole isagenix world is based on a pyramid scheme. Tho' I guess it's not a scheme if it works. But there's a shady feeling about the whole thing. And yet... I'm all over it. Hook, line and sinker. I don't miss my diet pops or my processed turkey sticks. I have a new-found appreciation for water, almonds, and tea. I know how evangelical I sound - ironic when you consider one of my many sidelines of work is writing inspirational blogsites - but when something works, it works.

Oh - and for those naysayers who wonder how much more I've gained back? I'm down another 3lbs . Schadenfreude - kiss my shrinking ass! Everybody else, hop on the IsaTrain - it's a sweet, clean ride.....

Monday, September 07, 2009

WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION

Looks like summer is officially over. Tomorrow it's back to school. Back to carpool. Back to chauffeuring. Being a night-before stylist. An enforcer. A chef. And my fave - The Warden.

I had all these grandiose plans for the summer....

Seeing lots of movies. Check.

Exercising. Started off well.
Getting back to Bikram yoga. Got too tense - and had nothing to wear that wouldn't either constrict in the most unflattering of ways, or flip over my head and blind me if I bent over.

Writing a script. Did a rewrite... okay, a polish... of an existing project. But that kinda counts.

Spending lots of quality time with my kids. I extended their day camp. But we did hang out a lot at the cottage. And I took them to an amusement park by myself, went on loads of rides, ate as much junk as possible, went onstage during a clown performance, AND got stung by a bee and didn't cry. Yes, I am supermom.

I also saw how enlightening a summer can be, even when you're 1, 4 and 5-and-a-half years old. While my baby conquered walking and learned point instead of scream, my big boys picked up all kinds of other equally important stuff this summer.

They are now gaga masters (that's dodge ball for those of you out of this particular loop). They love archery. They can swim in the deep end and jump off diving boards. They pretty much know the entire Beatles catalogue by heart, and are counting down the days until Beatles Rockband arrives (-2. We pre-ordered). They've become terrific bikers, soccer players, and catchers. They can wield a tennis racquet with the best of 'em - and sometimes even hit the ball. Over the net. They know street names, directions, and how to do English accents. They appreciate the BBQ. They're not afraid of sunscreen, and they like wearing hats. Their phone manner and overall sportsmanship has improved tremendously.

And they can swear like sailors.

It started off innocently enough. Weiners. Balls. Butts 'n bums.

Jackass. Piss. Crap.

Stupid. Idiot. Stupid idiot.

And then shit happened. "Say shit"... "He said shit"... "You're a shit!"

Inevitably, they dropped the big bomb. The F-word cruised into our house on a barrel of laughs and blushing cheeks. Apparently, FUCK was one they learned here at home. From their father, God bless him. That they happened to pick it up only when off at camp and yet blame their dad amazes and amuses me. But it's here to stay (not that it ever left!) And joining the F-word is the B-word (Buck) and the C-word. Everyone gets a little shifty and nervous when they mention the C-word. But - get this - they think it's Cuck! And so it goes with every letter of the alphabet.

Except L.

The L word is Love. As noted by a 5.5 year old.

So while they stub their toes and scream fuuuuuuck like banshees, and call each other dicks, jackasses, and shits - but only "for pretend until school starts" - I take heart that the L word will stick around, even in grade 1.

Fucks, shits and pisses be damned.

Happy back-to-school... for those who go, those who drive, and those who remember!

Friday, July 10, 2009

MOAM BOOK CLUB

It's that time of year again....the "have-you-read-any-good-books" season.

And, yes, as a matter of fact, I have! Not as many as I'd like - magazines and falling asleep mid-page can do that to a girl. As can watching a bunch of losers being batted into a pool by a mechanical arm. Or seeing how long a slew of idiots can stand being hung from the ceiling in their underwear..... But hey, that's summer TV. Which is why I'm talkin' bout books. Even if you're not a huge reader, in summertime it's hard to resist the lure of the page? After all, how many times can you go see The Hangover?

OK don't answer that. But when you've had your fill of Mr Chow and the boys, and you've admitted that Bruno was boring and that you actually liked The Proposal, then it's library time. Besides, 500 Days of Summer isn't out yet.....

Here's a small list to get you through the rest of the season.....Or at least a couple of weeks...

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill - I actually read this one last summer. Maybe I blogged about it back then too. Whatev. It's worth a double take because it's awesome and devastating and impossible to put down - or forget. It's historical fiction at its most brutal - and most stunning. One of those books you read in two days. And you cry. And you discuss with everyone else who's read it. And rave about it to those who haven't. And then they buy it. And read it in two days. And cry. And discuss...And so on. Required reading.

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway is another one. Historical fiction? Check. Well written? Check. Read in a weekend? Check. Brutal? Devastating? Brilliant? Check, check and check. Part character study, part thriller, part morality lesson, it's a love letter to a city torn apart during our lifetime... as we watched it on the news.

If you like deep and brooding, then The Outcast by Sadie Jones is for you. Set in 1950's England, join our anti-hero on his hellish journey to prison and back. Innocence lost. Troubled times. Terrible crimes. Or maybe not. Like our main man, you'll find yourself heartbroken as you look for love beneath the darkness. There's something familiar about this book, whether in the telling, or the tale, but in a good way. Think Ian McEwan....

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell isn't the most brilliant book of all time, but it's extremely readable. A young woman learns she is the only surviving relative of an aunt she never knew existed - a woman who didn't play by the rules, who was ahead of her time. While it's tempting to simply file this away under "women's fiction", it's much more than that...
And it's by the woman who wrote After You'd Gone, so how bad can it be? (If you haven't read that one, grab some kleenex and start)

Is this more like a winter reading list? Is it getting too heavy for you? Had enough of the depressing stuff?

Sunnier times can be found in I Love You Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle. The author was one of the writers on The Simpsons and Beavis and Butthead. Need I say more? The book opens with the class Valedictorian giving his graduation speech... and announcing his love for the most popular girl in school. School's out, so wat's he got to lose, right?? With snappy dialogue and genius coming-of-age moments, it's no big surprise that this one's coming soon to a theater near you. The book's hi-larious. The movie? Who knows...

The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell is more of a conversation piece than a thumping good read. Those who like Mr. Gladwell, like him a lot. And no wonder. He dissects pop culture and makes you feel like a smartypants as he articulates things you never knew that you knew (does that make sense?) This is great for idle party chatter. Or dates.

10 Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer had all the gals talking last year. Except me who had to wait for the paperback version. Again, "women's fiction" to be sure, but resonated with, erm, some people as it's about a group of moms who ditch their promising careers to stay home with their kids. Of course, one day they "wake up" to find their kids at school and themselves... erm... lost in their own mundane lives. If that sounds at all familiar, then give it a whirl, if only for the "hey! I-know-her/she's-me" moments.

Last, but by no means least, make sure Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki is in your cottage bag. This one's an intricate, inter-generational story about an Indian family. A family whose very foundations are laid on lies and deceit. These folks aren't grifters exactly, more like "spicers", whose stretching of the truth will catch up with them, eventually. This one's a fun, clever, soap-opera of a novel. Perfect for summer. Or any time.

Enjoy......

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

LA WOMAN

I've wanted to go to Hollywood since, well, forever. As a little kid I'd sing songs from Annie, hoping to be discovered... in the privacy of my bedroom. If anyone came even close to my door I'd immediately clam up. Broadway, Hollywood - it was all the same in my 9-year old mind. When I finally got to Hollywood it was the Florida version. And even a 9-year old knew it was pas la meme chose.

And then, I wet my feet in Show Biz, where all roads lead to Hollywood. Except the one I was taking. It went directly to Toronto instead. Yeah, yeah, Hollywood North (or is that Vancouver?). Whatever. I wanted the real deal. And finally, this past weekend, I got just that. My Man took me away from all this and we headed West. To Los Angeles. Hollywood, California. Sun, Sand, Sea...

Stars!!!

Yes, kids, I went on my very own private Celebrity Safari!!!

Everyone who's anyone knows that when you're on safari it's all about the acommodations, the food and of course, the animals. Wildebeest and giraffes are cool as hell, but it's the Big Five that count. Lion. Leopard. Rhino. Elephant. Buffalo. And when you go to LA it's no different. It's about where you stayed, where you ate, and who you saw. With a side of where you shopped.

Off we went, eyes peeled, looking for stars and pretending not to. Which is, of course, the Canadian way. Except in the end we may have been a little too nonchalant. We came, we ate, we shopped. But the celeb sightings? Few and far between.

Our safari began almost immediately, with a sighting of Tanya Kim. I know, I know.... Who? OK, she's not technically a star, but she is one of the hosts of an entertainment show and, as such, counts as a celeb. A local one, sure, but she was in business class. In full makeup. At 11AM. On the safari equivalency test, we'll say vulture.

We landed at LAX, rented our love machine, and hit the road. First stop, Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica. A vision of loveliness by the Pacific, it would've been even more idyllic had we not arrived at the same time as June Gloom. Never heard of it? Neither had we when we booked our trip. And, apparently, neither had The Weather Network. But it's the annual cold front that reaches LA at the beginning of June. Accompanied by grey clouds. Lots of 'em. And blustery winds. Especially by the beach. Still, it was perfect walking around weather. Except we were in LA, where everyone drives everywhere, and we'd rented a car. A convertible.

But we wrapped ourselves up in our new scarves and jackets - that's right - and hit the town. We were on a mission: to relax, eat well, see friends and shop (in no particular order). And of course we presumed we'd see stars on every corner. Because that's what people do in LA right? Right?!

My Man decided it'd be fun to play a little game where he tells me about the various actors he's spotted while my head was turned. Kind of like those annoying Euros on African Safaris who claim to have been chased down by rhinos, faced off with leopards etc. Only the Hollywood stars were far more elusive than the Big Five. And my husband was way funnier. Except he actually did see Silver (real name unknown, and unimportant) from 90210 while I tried on outfits. And he did work out with Dennis Leary in the hotel gym while I was sampling free chocolates at See's Candies. Harumph. I saw Atom Agoyan at LAX. From behind. But my guy didn't think that counted. And it probably didn't. Too locally accessible. Raccoon.

Strange thing is, all the locals know that all the visitors are looking for the stars. They know where they hang out, what they do, and no one's shy about telling you where to go to find them. The watering holes they like, the best season to find them. They're starf&cking and we're star-hunting. And everybody knows it. It's weird.

So it became all about where we ate and who we saw. Ivy by the Shore - pas de. Apparently all about the one on Robertson. We shopped and idled a bit but no sightings. But food at the Shore was awesome. And massive. Seriously. Too big even for us. And for those in the know, that's saying something!

Next day was a local spot to start- Cora's. Perfect for breakfast. Not so much for movie stars. Followed by Robertson shopping a cruise down Sunset and lunch at Mel's Diner. Because it's funny. And it was en route. Mel's Diner! Hilarious (tho' the real one is in San Fran....But you make do with what you've got, right?) Out with friends for the food and the vibe at STK. Both very good.

But where were all the movie stars?

We headed to Joan's on 3rd. A guaranteed celeb hangout. Just not while we were there. But incredible food, and hung out with an old friend who happens to be married to an actor who we actually recognize - by face. We imdb'd him on the spot and shared an "I love that guy" moment. So that was kinda neat! Especially since our pal invited us over to meet him in person if our celeb safari turned out to be less than fruitful. We never had to take her up on it - tho we would've loved to, had there been more time....Stopped in at that great Los Angeles equalizer, In 'n Out Burger and went animal style. Bun for him, lettuce for me. Incredible. All they say it is - and less. No frills, no fuss, lots of muss (mess) and deeeeeelish.

It was Saturday night. That's the equivalent of mid-day on safari. You see nothing. Still, Katsuya held some promise for us. Food was incredible, and the place was crawling with paparazzi - and loads of loser civilians with cam-corders at the ready. According to the bartender, some Lakers were coming. Whatever. Sports stars don't count. For me. My Man was on the edge of his seat. But no luck. No shows. We were then befriended by a wacky makeup artist who, I was convinced, was looking to grift us in some way. Told us she was working the red carpet the MTV Movie awards the next night and could get us in to all the parties. Even offered to do my makeup. Thought she was just some freak (until we got home, checked out her website and learned she was totally legit. Ooops. Too late.) As we waited for our car, the gawkers whipped themselves into a frenzy....Over Zach Braff (not that any of them knew who they were looking at. The just knew he was "Someone") . And yeah, he was. He is. But I don't watch Scrubs. On the safari scale? Impala.

Where were the Lions? The Elephants?

There's nothing remotely elephantine in LA, despite it being the land of good food. And also, presumably, the land of pukers, druggies, exercise fanatics. Or probably some sort of combo platter. Chateau Marmont showed us the most magnificent creatures we'd ever seen. Ever. One stunner after the next. Had no idea who they were, but it didn't matter. They just were. Magnificent to behold, fun to watch in their natural habitat, and interesting to witness life behind The Bubble first hand. Breathtaking. Migration of the Wildebeest.

Sunday was the day of rest for us. No safari. Biking in Venice instead. Carney boardwalk. Drum circle that managed to walk that fine line between between cheesy and cool. Freakshows left, right and center. And the laid back hipster vibe of Abbott Kinney. Which I LOVED. Ate quite well at 3 Square Cafe and spotted what looked like Hank's wife, Karen, from Californication. Which is kinda funny 'cuz we were in Venice, it's set in Venice...And it ended up being her! Natascha McElhone. At last! Someone we knew (not personally) from something we'd seen (and pvr'd!). How exciting! How thrilling! We even ooh-ed and aah-ed over a puppy together, cooe'd over her baby together, and acted like we were really cool and didn't know she was a star of stage and screen (even tho we did) together. We had a moment. A brush with stardom. More a giraffe than a leopard, but still...

Ended our Celeb Safari in Malibu. At the impossibly romantic (yet borderline geriatric) Geoffrey's. Which they pronounce "Joffrey's". Strange. But tasty. And host to two wedding receptions and many dates. Fun fun fun!

On the very last day I drove. By myself. In our car. It was a bit warmer, the sun poked its head out and I realized I'd fallen in like-a-lot. Despite the dearth of sun and stars, my Man and I had the best time. Amazing what 4 nights in a hotel sans kids can do. And who knew LA was such a perfect destination for a long weekend getaway? Definitely beats Buffalo.

As the good guv says, we'll be back.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

TWOFER

At long last, they got it right. They really truly got it right. On Idol that is...

SURPRISE!!!

What? You didn't think I'd let the entire season slip by sans commentary, didya?

Those calls and emails keep coming in - let's discuss idol. And I do. A lot. But I've had some issues.

First off, I've been reading some seriously funny commentary. If you haven't already, you mst check out dlisted.com and ew.com. Their idol chatter is awesome. Hi-larious. Because it's all true. Yes, Homer, the old adage "it's funny 'cuz it's true" kicks in every time. So all the pet peeves (and pet names) are already out there. I can't even claim to be scooped. It is what it is: Matt G's mole... Adam as kd lang... Lil's wigs... Anoop's sweaty upper lip....And of course all the freaky families.... I mean, gosh - who hasn't noticed and discussed all that, and more?

Aside from those hold outs who still refuse to tune in. You know who you are.

Anyhoo, another issue was Blind Scott. There. I said it. The whole affirmative action element of his being there stressed me out. 'Cuz he sucked. He was Bruce Hornsby week after week after week. And for those BH fans out there, if there are any, let me add: not in a good way. Sure he was funny but hello? This.....is American Idol. Personality takes a back seat. And sometimes doesn't even get to come for the ride. I felt I couldn't discuss openly and honestly until poor old Scotty was given the boot. He was holding me back. Until he finally got the boot....

And still I held back.

Maybe because of Adam. The guy is so above and beyond the rest of the kids. Fat tongue aside, he kills it every time. Not only are the others not in his league - they're not even playing the same game. The boy's a pro. The rest, wanna-be's. He's Annie Lennox in drag... but not... mixed with kd lang and Elvis, add a sprinkle of Scissor Sisters. A pinch of Mr Bowie. And run the gamut of references that don't make any sense and let you know I'm zonked. But you get my drift. I think.

As for Frat Boy Anoop Dog and Wiggy Lil - as in "Lily" (why is that so hard to get? Silly Yanks.)... now that they're out of the picture - at last - we can focus on the rest. And for the first time evah, none of 'em really really bug me!

Which also makes it hard to care too much. Because at this point it's all good.

Tho' not perfect.

I still think Alexis Grace's early boot was a crime. Remember her? The little blonde sexy sprite? She should've stuck around - more so than the rubbernecker and flitty chick. And I must admit - I'm bored of Hokey Gokey. One friend called him "the high school friend who you can't get rid of" and I fear she might be right. His Robert Downey Jr looks and widower status had me at hello. But now? I'm ready to say goodbye.

Unlike Not Hot Kris. Over the past few weeks I find myself looking forward to his performances. And not just to watch those thin lips of his dance across his face - because they do y'know - but because he's really, really good!

Like Alison Iraheta. At first I found her to be....how shall I say this....somewhat unappealing. That's putting it mildly. She's got a real face for radio, that one. Repeated fashion crimes, that terrible lid. Don't get me started. I know she's only 16 but what's wrong with using a stylist like everybody else??? Yet that voice... Heart-esque tho it may be, it is wicked. She's completely won me over. Which is why I can't for the life of me understand how week after week she ends up in the trash heap. At least she climbs out.

Like my man Matt G. I don't know why, but he's been my main guy from the start. Yes, even from the audition shows. I think it's because he's a duelling pianist in real life. Love that! And the whole Vince Vaughan Timberlake thing? Can't beat it. Sure he's somewhat misguided when it comes to genre and song choice. And yeah, he can be a bit of a sour puss - personally I think he should get over it and let the tears flow. America loves a cryer! The judges are very hot and cold with him. But I think its's their strategy. 'Cuz everytime they bash him, he gets votes. And when they sing his praises, he's a goner. Almost. The judge's save would've saved whoever was out last week (timing and all - they had to use it, right? And too obvious to do it on the final day, right? ). Still, I'm glad the ass they saved was his. I'm a sucker for a pianist. All those lessons....

That said, I do think my boy Matt will be the next to bite the dust. Followed by Rouge Iraheta. And Flappy Hands Gokey. Leaving us Kris and Adam duking it out in the final. Which wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Unlike Archie Archuleta's performance ce soir. Same earnest spit smile. Same insipid song choice. Could've been worse. Could've had no pvr....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

A few weeks ago, my eldest son looked up at me and told me I was ugly.

Suddenly I flashed back 30 years, when I met my father's then-girlfriend for the first time. I came home and told my mom all about her, stressing that while the girlfriend was much prettier, my mom was much nicer. As if that were a god thing! How could I have been so dense? And so blind? As it was, this chick wasn't nearly as attractive as my mom. And I'm not just saying that in hindsight. (Or because she's my mom. And there's a family resemblance.) No, I'm saying it now because it's true. The girlfriend's long gone now, but memories of her tiny mouse-like face and curling-ironed hair still remain...

As does the fact that my 5-and-a-half year old thinks I'm ugly. UGLY!!!!!! I may not be a supermodel but I've been known to turn a head or two. And with 3 babes and 40 years under my belt I may not be at my peak but I can say with certainty that I am not, I repeat, NOT ugly.

Or at least I wasn't.....

Maybe this is some kind of intergenerational, cosmic payback. According to my eldest, I'm a hag. What the f&ck?!?!?!?! Aren't your children supposed to see you as the epitome of all that is good and beautiful in the whole wide world? When my second son socked him for insulting me (yeah, he does that), my bigger boy explained through his tears that I looked ugly because my skin looked a little bit green. Green!

Now I know I'm coming out of a pasty-faced winter, but I tend to be more peaches and cream...OK, white... rather than green. Hence the sunburns. If I were green...olive... I'd bronze like a goddess. Or my husband. But no, according to my five and a half year old, I was green. Ish. That said, he did watch the Wizard of Oz recently....

Coincidence?

Perhaps. Or not. Maybe I am green. Maybe I do look the wicked witch of the west. Or maybe I'm just, gulp, getting old?

There's been a lot of talk about aging lately. "Lately" meaning I'm the one talking about it with my people. Is that what happens when you enter your 40's? Suddenly, I find myself checking out the surgercized chicks with more wonder than cynicism. I've been contemplating growing out my bangs but think that maybe now's the time to keep 'em. That or botox. I've become invisible at the cheap 'n trendy shops, yet a star in the pricey ones. All these older women keep checking me out. Or are they older at all?!? I notice that I don't often spot people my own age in the streets and on the town....because maybe, just maybe, all those oldsters ARE my own age?
YIKES!

But it's what's on the inside that counts, right?

Right?!

Luckily for me, my second son thinks I am all that. He likes my toes - painted or plain. Doesn't mind me in glasses, and likes pony tails. And when I wear red. Which I never ever do, but that's what he says. I'm thinking it's 'cuz Elmo is red, but I'll take it. Anyhoo, he tells me I'm beautiful. Daily. And that he's going to marry me when he grows up. OK, so maybe he's the kinky one, but still. They all seem to know what they like. Or like what they know. Whatever. My biggest boy cried when I got my hair cut ("you don't look like my mommy anymore!") My middle one likes jewellery. The more the better. Even my 9-month baby seems to have a fetish for high heels. Literally. He sits in my cupboard and sucks on them. So the particulars and preferences obviously start young. And they tell it like it is.

Which can be a god thing too...Because I got all spiffed to go out the other night and both of my big boys looked at me like I was a movie star. They actually gasped. Told me I looked nice. Reeeeeally nice. A princess-y dress would be better, but in bad-guy, Darth Vader black, I was beautiful. It made my night. Even coming from the under-6 crowd, hearing you look good never gets old.

Unlike the rest of me....

Monday, March 09, 2009

SSSSHHHHHH!!!!

To call or not to call... that is the question.

Yes kids, I feel the need to revisit that little thing called "mobile phone etiquette". It seems that many of us our lacking it. Big time.

I'm not anti-mobile. Not by a long-shot. I love my iphone. Can't/won't leave home without it. I quite liked my old flip-top too. Hello Moto? Hello! I've never been a crackberry head - but only because I went Mac instead. So, no, I'm not some throwback who thinks we'd all be better off landed. Au contraire. I'm all over cellular telephones of all shapes and sizes....

Except, of course, when used inappropriately. Then, I have to temper the rage I feel bubbling up inside me. The anger that wants to march over to the offending phoner, smash their cel, and walk away. Without uttering a word. Smash. Leave. Silence.

Time and place, friends....Time and place.

I was at the gym today and I had The Rage. I was sweating to the oldies, ipod blaring, in The Zone. Suddenly I found myself inadvertantly listening to a conversation. A phone conversation. The woman next to me had received a call, and proceeded to talk for 18 minutes. I know because I timed her on my elliptical machine. I concentrated on pushing with my arms, she talked. I increased speed, she talked. I changed directions, she talked. Finally, I began the cool down...Yep, still talking. 18 minutes of discussing whether or not her friend should move in with her new man.

On the one hand, it could've been kind of entertaining. On the other....the ol' Time 'n Place thing. At the gym? Shoulder to shoulder with other people? Hello? Inappropriate!!! You see, I could hear her through my headphones, over the sound of the loudspeakers and the hum of the machines. You know when it's summertime and you're trying to sleep and a mosquito buzzes right in your ear??? It was all I could do to slap her away....I moved on to the free weights, but she kept on going. From the elliptical, to the inner-thigh machine, to the mats. Is it me? Or is that weird? (It's also quite impressive. She must be in spectacular shape if she can carry on a conversation while workin' workin' workin' it...)

Later this afternoon, I went to pick up my 3-year-old from nursery school. There were parent volunteers manning the parking lots because there have been issues with cars, preschoolers, and blind spots. I was standing with my son, talking to one of these faux-wardens, when another parent turned her SUV into the driveway, and headed straight for us. I promise you without any spice that she stopped about a foot from my friend's chest. I banged on her window but she was too busy chatting. Exasperated at the lack of parking spots, she finally rolled down her window to start bitching. When the parent volunteer pointed out she'd almost hit her and the young child next to her (mine!) the woman shrugged and said she hadn't noticed BECAUSE SHE WAS ON THE PHONE.

Well. I. Never.

Is it me? Or are these people, erm, challenged? Who drives through a preschool parking lot without noticing that there might be, oh I dunno, PRESCHOOLERS in it! I'm all for using your phone in the car...If you can handle it. Is talking in the car phone like having good taste? Y'know, everyone thinks they have great taste, but most people don't. It seems everyone thinks they can talk and drive at the same time...But can they?

Time. And. Place.

There's a time and place for talking. I know because I'm a chatter. If you need to talk, do what you must. But ask yourself - does everybody else need to hear? NO. If you're late for picking up a carpool, do you have the right to stunt drive? NO. For those too dim to figure it out, here are some examples of places wherein you may want to turn your ringer off - or get outta dodge:
restaurants, spas, theatres, performances of any kind....The list is endless.

So next time you're in your doctor's waiting room, or having a pedicure, or in any other close-quarter situations, think about sending a text before you answer that call. Not only is it rude to subject the rest of us to your convo, but, in a town such as ours, it may be hazardous to your social life. The person next to you pretending to read the Us Magazine is, in fact, listening in. Because he or she has no choice.

Time. And. Place.

So please....a little self-retraint, a little etiquette, and a little quieter up front....for all our sakes....

Saturday, January 31, 2009

BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO

I've been getting over a breakup. A professional break-up, that is. With our vet.

We have many animals living at our house. Children and husband aside, there's the dog, the cat and a revolving door of fish. We - or should I say, they - have had the same vet for as many years as they've had this owner. But after repeatedly bumping into an old friend and animal doctor, I realized it was time to take the plunge and switch over. Sure "our" vet was kind, capable and convenient. But our soon-to-be-new vet was all those things too. And a personal friend.

And then one night our dog lost a fight with a jagged wooden spike that embedded itself in his paw. It was late at night and we were at a loss. Our friendly vet was closed. But our friend-the-vet was always open. At least he said he would be if we needed him. We needed him...

And he was there! He talked us down, helped us out, and metaphorically held our hands. I knew the time had come to take the plunge and switch vets. He told me all I had to do was make a couple of calls: one to his office to register my pets, and one to the old vet to ditch him.

Huh? I had to actually call the old vet?! Couldn't we just not rsvp to calls for flea meds and rabies shots?

Apparently not. Like all medical specialists, the new vet needed records.

Professional break-ups are tricky. I'm not talking hiring and firing, tho' those can be pretty brutal too. I'm talking about the professionals you - or your health plan - pays. Doctors, lawyers, contractors. Agents, teachers, dressmakers. When you tell a lover "it's not you, it's me" it could be true... sure.... uh-huh. But with a pro, it's a bold-faced lie. Of course it's them - otherwise, why would you ditch?

Unless you've reached some sort of "goal", it's usually the pro's failings that make you wonder if you could do better. Like your waxer. Right, ladies? If you're moving on, unless you've gone laser, it's because they're too pricey. Or too rough. Or too booked. Or there's someone way better/cheaper/gentler on the horizon.

Question is: do they care about being dumped?

I had the same GP for years. I thought she'd see me through to old age. Until I got pregnant. Suddenly, she bugged me. Her old-school advice wasn't what I wanted. I knew it was time to move on to a younger, newer, model. And I did. No muss, no fuss, no phone call. I'd absconded, and it was over...until I bumped into her a couple of years later. It was out of context and I hoped against hope she wouldn't recognize me. But of course she did and she couldn't have been nicer. I felt awful.

I ditched my contractor too. Thought he was ripping me off and being an overall cheeseball. He'd worked for everyone in my family for years. I was outraged that he'd try to cheat me. I vowed never to work with him again. Until my roof started leaking and my kitchen ceiling looked ready to cave. Then I came grovelling. He sent one of his minions to fix the problem. For a hefty fee. Sure, I paid the price. Maybe it was payback. But it was well worth it.... We were back together.

I've changed schools, swapped swim instructors, moved camps... always for the sake of my children. Well, almost always. But scapegoating them was OK. No one was offended, and everyone was happier.

But the vet? What'd he ever do to me? Or my pets? Aside from care for them?

Well, he charged a lot, for one. Convinced me to go gourmet - pet food - for another. OK. So he never did anything "to" me? But what did he do "for" me? A whole lotta nothin' that's what! I was right to dump him. Out with the old, in with the new! I called and announced that our pets would be moving on. There was a pause. Would they beg me to reconsider? Convince me they were the best vets in town? The silence was deafening.....Were they even there?!

Once the receptionist came back on the line, she sweetly asked for the name of the new clinic. And with a "have a good day", our relationship was over. Quick 'n painless. I was devastated. Because it wasn't them. It was me!

I just hope they don't recognize our dog on the street.