Thursday, December 31, 2009

There is something powerful about a new year. It brings hope, which is not a little thing.

I’ve been watching all those flashbacks from the millennium, and yes these last ten years have been frightening, even miserable, but most of us aren’t standing in soup kitchens. The majority can stand up, look ourselves over, shake an arm and a couple legs, and breathe a deep sigh of relief.

Yeah the bank accounts might not look quite the same and a few of the bones are achy, but we’re here and doing okay.

Millions are more active than ever, smoking less, conscious of the environment and working to save its resources.

I know, I know. We gotta do more.

But heath care was passed, and it might be the most screwed up bill we’ve ever seen in modern history, but it was inevitable. Too many people were falling through the cracks, too many have been turned away from basic help and lifesaving care.

And the government would surely go broke pouring money into something without any backbone, without a skeleton to center this enormous, ever growing beast with an unending thirst and appetite.

Sounds like some Americans I know...

In the meantime Dr. Oz says to get 10 to 15 minutes of sun each day for Vitamin D.

Can do.

Walk a little more. Drink elderberry juice.

Help people out and you’ll only feel better in return.

Don’t strap bombs into your underwear, and you’ll get through the lines.

Besides, my daughter’s getting married in just a few weeks and it couldn’t get better than this.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Well it happened again.
In the midst of a less than dazzling holiday season—drizzly and dreary here in Orlando—some nut tried to blow himself up on a Northwest flight that was about to land in Detroit.

A moment of terror averted, but traveling, already a mess, becomes a shrink’s wet dream for drumming up new business. This time Al Qaeda used a rich Muslim kid who was bored, depressed and looking around for friends and a thrill.

Why not blow up a plane and kill everyone on board?

He got through security in Amsterdam by sewing a bomb into his crotch. Now the rest of us are stuck in longer lines, checkpoints, pat downs, and endless restrictions:

Are they kidding that we can't go to the bathroom an hour before we land, even if someone is having an emergency? And what if we're cold, and we got 55 minutes to go without a blanket or pillow to support an aching neck.

Some people applaud the new rules.

I shudder at the future.

Reality’s getting worse than The Exorcist—the film that forced me into the lobby for a full forty-five minutes just to keep my sanity—or what’s left of it.

So I’m thinking. Is everything far away worth seeing? There’s gotta be good things closer to home.

How about those box stores that begged us to buy this past Thanksgiving, yet we barely gave them a second glance?

Or visiting friends and relatives you might not be crazy about, but even they wouldn't think of scanning your body and strapping you into a seat.

We got Disney too in our own backyard.

Disney… To an Orlandoan?

Yes, those lines that queue to the great plains of Kansas are starting to look quaint, even fun, though not exactly the warm fuzzy feeling I want to experience blowing up a bomb in a terrorist's crotch.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Today is Christmas Eve and David Goldman got his son back.

Everyone knows the story. Five years ago, 4 year old Sean was abducted by his mother Bruna and whisked to Brazil. There she divorced David, married a wealthy lawyer, and subsequently died in childbirth. After her death, the stepfather’s family refused to give the boy back.

Come again?

It didn't take a King Solomon to declare that a crime was committed and that the boy legally and ethically belonged with his father. But the stepfather’s family was rich and powerful, and you can bet plenty of justices were nicely subsidized to keep that boy in Brazil.

So David Goldman suffered shock, grief, anger, and bewilderment, and sacrificed his life to get his only child back.

As of a few hours ago father and son were rejoined.

It’s a joyous Christmas present, but it’s no miracle.

Secretary of state Hillary Clinton, working under her fatherless boss Obama, threatened to cut-off aid to the Brazilian government unless the boy was returned.

Overnight, the country grew a conscience.

Now people are saying that the decision might be a mistake. It won’t be easy for Sean to adjust after losing the family he grew to love and returned to a father and country he no longer remembered. Besides, he had already suffered the death of his mother.

And who knows what the mother’s family told him about his father, that David had abandoned him, that he didn’t give a damn anymore.

But I believe that in time, love and truth conquers all. And isn’t that the true story of Jesus’ birth and the spirit of the season?

So I applaud the decision.

It is righteous and honorable and the singular chance to mend the broken soul of a man and a very frightened little boy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Peachtree East, Peachtree West, Peachtree South...

Sorry about the delay. We were in Atlanta, and the weather's awful. It was cold and rainy for three days straight, but there's no other city like it. 

That is, if you understand that 71 streets are named Peachtree or a variant of the word.  And you gotta have a map and a sense of humor.  It's easy to get confused.  It's even easier to go nuts.

You should also know that the original avenue, Peachtree Trail, ran through a large Creek settlement that used to be called Standing Pitch Tree after a tall lone tree. The "pitch tree" was corrupted to "peach tree," and though Georgia is the "Peach State" there was no historical peach tree that led to its name.

But the street identification committee grew fond of the sound Peachtree and came up with similarities: Peachtree Creek Road, Peachtree Lane, Peachtree Plaza, Peachtree Walk, Peachtree Memorial Drive, Peachtree Valley Road...

You get the picture.

All one needs is an utter lack of imagination and a variety of endings.

"Okay John, what do we have today?" Thelma, the city street naming chairwoman asks.

"How about Peachtree Drive North, Peachtree Plaza East, and Peachtree Mile?"


With high praise, it's voted in unanimously.  So on your next trip to Atlanta, don't trust your brain that you've seen the street before.

Bring a good GPS and happy deja vu.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We've all been there, boarding the plane, passing through first class, glancing at the passengers lounging across six-foot wide cushions, snickering at the peasants stuck in the slums.

Sighing, I sauntered down to where the water drains and saw a medium-sized man in the window seat. I smiled, took the assigned middle one, and was about to buckle in when I looked up and gulped.
No, it wasn't Hamlet's ghost, or even his father's image. It was more like a three hundred, fifty pound woman dropping into the cushion beside me. All of her seat and a third of mine. She flicked up the armrest to get a better fit, and I had no choice but to cross my legs and lean to the left.

"I'll find another seat as soon as we take off," she said, as the flight attendant announced that the plane was overbooked on our cross country sojourn from Florida to L.A.
Scrunching portside, I mumbled my apologies to the man, but every time I tried to straighten, I collided into a steel-like abyss of fat cells.
The only relief was getting up for the bathroom. Once there the seat was cozy, roomy, almost like an inflight La-Z-boy. I stayed for awhile stretching my legs, thinking I should've brought my Ipod and a snack when the attendant knocked on the door and asked if there was a problem.

There was.
Walking out, I explained the situation. She was sorry, but there was nothing she could do.
(Big surprise).
Since then Southwest Airlines and Australia's Jetstar have ordered grossly obese passengers to purchase two seats. In February, after Jetstar forced a woman to do so, she found that her seats were rows apart!
Today I don't care if the company has a policy or not. I'll remain in the aisle and demand what I paid for--the entire width of a bridge chair with an inch of leg room to boot.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Our cockatiel Carrots died last year of cancer.

Actually, he didn’t drop dead on his own but kept holding out until my daughter Stacey, the avian caretaker, bird watcher, lover of all feathered breeds, agreed to end his suffering, and carted him off to the vet.

The doctor gave him a shot, but the 86-gram featherweight wouldn’t close his eyes. He gave him a second, enough to down a cocker spaniel, but Carrots still struggled a few moments before finally giving way.

Yes, he was gone, his diseased-troubled soul beginning his long soulful journey to the end.

Remember how Lincoln’s body crossed the United States by train?
Well Carrots hipped-hopped across a few states by Fed-ex.

Get the comparison?

And while it was legal for Abe to lie in repose across state lines, it was illegal to send dead animals through package delivery systems.

A crime was committed.

And before you nail up the wanted posters, I’m privy to know who done it and how.

Stacey, now living in Virginia, bought a small cooler, filled it with dry ice, and slipped Carrots inside two Ziplock bags. When the clerk asked what was inside, she said, “shoes.”
Haven’t you seen those seen grey feathered ones at Nordstrom’s—the kind with two spots of orange on either side of the toe and a strip of yellow flowing down the center?

Though the Florida Highway Patrol might still be pondering the transgressions of Tiger, they never saw Carrots coming.

A day later the bird was on my doorstep in Orlando. Wearing gloves, I opened the box. He looked like an arrow—hard, straight, thin, and dead. I threw him in the freezer and shut the door. The next night while scrounging around for a chicken, the wrong bird slipped into my hands.

Yucch! I stuffed him back inside.

That weekend Stacey arrived, and the funeral got underway. Not understanding the native customs of cockatiels, we needed something simpler and quicker—Bloomies was running a sale for one day only. “Why not something Jewish?” I suggested.

I found a stained cloth napkin—the napkin to symbolize a shroud, the stain ‘cause I didn’t want to ruin anything good. The body covered, Stacey carried him into the backyard and placed him into a hole a few inches deep.

(She had asked my husband Bob to dig it at least two feet, but you get what you pay for).

Standing around the lifeless bird, I tried to think of something kind to say, but the truth kept tripping me up. How Carrots loved riding in the car, except when it got dark, and then he’d bite me on the neck, or how he nudged the birdseed onto the floor whenever I was sweeping the kitchen.

29’s a long life for a cockatiel.
And though I didn't say a word, I believe his hatred kept him alive for years.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Well I just came back from the locker room at the gym and the ladies there were passionate about the Tiger Woods situation. Translation: they wished they were wielding the club.

A few could understand him having a one night stand. Maybe. But Tiger had bedded one mistress for more than two and a half years and others keep popping into the milieu daily.

My he’s an active boy.

But then so was Eliot Spitzer who’d jeered the johns supporting man’s oldest profession. Until someone found his credit card receipts. It seems that Eliot had also discovered that special number.

The Greeks called it pride or hubris.

I call it arrogance and stupidity.

One woman said she just couldn’t believe it.
Why not? How many rich and famous have been caught with their pants circling their ankles. I heard Arnold Palmer was a legend on the course and off, but the reporters only published the good. Today they do both.

It’s the norm, the stuff we count on.

The ladies in the locker room cheered Elin for fighting back. Okay, she didn’t have to beat him, but at least she didn’t stand beside him at a podium, her mouth plastered into a store-bought smile, her eyes glazed and uncomprehending staring at the train wreck she’d married.

Earl Woods spent much of his adult life teaching his son to become a master golfer. But he never figured in the mistresses. Tiger’s life had become a convoluted balancing act.

Maybe Earl should’ve steered his prodigy into juggling instead.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Today is my first time blogging. So who the hell am I and why am I here?

I always got opinions, an edge, my own take on things. It makes me nuts to watch these social climbing wannabes grabbing the headlines for nothing more than their fifteen minutes. Like that Colorado couple with the silvery balloon and the phantom boy lost in the clouds, or those power hungry phonies elbowing their way into the White House dinner, or Sarah Palin?


Didn’t Jon Stewart say that after the election, they put her on a plane back to Alaska, tagged her, and set her free?

Well gosh darn someone didn’t give her the memo. She hurried up and wrote a memoir, but the people in it swear it’s a work of fiction. According to Levi Johnston, she barely spends time with her kids, and it doesn’t seem like she’s pondering the issues. No wizardly thoughts are burning forth on Wall Street, health care, Afghanistan, or women’s rights. So how come Oprah invited her on the show?

Which kind of brings things back to me. Natch. It’s my blog. I was born in Detroit to Bernie and Evelyn Schwartz and grew up around the time Diana Ross strutted out of the projects to sing, people rioted in the hot summer streets, and the Tigers finally won the World Series.

But that was before my family packed up and moved to Orlando, just down the road from Mickey, Minnie, and Tiger Woods. BTW, did I hear the cub juggled three mistresses and a wife?

Hey, that’s another story.

Today I’m saying hello and add that it’s nice to be here.