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31 posts from November 2006

November 30, 2006

Bread Crumbs in the Forest

by Nancy                        

If you're a real writer, you keep a journal. At least, that's what I've been told.  So every couple of years, I start one.

I wrote this on the first page of the last attempt:

Every time I start writing a new book, I think it should be easier than the one before.  It isn't.  In fact, writing a book seems to get harder and harder. I'll keep a journal this time to help myself remember the process, the techniques, the sources of inspiration so I won't have to start from scratch the next time.

That journal lasted 37 pages before it petered out. The rest of the pages are blank.

Now here I am, a year later, plugging through the first 100 pages of a book that's due in March, and I'm cursing myself for not keeping that journal a little longer so the work of creating a new story wasn't such a slog.

Mind you, I did leave myself a few bread crumbs. Like this:

I'm reading someone else's book right now, and it reminds me that it's so much more compelling for the reader to see and hear a new character speak for himself rather than having other characters introduce him by talking about him.

And even more mundane, yet practical:

Don't let (the protagonist) sigh.  It makes her sound weary.  Dreary, not dynamic. A quick retort has more energy.

And here's something that feels ripped from Carolyn See's book, or else I'm smarter than I think I am:

Dialogue is such a struggle at the beginning. It seems as if nobody has anything to say to each other. Then I realize it's because they don't want anything yet. They need their own agendas, and suddenly they're chatty.

It's actually nice to be reminded of this useful stuff by me, for once, not by my critique partner. Or my editor. Or my daughter, who often reads my early pages and gets this look on her face that makes me wonder if I left a hunk of cheese under the sofa.

Okay, rewind to Thanksgiving morning when I went to the basement and blew the dust off the old electric roaster. This particular turkey roaster has been in my family for--believe it or not--60 years.  (We replaced the electrical cord twice, and the asbestos lining seems to have crumbled away, so it gets very hot on the outside, but otherwise it's perfect. Really.)  But when I lugged the roaster up to the kitchen and opened the lid, a cold stab of fear plunged down through my chest.

The roaster was empty.

It seems I had lost the precious cookbook, the original cookbook that had not been separated from the roaster for three generations.  After 60 years, I was the one who managed to misplace this key component of the Thanksgiving experience.

Naturally, this kind of roaster isn't built anymore, and the cookbook was the Rosetta Stone. What was I to do? I couldn't possibly figure out how to make a turkey without the directions that came with the appliance!

I did some fast internet research (bless you, FoodTV.com!) and consulted my tattered Joy of Cooking. But with the guests already on their way, I couldn't delay for long.  I had to get the turkey started.  I had to make up my own recipe.

I wish I could say it was the best turkey ever. But it wasn't.  It was good, but not great.  Flavorful, but a little dry.

Yeah, I wished I hadn't lost the cookbook.

Fast forward to a few days after Thanksgiving. A writer friend sent me a review from Publisher's Weekly that included the line, "fans of Nancy Martin's Blackbird Sisters Mystery Series will enjoy" this book.

As far as I know, this is the first time my work has been mentioned in such a context. My first emotion was pleasure.  Hey, it's nice to be recognized.

Because I'm a writer, though, the pleasure did not last long. It quickly morphed into:  What does this mean?  Have I arrived at last? Or am I officially over the hill?  Is this one of those, "Get me a young Julia Roberts!" moments? (Yes, most writers are unattractively needy and paranoid and obsessive.)

A supportive friend e-mailed soothingly. "It means you're the standard by which others are judged."

Standard?  You mean, as in . . . average?

Finally, I pulled myself together. The reality is, getting mentioned in somebody else's review doesn't mean anything.  Nada.

And the turkey roaster? Oh, dear. The plug caught fire as we were making the gravy.  She's a goner. Without the cookbook to keep her complete, maybe the roaster just felt it was her time to go, too.

So I'm back to Square One on the new manuscript, trying to figure out how to do it from scratch--without a cookbook, without drying out the turkey too badly, without making the story too . . . average. I'm also trying to put a few more notes in the damn journal. Live and learn, right? Plus the paranoid and obsessive traits are actually helpful.--They prevent me from sending in a manuscript until it has been revised and polished ad nauseum.

But if anyone has any more practical tips for making those first 100 pages scintillating, I'm listening. I can use all the help I can get.

November 29, 2006

Welcome to the Heart of Tartness Book Club!

High_heelsOn behalf of the Book Tarts and the Heart of Tartness Book Club, I am delighted to welcome you to our third meeting - hurray for us!

First of all, we all know this is a very cool thing we are doing together, right? Right.

Today's book is HIGH HEELS ARE MURDER by our own Elaine Viets. This is one great book!

And we are really lucky because the author herself will be joining us today.

Here is Elaine's intro, which is much better than mine:

This book started at a shoe store when a salesman stroked the underside of my foot. At least, I thought that’s what he did. I wasn’t sure, but I knew it felt weird. When I bought new heels, the salesman said, “May I keep your old shoes? You don’t want to take these with you.”

“No!” I said. “I mean, yes, I’m taking them.”

I was sure I’d saved my old shoes from a fate worse than death. I used that scene in HIGH HEELS ARE MURDER, when my mystery shopper, Josie Marcus, investigates Mel, a salesman who loves shoes a little too much. You could say he loves them to death.

This is a novel about addiction and denial. There’s housewife gambling, an addiction often dismissed as “not serious” because women tend to prefer the slot machines instead of “serious gambling” like poker.

There are the women who kid themselves that their paid encounters in no-tell motels aren’t “real sex.”
And the men with foot fetishes who claim they just like to watch Pretty Woman.

And there’s the drug dealer who says, “Coke isn’t serious. It’s recreational.”

Josie denies that she hates Perfect Cheryl. But the woman has been driving her crazy for years.
I think we all have a Perfect Cheryl in our lives. I certainly did. I’m afraid I enjoyed Perfect Cheryl’s end all too much.

As for Josie, my mystery shopper heroine, she struggles to do the right thing, but she’s caught between her mother, who she loves but would occasionally like to strangle, and her daughter, who she also loves, but would occasionally like to change the locks on. Josie’s main support is her best friend, Alyce.

I hope you’ll be addicted to the Josie Marcus series.

I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about HIGH HEELS ARE MURDER.

Thanks Elaine! Now, ladies and gentlemen of the blog, let's talk addiction! Let's talk shoes! Let's talk about living with three generations.

As always, our discussion will take whatever path you choose. In the event that we get crazy with numbers of comments, check back up here and we'll give you a time and a change of subject if we think it might help.

And remember our first rule of Book Club: Everybody talks at Book Club.

If you have trouble posting your comment, be sure to come back later. Today's traffic has overwhelmed the system!

November 28, 2006

Big Boys Behaving Badly

By Sarah

Here's a free tip for men who yearn to be hunks: ranting about Jews and bitches and African-Americans is not sexy. No woman worth her salt is gonna want to take you home and strip off your clothes because you had the guts to publicly use the "N" word.

Britneyspearspantyflash01 I don't know what's going on with the aging and not-so-aging white males of America,  but in the past few months or so it appears that Behaving Badly has become not only a trend for many men, but a bizarre right of passage. If this keeps up much longer, Big Boys Behaving Badly soon will be as acceptable as wardrobe malfunctions and college girls ripping off their shirts at Mardi Gras.

(Note: I am not saying ALL men are behaving badly. We here at the TLC are graced with true gentlemen who post not only insightful comments, but also killer recipes for oyster stuffing.And though my husband couldn't make oyster stuffing if the oyster himself showed him how, I place him in this category.)

No, I'm talking about men who behave like poorly raised children in that they can find no other way to grab attention than by breaking a vase or pulling the cat's tail. Mel Gibson's the poster boy. He started the latest wave with his drunken tirade against Jews. That he was under the influence of alcohol also is not an excuse. I mean, you know it's bad when your best defense turns out to be the bottle of tequila you downed while zig-zagging along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Consider Michael Richards, another prince of expletive pyrotechnics. Having grown rich thanks to the talentRichards  of Jerry Seinfeld and his cast of writers, Richards then displayed his gratitude by letting loose a racist monologue that was too painful to hear. He, too, is on the downside of a career that has lately been going nowhere fast. Like Mel, better times are behind him. He can now look forward to a future as a professional pariah or, perhaps, spokesman for the KKK.

Then again, it's not just middle-aged men who are off the charts. I saw Borat over the weekend. (Forget me listing the full title: I'm too lazy to look it up.) There were parts where I laughed so hard I had to gasp for air. (Naked fat man wrestling. I'll say no more.) And I laughed when the mature driving instructor taught Borat that women cannot be forced into sex. ("That's bad for me," Borat laments.)

But no one in the theater was laughing when Borat caught a ride with a bunch of drunken frat boys who, some younger than a few suits I own, let out a slew of expletives about women and minorities. As though these privileged boys had anything, anything, to complain about. Having grown up in a town where gang rapes were not unheard of at the local university (Lehigh, for those of you interested), this scene was all too creepily familiar. Talk soon leans to action.

So what's going on with these boorish males. Is it because they're not getting laid? Is it because we're not raising boys to stand up straight and make eye contact and call men "sir" and women, "ma'am" and open doors and say please and thank you? Is it our public school system? The lack of religious education? Too much TV and video games? South Park?

Or do we have a problem specifically because restraint for restraint's sake has lost its value?

Listen, one of the first rules I learned in crafting a romantic hero was to create a man who could rein in his desires. A brute who jumps a woman is no Cary Grant. Cary Grant is about abstaining from that last drink, keeping a polite distance from the sexy ingenue who is driving him wild, and Cary_grant controlling even a justified anger.

God, I love Cary Grant.                                                           Mel? Not so much.Drunken_mel

Back to the book,

Sarah

November 27, 2006

Heart Of Tartness Book Club Alert!

Heart of Tartness Book Club- REMINDER!
High_heels Just a reminder that the next meeting of the Heart of Tartness Book Club will be THIS WEDNESDAY - November 29, 2006! So finish this great book and we'll see you soon. The book is, of course, HIGH HEELS ARE MURDER by the lovely and talented Elaine Viets. 

My Life in Exercise

My Life in Exercise

by Michele Martinez

The hordes are gone, the leftovers have been consumed, the house is tidied and only minimally damaged.  But the mirror on the back of the closet door remains, as does the bathroom scale and the extra five pounds on my hips and thighs that they insist upon showing me.

 

How could you possibly gain five pounds in less than that many days, you ask?  Easy.  Between the Wednesday night lasagna, all that butter and heavy cream in the mashed potatoes (yes, thank you, whoever suggested the heavy cream), and the apple galette with cinnamon ice cream (I confess that one came from the gourmet food place), and let's not forget -- since, as much as I love to deny this, alcohol does have calories -- the 23 mimosas I drank beginning early in the a.m. on Thursday.

By the way, here is my foolproof mimosa recipe:

  1. Send husband to the store for oranges;
  2. Get seven-year-old to juice them all.  (He will find this wildly entertaining).
  3. Ask father-in-law to pop the cork on bottle of Moet & Chandon White Star (as sweeter champagnes are preferred for this recipe).
  4. Mix, enjoy, repeat numerous times.

Not only is this a sure cure for dishpan hands, it feels like absolutely no work!

I'm losing my train of thought here.  The point is, I've gained five pounds in quite a brief time period, and I would like to lose them just as quickly.  I need a plan.

Now, let me take a moment to say that we here at TLC abhor the pressure that society places on women to be unnaturally thin.  We advocate healthy body image, balanced diet and empowering, strengthening exercise.  But we'd be dishonest if we didn't admit to falling victim to society's pressures now and then.   When even the "fat jeans" are tight, we get into the low self-esteem thing just like the next girl, so why not take positive action? 

There is only one way I know to lose weight, and that is to burn up more calories than you consume.  (Sorry, but that's just true).  Since I like to eat and lack self-discipline, serious dieting is not an option for me, nor is it even healthy.  Luckily, I do love to work out.  (I love to work out, like, a lot.  So much so that when I read You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again -- the most entertaining book ever written about drug addiction -- I totally understood why Julia Phillips substituted running for smoking crack.)

I acknowledge that mine is not the universal human experience.  I have struggled to explain my fixation to friends of mine who find vigorous exercise unpleasant if not downright painful.  What is your secret, they ask, or really what they're asking is are you insane?  Well, it happened like this.  I was in the right place at the right time:  late 80s, Palo Alto, the weather so perfect that one actually needed to look good in abbreviated clothing, the height of the aerobics craze.  A jam-packed gym.  A fit-looking blonde at the front of the room, probably named Heather, microphone in hand, exhorting us to "pump it up" in time to the disco beat.

How could I say no?  It was like joining a cult.  I fell hard.  And since then, it's been one craze after the next -- kickboxing, yoga, pilates, Lotte Berk, you name it.  Each with its own head games and specialized wardrobe to make you feel like an initiate (and give you an excuse to go shopping!).  Heck, after watching that unbelievable chase scene at the beginning of Casino Royale, , I'm ready to try parkour.  Check out some amazing video of this latest thing, which is kind of like a cross between doing gymnastics and becoming a stuntman.

As far as bowing to societal pressure, my exercise fixation seems pretty innocent to me, and I have no plans to give it up.  What about you?  What's your poison when those extra pounds get you down?   Diet?  Exercise?  Or just ignore them and tell society to go pound sand?

November 26, 2006

Hot Sheet II

Wondering what to do with all your spare time during the holidays?

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Okay, poor opening line, considering our audience.  How about this:  Need something to do to break the holiday stress?  Book Tarts to the rescue!

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from Elaine:

"A Christmas Story"  (1983) This Jean Shepherd story is perfect to offset an overdoes of holiday sweetness.  Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon are the delightfully dysfunctional parents. Peter Billingsly plays Ralphie, the kid who wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.  Ralphie has to listen to a chorus of "You'll shoot your eye out" from everyone, even Santa. He's also dogged by an evil, yellow-eyed bully in a rancid coonskin cap.

"The Bad Santa" (2003) stars Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Cox as a couple of con men who set out to rob the malls as Santa and his elf.

By now you've probably figured out I'm not a "Miracle of 34th Street" type, but there is one Christmas classic I love: "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944) Young Judy Garland is absolutely ravishing in this movie.  I had to include it as a bow to my hometown.

from Harley:

Okay, the only thing I've had time to read, other than the contenders for the Edgar Award's Best Juvenile Mystery of 2006 (please, please shoot me before I ever judge another contest ever again--even though it's been a lot of fun) is COOKING LIGHT. I love reading recipes (okay, I love reading anything) and rarely actually cook them, but I tried a Squash Souffle for Thanksgiving, and you'd have thougth I'd cured cancer, the way my normally-blase family reacted.

from Rebecca The Bookseller:

Tony Bennett is 80 years old this year, and he celebrated with a new CD of Duets, which accompanies a show filmed in LA and broadcast last Tuesday. If you need a holiday gift idea for a music lover who pines for the days of the variety show, the DVD of the tribute show, entitled "Tony Bennet: American Classic" is a great idea.

For music loves who love both classical and pop--The Ten Tenors have a new CD called "Here's to the Heroes"--these ten young men from Australia started singing in bars to earn money while they were in college and are now recording and touring internationally. The DVD of their last tour, featuring everything from "La Boheme" to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" is terrific.

from Sarah:

(Oops.  She's on deadline.  Go, Sarah, go!)

November 25, 2006

The Hot Sheet---Holiday Suggestions

Too busy to research the fun stuff that's available this holiday season? Never fear---The Lipstick Chronicles is a full service blog!

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From Nancy: My husband and I saw Casino Royale on a Friday night when were were both braindead and in the mood for fun.  Jackpot!  Jeff followed the plot.  I looked at Daniel Craig and let my mind wander all over that delicious body. Plus the car porn was excellent. Half the fun is listening to the dopey teenage boys in the audience around you.

We also saw Babel, which was terrific. Much like Crash--three separate and compelling plots woven together with a theme. The big drawback is that I got motion sickness! With all the jiggling camera antics, I actually had to close my eyes for the last hour, whihc was problematic because most of the dialogue is in subtitles.

Those snug fleece gloves are on sale at the Gap again. Only $8.75, so you can keep a pair in every parka. 

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from Michele:

I've seen too many forgettable movies lately.  A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater 2006) is a big exception, though it's not for the faint of heart. In this animated adpatation of the Philip K. Dick novel, Keanu (gorgeous even in animated form!) plays a narcotics cop in the Orange County of the future, which has become a police state because virtually everybody is hooked on a sinister narcotic called Substance D. The film is really about drug addiction, from a harrowing insider's perspective. Brilliant performances by Keanu and Robert Downey Jr.  Cast also includes Winona Ryder and Woody Harrelson. (All major players in the cast are veterans of serious drug problems.) 

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Also recommended: The fourth season of The Wire. Too much of the plot this season focuses on a clique of middle schoolers getting pulled into crime (thought there are some terrific young actors in the bunch.) But when this show does what it's best at--the ins and outs of life on the streets, cops and slingers in the urban drug wars---there's nothing to rival it.

Tomorrow....more entertainment recommendations from the Book Tarts.  Until then, enjoy your leftovers!

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November 24, 2006

Holiday Music

Holiday Music

By Rebecca the Bookseller and Friends

Well, it's the day after Thanksgiving, and it's now officially time, using even the most rigid calendar, to start playing holiday music.

So I conducted a small, very un-scientific survey on the new holiday music for 2006, and here, in summary, are the results.

First holiday album ever, which makes it a must for true fans:

Bette Midler's Cool Yule. This is divine, Miss M fan or not. Highlights include a holiday version of "From a Distance" and a lovely ballad called "Merry Christmas."

Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong. If you love her voice, you'll love this CD. Fans of more upbeat holiday music will have to content themselves with one or two tracks. Fans of the slow sad ones will be in slow sad heaven. Case in point: she does one of the best covers of Joni Mitchell's "River" since Robert Downey Jr. was on "Ally McBeal."

Brad Paisley's Christmas. Love him. Love the CD. In addition to being a wonderful showman and seemingly all around good guy, he is an incredible musician and songwriter. One track is a hilarious take on how tough it is to just sing a holiday song these days without ticking off the PC police. The track is called "Kung Pao Buckaroo Holiday" and it features an all-star choir including Little Jimmy Dickens (remember kids - we don't say Elves - they're Little People), George Jones and Bill Anderson. A must for country fans.

Celtic Woman's A Christmas Celebration - if you couldn't tear yourself away from these beautiful voices singing in harmony on PBS, you'll want this one. But don't try to pronounce the tracks in Gaelic phonetically. You'll sound like a dufus.

Susan Egan's Winter Tracks - Susan Egan, as some of you may already know (I did not - had to use the Google) is a big Broadway star. So Susan and her friends (I am picturing the cast of Rent, basically) wrote some kooky holiday songs, and Susan and her beautiful voice recorded them along with some holiday standards. Perhaps the best version of "Let There Be Peace on Earth" that I've heard since we did it in high school at night in the cemetery on the Friday after Thanksgiving, accompanied by some Malt Duck. I still get misty just thinking about it.

Returning Champions

James Taylor's At Christmas - if you were one of the lucky few who picked up his 2004 Hallmark CD, you've got all but two of these tracks already. If you missed it, run don't walk - now is your chance.

Johnny Mathis - who has got to be Mr. Christmas Music, really, has a new CD that celebrates 50 years of holiday music. FIFTY years, people. Naturally, his voice is beginning to wear, but it's still Johnny. No collection is complete without at least one of his.

Gladys Knight's A Christmas Celebration is part R&B, part gospel, part old school choir (as in Mormon Tabernacle - except this is The Saints Unified Voices). The choir is first rate, and Gladys can still bring it home. No new songs, but some great standards and some Christmas songs too.

Jim Brick man's Christmas Romance is the instrumental (piano solo, mostly) CD of choice for the class of 2006. Several original compositions and some standards included.

The Target Collections

In days of yore (you have to say that at some point in any holiday essay, don't you?) Target was the best source for cheap ($5) holiday compilation CDs called Sounds of the Season. This year, there's only one new compilation - Sounds of the Season Classic Holiday Songbook, which is a terrific way to start a collection. Mostly duets, and all are standards. In addition, if you are a die hard fan of any of the following, they have their own Target collections: Enya, Lionel Richie, and John Legend, for example. John Legend, by the by, is fantastic. Sounds like a young Nat King Cole.

Country

Wynonna (Judd- I think she's only going by Wynonna now, though, so watch it, she could take you out) has a holiday CD called A Classic Christmas.

Rhonda Vincent's Beautiful Star is also a good choice for country fans.

But I have to say, you gotta go with the Brad Paisley if country is your thing.

Christmas Music

This is music that celebrates the Christmas story and the Christian holiday - so if you don't, you can skip this part.

If you love Christmas music - CCR style, you're going to want to check out Joy to the World: The Ultimate Christmas Collection.

The group New Song has a new CD called The Christmas Hope - it has some new, some old and some standards. Close knit harmony and a great band make this a wonderful choice. Just skip over "The Christmas Shoes" if you still can't listen to it without getting racked up. I know I can't.

Mary Mary - A Mary Mary Christmas. A pair of women with magnificent voices singing songs of praise.

Todd Agnew and Friends - Do You See What I See? I had never heard him before. He and his friends are good.

Third Day'ss new Christmas CD is called Christmas Offerings- I really like this sound. It's definitely Christian rock, but it's got some folk to it as well. Worth a listen before you buy.

Worship Jamz Christmas is reportedly a dance music mix of boy and girl bands singing traditional carols. I tried to listen to it, but it all sounded the same. Seriously.  Maybe I'm just getting too old for the dance mix.  It actually gave me the jimmy legs.

Other Stuff

Ally & AJ's Acoustic Hearts of Winter - no clue, but the kids were all over this one at the store.

The Time Life Treasury of Christmas - The Greatest Holiday Duets. Time-Life is one of those media companies that publishes all kinds of things. They excel at the Year-End photo books and these kinds of musical collections. All I can think is that they must have a whole building just for intellectual property files. This collection has everything from the classic (Bing and Ella; Peggy and Benny; Perry and the Fontaines; Al Hirt and Ann Margaret) to the contemporary (Barenaked Ladies and Michael Buble) with other tracks in between. If you have a lot of holiday music, you've probably got all of the covers already - if not, it's worth checking out.

Michael Bolton's Swingin' Christmas. If you already have his previous holiday CD (This is the Time 1996 Columbia Records) you already have this CD. If you don't and you love Bolton, regardless of hair length, well, you're in luck.

Manhattan Transfer is back with An Capella Christmas. This is a group with a distinctive sound - you either like them or you don't. I happen to like them, but even I'm a bit off by the third round of 'jingle jangle spingle spangle'. However, they do my favorite rendition of "Christmas is Coming" - you know - the goose is getting fat and so forth.

Now - as luck would have it, I just got an e-mail from iTunes - several of the CDs mentioned here are on sale if you buy the whole album. So pop over to iTunes, listen to some clips and make your choices.

Whew! We covered a lot of ground there. If you're online today, and you have a favorite, please share it with the rest of us.

November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks . . . In 2 Sizes

by Nancy                                                        

Last year at this time, I gave thanks that I didn't have breast cancer after a zillion trips to the Imaging Departments (what a charming euphemism!) at two local hospitals, plus plenty of poking, prodding, needles and so much squishing that I didn't eat pancakes for months. Although it was good news in the end, I did, however, need some surgery to remove stuff that might cause problems in the future.

The surgery left me---and I feel I can say this openly only because it's Thanksgiving and I'm counting on our male audience watching football and if they're not, they'd better pretend because they're gentlemen--it left me lopsided.

"You should have reconstruction!" everyone cheerfully told me.

So, at the ripe age of no-way-I'm-telling-even-if-it's-Thanksgiving, I found myself considering breast implants.  No, correction: Breast implant, singular.                     

Because I only needed it on one side. The other side remined healthy and plump--plenty of plump!--and still, uh, relatively youthful. But the operated-on side looked kind of deflated.  Not National Geographic deflated, but a little, you know, disappointing.

"It should fill in with fluid," the surgeon said before he closed my chart and sent me on my way. Good thing he didn't promise, because I'd be collecting on that malpractice insurance of his and thumbing through the real estate section in a warm zip code.

The breast implant procedure looked pretty simple at first. (Admit it, ladies.  Who among us hasn't watched at least one episode of that Beverly Hills plastic surgeon guy who loves exotic dancers so much?)  Pick a size, the flirty doc pops it in, you wear a bra around the clock for a little while and--poof!--your rack is back.

Emboldened, I did a little more Googling.

Health issues aside--because really, once you're seriously considering "breast augmentation," you're pretty much brain dead when it comes to warning labels--I decided saline implants were a little . . . jiggly.  They're too liquid, you see. So when you walk, your breast/breasts tend to bounce like Jello salad in Bill Cosby's picnic basket. Which is okay when you're 22.  (If I'd known my body was going to turn out the way it did, I would have made much better use of the 22-year-old version, let me tell you.) But 30 years later, you want the bounce in your step, not your boob(s).

Recently, I heard silicone implants made a comeback (after being outlawed by the FDA or something because a few fussy customers were whining about some minor thing called auto-immune disorders) and I started getting interested again.

Until I saw The Operation.  Video footage of a surgeon who sliced open the underside of a woman's breast, reached inside and started scooping out great handfuls of glop. The silicone casing had ruptured (a word that should be reserved for fuel lines, not the insides of a human body) and the goop had leaked. Like The Blob, it oozed. It was worse than any slime you can imagine--sticky and yellow and disgusting. You could almost smell how disgusting. Here are some photos, but I'm warning you now, they're not to be viewed with a tummy full of pumpkin pie.

You can rupture your implants in a car accident, by falling off a horse, hitting the handlebars of your Harley-Davidson, rough sex (which I'm not commenting on because my daughters sometimes skip their second slice of pie) and other kinds of trauma that are easy to imagine, especially if you're a writer.

Plus, I realized when I got to the really important piece of information, inserting one breast implant was only going to make the plump one look less than wonderful.

But a double breast implant? At my age? I mean, I'm not planning on working with a pole and pasties anytime soon, so what do I need with a set of honking big hooters? Does my husband even notice? (He doesn't see that I get my hair cut every couple of months or when I wash my car or when I re-paint the living room.) And anyway, we've reached the stage when the lights are off most of the time, if you know what I mean.

Yeah, I sometimes feel silly with one side bigger than the other.  (We do enjoy the beach on Aruba.) But I think I'd feel a lot sillier with a pair of perky 38DDs at my stage of life.

Plus I hear it's tricky to get a decent mammogram with implants in the way. The silicone is "radiopaque" which means it blocks the mammography X-ray beam.

So . . . nope, no implants for me. I'm going to invest in what's called the cutlet and keep the lights off at crucial times. And I'm just going to give thanks for what I have.

                             

November 22, 2006

The Modern Puritans

By Elaine Viets

The Puritans are still with us at Thanksgiving. They’ve just changed their names.

They’re the diet experts who warn us that fat is lurking in our festive dinner like muggers in a park. They extract all the joy from our holiday feast.

You may see Thanksgiving dinner as a chance to enjoy the comfort food from your childhood: roast turkey with all the trimmings, lima beans smothered in cheese sauce, pumpkin and pecan pies.

The modern Puritans believe that homey spread is the highway to hell. They fear the seductive calories will leap onto your unsuspecting thighs. The only way to save yourself is to deny any pleasure, a favorite Puritanical pastime.

No stuffing for you. It’s full of carbs. You must suffer.

The cheese sauce on your vegetables is rich in killer cholesterol and calories. Puritans steam the vegetables instead.

As for that perfectly browned turkey, forget the drumsticks. The Puritans say they’re loaded with fat. You can eat the breast meat, but only after you trim off the skin, the best part. The Puritans say you’ll reduce your turkey this way. You’ll reduce it, all right – to something that tastes like warm Kleenex.

That gravy in Grandma’s china boat is a liquid heart attack, according to the Puritans. They want you to skip the gravy and smother your turkey with high-fiber cranberries.

Cranberries may taste funny on your mashed potatoes, but you’re not supposed to eat those, either. Mashed potatoes are loaded with butter and cream, the Puritans proclaim.

Of course they are. That’s why they taste so good.

Instead, you should have a baked sweet potato, with no butter, brown sugar or little marshmallows. It’s high in fiber.

Fiber. Now there’s the stuff of holiday memories. Can’t you hear your kids say, "Remember the terrific fiber we got at Grandma’s house? I was regular for weeks."

There is one thing worse than killer food. Modern Puritans gleefully declare certain foods are good for you. They can turn any meal into medicine.

I liked cranberries until some Puritanical report said, "Researchers found that cranberries have a multitude of health benefits against heart disease, cancer, stroke and viral and yeast infections."

Cancer? Strokes? And (blush) yeast infections? At the dinner table?

Sorry, but those topics are reserved for after dinner, when the women do the dishes and the guys watch the football game. That’s when Aunt Marie regales us with stories of tumors the size of grapefruit. "The doctors opened Esther up, took one look, and sewed her shut. There wasn’t a thing they could do," she declares. Believe me, none of us rush out to buy grapefruit after that.

The Puritans urge you to forgo any enjoyment of Thanksgiving. You must feel guilty about eating, even for one day. It’s true if I ate like that every meal, you’d have to bury me in a piano crate. But how much damage can one dinner do?

I’ll find out on Thursday. I promise to savor every bite of my Thanksgiving dinner.

And if I overdo it, I’ll enjoy another Puritan pastime. I’ll repent.