Huffington Post – Pundits on Parade

Ever watch the pundits on the cable TV news? They have an opinion on just about everything.

Photo courtesy,

Turns out, so do I. Which is why I’ve decided to become a pundit myself. For, I’ve been watching them and listening to them until I’m blue in the face. And, I figure, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

If you ask me, the only thing missing from our political landscape is pundit trading cards, much like the ones for baseball and action heroes–Superman, Spider-Man, the Hulk, and the like. So why not have trading cards for our political pundits?

Assuming I joined the pundit ranks, couldn’t you just picture my face on one? 

Well, I’d trade you a George Will for a Jon Stewart any day! Got any James Carville’s? What would you give me for an Ann Coulter? Anything? ANYTHING?

Check out my latest piece for the Huffington Post, and find out why, to me, they’re nothing more than Pundits on Parade.

You’ll also learn why I can sling arrows with the best of them. 😉

Why I Love My Aunt Elaine

When it comes to the breakup of a marriage, one of the hardest decisions involved is not one that either of the divorcing spouses has to make.  No, it is one that the family and friends of the divorcing couple have to consider, or what I call, “The choosing of sides.” The husband’s or the wife’s.

For some, it can be a painful decision to make, for others, maybe not. All the same, losing the family you’ve come to think of as your own, can be one of the saddest outcomes of a marriage gone wrong. It’s a problem that can break your heart all over again. Which is why I love my Aunt Elaine so much (who’s technically not my aunt but technicalities don’t matter much to me).

Aunt Elaine, with the two Sarah's.

Luckily for me, I have been able to stay close to a few of the family on my ex’s side.  After all, just because the marriage is over doesn’t mean it has to be the end of a relationship with all of the relations.  I am still in touch with my ex’s sister–we sometimes catch up on the phone.  But I’m closest to Aunt Elaine. She’s my ex’s aunt, really, and the youngest sister of my ex-father-in-law. She’s also been through divorce herself–years ago, when divorce was still frowned upon. Which makes her part of a group I call the “50 Percenters.” It also makes her rather empathetic to a divorced woman like myself.

Aunt Elaine is now 78. She always remembers my birthday, as well as the kids’. Phones whenever she can, often leaving messages on my answering machine with her very distinctive, very heavy New York accent.  Or Nu Yawk. I should say. “MAHnica-Love, how ahh you?”

If you ask me, it’s almost as if Aunt Elaine never got the notice about my divorce. Or maybe, she just prefers to ignore divorce protocol—the one that says each family must show loyalty to their side at the expense of the opponent’s. Which is just one of the reasons why I adore Aunt Elaine.  Here are some other reasons:

She is generous of heart: Aunt Elaine is happiest when giving to others. She volunteers at a local hospital, and would like to do more. “I don’t drive anymore,” she admits, “But if I did, I’d deliver food to the elderly, too.”

She has many interests: She’s a big Yankees fan and counts Joe DiMaggio and Phil Rizzuto among her favorites. Never misses a game. She also loves Frank Sinatra and has an extensive collection of his albums.

Aunt Elaine--Number One Yankees fan!

She’s the Pickle Queen. Having worked years and years for a pickle company, she’d bring jars of sour pickles, kosher pickles and sweet pickles to family gatherings, adding her special zest to every meal.

She doesn’t judge: She’s going soon to Las Vegas to visit a friend, explaining, “I’ve known him since he was seven. He happens to be gay but that doesn’t mean anything. I don’t judge. I respect people. He calls me regularly. To him, I’m Mama Laine and he’s invited me to his partners’ 50th.”

She’s a newshound: Aunt Elaine, a self-admitted liberal, watches the evening news and all the cable news networks (even Fox News, she says), switching between them to see how they’re covering the stories of the day.  She’s a big fan of Rachel Maddow (“That Rachel is a smart cookie!”) and also of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (calling him “Cole-bert,” not “Col-bear,” as is his preference.) Some of what she sees in the news gets her fuming, and when that happens, she writes to her senator, to the media and to the National Republican and Democratic parties, depending, of course, on what’s got her peeved.

She has great respect for the president: “I admire President Barack Obama for where he came from and how he got here. Even today, what he’s up against, and I’m not saying he does the right things all the time, but he’s a very intelligent man.”

She calls herself a Dinosaur: When Aunt Elaine looks at kids today, with their mania for the latest technologies, she feels there is a general lack of respect that has been lost along the way. “Kids today, they don’t appreciate. Their values have reached a very low point. I do what I can to try to encourage people to better themselves.”

She loves me: Whenever Aunt Elaine calls she says, “You should come to New Yawk and you should stay with us. You know you’re always welcome, right?” And then, she signs off by saying, “Monica-love, I love you!”

Besides Aunt Elaine, I’m close to Beth, her daughter. Cousin Beth and I also have daughters of our own, both coincidentally named Sarah, who love spending time together whenever they can.  For them, it’s all about family—and for them, I am family!  So, divorce, shi-morse! We’re through with choosing sides!

On Notice, Part Deux

In my first On Notice post I gave full credit to my father for inventing the On Notice list. (I’m talking to you, Colbert!) Well, friends, today I give you On Notice, Part Deux.

Highway Construction: My life is complicated enough, that I don’t need highway construction to make it even more so. I don’t want to be diverted or have to sit in a traffic jam because there’s only one lane available, all thanks to the never-ending highway construction on America’s roadways. And I don’t want to have to take the back roads, either. Frankly, I’m not always familiar with the alternate routes and that leads to getting lost. At my age, time is money, so finish the construction already!


There's nothing as scary as a toy clown!


Toy Clowns: Has there been any toy that is scarier? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Kids and clowns don’t mix–unless you want to scare the living daylights out of them. There is nothing more nerve wracking then the anticipation of a clown about to pop out of a box. The music alone, as you crank the lever, is enough to make your skin crawl. These clowns were made for one thing only: to taunt you. So, to clowns of all sizes I say, enough!!

Lindsay Lohan’s Parents: And Paris Hilton’s too, for that matter. When are you going to put your daughters in time out? They need help and they need it now. Remember, you’re never too old for tough love. Really. Discipline is what’s lacking. Clearly, Mom and Dad, you were too lax. Set limits. Work it out and help your kid. Oh yeah, that’s right. This is because your parents weren’t there for you, right? Well, I’m putting Lindsay and Paris’ grandparents on notice too!

Airplane Travel: Who likes to travel anymore? Soon, I’ll be telling my grandchildren that once there was a thing called direct, non-stop flights, which are impossible to find now. If I could figure out a way to go from California to New York, that is just as fast or close to it, then I’d stop flying. The airlines hold us hostage and they know it. We have to fly and they have to torture us, not to mention, nickel and dime us. Sigh.

Beanie Babies – These were supposed to be collector’s items. Why else did I buy 200 of them? I never even took the tags off! Curse you, Ty, Inc., for making them cute and for making so many!

Product Recalls: Face it, everything is recalled at one time or another. Can’t we agree to recognize that the quality of goods in America is only so-so at best and call it a wash? No need for more recalls. Just use the products you buy, eat your hamburgers, your veggies too, and think of it as a game called Russian Roulette. This past year, my car’s floor mats were recalled, not to mention the battery in my navigational system, and I for one am going to ignore these recalls. Same goes for you, eggs and tomatoes! Nothing is immune from recall and it makes my head spin trying to keep track.

Neopolitan Ice Cream: Sure, three flavors to choose from but guess which one everyone wants? Chocolate. So pretty soon the chocolate side is gone and you have this big gaping hole and now you can’t find anyone to eat the strawberry because it has that weirdly artificial strawberry taste. And you can’t have any more chocolate until you finish the strawberry and vanilla so you can buy a new carton. My advice: Just buy chocolate ice cream. Problem solved.

Dog Owners: At least those who do not clean up after their dogs. As a dog owner myself, I respect the grass and all the outdoors. I carry little bags in a rainbow of colors so that I can pick up after mine. So why can’t every other dog owner do the same? Might as well be asking, why can’t we all get along?

Stewart/Colbert Restore Sanity/Fear Dueling Rallies: Yes, I know these rallies are the most talked about, happening event of the year. Don’t get me wrong. I’m ALL for sanity. And I wouldn’t mind a little fear mongering. But still, I curse you, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, for not planning these in a place where I can attend—closer to the West Coast, say Los Angeles or, better yet, San Diego! And why must you talk about the rallies on your shows each night? To rub it in my face that I’m too far to attend?! Now, if I could get a direct, non-stop flight, that would be another story. So until then, I’m boycotting the rallies. Which is too bad, because I really wanted to go. Which is why you’re on notice, airline industry!

Addicted to Amazon

I have an addiction and before we go any further, you should know, I don’t plan to give it up.  Yes, I am addicted to They make it so easy.  They bend over backwards to keep you happily connected to them, while seemingly oblivious to all the money you’re spending, so that you want to shop there.  Again and again.  I imagine the folks who work at Amazon gather in a large meeting room with their mugs of Seattle-brewed coffee and put their feet up on the table (people who work in web jobs tend to be über casual) and come up with a slew of ways to make connections with each customer. Well, whatever they do, it works on me.  They had me at hello.

Here’s why:  Amazon makes me feel like we’re in a relationship, emailing me everyday, noticing what I buy, what I like, complimenting me on the wise shopping decisions they say I make, then making recommendations for me based on past purchases. “As someone who has purchased fiction from Amazon, you might be interested in…”  They never ask if I actually had time to read all the books I’ve ordered.  No guilt, no making me feel bad about the stacks of books piling up, waiting for me to read.  They just want to make sure I buy more.  My inbox is filled with emails they send me.

Amazon is also like having an executive assistant: they remind me about birthdays so I can buy Amazon gifts from the recommended list.  I don’t have to even think about what to get, Amazon takes care of that for me.  This comes in handy, though I do wish they could also remind me about upcoming doctor appointments, when my car’s oil needs to be changed and when I need to make an appointment with my hairdresser because my roots are showing.

Say what you want, but I really enjoy shopping on Amazon, especially since I became a Prime member.  Prime means “first in importance” which is what I must be to them now that I’ve plunked down my $79 a year for this service.  I’m always guaranteed two-day delivery, except on the weekends, or I can get overnight delivery for an extra $3.99.  No sooner do I click to make a purchase that it’s boxed and shipped out in minutes.  No fuss, no muss.  No chance to change my mind! It’s as if they’ve assigned me one person to be at the ready for when I’m shopping on their web site.  Someone who’s never asleep at the wheel, a job I would fail miserably doing.  I click and they’re already processing my order and withdrawing the funds from my bank account. Seconds later, the email arrives that my order is ready to be shipped.

The iPhone, makes it’s even easier to buy on Amazon.  The other night I was watching The Daily Show and Jon Stewart was interviewing an author whose book seemed intriguing.  I picked up my iPhone, went to the Amazon app and found the book.  Then I just clicked “Buy Now.” There’s no need to add it to my shopping cart, no need to sign in.  Amazon knows me.  So I just click “buy now” and voila! The book is on its way!

You can buy just about anything from Amazon.  My friends laugh at me because I buy my cereal on Amazon.  I’m on the Subscribe and Save plan for my cereal and also my vitamins, which means I get 15% off and I set the terms regarding when they should send me my next shipment (about every two months).  And if I need them faster, I can click “Ship Now.”  I could explain why I can’t buy my cereal locally, but that’s another story.

I’ve been an Amazon enthusiast (to call me a “customer” doesn’t capture the depths of this relationship, if you ask me) since November 30, 1998.  That was when I made my first purchase, some holiday VHS tapes, which clearly dates me and my relationship with Amazon.  Since then, Amazon has supplied me with countless books and supported me through my transition to DVD’s.  Amazon also sold me a 40-inch HD TV, followed by a blu-ray player, orange sandals, a filter for my air conditioning unit, several pedometers, a Hoover vacuum cleaner guaranteed to pick up pet hair and so much more.

Let it be known:  if it exists, you can probably buy it on Amazon.  And that’s why I’m sticking with my addiction.

On Notice

I have a bone to pick with Stephen Colbert and if I ever see him I’m going to let him know.  Colbert keeps a list of people and things that are “On Notice” to him as well as a list of those that are “Dead” to him.  Well, he got the idea from me. I’ve been keeping such a list for years.  And the truth of it is, I got the idea from my father. He was the king of putting people on notice, mostly family though.

My father loved placing me, my siblings and the rest of our relations, on notice.  He also put the newspaper boy on notice because he didn’t like the way he threw the paper, never quite reaching the front door. I can remember when he put me on notice. It had something to do with missing my flight home and taking a later one, which forced him to wait for hours at the airport, something my macho father did not tolerate well. So for me, that is the origination of the list.

Stephen Colbert is on notice, too.

Here is some of what’s on my On Notice list:

Jon Stewart’s goatee:  Sure, he finally shaved that funny growth he developed over his summer break but I didn’t like it from the get go and if it ever makes a comeback, then Jon Stewart’s goatee will be dead to me.

Rewards Cards:  Ok, this was fun when it was just the airlines with their rewards and you could build up your miles by flying to earn round trip tickets. Mileage and free airline tickets are something you can take to the bank. But the rewards card business has gotten out of hand and frankly I can no longer keep up.  I’m juggling so many rewards cards in my wallet that I’m going to need to start carrying two, one for my rewards cards and the other for everything else.  And did you ever notice that when you finally need to use one, turns out it’s the only one you left at home?  I have a rewards card that I don’t remember what it’s for or when I got it, but I keep it in my wallet just in case.

Angelina Jolie: This woman needs to learn to smile, really smile.  She always looks so somber. Plus, I’m on Team Jennifer.

Octomom: This Angelina Jolie lookalike is scary. Fourteen kids. Going on welfare. Need I say more?

Pickup trucks on the freeway that carry long pipes in the truck bed: Ever see these trucks doing 80 on the freeway, with these long metal pipes sticking out over the edge of the truck bed?  Well, these are weapons in the making, my friend.  I steer clear of such trucks, as I don’t want to end up with a pipe imprint on my forehead.

SUV’s:  They’re on notice too.  I don’t like them because I drive a sedan and I hate when I’m stuck behind one of them and can’t see what’s in front. Thank goodness the era of the Hummer has pretty much past. Just in time too, because I was planning to put them on my Dead to Me list.

Brian Williams’ Teeth: Everyone knows how handsome NBC’s news anchor is and I totally agree.  His fake tan gives John Boehner’s a run for his money.  But what I can’t stand is looking at his teeth. I mean, I love the guy, but come on! Brian should have enough money to get them fixed.  Instead, when he talks all I see are these discolored, gnarly, twisted teeth melding together and it kills me.

Clowns: Who was the first to think clowns and kids go together? These creatures have given me nightmares all my life. To this day, I refuse to go to a circus because I am petrified of them. The thought of being stuck in a tiny car with 12 clowns absolutely frightens me.

Stephen Colbert: Might as well put him on notice for taking credit for inventing the On Notice list, but if he calls me to apologize, I will forgive him.  After all, Colbert’s the cat’s pajamas!