November 30, 2010

I'm Kvelling!

I'm kvelling! Do you know what that means? It's a Jewish word for beaming with pride and joy.
My friend Alicia gave my book to a friend for her 50th birthday (what a great idea Do you know anyone turning 50 who needs a gift??), and she just sent me an email with the recipient's reaction.
This is the reason I write, to tell a story that will touch someone. Thank you Alicia, for giving the book to your friend and thank you for sharing her kind words.
This is my favorite review so far! Have you written yours yet? You could post one on any time. Consider it my Chanukah present.

"Funny, I laughed reading through the whole thing. she is so me. It was like a chronicle of my life up to this point. Really, is this how all newly 50 year old women feel? Her character's life so paralleled mine. Really, her girlfriend marrying her high school sweetheart? hmmmmm. Even her relationship with her boyfriend and the calling stand off! I read that and laughed. How true! And the passage when her dad dies, literally the exact words were uttered when my mom called me when my brother died. Scary. Maybe she's been channeling me! Funny, funny, funny. I saw myself all over this book, except I don't have a hunky ex-boyfriend waiting in the wings to sweep me off my feet! Thank you! What a great gift. Too bad she hasn't written more. I read the book in one night - couldn't put it down!"
JoAnn Valeo Losoya

Get your book now on Also available for your Kindle.

November 28, 2010

Movie Review: Burlesque

3-1/2 stars out of 5
Is this a great movie? Not by a long shot. Is it a good script? No, sort of silly, really - predictable and trite. Is it fun to watch? To quote the disturbingly ubiquitous Sarah Palin (why am I quoting HER???), you betcha!
It has a great feel to it, it's beautifully photographed and has sort of a Chicago/Moulin Rouge vibe. Okay, so it's off-and-on campy. But that's okay, it kind of worked for me. Mostly it's simply a vehicle for Cher to show off how good she looks (if you like that plastic, my-lips-don't-move-any-more kind of look) and how she still has a great voice (if you liked her voice to begin with, which I did and do). Her last number in the film is gratuituous - comes out of nowhere and ends with a Jimmy Durante walk-off. Stupid. But I liked watching her anyway.
And it's also just a vehicle for Christina Aguilera, who's a surprisingly decent actor besides having an incredible voice, and not least of all beautiful with an incredible body. In one of her big numbers she's in a slinky, green, off-the-shoulder dress which threatens to just fall right off as she's singing. Maybe by the time you see it it will actually fall. That'll be fun.
Stanley Tucci is fun to watch, as always. Peter Gallagher plays Cher's ex-husband and I didn't buy that at all - there's not a millimeter of chemistry between them - and his part could have ended up on the cutting room floor with no loss to the film.
There's much made of the "throwing up everything but your memories" line but there was another that I liked even better. Too bad I can't remember what it was. I'll update if it comes to me!
All in all, I walked out of the theater smiling so I guess that's my recommendation.

November 26, 2010

My Favorite Thing About Thanksgiving

They can put a man on the moon, why can't they create an aroma app? You have to smell it in here. It's the seductive deliciousness of turkey soup cooking, made from the carcass of the Thanksgiving super-star.
No recipe, but here's basically how I make it:
Cut up the turkey carcass. You'll probably have enough for two batches so wrap 1/2 in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for another time.
Meanwhile, throw the other half in a pot with a couple celery stalks, a couple carrots, an onion (cut it in 1/2 but throw it in, skin and all), bay leaf and any other fresh herbs you have on hand. Let it simmer for 3 hours or so.
Let it cool, then pull out all the bones and stuff. Strain. Save any turkey meat. Refrigerate overnight, skim off fat. Bring back to simmer, correct seasoning. Then throw in the turkey meat with whatever else you want. Yum. It smells heavenly in here.
I'm going to work on that aroma app. Do you think Bill Gates would be interested?

November 25, 2010

To My Friend Charlotte

My friend Charlotte died this morning and on this Thanksgiving day I am thankful that she was part of my life. Charlotte was my best friend Judi's mom, and my idol.
I met them 47 years ago when Judi and I became fast friends. We were inseparable and I spent almost as much time at their house as I did at my own.
Back then Charlotte wore platinum blonde curls piled high on her head (early 60s, remember). She always had music playing in their house, often listening to LP soundtracks from the latest Broadway musicals and she introduced me to a new young singer named Barbra Streisand.
In the 70s she wore a shag cut and hot pants and elegant clothes and drove a Jaguar XKE. She was young and chic and sophisticated and so hip to the times.
She and her husband Nortie went out for elegant dinners and to cocktail parties and to the theatre; they had pool parties in their backyard and served martinis to all their beautiful friends. Charlotte smoked Benson and Hedges 100s (or was it Virginia Slims?).
She was so different from my mom. My mom was, well...a mom. She wore housedresses and aprons, cooked (dry) pot roast and canned peas. I never saw her in an evening gown. She didn't talk to me as tho I were a person, I was just her daughter. But Charlotte was cool. She talked to me like a friend, and introduced me to new foods, new people, culture...the world. I wanted to be just like her.
She was too young to die, not even 80. Her loss leaves a big hole in my heart.

Hints for Thanksgiving

They're doing hints on the morning show about how to eat today. What? Like we don't eat the rest of the year? Hints like, use smaller serving spoons. Well, that's probably a good idea cuz you'll use more calories with all that extra spooning.
Here are my tips for Thanksgiving:
1. Don't eat too much
2. Don't drink too much
3. Don't pour gravy all over everything
4. Don't take seconds of all the desserts
5. Wear pants with an elastic waist (just in case you do all of the above)
6. Don't take a nap after the meal and then get up and eat more
7. Eat whatever you want. Gobble, gobble,'s once a year and it's good stuff! Just go home and puke it all up.

November 20, 2010

What's Your Thanksgiving Dish?

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving dish? Is it that green bean casserole with the (ugh!) Cream of Mushroom Soup? Or cranberry-orange relish that your mom always makes? Oddly I don't remember any special T'giving traditions, not even sure where we had T'giving dinner but I doubt it was at our house. Probably at one of the aunts'.
We always had the usual; sweet potatoes, turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce (that jelled stuff in the can), pumpkin pie.
But here's my traditional dish, the one I'm always asked to bring. It's yummy, and really easy, which is always nice.

Corn Soufflé
1 8 ½ ounce pkg Jiffy cornbread mix
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted
1 15 oz. can creamed corn
1 15 oz. can white or yellow corn, drained
1 8 oz. carton lite sour cream
2 eggs, beaten

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the cornbread mix and melted butter in a large bowl. Add the creamed corn, white corn, sour cream and eggs; mix just until combined.
2. Pour into a greased 9” or 10” baking pan; bake until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out dry – 30-40 minutes.

Would love your recipe if you've got a favorite.

November 17, 2010

Movie Review: Morning Glory

I have an unjustified fascination for Diane Keaton. I will see every movie she's in even though I think she's one of the worst actors in the world. I know, I know...she won an Academy Award for Annie Hall, but that was before the Academy knew she was just playing herself. But no matter, I love her. First of all I've always loved her looks and the quirky way she dresses. And even now at 64 she looks great (one of the few Hollywood actresses who hasn't had a boatload of plastic surgery and she still looks beautiful). I don't know why, I just love watching her, even while I'm deriding her performance in my head.
I digress. Back to the movie, which I would rename Morning Grumpy because it's all about the irascible Harrison Ford character and the predictable way he softens into a vulnerable human being.

Oh, please.
Okay, it's entertaining and there are some funny lines and funny bits (starting with the roller coaster scene) but it could have been more than that. I think it's a cute script but it's over-directed.I hate that. Why don't directors know that subtle is better? All three performances are over the top. There are sane moments, but mostly they're too grumpy, too cutesy, too ditzy. Sure, there's an audience for slapstick so if you're going to do that then do it all the way. But if you want a romantic comedy with believable characters that we can relate to, subtle performances are what works. At least for me. Why doesn't anyone ever ask me?
Three out of five stars.

November 15, 2010

Bill Kurtis, My New BFF

Bill Kurtis invited me to his house yesterday for lunch and cooked me a sumptuous six course meal (including grass fed beef from his company Tallgrass Beef) - yum!) and now we're BFFs.
Well, okay, he didn't exactly invite me. I was sort of thrust upon him since he and his lady Donna LaPietra generously offered a tour of their beautiful estate/gardens (it was supposed to be in the spring, but you know how these things go) and lunch at their home as an item at a charity auction, and my friend Ron bid on and won the event, and invited me and my Bill to be among the guests.
And, all right, Bill Kurtis didn't exactly cook the meal. Sarah Stegner, chef/owner of Prairie Fire and Prairie Grass restaurants did, and the meal was amazing.

But Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra were warm and gracious hosts, and dressed to the nines in our honor. Well, actually, they looked very nice but that's a picture I found on the internet. They were a bit less formal, but still warm and welcoming.
All in all it was a lovely day. Thank you, Bill and Donna, for your hospitality, and Bill Kurtis, I still consider you my new BFF. See you on the 6 o'clock news.
BTW, has Kate Sullivan graduated from high school yet? She looks 12.

November 12, 2010

A Second Video from the Book Launch

What do you think of this one? I put this one together - used some of Carley's footage.

Which one do you like best?

November 11, 2010

Mr. Right-Enough Video

What do you think of this promotional video? My friend Carley Reiff put it together for me.


November 10, 2010

Mark Hetzel's New Video

Okay, maybe I'm prejudiced since Mark is my Bill's son, but I LOVE this video. He's so talented. Check it out.

What do you think? This needs to go viral. Send the link to all your friends!

November 6, 2010

Thanks, Auditorium Theatre!

Thanks to the Auditorium Theatre for the publicity about the book party today.
Unfortunately they called me Sarah. Oh well...publicity is publicity!

November 4, 2010

The Mr. Right-Enough House

For the cover of Mr. Right-Enough Bill and I drove around a beautiful neighborhood in Evanston where there are lovely, older homes and mature trees. It was spring so all the flowering shrubs were in bloom and everything was luminous green (made even more luminous through Photoshop for the final version). We took photos of at least ten homes and then I decided on the best of the lot, the one that most looked to me like the house that figures prominently in the book.
But then we both forgot where we had taken the picture.
Then last week Bill drove me to Evanston to take care of some issues for a new client (did you know I'm a personal assistant when I'm not writing?) and we got a little lost looking for my client's home. And then, lo and behold, I looked to my right and said, "Stop! There's the house!" Not my client's house, but the house on my book cover.
Serendipity, right? How else would we have ever found it? Actually, Bill was convinced the house was in Lakeview.
So I wrote down the address and last week I sent them a signed copy of the book along with a note thanking them for having such a beautiful home. I don't really expect to hear from them, I just hope they're pleased and that they enjoy the book.
Now, my glass-half-empty friends (and you know who you are) have said, "What if they sue you?"
Sue me? Sue me? For what? For using the public facade of their home without their permission? Wouldn't it be more likely they'd be excited to see their home immortalized?
Well, my glass-half-full response to the question is, they'd have to be complete assholes to want to sue me. People like that couldn't live in a house so beautiful.

Could they?
Here are a couple other homes I photographed. Didn't I choose the perfect one?

November 3, 2010

Movie Review: Secretariat

Secretariat is a heartwarming, Rudy-esque story and an okay film. In the hands of another director it could have been a great film - Clint Eastwood, say, or Steven Speilberg - but it was a bit Disneyland for me; a little too beautiful, too whitebread, characters too perfect. For example, while Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) is off compulsively obsessing about her horse her family is unraveling but in such a lovely, wholesome way. A little darkness, a bit of realism would have been nice.
And then there's the trainer played by John Malkovich. Okay, now I know John Malkovich is considered an acting genius, but really...don't you think it's just because he's crazy? I think we often confuse the two.
I think he must have loved this part so he could dress like a peacock but his performance is unnecessarily over-the-top. And, okay, the character is French-Canadian, but did we need Malkovich ranting in fake-sounding French just so he could (sort of) show off?
BTW, I heard he is working on a clothing line. I thought it was a joke but it appears not. Who the hell would his audience be?
My Bill and I saw him on the street a few weeks ago, right across the street from my apartment, actually. He must have been staying at the Sofitel or the Tremont Hotel. Anyway, he was wearing jeans with the cuffs rolled up to about mid-shin, a yellow linen jacket and a red, cowboy-style kerchief tied around his neck. Pretty goofy outfit. I wonder if this is part of his new line.
I digress...
So I give the movie 3-1/2 out of 5 stars. It just misses for me but it's a movie that the following people will love: my sister, Susan & Jerry, Cathy & Ted, Joann, and Renie & Harv. I'd put money on that. So you guys should go see it and tell me if I'm right.
Oh, and watch the Breeder's Cup on Saturday for another inspiring, true-life horse story. Zenyatta is running her 20th and final race and so far she's undefeated.
I see another movie in the making.

November 2, 2010

Come to the Party This Saturday

My friend Kathleen Skolnik is the author of a new book: The Architecture of Harry Weese. On Saturday she is celebrating the publication of this labor of love, and has kindly asked me to join her to celebrate my book, Mr. Right-Enough, as well.
You're invited to attend the festivities at Mart Anthony's Restaurant. This is a free event and open to the public. There will be wine and appetizers, and you may want to consider staying for dinner afterward. Check out the menu HERE.
Bring your friends and join Kathleen and me at a great restaurant with a real old Chicago ambiance.

When: Saturday, November 6, 2010
Time: 3:00 6:00 p.m.
Where: Mart Anthony's Restaurant
1200 West Hubbard (corner of Hubbard and Racine)
Chicago, IL

Please feel free to send this to anyone who might be interested.
Hope to see you there!