Thursday, December 22, 2011

And visions of doppio-espresso-macchiatos danced in their heads

Happy Holidays! Nothing like an impersonal blog posting with an embedded photo to warm your spirits and convey the true meaning of the season!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday, and may it be filled with joy, health and the company of those you love.

And may you never be standing behind me in line at Starbucks because yes, it will seem like I'm ordering that many cups of coffee.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making me cry daily

Here's a short movie that Kiyomi made. The first time Rigel and I saw it, it made me want to cry (and Rigel, too.) Mostly out of pride, and partly because of the emotion she manages to evoke with the music and images. Also, I wasn't expecting something so polished since she set it up with "So, you wanna see my movie I made that kind of blows?" How can you not get emotional after that?

Production note: That round frame with the photo of the Eiffel Tower is what sat on top of our wedding cake some 18 years ago. More crying.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Kiyomi made a film about pancakes why?

Kiyomi and her friend Maya made this cute little stop-motion film about making pancakes. Why pancakes? Because pancakes are awesome and tasty.

They used a still camera, painstakingly moving their props around in small increments and then shooting it frame by frame. It took them forever, much longer than it would take you to make a batch of pancakes in regular time. I think they even ate those pancakes, in spite of the fact that they had been touched and prodded for hours. Because you should never waste a good batch of pancakes. Why? Because pancakes are awesome and tasty.

But her next stop-motion film will be much, much easier. Why?...Read more...

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Man in brown costume dancing kills

I can't stop watching this. And I don't care what my girls say –  this is funny as hell. I tried to explain it, but they don't seem to understand – this is DOMO. DANCING. They just gave me the same look as the woman in the photo, rolled their eyes and then went back to their homework. Kids these days.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

You had to be there

When Kiyomi was in elementary school she had a love-hate relationship with a girl I'll call E. They'd known each other since first grade, and went from intensely hating each other to being best buddies who couldn't wait to get together on the weekends for a playdate. While E could be sweet, she could also get aggressive and I know at least a couple of moms who had discouraged their daughters from hanging around her too much. She did have a bad habit of digging her little 9-year-old fingernails firmly into other kids' wrists.

Her parents weren't the most involved parents, but they weren't the worst, either. I knew them casually and thought they were friendly enough, and E seemed like a pretty happy kid in spite of always craving attention. But don't they all? Rigel and I often remarked that she was one of those kids you just wanted to like – that little button nose and bobbed hair and she was super polite, in an Eddie Haskell-ish kind of way.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago - Kiyomi was getting a 'Student Of The Month' Award along with a few other kids and there was a small ceremony in the auditorium towards the end of the school day. I definitely wanted to be there since she's graduating this year and I figured it might be the last of these types of ceremonies where I could get all teary-eyed and embarrass the hell out of her. But I promised I wouldn't clap too loudly and I left my big foam hand at home, the one that has, "#1 Girl" silkscreened on its pointer finger.

I took a seat and a few minutes later someone ran up and hugged me. It was E. She and Kiyomi hadn't hung around much since they started middle school three years ago, and I had only seen her a handful of times on campus. She said she was getting an award, too, and I told her how tall she'd gotten and how pretty she looked. Then I asked her where her mom or dad were, so I could say a quick hello before the ceremony started.

After I asked, I immediately wanted to take my words back because she looked so uncomfortable. "Um, they aren't here. They're too busy." Her words trailed off, and I tried my best to change the subject by asking her about her hat. Because I'm smooth like that.

The ceremony got under way, and the teacher who was leading the whole thing started off by telling all the kids to go sit with their parents. A reasonable request, but I knew there were at least a few kids in the audience who didn't have anyone from their family there and it made me cringe. (Only the first of things this teacher did that made me cringe, but that's a topic for another time.)

All these kids are a supportive bunch, so there was no shortage of clapping and shout-outs when the kids went up to accept their awards, whether their families were there or not. But then the teacher had to start talking about how grateful all the kids should be to their parents, who were so supportive and had taken time out from their busy days to be at the ceremony, and how they needed to give their parents a big hug. NOW.

Hugs from teenagers are hard to come by these days, so I gladly took mine from Kiyomi, but still couldn't help but feel badly for E and the other kids who were there alone. Then someone tapped me on the shoulder, and it was E standing in front of me.

"Can I give you a hug?"

My heart just about broke into a million pieces. I gave her a big hug, and then I talked her into taking a couple of silly pictures with Kiyomi.

I'm willing to give the parents the benefit of the doubt. We're all busy, maybe her parents just absolutely couldn't get away from work, maybe E didn't let on how much she wanted them there. There are a mind-boggling number of events that parents are expected to attend throughout the school year and there's no way we can make it to all of them. I even skipped Back-To-School night this year and I didn't even have a really good reason, except that I was exhausted, although I was ready with a carefully thought-out "Sinkhole ate our house" excuse in case any of the teachers inquired.

But this was kind of a big deal. There are over two thousand kids in this school, so for a handful to be singled out is an honor, one that doesn't happen every day and from what I've seen they pretty much stop with the awards once high school starts. After all of the hand-wringing and worrying about our kids doing well in school I can't imagine not being there when all their hard work is recognized.

I regret that the teacher didn't choose his words more carefully and wish he hadn't put so much emphasis on the parents physically being there. I wish he'd had the sensitivity to say something comforting to the kids who were there alone. I'm kind of kicking myself that I didn't ask E to come sit with us earlier in the ceremony. I wish middle school and being 13 wasn't so damn awkward and hard already without some sad moment getting magnified and maybe hurting more than it should. But most of all I really wish someone had shown up for E.

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Winnie the Pooh (and Breakfast, Too!) at the El Capitan Theatre

Who knew my teenagers would be so excited to meet Winnie-The-Pooh? I was invited to a screening of Disney's new Winnie the Pooh movie at the El Capitan Theater as well as a pre-show character breakfast at the Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store and I had initially thought I would pass it up – while my girls are still very much into Disneyland, I thought they'd roll their eyes at seeing an animated movie and the prospect of meeting a big, sweet bear in a red shirt.

Boy, was I wrong.

The last time I saw them this excited was when they discovered that the local high school's boy's cross country team runs right through our neighborhood, shirtless. They didn't even balk when I told them we'd have to get up early on a Saturday in order to make it to the breakfast by 9:15. Who knew that Winnie the Pooh was such a chick magnet?

Read all about it here!

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

HalloweenTime at Disneyland: Teenagers Unleashed Edition

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure to check out the park in all it's Halloween Time glory. I've said this before, but Disneyland is one of those places that my teenage daughters, 13 and 15, still get as excited about as when they were 3 and 5. What is it about this place that makes them squeal like a couple of toddlers in an all-you-can-eat ice cream store? And here's the true test: A trip to Disneyland still works as an effective bribe, even on a couple of jaded teens. Just one mention of, "Clean up the living room or we're not going to Disneyland" and I practically had to hold them back from shining the hardwood floors with their tongues.

Read the whole thing here!

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Monday, October 17, 2011

'Sing Your Song': HBO Documentary on Harry Belafonte Will Make Your Day-O

Recently I was invited to a screening of 'Sing Your Song,' the HBO documentary about Harry Belafonte that is airing tonight. Like me, you're probably most familiar with him because of the song 'Day-O.' You can listen to it here. Trust me, you'll be singing, "Daylight come and me wanna go home," for the rest of the day. You're welcome.

Read more about it here.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This post is not about cats

Recently I ran into someone who reads my blog, and she said, "Oh, I love your posts about cats." I thought she must be mistaken, because I don't post about cats on my blog. After all, our cat Milkshake rarely does anything that amazing. And on the rare occasion that he does – like try to flush the toilet after he uses the litter box – he stops before I can grab a camera. And I'm not one of those people who's just going to blabber on endlessly about my cat, like I do about my kids and how cute they are. That would be presumptuous and boring.

But she had the right blog, and I realized there were a few posts where I mentioned our cat. But that just bummed me out because I thought, "Really? The only posts you remember are about my cat? I didn't regale you with my tales about Spam and my feet?" It was then I resolved never to mention cats on my blog again.

But then I saw this:

Man, if my cat would do this I wouldn't shut up about him! I'd write about him for days on end. I might even rename my blog, "All About Cats." Obviously what my cat is missing is a cat-scratch turntable. I'd write about how DJ Katnip (cause that's his DJ name, yo) was spinning some fat tunes while yelling out "Git down on it!" and "Don't stop believin'!" Once in awhile he'd take a break to hang out with his hos and paw at a laser light.

You can actually buy this: "Cardboard, mixing deck-shaped cat scratching mat – with spinnable deck and poseable tone arm. Folds together easily – supplied with instructions."

But that's all I'm going to say about it, because I don't write about cats on this blog. 

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Get in mah belly

Here are my latest food posts over on the Restaurant blog on Uptake. Bar food, refreshing beverages, hunks of meat and a condiment query – you may need a nap afterwards.

Raising the Bar at Duke's in Malibu

This past weekend my husband and I found ourselves in possession of one of the rarest commodities for a parent: a three-hour window to ourselves. The teenagers were busy with homework and the chores had been done, so we got busy planning our escape. Did I mention THREE WHOLE HOURS? That’s like two decades in parent years. We realize that teenagers have feelings too, though, so we tried not to seem too eager to leave them – although I told my husband that fifteen-straight-minutes of high-fiving might have given us away. Read More...

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I Never Met a Steak I Didn't Like
Actually, that title is a little deceiving. I have met steaks I didn’t like – the ones that have been overcooked, over-seasoned, or those that have been humiliated by being topped by onion rings or some sort of mango-honey-starfruit-relish concoction. Once I get rid of those obstacles, though, I can usually get to what I came for – a simple, glorious, unadulterated piece of meat. Ah, steak. Read More...

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Uva Bar: The Happiest Place In Downtown Disney
If you’ve been to Disneyland, then chances are you’ve passed by Uva Bar, the outdoor bar located right in the middle of Downtown Disney. But if you’re like my husband and I, you’ve probably only gazed at it longingly as you rushed past on your way to the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, your kids urging you to walk a little faster with their cries of, “Must get FastPasses” and “Why do old people move so slow.” You resolve to come back later and relax with a tall cool one, but know deep inside that your diet for the next few hours will consist of chicken fingers, Cokes and giant turkey legs. Read More...

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What's On Your French Fry?
I don’t like ketchup on my french fries. There, I said it.
I realize this puts me in the minority. What kind of deviant doesn’t like their fries served up with a generous helping of the all-American condiment? Sure I get some weird stares and lots of pointing and name-calling (and that’s just from my family), but I prefer my fries completely naked so I can savor the crunchy, salty taste without the sweetness of the ketchup distracting me. Besides, tomato-y condiments are best saved for things like deviled eggs. Cue more pointing and name-calling. Read More...

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Real Deal! Real Steel Giveaway

Have you seen Dreamworks' Real Steel yet, the new movie starring the beautiful Hugh Jackman and an equally stunning robot? I have to admit, I'm a little partial because my husband worked on the ad campaign and had been raving about it for awhile. So I knew it was going to be good and apparently everyone else agrees – it just opened and is already number one, taking in $27.3 million this past weekend. Man, that's a lot of change in Hugh's wallet – I wonder how much the robot made?  

Click here to see a clip and enter the giveaway!

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Think Different

 "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." - Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

This is my Halloween pumpkin from two years ago. I only did this design because I couldn't figure out how to carve an iPhone.

It seemed like posting it now would be a timely, fitting tribute to Steve Jobs. I'm thinking this year I'll try carving Steve at the podium as he delivered that infamous Stanford commencement address. That might be a little tricky.

Like many, I was surprised at how sad I am over Steve Jobs' death. At first I felt silly – he's just the head of a company, after all. But then I started thinking about how the things that he created were so much a part of my life every single day and have been for the last twenty years or so, starting with my first Mac Classic that was hooked up to my black and white LaserWriter. Yes, I'm that old.

I've never used a computer other than a Mac since then, and it makes me sad to think that the man behind all of the genius that is Apple is no longer here. The company will go on, of course, but without the spark and creativity and passion that encouraged all of us to Think Different.

"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."

RIP Steve Jobs. You are already deeply missed.

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Monday, October 03, 2011

On her way

Last night Kira played a 45-minute gig out on the patio of a local Italian restaurant. I should add that she booked the gig herself, made all the arrangements with the manager and performed from a playlist of songs that she learned entirely on her own. Not a small feat for a 15-year-old. As you can tell the girl doesn't wait around for things to happen - the day she was born is a little fuzzy to me now, but I think I remember her sending out an ETA bulletin and a breast milk order ahead of her arrival.
 Her playlist.

She did allow Rigel to carry in a microphone and an amp and set them up, but beyond that she didn't really want us involved. I don't even think she was too keen on having us in the audience, but I begged and pleaded because I heard they serve a killer penne arrabiata there and besides - who leaves their fifteen-year-old in the company of a bunch of strangers at a show? I've heard Miley Cyrus' downward spiral started when her parents left her alone at one of her arena gigs armed with only a cell phone and a tour bus, so I wasn't taking any chances.

Anyone who knows Kira is aware that she has a singular vision in mind for her future, one that she's had as long as I can remember - to carve out a career as a musician. In fact, when Rigel once asked her if she had a Plan B in case the whole music thing didn't pan out she replied, "No, because having a 'Plan B' means you don't have any faith in your 'Plan A.'" And while we try and urge caution and practically - really, what can you say to drive and determination that is that fierce? Decide what we're going to wear to opening night at Madison Square Garden, that's what.

Here's a short video of awful quality of one of her songs last night. As I mentioned, she didn't exactly want us front and center waving a lighter like we usually do, so I had to sit off to the side and in the back, which just happened to be right under the air conditioning unit. Also, this was the only video I shot that didn't have the screams of a gaggle of out-of-control boys at the yogurt shop next door. Just appreciate it in the same way you would some early footage shot backstage at CBGB's. Minus the drugs and hookers.

But in spite of the noise, the dirty dishes being cleared, the hum of conversation and the traffic speeding by in the background, I have to say - she sounds perfect to me.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cirque du Soleil's Iris: See It NOW! (Ten Years Will Just Fly By)

A couple of months ago I was invited to preview Iris, the new Cirque du Soleil show that premiered last night and will be taking up permanent residence at the beautiful Kodak Theatre in the Hollywood & Highland complex. I've written before about my love for Cirque du Soleil, and the fact that it will be in one place for an extended period of time (I hear the lease is for ten years) is good news for someone like me, who usually decides to order tickets just as a show is ending its run (I'm shaking my fist at you, Rock Of Ages.)

This latest installment of the successful Cirque franchise is being billed as 'A Journey Through The World Of Cinema.'

Read all about it here

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Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm a big fan of food

Besides sleeping and driving like a crazy person, one of my favorite things in life is food. Eating it, talking about it, writing about it – I guess you could say if food had a cheering section, I would be right up front wearing an ill-fitting cheerleader outfit and screaming the loudest.

So it kind of makes perfect sense that I'm now writing for the Restaurants blog on the travel site I'll be posting there twice a week, and so far I've written about hot dogs wrapped in bacon, deviled eggs and strong coffee. So grab some antacids and come and check it out.

Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dogs Are Music To My Ears

Earlier this year I had the thrill of catching one of Prince’s concerts at the Los Angeles Forum. It was the last of the string of concerts he played there, one of 21 I believe. Or was it 68? For all I know he’s still there playing, jumping around on his platforms and two replaced hips. Whatever, it was an amazing night, a truly kick-ass, loud, crazy, hysterical night where we partied like it was 1999.
Then why is it whenever anyone asks me about the concert, one of the first things I talk about is the bacon-wrapped hot dog I had outside the venue after the show? Read More...

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In Defense of Deviled Eggs
What comes to mind when you hear ‘deviled eggs’? Like most people it probably conjures up images of noisy family potlucks from your childhood, a table crowded with platters of finger sandwiches and Jell-o molds. Just when you thought you couldn’t eat anymore, in bursts grandma through the front door with a platter of those deviled eggs on one of those crazy trays that has an indent for each egg, as if each one is so special it needs its own little seat. Just reading this is probably making you want to grab your skateboard and lie to your mom about going to the library. Read More...

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Aroma Coffee & Tea Company: Kick Back While You Get Your Buzz On
Anyone who knows me is aware that I love coffee. I mean really love coffee. We’re talking writing-sonnets-about and almost-naming-my-kid-Latte kind of love. Don’t judge – there are worse vices to have, and at least mine is completely legal and hasn’t disrupted my life. But if you’ll excuse me, I’ll finish the rest of this post in the other room – my cappuccino foot bath is getting cold. Read More...

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Entourage, I don't even know you anymore

Last night was the final episode of the final season of one of my favorite shows, Entourage. I hate it when my favorite shows come to a close. I don't really have time to watch a lot of TV, so when one of them comes to an end I take it incredibly personally, like the producers lure me in and then when I'm really invested they say, "Oh look - let's just pull the plug so she'll have to go back to watching those medical shows on TLC." And just like that, there I am watching them pull a pair of surgical scissors out of some poor woman's liver that were left behind five years before.

So, it was with great sadness and anticipation that I settled in to watch last night's finale of Entourage. And I have this to say:

Really, Entourage? THAT WAS IT?

I'm sad. Not so sad anymore that the show ended, but sad that the last image I'll have of Ari is of him as a blubbering, teary-eyed, grinning, giddy idiot. That the last thing I'll see Vince do is marry someone after their first date (although, he was my least favorite character so – whatever.) That whiny Sloane forgave Eric for sleeping with her stepmother and – and this was particularly awful – met him at the stairs of a private jet wearing an orange goddess-gown, waving and grinning like someone who had no idea that her boyfriend had slept with her stepmother. What.

The show I saw bore almost no resemblance to the show I'd watched and loved for years. I felt a lump in my throat, not because I was sad but because I was choking on my own tongue.

So disappointed that they felt like they had to tie the whole thing up in a nice, neat bow. After so many seasons of great writing and interesting characters, it was sad to see them change into completely different people within the space of thirty minutes. I was half expecting to see Drama suddenly deciding to become a Buddhist monk, or Turtle breaking out in jazz hands when he gets a last-minute call from Tom Bergeron inviting him on to Dancing With The Stars.

Although, given what they came up with, maybe seeing Turtle dong the Charlston, dancing off the show in a spandex unitard would have been a more fitting end than what they came up with.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Flipping Off Movie Stars

Earlier today I was driving back home after dropping Kira off at a movie theater clear across town. (Why across town, when there are a million movie theaters that were closer? Because this one was more convenient for her friend. Kira has now been instructed that any future friends she makes have to live within a five mile radius of our house. When she meets someone, before even striking up a conversation she has to ask for their zip code and if it's too far she has to say, "I'm sorry. You're nice and all, but my mother almost had an aneurysm the last time she had to drive me across town for a movie so just move along.")

So I'm driving through Hollywood in a ton of traffic, and at one point I came to a stop behind a sleek black convertible sports car in the left-turn lane. When the light turned to a green left-turn arrow, he just sat there and after the car behind me honked I gave a little honk myself just to play along, and I guess the guy didn't like being pulled away from the text he was sending because he raised his arm up high and gave us all the finger.

(Don't you just love people, who when they're caught making a mistake decide that they're just going to turn it around and take their anger out on you? As if to say, "Yeah, I took a nap and missed that signal, but EFF YOU AND YOUR MOTHER AND STUFF.")

And he didn't just give us the finger. Because he was in a convertible he raised that arm of his way up in the air and waved that finger around like he was cursing not only us, but all of our ancestors, too. If anything it showed me a new way to use that sunroof on my van that I rarely ever crank open.

But the finger wasn't enough, so once we all turned left he decided to punish us all even further by going really, really slow, knowing full well that we didn't have room to pass him because there were cars parked all the street. He continued this for a few blocks, and when I finally had room to pass him I pulled up alongside him and decided to give him the warm greeting he had sent my way back at the intersection. No doubt everyone behind me did the same.

Except after I did it and I was driving past him I took a look and he kind of sort of looked like Benicio Del Toro. Well, maybe a lot like him.

So maybe I just gave a movie star the finger. If that was you, Benicio, know this - if I had realized who you were, I probably would still have flipped you off, but afterward I would have at least rolled down my window to tell you how brilliant you were in 21 Grams.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Internship I Wish I Had

I don't usually post 'Help Wanted' ads, but this came through my mailbox and seemed too good not to pass on. Broadway/LA is looking for an intern at the Pantages Theatre.

I used to work at an ad agency right above the Pantages, and we worked for some of the best music venues in town, including the Greek Theater. Working in a theater environment is one of the most exciting experiences I've ever had. But that's a story for another time, those tales of me hanging out in the green room with David Byrne and those nights sipping cocktails with Kool & The Gang. Oh, low-paying, super-awesome jobs how I miss thee.

This is an unpaid internship, but for anyone interested in theater or entertainment, or even for anyone NOT interested in theater or entertainment it's a great opportunity and would certainly be a fun, creative environment. It sure beats sharpening pencils at your dad's office.

Here's the official release from Broadway/L.A. If you're interested, send your resume and cover letter directly to (not to me.) Good luck!


Broadway/L.A., located at the historic Pantages Theatre in Hollywood is looking for upbeat, energetic people who are interested in an active learning and working internship with the marketing office assisting with publicity and promotions activities during the 2011-2012 Season.
Ideal candidates for this internship will possess excellent organizational skills combined with positive energy and a willingness to learn and express some creativity. Basic knowledge of Broadway theatrical product in general is encouraged, but not required.
Responsibilities will include, but are not limited to, maintaining and updating contact lists, coordination of collateral materials, making follow-up and cold calls to prospective media and retail outlets, as well as basic filing, packing and shipping tasks. Interns will also assist with long and short term projects and help staff press and promotional events and appearances.

Parking provided.  Monthly transportation stipend will be provided.  College credit may be provided where necessary*.

How to Apply:

Interested Applicants, please e-mail resume and cover letter to Please place “Internship” in the subject line.
*I asked Broadway/LA about the college credit clause, and they described it this way: It is up to the applicant to get verification from their school that this particular internship qualifies as college credit. Thereafter, Broadway/LA is willing to sign off on any documentation that has been approved by the university, thereby granting them the credit. 

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Monday, August 01, 2011

One thing off my bucket list

Rigel and I have been trying to get the girls to sing together forever now with no success. In the rare times that they happen to belt out a few bars just for fun, we can tell that they harmonize really well and have encouraged them to perform together. We've even tried blackmailing them, but apparently the threat of showing up at their school in our underwear doesn't hold the weight it used to. They just say, "Again?"

Unfortunately, like most things we suggest that would require them to stand close to each other for more than five seconds, asking them to even sing a short tune together is met with screams of "OMIGOD NO" and "NEVERRRR!" Sometimes they throw in retching noises and grab at their throats just for effect.

In fact, back on May 20 on the eve of "Armageddon" as we were waiting to be picked up in that handbasket, we were sitting around contemplating what our last earthly wishes would be and I laid out my list. Along with firm thighs and a chance to sip a martini poolside with George Clooney, I told my girls that hearing them sing together was one of my main requests.

Kiyomi didn't even ponder my words for a second before she said, "Well, good luck with that," and Kira wasn't any more sympathetic - she just shrugged and said, "So sad the world will end without that happening for you, MOM."

Last Friday was the last day of their summer camp and all the kids put on a concert. The girls' favorite part about the session is that they all break off and form their own music groups, and get to perform a song they wrote.

Imagine our surprise when we saw the girls take the stage together:

Of course, when Rigel and I brought up the fact that they had fulfilled our lifelong dream, Kiyomi said, "Yeah, by the time we realized what was happening we were horrified but it was too late." No matter - I can cross that one off my bucket list and finally concentrate on my thighs.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

House and Senate Both Agree: Nintendo 3DS Price Drop Is Awesome

Tired of hearing about debt ceilings and deficits and defaults? Why not take a break, kick back with a non-partisan beer and play a few games on your Nintendo 3DS. Haven't had a chance to pick one of these beauties up? Well, this is your lucky day - Nintendo just announced they're dropping the suggested retail price for the Nintendo 3DS™ system to $169.99 (from $249.99.)

This bill will no doubt be swiftly passed by all parties in your house.

Read all about it here!

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Like one of my home movies, only better

Check out this video of an unsuspecting Filipino grandmother reading Go The F**k To Sleep to her grandson. This is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time, and before you go and start saying it's perpetuating some stereotype just let me tell you that my mom would have read it the exact same way and had pretty much the same reaction. Except after every page she would have added, "That baby would sleep if they would just feed him more."

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Road Trip 2011: Now With Less Napkins

We all have memories of road trips we've taken – one of mine happens to revolve around a coveted Starbucks napkin.

One of my most vivid memories of a road trip with my kids happened over ten years ago while on a drive up to San Francisco. My husband and I had stopped for our fiftieth cup of coffee and we had gotten the girls, around five and three at the time, a couple of cookies. For some reason the two of them started bickering when we got back in the car and a few minutes later it had turned into a full-blown fight. Not over the cookies, but OVER A NAPKIN. My husband immediately pulled over to the side of the road, stopped the car and took the napkin away, resulting in the two of them sobbing uncontrollably. OVER A NAPKIN...Read More...

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Baby, You Can Drive My Car (While I Sit Here And Worry)

This is a post I wrote about a new program that's being offered by Allstate. It's useful for everyone, but may be particularly convenient for teens who are just starting to drive. I high recommend it - and you know I wouldn't steer you wrong. (Horrible pun absolutely intended.)

My oldest daughter turned fifteen a couple of months ago, and as usual another year older brought another whole set of worries for me. This time it's sophmore boys, college planning, and what if Lady Gaga's next concert falls on the exact same day as the homecoming dance? (That last one is her worry, not mine.)

But I have to say the thing that's weighing heaviest on my mind lately is the fact that my first-born will be old enough to drive a car next year...Read More...

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Can Your YouTube Account Pay For College?

Here is my latest post for It's about a kid who is paying for his college tuition at a big university with the ad earnings from his YouTube videos, and they aren't even porn. No, really.

As high school students everywhere are graduating and preparing to take that next step into the world of higher education, one question is first and foremost on the minds of many of them: Can I somehow pay for college with those cat videos I've been posting on the internet?...Read more...

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

'Kung Fu Panda 2' finds inner peace. Me, not so much.

Last week I was invited to a screening at DreamWorks Animation for a preview of the upcoming animated feature 'Kung Fu Panda 2'. There was fighting, betrayal, and the triumph of good over evil. But enough about the the post-screening blogger luncheon and the brawl over the last panini – let me tell you my thoughts about the movie...

Read the whole darn thing here! 

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Pirate's booty

Ahoy matey! I'm giving away some 'Pirate' gear! Shiver me timbers it's gonna be good!

So check it out here!


(Pirate-speak lessons not included.)

(C'mon, go forth and win ye some treasure!)

(I realize that wasn't really pirate-speak.)

(But seriously, just do it.)

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Summer Camp: Bring a sponge

I spent a recent afternoon searching out new and exciting things for my girls to do this summer, something to supplement their music and drama camps. And the options for teens are endless – how are they going to choose between the LMAO Facebook Status Update workshop and the Cute Boy symposium? That's a full day right there.

So I decided to take a break and have some lunch, and this is what I found when I went to grab a plate from the cabinet:

This is what happens when you ask your daughters to unload the dishwasher, and they're in such a rush to watch Gossip Girl they forgot that the dishes can actually be lifted up and stacked properly

Which confirms my suspicion that this is the most useless toy ever invented and taught them absolutely nothing:
So then I started thinking that what my girls need this summer are not more expensive camps. Do they really need to learn the bass-line to Poker Face, or take a two-hundred dollar workshop where they learn how to act like a lemur or cry on cue? No, what they need are some good hard lessons in practical things, things that will maybe enable them to leave the house and live on their own sometime before they turn forty. 

What they need is Chore Camp.

I love my girls. They're smart, funny, respectful and talented. But they'll be the first to tell you that things like dish washing and cleaning are hardly activities they excel in. Not to scare anyone that comes to eat at our house, but please check your plate for dried chunks of food first. And I don't think they even know how to work the washing machine - I may have even heard one of them refer to it as 'The Big White Thing That Cleans Pants."

So I've decided to start my own camp with a curriculum that puts some serious time into honing their housekeeping abilities. They may not speak to me for the next five years, but I'm sure they'll thank me later. Here are a few courses I'm offering:

Dish Stacking: Large to Small, A Brilliant Concept

Dish Washing: No, There Is No China Pattern Called 'Dried Salsa'

Closet Management: Hangers Are Your Friend

Toilet Cleaning: Someone Has To Do It

Laundry 101: Your Leggings From Hot Topic Aren't Going To Wash Themselves

Hurry and sign up – I have a feeling they'll fill up fast.

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Sunday, May 08, 2011

Too much to ask

Kiyomi (yesterday): So, mom - what are you REALLY hoping to get for Mother's Day tomorrow? And don't say 'love,' That's just lame.

Me (only half-joking): What would be awesome is if you were in a good mood for the entire day.

Kiyomi (after giving this request some serious thought. As if I had just asked her for a kidney): Oh, ALRIGHT. I'll give you until 8:30 tomorrow night.

It's 11:30am and so far so good. Hope springs eternal.

Happy Mother's Day Everyone! May you be blessed with the simple things in life.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011


Kira had her 15th birthday party over here a few weeks ago. Sure, I'm a little late in writing about it, but I have a rule that you can't talk about a party until you've finished eating all the leftovers. Although I have to admit I'm not feeling too good after our meal last night of flat Coke and two-week-old pizza.

The party was a big success. She had around thirty people here - the boys never materialized, something Rigel and I were secretly relieved about and that the girls didn't seem to mind one bit. They spent the evening as most teenage girls seem to do at parties - alternating between eating, gossiping, eating, dancing, singing, complaining that they ate too much, dancing, gossiping, singing some more and then talking about dessert. By the end of the night when they were all gathered around the firepit roasting marshmallows they were absolutely loopy, hopped up on sugar, carbs and Lady Gaga remixes. Made me wish I was a teenager again. Or at least had the metabolism of one.

I describe this like I witnessed it in detail, but in fact I barely even went outside the entire night – you could sense that the energy would stop whenever an adult would breach the herd, so instead my friend Juliette and I used it as an excuse to stay inside with our cocktails and spy on them from the dining room window, which wasn't obvious or creepy at all. I'd pop my head out occasionally to see if they needed anything, but as you can imagine "Would you kids like some ravioli?" was a definite buzz kill.

I had maybe sort of forgotten all about the cake, so two days before the party I asked Kira what kind she wanted from the grocery store, what color the tasteless frosting should be and if she wanted clowns or a princess on it. Luckily my sister-in-law Suzy saved us from that monstrosity with these amazing cupcakes she whipped up especially for Kira. Triple-chocolate, red velvet and French vanilla and yes they tasted just as fantastic as they looked.

This is one of the few pictures I took, since I was subtly requested not to take photos or video during the party. Who knew that teenagers don't like their parents walking around and recording them while they're hanging with their peeps? Also, take note that it makes things worse if you call them 'peeps'.

(Best Dad Award goes to Rigel, who when he heard that a few of Kira's friends couldn't find anyone to bring them to the party, drove all the way to Hollywood to pick them up and bring them here. Can you imagine your dad driving fifteen miles to pick up your friends and bring them back for a party? I can't, and if he did he probably would have worn his pajamas just to embarrass me.)

There were friends there that night from all stages of Kira's life. Friends she's known since kindergarten, second grade, middle school, and new friends she's made in high school this past year. One thing that struck me was how much I like all of them, and how they represent the types of people she tends to surround herself with - witty, funny, smart and outspoken. At one point one of them came inside and spent a good half-hour hanging with the adults, telling us about her high school classes and talking about her photography. I don't remember ever talking to my friend's parents at high school parties, and if I did it was because I needed something, like a straw for my Tab or a bag to put my retainer in.

There's a line in the movie 'Freaky Friday' that I've kept in my head since I first heard it. (You know it's significant, since that movie's eight years old and as you know I have a hard time recalling anything I heard five minutes ago.) Jamie Lee Curtis is dropping her daughter, played by Lindsay Lohan, off at school and right before she drives away she calls out to her and says, "Make good choices!" I barely remember the rest of the movie, except I think mother and daughter somehow trade places, chaos ensues and then Lindsay gets thrown in jail for drinking and stealing a necklace. Man, sometimes those Disney movies are a real downer.

But that line stuck with me, because I think it kind of sums up what we hope for our kids – that they'll have the insight and strength of character to make informed decisions when we aren't there to help them along. That the choices they make will make us proud, and prove that we're doing a somewhat reasonable job raising them.

That's how I felt that night as she celebrated her birthday, how I was so proud of the person that Kira's grown into and the things in life she's embraced. She really has made good choices, and I saw that reflected in the people she's chosen to keep close to her and trust as friends – and that's a reason to party if there ever was one.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Today On The Other Blog:

Party Like a Game Star: Nintendo 3DS Launch in Seattle

A few weeks ago I went to Seattle and came back full of oysters and with the ability to karate-kick my opponents into submission.

Read the whole darn thing here! 

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

I'm walking for Eitan

It's true, I'm walking in a 5k next Saturday. And though I get winded just walking from my front door to my car, I'm willing to give it my best try for this.

Kiyomi's best friend Maya lost her brother Eitan in a fire eight months ago. At 14 Eitan became an organ donor when he donated his liver and kidneys and changed the lives of three people. This walk will honor him and will raise awareness and funds for Donate Life California Organ and Tissue Donor Registry.

Please donate by clicking on this link: Standing Tall For Eitan

Or, you can send a check made payable to 'Donate Life Run/Walk' to our team leader: Polly Djiji, PO Box 57949, Sherman Oaks CA 91413 by April 29, 2011. (Or, you can give a check to me if I'm going to see you before next Saturday.)

Luckily these two are on my team:

Find out more about the 5k please go to Donate Life Run/Walk or for information about organ and tissue donation visit One Legacy.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

I'm recycling for Earth Day

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by recycling? And by that I mean recycling an old post from 2010. Hey, I'm conserving electricity, keystrokes, and the delicate skin covering my fingertips. 

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My Earth Day FAIL. Or is it?

Happy Earth Day! I was hoping to write a post today about how I was honoring our planet on this special day. Maybe I'd be writing this on a laptop powered by solar panels while wearing a pair of hemp jeans and sipping on a smoothie made from sustainable crops. Or sending you reports from a city beach somewhere, where I was picking up soda cans and cigarette butts with my kids and filling their impressionable young minds with love paeans to mother earth.

Well -- didn't happen.

Instead, I'm having a decidedly un-earth day, because I'm in a bit of a frenzy right now. The kids are home early because of a fair and open house at the school tonight, they have friends over whose parents couldn't pick them up, and I'm frantically trying to prepare for Kira's 14th birthday party here on Saturday. So in other words there aren't any Earth Day sonnets being written and I think I actually walked by a couple of soda cans laying on the ground. In my driveway.

But you know what? Because all the women's magazines tell me to be good to ME, I'm going to go easy on myself and find the ways I did honor the earth. Today wasn't a total bust - here are some ways I found my Earth Day moments by turning lemons into lemonade. Or should I say 'juice made from organic locally grown citrus.'

1) I've been cleaning the house today in preparation for around two dozen 14-year-olds descending on my house this weekend, and every single light in the place is on. Even the waffle iron light is on which is weird because I haven't made waffles since 2001. Earth Day moment: I didn't use the vacuum cleaner! So what if I used enough electricity today to power the entire state of Wyoming -- all the microorganisms who call my couch their home will live to see another day.

2) I had the dishwasher and the washing machine on simultaneously. While I was rinsing off the sidewalk. And hosing off the cat. Earth Day moment: I didn't shower today. So what if I used enough water to supply the entire state of Utah -- all the microorganisms who call my navel their home will live to see another day.

3) In honor of Earth Day I could have walked the four blocks to the school to pick the kids up, but since they had their friends coming over and I needed to pick up lunch, I drove my van. Oh, and the other reason -- I hate to walk. Earth Day moment: At least I don't drive a Hummer.

4) Oh, and that lunch? Because of time restraints I regret to admit that it was McDonalds. Seeing as their burgers are made from extinct rain-forest toads and pandas, probably not a good Earth Day choice. Earth Day moment: We recycled all the wrappings! Even the cardboard drink tray, which I turned into a chandelier. You'll just have to believe me.

5) Getting back to that cleaning, instead of using natural cleaners made from vinegar and puppy sweat, I used all manner of toxic chemicals ranging from bleach to industrial-strength etching acid. You would too if you saw my bathtub. Earth Day moment: I used sponges instead of wasting paper towels. Okay they were endangered sponges from The Great Barrier Reef. Nobody's perfect.

But all in all it was a good day, and I'm about to drop all the kids back at school and I'll have a few minutes to myself before I have to head back for open house. I think I'll have a glass of wine during my little break. Organic wine. Enough to help me write that sonnet.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tina Fey's Biggest Fan Turns 15

Kira turns 15 today. I'm amazed and sad at the same time. How did that happen? It seems like just yesterday she was propelling her 10-pound body out of that 6-inch incision in my stomach. (Yes, ten pounds. High-five to whoever invented the epidural.)

I'm not going to go on and on here about what a great kid she is (straight-A student! Member of the Young Feminists Club at her school!), partly because I've said it before but mostly because I've got a million things to do before forty-two kids descend on our house for her party on Saturday. Did I mention they're all high schoolers? Did I mention a lot of them are boys? I wonder if I can get my hands on an epidural by this weekend.

(This is the first high-school party we're hosting - what should I feed them? Soda and potato chips? Iced mochas and pizza?  Also, what's the best way to confiscate beer and cigarettes from a teenager? I heard a light chokehold works best, but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.)

We're taking her out to her favorite restaurant tonight (Mexican, of course) and as for her gift, we bought her tickets to this, the only thing she asked for:

Because don't all 15-year-old girls want to see a 40-year-old woman and a 65-year-old man talk on stage?

Anyone who knows Kira is aware that she's a HUGE Tina Fey fan, that she never misses an episode of 30 Rock, that she's watched all the repeats of SNL that she was on, that she uses Liz Lemon as part of her Facebook name. So this gift won't seem strange, but it raised the hackles of another parent I mentioned it to and I spent more than a few minutes explaining that Kira really would not know what to do with a Justin Bieber duvet cover.

Or a Twilight Bra:

Instead, she'll get the tickets along with this card I found:


After all, I figure a smart, successful, funny, talented writer/actress isn't such a bad role model for a kid these days, right? So here's to you Tina Fey, for making our gift giving easy this year. And for not putting your face on a duvet cover. Yet.

But most of all here's hoping my lovely, sweet Kira, who I love with all my heart, has a birthday to top all birthdays and a blissful year ahead. As Liz Lemon would say, You want to go there.

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

This is just nuts

I have a confession to make. No, it's not about my reptile feet. I hope you're sitting down for this one.

I just tried Nutella for the first time last year. What.

Stop yelling.

For some reason, Nutella wasn't ever on the table of this Asian American growing up in South Central. Spam sandwiches, yes. Fancy spread made with hazelnuts and a 'hint of cocoa'? Not so much. I don't think I'd even heard of it until a few years ago, and even then I figured it was just some other mutant form of peanut butter. You know, peanut butter with different nuts or something like that. Hey, calm down.

So last year I finally gave in and bought a jar just to see what all the fuss was about. So that I wouldn't be left out at gatherings when the talk turned to Nutella and all it's amazing qualities. Seriously, I've seen people's eyes glaze over when they start talking about this stuff, saying things like, "If Nutella were a man I'd never say no to sex." And I'm all, "C'mon, people, it's just a hazelnut spread with a hint of cocoa." It's not like it's Baconnaise, or anything.

(Note: This post was not sponsored by Nutella, nor have they provided any product to entice me, although now that I'm thinking about it there is a cool Nutella spreader that they could possibly send me if they're feeling friendly. It says it's "able to reach the sides and even the corners of your Nutella jar!" which seems awfully handy.)

Another confession: Nutella did not overwhelm me. While I'm fond of dipping a pretzel into it or spreading it on a graham cracker, I'm not ready to say it's the best thing to come along since peanut butter. Or Spam.

Wow, put down the torches.

But you'll be happy to hear that my girls are totally down with the whole hazelnut-cocoa experience.

They've developed an overwhelming obsession with it, what seems to be a frenzied desire to make up for all of those years they lived without it due to their mother's ignorance of European non-peanut spreads. The jar is always on the counter and never makes its way back into the pantry - it's as if the parting would be too much to bear. I even bought another jar last week before the previous one was empty, because Kira looked inside it and said with some panic in her voice, "Please buy another one. SERIOUSLY WE MIGHT RUN OUT." Those last words were said with such gravity, as if the absence of the Nutella might lead to some sort of condiment apocalypse.

So now we're a Nutella family - Nutella on toast, Nutella on crackers, Nutella crepes. (Rigel even made Kira a Nutella sandwich the other day, which just seemed so wrong to me – isn't that just a chocolate sandwich?) But more importantly, I feel like I can confidently join in on any pro-Nutella conversations that inevitably break out at fancy dinners and cocktail parties and no longer have to feel ashamed of my lack of chocolate-infused-toast-topping knowledge.

Although I still say it doesn't hold a candle to canned meat.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This is a teacher

This is a story about a teacher, one of 5045 educators that received a layoff notice from the LAUSD. I wish I could write about the other 5044, too, but I'll be busy telling my elected officials what a horrible decision they've made in a series of angry letters I'm planning to write. With lots of exclamation points. And swear words.

Last Saturday Kira was auditioning for a competition put on the by the local Rotary Club. The auditions happened to be taking place at her high school, and while we were waiting for her turn I sat outside and talked to her choir teacher, Mr. Sacks, who was there to play the piano accompaniment for one of Kira's classmates who was also auditioning. What else did this teacher do on a Saturday? Picked up all of the costumes from the dry cleaners that the kids used in their last performance (a fantastic Moulin Rouge, I might add) and delivered them back to the studio that lent them to the school. Then no doubt he spent most of the rest of the weekend preparing for the kids' next big show. (Luckily he didn't ask about my plans for the weekend, a carefully laid-out schedule of naps and coffee breaks.)

While we were talking, I asked him about Moulin Rouge, because it was the first time it was ever performed on stage and I knew that he had done the arranging himself. He told me a crazy story about what he went through trying to get the rights to use the sheet music from the movie and after he jumped through a bunch of hoops they still turned him down. So, he said matter-of-factly, he put on a pair of headphones, sat down at the piano and re-wrote all of the music himself, working eight hours a day all the way through every day of winter break, even on Christmas day. And his birthday. (Are you listening, school board members?)

(Seriously, I was so enthralled by his story I forgot to wish Kira good luck when she went in, but she seemed almost grateful to escape my usual hug and awkward fist-bump.)

Mr. Sacks is the reason Kira is going to the school she's attending, the reason we make the forty-minute drive every morning into Hollywood. The school was one of the last ones we had toured after an exhaustive few weeks of checking out every performing arts campus in the city. Kira had a mediocre response to all of them up to that point, and just as Rigel and I were about to pull out the, 'It's our choice, not yours, young lady' card, we were invited to a series of workshops at the school. We sat in on one of Mr. Sacks' classes and the rapport that he has with the kids is so evident, and by the end of a rousing rendition of "Aint No Mountain High Enough", Kira was convinced. She turned to me and said, "I love this place. THIS IS IT." She's was ecstatic that she had found a home, and I was happy we didn't have to tour those other schools left on our list.

And here's where I shake my fist at those who have decided to cut funding to education – Mr. Sacks is one of the teachers that has gotten a layoff notice from the school district. I'm sure I speak for a lot of the kids and the parents when I say that the department and the school will suffer greatly if he leaves. Kira is dreading the thought of him not being around, and she and her classmates are wondering what will become of their musical education there without him at the helm. Have you ever witnessed the rare phenomenon of a child actually wanting to go to school? I have, and it's usually on days she knows she has an after-school rehearsal.

There are many teachers that have gotten layoff notices in the past few weeks and this is just one story. I wish the people making these insane decisions could get to know every one of the teachers they're planning on letting go. More importantly, I wish they could hear the stories of every one of the kids whose lives these teachers have touched, and hear about the negative impact these layoffs will have on them.

If you have a story to tell about a teacher, please send me a link and I'll post it here. I'd love to send it to our elected officials so they could put some faces to even a few of those 5045 pink slips.

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