Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Republican Debate: Quick take

Just finished watching the debacle of a debate on CNN. Anderson Cooper and company did an absolutely terrible job of moderating. Huckabee and Paul may as well have been invisible, and were not given nearly the same amount of time to speak as McCain and Romney.

In my opinion, Huckabee did the best in terms of actually answering the questions posed to him, without dissolving into rhetoric. He wisely took the high road on trick questions such as "Would Ronald Reagan endorse you for President, and why?" and "Did Ronald Reagan make a poor choice when he appointed Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court?" I think Huckabee presented himself well, and did the best overall.

Romney and McCain were like two kids tussling in the schoolyard, and McCain came off badly in the end. The guy had the world on a string today, with Guiliani dropping out and endorsing him...this was his night to come across as a "uniter" who could bring the party together, and instead, he got down into the muckity muck. The Governator is reportedly going to endorse McCain tomorrow, and he's going to need it, because he certainly didn't do himself any favors in his debate performance tonight. He came across as addled and bumbling, playing fast and loose with the facts a few times.

Ron Paul was treated with contempt, by CNN and by McCain and Romney (their patronizing smirks when he was talking were awful). I thought Paul gave some solid answers, particularly on the economy and the War in Iraq, but was completely marginalized by the format of the debate.

Presidential dropouts...

John Edwards bowed out of the Presidential Race today, less than a week before Super Tuesday. It seems a shame that he wouldn't at least give it a try, with 24 states going to the polls next week, and one more Democratic debate coming up tomorrow. I'm wondering if perhaps the DNC approached him with an offer he couldn't refuse: a guaranteed political appointment in the new administration, no matter who wins on the Dem side. Given his wife's precarious health situation, his quickly dwindling funds, and consistent third place finishes, I suppose it was inevitable.

Guiliani is also expected to bow out today. I'll never quite understand his "strategy" to focus primarily on Florida, and leave the earlier primaries to the rest of the pack. My husband theorized that perhaps there was an underlying health issue for Guiliani, one that precluded him from campaigning with fervor in the earlier primaries. If you recall, he was hospitalized in December, obstensibly with "flu-like symptoms", but perhaps there's more to it than that. Whatever the case may be, he bungled his bid for President, and now it's time for him to step aside.

Tonight, the Republicans debate on CNN, and tomorrow, the Democrats. I still haven't made up my mind who I'm voting for, so I'll be watching.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Help has arrived!!

I am SO happy to report that the very first shipment of hay has arrived in Tennessee. Tonight, as I type this, there are horses with full bellies whose lives have been saved, thanks to the generosity of so many of you.

THANK YOU, everyone, for sending donations, and generously supporting this important cause.

Of course, help is still needed, and donations will continue to be accepted for additional shipments until this crisis has passed.

The Hay Fund now has a website where you can donate via credit card or PayPal, in addition the check option. Please visit The Fairfield Equine Hay Fund for more information.

Thanks again!


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Help Save Horses in the Southern U.S.!!!

I know that choosing a charity to donate money to is a very personal decision, but I couldn't help posting this flyer that recently came across my desk. Due to severe drought conditions, the horses in the southern part of the U.S. are starving to death. The price of hay has skyrocketed there, so that many owners can't afford to keep their horses. Even those who are able to pay the higher prices cannot get sufficient amounts from local suppliers to keep their horses alive. Horses are being abandoned and left to die of starvation.

This situation recently came to the attention of my writer's group after one of our members mentioned an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times. A couple of our members took matters into their own hands and found a way to send emergency shipments of hay from up North to the areas of the U.S. that most desperately need it. These hay shipments are expensive, and have been financed independently by these dedicated animal lovers/horse owners who could not stand by helplessly while this kind of suffering was going on. A fund was also created for anyone who would like to contribute to this cause. It is our hope that we can raise enough funding to keep the shipments going until this crisis is over.

Please feel free to copy and paste this info and send it to anyone who you think might be interested in helping out.


Please Help Us Help Horses in the South

Devastating drought conditions in the Southern US have led to a SEVERE hay shortage and loss of pasture. Horses are starving, being sent to slaughter or set loose on back roads to die a slow and painful death.

Local rescue organizations and equine foster homes are staggering under the burden. Without your help they will not be able to feed the horses they are desperately trying to save.

You can help us help these horses!

A tax deductible donation (in any amount) will allow us to ship tractor trailer loads of hay to the most drought-stricken parts of the country.

We are a small group of concerned horse owners who are buying and shipping hay, efficiently and quickly, to the places it most needs to go at this time. Because we are a small organization without overhead or costs, every penny you donate will go to buy and deliver hay where it is needed !

The Fairfield Equine Foundation is processing donations for us.
Please help us! We will save horses!

Mary Hord of the Almost Home rescue organization in Tennessee, writes: " PLEASE TELL YOUR PEOPLE WE ARE DESPERATE HERE!! I can't tell you how it helps my heart to know that there are folks who are trying to help!! Really, as upset as I am over these horses, I have a video playing in my head of the day I see that big rig pulling in with all that hay!!"

Send your donation check to:

Fairfield Equine Foundation
Attn: Hay Fund
32 Barnabas Rd.
Newtown, CT. 06470

or you can send a donation via PayPal:

If you would like a tax deductible receipt, please include your e-mail address
or a SASE so we can forward it to you.

Thank you!!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Golfweek Editor Fired for Noose Cover

In an interview with Yahoo News, the newly-fired editor of Golfweek discusses his firing over a controversial cover.

The cover featured a picture of a noose, and was meant to illustrate a feature story on the asinine comment made by Golf Channel sportscaster Kelly Tilghman. Referring to Tiger Woods and how unbeatable he can be, she said that the other PGA Tour players should "lynch him in a back alley." It was a stupid and ignorant thing to say, no doubt about it. Tilghman was suspended for two weeks, and her long-term future in the field of broadcasting is tenuous at best.

Some might question why Dave Seanor, the editor of Golfweek, lost his job over his poor judgement, while Tilghman only got a suspension. As someone who has been in a similar situation--not once, but twice--during my career, it's my opinion that Seanor's actions were worse, and that his firing was just.

My first job in publishing was as an intern at a national magazine aimed at successful businesswomen. I was barely 20 years old, and didn't understand how the politics of putting together a magazine worked, but I would soon find out.

It was 1987, and our magazine had a cover story coming up on Maureen Reagan, then-President Ronald Reagan's daughter. The coverline said, "Daddy's Little Girl," and the article was all about how Maureen--while feminine and jovial on the outside--possessed a keen business savvy and tough-as-nails approach that helped her navigate the Washington political scene.

One day, I came upon the magazine staff huddled around two cover mock-ups for the Reagan issue. One depicted Maureen in a tight close-up, while the other was a half-body shot of her. The further-away shot was beautiful: she had a whimsical expression on her face, with her hands resting just under chin, fingers linked, looking at the camera with an amused half-smile. She appeared confident, pretty, and self-assured.

The tight shot was awful. It was taken at a strange angle, from slightly above her. The photo was so tightly zoomed in, you could count the pores on her nose and cheeks, and her forehead had an oily sheen to it. Her open-mouthed smile was more of a toothy grin, and gave her a menacing, almost-diabolical look that was decidedly unattractive. It was hard to believe that the two photos were of the same woman.

I immediately stated my preference for the first photo, and all eyes turned to me. I was too young and naive to pick up on the signals coming from the other staffers, who were trying to convey a subtle, "Shut UP, you stupid intern" look that was, alas, totally lost on me.

What I didn't know was that moments before I happened along, the editor-in-chief, managing editor, and art director all expressed their preference for the unflattering shot. Of course, they didn't see it as unflattering. They claimed that it was "different" and "edgy" and more closely related to the gist of the article, which was an "up-close and personal" profile of Maureen Reagan. Despite my objections--which were brushed off as the uninformed opinion of an inexperienced staffer--they went with what I considered "the ugly cover."

When the issue hit the newsstands a few months later, there was a great amount of buzz around the office. Suddenly, there were phone calls and meetings behind closed doors. Office scuttlebutt had it that Maureen Reagan was livid over the cover, and absolutely hated it.

Less than four years later, the magazine was struggling to find advertisers, and it folded. Fortunately, by then I had already graduated with my nifty little journalism degree, worked my way up at another national women's magazine, and had switched over to book publishing at a major NYC publishing house.

Before long, I found myself in a similar situation. This time, I was called into the Publisher's office, where my bosses (the Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief) were reviewing a cover mock-up for our biggest travel title of the season. The publisher gestured toward the cover art and said, "Well, Lis, what do you think?"

You would think that, after what happened at the magazine, I would have learned my lesson. You would think that, with several years of publishing experience under my belt, I would have learned to recognize the subtle, "PRETEND YOU LOVE IT" looks that I was getting from the others in the room.


I took one look at the cover and said, "Ewww. I hate it."

The publisher's eyes narrowed--which I mistakenly took to mean that she was seriously considering my critique, not lining up her eye-daggers-of-death--and she said, "Oh? Why is that?"

And so, I proceeded to explain how hideously awful the cover was, without mincing words. The entire cover photo was dark and uninviting. It depicted a farmhouse in the middle of a pitch-black field. The only light visible was an ominous yellow glow coming from one tiny window in the house. It reminded me of that Amityville Horror Movie poster, or the kind of place that Freddie Krueger would hide out in between teen killings. It was scary, and not the kind of cover that made me want to go anywhere near the book, much less pick it up and purchase it. The title was in red and yellow with black shadowing, in a font that was oddly reminiscent of a can of RAID ant & roach spray.

"A can of 'RAID'?" said the publisher. "What's that?"

"Oh, c'mon, you know," I said, "'RAID: kills bugs dead...'"

A moment of stony silence followed. "I don't have bugs," she said finally. Uh oh. I was starting to catch on that maybe I'd said too much.

Nevertheless, I forged ahead: "Yes, but, surely you've seen a can of RAID at the supermarket, on the shelf, maybe?"

She took a moment, reloaded her eye daggers, and continued calmly: "No. I don't shop at the 'supermarket'," she said, spitting out the word like it left a bad taste in her mouth. "I shop at Gristede's and Zabar's, and I'm fairly certain they don't carry this 'RAID'."

Ah, I get it now. So that's how you want to play it. "Well, trust me then," I said back with what I hoped was an air of condescension, "it looks just like one." End of conversation.

Afterwards, the others in the room admitted to me--well out of earshot of our publisher, of course--that they weren't thrilled with the cover either, but that she'd hand-picked the designer herself, and had already made up her mind to go with it, so there was no sense fighting it.

It ended up being a total disaster. When she presented it at Sales Conference, the sales reps buzzed with negative reaction to the "horrible" cover. It was the worst-selling edition of that book that we'd ever had. A year later, when the next edition came out, it had a cover that was the polar opposite in every way: a bright, warm, inviting photo of a sunny mountaintop, with soothing blues and greens. I felt vindicated, although, the designer of the scary cover did end up winning an award from some art-industry competition for his unusual, avant garde cover. To this day, I think they gave it to him because they were so impressed he'd somehow managed to get someone to actually publish the awful thing.

The lesson? You can come up with an unusual cover concept that is artsy and edgy, and try to use that as justification for publishing it, but if you want it to be a commercial success, you'd better think long and hard before running with it, and be prepared to face the consequences when the stuff hits the fan.

That Golfweek editor knew darn well that the cover would be controversial. Yes, it was an interesting idea, but one that should have remained JUST an idea. He didn't run the final cover mockup past the Editor-in-Chief, even though he knew there were reservations about the cover concept. He deserved to be fired for his hubris.

I don't know anyone over at Golfweek personally, but I'm sure that there must have been at least one young staffer who objected to that cover, and was made to feel stupid about it. Now that things have played out the way that they have, I hope that he or she has learned to trust his or her own instincts, no matter what the higher ups say. Speak up, and don't be afraid to voice a different opinion, even if no one else appears to agree with you at the time.

You might just be proven right after all.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How to Look Good Naked

When I first heard about Carson Kressley's new show on Lifetime, How to Look Good Naked, I was skeptical. Now that I've watched a couple of episodes, I have to say: I LOVE THIS SHOW.

Based on the promos, I thought this show was an enabling, anti-makeover show that teaches an already overweight America that it's okay to be fat.

Not the case at all. It's an inspiring, therapeutic show for women who don't have perfect supermodel bodies, but aren't unhealthy. It breaks through the labels we put on ourselves, and encourages women to be more confident and accepting of who they are right now, whether or not they ever make any changes.

I'm not thrilled with the way the show ends every week--the newly-confident woman poses naked for a photo shoot--but the overall message for the show is one of empowerment and self-confidence.

Carson Kressley is a gem. He's funny, outrageous and entertaining to watch, and keeps the show moving along at a good pace. The latest episode had him dressed as Carmen Miranda, doing the salsa while trying to help his protege get back her dance groove. Last week, while he and the woman featured on the show went to a spa. She's getting a facial and he's luxuriating nearby in a tub full of bubbles, with his hair in a turban. He lifts his leg and extends it out of the water, admiring his skin, saying, "I'm so gorgeous." The woman jokes, "What are you going to do tomorrow when I'm more gorgeous than you?" (after her makeup and hair session) and he says, "Oh, I'll probably just stab you in the eye with a shoehorn." Later, they're having side-by-side massages, and she says, "You know what? I feel beautiful!" and without even opening his eyes or moving a muscle, he sighs, "Yes, I feel beautiful, too."

It's on Friday nights on Lifetime at 9pm, with repeats aired at various times throughout the week. Definitely worth checking out!

Friday, January 11, 2008


Hello there!

This is my daughter's hamster, Squeaky. He's the second one she's ever owned. Her first dwarf blue hamster, Melissa, was cute little gal, but did bite on occasion. She died after only a year, and then we got Squeaky.

He has a wonderful personality, and has never so much as nipped my daughter even once. He is affectionate, loves to interact, and has insatiable cravings for popcorn.

It sucks that hamsters only live for about 18 months, on average. She adores this little guy.

Isn't he sweet?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Presidential Election 2008: Pick your candidate


For those of you who haven't yet decided who to vote for when it comes to the Presidential Election, I encourage you to fill out the survey found at the link above. Answer a few questions on the issues that matter most to you, and you'll see which candidates best match up with your views.

It was certainly eye-opening for me. Kucinich, Gravel and Paul are all close matches for me...which kinda stinks, given that none of them have a snowball's chance in heck of getting elected.'s an interesting survey!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Back to reality

My poor little 2nd was her first day back at school, and she was none too happy about it. She normally loves going to school, but I think all of the great family time and holiday fun was too much to give up. She cried at bedtime last night, and was on the verge of tears as the school bus pulled up this morning.

Change is hard.