Monday, February 27, 2012


Yes, last night were the Academy Awards, and I'm usually home in front of the TV, looking and listening to everything on the screen on the very special night. From the gowns and tuxedos to the speeches to the facial and body expressions as the camera pans and singles out audience members, I am captivated.

Alas, last night I had to be downtown for my daughter -- who was attending a concert with a friend -- so my husband and I chose to see a movie while she enjoyed her music. We chose HUGO, the Martin Scorsese film that had already racked up a number of honors in other award shows.

Going into the film, all I knew was that it was award worthy. I did not know the story. I did not know who the actors would be. I knew nothing about the film, in other words.

And you know what? Sometimes that's a very good thing. No expectations hover around you.

We went in knowing nothing, but we came out very enlightened and moved by this delightful, well-crafted film.

Bravo, Mr. Scorsese, on a job well done!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Pain of Writing Poetry

I don't like to "work" at being creative. I don't want to have to chase down creativity, or wave frantically to get its one would do in trying to flag down a bull.

I like my creativity to slowly edge into my thoughts, motion to me and let me know that it's there, waiting in the side wings for my pen to lift to paper or my fingers to lift to the keyboard.

I want my creativity to be part of me. Accessible when I want it to be. Nearby for safekeeping.

Part of the natural order of things.

But sometimes poetry doesn't work that way. It can have a mind of its own, playing stubborn, and not wanting me to access it so readily.

Today was one of those days. I wanted to write a poem, but it didn't come to me in a flash. So it became like a homework assignment: I had the topic, I had to do research, and I had to flesh out my ideas. It took time; it took effort.

Ideas and words were set down on screen, then the backspace and delete keys were hit time and time again. Type. Enter. Type. Enter. Type. Delete. Delete. Delete. Change font. Create a mood. Create a visual display of wordthoughts.

And in the end the poem was strong. Had meaning. Said what it should.

I worked on it, just as it worked on me.


(I can't share the poem with you just yet, as I wrote it to submit to a literary journal for April, hoping it'll be accepted and published. If that's the case, I should be able to share it with you thereafter.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Funny Valentine: Wendy Liebman

Valentine's Day is reserved for love and romance; it's a time to recognize that being with the one you love is a gift.  As Stephen Stills penned, "Love the one you're with..."

Chocolate, champagne and wine, strawberries and whipped cream, candlelight dinners, sentimental or funny cards, Cupid, and hearts are associated with this special day. Rogers and Hart embodied the thought of love in their wonderful and timeless song, "My Funny Valentine".

To celebrate this special day, I would like to share my funny valentine with you --  no, not my husband, not my kids, not even my beloved pooch, Max. I'd like to introduce you to comedienne Wendy Liebman, literally a funny valentine.

Wendy is one of those gals whose served-straight-up humor lights up a room; although self-deprecating, her humor targets those everyday things that we might gloss over and not really appreciate...until she draws our attention to them.

"I've gone on so many blind dates I should have gotten a free dog."

"I was a secretary before doing stand up, and we did not have computers! Can you imagine your job without ... solitaire?”

"My love life is like a fairy tale -- Grimm."

" I got my first bikini. It's a 3-piece: A top, a bottom and a blindfold for you."

"I don't come from money, I come from coupons. Always got hand-me-downs and second-hand smoke."

Wendy Liebman grew up in Roslyn, NY, the younger of two girls. Post high-school she went to I.O.U.[Wendy's name for it], better known as Wellesley College, where she graduated with a degree in psychology.

In 1984, she began performing stand-up comedy in the Boston area. She was hooked, and she was popular. So popular in fact, that eventually -- in 1996 to be exact -- Wendy was awarded the American Comedy Award for Female Stand-up Comedian of the Year. Wow, what a coup!

Wendy has appeared on countless TV talk shows, doing her thing and keeping her fans wanting more.
She most definitely appreciates her fans -- she is connected to them with appearances on stages, large and small; on podcasts; with guest appearances on TV and radio shows; on Twitter; on Facebook; and on her blog Laughing My Ass Off With Wendy.

I was familiar with Wendy's humor, but I've been able to get to know her a bit better via her Facebook page, which I discovered in the fall of 2010. Her wacky worldviews keep showing up in her status updates, and then all hell breaks loose -- her readers and friends try to top her status with comments and reflections of their own. It's like open mic night, and the jokes just keep coming. Wendy entertains us this way, and according to her comment  -- "I LOVE THIS THREAD!" -- which often appears,  I believe we're entertaining Wendy as well.

Her blog is another facet to her personality; with it, Wendy exposes us to health of body, health of mind and ways to achieve these -- whether by talking about herself, or introducing us to other people whose interesting lives we might strive to emulate.

Wendy is clearly well-liked by all who know her; she is sympathetic, she is empathetic, she is honest, she is entertaining, she is a cheerleader for people and for causes...the type of person one would be honored to call a "friend."

I contacted Wendy and asked if she'd be willing to be "my funny valentine" on February 14th, to be interviewed and featured on my blog. She happily agreed to answer my "no-rhyme-no-reason" questions...

PEARL: Wendy, Valentine’s Day is a day set aside for love and romance. Do you and your husband, Jeffrey, mark it as a special day, and if so, how might you celebrate it? -- no need for X-rated descriptions.  Or, do you feel that, like the song lyrics to “My Funny Valentine” “...Each day is Valentine’s Day...”?
WENDY: I usually work on Valentine's Day, out of town, away from Jeffrey. So we celebrate whenever I'm home! In the past he has sent me roses which were brought up to me on stage...awwwww...romantic! (BUT WHERE'S MY F*CKING CHOCOLATE?!)
I once dated a really cheap guy.  This Valentine's Day he gave me a Whitman Sample.
BUT THIS YEAR I WILL BE HOME ON FEBRUARY 14th! So, we'll probably have a candlelight dinner. Cause I look better in the dark. Also because he won't be able to see what he's eating.
By the way, you know how couples have a song? My parents' song is My Funny Valentine. So I grew up hearing and singing that song. (Jeffrey and I have 3 songs: Help, Love the One You're With, and 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.)

 PEARL : I discovered and listened to a podcast interview with you that was featured on The Mental Illness Happy Hour. As the featured guest on that episode, you talked about anorexia, anxiety, therapists, among other things. It was quite an in-depth interview, and I sat there with my jaw hanging open at times. But I also thought, “Good for Wendy. She tells it like it is, and maybe in doing so, she can help some other people at the same time.” I now wonder if you had any afterthoughts of having revealed too much of your personal life and some of the emotional and mental hurdles that you’ve had to overcome. Or is such an interview therapeutic in its own way?
WENDY: The interview was in Paul Gilmartin's house, and I was sort of unaware of the microphone. I guess I was candid! The thing I regret talking about only because it's so painful, and here I'm highlighting it again, is that I wish I were a better stepmom.

PEARL:  Describe a typical day in the life of Wendy Liebman -- when you’re not on the road…or sleeping.
WENDY:  Oy. Really? Never typical. I eat and sleep like a krazy person.
Okay. I wake up at 6:50 am (which is coincidentally the time I was born) to wake my 16 year old for school. Then I go back to sleep for a bunch of hours. Errands, chores, social media, Starbucks, walk the dogs a couple of times, the dentist. Talk to my manager, a family member, and my bff on the phone. Take a nap. Eat. Repeat. Dinner with family, watch the news and Jeopardy, then maybe a sitcom (Big Bang Theory) or a reality show (American Idol). Fold laundry. Stay up until 2 or 3 watching Chopped or The Nanny and playing Words with Friends.
 [A Note from Pearl: Wendy reconsidered a typical day in her life and contacted me with this amendment.]
I thought of a funnier typical day:   I wake up, read my facebook and twitter timelines, and then it's dinner.

       PEARL: You are the sidekick for a new radio show which airs on KCSN 88.5 on Saturday nights in Los Angeles: Unbound with Terri Nunn. Can you give me the backstory of how that gig came to be, and tell me a bit about the show and your new vocation as an on-air personality.
WENDY: This is so amazing, and thank you for promoting it, Pearl!
Jeffrey met Terri's brother, Elliot at a musical theater showcase. Jeffrey couldn't find a seat, and Elliot said, "Sit here!" They talked before the showcase started and Jeffrey told Elliot that his father and uncle had written the music for Mary Poppins. Elliot pulled out his phone and showed Jeffrey a picture of a little girl, surrounded by Mary Poppins paraphernalia. He said, "That's my sister! When she was little." Well his sister is Terri Nunn :) Jeffrey had actually met her once briefly and had been a huge fan of hers and her band Berlin. [A note from Pearl:  Nunn's greatest success with Berlin was the top-selling single "Take My Breath Away", the love theme from the film  Top Gun which reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.] It was just one of those WEIRD COINCIDENCES that happen to me ALL THE TIME!
So we all became friends. And when Terri had a podcast with Gaye Ann Bruno, she asked me to be a guest. Then a guest host. And we had a great rapport. She thinks I'm a nut. Anyway, when she got the call from Sky Daniels at KCSN, she said she wanted to have a sidekick and ran me by him and he was so cool and said yes!  
It has been a thrill so far!

      PEARL: You will be turning 51 later this month [A Note from Pearl: Don't forget to wish Wendy a happy birthday on February 27th]. Your 50th birthday was a big production in every sense of the word…and the best present of all, I guess, was the release of your SHOWTIME one-hour special, “Taller on TV.” How in the world can you ever hope to top that fabulous 50th birthday celebration that you shared with long-time friends and family members…and that has now also had a vast viewing audience?
WENDY: I will never top that!
And Jeffrey gave me the sweetest gift in the world: He produced and sold the show!
I guess it's all downhill from here. (Isn't that easier? Though I'm scared of heights. So I better take it slowly and I better not look down.)
When I'm 51 I'll sell Taller on TV as a DVD. We're looking into doing it similarly to how Louis CK just sold his -- over the internet for five dollars.
Cheap and easy.

       PEARL: I’ve noticed through the years that comedian Richard Lewis likes to wear black a lot. I’ve noticed in your TV appearances that you also like to wear black much of the time. If I were to come by and inspect the contents of your walk-in closet, would I see any colorful outfits? What is your favorite color?
  WENDY: It has taken me 27 years to figure out what to wear on stage, Pearl, and now I have it and it's like my uniform. I wear it almost every show. Black corduroy leggings by HUE, flat boot-shoes by Brighton, a long white soft cotton T-shirt, and a blue or black velvety pea-coat, both from Target.
In my closet you'll find monochromatic clothing (does that mean solid colors, cause that's what you'll find), mostly black, white, and lavender.
I never know what to wear. I didn't even know if I should wear white to my wedding, because I've always been such a sl...oppy eater.

      PEARL:  You’re definitely one of those “Women Who Write”: comedy material, blog posts, FB posts, the answers to interview questions…and you wrote and published a wonderful essay in the anthology Make Mine a Double: Why Women Like Us Like to Drink (Or Not). Is there more public writing on your personal agenda, Wendy?

WENDY: Thanks Pearl!

I wrote an article for LA Magazine about my breasts. (

I wrote a book called SWEAR ON LILY that I published at Office Depot. (But seriously) I plan on selling it myself on Kindle or however else. It's a collection of my philosophies and humor. Basically, I started writing it years before facebook and twitter and I was actually updating my status without knowing it, writing tidbits every day.

Yes, and you mentioned my blog,
And as always, I write a lot of checks.   They're not very good. Mostly fiction.

 PEARL: You're booked to go onstage at a comedy club in a few hours. How are you preparing for the gig?
WENDY: Shower, blow hair, straighten hair, curl hair, put product in hair, make up, dress, get to club, straighten green room, drink a Coke (not diet), watch the comics on stage before me.

PEARL: The Internet and computer are down; your phone isn't working. Are you suffering from FB/Twitter withdrawal symptoms? : )
WENDY: Yes! This is basically what it's like when I'm on a plane. I might actually read, play the piano, do a crossword puzzle, watch TV, walk the dogs, or SLEEP!

PEARL: Fill in the blanks, Wendy. 

What I like best about being a comedian is when people know I'm a comedian they seem lighter around me. But if I couldn't be a comedian, I think I would like to be a notary public (or in advertising, or a kindergarten teacher).


I've LOVED answering your questions. Happy Valentine's Day to you and your readers!

Wendy, thank you so much for making the effort and taking the time to answer my questions. You are a very funny, yet deep individual who, in looking at yourself and the world around you, and sharing yourself and your observations in different ways, is able to make us laugh.

In the words of the Sherman Brothers [Wendy's father-in-law and uncle-in-law], "...We love to laugh/ Loud and long and clear/ We love to laugh / So ev'rybody can hear / The more you laugh / The more you fill with glee / And the more the glee / The more we're a merrier we!"
Happy Valentine’s Day, Wendy -- and Jeffrey.

And to my readers, and those friends and fans of Wendy Liebman who've linked to this blog post, I hope you've enjoyed my Valentine's Day gift to you!