Wednesday, May 31, 2006

$1.3 Million

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We bought this, our second home, almost three years ago. It's a lovely home in a wonderful neighborhood.

Although my home is an older one (circa 1987), the neighborhood is still developing, and whenever I walk the dog I check out the progress.

Since the time we'd moved in, there'd been an empty lot behind us. I used to tell our friends and family about it and say, "You want to buy the lot? We can knock down our back fence and have a communal yard." "How much is it?" "Oh, probably $750, 000." "That's with the house, right?" "Nope...just the lot."

Well, the lot never did get sold, nor did several lots on the next street. So the builder did the next best thing: he started building. I guess he follows the motto: "Build it and they will come...and buy."

When we left last summer for our road trip to Florida, they'd fenced off the lot behind us; when we got home 12 days later, they'd already dug a hole. So, summer, fall, winter and spring, we watched this house slowly but surely go up.

An elegant, custom home if ever there was one. The builder now is offering "Open House" so I and my hubby went in last weekend -- separately. That way we'd see the home independent of each other and form our own opinions.

Okay, it's a nice house -- nice rooms, nice high ceilings, some equally nice finishing touches. But please tell me: WHAT THE HECK MAKES IT COME WITH A $1.3 MILLION DOLLAR PRICE TAG? Wouldn't someone want to design their own custom home for that kind of money?

I can maybe scrounge up the .3 part, but 1 million? Nuh-uh.

Perhaps the only nice thing about having this piece of real estate literally in my backyard is that my house just increased in value multifold. (but probably so did our property tax --*sigh*) The price tag on our home was nowhere close to that number, and even though we've made some wonderful upgrades, it's still nowhere close to the price of my neighboring home.

But as in everything, there's a lesson to be learned here too. Buy a smaller property, even an older property, in a nice neighborhood. Make your smaller house a home...and it'll soon become your castle.


Hope you all have a wonderful Shavuot and a good Shabbos.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Color My World

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Firstly, I must reiterate: I write these posts with American spelling, because I know most of my readers are American. I KNOW how to use Canadian spelling, so I do know that I can color in the States and I can colour in Canada. And if you're American, you'd better honor my choices, and if you're Canadian, honouring me is the only choice.

Good, that aside, I can continue...

My family and I went on the annual Toronto Walk for Israel today -- it was a gorgeous day, a beautiful turnout, and a fun time was had by all.

Fun is the result of several events of the day, among them promotional freebies that are given out along the route or at the final checkpoint. My kids were busy doing something at the after-walk festival, so I picked up a few of the goodies for them. One of them was three packs of crayons, one per child. Afterward, I thought to myself, "I stood in line for 25 minutes for THIS??!! I could sell THEM crayons...we have so many at home."

But later this evening, I looked at the box of crayons, and saw something rather interesting (at least to me!) about the box. No, not that the artwork -- 3 panda bears eating bamboo leaves -- sucks (It does! What's the correlation with panda bears and crayons except that they both might originate in China?!). But under the name of the company, and the word CRAYONS, it says MADE FROM SOYBEANS! is this company saying, These crayons are so healthy, you could eat them. Should I feed my kids something like soup, salad and pita pockets for a Sunday lunch, and say, "Here. Have a couple of these colorful crayons to go with that. They're healthy too!"

Many crayons say "environmentally safe, and non-toxic" as this box does, but it also explains these crayons are "pure" as well as "smoother, brighter, no waxy flaking because Fun Pro contains no petroleum wax, only pure soybean oil!" (And what's with the exclamation marks? Will these sell better because of a little punctuation?)

I guess there are some people who are much more "natural thinkers" than I might profess to be; perhaps they look for crayons like these; perhaps they only use bean-based crayons...

Just picture it!

For the Birds -- Part 2

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So you've had time to think about birds, have you not? Okay, back to that line of thought...

When we moved into this house 2 1/2 years ago, we replaced most of the windows. The previous owner had replaced a handful of them, but clearly not the same quality we'd opted for. So clear in fact, that a couple of the screens don't fit well into the frames.

And how did I discover that? Soon after we moved in, I'd left my sons' bedroom window open and later in the day I went into the room and the screen had fallen inward so that fresh air (and dust and pollen and whatever else) had been free to enter the room. I was annoyed about the situation and that was that.

Several days later, one late Saturday night, I was sitting in our family room watching TV. I think hubby was in the bathroom at the time and I was lounging on the sofa in our sunken family room (a few steps to go down into the family room, and the kitchen overlooks the family room, which by the way has a very high, cathedral-type ceiling).

SUDDENLY, I sensed something was in the room with me. I could've sworn something had flown past. I looked up, and there was a small bird flying rings around the ceiling, and swooping, like dive-bombing, toward the furniture. I had visions of Hitchcock's THE BIRDS.

I screamed for my husband; he came running. "WHAT? WHAT?" I pointed to the bird flying in circles and swooping, as I kept ducking my head and body.
He started grabbing a sofa pillow, and like an airport runway engineer who stands with flashlight-type lights in his hands, guiding an aircraft to a particular laneway to direct his plane, he was trying to do the same with the pillow. He was shooing the bird who flew up and down, up and down, back to the second story and then to the main level. It took a few minutes, but somehow hubby managed to shoo that bird out of the house.

All I could say was "Ooh, ooh, ooh" and wonder how much bird poop had been dropped by this very anxious flying machine.

Then hubby and I calmed down a bit and tried to figure out how the damn bird had gotten in the house, and WHEN he'd gotten in the house, how long he might've been in the house, and WHERE he'd been hiding out in the house.

We narrowed down the possibilities to a couple choices:

1. We'd often leave the screen door wide open to let our former dog come back into the house after he'd do his business outside.
2. The bird had somehow flown into my sons' bedroom that day I'd found the screen had fallen inward and onto the floor. Okay, but we couldn't figure out where the bird had been for a few days. We thought he might've hit a wall or piece of furniture upon his landing, been a bit stunned and managed to find a perch somewhere atop an armoire or cabinet where he wouldn't be readily seen.

We're pretty sure he must've come in through the bedroom window. Why he chose to make his appearance known at that particular time on that particular night is byond me. I wish I could say it was The Birds I was watching on TV; alas, no. I think it was Saturday Night Live...and that feathered friend just wanted its 15 minutes of fame...

"LIVE, from the family room in TorontoPearl's house, it's THE BIRD...!"

Saturday, May 27, 2006

"S" Marks the Spot

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My youngest child has some trouble with the "s" sound, so a few sessions of speech therapy were in order this school year. And of course, homework was involved, and I was usually the homework buddy.

We did one of the exercises this evening; a chart with pictures was given and my child was supposed to tell me about the pictures, or repeat the phrases I said about them...phrases that were provided as part of the exercise. But one of the exercises involves the child elaborate on the given phrase.

The phrase was: ThiS iS the biggeSt Star. My son had to repeat that phrase and elaborate on it. He said: "This is the biggest that Hashem can hug it!"


Friday, May 26, 2006

For the Birds

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Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror film, The Birds, screened in 1963, was based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier.

The Birds and other Stories
by Daphne du Maurier was published by Penguin Books in 1963; this collection of short stories enabled her devoted readership to see her, for the first time, in a very different guise as an exponent of the sinister and macabre.

The idea for this famous story came to her one day when she was walking across to Menabilly Barton farm from the house. She saw a farmer busily ploughing a field whilst above him the seagull s were diving and wheeling. She developed the idea about the birds becoming hostile and attacking him.

In her story, the birds become hostile after a harsh winter with little food, first the seagulls, then birds of prey and finally even small birds, all turn against mankind.

The nightmarish idea appealed to Hitchcock who turned it into the celebrated film. Daphne disliked the film and particularly disliked the translation of the setting from Cornwall, with its small fields and stone hedges, to small-town America.

Peck at those seeds of information for a while, and I'll get back to my story soon enough.

Shabbat Shalom.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's Not Cool

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Since when do little kids feel the need to make fashion statements?

Okay, in this house, since the age of about 2 1/2. Both the sons and the daughter.

One would think that daughter would prefer to dress a certain way, to reflect a certain image, regardless if she's eight or eighteen. From a young age, she has displayed a true fashion sense -- granted, I buy her the clothes, but it's she who puts the look together. People are forever commenting to me at shul and in public about how sweet she looks, how in style she looks... Sometimes it's a knit hat she wears at a jaunty angle, other times it's black suede "fashion boots" that she sports that help complete her look. Even in her green plaid school uniform and white blouse or polo shirt, she's got flare.

Okay, so daughter is sort of a given, but sons...?

When not in school uniform, oldest son never wanted to wear jeans, neither as a real youngster, nor does he still. He prefers to just pull on sweatpants, or jogging pants, and a nice polo shirt. The easier the look, the better it is.

What's with child # 3? For the past year, I've noticed that he walks around or stands around a lot with his hands in his pockets. He looks sort of cool, I think to myself. A little like something out of West Side Story. He has a crocheted kippah collection, and suede kippah collection, and even some black velvet ones hiding out with the suede ones, but it's a beautiful Boukkharian one he prefers to wear. And atop that kippah, he wears a black ballcap with Los Angeles imprinted on the front. So imagine kippah sinking low, baseball cap sitting high, hands in pockets and like his older brother, preferably not in jeans, but in sweats or cotton pants.

This child has a particular look, and particular tastes. Just last week, as I prepared some clothes for him to wear to school, I pulled out one shirt. "No," with vigorous head shaking. I pulled out another shirt. "Nope!" And another shirt. "'s not cool." Another shirt? "No, it's not cool either!" I stared at this child. What is cool to a six-year-old? He announced that he was happy I hadn't bought him PJs that had fire engines on them; he told me another time that I had to give away a shirt I'd bought for him that had trucks on it. "I don't like trucks," he declared. Since when are motor vehicles not acceptable on young children's clothing? And dinosaurs? Forget those...they crept out of the clothing decoration picture for him a few years ago. He made them more extinct than they already were!

I think I'm just about ready for child # 3 to wear a school uniform...for the next 8 years! At least I'll have that many years to convince him of the fact that wearing a uniform is C-O-O-L...!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Hey, Vicky, They Say It's Your Birthday...

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I just had to get away from the halachot of my last post; I think I might've opened a can of worms with it...

My six-year-old son went around the house yesterday, whispering, "Tomorrow is Victoria Day." Today he went around the house, whispering, "Today is Victoria Day."

In fact it was. A long weekend to honour the birthday of the late, great Queen Victoria.

I think many people, if not most, don't know why we have a long weekend, why people cross the border to shop in Buffalo, why people drive up north to open their cottages for the season, why people drive to Niagara Falls to spend the weekend there, why services and stores are closed throughout the city, and why we light fireworks.

So, fellow Canadians, and neighboring Americans, here is a brief history lesson.

Even though she's been dead for over a century, Canada has been celebrating Queen Victoria's birthday for years. Wouldn't it be cool if everyone could take a day off work or school on your birthday?

What is Victoria Day? Queen Victoria was born on May 24th but Canadians celebrate Victoria Day on the Monday before May 25. People in England celebrate it in June. Victoria Day became a popular holiday in Ontario (it was Canada West back then) in 1845 and a national holiday in 1901. During the 1900s, it used to be called Empire Day and then it changed to Commonwealth Day. Now Canadians call it Victoria Day.

Who Was Queen Victoria? Victoria, who was queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and empress of India, was born in 1819. She was only 18 when she took over the throne in 1837 after her uncle George IV died. She ruled until her death in 1901, then her son Edward the VII became the King of England.

Queen Victoria - Did U Know?

The earliest postage stamps in the world were the Penny Black of the United Kingdom and had the head of Queen Victoria on them. They were first used on May 6, 1840.

As a kid, Queen Victoria was trained to keep her chin up. To help her out, holly was put under her collar to irritate her if her head was down.

Victoria's mom spoke German at home and even though she ruled England for 64 years, Victoria never learned to speak perfect English.

As soon as she could (after taking over the throne), 18 year-old Victoria moved her bed from her mom's bedroom to her own room.

Queen Victoria was the last teenager to rule England.


Could you imagine a teenager ruler in present-day England, or in any other country for that matter....?

"Um, like I don't feel like getting out of bed today. I think I'll call the masseur into my suite to give me a massage and shiatsu."

"But, Miss, you must meet the visiting dignitaries from Zaire. They are lunching with you and the press secretary in four hours."

"Aw, c'mon, Jeeves. Do I have to? You can show those folks a good time. Say I've got some rare, communicable disease. I'll prepare the Twister (tm) game, you can put on some funky music, I'll order in some Chinese food and you deal with the Zairians/Zairees/whatever....'kay?"


"Jeeves, I know what I'm saying. I'm not going to go to lunch, and that's that! You want anything else from me...? Talk to the hand!"

Friday, May 19, 2006

Heads Up, Everyone

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I received a very interesting email today from my friend A Simple Jew. He wanted to inform me of something he'd learned this morning:

Love stories are forbidden to be read on Shabbos. Even to look at them without uttering words is forbidden....Love stores have an additional prohibition because they entice the yetzer hara.

(Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 90:13)

For those who aren't familiar with "yetzer hara"...that's your evil side, the evil inclinations you might display. We are each bestowed with a yetzer tov and a yetzer hara. May the better yetzer reign!

Wow, to think that I spent years in the romance arena and never knew this. Okay, I didn't work on Shabbos, nor did I have the inclination to spend my precious weekends reading these books that I worked on five days a week,. But just think of those Jewish working girls or housewives who want some escapist literature on the weekends. They reach onto their night tables or shelves for some Nora Roberts, some Jennifer Weiner, or any other top-selling romance fiction or chick-lit author.

Nuh-uh-uh...not so fast....!

Put that book down, lady! Slowly back away from that torrid romance, that dog-eared covered paperback you've been "enjoying" so much in your evenings. Today is Shabbos. You may not touch that book. Don't look at it, don't talk about it, don't even think about it. A pure no-no.

I'm the thought police. And you just never know where your thoughts could lead...

So I entice you to pick up the Jewish Week, pick up Jewish Action, pick up the Jewish Press, pick up the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, pick up Moment magazine. But whatever you do, DON'T pick up that romance novel.



Now go and have yourself a good Shabbos, ya hear?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

An Unbelievable Math Problem...and New Math

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Doctor Bean, Stacey, PsychoToddler...get your calculators ready. This one is fun.

Here is a math trick so unbelievable that it will stump you. Who comes up with these things...?

1. Grab a calculator. (you won't be able to do this one in your head)
2. Key in the first three digits of your phone number (NOT the area code)
3. Multiply by 80
4. Add 1
5. Multiply by 250
6. Add the last 4 digits of your phone number
7. Add the last 4 digits of your phone number again
8. Subtract 250
9. Divide number by 2

Do you recognize the answer?

I guess someone's got your number!


My daughter is in third grade. I was in third grade circa 1969.

Math is not her subject. Math was not my subject then, nor is it still today.

She learns new math. I learned old math.

Her logic questions involve adding, subtracting, based on the way the questions read. The questions talk about purchases: purchasing cell phones, purchasing computers, purchasing CD players, purchasing cameras.

My logic questions involved adding, subtracting, based on the way the questions read. The questions talked about purchases: purchasing apples, purchasing grapes, purchasing bananas, purchasing oranges.

As we were working on math the other night, and I came across her logic questions, it hit me: "Ah, that's why they call it NEW MATH." I could just try to imagine my 8-year-old self looking at these questions in 1969 and asking: "What's a CD player, what's a cell phone...?"

Monday, May 15, 2006

Love Is a Many Splendored Thing

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In my many years as a copy editor, working in the romance genre, I've worked on novels of all kinds:

Chick lit, Fantasy, Westerns, Medievals, Contemporary, Mystery, even Erotica.

I moved into the world of Christian romance novels, a very interesting literary hangout for a MO person like myself.

I've worked on African American books, and Regency romances.

All in all, I've worked on a spectrum of books that cover all kinds of love.

Have I learned anything at all from all this "mushy" stuff?

Yup! Whatever the color, whatever the country, whatever the subject, all those adages hold true:

Love is blind.
You can't hurry love.
Love will find a way.

And in the case of the Christian romance novels: JESUS LOVES YOU!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Freud Lives On -- Part 2**

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Freud Turns 150, Takes Seat on Bay Area Couch
By JOSH RICHMAN May 12, 2006

Taken from the Jewish Forward

SAN FRANCISCO — Sometimes a sesquicentennial is just a sesquicentennial.

And then sometimes it's a three-month-long series of movies, lectures and discussions, as it has been with the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco's "FreudFest," commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of the father of psychoanalysis.

A few-dozen staffers and members gathered in the JCC's three-story, sky-lit atrium May 5 to have some spice cake and sing their best wishes ("Happy birthday, dear Sigmund...") while perusing a selection of gifts for sale: Freudian slippers, "Freudian Sips" coffee mugs, Freudian slips adhesive notes, even Freud finger puppets (don't ask).

For the record, the cake was not shaped like a cigar, although cigars were present.

Yet such levity is but a small part of FreudFest, arguably the most extensive commemoration of Freud organized by any institution in the country so far this year. The program has offered more than 40 events examining the vast impact that Freudian concepts of the unconscious mind and psychosexual development have had on politics, business, literature, popular culture and other fields, not to mention mental health. Almost 67 years after his death, Freud looms large over 20th- and 21st-century thinking, and FreudFest has sought to explore how.

"It's a Freudian approach to Freud, which means we are projecting onto Freud things that we associate with him as a means of jumping off onto other things," said Rabbi Yoel Kahn, director of the JCC's Taube Center for Jewish Life. Kahn is a key organizer of FreudFest. "We had to stop just because of what we could afford, what we could organize. There were 101 other things we could have done."

The Society for Humanistic Judaism also has commemorated the anniversary of Freud's birth with lectures, discussions and ceremonies in congregations across the United States and Canada. The society's biennial conference last month in Cambridge, Mass., featured speeches by Catherine Reef, author of "Sigmund Freud: Pioneer of the Mind," and by noted San Francisco author and editor Al Averbach, who delivered a talk titled "All in the Family: Freud, Moses, Monotheism."

According to the society's executive director, M. Bonnie Cousens, large, enthusiastic crowds attended both speeches.

Much like Albert Einstein, whom the society celebrated in 2005, Freud is "somebody in history who has had not only an impact on us as humanists and as Jews, but on the world," Cousens said. "You see tremendous changes their ideas have made to the way we live our lives today. And if humanistic Judaism had existed in their world, we believe both would have embraced it."

Freud's focus on the individual and rejection of a supreme being makes him a timeless hero to humanists, Cousens said. "In a time when people clearly revolved around religious belief, he was prepared to stand up and say this might not be a valid system.

"But he then went further and developed this whole psychological system that so much of our current philosophy of psychology is built on. It has impacted our lives in so many ways and so many directions."

Freud's secular Judaism might have influenced him more than we — or he — could know, Kahn said. Though he described himself as a "completely godless Jew," Freud self-identified culturally as Jewish; he was, for example, an active member of B'nai B'rith.

Kahn suggested that any resistance Freud may have met in academia because of his heritage would have motivated him to push his work in new, groundbreaking directions — a pattern seen with Jewish inventors and thinkers down through the ages.

In fact, Freud once wrote to a colleague: "In my opinion, we as Jews, if we want to cooperate with other people, must develop a little masochism and be prepared to endure a certain amount of injustice. There is no other way. You may be sure that if I were called Oberhuber my new ideas would, despite all the other factors, have met with far less resistance."

Freud's work, his heritage and his influence were among the many themes that played out during FreudFest at the JCC in San Francisco.

Stanford biology and neurology professor Robert Sapolsky has lectured on the biology of individuality — how to make sense of behavior in the context of brains, genes and hormones. Psychologist and author Wendy Mogel spoke about using Jewish teachings to raise self-reliant, optimistic, grateful children in a nervous world. University of Chicago philosophy professor Jonathan Lear discussed Freud's critique of religion and the challenge of religious commitment in the 21st century.

The JCC screened such movies as "Secrets of a Soul," G.W. Pabst's 1926 expressionist film about a professor whose murderous nightmares and phobia of knives lead him to psychoanalysis, as well as Alfred Hitchcock's 1945 classic, "Spellbound," in which Ingrid Bergman plays a devoted therapist uncovering repressed memories from an amnesiac (Gregory Peck).

Author Vivian Gornick came to discuss the influence of psychoanalysis on her work, especially her acclaimed memoir "Fierce Attachments." San Francisco cantor and international vocal performer Sharon Jan Bernstein hosted "A Session at the Yiddish Piano Bar" featuring rare Yiddish songs on Freudian themes of loss, fantasy, mothers, pleasure, repression and sexual desire.

"We never expected the success we've had with this," said Lenore Naxon, director of the JCC's Eugene & Elinor Friend Center for the Arts, describing events that were planned for 15 but attracted 120.

Wendy Bear, director of the JCC's Richard & Rhoda Goldman Center for Adult Living & Learning, said she's not surprised. "It just resonates with the broader community," Bear said. "We did a lot of outreach, not just to the Jewish community but to a lot of different communities."

Part of that outreach was to community partners who helped organize some of the events, including the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute and Society, the University of California at San Francisco, the California Academy of Sciences, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, Jewish Family & Children's Service, Congregation Emanu-El and the Bureau of Jewish Education's Jewish Community Library.

And the best and biggest may be yet to come. Although Freud's birthday was May 6 — hence the celebration in the JCC's atrium ñ FreudFest actually will culminate with a full day of events Sunday, May 21. Keynoting with a talk on "Why Freud Haunts Us" will be California College of the Arts President Michael Roth, curator of a Freud exhibit several years ago that visited New York, Vienna, Los Angeles, São Paulo, Brazil, and Chicago. It was that earlier exhibit, organized by the Library of Congress, that inspired Kahn and others to start organizing FreudFest more than a year ago.

Other events scheduled for May 21 include Emory University's Sander Gilman speaking on "Freud's Nose Job: How the Jews Invented the Psyche," and Ira Glass — host and producer of National Public Radio's "This American Life" — in conversation with author and humorist David Rakoff on "The Talking Cure," an evening of Freudian themes. Kahn said the Glass/Rakoff event sold out quite some time ago.

"'This American Life' is the most Freudian radio show I can imagine — it's free association in the best possible productive way," Kahn said, noting that he, Glass and Rakoff have something in common: All their mothers were psychologists or psychiatrists.

** Did you know that "Freud" is German for happiness/joy.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Freud Lives On

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This article was taken from Jewish World Review.

Man of our dreams
By Meghan Daum

Sigmund Freud was born 150 years ago Saturday. So, how do you and your mother feel about that?

Did you feel a strange electrical charge between your id, ego and superego Saturday? Interpreting the previous night's dreams with a little more gusto? Is the toaster looking especially fetching right about now, causing you to wonder if your polymorphous perversity extends to kitchen appliances?

Fear not. There's an explanation for all this subliminal activity. Saturday was the 150th birthday of Sigmund Freud, the sex-obsessed, Oedipal-complexed "father of psychoanalysis." Don't bother sending a card now, your unconscious mind already did that for you (and wouldn't you like to know what it wrote?).

Sure, certain feminists have always hated Freud for viewing women as deformed males. And, granted, he may have come up with the whole oral fixation concept as a way of rationalizing his 25-cigar-a-day habit, to which he remained committed even after having his malignant jaw removed ("rationalizing," by the way, is a Freudian concept, as is the line "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" — though perhaps not when you eventually die of cancer).

But there can be no denying that when it comes to the way modern Westerners perceive ourselves, Freud was and is a very big deal.

If not for the contributions of the Shrinkus ex Machina, we would have been deprived of many of the ideas of Kafka and Proust, a great deal of the comedy of Woody Allen and possibly the entire career of Madonna. Freud, after all, is responsible for the modern concept of ego. Without ego, baby boomers would be identifiable only by their passports, and the state of California might not be here at all. Most disturbing, "Like a Virgin" would never have been written.

If you don't believe me, imagine a day without Freud. It would be like a day without immigrants, except with even more hassles because we would have no primal excuse for road rage, no occasion to blame our parents for our failed relationships and no chance to curse the anxieties brought on by our genitals.

We wouldn't even be able to conduct a conversation. Imagine fretting about work or dissecting a relationship without talking about defense mechanisms or repression.

How could we get out of bed in the morning without taking comfort in the fact that hitting the snooze button four times was simply a function of the id, and that those recurring dreams about freight trains have to do with our sexual prowess rather than … freight trains? Moreover, how could we justify gum chewing? Instead of being orally fixated, we'd have to admit we're just rude.

ALL THIS MEANS that a century and a half after his birth, Freud may be in the peculiar position of being both absurdly popular and not altogether recognizable. His legacy has become a manifestation of the very psychodynamics he defined: We often bandy his terms about without even realizing where they come from.

How else to explain the ubiquity of the term "anal," which is imparted by sneering teenagers as well as fastidious owners of muscle cars, many of whom wouldn't know Freud from Dr. Phil? How else to understand our obsession with Freudian slips, the pointing out of which has become tantamount to excusing ourselves after we sneeze?

In this sense, Freud is everywhere. He's in Hollywood story meetings where executives and writers gnash their teeth over "what drives the character." He's in courtrooms as attorneys search for criminal motives. He is, above all, in romantic relationships, where he looms over candlelit tables like a ghoulish chaperon.

No first date is complete without a subtle inquiry into the co-dater's relationship with the opposite-sex parent. No potential partner can be evaluated without considering the magnitude of his Oedipal complex (order of mother on speed dial), her penis envy (size of paycheck) and, most important, both parties' capacities for denial (willingness to overlook poor table manners, bad grammar or affinity for Celine Dion — at least temporarily).

All this might sound like little more than the mundane detritus of contemporary life; the lazy, nonspecific vernacular that allows us to believe we're being self-reflective when we're actually just speaking in cliches. But it's also Freud's legacy in action, the side of the couch to which most of us now tend to gravitate.

Traditional Freudian analysis (the kind that involves daily orations about childhood trauma with little input from the doctor, except a hefty bill), has been eclipsed by more user-friendly counsel (the kind where your therapist reminds you about the Barney's Warehouse sale).

We'd do well to raise a glass — or a cigar — to Dr. Freud. Without him, we wouldn't be in denial, we'd be in denial of our denial.

And that would require some serious therapy.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Candle Consultants Wanted...or UP IN SMOKE!**

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Do you burn scented candles? Do you know 5 people who burn scented candles?

New natural wax/gourmet Candle Company is looking for distributors in your area. Our cleaner burning gourmet candles are a hit in the US and Canada.

We will teach you our “smell and sell” technique.

Training and support provided. Get started for less than $50.

Compensation: Earn up to 50% profit on retail sales

This was an ad on Can you imagine applying for such a sales job? C'mon, how many people would get to learn the secret of the "smell and sell" technique? That alone is a drawing card.

Candles are popular items once again. I first got a scented candle for a birthday present when I was about 12. It was a cherry scented red candle that had a very cute holder that it sat in. Once in a while I'd want to light it, but if so, I couldn't enjoy its fragrance in my bedroom, but had to move the candle into the kitchen, where it was reasonably safer.

And these days, there's even a Candle of the Month Club. Hey, that's some special membership to have...not everyone has the privilege of saying, "I'm a member of the Candle of the Month Club in good standing."

Candle of the Month Club

Join the Candle-of-the-Month Club and each month you'll receive a new and unique selection of beautiful, richly scented candles guaranteed to impress even the most selective candle lover. We offer 3, 6, and 12-month clubs; a Candle of the Season Club with exquisite candles each Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter; and ongoing monthly clubs.
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Give the gift that keeps on giving!
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I especially like that line: Give the gift that keeps on giving.

So people, why not take your pick: be a candle consultant, in turn becoming a candle connoisseur, or if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and become a member of that in-group of candle-burning, candle-sniffing folks.

Mmmm, honey-berry, anyone? How about cinnamon spice? Can I hear it for lovely lavender...?

** Some more subtitles I thought of:

---You Light Up My Life

---Candle in the Wind

---C'mon, Baby, Light My Fire

--- An Old Flame Can't Hold a Candle to You (yes, this is really a country-western song title...a BAD song title)

---Burn that Candle (a Bill Haley composition)

And on top of those song titles, I found a winning one in the Eurovision Song Contest by Israel's Sarit Hadad. Here are the lyrics -- Hebrew and English -- to "Light a Candle":

Lif'amim nidme she'ein tikva

Vehakol nir'e kol kach afel velo yadu'a

Haprachim od lo parchu bagan ubasade

Uba'erev rak maka haru'ach

Az Bo'u venadlik beyachad ner, ner

Light a candle

Light a candle with me

A thousand candles in the dark

Will open our hearts

Light a candle

Light a candle with me

A thousand candles in the dark

Will open our hearts

Lif'amim nir'e sheHamachar

Lo yavi kol nechama labechi velatza'ar

Vehalaila Ha'aroch nimshach bli havtacha

Veha'afela chada kata'ar Az Bo'u venadlik beyachad ner, ner

Light a candle

Light a candle with me

A thousand candles in the dark

Will open our hearts

Light a candle

Light a candle with me

A thousand candles in the dark

Will open our hearts

Light all the candles

Let's light the candles everywhere

Just look at me and take my hand

The heat of love will grow again

Light a candle

Light a candle with me

A thousand candles in the dark

Will open our hearts

Light a candle

Light a candle with me

A thousand candles in the dark

Will open our hearts

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Pass My Dog a Tissue

Blogroll Me!

There's a saying: "You sneeze on the truth." I sneezed a few times as I was typing the title of this post. Does that mean anything?

I think Max has allergies. Sure he's always scratching near his ear, or worse, in his netherworld. But I don't mean that he has dermatitis (but yes, dogs do suffer from it), but I think he has a type of hay fever, some allergy to pollen or ragweed or whatever else shoots up from the earth when spring announces its arrival.

I tend to sneeze in sequences of 5; my sneezes are rather different, 'cause most people don't recognize them as sneezes -- "Was that a cough or a sneeze?" "A sneeze." "Okay, then bless you." (Listen, people, I need all the blessings I can get; you can bless me for a cough or a sneeze, makes no difference!)

Max sneezes in sequences of 5 too. But he's got those cute, doggie sneezes, and believe it or not, when I hear them, I say, "Bless you." Just habit, I guess.

We just came in from a brief walk and playtime in the yard, and whaddaya know, Max started to sneeze. He comes in from his nighttime walkabout, and whaddaya know, he sneezes!

What exactly, is this pup allergic to? The bark on trees, perhaps dogwood trees or Douglas furs (had to modify spelling a bit to keep with the theme, you understand!). We don't live near a marsh, so it can't be cattails that's got his nose itchin' and twitchin'. And there are no paw paw flowering trees around here. Or nuttail oak trees.

I can imagine giving my dog Flonase (TM) to cleanse his nasal passages, and having to feed him antihistamines to ward off the effects of springtime and Mother Nature.

Oh, and I musn't forget having to tote around Canine Cleanex wherever we go. Nu, so you think I can market doggie tissues under that brand name? C'mon, people, sneeze on the truth...and I'll bless you!