Google+ Followers

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oprah Ending - Ending Oprah

It's the end of the world - well, sort of. This week, Oprah ends her daytime reign. She's hanging up her microphone and putting her set in mothballs, and the whole world, it seems, is in a tizzy. Her celebrity BFFs seem to be taking it the hardest of all. Watching their tearful two-part tribute to Oprah, a cavalcade of famous people, including Tyler Perry, and First Friend Gayle King gushed over Oprah, praising her success and her generosity of spirit.

And it's only fair that they, the celebrities, should make such a fuss over the woman who, in many cases, saved or revived their careers. It was Oprah who helped to make these often vapid, one-dimensional characters into fleshed out human beings who are just like you and me - save for the ridiculous amounts of money and fame. She was their Mother-Confessor who granted forgiveness in her Harpo Studios confessional.  When Julia Roberts needed to clear the air over her failed marriage(s) and the sordid romantic triangle that became the basis for her current wedded bliss, it was to Oprah she went. When TV mom Meredith Baxter needed to tell her story of marital abuse, it was to the loving arms of Oprah that she flew. When Tom Cruise wanted to let the world know that he wasn't crazy and was, in fact, just a regular guy, head-over-heels in love with little Katie Holmes, Oprah's was the only couch worthy of his now infamous sofa jump.

With Leno and Letterman and Kimmel and Conan on the air, you'd think that Oprah would be rendered unnecessary, but you'd be wrong. Oprah created her own little universe, complete with its own jewel-toned palette of smartly-dressed, enthusiastic audience members who provided a backdrop for the spinning of celebrity tales of hurting and healing. To be a celebrity guest on Oprah meant a rigorous course in Oprah-ese, a language built on new-age, therapeutic discourse where people "named their truth," and had frequent "a-ha moments".

Now, that's not to say that your celebrity appearance was strictly about your own personal "journey" - no, there was always room for marketing, like those times when the entire casts of the latest Tyler Perry movie would take the stage.

I know, it may seem as if I'm not sad about her departure, and, in fact, I'm not. But it's not due to personal animus - it's just time. I don't need Oprah to tell me how much celebrities are just like me and you because, guess what, they're not. They live in a highly-competitive environment of constant scrutiny and little privacy, all fearing that "the next big thing" will end their careers.  Where newspapers and blog sites have huge, blaring headlines about their 10-pound weight gain or their thinning hair. That Oprah, herself, is one of these celebrities isn't lost on me. Her interviews with these celebrities have seemed more like highly choreographed conversations between friends, and so there's no danger, really. And maybe that's why Oprah's ending it. Maybe, she had her own Oprah "a-ha moment" and realized that if you can get a President elected, you don't need to sit down with yet another celebrity to hawk their tell-all book...I'm just saying:)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cleaning House or Playing House

Political pundits and other talking heads making the media rounds this week haven't been the only people talking about Governor Schwarzenegger and his household help. My mom has been burning up my telephone, feverishly sharing every new twist and turn of the story that she's learned from the ladies of "The View" or on "Extra" or "Entertainment Tonight." She's been giddy over this scandal, and I shouldn't wonder why, for this scandal does several things for Mom:
  1. It involves politics AND Hollywood;
  2. It proves her theory that Schwarzenegger was a womanizing pig who should never have been allowed to breach the gates of Camelot;
  3. It proves my mom's theory that you should never have another woman clean your house!
Mom's always been anti-maid, well, by "always" I mean for as long as I've known her which is all of my life! Her actual words were these, "Don't let another woman in your house." As any good daughter would do, I asked my mom for clarification, I mean did this extend to dinner invitations for women, and what about UPS drivers of the fairer sex. She told me not to have such a "smart mouth", but she did offer a further explanation. She meant that if I were to one day find myself married, that I should never have another woman cleaning my house, cooking my food, or engaging in any other domestic tasks usually done by a wife. Now, my mom worked full-time in an office throughout my childhood and when she got home, her workday continued as she straightened up the house - schlepping dirty laundry to the basement, putting away the dinner dishes. Surely, she could have hired a cleaning woman at a reasonable rate, but she always refused, saying, "Don't let another woman in your house," so I knew that this was something close to her heart, but why?

In my mom's mind, cleaning and cooking connect you to the most intimate parts of a person. The act of doing isn't just a necessity, but it's an intimate dialogue. I used to think she was a bit kooky, until I started dating the man that I eventually married. Now, I'm not vacuuming the house in high heels (we've covered that already!) but marital intimacy is built on a daily diet of little things - loading and unloading the dishwasher, folding the laundry, putting out the garbage. So now, insert a stranger into the mix, a strange person who loads and unloads the dishwasher, who folds the laundry, who puts out the garbage, a person who does this for pay in the intimate space of your home. Things can get twisted!

Now, I'm not saying that we should hold the Feminist movement over the balcony by its ankles. No, I think that each person in a household should contribute to the upkeep and care of the home through their physical effort. Heck, "The Walton's" all pitched in and they sure as hell loved each other (I know, it was television, but just work with me!). I am saying, though, that sometimes a load of dirty laundry is more than the sum of its smelly parts. There are some days when everything that can go wrong does go wrong and yet the thing that makes me happy is my husband thanking me for picking up his favorite cheese from the market. These little acts make a marriage and make a home, and let no man or maid put asunder. I'm just saying:)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pepe Le Pew and the IMF!

So it seems that I'm Just Saying can't enjoy a little vacation time without the whole world going mad!! I mean what the Heezy, Wheezy??? It was bad enough watching the Governator and his Kennedy wife calling their 20+ years marriage quits, but now we find out that he had a not-so-immaculate conception with one of his household staff and fathered a child, all under the watchful, all-seeing eyes of the press??? And it seems that he wasn't the only high-profile man to get in trouble with the cleaning lady!! International economist Dominique Strauss-Kahn has landed himself an extended stay at the notorious Rikers Island after mistaking the 32-year old Guinean housekeeper at his $3000 a night Sofitel suite for an amenity and not a human being!

It's a bad week for philandering bastards with foreign accents.Beyond the fact that the two women at the heart of these stories were both employed as housekeepers, it's unfair to attempt even remotely linking the two women. The one lived in Brentwood, CA where she had a "relationship" with her millionaire employer and passed off her lust-child as her husband's, and the other, a single mom living in the Bronx, was brutally raped and imprisoned while she cleaned strangers' hotel rooms for minimum wage.

While the hunt for photos and names of the two women is at fever pitch, there is an even more heated search proceeding simultaneously - the search for dirt on these two women. In the case of Schwarzenegger, speculation abounds as to how many millions it cost to keep the housekeeper quiet. In fact, Democrats in the California legislature are already threatening to open inquiries into just how much taxpayer money paid for her silence. And in the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, conspiracy theories have sprung up in various intellectual and political circles in France, with DSK supporters alleging that the Sofitel housekeeper was a plant by DSK's political foe - French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Other theories hold closely to the time-worn narratives of "blame the rape victim", ranging from the romantic (it was consensual sex) to the economic (this was a plot to extort money from DSK). I'm sure prosecutors in NYC are praying mightily that this housekeeper is squeaky-clean with a perfect credit score and no outstanding parking tickets. Not that these qualities will prevent attacks on her character!

But maybe there's something more basic at work here. For English-as-a-Second-Language speakers such as DSK and Schwarzenegger, maybe words like, "no" or "consent" or "marital fidelity" simply get lost in translation. I mean, when I was a little girl, I was always puzzled by the cartoon character of Pepe Le Pew. There he was, a skunk, raining wet kisses up and down the arm of that poor little she-skunk. As she recoiled from his touch, he pursued her; as she shrank from his embrace, he was emboldened and gave chase. As I got older, I began to understand my unease with Pepe Le Pew - you see, I realized that Pepe Le Pew was a rapist! It's sad that Pepe never got the help that he needed in order to understand the difference between sex and violation. Sadder still that Pepe didn't know that he stunk! But that's a discussion for another day - I'm just saying!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Maria and Arnold: The End of the Political Marriage

Well, after 25 years of marriage, it appears that the party is over for Maria Shriver and former Governor-slash-celluloid he-man Arnold Schwarzenegger. The two announced their separation and I and the rest of the world are stunned. Granted, we were stunned when they first got together - she, with a political pedigree, and he with his spray butter, muscles, and Conan the Barbarian flicks. What a crazy pair!! Truth be told, we were shocked that they made it past their first wedding anniversary, but by the time they survived the seventh year, itch-free, well, we kind've took them for granted. The last time I felt this way was when Al and Tipper Gore announced the end of their 40-year marriage. My heart sank, I mean they could've split in January 2000 and spared everyone the spectacle of their infamous sloppy kiss at the 2000 Democratic National Convention! But all of this makes me think that we may be witnessing the evolution of the political marriage.

The political marriage has always been a subject of speculation for those of us who watch them from a distance. We're always looking for a magical doorway into this most intimate of relationships. Why? Mostly because we're just curious about this carefully crafted political character and wondering what percentage of what we see is an act. There are some of us, though, who want to find the weakness in a person, and where better to dig for dirt than in the backyard of their marriage.

The political marriage follows a timeworn trajectory, beginning with the dashing, ambitious young man meeting and marrying the demure, yet practical young lady, who bears him the perfect, camera-ready offspring. He begins his quest for elective life and she begins her tour of duty slogging it out in the mine-fields of campaign stops and ladies' luncheons. Along the way there are defeats, election nights where she and the kids stand supportively behind the husband-candidate while he makes a heart-felt speech thanking the troops, congratulating the other guy who won, and pledging to run again, and win the next time. And then there will be victories, and there she'll be, the political wife of a winning candidate, resplendent and shining, smiling as she stands next to her husband, passing the cherubic children to him so that he may hoist them high into the air for the cameras to see. Now, there will be tough times - when the poll numbers show how dissatisfied the voters are with her husband, or when the whispers begin about her husband and some sweet young thing, but the political wife will keep her head up, smiling broadly, clutching the hands of her little ones as she attempts to break through the gaggle of press blocking her way to the kids' elementary school. And when the indiscretion is confirmed, it will be the political wife who will stand propped up next to her husband, suffering the glare of the flashbulbs while her husband reads his prepared statement. And when he leaves elective political life, it will be the political wife who will attend to him.

I've got to admit - I'm surprised that ANY political marriages survive at all! I mean, imagine having to listen to pundits and the opinionated masses ripping apart your husband or wife in the never-ending churn of the 24-hour news cycle? Think about it! How could Laura Bush muster any romantic feeling with that dufus Will Ferrell pretending to be her husband??

And don't forget that the political marriage seems always to require sacrifice on the part of the people who weren't elected at all. Sure, Chris Matthews might grill your elected spouse like a July 4th barbecue at 5:00PM, but at 7:00PM, your spouse could get a standing ovation from the 1500 people attending a rally on his behalf! And what do you, oh loyal political spouse get in return? You get to be the single parent, attending your children's soccer games (alone!), getting dinner on the table (ALONE!), dressing yourself and the kids and rushing over to that 7:00PM rally with a smile plastered on your face so that no one knows how much that SOB getting all of that love and attention takes you completely for granted.

I say that it's about time that the Maria Shrivers and the Tipper Gores stood up and walked out. Maybe the next generation of political marriages will be based on truly equitable partnerships. We're starting to see some examples of that. The First Lady of France has kept her day job as model/singer/actress, and here in the U.S. Dr. Jill Biden is inspiring students everyday in her job as a professor. If there's one lesson to take away from the political marriage it's this - it must have balance. I'm just saying:)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Eddie Bauer Presents: Mother's Day!

Well it won't be long, now, before the roses, the slightly over-cooked/underdone/mostly spilled breakfasts in bed, the perfumes perfectly packaged (along with the free-gift-with-purchase tote bag), and the over-crowded brunches staffed by energetic young waiters and waitresses just praying for the day to end. That's right, it's Mother's Day 2011, but you didn't need me to tell you. The explosion of pastels in the greeting card section of the supermarket heralded the arrival of this most curious of holidays. Mother's Day conjures up images of Dear Old Mom in her rocker on the front porch of a Thomas Kinkade Victorian farmhouse, just waiting for her adoring kiddos and grandkiddos to come calling with flowers and boxes of chocolates.

If the world of marketing is to be believed, motherhood means white cotton eyelet sundresses, rivers of pink and green and marigold, brightly colored hats that would make a royal wedding attendee blush with embarrassment, and the ripples of laughter from golden-haired children locking hands with their cover-girl mom and dancing around barefoot in a circle in a thick carpet of green grass. If this is motherhood then sign me up!!

At my house, the sales catalogs started stacking up a few weeks ago and their images of motherhood are interesting, to say the least. In the upscale Garnet Hill, mom and daughter appear on a white, seamless backdrop attired in casual opulence - a knit dress just under $200 for mom, and on the daughter a pair of shoes that will cost you a bit more than something you'd find at Payless.

Eddie Bauer, though, prefers to tuck the kids out of camera shot, opting to locate mom on the Serengeti, as if she'd been whisked away on safari! At other times, she's on her sailboat or carrying her surfboard. Catalog mom is quite the adventurer! Now I know, and I'm sure Eddie Bauer knows, that if you're going to sell a pair of khakis to a mother of two, it's probably best to amp up the coolness factor. I also know that this cool mom does exist - I'm sure, for instance, that when serial mom Angelina Jolie takes a jog on the beach with her little ones that she does so appropriately attired, and in slow motion.

But, seriously, sometimes I wish there was a little more truth in advertising. So show me those cute capri pants, but show them with the paint stains from a freewheeling finger painting session with my 3-year-old. You want me to buy my sister a button-down tunic? Well could you show it to me in a color that camouflages the crusty red tomato sauce that ends up there after she pulls her toddler out of the pizza parlour high chair?? And while I know those adorable high heeled wedges would look ever so smart, will I be able to run in them while clutching a vomiting 5-year-old to the department store bathroom??

Look, I don't expect miracles, and after Sunday, the pastel parade of motherhood will end, and then it's on to charcoal grills, lawnmowers, and tool belts because, you guessed it, it'll be time for Father's Day! I'm just saying:)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ding, Dong, The Witch is Dead!

In the span of 24 hours, President Obama vanquished two looming political threats - Osama Bin Laden and The Donald (a.k.a. Donald Trump a.k.a. The Holy Hairpiece). He used humor to take out one, and a bullet for the other. While the tuxedoed POTUS drew laughs galore at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner at Trump's buffoonish attempts to paint the President as an illegal alien, thus winding down the clock on Trump's 15 minutes, the Commander-in-Chief was keeping a lid on one of the most sensitive operations in the war on terror. And, as a hat-trick, the announcement of Bin Laden's death occurred during the final 20 minutes of an epic episode of Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" when the much-hyped showdown between Ne Ne of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" and Star Jones was coming to a head. Well played, Mr. President!!

So now, it's a new day and it makes me wonder what's changed. Does the end of Bin Laden mean the end of the airport security line striptease? Does it mean the end of XXX TSA pat-downs? Does it mean the end of bag searches before you go to see the Mona Lisa? Does it mean the end of fear?

I don't know.

When the citizens of Oz saw that the Wicked Witch was, in fact, dead, after their songs of rejoicing were over, I don't know if their lives returned to normal or if they even remembered what normal felt like. Did a sudden rush of wind overhead cause an Oz-ian to flinch with memories of a green-skinned witch on her broom? And how could they be sure that that Wicked Witch was, in fact, dead, I mean, there were no skeletal remains. Maybe it was a cruel joke played by the witch herself? Bin Laden may be dead, but how long before the conspiracy theorists climb out of their wormholes announcing their doubts, or the pundents alleging that this was a hoax perpetrated by a president attempting to shore up sagging poll numbers? And, more importantly, how long before we realize that we can never return to a time of innocence, to a time without fear?

The witch is dead and we live on. I'm just saying.