Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lesley Stahl's Earrings...humor about the venerable reporter's exquisite jewelry

Lesley Stahl’s Earrings

Perhaps my demographics are showing, but I’m a 60 Minutes watcher.

According to their advertisers, judging by the kinds of products they tout, you really are scratching in “yes” under the potential AARP magazine subscriber box if this is a program on your list of weekly “must sees.” Heck, if you have a weekly list of television must-sees, it may qualify you for checking that box.

I’ve always been a fan of the strong story; the typical beginning, middle and end, blended with the unique, “No kidding?!” element, frequently served up with a splash of irony, along with a call to action. This is the hallmark of the 60 Minutes school of storytelling.

And while I’m making admissions, here’s another one.

I am fascinated by Lesley Stahl’s earrings, seemingly incongruous gems that sway fancifully, even as she lobs hardball questions at any number of illustrious dignitaries, naysayers, yes-ma’amers, and let-me-explainers.

As an award-winning journalist Lesley does not equivocate, nor do those treasures that fairly scream, “Style! Power! High Salary!” It’s not just that she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, she doesn’t suffer at all. Maybe it’s because those earrings act as some sort of talisman warding off compromise while simultaneously courting controversy.

What I want to know is how can you not notice pair after exquisite pair of drop, semi-precious, or fully precious, stone earrings that bob in derision or quiver with indignation, accentuating Lesley’s relentless pursuit of the truth, dad gummit? (See paragraph about AARP box checking and please add utilization of the phrase, “dad gummit.”)

Oh, and the truth? SHE can handle the truth, you’d better believe it.

Also speaking of truth, truthfully, I’ve always been distracted by shiny things, baubles being at the top of my hit parade.

After a solid decade of hardcore 60 Minutes watching I realized that while I had favorite interviewers – Ed Bradley being my most favorite, he also being an earring wearer – I was always intrigued to see which one of the pieces from her collection Lesley would be wearing. It seemed I was tuning in as much for the earrings as I was for the stories, though her gift for narrative is noteworthy.

She’s interviewed scads of the famous, not-so-much-famous, or briefly-famous, including Facebook’s, Mark Zuckerberg, First Lady, Michelle Obama, American hostage, Roy Hallums, ex-tobacco-industry-lobbyist-turned-tobacco-opponent, Victor Crawford, and musical savant, Rex Lewis-Clack. There Lesley is swinging away as steadily as those solidly sassy earrings.

Last Sunday I was in the midst of delivering my usual commentary about which earrings would be making their appearance in the newscast when I stopped mid-observation and actually paid attention to the story.

The subject was slot machines which, as it turns out, our country boasts twice as many of as we do ATM machines. (Isn’t it ironic that you need the latter to feed the former?)

Where were they? (The earrings, not the slot machines.) I noticed Lesley had procured all new earrings, none of which were remotely akin to the earrings of yore. I counted at least four new pairs making their appearance and I would appreciate it if you would just let the fact that I counted them go by without comment.

Though they were quite lovely, they weren’t the usual ornamental fare and my personal 60 Minutes trivia game, “Which earrings will be adorning Lesley’s ears this evening?” was utterly destroyed.

The lag time between story production and air date being what it is, this stylistic modification was likely not elicited by recent Christmas gift giving either. It’s as though there’s a higher meaning intrinsic in this change, one that I feel more keenly when forged through the alchemy of jewelry.

Perhaps serving as metaphorical tea leaves these new trinkets are sending a subliminal message that I need to figure out, possibly before the new season of 60 Minutes ends?

There was another attention-grabbing component to the piece, as reported by the media with vigor, surrounding Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell’s hissy fit, defending slot machines in his state, when he shouted at Lesley and the crew, “You’re simpletons. You’re idiots…” While that was mildly interesting as viewing fodder, you know what grabbed my attention, don’t you?

His ears. No earrings. In fact, they weren’t even pierced.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The 12-Step Java Detox Shuffle...humor about being hooked on seasonal beverages

The 12-Step Java Detox Shuffle

I need a 12-step program for people hooked on seasonal caffeinated beverages.

Every year the holiday revelry comes to a close as definitively as those final close-out sales, leaving me jonesing for the sweet relief that only a three-word, fully loaded, piping hot, Arabica-based infusion can provide me.

I would like to be forthright and lay all of my beans on the table, as it were. I am not a Café noir (French for black coffee) kind of girl, but rather I’m a fan of the foofy. Perhaps in all things, but we’re talking java here.

My first experience imbibing yummy drinks with built-in expiration dates came in the form of the Cinnamon Dolce latte when it was first trotted out and test marketed a few years ago.

Introduced by one of my many beloved coffee purveyors, its tenure was short and then, shurp! (That’s the sound of the Cinnamon Dolce syrup vat running empty.) Nothing, nada, zip. No good time juice for me and the others who were hooked on the stuff.

I must have stood at the front of the line pondering my quandary of deficiency for a full minute. I just could not wrap my underserved, addled brain around the fact that during this blessed season I could not have this blessed gourmet roast drink.

And, worse, when I asked the barista about the future of this fine brew he told me that it was just an experimental run and he wasn’t so sure it would be coming back.

Whaattt???!!! Is this some sort of governmental plot to keep the little people down and non-energetic? Hot, foamy tears of denial welled up, threatening to spill onto my jacket and the coffee jackets sitting on the counter.

I wanted to scream, “Give me my drink!” and the only reason l didn’t is because my husband elbowed me, reminding me that I was taking up precious line time which is one of his pet peeves. Mine is getting elbowed while I’m performing my one-act, one-woman show entitled, “Give me my drink!”

The rest of that period remains a blur as I weaned myself off of that particular latte with all manner of other specialty concoctions. I even took the suggestion to try other syrups, but it was all an abysmal failure until I found those annual delectable coffee tonics I had previously ignored.

We’re all aware that the Coffee Holiday Season begins with the October arrival of that most propitious of calendar moments – the unveiling of the Pumpkin Spice latte. I know. Most people look forward to the onset of October because of Halloween and the opportunity to dress up. Me too.

In my case it’s dressing up my caffeinated beverage with its sweet whipped cream hat and layers of sensory goodness, all buttoned into a cozy cup/sleeve ensemble.

Not to be outdone would be the non-Ides of March months that follow – November and December – which offer a bounty of days off. This is when I can dwell luxuriously and almost continuously in my java happy place, enjoying open season on all manner of tasty drinks.

There’s Spicy Gingerbread, Egg Nog, and Pumpkin Spice, oh, my! There’s incense and peppermints, the color of time. Oh, no, hey, wait a minute. I’m spouting the lyrics from the psychedelic band, Strawberry Alarm Clock’s song, “Incense and Peppermints.”

See what happens when I’m caffeine deficient? I experience weird word associations, go off on tangents and wander off topic which never happens when I’ve had a “fill-er-up” joe experience?!

And speaking of peppermint. Oh, sure, you can find peppermint any time of year, but it’s not festively festooned in a cup touting the joys of the holidays. The full pallet of playful celebratory experience is what I’m looking for, so sans that there is no joy to the world, but rather I’m humbugging my way through the world.

You ask, “What about the calories?” I realize they are “knock your Christmas stockings off” high, but no matter. I skip entire meals just to savor these luscious offerings, sparing no expense either as I delve into these top-dollar treats with verve.

It’s January now and trouble is brewing even as I write this column with shaking hands. Egg Nog is disappearing from the shelves faster than Santa and his elves disappeared from their temporary vacation home at the mall. The only Gingerbread I see is that cute Gingerbread trim that goes on houses where there are currently no Christmas lights either.

I’m by nature a perky person, so this year I’ve decided to adopt a more positive perspective instantly. It’s much like dodging anything in life that the law of averages will undoubtedly land in your path; determined creditors, self-disclosing strangers, or those pesky charging bulls.

Just fluff out your imaginary cape, yell, “Au lait!” and let the games begin.