Friday, December 31, 2010

Forget 2010. Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999.

Prince's album, 1999, was released way back in October 1982, when 1999 seemed, like, a million years away.

Yet, like Prince himself, I think the album, and particularly the title track, "1999," have held up surprisingly well, don't you?

08.Prince.-.1999 from Mauricio Onate on Vimeo.

So, in honor of Prince, instead of partying like it's 2010, I'm gonna party like it's 1999 tonight*, by sharing some classic videos from that year.

First up, Cher's "Believe," which I cannot believe is from 1999.

Followed by a little Ricky Martin, "Livin' La Vida Loca"...

(Ricky, we hardly knew ya.)

And who could forget "Smooth" by Santana, featuring Rob Thomas?

I know I can't.

And before Bieber Fever (and glee), there was... Britney, whose debut single, "...Baby One More Time," from her debut album of the same name, went to Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1999.

Man, I feel old.

To find out what other songs were topping the charts way back in 1999 (I know: cringe), click here.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year...

*Btw, by "party" I mean make and eat some homemade pizza, drink some sparkling wine, watch a bad movie (or two) and be in bed by 11 p.m.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

White House bans topless photos

Of the President. Killjoys.

This makes zero sense to me. Unless President Obama (like the rest of us) isn't looking as good as he did a couple of years ago (when the infamous pic to the right was snapped). And this is a clever way of hiding the fact that the only six-pack on him these days has a "Budweiser" label.

Still a ban on taking shirtless photos of President Obama while he's on vacation in Hawaii seems a bit extreme.

What's wrong with showing a little Presidential skin? Does he now have to wear a shirt when he goes swimming?

I think a buff Commander in Chief is a good thing.

So what do you all think? Do you think photographers should be banned from taking pictures of President Obama in swimming trunks (and nothing else)? Even if it's on a beach in Hawaii? Playing with his kids in the ocean? I mean, it's not like he's entertaining heads of state in the Oval Office in board shorts.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I got over 12 inches last night

And let me just say, it's overrated. (Also, my back is killing me.)

That, btw, would be our deck. Or what you can still see of it. With all the drifting snow, I think we accumulated over 18 inches of snow out there in the last 24 hours, maybe more.

You guys knew I was talking about snow, right? ;-)

(Note: We shoveled our front walk and around the driveway, which took around 45 minutes, a little while ago. But we're going to let Mother Nature deal with the deck.)

Oh yeah, and the funny weather guy on NBC 4 this morning reported that they got "0 inches of snow in Ft. Lauderdale overnight." Hardee har har. :-(

OMG, check out this amazing time lapse video of the blizzard, which covers 20 hours in 40 seconds. (Nicely captured, Mike Black.)

December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Felix Navidad (or How to Put a Cat in a Santa Hat)

So for Christmas this year, we (okay, the daughter and I) thought it would be hysterical to take a picture of our black cat, Felix, in a Santa hat. Why? So we could wish our friends a Felix Navidad.*

Get it? Felix Navidad! It's a riff on José Feliciano's Christmas song, "Feliz Navidad" -- "one of the most downloaded and aired Christmas songs in the United States and Canada," per Wikipedia.

Easier said than done.

Let me just say, when it comes to putting a cat in a hat, unless you are Dr. Seuss (or these guys), good luck. Though we came close, as this photo and video (our third attempt at capturing getting Felix to wear a Santa hat) attest.

Note: No humans were injured in the making of this video. And, this evening -- wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles -- the daughter managed to get the Santa hat on Felix!

Wishing you a Meowry Christmas...

*Also, we were totally jealous of all those rabbit owners who kept flaunting their Christmas outfit-wearing bunnies over on Disapproving Rabbits. And wanted to one up them by putting a cat in a Santa hat.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Funniest ads of 2010

As we look back on 2010, let us take a moment to review -- and chuckle along with -- some of the year's funniest ads (some of the funniest of which only appeared on YouTube).

Near (or at) the top of my list of favorite funny commercials from 2010 is this ad for GEICO, on why a former drill sergeant makes a terrible therapist. (Note: It is also why I would make a terrible therapist.)

Though this ad for Axe, titled "Axe Cleans Your Balls Press Conference," is right up there. I just love how the female reporter explains double entendre. (Again, I can so relate. Also, be sure to check out the original "Axe Cleans Your Balls" ad on YouTube.)

I also love the Bud Light Swear Jar ad, which cracks me up every time.

And while I am not a Minnesota Vikings fan, this NFL Mobile Redzone Ad, for Verizon Wireless, featuring Vikings wide receiver Adrian Peterson, totally cracks me up. (If I only had a dime for every time a football announcer said the words Adrian Peterson, I could have retired this year. Btw, even funnier than the ad are the comments on YouTube.)

Similarly, while not a New England Patriots (BOO! HISS!) fan, nor a Miami Dolphins fan, this ad for DirecTV, titled "Mass Fans," also cracks me up.

Ditto DirecTV's "Opulence, I has it" ad.

And although this ad, titled "Return to the Doghouse," came out in 2009, albeit late 2009, it may be my all-time favorite ad, so I've included it here.

Got a favorite funny ad from 2010 that I did not include here? Post a link in the Comments.

Monday, December 20, 2010

This Nativity scene is definitely not kosher

I heard about this bacon-and-sausage Nativity scene while listening to The Splendid Table this weekend on NPR -- and kept muttering "bacon-and-sausage Nativity scene" to myself while shopping so as not to forget to Google it when I got home.

Behold, the power of pork products!

For unto us a cocktail wiener is born?

We three kings of sausages are?

(Apparently these people did not know that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were Jewish -- or have an interesting sense of humor/irony.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

JibJab's annual review of the year that was ("So Long to Ya, 2010")

Another year, another JibJab year in review.

"So Long to Ya, 2010!"

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Note: to see how JibJab's 2010 Year in Review video, "So Long to Ya, 2010," was made, click here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Good books to curl up with on a cold winter's night

Haven't done a whole lot of reading since my last Book Nook blog post, but some of the books I did manage to read (or get through) were truly outstanding.

These books include (click on the hyperlink to go to the description):

Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg -- One of the most charming books I have read in a long time. Love Flagg's writing style and subtle sense of humor.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson -- Loved this book, though cannot say exactly why. Yes, the writing was quite good, and you really got a sense of each of the characters. And it brought back fond memories of my times in England. But...

Anyway, here's the description from Publishers Weekly:
In her charming debut novel, Simonson tells the tale of Maj. Ernest Pettigrew, an honor-bound Englishman and widower, and the very embodiment of duty and pride. As the novel opens, the major is mourning the loss of his younger brother, Bertie, and attempting to get his hands on Bertie's antique Churchill shotgun—part of a set that the boys' father split between them, but which Bertie's widow doesn't want to hand over. While the major is eager to reunite the pair for tradition's sake, his son, Roger, has plans to sell the heirloom set to a collector for a tidy sum. As he frets over the guns, the major's friendship with Jasmina Ali—the Pakistani widow of the local food shop owner—takes a turn unexpected by the major (but not by readers). The author's dense, descriptive prose wraps around the reader like a comforting cloak, eventually taking on true page-turner urgency as Simonson nudges the major and Jasmina further along and dangles possibilities about the fate of the major's beloved firearms. This is a vastly enjoyable traipse through the English countryside and the long-held traditions of the British aristocracy.
Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan -- This may be the best biography, or the best written biography, I have ever read (to date), and I'm not a huge Frank Sinatra fan. But I could not put this book down. In fact the spouse and I wound up reading it (same copy, which I bought) at the same time -- and would fight about who got to read it at night. (I reclaimed it when he went off on a business trip for three days, and he is now finishing it.) Kaplan is a phenomenal story teller, and if you appreciate music and/or are a fan of Frank Sinatra, this book is a must read.

I also read these two books, which deserve honorable mention (though I think Schiff's Cleopatra received more -- or higher -- praise than it deserved):

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff -- An objective look at Cleopatra, though it really says or tells more about the people around Cleopatra, notably Mark Anthony, than Cleopatra herself, which I found disappointing. (I also found it a bit overwritten.) Still, if you like biographies and are intrigued by the Queen of the Nile, check out Cleopatra: A Life, which the New York Times (and every other publication that reviews books) loved.

Parrot & Olivier in America by Peter Carey -- A charming fictionalized take on Alexis de Tocqueville's travels in America. If you are a fan of historical fiction and dry wit, you will like Parrot & Olivier in America.

And although I haven't read these two books (yet), I want to give shout outs to

Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade
by Justin Spring -- This biography has not only received rave reviews but was included in the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2010 list and is a National Book Award finalist. (Justin also happens to be a friend, and a darn good writer.)


I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany by Mark Greenside -- which the spouse just read (on our daughter's Kindle -- though he now has a Nook), and adored, and now our daughter is reading (on her Kindle), and is greatly enjoying. Must reading for Francophiles.

For additional book recommendations, click here (which will take you to a list of my previous Book Nook posts).

As always, I welcome your recommendations (many of which I've read, although I don't always post here).

Wishing you good reading...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Christmas gifts

This Christmas, give those you love the gift of laughter with one of these (slightly) naughty but nice Christmas gifts.

First up, forget jewelry or perfume, give the woman in your life what she truly wants, a hot guy with a really cute baby animal -- with the aptly named Hot Guys and Baby Animals 2011 calendar.

As the website says:
Are you sick and tired of seeing studly dudes showing off their perfectly sculpted muscles? Have you had enough of those adorable baby animals flaunting their newborn, fuzzy cuteness? Yeah, we didn't think so.
And speaking of fuzzy cuteness, why not get her these plush fleece sushi slippers from Uncommon Goods to kick back in?

As the description says: "This delectable set of salmon (orange) and tuna (red) rolls are sure to satisfy your cravings for rest and relaxation. Handmade from plush fleece with extra-cushy batting and no-slip, water resistant soles. Truly comfort food for the sole."

And for him, how about a nice warm (slightly naughty) sweater, like this Excited Snowman from Skedouche? (Sadly, I just discovered that the Excited Snowman sweater is out of stock, but make sure to bookmark the site so you can be sure to order your naughty or tacky Christmas sweater next season!)

You can also put some magic back in his life with this Magic Wand Programmable TV Remote from ThinkGeek.

As the retail wizards at ThinkGeek explain:
Our Wand may not make legions of kobold minions explode into flames, but it will learn up to 13 commands from your existing remote controls and map them to particular magical motions. Flick the wand from side to side to flip the channels, twist the wand to turn up the volume. A beam of light will shoot out the unicorn tail hair and magic will happen! The Wand can learn from any remotes in your house and once you master its 13 movements, you can mastermind a symphony of electronic enjoyment from the comfort of your couch. Then, and only then, are you an epic level controller.
And for the pessimist in your life, how about this "This glass is now half empty mug" from (which is one of my all-time favorite sites and has the most brilliant FAQ page EVER)?

Last but not least, give your little ones a gift they'll never forget this Christmas, like staph or herpes (pictured at left)!

After all, nothing says "I love you" like a virus! (Achoo!) Especially when it's blown up to thousands of times is natural size and is cute and cuddly and plush!

(A tip of my Santa hat to Friend of the Blog David T. for introducing me to GIANTmicrobes.)

I could go on (and on). But I won't.

Happy Christmas shopping!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cliff Lee to Phillies, Mets doomed; Jets suck; totally know how this guy feels

I don't know about Hell, but the Greater New York City area is certainly freezing over -- and I ain't just referring to the weather. Rather, I am referring to the breaking news that Pitching Ace Cliff Lee has re-signed with the Phillies. WTF?! That is so unfair. I wasn't thrilled about the idea of Lee signing with the New York Yankees (which I never really thought he'd do). But the Phillies, the team that dumped Cliff Lee just the other season?! And besides, the Philadelphia Phillies already have three aces in Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels! That's like stacking the deck! I cry "foul"! The New York Mets are now totally SCREWED, as are every other team in the National League. Why not just give the World Series trophy to the Phillies now, why don't you? Feh.

And speaking of cold, hard realities, what is with the New York Jets (of New Jersey), who don't seem to be able to catch a ball even when it's handed to them? WTF is up with that?! It has gotten to the point where I can barely watch Jets football. Just too painful. (And the New York Giants, who now own the stat of being the team with the most picks, ain't a whole lot more fun to watch.) If I'm Rex Ryan, I'd have Offensive Coordinator Brian Shottenheimer standing out there in the Jets practice facility with a hose and/or a snow machine -- heck, on an ice-skating rink -- making his wide receivers and tight ends practice catching the dang football in the worst possible conditions until they can do it 100 times in a row.

Lastly, I just came across this short video on YouTube, whose alternate title should be "Ever Had One of Those Days?" and had to share -- as I think we can all relate to what this guy is thinking. (LOVE the shots of his face.) Note: My daughter, who just had her winter band concert (she plays the clarinet), heard the video and thought it sounded like cats being tortured. (Am happy to report her band sounds A LOT better than these guys.)

Am now off to hibernate work.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Most annoying Christmas songs

We are not even halfway through the month of December, and I am already sick of Christmas music. And I like a lot of Christmas music! But these songs, which may or may not have seemed so annoying the first few times they were played on the radio (or in a department store), would test anyone's Christmas spirit when listened to dozens of times over the course of a few days, week after week, year after year.

Are these five Christmas songs the most annoying (and/or overplayed) Christmas songs ever? Though "ever" might be a bit harsh. (After all, one person's most annoying Christmas song is another person's best Christmas song ever.) You tell me -- and feel free to add to the list.

First up, Wham!'s "Last Christmas" (which has since been covered by Taylor Swift -- equally annoying -- and Cascada, though only Wham!'s version features big '80s hair and classic '80s threads).

Next, Paul McCartney and Wings' "Wonderful Christmas Time" (which may have been annoying right from the get go).

And although Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is way less annoying than Sir Paul & Co.'s "Wonderful Christmas Time," Carey's Christmas classic is still way overplayed, which earned it a spot on the list.

Ditto Christina Aguilera's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (though the other 142 versions, by other artists, also annoy me).

And enough with John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)."

I am sure I am leaving out some annoying/overplayed Christmas song. So please feel free to add to the list (by leaving a comment. Bonus points for including a link to the music video).

Note: To see last year's Christmas music post, which featured such Christmas classics as Alvin and the Chipmunks' "Christmas Don't Be Late" (aka "The Hula Hoop Song") and a mashup of the Snow Miser and Heat Miser songs, click here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You gotta know how to fold 'em

Some of us (me) were born with the folding gene; others of us (the spouse, our daughter) were not. But even those of us blessed with the ability to neatly fold clothes have (admit it) struggled with folding fitted sheets.

I learned to fold fitted sheets from my mother, using the two-person, hold-the-sheet-by-the-corners-width-wise-and-then-fold-corner-to-corner-and-bring-the-half-folded-sheet-to-the-other-person-to-finish-folding method, which worked pretty well -- as long as you had someone helping you. But what to do when/if you were alone? In my case, I emulated the two-person, corner-to-corner method by spreading the fitted sheet on my (queen-sized) bed, going from one side of the bed to the other. Very inefficient, but it works.

But now, thanks to my friend, Justin, and Jill Cooper of, my days of running around the bed to fold a fitted sheet are over! Behold, the power of "How to Fold a Fitted Sheet"!

If I did not already have a set of sheets in the dryer when I watched this video early this morning, I would have done a load. And even though it took a few tries, and my fitted sheet didn't look as neat as Jill Cooper's, the technique absolutely works.

Bonus folding video, for those of you who have always wondered what the best way to fold a t-shirt was:

Btw, if any of you understands Japanese, let me know what she says!

Sayanora and happy folding!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cat gets back massage (video)

Sure, I could have written about the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death and his newly released final interview. (Thirty years?! Wow, I feel old.)

Or I could have chosen to blog about the death of Elizabeth Edwards at the too-young age of 61. (So sad.)

But I didn't. And you know why? Because on a sad day like today what the world really needs is... a video of a cat getting a massage in a shiatsu back and neck massage chair.

Cat gets a back massage |

Hey, it was either the cat getting a massage or pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sleep Camp

Feeling tired?

Ever feel that naps are wasted on the young?

Wish every day was National Go-Back-to-Bed Day?

Or that you could just hibernate for the winter?

Are you at the point where the thought of a good night's rest sounds even better than a good night of sex?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you need to attend Sleep Camp. That is, as soon as the spouse and I work out a few details and open it. But I'm pretty sure we have a can't-miss concept here. After all, who wouldn't want to learn how to get a better night's rest, especially if it meant taking a few days off from work in some beautiful locale where you didn't have to do anything but relax?

Think of Sleep Camp as a kind of a co-ed, exercise-or-not spa vacation, where the main (and only) goal was to sleep for at least eight hours a day. Where you would learn which mattress and pillow was right for you. And where instructors would hold classes with names like How to Grab 20 Winks, Nap Like a Nipper, How to Sleep Anywhere Anytime, and Learning to Sleep with a Snorer -- and would teach you easy exercises (for lack of a better word) and tricks that would help you get to sleep faster and have sweet dreams, when they weren't giving massages and waiting on you hand and foot.

Sounds like a dream to me.

But let me ask all of you, if such a camp existed, would you sign up?

(Of course now that I've revealed our brilliant idea someone is bound to steal it, but I'm too tired to care right now.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Finally, a cure for UGG boots

I have never owned a pair of UGG boots, and frankly, until recently, had never been much tempted to own a pair. In fact, I have fond memories of hanging out in Santa Barbara with my friend, Larissa, making counting how many women we saw wearing UGG boots and mini skirts (in 60-plus-degree weather) into a drinking game. But that was before I beheld UGG Bailey Button Triplet Boots and suddenly
felt the irresistible pull of UGG boots.

Thank goodness, though, for UGGCITRIN, the only vaccine for the UGG boot virus.

[A big THANK YOU to Friend of the Blog (FOB) Another David S. for letting me know about UGGCITRIN.]

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Best Hanukkah song EVER (UPDATED with more great Chanukah music!)

I flip my latkes in the air sometimes sayin ayy ohh spin the dreidel
Just wanna celebrate for all eight nights singin ayy oh, light the candles

We say al hanissim
Oh yea for all eight nights
Then we play dreidel
By the candlelight

And I told you once
Now I told you twice
Bout the miracle
Of the candlelight

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, begins tonight at sundown. And if I wasn't already Jewish (though I grew up celebrating Christmas), I might consider converting, at least for Hanukkah, after hearing "Candlelight" by the Maccabeats -- which is dynamite -- about the Hanukkah miracle. Seriously, best Hanukkah song EVER. (Sorry Adam Sandler and Orrin Hatch.)

[Major hat tip to FOB Rosita for sending this to me.]

I don't know about all of you, but I can't wait to hear what the Maccabeats have in store for Passover.

In the meantime, Chanukah Sameach!

UPDATED: This Chanukah music mashup video featuring Jewish a cappella group Six13, just sent to me via commenter Chana, is so good, I had to include it here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alcohol-infused whipped cream + pink fluffy unicorns

Forget Jell-O shots, my friends. Indeed, why go to the trouble when there is now... alcohol-infused whipped cream. Let me just type that again: alcohol-infused whipped cream. An idea so brilliant, it is only a matter of time until the FDA bans it (and some concerned parent gets on my ass about seemingly promoting the stuff, which, in the case of CREAM, contains 15% alcohol by volume and is therefore totally inappropriate for children).

But between us adults, seriously, where was this product when we were in college -- or, to be politically correct (and legal), when we were in our 20s? Can you image the whipped-cream frat parties?

Though, come to think of it, my mother was putting rum in her whipped cream for as far back as I can remember, though I doubt her whipped cream was 30 proof, and I seem to have survived without too much brain damage. Then again, I wasn't squirting cans of the stuff down my gullet every weekend.

Of course, without alcohol-infused caffeinated drinks (or caffeine-infused alcohol) to kick around anymore (though I believe you can still order Irish coffee at many restaurants), the FDA and concerned citizens (aka killjoys) need something to go after, and it's probably just a matter of time until Whipped Lightning (the makers of Whipahol, available in Hazelnut Espresso, German Chocolate, and Caramel Pecan) and CREAM (tagline: Get Whipped), although they are marketed to adults and are only available in liquor or package stores, get pulled.

Until then, please squirt responsibly. Otherwise you might start seeing (and singing about) pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows.

[MAJOR hat tip to FOB Larissa. I love you, (wo)man.]

UPDATED: Got an email from Kyle over at asking me to include this video they did about the alcohol-infused whipped cream craze. Happy to oblige, Kyle.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

And now... we dance! (Yet another '80s flashback blog post)

Anyone get that reference? Anyone? Anyone?

If you guessed "Mike Myers as Dieter from the Saturday Night Live sketch Sprockets," you are absolutely correct!

Anyway, I am, for some reason, in total 1980s flashback mode this weekend, specifically 1980s techno-pop or alternative/new wave British dance music mode. You know, stuff like Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough"...

Bronski Beat's "Why?"...

And "Don't Go" by Yaz (or Yazoo).

If I could have found more videos for Yaz, specifically for "Situation*," which my friend, Emma, used to call "Blue Mouth," I would have posted them all here. I totally (heart) Yaz.

So what music makes you want to put on your your your your boogie shoes? This is the part of the blog post where we leave comments.

UPDATED: Ooo... look what I just found! [H/T to a certain blonde currently living in Bangkok.]

When last I looked for "Mirror in the Bathroom" by The English Beat, I couldn't find it anywhere. Doing happy dance now.

*Note: Many thanks to FOB Dave S. for reminding me that the song was called "Situation," NOT "Move Out," as I had originally written. (Hanging head in shame.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

More like Fat Friday


We cooked. We ate. We cleaned.

Behold, the power -- and yumminess -- of the first J-TWO-O Thanksgiving! (To see what we made, along with the recipes, click here.)

And we have, surprisingly, not a ridiculous amount of leftovers, and not just because we let Felix (our black cat) share in the turkey. But I seriously don't know how people have the energy to go shopping at 3 or 4 or 5 (or even 9 or 10) a.m. the day after Thanksgiving. Us? We can barely move. (At dinner last night my daughter said "Black Friday? More like Fat Friday, though I guess people need to go shopping because now they need a new pair of pants." So young and yet so wise.)

That said, I may waddle wander out and check out some sales later today.

In other big Thanksgiving-related news: The Jets won!!! In regulation!!! 26-10!!! (As predicted, I fell asleep just before the start of the fourth quarter, but the spouse broke the news to me this morning.) Seriously, this may have been the best Thanksgiving ever. Great food. No traffic. No arguing at the dinner table. And the Jets hold onto first place in the AFC East (though I in no way count the Patriots out).

Life is good.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let's talk turkey (and football)

For the first time in memory, I am spending Thanksgiving (also known as Turkey Day) at home this year. And that's just fine by me. Not that there is anything wrong with spending Thanksgiving away from home.

All of my life (as far back as I can remember), I have enjoyed Thanksgiving in someone else's home (mainly my aunt and uncle's, who put out a great spread but live about 3 hours away and my neck and back can't take the long car trip at this point) or else at some hotel somewhere (typically someplace warmer and/or more exotic than here, often involving chocolate). But I am quite looking forward to making the traditional Thanksgiving meal, in my own kitchen, with the spouse and the kid; eating it right here; and then watching the Jets tackle the Bengals.

Anyway, for those who are interested, here is what we are making for our first Thanksgiving:

Brined and roasted turkey (courtesy of Emeril Lagasse)

Simple and amazing cranberry sauce

Mushroom stuffing (courtesy of Rachael Ray)

Brussel sprouts

And for dessert:

Mark Sanchez
. Oops. I meant Paula Deen's pumpkin cheesecake. ;-)

(Can you tell we watch a LOT of Food Network, can you?)

Speaking of Mark Sanchez -- and the New York Jets -- could you guys please win a football game by the start of the fourth quarter and spare us fans having to make appointments to get fitted for a pacemaker? You boys are killing me. Though considering the amount of turkey I plan on consuming tomorrow, I may not be able to stay awake into the fourth quarter of tomorrow night's Jets vs. Cincinnati Bengals matchup at home (in New Jersey) at New Meadowlands Stadium.

In the meantime, I wish everyone reading this blog post a very happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful -- and will be giving thanks -- for each one of you.

Also, GO JETS!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

TSA gives "fear of flying" whole new meaning

I almost feel bad for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), whose new invasive pat-down procedures (done on passengers who opt out of going through the new full-body scanners now installed at most major airports) have been blog, t-shirt, and late-night comedy fodder for over a week now. After all, the TSA (in theory, and hopefully in practice) is only trying to protect passengers from security threats (i.e., being blown up, shot, knifed, or poisoned by their fellow passengers). Though it seems some TSA agents have taken to their new responsibilities a little too enthusiastically. (For examples, just type in "TSA pat down" into your favorite search engine.)

And while that Saturday Night Live TSA sketch is pretty funny, as are some of the t-shirts I have seen, there is nothing funny about the way some TSA agents have interpreted the new security procedures, inappropriately touching passengers, especially children. (To see TSA guidelines for passenger security checkpoints, click here.)

Sure, no one is forcing passengers to be patted down (unless an agent finds them suspicious or they have the misfortune of being subject to a random security check -- been there, done that). But the alternatives aren't all that appealing either -- i.e., full-body scans (which some feel are akin to virtual strip searches) or older, less effective screening methods -- at least for some people.

Sadly, I think that even with full-body scanners and pat downs, if someone really wants to blow up an airplane or inflict damage, he or she will figure out a way to do it -- and that it's only a matter of time until we hear about some case where someone posted full-body scan pictures of passengers (famous or otherwise) on the Internet and this whole thing really blows up.

But what do you think about the new TSA rules? Are they fair? Would you rather undergo a full-body scan or a pat down? Let me know via the Comments.

UPDATED: You can read the latest on the airport screening controversy here. Btw, I am surprised no one has used the headline "Pistole Whipped" to describe the beating the TSA chief, John S. Pistole, has taken in the court of public opinion and in the media. Also take a gander at this clip on how to protect your privates from prying eyes:

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

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cleaning is fun! (Or how Disney screwed up women)

When I was growing up, and living at home, although we had someone who came in once a week (or every two weeks) to clean, I was expected to make my bed, keep my room clean, do my own laundry, and help out around the house (which, in my case, was an apartment).

Sleep away camp, which was supposed to be "fun" (HA!), was no different. We were expected to make our beds -- every day -- so that a quarter would bounce off the blanket; keep our clothes neatly folded in our trunks; and share in chores, which included sweeping the bunk and cleaning the bathroom. And, unlike Snow White, I didn't have any woodland friends to help me (unless you count my fellow campers, who weren't nearly as cute or as helpful as Snow White's), even though there were plenty up in Maine (where my camp was).

While others shirked their duty, I dutifully cleaned and pitched in because I'm an idiot if I didn't my bunk mates and I would suffer the consequences (ditto back at home, minus the bunk mates). But, even though I was really good at cleaning, I NEVER found it fun, nor did I find myself whistling a happy tune (and not just because I can't whistle).

Fast forward to adulthood -- and to waking up to scenes not so unlike this one from Enchanted (including the pigeons and cockroaches).

Actually watching that scene from Enchanted brings back memories of when I was first dating the spouse, and I would go over to his place and find a stack of dirty dishes lying in as well as next to his sink -- and would immediately start washing them and tidying up (without the help of rats or pigeons or insects!).

Fast forward to yesterday (Saturday) when I found myself, for the second time in about a week, on my hands and knees cleaning the wooden floor in the spouse's new home office, shining the new window, vacuuming the floor, and lint-rolling the carpet, which had just been dropped off from the cleaner, though it still looked like it was covered in cat hair. (Note: To be fair, the spouse did not ask me to do this. My Disney princess training just automatically kicked in.) And don't worry, I only did this after feeding the cats, cleaning the cat boxes, tidying up the kitchen, doing a load of laundry, going to get breakfast, and polishing shoes.

And all the while, as I wiped and polished and tidied, I kept thinking about Cinderella, and that scene (which I couldn't find) where all the cleaning is magically done for her -- and how happy that stupid Snow White seemed when she was cleaning up after those seven slovenly dwarfs, and it suddenly hit me: Disney totally screwed us women! He brainwashed us into thinking that cleaning was FUN and that a way to a man's heart wasn't just by cooking him a nice warm meal (which I also do, though the spouse cooks on the weekends) but washing his clothes and cleaning his house! OMG!!!

Fortunately (or not), my daughter, to whom I never read fairy tales to, nor had any interest in Disney princesses, has no such problem regarding cleaning. In fact, she is against it. Finds it a total waste of time and BORING. Besides, why clean when the cleaning fairy does it for you, while you are at school or asleep?

While I am (somewhat) relieved that she did not inherit my Felix Unger obsession with cleanliness, I do wish she was a little (ahem) less like Oscar Madison. (We have even offered her monetary incentives to regularly clean up, but she has turned them all down, telling us instead to donate the money to those who really need it.) Still, while she may not be cleanliest of children, unlike her mother she is almost always whistling a happy tune.

My mother (who, though in France, still reads my blog posts) reminded me that in addition to Disney, I was also very fond of Free to Be You and Me, which featured Carol Channing singing a little ditty about Housework, the lyrics of which (just click on the hyperlink) are a must read. Wish mom had emailed me this before I spent yesterday morning and this morning cleaning by myself!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why we love/hate Sarah Palin

Ever since she burst onto the national scene (thanks for nothing, John McCain) just over two years ago now, I have been trying to figure out what it is about Sarah Palin that makes some people practically swoon (Sean Hannity) at the sight of her while making others practically bang their head into the nearest wall (the list is too long to include here) the second she opens her mouth. And I think I may have finally figured it out. Sort of.

Herewith, a bulleted list of why people love/hate Sarah Palin.

Why People Love Sarah Palin

* She's very attractive
* She's charismatic
* She's feisty
* She's confident
* She always smiles
* She's unapologetic
* She doesn't make people feel stupid (indeed, quite the contrary)
* She's makes people who were not good students, who hated school and felt looked down upon by "the smart kids," and who quit when things got tough, feel good or better about themselves

Don't get me wrong. These are all fine traits -- great traits even, well, except maybe for that last one -- especially when used for a good cause. Of course, they also describe many cult leaders (and if you don't think that the whole Sarah Palin phenomenon is some kind of cult of personality, take another hit) and some serial killers.

Okay. So I can see why so many people like and admire Sarah Palin (and the Jersey Shore's Snooki, for that matter). Confidence is very attractive, and sexy, especially in stiletto heels and a tight skirt. You betcha. Oh, and if you think looks don't matter, guess again. I guarantee you that if Sarah Palin looked like Sharron Angle or Carly Fiorina no way would she be this popular -- or have her own television show(s). Nor would her daughter, Bristol Palin, be a contestant -- excuse me, finalist -- on Dancing with the Stars. (But that is a different blog post.)

So why do so many people (namely people who attended and graduated from just one college, which they worked really hard to get into and graduate from, who value and respect book learning and intellectual curiosity, and look down on liars and quitters) hate her? And no, that is not a rhetorical question (though on second thought...).

Why People Hate Sarah Palin

* She's feisty
* She's charismatic
* She's unapologetic
* She's confident
* She always smiles
* She's very attractive
* She makes people who were good students, who pride themselves on being informed and accurate and intellectually curious, want to pull their hair out
* She's like that pretty, popular mean girl in high school, who was good at sports and dated the captain of the football team, thought studying and getting As were for losers, who wouldn't give a nerd the time of day, and made other girls who weren't as pretty or popular feel bad about themselves (especially if they were good students)

Though many Palin supporters would simply say -- or rather shout -- "You're just jealous!" And that may be true. But I'll tell you this, I would rather have a smart, confident, unapologetic woman like Hillary Clinton be President of the United States than a proudly ignorant, confident, unapologetic woman like Sarah Palin -- any day.

UPDATED: Et tu, Fox News? (And you thought Alaska was cold.)

Love this paragraph from Frank Rich's latest column -- on Palin:
[L]ogic doesn’t apply to Palin. What might bring down other politicians only seems to make her stronger: the malapropisms and gaffes, the cut-and-run half-term governorship, family scandals, shameless lying and rapacious self-merchandising. In an angry time when America’s experts and elites all seem to have failed, her amateurism and liabilities are badges of honor. She has turned fallibility into a formula for success.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cat named Rabbit adopts pup named Bambi

Warning: This blog post contains excessive cuteness.

I first heard about this mom-cat-adopts-orphaned-puppy story a few days ago (on the Weather Channel of all places), and wanted to share this great feel-good story, but I couldn't find embeddable video -- until now.

Meet Mrs. Rabbit, a beautiful gray long-haired cat, her two kittens, Thumper and Friend Owl, and the orphaned Chihuahua/Shih Tzu puppy she adopted, Bambi, while at the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

You can learn more about Mrs. Rabbit, her two kittens, and Bambi the puppy, as well as see additional video of them, here.

Btw, per the Cleveland APL site, while Bambi has since been spoken for, Mrs. Rabbit and her two kittens are still looking for a home. So if any of you reside in the Cleveland area, please consider adopting this remarkable cat and her kittens.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The coolest show on TV?

No, I am not referring to Sarah Palin's Alaska on TLC, the premiere of which this past Sunday broke TLC ratings records.

I am referring to the ingenious Phineas and Ferb over on the Disney Channel.

Go ahead and make fun of me, but I love Phineas and Ferb -- a show about imagination, ingenuity, and the importance of family and friends, which also happens to have the best soundtrack of any show (kid or adult, animated or live action) currently on TV.

And I know I am not the only parent who appreciates Phineas and Ferb's wit, positive message, and awesome music. (Seriously, I am this close to downloading "Alien Heart" and "Gitchee Gitchee Goo" onto my iPod.)

Heck, WIRED magazine, a magazine for ADULTS (albeit adult geeks), just published a feature article about Phineas and Ferb creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh.

So next time you find yourself complaining that there's nothing good on TV, check out Phineas and Ferb. (New episode airs this Friday at 9 p.m. ET!) And you, too, will find yourself saying "Curse you, Perry the Platypus!"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Joy of Football

Ah Sunday in November, when a middle-aged woman's fancy turns to... football... and poetry.

How do I love football? Let me count the ways...
(With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I love football? Let me count the ways.
I love football to the first down and touch down or field goal
Each drive can reach, as the ball is passed or run down the field
From the end zone of the opposing team and the ideal runback.
I love football to the level of each Sunday's
Most heated game, by sun and stadium-light.
I love football freely, as men strive for touchdowns;
I love football purely, as they return from punts.
I love football with a passion put to use
In shouting for my teams, and with a chilled beer.
I love football with a love I seemed to lose
When my teams lost, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if the football gods so choose,
I shall but love thee better after my team wins the Super Bowl.

The Jets Fan's Prayer (Cleveland Edition)

Our Jets team, which art in Cleveland,
hallowed be thy run game.
Thy defense come.
Thy will be done on the Browns,
as it was on the Patriots and Bills.
Give us this Sunday our next big win,
and forgive us our sacks and penalties,
as we block and intercept those who seek to score against us.
Lead us not into defeat,
but deliver us to the Super Bowl.

O Giants! My Giants! (With apologies to Walt Whitman)

O GIANTS! My Giants! your fearful rivalry is done;
The team has weather'd every sack, the prize we sought is won;
The Cowboys are here, the shouts I hear, the fans all exulting,
While Eli takes the steady snap, the offense grim and daring:
O hut! hut! hut!
Soon they'll be bleeding drops of Cowboy silver,
When on the field another Cowboy pass lies,
Fumbled yet again.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yet another reason to love Steve Martin (especially if you are an Atheist)

Some love Steve Martin as that wild and crazy guy from Saturday Night Live.

Others love Steve Martin as the singer of "King Tut."

Still others love Steve Martin for his all-natural Penis Beauty Cream.

And there are those who love Steve Martin for his amazing bluegrass banjo playing. (Seriously, is there nothing this man cannot do?)

Now, God love him, Steve Martin is courting another group, Atheists, with the first ever gospel song created just for Atheists, called "Atheists Don't Have No Songs," performed by Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers on Austin City Limits. (Hat tip to the Huffington Post.) I swear, watching this converted me -- to a Steve Martin fan.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who says cats aren't affectionate?

I am always perplexed when people state that cats are simply not affectionate (like dogs are). Puh-lease. If my two cats were any more affectionate, I would have to buy a lint roller company.

I'll give you that some cats are not as friendly as dogs, preferring to go about their own business without any human intervention. But not affectionate? I can't get my cats to leave me alone. Indeed, if I do not constantly pet Flora, she will take her right (or left) paw and gently tap me on the shoulder or rub up against me or sit on top of my work and block my monitor until I pet her (some more).

And I am such a softy that I don't have the heart to wake up Felix (my black cat) when he's curled up in my lap. Which, despite the title of the video, is why I often spend hours working at the computer without getting up (or eating or showering) and probably have clots in both legs that would surely kill me if I did not work out regularly.

But despite the inconvenience, I wouldn't trade my two cats for anything. They're purr-fect.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Of bras and panties and going Commando

[Alternate titles: Miracle on 64th Street or Making Mountains Out of Mole Hills]

Ever since reading this article (about the A-cup crowd) and this other article (about finding the perfect bra) in The New York Times back in September, I have been dying to go see Linda The Bra Lady, in New York City, and have her team of expert bra fitters work their magic on me (or certain parts thereof), just like she did on Live with Regis and Kelly:

So, for my birthday, I made an appointment to go to Linda The Bra Lady's store, with my friend, G. And lo and behold, right there on 64th Street and Lexington Avenue in New York City, a miracle occurred. For how else can I possibly explain my ability to suddenly wear a C-cup (without the benefit of plastic surgery or pregnancy) -- and a form fitting C-cup at that? It was a miracle, I tell you -- or else the work of some very marketing-savvy bra manufacturers. (Evil, evil bra marketers.)

Whatever the reason, being professionally fitted (i.e., smooshed, or should I say, artfully arranged?) into one gorgeous bra after another, all of which looked great on, made me feel like a true C-cup -- a really pretty, sexy C-cup. Note: Being fitted for a bra -- or being a bra fitter for that matter -- is not for the faint of heart (or breast) or the modest. Without going into too much detail, let me just say, I have a much greater appreciation for how butchers manage to squeeze sausage into a casing and get it to look so good.

Sadly, while the bra fitting -- and acquisition -- was a great success (I totally heart you, Simone Perele!), I had no such luck with panties. Sure, lacy thongs and silky boy shorts look great -- on a hanger, or a Victoria's Secret model, both of which, when last I checked, didn't have buttocks. On me? Not so much.

And there was no way I was going Commando, a product no doubt inspired by Britney Spears, which apparently is the latest rage -- with boxes of the "invisible underwear" prominently displayed in front of the register at Linda The Bra Lady's.

Note to Her Look Enterprises: If I can see them, they are not invisible. (Her Look markets the Commando simultaneously as "invisible underwear" and "better than nothing.")

Despite a momentary underwear low, though, I consider the outing a tremendous success. (Did I mention that I am now a C-cup, albeit only in some marketing bizarro world.) I only wish Linda's also sold swimsuits.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Return of the Swedish Bikini Team

They're ba-ack. Well, sort of. Remember those Old Milwaukee beer commercials featuring the Swedish Bikini Team?

And you thought it didn't get any better than that.

Well, Columbia Sportswear has brought back the Swedish Bikini Team, the real Swedish Bikini Team, to hawk their new Omni-Heat jackets. And the gals are better and more Swedish than before!