Saturday, May 31, 2008


OK, maybe afterglow is a strong term. The movie was hardly orgasmic, though it didn't suck nearly half as bad as I thought it might. Now, the die-hard readers probably should stop reading here. I'm not gonna throw in any spoilers, but I do want to make a few points about the Sex and the City movie and they're not so glowing.

1. Hey Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Patrick King, maybe you can afford three names and all the designer goods you can get your hands on. The rest of us are fighting high gas prices, high food prices and shrinking budgets. Sure $525 Manolos are considered a luxury even in this movie, but they simply beyond the realm of possible for most people.

A ring or purse is not love and it's a kinda limited way of showing someone you love them. This rampant consumerism and the entire notion of tying emotion to material goods really bothered me as I sat through 2.5 hours of designers, dresses and of course, shoes.

2. These four women are incredibly co-dependent. How have they not really encountered any new people in 10 years? My group of friends and my closest confidants shift and grow over time. Sure, the bestest best friends stick around, but my circle continues to expand, contract and entirely change as time goes by. Dare I assert that one reason the SATC ladies encounter such trouble with men is that they depend entirely too much on each other?

And while we're on the friendships in this movie, how is it these women can be so close and yet they can completely chastise each other for sprouting a little hair in an unmentionable place or actually gaining 10 pounds?! Your female friends are the ones who are supposed to love you regardless of those types of things.

3. Despite what Carrie and Enid say at Vogue, men are NOT the new black. They are our lovers, boyfriends, man-friends, significant others and sources of endless confusion. They come in all shapes, colors and patterns, but we love them and don't use them to accessorize.

4. Even despite all this bitching, I still enjoyed the movie and even more, I loved what the movie gave me. A fantastic night out with my girlfriends (15 of us schlepped over to the theater together) that might not have included any labels, but was nonetheless fabulous.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sex and the Megaplex

All week I've been waiting for it like some love-addled, desperate female... like a well, typical character on Sex and the City. Not the movie, but rather the New York Times review OF the movie. For the men (and brave but cynical women) reading this before seeing the movie, feel free to click here. For those hopeless romantics, just wait and see the flick. In fact, stop reading this post altogether.

OK - the rest of you who are still with me - what is it about expectation that can have such an impact on perception? Carrie herself devoted an entire episode to "Great Sexpectations," and on the eve of the movie's American release, I find myself waiting in mixed anticipation and dread. Before you cast me off like last season's Manolo's, let me say that I have always been a huge fan of the show. I routinely (however unhealthfully) turn to the show's backlog for solace, advice, validation and fashion how-tos.

More than perhaps any other piece of television, SATC has deeply influenced the buying, relating, dating and mating habits of women all over the world. It has even, dare I say, influenced men and given them permission to emote and provided role models for men in relationships with strong women.

However, taking all that brilliance (that always seemed to fit in 30 minute chunks) and stretching it out for 2 plus hours scares me a bit. Just look at the Monty Python boys. Unbelievable hilarity abounded in the TV show, but when they got into a movie, it often lagged (except for that giant rabbit thing). The Simpsons didn't fare much better.

While I have absolute confidence that the clothing will be fabulous and the cinematography quintessentially soft-focused, my expectations of the plot, characters and the all-important dialogue are much lower. I relish the idea of a girls' night out and I'm stoked to get dressed up and have a fun night with my friends. But, I don't think I'll be getting the one super-long, luxurious, orgiastic episode that all the fans have been waiting for either.

Have I been harsher than Michiko Kakutani? Perhaps. Who knows, maybe like Charlotte the perfect, pearl-wearing, Episcopalian princess with her schlubby, sweaty, Jewish husband, I too will be surprised.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Food Magic

Why is it we’ve ascribed certain magical powers to specific foods? For example, I was at the grocery store tonight and the guy in front of me in line was buying a frozen pepperoni pizza, a pack of Marlboro reds, two pints of premium ice cream…and a Diet Coke. Really? You’ve already got the nicotine, nitrates, sodium, cholesterol, sugar and caffeine – would a little more sugar make or break you?

Women (and maybe men too) are taught at an early age various food truisms, such as, “Diet Coke cancels out whatever else you’re eating “Eating celery actually burns calories because of the energy digestion requires.” Or my personal favorite, “broken cookies have no calories.”

Why do we need to convince ourselves of these completely illogical notions in order to justify the dietary choices we make? Why not just eat the cookie, feel no guilt and simply do a few extra crunches or climb an extra hill? Or, even more radically, accept the implications for our health and our waistlines if we make less-than-perfect food choices?
Far more thoughtful writers have considered the incredibly backward relationship many Americans have with food and it’s far beyond my capacity (or that of this blog) to solve the crisis of unhealthy eating patterns ingrained into our culture. However, I will say that it’s time to get past the guilt, past the ignorance and past the insanity. And while you’re at it, pass the celery. It’s bikini season after all.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Africa Stone

Among my more indulgent guilty pleasures in life, right up there with chocolate fudge brownie from Ben and Jerry's and dulce de leche from Haagen Daaz, is watching the World's Strongest Man competitions on ESPN.

Always broadcasting from places like Kuala Lampur or Cape Town (where presumably the doping laws are lax), the World's Strongest Man competition pits unbelieveably muscular athletes against one another in unbelieveably ridiculous feats of strength. In one round they lift cars and in the next they must stand between two huge pillars and hold them up, then go and squat 500 pounds.

My favorite event is the Africa stone wherein the competitors shlep around a big rock carved in the shape of the eponymous continent. Frequently Nordic men with names like Magnus Samuelsson and Svend Karlson go head-to-head with their Baltic, Slavic and North American counterparts Zydrunas Savickas (my favorite because he's Lithuanian and so am I - well one-quarter Lithuanian, but who's counting?). Recently, I got to thinking about why I love these programs as much as I do.

The best I could come up with (because I'm just not that into muscles) is that I am in awe of their strength. While theirs is clearly visible and tangible, I think real strength has many forms. Most people have no idea of how strong they can be until the situation demands it. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Women are like tea bags. They don't know how strong they are until they get into hot water."

A wise woman that Eleanor. Having recently come through a very challenging situation, I marveled at my own ability to be strong for those around me, knowing the entire time that I'm always been a pretty strong person. Does it come from faith? Pure tenacity? Previous trials by fire?

Probably all of the above. But more than any of those, I think real strength is being able to pull strength and support from other people when you need it most. Just like Zydrunas has his legion of trainers, I have had an incredible team of people who have astoundingly known when to coddle, when to push, when to question and when to just listen. To everyone who has been there for me these past few weeks - thank you. While I don't plan to carry around a gigantic stone to prove it, you have all made me stronger.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pre-Reunion Reflections

26 days to go. That's less than 4 weeks until I must face the inevitable, face my past and pray to every Divine being that my life now is better than it was at age 18. Yes, dear reader, in just 26 days I will attend my 10-year high school reunion.

A sizeable piece of me had initially taken the attitude employed by Janeane Garofalo's character in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. Namely, "Why don't you tell everyone I said to go fuck themselves for making my teen years a living hell?" But then my best friend (who was incidentally our valedictorian and is now skinny and a doctor), convinced me I had to go if for no other reason than to serve as her navigator. Plus, she promised to host an after-party where I could crash on her couch.

Armed with my $250 plane ticket, $54 reunion ticket, $30 dress and the obligatory flask in my purse, I feel prepared to encounter people I was more than willing to forget 10 years ago. Lest anyone think me a complete misanthrope, there are quite a few people I am really excited to see (especially since I weigh 45 pounds less than I did in high school), and there are several others who won't be there but with whom I've recently and happily reconnected.

So what is it in our DNA that drives us to want to see people whose company we had to endure during our most awkward years? Why should I put myself through an entire afternoon with 28-year-olds pregnant with their fourth kid when I can't be held responsible for a house plant? Will my former classmate who is now a star in the NFL make an appearance? Where's the bar?

Actually, reflecting on this reunion has led me to one valid question... now with sites like Facebook, My Space, etc. so avidly used by high school and college students, will they need reunions or will they just stay in touch indefinitely in some suspended reality of the Internet?

Ultimately, I am looking forward to this reunion, despite my snarky comments to the contrary (and that little bit of fear eating away at me). If all else fails, it will surely provide ample fodder for this blog and your future entertainment.

Go Toros!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It's not easy being (without) green

Astronomical rents, myriad bureaucratic fees, weird gas pricing, tolls, overly zealous tow truck companies, oh yeah, and we're in a recession. Sometimes a girl just can't catch a break.

I've said it before and I'll whine about it again - living in Jersey is just too damn expensive! Yeah, New York City is a stone's throw away, but is that really so fantastic when the cost of living your life is prohibitive? Being in close proximity to Zabar's and the Met is cold comfort when a pound of rugelach costs $14 and admission costs $20.. that on top of the newly increased $8 toll to cross the George Washington Bridge.

Sure, there are advantages to living even in suburban New Jersey compared to say, Akron (sorry Tamar if you're reading this), but why are all those advantages burning a hole in my rapidly shrinking wallet? Luckily, one of my favorite local activities - walking - is still free. And none of the parks or historical sites in my vicinity are on Governor Corzine's chopping block.

Whatever happened to bartering? To a cheap thrill? To something for nothing?

Jersey may be the Garden State, but there's a gate on that garden and they're charging admission.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Spring is here and not a moment too soon. Though the weather forecast occasionally veers into unfortunate rain showers, it's official - springtime.

After a particularly grueling past month, the sunshine, blooming trees and vibrant flowers could not be more welcome companions on my regular walks around town. There's a big statue in the center of my town and today it was completely encircled by a raucous array of tulips in yellow, red, fuchsia, deep purple and everything in between. Coupled with fantastic weather actually on a weekend day when I had no big plans, the sight was transformative.

I'm not one to regularly wax rhapsodic about floral or meterological moments of serendipity (I tend to leave the serendipity for my relationships... see previous post), but sometimes you have to just leave yourself outdoors for a bit to appreciate some of the good stuff.

For a girl whose hometown experiences spring sometime in mid-February, this very East Coast way of getting a mood lift after an entirely too long winter still fascinates me. I understand a little better why many people flee places like the Northeast in favor of Florida, Arizona or San Diego, but I am also beginning to dig this whole "seasons" thing.

So here's to the return of my freckles, my allergies and if I can just get enough time this week - my pedicure.