Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How to pick the next President of the United States

It's time to change the way we vet and elect our President.

Forget debates and town halls. Forget appearances on late-night talk shows. And forget the electoral college. (Seriously, does anyone understand how the electoral college even works?)

If we want to truly get Americans involved in the electoral process and pick someone who will best represent we the people, we need to change the process. We need to have presidential candidates run for office in a way that Americans will understand and watch.

What we need is... a presidential reality TV show.

We can call the year-long reality TV show, The Amazing Presidential Race, with the election taking place during November sweeps. What could be more perfect for our talent-show-, Kardashian-, and Houswives-loving times?

But The Amazing Presidential Race would be more than just a political obstacle course. It should also include a test of knowledge, a la popular quiz shows, such as Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and Jeopardy!

So all candidates running for President would have to go on special week-long (or longer) presidential editions of both Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and Jeopardy! with Jeff Foxworthy and Alex Trebek, respectively, asking the candidates questions about U.S. History, European History, the Middle East, Economics, the Constitution, Math, and other topics that a fifth grader, or, really, a high school graduate, or someone applying for citizenship, or certainly someone running for President of the United States, should know, as well as more difficult questions. Wouldn't that be way more entertaining than what we have now?

Lastly, I propose a talent portion, a la American Idol, where each presidential candidate has to go before a panel of judges (think three Simon Cowells) and present his or her vision for America, which the judges will then critique and then we, the people, get to vote for, via Facebook, Twitter, some special app, phone, or text message. I guarantee candidates will get way more votes than they would have under the current system. And we would get a much better sense of what our candidates are made of.

So, who's with me?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It's a Throwback Thursday '80s New Wave Dance Party!

For some reason, I've been hearing a lot of 1980s New Wave music recently -- at restaurants and in shops. And it gets me all nostalgic, it does. (I remember when MTV FINALLY came to Manhattan in 1982 or 1983. My dad had just bought a big projection TV, and I would camp out in his living room, with a bunch of my friends from school, watching videos FOR HOURS. Video not only killed the radio star but my desire to do homework.)

So, it being Throwback Thursday, I thought I'd share a few more of my favorite '80s New Wave songs and videos, like...

"Situation" from Yaz (or Yazoo)...

(Alison Moyet, Adele before there was Adele. Am I right?)

And the Thompson Twins' "Doctor! Doctor!"

I've also been hearing The Cars' "Magic" played a lot.

And I don't know if you heard but Duran Duran has a new album out -- and the group was seemingly everywhere this summer, performing classics, like "Rio," as well as some new tunes.

And how could I (almost) forget Robert Palmer?! Though I have no idea what his "Looking for clues" video is about.

I could go on (and on) -- The Go-Gos! The Bangles! Roxy Music! Howard Jones! The Pet Shop Boys! -- but I will save those artists for another post.

Good dancing to you all!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

And the finalists for 2015's sexiest Halloween costume are...

Yes, folks, it's time to put the Ho back in Halloween. And this year's crop of sexy Halloween costumes  promises to be a real treat for us sexy Halloween costume aficionados.

So, without further ado, here are my top sex -- I mean SIX -- picks for 2015's sexiest (as in, most ridiculous) Halloween costume.

First up, the corniest Halloween costume I've ever seen.

Next up, the Naughty Nemo Costume. (Just saying "Naughty Nemo Costume" makes me happy.)

There's definitely something fishy about this little outfit (like the fact that Nemo was a boy fish). Hey, you Halloween costume designers, quit clowning around!

And speaking of orange.... This sexy Womens Prison Jumpsuit Costume is practically criminal. (Orange is the new bawd?)

Dig the crazy handcuff (chastity?) belt!

I may go to Hell for posting this next costume, known as the Heavenly Hottie Nun Costume, one of MANY sexy nun costumes I found online. (Saints preserve us.)

Moving into the political realm, my next nominee for sexiest (or most preposterous) Halloween costume for 2015 is the Donna T. Rumpshaker (aka Sexy Donald Trump) Costume.

Costumes like these are making Halloween great again, my friends. (Or not.)

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a Sexy Hillary Clinton Halloween Costume. (Though I did find a lot of scary looking Hillary Halloween masks.) Sorry Bill.

But never fear, there is always the Sexy Nerd School Girl Costume....

Unfortunately, I cannot show my pick for men's sexiest (if by sexy you mean ROTFL) Halloween costume, the Heavy Hose Fireman Costume, which comes in Small, Medium (currently sold out), Large, and Extra Large. But you can always click on the link if you're burning to know what it looks like.

Happy Halloween, y'all.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


OMG. Miracles do happen.

I have been a Mets fan for as long as I can remember. I think it was around the time of the 1973 World Series, which the Mets lost to the Oakland Athletics. I remember watching that series with my dad, in his apartment, and rooting for the Mets.

After that, I would regularly watch Mets games when I hung out with my dad (my parents were divorced), and we would have putting contests during the commercials. (My father was an avid golfer, as well as an avid Mets fan.)

One of my fondest memories from my youth was my dad taking me to Shea, sitting behind the Mets dugout, and dad getting me an authentic Mets cap and ball (lost during some move, sadly) during the game. From then on, I was hooked.

All through middle school and high school, I would watch Mets games on television on listen on the radio, going to games at Shea when I could. However, when the Mets made their historic pennant run in 1986, winning over 100 games, I was attending college in London, pretty much oblivious to what was happening at home with the Mets. So you can imagine my shock, upon returning to college that fall, to be sitting in my dorm's common room, watching the Mets play in the World Series... surrounded by Red Sox fans. (As I recall, no one came to blows.)

When the Mets made their next pennant run, in 2000, I was a new mom and in the process of moving from Chicago back to the New York Metro Area and had not really followed the Mets' exploits, or baseball, in years (devoting myself to basketball and the Chicago Bulls and Northwestern football). Indeed, to this day, I still think of Mike Piazza as a Dodger, not a Met.

Eventually, though, I returned to my first love, baseball and the Mets, and began regularly watching games some time in 2006.

As a Mets fan, I am used to disappointment. Indeed, as my husband regularly tells (teases) me, my motto is "Hope for the best, expect the worst." Though I believe that applies to pretty much every Mets fan.

Indeed, as I wrote in a previous blog post, the difference between Mets fans and Yankees fans is that Yankees fans (and St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants fans) expect their team to win and are pissed off when their team loses. Mets fans expect their team to lose and are giddy when their team wins.

So you can imagine the giddiness I and Mets fans everywhere started to feel in August when the Mets, who, just a few weeks before looked like they were headed to another .500 (or worse) season, went on a winning streak -- and just over a month later won the National League East.

Now, as anyone who knows me can tell you, I am not a religious person, though I believe in God. And it was with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek when, back on April 5th, I wrote this "Mets fan's prayer" on the eve of opening day:

Our Mets team, that art in Citi Field,
Hallowed be thy game.
Thy fans will come,
If you score some runs,
At home as on the road.
Give us this season at least 87 wins.
And forgive us our pessimism,
As we forgive those pitchers who put up Ws for us.
And lead us not into last place in the NL East,
but deliver us unto the playoffs.

Apparently, the Lord heard me -- and one-upped me. Proof that miracles still happen. (Sorry Chicago Cubs fans. You will have to wait a bit longer for yours.)

I know that a lot of you don't care about sports, or the Mets, and I get it. I do. There are a lot more important things going on in the world than baseball and the World Series. But in a world and a time filled with so much bad news and suffering (again, my apologies, Cubs fans), the 2015 Mets are a feel-good story. And right now, at this moment, I am feeling good.

Let's go Mets! #yagottabelieve

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Nothing to laugh about

I started this blog, nearly eight years ago, as a way to amuse myself and, hopefully, some of my friends and family members. I had some funny stories to tell -- and I wanted to share my thoughts (and, okay, snark) about the 2008 presidential election and American Idol.

 Despite the financial crisis and other bad things going on in the world, I remember feeling hopeful -- and was excited to share my thoughts (about politics, books, bikinis, and sports, among other things) and hear (or read) yours.

And while the economy is technically no longer in crisis, and we don't have daily terror alerts, I no longer feel hopeful. And I find little to laugh about.

I am sick and tired of and depressed about living in a world that glorifies people like the Kardashians, and makes celebrities out of people who are willing to do all sorts of horrible or ridiculous or crazy things for 15 minutes of fame or a million dollars -- and that there are millions of people who eat this stuff up and cheer them on. 

I am sick and tired of and depressed by the fact that you can go broke being sick and tired and depressed in this country.

I am sick and tired of and depressed by all the gun violence and our inability to pass reasonable gun control laws.

I am sick and tired of and depressed by the Republicans in Congress who are so consumed by hatred for Barack Obama (and the Democrats) that they refuse to pass legislation that could help millions of Americans, including their constituents.

I am sick and tired of and depressed by all the lies Conservative talk show hosts and politicians spew, and that so many people so readily believe them.

I am sick and tired of and depressed by the fact that women have to choose between having a career and having a family -- or being "a good mother."

I am sick and tired of and depressed by the high cost of college.

I am sick and tired of and depressed by what has happened to journalism, or what now passes for journalism, and the decline (or elimination) of fact checking. 

I am sick and tired of and depressed by all the narcissism and self absorption in our society.

And I am depressed by the lack of civil discourse in this country -- and knowing that soon after I publish this post someone, probably someone I know, is going to leave an anonymous comment ranting and raving about Obama and the Democrats, and/or defending Americans' right to own hundreds of guns (which is not what I wrote), and spewing all kinds of hate and inaccuracies.

Friday, August 14, 2015

More great summer reading suggestions

Since my last Book Nook post, I've read more great (or at least very good) books. So I wanted to share.

Following are seven more books worth perusing this summer -- listed alphabetically by author, with an asterisk (*) denoting books that I particularly enjoyed. (If you missed any of my previous Book Nook posts, just click on the Book Nook label at the bottom of this post.)

And if you all have read any books worth recommending this summer, please leave a Comment with the title of the book and the author's name. Thanks!

Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer Is Faster): Life Lessons and Other Ravings from Dave Barry by Dave Barry. Nonfiction. Humor. Back in the day (i.e., the late 1980s and early 1990s) I was a huge Dave Barry fan. And because there was no Internet back then, and Barry's column wasn't syndicated in my local paper, my friend, Dave S., would photocopy and mail me Barry's weekly column right after it ran in the Washington Post. (I still have a copy of Barry's column titled "The Mysteries of Guythink" in my filing cabinet. If you haven't ever read it, click on the link. It's a classic.)

ANYWAY... at some point, Barry got a little too zany (and annoying) for me, and I stopped reading his columns and books. But when I saw Barry's latest collection of humor essays prominently displayed at my local library, I decided to check it out. And I can report that I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the "letter" to his teenage daughter regarding getting her learner's permit, something I could totally relate to. (As the mother of a new driver, I kept thinking, thank God we don't live in Florida, especially South Florida.)

If you're looking for a non-taxing beach, or pool, or backyard read that will have you laughing out loud, check out Live Right and Find Happiness. (Though those of you who do not have a teenage daughter, do not know who David Beckham is, or have never been to Russia may not find Barry's latest essay collection as funny as I did).

*Girl in the Moonlight by Charles Dubow. Fiction. A beautifully written tale of young love and (non-creepy) obsession, set in East Hampton and Amagansett, NY, Paris and Provence, and New York City. If you've ever been in love (or lust) with someone seemingly unobtainable, who keeps popping into your life, or had a first love you've never forgotten, you will relate to and (probably) appreciate this book. (Neither was the case for me, but I was good friends with two young women who greatly reminded me of the "girl" in question in Dubow's novel, and, like the author, grew up in New York City and spent many summers in East Hampton and Amagansett. So the book was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me.) Definitely goes on my "favorites" list of books I've read this year.

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan. Fiction. Total Guilty Pleasure. The sequel to Crazy Rich Asians, which, if you haven't read it, you may want to read first. Think of Kwan as the Robin Leach of the Asian jet set, his books a novelized Lifestyles of the Rich and Asian. You think we Americans are status-conscious and materialistic? Well, we are pikers compared to this crowd. A fascinating, often humorous, over-the-top, not-as-fictional-as-you-think look at the 1% of China, Singapore, and Malaysia. My fun trashy read of the summer.

The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger's Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio by Andrea Mays. Nonfiction. Great, well-researched tale of industrialist Henry Clay Folger's obsession with Shakespeare, in particular the first folio of Shakespeare's collected works. You do not have to be a lover of Shakespeare (I'm not) to appreciate this book. You just have to like a good story -- and/or have an appreciation for great scholarship. A true rags to riches story, The Millionaire and the Bard tells both the story of Shakespeare, how he became The Bard, and of Folger, who went from impoverished circumstances to becoming the president and then chairman of Standard Oil of New York. A fascinating, well-written story. Highly recommend.

*The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. Nonfiction. Lovely, lovely book about shepherding (i.e., sheep farming) in England's Lake District. Rebanks is a marvelous writer. His prose makes you feel as though you are there with him in the English countryside, tending his flocks, over the course of four seasons. And while sheep farming may not sound very glamorous (it isn't) or interesting, learning about life on the fells (hills and mountains) of the Lake District and the life of a typical shepherding family -- a very hard life, not for the faint of heart, or health, or for those who like a secure source of income -- is fascinating. Indeed, it's a life that Rebanks, probably the only shepherd to graduate from Oxford (and whose Twitter account is delightful), says he would not trade for any other (nor would many of his neighbors). A gem of a book.

The English Girl & The English Spy by Daniel Silva. If you enjoy a good international spy or espionage story, I highly recommend Daniel Silva's books featuring the Israeli spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon. The English Spy is Silva's latest novel and involves Irish terrorism and terrorists (not my favorite topics). The English Girl, the one before the one before The English Spy, which I liked better, is about the disappearance of a young, beautiful government worker who goes missing while on vacation in Corsica -- and whose disappearance threatens to topple the British government. (The Heist, about the hunt for a missing Caravaggio, which I also read and enjoyed, came in between.) I mention the order because it helps to have read The English Girl before The English Spy, though I did not and still enjoyed both.

Monday, August 3, 2015

When your "kid" becomes an "adult"

Being a parent is weird (and hard). On the one hand, our job is to nurture our children, to give them love and a shoulder to cry on, to provide them with shelter, food and clothing, to protect them from the evils of this world, and to teach them right and wrong.

On the other hand, and I truly believe this, one of our chief roles as parents is to teach our children to be independent and self-sufficient, i.e., to not need us anymore. Call it planned obsolescence. Kind of like your iPhone.

This summer, shortly after our just-turned-17-year-old daughter packed up her car with most of her clothes, along with her Vitamix and ice-cream maker, and drove off to Long Island to work on a farm (with a bunch of twentysomethings), I realized the spouse and I had entered that second stage of parenting.

Part of me, a very large part, is enormously proud of the teenager for being so independent and grown up. (She does her homework without having to be told or nagged to do so, loves to cook and is very good at it, is a good, safe driver, and does her own laundry.)

Another part of me, though, will always see her as my little girl (and not just because she's still shorter than I am).

While I worked very hard to make sure our daughter could take care of herself, and be self-sufficient (and succeeded!), I miss being needed (for more than a cash infusion)... and the hugs (though I still get those, just not as many or as often)... and waking her up each morning with a kiss on her forehead (she now sets her alarm and gets up before I do)... and our daily after-school, or after-camp, discussions. (Since she went to Long Island, we rarely hear from her, typically only when she has a money-related question. To find out what she's been up to, we log onto Facebook and Instagram.)

True, we still have a year before the teenager heads off to college. But she has already informed us that she will be very busy this year and to basically "not wait up for her."


I am happy she is happy. (We spent many years dealing with her being unhappy, and I will take happy over unhappy every time.) And I am proud our daughter is becoming (is?) an amazing adult -- and look forward to hearing about all of the amazing adventures to come. But this being a parent thing is a lot harder than I thought it would be.