Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dear Kim Jong Il...

Hope You are Fine. Wish You Were Here
Obama Writes Letter to N. Korea Leader


© 2009 Leighann Lord


Special Envoy and honorary post man Stephen Bosworth delivered a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, written by President Obama. The contents of the letter are unknown but it is part of the effort to get North Korea back to talks about nuclear disarmament. Political paparazzi may wonder what this heretofore secret letter says, but style mavens everywhere really want to know: handwritten or typed?

In these days of email, texting and Skyping, handwritten letters are a lost art, but Barack Obama is a class act. He knows a beautiful handwritten note on presidential stationery could be just the thing to the North Korean leader. And what writing implement would the President use for such a sensitive missive? Ballpoint? A roller ball? Fountain pen? Fine, medium or broad point?

Script or print, pristine penmanship is of paramount importance. Chicken scratch will not do. The First Lefty’s (and by left I mean which hand he writes with, not the political side to which he leans) handwriting has to look as good, if not better than, he does. Future American Presidents may not have this ability. Cursive writing is not a part of today's educational curriculum. As lamentable as I find this to be, times do change. We no longer expect urgent political messages to be sent by Morse code, Pony Express or carrier pigeon.

I wonder what the letter smelled like. In the days of yore, it was cool for correspondence to be scented. Calvin Klein's Obsession does it for me, but Enjouli might better capture the fragrance of freedom.

More than likely the letter was typed using a very tricked out version of Microsoft Word. (White house Word?) What is the favorite font of world leaders? Serif? Sans serif? Times New Roman and Helvetica are safe but boring. A high level letter like this begs for a bolder font, one that communicates presidential power and political savvy without being too ostentatious. Maybe something reserved and classic like Bookman Old Style, or fun and light-hearted like Comic Sans. Before you scoff and reject the latter out of hand, remember nuclear weaponry is heavy stuff. Maybe Earwig Factory is what the doctor ordered.

Not doubt done on a beautiful cream-colored, heavy weight, watermarked paper (multipurpose laser, bulk-bought from Staples would be insultingly informal), how long would a letter like this be? Anything more than three, single-spaced pages might get a little tedious. The trick is to be brief without being incomplete. But since this is not a new dance between the U.S. and N.K., I think a simple heartfelt handwritten note would have sufficed:

Dear Kim,
Don't be such a hard ass.
Call me.
Love, Barry

Bonus? You can fit that in a Twitter post.

Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform New Years Eve @ Sweet Basil in Queensbury, NY! Check out her other upcoming shows @ www.VeryFunnyLady.com. Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.
www.VeryFunnyLady.com

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chuck Schumer: I Love You, Man!

© 2009 Leighann Lord

I love Senator Chuck Schumer (D, NY). I don't love him out of some misguided sense of state pride or in that restraining order kinda way. I love him because he has a knack for bringing attention to the little things in life that matter to the little people. He had me at the "airline passenger bill of rights." Yes, there's haggling over health care, too many or too few troops in Afghanistan, but last week Chuck put the spotlight on the issue of egregious ATM fees. I love you, man!

If you've used an ATM to grab a little cash then you know fees have gone up. If you've availed yourself of an ATM that is not owned by your bank, then you are charged a fee by both. If it sounds like double dipping and smells like double dipping then it's banking business as usual. It's the bail out they never have to pay back.

And the timing of Chuck's charge is no accident. In a nutshell: "C'mon guys. It's Christmas!" During the holidays no one, not even banking executives, wants to be labeled a Grinch, a Scrooge, or the Burger Meister Meister Burger. Nice use of holiday guilt, Senator. You are the smoothest version of the Ghost of Christmas Present.

To avoid ATM fees I take money out of the bank the old-fashioned way. I go to the bank during banking hours. I fill out a withdrawal slip, take it to the window and tell the teller what denominations I want. Twenty dollars in singles makes me feel flush. If I absolutely have to go to an ATM, I make sure I go to one that’s owned by MY bank. I refuse to pay a fee to withdraw MY money.

For good or ill I do the family finances. My Husband came home one day and dutifully gave me an ATM receipt for a withdrawal he made from his checking account. I noticed that it was not from "our" bank. "Well no," he said. "I couldn't find a branch of 'our' bank, so I went to another one. Does it make a difference?"

I guess I must have blacked out because when I came to I was flipping through the Yellow Pages looking for a divorce lawyer. Of course I wouldn't have been able to afford one, what with our family fortune being frittered away on fees. Our marriage survived and we learned a few things. If a man really loves his wife, he won't go swiping his bank card all over town in just any old ATM machine. But that same love, no matter how strong, does not endow a man with the ability to magically read his wife's mind. But it should.

He should have known that ATM fees drive me crazy. Chuck knew. That’s why I’m glad he’s championing a cause of the frugal folk. My lofty hopes were laid low, however, when I heard that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, "promised that his agency will conduct a review of the major rise in ATM fees imposed by banks on customers who are simply trying to withdraw their own money." Oh no, not "A Review." Feel the fear? Me neither. The only thing that could make this more disingenuous is if this review is done by a committee of "Industry Leaders."

This "review" could be accomplished with a simple conference call between Bernanke and his friends:

Ben: Hey guys, why are the ATM fees so high?

Banks: Duh, because we make more money that way.

Ben: Yeah, I know but Chuck called so knock it off.

Banks: Do we have too?

Ben: At least until after the holidays.

Banks: Awww!

Ben: Don't make me adjust the prime rate.

Banks: Okay, fine .... F*&k Chuck.

Ben: I heard that!

[DIAL TONE]

A review sounds so lame. Bernanke isn’t flexing his muscle in Alan Greenspanian fashion. He's passing the buck. Or rather, letting his friends continue to pocket them. Nothing was said about stopping, restricting or regulating ATM fees. And even if there was something else would take it’s place: A bank cover charge with a two transaction minimum? A withdrawal slip fee? Call it a "going green" campaign and it'll be bullet proof. Even worse, it might be Chuck proof. I still love him for trying though.

Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform Friday, 12/18 @ the infamous Ottos Shrunken Head for the No Name Comedy Show! Check out her other upcoming shows @ www.VeryFunnyLady.com. Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter. www.VeryFunnyLady.com



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Leave Me Alone, Al Roker!

© 2009 Leighann Lord

I hopped into a cab on my way to do a spot at The Comic Strip. I reached reflexively to turn off The Taxi Cab TV but there was no off button. What the Frak? There's usually an obvious red "off" button on the bottom right side of the TV touch screen. Today, it was painfully absent. With the TV blaring I said to the driver, "Excuse me? Can you turn this off from up there?" "No," he said. "I'm sorry." So the best I could do was turn it down, but I was still visually assaulted by a dazzling array of bright, quick-moving video images and Al Roker.

This attack on my senses is not unique. I was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office. I and two other people were quietly reading. One woman was flipping through a magazine, the gentleman was engrossed in a novel and I, as usual, was on my laptop. Suddenly, the receptionist came out, remote control in hand, and turned on the TV to some mind-numbing morning show. Seriously? Perhaps the look on my face made her belatedly ask, "Do you mind having the TV on?" The other two gave half-hearted, acquiescent shrugs. I spoke up and said, "Do we have too?"

"Uh ... okay," she said, turning it off, the room returning to a blissful, blather-free silence. "The Doctor thought it was a little too quiet in here." A little too quiet? Thought we'd over hear the screaming, did he? Before I could stop myself, I said, "It's a little early, but would you like me to ring up a few friends, call a DJ and make it a party?" The receptionist didn't answer, choosing instead to return to the safety of her glass enclosed cube.

That was probably best. My DJ-on-call days are a bit behind me. The best I could do was aux in my Ipod and hope everyone liked my 80s House Music play list. But Marshall Jefferson is not for everybody. Even hard core House Heads may not be inspired to "Jack, jack, jack, jack your body" at 9:30 in the morning.

Now I must admit, I might have reacted differently if the TV had been turned on to Judge Judy. If they had tried to call me in for my appointment in the middle of a case, there’d be problems.

My Dentist has a TV in the waiting room AND the examination room. But he has never one asked me what I want to watch. No CNN, History International or Cartoon Network for me. My choices are Rachel Ray and Wheel of Fortune. "I’d like to solve the puzzle, Pat. What is ‘Hell no!’?" I’d prefer a root canal.

My Dentist has a wicked sense of humor, so I should be grateful he doesn’t make me watch something from the Saw franchise. Besides, if the TV is there to distract me, it’s not working. Once the chair reclines and the Dentist goes to work, all I see is the bright over head light, and all I hear is the whirr of the drill.

Is this how old age starts, with a need for peace and quiet that quickly devolves into sensible shoes and dinner at 4 o’clock? But truthfully, I've always been like this. I remember going to night clubs in college and being dismayed that the music was so needlessly loud. "How am I supposed to have a conversation with anybody?" I screamed at my friends as the baseline reverberating through my marrow. Yes. I know. I'm odd. But as we age there is a natural loss of hearing. At some point the music will need to be loud for me to enjoy it. Why rush it?

This is perhaps one of the few good reasons to have children later in life. By the time they’re teenagers, they can play their music as loud as they like. Mama’s not gonna care.

We've had TVs in the back of Taxi's for quite a while now. At first it was novel. Now, it's annoying. I feel overstimulate to the point of numbness. (Perhaps this is what my Dentist is trying to achieve, saving money on novocaine.) I don’t need to be constantly entertained. Sometimes I want to hear, see and do nothing. Sometimes I want a break from The Matrix. Sometimes I want an Al Roker-free cab ride.


Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform Monday, 12/7, at Tom Ragu's Comedy Review @ the legendary Stone Wall Inn in NYC. Check out her other upcoming shows @ www.VeryFunnyLady.com. Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter. More at
www.VeryFunnyLady.com

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Palin-Clinton Coffee Klatsch

Half listening to the Sunday talk show clap trap, I thought I misheard Hillary Clinton when she said she had not yet met Sarah Palin, but wouldn't mind chatting with her over a cup of coffee. I couldn't believe these two pivotal political women weren’t personally acquainted, but then again, Sarah dissed Hil pretty hard for playing the gender card, or as Sarah called it: "whining." I guess it's not whining if you write it instead of say it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Death Hires a Sniper

Did Grandma Have it Coming?
© 2009 Leighann Lord

A 92-year-old woman in New York City was shot and killed in her own home by a stray bullet. Why did this happen? Was it a senior citizen love triangle gone wrong? Women live longer than men and the competition naturally gets fierce. Did she flirt with the wrong octogenarian, inciting a rival to grab her musket, fire up her power chair and motor out for a drive by? Who says Grannies can't get gansta?


T
here is an unpleasant but a distinct possibility that she brought this on herself. If you've read "The Secret" and subscribe to The Law of Attraction, then you know he had it coming. But what could a 92-year-old woman do to deserve such a dastardly demise: Medicare fraud, prescription drug running, cheating at Bingo, hubris? Maybe she got cocky. Wouldn't you? Living for so long, it's easy to think Death has overlooked you. And maybe it did.

Death, like the rest of us, is overworked and understaffed. I picture Death sitting in Starbucks checking his BlackBerry (because Death would have a BlackBerry, not an iPhone) going over his To Do List. (If you see Death as more of a traditionalist, perhaps he is reviewing his Franklin Covey Day Planner.) He sees he's forgotten to acquire Sadie. Already back logged up to his hoodie, Death subcontracts the job out to Disease.

Disease takes the gig because who turns down work in this economy? Swine flu is hot. The elderly are in the "at risk" category, but it's also the busy season. There are a lot of sick people with pre-existing conditions and no health insurance. So Disease sub-subcontracts the job to Violence. "Don't get fancy. She's 92. Make it look like an accident."

But as always, Violence is sloppy. With no oversight or quality control, a 92-year-old woman who probably should have passed peacefully in her sleep, was instead "accidentally" shot in the back by a kid young enough to be her great grandson.

The police caught the 18-year-old culprit. And one can only hope that if there is any justice in the world he will be found guilty and sentenced a minimum of 92 years. It's disconcerting to think that Sadie was eligible for Social Security and taking mandatory disbursement from her IRA's when her killer was still in diapers. They grow up so fast don't they?

If heaven is like school and people are grouped by age, Sadie will find herself in a room full of folks who were felled by heart attacks, strokes or pneumonia. She’ll be the only 92-year-old gunshot victim. When they tell their stories in turn, people will be shocked and awed when Sadie recounts, "I died when I was 92, bullet to the back. Yup, Death sent a sniper." Even in The Great Beyond that's got to add up to a lot of street cred. Who'd of thought dying in your sleep would be the wimpy way to go?
Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform 11/24 - 28 at Acme Comedy Company in Mineapolis with the Sheroes of Comedy! Check out her other upcoming shows @ www.VeryFunnyLady.com. Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Post Election Analysis: You Can't Lend Charisma

© 2009 Leighann Lord

The day after the election, my Dad was mad. He said, "You know who lost the election for Mayor? Obama!" he said not waiting for an answer. I was worried that senility had come for my Dad in the night. Barack Obama wasn't running for Mayor of New York City. That pseudo contest was between incumbent Michael Bloomberg and challenger Bill Thompson.

It turns out, my Dad was convinced that if the President had spent as much time stumping for Thompson as he did for "everybody else" Thompson would've won. It's easy to believe that especially given how close the race was. Apparently $100 million doesn't buy as much of a margin as you'd think. But Obama campaigned for the governors of New Jersey and Virginia, and they both lost. Extrapolating that out, it’s conceivable that if Obama had endorsed Thompson more vigorously, he could have lost by an even wider margin.

Republicans are cooing that this is a big win for them. And quite frankly they needed it. The Grand Old Party just hasn't been itself since the last presidential election. They are going through an identity crisis of pubescent proportions. Like a desperate 30 something -- the cockiness of their 20s a distant memory -- signing up on E-Harmony, they've been looking for something real to hold onto. But is this the big chink in The Obama Mystique they've been so desperately looking for? It could be.

It's a gross miscalculation to think that everyone in the Democratic party can wrap themselves in the cloak of change and ride the wave to elected office. The losses in Virginia and New Jersey prove that charisma isn't always a tradeable asset. It's like that really cute guy who ambles over, chats you up, and then asks you to go out with his not so cute friend whom you didn't notice over at the bar drooling in your general direction. It's the Trojan Horse, Cyrano de Bergerac, bait and switch. And the voters responded in TLC fashion, "No, I don't want no scrubs!" (The grammar checker on my computer insists that this sentence should read, "any" scrubs, but I’ll risk the grammatical error to preserve the intent of the artist.)

I love Barack, but don't misconstrue that for total agreement. I'm still way burnt that the First Dog isn't a mutt and I'm getting tired of hitting the snooze button on health care. That said, I dig Obama, not the Democratic party. There's a reason why I'm still a registered Independent. It helps me keep a healthy level of skepticism of both parties, and not drink too deeply of the ever-changing flavors of called they're pedaling to whomever might be listening at the moment.

In the New York City Mayoral election I was neither delighted by nor interested in either of the candidates. Bloomberg's third term power grab with the help of the City Council was nothing short of disgusting. His money scared off all possible challengers except Thompson. I wondered more than once if Thompson was brave or just plain crazy. Perhaps it was all one big show for the Public’s benefit. The election results already predetermine, the slim margin of victory thrown in for dramatic effect. But that's a little too conspiracy-theory even for me.

The pervasive feeling among the people I talked to about Thompson was, "Is he the best the Democratic Party has to offer? Really? Seriously?" I'm sure he's a nice, hard-working man. Even Mayor Bloomberg had occasion to comment that he was excellent in his job as Comptroller, but you can't fake chemistry.

Maybe Barack didn't campaign harder for Thompson because, deep down he knew it wouldn't do any good. With 2010 looming, big political promises still to keep, and the Republicans feeling good after their election day make over, maybe President Obama needs to keep a little charisma in reserve for himself.


Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform 11/24 - 28 at Acme Comedy Company in Mineapolis with the Sheroes of Comedy! Check out her other upcoming shows @ www.VeryFunnyLady.com. Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter. www.VeryFunnyLady.com

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Best Buy, Worst Buy

© 2009 Leighann Lord

It was all my fault. And when I tell you the story, you’ll agree. You’ll shake your head and say, "Yes, Leighann. You brought it on yourself. What were you thinking, going into Best Buy and expecting good customer service? You know better than that." Yes, I do. But I thought, "How wrong can I go looking for a simple item?" I found out.

I went into Best Buy on Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street in Manhattan looking for a padded case for my netbook. My one year old Acer Aspire One is only 2 1/2 pounds and it tickles me no end that it's petite enough to put in my purse.

A friend said, "You should really get a padded case for that. If your purse falls," which it often does - gravity loves a heavy bag, "You could kill your Acer." True and it would be a small consolation that I could buy a new one cheap. What I can't afford is the time it would take reinstalling programs and backup data. Plus it was an excuse to go shopping.

I tried Staples, a luggage store and Tek Serve, the local Mac spot. All of the cases were way too big since they were meant for full size laptops. That's how I ended up at Best Buy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they actually had a decent assortment of net book cases. I'm a hands on shopper so I took my netbook out, slipped it into several cases, narrowing it down to two. Although I liked the look of the second one, the cardboard packaging was attached in such a way that it prevented the zipper from being opened all the way.

When a sales associate appeared and asked if I needed help I said, "Yes, I'd like to see how well this case fits my netbook, do you have an open one I can try?" The employee (and I assumed he was an employee since he was wearing a royal blue shirt) shrugged his shoulders and laughed! Not a knee slapping laugh, but an audible chuckle, and said, "No. I don't have, like, a floor model."

See? My fault! I expected him to say, "Oh, let me open this one for you," especially since it was the more expensive of the two. I don't know if this guy works on commission but logically if the company makes money, the store stays open, he stays gainfully employed. But clearly this was not upper most in shrug-chuckle boy's mind.

Just so we're clear, this was not a matter of hunting down a manager, getting a key and unlocking a hermetically sealed security case. All he would have had to do was peel back two tiny pieces of scotch tape. God forbid! Doesn’t the blue shirt doesn't give you the authority to break tape and make a sale?

My Dad said, "What were you doing in Best Buy? They're too expensive. I could’ve made a case for you." I shuddered with visions of bubble wrap, cardboard and duct tape. "You should have asked for a manager," he grumbled. My Dad, retired with time to burn, doesn't hesitate to carry his concerns to the top of the food chain. He'll chat with supervisors, write letters, and take road trips to the home office to visit with district managers. Mr. Lord does not abide shoddy service. He is the Keyser Sose of retail.

"You're too nice," my Husband said. "I would have loaded up a basket with expensive equipment, found a store manager and said, 'This is what I'm NOT buying because of THAT employee.'" I wish I could’ve thought that fast. But I didn't. I’m ashamed to say I let it go. I apologize to my fellow shoppers. Because I said and did nothing this guy will go on giving sub-par service. One of you will be shrugged and/or laughed at.

But if Best Buy can't give me good service on a little thing, I'm not going to give them the chance to disappoint me on anything bigger. I've got an old Dell Inspiron that's on it's last legs. It weighs a ton and carbon dates back to the late 90s. So I'm overdue for a new laptop. Guess where I'm not going.


Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform 10/30 - 31 at Gotham Comedy Club with comedy legend Jim Mendrinos! Get your Tickets Now! Check out her other upcoming shows @ www.VeryFunnyLady.com. Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter. www.VeryFunnyLady.com

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bikram Doesn't Blow, But It Ain't in the Budget

© 2009 Leighann Lord

I wish I liked cheesecake. Every time I watch "The Golden Girls" it seems like there’s no problem that can't be solved by chowing down on a generous late-night slice of cheesecake. But try as I might, I can't seem to develop a taste for it. I feel the same way about yoga.

Yoga, like cheesecake, has a devout following and makes people feel good but I haven't had much success. I have a few dusty yoga DVDs (subtext: drink coasters) in my house. They’re probably great if you already do yoga and, with basics firmly grasped, are looking to supplement your practice.

My bookshelf boasts a pristine copy of "Yoga for Dummies." This proves that at one point I was serious about thinking about maybe trying yoga, again. But alas yoga isn't a theoretical thing. It's a get-on-the-mat and do it thing. And I have, with less than inspiring results. I often joke in my act: "I hurt my knee doing yoga. I hyper-extended it. Now I can't 'drop it like it's hot.' I have to carefully set it down at room temperature."

I want to like yoga. I really do. I have friends who swear by it. They claim it gives them flexibility, energy, vitality, tranquility. I could use a big dose of all of that. And so I try yoga every few years thinking it will be different. Maybe now I'll be "ready." In my ideal version of myself, I am effortlessly calm, cool, and collected. I imagine that Yoga will help me achieve and maintain that. Yoga will quell my angst, anger and general impatience with life. And then the sweet voice of the instructor dashes my hopes with an impossible request: "Close your eyes . . . take a deep breath . . . contort your colon into the shape of a pentagram . . . please stop crying, you're disturbing the other students . . . "

This time it's my Husband who's invited me to take a yoga class with him. And not just any old yoga, Bikram Yoga. That's the hot one. Ninety minutes of yoga done on the surface of the sun. I tried it and it didn't totally suck. I love the heat and was careful not to over do it. Yoga is deceptive. You think you're not doing anything so you push it and the next thing you know, you're doctor says you have a partially torn meniscus, courtesy of the tree pose. That'll be $800. Namaste.

It was a big class. Apparently hot yoga is hot. This instructor was patient and kind to the new students. My body did a decent job of keeping up, but my mind? Not so much. Between listening, doing, judging, critiquing, my inner monologue wouldn't shut the hell up. "Are we having fun yet?" the instructor chirped. "No. No, we're not."

Bikram Yoga, developed by Bikram Choudhury, is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Celsius. Uh huh. I suspect Bikram's air conditioning broke down one day and he just went with it.

As we struck yoga poses in the heat, images of southern plantations sprang to mind. Is Bikram Yoga like picking cotton without the whip? But instead of a measly 90 minutes the slaves did it all day long. Lucky them. If only their owners had known how healthy working out in the heat could be. The slaves would have had to pay for the privilege.

I optimistically wondered what would happen if I really like yoga this time. It won't be just books and DVDs. There'll be gear: yoga clothes, yoga mat, yoga retreats, yoga friends. I am keenly aware that yoga isn't just a workout it's a life style and I'm not sure if that's in the budget. I'd have to squeeze it in between my food, clothing and shelter lifestyles.

Mostly though, my mind wandered over more pertinent concerns. "Oh dear God! Am I doing this right? Are my hands, feet, legs, arms, head, colon, breath in the right place? I hope I don't look ridiculous." That's what's so difficult about adult learning. We're way more self conscious, cautious, inhibited. There's a certain level of arrogance too. We think being good at one thing, should make us good at everything. Did we learn nothing from Michael Jordan's ill-fated move from basketball to baseball?

Childhood isn't just the last likely location of our innocence. It may also be the last time we can feel free enough to look foolish while trying new things. It's as if the pain and awkwardness of puberty is so scaring, we all vow -- Scarlet O'Hara style -- never again.

It's difficult for a classic Type A personality to relax and go with the flow but I'm trying. I force myself to focus. I tell myself it's okay to look foolish. I'm probably not the only one. If the universe can survive that, so can I. And maybe, if Bikram Yoga works out, there's hope for cheesecake.

Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform 10/30 & 31 at Gotham Comedy Club with husband and headliner Jim Mendrinos! Check out her upcoming shows @ www.VeryFunnyLady.com. Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter. www.VeryFunnyLady.com

Monday, October 12, 2009

I Can't Hold My Bread

The Great Bagel Debacle
© 2009 Leighann Lord

I think I've developed an allergy to wheat, specifically bagels. I am devastated because bagels and I go way back. They’re what I lived on when I was in college. The year I arrived at school, the cafeteria was shut down by The Board of Health. My dining options were vending machines or local restaurants. The latter would devour my meager college student budget. That's when I discovered bagels. They were cheap and filling. Eaten at the right time of day, I wouldn't have to buy anything else. A bagel a day, kept the abject poverty away.

I don't have a doctor's diagnosis to back me up. I'm still waiting for Congress to get back to me on the whole health care thing. My evidence is purely anecdotal. Every time I eat a bagel I get super tired. I'm talking steak and potatoes tired. A nap isn't optional, it's mandatory. I can't focus or function until I lay down and let the fatigue have it's way with me. So while most people can't hold their liquor, I can't hold my bread.

I'm also dismayed because the list of things I can't eat seems to be growing:

Anything Served in a College Food Court.
Admittedly, collegiate food has vastly improved over the years. Anything is a step up from vending machines. But by the time I get to a campus to do a show, everything is closing and I'm getting the dregs of the day. A sandwich on almost stale bread or a prepackaged freezer burned salad is not my idea of a healthy dinner. Nothing seems particularly tasty when you carry it away on a plastic tray.


Anything Sold by a Street Vendor.
This stuff is probably never good for you, no matter how old you are, but it's convenient. It seems over time, however, that our ability to process street food in a discreet way makes it a less desirable option. Ice cream trucks were ruined for me when my parents asked: "Where does the guy go to the bathroom and wash his hands?" Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Anything on a Bar Menu/Anything Fried
I'm hard pressed to think of anything on a bar menu, besides alcohol, that's not fried: chicken fingers, cheese sticks, nachos (fried just not on-site), spring rolls. Spring rolls are tricky. How can a food with Spring in the title be bad for you? It's a culinary Jedi mind trick. "This is not the healthy food you're looking for." Now while fried food doesn't make me sleepy, I can feel the pimples forming on my face as I'm chewing.

Burger King French Fries
Because in comparison to McDonald’s, BK’s fries are just plain nasty.

Again, none of this is by "Doctor's orders," yet. But if you're paying attention, your body tells you, long before any medical professional, what you should and shouldn't be eating. You and your colon have a conversation. "Really? You're gonna eat that? You know we can't handle that. How about a piece of fruit? Wait, is that organic?" My body is in league against me. If my stomach objects, my colon sustains and I am found in contempt.

My Parents on the other hand have an extensive list from their doctor of what they can't eat. This makes going out to dinner difficult. Apparently anything "commercially prepared" is code for: "This is going to kill you."

We've got a bad three-week run where my Parent's wedding anniversary, is followed by my Husband's birthday, which is topped off by my birthday. Woo Hoo! Good times if you can eat ice cream cake three weeks in a row. And let me assure you, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

What's cruel is that almost all of the "bad" food smells good and tastes even better. Bacon smells like love. The primrose path to gastrointestinal hell is: smell it, want it, eat it, regret it. Perhaps the human olfactory sense will evolve to the point where it can tell when food -- natural or processed -- is a no no. If it smells bad, it is bad. If it smells good, dig in.

"What’s that smell? Hot dogs and cupcakes? Yuck, but that tofu is making my mouth water. Can I get that on a bagel?"



Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform 10/17 at the Tribecca Performing Arts Center as part of the New York Underground Comedy Festival! Check out her upcoming shows @ www.VeryFunnyLady.com. Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bottoms Up! Not So Fast

Last night for the first time in my comedy career someone sent a drink up to me while I was on stage. Puzzling, since I don't give off a "Hey let's do shots during the show" kinda vibe. That’s probably because I don't drink. I'd actually prefer it if the audience didn't drink either as my material is best appreciated by the lucid and full facultied.

It probably didn't help that the act on before me had not one but two shots sent up to him while he was on stage, which he drank. On stage. Equally puzzling, but then again how many other professions allow you to literally drink on the job?

Ironically, I had just finished telling a joke about NOT being a very good drinker and why I gave it up, when a beveled glass of a strong smelling brown liquid was passed up to me from out of the darkness. A young lady, whose birthday I had acknowledged, sent the drink to say "thank you." I thanked her, put the drink down on the stool behind me and moved on with my show. Well, that was the plan.

Much to my surprise a portion of the audience began chanting, "Drink, drink, drink, drink!" Nothing like feeling the peer pressure of an alcohol-fueled mob. Thankfully I'm made of stronger stuff. I humorously, but firmly, refused and continued on with my show.

I am well aware that this is antithetical to the popular image of stand-up comedians. We're all heavy drinking, pot smokers who sleep till noon. Quiet as it’s kept, some of us do manage to pull it together before 11:30 a.m.

There are those in the business who contend that imbibing before a show makes them funnier. And it does, in the same way that alcohol makes it easier to pick up women, have difficult conversations or operate heavy machinery.

Given how alcohol interacts with my body chemistry I fear the audience would be laughing at me, not with me. Not a big deal you say? It was to Stephen King’s "Carrie." If that’s the reaction I wanted to elicit I’d quit standup and reminisce over puberty.

After the show, another audience member made it a point to come up, shake my hand, look me straight in the eye, and tell me how much she appreciated me NOT giving into the audience pressure to drink. "I'm really glad you didn't. And you handled it with such style." I was glad to hear that someone dug it. I have a sneaking suspicion that The Chanters did not.

To be completely honest, it's not that I don't drink at all. I just don't drink when I'm working. I'm a workaholic. Ergo, I don't drink. But in the end, drug of choice is relative. Had The Birthday Lady sent up a hot handbag, I’d of asked for a double.


Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform 10/2 - 11 and 10/17 on the New York Underground Comedy Festival! Check out her upcoming shows @ www.VeryFunnyLady.com. Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.


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Monday, September 28, 2009

Gaddafi Needs a Nap


© 2009 Leighann Lord

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Everybody needs their beauty sleep, even vilified world leaders. It was obvious to me as I saw Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi speak in front of the United Nations – puffy eyes, rambling speech – that at the very least, he needed a nap.


Muammar may not be sleeping well here in the United States since it’s so difficult for him to obtain lodging. There is no room at the inn or even a place to pitch his tent. Hostilities aside, you’ve got to admire a world leader that has his own tent. Now he probably doesn’t carry it himself, but it’s still very impressive.

As a former girl scout I have all my badges except for camping. I’ve never known the "joys" of sleeping out doors, under the stars at the mercy of creepy, crawling creatures of the night. I didn’t even survive the church parking lot simulation. I abandoned my buddy burner and said to my scout leader, "Look, I’ll sell the cookies, but sleep in the woods? I don’t think so."

Granted a world leader’s tent might have few more amenities and a few less bugs than an old Girl Scout tent, but Gaddafi is no great outdoors man. The scoop is, he prefers to sleep in a tent because he’s afraid of elevators. I’ve stayed in many hotels over the years and I don’t recall Motel 6 or Super 8 even having an elevator. But at least the latter will leave the light on for you in case you’re afraid of the dark.

This lack of welcome and safe place to catch some shut eye might explain the long, angry diatribe Muammar gave to the United Nations. Slotted for 15 minutes, he clocked in at 95. In stand-up comedy we call that "going over the light." Where’s the Sandman when you need him?

I might be a little angry too if nobody knew how to spell my name. According to Wikipedia, there are more than 30 different spellings for Muammar al-Gaddafi. I chose to go with the modern CNN version, as opposed to the classic network spelling that used a "Q" instead of a "G."

Perhaps Muammar was tired, cranky and over compensating. President Barack Obama is not an easy act to follow. He’s a dynamic, inspiring and a charismatic speaker, very likeable. Muammar? Not so much. He started by complimenting Obama, wishing that he could be president "forever" and then – speaking from notes like it was a junior high speech class – he proceeded to be Bitter Betty about everything. It reminded me of the title of a popular Off Broadway play, "I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change." Well as least he started off with something positive.

Much like a bad Open Mic Night, Gaddafi "walked" most of the audience. As he droned on, they strode out. Not many people have the fortitude for a 95-minute monologue. But they should have. They should have stayed, listened, took notes and planned accordingly. Sometimes people give you the gift of saying what they mean and meaning what they say. That 95-minute speech could have been a warning that the rest of us shouldn’t be sleeping well either.

Sweet dreams, Earthlings.


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Monday, September 21, 2009

I’ve Seen the Writing on the Wall and It’s Not Pretty

© 2009 Leighann Lord

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I’ve always wondered about people who write on bathroom walls. What takes hold of them when the stall door closes? Why are they compelled to express themselves in the medium of ink and tile? What’s their inner monologue sound like? "I gotta take a leak. Where’s my Sharpie?"

It’s hard to imagine someone getting dressed for a night out on the town and their checklist including keys, money, and magic marker. But it must. Perhaps an epiphany struck at an inopportune moment and with no writing implement at hand to capture the thought, the cure for cancer was lost. A bathroom Wall Writer was born.

Porcelain is well known for its inspirational qualities, but people who write on bathroom walls are not just jotting quick note to self. They are writing to be read. Like a forerunner to FaceBook, wall writers are making declarations, posing questions and assassinating characters all in the same stroke. Let’s consider this deceptively simple but scintillating three-party political exchange:
Writer #1: "Bush Sucks!"
Writer #2: "No, you suck!"
Writer #3: "You’re both gay!"
Since this entry was not dated, it is unclear whether Writer #1 was referring to George Bush Senior, Junior, Jeb, Barbara, Laura or perhaps even one of the twins. I was, after all, in the ladies room and women can be catty.

Regardless of to whom Writer #1 was referring, no proof was provided of said suckery, the author obviously assuming it was self evident. Writer #2 with equal eloquence and brevity responded in-kind. Note here that Writer #2 either came to the bathroom prepared or, provoked by Writer #1, dashed out to Staples, bought a Sharpie and returned to pen a proper response. If that’s not dedication to the art of public discourse and debate I don’t know what is.

Writer #3's response, while following the trend of assuming facts not in evidence (it is highly unlikely she was privy to the sexual orientation of Writers #1 and #2), is most telling. While it’s plausible that the first two are engaged in some random base level political discourse, Writer #3 is all ad hominem attack, bringing nothing to the conversation. She might as well have penned "Your Mama!"

It would be disingenuous to condemn the act of bathroom wall writing, while simultaneously cooing over every newly discovered prehistoric cave painting. Is the etching of an early human hunting party pursuing a wildebeest really all that different? What is truly disturbing, from a former Catholic School girl’s point of view, is the breathtakingly poor penmanship. I’m not looking for calligraphy, but legibility is not too much to ask.

In a night club setting you could argue that perhaps wall writers are too inebriated to be neat. I disagree. If you’ve got a pen, you’ve got a plan. Have the stones to execute it with some style.

The problem is that schools don’t teach handwriting anymore. How are we supposed to figure out who our future doctors are if everyone has horrible handwriting? MCATs, schmcats. In the days of yore, if a medical school admission’s committee couldn’t read your application, you were in.

If kids today aren’t being taught to write cursive, how will they ever learn to read it? Will the original hand-written version of the United States Constitution be as baffling to them as hieroglyphics? Is this the plan or a case of unintended consequences? Perhaps this is the real writing on the wall to be worried about.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jerry Springer Comes to Congress

Where Was the Sargent at Arms?
© 2009 Leighann Lord


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I figured if President Obama could speak to the nation’s school children he could speak to a joint session of Congress. I guess I was wrong.


I watched the President Obama deliver his health care speech and it seemed like things were going good for a while. But with each passing statement, fewer Republicans applauded. More of them began staring stoned faced as if in homage to Mount Rushmore. Was House Minority Whip Eric Cantor texting?!? Admittedly, I have a soft spot for Mr. Cantor. He looks to me how Harry Potter would have turned out had he gone to Slytherin instead of Gryffindor.

And then it happened. When President Obama began clearing up the misconceptions about the current health care proposal, saying that it would not pay for illegal immigrants, Representative Joe Wilson suddenly shouted out "You lie."


For a moment I thought I had been transported to the floor of the British Parliament or the set of "The Jerry Springer Show." Sitting behind the President, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi stared in disbelief. Vice President Joe Biden hung his head in shame. Clearly Representative Wilson had not read his handbook on Congressional etiquette. Way to go South Carolina. The Palmetto State’s standards might be a little skewed, with it’s own Governor Mark Sanford refusing to resign after an extra marital affair and political misconduct.

Where oh where was the Congressional Sargent at Arms? Finally, an opportunity to do more than just look official and he blew it. If this isn’t censure worthy behavior I don’t know what is.

To Mr. Wilson’s credit he did apologize. "This evening, I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the president's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the president's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility."

According to CNN, "Wilson also called the White House to apologize and spoke with Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who accepted the apology on the president's behalf." Wilson had to call the White House since he’s probably not on the BlackBerry short list. I imagine that President Obama wanted to take the call himself, if for no other reason than to kill him with kindness but Rahm Emanuel said, "No, Mr. President. I’ll take this one."

Nobody wants to talk to Rahm (I eat puppies for breakfast, kittens for lunch, and blue dog democrats for dinner) Emanuel.

Demonic Lackey: "Excuse me? Mr. Satan, Sir? Rahm Emanuel’s on line one."

Satan, suddenly looking nervous and less sure of himself, says: "Oh God. Tell him I’m in a meeting."
With inappropriate behavior like this, I certainly hope the nation’s school children weren’t watching.



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Monday, September 7, 2009

What I Wish I Knew My First Year Doing Stand-Up

Advice From An Aspiring Comic Laureate

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© 2009 Leighann Lord

I received an email from two gentlemen teaching a stand-up comedy class to high school students. They asked me for some advice to share with their aspiring young comics. I asked if it was too late to urge them to choose a different career? Something safer like a fireman, easier like a brain surgeon or more stable like a mortgage banker?

Perhaps hoping to head off a bitter comic rant, the teachers asked a very specific question: "What do you know now, that you wish you knew your first year doing stand up?" I replied:

"I wish I had known that when stand-up became my career, my life would run on a very different schedule from the rest of the world. I work almost exclusively at night and on the weekends. I also travel a great deal. This means I tend to miss a lot of important functions: weddings, baby showers, family dinners, picnics, BBQ’s and holidays. (Unlike many comics, I do have friends and actually like my family.) Before I got married (to a comic, of course) my "Date night" wasn’t Saturday, it was Monday."

"Even with advanced notice I have to choose: go out with my friends and not work, or work and not be with my nearest and dearest. Remember, performing artists are essentially self employed freelancers. There is no pension plan (other than one you create for yourself), no sick days or vacation days. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. This can potentially be problematic if you like eating on a regular basis or having a nice place to live."

"I manage these things as best I can. I am very lucky to have the love and support of my friends and family. I try my best to "be there" and they try to understand when I’m not. I do not say this to dissuade anyone from pursuing stand-up as a career. It’s just something to keep in mind."

"On a more general note, being a comic is a full time job encompassing more that just the time spent on stage. At any given moment within the development of our careers we play the role of writer, producer, performer, director, manager, agent, publicist. It’s rewarding work, but it’s hard work. Sometimes the easiest and best part is being on stage. If your heart is not truly in it, if you’re going into it looking for the "easy" money, please don’t. As with anything you choose to pursue in life, stand-up should be your passion, otherwise you’re taking up space in an already over crowded, competitive and sometimes heart breaking industry."

"That said, I enjoy what I do. There is no other art form quite like it. At the end of the day I’m proud to say that I’m a working professional stand-up comedian. It’s not running into a burning building, saving lives or financially ruining them but I love it."

As soon as I hit "send" I remembered the other thing I wish I’d known my first year in stand-up: that no one will ever take you seriously again. Even in casual conversation they’re always waiting for the other funny shoe to drop. When I go to the bank, my regular bank teller looks at me expectantly. I don’t know what to say. "Um... this is a stick up? No, no, I’m just kidding?"

I could be having a deep dialogue about the real world moral, ethical and political implications of The Prime Directive and eventually the conversation will turn personal. My palaver partner will wonder what it is I do for a living that allows me to be so witty, sharp and engaging. They’ll ask, "So, what do you do?"

For a split second I always consider lying, and saying something cool like, "a college professor." But then the next question would be, "Where and what do you teach?" And I just haven’t thought the lie out that far. So I tell the truth: "I’m a stand-up comedian."

Almost instantly they are intrigued. How many comics does the average person get to meet? On some level they are also awed. Most people who enjoy stand-up comedy would never have the courage to get on stage and do it themselves.

But as impressed as they may be, I can almost always see their opinion of me changing. All my cogent points about quantum theory and man’s inhumanity to man are forgotten, and I am relegated to the little box in their brain labeled – at best – "Entertainer" and – at worst – "Court Jester."

Then there are the odd times when the making of funny is downright illegal. Post 9/11, security at the nation’s airports is no laughing matter. An innocent little bomb joke can get you fined and arrested even if you’re a professional. Are we sure the terrorists haven’t won? Honestly, after skulking away from an airport security checkpoint clutching my jacket, belt and shoes, I feel dirty not funny.


I think my professional status should make a difference. I agree, you can’t have lay people running amok making reckless jokes about security or lack thereof. As a police officer identifies herself before making an arrest, perhaps I should identify myself as a professional stand-up, badge in hand from The Office of Homeland Comedy. Don’t try this at home. I think President Obama may need to appoint a Comedy Czar. A cool job, for sure, but I think Comic Laureate is more in keeping with my character.

Alas, every profession has its occupational hazards and it could be worse. I could have one of those really weird jobs where if you’re getting laughs, you’re doing something wrong.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

No More Cozy Canoodling with Canada

In the National Security Game, The Canucks Play Rough
© 2009 Leighann Lord

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Going through Canadian Customs used to be smooth and painless, but things have gotten noticeably tenser along America’s northern border. Now it’s long lines, stone faced agents and random searches. Perhaps the national security paranoia of Canada’s southern neighbor is taking its toll. They could be just a bit bitter about a recent rule change requiring everyone crossing the border in either direction to have a passport. No more friendly traipsing back and forth.

I felt the chilly change while passing through Halifax, Nova Scotia. The line was so long I thought by the end of it I’d be getting into a night club or given a piece of bread. Not one to waste time or have my time wasted, I whipped out my "Wall Street Journal." About 20 minutes in, a customs officer with a dog came out to check the cued up travelers. That was new, but not unique. I thought there was nothing for me to do except let the cop and cur do their job, so I kept reading my paper. This was a mistake.

When they got to me, the officer snapped his fingers, asked to see my customs declaration card and in green highlighter wrote an ominous "P-1" on it. It mind as well have been the scarlet letter. In retrospect, I now know how suspicious I must have looked. Everybody knows Americans don’t read.

When I got to the head of the line, another Customs Official asked me a few perfunctory questions but that "P-1" told her everything she needed to know. I soon had the pleasure of standing in another - albeit shorter – line to be more thoroughly scrutinized.

While in the line of shame with other supposedly suspicious passengers, I overheard a search in progress. An agent was explaining to a detained traveler why some of his items were being confiscated. Apparently, it’s not that you can’t bring food into Canada, what matters is where that food comes from. Food from the U.S. is okay (overlooking tomatoes, peanut products and tuna) but Egypt? Not so much. The traveler being searched ahead of me was transporting a smorgasbord of Egyptian meat: sausage, chicken, beef. He was smuggling in a cookout. The officer confiscated half, but luckily the traveler was not in trouble because he had declared his moveable feast.

When it was my turn to have my privacy invaded or as a hard core Libertarian might call it – legally property raped – I was asked repeatedly about my travel plans: "What is the purpose of your trip? Where are you going? How long will you be in Canada?" At this point, too long.

Given the thoroughness of the search I began to worry about the contents of my bag. The most questionable items were vitamins and incense. Could I be detained for Flaxseed and Nag Champa? You can’t be too careful when it comes to international customs. A Canadian airport security guard once confiscated my travel size can of Static Guard. I’m still not sure if it was really against the rules or if she was just shopping.


As I began going through my mental Rolodex of international human rights lawyers, the customs officer said she was done and I was free to go. Admittedly pushing my luck, I asked why I was chosen for this special treatment. "What were you looking for?" She said they were selecting people at random to find those who weren’t declaring alcohol & tobacco.

I suspect, however, that I was "randomly" selected for lack of deference. I had the temerity to be reading and essentially ignoring the officer as he walked by. He had "selected" me before knowing whether I had in fact declared anything. He couldn’t have known until he asked for and looked at my customs form. I was getting the "P-1 special" whether I deserved it or not. Since they found nothing, I’m guessing not.

As I was leaving, another randomly selected traveler who had declared nothing, got busted with an excessive amount of perfume and clothes. When the officer called him on it, he began having trouble with his English, but managed to clearly say: "You didn’t ask about perfume and clothes. You asked about alcohol and tobacco." Good one, but the officer wasn’t buying. The fines were going to be hefty. They’re probably still tabulating.

I think Canada is getting testy in reaction to tighter laws requiring a passport to cross the border. As late as July 2009, Canadians and Americans could practically cross the border at will, visiting each other as good neighbors are want to do. But post 9/11, things have changed. Our once friendly open door, "Make yourself at home" policy is now, "How’d you get this number?" America is treating Canadians like Mexicans.

How long will it be before Canadians consider building a fence along their border? Who knows, but don’t expect the Canadian cold shoulder to thaw out any time soon.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Good Times at Nestlé?

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Say it Ain’t So, Wilona

© 2009 Leighann Lord
You know you’re jaded when you can find the bad side of a good news story. I was reading a relatively harmless article on the front page of "The Wall Street Journal’s" Market Place section about Nestlé’s drop in first half earnings. The company was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that "performance in it’s pet care business was ‘excellent.’" Some good news? Tell me more.

"Despite the tough economic times, consumers weren’t deterred by Nestlé’s price increases, which helped lift the pet-care division’s profit margin by more than a percentage point to 15.7%.

"Purina and Friskies are among Nestle’s fastest growing brands, with sales of each up by more than 6% in the first half. Dog Chow, which saw sales jump by more than 16%, had the second-fastest growth among Nestle’s major products..."

As a dog owner, I am not surprised at the money people spend on their pets. Rolie (His Lordship), our rescued, special needs cocker spaniel wants for nothing. He’s living a comfortable life, which we are more than happy to give him considering the abuse he sustained at the hands of his previous owners. (I often fantasize about tracking them down and beating them with a broom.)

With His Lordship’s myriad medical problems (almost complete deafness, cataracts, deteriorating hips, hyper thyroid, dry skin, and a surly disposition for which there is no cure) his care is not cheap. Thankfully his Veterinarian gives us the Senior Dog Discount.

We are also very lucky that despite his regal bearing, His Lordship likes to eat the cheap stuff. We learned after much trial and error that this breed of dog is notorious for choosing to go hungry rather than eat something it doesn’t like. Apparently you can lead a cocker spaniel to the Dog Chow, but you can’t make it eat.

That said, I was curious that Nestlé’s own analysis of it’s earnings data was so rosy. It assumes, perhaps innocently, that the increase in pet food sales came from people spending money on their pets. Who’s to say in these strained economic times that people aren’t buying pet food for themselves? Am I the only one who remembers that episode of "Good Times" where Wilona was reduced to eating dog food? It haunts me still.

Nestlé’s bottom line bump doesn’t exist in a vacuum. How could the company not take into account the heart breaking reports of animal shelters swelling past capacity with the pets financially strapped families could no longer afford to care for?

The article also said, "The bright outlook for pet products is also luring insurers into the market in search of growth rates faster than those for traditional car and life plans."

No doubt pet health insurance is a hot product, but like human health insurance not everyone can get it. By conservative estimates, His Lordship was five to seven years old when we rescued him, so no insurance for him. From nose to nub he’s a 30 pound pre-existing condition.

Animals and humans suffer from many of the same diseases. Since pet insurance, when you can get it, is cheaper maybe savvy pet owners are using Fido as a stalking horse for their own ailments. I wouldn’t blame them. Seeing the level of care His Lordship gets from his Vet, I like and trust him more than my own doctor.

I’m not sure if my personal take on this says more about my pessimism or Nestlé’s naivete, but I certainly understand it. Switzerland’s business community could use some good news right now. There was a time when tax dodging kabillionaires could stash their cash in Swiss bank accounts – bills still soggy with blood – and be guaranteed absolute secrecy. Wealth has it’s privileges, or at least it used to.

Swiss bank UBS has lost a big legal battle with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The bank is being forced to divulge the identities of thousands of American account holders believed to be evading taxes. And the IRS promises to be vigorous in it’s prosecution of these wealthy tax cheats. Now that’s a reality show I’d like to see. I envision it as a classy version of "Cops." After interest and penalties the perpetrators won’t be able to afford Friskies. Go get ‘em Geithner! We American’s have pricey pet food to pay for.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gimme Some Sugar, Mr. President

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© 2009 Leighann Lord

When milk prices soared I took it in stride since I’ve never been a milk drinker. In kindergarten I told my teacher I was allergic to it so I could have apple juice instead. This allergy was news to my parents as there was no medical evidence to substantiate my claim. I was five years old. I thought being allergic to something meant you didn’t like it. By this logic I was also allergic to liver, oatmeal and my brother.

When gas prices skyrocketed to over four dollars a gallon it hit a bit more close to home. As a working stand-up comedian I drive to a lot of my gigs. Some bookers compensated by paying a little extra for gas money, most didn’t. I was foolishly hopeful about a possible "gas tax holiday" but it never materialized. A good thing too, since that money was later needed for corporate bailouts.

But everybody has a breaking point and I’ve reached mine. I read an article in "The Wall Street Journal" (Food Firms Warn of Sugar Shortage; Thursday, August 13, 2009) that chilled me. I don’t drink, smoke or do drugs. My guilty pleasures in life are Sugar and Shopping. Since the economy developed an allergy to stability, I’ve cut way back on the ancillary shopping. That leaves Sugar.

I have a pack a day chewing gum habit. I take coffee with my cream and Sugar. I eat Frosted Flakes straight out of the box. I was nearly apoplectic when Kelloggs’ announced a plan to make my favorite cereal with one third less sugar. The point of Frosted Flakes is the sugar. I’d prefer it if they make them with one third fewer flakes. Let’s face it, Frosted Flakes with less sugar is like water with less hydrogen, instead of H2O you get HO.

I have friends who, for various reasons, don’t use sugar anymore. I am astonished at their fortitude. It’s like they’ve somehow learned to live without air. The prospect of looking into an empty sugar bowl is more terrifying to me than a Stephen King novel.

Sugar substitutes you say? I’ve tried them and they are no substitute. The best of the lot is Splenda. "You can’t taste the difference," my friends say. "Yes, you can," I counter. I have a hypersensitive palate and Splenda tastes wrong, off and unnatural, like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

So what’s causing this potentially life altering sugar shortage? According to "The Wall Street Journal":

"The world is consuming more sugar than farmers are producing. The world’s largest sugar producer, Brazil, is diverting huge amounts of its cane crop to making ethanol fuel. Likewise, the food industry has complained bitterly in recent years about the U.S. ethanol industry’s ravenous appetite for corn which helped push up prices for that key ingredient too."

"More than half of Brazil’s sugarcane crop is processed into ethanol while about one-third of the U.S. corn crop is made into the alternative fuel. An erratic monsoon season in India also has led sugar analysts to reduce their production forecast for the world’s second-largest sugar producer."

And so, it’s official: I am totally anti-ethanol.

My Husband suggests that perhaps "The Journal" has been less than thorough in its reporting. "They didn’t take You into account," he says. "If you cut back on Your sugar intake, maybe there wouldn’t be a shortage." Could he be right? Is my Sugar Jones is affecting world markets? I guess it’s either cut back or start growing sugar cane in my back yard. I might opt for the latter and pray the monsoons and Ethanolics don’t come calling.

In the meantime, President Obama, I know you’re busy with Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, Health Care, Blue Dog Democrats, selling cars, proving your citizenship, raising your family and The Economy, but this is serious. I can’t do without Sugar. I don’t exactly have medical proof, but I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to Splenda.

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