Category Archives: Pop Culture

The Most Interesting Woman in the World

Yesterday my husband and I went to the The Mellow Mushroom for pizza. It was an off hour, so we were able to sit in a rather secluded table away from the noisy families with kids and the groups of flirting high school students. During the course of conversation, my husband brings up Jonathan Goldsmith, the actor that plays the “The Most Interesting Man in the World“ in the popular Dos Equis commercials. He had read on Adweek.com that when Mr. Goldsmith auditioned for the role of The Most Interesting Man in the World, he did so barefoot.

“Out of the hundreds of actors who auditioned in cities countrywide to make a case for why they should play The Most Interesting Man in the World, only one took off a shoe and sock to audition barefoot. Why? He wanted to leave a lasting impression. That actor was 73-year-old Jonathan Goldsmith, who, in casting, had mentioned he lived on a boat in Beverly Hills (an impossible feat).“

This started a wonderful conversation about our own personal trivia list. If IMDb asked us for a personal list of trivia would we have anything interesting to tell them? It turns out we both had some pretty interesting line items. Here’s my top 15 in no particular order:

1. I once embalmed a body.

2. I’ve ridden a mechanical bull.

3. I was standing behind Oliver Stone when he was filming Al Pacino’s locker room speech in Any Given Sunday.

4. I wrote a complaint letter to President Jimmy Carter when I was little, asking him not to interrupt my favorite shows which at the time were Scooby Doo, The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. (Several weeks later, I got a package from The White House that included a nice note from the President’s secretary stating, “the President really enjoyed your letter“. As an adult, I have no doubt that he actually read that letter and found it amusing.)

5. I knew Humphrey Bogart’s mistress.

6. I once intentionally ate a bug.

7. I can’t whistle.

8. When I was about 10 years old and out to dinner with my parents, two NBC executives at a nearby table, overheard me saying that I thought Tom Brokaw was cute. They sent me a free dessert with a business card asking for my address so they could send me an autographed photo of him.

9. I’ve done the Can Can on stage.

10. I’m a certified canoeing instructor.

11. As a lifeguard, I once rescued a toddler that had fallen in the pool face down.

12. Halloween is my favorite holiday and Fall is my favorite season.

13. I was a Girl Scout leader.

14. My dog is named after Richard Dreyfuss‘ character in Jaws, Hooper.

15. I’m a horror movie buff.

My goal now is to have more and more interesting experiences so that I can grow my personal trivia list. Maybe one day I will become “The Most Interesting Woman in the World”. LOL

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Just Like a “Runny Sack”

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I thought for many years that I might have a slight speech impediment. My fears were compounded when I started frequenting my local Starbucks. When ordering my coffee they would always ask for my name, so they could write it on the cup and call me when my order was ready at the counter. I never heard my name called in a timely manner and would have to always ask them the status of my order. Turns out, my order had been sitting there getting cold all along—it just had the wrong name on it. Instead of “Becky” being written on the cup, it said either Betty, Betsy, Vickie, or my personal favorite—Ecky. (Really? Who has ever heard of someone named Ecky?)

I thought after frequenting the same Starbucks for so many years that they would eventually learn my real name. Just to be sure, I signed up for a Starbucks Rewards Card which I proudly present at every transaction. It earns me free coffees, but even better, it has my first and last name printed in bold, all caps so they can clearly see it. I haven’t had my name misspelled or misinterpreted since.

Now, I think I may have traded my speech impediment for a hearing impediment. I am a child of the 80s and I love listening and singing to the best of retro rock on my Sirius XM car radio. (A big thank you to my husband for buying it for me!) I often make my husband chuckle because I enjoy “singing“ the instrumental portions of the song. I like singing the lyrics too when I know them, or when I think I know them.

Yesterday while running errands with my hubby, I was singing the AC/DC song, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”, only since I wasn’t as familiar with the lyrics, I was singing, “Dirty Deeds Thunder Cheek”. I had no idea what the lyrics meant, but I was having a good old time singing, so who cares? My husband was killing himself laughing.

Later, “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money came on. I started belting out the chorus:

“Take me home tonight
I don’t want to let you go ’til you see the light
Take me home tonight
Listen honey, just like a runny sack, ‘Be my little baby.’ ”

If you know the song, then you know it’s not “just like a runny sack”, it’s supposed to be “just like Ronnie sang, ‘Be my little baby.’ ” Again, my husband was in stitches and quickly proceeded to Google the correct lyrics and their meaning. Turns out, the lyrics are referring to Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes singing, “Be My Baby.” And as all ladies my age know, that song was featured in the epic love story, Dirty Dancing. Those lyrics I know!

So either I have a new hearing impediment, which is entirely possible now that I am in my early 40s, or the singers of my generation just didn’t articulate very well. I guess it doesn’t really matter, because I enjoy singing even if I sing the wrong words and completely off-key. I also really enjoy making my husband laugh. He claims he’s laughing with me, but I think we all know better. So Jeff, this one is for you!

“The night we met I knew I needed you so
And if I had the chance I’d never let you go
So won’t you say you love me
I’ll make you so proud of me
We’ll make ’em turn their heads
Every place we go
So won’t you please

(Be my be my baby) Be my little baby
(I want it only say) Say you’ll be my darling
(Be my be my baby) Be my baby now
(I want it only say) Ooh, ohh, ohh, oh”

–“Be My Baby” sung by the Ronettes (and me)

Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes (Photo Credit: thoughtontracks.com)

Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes (Photo Credit: thoughtontracks.com)

 

Parenting Myself

My husband and I don’t have children, for many different reasons. The two main ones being:

1. We simply never felt strongly compelled to have kids. We’re quite content just being a dynamic duo.

2. In our 40s we are still struggling to properly parent ourselves.

If you were fortunate enough to be blessed with caring parents and a good education, your life was pretty much laid out for you until you were in your mid-twenties. Your parents made sure your basic needs were met and then some. Most kids enjoy some sort of team sport, dance, or other exercise practice. Many also enjoy classes in the arts—guitar or piano lessons, drawing or painting classes, choir, etc. And the bulk of the population also has some sort of religious affiliation or spiritual practice that gives them a sense of peace and community. This balanced approach to life in conjunction with your years of schooling, made you the well-rounded, independent individual that you are today. But what comes after graduation, landing a job, getting married and buying a house? Having kids.

If you don’t take the preordained next step of having 2.5 children most people are shocked, and almost all have their opinions as to why. I have been told numerous times mainly (but not solely) by my mother that I am selfish for not giving her grandchildren. She also thinks that I don’t want to “share” my husband’s attention with a child. (Seriously, where does she get this crap?) I’m sorry, but I was under the impression that “my life” meant I could live it “my way” and for “me”. I guess I didn’t read the fine print on my birth certificate that said as part of my agreement for being born I would give my mom at least 1 grandchild. If I had known, I never would have signed with my footprints. Geesh.

And what do you do once you realize that you no longer want (or are no longer able) to be in your chosen career, but are unable to retire? Do you go back to school? Become an entrepreneur? A bum?

There is a great scene in the movie, Pulp Fiction, where Jules (played by Samuel L. Jackson) tells Vincent (played by John Travolta) his plans to change the course of the rest of his life:

………………………………………………..

Photo Credit: Clip from Pulp Fiction. Originally posted by http://peepgame.wordpress.com/

Photo Credit: Clip from Pulp Fiction. Originally posted by http://peepgame.wordpress.com/

Jules: Basically I’m just going to walk the earth.
Vincent: What do you mean “walk the earth”!
Jules: You know… like Kane in Kung Fu: walk from place to place, meet people, get in adventures.
Vincent: How long do you intend to walk the earth?
Jules: Till God puts me where He wants me to be.
Vincent: And what if He don’t do that?
Jules: If it takes forever then I’ll walk forever.
Vincent: So you decided to be a bum? […] Just like all those pieces of shit out there who beg for change, you sleep in garbage bins, eat what I throw away… They got a name for that Jules, it’s called a bum. And without a job, a residence, that’s what you gonna be. You gonna be a fucking bum.

………………………………………………..

As I was flipping channels and stopped to watch this scene for the 100th time, I thought, “Ooh cool, walking the earth like Kane in Kung Fu. I could do that!” Then I remembered that I don’t like exercise. So much for that idea.

Coming to a crossroads in life and taking the path less travelled is really a scary and unpopular choice, especially at my age. It would be far easier to just do what is expected—work in the same job/career my whole life, raise a family, retire, die, and hopefully leave an inheritance for the kids. But what if I want something a little different—a little less predictable, but possibly more joyful, adventurous and prosperous? Unfortunately, there’s no set guidelines for what that might look like or how to get there. I just have to make it up as I go along, cross my fingers and hope for the best.

So, until I figure out what to do with the next 40 years of my life (if I’m lucky enough to live that long), I’m just going to take some time to focus on parenting myself better in the present. It’s time to get back to basics and to make a list. (My answer to all of life’s big questions is to “make a list”) So here goes:

To Do Every Day:

1. Bathe/ Brush/ Floss

2. Take vitamins

3. Exercise

4. Clean something

5. Work

6. Pray/Meditate

7. Make someone laugh/smile/feel good

8. Be grateful

9. Play with the dog

10. Sleep (8-10) hours and Dream of Wonderful Possibilities for the Future

To Do Every Week:

1. Learn Something

2. Create Something

3. Socialize (With REAL people. Social media doesn’t count.)

To Do Every Month:

1. Save—for retirement, the next big adventure, or the unexpected

2. Try something new and fun. Visit new cities, restaurants, museums, cooking classes, fairs—anything! Time to start scratching things off the bucket list, because the next 40 years aren’t guaranteed. If I’m lucky enough to have another 40 years, then I want to live them to the fullest and with no regrets.

The clock starts now!

A Case of the Vapors

I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I laid there with my eyes closed trying to convince my body to relax and fall asleep, but it was useless because my brain was working over time. So finally I conceded, and opened my eyes to an overly bright glowing digital clock that read 3:15am. Ugh.

As I laid there looking around the room, I was surprised to see how many different colored lights were glowing from our electronics. The clock, DVD player, smoke alarm and even my electric toothbrush were all emitting a colored light. I wandered into the living room and it too was lit up like a Christmas tree—the oven, microwave, stereo, ice maker and power outlet strips were all glowing blue or red.

Not sure what to do with myself now that I was up, I wandered over to my charging cell phone to see if I had any emails. (Or as I like to refer to it, “to see if anyone loves me.”) As I hit the on button the phone blazed to life with a blinding light. Through my squinting I could see that I didn’t have anything new in my Inbox. I thought at least Groupon would have sent me something, but I guess they too were asleep like the rest of the world. Bastards.

After being blinded by my phone, I staggered back to bed hoping Mr. Sandman would bring me a dream. Instead, I laid there contemplating whether or not all this technology that we hold so dear is really such a good thing after all. I definitely see the benefits, but it also has its drawbacks. Computers and cell phones have made our jobs more efficient and faster, which should have freed up time in our day for other more pleasurable activities like spending time with our loved ones. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, because as a society we have decided that it is more important to fill up that time with more work, more deadlines and more stress. The ratio seems to be somewhere around 1:5—for every 1 extra hour you gain for being so efficient via technology, you are given 5 more hours of work to do within the same work day. It is sad that this is the new norm, and it is unlikely to change any time soon.

I had read an article some time back talking about how during the turn of the 20th century women were rushing to healing spas in droves complaining of anxiety and hysteria (i.e. “the vapors”) brought on by the fast-paced change in technology. Just to put this in perspective, we began the 20th century with the infancy of airplanes, automobiles, and radio. We ended the 20th century with spaceships, computers, cell phones, and the wireless Internet. Technology has definitely sped up considerably.

I think I’m having a case of “the vapors” now, and since my luxurious lifestyle will not allow me to spend a year at the spa to quiet my mind, I’ve had to come up with my own relaxing healing plan. It begins with turning off the electronics for a set amount of time each day and maybe having a candlelight-only evening once in a while. When the opportunity presents itself, I also want to go camping. There is an amazing place called the Forest Retreat in Mississippi. It is a vast area filled with trees, nature and 4 cabins built within the landscape far apart from each other. No tvs. No radios. No wi-fi.

Photo Credit: ForrestRetreat.com

(Photo Credit: ForestRetreat.com)

I could sit on the porch and write with pen on paper for hours. Take a break, and wade barefoot through the creek with my husband and dog. Roast marshmallows over an open fire while listening to a strumming guitar. (If one of us ever decides to learn to play.) Ahhh… The thought of the wind rustling in the trees, the clear starry nights and the crickets chirping is enough to lull me to sleep.

Until the alarm blasts in the morning.

It’s definitely time to get unplugged.

Almost Paradise

Tony Award wining actress Sutton Foster. Photo credit: http://alanbaltes.wordpress.com/tag/sutton-foster/

Tony Award winning actress Sutton Foster. (Photo credit: http://alanbaltes.wordpress.com/tag/sutton-foster/)

I have a girl crush on Sutton Foster.

I have a girl crush on the “Bunheads” TV sitcom character, Michelle Simms, played by Sutton Foster. Michelle is a disillusioned 30-something Las Vegas showgirl, that marries a persistent suitor who promises a cushy life in his coastal town of Paradise, CA. Once in Paradise, Michelle discovers that her new husband still lives with his dance teacher mother, the strong-headed, Fanny Flowers who is not at all pleased that her son has eloped with a Sin City stranger. Throw in a bunch of sharp-tongued ballet students and an odd ball mix of “local yokels” and you get the basis for this breakout sitcom on ABC.

What do I love about this character, Michelle Simms? Well, she’s beautiful, leggy and talented—that’s a given. More than that, she is absolutely hysterical in an honest, quirky, fast-talking, “I have writers scripting every word” kind of way. She feels like a modern-day Mary Tyler Moore, and I would love to be friends with her if I was 5″ taller and about 100 lbs. lighter.

While I love the show, there is one story line that really bugs me. One of the young teenage ballerinas is now living in her own apartment without any parental supervision. Her parents divorced and left her in “Paradise” to care for herself. To add to the absurdity, her apartment is GORGEOUS! It has amazing architecture, custom tile work and is obviously decorated by an expert. To top it off, the girl who resides there cooks gourmet meals and throws elegant parties complete with homemade party favors. However, she never seems to attend high school. At least we never see it. Maybe it’s perpetually summer vacation in Paradise?

On what planet would this ever really happen?

Remember the TV show, “Friends”? They hardly ever worked, because they were spending all their time drinking bowls of coffee at the corner coffeehouse. Yet, they managed to afford some pretty cool apartments, trendy clothes and haircuts, and a couple of international trips. Did they all just carry enormous credit card debt or did they all receive gargantuan inheritances from long-lost relatives?

Or what about “Dawson’s Creek”? Joey graduates college and immediately lands a job as a New York book editor and lives in a swanky high-rise apartment. Yeah, right! Katie Holmes could afford that apartment, but not Joey Potter.

Photo credit: YouTube

Photo credit: YouTube

So, I’m left wondering if TV shows and movies are giving people an unrealistic perception of the world, specifically, when it comes to career, salary, life-style and relationships.

I have single girlfriends that I am absolutely convinced believe that “romantic comedy love” is real love. Sorry to burst your bubble ladies, but you are going to be single for a very long time if you are waiting for a Nicholas Sparks-style romance to unfold and maintain for the long-haul. (For those not in-the-know, Mr. Sparks wrote The Notebook, Dear John, Message In A Bottle and a bunch of other sweep you off your feet epic romance stories turned movies.) 

I hear people all the time say that they want to “settle down” and not just “settle”. Well, let’s finally “settle” a few things here.

This is life, and it’s not perfect. Deal with it.

Every job, person, or thing has it’s flaws. Life is unscripted and unpredictable. Most big problems can’t be neatly solved in a 30-minute time slot, and real, sustainable relationships aren’t built over a 2-hour whirlwind courtship. Only a very small percentage of people can afford luxurious NY apartments out of college and they usually have job titles like movie star, rock star or “reality” television celebrity. And even these elite folks have to work to keep their current lifestyle. And yes, they too have problems like the rest of us, they just appear more glamorous.

I have a girl crush on Michelle Simms.

I have a girl crush on Sutton Foster. I’m sure like her character, she is beautifully flawed and funny. She probably doesn’t have all the answers. I know she’s currently single, works diligently at her craft and has achieved much recognition for all her hard work. I admire her, and her TV character makes me smile—a lot.

If Sutton ever wanted to hang out and drink bowls of coffee at the local coffee shop, I’d be happy to ditch work and go. I bet we’d have a lot to chat about.

The Earl of Dogdom

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Upon the urging of my esthetician and several of my Facebook friends, I bought the first three seasons of Downton Abbey and obsessively watched them all within a week. This British period costume drama series depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the early twentieth century. Like all soap operas, it’s filled with love affairs, betrayal, intrigue and scandal. But what makes Downton appeal to such a diverse audience (husbands included) are the historical references. The sinking of the Titanic, the outbreak of WWI and the Spanish influenza epidemic, combined with the elaborate sets, costumes and always intelligent-sounding British accents make you think you are watching a documentary instead of a soap opera. You’re not rotting brain cells, you are studying history on PBS. Mom would be proud.

Today at the dog park, I observed a Downton Abbey-esque drama unfolding before my very eyes.

Much like the servants on Downton Abbey who spend most of their day downstairs, only coming upstairs to serve the Crawley family, the little dogs will sometimes visit the big dog side, but it is completely gauche for the big dogs to socialize on the little dog side. It’s just unheard of for the classes to mix in this way.

The little dogs, also like to yap—a lot. They huddle together and bark incessantly at each other, the humans and the occasional squirrel. I often imagine that they are prattling on about their lot in life and plotting new ways for advancement. The big dogs don’t have time to waste with idle gossip because they have important work to do like chasing tennis balls, marking their territory and sniffing out opportunities to ensure their position as top dog.

There is also an ample amount of conspiring, bickering, and sexual play being acted out on both sides of the fence, but unlike Downton, it’s not being done in secret behind close doors. These are American dogs of course and therefore not nearly as refined. Proper decorum is not their forte.

As for my dog, Hooper, he would most definitely be cast as The Earl of Grantham on the dog park version of Downton Abbey. He definitely believes the world revolves around him and sees no reason for his good life to ever change despite the circumstances in the world outside his humble estate. He has two dedicated human servants that wait on him hand and paw, making sure his every need is met. His only job is to keep up appearances which he does dutifully by making trips to the dog park and lake and running errands around town where the commoners bestow upon him praise and dog biscuits.

It’s good to be the Earl of Dogdom. It’s even better to be his human.