February 28, 2011

Oscars - Best Dressed and Worst

Could Halle Berry be any more gorgeous? No, would be the answer to that question, so she's my pick for best dressed. She was impeccable, as usual; the hair, the makeup, the minimal jewelry...and that spectacular dress on her stunning body. Okay, I'm gushing.
And the worst dressed? Hands down it was Cate Blanchett in that Princess Leia thing with the icky yellow beads on the neckline. And the big, round, blank bodice that was just crying out for...well...

February 27, 2011

It's Oscar Night...ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Oscar night is one of my favorite things and here I am on my blog. That's because the damn show is boring me to tears. The opening video was pretty fun but god, someone wake me when this is over.
The acceptance speeches are dreadful, and the bits are generally stupid and pointless. Helen Mirrin speaking French? Kevin Spacey singing? Melissa Leo just needed to sit down and shut up. Ann Hathaway coming out in a tuxedo and James Franco coming out in drag was not clever, not funny. A lot of work for no payoff.
And really, why would Kirk Douglas do that? That was just painful to watch. It was worse than watching Dick Clark do New Year's eve (I know, I know...).
It's the worst show in my memory.
If there's a plus side it's that the dresses are mostly spectacular.
Okay, I'm going back to sleep now.

February 24, 2011

Tele-conversation on Internet Marketing

If you missed yesterday's Mikki & Friends tele-conversation (with yours truly as the moderator) with Ed Primeau on Internet Marketing you can listen to it here:

He offers some great tips on using video in your Internet marketing campaign.
There are lots of other great Mikki&Friends tele-conversations in the archives. Check them out.

February 23, 2011

Valentine's Day - Part 2

I know I pretty much trashed Valentine's Day in my post titled Valentine's Day is a Trap..., and I stand by my cynicism. But there is a plus to that insipid pseudo-holiday. For the last 20 years my dear friend Barbara (that's me and Barb about the time she first started sending them) has sent me a Valentine's card. Through the mail. Not an easy-way-out eCard but a real, flesh and blood card that she picks out special, just for me (and I'm sure a number of other people she loves, like maybe her husband, but I like to think she just does it for me).
Well this year NO CARD. Quel dommage. It made me sad. I missed it.
But then Barbara called me and said the card she sent was returned to her by the post office for some reason, and she wanted me to know she had it for me. And that made me unaccountably happy! And it's the funniest card.
Thanks, Barb. You're my valentine!
(In case you can't read it the lady on the left is saying, "You know...when we get old...when we get old...what was I going to say?" and the lady on the right says, "You were going to say it's Valentine's Day and we should go to a bar and flirt with the guys.")

February 19, 2011

Movie Review: Cedar Rapids

What a hilarious and clever script. It could easily have been slapstick in the hands of another director or different actors but instead is outrageous but believable, and laugh-out-loud funny. All the performances are authentic, all the characters come across as quirky but credible.
Ed Helms is Tim, the principal nerd, who's sent to an insurance convention to replace the company hot-shot who died unexpectedly (of auto-asphyxiation). It's Tim's first airplane flight, his roommate is probably the first black man he's ever come in contact with and he's enamored with the Comfort Inn-type hotel with the fake palm trees in the courtyard. It's all new and oh-my-gosh exciting and Ed Helms pulls it off in a sweet, endearing way.
John C. Reilly is hysterical as the gross and obnoxious third roommate, Dean, the guy Tim was told to avoid at all costs. But despite Dean's boorish behavior it turns out he has a heart, and that's what keeps this film from falling into the stupid pool. The characters are human and vulnerable, and people you'd want to know.
The humor is sometimes gross but outrageously funny. It's an hour and a half of complete fun.
4 stars out of 5

February 14, 2011

Want to Retire in Five Years?

Very clever little video showing us what financial advisors have to deal with.
Send this to your financial advisor friends. They'll love it.

February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day is a Trap...

...don't fall in.
The anxiety of Valentine's Day started for me in grammar school which was about 180 years ago. It was a simpler time, a time before political correctness, before it was determined we needed to protect children from the realities of life. So we brought valentines to school but not for every single, friggin' child in the class, only for the ones we liked. We covered shoe boxes with crepe paper and ribbons and paper hearts, and then we cut a slit in the top and people went around dropping valentines into your box.
Or not.
Ah, what a great ego-killing exercise. Real Life 101, teaching us about rejection and disappointment. Here's where I learned that life is all about getting your heart stomped on, when Jim Evans didn't put a valentine in my shoe box in third grade.
Is it any wonder I'm a cynical Valentine's Day-hater? Is it any wonder no one ever accused me of being a romantic?
So if this is your first year in a new relationship and you're wondering what to do for V-Day I hope you and your new valentine are on the same page. And remember, whatever you do now you're setting a precedent. So if you go all out you're going to have to top it next year and in two years and possibly thirty. Do relationships really need more pressure than what's intrinsically built in?
And if you're already in a committed relationship do you need a trumped-up, pseudo-holiday to remind you to say I love you?

February 11, 2011

Senior-Citizen Supermodels

The other day I watched an Oprah show where she interviewed some senior-citizen supermodels. Okay, Stephanie Seymour is only 42 so she doesn't count. But the others were Cheryl Tiegs (63), Beverly Johnson (59) and Christie Brinkley (57). At one point Oprah asks them how they feel when they walk into a room and know that all eyes are on them, and Christie Brinkley says, "If people are looking at me I'm completely convinced that it's because I've got toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe." Oh, bullshit, Christie. How stupid do you have to be not to know you're beautiful? Even if you have a lousy self-image you've been on thousands of magazine covers for the last 30 years. Why do you think that is?
I hate false humility.
Beverly Johnson owned right up to it. She said yes, she's totally aware of it. And she's mad if they're not looking. Okay, now THAT I believe.
And then there's Cheryl Tiegs. Don't even get me started on her. Oh, never mind, I'll get myself started - she's been botox'd and collagen'd up the yin yang and who knows what else she's had done but she looks scary, creepy and lumpy. It's very sad. And god knows I'm not knocking plastic surgery. If you can afford it and it makes you feel better, go for it. But really...keep it real. And then own up to it. Oprah didn't really address the plastic surgery issue in detail (what's up with that, O?), it was more like a brief philosophical discussion, at which time Cheryl Tiegs dis'd people who have plastic surgery and said you should work on what's inside.
She's working on what's inside. she's working on what's inside that syringe that's injecting who knows what inside her lips and inside her cheeks and inside her forehead.

February 9, 2011

Dreams Do Come True!

These are words I've waited my whole life to say: (drum roll, please...) I have a book deal with St. Martin's Press , one of the biggest publishers in the world, who will be publishing my book Mr. Right-Enough (title subject to change) next year.
This is my dream come true, a dream I've had ever since Mrs. Allen read my short story aloud to the class in third grade.
The pub date won't be until next year, it will have a different title and there are some revisions to do...but this is big time, and I am enormously thrilled and honored.
So, the moral of this story is don't ever give up on your dreams. In the immortal words of that famous philosopher Justin Bieber, "NEVER SAY NEVER."
It's not too late to realize your dreams.
Stay tuned for publication details.

BTW, I'm hard at work on my next book, and no...it won't be a sequel!

P.S. Why does the Bieb-ster do that with his hair? Someone should tell him it looks suspiciously like a comb-over.

February 8, 2011

I Love Marjoram!

OH. MY. GOD. You have to make this dish with the marjoram. It's amazing. Worth spending the money on the fresh marjoram in the politically-incorrect plastic container. Worth throwing out the 90% you won't use. Yum!

Pasta with Sausage, Peppers & Marjoram
Serves two

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb hot Italian sausages, casings removed (three links)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 medium onion or 1 large shallot, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram
1 pint cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper
1 handful spaghetti
3 ounces goat cheese

Start a large pot of salted water to boil.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then sauté the sausage (casings removed, remember), breaking it up into bits, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add pepper and onion, then sauté 10-12 minutes or until soft and the onions are golden. Stir in the marjoram and tomatoes, and sauté 5-10 minutes until the tomatoes get squishy, then crush them with your spoon.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving a little cooking water.

If the skillet is large enough, add the spaghetti to the skillet. If not, return the cooked spaghetti and sausage/pepper mixture to the pot. Add the crumbled goat cheese and stir to blend, thinning with cooking water if necessary. Transfer pasta to plates and enjoy.

Hmmm...I just realized I forgot to put in the goat cheese. It was still amazing. So use it or not, but let me know if you use the goat cheese and how it tastes.

What the Heck Do You Do With Marjoram?

The other day I came home from the grocery store and pulled out the package of thyme I bought, all ready to put it in the corn chowder I was making and lo and behold, it wasn't thyme at all, it was marjoram. How the heck did that happen? And what the heck do you do with marjoram?
I spend a fortune on those little politically-incorrect plastic containers of fresh herbs and then I use about one 86th of whatever it is and the rest turns into slimy seaweed in my fridge. It's very annoying.
Anyway, marjoram is very fragrant, I can tell you that (read: it stinks). I tasted a bit of it raw and it has a very medicinal taste (read: ick). But I hate waste. So I spent some time online (isn't the Internet just such a miracle - years ago I'd have had to look it up in an encyclopedia and then I still wouldn't have known what to do with it) and I picked out two recipes that call for marjoram. I'm making one tonight and I'll make one tomorrow. And that'll use about one 86th of what's in the little politically-incorrect plastic container that'll end up in a landfill somewhere and then in a few days I'll throw out the slimy shit that the unused marjoram has become.

February 4, 2011

The Civil Union Bill

Hooray for Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed the civil union bill into law. This is long overdue, not just for same sex couples, but (not incidentally) for heterosexual couples, those in committed relationships who don't choose to get married.
I'm not a big proponent of gay marriage, just because I don't think we need to redefine marriage. Fact is, I'm not a big proponent of marriage in general (unless you're planning on having children), but I'm a big proponent of equal rights. And I think all couples - gay, straight, white, black, married or not - should have the same rights under the law.

February 2, 2011

Last Update of the Big-Ass Blizzard of 2011

Okay, here's what it's like to live in a high-rise during a snow/wind/lightning/thunder storm.

It's over now although there are still more than 200 cars stranded on Lake Shore Drive. The sun came out for a while today, more sunshine to come tomorrow although the temps are going below zero tonight.
Now it's digging out time.
It may be noisy in a high-rise but at least I don't have to shovel.

February 1, 2011

Big-ass Snowstorm of 2011

Okay, here it is, the end-of-the-world, big-ass Chicago blizzard of 2011 that the media has been hyping for days. This is the view from my window on the 22nd floor, downtown Chicago, near the lake.

My friend Sidney dubbed it SNOWMAGEDDON.
And here's an update at 9:00 p.m., complete with lightning and thunder: