Thursday, February 19, 2015

Celebrating the Year of the Goat

Today marks the start of the Chinese New Year--The Year of the Goat.  I was born during the Year of the Goat, so I guess this a special one for me.  Wishing you great things in 2015!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

R.I.P. Bob Simon

I am so saddened to learn of the untimely death of journalist Bob Simon.  He was killed in a car crash in New York City today, just 73 years old. I had the pleasure of meeting Bob at a writer's conference in NYC over 20 years ago, while he was promoting his book, 40 days. The book chronicles his harrowing experience during the Persian Gulf war, when he endured imprisonment in an Iraqi jail. To this day, it remains one of the most moving books I've ever read.  He was the keynote speaker at the conference I attended, and I remember him talking with such passion about what he endured. He said that he had never experienced true hunger before, and that it filled him with feelings of despair and emptiness that he had never known. It was something that stayed with him, and he said that he learned never to take basic needs like food and clean water for granted ever again. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

REVIEW: Red Velvet Oreos

As soon as I heard that Nabisco was going to release a Red Velvet version of their Oreo cookie on February 2nd, I knew I had to find it and try it out.  For scientific purposes, of course. 

Unfortunately, we've had some snowy, icy weather here in the Northeast, so I had to wait until today to find them. They were worth the wait! Although, I do have both good news and bad news about these cookies.  Let's start with the good news:

They're delicious!

The cookie part is red, so it makes for a striking visual, but the taste is exactly the same as a regular Oreo.  I tried doing a "blind" taste test, and could not discern a difference, which was fine with me.

So what makes this new flavor so great?  The filling, of course,  They really nailed the cream cheese frosting flavor, and they don't skimp on the ratio of creme to cookie. In fact, I first tried an Oreo whole, then split it apart and ate the cookie and creme separately, and then tried it whole again.

They're definitely much better eaten in their entirety.  The creme by itself was a little too sweet and overpowering.

Okay folks, sorry, but I do have to tell you the bad news now: the packaging for this "Limited Edition" flavor is a major disappointment: it's 20% SMALLER than the regular-sized Oreo packages.  Other editions weigh in at 12.2 ounces, with 24 cookies inside.  Red Velvet Oreos only come 20 to a 10.7 ounce package.  So rather than raise the prices for this new flavor, they're shorting the consumer by 4 cookies. Unacceptable!

Of course, this meant I ended up buying 5 packages instead of 4 (3 were gifts!), so the marketing folks are definitely doing something right.

Smaller packaging/higher unit cost not withstanding, yes indeed, I recommend Red Velvet Oreos. YUM!

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Real Tragedy of Bobbi Kristina Brown

As I left on Saturday to celebrate a birthday dinner for my mother-in-law (who turns 80 tomorrow), I heard the news about Whitney Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina: found face down and not breathing in a bathtube full of water, in a scene that was eerily similar to her own mothers tragic death just three years ago. 

Initial reports indicate that no drugs or alcohol were "immediately apparent" on the scene, but regardless of whether or not Bobbi Kristina is found to have been under the influence of an addictive substance, this is 100% a drug-related incident. I say that because this young girl--just 21 years old--is a victim of her own parents' addictions. Ten years ago, the public watched voyeuristically as the scenes played out on their reality show, Being Bobby Brown, with Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston yelling and screaming at one another in a fog of excess and abuse. This poor girl never stood a chance.  She did not have a port in the storm, someone to guide her on the right path, and nuture her. I'm sure her mother adored her, and her father does as well, but the fact remains: this is a tragic situation that could have been prevented, had her parents not exposed her to the world of drug use and addiction. A few years later, after her mother's untimely death, she starred on another reality series, The Houstons: On Our Own. It was painful to watch, with a then-19-year-old Bobbi Kristina often seen with a drink in her hand, clearly intoxicated, perpetuating the cycle of substance abuse passed down to her from both parents.  

The latest news is that Bobbi Kristina is in a medically-induced coma, and that her brain function has been "significantly diminished". What this means for her overall prognosis remains unclear, but given her family history, I don't hold out much hope for a happy ending.

I can't help but think of all the other young children who, like Bobbi Kristina, are exploited on reality shows, props in the background used for entertainment value, their shocked or grim little faces trying hard to ignore the circus around them. I think about the Guidice girls from The Real Housewives of New Jersey, in one episode in particularly, seeing their father drunk and acting the fool, knocking out one of his own teeth in an alcohol-fueled stupor. This is the same man in charge of taking care of them while their mother is in jail.  What can the future possibly hold for these young girls? The eldest, just 13 years old, is already the "star" of a sexually-charged and provocative music video.  What type of path is she headed down, and will anyone stop her before it's too late?