Monday, February 4, 2013


Last week I heard from two old friends. Wait…not that they’re old…or that I’m old. What I mean is, I heard from two people I’ve been friends with for a long time, (though not that long, obviously, because we’re all so fabulously young).  I loved hearing from them. Both conversations made me think about how truly blessed I am in the friendship department. They also made me realize I am not the most attentive friend one could ask for.

The first friend who reached out was returning my call, returning his call…from August, (hey, it was August 2012, at least). I came to find out my friend got a huge promotion at work. Also, he and his husband just bought a new house.  Oh, and one more little thing…his husband is in the hospital recovering from emergency surgery. He’s going to be okay, thank God, but geez, where was I all this whole time? Not helping, or offering support, or calling to say, “I’m thinking about you.” I did think about them, all the time, but for some reason or other I couldn’t find five minutes to shoot off an email.

The next friend called to say he and his spouse were dining out recently, (a rare date night away from their two young sons), discussing friends they hadn’t seen in too long, and guess whose name came up? I immediately realized the dinner out would have been on account of his BIRTHDAY, (which I missed, because I suck). Facebook keeps offering to handle birthdays for me, but it wants access to my address book in order to do the honors, and I’m worried this ends up with everyone I know getting spammed or hacked and un-friending me forever.  Anyway, my friend graciously assured me he has no clue of my birth date either, and no plan to get me flowers, a card or anything else unless there is a party involved, so that’s our new rule.  He went on to explain that he’d been in the grocery store a few weeks ago and run into another friend who basically said, “You never call, you never visit…I’ve written you off as a friend!” The encounter inspired a guilt-induced resolution to make more effort maintaining his important relationships.

I told him to consider me the cactus in his friendship garden. No, not because I’m prickly, or hard to get close to.  I’m neither, I promise. I just don’t need a lot of water or fertilizer. And, frankly, isn’t that the beauty of deep, abiding friendships? You can go weeks, (okay, months), without exchanging a word, but then, as soon as you do connect, pick up exactly where you left off. Or is that just the lazy, slightly reclusive part of me talking?

Monday, January 28, 2013

And the Oscar Goes To...

I received a “Save the Date” email this week from friends G&M for their annual Oscar Par-TAY. There are only two things I remember from last year’s party: 1) I spilled red wine all over their fuzzy, white living room rug, (which makes this year’s invite all the more unexpected); and 2) I finished dead last in the Oscar pool.  This year I’m determined to do better on both counts. I will imbibe nothing but Krystal the entire evening and I will WIN the pool!

I headed right over to for the Official Nominee List. Hmm…the good news is my selections will be untainted by actual, first-hand, familiarity with any of the films. The bad news is, I have never even heard of half the titles up for Best Picture, let alone more niche categories like Best Actor in a Leading Role.
A film called “Amour” tops the Best Picture list, (thanks to alphabetical order), but, I kid you not, the producers are listed as TBD. That’s a pretty frickin’ obscure movie, when even the producers don’t know about it.

“Argo” comes next. Looks good, and based on a true story, which Oscar generally likes. lists George Clooney as one of the producers. I’m embarrassed to admit, if he’d starred in it, I probably would have seen the darn thing. My friend J told me it won the Producer's Guild Award for Best Picture, but I was immediately dismissive. An un-televised award? How determinative could that be? I asked him if it had won the Golden Globe. J replied, "Listen up, amateur, 'cause I'm only going to explain his once--the Golden Globes signify nothing, except the opinion of a bunch of Hollywood foreign press. That population has, like, zero overlap with the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Producer's Guild? The Screen Actors Guild? Those organizations contain actual Academy members." Good to know.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild.” No clue.

“Django Unchained.” I recognize this as Quentin Tarantino’s latest flick. I loved “Reservoir Dogs.” I loved “Pulp Fiction.” I hit a wall somewhere around “Kill Bill Vol. 2.” I may cave when it hits Netflix or Video on Demand.
Speaking of loves, I loves me some Hugh Jackman. Again, I’m a little embarrassed to admit, but had this year’s Jackman vehicle been an X-Men installment, I could probably quote dialogue. But I have no burning desire to take in another version of “Les Miserables.”  I’m sure it’s awesome, in a way that only a musical based on a mid-nineteenth century French novel about politics, morality and justice can be.

“Life of Pi,” had a great trailer. If this movie hits VOD, I will put it to the Ambien challenge.
“Lincoln” appears in several categories, and I’m proud to say I have heard of both the man and the movie. In fact, Hubs and I almost saw this film. We opted for “Skyfall” instead. I agree with another blogger who opined that the latest James Bond offering seemed more violent and less sexy than prior Bond films, but I’m sure it was way sexier than “Lincoln.”

Next comes, “Silver Linings Playbook,” starring some dude named Bradley Cooper. I sat through “The Hangover,” based solely on Bradley’s allure, so you’d think I could carve out two hours and two minutes to take in an Oscar-nominated film featuring People Magazine’s 2011 “Sexiest Man Alive.” No luck so far. Have you seen it? Does the film show me a new side of Brad, (by which I mean shirtless, or pants-less)?  
Last, but not least, “Zero Dark Thirty” earned a Best Picture nomination. I thought for a moment I’d seen this one, but then I realized I was confusing the film with a photo of President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and a bunch of security team members gathered in a White House situation room, watching the Bin Laden mission in real-time, looking like I look when viewing a really intense episode of “General Hospital.” Interestingly, Director Kathryn Bigelow did not receive a Best Director nomination, maybe because she won just last year for the amazing, (so I hear), film “The Hurt Locker.” Her ex-husband, James Cameron, also vied for the Best Director honor last year, for the movie “Avatar.” I couldn’t be bothered to see either film, but I would have paid good money to witness the first post-party exchange between those two.

Help me nail at least one category! Tell me your picks…your opinions. Trust me, you know far more than I.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Crappy Excuse

A few eagle–eyed readers out there noticed I skipped last week’s post. I have a really good excuse. No, I was not incarcerated, hung-over, or wrapped in a hug-me jacket and confined to a padded cell—thanks for asking. All of those weak-assed cop-outs would have been preferable to what actually went down, (or, more accurately, came up), but I’m warning you right now, this tale is not for the squeamish. If you can’t change a diaper or use a port-a-potty without gagging, trust me, you don’t want to go where I’m about to take you. I’ll see you next week.

Okay, my hearties, I think I’ve mentioned in prior posts that I live in Malibu. Many know Malibu as a celebrity hideaway, a source of reliable waves, or a picturesque stretch of Pacific Coast Highway. There is a dark side of the ‘Bu. We have no sewage system.  That’s right. We’re all out here sitting on our own shit.
The local no-growth contingent insists a sewer would be the first step down a slippery slope leading to such horrors as a hardware store, a Target, or, I don’t know, ocean water that won’t give you Hepatitis. I really don’t buy the whole un-checked growth argument. Malibu isn’t off the grid. Not by a long shot. I don’t have my own generator, for Christ’s sake. Hubs and I don’t trek to the town well every morning balancing clay pots on our noggins. We enjoy electricity and running water just like everyone else in California. Hell, we even have Fios. Separating sewer from the other basic utilities sounds to me like a big load of you-know-what.

I secretly believe our lack of sewer is less an anti-growth thing and more a money thing. If a smaller sewage project in lower Malibu serves as any indication, we can’t put a proper, centralized sewer in Malibu for a penny less than all the money in the world. Instead, most homes, including ours, have septic systems.
Fine and dandy. Flush the enzymes. Get the tank pumped once a year, and everything works…except when it doesn’t. But don’t expect a lot of advanced warning when things fail to flow. I heard a funny gurgle coming from the toilet last Sunday night when I drained the tub after the little guy’s bath. Later, while we sat in my bedroom watching “Go Diego Go!” I noticed a distinctly funky smell. The four-year-old swore it wasn’t him. The dog gave me an innocent look. Then I went to my bathroom for something or other, and discovered…the unspeakable…gurgling up from the drain in the shower.

I immediately called a local plumbing and pumping company, which was closed, of course, and left a semi-articulate message. Apparently I relayed my call-back number clearly enough, because a very calm woman contacted me after not too long and assured me she could send someone between nine and eleven the next morning, provided I was willing to pay for an emergency visit. My response went something along the lines of, “Lady there’s shit backing up into my shower. If that doesn’t qualify as an emergency, I don’t know what does.”
We made it through the night. I won’t give you details, but, suffice to say, it wasn’t pretty. By ten a.m. the next day, I was on the phone with the plumber, sounding like a stalker girlfriend. “Where are you? What are you doing? How soon can you be here?"

They came, they snaked, they pumped, and they told me not to flush paper towels down the toilet anymore. I don’t, I assured them. The little guy just looked up at the ceiling and whistled. Hmm.

Sooo…still want to give me shit for missing a blog post? I didn’t think so.

Happy Martin Luther King Day. In case you were looking for something more inspiring than my crappy excuse, here’s a link to the full text of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech,   

Monday, January 7, 2013

I've Outgrown It

With a preschooler at home, I’m pretty in touch with the concept of outgrowing stuff – clothes, toys, activities –but I tend to think of the whole phenomenon as a kid thing.  Just lately, however, I hit upon some things I’ve outgrown, (other than a major chunk of my wardrobe thanks to the feeding frenzy known as the holidays).  While unexpected, (okay, not totally -- I expected the weight gain, and, frankly, I earned every pound), not all the discoveries horrified me. 

For example, apparently I’ve outgrown hangovers.  My reign as Queen of the Happy Hour ended when I traded a steady paycheck for a writing career, but, to be honest, I still drink as much as I ever did.  Strangely, I don’t get hung-over anymore.  I was pretty stoked about this until I mentioned it to Hubs and he replied, “Wow.  Do you think your liver has simply given up?”  Uh…not my first thought, no.  But now, I guess I better look into that.
Also, I’ve outgrown gossip magazines.  I joke about reading them, and I’m not saying you won’t catch me leafing through US Weekly at the Hepatologist’s office, but the publications aren’t finding their way into my grocery cart these days. I’m not sure why, but my world no longer revolves around burning questions like, “Who Wore It Best?”  If I had to point a finger, I’d say the Kardashians killed my interest.

One last epiphany did kind of…well…not horrify me, but it startled me.  I’ve outgrown “Sex in the City.”  During the original run of the series on HBO, I tuned in pretty regularly to follow the adventures of Carrie and team as they ate, shopped, clubbed and f*#&ed their way through Manhattan.  Their crazy lives fascinated me.  The writing seemed so edgy, and smart and, darn-it, funny.  But recently I caught a handful of episodes during a late night marathon on TBS and, I’m ashamed to admit, they bored me.  I can’t blame my reaction on the fact that they were re-runs, because I hadn’t seen these particular episodes before.  I just …I don’t know…couldn’t relate to the characters.  Instead of interesting and zany, they struck me as selfish and shrill.  Annoyance replaced amusement.  Even Carrie’s endless wardrobe, which, once upon a time, was reason enough for me to tune in, seemed silly and desperate.
Maybe the series hasn’t aged well, (it originally ran from 1998 to 2004, so even the latest episodes are closing in on ten years old), or maybe I haven’t, but we have nothing in common anymore.   I’m sad to say, I’ve outgrown it. 

Then again, if I use little guy’s development as an indicator, outgrowing something means growing into something else.  Maybe the big picture here is that if you’re living, you’re growing, and some things are inevitably going to fall by the wayside during the process.  Or maybe the powers that be are trying to tell me I need to spend less time nursing hangovers, pouring over celebrity gossip, or sitting in front of the TV, and more time writing my own edgy, sexy, funny characters. 
I’ll let you know when I grow up and figure it out.  Did you outgrow anything this past year?  Share your evolution!

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Sexiest Men Alive Only In Our Imagination

We’ve lit our candles, trimmed our trees, maxed out our Master Cards, (or observed whatever annual traditions generally accompany the December phenomenon of exchanging gifts and eating our weight in calorie-laden treats).   We’re almost ready to raise a glass of bubbly and welcome 2013. But before we turn the page on 2012, let’s take a look back at some of the highlights of the year. 

By highlights, of course, I mean men.  Sure, Time Magazine has their little, “Man of the Year,” thing, (congratulations, Mr. Obama).  People Magazine owns the whole “Sexiest Man Alive” franchise, (helloooo Channing Tatum).  But I’m here to review the really important men of the year, the men who captured our hearts, our minds and ...ahem…our fantasies, namely, the SEXIEST FICTIONAL MEN OF 2012.  
Who qualifies?  Any hero in any work of romantic fiction published during 2012.  Who decides?  Well, it’s every woman for herself, but these are my top five, in no particular order:

1)       Roarke, from J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series – Hey, I didn’t say the hero had to make his debut in 2012, now, did I?  I just finished “Delusion in Death,” and, although I had to build my own murder board to remember all the suspects and I’m still not 100% sure what the hell went down, plot-wise, one fact remains undeniable.  Roarke rocks. 

2)      Quinn Sobel, from Robin Bielman’s “Yours at Midnight” – The book is hot off the presses, and the hero is just plain hot!  There’s something irresistible about a guy with an effed-up past finally working through his issues, realizing what, (and who), he wants…and setting out to get her.

3)      Reid Andrews, from Gina L. Maxwell’s “Seducing Cinderella” – Yes, he’s a mixed martial arts fighter, but that’s not what makes him sexy.  Yes, he gives the heroine lessons in “the art of seduction,” but that wasn’t what won me over.  When she heads out for a date with the guy she’s set her misguided sights on, Reid swallows his sinking heart and says, “Have a great time.  Don’t forget to flirt with the waiter.” 

4)      Paul Donovan, from Lynne Marshall’s “Too Close for Comfort”—Paul’s been around the block.  He’s picked up a few moves, and he’s not afraid to use ‘em.  Not even on his ex-wife.  She never stands a chance, because despite their history and shared baggage, he’s a keeper.    

5)      Josh Scott, MD, from Jill Shalvis’ “Forever and a Day”—In the sixth installment of the Lucky Harbor series, Shalvis gives us Josh Scott:  Daddy, dog-owner, and one seriously hot doc.  He’s the perfect blend of tough, control-addicted alpha and natural-born nurturer.  Sexy with a capital “S.”     
Got your own list of favorite sexy heroes?  If so, I hope you’ll share a few of the men who made your heart pound a little harder in 2012.  Also hoping you have a fun, safe New Year’s Eve and that 2013 brings wonderful things your way!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Family Tree

I’m a Christmas tree junkie.  I love the big, fancily decorated trees at South Coast Plaza, (one complete with a kiddie train)!  I love the comparatively simple one at the Malibu Country Mart.  I love the pretty, white-lit, blue-and-silver color-coordinated tree at my friends G&M’s house.  It looks so classy.  But, of course, I reserve the best of my love for our own Christmas tree. 

I’ll be the first to admit the Martha Stewarts of the world would take one look at our tree and promptly convert.  Aesthetically, it’s a mess.  The star at the top tips to one side like a drunk uncle.  The boughs droop under the weight of multi-colored lights and a jumble of ornaments of every size, style and color.  But what nobody except Hubs and I fully appreciate is this seemingly humble tree’s ability to transport us through time.
Because of our pets and the little guy, this year we hung the keepsake ornaments on the higher limbs, which left Kitty free to declare war on the cheap, and, as it turned out, breakable colored orbs Hubs and I probably spent a whole fiver on at Third Street Bazaar during one of our first Christmases together when we lived in NYC .  This was approximately a hundred years ago, however, so they might have been antiques by now.  My high school Espanol is rusty, but I believe, “Hecho en Mexico” translates into “rare antique.” Si? 

As my eyes move up the tree, tucked along the side closest to the wall, I spy a small, tarnished brass bell with “Merry Christmas Samanthe, 1978” written along the rim.  I’m transported to the Christmas Store at the mall in Hagerstown, Maryland, where my parents bought matching ornaments for my sister and me and we watched the man painstakingly engrave them while we waited.  Regrettably, this ornament always gets relegated to the back of the tree because I like to think most people assume my first Christmas occurred sometime in the early 1980’s.  Nobody actually assumes this, but I like to think they do.
I see ornaments collected over the years from co-workers, friends, and a bunch from my mom, who traditionally includes an ornament in the Christmas gift splurge.   The year 2008 is well-represented on our tree, in the form of several “Baby’s First Christmas,” ornaments.  And, now, we have a few quirky, crafty, homespun ornaments wrought by clumsy little hands, (no, not mine), and an expertly wielded glue gun, (again, not me, but various preschool teachers).  Looking at them shifts my Christmas Tree Time Machine into the future.  I envision those ornaments hanging on another tree, in another house, and a not-so-little guy explaining to his own kiddos how he made them when he was small…and his crazy mother saved them all these years.  Then, hopefully, they’ll pile into their flying car and visit Hubs and me at the old folks’ home.

I hope your holiday season affords you a chance to revisit many happy memories and forge a few new ones!  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pretty Little Lies

Relationship experts forever harp on the importance of honesty in a marriage.  I’d like to get real for one second and stress the critical role of dishonesty in domestic bliss. 

This past Saturday evening, Hubs and I hosted a holiday get-together at chez Beck.  Our day involved a lot of cleaning, decorating and party set-up, and things paralleled pretty well until about five-thirty.  Around then, Hubs turned to me, said something like, “I’m going to go get dressed for the party,” and wandered off down the hall.  Moments later, he wandered back into the living room, freshly shaved, wearing a red sweater, dark jeans, and loafers.  Effortless perfection in less than ten minutes.  
I peeled the little guy off me, (don’t Bjorn your baby – he or she will assume you are their mule for life).   He immediately spider-monkeyed onto Daddy, and I went off for my ten minutes of personal prep. time.  Throw on a dress, heels; fluff the hair … easy, right?

One would think.   First stop, my closet, where I spent way more than ten minutes looking at the jam-packed jumble of crap (closets…not just for clothes anymore!), wondering whether to dig in or just take the easy road and set fire to the darn thing.   It took another ten minutes to find my go-to, can’t-fail, LBD.  I put it on and immediately realized I have not been working out lately, but I have continued to eat as if I run twenty-miles a week.  The effect was less than flattering, to say the least.  So, now I’m standing in my closet, in my underwear, thinking maybe I can find the red dress I wore to a Christmas party last year – the one made of some miracle spandex/Lycra/lipo-suction blend that hides a multitude of sins.  Spent another five minutes digging through what I was starting to call the tomb of the cursed fashion victim when fate smiled on me and I found the red dress.  I put it on, held my breath, and managed to pull the zipper up about an inch.  I straightened my spine, planted my feet, held my breath tighter, and zipped some more.  Finally I hunched forward, Quasimodo-style, threw my arm over my shoulder and yanked the zipper with all my might.  Not pretty, but effective.  I got the zipper up.  Once on, the dress didn’t look too bad, and I could suck in about one life-sustaining breath per minute.   Acceptable.
On to shoes.  My awesome, sexy red silk slides with the gold embroidery that go with the dress are open-toed.  A quick glance at my feet told me my pedicure looked … um …rustic.  In the end, I decided to wear a pair of basic, black, closed-toed pumps. 

I made my way to the bathroom for hair and make-up.  As I gathered hair supplies I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror over the sink.  Holy smokes!  Who let Grizzly Adams in?  Oh … wait …shit.  That’s me.  I’d meant to get to the salon earlier in the week and let them work their waxing magic, but it never happened.  So I plucked and tweezed until my eyes watered and I felt reasonably certain people wouldn’t greet me with, “Goonie Goo Goo.”  (Eddie Murphy fans, you’re welcome).
I still needed to do my hair, but, by now, I also really needed a drink.  Too bad leaving the bathroom put me at risk of running into a guest.  Note to self:  bathroom mini-bar. 

Doing my hair took a little longer than anticipated too, and involved the creative use of mascara.  Don’t ask.  All I can say is, on closer inspection, not all of the lighter strands in my mop turned out to be blonde.   
Over an hour after I’d left for my ten minute quick-change, I finally made my way back into the living room, all frazzled and duct-taped together.  Hubs looked up as I came in.  I don’t know what thoughts actually tumbled through is mind, but he smiled and said, “You look beautiful.”

Keep your honesty, my friends.  I’ll take my pretty little lies.