Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Top Ten List of the Things I Wonder About While Driving or Taking a Shower, Part I

1. If anyone will ever invent tooth whitening coffee.
2. If I’m paying too much for car insurance.
3. What the hell that ex-boyfriend’s problem was.
4. What I should do with all the gobs of money I’m going to have someday.
5. Why it’s called date rape if the perpetrator and victim aren’t really even on a date.
6. Why I spent so much time in high school trying to learn the words to the German version of “99 Luft Balloons” instead of studying.
7. If any of these “Part I” blog entries will ever see a “Part II.”
8. What I was thinking the last time I cut my own hair.
9. Where sexy went, and why everyone’s trying to bring it back.
10. If someday everyone will divide history the way I do: Stuff that happened before the drummer for Def Leppard lost his arm, and stuff that happened after.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Smelebrity Number Nine

Paris Hilton, Jennifer “J. Lo” Lopez, Liz Taylor, Britney Spears, Sarah Jessica Parker, and even Donald Trump: These are all celebrities with a fragrance on the shelves of your favorite department store. To date, it’s hard to name a celebrity who hasn’t thrown her scent to the shelves, as if she’s a dog at a park, madly spraying every tree, bush and swath of grass possible.

As a soap and water gal, I’ve never really taken to perfume. Everything I try on overwhelms me, and I end up fleeing a store called something like Scents for Cents with my eyes and nose watering. I drive home with the windows down, wondering how anyone determines what their favorite fragrance is, and if I’ll ever feel like spending the equivalent of a tank of gas on something I’ll likely tuck into one of my toiletry bags at home, forgetting it until airport security officials confiscate it the next time I travel. And how do you shop for the stuff without trying a bunch of it on?

I know it must be hard to pull together a commercial for something so intangible, but the television advertisements only serve to bemuse me. And they’re a treasure trove of information compared to the copy that goes into each print and catalog ad. I was thinking that what’s in the bottle either smells like something or it doesn’t, but that’s me: A fan of the “You’re soaking in it!” campaign.

One designer scent goes so far as to claim that it’s “A new fragrance interpretation that is the essence of enchanting femininity…” I’ve always wanted to know what enchanting femininity smells like, and now I can find out by driving to the nearest Sephora. What a relief.

I admit that I’m a cynic, but really—haven’t we exhausted the possibilities? Aren’t there a finite number of ways that one’s wrist or neck or cleavage can smell, and haven’t we formulated them all? With its textures and variations in preparing it, and its visual context, food is much more complicated than perfume, and if you ask most people, it always “tastes like chicken.”

So in the spirit of stopping the insanity, I’ve devised a plea and an opportunity. Forget “enchanting femininity,” let’s get back to basics, back to the beginning. Call it appealing to the lowest common denominator if you want. Call it dumbing things down if you want; I call it getting back to basics. I call it keeping it simple and real, and when word gets out, Jeremy Piven, it’s going to be huge, and you missed the boat.

Celebrity perfumes account for 7% of the US prestige fragrance market, a $2.8 billion business. That’s some pretty good scratch, and shoot, if someone can get away with pushing a bottle of liquid claiming that it’s a new “fragrance interpretation,” there must be a way for someone genuine to grab a piece of the action.

Introducing my idea for a new smelebrity fragrance: Sniff This, by Snoop Dogg.
Instead of calling it an “olfactory experience,” I plan on making this marketing plan a no-brainer, targeting Snoop Dogg’s loyal—if impaired—niche demographic. Sniff This is a unisex fragrance with bong water high notes, Cheetos middle notes, and a malt liquor base note, and I plan to roll out this scent-sational stuff at the next Widespread Panic show. So if you want to work this one out, Snoop, give me a call. You’ll find me in the book, I’m living on Shakedown Street right now.

And P.S., Dogg,
Don’t limit yourself to perfume, G. Have you seen KY’s new offerings and super-high production value TV advertisements for products from your personal lubricant aisle? We could call it celube-rity. Don’t forget to thank me when you’re a gazillionaire, yo.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Owning Up to My Music Collection, Part I: The Corrs

I saw the Corrs perform live as Conan O’Brien’s musical guest in 2000, way back when there was still a little lingering doubt that the show could go on with the same amount of hilarity without Andy Richter. (I guess we all know how that turned out.) The year before that, I’d bought the Corrs’ CD, Talk on Corners, and seeing them endorsed by my favorite modern-day, late-night pitch man validated that my music collection was pitch perfect, baby.


I won’t be too hard on myself for loving the Corrs like I did. It was a time in my life when I was grasping at whatever good vibes I could get. I’d just been fired without warning by people I’d considered my friends. It was a harsh blow to my pride, and just two weeks after a surgeon had taken a drill and screws to my knee. Overnight, I’d become that sappy gal who was gimpy and moody, with a black mark on her resume and ketchup on her shirt, and there they were: The Corrs. They were beautiful, the one brother and three sisters. They were my Irish Partridge Family with dark, silky hair and peachy-creamy skin. And the noticeable, welcome absence of Danny Bonaduce. From my cheap condo with bad wall-to-wall carpeting and bad wall-to-wall dogs, I imagined them in their quaint little native village, writing songs and playing them under the moss- and dew-dipped thatch of their cottage, the unicorns munching sweet grass and thistles right outside the front door.

What seems like light years later, I now live in a major ski resort town, where you’ll find someone playing live music seven nights a week just about anywhere there’s space. Most of them are high-end hacks singing cover tunes and playing their guitars to the gimmicks they’ve made up to sell drinks. (Johnny Mogambo, I’m looking right at you, with your patrons lined up and ready to drink from the set of shot glasses you glued to the surface of an old ski, your cries of “Shotski!” reverberating down the whole valley. And to be fair, I’m not looking at Phil Long, a real musician who loved playing piano and guitar at the Red Lion so much that he bought the place, and continues to perform there every night. After ten o’clock, you can hear him sing and play an entire musical such as Jesus Christ Superstar or Annie, no shit.) With all the racket going on every night, and all the children’s music every day—The Wiggles in particular—you would think that my stereo selection of choice would be white noise at the least, and NPR at the most. For the most part, it is, but every now and then, when I’m alone in my car driving the I-70 corridor, I have been known to slip Talk On Corners into the CD player.

You’ll notice right off the bat, if you ever get the chance, that The Corrs is not just an Irish band. It’s an Irrrrish band, with the “r”s rolled up tight and the whiskey corks loose. For some reason, all the tin whistles and the bodhran beats are OK with me. The word “moonbeams” is used in two different songs, but somehow I get past that. It’s a lot of acoustic guitar, with the complete lack of a sizzling electric solo, a string section that's decidedly more violin than fiddle, quite a bit of tambourine--and instrument that's right up there with the cowbell in its underratedness--and maybe, I'm not sure, but I think just a hint of accordion in there somewhere. As someone who spent a good chunk of time measuring a band’s worth by the size of the hair and the power of the ballad, I can stick by Talk on Corners, and sometimes consider changing my name to Wee Paddy McFinn from Cork County in the process, because is it’s so goshdarn uplifting.

Yes, the lead vocals are too breezy and weak, which is probably the reason for all the harmonizing that’s going on in every track, but I can’t help but loop around to the third song on the album a few times. It’s my favorite, a real toe-tapper, entitled “So Young.”

Because it begins with a synthesized drum line and a nanosecond of scratching, “So Young” is the most modern, mainstream-sounding song you’ll find on the album. And let’s get it straight: It’s bright and fun and poppy. It’s just perfect for the opening sequence of a sitcom in which three girls move from their farm to New York, where they make it big simply by working hard and diligently refrain from sleeping with each other’s boyfriends. It’s the kind of song that I would use were I a producer working on a commercial for a feminine hygiene product, and in fact it’s become impossible for me to listen to “So Young” without watching in my mind the vivid image of a 20-something brunette, just as fresh-faced and feisty as you please, in white short-shorts. She’s doing something like leap-frogging a fire hydrant, for heaven’s sake. She’s so confident! So bold! Gosh, you’d never know she was on her period would you? Gee, just what kind of tampon has she got in there, anyway? Whatever it is, it's really working. Just as dry and as comfortable as any postmenopausal, pre-incontinence woman, that gal’s going places. And she’s getting there without any worry whatsoever of menstrual-related embarrassment.

And there you have it: The Corrs. I’m saying it. I’m unapologetic. Maybe I’m even prostheletizing a bit. Try it. Listen, if you can still find it. Put on those short-shorts and get out there, tiger. We can do it, even if we have to drink a Guinness first.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

In My Next Life I'd Like to Have Better Time Management Skills

Maybe then I'll find a way to mention in plenty of time that you can order something from this very special line of tee shirts, mugs and cards. It's perfect for Mother's Day. (Depending on the mother, as you'll see.)

Until my next reincarnation, have a happy day, mothers!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Addicted to Recovery, or, This is What Sleep Deprivation Can Do to a Person

I might complain about it, but living with someone who is constantly bogarting the TV remote is kind of a blessing. No, I usually don’t care to watch all four hundred episodes in the James Bond marathon, thanks for asking, or an entire round of an Ultimate Fighting cage match, so I sit next to Alex and practice scales on the guitar—as loudly as possible. It’s good for me. When it’s my birthday or a night when I’m home alone, though, I get the remote to myself, and if the TV gods are smiling, the show Intervention is on.

I loved Intervention right away for its message that radical transformation can happen, even to people who will at first fight it tooth and nailgun; it’s a bloody war between the forces of good and evil within a single person, and we get to watch without fearing the shrapnel that’s flying from scene one.

One minute of the show we’re shaking out heads at Alyson, a three-time White House intern-turned-crackhead who regularly breaks into her dying father’s room to steal his morphine. “When the safe is open,” she says, “I feel like it’s my birthday. Like I won the lottery.” We break for commercial and let it sink in that there’s a mother out there who is not only going to be a widow soon, but has been moved by her own daughter’s behavior to keep her dying husband’s drugs under lock and combination. Minutes later, after accepting her family’s free ride to a treatment facility in Anaheim, Alyson is running the place and entertains a career as an author. “I can do it,” she laughs as the credits roll. “It’s possible.” And we believe her.

It’s usually at the end of the show, when I’m full of good old-fashioned inspiration, that I beg Alex to stage an intervention on me. “Please,” I beg, “I’m dying to go to rehab.”

If Intervention is as true to life as I’m sure it isn’t, I would put on my headphones, or open a magazine, or make nice chit chat with my interventionist before our flight touched down in a nice, warm place. We’d head over to what the show calls “detox,” which sounds like code for “getting a big snoot full of uninterrupted sleep.” After that, check-in at a facility that looks like a hybrid between a cottage and spa, for what could be weeks or even months of talking about myself to adults who are paid to listen. Yes, maybe I would have to cook or clean there; maybe I would have to sleep in the same room with someone who may decide one night to melt down my jewelry, suck it into a syringe, and inject it directly into her heart, but I’ll hand her my wedding ring myself if she promises to be as quiet as a little mouse while she does it. I may have to deal with cigarette smoke at rehab, but I’m pretty sure that no one will wake me at least three times every night, begging for another cup of milk, an hour of hair-stroking, and twelve more rounds of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

“There’s one small problem,” Alex always says. “You don’t really even drink.” He can be such a wet blanket.

“Don’t I?” I try and argue. “Maybe you’re just in denial.”

“Fine, then chug this beer.”


He’s right, of course, for ignoring my cries for help. I know exactly what would happen. I would exit recovery, fresh as a daisy, hugging the pillows I had needle pointed with sentiments of a slightly spiritual flavor, believing in myself. And then after a few months of normal, everyday life, where a certain someone is physically incapable of putting his dishes into the sink instead of the dishwasher, and another certain someone likes to let herself outside, step in dog poop, and then come back inside to walk over every single square inch of carpet, I would find myself itching to go right back to the bliss of one full night’s sleep after another and the ability to eat a whole serving of…anything, without having to answer several questions about it before giving more than half of it away to someone who is too cute to refuse.

There’s no recovery from normal life, I guess, unless you count dying. As someone without an addiction to a substance or behavior that’s destroying my life and others’—except for the way I play guitar—no one has ever insisted that I “work a program.” I realize that I should be so grateful for this seemingly small fact that I start speaking in tongues, and so I'll express my undying gratitude to whatever forces kept me from beneath the giant ax of vice by telling you: I know that part of my problem is that I've had it so good. I also know that part of my blessing is that I've lived within a hair of those who have had it no good at all.

Having it good, having it bad...let's forget all that for a minute and get back to the things I can influence. Until I can change the minds of my friends and family, I’m going to work my own clumsy hodge-podge of twelve or so steps from now on, maybe even going so far as to gather my friends together for telling our ugliest truths and our most glorious ones, holding hands, singing songs, and shoring up our own hopes for what’s possible when we live life in delicious, bite-sized chunks. Note to self: Buy a coffee urn and make flyers.

I’m Jody Reale, and I’ve been without an entire night’s sleep for 392 days. Thank whatever higher power is available right now, I know that this, too, shall pass.