Sunday, December 30, 2007

VPI Comes Through Again.... NOT!

Remember this post, entitled "Very Poor Insurance" about VPI aka Veterinary Pet Insurance?

Well.... I just got the "benefit check" (a greater oxymoron I can't think of at the moment) for Kelso's recent hospitalization. The total bill was about $3200. The "benefit" was $322. I kid you not. They paid TEN PERCENT of the bill.

So, for those of you wondering whether pet insurance is worth it, and I even get a discount on my premiums through my company, my answer would be a resounding NO. I'd be better off throwing $100 a month into a medical fund for Kelso and using that when he has vet bills.

I'll be cancelling my policy on the next business day.


Update: When I examined the EOB, it showed that the treatment for "soft tissue trauma" cost $2900 and change, and for that item I was reimbursed $95. Seriously. So I called VPI and she said that the description wasn't detailed enough and that the vet should fax all of the treatment records. If it shows that Kelso has "disc disease" they will pay more. How the hell is anyone supposed to know that?

Quit Smoking in 2008 - For Your Children

My 12-year-old son was asked to write a paragraph about an epiphany or life-changing moment for his Language Arts class last month. I came home to find him weeping at the keyboard as he wrote this (including the footnotes):

"I am pretty sure the biggest epiphany in my life was the death of my father(1) . Even though my dad had had lung cancer for a long time and had been in the hospital for about a month–and, a few days earlier, the doctor had told me and my mom that my father was definitely going to die¬–when my Uncle Scott told me my father had passed away, it was probably the most life-changing experience I had ever had (and probably ever will). The moment I first heard my uncle say my dad had passed, it was so hard for me that I burst into tears. When he was alive and well, he was so playful, funny, and friendly, and I loved him so much. The one thing, however, I didn’t like at all was that he smoked(2). He knew I didn’t like it, so he’d wait till I go to sleep, or I was at my mom’s (they had been divorced for 3 years), and then he would smoke. I would try to stop him by finding the cigarettes and destroying them, but he would just buy more. I knew his love for me and my mom was the greatest of mental powers inside him, but the nicotine addiction was close behind in 2nd place and gaining. Now, all I have are pictures and memories of my dad, and I wish and wish that I had more time to spend with him.

1-My father died on October 30, 2003, when I was 8.
2-He told me he didn’t want to smoke either. The addiction was just too powerful."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Christmas Miracle - 2007 Style

First, I hope everyone is having a lovely Kwanzmaskka. We've had a great week here at the Pantherhouse.

Now, to the Christmas Miracle of 2007. I have posted in the past about my penchant for extraordinary coincidences, and also about my sometimes uncanny streaks of luck.

Yesterday, the two collided.

I've been trying to buy my son a Wii for Christmas, which has proved to be impossible. I put a widget on my laptop which I checked every day to see if it had found anything on the web (aside from the insane moneygrubbers on Ebay who are getting twice the MSRP for the base unit), I've checked Amazon, Wal-Mart (ew), and all the other usual suspects with no success.

Since Lucas' birthday is January 8th, I resigned myself to attempting to get one after Christmas and having it be his 13th birthday special gift. Still, when I checked all the websites yesterday, no Wii to be found.

I got a call in the morning from my SO who needed to go to a mall near my house to buy a gift card, so off we went (against our better judgment) to fight the crowds. We got the card, left the mall, and headed to Sports Authority for another late xmas gift he needed to get. While there, he got a call on his cell from his daughter who needed a gift card from Victoria's Secret... requiring that we go BACK to the mall.

Having nothing special to do yesterday, we happily returned to the same mall and as we made our way to VS, passed a video game store. I suggested we see if they happened to have a Wii. As we entered, I heard a man asking the cashier something to which the kid replied, "No, we're sold out." I said "Oh, was he asking about the Wii?" and he said yes, but that they didn't have any and didn't know when they would be getting them in.

As we were leaving the store, SO pointed out that there was a sign on the register that read: "No Wii." Had I seen that, I never would have asked the question.

HOWEVER... I did ask. And a woman heard me ask. And she ran after us to say that she had just called Best Buy, about 10 miles away, and that they had gotten a shipment of 14 Wii's and were taking orders over the phone. Sure enough, I called them, they had 3 left and I was able to purchase it and pick it up within an hour.

Coincidence? Luck? Think about it. Had we not returned to the mall, had I not asked the clerk, had the woman not chased us down... never would have scored the Wii.
Since my son is off from school this week, I decided to give it to him early so he'd have lots of time to play. Needless to say, it was a HUGE hit. Check these out:

Monday, December 24, 2007

Don't Say I Never Gave You Anything for Christmas

Let's face it. Lots of people are blogging about Christmas. Some of these posts are interesting, funny and fun, and some are just the posting equivalent of fruitcakes. (Speaking of fruitcakes, in more ways than one, we've just done our annual viewing of Pee Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special. Hilarious.)

Anyhooo..... apologies to anyone who has written a brilliant Christmas post that I haven't read, but the one I have read and loved is Golfwidow's. She is one of the first bloggers I ever discovered, but for some reason I've not gone back and read her for some time.

Yesterday, she left a brilliant comment to my last post (if you haven't read it, scroll down and check out the comments section. But I warn you, it may make you head straight to the waterdish.)

So, that's my Christmas present to you. And other than that, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, if you celebrate. And rather than hope you get something you really want, I hope you give something that gets THIS kind of a reaction:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Christmas Rebus



is not:

Thank you,
The Management

PS: You may recall we had this same conversation last year, about this:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Panthergirl's Picks of the Week

Business first: Thanks to all who voted for Kelso at Zazzafooky's Pet Photo Contest. He came in third! We'll get a lovely parting gift for that, so again...we thank you.

Many of you continue to shop at through our links -------->
(You won't notice anything different in your transaction. Amazon can just tell that you got there from here, and we'll get about 6% credit for what you buy.) We've raised about $60 so far, which is lovely. Someone suggested I post a "Donate" PayPal button but I cannot do that in good conscience. There are many needy people and causes who need your donations. We're just happy if you do your Amazon shopping here.

NOW.... to my picks.

In the past two weeks, I saw two films that couldn't be more different...but I loved both of them.

In theaters now is the Coen Brothers latest triumph, No Country for Old Men. Mesmerizing, unflinchingly violent and downright terrifying, this film had me crunched up in a ball in my seat (ok, it was freezing in the theater) watching most of it through my fingers. Javier Bardem makes Hannibal Lechter look like Misterogers. His hairdo alone will send shivers down your spine. (On IMDB, they quote him as saying "I won't get laid for two months" after he was given this bizarre 'do.)

You may (or may not) have heard that the ending is bad or unsatisfying but I disagree. It's a great "discussion" film because a lot of important things occur off-camera, leaving much to interpretation.


At the other end of the spectrum, although still containing a scary guy, is Waitress, the tiny but brilliant gem from the mind of Adrienne Shelly, the actress/director who was killed in NYC in 2006 by a handyman in her apartment. This film (on DVD now) is gorgeous and slightly surreal (the look of "Ugly Betty" and "Pushing Daisies" comes close), funny, sad, gut-wrenchingly romantic and frightening at times (Jeremy Sisto plays crazy as well as he did on "Six Feet Under"). Cheryl Hines and Adrienne herself are hilarious but it is Keri Russell who shines here. And what a delight to see Andy Griffith in a small but pivotal role. So sad that Adrienne didn't get to see her baby come to fruition. This film is a keeper.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Who Are These People?

Have you ever received a car for Christmas? Have you ever GIVEN someone a car for Christmas? Was that car a brand-new Lexus, Mercedes, Cadillac or Jag-u-ar? Who the hell are these people, targeted by the luxury car companies in the month of December every freakin' year?

The whole concept is baffling to me. Maybe it shouldn't be, because when I sold cars for a very brief time (six weeks was all I could take before I felt my soul being sucked out of my body by Satan), the dealership told me to keep a big red bow in my bottom drawer. The theory was, if a guy came in to look at cars without his wife and then said he couldn't make a final decision without her, I was supposed to purr "Well..... If *I* were your wife.....::::bat bat::::.....NOTHING would make me happier than to be surprised with a new Jeep Cherokee....." and whip out the bow. (They also intimated that I should whip out other things if the sale became really a tough one, but that's fodder for a whole blog post.)

I don't know about you, but if my husband drove home with a $35,000 car (a Jeep Cherokee no less) without consulting me he'd get a punch in the nose and the big red bow would land where the sun don't shine.

Now, a Jag-u-ar at Christmastime might be another story...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


My gorgeous boy is a finalist in Zazzafooky's pet photo contest. Please go and vote for Kelso!!

We'd love to win the drawing of our favorite needlenose. And Zazzafooky is a fun place to go, anyway.


>>Update: Kelso needs your votes and your Amazon orders. He is in pain tonight and couldn't make it up the condo stairs after our walk. Thankfully my knight in shining armor was here to help, and carried him up my stairs. I've given him some painkiller but will have to call the vet/surgeon tomorrow and see what they think needs to happen next. Please, please hope he does not need surgery.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

You Shouldn't Have... No, You REALLY Shouldn't Have

This month, I'm hoping to do more blogging than I've been doing. But I'm also going to re-edit and rerun some Christmas classics from the past. Re-enjoy. And shop Amazon ------------>

Every once in awhile you get a Christmas gift that really makes you wonder. Early in my marriage to Tony, we'd go to his parents' house every year for a huge Christmas Eve extravaganza. He had six brothers and sisters, all married with a billion kids, so for the adults we did the "Kris Kringle" routine (pick names out of a hat and only have to buy a present for that one person.)

This being Tony's family (all fabulously wealthy except for him), they'd set the spending limit at $50, but inevitably they'd "randomly" select each other and buy $500 leather jackets and the like. (Call me paranoid, but I also think they rigged the name-drawing.)

Part of the routine involved making a wishlist for your Kris Kringe to reference, so when I drew the name of a sister-in-law who wanted Calvin Klein Obsession and/or the related toiletries, I bought her a few of those items thinking I'd be safe with that. Instead, after the festive gift-giving orgy, I was cornered in a bedroom and told that she had seen the item on sale and thought I "cheated" and spent less than $50. Ho ho've gotta be fucking kidding me.

Somehow, every single year, a particularly loony sister-in-law would draw my name (see above suspicion about the rigged name selection). A crazy artist from Poland, she would give me the WORST GIFTS you've ever seen. The first year it was ginormous black "jewel" earrings, the kind you'd expect to see on Lucy Ricardo and no one else. The following year she gave me a huge homemade, super-fugly black dog sculpture (which we had to remember to drag out every time they'd come to visit). But by far, the most puzzling gift of all were these:

Now, I realize there's a big market for Doc Martens. And while I'm not particularly a huge Doc Marten fan, I am even LESS of a red patent leather Doc Marten fan. Is it just me, or do these look like they belong on a stick and eaten at the county fair? Who buys these (or any shoes for that matter) for someone they don't know very well? What goes on in the mind of a crazy woman who hands me these as though they were the Holy Grail? Worse yet, I couldn't even fake a good "Oh, you SHOULDN'T have!" She knew I meant it.

By far, though, the very worst present I ever got came from none other than my very own mother. She has a history of rotten gift giving (control top pantyhose when I weighed about 110 pounds, pens and paper that say "Seminole County Savings and Loan", you know...thoughtful things like that.) The best came a year that I was living in Manhattan by myself after my parents had moved to Florida. I was about 23 years old, perfectly happy and planning to enjoy the day having dinner with friends, when a large box arrived at my apartment. Inside was a note that said "Enjoy this Christmas Dinner", along with a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, a can of tuna fish, a can of button mushrooms and a Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix.

I guess she didn't want me to miss out on one of her "gourmet" meals. And thankfully, I still had the control top pantyhose in case I packed on a couple of pounds after this feast!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Evil Cell Phone Companies

Check it out... will be airing soon. This guy works with GRR, our local greyhound rescue group.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kelso Update

Hi all. Don't want you to think that just because I've won a couple of prizes here and there that I'm counting on a lotto win to help pay Kelso's vet bill! :) Still need you guys to shop through those links ----------->
We've raised $42.00 so far. Thanks to those who have helped!

Kelso is doing better, although still not 100%. The doctors are treating him for Lyme's disease now even though they are not sure he's got that, or any tick-borne illness. I do Frontline him, but they feel it's a better-safe-than-sorry move. His back seems better, but he cried out when they manipulated his neck on Tuesday. Poor guy.

So, he's on antibiotics and a very low activity schedule (if you know anything about greyhounds, you'll know that this isn't much of a stretch from his NORMAL activity level of less-than-zero.) But we're keeping his walks short and trying to keep him off the furniture (oh my sides...I'm cracking ME up at that one).

He's staying busy on the computer in the meantime.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Waiting for the Big One...

Despite our recent setback with Kelso, I consider myself to be a very lucky person. Oh, I've had my share of drama... for sure. But when it comes to matters of luck, I win stuff. I get picked for stuff.

My dad brought me to the racetrack a few times as a kid, but my penchant for picking winning horses made him a little nervous. Sure, he had taught me to handicap, but I think luck played a big part.

When New York started the scratch-off lottery tickets craze in the 1970s, I always won a few dollars, and once I scratched off a $1500 ticket.

Out of the thousands of people on the street during the filming of "The Groove Tube" in 1971, I was chosen for a "solo", securing me a place in cult-film history.

After casually deciding to respond to an email from a vendor at work, I won two tickets to the 2000 World Series in New York... the subway series between the Yankees and the Mets. Out of 4000 entries, I won a pair of tickets that were going for $9000 on Ebay. (Of course, I went to the game instead because that, to me, is priceless!)

I win in casinos. Not thousands, but I've done things like discover a chip on the floor, stick it nto a slot machine and win $200. I won $500 in a $2 slot in Vegas last year. I always wind up ahead, but maybe that's because I'm unwilling to throw all my winnings back into another machine.

When I've written to Dr. Phil, or the Today Show, or the Early Show I've gotten return calls from producers. The Dr. Phil thing didn't happen because it would have required my daughter to talk about not doing her school work on national TV (at 16, this was a "no way" proposition). I got called twice from The Today Show, the second of which turned into the segment you can see by clicking on my sidebar link. I contacted the CBS Early Show when my son (then 10) was doing a "Driving for Dollars" effort at our local golf range, for the victims of Katrina. He ultimately raised $7500 and the video can be seen here.

Recently, I attended a fundraiser for The Norwalk Emergency Shelter. I bought six raffle tickets and won FOUR prizes:

- A Coach purse worth $300
- A $200 spa gift certificate (I had an amazing aromatherapy facial last week, and BOY did I need it.)
- A $330 gift certificate to a funky portrait studio
- A Bernie Fuchs print of "The Legends of Golf".

By the time they called the third winning number, people were giving me suspicious looks as I sheepishly went up to the MC to claim my prize. After the fourth time, they were asking me to pick lotto numbers for them.

So... back to the lottery... I know I should be buying Mega Millions tickets regularly but I always forget. I really do need to start, though. I think some of this is genetic. My sister wins stuff too. And years ago, my parents bought a ticket in the Florida Lottery and played the six numbers created by the birthdays of me and my two siblings. They missed winning the $20MM jackpot by one number (it wasn't my birthday that wrecked it, either.)

I'll let you know when I hit the Big One.

Grey's Monotony

What the hell has happened to "Grey's Anatomy"? There has been ONE decent episode this season, and at the moment I can't even remember it. Other than that, every episode has been as exciting as watching (oil-based) paint dry. The writers appear to have suffered from character-amnesia, serving up a bawling Miranda Bailey (more than once), and suddenly chemistry-free Izzy and George (a transparent attempt to appease the squealing fan base who hate their pairing). The Mer-Der storyline has been milked for all it's worth, but the writers are still pulling the teats. And please... don't let Ellen Pompeo dance. Ever again.

Things that made the first two seasons so compelling are gone: Meredith's mom, Izzy's illegitimate daughter, fascinating patient stories that tied in with the theme... beautifully, seamlessly, but not obviously. What we're left with is obvious. Blech.

The absence of Kate Walsh is unfortunate as well. The only interesting characters left are Alex and the new cardio-thoracic surgeon who replaced Burke. But then again, there is a blank-slate backstory for her. We're not sitting there saying "Wait.. she would never do THAT."

What killed this show? Too many characters? Too many writers clamoring for a chance to work for Shonda? (I don't know...have you ever listened to the Shonda/Betsy Beers podcast? I couldn't listen to those two for more than 30 seconds or my ears would bleed.) Or maybe it was the over-exposure of the actors after all the Isaiah Washington hoopla... it's hard not to look at them in that context. It's why movies with unknown actors are sometimes easier to're not seeing the person who was just splashed all over Page Six. You're seeing the character.

Oh, I'll keep watching. But I'm less likely to sit glued to the tube at 9pm on Thursdays and more likely to record it and save it for the TV wasteland that is Friday night.


If you haven't seen "Man Men" on AMC, don't download it illegally and watch the entire season in one day, because that would be wrong.

If you did that, which you shouldn't, you'd be riveted from the Saul Bass-style opening credits (think James Bond) to the spot-on art direction, costumes and mind set of the year 1960 in which the show is set. The misogynists in the workplace, the catty secretary in the sheath dress, the torment of the original desperate housewives, and the stifling limitations of the pre-feminist gender pigeonholes (for both genders)... it's all there.

Sometimes the period-piece writing can be over-the-top in the "things were different then" category. (Two children are running through the house, one with a plastic dry cleaning bag over her entire body, pretending to be a spaceman. Mom shouts "Sally! If I find my dry cleaning all over the bed you'll be in big trouble!")

Catch it on DVD when it comes out (in January, I think). If you're a baby boomer, you'll really enjoy the trip down memory lane and be equally glad to return to 2007.


Help Kelso... shop through our sidebar links ------------>
So far, *15* orders have been placed!! Thank you to all who are helping.

A shout out to Zybron's Thoughts and The Day Flew By... for posting about Kelso on their blogs!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Photo Friday: Two

... and one for good luck.

Today's blogger thank you goes to Rosie at "Living With Severe Arthritis" for adding our "help Kelso" link to her sidebar.

There are BIG Black Friday savings at today!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks to Give

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate... my son and I are having what I call a "Tiny Tim" Thanksgiving. Just the two of us and Kelso. But we're making the whole traditional meal (he loves to cook, like his dad) and it will be a lovely day. It's warm enough to go into the city to see the parade, but we can't leave Kelso home alone for that long (the prednisone makes him have to pee every hour or two).

Anyway, urine aside, I did want to use this Thanksgiving opportunity to thank the bloggers out there who are spreading the word about our links.

They are going to be having amazing Black Friday sales tomorrow.

So far, our thanks go out to:

A Light in the Dark. Not just a great blog, but also the brains behind The Mystery Topic Challenge.

The Dutch Files. How can you not love a woman who describes herself as a "certified fucktard magnet"?

Old Old Lady of the Hills. My choice for "Blogger with the Most Interesting Life", Naomi always has a great story to tell about old Hollywood or Broadway. Plus, she gets to go to the Emmys!
She didn't know how to put my link on her blog, but she's promised to do her Amazon shopping through us.

Bud Buckley, musician extraordinaire and long-time reader of this blabfest. Bud has a new CD coming out and it's already getting terrific pre-buzz. Go listen to his stuff! This Bud's for you.

Textual Relations. "Mr. President" discovered me on the previously mentioned Mystery Topic Challenge forum and kindly posted his own "Help Kelso" entry. But do yourself a favor and read his posts about Twitter which are hilarious. How can you not love a guy whose url is ""?

Ghost Works. Another MTC buddy. Go visit!!

Thanks, everyone. And keep shopping! I've updated my aStore: "You Shouldn't Have!" and there's some pretty cool stuff to see. (Panthergirl trivia: My initial motivation for blogging was that I really wanted to start a website called "You Shouldn't Have" which would basically have been an online personal shopping service. I just couldn't figure out how to make it work so that I'd make money. I'm sure others have done it by now, but that's how The Dog's Breakfast was born!)

And now, my favorite Thanksgiving rerun:

How I Became a Feminist

Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving turned me into a radical feminist. Or, maybe I was born one and Thanksgiving just confirmed my inate belief that women have traditionally been treated (sometimes willingly) as second-class citizens.

Of course it wasn't just this particular holiday that validated my beliefs. Every Sunday, during the eleventy-seven course extravaganza known as "dinner", the same dynamic would be present. But I refused to buy in, even as a little girl.

In this photo, I am seven years old. I'm wearing an apron, as is my grandmother, my mother and my middle sister (for some reason, my eldest sister on the near left either escaped kitchen duty or shed the apron immediately afterwards. (My mother also seems to be either admiring the nasty perm she forced on my stick-straight hair, or she's thinking "You'll wear the apron and you'll LIKE it..."

I didn't mind the prep work all that much. My grandmother always made the macaroni from scratch. (the term "pasta" was never used. It was macaroni, no matter what it looked like.) She'd let us knead the dough and then she'd roll it out and cut the squares of ravioli or strips of lasagna. She'd lay a sheet on her bed, sprinkle it with flour, and place the finished pieces on it to dry. Also placed there were the strips of dough that would never make it to the table...gobbled up raw like so many strings of licorice. We loved the raw dough.

We'd stir the gravy (no, not sauce or tomato was gravy), helped roll the meatballs, cut the provolone into little squares for antipasto. We sliced the pepperoni, put the turkey in the oven, rolled up the braciola (pronounced: bra-JOLE) and prepared plates of salad that featured iceberg lettuce, black olives and a red vinegar that came from the wine cellar in our basement. All of that was kind of fun.

The meal was generally a festive event (unlike our daily family meals, which are fodder for another post altogether). Everyone drank homemade Chianti (even the kids, and my mother who would offend everyone by putting orange juice and ice cubes in hers), and stuff themselves with everything from soup to nuts. Quite literally: Minestrone, antipasto, macaroni, meatballs and other meats, followed by salad, turkey, fruit and nuts. My grandfather would entertain us by cracking walnuts on his bald head. Then, percolated coffee accompanied by cake, pastries and cookies that were also sometimes made by my grandmother...particularly the anisette cookies with pignoli nuts. Those were my favorites.

But it was the after-party that infuriated me. The women would begin clearing the table and marching like lemmings back into the kitchen to clean up. Remember, this was before dishwashers and Teflon. We're talking HOURS worth of pot scouring, washing and drying dishes, wrapping leftovers, wiping down counters and tables and collecting linens. The men would do the thing that has spawned cliches to this very day: sit around the living room and watch TV, with their belts and flys open to free their bloated bellies.

By the time I was 7 or 8, I'd take advantage of the commotion and slip away. Thanksgiving would usually take place, as it did here, in my grandparents' apartment upstairs from us in our two-family home. I'd make my way downstairs and in the peace and quiet of my room, or better yet our "finished basement", I'd read the newspaper. When I began to do this on Sundays as well, I'd tiptoe down there and read the Herald-Tribune and my favorite comic strip: Miss Peach (little kids with giant heads).

As an adult, I once dated a guy whose family still functioned this way on holidays. The women cooked, the women cleaned up. The men ate, the men digested. When he suggested that I join the feminine cleanup brigade, I asked if we were going to pick up the plates with our vaginas. He decided to help out, and I was happy to assist him.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bloggers for Kelso!

Update!!! My blog pal 21st Century Mom has not only written a post about our fundraising effort for my greyhound, Kelso, but she's offered to put a link in her sidebar using our code. If you would like to do this as well (and of course get a shout-out for your blog here), insert this code into your template sidebar:


(I think if you "View Source" in your browser you can see the code. I don't know how to post the actual code here without it turning into HTML text! If someone does know how, can you tell me? Thanks.)

Please let me know if you link to us, and I will be sure to post a link to your blog here. We're making some progress, but need two more items ordered in order to get us to the next referral percentage goal (6%).

Need two things? Order them on through Kelso's link!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Kelso is Home...

...but we need your help, if you are so inclined.

I picked him up yesterday after a WEEK in the animal hospital. The bill was $3200!! And that's without surgery. I didn't drop the VPI, but as you may know, if they pay a third of that it will be a lot.

Anyway...all I ask is this: If you shop at, can you please get there by clicking on ANY of my Amazon links in the sidebar? We'll get credit for anything you purchase through Amazon if you get there through my links. Every little bit helps, and this doesn't require donations or anything other than getting to where you usually go, taking a different path. You don't have to buy the items featured here...just go to Amazon through them.

If you can spread the word, that would be even better.

Don't do it for me... do it for him.

Thank you!!

PS: If you want to use to buy books for a fighting soldier, or donate some of your used ones, go to Books for Soldiers. A really, really cool idea.

Photo Friday: Travel

Luke on the Wild Jeep Adventure in Sedona, 2004. The up side of travel.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy

Forget about Oprah, child. I'm here to tell you about a fabulous new book BEFORE it hits the shelves and BEFORE she makes it her pick of the month (what's with her choosing books that are so old lately, anyway? Smells like a movie promo tie-in to me). But I digress.

If you, like me, love books that make your own dysfunctional childhood look like a romp through Pleasantville (think "Running with Scissors", "The Glass Castle" and "Crazy in Alabama" (the book, not the movie), you'll love my friend Robert Leleux's debut effort: The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy.

My favorite review is this one:

"Robert Leleux, growing up with weekly nail appointments at Neiman's and bravely wearing paisley pants in East Texas, has taken a childhood that was alternately chaotic, horrendous and hilarious and turned it into a brilliant memoir. Thank God for all of us that his honey-ham glazing days are behind him and Leleux can take his rightful place alongside Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris and, yes, even his mama Jessica's beloved Truman Capote." - -Celia Rivenbark, author of "Don't Dress Your Six Year Old Like a Skank", "We're Just Like You, Only Prettier", and "Bless Your Heart, Tramp". (and now I want to read her books, too!

You can read an excerpt of Robert's book (and see more photos) on his website , but this little bio will show you why he's one of those rare people who writes a great book, gets it published, already has a book tour scheduled AND great pre-buzz from other authors and featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. If I didn't like him so much I'd hate his guts.

"For nearly thirty years, Robert Leleux has remained internationally unknown as a celebrated bon vivant, fashion icon, and man about town. Neither the best-selling author of Highland Fling (1931) or Wigs on the Green (1935), Mr. Leleux's work is in no way associated with that circle of Bright Young Things who illuminated the London social scene during the interwar years. He is known not to have been portrayed by Julie Christie in John Schlesinger's Oscar-winning film Darling. In 1972, Mr. Leleux wasn't made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He does not currently reside at Swinbrook House in the Cotswolds.

Robert Leleux is the author of The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy, where more information on his life may be found."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Blog Implosion

First, an update on Kelso: He's still in the hospital. Not sure if he'll need surgery, but he can't come home until he's well enough to navigate the stairs and he can't do that yet.

Now, to the topic at hand. Non-bloggers will be incredibly bored by the following, but it's an important public service announcement to my blogfriends:

Shortly after I began blogging, I learned about a cool site to drive traffic called Blog Explosion. I will not link to it here, because every time you go there they make money from the ads they run and right now, I don't want them to make any more money they didn't earn.

Initially, this was a great site. You surfed blogs for credits that translated into other people seeing your blog x number of times. You could even buy credits to get in a higher rotation, or to run banner ads. Other traffic sites came and went, but BE seemed very solid and I made some wonderful connections as a result.

A few months ago, BE changed hands. Since then, everything has gone to hell. There were issues beforehand, but now they have started taking money for credits and not applying the credits to your account. I also had my banners running (assigned credits to them) but the only banner that ran was for BE itself, for weeks on end. Yet my credits were being used up. Hm.

Bottom line: Do not use BE anymore. They are crooks. I've posted to the member forums there and other people are having the same experience. There IS a new service called Blog Soldierswhich seems to be good. At least you can get a response to questions from a real person.

Funny update: Since posting this, BE has credited my account with SIX THOUSAND credits. Too funny. And too little, too late.

There's also a great forum called Mystery Topic Challenge. You don't have to "play" the Mystery Topic game. You can just introduce yourself and your blog there and read other new ones. The community is growing daily.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My Pup is in Pain

(They each need a thought-balloon that says: "You call that a dog?")

Kelso, my retired racing greyhound, is in the doggie hospital with a suspected spinal disc problem. He was limping so badly last night that he couldn't make it up the stairs of my condo, so we had to take him to the E-Vet at about 11pm.

The good news is that x-rays show no osteosarcoma or bone cancer, but if he is still in pain tomorrow with the steroids and pain meds, it's likely he'll need an MRI and surgery to repair a bulging disc.

He's going to be 10 in February, so this is all very scary for us.

(This photo was taken at a friend's house.. the collie is not mine. But I do love the contrast!)

Ringing in 1970, Panthergirl Style

It's been a crazy week in Pantherland. Work crap, more bullying issues for my son, more work crap, and my beloved greyhound is in the hospital. I've got lots of stuff to write about, and will probably have a bit of time to do it this weekend, but in the meantime...a holiday-season rerun from last year.

I was fourteen years old on New Year's Eve, 1969. Trudging through 2 feet of snow, off I went to a party several blocks away in our little Brooklyn neighborhood. When I arrived, someone handed me a glass... a big glass ... of very strong smelling brown stuff that I was pretty sure was meant to get me in the holiday spirit. It turned out to be Southern Comfort. You know, the 100 proof stuff that doubles as paint remover? When something tastes that bad the only thing to do is chug it and wait for the party to begin.

The next hour or so, as I recall, involved a lot of vomiting in the snow. By 10:30 someone hauled me back home, deposited me on the doorstep, rang the doorbell and took off. (My father's reputation was the stuff of legend.) However, in what was just one of several scratch-your-head inconsistencies in the parenting style of Marge and Sal, I was not beaten within an inch of my life. Instead, my mother flopped me onto my bed and attempted to remove my knee-high boots. She yanked them off and then discovered that in order to keep my pants inside the boots I had wrapped about a million rubber bands around each leg. I don't remember much from that night, but I do remember her saying "Oh you dirty dog!" and running for a pair of scissors to clip the rubber bands.

She dragged me into the bathroom, propped my head on the toilet, and then.... they got dressed and went off to a New Year's Eve party themselves. Can you imagine? "Ok dear, hope you don't choke on your own vomit! Happy New Year!"

How many people can say they QUIT drinking at 14?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Cover Craft

Shows like RockStar, American Idol and now, The Greatest American Band, have made an artform of sorts out of covering well-known songs, with mixed results. Sometimes I'm so attached to an original song that I cannot stand to hear it manipulated or changed in any way. Other times, I've been pleasantly surprised by someone's personal take. And in some cases, a mediocre song has taken on new life for me. I've found some great ones on various movie/TV soundtracks as well.

Here is a sampling of some of my favorite cover songs:

"Umbrella" by Mandy Moore. I like the Rihanna song, but love Mandy's version of it. (Check out YouTube for the video of her, and also for the Vanilla Sky video cover which is hilarious)

"The Man Who Sold the World" by Jordis Unga. WHO?? Yes, a contestant on the original RockStar: INXS, blew my mind with this David Bowie song. I have it in frequent rotation on my iPod. Loved her, yet she's virtually vanished.

"I Want It That Way" by The Candy Butchers. A live acoustic version (sounds like it was recorded in someone's wood-paneled basement) introduced to me by my blogfriend Micah, on a mixed CD he sent me a few years ago. The Backstreet Boys never sounded so good, even with the "goof" towards the end.

"Across the Universe" by Fiona Apple. From the "American Beauty" soundtrack, and just perfect.

"Two of Us" by Aimee Mann and Michael Penn, from the "I Am Sam" soundtrack. The Wallflowers doing "I'm Looking Through You" is pretty great too.

"Cry Me a River" by Joe Cocker. No comment necessary.

"I Don't Want to Talk About It" by both the Indigo Girls and Everything But the Girl. Loved the Rod Stewart original, but these two are great as well.

"Sexual Healing" by Shaggy. A Reggae take on the Marvin Gaye classic.

I know there are a lot more.... but I'm heading to Manhattan to see my cousin Jim at mile 18 of the NYC Marathon! (You may recall that I entered the lottery to walk it, but my number was not pulled. Wah.)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

But Of Course!

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

As Promised...

Halloween '07...

Lucas as Groucho...

Kelso and me, as Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf (disguised as Grandma!) He's such a good sport.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Never Say Never

I'll upload some corresponding images as soon as Blogger fixes their stupid problem.

This month marks fifteen years since I started working at the company I'm at today. At that time, in 1992, if a psychic had told me the following things about my life in 2007, I would have said "You're out of your fucking mind" and sworn off psychics forever:

~ That I would be living anywhere but within the boundaries of New York City.

~ That I would be driving an SUV.

~ That my third marriage would have ended in divorce, and subsequently death.

~ That I would have had a second child.

~ That I would learn to play golf and love it.

~ That I would learn to knit and love it.

~ That things like TiVO, EZ Pass, HD TV, blogging, Netflix, iPods, wireless Surround Sound, a Blackberry with a Bluetooth headset, online banking, Facebook and iPhoto would become staples of my everyday life.

~ That I'd have to take off my shoes before getting on a flight because someone had flown planes into the World Trade Center and they fell down.

~ That my daughter would be living in Manhattan as the guest of her stepdad, my 2nd husband and going to art school.

~ That her dad and I would be on amicable terms.

~ That I would not yet have been to Italy or France.

~ That I would be taking a cocktail of anti-depressant/anti-anxiety/mood stabilizer drugs on a daily basis, most likely for the rest of my life.

~ That my child would be taking a cocktail of anti-ADHD/mood stabilizer drugs on a daily basis, most likely for the rest of his life.

~ That I would have eventually become a full-time employee, manager, and still be at that same company, fifteen years later.

So, in a shameless exhibition of comment whoring, what would have been the most surprising thing the psychic could have told you fifteen years ago, about your life today?

Photo Friday: Silence

The days following 9/11 brought a silence to NYC unlike anything I've ever experienced before. The skies were eerily quiet, and a pall settled over people that brought the normal buzz of day-to-day activity to a virtual halt.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Inside the Blogger's Studio

Fans of James Lipton's "Inside the Actor's Studio" on Bravo can now read about his adventures in interviewing in his new book:

I love the show, but what I love best are the ten questions that are posed to every guest. I thought it would be fun to answer them here, and to ask you to answer them too... either in my comments box or on your own blog (linking back here, of course!)

What is your favorite word?
Ricochet. When I hear that word, I actually SEE it bouncing from wall to wall.

What is your least favorite word?

Moist. EW.

What turns you on [creatively, spiritually or emotionally]?

Traveling. Not getting there (unless it's in a car), but BEING in a new place is a total turn-on.

What turns you off?
Conservative politics. Ew. Moist.

What sound or noise do you love?
Thunderstorms. (Having been struck by lightning you'd think they'd scare me, but they don't. I still love them.)

What sound or noise do you hate?

Babies crying. (Can't blame this particular kid, though)

What is your favorite curse word?

Shit-hook. Best used to describe someone who is basically a dick (which would be my second favorite curse word).

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Therapist. Although I'd have a hard time giving advice to shit-hooks. (See The Hand-Me-Down Shrink, my online advice blog. I think doing it for money would be more motivating.)

What profession would you not like to do?

Baseball stadium dugout cleaner. Self-explanatory.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

"Welcome to the Republican-free zone."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Tough Time for Yankee Fans!

So sorry to see him go, but one cannot blame Joe Torre for rejecting the insulting offer from the Steinbrenners. Sadly, we'll probably lose Mariano and A-Rod as well. The Yankees won't be the same without Joe.

The only thing we've got left is seeing the Red Sox lose. Go Cleveland!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

That Was The Week That Was

Age check: Remember that show? I didn't think so.

As previously noted, I spent six days down in Atlanta at my sister's place over the weekend, highlighted by the celebration of my mother's 85th birthday. I've written a lot of stuff about my mother and repeat them from time to time, but in a nutshell (no pun intended), we're very lucky that she's so damned healthy and independent, but she is truly a wackadoo. This is not due to age or senility, she was always off-plumb.

She's sort of a cross between Yogi Berra and Joan Crawford (we've referred to her as Margie Dearest). She's been known to comment that visiting Rome was less than thrilling because "It's so old." On this trip, she told us that a friend of hers had gone to Sicily. "I have no desire to go there. All they have is scenery."

In a moment of sheer brilliance on my part, I bought her a birthday of those new ones that play actual songs. It had a picture of an old woman saying "As a matter of fact no, I'm not wearing any underwear", and when opened it played Rick James' "Superfreak". My mother had already changed into her nightgown when she opened it and started dropping the shoulder straps in a mock strip tease. (This prompted whispers of "Put it on! Put it on!" by us, the horrified on-lookers.)

It was great to see my sister, her boyfriend and my niece and nephews. Both of my kids were there too, so my mother got to see all of her grandchildren. Truth be told, she likes her crossword puzzles more than she likes them, but she muddled through.

This is her smiling:

My son is on the far daughter is next to her. Ain't they cute? And my niece and nephews are adorable too.


I think I've finally figured Ann Coulter out. She's actually a performance artist...this is all an Andy Kaufman-style comedy act. I hope.


TiVO Gone Mad:

Of course, being away for six days meant marathon TV-catchup upon my return.

Private Practice is a crap show. I watched the pilot last year and was unimpressed, but I gave it a chance this year and made it through half an episode. What is with the soft focus on Taye Diggs? Does the guy have acne or something? Anyway, I'm done with it. I'll watch the clips on "The Soup" instead.

Ugly Betty is great again this year.

My jury is still out on Grey's Anatomy. First impression? Everyone except Katherine Heigl and Ellen Pompeo seems to be overacting. I'm imagining the director saying things like "Be a little more George! You know, halting speech and all?" "Patrick, hold that bedroom eye thing just one beat more!" "Chandra! Hit Justin FIVE times instead of four, ok?" And the writing seems forced. OK, I'll stop.

Really enjoying The Bachelor, America's Next Top Model, Survivor and Dancing With the Stars, but mostly because I've got a fantasy team on Fafarazzi. (You know, one of your cast members refers to an "alliance" and you get 10 points? That kind of thing.)

I like Dirty Sexy Money but have only seen the first episode. I've still got Pushing Daisies to watch before I am too far behind.

And I'm almost finished watching the Boston Legal Season 3 DVDs so I can start the new ones.

Right now, I'm seriously depressed and no longer wondering why my suitcase has yet to be unpacked even though I've been home since Tuesday. I need a doctor.


Last but not least, one of the reasons I've been a bad blogger is Facebook. That's right, I've gotten sucked into the vortex that involves not just social networking but online Scrabble games, TV trivia (see previous mini-entry) and Zombie fights. Don't ask.


And why didn't I do a Photo Friday post this week? Because the theme was "Real Life", and clearly... I don't have one!