NIPPIES® online magazine
Issue #12: October 8 - November 15, 2003
Welcome to NIPPIES - since 1999!
We take little "nippies" out of every subject.
VIP = (Very Important Person).
NIP = (Not Important Person) - to some.
That was the headline in the New York Post on page 3 of the Wednesday, November 12th, 2003 edition. There was also a full-page story, featuring an abbreviated but touching biography, to accompany the headline. The closing paragraph simply stated:
"Carney was buried yesterday in Connecticutt after a small private ceremony."
For those of you who are under the age of 30 or 35, there might not be much significance to the passing of Art Carney. But for most of us who watched this show in reruns with our parents, or who watched it during it's initial run in 1955, there was more than a little sadness felt at "Norton's" passing.
Art Carney's "Norton", the hapless New York City sewer worker who was Ralph Kramden's (Jackie Gleason) best friend and closest neighbor, was an icon. As one news commentator said about his part in The Honeymooners: "Without Norton, there would have been no Honeymooners".
Norton was the the epitome of a best friend. Like Ethel to Lucy, he was always there for Ralph. Every get-rich-quick scheme that Ralph Kramden ever thought up, every health-scare Ralph ever had, every near-miss opportunity that came Ralph's way was shared with true-blue Norton. Norton was there to accompany Ralph on the piano during those practice sessions (he warmed up to "Way Down Upon The Swanee River") for Ralph's appearance on Name That Tune. Ralph, naturally, hated the "Swanee" song and rushed Norton through it for each session. Of course, the tune that Ralph couldn't remember was..."Way Down Upon the Swanee River". Norton was at Ralph's side when they appeared on the live commercial to push Ralph's "Chef of the Future" gadget that could "peel a apple", a potato, open a can, etc. Norton didn't freeze when he was in "television land", Ralph did. When everything fell apart for Ralph- and it always did- it was Norton who was there to help Ralph pick up the pieces. Ralph's long-suffering wife, Alice (Audrey Meadows) always provided the love, but it was Norton who provided the blind and unfaltering support that kept Ralph Kramden - the everyman of the post World War II era - perking along until his ship came in.
None of us ever did find out if Ralph Kramden ever did get a cushier job at the bus company where he toiled daily as a Manhattan bus driver on the Madison Avenue run. We never found out if he and Alice finally got the opportunity to add any furniture to that drab, curtainless two-room apartment whose only adornment was a wooden table, some chairs, and a sideboard. (The apartment was said to be a replica of Jackie Gleason's own childhood apartment, which he shared with his hard-working mother who died when he was only 19 years of age.) The Honeymooners ran only one season:producer and star Jackie Gleason felt that all had been said and done on the show during that single season and pulled the plug on the immensely popular situation comedy while it was still at the top. There must have been tremendous disappointment in America at the loss of this weekly delight. But the wisdom of Gleason's decision was never more obvious than it is now. Because forever, in the mind of any Honeymooners fan, there is unquestioned friendship, love, loyalty, and, most important of all, hope still going on in this microcosm of Americana during the 1950s. And Art Carney, Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, and Joyce Randolph (who portrayed Trixie, Norton's wife, and who is the lone surviving cast member) will forever be thirty-something, healthy, hopeful, and helping each other though the everyday trials of the lower-middle-class working man.
For the true fan of The Honeymooners, the honeymoon will never be over.
The New York Post also reported: "Art Carney won an Oscar in 1974 for his role in the movie "Harry and Tonto", starred with Walther Matthau in "The Odd Couple" on Broadway and had a long radio career in which, among other things, he did the voices of President Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill." But to most of us, Art Carney will forever be Norton.
Goodbye, Norton. You will be missed.
Another Justice For Sale Story
Millionaire Robert Durst was found "not guilty" of murdering his 71-year-old neighber, Morris Black, yesterday in Galveston, Texas...even though he confessed to the killing, which he claimed was an accident that occured when a a gun went off as the two struggled. He also admitted cutting up the body, packaging it, cleaning up the blood, and dumping the bags into Galveston Bay. Oh, and neglecting to call 911. But hardly anyone-except Durst himself and his expensive legal team- seemed happy. Even Durst's brothers were upset. Thomas Durst, the 53-year-old brother of Robert Durst, became terrified when he heard the news and was quoted in the New York Post as reacting with this statement:
"I'm in shock. I'm just in shock," he said. "He'll kill again, I have no doubt, the question is who is next?" Thomas Durst said he fears for his other brother, Dougles Durst (58), who is the head of the Durst family's billion-dollar real-estate empire, and who Robert Durst has admitted to having plotted to kill, but changed his mind before following through with the deed.
Robert Durst's first wife, Kathie, a beautiful medical student, disappeared in 1982, shortly after a visit with her friend, Gilberte Najamy. Ms. Najamy claims that Kathie told her, on the night she went missing, that if anything bad happened to her, her husband was to blame. Later that night she disappeared from the Durst's South Salem cottage and has never been seen again. Durst claimed he put Kathie on a train for Manhattan. Her disappearance - or where her body is - has never been explained. Kathie's family, as well, is furious over the "not guilty" verdict delivered by the 12 member jury.
"After O.J., nothing is going to surprise me," stated Kathie's brother, James McCormack, upon hearing about the "not guilty" verdict. He also stated that the verdict left him "angered, upset, and many, many other words you can't print," according to a New York Daily News story.
Many of the newspapers reported that the jury seemed unable to deliver a guilty verdict because the head of Morris Black has never been found. Thus, a complete autopsy has never been performed. The remainder of Morris's body was cut up- by Durst- and placed in garbage bags, then dumped by him into Galveston Bay. It later was found by a boy who thought he was seeing a dead pig floating in the water.
The New York Post featured a photo of a shocked Durst as he reacted to the "not guilty" verdict. Behind him was his team of slick lawyers.
Durst still has legal battles ahead. Prosecutors have vowed to seek a separate indictment for bond jumping, which he committed after posting $300,000.00 to secure his temporary freedom.
In the meantime, Durst's current wife, 45-year-old high-powered real-estate broker Deborah Lee Charatan, has been allowed extended visits, lasting up to two hours, at the Galveston County jail where Durst is being detained. Ordinary inmates get only two 20 minute visits per week. The head of the jail, Maj. Mike Henson, claims that this is not special treatment. He told reporters that the extended visits are just because Ms. Charatan is coming from New York, and because of the sensitivity of the case.
Master and Commander:Far Side of the World
We at NIPPIES haven't seen this Russell Crowe epic, and we can't wait to do so. But we were fascinated by the PBS (Public Broadcasting System) interview with the sound effects head of this movie. Sorry, we didn't hear the name, as we caught the interview halfway through. (There are over eightteen people alphabetically credited under the sound effects category of this movie.)
Not surprisingly, much of the success of Master and Commander will no doubt be due to the realistic sound of wind whipping through sails and creaking boards of the ship. The PBS interviewee explained that the sound was produced, in great part, by racing a pick-up truck, which had been rigged with a specially-designed wooden structure, refrigerator grills, and other contraptions, through the Mojave Desert at various speeds and with microphones placed at strategic points on the truck.
The Mojave Desert! How's that for ironic??
November 10th, 2003
Rosie O'Donnell: "What's Wrong With This Picture?"
By now we've all heard and read and seen about the latest HOT court case: Rosie O'Donnell and her former publisher are suing each other for something like $100 million.
To be quite honest, I was never a huge Rosie O'Donnell fan and haven't really followed the story, but I am aware that much trouble started when Rosie was forced, she alleges, to pose for a picture with the two female stars of The Sopranos on a doomed cover of her magazine, Rosie. (There are different explanations by different parties as to why she didn't like the pose with Lorraine Bracco and Edie Falco). I don't dislike Rosie O'Donnell. Basically, we at NIPPIES are just indifferent to Rosie's many talents in a benign way.
However, that said, Rosie made a very, very good point when addressing the cameras before entering a courthouse to testify at her trial. Rosie commented about how we have lost over 30 soldiers in Iraq this month. Yet, she said, her story is the top story in the media. "What is wrong with this picture?" she asked. And Rosie, I must say, made a very good point.
November 9th, 2003
Julia Roberts in Mystic Pizza...
A young Julia Roberts was breathtakingly beautiful, no ifs, ands or butts...
We just happened to be flipping through the channels and came across Mystic Pizza on the WE channel. Since we at NIPPIES have never seen Mystic Pizza, we thought we'd sit and stay awhile.
The movie is really good. We were sorry we'd never watched it in the first place. There is a romantic but light plot to this film. Good actors: Lili Taylor, Annabeth "no relation to Lillian" Gish, Vincent D'Onofrio, and, of course, Julia Roberts. MP is basically just a romantic comedy. There are really no heavy messages. The only thing really heavy in the movie, and this shocked us, is Julia Robert's 21 year old butt. Was she really that bottom-heavy back then?
Now don't get us wrong here. Julia is, naturally, gorgeous in this movie. Her hair is in that original wild-and-unruly style that, along with her megawatt smile, made Julia so famous in the first place. But it appeared obvious to we at NIPPIES that,in the first several scenes of the film, the director went out of his way to have her dressed in skin-tight skirts that made her derriere look, well, padded. Julia's backside didn't jiggle or move as she served pizza or ran up the stairs. If she didn't have a Frederick's of Hollywood fake fanny on in that movie, I'll eat my hat.
Still, Julia was gorgeous.
What is the purpose of this whole article? Nothing. Just thought we at NIPPIES would mention this. And let you know that J-Lo (Jennifer Lopez, for those not in the know and other Martians) did not resurrect the "big butt" look in Hollywood (post Jayne Mansfield, Jane Russell and Mae West, of course).
Conchata Ferrell is delightful, as always: she plays the down-to-earth-mother pizza parlor owner, Leona. A big surprise was the actor who played the younger brother of Julia's love interest. This young actor looked sooo familiar, but we just couldn't put our finger on where we'd seen him before. Lo and behold, we finally figured it out. It was a very young Matt Damon.
By the way, in the scene where Julia, her wealthy beau, and the beau's family are eating a lobster dinner, there was a mistake. The "green-stuff" in the lobster (called tomalley) was referred to as the lobster's "crap". However, it is actually the liver of the lobster. On a long ago visit to Cape Cod, we learned that many people eat this green-stuff, and some even consider it a delicacy. Chefs sometimes use the tomalley in sauces. Others shy away and consider eating the lobster's liver a health risk, as the liver in any creature filters out things in the body that may be contaminants. Just thought you'd like to know.
November 5th, 2003
San Francisco: A Living Wage of $8.50
The cost of living in San Francisco is extremely high. However, that said, we want to applaud San Francisco's small step toward making it worthwhile for the unskilled and/or unprofessional workers to get up and go to work in the morning. San Francisco has made it a law that no one works there for less than &8.50 per hour. Tha national minimum wage is still $5.15 per hour, and has been since 1997.
We at NIPPIES have done papers on the subject of living wages (or, wages that are designed to provide at least the minimum amount that a person can actually live on.) Living wages are beneficial in that they not only provide enough money to live on, but they also alleviate the necessity of working two jobs to get by on. With the extra time, those earning a living wage can then better themselves by attending night classes.
Bush Takes a Stand Against Partial-Birth Abortion President Bush today signed a bill banning "partial-birth abortion". A leading supporter for this bill, as named by President Bush, is Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania. Some political pundits think Rick Santorum may run for president in a future election. He's young and has plenty of time.
Partial-birth abortion is abortion performed past the first tri-mester of pregnance. The controversy over this procedure has been brewing for years. We are sure that we haven't heard the end of the controversy, either. ALready some doctors are citing scenarios where the mother's health may be jeopardized if she if forced to carry out an unwanted pregnance. Pro-life advocates argue that this is not true.
Mel Gibson - Six Sons There was a blurb on the bottom of CNN's news just now about Mel Gibson and his six sons. The news item alluded to Mel Gibson considering a project which will feature his sons...more to come.
November 3rd, 2003
The Joys Of Teaching Your Children To Borrow Money
Have you ever tried to teach a third grader subtraction of three or four digit numbers? We at NIPPIES were faced with that situation this past week when our little one came home with a near-failing grade in math.
The problem was with the concept of starting out with a certain amount of money, purchasing "candy" or a "toy", and then giving the answer of how much change you should have. Our little one just couldn't get it. The dollar signs, the decimal point, the whole idea of subtracting a larger digit from a smaller one-or even from a zero- had her in tears. We at NIPPIES were nearly in tears ourselves as we grappled with the task of explaining all this.
Finally, we came upon the idea of using actual money and a "bank". The first thing we did was to get out a lot of one dollar bills, nineteen dimes, and nineteen pennies. Then, after we had gotten out a piece of paper and had the money handy, we went over the importance of lining up the penny columns, the dime columns, and the dollar columns directly under each other when approaching the subtraction problem. In other words, when we gave her the problem of "Mommy gives you $5.00 to go to the movies. The movie costs $3.75. How much change will you bring home?", we were very careful to make sure she placed the "5" from the $3.75 directly under the last "0" from the $5.00, the "7" from the $3.75 directly under the second "0" from the $5.00 amount, and the "3" from the $3.75 directly under the "5" from the $5.00. Of course, we went over the fact of why this is so important: because each of these columns stands for something specific: pennies, dimes, and dollars.
Once we had the digits written in large, exaggerated numbers, we had her place the appropriate amount of money, representing the $5.00 she would be given to begin with, at the top of the piece of paper where the digits were written. She then proceeded, after several reminders to begin on the right hand column of numbers and not the left hand column, to subtract the $3.75 from the $5.00. And, of course, got totally befuddled about how you could possibly subtract a "5" from a "0". This is where Mommy had to get smart.
I had her look at the "0" which stood for the pennies in the $5.00 amount as the "Penny House", where the Penny family lived. This visualization immediately brought a hugh smile to her entire face, and I knew I was onto something good. The Penny family had no pennies in the house, and had to run next door to the "Dime House" to borrow a dime, which they would take to the "bank" and change into 10 pennies. But the Dime family had no dimes. So, the she then had to go to the "Dollar House", borrow a dollar from the Dollar family, but not before crossing out the "5" and replacing it with a "4". She then proceeded to the bank with her dollar, which she changed into ten dimes. She bypassed the Dollar House, which now, of course only had 4 dollars, and went to the Dime House with her ten dimes. She gave Mrs. Dime the ten dimes, but then realized she needed the tenth dime to change into ten pennies to take back to the Penny House so that she could subtract the "5" from the $3.75. So she changed the "0" at the Dime House into a "9", which stood for the 9 dimes she gave to Mrs. Dime, and took the tenth dime back to the bank for 10 pennies. These ten pennies she then took to the Penny House. She wrote a small "10" on top of the "0" which had previously been in the penny column of the $5.00 amount. Ah. Now she could take the 5 pennies away from the 10 pennies. That left her 5 pennies. It was time to go next door to the dime column. She could also take the 7 away, now, from the 9 dimes that she had left with Mrs. Dime. That left 2 dimes in the dime column. Now all she had to do was visit the Dollar House, deduct the "3" (from her $3.75)from the 4 dollars left in the Dollar House, and she got her answer of $1.25.
It only took a few minutes to teach her the reverse process of adding her answer to the amount spent to be sure it came out to the amount she started with. Voila! She was enlightened!
I was amazed at how well the use of a little imagination and visualization (the Dollar Family, the Penny House, the Bank) worked in making my little girl so enthused about learning something she previously had declared as hopeless. ("I just don't GET IT!!", she'd told her brother earlier in the day.) How well did it work? Well, let me tell you this: last night, after I'd tucked her into bed for the night, I caught her with something under the covers. It was a spiral tablet and a pencil. She'd stayed up later than usual to work out a few more problems herself. And, thank God, they were all correct.
November 1st, 2003
Jack LaLanne - Nearly 90 And Still Going Strong!
Have you seen Jack LaLanne on those commercials for the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer? We at NIPPIES just did. He looks fantastic. His skin is far smoother than the skin of many men 40 years younger. He still has that famous A-frame physique that earned him the title of Professional Mr. America in 1955, and his hair looks toupee-less to NIPPIES. The man will turn 90 in 2004.
If anyone is a living testimony to the benefits of healthy living, Jack LaLanne is it. Not only does he believe in eating tons of fresh fruits and vegetables daily (no doubt power-juiced), as well as popping every vitamin from A-Z (according to the FAQ section at www.jacklalanne.com), but he's been married since 1958 to the same woman, Elaine LaLanne.
Way back in the 1960s, Jack LaLanne had nearly every housewife in America exercising- at least for a few minutes a day. His daytime exercise show was quite the rage among the many stay-at-home mothers of that simpler era. After his show's popularity waned, Jack stayed in the news with his amazing accomplishments of nearly super-human strength:at 41 he showed how it was possible to excape from ALcatraz by swimming to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco while wearing handcuffs. At age 45, Jack LaLanne completed a thousand push-ups and a thousand chin-ups in 82 minutes. When he was sixty years of age, Jack LaLanne swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman's Wharf handcuffed, shackled, adn towing a thousand-pound boat. At at age 70, Jack towed seventy boats holding seventy people for a mile and a half across Long Beach Harbor.
Like many people who become fitness gurus, Jack was not a healthy child. A turning point in his life came when he and his mother attended a lecture by Paul. C. Bragg, a famous nutritionist. Jack LaLanne decided to turn his life around and began a strick and healthy diet and exercise regimen. Obviously it has paid off.
There is a personal quote made by Jack LaLanne which makes a lot of sense. The quote implies that many of us treat our dogs better than we do ourselves. Here it is:
"Would you get your dog up in the morning and give him a cup of coffee, a cigarette and a doughnut?"
Good point, Jack.
October 29th, 2003
The Ever Widening Gap Between the Rich and the Poor
After cooking supper for nine straight days, we at NIPPIES decided to take the family out for a meal at a restaurant. A family vote was taken, and the new Cracker Barrel store/restaurant, which serves Southern-style fried steak and other Southern specialties, was chosen.
Our waiter was a very nice young man in his mid-twenties by the name of Jonathan. As sometimes occurs, a rapport developed between server and customer. Jonathan looked a bit tired and it came out in the conversation that he'd picked up an extra shift that day. When he waited on our table, he was finishing up his 15th hour of waiting tables.
One thing led to another and the subject of wages came up. I asked Jonathan what he was being paid for waiting tables. I was shocked when he told me $2.83 per hour. For his fifteen hours of hustling, he was guaranteed only $42.45 in wages. Of course, tips (we at NIPPIES hope) would greatly pad that pay. But there are no guarantees when it comes to tipping. And tips are not part of the overhead that this large chain of restaurants is responsible for covering.
We at NIPPIES have been especially conscious of wages this past month for a couple of reasons. First, we noticed that all the veteran workers at out local video store, which was recently bought out by a large chain, are gone. They have been replaced by minimum-wage college students. We were dismayed to overhear an applicant at the video store ask about pay. He was told "we pay minimum".
Then last week we at NIPPIES read in the newspaper that our health insurance provider, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which demanded premium increases of 15% last year, is about raise premiums for self-employed another 15% in January. Our health insurance, through Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has doubled in the past 6 years. That will mean that we are going to have to pay over $900.00 per month for health insurance for a family of three. Our son, the fourth member of our family, will no longer be covered under our plan because we are not on a group plan. (Group plans get the privilege of free coverage for their over-nineteen and under-thirty full-time college student dependents). Our son gets the "reduced rate" of an additional $235 per month, on top of our impending $900. That means we will have to shell out over $1100.00 to provide health insurance for our family.
What is our world coming to? Minimum wage is $5.15 per hour. So, if one works a minimum wage job at $5.15 for 40 hours each week, the gross pay for an entire month would be $824.00 per month, or about $80 per month less than health insurance, through Blue Cross/Blue Shield, for a basic family plan which doesn't even include eye and dental coverage. In addition, there is a $500 deductible for each family member. And, despite all the increases in our Blue Cross/Blue Shield premiums over the past several years, the lifetime cap on coverage has remained for $250,000.00- an amount which could quickly be wiped out with one catatrophic illness.
Ironically, the people at Blue Cross and Blue Shield who decide on these premium increases not only enjoy enormous salaries, but full free coverage.
National minimum wage, which is $5.15 per hour, has not been raised in going on 7 years. $5.15 per hour is, to put it plainly, slave wages, in the NIPPIES opinion. In this day and age, paying anyone to do a job at the rate of $5.15 per hour is nothing less than a total disgrace. The price of everything basic and necessary to living has gone up: heat, electricity, rents, health insurance, prescription medications, tuitions- everything. But for the lowly worker who makes the wheels of business turn daily, wages have remained the same.
Our politicians regularly vote to give themselves nice raises. Of course, news on their votes for self-gratification are kept very quiet. Perhaps a small article might appear in the newspaper. Perhaps not. Politicians certainly look out for their own best interests. But for the little guy in the United States of America, the little guy who puts these politicians into office, things are getting worse and worse.
And for the little guy, who has no post-high-school education, things are getting nearly unbearable.
Consider this. What if you are a man who is tired for working for a corporation or company and who wants to start his own business? You are not a professional, but you want make a little better life for you and your family. You have a particular skill or talent that you want to develop into a full-time business. Everyone know that it takes start-up money to begin your own business:there equipment, advertising, rent, and other costs involved. You use most or all of your savings for the start-up money. Or perhaps you mortgage your house - if you have a house - and start the business.
Normally, it takes a few years, at least, to get a business to turn a profit. The rule of thumb seems to be that it takes about three years to turn a profit in a new business. But you have children and need to have health insurance for their protection. So, your wife (or husband) goes out and works a minimum wage or near minimum wage job to help out. You now are paying your own health insurance because you are self-employed. So, you are working 40-50, perhaps up to 80 hours a week at the new business to get it started. Everything your wife or husband makes goes towards paying for the health insurance that, perhaps, your former employer once provided, either fully or partially. You are not making a profit yet from your business. Everything your partner makes goes towards paying for the health insurance. There is NO income for your mortgage, utilities, and food. Unless you are very, very lucky, you are not going to make a go of that business. And you are back to square one, or perhaps even further behind, financially, than you were when you had that dream of being self-employed.
The American dream is crying out to be saved. Not everyone can be in the healthcare profession, whether as a lab technician, doctor, nurse, or other health care worker. Nor should everyone be in the healthcare field. Not everyone can be in banking, accounting, computer science or other professional fields. Not everyone can - or should - be a college graduate or or work for a huge corporation. Our country needs many more independent, small business owners who can afford to pay a fair wage to their workers- or to themselves. The workers need to make enough to buy the necessities of life and have a little left over to make a better life. It's now becoming more and more difficult each year to live the American dream.
Somewhere, somehow, down the line our economy is bound to fall apart. Why? Because more and more is being taken away from the little guy by the big guys who can. And doing something selfish because you can really is purely evil. The laborers are being left with less and less expendible income. And the less expendible income he has - because he is just too broke from paying for the bare necessities of life- the less he is going to spend on the extras.
There are plenty of people out there with money. But they are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer at an alarmingly fast rate. The gap between the middle-class rich and the lower-middle-class and the poor is ever widening. The wealthier are becoming more and more calloused towards the plight of the struggling working poor in this country- especially when it comes to healthcare. And that is an invitation for disaster in any society and in any economy.
Our healthcare "industry" is so broke that we at NIPPIES don't know if it can be fixed. The pharmaceutical industry is now putting more money into marketing than into R&D (research and development). There are more and more testing facilities and hospital satellite facilities going up everywhere, and more jobs being developed in the healthcare field. (Go to any "job fair" and you will see the majority of booths are for healthcare professionals). But if less effort is being put into developing the medications and treatments that will cure our most horrific diseases, what is the sense of all this? Some drug companies have stopped making medications for the control and treatment of less common conditions because there just isn't enough profit to be made.
The healthcare industry is probably going to have to collapse before it can be mended. Why? Because the little guy who is now paying the skyrocketing premiums will just no longer be able to afford those premiums someday very soon. Then what?
October 28th, 2003
Halloween Safety Tips from the FDA
With Halloween just around the corner, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has begun offering safety tips on Halloween treats, makeup, and contact lenses. NIPPIES will list the basic information offered by the F.D.A., and also a link to the complete page for your convenience.
While the information may seem common-sensical, remember that your younger children may be hearing this Halloween safety information for the first time. Please take the time to review these important safety tips with them!
Tips for Parents: Halloween Treats
Painting Your Face Special Effects Without Aftereffects
Decorating your face with face paint or other makeup lets you see better than you can if you're wearing a mask. A mask can make it hard to see where you're going and watch out for cars. But make sure your painted-on designs don't cause problems of their own.
Don't go to bed with your makeup on. Wearing it too long might irritate your skin, and bits of makeup can flake off or smear and get into your eyes, not to mention mess up your pillow and annoy your parents.
How you take the stuff off is as important as how you put it on. Remove it the way the label says. If it says to remove it with cold cream, use cold cream. If it says to remove it with soap and water, use soap and water. If it says to remove it with eye makeup remover, use eye makeup remover. You get the picture. The same goes for removing glue, like the stuff that holds on fake beards.
And remember, the skin around your eyes is delicate. Remove makeup gently.
Regarding Contact Lenses
With the Halloween season approaching, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers about serious risks of using decorative contact lenses distributed without appropriate involvement from an eye care professional. These decorative lenses can cause permanent eye injury and may potentially lead to blindness.
FDA has received reports of decorative contact lenses being marketed and distributed directly to consumers through sources such as flea markets, convenience stores, beach shops and the Internet.
FDA has received reports of corneal ulcers associated with the wearing of decorative contact lenses in excess of the recommended period. Corneal ulcers can progress rapidly, and, if left untreated, could lead to infection of the eye. Uncontrolled infection can lead to corneal scarring and vision impairment. In the most severe cases, this condition can result in blindness and eye loss.
Other risks associated with the use of decorative contact lenses include conjunctivitis (an infection of the eye); corneal edema (swelling); allergic reaction and corneal abrasion due to poor lens fit. Other problems may include reduction in visual acuity (sight), contrast sensitivity and other visual functions, resulting in interference with driving and other activities.
“Although decorative contact lenses may seem festive during this time of year, consumers should understand that these lenses can seriously harm the eye if they are used without appropriate supervision by an eye care professional,” said FDA Commissioner Mark B. McClellan. “FDA is committed to protecting the public health by taking strong action against those who would put consumers at risk by improperly distributing these products.”
The FDA has issued an import alert for decorative contact lenses presented for importation into the United States that are intended for distribution without the appropriate involvement of an eye care professional.
The Agency has examined numerous entries of decorative contact lenses presented for importation. Currently, there has been no demonstration to FDA's satisfaction that these products, when distributed without eye care professional involvement, comply with federal safety standards. Consequently, these products have not been permitted to enter United States commerce.
Domestically, FDA has inspected several firms distributing decorative contact lenses, and additional inspections are planned. FDA has recently issued a warning letter to BWild Incorporated, warning the firm that it is selling decorative contact lenses without proper labeling about the risks and proper instructions for safe use. FDA will take action with respect to other firms distributing these products as appropriate. Recently, the FDA also sent letters to Yahoo! and the on-line auction site eBay, alerting them to the risks of decorative contact lenses distributed without appropriate eye care professional involvement and requesting their assistance in preventing improper online sales.
Now, go have a good time, and a safe one.
There is more detailed information on treats, makeup, and contact lenses for Halloween at the FDA's web site. Please go there to read about the safety of color additives and other information.
Here is the URL (copy and paste) to the FDA's main page on Halloween Safety Tips for Children: http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/kids/candyandtreats.html
October 27th, 2003
Illinois study: 90 Million could be saved with Canadian Drug Reimportation Program
According to CNN news, a study in Illinois has determined that the state could save up to 90 million dollars by setting up a program to purchase prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies, where drugs are sold cheaper than in the United States. The study deals only with savings that would result from purchasing prescription medications (through a Canadian Drug Reimportation Program) for retirees and state workers. NIPPIES has previously reported that the Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, is spearheading the effort to make the purchase of cheaper prescription medications from Canada.
CNN also reported that, if this program goes through, other states could follow Illinois' lead and greater pressure could be put on the pharmaceutical companies to sell prescription medications cheaper in the U.S. Currently, it is illegal to reimporte prescription drugs from Canada. The laws, however, are rarely enforced, according to CNN.
********************************************************************************* Cancer Reseacher Strikes Gold? Dr. Vladimir Zharov, a biomedical engineer and director of laser research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, won a $106,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. The money was granted for Dr. Zharov's research into using gold flecks only nanometers wide to target - and wipe out - cancerous cells.
Preliminary tests have shown the gold "nanoparticles" could interact with laser radiation to destroy only the targeted cells, without collateral damage to healthy cells, according to Dr. Zharov, who, along with Dmitri Laportko, spent many years in Russia studying how gold could be used to create clearer diagnostic images.
"A mammogram is a mess of lines...It's so hard to see any gradiations until the tumor is already mestastasized," Dr. Zharov was quoted in an Associated Press article by David Hammer. "But we've known about gold's absorption for a long time and I think we're making very nice progress."
According to the AP article, Dr. Zharov will "use the federal grant over the next year for in-vitro tests on rats to pinpoint ideal temperatures", and "to find the best ways to deliver the gold to tumor cells and to ensure that healthy cells are never affected. To this point, tests have been limited to dead samples under a microscope."
October 24th, 2003
Michael McDonald LIVE at the Chicago Theatre
Whichever ad exec thought up the incongruous idea of having the Doobie Brothers legend sing Ain't No Mountain High Enough on the MCI The Neighborhood commercial is absolutely brilliant. That one commercial has generated a lot of interest in MCI and The Neighborhood: people do pay attention to great commercials. NIPPIES readers can't seem to get enough news about Michael, so we thought we'd write some more about what the legendary keyboardist is up to lately.
If you haven't been to www.MichaelMcdonald.com, you should make a visit. There you will find a very informative and entertaining web site. It's also easy to navigate. The only thing we didn't really like - and we don't like this on any web site - was the loading time. But the irritation of waiting for the page to load was surely mitigated by a nice photo of Michael McDonald with the words "thanks for your patience" printed underneath. All the latest news about Michael McDonald, including an upcoming appearance in Chicago, is listed on the pages.
Michael McDonald will appear on, believe it or not, QVC tomorrow, October 25th, at 5:45 pm EST and 10:00 pm EST. Michael will be appearing along with Pat Simmons (sans the long straight hair), also of the Doobie Brothers, live from the Chicago Theatre. Ashford & Simpson are also scheduled to perform. The Chicago/QVC performance will include songs from his MOTOWN CD: Ain't No Mountain High Enough; Signed, Sealed, Delivered and Heard It Through The Grapevine. The MOTOWN CD, by the way, was produced by Simon Climie.
PBS (Public Broadcasting System) also plans on airing a re-broadcast of Michael McDonald's SOUNDSTAGE performance sometime in the future. Keep checking PBS.org for details.
NIPPIES wants to congratulate Michael McDonald on the rebirth of his popularity with young audiences.
Diana's Death: Paparazzi to Stand Trial
NIPPIES wrote about the death of Princess Diana a few days ago. Her death is once again in the headlines because of the letter which her butler, Paul Burrell, claims she wrote to him in 1996 in which Diana predicted a staged accident would take her life.
In a related story,written by Associated Press writer Pierre-Antoine Souchard, comes the announcement that the three photographers who took photos at the accident scene of the 1997 car crash in a Parisian tunnel will now stand trial. The photographers are listed as Jacques Langevin of the Sygma/Corbis agency, Christian Martinez of the Angeles agency and Eric Chassery, a free lance photographer. The trip face a sentence, if found guilty, of one year in prison and $53,000 in fines. The trial comes as a result of a criminal complaint for invasion of privacy filed by Egyptian-bord billionaire Mohammed Al Fayed, Dodi Fayed's father. Mr. Al Fayed, you may recall, owns Harrod's department store in London.
Diana and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, were both still in the car when the photographers began snapping their photos. The paparazzi were on motorcycles and had been chasing Diana and Dodi after they left the Ritz Hotel on August 31, 1997. The AP story states that the photographers were cleared last year of manslaughter charges. The current charges are only for the photos they took of Dodi Fayed. None of these photos were ever published, having been confiscated soon after the accident.
Five other photographers who also took photos at the crash scene had their charges dismissed by a judge.
In a related story from the BBC, Trevor Rees-Jones, Princess Diana's bodyguard and the sold survivor of her fatal crash, has said that photographers pursuing the car in which Diana and Dodi were riding created the atmospheres of the accident.
"They are not directly responsible for the accident, but indirectly they created the atmosphere in which the accident happened," Rees-Jones, who was himself badly injured during the crash, told France 2 television. Princess Diana's bodyguard also said that the photographers were "more aggressive than anywhere else."
Dodi Fayed's father, Mohammed al Fayed, has long stated his belief that the accident was part of a conspiracy to kill the princess. Diana, in her letter to Paul Burrell, clearly would say the same thing if she could speak to the world today. Her letter to her confidante and butler, Burrell, states that she feared someone was planning a car accident "in order to make the path clear for (Prince) Charles to marry."
It is doubtful that the truth about a conspiracy, if there was one, will ever come out. But all this does bring to mind something which we at NIPPIES remember reading about in the newspapers shortly after the death of Princess Diana: the Queen originally did not plan to have any sort of royal funeral for Diana. After all, she allegedly reasoned, Diana and Prince Charles were divorced at the time of her death. Tony Blair, Great Britain's prime minister, was appalled at the Queen's lack of respect and, fearing that such disrespectful behavior towards the mother of Prince Harry and Prince William would turn the public against the monarchy, supposedly interceded and talked Queen Elizabeth into rethinking her decision.
By the way, Tony Blair was hospitalized briefly this week due to heart palpitations. Get well soon, Tony.
October 23rd, 2003
Nancy Grace - A Real Winner! We at NIPPIES continue to be amazed at "Amazing Grace" Nancy Grace, the Special Prosecutor (for 10 years) from the Atlanta Fulton County Attorney General's office who has had over 100 successful convictions agains felons and NO LOSSES. She is, of course, now featured on Court TV.
There is a goodness, and a love of justice, and a natural protectiveness towards victims that just seems to flow from Nancy Grace. We at NIPPIES love Larry King Live, but never more so than when Nance Grace is on. She speaks her mind about every criminal matter, no matter how unpopular her opinion may be, no matter how tough her opponent's view. She is extremely empathetic towards the sufferings of victims.
Nancy Grace is not unfamiliar with the role of victim. Her fiance, Keith, was murdered two weeks before their wedding. The take? $30 and a photo. At the time, Nancy Grace did not want the death penalty. She sees things differently now.
Nancy has said that it was her fiance's violent death which led her to the practice of law. Ms. Grace had originally planned on being a Shakespearean literary professor, but "then came the tragedy of my fiance's murder, which led me to becoming a prosecutor".
Nancy Grace is currently working on a book with biographer and freelance writer David Evanier. David Evanier is the author of the best selling Who's Sorry Now: The Story of a Stand-Up Guy. The current working title of Nancy Grace's book is Seeking Justice. (NIPPIES has a feeling that that very predictable and ho-hum title will be changed before the book comes out.)There is also a one-on-one interview scheduled for Nancy Grace on December 9th, 2003 with Larry King. Don't miss that!
You can read a very interesting interview with Nancy Grace by copying and pasting the following URL:
In the interview, Nancy Grace talks about her upcoming book,memorable stories from when she was prosecuting in Atlanta, why she has yet to become a judge, and other aspects of her amazing life.
October 22nd, 2003
My son and I watched A Beautiful Mind, the Ron Howard movie about mathmatical genius and Nobel Prize winner Dr. John Forbes Nash (Russell Crowe), last night on DVD. It was a great movie. But, as usual, I fell asleep before the end. This is the second time I've fallen asleep while watching A Beautiful Mind.
But I didn't fall asleep before noticing a few things that I considered to be out of place, if not downright mistakes, in A Beautiful Mind. The first thing I noticed is when Nash's imaginary roommate, Charles Herman (Paul Bettany), mentions "pizza" in the scene where Herman and Nash first become acquainted. Pizza? This was 1947. Now, I know that the first U.S. pizzeria opened in 1905 in New York City (owned by Genarro Lombardi and located at 53 1/2 Spring Street). NIPPIES also acknowledges that returning WWII GI's created a nationwide demand for the pizza they had eaten and loved in Italy and that it's very likely there was at least one pizza parlor, as pizza restaurants were called in those days, near the Princeton campus where Nash lived. However, I imagine someone as isolated from pop culture as John Nash putting a roommate with a love of pizza into his delusions.
A few scenes later, Nash was with his mathematician buddies in the local hangout. In walks a bevy of beauties, with the crown jewel being, naturally, THE BLONDE. Nash, previously despondent over his quest for an original idea, begins discussing with his friends how they can all "get laid" by the non-blondes by ignoring the blonde, thus increasing their chances with the other girls. Voila - this way of thinking inspires John Nash to come up with the original idea that he has been looking for. But back to the phrase "get laid" or "getting laid". Was that really used in 1947? Somehow, I don't think so. But if you can provide documentation which proves otherwise, please write to us at NIPPIES.
By the way, an excellent source for movie mistakes is MovieMistakes.com. I checked there and found no mention the reference to pizza or getting laid that bothered me in A Beautiful Mind, but there were a number of interesting observations about factual errors and continuity errors in the Ron Howard movie.
Also, in my research to find out about the history of pizza in the U.S., I came across some interesting information. The word pizza, according to information I found on the www.lib.ucdavis.edu/exhibits/panl7ukno.html site, comes from the Latin word "picea", which means "black ashes from the floor of the fireplace". On dictionary.com, pizza translates from Italian to English as "peak", while there are other interpretations of the Italian word pizza which refer to its meaning as "point".
Pharmaceutical Giant Eli Lilly Joins Fight Against Canadian Drug Reimportation
Indianapolis, Indiana based prescription drug maker Eli Lilly has joined forces - unofficially - with Pfizer,Inc., GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), AstraZeneca and Wyeth in taking steps to fight and limit drug sales from Canada back to the United States, a practice often called "Canadian Drug Reimportation". This is a result of the lost profits the prescription medication makers are experiencing because Americans, in increasingly growing numbers, are ordering their prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies, who sell the meds, by Canadian law, for 20-80% cheaper than U.S. pharmacies.
As with the other pharmaceutical makers who are trying to protect their profits, Lilly is claiming be be concerned about the safety of their prescription medications which leave the country and then come home to be sold at much less than they would normally fetch in the U.S.
"We think it's an appropriate step to take to protect the integrity of our products and the safety of our patients her in the U.S. and Canada," Lilly spokesman Rob Smith told The Indianapolis Star on Friday, October 17th.
According to an October 19th, 2003 AP wire story, "starting immediately, if a Canadian wholesaler tries to order more Lilly products than Lilly's estimate of what is appropriate for Canadian use, "they will not be able to have it."
Dave Robertson, president of the Calgary-based pharmacy crossborderpharmacy.com, recently responded to the Eli Lilly move with this statement:"This latest move by Eli Lilly demonstrates that these multinational drug companies are working together to prevent U.S. seniors from obtaining safe and affordable medications from Canadian pharmacies. This move by Eli Lilly risks placing the companies' profits ahead of the serious health care needs of the U.S. patients."
Eli Lilly products include:Evista®, for the treatment of osteoporosis in post menopausal women; Gemzar®,for pancreatic and non-small-cell lung cancer; Humatrope®, med for hormone deficiency and Turner Syndrome; Humulin® & Humalog® Pen, diabetes medication for insulin delivery;Prozac®, for treatment of depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), bulimia and panic disorder, and Strattera®, a prescription drug used to treat ADHD(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in children and adults.
To maintain balance and fairness, the AP story mentions, at the end, that the Eli Lilly company runs two programs in the United States to sell its drugs at steeply discounted prices to the poor and the low-income senior citizens. No details about how poor or how low your income has to be to meet eligibility for these programs are given.
October 20th, 2003
Goodbye Norma Jean - Hello English Rose?
We all remember the day Princess Diana died. We all remember what we were doing when we heard the news. To say it was shocking is to make an understatment. It was all anyone talked about that day and for days afterward. It was all we heard about for weeks afterward. Then, after a few months, the dust settled and we all got on with our lives- until the word of John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plunge into the sea. (That is another story for another time). Within a year or two, Diana was rarely mentioned any longer in the news.
A few things happened this week that brought the death of Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana's tragic and very untimely death back to my mind. Both Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe were, I believe, victims of not only their own beauty and basic innocence, but of their celebrity, as well.
The first reminder of Princess Diana/Marilyn/Norma Jean was the song Candle in the Wind. I heard it on the radio yesterday. I am speaking of the original Candle in the Wind with the lyrics dedicated to the memory of Norma Jean Mortensen or, as we all know her, Marilyn Monroe, and not the quickly redone version, Goodbye English Rose, which was written in memory of Princess Diana. I am always moved by the lyrics of the original Marilyn version because of how perfectly Bernie Taupin, who wrote the lyrics, captured the essence of the real Marilyn-Norma Jean. Norma Jean was a victim of those who "crawled out of the woodwork",
And they whispered into your brain
They set you on the treadmill
And they made you change your name as four lines in the first verse state.
The second thing that brought Princess Diana and Norma Jean to mind was an AP (Associated Press) article, by Audrey Woods, which appeared in yesterday's newspaper. The article stated that "A letter reportedly written by Princess Diana expressing fears that someone was plotting to eliminate her by tampering with the brakes of her car brought the painful story of her death back to the front pages Monday and prompted a call for a public inquiry." The letter, according to The Mirror (U.K. tabloid), was written in October 1996 to Princess Diana's beloved butler, Paul Burrell. This was ten months before Diana and Dodi Al Fayed died after their chauffeur driven Mercedes crashed, at a very high speed, into a tunnel wall in Paris. The Mercedes was being chased by some persistent paparazzi.
You mean there wasn't a public inquiry prior to this? No, there wasn't. Buckingham Palace has said there will eventually be a British investigation of Diana's death, since law requires one, but "no date has been announced," according to the AP article.
What are the Brits waiting for...everyone relevant to the "accident" to die? The trail is already cold. Just like the trail on the investigation into Marilyn Monroe's death grew cold before anyone really looked into that "suicide".
But we at NIPPIES digress. This NIPPIES article is really about Candle in the Wind and the essence of Marilyn and Diana. From the very first time I heard Goodbye English Rose, I felt a twinge in my heart. I felt Norma Jean had, again, been abandoned. This time by Elton John. And again something had been taken away from her. And I still feel that way whenever I hear that song. Surely a songwriter as prolific as Elton John had an unpublished melody sitting around in his piano bench that he could have used instead of Candle in the Wind?
I am well acquainted with the lyrics to Candle in the Wind. Perhaps better acquainted than most: I'd done an analysis on it once for a writing class in which, besides the obvious references to Marilyn's lonliness and pain, I spoke about why I thought the young man was "in the 22nd row". This line referred, in my opinion, to the fact that if you counted Norma Jean's birth year (1926) as the first row of seats in a theatre, and numbered each year after that as a birth year, then Elton John's birth year (1947) would be the 22nd row. Perhaps someday Bernie Taupin and Elton John will tell me if I'm correct on my theory.
I was also touched by the references to how Elton John would have "liked to have known you, But I was just a kid". Surely Elton understood Marilyn's pain at being abandoned so many times by so many people. He is a sensitive person and must have pointed Bernie Taupin in the direction he went in penning those lyrics. Norma Jean was abandoned, perhaps involuntarily but abandoned just the same, by her own mother, who spent most of her time in a mental institution while Marilyn was shuffled from foster home to foster home. Norma Jean was also abandoned by men who proclaimed love for her and then left soon afterward because, in Marilyn Monroe's own words, "They go to bed with Marilyn and wake up with Norma Jean."
I always thought that Norma Jean would have been so thrilled by the beautiful melody and haunting truth of the lyrics to Candle in the Wind. I think she would have considered the song the greatest love letter she ever received. I also think that Princess Diana could have, at times, felt some sort of kinship-of-the-soul with the legend of Marilyn Monroe. She may even have felt that the lyrics of Candle in the Wind could have applied equally to her life. She was, after all, celebrated for her beauty, loved and abandoned, desperately looking for someone to cling to when the rain set in, and so on.
But would Princess Diana have approved of the lyrics of Candle in the Wind being changed? I think she absolutely would not. It is my humble opinion that Diana Spencer would have been the first to tell her good friend Elton John that Candle in the Wind should remain forever "Goodbye Norma Jean". Sadly, I think that Norma Jean would have said in her whispery little voice, had she been asked, "Go ahead and take it, Elton. Sure. I understand."
She was, after all, used to being abandoned.
Had Elton John not been so distraught over Princess Diana's death (they were very good friends, as we all know), perhaps he would have offered a different melody to honor her memory with.
October 18th, 2003
MCI Business Complete Unlimited delivers the goods
When the MCI sales representative called me in August, I politely listened to her sales pitch. Politely, I say, because I had every intention of turning down her suggestion that we switch our business line to MCI. You see,we'd had it with our present business telephone provider - a very large telephone company that we'd had many problems with not only with our business line, but with our wireless contract, as well. Yet we planned on sticking with the other guy because we figured "Better the devil you know than the one you don't".
However, after about 60 seconds into the MCI rep's sales pitch, my ears began to perk up. The MCI rep, a congenial woman named "Gloria", was telling me that for $59.99, MCI would allow unlimited, yes, really unlimited - as long as the calls were placed from the business line in the office (not a problem), long-distance phone calls anytime of the day or night, free Three-way Calling, free Call Forwarding,free Call Waiting,free Speed Dial,free and Caller ID with Name & Number. (Applicable taxes and surcharges extra, or course. This is understandable).
I began to grill her this bearer of unbelievably good news. I was looking for the loophole. I made her repeat every promise that MCI was making, and I wrote it all down and read it back to her. I got her employee number, too, because all this just seemed too good to be true. But I was getting very excited. The bill for our current business telephone bill, from the other big guy, never comes in under $120.00, and is often much more. The other guy even charges us for local calls that surpass our "allowance". So MCI's proposal just was too good not to try. I signed up.
All month long, we at NIPPIES waited anxiously for our first bill. Anxiously, I say, because a family member is currently living on the West Coast. There have been many, many long distance phone calls to this family member- more than the usual number of long distance calls to anyone. Many of these calls were during the daytime. So we at NIPPIES were quite filled with trepidation as we waited for the first MCI Business Complete Unlimited bill.
The big moment came a few days ago. I went to get the mail and there was the white envelope with the navy blue MCI logo. "Oh boy, here we go," I said to myself as I slit the top of the envelope open with a steak knife. My hand did not shake as I pulled out the bill, but I was a bit nervous. Alas....the bill came to a grand total of $83.98. It was exactly as the MCI rep promised me...no extra charges for the many, many local calls we make on the business line. No charges for the dozens and dozens of daytime long distance phone calls.
So, this is my love letter to MCI. We at NIPPIES hope the honeymoon continues for years to come. I will stop now before I turn cynical and start thinking that once MCI gets us all hooked on these cheaper business telephone bills, once we spread the news and get all our friends to switch to MCI that they will start, little by little....but no, I'm not going to go there for now.
Thanks, MCI. Keep up the good work.
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