Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What were the best books you read in 2009?

I've always wanted to belong to a book club, one where the members actually read the books and wanted to discuss them, and would suggest interesting books to read. Sadly, I have yet to find such a book club in the real world. But I am hoping to have better luck online.

So consider this the first meeting of the J-TWO-O Online Book Club -- or book swap. And to get the ball rolling, I made the following list of 10 of the Best Books I Read in 2009 (listed alphabetically, by author, not by order of preference):

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Figures in Silk by Vanora Bennett

My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme

After the Prophet by Lesley Hazleton

Bitter Is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil

Tomato Rhapsody by Adam Schell

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

Of course, after creating this list, and seeing it on my computer screen, I immediately thought of dozens of other great fiction and non-fiction books I'd read the last year or nine. However, to spare you (and myself) I whittled the list down to the top 25 best (or most interesting or entertaining or thought-provoking) books I've read since the beginning of 2000 (though if you include the 10 from the first list, it would be my top 35).

Herewith, 25 More Great Books for You to Peruse:

The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Douglas Carlton Abrams

The Language of Baklava Diana Abu-Jaber

The Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady

The Emperors of Chocolate by Joël Glenn Brenner

Casino Moscow by Matthew Breszinski

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

The Wedding Officer by Anthony Capella

The Perfect Store: Inside eBay by Adam Cohen

Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Chasing Kangaroos by Tim Flannery

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Seabiscuit: An Amercican Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa

French Lessons by Peter Mayle

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger

The Book Seller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage

So what were some of the most interesting or entertaining or funny or thought-provoking books you read this year or this decade?

Please share the titles (and authors) of some of the best books you read either this past year or this past decade in the comments. (Note: You don't need to have a blog or a URL or a Google account to leave a comment. You can be anonymous or just type in your name -- or a pseudonym -- in the "Name" space, no URL necessary.)

Wishing you all good reading and a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year.


ADDENDUM: Just wanted you all to know that I have nothing against The Help by Kathryn Stockett. In fact, I've been wanting to read it for over a month, but there was a long waiting list at my local library and I only got a copy this week. But I am looking forward to reading it -- and putting it on my Top 10 Books of 2010 list. ;-)

Monday, December 28, 2009

What's next, ban all the passengers?

When a friend noted on her Facebook page a couple days ago that the Transportation Security Administration* (whose motto just went from "Your security is our priority" to "Shut up and deal with it") was considering a ban on passengers, I laughed. (She later informed me the line came from this Onion article, which is looking less like a parody and more like a reality every day.) Now I am crying.

As if getting and flying on a plane wasn't arduous and annoying enough, what with the long lines, fees for everything from checking a bag to getting a snack to getting a blanket and/or pillow (what's next, coin-operated bathrooms?), having to remove one's shoes and laptops, not being able to carry on more than a few ounces of liquid or more than one small bag, and being stranded on the tarmac for no apparent reason.

Now, because some lax security screeners in AMSTERDAM (where, as we all know, half the population is stoned) screwed up, we long-suffering, rule-abiding shmucks here in the U.S. of A. are about to (or are being) hit with even more regulations, procedures, and absurd rules, from (and I am not making these up) full-body pat-downs and strip searches (or else full body scans), having one's carry-on bag thoroughly searched by hand in addition to the standard machine screening, not being allowed to carry on or use any electronic device in the airplane cabin (to which I say, let's put all the senior TSA officials on a plane, clearly identified, with only business passengers and children between the ages of 6 and 14 and see how long that restriction lasts), to not being allowed to leave one's seat or use a pillow or blanket one (or two) hours after takeoff and before landing.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

And for those of you, like me, seeking some guidance or clarity, good luck. The "TSA Guidance for Passengers on Heightened Security Measures in Place Following Dec. 25 Incident" is ZERO help.

The really sad part? While this particular "attack" was easily foiled, the terrorists have already won.

*Does anyone else not recall the creation of the TSA? Or think that "Transportation Security Administration" sounds a little... I don't know... Big Brother-y? Whatever happened to the Federal Aviation Administration?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Jets v. Colts: Anyone care to make a wager? (UPDATED)

Gambling911 says the odds opened at Indianapolis -7. (The site also has some very interest stats re the Jets and the Colts. And let me just say it don't look so good for da Jets, Lucy.)

Oddsmakers also predict that tomorrow's New York (Jersey) Jets - Indianapolis Colts game will be among the most heavily bet upon of the 2009 regular NFL season, which ends next weekend.

For those keeping score, the undefeated Colts (14-0) have won twice as many games as the Jets (7-7), but one cannot count out the Jets' mighty defense (or the mighty Flight Crew, which I am hoping will help distract Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning and his offense). And the fact that unbelievable as it may seem the Jets still have a shot of making the playoffs (Giants, too).

Sadly, I will not be able to watch most (all?) of tomorrow's game due to the New England Patriots -- or, to be more exact, certain New England Patriots fans who suggested we meet them at 5 p.m. in the middle of nowhere New England, from where they will spirit away our daughter and indoctrinate her into their Pats and Red Sox cult. (There was also some talk of snowboarding and ice skating and playing Wii, but I think that was just a ruse.) As a result, we will be unable to watch most (if not all) of the Jets - Colts game (as well as the end of the Giants - Panthers game -- go Giants!), though we will hopefully be able to catch some of it on the radio.

As a Jets fan, I have zero expectations. I just want my team to play well (memo to Mark Sanchez: Lose the 'stache, not the ball) and not be totally embarrassed by Peyton Manning and the Colts.

GO JETS! (Giants, too!)

UPDATED: OMG! The Jets won, 29 - 15. Still in shock. Fifteen down, one to go.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Music

Forget "Silent Night" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." These five J-TWO-O hand-selected Christmas songs will bring you true comfort and joy.

First up: Alvin and the Chipmunks singing that Christmas classic "Christmas Don't Be Late" (aka "I just want a hula hoop"):

[And yes, J-THREE-O and I will be seeing Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel at some point over Christmas break. Oh joy.]

And speaking of animals (or singing animals), these kitties wish you a very meowry Christmas...

[Ahnt dey cuuuute?!]

as do these cute wittle puppies...

And speaking of howlers, if you have not checked out the literal version of Hall & Oates' "Jingle Bell Rock," here's what you've been missing:

[H/T to Rumproast]

Finally, it just would not be Christmas (to those of us of a certain age) without the "Snow Miser Song" and the "Heat Miser Song," from The Year Without a Santa Claus (the original one):

(Had enough? Be thankful I spared you The Jonas Brothers singing "Feliz Navidad.")

Wishing you a very merry Christmas...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How The New York Times Stole Christmas

Leave it to the elitist Liberal Grinches over at The New York Times to destroy Christmas for millions of children.

It's a good thing Virginia wrote that letter to the editors at the New York Sun.

So what's next, New York Times editors? You going to tell us there is no such thing as the Easter Bunny? (Before you do that: Think of all the poor little Peeps and Creme Eggs that would go to waste!) Or that the Tooth Fairy is just a myth? (You are not going to tell me all those teeth just disappeared with no help, are you? And where did all that money come from, Bernie Madoff?)

But that all pales -- pales, I say -- compared to corralling a bunch of supposed "experts" to instruct parents how to explain to their innocent, sweet children that there is no Santa Claus just days before Christmas. For shame, New York Times editors, for shame.

Clearly, somebody got a big lump of coal for Christmas last year.

Anyone know the name of a good exorcist?

I'd like to think I'm not a superstitious person (she said, clutching her lucky rabbit's foot), but I'm starting to think our house may be haunted.

First, our garage door started mysteriously going up on its own, after both the spouse and/or I saw it shut.

Then the spouse mysteriously found himself locked in the garage. (I swear I had nothing to do with it.)

Then my car mysteriously died in same garage -- and every time I put the key in in the ignition to try to start it the headlights maniacally flashed, the wipers started wiping, and the radio blared, even though all those things were off (or had been when I last turned off the car).

Then this morning the stool I was sitting on in the kitchen mysteriously tipped over, sending Felix (my black cat, who was on my lap at the time) and me flying -- with Felix gripping me with his claws for dear life. (Let my just say "Ouch" doesn't begin to cover it.)

I think there can be only one explanation for these mysterious goings on: Poltergeist.

So if any of you knows of a method for safely removing poltergeist or the name of a good exorcist, please let me know. Soon. Before something really bad happens.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Behold the World's Best Blondies (made from scratch with dark chocolate chips and mini M&Ms)!

Zoom in on the blondies!

And my* fabulous Dark-Chocolate-Kissed Ginger Cookies...

In a word: Deeeeelicious!

I just hope J-THREE-O's teachers (all 11 of them) enjoy eating them as much as we* enjoyed making them, from scratch, all day, after one of us shoveled snow and broke yet another nail and nearly burned her hand.

*Technically "our" as J-THREE-O shared measuring, mixing, and baking duties with me -- but, alas, not clean up. :-(

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Football, beer, and dogs. Does it get any better than this?

No wonder they call dogs "man's best friend." Not only can he help you crack open a nice cold beer*...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

he's the perfect tailgate companion...

And speaking of beer and football and tailgating, enterprising 21-year-old inventor, football fan, and beer drinker Dan Klavoon, from Lockport, New York, this week won the Bud Light "Tailgate Tested, Tailgate Approved" contest (a free trip to the 2010 Super Bowl) with his must-have tailgating invention the Beer Sphere. (It's a football! It's a beer chiller! It's the Beer Sphere!)

Of course, as both my teams -- the New Jersey Giants and New Jersey Jets -- have practically no chance of making the playoffs this year, and I don't have a dog (except when it comes to the sports teams I root for), and I have not gotten so lazy that I cannot simply get up and get the spouse a beer, I do not (currently) have use for any of these marvelous products. But they make great stocking stuffers! Order yours today!

*I love how Bark4Beer calls its product "The Best Dog Collar Bottle Opener," so you won't confuse it with all those other dog collar bottle openers.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Al Franken for President

Finally, someone had the cojones to tell Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman to shut the f@ck up.

That alone, IMHO, makes Senator Al Franken (D-MN) presidential material. (Though I also enjoyed Senator Franken's recent verbal smackdown of Senator John Thune (R-SD) for not knowing -- or purposely misrepresenting -- key facts about the health care bill, as well as Franken's books Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot (and Other Observations) and Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.)

Sure, it takes way more than being quick with a quip, publishing a best-selling book, having a degree from an Ivy League school, and a Senate seat to be President -- oh wait. Never mind.

I therefore unofficially nominate Al Franken for President 2016, because he's good enough, he's smart enough, and, doggonit, people like him! (Well, some people.)

UPDATED: Here's a link to to the Al Franken - Joe Lieberman smackdown in the Senate yesterday with John McCain getting all uppity afterward.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Secret to Happiness

Nineteen years ago today, I went on one of the worst blind dates ever. Okay, it wasn't that bad, but I swore at the end of it I would never go out with that guy again.

Of course, I wound up marrying that guy. (Moral of the story: Don't judge a person by the first date.)

Jump to this morning at the gym, where I spied an older man working out across from me who was wearing a sweatshirt with the words "Yes, dear." on it. I couldn't help but smile. The man saw me smiling and shouted "I've been married 65 years!" and gave me a big smile. I then asked, "So, did your wife give you that sweatshirt?" And he replied, "No, the kids did, for our anniversary."

A few minutes later, as I was lifting (or rather pulling) weights a little ways away, the man walked over to me and said "You keep that up young lady and you'll look as good as I do at 89!"

While clearly no spring chicken, this man in no way looked 89 years old -- more like 89 years young. So I asked him, "What's your secret?" His immediate reply: "The love of a good woman."

I then told him that I had met my husband 19 years ago today, and he beamed at me and said "Good for you! He's a lucky man."

Yes, he is.

Btw, that picture in the upper right-hand corner? It's called "The Secret to Happiness Sweatshirt."

Wishing all of you happiness, this holiday season and beyond.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Lots and lots of puppies.

Still looking for that extra special Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa) gift? How about a puppy -- or perhaps 17?

Why do I ask? Because Sharon Center, Ohio resident and now foster canine grandmother Christi Six (who, as far as I know, is not a stripper or porn star) has 17 -- yes 17 -- adorable Cane Corso Italian Mastiff pups who need good homes. (I know: Thatsa lotta puppies!)

FYI, you can contact Christi Six -- about her Cane Corso puppies -- at christisix [at symbol] gmail [dot] com. But be warned, these adorable Cane Corso Italian Mastiff pups, while adorable and supposedly very intelligent, trainable, and loyal, can grow to over 100 pounds.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Santa Claus is coming to town... in a Speedo

Personally, I always pictured Santa as a briefs kind of guy. (Not that I ever actually pictured him in anything but his Santa suit.) But for the sake of charity, Santa -- actually thousands of hot, young male Santa wannabes -- doffed their Santa suits and ran through the streets of Boston this Sunday in nuthin' but their little red (blue, black, or green) Speedos.

(Btw, for those of you who are saying, "But J.! What about your 'just say 'no' to men in Speedo' policy?!" I have temporarily suspended it, in honor of Christmas.)

And why, might you ask, were a bunch of guys (and gals) running around Boston yesterday in little red Speedos? (Though if you, like me, had gone to college in the area, you would know you don't really need an excuse to run around Boston in your underwear, especially after a night of heavy drinking.)

The answer, you naughty boys and girls, is that yesterday was the 10th annual Santa Speedo Run in Boston, where every year in mid-December thousands of young men (and women) strip down to their skivvies and don their Santa hats, and, in some cases, antlers and a sleigh (clearly Rudolph is going to have way more than a red nose), and run through the streets to raise money for local charities (as well as ladies' pulses).

Next up: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Shatner vs. Palin (Tonight Show Poetry Slam)

One of the best (if not the best) segments on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien this season has been Emmy Award-winner and Master Thespian William Shatner reading excerpts from Sarah Palin's speeches and tweets -- and now her autobiography, Going Rogue.

This time, though, the former Governor of Alaska (aka Sarah Palin) turned the tables on William Shatner by reading from his autobiography, Up Till Now.

While Palin acquitted herself commendably, the snaps go to Shatner in what I hope will be the first of many Tonight Show Poetry Slams.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Oy Hanukkah

Today is the 25th day of Kislev. And you know what that means, boys and girls! Yes, it's Hanukkah time again! Time to light some candles, eat some latkes, spin that dreidel, and pass out some presents (before you pass out) -- and pretend for eight nights that Hanukkah is way better and cooler than Christmas.

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Hanukkah was also an excuse for Utah Senator and lifelong Barbra Streisand fan Orrin Hatch to get his Jew on:

Eight Days of Hanukkah from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.

You can read more about Senator Hatch's catchy new Hanukkah tune, titled "Eight Days of Hanukkah," here and here. (The latter is a MUST read, though I could have lived without knowing Orrin Hatch penned love songs.)

Personally, I prefer Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song:

I also prefer Christmas, or, as a certain friend/fellow blogger refers to it, "The Holiday for Everyone" (unless, of course, you are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or an Atheist), though I do adore a nice crisp latke with a little apple sauce and the Menorah is kind of pretty when it's all lit up.

Now if you will excuse me, I have a pile of presents to wrap.

UPDATED 12/13/09
(the third night of Hanukkah/Chanukah): Just came across this cover of Adam Sandler's "Chanukah Song" -- by Neil Diamond -- and had to include.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Frosty the Inappropriate Snowman

Et tu, Frosty? I guess Tiger Woods isn't the only famous figure who secretly frequented "gentleman's clubs" during the off season and liked to get it on with the ladies, lots and lots of ladies. But Frosty? Sniff. Next thing you know we'll be hearing that Santa's been getting it on with some cute little elf.

Btw, what you are about to see is real (i.e., actual CBS on-air promos). So brace yourselves.

I don't know if I will never be able to watch "Frosty the Snowman" again (or not). Thanks for nothing, CBS.

Seriously, I wonder who the now former employee in CBS's promotions department thought it would be hysterical to jointly promote that tender family classic "Frosty the Snowman" with CBS's raunchy hit show "How I Met Your Mother" -- with an on-air R-rated mashup featuring the voice of Neil Patrick Harris (as "How I Met Your Mother" lothario Barney Stimpson) as Frosty, discussing porn, breasts, and lethal injections.

Slightly O/T: Speaking of Tiger Woods, apparently not a single commercial featuring Tiger has aired -- not on cable, not on network TV -- since November 29. Vedy intehrestink.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cat-acular cat-acular

For the three or four of you who somehow missed seeing these adorable cat videos, here you go.

Up first, "Surprised Kitty":

Up next, "The Return of Ninja Cat":

And finally, my favorite, "French bulldog [with cat]." It's the cat that totally makes this video, IMHO.

[Thanks to my Facebook friends and for bringing these to my attention.]

Monday, December 7, 2009

How to choose a mistress

It has come to my attention recently that what really bothers most people (i.e., MEN) about the Tiger Woods "scandal" is not that he was cheating on his wife but how incredibly stupid he was in regard to how he conducted his affairs ("He's a graduate of STANFORD, for Chrissakes!") and with whom he conducted them. ("She was on a REALITY show! What did you expect?!")

So for all you men out there who are contemplating having an affair, particularly if you are a celebrity, I offer you the following tips on how to properly choose a mistress -- so your text and voice mail messages** won't wind up being published by TMZ or US Weekly or being broadcast on CNN, Fox, or MSNBC, and your wife won't receive any embarrassing letters describing your anatomy.

How to Choose a Mistress

1. Avoid women who seem way too eager to get in your pants (or vice versa) -- especially those who show or offer you their panties. (See "Monica Lewinsky.")

2. Never have sex with a woman who has been on a reality show, who wants to be on a reality show, or for whom reality shows are considered "must-see" TV.

3. Avoid nightclub managers, waitresses, and/or aspiring models, actresses, and singers -- or anyone who offers you her 8 x 10 glossy.

4. Similarly, steer clear of name droppers, celebrity seekers, and star f_ckers, or anyone who has ever dated a celebrity, professional athlete, famous figure, or titan of industry, especially if she has dated more than one of these (or claims to have).

5. Do not have sexual relations with women who are your direct reports or who stand to gain or lose position or salary from getting it on with you (unless you are David Letterman).

6. And whatever you do, do NOT mess around with your wife's best friend, sister, or that neighbor she's always chatting with.

7. Make sure your ho is not on any prescription medication -- or should be.

8. Avoid single women and/or women with nothing to lose. And while you're at it, avoid married women with husbands bigger, richer, or meaner than you.

9. Steer clear of women who are always texting. (What exactly is it you think they are texting all their friends? The weather report?)

10. Similarly, steer clear of women with Facebook and/or Twitter accounts, or who have their own blog, or who can type for that matter.

Other helpful hints:

* Always wear a condom.

* Never leave a paper or electronic trail.

* Don't cheat in the first place.

** Herewith, Tiger Woods' voicemail message to his mistress, asking her to take her name off her phone, set to music:

Bonus video: Stephen Colbert on Tiger Woods and his lack of respect for the sanctity of mistress:

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Man cleavage

Which is not to be confused with man boobs.

According to a "report" in today's Wall Street Journal (see, this is what happens when Rupert Murdoch buys your paper, people), "Man cleavage -- plunging necklines slit open to reveal chest hair, pectoral muscles, maybe more -- is back."

The Journal even provides this helpful, illustrative video:

I am actually for a little, emphasis on little, man cleavage, i.e., a couple of buttons artfully unbuttoned -- on the right guy -- though I in no way advocate big V-necks or shirts unbuttoned to a guy's pupic, and definitely not male tube tops.

(Full disclaimer: I first heard about this story this morning on Live with Regis and Kelly, where Anderson Cooper was subbing for Regis, and Kelly, after bringing up that she heard man cleavage was back then proceeded for several minutes to cajole Anderson to unbutton his shirt, which despite great effort on Kelly's behalf -- and I was so rooting for her, as was the audience -- he did not do, at least on the air. Boo.)

UPDATED: For those who care, here's a link to highlights of the "man cleavage" segment from Live with Regis and Kelly.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Heard it from a friend who, heard it from a friend who, heard that REO Speedwagon has a new online video game

Actually, I heard it from Kai Rissdal, on this morning's Marketplace segment on NPR, and I nearly ran my Mini off the road.

The game, which is only available online, starting TODAY, and is aimed at "casual gamers" (you know who you are), is called REO Speedwagon: Find Your Own Way Home, after the band’s 2007 album. The plot (loosely): Find REO Speedwagon lead singer Kevin Cronin, with the help of his four band mates and a fictional TV entertainment show reporter.

The cost for a single session of REO Speedwagon: Find Your Own Way Home (which can last for up to 10 hours -- though if yours does, I'd call a doctor), only $8! And the first hour is free, people! (For more about the game, read this.)

Btw, the REO Speedwagon interactive online game is being released in conjunction with REO Speedwagon the Christmas album, titled “Not So Silent Night: Christmas With REO Speedwagon.” And when you buy a session of the game, you will receive a coupon code for 25 percent off the holiday album -- and a chance to win tickets to one of REO Speedwagon's upcoming concerts AND meet the band! How awesome is that, people?! We're talking REO Speedwagon here, who gave us such memorable hits as "Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore," "Take It on the Run," "Keep on Loving You," and other memorable '80s classics!

You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Tiger Woods thing (UPDATED)

As we should all know by now, celebrities and professional athletes are not like you and I. So when golfer Tiger Woods crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a neighbor's tree and a fire hydrant at 2:25 a.m. this past Friday, in the exclusive gated community of Isleworth, outside of Orlando, Florida, where Woods lives with his beautiful wife, Elin, and their two young children, the police, instead of performing a breathalyzer or any kind of test on Woods, instead asked Woods for his autograph and escorted his ambulance to the hospital.

Okay, I have no idea if the autograph and escort part is true, but from the various reports I have read, I wouldn't doubt it.

Since the accident, a lot of rumors have been floating around the Internet, on TV, in the tabloids and in the more supposedly "legitimate" newspapers as to "what really happened that night," and whether Elin Nordegren Woods had actually used that golf club to smash the back windows of her husband's Escalade to get the semi-conscious Tiger out of the vehicle, as is the Woods family's public line, or if she had used it on Tiger prior to (i.e., resulting in) his getting into the vehicle and smashing it into his neighbor's tree and a nearby fire hydrant at 2:25 a.m., as is being privately (and not-so-privately) bandied about.

Woods has declined to discuss the accident, with the Florida Highway Patrol or anyone else, saying it is a "private matter." Maybe it is and maybe it isn't. I'm not a lawyer. (And those of you are versed in this area of law, please feel free to chime in in the comments.) But I do know that if the driver of that vehicle had been some guy named Tim Woods, particularly some black guy named Tim Woods, the incident would not be a "private matter," nor would the cops have gone so easy on the guy. At the very least they would have administered a breathalyzer test or checked for alcohol or drugs.

What do I think caused Tiger to flee his house at 2:25 a.m. right after Thanksgiving and crash his car? Let's just say I don't think he was running to the store to get a quart of milk. Clearly it was either a) a domestic dispute; b) he was out of it (due to alcohol or drugs) and not thinking straight; and/or c) he was going off to meet someone on an urgent matter that couldn't wait -- which caused or was the result of a) and/or b).

Btw, if it was a "domestic dispute" over Tiger possibly being involved with another woman, would any of you be surprised to find out Woods had been driving on someone else's fairway or sinking his balls into a hole on some other, shall we say, course? If you are, you are hopelessly naive. As a good male friend once told me, there are only three reasons a guy doesn't cheat: lack of opportunity; lack of libido; and fear. Even if he has a wife as beautiful and sexy and Swedish as the former Elin Nordegren.

Frankly, I really don't care what caused the accident. I just find Woods' behavior/response underwhelming, to say the least. As a result, I believe the damage to his reputation will be (some say already is) worse than the damage he inflicted upon himself or his car, especially with the announcement that we would not be participating in the Chevron World Challenge, a charity event Woods sponsors, nor any other tournaments this year.

So, what do you think about the Tiger Woods thing? Leave me a comment.

UPDATED at 3:20 p.m.: Check out this column by the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins. I thought Jenkins nailed it.

UPDATED at 3:38 p.m.: The Florida Highway Patrol has cited Tiger Woods for careless driving, which carries a $164 fine and four points against his driver’s license. And so ends the story, at least as far as the Florida Highway Patrol is concerned. You can read more about this here.

UPDATED 12/2/09: Apparently "being human" or "not perfect" means cheating on your wife while she is pregnant with you child, or pretty much any time your on the road and are feeling horny. Btw, I am not at all surprised, just a bit sad. I mean, if a gorgeous blonde Swede can't hold onto her man, what hope is there for the rest of us? Oh, and those guys who've been calling into all the sports talk shows tut-tutting Tiger? It's all B.S. If they were in Tiger Woods' position they would have done the exact same thing.

Monday, November 30, 2009

You lit up my night

They call Paris the "City of Light." And between the hours of 8 and 11:15 p.m., for approximately 15 minutes, most of that light comes from the Eiffel Tower.

Having never seen the Eiffel Tower Light Show, we (my mother, who has lived in Paris the last 12 years yet also never witnessed the Eiffel Tower Light Show, the spouse, my daughter, et moi) decided to check it out last Thursday (aka Thanksgiving), despite the fact that is was pouring.

And were we glad we did. I even was able to record some of the highlights of the show with my little Canon PowerShot SD890 IS, though it was difficult for me to shoot while holding the camera in one hand and my umbrella in the other. But still, IT'S THE EIFFEL TOWER! ALL LIT UP IN PRETTY COLORS! (And I love the conversations the camera picked up, some in English -- mostly J-THREE-O's running commentary -- some in French.)

Be sure to watch all three videos, which are less than two minutes all together, to get the full effect.

Note: If you missed my "Paris, city of pastries and chocolates" post, featuring mouth-watering pictures from our Paris Chocolate (Walking) Tour, click here.

P.S. How many of you started hearing Debbie Boone sing "You Light Up My Life" when you read the title of this post? (You're welcome, Dave S.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Paris, city of pastries and chocolates

Warning: This post contains serious food porn.

On Friday, as is our Thanksgiving tradition (since last year) we went on a chocolate tour, given by Paris Walks, on the Right Bank of Paris. Our guide, Mary Ellen, an expat who has been living in Paris for 17 years, has a Master's in French History and teaches French school children English, was very good -- as were the pastries and chocolates.

If or when you next go to Paris, I highly recommend the Paris Chocolate Tour. In the meantime, here are some highlights.

First stop Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Gosselin à Paris (Jon and Kate bake great?):

Note: We went to the branch at 125, Rue St Honoré, near the Louvre, and their Opera pastry was the best all of us ever had, which is saying a lot.

Next stop: Le Côte de France chocolatier at 25 Avenue de L'Opera:

Ensuite Chocolat Michel Cluizel:

Et enfin
Jean-Paul Hévin, where we tasted lime-infused chocolates (you put the lime in the choc-o-late you mix 'em all up...):

Mon mari (aka "the spouse"), ma mère (aka "Granny"), ma fille (aka J-THREE-O), et moi also stumbled across a marvelous (and some say the best) macaron (and chocolate) shop in Paris earlier in the week, Pierre Hermé, where we sampled several different macarons:

Here's hoping you had a sweet (or at least tasty) Thanksgiving....

Next up: My Eiffel Tower obsession.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Talk about getting nailed

Literally. Ouch.

Junior and the spouse are having dinner avec ma mere, so I am catching up on the news (after avoiding it the last five days), and came across this hard-hitting story from The New York Times about Swedish nail beds (or nail mats). Talk about getting nailed in the sack.

But to get to the point, apparently, after the initial pain wears off, nail beds (or nail mats) can be quite relaxing, even therapeutic, alleviating sleep problems and migraines (two of my favorites).

Per The Times article, the mats typically measure about 16 by 28 inches and contain 4,000 to 8,000 spikes.

Four thousand to 8,000 spikes?! Yikes. But apparently fewer would really hurt.

In any case, the nail bed/mat sounds like the perfect gift for all you sadists to give -- to the masochists in your life. (Less than 30 shopping days until Christmas and only 17 until the first night of Hanukkah! Order your nail mat today!)

In the meantime, wishing you and yours a very happy (and healthy) Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Watching American football in a Canadian sports bar in Paris

Giants beat the Falcons. In overtime. 34 - 31. On a 36-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes.

If the Giants had lost (and frankly, they should have clobbered the Falcons -- but their defense has been AWOL the last four or five games), the game would have sucked. But the Giants won. Hurrah. And we enjoyed our time at The Moose, as well as our hamburgers and fries, which were suprisingly good, though the Canadian beer was not.

We now resume our regularly scheduled Parisian vacation. (Cruised the Seine on a Bateaux-Mouches yesterday and walked around the sixth arrondissement, where we are staying. Went to the organic outdoor market and to Montmartre today. And are heading to the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and chez Little Miss Cupcake demain.)

Au revoir, mes amis. A bientot....

P.S. As I type this, the spouse is trying to see if he can find the New York Jets vs. New England Patriots game, but I'm not holding out much hope.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fear of flying

And I ain't talkin' Erica Jong, people.

Seriously, between computer glitches, pilots checking out each others "itineraries" in the cockpit, terrorists, geese, and ridiculous fees... it's a wonder anyone gets on a plane anymore. But get on a plane I am scheduled to do, later today (along with the spouse and kid), even though I have yet to pack a thing and have appointments to attend and errands to run.

To say I am feeling a bit anxious or stressed about our imminent trip is an understatement, even though I exercise regularly, which, according to one of the most popular/emailed articles in The New York Times this week, should make me practically anxiety and stress free, which makes me shudder at what I'd be like if I didn't work out every other day - YIKES.

Anyway, it's over the Atlantic and through customs to the kid's grandmother's apartment we go -- providing we don't experience any of the aforementioned flying hazards. And on Sunday I hope to be live blogging the Atlanta Falcons vs. the New York Giants game from a Canadian sports bar in Paris (because that's the kind of football fan and neurotic blogger I am).

So for now, au revoir, mes amis. Hopefully I will see you on the other side. In the meantime, please enjoy this video of Michael Buble singing that Frank Sinatra classic "Come Fly with Me."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why did the turkey cross the New Jersey Turnpike?

To get to the other side. (Duh.)

After weeks of trying to catch her, this afternoon New Jersey State Fish and Wildlife officials finally manage to capture Tammy the Turnpike Turkey. Tammy, who officials believe wandered over from Staten Island, had taken up residence among the tollbooths at Exit 14B/Jersey City on the New Jersey Turnpike and was the source of much brake slamming and cursing from New Jersey drivers.

Having driven many times on the New Jersey Turnpike, what is truly amazing to me is that Tammy the Turnpike Turkey wound up at a zoo and not as the Blue Plate Special at one of the state's famous diners.

What's black and white and cute all over?

Presenting Yun Zi (pronounced "youn zhay" -- and meaning "Son of Cloud"), the San Diego Zoo's latest Giant Panda cub:

All together now: Awwww.

During a recent physical, Yun Zi, the fifth Giant Panda cub born to proud mama Bai Yun, weighed in at 12.5 pounds and measured just over two feet. When full grown, "little" Yun Zi will weigh over 300 pounds, which is about 285 pounds (and a heckuva lot of bamboo) more than I can handle. Still... very cute.

Need more panda cuteness? Check this out.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

From Sarah Palin to Jenna Jameson: It's porn week on Oprah!

And I gotta hand it to the queen of the talk show. She knows how to get an audience aroused!

First Oprah warms us up with a little soft (or political) porn, i.e., former GILF and Sean Hannity wet dream Sarah Palin on Monday*. Though while the approximately 60-minute interview may have gotten the job done for some Conservative Republican males, I have to say it left me dry. (Far more titillating would be watching/listening to what Oprah said to Gayle King after the interview, though I doubt we'll ever get to see or hear that conversation.)

Now today Oprah has on Jenna Jameson, "an American entrepreneur" and the "Queen of Porn," to discuss why more and more women are using porn and erotica. (Though why Oprah needs 50 minutes to discuss this is beyond me.) Doing the reporting for this hard-hitting segment is Lisa Ling. (And boys, correct me if I am wrong but is there anything sexier than a sexy Asian chick discussing porn, okay, after performing it?)

Whoever said sex doesn't sell?

*If you missed Oprah's interview with former Alaska governor Sarah Palin yesterday, check out this post/recap from Wonkette. You will not regret it. H/T to Kevin K. at Rumproast.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tell me why... there are so many songs about Monday

You've got New Order's "Blue Monday" (one of my all-time fave songs):

You've got the Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays," the Carpenters' "Rainy Days and Mondays," Fats Domino's "Blue Monday," the Bangles' "Manic Monday"

and, of course, Hank Williams Jr.'s theme for Monday Night Football:

And those are but a handful of the odes to Monday, as this list of "Monday songs" can attest to. I believe only Saturday is more popular. (And yes, there's a list for that, too.)

Hoping you are not having a blue or manic Monday.... (Btw, speaking of blue or manic Monday, anyone planning on watching or TiVo/DVRing Oprah's Sarah Palin interview later?)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cats do the darndest things

The continuing adventures of Felix the cat...

: Fellow blogger and cat lover Kevin K. over at Rumproast just posted some pix of his adorable kitten Biscuit, in case you didn't get enough pussy. ;-)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Adios Lou Dobbs

Now Stephen Colbert -- perdóname, Esteban Colberto -- won't have Lou Dobbs to kick around anymore! (Or at least for a few weeks.)

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Lou Dobbs
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

As a parting/early Christmas gift, I am sending Lou Dobbs this fine mariachi band, to serenade him night and day while he contemplates his next career decision. (This one's for you, Unc.)

Adios Lou Dobbs. CNN will be pretty much the same without you.

UPDATED: Just came across this blog post, titled "So, what really happened to Lou Dobbs?" on MediaMatters and felt it worth sharing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The truth is overrated

I used to tell the truth, but it was always getting me in trouble. For example, you know how women always ask their friends "Do these jeans make my ass look big?" Well, back in the day, I would be the one fool friend who would actually say, "Why yes they do" when they did (usually adding a guilty "sorry" afterward). As a result of this kind of truth telling, I lost a lot of friends.

Similarly, when clients or prospective clients would ask me what I "honestly" thought of their website or some article or press release or blog post they wrote -- earnestly asking me to give them "my honest opinion" -- I did. And if it happened that their website or article or press release or blog post sucked, I told them so (albeit using more professional language and pointing out any bright spots, if there were any). And guess what? I lost a lot of gigs.

So, after years of truth telling, and getting kicked in the teeth for it, I have finally learned what Colonel Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) had to explain to Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) in A Few Good Men: You [people] can't handle the truth. Oh you say you want to hear the truth, but what you really want is affirmation or confirmation -- to be told whatever it is you want to hear, just like that guy Bernie Madoff and those two Bear Stearns guys, Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin, told their clients... right before they lost all those clients' money.

Want to make friends and win clients? Tell 'em what they want to hear, the truth be damned.

I've even been practicing, so next time you ask me for my honest opinion, I'll be ready. Don't I think your kid is the cutest/smartest/funniest kid ever? "I absolutely agree! [Insert name of a child] is adorable/a genius/a natural-born comedian!" Want my opinion on your little operation? "Really, you had your boobs done?! No, no. They look totally natural." Had no idea your husband was cheating on you and can I believe it? "I'm totally shocked and surprised!" What do I really think of your new website? "Wow. I'm speechless." And your ass? "It looks great in those jeans!"

What's that I hear you say? Lying is WRONG. And I am setting a bad example for little J-THREE-O? (Hangs head.)

Hmm. Now that I think about it, maybe you and the Thompson Twins are right.

From here on out, I promise to be truthier. Would I lie to you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I feel lucky

It's 11/11 and I'm heading off with G. in a few minutes to Mohegan Sun for our last gambling trip of the year.

I think this could be THE BIG ONE, people, as both G. and I are feeling lucky -- and I am so due. (Mama needs a new pair of shoes, really expensive leather ones with a moderate heel.)

Odds are we will at least have a good time.

Will let you know how we did later.

UPDATED 4:30 P.M.: I am pleased to report the Mohegan Sun "offsite" (aka gambling outing) was a great success, and I made a nearly 400% return on my investment. G. also had an up day. Not bad for a few hours work. And the chocolate martinis were delightful. (Special thanks to Glen, JR, and Pat, our new friends from Rhode Island, who owe us drinks, and to Orlando, our new favorite croupier.) Next stop: shoe shopping in Paris!