Archive for April, 2012


Every once in a while, we all need a feel good movie that is suitable for EVERYONE!  Chimpanzee is that movie.   

Narrated by Tim Allen at his most charming, this is the story of baby Oscar, who is just getting the hang of smashing nuts with rocks when Mom meets an untimely demise (tastefully handled for the little ones) due either to a night stalking leopard who is lurking just as a rival band of Chimpanzees aggressively attack the group in hopes of moving in on their territory and primary food source.  For orphaned Oscar, things are touch and go as his plight is ignored by other members of the group until the Alpha Male, Fred, becomes Oscar’s very unlikely protector. 

Chimpanzee is a Disney Documentary,  breathtakingly filmed in Gombe, East Africa, by chief cinematographer Bill Wallauer, who has worked with Jane Goodall for over twenty years.  His up close work with these curious primates is nothing short of amazing.  He has captured the emotional lives of these majestic creatures in stunning intimacy.  The expressions in their eyes, will melt your heart.  I guarantee it.  

The film is directed by Alistair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, the folks who brought you African Cats, Planet Earth and Frozen Planet. 

Take the grandkids, take your sweetie, take your mother; this one makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy.

Life’s about what happens, and what you do about it.

Celebrity Apprentice 2012

I’ve been watching Celebrity Apprentice  off and on for years.  Probably a throwback to my life as a human resource consultant.  There was always some client issue  involving unhappy employees who couldn’t grasp that they were generally responsible, period.  They couldn’t get along with others; they had totally unrealistic expectations, life wasn’t fair, yada, yada, yada.  Every so often there was some curious insight to be gleaned from observing those extremes in human behavior.  It was one aspect of my work that was intriguing – when it wasn’t personal.

I do get it.  Really.  Like when I put the live lobsters in  cold water  and put the pot on the burner – Trump turns up the heat and  watches.   Will the contestants stretch and grow?  Will they step up to the plate?  Are they clever and creative enough to win the task — wonderful challenges all in the name of BIG BUCKS charity.   Does the money for charity justify the means:  another pack of wolves in sheep’s clothing, stalking the next victim – all in the name of big ratings?

In this season particularly, the girls have been mired in devious, petty squabbling.   Isn’t that why we’re watching?  Who’s going in for the kill?  Plenty of contestants from previous seasons  – Omarosa, NeNe, LaToya, Gary – are still household names because they couldn’t get through a task without a meltdown.

I don’t totally agree with Trump’s style, but by the end of the season, the sharp and  capable have survived.  The contestants have to analyze what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong with each task.  That’s constructive, but then it deteriorates into demands for “who should be blamed and who should be fired.”   That’s one way to cull the weak players from the field, but  can’t we use wit, creativity, ingenuity, or plain old-fashioned honesty?  Does it have to be laced with venom.  Yes, the strongest survive but this process is more blood sport, and like watching a train wreck, we can’t pull our eyes away.

Bullying.   I never took Donald for an outright bully.  My husband was at Wharton with him and he’s a very tough guy, but he’s smart enough that he doesn’t have to resort to that.    This year Lisa Lampanelli is the BULLY  –  aggressive, loud, crass and mean.  Like a jackal, she has systematically zeroed-in on the weaker contestants, bullying them often to tears with her malicious words.  Self-aggrandizement, paranoia, verbal abuse, – nothing productive about those behaviors.  Her mood swings keep her team members on an emotional roller coaster week after week.   Everyone’s energy goes into giving her a wide berth, rather than pulling together and focusing on the task.  The girl’s losing track record is the result.   Her complaints about whomever she is fixated on at the moment  are rarely valid, always personal – meant to hurt and destroy,  not to find and utilize everyone’s best qualities.   Lisa apparently enjoys attacking for the sake of attacking.  There’s no leadership here.   This should not be what a civilized society is about, and it certainly shouldn’t be what the show is about.   Aren’t we better than that?

Abusive words are more devistating than fists.     There should be no place for abusive people in life and certainly not at work — which is what the show is supposed to emulate.   There are laws that prohibit such behavior in the workplace and the size of The Trump Organization would definitely preclude it from fostering a hostile work environment.  Can’t imagine anything more salacious than reading that headline! 

Workplace/sexual harassment or hostile environment exists when someone is made to feel uncomfortable.   Lisa works at making people uncomfortable.  That might work in her comedy act, but in the show’s environment  I’m surprised and disappointed that no one has called her on it.   If there is any lesson to be learned here, it’s that pit bulls like Lisa need to be stopped,  euthanized,  or at the very least, fired.  Bullying does not foster teamwork.  Too bad  The Trump Organization is playing to the worst in us instead of raising the bar and teaching us something about how we should all behave. 

Dayana Mendoza, Lisa’s latest target, has shown us she’s bright, capable, and a lot tougher than we thought.  But her communication style, not unlike Michael Andretti, Paul Teutul, Jr. and Lou Ferrigno, appears to be introverted.  All four of them have found success functioning outside their comfort zones, in the extraverted world.  Paul Senior,  allowed himself to be fired…maybe because he was sick of the histronics.  As bright and as talented as Michael is, he was thrown under the bus because  he’s not extraverted.   Instead of channeling Lou’s ability to overcome incredible difficulties and using that strength, Lisa’s bullying was shameful.  Personally I was hoping The Incredible Hulk would make an appearance, but Lou rose above it…and got fired.    Believe me, there is an equally important role for introverts in the world.  I know –   i r one.  🙂

I’m rooting for Dayana.  Wouldn’t it be great to see the good guys win once in a while?   But meanwhile, maybe she and Lou should find a good attorney and sue  for harassment.    I bet Dr. Phil –  would have a FIELD DAY analyzing Lisa’s teary melt downs and scary mood swings, her persecution complex and the martyrdom that surfaces in her boardroom scenes.   I think she’s intimidated as hell by Dayana’s calm, quiet demeanor, not to mention her incredible beauty.   Dayana, you go girl – you’re a class act.   

Geesh…where’s Victoria Gotti when you need her? 

Donald, please,  put us out of our misery and fire Lisa* so we can enjoy the rest of the show!  You’re better than this, and so is your show. 


(*I know,  I know,  the show is taped.)

To shmy…to wander about with no intended destination.

I had a wonderful friend and mentor named Melvin who taught me the true meaning of this delicious Yiddish word, Shmy.  

Melvin was a dignified and powerful attorney who had Jason Robards-good looks and Alan Dershowitz-sagaciousness.   He entered the courtroom like Moses parting the Red Sea.    But.   Give him a Saturday away from the bustle and tension of his busy law firm and suddenly he was a quiet, unassuming, master Shmyer who could spend an entire day wandering along  Cape Cod’s country roads, never passing  a yard sale he couldn’t stop and enjoy.  If a bargain was found he negotiated with sparkling blue eyes and a deceptive charm that was often turned with laser-like determination on many an unsuspecting  jury.   I once saw him bargain for a $5 bamboo fishing pole that had neither line nor guides, but he “landed it” for $3.  The fact that none of us fished…well, who cared?  It was a bargain! 

My treasured pot

His wife and my dearest friend, Maxie,  had a triple garage at their Cape house, not for the cars, but for extra furniture, dishes, bric-a-brac and other treasures from Melvin’s Saturday sojourns by the sea.  The garage brimmed with the useless to the precious – none of which could be disposed of by a garage sale — Melvin would have been standing at the curb buying everything back!   That garage practically furnished our daughter’s first apartment.  We always said he should have been a Bloomingdale’s buyer.  Once when we were shmying at Filene’s Basement,  (the original one in Boston) he insisted that I couldn’t live without two matching flower pots  simply because the price had been reduced three times.  “It’s no money,”  he exclaimed.   I bought them, of course, and they are still among my most precious possessions because of his connection to them.   

Queen of the Orchids

My friend Ilene and I went shmying this week:  a healthy and delicious lunch on the patio at our favorite restaurant Pacifica, a trip to the Renaissance Spa and undiscovered  delights tucked into the alleys along El Paseo‘s busy upscale retail district, where objet d’art prices can command upwards of $100,000.   

One delightful find was Dr. Orchids, (73-160 El Paseo)  – an amazing little shop brimming with live orchids growing in gorgeous pottery.  Owner Young Lai, who is knowledgable and friendly, has created a lovely zen-like oasis in his shop that exudes calm and serenity while reflecting his passion for his exquisite flowering plants.   

Lunch Break

Another wonderful surprise was Cilantro Gallery which features unique jewelry and whimsical – and expensive –  art.  This gallery is so charming I was ready to redecorate our whole house.   Odel, the suave Spanish owner, warned us that one of his featured artists, Carlos Albert,  is now in his 70’s, and might only be creating his art for another year or so.  Whether that’s true or hype, there are a couple of his pieces that need to come home with me.  We’ll definitely stop in again next time we’re shmying.

Melvin taught me many things over the course of thirty plus years…but among the most important was taking the time to find such wonders.  Shmying was his version of being in the moment.   Ilene and I would never have found either of these shops, or met Odel or Young Lai,  had we not taken the time to wander with wonder, along El Paseo!   

RIP my wonderful friend, Melvin.  I never pass a sale without thinking of you.

Grizelda the Grinch, aka Curmudgeon Cathy, aka The Queen,   asked Two Sling Broken Arrow, aka The Duchess, if it would be possible to share the brisket recipe.  

In a word, Yes.  Anything for my big sassy sister!  

  • Start with 6 -7 pounds of brisket (NOT CORNED BEEF!) rubbed with kosher salt (not table salt)  Costco always has a good selection
  •  2-3 Mayan (sweet) onions  – add garlic if you please
  • 3-6 Beef (knuckle) bones (ask your butcher)
  • 2 -3 cups cheap brandy
  • 2 -3 cups beef stock (I use the cubes with water in the microwave)

Rub the brisket down with kosher salt.   Set a roasting pan over two burners on the stove top.  Pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan and heat.  Use a mandoline to thinly slice the onions and garlic and throw in the roasting pan to brown.  Add the bones and let everything brown.  Using tongs, start browning the brisket on all sides, including the ends, until completely seared/sealed.  This will probably take 10-15 minutes or so.  Be prepared for grease splatters.  Wear an apron.   Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once everything is well browned, season liberally with a pepper grinder and then pour in the brandy, deglazing the pan with a wooden spoon as you go.  Once the browned bits have pulled away from the bottom of the pan, add the beef stock and seal the pan with tinfoil.  Put the sealed roasting pan in the oven and after 20/30 minutes, turn the oven down to 300.  Leave it untouched for 3-4  hours.

Remove the roasting pan to a safe surface and uncover, being careful with the escaping steam.  It can scald!   By this time the brisket should be falling apart.  Remove it carefully using large spatulas and place it in your largest rectangle glass Pyrex baking dish.  Using an electric carving knife, carefully slice down the brisket into quarter inch strips.  

Shake out the marrow from the center of the bones and discard the bones.  Take all the juicy rich liquid (including the bone marrow)  and in portions, put in a blender to make the gravy.    As you blend it, pour it back over the brisket until the sliced meat is covered completely.  Seal the dish once again with tinfoil and pop back into the oven (still at 300 degrees) and leave it for another hour until you are ready to serve. 

OMG – If the taste doesn’t kill you, the cholesterol will!

Now, for those of you who plan to send your male spouse/partner/BFF to the store for the above ingredients, please watch this video first…

Click here:
Jeanne Robertson “Don’t send a man to the grocery store!” – YouTube#t=65

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