Archive for the ‘News stories’ Category

Ashley Judd’s “Puffy Face” Crusade

Friday, April 13th, 2012


Photo: Snapper Media


The other day, Judd wrote an emotional op-ed piece in The Daily Beast. She had been the object of feverish speculation having to do with her face – i.e. why it looked puffier than it had in previous years and whether she’d had “work done.” She explained that she’d been sick and was taking steroids and that it was disgusting how women’s bodies are picked over and spit out.

I have felt her anger and shared her outrage – both on my own behalf and on Michael’s.

My husband takes steroids on and off and has for years. Prednisone is a wonder drug in its ability to reduce inflammation, but one of its dreaded side effects is what’s called “moon face.” When he’s on “Pred,” he blows up like the Incredible Hulk. It’s not fun, but as soon as he gets off the evil stuff, he goes back to his normal size.

People don’t remark about his moon face; they’re just glad if he’s feeling better. Most people, that is. There’s an anecdote in my forthcoming book, YOU’D BETTER NOT DIE OR I’LL KILL YOU: A Caregiver’s Survival Guide to Keeping You in Good Health and Good Spirits (Chronicle/October), in the chapter on friendship. He and I were at a wedding reception during a period when he was on high doses of steroids prior to surgery. His face was indeed puffy. Suddenly, a man we thought was a friend, although someone we didn’t see on a regular basis, walked up to Michael, pointed at him and said, “Wow. Michael. You got SO FAT!”

I was stunned by this man’s insensitivity. I mean, what kind of jerk says that right to a person’s face?

Michael was just as stunned, I could tell, but he reacted much more diplomatically than I would have and replied calmly, “I’m not fat. I’m on steroids. I’m about to have surgery.”

Not only did the man not apologize, but he didn’t even ask about the surgery or say, “I hope it goes well.” He is so off our list now.

I’m the opposite of fat – “the size of a pencil,” I once wrote about myself – and, Michael’s story aside, I have always been amazed how people who are careful to avoid insulting a fat person have no compunction about insulting a thin one.

“You’re so scrawny,” a woman once told me. “You’re nothing but bones,” said another. “Do you ever EAT?” many of them have had the nerve to ask.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was at Saks looking for a top to wear to a dressy event when a saleswoman approached.

“I’m going to a fancy dinner tonight,” I told her, “and I need something great to wear under my suit jacket.”

“Have you seen the new tops from Theory?” she asked, referring to one of my favorite designers.

“Yes,” I said. “I tried them on and they were all too big.”

She literally rolled her eyes and said, her tone dripping with sarcasm, “Oh, my heart bleeds for you.”

Seriously? Not only was this said without humor or sisterly understanding or even good salespersonship, but it was downright rude.

I stammered and said, “Well, I’m small, I guess.”

She said, “Honey, women would kill for your body, so I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you.”

“I’m not worried,” I said, gathering myself after what felt like a punch in the gut. “Have a nice day.”

I left the store wondering why it is that people feel so comfortable picking on thin people. I have small bones. I was built that way. And yes, I eat – plenty.

So I agree with Ashley Judd in her message to all the finger pointers out there: buzz the hell off.




RIP Mike Wallace

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

I’m a “60 Minutes” fan and watch every Sunday night, but the show hasn’t been the same since Wallace retired. And now his death has triggered a host of memories of the interviews he did over the years. Nobody put a “guest” in the hot seat like he did. From politicians and corporate types to mobsters and celebrities, he asked all the questions I wanted to ask but would never have had the nerve.

I think my favorite was the Streisand interview.

I was squirming in my living room during that one, but it was compelling television.

Wallace was a newsman, and he always tried to get at the truth. Not a bad legacy.

Fear Of Flying Jet Blue

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

I always fly Jet Blue when I come east. No muss, no fuss. TVs at your seats. Enough trail mix and plane wine to last the six-hour flight. No need to fly out of or into LAX but rather the much-easier-to-navigate Burbank Airport. And the Jet Blue flight crews are so friendly and helpful.

Well, they used to be.

First, there was the flight attendant who snapped and took off down the chute of the plane.

Now, via the NYT and elsewhere, we learn that the captain – yes, the guy in charge of flying the plane – had a breakdown at 30,000 feet. Talk about turbulence.

Fortunately, there was a sane co-pilot in the cockpit, as well as an off-duty pilot who took the wheel, not to mention a flight full of security types on their way to a convention – lots of able bodied men and women trained to take somebody down.

Isn’t it amazing how calm everybody looks in the video? The disturbance is quelled and everybody stays in their seat and continues watching their TVs or reading their Kindles or whatever they were doing. I, on the other hand, would have been freaking out. I mean, the last thing you expect when you fly is that the Captain will go stir bugs. An unruly passenger? Sure. A screaming child? No biggie. But the captain?

The good news, I guess, is that the plane was diverted to Texas, landed safely and everybody survived the incident. The bad news is that people seem to be doing a lot of snapping and breaking down lately. Take the guy who gained all that attention after his Kony video. He seemed pretty normal until he was standing naked in a street in San Diego screaming at the demons in his own head.

Metal detectors at airports aren’t designed to screen crazy people. Maybe there should be shrinks at airports having quick sessions with the flight crews before allowing them on board. I don’t want my Jet Blue pilot going nuts on my next flight, I really don’t.


This Plush Toy Won Westminster?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

According to Huffington Post, the dog show went with Malachy, a Pekingese, this year. Seriously.

Photo: AP/Seth Wenig

R.I.P. Whitney

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

I was stunned tonight when I was sitting at dinner with friends, having been away from the TV/Internet all day, and heard about the death of Whitney Houston. I started thinking about all the times I’d enjoyed her music, including her first appearance on “Soul Train” so early in her career.

She was so beautiful and so talented and so troubled. People jumped on her when her comeback tour went awry, but I actually loved her last album because her voice had ripened and matured.

To have her die on the eve of the Grammys tomorrow night makes the whole thing even more tragic. I understand Jennifer Hudson will sing a tribute on the show. I can’t imagine there will be a dry eye in the place.



Where Was The Flight Attendant?????

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

As a well documented white knuckler flier, I read every airplane mishap story with eyes wide open, praying that whatever happened won’t happen to me. But this story actually made me laugh.

Pilot locked in lavatory causes unnecessary terror scare

He was caught with his pants down.

A pilot who accidentally locked himself in the bathroom of his LaGuardia-bound plane caused a terror scare last night when a helpful passenger with an accent tried to come to his rescue by banging on the cockpit door.

The embarrassing comedy of errors began when the captain of a Chatauqua Airlines flight from Asheville, N.Car., decided to take a bathroom break before landing. But when he tried to get out of the men’s room, the door jammed, trapping him in the tight quarters.

Desperate to get out and land the plane — which was in a holding pattern above the airport — he pounded his fists on the door to attract attention. A well-intentioned passenger sitting in the front row heard his thumping and hurried over to help. Relieved, the pilot told the passenger to go to the cockpit and alert the crew to his plight. But crew members didn’t react well to the unexpected visit from a stranger trying to breach the highly secure area of the plane. The jittery co-pilot — at the controls and wondering why his boss’ bathroom break was taking forever — thought the unfamiliar accent was Middle Eastern, a source told The Post. Practically stammering, he quickly radioed air traffic control.

“We are 180 knots 10,000 [feet] uh, can we leave the frequency for a minute? We are going to try to, uh contact dispatch,” he said. “The captain disappeared in the back, and, uh, I have someone with a thick foreign accent trying to access the cockpit.”

Even after the passenger explained through the door that the captain was locked in the john, the co-pilot was still suspicious.

“What I’m being told is he’s stuck in the lav [lavatory], and, uh, someone with a thick foreign accent is giving me a password to access the cockpit,” he said.

He clearly did not believe the passenger.

“I’m not about to let him in,” the nervous co-pilot told the LaGuardia tower.

The controller, also spooked, advised the pilot to declare an emergency and “just get on the ground.’’

The captain finally extricated himself and told his colleagues all was well.

Before that happened fighter planes were alerted, although they were never scrambled.

When an air traffic controller called to check if “there any level of disturbance on the airplane,” the pilot got on and responded “negative.” “The captain, myself, went back to the lavatory and the door latch broke and I had to fight my way out of it with my body to get the door open ,” he said. “There is no issue, no threat.”

The FBI and Port Authority cops met the plane when it landed around 6:30 pm. A spokesman for Chatauqua — which runs the regional flight under the Delta name — said cops talked to the passenger and quickly realized it was all a misunderstanding.

I’ve never been on Chatauqua Airlines (I don’t do commuter planes unless absolutely necessary), but don’t they have flight attendants? At least one? Isn’t it a FAA regulation? And if there was a flight attendant onboard, why didn’t he or she come to the Captain’s aid and speak to the cockpit? Just asking.



I Will Never Complain Again

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Well, that’s how I felt last night after watching Diane Sawyer’s interview with Gabby Giffords.

I was blown away not only by Giffords’ courage in the face of her injuries and her determination to get better (she kept repeating “better, better, better” when asked if she’d like to run for Congress again), but also the devotion of her husband. I’ve just finished a manuscript about caregiving a spouse with a medical problem, and yet I can’t even imagine the emotional ups and downs Kelly has dealt with during his wife’s recovery.

After the interview, I vowed to be “better, better, better” and stop complaining about the little annoyances of life – the slowness of my Internet server, the foggy weather, my acid reflux, the fact that Michael turns up the TV so loud it makes my ears bleed. I want to be someone who focuses on the big picture and is grateful 24/7, who exudes bravery and inspires others, whose smile lights up a room.

In short, I want to be more like Gabby Giffords. But for now, I’ll just try to stop whining about the small stuff – at least for a few hours.


It’s Gloria Allred Again

Monday, November 7th, 2011

She’s amazing, isn’t she, that Gloria? If there’s a wronged woman roaming the earth, eager to tell her story or set the record straight or involve herself in the headlines, Gloria will not only find her but bring her to the microphones.

Today’s client was Herman Cain’s latest accuser, and when I first saw her I said aloud, “Why do they always have to be blonde?” I was expecting a cliche. Instead, as I listened to the woman’s tale of groping, etc., I thought she sounded credible. And later, when she was interviewed by Piers Morgan (I can’t believe I actually watched his show), I was even more inclined to believe her. She was articulate and didn’t seem to be angling for a book deal and said she wanted her son to be proud of her.

Speaking of book deals, will Conrad Murray get one? He’ll have plenty of time to write – either in jail or during house arrest. That case was a slam dunk, so I wasn’t exactly blown away by the verdict. What surprised me were all the people lined up on the street carrying signs and cheering – for hours before and after the jury left the courthouse. Occupy Wall Street is one thing but Occupy Michael Jackson’s Death Trial? Beats me.


Herman Cain And The Ladies

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011


I have no idea who said what/did what/touched whom regarding the accusations of sexual harassment against Cain. What I do know is that settlements were reached and money paid, and other women are coming forward and the finger pointing continues unabated.

If I were Cain’s campaign manager, I would tell him to follow the lead of the former Governator here in California. When Schwarzenegger was running against Gray Davis and the LA Times unearthed dozens of women who said Arnold groped them or otherwise made them uncomfortable on movie sets, Arnold fell into the usual trap – at first. He ignored the reports. Then he denied the reports. Then he came to his senses and said (I’m paraphrasing): “I’ve been a naughty boy at times. I’ve been guilty of bad behavior. But I promise I’ll be a good governor for the state of California.” And that was that. Yes, he was caught having a child with his long-time housekeeper. He said he was a bad boy, didn’t he?

The point is that Cain’s cover up is probably worse than his actual deeds, whatever they are. He should stop “misremembering” and changing his story every ten seconds and just say: “I’m not perfect. I do love to socialize. I’m sorry if I’ve crossed the line on occasion. But my 9-9-9 tax plan is going to save the economy and encourage jobs and blah blah.”

Because the truth is, the public is smarter than politicians give us credit for. We can accept human imperfection, provided our leaders don’t break any laws. We understand weakness and frailty, especially when it comes to one’s personal/marital life. If we only elected leaders who never cheated with other women, never flirted, never made inappropriate comments, we’d never elect anybody.

What we want is somebody who’ll tell it to us straight and then govern us well.

Except, of course, if the candidate is running on a platform of “family values.” That sort of throws a monkey wrench into all of the above.


Just A Few Words On The Madoffs

Monday, October 31st, 2011

I didn’t get to see Sunday night’s “60 Minutes” interviews with the Adams Family, as I like to call them, so I watched them this morning. Here’s the clip of the suicide chat.

Among the things that struck me about the segments were:

  1. Morley Safer’s painful softball questions. He used to be such a tough journalist. Maybe it’s time for him to retire?
  2. The Madoff son asked his mother to participate in the segments to help him and his fiancee sell their book. And he didn’t like being used by his father?
  3. Why aren’t the Madoffs donating the profits from the book to the victims?
  4. Why does the Madoff son have absolutely no upper lip? Literally?
  5. Ruth talks about packing up her jewelry and sending it to her sons the night she and the Bernster were going to spontaneously kill themselves. If the act was so spontaneous, how come she took the time to pack up the jewelry, not to mention pick out the pieces she wanted to give up?
  6. How many face lifts has Ruth had?
  7. Both mother and son said over and over how difficult it was to be them – from the hate mail to the damaged reputations. They didn’t once mention how difficult it must be for the thousands of people who went broke because of Bernie. Talk about self-absorbed.
  8. Ruth said she hasn’t bothered to divorce Bernie because what’s the point; she’s not out looking for a new husband. Did it never occur to her that divorcing the monster would have been a symbolic gesture to show her sons and the world that she wasn’t guilty?

I really hope this was the last we see of these awful people.