Category Archives: Books & Mags

Sounds like…

How do you say Chipotle?  Or Hermes?  Or gyro?

Chances are, a lot of you are saying at least one of them wrong…and simply don’t know it. has created a list of “Twelve Words You Didn’t Know You Were Mispronouncing.”

Check it out.  It may save you a world of embarrassment.

This topic is near and dear to my heart.  You see, my mother loved romance novels  — those thin, Silhouette paperbacks that ran about 125 pages and ended with hand-holding or a kiss.  The heroine was usually a governess, grade school teacher or cub reporter at a small town newspaper.

I started reading them when I still in grade school, so I was often learning new words that I had never heard spoken (and had certainly never had occasion to use in my day-to-day life).

Two such words were “aloof” and “arrogant.”  I knew by their use in the text what they meant, but I hadn’t heard them said aloud.

One day, my brother Michael — my childhood nemesis — was being especially annoying.   Adopting what I hoped was my most withering look, I placed my hands on my hips and spit at him,

“You are so ALOAF and AROWGINT!!”

I’d never heard my mother laugh harder in her life.  My brother just looked confused.

I’ve been a big fan of the dictionary ever since.

Saucy gals

A recent issue of “Time Out New York” devoted an entire page to condiments.

“Ode to condiments” was indeed the headline, and the magazine used a combination of high gloss photography and highly glorified language to hail nine of the magazine’s favorite savory sauces from around the city.

Plum sauce, garlic sauce, tahini sauce, even something called crack sauce — a ‘compulsively dippable cream sauce’ — were all served up in irresistible dollops.

Looking at the page made my mouth water.

It also made me think of two good friends, both named Beth.  One lives for sauces and dips.  She would love this article and would happily visit each and every restaurant featured to try out each one.  If given the chose of condiments vs entrees, condiments would win pretty much every time.

My other friend Beth has a well-known fear of condiments.  Won’t eat ’em.  Won’t try ’em.  Doesn’t use dressing of her salad, mustard on her hot dog.  Doesn’t understand why people use ketchup on fries.  If she had been reading “Time Out New York,” she would have made a face at the mere idea of this page’s contents, and quickly turned on.

And yet, they are both named Beth and are both my friends.

Aren’t people interesting and wonderful…just like condiments??

Grin and bear it

When I started at Hallmark Cards in 1992, my first position was in licensed properties.  I was the editor for Peanuts and Garfield cards, and later Cathy and Ziggy and Disney and  “Saturday Night Live” and pretty much any other licensed character that could sell a humor card.

I even traveled to Disney in California at one point and attended ‘Pooh College’ — as in Winnie the Pooh — and became somewhat of a corporate expert on how Winnie should look and sound to greeting card audiences, whether they be children, young adults, teens or even adult Pooh fans.

Because each Pooh is different.  (You can quote me on that.)

Winnie the Pooh is also the World Ambassador of Friendship.  The United Nations made an official declaration in 1997.

It’s a piece of trivia that you might find handy, because it’s National Friendship Day.  Yep — Congress made that official as well, way back in 1935.

So, here’s my official note of gratitude to my friends — the ones I see every day, the ones I miss every day and the 340 I ‘talk’ to every day on Facebook.

I’m sure Pooh would approve.

Geek love

In high school we knew — someday we’d have our revenge.

(They even made a movie about it.)

Now we rule the world.  Nerds and geeks created your computer and your smart phone and your mpg player and Facebook and Twitter and all the technology that today, you can’t live without.

It’s even cool to be a geek.  Geeks are sexy.  Geeks are reluctant spies like “Chuck” or good-looking renegade space captains like Mal Reynolds in “Firefly” or scientists taking their geekness to new levels like Sheldon on “Big Bang Theory.”

And geek fans?  They’re the coolest by far.  Everybody wants them — movies, television shows, cartoons, comic books — you name it.  They are the most sought after population on the planet…or so it would appear this week.

Comic Con, the comic book conference that up until a few years ago people only attended under fake names or the cover of darkness, is now the biggest show on the planet.  Major celebrities are in San Diego as we speak promoting their new movie, TV show, or animated series…and I think they still do comic books, too.

It’s insane.  I am so jealous that I’m not there….

With my people.

Someone…get me a t-shirt?

Play it again

When my group of very good friends — now scattered across the country — has the opportunity to get together, it’s not uncommon to hear, “Tell the one about…”

We each have our “greatest hits,” stories that we’ve told again and again, and we all love to hear them.  It’s one of the things that bonds us together.

For me, this habit started in childhood.  If I liked a book, I read it over and over…to savor the ‘best’ parts of the plot, my favorite lines.

If a movie captured my imagination, I went back to see it.  (Of course, they were a lot cheaper then.)  I can remember seeing “Witness” seven times at the theater and “Princess Bride” so many times, my friends almost scheduled an intervention.

But according to the reviews for “Inception” — which opened this weekend (and I haven’t seen yet, so don’t ruin it for me) — repeated viewings are necessary to grasp what’s going on….and even then, you probably won’t ever get it.

Well, that’s just annoying.

I want to watch a movie again and again to appreciate the finer details.  To marvel at how they visually accomplished a scene.  To enjoy dialogue that I might have missed the first time around.

Not to sit with a note pad — or with my iPad, to be trendy and 2010 — and try to figure out the parts of the plot that made no sense the first four times I watched it.

I appreciate director Christopher Nolan making an intelligent film  — “The Dark Knight” was also amazing — but if he really went this far off the charts to just play with our brains for the fun of it, well, that wasn’t very nice.

I had to work this weekend, so “Inception” wasn’t in the cards.  I’ll be there this week though, Mr. Nolan, to check your work.

And if I end up going back…

…it better just be for the fun of it.

Triple threat

I hesitate to talk “Twilight” in this space…and never two days in a row.

But the premiere of “Eclipse” early this morning — which I attended with 7 million of my closest friends — seems like a worthy exception.

The large number of Twihards at the midnight screening isn’t that surprising.  The reviews are.

Even major papers — like The New York Times and Washington Post — had good things to say about the third installment of the “Twilight” saga.

“A more robustly entertaining film than either of its predecessors…”

“Darker, grittier, and a tad more thought-provoking…”

“If the movies keep improving like this, the people who automatically hate them just because they’re popular with teenage girls will be forced to reconsider.”

Wow.  I don’t think I could have found one sincere compliment about the other films…and these are a just a handful for “Eclipse.”

As for myself, I found the film very different as well.  I’ve always called the “Twilight” movies romances, but “Eclipse” is definitely an action/romance.  The fight sequences are incredible, yet the more emotional moments are handled with just as much care.  Jacob seems more animalistic, Edward more human, Bella more frustrating.

Pretty much by the book.

More or less

Jennifer Aniston, the world has spoken:  you are a beautiful woman.

I just wish you believed it.

Then maybe you wouldn’t feel the need to pose naked — well, except for that strategically placed necktie — on the cover of GQ.  Or wouldn’t design the advertising campaign for your new fragrance Lolavie around an image of yourself, draped in a bath towel, its sagging shapes almost revealing — well, you get the idea.

Maybe your evening gowns wouldn’t always be slit just a bit too high, or cut just a bit too low.  Don’t get me wrong — you are in phenomenal shape and should be proud of your body…but does everything you wear have to show so much skin?

Sometimes leaving something to the imagination can be just as — if not more — sexy.  I watch all the awards shows; I’ve seen the celebrity stylists do it extremely well.

Just a thought, Jennifer.  We wouldn’t want you to get overexposed…or catch a cold.

It’s all in the…

I have decided to subscribe to Details.

First, they print the controversial cover story featuring RPatz surrounded by naked models and discussing his allergy to female anatomy.


Now, they have multiple covers featuring the men of True Blood — in various states of undress themselves — to promote the serie’s third season which begins June 13 on HBO.

Clearly, this magazine knows what I like.

Vampires?  No.  Really, really good-looking men.  And beautiful photography of those same  men.

(The articles don’t suck either.)

I’m sorry; I don’t mean to sound shallow (which I am).  I’m just glad that certain magazines realize that women — and some men —  like to look at men, too.  Goodness knows that magazines have provided lovely images of women for years.

So, thank you, Details, for treating the men of “True Blood” like equals.

Of course, if I were ever lucky enough to meet them, I would be most interested in their personalities.


Bang bang

Is Angelina trying to turn Shiloh into a boy??

That was one of the headlines today after photos online surfaced of Shiloh Jolie Pitt sporting a new, cropped ‘do.  Other less vindictive reporters mused that “Shiloh missed her father and dressing like him made her feel closer.”

Poor little rich kid.

I wonder what reporters would have made of the haircuts my mom gave to my sister and me when we were children.  Inevitably, our bangs were way too short…or crooked…or simply missing in spots.

I’m sure they turned out that way because we wouldn’t sit still during the trim, but the paparazzi would have assumed much, much worse.

Local mother’s attempts to behead children fail

Strangely, we didn’t get much pap in Kentucky or West Virginia.

Wonder why…

Sticky start

Long before bloggers blogged — or even had a fun word for it — I wrote a weekly web column on the then oh-so-new

Back in its infancy, the Hallmark Cards website was purely informational, and I was ‘Carla the Card Queen,’ who along with her dog Emotion and faithful friend Mimi, answered questions from site visitors on everything from unrequited love to the right table decorations for Thanksgiving dinner.

Carla’s life and times were fictional, and her advice tended to point to product solutions — hey, it was marketing, after all — but the relationship she forged with her readers around the globe was a real one.

After two-and-a-half years, had become very much a commerce site, and the Card Queen went on to conquer other kingdoms.  I left the company myself in 2000, but will always cherish my years spent among ‘the very best.’

Hallmark Cards taught me the business of humor and introduced me to the Internet. I was on the lucky team whose job it was to figure out what e-cards would look and sound like. My experience broadened my skill set and opened many doors for me in the years that followed my seven years at the ‘big house.’

So thank you, Hallmark, and Happy 100th Anniversary. I will always be proud to say “I was a Hallmarker.”

Your gracious Queen