Culture Vulture 2014 – Winter Edition

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The Good Wife

One of my best gal pals has been telling me to watch this show for a long long time now. But I wasn’t interested because her taste in pop culture is….how do I put this…non existent. She watches minimal TV and when she does, it isn’t on Bravo. Sometimes I have to explain the cover of US Weekly to her, just sayin’. So this past week I was on a plane or at an airport for approximately 12 hours of my life…perfect binge watching environment. I gave the show a shot because frankly I’ve seen everything else (except Lost. Can’t go there). She was right. The show is fantastic! Move over Olivia Pope, make room for understated acting and writing. The show had me at Christine Baranski – and I haven’t even gotten to the Alan Cummings season. I hope Huma Abedin, Silda Spitzer and Jenny Sanford all watch this together.

All Is Lost

As you all know, after the holidaze my husband and I hibernate until Easter. There’s the odd get together here or there, but in general, we work and we stay home. Or go to a movie. This year we had a lot of good choices. We’ve seen almost all the ones that have been nominated – but my favorite so far is this little movie. Simple and complex, quiet and devastating. You don’t need any 3D glasses to feel like you are a part of this story. A man stranded alone on a boat after an unfortunate accident. There are a few voice over lines in the beginning – and a couple of words in between. Other than that there is silence and isolation. It’s like Castaway without Wilson or a neat, happy ending.

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From Scratch: Inside the Food Network

When I was little, my mother was obsessed with the cooking shows she found on TV – mostly on PBS. Paul Prudhomme, Julia Child, Martin Yan, these were the faces in our living room. She would never make a perfect roast chicken and I’m pretty sure she still hasn’t tried Chinese food – but she couldn’t get enough of those shows. I remember very clearly how happy she was when The Food Network started. To this day it’s her goto channel. Like a true mother’s daughter, I’m just as obsessed. This book isn’t about the celebrity chef drama – there’s no mention of downfalls or scandals. This is how and why the network got started. If you get off on back-of-house info like I do, this book is for you.

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Babes With Books (BWB)

Last night I hosted the monthly meeting of a book club I joined this past year. I know I’ve told you about it before (This ain’t no Oprah’s Book Club ). Did I mention the name of our club? BWB. Oh roll your eyes all you want, it’s cute.

Each month the host of the meeting also picks the book we all read. For October, it was my turn. I picked, “Where’d You Go, Bernedette?”

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Have you read it? Did you love it like I loved it? Here’s the Amazon blurb:  Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

It’s funny. It’s quirky. It’s heartbreaking. My three favorite things to be. I adored Bernadette. She and I would be fast friends. Who doesn’t love a woman that outsources her daily life? Here’s some of my favorite quotes from the book,

Your mission statement says Galer Street is based on global “connectitude.” You people don’t just think outside the box, you think outside the dictionary!

…And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s ON YOU to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.

…I’d say I never considered myself a great architect. I’m more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares.

I’m seriously adding the last line into my resume, “I don’t consider myself an event planner. I’m more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares”.  You should steal it too.

In the book, Bernadette gets derailed from something she was passionate about, and it almost destroys her. Without being overly dramatic, I can say that I totally relate. I’ve moved further and further away from everything I loved about event planning.

It’s natural, I guess, to become a bit more cynical as you progress in your career. But it’s been a bummer. I spend more time on conference calls debating headcount than I do debating flower or menu choices. Actually I spend zero time on the latter. I blame the corporate environment! I blame the economy! I blame the man! Just kidding. There’s no man to blame. It’s marketing after all. It’s an island full of amazon women who look normal on the outside, but inside – they’re trained mercenaries trying to outdo one another.  Just kidding again. That’s the island Wonder Woman is from.

What I’m trying to say is… I love event planning and I miss my old event planning self. Where’d you go?

So in honor of Bernedette – I pulled out all the stops to last night’s meeting.

Individual appetizers were served in a ridiculous but awesome tray/cup contraption. There were enough chips and dips to make an 80′s housewife proud. There was even a cheese platter with cutesy little ceramic signs and decorative table coverings. Decorative table coverings!! Who’s got time for that? Not me. But I did it anyway. And it made me so happy. (If you are wondering how I had all this stuff – a good friend who knows the buried planner inside me gifted them to me last Christmas)

Here’s a picture of the lovely ladies. This was taken about a minute before we pulled up twerking videos on YouTube and one of these BWBs, not sayin’ who, got up and tried the move. Take that Diana Prince.

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This ain’t no Oprah’s book club

Besides working and mothering and wife’ing – I try to have some fun. Just a little bit. Because I’m a frustrated English major deep inside, I’ve been talking to a few of my ‘hood moms about starting a book club. We talked a lot about starting it. For months we talked. But nothing happened. Then one of these marvy women suggested we join a club already in progress. One started and run by a group of responsible women who actually do what they say they want to do. Cool concept right?

So we dove in. Kind of. Work, kid stuff, and personal marital commitments (such as trying to see my husband for 5 minutes every night) got in the way. But I finally made a few meetings. And it was great.

The women who started this group are, ahem, seasoned. They’ve lived through divorce, remarriage, kids in college, retirement and multiple health issues.  There’s a mix of life stages – women with young kids, older kids, grandkids and no kids.  We rotate houses every month – this is my favorite part about the club, access to new peeks into how people live. If there was a club called just-go-see-how-other-people-live-every-month I’d so join it. I’d be the president of that club.  And by the way, I am not interested in judging. I’m just extremely curious. inquisitive. Nosey.

Admittedly, all the books we’ve picked have been a bit morose – but the conversations have been anything but!  Here’s a short list of what was covered in the last few meetings:

  • A second chance romance and love story by the host of the night that involved the Italian countryside and sangria
  • Did you know you can get a tummy tuck paid for by insurance if you partner it with a hysterectomy? True story.
  • No matter how Kosher you are, take a xanax if you need to. I don’t know what this means but there was a lot of time spent on it.
  • A field trip to a master bath that featured a bidet toilet seat cover combo (heated with a remote control).
  • Baby daddies, the Philadelphia public school system and wars started because of false religious beliefs.

We fit in some books too…

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Here’s a synopsis of what we thought -

  • 10 year olds shouldn’t get married.
  • spoiler alert – the pajamas were actually a concentration camp uniform
  • you don’t need no stinking man when you have a horse.

Can’t wait for the next meeting!

Family Mythology

I’m sure your family has some too.

Legends. Myths. Epic Stories. Exaggerated fables.  Things we talk about year after year and sadly or hysterically, pass on to our kids.

For example, my father came to this country with $8 dollars. Sometimes that figure goes down slightly due to current market fluctuation, but it’s around that number. My sister and I would hear about how he got a job, an apartment, and a car solely with his work ethic and determination. “How did he take a taxi home from the airport?” “Where did he stay?” “How did he find a job?” we’d ask. But that wasn’t part of the story.

A friend of mine told me that his Aunt Judy’s favorite story is about how her parents fell sick with the flu one winter and she and her brother (ages 5 and 7) cooked all their own meals for a week. This seems plausible if by “cooking” they mean making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a bowl of cereal. I could live on that for a week. And I have.

My husband and I have continued this great parenting and child rearing technique. We tell our kids in vivid detail about the night my husband proposed (tears, laughter, and a man purse were involved).  We tell them about how, as a young child in NYC, he tried to jump an open cellar on 87th street and missed (a trip to the ER and multiple stitches were involved).  We tell them how he ended up at Billy Joel’s ranch in Long Island as a teenager and has dozens of pictures of Christie Brinkley to prove it (then they ask who Christie Brinkley is). I tell them about interning at “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” and ironing Brad Pitt’s shirt because his luggage never made the flight in.  I never met him. I handed the shirt to an assistant producer who handed it to a producer who then gave it to his agent to give to him. But it’s like I basically touched Brad Pitt.

What’s great is that now my kids have their own family legends to tell. My daughter was born in the hospital room next to Al Roker’s wife giving birth to his first daughter. This was the pre stomach reduction Al. My mother rode down the elevator with Al and in her beautiful accented English regaled him for minutes with the marvelous coincidence. He was nice and nodded.

Year’s later, while we were vacationing in Montauk – we had another legendary incident. On a particularly cloudy afternoon, we decided to skip the beach and go bowling. Before we hit the ally, we stopped for pizza in a small town outside of the Hampton’s.  I don’t remember if I’ve told the story before – so I won’t go into the details now – but that’s when we ran into and  had our 1.8 minute conversation with Sir Paul McCartney. Epic.

This past week, while on vacation, we added to one of our legends.

My husband went back to work a few days into our week at the lake.  He texted me from the train that sitting in the car in front of him, blocked for privacy, was none other than Al Roker – post stomach reduction. Apparently he has a house just miles from where we were staying (that’s what it said on the internet). I begged him to take a picture or start a conversation with our old friend Al. It could go something like,” hey! Remember me? I fathered the kid that was born next to your kid.” or “Hi, small world! We have our firstborn together and now this!”.  He refused. He did however stalk him off the train and get this shot going up the escalator at Penn Station.

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This picture is going right in the photo album.

Look Book

I like pretty pictures.
If the pictures happen to be about food or home decor – all the better.
This past Christmas a new pal gave me a really great book called Edible Selby. Although I didn’t know it was great until now. I don’t deserve new friends. Don’t tell my old friends.
This past weekend I was reading the New York Times and found an article by the same author about a taco stand in California. This is why I love the Times. You may read it for the late breaking political and social news. I read it for its taco coverage.
Todd Selby is an artist, an author, a humorist and more. I have been reading his book all weekend.
It’s not a cookbook. It’s a book about cooks and cooking and food.

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It’s full of fun and whimsy.

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This is the page when I decided this book is for me.

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How can you not love an instructional book that starts with…plant the cocoa trees and harvest the pods. Ha! Double ha!
I also love the completely honest disclosure in the end.

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Tacos always lead to genius.

Bard Books

I went to go visit the cutest little baby on the Upper West Side of NYC. I would show you a picture but his parents are normal, private people that don’t need to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram every waking moment of their new baby’s life. Instead they are living in the moment and off the social grid. Freaks.
Look at these books I found for the babe. Forget “Goodnight Moon” – cool babies read these…

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I went with the fish tale…

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They also had Romeo and Juliet…but that’s just crazy.

Serenity Now

Serenity Now!

Last summer we spent a day at this lake, sitting, eating, playing all sorts of catch, reading gossip magazines, taking random photos, trying to guess what that building in the distance was, spraying on buckets of sunscreen and bug spray. It was 90 something degrees and humid.  At one point my husband took the kids for a walk around the lake and I didn’t go.  I kept our cooler company and stayed put.  I remember thinking about nothing, staring at the clouds and zoning out.  I’d like to zone out for a living.  I could be the VP of zoning out.  I could project manage the shit out of zoning out. Hi. I’m the head of the zoning out group. How can I do absolutely nothing for you? sigh.

 

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The Lexi Life

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I asked my boy last night what I should write about on my blog

since I’ve promised to not slack off so much.

He said,”you should always write about Lexi.”

Then he spent the next 10 minutes going through all her amazing qualities:

She’s beautiful. She’s clean. She’s purrrrry. She’s his. Blah Blah Blah.

I asked him to go take a picture of his perfect cat.

And he did. And the picture is perfect too.

Now I’m annoyed.

And jealous. I think/know/am sure that he may love her more than me.

Look at her smug face. She knows it too.

And she’s accomplished something I thought could never happen.

I’ve written a cat post.

Send help.

It’s not your last meal.

I say this in my house once or 12 times a week. You don’t like dinner? You’ll be fine. Lunch isn’t up your ally? No worries, stick around for a few hours and another meal will appear. Why? Because we live in the first world, because food is over abundant and available 24/7 to us, and mostly because we’re lucky as shit – if you don’t like your food, get over it.

This past week there was a lot of buzz around a New York Times food review that tore apart a TV Chef owned restaurant in NYC.  The entire article was written in questions. At first, I loved the article. I laughed. I thought it was clever and sarcastic and biting.  And then I reread it a few days ago because it’s been on my mind. I was wrong. I don’t like the article at all. I know it’s a review, I get that. And I’m all for honesty in journalism. But this wasn’t that. This was written by a man-boy who basically had a hissy fit because he didn’t like the food. He scorched the concept, the people, the food, the location – everything. It was an all out teenage tantrum wrapped in sardonic writing, and he seemed very happy with himself.

I’m not sure why this is bothering me and I’ve never been to the place that was reviewed.  I believe it wasn’t/isn’t great. And I’m sure there were truths to what the writer said in the article. But please, calm down dude, it’s not your last meal.

Here’s the article I’m talking about.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/dining/reviews/restaurant-review-guys-american-kitchen-bar-in-times-square.html

Rear View

There are literally thousands of blogs out there. Maybe millions. Topics include politics, religion, love, family, you name it and there’s a blog about it.

Bloggers write for many different reasons. Some write to vent or complain. Others write to educate or entertain. Still others write as a form of connection to the world. When people ask me (all 5 of you) why I write, I never have a clean answer. I dunno. Maybe I feel the need to over communicate. Maybe I’m a frustrated English grad. Or maybe I just needed a hobby, and I’m certainly not jogging.  Those same people then tell me how they could never write a blog, what would they write about? Why would anyone care? They probably won’t. But who cares!

Here’s why I blog.

 

This is what I saw when I stopped at a light yesterday. What do I do with this picture? I blog it.

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