Thursday, February 28, 2008

Where George Clooney Eats Calamari

My post for Kango this week is all about where to see celebrities in Los Angeles. This is something people always ask when they're visiting from out of town, but to be perfectly honest I never know what to tell them. You're just as likely to see someone famous at the dry cleaners as you are at a club on Sunset. Also, over time everyone in L.A. starts to look like a celebrity; you're not sure if they're all tanned and coiffed because they're on their way to a movie set or to their job at Starbucks. One time I kept staring at a guy in the Gap, trying to figure out what film I had seen him in, until he walked up to me and then I realized it was my friend's brother who looked familiar because I had seen him at a bar mitzvah three months before.

Did you watch the Academy Awards? Did you enjoy hanging out with all the winners at the Governors Ball afterwards? Yeah, my invitation got lost in the mail, too.

But there are other ways of brushing elbows with the A-listers, without having to lie your way into the Oscars by telling the guard that you’re Nicole Kidman’s obstetrician there to administer an ultrasound. (Which totally would have worked, by the way, if Keith Urban hadn’t noticed that I was flashing my library card and not a medical ID.) Here in L.A. the celebs are everywhere – buying sweaters, having coffee, eating lunch – just like you and me! Except with more money and better hair...Read More...

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wintertime in Los Angeles: Put On Your Fleece Thong

My weekly post is up over at Kango. This week I was asked to write about wintertime in L.A., which made me laugh because when I sat down to write it was around 70° here. In fact, the only time I put on a sweater last week was just to cover up my pajamas when I dropped the girls off at school.

I ended up writing about a trip we took right before Christmas, where we did see actual snow. Of course, no amount of clothing really ever keeps me warm enough, so my memories of the trip were actually just racing from the car to the indoor heated snack bar, yelling, "I'm cold I'm cold it's too freaking cold" the entire way.

When Kango asked me to make this week’s post about wintertime in Los Angeles, I thought about it for a moment, as I sat outside in my tank top and capris sipping an iced tea. What do Angelenos know about winter anyways? Even a drop of rain has the weatherman on the local news drooling with excitement. Speaking for myself, any day where it drops below 65° is reason to bundle up in a ski parka and thermal underwear.

But there are places where us sun worshippers can get a little taste of what the rest of the country experiences during these winter months. We may point and laugh when we see you on TV, digging out your cars and putting on boots just to get your newspaper, but we secretly want a little of the cold weather – just as long as we can still drive home in our shorts...Read More...

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Monday, February 18, 2008

A Special Kind of Humor

Okay, I admit this may not be funny to some of you, as it falls under the category of 'industry humor' and may have a narrow audience. Sort of like your uncle the accountant who's always cracking those lame sex jokes about "making deposits" and "early withdrawal," maybe it'll cause you to roll your eyes and leave the room.

But for Rigel and I, this represents a knee-slapping good time in the world of design. Especially for Rigel, who makes his living designing movie posters. I'm not telling if any of those posters they show are his.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Traveling Pants

I was recently hired by Kango, a new travel website, to write a weekly post about things to do in L.A. I'm looking forward to this new venture, as there's nothing I enjoy more than going somewhere and then making sure everyone I know finds it as unbelievably fascinating as I do. That trip I took to the recyling plant? Let me tell you about all the different kinds of plastic I saw, and don't try and fool me with that glazed look in your eyes - I know you're mesmerized.

This week was my first post, and being close to Valentine's Day they asked me to write about a last minute romantic getaway. I wrote about the W Hotel, since it was the only truly romantic outing Rigel and I have had recently, unless you count the trip to Costco where he let me put anything I wanted in the cart and then he gallantly paid for it all. Nothing gets me hotter than a man who'll fork over his hard-earned cash for a twelve gallon drum of shampoo for his woman.

My husband and I have never been known as ‘plan ahead’ kind of people. We’re usually the ones who breeze into town without hotel reservations and then try to explain to our kids that we’ll have to keep driving for another two hours because who knew there’d be a Tupperware convention hogging all the rooms?

So Valentine’s Day has always posed a problem – without reservations and some stealth planning skills you’re likely to be stuck spending the night in a truck stop off Highway 5. (I realize that may scream romance to some of you, but try and keep that to yourselves)...
Click here to

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Monday, February 11, 2008

I Still Won't Let Them Eat The Burritos, But I'll Consider a Fish Stick

Hey - remember that little tirade I went on last week, about the sick cows and the bad people that cut them up and fed them to our schoolchildren? I mentioned that I had already sent an email to our superintendent voicing my concerns and essentially demanding to know precisely what cow part was in which box of meat and exactly which school's freezer that cheeseburger was sitting in. I wanted to know how soon I needed to break into my local pharmacy and steal all of their anti-salmonella serum.

I'm happy to say that I got a prompt response, and it didn't say "Go away" or "Stop bothering me" like most of my emails do. Instead he acknowledged my concern, thanked me for my support and promised to forward my note to the head of food services for the entire district.

And guess what? He did, and I received a phone call from the deputy food services director that same day, who stayed on the phone with me for a good half hour going over exactly what the district was doing in light of the controversy. He explained that the USDA had put a hold on all food items that were suspected to have come from Westland Meat Co., and that until the hold was lifted all individual school districts couldn't touch any of the products to do individual testing or to begin the process of tracing the meat.

He did assure me though, that the district has it's very own state-of-the-art testing lab (who knew?) and that rigorous testing is done on a sampling of school cafeteria food every day. Since nothing unusual had ever come up in any of Westland's products in the past, it was highly unlikely that contaminated meat was being passed on to our kids. But he assured me that all meat products were being pulled from school menus and that all contracts with Westland had been suspended indefinitely. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to ask him why some of the cafeteria ladies wear hair nets and some wear shower caps, but it didn't seem too urgent at the time.

While I'm sure there's a certain amount of spin involved in his information, I did feel better after talking to him and not so ready to check my kids into the local ER for a full-body scan. And I do give the school administration some props for responding to my inquiry, and not just forwarding my number to the LAPD for a background check and a psych evaluation request.

But I'm still not letting my kids eat in the cafeteria, at least not until the hold is lifted and I see some test results. Okay, maybe a fish stick. But wait a minute - ARE THOSE DOLPHIN SAFE AND MERCURY-FREE?

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Don't Eat The Burritos

A few nights ago I was watching the evening news, and sandwiched in between the stories about Britney Spears' current meltdown and the latest fad diet (it's tea!) was a hidden-camera report about a California slaughterhouse being investigated for using inhumane methods to get sick cattle past inspectors. (Aside from being carriers of E. coli and salmonella, downed cattle may signal the presence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease.) The footage was horrible to watch: electric prods being used to get ailing animals on their feet, cattle being pulled by chains and being poked and dragged by forklifts.

But the part of the story that freaked me out the most was the little snippet at the end that said the operation under investigation, Westland Meat Co., was a major supplier of meat to school cafeterias across the country.

Who knew it would take a story on the 11 o'clock news to get me off my lazy behind and vow to make my kids lunches everyday for here on out?

I've confessed before about my aversion to the tedium that is the brown bag lunch. The making of the sandwiches! The filling of the snack bags with grapes and pretzels! Add to that the careful consideration of the protein/carb balance, that daily dilemma of whether or not to include fruit along with a juice box, and do Cheez-Its count as a serving of dairy?

For only a dollar, the lure of the school lunch is just too good to pass up, not to mention the extra twelve minutes of sleep it buys me in the morning.

But now? I have forbid my girls from buying any food items from the school cafeteria, unless it's so highly processed and artificial that it couldn't possibly contain any actual food substance from Westland Meat Co. Which means the only times they're allowed to buy anything is if the cafeteria is serving Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, which everyone knows is made out of styrofoam and orange crayons.

The thing that I find slightly alarming is that no formal announcement has been made by our school district or by the U.S. Dept of Education about the crisis, or what the risk is to our children. What toxins were lurking in that cup of spaghetti? And along with being completely dried-out and tasteless, could that hamburger my kid ate last week make her sick?

Seeing as my girls have probably eaten their weight in corn dogs from the school cafeteria, you can understand my concern.

Aside from three short paragraphs on the state education department's website, I haven't seen a statement from our local superintendent of schools or any flyers or brochures distributed to parents addressing the subject. It also seems to have slipped under the parent-grapevine radar, which is interesting considering that a head lice infestation in a single child usually triggers a panic in every school within a twenty-mile radius.

The alert issued from the California Department of Education says they "recommend that agencies not use any processed end-products containing beef pending further instructions." It doesn't mention how much of the meat they believe was from these "downer" cows, or exactly which school menu items may have been affected.

Although, oddly enough, an article in the L.A. Times reveals that the ban doesn't include breakfast burritos.

Because as we all know, wrapping infected meat inside a tortilla makes it totally safe to eat.

So, this is what I'm doing. I've already fired off a letter to my local superintendent asking for some answers. But I'm also going to send a letter to Margaret Spellings, the U.S. Secretary of Education and I'm going to cc it to some other appropriate education officials. I'd like them to take a break from "No Child Left Behind" and move on to "No Meatball Left Unturned."

I'm trying to add as many names of concerned parents as I can to the letter, so if you want to be a part of it, please leave your name and whether you're a parent, teacher or administrator, along with your school district in the comments. If you don't want to leave it there, then email me here. There's strength in numbers, and maybe it'll get us some answers. Because I'm tired of laying awake at night wondering, "Where's The Beef?"

And in the meantime? Don't let them eat the burritos.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Our Milkshake Brings All The Toys To The Yard

Meet Milkshake, our new kitten.

Ever since Mookie, our ornery, cranky 16-year old cat died a little over a year ago, we'd been promising the girls a new kitten. When I say 'we' I really mean 'me' on behalf of 'us,' since Rigel wasn't too anxious to get a new cat. Come to find out that those big balls of cat hair clinging to his bass amp weren't really helping his sound any, and he always only pretended to like scooping those clumps of poop out of the catbox, because he loved me so much.

We'd been looking for a kitten since right after Christmas, but turns out there aren't many available right now because it isn't "kitten season." Who knew kittens had a season? When someone first told me this I thought they were kidding, and I made a little joke about how if Trader Joes could find strawberries year round I didn't see how finding an off-season kitten would be so hard.

That person didn't laugh, because apparently making jokes about cats is not very funny to some people, people who look down on you if you don't have a subscription to Cat Fancy magazine or a license plate that reads 'TabbyLuvr.' But that's a whole other post in itself, a story about my encounters with some of these Cat People who didn't want to adopt a cat to me because I had kids who might pull the kitten's tail, and judged me for not knowing what the best cat food was, and were totally appalled that I would even dream of making a joke comparing kitties to produce.

Where was I?


We got Milkshake at our local animal shelter, and we can't help but feel that fate brought us together. To make a long story short, we had gone to the shelter after a long day of kitty-searching. We found Milkshake in a cage on the reception counter, and after we adopted him we found out he had been brought in by his owner only 35 minutes before we had gotten there. And just in time, since Rigel had started mumbling about how after all the hours looking for a cat maybe the Pet Gods were trying to tell us we should just give up and head on over to BestBuy and adopt a flat screen plasma.

We had a hard time deciding on a name so Rigel came up with a very elaborate balloting system where we all wrote down suggestions and then he had us each vote for our favorites, repeating the process until there was only one left. It took twenty hours and was very impressive - I can't help but think that if Rigel were in charge of the 2000 election there would have been no way that Gore would have lost by a hanging chad.

In the end the name that was left was Milkshake, only narrowly beating out SouljaBoy, which was Kiyomi's idea and Kira swore she could never bring herself to use. Nobody voted for my entries, Cheeseburger or Tofu.

The most amazing thing is Rigel has actually admitted that he likes this cat. I guess he couldn't resist Milkshake's big, round kitty eyes staring up at him saying, "There's no one else I'd rather have clean up my poop."


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