From “Bosom Buddies” to Best Seller in 10 Easy Steps

Let’s say you’re engaged in a creative effort – dancing, singing, writing, sculpting, Paperworkpainting, any creative effort.

Let’s go with writing.

Now let’s say you’ve written a short story, and wonder if it’s good enough to be published.  As in, not self-published.  As in, published in a print, not online, format.  As in, you get paid for it.

Steve-martin arrow_01What do you do?

Well, if you’re Tom Hanks, you just send the short story to your pal Steve Martin (left), who says, “Yeah, I’ll send it to my agent.”

Hanks’ short story was published in The New Yorker, a highly respected magazine that’s been around forever, has a million+ circulation, and no doubt paid Hanks enough so he could stop worrying about his electricity being shut off.  That month.New Yorker Oct 27 2014

“Within weeks,” according to The Washington Post, Hanks “was signed to write a collection of short stories” by Alfred A. Knopf, a highly respected publishing house that’s also been around forever, has won about a million Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes, and no doubt paid Hanks enough so he could stop worrying…

NY-Times-best-seller_01Well, you get the idea.

Hanks’ book, Uncommon Type, was published October 17, 2017 and hit The New York Times best seller list at #3 on November 5.  It’s garnering a fair amount of praise, and some not-so-flattering reviews as well.


“Uncommon Type offers heartfelt charm along with nostalgia for sweeter, simpler times – even if they never really were quite so sweet or simple… Even when Hanks writes about thumbs_01somber subjects like the durable distress of combat or the high stakes for immigrants fleeing persecution, he finds a sweet spot.”


“It’s rare that a book is actually painful to read, but getting through Tom Hanks short story collection, Uncommon Type, was like pulling teeth… We have 17 stories, ranging from downright terrible to decidedly mediocre.  I’m just going to come out and say it:  Written by anyone else, I don’t see how this collection would have been published.”
– Independent

What’s it all mean?

Well, for better or for worse, if you’re engaged in a creative effort like writing, for example, and want your effort recognized, just follow these 10 easy steps:

  1. Become as famous as Tom Hanks, and
  2. Write something that you’ll

    hanks scolari_01
    Hanks (right) and Peter Scolari in the TV sitcom “Bosom Buddies,” which aired 1980-1982 and launched Hanks’ career.
  3. Send it to your pal Steve Martin, who will
  4. Send it to his agent, who will,
  5. Get you published in The New Yorker, which will
  6. Lead to a contract with a major publishing house, which will
  7. Publish your book, which will
  8. Hit The New York Times best seller list, and will
  9. Cost $26.95, which will
  10. Mean you don’t have to worry about your electricity being turned off…

This month.

light bulb

Rant:  Let’s Talk About the Talk

woman_02 reversedI just googled “sexual misconduct allegations” and got more than 1,300,000 results.

Headlines shouted the word “misconduct”:

CBS News:  “Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell Address Charlie Rose Sexual Misconduct Allegations”

The New York Times:  “After Weinstein:  A List of Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct and the Fallout for Each”

The Los Angeles Times:  “Russell Simmons and Brett Ratner Face New Allegations of Sexual Misconduct”

Here’s the problem:

The word “misconduct.”

“Misconduct” is when a third grader punches a first grader.  “Misconduct” is stealing a towel from your hotel room.  “Misconduct” is going online at work to Christmas shop.

When a man forces his attentions on someone who doesn’t want them, it isn’t something Teen Boy Silhouette Bully Callingas innocuous as “misconduct.”

It’s assault.  Definitions:

  • Actual touching or violence upon another.
  • An attempt to initiate harmful or offensive contact with a person, or a threat to do so.
  • An act that causes verbal or physical injury.

As long as I’m objecting to the media’s use – misuse – of language, here’s one I heard on the TV news:

“Serious sex crimes.”

sex harass darkerAs opposed to what?  Funny sex crimes?

And “sex crimes” is another media misuse of language.  As soon as the media introduce the word “sex” into the equation, the perpetrator’s actions are trivialized.  The assault is diminished into a guy sex thing.

But the actions of these men have nothing to do with “sex,” and everything to do with violence.  Definitions:

  • Rough or injurious physical force, action or treatment.
  • Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage or kill someone or something.
  • The use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage or destroy.

And here’s one more, from the TV news:

“Forcing her to have sex with him.”woman_03

When a man forces someone to have “sex with him” it’s not “sex” – it’s rape.  Period.

This is in the same category as another one we’re hearing a lot:  “non-consensual sex.”  If one person is non-consensual then it’s not “sex.”  It’s rape.  Period.

It’s not just on-air and online media – this same language misuse appears in print, as well.  On one recent day my newspaper, a major daily, carried six separate stories about accused men.  Here is language from those six articles:

  1. Behave inappropriately
  2. Crude sexual advances
  3. Improper behaviorman woman_02
  4. Inappropriate behavior
  5. Inappropriately touching women
  6. Perpetrators of unwelcome sexual advances
  7. Sexual misconduct
  8. Sexual assault and misconduct
  9. Sexually harassed
  10. Unwanted advances
  11. Unwanted sexual advances
  12. Unwelcome sexual advances

Only once did the word “assault” appear.

The media play an important role in shaping our thoughts and language.  We quote the media all the time:  “On CNN I heard that…”  “US Magazine says that…”

Assault darkerThe media – and we – have to stop thinking of, and speaking of, assault in benign terms like “misconduct.”

If the media – and we – stop tiptoeing around what’s happening and call it “assault…”

If the media – and we – start telling it like it is…

Maybe, just maybe, men will stop.  Or at least start thinking about stopping.

Hell – just think, period.

That would be different.



Book Review: “Daughters of the Bride” or, PLEASE Don’t Make Me Keep Reading This!

Publication Date:  May 2017dotb-home-covers

Review, short version:  Four skunks out of a possible four.

Long version:

Susan Mallery is, according to GoodReads, a #1 New York Times bestselling author with more than 25 million books sold worldwide.  On Businesswoman beggingAmazon her book, Daughters of the Bride, garnered 4.5 stars from 600+ reviewers.

Why, then, was I begging the book gods to PLEASE don’t make me keep reading this?

Daughters of the Bride is chick lit, and chick lit is defined as “books with heroine-centered narratives.”

So why, then, are the most likeable characters not female, but male?

In fact, the only likeable characters are male?

Because the book is riddled with cruel, degrading dialogue exchanged among the female characters who are family and – theoretically – care about each other.

I’ll spare you, because there’s no reason for you to suffer reading this like I did.  The females are Maggie, the bride of the title, and mother of Rachel, 33; Sienna, 30; and Courtney, swan

Maggie is obsessed with planning her pink-themed wedding, which she hopes will include live swans, dyed pink.  (There’s an eco-friendly idea.)  Rachel is divorced and has self-images issues; Sienna has a nasty mouth and a penchant for getting engaged but not married; and Courtney, who has a learning disability, is working as a hotel maid while secretly studying for her Bachelor’s degree.

Sienna to Courtney:  “I’m surprised you know how to work a computer…You’re a maid.  There’s not much call for being tech savvy when you’re cleaning toilets.”

sweet reversedSweet.

Mom Maggie says, “I’m so proud of my daughters…and Courtney.”


And sisters Rachel and Sienna have coined a phrase to describe any kind of clumsiness or other physical mishap:  “Pulling a Courtney.”


As for the likeable – well, less dislikeable – guys, one is Quinn.  Or so I thought, until he high heels_06gave Courtney a gift:  peacock suede shoes with a pointed toe and four-inch heels.  Courtney is six feet tall and has never worn high heels.  By way of explanation Quinn says, “I’ve watched you walk.  You hunch your shoulders as if you’re trying to be smaller.  Maybe even invisible…You need to embrace your height.”

I had to wonder, was Quinn:

  1. Trying to change Courtney’s appearance to please himself?
  2. Trying to change Courtney rather than accept her as is?
  3. Trying to cripple Courtney with shoes known to cause foot and back problems?

How about:  All of the above?

woman finger_03
Courtney on her way out of town.  You tell ’em, Courtney!

I hope Courtney tells Quinn where to shove the shoes.

I hope Courtney learns to dish it out instead of just taking it.  I hope she gets her degree, and gets the hell out of town.

But I’ll never know because, in an act of self-preservation, I stopped on page 258 out of 400.

And that was 258 pages too many.

Rant: Why “NASA” Stands for “Needless And Stupid Assignment”

This isn’t a movie review, but I’m starting by mentioning 2016’s Hidden Figures because it was the catalyst for this blog.  I truly enjoyed that movie except for one thing:

toilet_03It glorifies NASA, and I think NASA is a total waste of money and brain power.

In Hidden Figures we see President John F. Kennedy giving what came to be known as his “We choose to go to the moon speech” at Rice University in 1962.  According to some sources, this speech was “meant to persuade the American people to endorse the Apollo program, the national effort to land a man on the moon.”  In the speech Kennedy says,

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people.”

“Rights” to what? I wondered.

Later in the movie Al Harrison, played by Kevin Costner, says,

“Discovery is for human survival…Whoever gets there first will make the rules.  Who do you want calling the shots in space?”

“For human survival” how?  What “rules”?

russian military_01
U.S.S.R. = Bad Guys

Since Costner’s character isn’t an actual person but rather a composite of NASA employees, I don’t know if anyone actually said this.  But it certainly reflects the attitude then about the space race:

If the Bad Guys (U.S.S.R.) established a successful presence in space before the Good Guys (U.S.A.), all manners of calamity will befall the Good Guys.

kid u.s. flag_02
U.S.A. = Good Guys

In the early 1960s the U.S. and Soviet Union were in the throes of the Cold War, so I suppose I can understand, but not agree with, this attitude.

But what’s our reason for continuing the space program since the Cold War ended more than 25 years ago?

What’s our reason for funding NASA to the tune of $19.1 billion in fiscal 2018?

moon rock_01
Wow, a moon rock!  Thanks, NASA!
  • Has the International Space Station furthered the establishment of peace in the Middle East by one iota?
  • Have pictures from the Hubble Telescope fed a single hungry child?
  • Has scientists’ possession of moon rocks improved your life in any measureable way?

Just think of what that $19.1 billion could do if allocated elsewhere.

Let’s take one example of a Needless And Stupid Assignment.  Time magazine recently mentioned OSIRIS-REx and that “The spacecraft took gorgeous photos of Earth en route to asteroid Bennu.”

NEWSFLASH:  If I want to see “gorgeous photos of Earth” I can google them.

I hadn’t heard about OSIRIS-REx, but a little research revealed that it launched in 2016,

Does this look like $1 billion to you?

cost around $1 billion, and that “its mission is to study asteroid 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid.”  The spacecraft is supposed to reach Bennu next year, and return “a small sample to Earth in 2023” for analysis.

One “small sample” of whatever for $1 billion of your tax dollars.

NASA employs many big brains, and I’m not being facetious.  So it’s a travesty that those big brains are wasting their time – and our money – instead of

  • Discovering cures for cancer.
  • Providing the best possible care for our veterans, especially those who may be suicidal.can't read_06
  • Finding ways to better protect people from hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
  • Help the 32 million American adults who can’t read.
  • Fill in your own suggestion here – there are plenty to choose from.

“But wait,” you may be saying, “look at all the ways the space program has improved our lives.  It brought us Tang and Teflon and Velcro…”

Velcro, smellcro.

According to Consumer Reports online, NASA had nothing to do with Tang and Teflon spinoff_bannerand Velcro.  The website invites us to check out NASA’s annual publication, Spinoff, which “highlights NASA technologies that are benefitting life on Earth in the form of commercial products.”  They’ve profiled “nearly 2,000 spinoffs since the publication began in 1976.”

That’s all well and good, but for anyone to suggest that those nearly 2,000 items wouldn’t exist except for NASA is ludicrous.  Remember “See a need and fill it”?  Our world is full of innovators who have done that and will continue to see a need and fill it, and they don’t need NASA to do that.

Here’s my suggestion:  Let’s spinoff NASA.

One-way to the moon sounds good.

to the moon cropped.jpg

“If high heels were so wonderful, men would still be wearing them.” – Sue Grafton

Louis XIV_01
Louis XIV stylin’ in his red high heels

If you’re thinking, “Whaddaya mean, men would still be wearing them?” take a look at no less a male personage than King Louis XIV of France in his red high heels in the mid-1600s.

This guy set the fashion, so you can rest assured that high heels for men were de rigueur, as they say in France.

Men wised up not long after, and donated their high heels to the unwashed masses, which caused the masses no end of health problems, which led to the French Revolution in the 1700s.  While the peasants were kicking up their (high) heels and cutting off aristocrats’ heads, not one aristocratic male – and this is well documented – went to the guillotine wearing Jimmy Choo stilettos.  The dudes were still dead, but still de rigueur.

(Speaking of Jimmy Choo, you know he doesn’t wear his stilettos either, right?)

As for women, they didn’t wise up.  Women persisted throughout the centuries in clinging to this peculiar form of torture, through the…

1700s… women shoes 1700s
1800s… women shoes 1800s
1900s… women shoes 1950s_01
and into the 21st century. lady gaga shoes_01

neimen“Torture?” you ask.

Here are just a few of the aforementioned health problems that can be yours (at no extra charge) from those snazzy Valentino Garavani gladiator sandals you found at Neiman Marcus for just $1,445:

Bunions – A bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe.  It forms when your big toe pushes against your next toe, forcing the joint of your big toe to get bigger and stick out. bunion_02
Pump Bumps (Haglund’s Deformity) – A bony enlargement on the back of the heel.  The soft tissue near the Achilles tendon becomes irritated when the bony enlargement rubs against shoes.  This often leads to painful bursitis, which is an inflammation of the bursa (a fluid-filled sac between the tendon and bone). pump bump haglunds_deformity_mod
Hammer Toes – A deformity that causes a toe to bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward.  This deformity can affect any toe on your foot, most often the second or third toe. Hammertoe._01jpg
Foraminal Stenosis – a spinal nerve condition that can occur when anatomical abnormalities block or reduce space in one or more foramina.  This condition can cause cramps, muscle spasms, numbness, tingling and pain.  foraminal-stenosis--3d-render

There are many reasons why women wear high heels – you can find reasons all over the Internet, and likely more from your friends.  Interestingly, none of the lists – or your friends – offers the simple suggestion that perhaps women simply aren’t as smart as men.

Or perhaps women are just sheep, following each other’s lead.

After all, if high heels were so wonderful…

sheep high heels_01


It’s Time to Get Crackin’ on Those Christmas Newsletters!

My (former) favorite radio station started playing Christmas music the day after Halloween so clearly…200567125-001

It’s time to get crackin’ on your Christmas newsletters!

Ahhh…the holidays.  A time for Santa and presents and Christmas carols, a time for giving and receiving, caring and sharing.

The sharing is my favorite part of Christmas, especially when the sharing comes in the form of a…

newsletterChristmas Newsletter:  A small font, text-dense, theme-paper missive that talks about people I don’t know, vacations I can’t afford, and health issues I’d rather not hear about.

People I don’t know – in some cases, dead people I don’t know.

Vacations I can’t afford, like my cousin’s twelve-day trip to Spain, complete with a villa with a “Moorish-inspired interior” and a nearby village with a “garrulous butcher.”Doctor confused_01 cropped

And health issues:  “At the hospital they decided he had pulmonary edema, was having a heart attack, and probably lung cancer due to a dark mass on his lungs…They discharged him with a bad upper respiratory infection, and the dark mass on the x-ray was his nipple!”

And…how about an alphabetized newsletter?  One couple was so busy they had something special for every letter of the alphabet, right down to “Z”:  “Zzzzs are what we need to keep up this active pace!”

Yes, there’s nothing better than a Christmas newsletter unless it’s a – two-page newsletter!  Even better than that?  Two pages with pictures!

Phyl Kids Photo EditAnd speaking of pictures, who are all these people?  What am I supposed to do with the pictures that come with newsletters?  And why is this girl sticking out her tongue?

And how’s this for a personal touch?  A newsletter not mailed, but attached to an email blast because she “ran out of time!”

Here are just a few gems my family and friends shared last year:

“Scott and Lise have nothing new to report.”  Wow – no alphabetized letter from them, I guess. Beach-Vacation

“In July we had a family vacation on the north shore of Oahu!”  (And you didn’t!)

“Fell ill with a nasty flu, a couple of days after Rich fell ill, despite our both having gotten flu shots.”  Isn’t THAT interesting!

And finally, from another cousin:  “I made a wind chime out of a box of random keys of shapes and sizes that Daddy had collected over many years, and the sound that car keys and house keys make tinkling together is utterly delightful!”

Seriously?  So, what’s worse?  That she did this, or that she told everyone about it?

Now you know why newsletters are my favorite part of the holidays…and why I’m already looking forward to this Christmas.

bored kid

What Is It?

Is the above picture:

  1. The biggest wedding in the world?
  2. The biggest bunch of coincidentally, identically dressed tourists in the world?
  3. The biggest BYOE in the world and you weren’t there, you loser?

If you chose #3, you’re right.Loser_02

You’re still a loser.

Because you weren’t at this exclusive BYOE – Bring Your Own Everything – event, with thousands of your closest personal friends.

But they were there – in secret locations all over the world from Los Angeles to Budapest and points in between.  In 70 cities on five continents every year, masses of people all dressed in white congregate to eat.

Eat what?

  • Food they brought themselves. And…

    table set up plastic glasses
    Your table is set up but…are those plastic glasses?
  • Beverages they brought themselves with…
  • White tables, white tablecloths, white napkins, and chairs they brought themselves and…
  • Dishes, silverware and glasses they brought themselves and…
  • They’ll clean up with garbage bags (preferably white) they brought themselves and…
  • Go home and do their (white) dishes themselves.

They brought everything to this event – hence the above-mentioned BYOE – and here’s moneythe best part:

They paid to do this.  Paid.

I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds a lot like eating at home, but a lot more work.

“It’s experiential,” says one guest.

Well, that explains everything.

This exclusive event is Le Dîner en Blanc, French for The Dinner in White, and the idea was, in fact, launched by a Frenchman nearly 30 years ago, according to their website.

This “chic picnic” takes place at a location so secret that the guests aren’t told where

The buses are also en Blanc, of course.

they’re going until the last minute.  Then the thousands of people are taken en masse via chartered bus or organized public transportation – along with their tables, chairs, food, etc. – to “a crowded public place that was not designed for such a purpose.”

Wait – seriously?  Isn’t this what restaurants are for?  You go to a restaurant, not en masse, not schlepping furniture and food, because the furniture and food are already at the restaurant, which is not a crowded public place and is designed for such a purpose.

Can’t you just hear the conversation?

“Louise, where is it again, this place we’re going for dinner?”

“I don’t know, Richard, just grab the chairs and the napkins.  No, the white napkins!”

wearing white and dressing elegantly_05
Dressing elegantly en Blanc; stormtrooper helmet optional.

The guidelines are strict:  To attend you must be a member of Le Dîner en Blanc or sponsored by a member; attendance is mandatory, rain or shine (doing all this sounds especially enticing in a thunderstorm); your food must be gourmet; you must wear white and dress elegantly; and originality in your garb is encouraged “as long as it stays stylish and denotes taste.”

Guests, the website notes, are expected to conduct themselves “with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette.”

I was wrong.  This is a lot more work than eating at home.

But apparently the concept is a big hit, especially with millennials, definition:  the generation born in the 1980s to early 1990s and have way too much time on their hands.

carrying garbage_02
Millennial carrying out my garbage – in an en Blanc bag, of course.

So heads up, millennials:  If you’re that crazy about picking up garbage and doing dishes, come to my house.

You don’t need to wear white.

And I won’t charge you.


More examples of dressing elegantly en blanc. wearing white and dressing elegantly
wearing white and dressing elegantly_01 wearing white and dressing elegantly_03
wearing white and dressing elegantly_04 wearing white and dressing elegantly_06.jpg