Wednesday, July 27, 2011

People Don't Understand the Pressure on Me to Eat Perogies

Greetings Friends,

First, let me say that I do not begrudge Kim Kardashian her looks. I am all too aware that how we look is based on genetics. If I hadn't been born into my particular family, I wouldn't look the way I do. But, there's no going back on that; I'm stuck with myself for however much longer I'll live. Since I don't have a crystal ball, that could be many more years of looking the way I do. 

The problem I have with Ms. Kardashian is that she is one of those individuals who is famous for just being herself. She hasn't made a contribution to society (other than raising the bar on T&A) that warrants the fame she has, but alas, we all know her, and her family. Yes, I've occasionally watched her unabashedly scripted exploits on her "reality" show, and up until now, I really had nothing to complain about. 

I happened to spot a snippet on my favourite "news" source,, that K.K. has psoriasis. The tag line for the story, describing it as an "incurable skin condition", made it sound like she's a closet leper. 

The video clip from "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" that accompanies the story includes Kim's proclamation of, "People don't understand the pressure on me to look perfect." I only had to read that once for it to make my head explode.

We all deal with pressure in our lives; sometimes that pressure can manifest itself in a physical ailment like psoriasis, or something exponentially worse, like a heart attack, stroke or cancer. Yes, unattractive skin conditions can be part of the bargain: eczema, psoriasis, acne, alopecia, hives. My personal favourite is when stress affects your intestines, leaving you emotionally freaked out and chained to the toilet. I'm sure people in that unfortunate situation would not complain if their only problem was a few patches of itchy dry skin.

People deal with stress in different ways. Some of us crawl under the covers and hide; some of us turn to medication; some of us do our best to swallow that stress by engaging in various forms of potentially destructive behaviour such as drug abuse. Some of us eat. HELLO - that would be me. 

I recently discovered these delectable perogies in my grocer's freezer that I am unabashedly addicted to. They come in a giant 2 kg bag in four scrumptious flavours: cheddar cheese, cottage cheese and potato, potato and onion, and potato, bacon and Parmesan (my personal favourite). I don't do anything fancy with them; just a quick boil and a dunk in sour cream is enough for me. I haven't yet seen a doctor for this ailment, but I have a feeling that if I continue my constant perogy bingeing, I might end up with a serious medical condition. The carbohydrate overload I am subjecting myself to might turn me into a perogy-woman; and with my family's cess, er, gene pool, that could quite easily transform me into a diabetic. 

The problem is, people don't understand the pressure on me to eat perogies. They're cheap, filling and delicious. Then again, so is chocolate ice cream and pizza. I have an addiction to junk food and it may end up killing me one day. My stressful life has never brought about an "incurable skin condition", and if it did, I don't think I'd be so willing to share it with everyone. I find myself wondering if Ms. Kardashian would be eager to share her plight if her problem were chronic yeast infections. Although, I did happen to catch a promo on E! for an upcoming episode of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" where mother Kris Jenner is outed for "peeing on herself". Can't wait for that one.

Reality TV has done such a stellar job of exploiting our foibles that many of them cannot be taken seriously anymore. When I watch shows like "Hoarders" and "Intervention", I see how truly destructive people can be. But these are "normal" people, not ridiculously wealthy detached-from-reality attention whores who are lucky enough to know Ryan Seacrest. Kim Kardashian is not in danger of losing her life or her home because of a little dry skin. Her delusions and a convenient script lead a segment of the population to believe that a case of psoriasis is capable of jeopardizing her life. I don't have enough time to explain what is so wrong with that. In fact, I'm going to take a leap of faith and assume my readers will understand.

Right now, I am content to go on eating perogies, family history be damned. Do you care? I didn't think so. 


Monday, July 25, 2011

T-Minus One Week

 Greetings Friends,

You can fry an egg on the sidewalk here in T.O. and hockey is about the furthest thing from everyone's minds (I'd personally kill for a patch of ice to lie down on, but that's just me). The most important hockey event of the summer will not be taking place here in Canada, but in Nassau County New York next Monday, where residents will be voting "yes" or "no" on a referendum that will either send the Islanders packing, or allow Nassau County to build them a new arena using tax dollars. 

The New York Islanders have been the most maligned hockey team in the NHL for over two decades. The on-ice product has been horrific; the ownership situation so putrid that all anyone can really do these days is laugh.They have been the laughingstock franchise for a generation of players who would rather wait tables than sign a contract to play there. And this team once hoisted the Stanley Cup for four consecutive seasons back in the early 80s. Despite all this they are still beloved by their fans, but patience has worn thin over the years and many die-hards have all but given up. Myself included.

I spent 17 years as a resident of Nassau County. I was a homeowner and a tax payer and Democrat in what has to be the reddest Republican bastion this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. The Republican machine has long had a stranglehold on Nassau County politics, and they've played a big role in the Islanders' fate over the years. Now, it's finally come down to the wire, where residents will get to decide whether they can handle an annual $13 tax increase to build the team a new arena. Thirteen dollars...You can't even feed your family at McDonalds for thirteen dollars anymore. 

Before I was a homeowner and a taxpayer and even a Democrat, I was an Islanders fan. This goes back to childhood. When a sports team gets you when you're young and impressionable, they get you for life. Much as I'd like to flip a switch and say, screw it, I don't give a crap anymore, I can't. I care about what happens to this team and what's going to happen next Monday with that stupid referendum. I call it "stupid" because it could have been avoided if not for all the controlling, narcissistic egos in the middle of this mess, collectively thinking that they're going to show each other who's boss. It's all boiled down to political posturing and a game of "chicken" that will end next Monday with either a future shovel in the ground, or the closing of the book on an era of hockey on Long Island. Yes, the parades and victorious seasons are a distant memory, but there was always something about that team that held my heart, no matter how stupid things got. The frustration and thousands of dollars spent on season tickets eventually got the better of me, but for a good many years, the Coliseum was my home away from home. I watched a lot of hockey there, saw many memorable concerts, and even worked my way towards a graduate degree next-door at Hofstra University while the Islanders were pretending to be a competitive team. 

Even though I no longer live in Nassau County, I have to admit it would kill me to see the team leave. I've joked with friends recently that I hope the team winds up in Quebec City, but I don't mean it. Their place is right where it's always been - on Hempstead Turnpike. I could easily make peace with watching them play in a new building; the Nassau Coliseum has seen better days. But I think watching them become the newest incarnation of the Quebec Nordiques would give me a permanent case of heartburn. It's different than the Atlanta-Calgary Flames/ Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets situation; two hockey teams failed in the city of Atlanta; the Islanders knew tremendous success, but still managed to bungle so much. If you never learn from your mistakes, you deserve what you get. I believe that wholeheartedly, but I still don't want to see the team leave. 

If I was still a resident of Nassau County, I'd vote "yes". Not because it would kill me to see the team leave, but because it would be the only "fuck you" I could muster against the Republican Machine. Their unyielding, unbending attitude (sound familiar?) is going to be their undoing. And when the dust settles, they're going to be the only ones left standing in the middle of a dust bowl that used to be a vibrant, thriving community. I left; so did many other people. And it wasn't because of my frustration over a hockey team. The middle class way of life World War II veterans built for themselves in places like Levittown, East Meadow, Massapequa and other enclaves no longer exists. Many people have been priced out of them by soaring property taxes and even more ridiculous home prices. The sad fact is, there is no such thing as a "middle class" anymore, especially not in Nassau County New York. And, I fear, not anywhere else in the United States. 

The Islanders situation is just a symptom of what's really wrong with life in America right now. And regardless of whether you vote "yes" or "no", there isn't much anyone can do to fix it.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hacking Extraordinaire

Greetings Friends,

I must admit I've been waiting decades for a scandal of the magnitude of the News of the World phone hacking debacle to befall Rupert Murdoch. I've found that man distasteful since long before Fox News ever came onto the scene, and for very specific reasons.

Back in the late 80s, I went to work for a family owned publishing company; one of two U.S. concerns that placed coupon inserts in the Sunday papers. I was young, impressionable and extremely eager to make a living. I spent my days toiling as a secretary/billing clerk in the area of the office I designated as the "pound". It was funny how all the ethnic employees were relegated to the accounting/finance department while all the sales people looked for all the world like they were carved out of WASPY Connecticut cream cheese. You guessed it: blonde hair, blue eyes and preppier than the models in a J Crew catalog. 

About a year or so into my tenure at this company, we were told that the owners were selling to Rupert Murdoch. He was buying us, along with the freestanding insert, or FSI (that was what the coupons were known as back then) division of the other American company. I later learned that the third player in the world of FSIs was an Australian competitor of Murdoch's, so it was only natural that he'd want to snap up two-thirds of the coupon realm in order to squash this guy. I even met Murdoch, one night after hours in our hip little Chelsea office (back when Chelsea was rather downtrodden); I shook his hand briefly and was on my way. 

After Murdoch's takeover, we were merged with the FSI division of the other company and moved uptown to much swankier digs in Rockefeller Center, 3 blocks north of where the Fox News headquarters is today. It was a glorious time, and we were all very excited at the opportunities were were presented with as part of Murdoch's News America empire - consisting back then of Twentieth Century Fox studios, The New York Post, the fledgling Fox Network and a whack of glossy magazines that included New York, Mirabella and about a dozen or so others. People I'd worked with began jumping ship to more glamorous jobs at these magazines, and when we would go out for beers at some of the area bars after work, it was fascinating to hear what days were like working at hip, fast-paced publications. And then the walls fell...

About 6 or 8 months after we were ensconced in our hoity toity new digs, we got word that Murdoch's SkyTV venture in the U.K. (yes, he was the original majority owner) was about to go belly-up. The Brits weren't too keen on satellite television back in those days, and the venture was hemorrhaging money in a big way. Before we knew what hit us, there were massive layoffs, and Murdoch jettisoned all his New York-based publications, save for the Post. Many people I knew were out of jobs and devastated, wishing that they never left the relative safety of the FSI division. 

Before I finally left in 1992, things got pretty ugly. The accounting "mutts" were treated even more crappy than before; we didn't get raises or much of anything other than work. It became a toxic environment and a very obvious way-station for the Ivy League educated to springboard into the world of media and advertising. No one was willing to teach a "mutt" anything. The writing was on the wall.

After my departure from the News America FSI division, I kept following Murdoch with an insatiable need to watch him fail. Of course, Fox News and its "fair and balanced" bullshit has been under my skin since day one. After Princess Diana died in 1997, I hoped against hope that the British and European tabloid press would wise up and become somewhat respectable. Total respectability was too much to ask, but reigning in the gutter sniping would have been a jolly good idea at the time. Oh well...

When news of the phone-hacking scandal broke, I was simultaneously mortified, disgusted and amused. Mortified for the individuals who had their privacy violated; disgusted by the emerging details of political and legal corruption; amused by the fact that Rupert Murdoch and his tabloid empire were finally getting the comeuppance they deserve. By the way, Back in 1976 when Murdoch purchased the New York Post, he had to become an American citizen. Back then, foreign ownership of U.S. media outlets was not allowed. The abandoning of that edict seems to have created quite the shit storm, hasn't it? 

As I watch this story unfold, I keep thinking about my short tenure as a News America employee and how smarmy it now feels to have worked there. I am even contemplating removing the information from my resume, thinking that it will somehow reflect negatively on me, given the current brouhaha in the U.K. I haven't yet decided what to do. I'm waiting to see what will happen to the man who gave voices to Bill O' Reilly, Glenn Beck, Chris Wallace and the rest of the orangutans over at Fox News. In my opinion, he deserves to live out his days bereft of his empire, stripped of the privacy he denied many in order sell newspapers. It's barely fitting, but it's all I can think of right now. 

Those who think they can rule the world by controlling others are one of the lowest forms of humanity. They deserve to be in the gutter, with all those shameful, disgusting tabloid newspapers.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Greetings Friends,

It's Canada Day today here in the Great White North and Monday is Independence Day in the U.S. I hope you've all got some serious celebrating planned as we enjoy yet another year of freedom. I'm not being facetious - I mean that sincerely.

Go out and do whatever it is you love to do to celebrate your status as an American or a Canadian. If you're both, like me, you get to double-dip. Beer, hot dogs, apple pie, beaver tails and poutine abound. By Sunday night I'll probably be sorrier than a 16 year-old at his first kegger. 

Enjoy your celebrations, and please be careful with the fireworks. Remember to light a sparkler for Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. OK, so I couldn't resist one tiny bit of snark.

God Save the Queen and God Bless the United States of America.

Have a glorious weekend.