Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Repeat after me: soda is not your friend.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Another one? But I just had one.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


My short live review/gushing fan letter to my current rock obsession the Secret Machines is located here along with some pics I took.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


When I was young, my father told me to never take pleasure in other people's failures. A simple enough principle to abide by, I thought then. In fact, every Passover, during the Seder, my family would even dip their pinkies into the wine while reciting the ten plagues to then only wipe the ten pinkie-clinging droplets onto a plates therein symbolizing that even when we reminisce about the destruction of our worst enemy, we still express a degree of regret and sadness.

Bearing this in mind, I still find it incredibly difficult to not take great pleasure in Tom Cruise's very public breakdown. I know it's so very wrong just as it's wrong to revel in the stories of how rabid frogs attacked the unsuspecting Egyptians. Nevertheless, every time I hear about another Cruise antic, I get a semi-euphoric jolt located deep within my intestines. When I learned that Mission Impossible: III had opened at $10 million less than projected, I took pride in knowing that I personally encouraged some friends to stay home and watch TV, rather than go to the theater and see the movie during its opening weekend.

And when I feel guilty about my anti-Tom platform, I recall Cruise's pungent and smug demeanor, his superstar self-awareness, his exaggerated, unreal laugh, that, in totale, makes me want to play a game I invented called Tom Cruise on Oprah where I'm Tom and he's the couch. There's something about his stare that makes me think if I were able to look into the thoughts circulating around his head, a majority of them would be accompanied by the echoing sentiment, "kill, kill, kill."

And sure, he's a religious zealot...some of my best friends and second cousins are religious zealots. But unlike my friends and cousins, Cruise is obviously threatened by satire, criticism, and any difference of opinion, or rather, South Park. His interview with Matt Lauer and the denouncement of psychotropic medication was just an drop in the insanity bucket, albeit a very large bucket. I'm sure his private self is even more eccentric and off-putting.

I have argued for years that it is simply impossible for someone to be that popular and still maintain his or her sanity. Just look at Mel Gibson. Just look at Julia Roberts. Heck, look at Tom Hanks' recent hair, which screams "insane." What else could explain that completely un-ironic mullet?

Additionally, Cruise's soul-consuming frustration must inevitabley contribute to his mental status. For Cruise to keep his true sexual identity a secret must be even more painful than being married to an ex-WB star that once made out with James Van Der Beek.

As an outspoken disapprover of the tabloid culture, I somehow don't mind it so much when US Weekly has a scoop on Cruise and his placenta-centric menu. It merely confirms my suspicions. I know it's not nice but I can't help it. There's something I find so disingenuine--almost evil--about Cruise. And I'm confident in saying that I am not alone in my unsubstantiated prejudice. Upon hearing the news of Suri Cruise's birth, every one I knew first responded by saying, "poor baby."

And while I can easily sympathize for my religion's worst enemy, I'm still confident in saying that the Egyptians never picked a fight with Brooke Shields.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Shana gets upset when I yell on the phone.
I tell her that I get upset when I yell on the phone.

As a freelance writer, money is obviously very important to me, I explain. I try to spend it sparingly and urgently. So when I pay nearly $500 a month for a health insurance policy, I expect it to be worth every exorbitant penny. But according to Oxford Health Plans, I am delusional.

The first Oxford representative I speak to has no answers. Tricia tells me that I have to, in fact, pay the $100 deductible in order to begin using my co-pay option.

"Let me understand this, Tricia," I use her name in an attempt to personalize the call. "I am paying over $6,000-a-year for the opportunity to pay $100 more to begin employing my insurance benefits."

"This is the way all personal policies are established."

"You don't think that's absurd? Because it sounds kinda absurd to me. It's like buying a car and then being told later on that you have to pay extra for the engine."

I ask her why I am paying the $100 for a co-pay. A basic question. Because, from my perspective, it seems like another ploy for taking even more money from me, a lowly $6,000 blip on their huge corporate radar.

"I don't know the answer to that but maybe the policy department would be able to respond"

Astonishingly, I speak to six more people and spend a total of an hour and six minutes on the phone with various Oxford employees. No one knows the answer to my simple question: why am I paying another $100? It's as if I'm asking them the impossible. As if I was asking them to raise the dead.

But I do piece together the following information: my $100 deductible is paid to help alleviate Oxford from increasing costs. More lawsuits are being brought against pharmaceutical companies, which therein makes medication and treatment more expensive, which therein makes it more costly for insurance companies to pay for their clients. Essentially, my $6,000+ isn't enough to cover that discrepancy. They need even more. I also learn that this particular aspect of my policy is only applied to private policies. Most corporate policies do not have the $100 deductible. One customer service operator, Mary, admits that they wouldn't want to discourage a company from employing their services. "So, we give them less deterrent." At the end of the day, losing one consumer isn't a big deal. Losing 300 of them is.

Michael, an executive supervisor, tells me there is no way to change any of this. All personal policies have this $100 deductible.

"Was this always the case?" I ask him.

"Well, it used to be less so. But now, it's pretty much across the board, for all prescriptions."

Michael speaks with me like a talking policy manual. Everything is on-the-record. Everything is very official sounding. At one point in our conversation, I try to appeal to him as a human being.

"Let's say for a second--hypothetically--we're the same person. We're frustrated with this arbitrary and unfortunate deductible policy. What do we do next?"

"We write a letter to the Correspondence Department," Michael plays along.

I laugh. "You're--excuse me, we're kidding, right? You want me to write a letter? This is 2006. Isn't there an email address? Someone I could talk to on the phone?"

"Unfortunately, all complaints and concerns are handled through letter correspondence."

I explain to him how I am suffering from allergies and all I want is to do is waive the $100 deductible retroactively so I can begin using my co-pay. I don't want to wait weeks for my Oxford pen pal to write me back. Our conversation, like the ones before it with the others, is fruitless and full of bureaucratic double-talk. Exhaustingly, I tell him, I'm getting nowhere here.

"It's my impression, that after an hour, I am wasting my time. "

"Well, I just don't know what else to tell you. I don't have the answers to your questions nor can I help."

I hang up exhausted, angry and still without my allergy medicine.

Moments later, I call my mother. "Welcome to the middle class," she says. "See, you're neither poor nor rich and that's the problem. If you were poor, the government would pay for your health benefits. If you were rich, the $100 wouldn't make a difference in the grand scheme of things. You are just experiencing yet another painful lesson from being middle class."

We're being punished for being included within the majority of America? I ask.

"Yup," she says. "So pay the $100 and move on."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Moving is undeniably awful and hellacious. It's an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
For two weeks, I have been surrounded by cardboard boxes and frankly, I want it to end. I want to be human again. I want to return to normalcy. I want to know where I packed the toaster oven.

But until that happens, posting will be limited. Please stick with me. And if you're around, help me unpack.