I Can’t Help Myself Friday. The TODAY Show Hot Mess.

What the hell TODAY show? Sweet Baby Jesus of Bethlehem, what a freaking mess this week! Anchors crying, co-hosts lying, and we’re all dying! This morning, we are going to examine the anatomy of a morning show meltdown.

Last year, the wildly popular Meredith Vieira was given a viral sendoff:

Who wouldn’t be jealous of a personal video set to Journey?

Longtime anchor Ann Curry was elevated in her place. Ann, a pleasant news reader and good foreign news correspondent, was overmatched from the start. The bosses on high should have know that, she was always awkward as a co-host.

Remember the first day she premiered? She dressed up like the first day of grammar school:

What was she thinking?

Then there was Ann’s penchant for the phrase “good morning“:

Good morning this morning, in news this morning, tornados off the coast of Florida this morning, wrecking everything in its path this morning, causing devastation the likes of which that region has not seen this morning. And good morning, to you and you and you! Jesus, it made me want to be in MOURNING.

Meg knew when TODAY sent Ann to Cannes it was the beginning of her swan song, cause that’s where the NBC brass sent Meredith the year before, saying “we know you’re leaving so we thought France would be a nice treat“!

Ann has had a lot of awkward moments, like when she interviewed Jada Pinkett Smith and congratulated her “her fabulous life”. She’s been on with many a chef, and admonished all of them about butter and salt. Too many of her segments came off as ungainly and unrefined for someone with 14 years on the show.

So yesterday, NBC graciously allotted 4 minutes to Ann to say goodbye and be weirdly pecked on the cheek by Matt Lauer, who Ann cringed from like he was slime.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Yeah, I’d cringe if Matt Lauer touched, me too.

Meg hates it when you see a nice person, who’s wrong for the job, be put in a position like that. It’s good TODAY is moving on, but Meg is not sure she’s going to move along with them; she hates their set that looks like a hospital waiting room, their interminable teasers for EXCLUSIVES, and the segments that give the viewer nothing more than a TMZ zinger.

This morning the suits didn’t even have enough balls to announce either Matt Lauer or Savannah Guthrie as the hosts of the show. Maybe NBC thinks we’ll all forget about the debacle that unfolded this week, but Meg will be watching to see the next cat claw dust up, which I’m sure will be EXCLUSIVE to TODAY.

When Life is Like A Bad Country Song. Or a Good Adele Song.

You know the one where the cowboy gets his heart broken and sings like life will never be the same? That’s the kind of week or so Meg has had. Better yet, she thinking the Adele song that REALLY makes you sob is more her speed lately:

So around 2 weeks ago, Meg gets word her beloved sister-in-law has a brain tumor. In fact, she has a bunch of them. This explains to lot to Meg, cause she thought her pal was stressed out down there in Virginia, but it turns out forces that are beyond us have given us all something mysterious to deal with. Many tests were performed, but doctors being doctors, are proceeding with caution. Can we all put a good karma thought into our heads for her today?

She’s the one trying to kiss Meg in this photo, while Meg’s sister laughs.

Late last week, her father-in-law, who is the most easygoing person Meg ever met, and who’s blood pressure is about 60, had a heart attack and was alone in a hospital having tests. The family rushed up to New Hampshire, where they heard it right from the doctors lips that he is going to be fine! And he can play golf with his son this weekend!

This Saturday, Meg’s godson Mr. Seventeen spent the day with the family at the homestead, and mulched and weeded their gardens into perfection. Later on that night, as he headed out to the movies with his friends, they all got hit by a drunk driver.

Mr. Seventeen has a broken shoulder and a concussion, and will be fine, and as my very good friend Mrs. Mary Foley Cooney would say, “PRAISE THE LORD”. Can we all say Hallelujah on that one?

Mr. Seventeen is in the middle, flanked by his handsome friends.

Now they say things happen in threes, so let all hope this nonsense is over and done with, and we can resume normal blogging mode.

Thanks for listening kids, and like the country song says, make sure to hug all your babies and loved ones tight tonight. Pooches count, too!

What “The Who” Taught Me.

This week, Mama Kat gave us the option of talking about something we learned embarrassingly late in life. Now, Meg could expound on many subjects, like when you get older you speak up for yourself more, can kick ass more confidently, and in general you don’t take any crap from people, but she knows you don’t want to hear about that.

Meg would like to share something she thinks all of you can relate to, screwing up and misinterpreting lyrics to popular songs.

When Meg was a kid, there was a popular Bobby Sherman song, called “Julie“. Except Meg and her friends sang it “Chewy“. Hey, it’s not like there was MTV and closed captioning, they did their best listening to the static of A.M. radio, OK?

Srsly, he was a 70’s idol, kids. And it’s clear he couldn’t really sing, too.

Fast forward to the 70’s, and The Who’s popular “Mama’s Got a Squeezebox“. Let’s just say Meg wasn’t the only one who was completely CLUELESS. I mean, she had a vision of an accordion in her head, and that was about it. She did not get any of the sexual references at all, she just blithely hummed the melody and didn’t think of much else. Certainly not the part where Daddy never sleeps at night….

Later on in her twenties, her boyfriend (now husband) was discussing his love of The Who, and the subject came up. Naturally, he howled with laughter, and after some discussion, the bulb finally went on over Meg’s head. From that day forward, she was determined to listen to the lyrics more closely, and never be caught in squeezebox purgatory again.

And please do share, if you were as clueless about this song as Meg was.

An Important Public Service Announcement

WARNING: If you are about to purchase the book 50 Shades of Grey, continue reading. If you are in the middle of it, you are already too late to save yourself a few bucks and an enormous amount of aggravation, but stop reading if you care to finish the book.

As you know, last week Meg put together a summer book list, and thinks she gave her readers some diverse and interesting choices, from some very good authors. One thing she did not include was her latest book club assignment “50 Shades of Grey“. She figured you guys knew all the hoopla and Meg thought she’d breeze through it like she used to do when she and her girlfriends were reading Cosmopolitan and Playgirl on the beach all those years ago.

Meg is here to warn you, it’s the worst damn book she ever read. Yes, I know it’s a book about S&M and dominance, but there is ZERO thought to any character development WHATSOEVER. Meg cannot stress the WHATSOEVER part more strongly. Usually when she reads a book, she has A VISION of what the main characters look like, and maybe even who might play them in a movie. She couldn’t begin to wrap her brain around who might play Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. Nor, could she care.

Besides the major players being devoid of any personality, the author set the scenes in the Pacific Northwest, but writes like the characters ARE IN LONDON. Clearly, E.L. James should have consulted Wikipedia to check on Britishisms not widely used in the United States, or in this case, not USED at ALL; the reader will have to Google many of the quaint terms. Meg was confused whether the people in the book had spent a semester abroad or had she simply missed that in the alleged plot line?

Approximately 20 percent into the book, (and most likely sooner) Meg began to get annoyed. The same set of phrases were used for every “encounter” between Anastasia and Christian. Some of those included:

Biting her lip, chewing her lip, and the fact it drove him crazy.
Either one or the other were constantly “hitching their breath”. (bad case of hiccups???)
He continually asked her if she ate? (which excuse me, but eating a large meal does not go with any activity of this kind, am I not right, ladies?)

One very nice reader on Amazon analyzed the whole repetition thing and came up with these fun facts:

Thanks to the many other perturbed readers who have shared their own choices of the most annoyingly overused phrases in this masterpiece. Following up on their suggestions with my ever-useful Kindle search function, I have discovered that Ana says “Jeez” 81 times and “oh my” 72 times. She “blushes” or “flushes” 125 times, including 13 that are “scarlet,” 6 that are “crimson,” and one that is “stars and stripes red.” (I can’t even imagine.) Ana “peeks up” at Christian 13 times, and there are 9 references to Christian’s “hooded eyes,” 7 to his “long index finger,” and 25 to how “hot” he is (including four recurrences of the epic declarative sentence “He’s so freaking hot.”). Christian’s “mouth presses into a hard line” 10 times. Characters “murmur” 199 times, “mutter” 49 times, and “whisper” 195 times (doesn’t anyone just talk?), “clamber” on/in/out of things 21 times, and “smirk” 34 times. Christian and Ana also “gasp” 46 times and experience 18 “breath hitches,” suggesting a need for prompt intervention by paramedics. Finally, in a remarkable bit of symmetry, our hero and heroine exchange 124 “grins” and 124 “frowns”… which, by the way, seems an awful lot of frowning for a woman who experiences “intense,” “body-shattering,” “delicious,” “violent,” “all-consuming,” “turbulent,” “agonizing” and “exhausting” orgasms on just about every page.

My favorite quote in the Amazon review section was this:

I wanted to make a drinking game out of how many times the author wrote that someone “frowned”, but I thought I’d die of alcohol poisoning before the end of the novel.

And yes, Meg did knock back 2 of her friend Zadge’s skinny margarita concoctions because – well, just because.

And actually, the review of the novel and subsequent comments are so entertaining and laugh out loud funny, you should head to Amazon and read it for yourselves. It is the funniest thing she has read in FOREVER.

Meg is just going to say this – E.L. James may be making millions, but someday she will be arrested for flagrant misuse of a thesaurus, and her punishment shouldn’t be jail, but be something meaningful, like being crushed with the weight of a million copies of “The Elements of Style“.

The Summer Book List.

Summer calls for basking in the sun and ice cold cocktails, and what goes better with those activities than a good book? Whether you are sitting on a beach, kicking back on your patio, or flying to a special destination, we all need something to transport ourselves for a hour or two.

Meg would like to serve up a sample of the ways she plans to entertain herself this season, and she hope her readers will share their must reads as well:

Meg just finished Restaurant Man, and she suggests you not waste your money. She was expecting something along the lines of an Anthony Bourdain book, but all you get is a self-centered jerk who littered his book with more f-bombs than Meg has ever dropped in her life, and that’s a lot. The only thing I came away with is I’m grateful I’m not his wife.

Meg always looks forward to a John Irving book. His characters are well developed, interesting and unforgettable.

“A compelling novel of desire, secrecy, and sexual identity, In One Person is a story of unfulfilled love—tormented, funny, and affecting—and an impassioned embrace of our sexual differences. Billy, the bisexual narrator and main character of In One Person, tells the tragicomic story (lasting more than half a century) of his life as a “sexual suspect,” a phrase first used by John Irving in 1978 in his landmark novel of “terminal cases,” The World According to Garp.”

His most political novel since The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving’s In One Person is a poignant tribute to Billy’s friends and lovers—a theatrical cast of characters who defy category and convention. Not least, In One Person is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself “worthwhile.”

Meg has a love affair with the New Yorker, the one where they sit on her coffee table for a long time and then she has a marathon for herself. Is she the only one that turns to the cartoon on the back page first? In any case, she is anxious to read about Janet Groth’s adventures at the venerable magazine.

Thanks to a successful interview with a painfully shy E. B. White, a beautiful nineteen-year-old hazel-eyed Midwesterner landed a job as receptionist at The New Yorker. There she stayed for two decades, becoming the general office factotum—watching and registering the comings and goings, marriages and divorces, scandalous affairs, failures, triumphs, and tragedies of the eccentric inhabitants of the eighteenth floor. In addition to taking their messages, Groth watered their plants, walked their dogs, boarded their cats, and sat their children (and houses) when they traveled. And although she dreamed of becoming a writer herself, she never advanced at the magazine.

This memoir of a particular time and place is as much about why that was so as it is about Groth’s fascinating relationships with poet John Berryman (who proposed marriage), essayist Joseph Mitchell (who took her to lunch every Friday), and playwright Muriel Spark (who invited her to Christmas dinner in Tuscany), as well as E. J. Kahn, Calvin Trillin, Renata Adler, Peter Devries, Charles Addams, and many other New Yorker contributors and bohemian denizens of Greenwich Village in its heyday.

During those single-in-the-city years, Groth tried on many identities—Nice Girl, Sex Pot, Dumb Blonde, World Traveler, Doctoral Candidate—but eventually she would have to leave The New Yorker to find her true self.

I think we all agree we need a good trashy beach book, and I think this one will fit the bill:

Meg saw a piece on author Scotty Bowers on the CBS Sunday Morning show, and was kind of intrigued with the stories of old time Hollywood gossip and scandal from the 40’s and 50’s. “Full Service”sounds like a book you can pick up and put down where ever the mood strikes. SOLD.

Meg found Robert Goolrick’s “The Reliable Wife” juicy and and entertaining. She therefore can recommend “Heading Out To Wonderful“!

Like any good ballad, the narrative builds slowly to it s violent climax, packs an emotional punch, and then haunts readers with it s quintessentially American refrain..”
—Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly )

Three sisters have returned to their childhood home, reuniting the eccentric Andreas family. Here, books are a passion (there is no problem a library card can’t solve) and TV is something other people watch. Their father-a professor of Shakespeare who speaks almost exclusively in verse-named them after the Bard’s heroines. It’s a lot to live up to.

The sisters have a hard time communicating with their parents and their lovers, but especially with one another. What can the shy homebody eldest sister, the fast-living middle child, and the bohemian youngest sibling have in common? Only that none has found life to be what was expected; and now, faced with their parents’ frailty and their own personal disappointments, not even a book can solve what ails them…

Eleanor Brown’s “Weird Sisters” has been out for awhile, but Meg plans to finally dive in this summer!

Finally, who doesn’t need a good cookbook?

Meg likes to dabble in preserving the bounties of summer like strawberries and corn. This handy guide should give her all the tips
she needs to save some of those goodies for a dreary winter day!

So kids, what’s on your nightstands right now?

Pomp and Circumstance. And Other Stuff.

Aside from Meg’s kvetch-fest last week, she actually has been busy with family events. She attended the high school graduation of Mr. Seventeen this past weekend:

Meg wrote her godson a poignant note, one that recalled the time he was in first grade, and his teacher Mrs. Dee secretly taught him the word “cacophony“. Mr. Then Six retained that information and completely used in in context at an appropriate moment; in a crowded boisterous restaurant on the Cape. The table was completely delighted, much as they were this past weekend with his brilliance:

How did he go from this?

To this?

Mr. Seventeen is headed off to community college in September, and then hopefully after saving his parents some dough he will head
off to a State University. Congratulations Mr. Seventeen, and to your parents for raising such a nice kid!


Meg also took a cooking class with her Mom, called “The Flavors of Venice”. It was like an episode of “Chopped”, where everyone was sprinting for their ingredients. Her Mom did grilled lemon and shrimp, and a Pasta de Ceci, which was a chickpea, pasta and clam dish.

Meg, no slouch, made homemade fettucini and a duck ragu.
Not bad for the first time making pasta…

There she was like Mario Batali, making a well for her flour and eggs and going “holy crap, this better come out“. She made her dough, chopped her mise en place, and rendered duck breast. She indicated to the chef in charge she needed help, and that help was “can you get me a cold beer out of the fridge while I watch this duck”?

Fortified, she finished her dish with aplomb and the class sat down to eat. There was a fabulous radicchio salad, risotto, gnocchi, my duck ragu, shrimp, clams and zabaglione and amaretto cookies for dessert.

Needless to say, the gals needed to put their feet up and consume a large cocktail then they landed back at home.


The next day, sated from all the food they ate, everyone trooped off to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, which Meg highly recommends. They always have interesting photography exhibits, and this month the work of Jerry Uelsmann, who puts together imaginative scenes using negatives, was featured:

Next week the Ansel Adams show starts, which Meg will definitely be back for. If you like touring a quaint museum in one afternoon, this one would be a must see. Even better it’s on the North Shore of Boston, and a short drive to the lovely Cape Ann.


Well kids, Meg seems to be back in reasonable form this week, she hopes the streak continues.