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Monday, October 26, 2009

AuburnPub.com - Kidder's work thought-provoking

A haunting true story of resilience by Tracy Kidder.

Friday, October 23, 2009

100 Mile Fitness Challenge update

I have joined the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge (100milefitness.blogspot.com)and since October 1st have walked 24 miles on the treadmill at the gym. TVs on the treadmills help immensely! I can watch all of Regis & Kelly and the time (and miles!) just fly by.

Only 76 more miles to go :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Last February, I tried to get tickets to Bruce Springsteen's May concert at Giants Stadium and was caught up in the nightmare of TicketMaster's snafu. I got so mad that I called Channel 7 Eyewitness News and was interviewed at my apartment by their 7 on Your Side reporter about the problem. Even after attempts to get somewhere with the New York and New Jersey Attorneys General, I was out of luck.

So I was very happy when Springsteen announced that he would be back at Giants Stadium in October. I promised my sons that I would get tickets, and was lucky enough to score seats just to the right of the stage in the first level up.

Springsteen and the E Street Band were in fine form as usual. They rocked out, even if they were just a step slower than when I saw them just over a year ago in the same venue. They played most of their big hits, including Tenth Avenue Freezeout, a song my older son was waiting for. During one of my favorites, Hungry Heart, Springsteen ran around the stadium like a man thirty years younger, and then body surfed the crowd.

Max Weinberg's son pounded the drums during Born to Run, adding a new energy to the song. Springsteen tried a new idea, playing one entire album beginning to end, and on the night we were there, it was Darkness on The Edge of Town, a band favorite, but not necessarily a fan favorite. I think it took the energy down a bit, and I would have enjoyed Born to Run or Born in the USA, which they did on the other nights.

During the section when Bruce runs through the crowd pulling out signs with song titles on them that people held up, he chose Elvis' Jailhouse Rock, which I loved. Their rendition was faithful and fun.

American Land ends the show, which is fun because the entire band comes out and plays this Irish tinged tune with joy. Springsteen and Little Stevie dedicated encore Rosalita to the missing Mrs. Springsteen, Patti Scialfa.

There's always a song that you wish he would have done, and for me that was Glory Days. It's such a Jersey song, I'm surprised he didn't do it. But no one gives you more for your money than Bruce and The E Street Band- three hours of non-stop music that leaves the audience drenched and happily exhausted.


Carrie Fisher turned her funny book Wishful Drinking into a stage production and it's now on Broadway at Studio 54.

I enjoyed her book and her first (autobiographical) novel, Postcards from the Edge, which was turned into a brilliant movie starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine, so I looked forward to seeing the show.

Fisher engages the audience right away, tossing gobs of glitter on the front row as she wanders among them. She involves a few of them in her show, and it definitely enhanced the experience.

The show is about Fisher's life- her family, her iconic role in Star Wars, her marriages (first to music icon Paul Simon and then to a closeted gay man with whom she has a lovely daughter), her addiction to pills and eventual diagnosis of bipolar illness.

She starts out right away talking about her gay male friend who died in her bed right next to her. She explains the circumstances and finds some humor in what was a horrible experience for her.

The funniest part of the show occurs when a board of photos descends and she uses it to show how she explained to her daughter, who wanted to date Elizabeth Taylor's grandson but feared that they were related, how the family tree worked.

She explained that Debbie Reynolds (her mom), Eddie Fisher (her dad) and Liz were the Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie of their day. She shows how Debbie had terrible taste in men, which Carrie seemed to inherit, and how Eddie's wives got progressively younger as he aged. She involved Greta, an audience member, in this howlingly funny explanation. She calls it Hollywood Inbreeding 101.

Her impression of her mother is so delightful, and it is sweet that they live right next door to each other in California. Carrie has clearly inherited her mother's sense of humor and survival.

Also enjoyable were the stories she told of working with George Lucas in

Star Wars. She pokes fun at her infamous hairstyle that highlighted her pudgy cheeks, the merchandising juggernaut and how George Lucas owns her likeness and so she appeared as dolls, shampoo bottles, soap, and a Pez dispenser. A life-sized concrete likeness of her (with enhanced breasts) that is sold as a sex toy on Ebay comes down from the ceiling to emphasize her discussion.

Fisher uses several photos as backdrops, including a photo of her in Princess Leia regalia that is in a textbook on mental health, illustrating the Bipolar Disorder chapter. At the end of the show, tabloid headlines about her and her family fly across the screen behind her as Fisher sings "Happy Days Are Here Again" in a lovely, strong voice. She sings as well as she writes, and that's saying something.

The show is very funny, and touching as well. Fisher lays bare her life- her successes, her failures, her frailties- for all to laugh at and empathize with. That she made it through and is able to laugh at it and make us laugh at it, is a gift. If you want a good laugh, go see Wishful Drinking before it closes in December.

I waited outside the stage door to get my copy of her book signed, but was disappointed when Fisher's people told us that she would sign only the stage program or ticket. She came out right away after the matinee, but seemed much more reticent towards the handful of people waiting for her than she was onstage. I guess I'll chalk it up to the fact that she just spent two hours talking onstage and had to come back in a few hours and do it all over again.

100 Mile Fitness Challenge

I just saw this on stephanieswrittenword.com and thought it would be fun to join. Trish is hosting this challenge to walk 100 miles from October 1- December 31. Since I recently joined a gym, this fits perfectly.

I usually do 4 miles a day on the treadmill while watching Regis & Kelly or West Wing on TV- it really makes the time fly by. I've done 20 miles since October 1st, so I'm feeling good about completing this challenge.

If you want to join us, go to http://100milefitness.blogspot.com.

Kathy Griffin- comedian, actress, now best-selling author

People either really like Kathy Griffin, or they really don't. I'm in the really-like-her camp. (Although I will admit she does cross the line at times with her comedy.) I started watching her "Life on the D-List" show on Bravo TV from day one, and was impressed with her work ethic. No one works harder than Kathy to get her name out there.

A stand-up comic who performs all across the country, she is best known for her costarring role in Brooke Shields 90s sitcom "Suddenly Susan", but my sons knew her from her hilarious guest turns as a standup comedian who causes trouble when she puts Jerry Seinfeld in her act on "Seinfeld".

Kathy has won two Emmys for her Bravo TV show and was nominated for a Grammy for her comedy CD, "For Your Consideration". Next she tackles the publishing world with Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin, which debuted at number #1 on the NY Times Non-fiction bestseller list.

I saw Kathy at a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Tribeca on the day of the book's release. I had to get there at 9am to get a wristband to get back in for the 7pm signing. I returned to the store at 5pm and there were already well over 50 people in line with wristbands, and easily another 50 in a stand-by line. Over 300 people showed by 7pm.

The only other person I had to get a wristband for ten hours early was Liza Minnelli- I'd say Kathy is in A-list company now! She arrived on time to hoots and howls from the audience. She looked fabulous in a jeweled-toned dress, and regaled the audience with stories about doing "The Today Show" with Kathie Lee Gifford that morning.

There wasn't time for a reading or questions because there were so many people there and Kathy wanted to sign everyone's books, which disappointed me. I would have loved to hear her read from the book!

The book is very good- not your standard haha book written by a comedian to make a quick buck. Griffin has obviously given this endeavor much thought for a long time. There is a lot of funny in here, lots of celebrity dish, and some heartache as well.

Griffin is brutally honest about things her family probably wishes she weren't. She is the baby of a large Irish-Catholic family from a Chicago suburb. Her parents liked to drink, and Griffin herself is a tee totaler today probably because of that.

She writes candidly about her brother Kenny, a man with a drinking and drug problem. Kathy says that he was a pedophile, preying on young girls, and this revelation has caused hard feelings with her family who wished she hadn't written about it. Her point is that many families have difficulties like this, and maybe her honesty will help others deal with their family issues. That chapter is moving and honest, and at times, hard to read. It doesn't seem done for sensationalism, but simply as a part of her life that greatly affected her.

She has met many celebrities in her career, and she is honest about them as well. Steve Martin comes off a real-life jerk as they shared a talk show couch. A comedy stunt Kathy pulled interviewing celebrities on the red carpet at the Academy Awards angers Steven Spielberg, and Star Jones and Thomas Haden Church probably won't be happy to see their names in the book either.

On the other hand, it's nice to know that George Clooney is the sweetheart we all believe he is. He was kind to Kathy's parents when she did a small guest spot on ER-he even took a photo with them.

But the funniest celebrity jibe is taken at Oprah. Griffin consistently pokes fun at the all-powerful Oprah and it is a hilarious running joke in the book. The title of the book is even an Oprah-esque joke about Oprah's Book Club.

Griffin also writes openly about the difficulty of being a female comic in a man's world, the disappointment of her failed marriage and even shares horrible photos of her botched liposuction surgery.

Kathy Griffin has been around a long time in show business, and she is a testament that hard work and perseverance eventually pays off. The love she has for her parents shines through as well, as she credits them with her sense of humor, although her mother is often mortified by her daughter's actions and has been since Kathy used to go to the neighbor's house as a child to share with them family secrets.

Official Book Club Selection is a well written look at Griffin's life, filled with humor, honesty and the outrageousness we expect from one of the hardest working people in show business.

Rating 4.5 of 5 stars

Fall Festival Recipe Exchange

My Friend Amy has come up with a terrific idea- Fall Festival Recipe Exchange. Most of us cook more when the cooler weather hits, and if you are like me, you get bored cooking the same old things. This is a great way to add to your repertoire!

Check out her website by copying the link here:

One of my favorite fall recipes is perfect for lunch, dinner and makes a great first course for Thanksgiving. It's from Rachael Ray and its in her BIG ORANGE BOOK cookbook, and she cooked it on her 2004 Thanksgiving in 60 Minutes Special on the Food Network.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 fresh bay leaf
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons hot sauce
6 cups chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 crisp apple, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat a medium soup pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter and when the butter melts, add the bay leaf, celery, onions. Season the veggies with salt and pepper and cook for 6 or 7 minutes, until tender.

Add the flour, poultry seasoning, and hot sauce, then cook for a minute. Whisk in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a bubble. Whisk in the pumpkin in large spoonfuls to incorporate it into the broth.

Simmer the soup for 10 minutes to thicken a bit, then add the cream and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.

While the soup cooks, assemble the relish: Combine the apple, onion, lemon juice, cranberries, chili powder, honey and cinnamon in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Adjust the seasonings in the soup and relish. Discard the bay leaf. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and top with a few spoonfuls of relish. (The relish adds a fabulous crunch to the soup!)

Serves 8 first course, 4 main entrees.