Thursday, December 29, 2005

The act of a desperate woman?

Just when you thought that you had seen it all….

Ms. Sharon Tendler, a 41-years-old Jewish millionaire from London, tied the (nautical) knot with Cindy, a 35-years-old dolphin, in the Southern Israeli city of Eilat.
It seems that the met the groom, a resident of the Eilat dolphin reef, 15 years ago, when she first visited the resort.
It seems that from the start, Sharon (a British rock concert producer) made beautiful music with her dolphin.
Due to logistics (Cindy obviously didn’t want to submit himself to flying El Al, wise mammal!) it was up to Sharon to keep the relationship going.
She has been traveling to Eilat two or three times a year, spending time with her underwater sweetheart.
"The peace and tranquility underwater, and his love, would calm me down," the excited bride said after the wedding ceremony.

Mmmm, that Cindy is one smooth operator.
Is Sharon sure that he has been faithful to her all those years?
Let’s face it, whether they have limbs or fins, a guy is a guy….

May be inspired by the fact that gay marriage is now legal in Britain, or just being fed up with Cindy’s non-commitment, Tendler insisted on making it official.
Since she couldn’t locate his relatives, she turned to Cindy's trainer Maya Zilber to get the wedding going.
Zilber accepted the challenge and "talked the idea over with the fellow," who apparently consented. It is not known if the groom had to sign a prenup…

The thrilled bride, wearing a white dress, walked down the dock before hundreds of astounded visitors and kneeled down before her groom, who was waiting in the water.
In my opinion, the poor guy thought he was getting some serious fish treats instead of being high jacked into matrimony.
Cindy’s fellow dolphins acted as best-men (it is also not know if any fish changed hands to pull that one off.)

Under the eyes of a highly amused crowd, Tendler hugged him, whispered sweet nothings in his ear, and kissed him. Oh Neptune, what a Kodak Moment!
After the ceremony was sealed with some mackerels, Tendler was tossed into the water by her friends so that she could swim with her new husband.

"I'm the happiest girl on earth," the bride said as she chocked back tears of emotion.
"I made a dream come true, and I am not a pervert," she stressed.
Well, Cindy, most of us like to stick to our own kind (you know, homo sapiens?)

Tendler said she and her newly wed husband will probably spend their wedding night bowling. O dear, how exciting!

The weirdness of it all was nicely voiced by a child in the crowd:
"But what kind of children would they have?" it asked his father.
Well, mermaid/merman springs to mind....

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Poor David Letterman.

Poor David Letterman.
Bad enough that a house painter was involved in a plot to kidnap Letterman's infant son (and is currently serving time for it), he was also stalked for years by obsessed fan Margaret Ray, who served 10 months in prison and 14 months in a mental institution (before committing suicide by kneeling in front of an oncoming train).

But the latest pest in his life really takes the cake.
New Mexico resident Colleen Nestler believes that Letterman torments her over the airwaves using a secret code consisting of words, gestures and "eye expressions" for more than 10 years to convey his desire to marry her and train her as his co-host.
According to her, as a result, she suffered from "mental cruelty" and "sleep deprivation," and has been forced into bankruptcy.

Strangely enough, the Santa Fe District Judge Daniel Sanchez granted a temporary restraining order against Letterman.
The court date has been set on Jan 12, when the judge will determine whether to make the order permanent.
It smells like Ms. Nestler wants to feather her nest with a follow up court case demanding damages.

I am all for people receiving justice, but what about nutters abusing the system?
The Nestler Woman has a rather warped sense of relationships and/or a very fertile imagination.
This is what happened in her little Nestler world…

It all began with her sending "thoughts of love" after he began hosting The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS in 1993.
Mmmm, what about the fact that my cat keeps sending “thoughts of food” to me? Will that mentally damage me?
She goes on claiming that Dave responded to her thoughts of love, and, on his show, in code words & obvious indications through gestures and eye expressions.
She also claims that he asked her to come east.
Yeah, sure, just what the poor guy needs!

Before Thanksgiving 1993, Ms. Nestler claimed that David asked her to become Mrs. Letterman.
Obviously, N. has marriage on her mind – when as a teaser for his show, Letterman jokingly said, "Marry Me, Oprah" Nestler concluded that it was a message intended for her.
She justifies with the statement that Oprah had become the first of her many code names.
It must have been a bummer when the one and only Oprah W. showed up on the show.

Don’t think that Oprah was the only coded message – according to Nestler, the letter C on baseball caps referred to her and she also received specific messages through songs sung by his guests (unfortunately, “Shut up, shut up” of the Black Eyed Peas was not one of them).

What is still a mystery to me is why she waited 10 years to file her complaint.
Did the “relationship” go sour somewhere along the line? Was it Oprah’s book club?
Not drinking enough Kabbalah water? Not receiving good vibes from clams?

Nestler told the Associated Press that she is praying for a permanent restraining order. Mmmm, may be an exorcist can be of help here.

There is a legal aspect to the restraining order business as well.
It is doubtful that the Santa Fe District Court has jurisdiction over Letterman, which (as every law student knows) is lecture # one in law school!
You see, it seems that the Nestler Person never served Letterman with restraining order papers and also failed to follow other procedural requirements.
Oops! May be getting pointers from fellow inmates or from free e-books is not the way to start a legal procedure.

Let’s hope that this whole frivolous farce of a lawsuit will be thrown out of the window.
I feel for Letterman, who comes across as a nice guy. Nobody deserves to be forced to fork out money and waste time to react to this kind of nonsense.
Hitting her with a hefty fine for wasting the court’s time as well as some decent compensation for Letterman’s lost time and costs should do the trick.

To quote the German dramatist, novelist, poet and scientist J.W. von Goethe:

There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity

Monday, December 19, 2005

Holiday Cheer

Going on a holiday break to get away from the cold is always a good idea.
So I decided to check some (sub) tropical destinations, that would still fit my budget.

I came across the following offering:

Winter Travel Special
4 Day / 3 Night resort packages starting from $429*
Package Includes:
AccommodationsRound-trip ground transfers on island
A six-story water slide through shark-filled waters
An archaeological dig into a lost civilization
A casino of mythical proportions

And the largest open-air marine habitat in the world, second only to Mother Nature

I am a cynical, frugal and experienced traveler, so I analyzed this great offering for all of you. Read, weep (with laughter) and learn, mes enfants.

  1. The resort package starts from $ 429, but doesn’t include traveling to the resort.
    Meals are not included, and I bet that any drink (being it a simple soft drink or one of those fancy umbrella/flower-decorated thingies) will cost you mucho extra.
    If you want to budget it – I strongly advise you to double the price.
    It will easily cost you $900 -and please don’t forget your insurance!
  2. Accommodations is a nice term – but rather vague, non?
    Does it include a nice bedroom with a view, airco, cleaning and fresh towels everyday, or am I (and my b-f) supposed to rough it out on a floor mat lulled to a slumber by the sound of buzzing insects?
  3. Round-trip ground transfers on island. Oh, oh - it sounds like this resort is in the middle of nowhere! Which means that I have to schlep my jetlagged body for who knows how long to my destination.
    With a bit of luck, I will be jostled around in a rickety rack bus…with open windows instead of air-conditioning….
  4. A six-story water slide through shark-filled waters. O great! Just what I need – being propelled down a chute higher than my 4th floor apartment and then being catapulted into waters as lunch for sharks. Hello – I am not only a lawyer, I also work in high-tech.
    The aim of the vacation exercise is to get away from the sharks, not swimming with them!
  5. An archeological dig into a lost civilization.
    Let me get this straight – if the civilization is lost, how can I visit the dig?
    Is it Atlantis that I will have a look at?
    Or are they going to treat me to a view of an empty pit? Oh, the suspense!
  6. A casino of mythical proportions.
    OK, I had a nice classic education, so I know for a fact that mythical is non-existent (as in the Minotaur, the Greek gods and bug-free software)
    If you don’t believe me, check out the definition of myth:
    A fiction or half-truth, especially one that forms part of an ideology.”
    You see my point?
    The ideology of a casino is the make as much money out of gamblers as possible.
    In this case, size really matters. Just travel to Las Vegas and walk around in the casinos on the Strip. The one who wrote this piece of PR was probably looking at the word “gigantic” and decided that there should be a superlative to that word.
    Since giants are definitely mythical beings, I think that the poor person got confused, which makes sense in a casino the size of a mausoleum.
  7. Obviously still suffering from weakness of the brain, the last sentence compares the resort (or may be the island or the whole archipelago?) to the largest open-air marine habitat in the world, second only to Mother Nature.
    So they compare their shark-infested waters with the personification of nature as a powerful and nurturing woman.
    Mmmm, might be me, but somehow that metaphor was lost in translation.
    May be the writer had a few of those umbrella/flower decorated drinks while schlepping to his desk through the “mythical proportioned” premises?

Needless to say, I will do a little bit more web surfing before I consider this deal……

Monday, December 12, 2005

What's in a name? That which we call a (….) Tree by any other name would look as green.

As the whole world knows by now, a controversy arose when the annual Christmas tree was sent from Nova Scotia to Boston.
Not only did the grower object to the Bostonians renaming the arbor "Holiday Tree", but also the conservative media such as FOX jumped on the issue and announced that the “dechristmasfication” of the USA reared its ugly head.
Funny enough, they seem to overlook the fact that the tradition of the Christmas Tree is pagan – Jesus for sure never saw a Christmas Tree during his lifetime (date trees, olive trees, palm trees, yes, but no Scotch pine or fir - trust me).

Since I want to be as PC as the rest of the world, I decided to make a Helpful Suggestion.
I decided to consult Shakespeare first, since religion was not going to give me any answers….
The Bard made some poignant observations in his time, so who am I not to learn from it?
To paraphrase him: “What's in a name? That which we call a (….) Tree by any other name would look as green”.
After absorbing these pearls of wisdom, I came up with my first suggestion: “the big green thingy.”
Not one of my brighter ideas, as I found out the hard way.
I received the following letter (stuck to my door with superglue) when I came home:

Dear Ms. Daumier,

On behalf of all green superheroes, we strongly object to being referred to as a “big green thingy.”
If you don’t retract or change to above, we will be forced to take Superhero Action, which might result in some temporary and/or permanent physical and/or mental discomfort. You will be properly notified by signs on the walls and/or in the sky.

The League of Green Superheroes


The Hulk
Chairman of the

The Green Giant

“green is a nice skin color too”

Needless to say, I had no ambition at all to mess around with Superheroes. Just look at poor Lois Lane.
So I rephrased it to “Green Entity M/F”. Has a nice ring to it, and is also very PC.

Returning home, I found the following note on my door.
I had some trouble removing it, since it was embedded with a lethal looking arrow.
I read the following:

Stupid Person,

Stop referring to us as “green entities” – we are magic folk, not thingies!

You should call a fairy a fairy and the troll a troll, if you get our drift.
(If not, you are even denser than a dragon and that says a lot!).
If you don’t rephrase your suggestion before the next rainbow, we will turn you into dead leaves, and bury you in a lead kettle at the foot of before-mentioned rainbow.

The International Federation of Leprechauns

“if you don’t want a mess, don’t mess with us”

Needless to say, I rephrased again – and came up with: “green foliage.”
That would neatly exclude anything mammal, so I would be out of the woods (or ground).
At least, that’s what I thought…until a courier knocked on my door, handing me two envelopes.

The first one was stacked with leaves containing the following text:


You use the term “green foliage” to refer to a Tree.

This is absolutely incorrect.
The term not only refers to all evergreens, but also to shrubs and bushes.
You are obviously not a botanist.

Get your facts straight and get a life (or a university degree in Agriculture).

Insincerely yours,

The National Union of Evergreens
The Hibernia Counsel for Improvement of Shamrocks

“plants communicate – HRH Prince Charles”

The second envelope boasted one on those official looking seals and read:

We know who you are, where you live and what you had for breakfast.
Please note that the President saw your suggestion and thought that he had to change his name to Prez. Foliage.

You see, he used the thesaurus tool on his computer, thinking it was some kind of Super-Dinosaurus, since he read it as The Saurus. He then typed in your foliage and bush came up. Hence the misunderstanding that he had to change his family name.
It took us quite some time to convince him that there was no need to walk around the Pentagon in army camouflage gear.
He still keeps the helmet with leaves in the Oval Office though.
See what you inconsiderate suggestion triggered?

Repent or your creative days are numbered.

The Federal Bureau of Keeping the Bush

“Never talk to a Burning Bush”

That did it! For my own piece of mind, I decided to stop helping Humanity by making more suggestions …let Bono or Sting suffer with it – I had it!
I removed all things green and leafy from my apartment.
No (….) Tree for me!
I will stick to lighting candles…and before anyone gets excited again, I am NOT going to tell you for which holiday!

Happy Whatever Everyone

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Napoleon is to blame again....

The French have a problem with Napoleon – believe it or not.
On December 2nd, it was the bicentennial of the Battle of Austerlitz (1805).

However, President Chirac stayed home, PM Villepin disappeared to somewhere else, and Minister of Defense Alliot-Marie showed up briefly at one of the side events.

It’s not that the French fell out of admiration with le petit Corsair, but admiring let alone officially applauding him is political incorrect.
You see, activists from French colonies, especially the Antilleans and French-Guineans, resent the fact that Napoleon reinstalled slavery in the year 1802.
Needless to say, this is a fact that European history books never mention….

The author Claude Ribbe, a member of the prestigious Académie Française, wrote a poignant pamphlet under the title: Le Crime de Napoléon (the crimes of Napoleon).

Please don’t think that Ribbe represents the intellectual conscience of the French intelligentsia - philosopher Alain Finkielkraut complained in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that “African immigrant are not grateful enough for all the good things that France has done for them and their continent”.
Yeah, sure, being poor, unemployed and discriminated against is just great!
Finkielkraut added that the French national soccer team is being ridiculed as 'black-black-black'.
Now let me get this straight: the French colonized parts of Africa, ensured that the locals became “French” (language, culture) and then, when they play in the national team (with great success I might add), they are suddenly not French enough? Pfffff.

Finkielkraut is not alone – Pierre Nora, the leading and innovative historian in France, believes that France is suffering from its own version of American PC - a “re-ideology of its history,”
with too much emphasize on colonization and slavery.
As if we can ever pay to much attention and learn lessons from it.

French politics got involved as well – the month November saw two major issues.
The Socialist Party demanded in parliament (Assemblée Nationale) that the legal requirement that schools must pay attention to the “positive role” that France played in North-Africa will be scrapped.
This law came in February in effect, and embarrassing enough, the Socialist Party voted in favor of it (“out of oversight” as the party leader Ayrault declared.
Protest also came from history teachers, professors, and the Algerian president Bouteflik.
They were unsuccessful –colonization will officially remain “positive.”

This law is seen as a reaction to the Taubira Law from 2001.
That law was initiated by a left-wing representative from French-Guyana and marks slavery as a crime against humanity.
It might be me, but this should be clear to every decent person and it says a lot that the French needed a law for this….
The Taubira Law will play a major role in the upcoming court case against historian Oliver Pétré-Grenouilleau, who is being charged with “negationism.”
In a news interview, he denied that slavery is a crime against humanity.
Pétré-Grenouilleau conducted a study about the spread of slavery in different cultures and came to the conclusion that it didn’t have genocide as a goal.
Of course not, but in my humble opinion, treating human beings as merchandize to make a maximum profit is still a crime against humanity…
And the fact that he dedicated his book to “all those that suffered under slavery” doesn’t change that one iota.
Nora is a staunch supporter of Pétré-Grenouilleau, and is convinced that he will be acquitted. Please note that Monsieur Nora was also one of the few historians that opposed the law that forbid denial of the Holocaust.

If France wants to remain “French” and cultivate its “liberté, egalité, fraternité,” it better shape up – pronto.
The recent revolt of the immigrant youth is just the top of the iceberg and global warming will not save their fleur-de-lis white skin.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Has anyone seen the King of the Jungle?

We all know that the Gaza is not exactly the most sophisticated place on the planet.
It they would ever twin, I would suggest doing it with Afghanistan or Iraq.
There is not much law and a lot of disorder.
(an idea for a new reality show? “Outlaw and Disorder”? Oops, forgot, we already have that in the form of incursions in Iraq….)

It seems that not only humans are unsafe – our animal friends are also in danger.
Mid November, four masked gunmen armed with Kalashnikov rifles raided the only zoo in the Gaza Strip.
After handcuffing the guard and locking him up in the cafeteria, the thieves first stole two white and grey parrots that speak a few words in Arabic.
That is in itself a Good Thing, if they would speak Hebrew, they would for sure be bird pie by now.
Then, the thieves moved on to grab two lions.
They were successful with one; the other violently resisted and was left alone.
The zoo’s manager Saud al-Shawwa announced a $1,000 reward for anyone who provides information that could help find the lion and parrots.
"Thousands of people visit the zoo and they will miss these animals, especially the lion," he said.
"We have different species of animals here and we urge the Palestinian security forces to help us find the stolen animals."
(I wouldn't hold my breath if were him - Palestinian security is not exactly known for its efficient operations).
"The whole operation lasted less than 30 minutes," Shawwa added.
"The thieves must have visited the zoo before to examine the place. The zoo was officially opened two months ago."

It seems to me that the animal abducting gang was filling an order – the black market for lions is non-existent.
Apart from an attitude problem (lions don’t take very kindly to anything interrupting with their comforts in life), they are also expensive in the upkeep.
An adult will easily eat more than 3 kilos meat a day, and we are not talking hamburgers, but prime stuff.
So somewhere in Gaza, Jordan or Egypt, there is a Fat Cat stroking the head of this lion….
I don’t think that the announced reward will bring in any leads – the Fat Cat will for sure multiply this amount as hush money if necessary.
Let’s hope that our lion gets a good treatment; if not, it can always cross the bother and enjoy matzot during Pesach in an Israeli zoo…..

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Women on top?

Women account for half of the world’s population.
But the only profession where women make more money and have more power than their male colleagues is the modeling industry.
Sad, but true. But women are taking control, at least as action heroines.

Film studios are hiring Oscar winners to play tough gals.
Catherine Zeta-Jones will be in fighting form for another Zorro movie; Charlize Theron plays Aeon Flux; Halle Berry slips into the role of Storm in the X-men III.
These ladies kick the you-know-what out of the Bad Guys on the silver screen.

Needless to say, this change of heart has nothing to do with the moral conscience of the Hollywood Honchos.
They are not in the business of empowering women, but in the business of generating cold hard cash.
According to Warner Bros, female superheroes will generate about 25 per cent more in box office receipts than male superheroes.
"Young men have realized they prefer to spend two hours in the dark with a wild woman than with a man," said a report.
So no enhancement of the Equality of the Sexes cause- our superwomen are there to feed the macho in our young males. Mmmm, not exactly what Emily Pankhurst had in mind!

Needless to say, the Defenders of the Traditional Family Values are not too pleased about this new phenomenon.
"These women are both more sexually aggressive and, helped by special effects, much more rowdy violent than John Wayne or Arnold Schwarzenegger used to be," a spokesman for Plugged In Movie Review, a syndicated conservative radio program, stated.
"The old-school heroes would just gun a baddie down and then make a banal quip. The women, aided by invisible wires, keep kicking you in the head until you crumple. It's more realistic in a way and some of them are just terrifying."
It makes him sound like a whining girlyman, doesn’t it?

The actresses try to put some substance to their roles – Oscar winner Theron described her character Flux as a "strong freethinker.”
Needless to say, male adolescents are more likely to be attracted by scanty outfits and big guns than the character and morals of the super heroine.
Theron’s pic will be followed by more of the same Female Fury.

Milla Jovovich, who already gave us a taste of her heroics in “The fifth element” will beat up zombies in Resident Evil: Afterlife.

Kate Beckinsale, better known for personifying Jane Austin’s Emma, will hunt werewolves in Underworld: Evolution.

The ones that will suffer are not the screen villains, but real life action hero actors. Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone are all planning to resume their muscle-bound characters.
These three middle-aged men have to compete with well-toned and beautiful women half their age.
Let’s face it: if you are an adolescent, who do you want to goggle: a gorgeous young woman or a guy old enough to be your Dad?
What will be next? Jane Bond?
Or better, a (former) actress for Prez?
Lauren Bacall, you have my vote!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bushlexia and English

Many foreign politicians (except Tony Blair of course for obvious reasons) are self-conscious when it comes to talking to the president of the USA.
I find this out of place.
Let’s face it, George W. Bush makes a habit of slaughtering his native tongue.
They even coined a phrase for his many gaffes: Bushlexia.

A loyal Bush Watcher coined this phrase describing it as:
“a combination of dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, apraxia, illiteracy, ignorance, laziness, passive-aggressiveness, inappropriate humor, and an arrogant attitude of privilege.”

Therefore, I don’t see why any foreign dignitary should be worried.
So what if they misuse a word or don’t know exactly how to pronounce it?
Just look at the following quote of the current Prez:
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we.
They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

And what about this gem?

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business.
Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."
Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004 5, 2004

You see my point? Let’s first wait for a president with proper language skills before we criticize non-Anglo politicians….

And most foreign politicians are fluent in two or more languages, in contrast to the 43rd President of the USA who personifies the old joke:
“what do you call someone who only speaks one language? Monolingual? No, American!”

A lesson in democracy

We all love to live in a democratic country. Heck, Bush even started a war to implement the Greater Good of Democracy on the unwilling Iraqi masses….

But if people had a choice, would they opt for democracy?
The subjects of the King of Bhutan opposed their ruler’s intention to abdicate and transfer his powers to an elected parliament.

For those of you unfamiliar with Bhutan, it’s a small country nestled in the Eastern Himalayas. Believed to be the real Shangri-La of legend, Bhutan is a preserve of Himalayan cultural and an ecological paradise. Bhutan or "Druk Yul" (Land of the Thunder Dragon) is one of the world's smallest countries with an area that is about the size of Switzerland (or half the size of Indiana).

Its ruler is the “Dragon King” Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
The UK-educated king is married to four queens (all sisters), has 5 daughters and 5 sons, drives a Toyota, loves American Basketball, and rules over the world's last Himalayan Buddhist kingdom.
Like his late father, the current King follows a careful strategy of modernisation while still trying to preserve Bhutanese culture.
He even coined a special phrase, stating that his goal is to increase the Gross National Happiness of his peole (in contrast to just go for Gross National Income).

For the last 30 years, the king was able to increase literacy levels, life expectancy and household incomes of his 750,000 subjects.
To save its natural beauty, 60% of the country has to be forested forever and hunting is prohibited.
Cultural preservation of language, dress and architecture are required by law and satellite dishes are banned.
Tourism is controlled by a strict quota to keep out the cultural litter that has infiltrated other Himalayan areas.

The King's ideas about statesmanship are clear:
"It is the system, not the throne, which is important.
A monarchy is not the best form government because a King is chosen by birth and not by merit.
The people of Bhutan must be able to establish a system which works for them

However, his plans to abdicate are strongly apposed by the nation's mostly-Buddhist population. His people fear it will only bring corruption and controversy to their beloved home country. Considering the current situation in most Western democratic countries, this fear isn’t unjustified.
Moreover, tucked away between some of the world's most overcrowded, impoverished, and ecologically decimated countries in Asia (China (Tibet), India, Bangladesh and Nepal), Bhutan is increasingly being encroached on by the outside.

Ironically enough, the way his subjects oppose his plans is very democratic indeed:
thousands turned out for a protest in the capital Thimphu.
If the protesters succeed, the democratic will of the Bhutanese people, that is expressed in a democratic way, will lead to rejecting democracy in Bhutan for now.....

Ah, if only my professor philosophy would still be alive to comment!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

KISS and tell

Gene Simmons, the flamboyant base player of the rock group KISS is being sued.
A woman in her fifties, Georgeann Walsh Ward, claims to be a former girlfriend of the rocker, started proceedings at the beginning of this year.
It all started when VH1 produced the rockumentary “When KISS Ruled The World” that followed the band’s 30-year career, its impact on rock music, and the wild antics of its members.
It was broadcasted numerous times.

In the documentary, Simmons claimed to have had sexual encounters with 4,600 women.
He also stated that “there wasn't a girl that was off limits, and I enjoyed every one of them” and “all I ever thought about was sex.”
During these remarks, a photo of Ward with Simmons was shown.
Ms. Walsh Ward decided to sue Simmons, his company, KISS Catalog, and VH1 parent Viacom of defamation and invasion of privacy, since she was in effect portrayed as “wild” and “unchaste.”

I don’t get it. This woman admitted that she was sleeping with Simmons when she was a student. The photos used on TV dated from that period. It wasn't Simmons who put them on screen, but the rockumentary makers.
Simmons, known for his brutal honesty, for sure never made any bones about being (to phrase it politely) a ladies’ man with a huge appetite.
Her claim that they were in an “exclusive, monogamous, romantic relationship” sounds as sincere as a politician’s promise during his/her election campaign.

State Supreme Court Justice Rosalyn Richter (what's in a name? "richter" means "judge" in German!) at least had the good sense to dismiss Walsh Ward’s claim that her likeness was used for commercial purposes without her permission.
Georgeann Dear obviously didn’t realize that the law does not bar editorial use of photographs in documentaries or news publications.
But the other claims still stand.
“Social mores regarding sex between unmarried persons have changed, but the law still says that calling a woman unchaste is defamation,” according to the judge.
Interesting, must Georgeann prove that she was/is “chaste” while admitting that she bedded a rocker known for his raunchy lifestyle?
Since Mr. Simmons is very clear about his outlook on marriage, I am sure that there were no promises made, so doesn’t that leave our Georgeann in an illicit relationship?

Furthermore, Georgann’s name was not mentioned in the rockumentary, which as far as I know, is necessary for defamation of character.
Moreover, Ms. G. claims to be so worried about her reputation. Why did she sue, thus ensuring that her name would be splattered all over the gossip columns?
Once in the courtroom she will be forced to bear it all.
I am sure that the last thing her son wants to hear is the level of chasteness of his mother…

Well, to me, the issue is clear.
Ms. G. obviously thinks that KISS and Simmons are spelled KI$$ and $immon$.
She saw herself on TV and smelled a golden opportunity for shaking GS (who is an extremely successful business mogul) for some serious dinero.
The law in question sounds like it was last put into effect during the Salem Witch Trials.
(Don’t you agree that anyone winning a case that confirms a person is “chaste” just makes that person look like a wimp?)

Before Ms. Walsh goes on, let me give her a word of advice.
Simmons didn’t become the highly successful businessman he is by being taken for a ride.
I would be very careful if I were in her shoes – Gene might opt to get even.
He has the power, the patience, and the resources to sue her for the rest of her natural life, which is a lawyer’s heaven and everybody else’s nightmare.
And if Mr. Simmons wants to have another legal eagle on his team, I will be happy to oblige.....

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Madonna - a rabbi's blessing in disguise?

Madonna, the poster girl for Berg’s version of Kabbalah, is planning to visit Israel during the Hanukkah holiday.
Madonna, who refers to herself as "Esther" is planning to visit Israel during the upcoming Chanukkah holiday.
She wants to seek the blessing of Israel's leading Kabbalist - Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri.
(First off, considering her new name, it would be more fitting for her to visit Israel during Purim).
This is the second time that Madonna asked to be blessed; the previous time (in 2004) the rabbi refused even to meet her.
This time around, Madonna’s managers apparently also contacted the rabbi's associates, including the rav’s grandson Yossi Kaduri, to try and set up a meeting between the pop singer and the rabbi.
You see, mother-of-two Madonna wants to have another child but first wants to receive Kaduri’s blessing.
(I am not sure what that has to do with the price of tea in China, but I applaud her motherly instincts).
All in all, I am quite puzzled.
For starters, it just doesn’t make sense.Madonna is Catholic, so it would make more sense for her to visit the Pope.
(The new one seems like a decent bloke, so give it a shot, Madge).
Furthermore, someone has to explain to her that just using the name Esther doesn’t make her Jewish. If I would get a dollar for every non-Jewish girl called Esther, I could buy myself some serious real estate. (The Hamptons spring to mind).
It’s nice that she has a spiritual life, but her version of Kabbalah is not exactly mainstream.
I cannot blame organizations such as the International Society for Sephardic Progress to go into a hissy fit and urge Kaduri to shun her.
And our Madge doesn’t exactly have what we call neshamah.
Remarks such as "It would be less controversial if I joined the Nazi Party (instead of the Kabbalah Center)," only show that she doesn’t have an inking about Jewish sensitivities.
Don’t get me wrong, I admire Madonna for the marketing genius she is, but I would like to suggest the following.
Once in Israel, I would like her to give a concert, free of charge, and invite her fans and admirers from both sides of the (security) fence.
Let Israelis and Palestinians together belt out songs and make dance moves.
It might not be a Kabbalah blessing, but it would for sure be a true Mitzvah!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Halloween and all that

Halloween is coming up. Originated in Celtic times in Ireland, it’s the ultimate retail sales booster in the US. Early immigrants from Scotland and Ireland brought the traditions of Samhain, All Hallows Eve, and All Saints Day to the New World. Their descendents are now carving jack-o-lanterns, tell ghost stories, dress up in scary costumes, and go from door to door begging for treats. Isn’t European culture fun?
Funny enough, all the ghosts, goblins, leprechauns and the like hail from the cold shores of England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Cornwall.
The romantic French have no spooky traditional to speak off, which is kind of ironic if you think about it. Obviously, for Otherworldly Creatures traveling across the Channel is more taxing than crossing the Atlantic. Go figure.
Personally, I don’t believe in ghosts or previous lives.
I have my hands full with this life, thank you very much and the idea to have a next or a previous one is just too depressing to even contemplate.
This previous life stuff is a mystery to me anyway. People that claim to know and/or relive about their previous lives, always had interesting ones. You must have read about them as well: they were aristocrats in French or Italian courts, princesses in ancient Egypt or priests in Roman and Celtic times.
Statistically speaking, they should have been dirt poor and starving farmers or laborers (not to mention slaves) who died of the black plague or some other epidemic decease. This doesn’t seem to be the case, so it makes me wonder: is there a class society in our previous lives? Obviously, the poor don’t reincarnate well. I find this a gross injustice: previous lives for all or for none, I say!
Coming back to Halloween, I find this “dead crossing into the world of the living” concept scary. I like everything to be in its place: the living here and the dead there (or wherever they hang out). I had my share of living zombies in my high-tech workplace – no need to add a few more into the mix.
Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against a good fancy dress party. So if you feel the urge to invite me, don’t hesitate. I will put on my really scary costume – my judge’s robe from my previous life!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Looking for a B(l)ond?

Daniel Craig is the next James Bond.
This announcement hit the headlines on all the newswires between news stories about insurgents in Iraq and CIA probe hearings. I bet it will also the most discussed headline. Ah, isn’t it nice how we have our priorities right?

Just in case you wonder, Craig is a little known British actor who appeared in the British gangster caper "Layer Cake." He also played alongside Paul Newman in "Road to Perdition" and was poet Ted Hughes opposite Gwyneth Paltrow's Sylvia Plath in "Sylvia."
The choice of Craig came to many as a surprise – Pierce Brosnan, who played Bond in the previous four Bond movies, was shaken to the core that he lost out.
The reason has to do with dollars and cents – James Bond is not only an icon, but also one of history's most profitable film franchises.
The 20 official Bond films have netted nearly $4 billion in global ticket sales, of which Brosnan's four films grossed around $1.5 billion, industry figures show.
Sony Pictures Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. are the Hollywood backers of the new Bond film called "Casino Royale". They considered keeping on Brosnan because of his box office cloud.
The producer, Barbara Boccoli, has her finger firmly on the pulse of the public and visited websites devoted to all things Bond. As a result, she decided that the 21st Bond movie needs fresh blood, with the plot of Casino returning to the start of the spy's career and therefore requiring a younger actor- hence 37-year old Craig.
For the 52-year-old Brosnan, this came as a "body blow."
"I was looking forward to making it edgier and grittier, and for all of that to go down in one phone call was highly disappointing," he told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Personally, I don’t quite see how the suave Brosnan, who always struck me as a mannequin, could go “gritty”. Makes as much sense to me as Courtney Love playing the part of Margaret Thatcher.

The announcement of the next James Bond was a PR bonanza - Craig swept up the River Thames on a power launch to a news conference, escorted by Royal Marines boats. Missing the track record of previous Bond actor Roger Moore, and not blessed with the charisma of Sean Connery, Craig was launched as the “first blond Bond”. Hurray, finally a blond Ken doll! I'm sure women around the world were waiting for this...
During the photo op, Craig posed in the shadow of Tower Bridge “wearing a blue suit and red tie” as the media faithfully reported. It made him sound like the Queen on a state visit.

If the Bond producers wanted to go grittier, they should have opted for Colin Farrell. Now that’s a bloke with a personality! And they could always do a voiceover, as they did with Bond chicks in the past who couldn’t beat their Cockney accents.

And as far as Brosnan is concerned – there’s always the next generation. Pops proudly introduced Junior (who looks uncannily like his old Dad) as the next generation of Brosnan actors. Considering the history of Bond films, I am sure that Junior can have a shot at it in a decade or so. The media will have a field day announcing the son of Bond playing Bond…..and who knows, if that Paris chick is still around, he will have his own certified Bond vixen as well…..want to speculate on her character’s name?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Another one bites the dust

Renee Zellweger filed for divorce after four months of wedding bliss.
That in itself is not so strange – many a showbiz wedding lasted not even that long. (Remember marriage # 1 Ms. Spears?)
What’s is puzzling is the ground for divorce – Zellweger accuses ex-hubby-to-be of fraud.
Now what the hack is she referring to? Did he promise her eternal love? Undying devotion? That he would never ever make fun of her? Worship at her feed?
I assume it cannot be something substantial such as having children – you would expect a couple in its 30s to discuss that kind of life altering stuff before tying the knot.
May be our Renee got swept away by all the romance – playing Bridget Jones could have that effect on a lass.
Let’s face it – there are no knights in shining armor, and if there are, stay away from them.
You see, if their armor is still shining, they never did any serious dragon slaying.
Furthermore, paying so much attention to one’s suit of armor is an indication that the knight might fancy his own kind – it would explain why all those Knights of the Round Table kept rushing off together to find the Holy Grail and all that.
Only Tristan had a hot love affair with a woman – OK, it was a fatal one, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. As we all know, that Lancelot pansy never took advantage of a golden opportunity, which must have ticked off King Arthur's beautiful Queen to no end.

Our Renee should get a grip on reality and go for someone compatible.
I strongly suggest that she starts investigating high-tech moguls.
You see, dating a nerd is the ultimate clever thing to do. If you as a girl date and marry the captain of the football team, you will end up with a middle aged guy who is still living his former days of glory, has a dead-end job, suffers from back or other injuries that limit improvisations in the bedroom. If, however, you can get your hands on the class nerd, you will end up with a professor or captain of industry who has all the money in the world to spend on you and who (due to being a bookworm) knows a thing or two about showing a girl a good time.
Nerds also have the tendency to age really well: just look at Steven Spielberg who is getting more attractive per year.
The same logic applies to guys by the way – if they are foolish enough to marry the high school pinup, they have to feed her obsession with her fading looks by forking out their hard-earned cash for her face lifts, tummy tugs, hair extensions, fingernails, cosmetics and designer clothes. If they would have angled themselves the class nerd girl, they would have had an independent career woman as their spouse, who pays her own bills with her 6-figure+ income from corporate law, high-tech, medicine or research. On top if it, she is smart enough to mould herself into the lover hubby wants – both looks and behavior wise…
You get the point now, don't you?

But may be Zellweger did just that and it’s all a very clever publicity stunt from our favorite nerdy actress. Who knows?
Time, ex-hubby, friends, the tabloids and her next love interest for sure will tell….

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Goodbye to Berlin?

In general, German elections are as exciting as listening to a Wagner opera without music.
This year however, the German politics turned out to be highly entertaining, not in the least due to the cast of colorful characters.

First, we have Joschka Fisher, whose life should be made into a Hollywood blockbuster.
Fisher is currently the eminence gris of the "realos" (the "realists" faction of the Green Party) and served until the elections as the high-profile foreign minister who faced down the pacifists in his own party and sent German airmen to war in Kosovo. Go figure.
He started his career as a high school drop out, eloping to Gretna Green in Scotland to marry his first wife, who was then a minor. Back in Frankfurt, a centre of revolutionary and left wing causes in the 60s and 70s, he took casual jobs, including that of taxi-driver. He opposed the Vietnam war, and mixed with the likes of "Danny the Red" - the radical student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit - as well as figures such as Hans-Joachim Klein, a suspected kidnapper and murderer who is now standing trial for his part in the 1975 attack on an OPEC oil ministers meeting in which three people died. In 2001, he was forced to apologize for his past as a left-wing militant when a series of pictures were published showing him as a bearded young demonstrator attacking a policeman in the street.

The second male lead is Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who has been the leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) for decades and served as Chancellor for the last seven years. A charismatic speaker, he is also vain (he challenged a journalist who wrote that he colors his hair) and tends to be arrogant. He fought a brilliant campaign with wife #4 glued to his side. Although a socialist, he is credited succeeded in making the rich in German megarich.

The third main character is Angela Merkel, the leader of the Christian Democrat Party (CDU). She is a lackluster figure – try to picture a chubby Martha Stewart without charm, makeup, polish and energy. Funny enough, she used “Angie” of the Rolling Stones as her theme music. According to the German press, the Stones weren’t too happy about that, especially since they were touring Europe at that time. Born and raised in the former DDR (communist East Germany), she is conservative, pro-Iraq war and wants to be close to the USA.

After lots of campaigning, the poles showed that Merkel had the lead.
What happened then is every politician’s nightmare: Merkel won with a minimal margin.
As a result, Merkel claimed a huge victory and Schröder proclaimed himself the obvious choice for Chancellor.

What really happened is a country telling its politicians “we don’t know who to elect.”
Since none of the parties has a clear majority, they have to form a coalition. Let the courting start.
There are currently three scenarios:
  1. A coalition of Angela’s CDU (black), Fisher’s Green Party, and the Liberal Party (yellow). Due to the color combination, they are dubbed the “Jamaica Connection,” which is in my opinion is ground enough for Jamaica to start a major lawsuit and file a complaint at the United Nations.
    The parties were even able to enlist a reggae band that sang in German (may be Fisher wants to give us the feeling that the 60s were really good?)
  2. A coalition of Schröder’s Socialist Party with Fisher’s Green party and the Liberals.
    Not be outdone in cuteness, they dubbed themselves the “Traffic Light” connection.
    Does Schröder know how many people run a red light? Just a thought…
  3. The Grand Coalition in which Angie’s & Gerry’s parties rule together. This one will be short-lived but fun. Fur will fly when the two of them will lock horns on who’s going to be Chancellor. If I were a betting person, I would put my money on Schröder. Some poor soul even suggested that they should rule together. Yeah, sure, remember what happened to the triumvirate in Rome and to Cleopatra’s brother/co-ruler? Exactly!

    In the coming week, the farce will continue…and then they say that Germans have no sense of humor! So stay tuned to find out who will say goodbye to Berlin....

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A miffed terrorist – life is stranger than fiction

Steven Spielberg is currently shooting the movie “Munich” about the 1972 Munich Olympics attack, in which 11 Israeli athletes died.
“Munich” is a thriller chronicling not only the massacre but also the Israeli revenge assassinations that followed.
The source of the movie is contraversial – it is (at least partly) based on “Vengeance”, a book that has been widely criticized.
“I am surprised that a director like Spielberg has chosen, out of all the sources, to rely on this particular book,” retired Mossad chief Zvi Zamir told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in July 2005.
The ex-spook is not the only one that read “Vengence”.
“I read it,” announced Mohammad Daoud, “It’s full of mistakes.”
Mr. Daoud is the mastermind of “Black September” , a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) splinter group. He is the one that sent terrorists to abduct Israeli athletes at the 1972 Games. Two hostages were killed in the raid, and another nine during the botched rescue by German police. Reeling from the loss of its countrymen - particularly on what had been the staging ground for the Holocaust - Israel retaliated with shootings, booby-trap bombings and commando operations that killed at least 10 PLO men and drove their comrades into hiding.
The weird thing is, that this Palestinian terrorist is miffed – big time.
“I know nothing about this film,” Daoud told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location in the Middle East.
“If someone really wanted to tell the truth about what happened, he should talk to the people involved, people who know the truth. Were I contacted, I would tell the truth.”
Yeah, sure, and I am a supermodel.

Truth from the mouths of terrorists?! Just is case you wonder, according to Daoud, it’s not the PLO which is to blame for the deaths, but Israel and West Germany.
Our innocent lamb survived a 1981 gun attack in Poland which the PLO blamed on the Mossad. But then, the Mossad has been blamed for a lot, including the death of Princess Diana.

Spielberg, not wanting to shake the money tree, has vowed that “Munich” will be sensitive to all sides.
I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait not to see this movie!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

About Bush's Katrina Failure

"It's totally wiped out. ... It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground."
George W. Bush, to his aides while surveying Hurricane Katrina flood damage from Air Force One, Aug. 31, 2005.

As we all now, the way the Prez handled the devastating impact of Katrina will not cut it as a case study of topnotch crisis management.
As always when a vacuum appears, people try to fill it.
Hence the unlikely tandem Bush Sr. – Clinton touring the disaster area with their spouses as if they were on a political campaign, hugging people and being all touchy-feely.
In my humble opinion: they were - Bush the Elder promoting favorite filius Jeb and Clinty supporting “she-who-must-be-obeyed” aka Senator Hillary Clinton the first female president hopeful.
Might work as well – Jeb asked and received millions from Big Bros for rebuilding the Katrina damage in Florida. Jeb baby explained on TV in fluent English and Spanish how he is spending all those dineros on human aid. The governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans were not that lucky.
Pops Bush happily stabbed his son in the back by stating: “as a son, he could have done better, but as a president, it comes with the territory”. This kind of loyalty was last seen among the Borgias.

Thus, after the failure of governmental planning, rescue & aid, the only Superpower in the world turned to private organizations, individuals, and political allies for help.
The Red Cross rose to the occasion, as did many individuals.
Sean Penn flew to New Orleans, pulled up his sleeves, and started working waist-high in polluted water. Other celebrities donated $1M each and John Travolta put his pilot license and plane to good use as well. Even that Paris chick donated $ 200,000. Well not exactly – Her Heiress is auctioning herself off for a $ 200,000 date. No charity with some personal gain! May be she picked that pointer up from her Greek on/off fiance, providing he enjoyed a classical education. (I am referring to the famous Aeneid quote:"timeo Danaos et dona ferentis" (translation: "I mistrust the Greeks even when they are bringing gifts").
Allies such as Israel sent planes full of tents and medication. (Not that there are no tent makers and pharmaceutical companies in the US itself, mind you, but they charge!)

In short, it's enough to make you cry – which is exactly what Celine Dion did on Larry King Live. For all those evacuees and victims of Katrina who were not rich or lucky enough to get out of New Orleans in time, all they can do is finding the courage and energy to rebuild their lives in a city that was once bustling with trade, history, culture and music.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Another bachelor bites the dust

For those of you who are fed up with news about the disengagement and are looking for some glamour and romance, here’s your chance.
New York businessman Ari Goldman (34) stars in the reality show “of all the girls in the world”.
It’s a variation on the bachelor/bachelorette theme.
Goldman, who lives in Manhattan, where he runs a "highly successful" vintage comics enterprise, meets 17 Jewish Cinderellas aged 21-34 in Israel. None of the girls (save one) has ever been married.
(I am not sure if Goldman is desperate, or just wants to improve his business.
If the latter is the case, I applaud him – free worldwide marketing & PR is something normally only A-list actors enjoy).
There is one exception: a divorcee with two children. (My bet, she will be eliminated in one of the first episodes).
The young women come from diverse backgrounds, and were born in Estonia, Bulgaria, Canada, the US, Ethiopia and Israel. All (but one) have at least a BA. (No idea why that is relevant, but who am I?). The exception is an officer in the Israeli army. (She will be eliminated after the divorcee, mark my words).
According to the producer, they are “the type of girl that any Jewish mother would want for her son”. (Sure, every mother- in- law just loves her son marrying a woman who made a fool of herself on international TV for a worldwide audience).
Goldman doesn't speak Hebrew, so a large part of the program will be in English. That doesn't necessarily mean that the 17 young ladies speak English well.
(This could be a blessing in disguise - it's better that you don't understand questions like "how much do you make" and "are you willing to transfer all your wordly possession to me".
Also note that Britney did marry a guy who speaks English fluently, and see how long that marriage lasted!).
“We didn't pick them for their fluency in English; love is an international language”, commented the producer, adding that language and culture obstacles will add spice to the show.
(I wonder if the producer is a) married himself and if so b) what language his wife speaks).
Religion-wise: Goldman travels on Shabbat, but has his Friday night dinner with his family. He eats only kosher, dons a kippa when he sits down to eat and studies with a rabbi every two weeks. (We can safely assume that his bride-to-be will be whisked away to NYC; which is for sure a huge incentive for the girls to participate in this show).
Some of the young women he meets are fully Sabbath observant, some just eat kosher but don't observe the Sabbath, and others are barely observant at all. (Normally, this is already a breaking point in any Jewish date, so good luck to all of them).
No show without a twist, so here it comes: there is an 18th contestant watching all the episodes except the last from the comfort of her living room. She can enter the race if she considers herself superior. (Of course she will – but isn’t that unfair towards our poor bachelor, who never even saw the wench?)
Towards the end, Goldman will take the four women who appeal to him most back to New York, where family and friends will help him narrow the choice to one.
The end rewards? A $ 200,000 engagement ring, a car, and a rent-free apartment for one year. The catch? He has to settle in Israel (Talking about pressure!).
I am not the only one being cynical about this all - Goldman's own mother doesn't think the show will bring her a daughter-in-law.
What I still don’t get: New York is full of intelligent, gorgeous single women, so what is Goldman’s problem? Especially NYC is the ultimate ethnic melting pot, so why shop abroad when you can do it right on your doorstep?
It’s not like Goldman is a dog – the producer describes him a “a rugged, charismatic character with instant click” (I assume that it translates as : he is good looking and charming).
Furthermore, he wants someone who will be happy to share his lifestyle, not a homebody who slaves away in the kitchen. (His words, not mine).
Will it work? Yes and now. The chances that he will find a bride that he can whisk away to Manhattan are as high as winning the lottery. Will we be entertained? For sure - there will be enough embarrassing moments edited in to entertain us all. Let’s face it, love makes fool of us all, and it’s so much more fun when it happens to someone you don’t know personally, but just dislike, and see her making a fool of herself in front of millions of people.....

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What’s in a name?

“From now on, you can refer to me as Diddy” announced the multi-carat-earrings-wearing artist with aplomb. In a time when the media were full of the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza strip, the hip hop artist felt the compelling need to address us mere mortals and solve the riddle of his many identities. It seems that the pee was standing between him and his fans…and he also started to get confused when answering the phone. Answering the phone? Doesn’t he have a whole staff to do that for him?!
Needless to say, I was so relieved to find out what to call him. It was one of my main concerns, you understand –how, oh how to address him if there ever the need arises…I still think that addressing the man with his legal name (Mr. Combs) has a nice ring to it. Since his empire bears the name “Bad Boy”, he could have used that one at well…but don’t shorten it to BB. That would upset the French and we don’t want to do that, or do we?
So Diddy is announcing this Major News just before the MTV awards…slacking sales figures? Or is Diddy following in Prince’s footsteps and will he also evolve into a Symbol? I would like to warn against it – just check out the record sales of before-and-after “the artist formally known as Prince” and you will get my point.

Not being outdone, another pop-person-with-a-single name (Madonna for the few of you who missed this morsel of media frenzy) fell of her horse and thus made global headlines. I broke a few bones in my time and know how painful it is, so I do sympathize, but does it justify this kind of media exposure? Have we run out of murder & mayhem?
I think I know the reason: August is always slow news wise. So if you are compelled to become notorious, make you move then. If you don’t believe me, just check when the Clinton scandal hit the headlines…

So who will be next? Cher with blotched beauty operation? Sting saving another tree or two? Bono flying his sunglasses around the world in a private jet?
Oh, the suspense!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

My job interview from hell

We all had them – job interview from hell that leaves you drained, upset and second guessing yourself. Once you land a job, you are too busy to recall what you went through.
So for all of you (potential) jobseekers, when you feel like you had the worst interview in history – read the following stories and smile. And whatever you do, don’t doubt yourself!

In 2004, I went for my third job interview at an Israeli biotech company in Hackensack, New Jersey. I had met their female Vice President half a year ago during an event in NYC, where she told me that the company was looking for someone like me. “Bingo!” I thought.
We set up a second interview at their premises. Despite a constant email exchange between the the VP (aptly named “Asia” considering her country of origin), she was not in the office to interview me, since "she was out of the country on business".
So I double checked this time, and was informed that she was ready to see me. So far, so good….

My b-f drove me to my job interview and told me not to worry about him and to take as much time as I needed. (A prince among men, non?)
I went in at 11 am and stumbled out at 12.30am. The interview was a disaster.
Asia started by informing me that she is an excellent boss who never stabs people in the back. (Excuse me?) Furthermore, when she is unhappy, she will give her employees hell, but not in front of others.(how nice) “I am very loyal to my people, you see” she said. Needless to say, I did not see; my laser eye correction in 2000 must be less successful than I thought…

She told me that the present position is for a Director, but that she will appoint him/her as a manager, so “I can place another person over his/her head if I am unhappy”…(great HR)
She also told me: “Are you married? No? And you have no kids? Excellent! You can work long hours!” Thus neatly breaking several US laws.
She went on telling me that I have to work “at least twice as hard as I did before”.
Since I work an average of 10 hours a day, it would mean that I have to forfeit sleep, eat and other such unnecessary activities to meet her demands……I started to feel like Dilbert facing Catbert.
I asked about the financial situation of her company. The investment round only generated $1M. which is for a technology-driven company peanuts. They are under pressure to be commercial ASAP.
We did not discus salary, but she told me that all employees received a salary cut of 20%….She said that nobody left the company, despite the salary cuts. I wondered if that was because they are chained to the wall and cannot physically leave….I decided not to ask.
When asking “where I see myself in 2 years” she informed me that she loves to hear a candidate telling her that he/she wants her job. I looked at her nose, expecting it to grow like Pinocchio’s, but no such luck.

She also talked about the Israeli CEO as a “wonderful, caring, honest man” in a dreamy voice, looking at the ceiling with a smile around her lips - which gave me some clue about the dynamics in this company.
Her plan is simple: appoint a tandem consisting of a Marketing Director and a Business Development Director. Their successes are hers, the failures are theirs (and “off with their heads” as the Queen said in Alice in Wonderland).

She then went on criticizing and second-guessing all my qualifications, wondering if I was really “up to the job” and that she had “some reservations” about my being able to write materials. This did not stop her from making notes of all my suggestions and opinions that I am sure she happily implemented afterwards.
She polished it off by informing me that she had given me 1,5 hours (and not the standard 30 minutes) since I came in vain the previous time, thus nifty making me feel responsible for her messing up the previous time.
Her parting shot was the best: “I am interviewing 30 other people, but keep in touch, I expect questions from you by email”. (Sure, and please hold your breath until I do!)
I stumble out of the building, emotionally drained. B-f was very supportive (he always is!) and gave some colorful feedback harboring on character assassination. (Asia’s, not mine).
B-f knows me well, so he treated me to a wonderful lunch (salmon in a cream/mushroom sauce on a bed of wild rise with cooked asparagus + a glass of excellent dry white wine) to cheer me up. Guess what? It did the trick!
Needless to say, I never heard anything back, not even a polite “thank you, no thank you” email.

If you have horror stories in the job-searching field you would like to share, please do not hesitate to respond to this blog!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Maria, Eunice, Oprah - oh, la,la.....

Last week, I watched the interview of the mother/daughter Shriver/Kennedy tandem on Oprah. It was a bizarre experience….
As a rule, I don’t have a lot of patience for the Oprah Winfrey show. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the lady for the splendid career she carved out for herself, but she is just not my cup of tea (or Java, depending on the time of day).
After watching the excellent BCC television series “The Kumars at number 42”, I was just too lazy to zap on and watched the “first ever” interview with the governor of California’s wife and mother-in-law: Maria and Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Since both of them are bright and talented women and witnesses up close and personal some of the most significant moments in recent history, I expected some original insights. What I got was a rerun of the “I love Lucy” show, sans wit.
Oprah announced Maria and immediately went into her star struck gushing mode.
The girls hugged each other, admired each other’s hairdo and promoted Maria’s latest fruit of the pen with almost indecent haste.
Maria looked like she just came from a funeral – long sleeved, sequined 50s-style dress that looked like it came from Lucy’s wardrobe.
Maria started talking about her upbringing - everything the Shrivers did and do is about public service. So instead of talking about school, culture, history, the dinner table topic was “how to make the world a better place”.
Unsuspected guests were coerced into answering the pater familias’ favorite question: “What are you going to do to make a difference?” while looking at pictures of starving children in Africa, disabled kids, and children living in institutions. Poor Oprah was so intimidated that she took refuge in a closet. (Before you get any ideas, the reason that Oprah isn’t married had nothing to do with her coming out of the before mentioned cupboard. It also didn’t have a traumatic effect on her later development – just check how the Harpo Corporation is doing and you get my point).
Maria went on informing the gullible audience that the mater familias would place a piggy bank in the center of the dining room table once a week and serve her offspring cereal for dinner so they could donate what they would have spent on food that night to the poor. Ah the things the megarich do for the paupers…it brings tears to your eyes, especially since Maria informed
Mummy that they just loved eating cereal, which somehow strikes me as completely missing the aim of the exercise.
Maria kept emphasizing that their lives were never about “things,” only ideas. Easy to do when you are not distracted by the daily gritty life that the rest of us are struggling with.
Eunice came on stage as well, better dressed than her daughter and still in possession of her think Kennedy hair.
After more hugs and touchy stuff, Maria and Eunice told Oprah that they have never, ever, had a single fight. Yeah, and Al Gore invented the Internet.
Sounding a lot like Bush, they harped on about Family Values. Eunice said how important it is for family members to eat dinner together every night. “When I was growing up, I never saw my parents go out to dinner in a restaurant once in our whole life.”
Of course not, Rose stayed home and Joe was having a love fest with Gloria Swanson.
The Shriver-Schwarzenegger home is uncannily similar. Maria is the disciplinarian with her kids about going to church (mandatory Mass every week), having good manners and doing homework. Since the kids don’t have their own phones, Maria monitors every call. She happily announced that she is also trying to get access to their emails, which is trickier. Her 13-year old daughter, seated in the audience, threw her an “over my dead body” look. The girl has her father’s looks (enough said), but came across as a very sensible, grounded kid. I predict that she will be a handful.
Arnold was the next topic. Maria informed the masses that he is insanely strict when it comes to keeping the house clean, turning the lights off, and doing laundry. “He will call me from the capitol and ask, “Have they done the laundry?” Maria told Oprah. “Even worse, if the kids leave clothes on the floor, Arnold will scoop up the garment and throw it into the fire. Other items he finds out of place he’ll just hide around the house and never return. The Schwarzenegger kid confirmed this: “If you open up a cabinet, behind pots and pans, you'll find, like, a pair of shoes or something.”
Arnold also unscrews light bulbs when the kids leave the lights on, due to the energy crisis. So he tries to teach his brood about saving energy, but makes no bones about burning expensive clothes and shoes. Go figure.
Oprah also touched on the issue of Arnold running for president. Maria is (for now) dead-set against it. “I want him home” she announced forcefully. Considering their present living arrangements (he resides in Sacramento; they see each other once a week) and Schwarzenegger’s history of sexual escapades, I can’t blame her.
It is funny how all the Kennedy women (Rose, Ethel, Jacky, Maria) follow the same pattern: no matter how clever, educated and strong they are, they serve and obey their dominant spouses. Being staunch Catholics, divorce is out of the question.
Even Eunice, a talented campaigner for her brothers, who could have been a decent president if only given half the chance, is not only happy with her daughter giving up her own career, but even told her that she should have dropped the Shriver family name and go for Schwarzenegger. Her daughter correctly pointed out that she refers to herself as Eunice Kennedy Shriver. This issue was not pursued – Oprah probably didn’t want to start the first ever mother-daughter fight. Pity.
All in all, it the whole episode gave me a feeling of Lucy meets the Stepford Wives.
And about Arnold running for president, let’s keep our fingers crossed that the Constitution will remain unchanged – let’s not forget what happened the last time an Austrian became the leader of another country……

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Size matters

Size does matter. This time, I am not referring to guys, but to women.
Guys have hang-ups about the size of their cars and gadgets; women have different size fixations.
When in comes to dressing, men are sensible: if it doesn’t fit, they don’t wear it.
A lot of women on the other hand love to follow fashion, no matter what.
So they wear outfits that are too tight, too short and don’t fit their coloring or body type at all. They harbor the misconception that they look elegant and sexy in these outfits, thus visually polluting their environment.
The sales chicks in boutiques, being young, slim and gorgeous, will happily inform their clientele that they look great. So would I if it would generate a nice commission.
Apart from tight tops that are most of the time also too short, the low riding pants are a huge favorite. These pants look great on skinny 16-year old girls – not on mature women. As a result, an unsightly roll of flesh spills over the waist of their too-tight pants.
This is referred to as the muffin top, since it resembles a muffin bursting out of the pan. If the front view is bad enough (the bulging belly button with or without piercing is enough to make any person anorexic), the tattoo on the hip or lower back adds to the horror scenario. Don’t get me wrong – ceremonial tattoos are great, just look at some African tribes and the Maoris. But zaftig white women – no, not really. And if you as a guy like to feast your eyes on lots of female flesh, just go to a Rubens exhibition – you will have a ball, trust me.

The other items that especially women want bigger and bigger are diamonds in engagement rings. This is an American phenomenon. European women prefer rings with colored stones; their American sisters (thanks to the clever marketing of De Beers) want a huge rock on their left hand. The richer hubby-to-be is, the bigger the stone. The self-proclaimed American Princess aka Paris Hilton aka the Heiress is used to major bling-bling. Her fiancé, also named Paris (after the Greek hero, which gives you an idea where this relationship is heading, just brush up on your Homer) bestowed some serious carats on his beloved. I’m talking about a size that you could spot from space. But a hand and finger can only support so much grams of compressed carbon daily, so Paris (the one named after the city) asked for a more manageable replacement. This teaches us all a lesson: as a woman, you can be too thin (in contrast to what the Duchess of Windsor used to proclaim) and your ring can be too big (oy, Harry Winston!)

So ladies, take my advice: go for properly fitting clothes and sport reasonable size jewelry. Go for quality, not for quantity. It makes life for you and especially your fellow citizens a lot more pleasant.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

About reality - the showtime version

I don’t get it. In a time that the number of terror attacks in major cities and popular holiday destinations worldwide are increasing, so does the public's thirst for reality shows.
I find this bizarre, especially since they are in general quite boring.
But I have some suggestions to spice them up a bit.
Let’s first look what is around – thanks to cable and satellite: worldwide.

First, there are the dating ones – one guy/girl goes on dates with around 12 members of the opposite sex who have nothing better to do that being humiliated in front of millions. That of course explains why all of them were single to start with and will remain single long after the show’s grand finale. I must confess, I wouldn’t mind at all dating a bunch of losers in exotic (and 100% paid for!) locations.
My suggestion would be that they come to the home of the bachelorette and do useful stuff: fixing her washing machine, checking the tires and oil of her car, putting up shelves, entertaining that boring aunt during holidays, go shopping for groceries, etc. Let’s face it, getting roses is nice, getting rid of a tedious chore is great!

The next group is the swapping one – a person swaps lives with another frustrated person. Needless to say, this leads to misunderstandings, anger and – in short- extremely boring television. The switchers have boring lives to start with, so I don’t see the point. Now let’s put some substance in the concept. Let’s have Bush swap places for a few days with the president of France – that’s entertaining! They don’t have to worry about the language barrier-nobody listens to them anyway. It might even end the war in Iraq…

Then there is the misfit show – you put some celebrities on a remote farm or something like that and see them suffer. Funny enough, it seems that only the poor locals are suffering – the celebrities themselves survive very nicely. I suggest that they change the show’s concept and combine it with the swapping one. Let’s have Paris Hilton work as an underpaid maid in the Hilton Hotel in Guam, sans dog and beauty treatments of course.

Survivor shows are popular as well – a group of C-list actors are thrown together in the middle of a jungle and have to survive. Variation: they have to conquer their greatest fear by sticking their face in buckets with worms or cages with spiders. I didn’t hear the WWF complain about the mistreatment of those poor animals yet, which is a Serious Omission on their side.
Both of these shows are based on the wrong concept: we all know that the biggest fear of an actress in waking up with her original body before plastic surgery. So let’s make a show bout that – starting with Michael Jackson.

Peeping Tom shows follow a group of people or a small business (hair dresser, restaurant) 10+ weeks long for no apparent reason.
I strongly advise the makers to select a high tech company next time: weird people, lots of intrigue, scheming and backstabbing, topped off by a spectacular crash in the final episode. I will be happy to provide the script.

Apprentice shows – my favorites. A prospective employer gives a group of 10-15 candidates all kind of tasks over a 3-months period and declares a winner.
They are clever enough not to make the decision alone, but sharing the blame, but not the fame, with some of their minions or business friends. Good PR for them and the candidates make a cake of themselves, no matter how smart they are.
I like the concept: I would love to have my own. I will interview a bunch of people to become my cleaner. I will test them by giving them different cleaning tasks and rating them. After stretching this for weeks (and not paying them of course!) I will select one. My cat will be one of the judges. I know, that doesn’t make sense, but at least he has better hair than Donald T.

Networks love all these shows – cheap to produce and great viewers numbers, so the advertising dollars come rolling in.

The funny thing is, these reality shows have nothing to do with reality as we know it.
So what's the deal here? I wish George Orwell was around to make some sense of it all.....

Monday, July 18, 2005

I should have known better, but well, I didn’t….

It all started with an invitation for a marketing writing course that I received about a month ago. I got the invitation via a PR network, so I should have been warned…. It was organized by a company called ExperTeam, that specializes in technical writing. Since the current economic situation is bad, such companies have a tough time surviving. Due to the unemployment rate among marketing and technical writers (45%), companies prefer to hire laid-off writers that are dirt cheap, very experienced and are paid per hour. ExperTeam invited me to join their course, that took place on 8/2 from 6pm-8pm. It consisted of two parts – the first part “what is marketing writing” and the second part “how to write killer marketing material”.
Since I always want to improve myself, I thought it was a good idea to go. The costs were also OK, $10. (I did not even contemplated to ask this amount from my employer).

So I registered…and did not get a confirmation. So I emailed twice, to make sure I had a place. Finally, I got the confirmation with a map how to drive there. And then the fun started….

That whole day, Ibby (my boss) kept throwing work at me. When I told him that I had to leave that day at 5.30pm (I start at 8am, mind you), the reaction was 1) why so early 2) what for.
I was stupid enough to tell him. He replied it would be a waste of time. I was finally able to leave armed with the map that ExperTeam had faxed me. I don’t have the greatest sense of directions, but I was quite confident that I would find it. The map clearly showed that I had to turn right at the fifth traffic light on the main road into Main Street, so that would be easy enough, correct?
So I drove off…..already being tired and stressed.

All went well, and I turned right at the fifth traffic light. Wrong street name, so I parked, and
went to ask directions. I asked the proprietress of a small kiosk that sells milk, cigarettes, snacks, and newspapers and also serves coffee. She did not know, but a customer sitting outside budded in, took my map and started to analyze it. Not very successfully, since he kept turning it around. After some minutes, I took the map back, and said I would ask at the petrol station. The customer looked insulted and said that he would have figured it out eventually. Yeah, sure, and I am a super model. The petrol station guy was very nice and helpful, and told me that he knew were Main Street was. I just had to turn left at the next traffic light. By that time, it was 6.10 pm, so it was cutting it close, but what the hack, I was almost there, right? Wrong!
I went back to my car (feeling hot and sweaty) and turned left at the traffic light as instructed. Lo and behold, the correct street name! Found a nice parking place, parked and saw that a high tech guy (pony tail, end 20s, must therefore be a software engineer) was getting into the car next to me. I thought that double checking would be a good idea, so I showed my map again, and he assured me that I was in the right place. He recognized all the streets, and pointed into the different directions to indicate them. I was very impressed and relieved.

So I went looking for ExperTeam at Main Street 6…..which turned out to be a Chinese Restaurant. By that time, I was very confused and nervous. I decided to ask a mother with a small child walking towards me – those ladies normally know all the streets. She was very nice and looked at my map. She told me that I was in the right street, but in the wrong village! Of course, I thought to myself, that explains a lot! She told me that I had to turn back to the main road, go to the left, 3 traffic lights and then to the right.
By that time, it was already 6.30pm, so I wondered if it was worth while to go. But since I am extremely stubborn, I could not give up. My feet were hurting and I started to get hungry (I didn't have a thing to eat since munching a salad at noon).
So I drove off again. By that time, I was smack in the middle of rush hour, so I was forced to move with the speed of a snail - a heavily medicated, doped out snail.

Finally, I arrived at the third traffic light and turned right. Guess what? Main Street is in the the middle of a cluster of buildings, without any numbers. Great!
I parked my car, took my map and walked into the first small building I saw – a small high tech firm. I asked the two young guys there if they could help me. They looked at the map and told me that ExperTeam should be in a building somewhere behind them. They did not know for sure, and happily informed me “nobody can find us as well”. This sentence was delivered with a big smile, so I wondered why they do not relocate.
I walked around and saw several clusters of small buildings. I suddenly saw an old sign with ExperTeam on it, so I followed it…and ended up in a playground! So I looked around and saw this itsy tiny sign “ExperTeam” on a building dwarfed by huge signs of other companies. Go figure.
By that time, it was 6.45pm…..But, in for a penny, in for a pound, so I went into the building. Nobody to be found, so I first looked for the restrooms since I drank lots of water on the way. I walked around, and finally a guy talking loudly on his cell came out of his office and demanded to know what I wanted. I answered that I was looking for the course. He pointed were it was and added “You must be very polite when you go in”. I informed him that I am always polite.
At that moment, a young guy came rushing towards me and told me he was also late. We decided to go in together.

So I opened the door to slip in….and was shocked.
It was a small meeting room, packed with 40 people sitting (shoulder to shoulder, knee to back) and another 10+ standing…without air-conditioning!
By that time, the idea of standing for two hours or so, having to pay for that privilege, and no way to make notes was enough to freak me out. I made a hasty retreat and drove home. By 7.30pm, I was finally home and thought this whole exercise over.

My first lesson: never trust maps sent to you by companies.
My second lesson: People are friendly and helpful, but not always reliable
My third lesson: ExperTeam has a good idea – if implemented correctly

Their concept is great:
1) you let your own employees teach – no costs involved
2) in your own offices – no costs involved
3) your invitees have to register – free database/mailing lists
4) 50 invitees = $ 500 tax free
5) 5%-10% might turn into customers (hack, even 1 customer out of it makes it all worth while!)
But what upsets me most……Ibby was right!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Touchy people

You may have noticed as well – some people are touchy, others are not. I am not only referring to their state of mind, put the “their-hand-on-you-body” kind.
They mean well, they just want to emphasize a point by touching you.
Personally, I like my space and only want to touch and be touched by people a) I am close to and b) I like. Unfortunately for me, I live in a Mediterranean country filled with touchy people. While I am trying to keep my distance, they want to “enter my bloodstream” as they call it here. It is an endless battle – the more reserved I become, the more curious is my environment. Once I was cornered by a neighbor, who asked if I had a new boyfriend. When I looked puzzled, he happily told me that they (the neighbors) discussed the fact that there was a new car in my personal parking. They came to the conclusion that it must be related to a new guy in my life. It never crossed their minds that I might have changed jobs and got therefore a different company car. When I gave neighbor-dear one of my non-answers, he looked peeved and snapped that I am too damn secretive. Touchy, touchy!
In my previous company, I had the pleasure to work with a nice Argentinean colleague. Being Latin American, he kept standing close to me – too close for my peace of mind. So I used to step back a bit, which led to him stepping forwards again. In order not to cross the whole length of the office building, I stepped slightly sideways, so we ended up full circle. It looked like we were dancing. He never had a clue.
In the USA and Western Europe, people get into overcrowded public transport and elevators, bending backwards (pun intended) to avoid body contact. Not so in this country. They not only lean against you, but also start a personal conversation, commenting on your appearance or the book or article you are reading. Once you bite (I counsel you never to do that!) they happily ask you questions such as: are you married, do you have kids, where do you live, what is your rent/mortgage and how much do you make). If you refuse to answer, they are hurt. So I solve it by rapidly firing all kind of questions at them. You see, it is a one-way street – they can ask you but you can’t ask them. They are touchy when it comes to their private sphere.
Once I was purposely touched in Western Europe in a crowded elevator. A guy squeezed my butt and gave me a sleazy smile when I looked over my shoulder at him. I know how to get even – I placed the heel of my right shoe carefully on his big toe and slowly shifted my whole weight to that foot. I tell you, the subdued squealing noises coming from his throat were quite rewarding.
Coming back to my present situation, strangers or people you just met happily drape an arm around your shoulder, touch your arm, shoulder or hair and even hug you.
Employers are worse. Not that they touch you – the laws here are very strict and they know you can sue their pants off. No, they created something even more horrid: a Hugging Day. Yes, really, that’s what it is called (and tax deductible). It’s their way of ensuring that their employees bond.
Now, I have nothing against bonds, as long as they are the equivalent of stocks, if you get my drift. I don’t see any reason to spend my free time with a whole bunch of people that I didn’t select to be my friends in the first place. Don’t get me wrong – I like my colleagues but I don’t want to spend my sparsely free time with them.
The day itself is a nightmare for a nerd like me – it consists of outdoorsy stuff. I like nature – I watch it a lot on National Geographic for which privilege I pay handsomely to the cable company anyway. So why should I rough it out, get sunburn and have to eat junk food? The planned activities are of the “let’s have fun together” kind: driving around in jeeps (not the way I want to spend my last hour on earth), karting (which is nice for kids under the age of 8), climbing through nets (what the hell is the point of that?!), shooting bows and arrows (hitting management isn’t allowed), sing along (I had my fill of music lessons, thank you very much) and walks, loooooong walks.
I didn’t like all the above when I was a kid and I didn’t acquire a taste for it since.
The head of my current company’s cultural committee is a tall, chubby and sweet guy who somehow made it his mission in life to drag me to one of those Hugging Things.
He cleverly asked me what would make me happy. I answered truthfully that I would like a day filled with a) fitness and b) Spa activities in a 4 to 5 star Spa resort with a state-of-the-art fitness center. He smiled, told me that it was too expensive for the company and guess what? Hugged me!