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 fiancĂ©, 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.