NIPPIES® online magazine
Issue #15: February 9th to March 4, 2004

Welcome to NIPPIES - since 1999!
We take little "nippies" out of every subject.

VIP = (Very Important Person).

NIP = (Not Important Person) - to some.

News about:
celebrities, entertainment, politics, business, finance, health insurance, society, pop culture & more - from a working class viewpoint!

Topics include: tap water, bottled water, Jack Paar, Ann Miller, Surgeon General, Riley Keough, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Mel Gibson, Anna Nicole Smith, Howard Stern, Viagra, Cialis, Julia Roberts, John Kerry and Martha Stewart. logo

March 3rd, 2004

Nippies asks: spring water or purified bottled water graphic Purified Water = Tap Water?

We at NIPPIES were horrified a few weeks ago by the price of a single bottle of "purified water" at the Cinemark theatre complex near our home. $3.50 a bottle. The water, whose brand name was Dasani, which is made by the COKE company, was not all that big. It was a "single serving" type of water bottle. Yet the price was a whopping $3.50! Per bottle. Can you believe it? For purified water!!

Do you realize that "purified water" can come from a regular water tap? That it does NOT mean the same thing as "spring water"??

We at NIPPIES could sit all day long at our kitchen sink- filling enoumous stew pots with our own chlorine-smelly tap water. We could then boil that water, allow it to cool, and then put that boiled tap water into clean little individual clear plastic bottles with the words "NIPPIES purified water" on the label. We'd be telling the truth! The water would have been purified by the boiling process. The chlorine smell would be gone. Some or all of the bacteria would be gone. We would be telling the truth. It would be "purified water."

NIPPIES PURIFIED WATER! $3.50 per little bottle. Any takers??

We at NIPPIES are not in the bottled water business. But a LOT of folks are. And believe me, they are making big bucks. Water from the tap is NOT that expensive - certainly, it does not cost anywhere near the price of $1 to $5 that the consumer ends up paying for it. And no matter what purifying process is used, there is sure to be a nice profit remaining after the overhead expenses. We are not going to list all the famous brands of "purified water" here. But two that come to mind are the aforementioned Dasani, made by Coke, and Aquafina, another famous brand of purified water. Aquafina is made by Pepsico, or the Pepsi Company.

We at NIPPIES first got interested in purified water a few months ago when we went to K-Mart to buy a jug of spring water. (Our family hasn't used regular tap water for drinking in over 20 years. We are spring water junkies.) We were shocked to see that K-Mart had not ONE bottle of spring water in stock!! The water for sale was all "purified"! Now, being the cynic that we are, we knew that if it said "purified" it meant the water originally needed purifying, and probably came from a tap. If it was spring water that had been purified, it would have said "Purified Spring Water".

We had to abandon our K-Mart cart and schlepp ourselves to the grocery store to get a bottle of real, genu-wine spring water.

Okay, okay...we know. Spring water can also have lots of impurities. But we like the way it tastes. We like picturing it coming from a clear and cold running spring. Evian comes from a spring in the Alps, according to its label. We like that idea. Poland Spring, which made the news awhile back for something or other, also is supposed to be drawn from a spring. Nice. We like both brand names, but we at NIPPIES don't need a brand name to make us happy. Any old spring water will do.

We decided to put this entry on here this morning after seeing the CNN story on Dasani "purified water." Some Londoners are up in arms because, it seems, they just now discovered that their Dasani(tm) purified water actually is London tap water and has been put through a filtration process. The filtration process is, we hope, quite sophisticated. Still, these appalled Londoners never really thought about what "purified" meant and many of them took for granted that they were getting a mineral or spring water in their Dasani(tm) bottle. The claim on the Dasani(tm) label reads "pure, still water".

Anyway, we at NIPPIES got to thinking that perhaps everyone is NOT as savvy as we are about the difference between the terms "spring water" and "purified water". Perhaps many readers who lift that bottle of "purified water" to their lips are picturing water which comes from a clear, cold running spring instead of a tap in Hoboken.

We just thought you should know about the difference between the terms "purified water" and "spring water". After all, Knowlegde is power.

We at NIPPIES will drink to that!

March 2nd, 2004

Ham Sandwiches, the Drive-In, and the State Fair

We at NIPPIES hadn't intended to make a specific entry today. We figured we'd let the rest of the world go on and on about Haiti and Aristide, golden girl Charlize Theron's Oscar and her touching acceptance speech whereby she thanked her mother and everyone else she could think of, Peter Jackson and the whole Lord of the Rings phenomenal Academy Award sweep of eleven for eleven, Mel Gibson's controversial film (which needs no naming), Martha Stewart's lesser charges and, according to the prosecution, lies-lies-lies (we all know she's gonna get a token sentence), the co-ordinated suicide bombings/Holy Day explosions in Baghdad and Karbala, where 143 people have already died because of the hatred of, allegedly, Jordanian suicide bombers who delight in taking aim at the Shiites, and so on and so forth.

As usual, the Iraqi people are aiming their anger and anguish over these latest deaths from suicide bombers towards our soldiers. God help our soldiers. But we at NIPPIES are digressing. Back to the original topic....

As we at NIPPIES were checking our e-mail and doing some other necessary internet things, we flipped the stations and came across the very beginning of the 1962 film, State Fair. For reasons we didn't quite understand, we were immediately drawn toward this film. Not because of it's cinematic magnificence because there is nothing Cecil B. DeMille-ish about this movie.

Je ne sais quoi (translation:"I don't know what") is what the French say when they cannot find the exact words to express how they feel. And I really don't know what made me watch, of all things, a Pat Boone movie. State Fair, which was directed by Jose Ferrer, is an ordinary little 60s movie in brilliant technicolor. There are no obvious messages in this movie. But watch it I did...

I watched as Tom Ewell (The Seven Year Itch), Alice Faye (famous blue-eyed cow-eyed beauty of the 30s and 40s who was first unhappily married to singer Tony Martin and, later, happily hitched to band leader Phil Harris), Pamela Tiffin (extremely pretty and very popular star of the 60s who disappeared from show biz after a few years), and Pat Boone (during his white buck shoes phase) packed up the family prize hog, Blue Bell, waved good-bye to the local veterinarian who'd warned them not to go- and to their family farm, and headed down the dirt road past their pasture of horses towards the Texas State Fair. There,for the next week or so, the "all-American" family of four lived in a trailer that looked far bigger in the interior shots that any trailer deserves to look.

This state fair looked to me more like the 1964 New York World's Fair. There were full-scale theatres, Hollywood-type night clubs named El Morocco with white table cloths on the tables, and other structures which looked very elegant and rather permanent. Perhaps that is how they do things in Texas. You know, BIG. Perhaps the film was shot on location because Texas really did, at that time, have a state fair every year at the same place. Whatever...

Soon after arriving, the "kids" (Boone and Tiffin) immediately went out to walk the Midway where they met up with love-interests Bobby Darin (Splish Splash, Mack the Knife and Sandra Dee), an emcee at the fair, and Ann-Margret (Bye Bye Birdie and Grumpy Old Men), a shapely singer/dancer at the state fair production show. Dad and Mom stayed at the trailer, where they settled in and focused on winning blue ribbons for his enormous pet hog and her tasty and tangy mincemeat. Like I said earlier, this film is not Academy Award stuff, dear readers. This movie is just light, fluffy romantic fare from the 1960s. The 1960s. The 1960s.

Which is why I'm writing about it in the first place. I had a distinct feeling of deja vu as I watch this movie. I felt very warm and nostalgic. I could almost hear the crinkle of waxed paper and the pungent smell of Gulden's mustard on boiled ham sandwiches - made with Vaughn's white bread, of course. Drive-in flashbacks! (Right before we left for the drive-in, Mom always made about a dozen boiled-ham sandwiches wrapped in Cur-rite® waxed paper for us kids to share during the movie. The only purchase at the concession stand was a Coca-cola® or two for all of us to share through our own, individual paper straws.)

I had to know if my memory was right or if I was imagining things. So, as I've done many times before, I called my six-years-older sister, Annie, at the college where she works as secretary to the Dean. "Yes", she said, "I think Mommy and Daddy took us to see that in the drive-in."

Watching this movie brought more than just a feeling of deja vu. It brought a certain yearning for an era long gone. This movie was filmed in 1962. Baby boomers were growing up, but little boys still wore short and well-oiled hair and little girls wore stiff petticoats under their dresses. The Beatles hadn't yet invaded the U.S. Whole families, the kids dressed in their pajamas, hopped into the car and drove to the drive-in for a family outing. Sundays were spent visiting God in the morning and family - usually the grandparents - in the afternoon, and not for visiting the local mall, which did not yet exist.

Just around the corner, changes were coming. Not just in my own personal world, but in the world at large. Some changes, like the Civil Rights movement, were good. Others were not. Family movies, except for the occasional extravaganza such as The Sound of Music, became rarer than hens' teeth, and drive-ins folded by the hundreds. Sex and nudity was in nearly every movie. John F. Kennedy's assination, President Johnson and the Viet Nam era were just over the horizon, and so were tearful good-byes to brothers who had only a few years before worn pajamas and shared sandwiches in the back seat of the family station wagon at the drive-in movie. World War II vets were turning grey. Prayers were taken out of our public schools and, in many cases, so was hope and a badly needed moral compass. Vatican II, which I still don't fully understand, was held. Priests and nuns began to defect from their vocations to see what they had been missing. Downtown stores, and Main Street, U.S.A., began to crumble. Small businesses folded one by one as the franchises, big banks, and enormous medical centers replaced mom-and-pop stores.

It wasn't long very long after the summer of 1962 that my eldest sister left home for nursing school. My maternal grandmother grew feeble and unwillingly moved out of her homestead and into the bedroom which my sister had occupied. They shared on week-ends when Sis returned home from school. Dad entered his fifties, and Dad's mother, now over eighty, began to show the first signs of senility. Mom had just turned forty. My parents were no longer really "young", and their parents were now quite old. Little brother entered kindergarten and made new friends. He was no longer the baby who was always with Mom and Dad at home. My eldest sister entered high school, made new friends away from the neighborhood, and started dating. Family outings grew rarer and rarer. I don't remember if we even went to the drive-in again.

Funny how all the feelings, smells and memories of a lifetime ago come flooding back because of a few scenes from an old movie. I could sit here and feel sad about a time long gone which will never return, and I will. For just a few minutes. But then I realize that I am now the Mom and the ham sandwich maker. I, along with their father, am the memory maker for my two children. One child is fully grown, physically, but still under our roof and still a boy in some ways. And still in need of memories to be made. The other is very much a little girl with the need of many more memories to fill the rest of her childhood.

Who would ever think State Fair would conjure up such feelings of nostalgia and duty!? Life is full of surprises.


Stop Bullying Now! campaign - U.S. Surgeon General, Richard Carmona

It's about time. With all the cancer, diabetes, and heart awareness months, this disease awareness campaign and that awareness campaign and awareness campaigns of every kind for physical ills, we at NIPPIES have been waiting and waiting for a campaign which would tackle the issue of the bullying that goes on - and has always gone on - in our schools. And finally, this issue has made into a national campaign by our Surgeon General, Richard Carmona.

Richard Carmona justified the campaign as a health issue, stating that he is just as concerned about children's mental health as he is about their physical health. And Dr. Carmona thinks that bullying certainly is detrimental toward the mental health of any child who is bullied.

We at NIPPIES could not agree with Dr. Richard Carmona more. The two Columbine students who went on the rampage did so after years of being the victims of bullies. Apparently, it drove them over the edge. All too often, children who are the victims of constant bullying either end up destroying themselves or others. This anti-bullying campaign is just terrific and very much needed. Our school teachers, bus drivers, and other people in and around children need to be aware of who is being bullied and who is doing the bullying. AND they need to step in and do what they can to protect innocent victims of bullies.

The campaign was announced at a Washington, DC school, KIPP Key Academy, on Monday, March 1st. The official title of this campaign is "Take A Stand. Lend A Hand. Stop Bullying Now!,"

Educational pamphlets and many other tools to help spread the word about this campaign are available through the official web site:
Stop Bullying Now

March 30, 2014:
Thanks to for sending us the new link to this government run website.

February 28th, 2004

Riley Keough: a Lisa Marie Lookalike

Riley Keough, the 14-year-old daughter of Lisa Marie Presley and Danny Keough, made her debut at a Milan fashion show on Wednesday. Riley was modeling the less expensive line of clothing for D&G (Dolce & Gabbana). Her photo was all over the newspapers the next day, not just because of her runway modeling debut, but mainly, we at NIPPIES believe, because of her uncanny resemblance to her mother.

Riley has been referred to as a princess because she is the granddaughter of Elvis Presley - "The King".

We at NIPPIES remember that Priscilla, Riley's grandmother, was the 14-year-old daughter of an Air Force career man stationed in Germany when she first met Elvis Presley. Lisa Marie Presley, Riley's mother, began to take drugs at the age of fourteen, according to many stories. Fourteen seems to be an important age for "passages" in the Presley family.

Reports in newspapers such as the New York Post state that it was Riley's idea to enter the modeling rat race. She told her parents about her desire, they made inquiries, and she was immediately signed with a big agency. And what agency wouldn't want Riley? She's already gorgeous at an age when most girls are still going through that awkward stage. And she's got a famous name (sorta)> Plus, she's a stunner.

At any rate, we at NIPPIES hope that Riley handles her new fame well. Fourteen is such a tender age to step into the spotlight. Be careful, Riley. There are a lot of big, bad wolves out there.

February 27th, 2004

Judge Tosses Most Serious Fraud Charge Against Martha Stewart

Why are we NOT surprised?? (Humming "the rich get richer").

Today, a federal judge, Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, tossed out the most serious charge agains Martha Stewart in her obstruction of justice trial. The count alleged that Martha had deceived investors in her company when she publicly declared her innocence in the ImClone stock trading scandal.

"I have concluded that no reasonable juror can find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant lied for the purpose of influencing the market for the securities of her company," Cedarbaum wrote in her decision.

Stewart still faces four lesser criminal counts. She is charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and two counts of lying to investigators. None of the counts were thrown out by Judge Goldman Cedarbaum against Martha Stewart's stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic.

A jury is set to decide Martha's fate on the other criminal counts in only five days. Each of these counts carry stiff fines and prison time.

There was a strong reaction to the good news for Martha Stewart on Wall Street. K-Mart and Martha Stewart Omnimedia stock began flying upward shortly after the news of the Judge's dismissal broke.

Cardiac Arrest During Viewing of the Passion:

An autopsy on the woman from Kansas who suffered a fatal heart attack in a Manhattan theatre while watching the Crucifiction scene during Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" has indicated that the woman suffered a "chronic heart problem", according to a CNN blurb. Many sources were hinting that the graphic violence of the epic film, which stars John Caviezel as Jeus Christ, was to blame for the woman's coronary.

Monkey Puzzle Trees and Other Topics

We at NIPPIES have wondered why monkey puzzle trees were so named ever since we read a novel which mentioned the trees. We got our answer while watching American Movie Classic's showing of the classic film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison.

Gene Tierney, a widow seeking to get out from under the wings of her overbearing in-laws, decided to rent a new home for herself and her daughter. She goes to see a realtor, who reluctantly takes her to "Gull Cottage". The realtor, while never actually admitting it, suspects that the cottage is haunted.

Anyway, while looking out the window of the in the cottage's study. The cottage once belonged to a long-deceased sea captain who, according to local stories, committed suicide there and is haunting it still as "The Ghost". Mrs. Muir asks about the unusal tree which is right outside the study's window. The realtor tells her it is a monkey puzzle tree. When Mrs. Muir (Ms. Tienney) asks why the tree was given such an odd name, the real estate agent says he thinks it's because the tree's oddly shaped branches presents a real puzzle to monkeys regarding how to climb it.

You never know when you are going to pick up a little knowledge. I've watched The Ghost and Mrs. Muir before I began to wonder about monkey trees, but never took note of that particular bit of dialogue.


Today, on the AP, there was an article written by Rachel Zoll regarding the two recently completed studies on the sex scandal in the Catholic Church. The studies, which were both commissioned by Catholic bishops in an effort to get some real numbers on allegations and to restore confidence in the Catholic Church's leadership, revealed that approximately 4 percent of Catholic priests have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor in the past 54 years. Most recorded allegations of abuse were from boys in the 11 to 14 year old age group.

This was not surprising to we at NIPPIES. What was surprising was the paragraph in the article that stated the following:

"The bishops authorized the new, landmark studies to restore trust in their leadership. No other profession or religious group has exposed itself to such scrutiny on the abuse issue, even though molestation is an acknowledged problem among coaches, teachers and clergy of other faiths.", writes author Zoll.

It is most unusual to see any acknowledgment in the mainstream media which states that sexual abuse of minors, which is ALWAYS an atrocity anywhere at any time by anyone, actually occurs in other faiths and groups. The article then goes on to state that the actual numbers mentioned in the study are higher than those claimed by many victims groups and the media but slightly lower than estimates aired by CNN in a "draft report" earlier this month.


On a semi-related topic: there is a play in New York which was recently reviewed, negatively, by a theater critic from the New York Post. The play, written by Nicky Silver, is about a handsome and "polite" 30 year-old teacher and portrait painter who, during a visit to his parents' home, reveals that he is having an affair with one of his students - an eight year old boy.

One has to wonder why anyone would bother to write such a play with such subject matter in the first place. Secondly, where are all the protesters?


The GLOBE, a sorta National Enquirer and which we suspect is owned by American Media (their address is American Media Way in Boca Raton, FL) makes some interesting claims this week; the most interesting is that Saddam Hussein is supposedly dying of melanoma (remember that black mole on his left temple during the capture pictures?). Physicians are "keeping him alive" for trial. GLOBE reports that, according to doctors, the dark mole "looks like melanoma". Lots of things look like melanoma are turn out not to be. So don't get too worried about Saddam until the biopsy reports are in.

We at NIPPIES read the whole tabloid waiting in line at the check-out. Mr. NIPPIES, who'd been reading over our shoulder, threw the copy into the cart.

Other interesting news and photos in the GLOBE:

Kate Hudson hasn't lost all her pregnancy weight. Kate, looking quite plump, is still gorgeous. (Take your time, Kate.)

Kelly Ripa's sister, Linda, has been awarded $15 million in her medical malpractice lawsuit against a surgeon who operated, unsuccessfully, on her injured foot and left her deformed...

Michael Jackson is supposedly asking a French blonde to be his third wife.

John Wayne took the time to phone, and comfort, his friend and co-star, Maureen O'Hara, shortly before she was wheeled into the operating room to face surgery for ovarian cancer back in the late seventies. At one point, according to Ms. O'Hara, her friend burst into tears and asked "Why Me? Why You?".

A new book entitled UNGODLY: The Passions, Torments and Murder of Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair (Free Press), by Ted Dracos, reveals details about the 1995 kidnapping and murder of O'Hair, her son, Jon Murray, and Jon's daughter - and Madalyn's lookalike, Robyn Murray O'Hair.

Madalyn Murray O'Hair, you may recall, is the famous atheist who succeeded in taking prayer out of public schools. Her organization, the AAGHQ, or American Atheists General Headquarters, grew wealthy after the landmark 1963 Supreme Court decision.

The three Murray O'Hair family members, despite having paid $500,000.00 in gold coins from AAGHQ funds in a bid to please their kidnappers' demands for money, were murdered, burned and buried on a remote ranch.

Madalyn Murray O'Hair had reportedly greatly feared being prayed over by "Christers" (her word for Christians) upon her death hour. We at NIPPIES think it's a safe bet that that didn't happen.

1960s teen idol, Fabian, was born Fabiano Anthony Forte and was discovered at age 14 by record promotors. Fabian was one of several young Italian natives of Philadelphia who became teen idols in the 60s. Two others were Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydel, with whom Fabian still tours today as the Golden Boys.

Some experts believe that a pandemic will sweep the world next year as a result of the avian flu virus (bird flu virus) that is now "threatening the planet", according to the GLOBE.

Dr. Arnold Moto, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told the GLOBE that there is "solid evidence" that the 1917-1918 so-called Spanish influenza, which wiped out 50 million people after World War I, may be "related to the avian" flu. Other scientists agree. A British virologist, Dr. John Oxford, wants to dig up a grave belonging to a young English nurse, Phyllis Burn, who died of the 1918 influenza. Dr. Oxford hopes Ms. Burns remains will shed some light on the disease which killed her. Phyllis Burn was buried in a lead-lined casket and her remains should be better preserved, it is believed, than the remains of many of the other victims of the 1918 pandemic.

If you want to learn more about this years projected influenza, go to the web site for updates. We at NIPPIES have heard that pharmaceutical companies have been busy preparing vaccines for next year's flu for months already. Normally, we at NIPPIES are very wary of pharmaceutical companies and their greed. But this time we have a very strong feeling that there may be a terrible flu epidemic next ear. At any rate, based on what happened this year with the flu vaccine shortage, we think there's going to be a stampede to get a flu vaccine for the 2004-2005 flu season. So get yourself, and your children, the shot early, please.

Finally, on a lighter note...

Kitty Carlisle Hart, the widow of film writer Moss Hart, must have a portrait in her closet. The socialite and panelist of the television show To Tell The Truth, on which she appeared for every single taping from 1956-2002, will turned 93-years-old on September 3rd. She doesn't look a day over 65...even with a magnifying glass. Her hands are smooth-looking, her hair is full, her skin is smooth, and her eyes are bright. Even if this woman has had cosmetic surgery- she still looks amazing for any age over 60.

Perhaps Ms. Hart's secret is having her children a little later in life? She was 38 when she gave birth to her son and 40 when she had her daughter. Whatever her secret is to keeping her looks and vitality, we at NIPPIES sure would like to know.

Kitty Carlisle Hart's photo appears on page 48 of the February 24th edition of GLOBE. If you run out to see it, take a look at Peggy Lipton (Mod Squad) on the next page. She hasn't changed in 35 years, either. Scary!!


February 25th, 2004

Thanks for nothing, President Bush

Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, has recommended that Social Security benefits be cut now and in the future. This is the solution which Mr. Chairman sees as necessary to cut the huge federal deficit.

President Bush, ever the savvy politician, has bought himself some time by stating that he's not "seen or heard" Alan Greenspan's recommendations, and cannot comment on them as yet. (His speech writers and advisers must be burning rubber concocting an appropriate response for this one.) However, George W. did say during a press conference that we can cut the deficit if Congress passes his proposed budget, which is a 5 year plan (taking him through his next term, of course). Oh boy. What a crock.

Listen, President Bush, stop the baloney. You have sold the baby boomers down the river for votes votes votes. You pushed for the Medicare Reform Act - and got it. This law will costs billions to give prescription medications not to the needy seniors, but to all seniors - even the rich ones. Doctors are also relieved that they will get an increase in fees, instead of the proposed cut, with the passage of this law. Pharmaceutical company execs and sharholders have been dancing the jig far in advance of Saint Patrick's Day over the passage of this bill.

You have cut the taxes for the wealthy, Mr. Bush. Boy, they needed it, didn't they?

You have pushed to have caps placed on medical malpractice lawsuits. "Let's stop suing each other", you said in a message to cheering doctors in 2002. That's fine for your to say. If your team of doctors screw up, which will probably never happen because you have the best doctors and because you are who you are, you can live off your fortune for the rest of your life. The rest of us who might be the victims of medical malpractice just might NEED to be compensated for some arrogant and incompetent doctor's actions.

Your suggestion to your fellow Americans to take advantage of the tax-free medical savings accounts (your answer to rising healthcare insurance) sure sounds nice, too. However, when you are a fellow American who is barely putting food on the table with what you take home, you are not going to have any money to put into any tax free medical savings accounts.

Let's not kill the messanger, folks. Don't get mad at Alan Greenspan. He didn't create this mess. He's just telling it like it is.

After years of paying record social security tax, the Baby Boomers are going to get their hard-earned social security benefits cut. The writing is on the wall on this one. We are going to have to work to a projected 67-years-of-age. But we at NIPPIES think this is just the tip of the iceberg and a softening of the blow. Watch. Social Security eligibility will be age 75 by the time our generation gets to collect Social Security benefits. If any of us lives so long.

What a lousy time to be looking at the approach the senior citizenship.

February 24th, 2004

In The Cut: Not your usual Meg Ryan movie

Another trip to our local video store. Another Meg Ryan movie. Or so we thought.

Meg Ryan abberates from her usual role in this dark thriller which is set in the underbelly of New York City. She plays a thirty-something New York teacher of writing by the name of Franny Thorstin. Franny/Meg is working on a book about street language. She meets often at a shabby local watering hole called the Red Turtle with "Cornelius Webb" (Sharrieff Pugh), a young black man who is taking one of her classes. Cornelius supplies Franny with words and their meanings. She takes notes. They split the tab.

One day, Frenny descends to the dank and dark basement of the Red Turtle to use the facilities. She never makes it to the ladies' room because, from her vantage point in the shadows, she witnesses a sex act. She's mesmerized by what is going on. She is unseen by the blue-nail-polished female and the sunglassed male. She spots an unusual tatoo on the underside of the male's wrist before she stumbles back up the steps. Cornelius is gone. But Franny's memory of what she has just witnessed is not...

A few days later Franny finds a NYPD detective waiting for her on the steps of her apartment building. Darkly handsome Detective Malloy (Mark Ruffalo) wants to ask her about her visit to the Red Turtle on the previous Saturday. There was a brutal murder - a young woman was cut up and her head was found not far from Franny's apartment building. After ascertaining that he is really who he says he is (she calls the precinct), and making him put out his cigarette in a green coffee cup, she lets him into her apartment and answers some of his questions. The unhappily married detective is good looking, and there's a chemistry present. They end up in a torrid affair.

There are more murders and decapitations. One body is found in a washing machine at a neighborhood laundromat. And, of course, there are other important characters in this movie who weave in and out of the story. Detective Malloy's partner, the crude Detective Rodriguez (Nick Damici), meets up with the couple on their first date and seems to be a constant presence from that point on. Franny's considerably younger (for the movie) half-sister, Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh), with whom she is very close and often shares memories about their father, lives in a seedy apartment above a strip joint/brothel. Franny and Pauline often meet there to compare notes about their unsatisfactory and very lonely lives. And, for good measure, a discarded lover of Franny's, who is still obsessed with her, shows up at the oddest times. Kevin Bacon portrays this very neurotic, unkempt character who was once on a soap opera star playing a doctor and who is now, as Franny tells Pauline,actually studying to be a doctor. (One has to wonder what medical school accepted him.) Finally, there are the two characters who are seen only by Franny in her fantasies of how her father met his fiance/her mother, portrayed by Micheal Nuccio and Alison Negri. The two are dressed in turn-of-the-century outdoor winter clothing, the scenes are in sepia tones, and the young couple are always pictured ice-skating. The anachronism of this fantasy is never quite explained to the viewer. The importance of the ice-skate's blades, as a parallel to the blade used to cut up the murder victims, is visually displayed in one scene.

I'm really sorry to say that I was very disappointed in this movie. I chose it for three reasons: I like most thrillers; I like Meg Ryan movies, and it was almost always rented out, which I interpreted to mean that the word-of-mouth on In The Cut was favorable. Maybe it was. But the full-frontal nudity of Meggie was shocking and disappointing to me. The language was very foul, but that was understandable. I think a lot of New York City detectives probably speak like that. But the mystery of who the actual murderer was wasn't all that shocking. I guessed "who done it" long before the ending.

What I did enjoy was the reasearch I did for writing this piece. Mark Ruffalo has in interesting bio on Mark was supposed to play Mel Gibson's brother in the 2002 film, Signs, but had to bow out because he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was temporarily paralyzed and has now, obviously fully recovered. Ruffalo also spent nine years as a bartender before "making it."

By the way, the film, directed by Jane Campion,(who also co-wrote with Susanna Moore) was marked "unrated" on the DVD I rented. But it's definitely not appropriate for children for the above mentioned reasons.

February 21st, 2004

Plastic Surgery Nightmares

Plastic surgeons in Manhattan, and across the country, must be reeling over the recent deaths of two socially prominent cosmetic surgery patients at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. The news is making headlines all over the pages of the New York dailies.

The death last month of best-selling author (First Wives Club) Olivia Goldsmith was kept relatively quiet. Ms. Goldsmith was admitted to the Upper East Side hospital for cosmetic surgery on her chin, which never took place. She went into cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat shortly after the administration of anesthesia. She was transferred to Lenox Hill Hospital (which owns Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital) where she died several days later.

The second death of a cosmetic surgery patient at the same New York City hospital has caused a wave of concern by the New York state Health Department. The second patient, the 54-year-old wife of a cardiologist, was not identified in the newspapers. She also had a reaction to anesthesia and died before the actual cosmetic surgery. This second death was a very serious blow to the East 64th Street hospital's plastic surgery department, which is headed by Dr. Sherrell Aston. Many consider Dr. Aston to be the "No. 1 man in New York for facelifts", according to an article which appeared last year in New York magazine.

Yesterday there was a photo of the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital's facade; the hospital's head of plastic surgery, Dr. Sherrell Aston, and his "socialite wife", Muffie Potter Aston, and best-selling author Olivia Goldsmith on page 3 of the New York Post.

The negative publicity over the deaths of these two women may be a blow to cosmetic surgeons everywhere, but it is something that has been a long time coming, and it can serve a higher purpose than just something to read about. This negative publicity can serve as a warning that plastic surgery is still surgery. And that any time anyone is given general anesthesia, there is a risk of complications - and death.

Plastic cosmetic surgery, once a procedure undergone almost exclusively by the very wealthy, is now commonplace across the social and economic classes. Millions of cosmetic surgery procedures are performed every year. Rhinoplasty (nose jobs), otoplasty (ear pinning), blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), face lifts, liposuction, and many other cosmetic surgery procedures are now routinely performed in hospitals on a daily basis. Hardly a day goes by when there isn't a talk show or a magazine issue dedicated to the subject of how to improve your looks through plastic cosmetic surgery. And, most of the time, these surgeries go off without any serious complications.

Still, it is vital to remember that if you decide to undergo an elective aesthetic surgery procedure, you are taking a risk. So be certain that the benefits will outweigh the risks if you decide to surgically turn back the clock.


The Passion of the Christ

Everyone is talking, writing, and reading about Mel Gibson's new movie,The Passion of the Christ, which will hit the theatres on Ash Wednesday, February 25th. We at NIPPIES haven't bought any advanced tickets. But we are going to see this movie.

The movie is based on the the gospel of John. Some say that this movie is Mel Gibson's interpretation of the gospel of John. Some say the movie is anti-Semitic. Many of the people who are saying all this probably haven't even seen the movie.

We at NIPPIES intend to see the movie and then we will decide what we think of it. Personally, we think very highly of Mel Gibson based on all the interviews and other writings about the man. We've never seen him say or do anything intentionally unkind to anyone. We can't imagine him spending a great deal of his personal fortune, a great deal of his personal time, and putting his professional - and personal - reputation on the line to make a movie that would be intended to hurt Jews - or anyone at all, for that matter.

What did give us pause was the interview of Hutton Gibson, the 85-year-old father of Mel Gibson. The man is, again, 85-years-old. He comes from a different time, and a different era. He is the product of an era when different religions and different nationalities did not mix regularly with each other - if at all. An era when there was less tolerance - if any - of each other. Not only by non-Jews, but by Jews, as well.

One of our best friends when we were younger told us about her experience with intolerance. Her father was Jewish and and her mother was Protestant. Both were of German origin. They fell in love and wanted to marry, but both families forbade the union. This was the late 1950s. The fact that they even dated caused tongues to wag on both sides of the fence. Marriage was out of the question. The young couple ran away and got married anyway. They made their home over sixty miles away from each other's parents. Their marriage was a happy one the last time I was with this family. It took decades to heal the rift between child and parent that occured from this "scandal".

My friend's grandparents were not the exception to the rule in those days. Even a Catholic dating a Protestant, in less tolerant times, a "big thing" in some circles. The Protestant usually had to promise to convert to Catholicism, or vice-versa, to get family approval. Jews and non-Jews didn't often marry unless one of the other converted to the other's faith. My husband has a Catholic uncle who, in the 1950s, married a Jehovah's Witness. He'd been told by his mother and sisters not to come home if he went ahead with the wedding. Well, he married the woman (and is still married to her to this day), and did come home with her, but that was the end of his close ties to his family.

So, when Hutton Gibson spoke Monday to Steve Feuerstein of "Speak Your Piece" on WSNR (620 AM), a show syndicated by Talkline, the largest syndicator of Jewish Programming, and his quotes appeared on page 7 of the New York Daily News, we questioned the motive and timing of this article. We didn't hear the interview, but there were quotes selected from the interview and used in the article to illustrate the elder Mr. Gibson's "rant" against Jews.

Mel Gibson is not his father. None of us are our parents. We at NIPPIES like to think that all of us take the best from our parents, and learn from the worst by not repeating it. Perhaps some of us even try to make up for the "sins of our fathers", so to speak. Just as, we hope, our children will learn from our mistakes and sins, and try to do better as humans.

At any rate, as a Catholic, I, personally, take offense at the constant Christian and Catholic-bashing that seems to have become a national pasttime in the media.

The Passion of the Christ is making movie history; advance ticket sales are projected to bypass even Lord of the Rings. Everyone seems to be hungry for this movie. Why? Some say it's the violence. My opinion on that is "How ridiculous. There is violence everywhere nowadays." It's a given that many are going because they are curious about the anti-Semitic accusations. One hardly hears the title The Passion of the Christ without hearing the phrase "anti-semitic" mentioned shortly afterward, as well.

But we at NIPPIES are not motivated to go and see Mel Gibson's movie about the Passion of Jesus Christ for the aforementioned reasons. As Christians, we simply would like to see a supposedly realistic recreation of the Passion of Jesus Christ. And no matter how the movie unfolds, we aren't going to walk away from that theatre with any anti-Semitic feelings.

Everyone seems to be forgetting: Jesus was a Jew.

February 15th, 2004

Added February 19th: Some of NIPPIES' readers may not understand what the Audit Bureau of Circulations is about and the important service it performs regarding the sale of newspaper advertising space. (See our Guest Book entry from "Sharon"). Therefore, you may want to visit the following link (copy and paste)
to read a simple, easy-to-understand explanation of the ABC's purpose and to educate yourself about the ABC before you read the Newsday entry below.
Thank you- NIPPIES editor.

Newsday: Circulation Boosters?

A federal racketeering lawsuit alleges that Newsday jacked up its circulation numbers for more than ten years, reports Friday's edition of the New York Post.

According to an article on page 9 if February 13th's edition of the NYPost, Newsday "built a comptuer system to generate bogus reports to the Audit Bureau of Circulations - and called it "Fudge ABC".

Fudge ABC??. Sheesh. How dumb can you be?

For those of you who are not familiar with the Audit Bureau of Circulations (or ABC), it's the agency to which newspapes submit circulation figures. ABC also audits the newspaper or publications sales. (Free newspapers, and those sold at a reduced price, do not count towards total circulation in most instances.) Those circulation figures then determine how much a publication can charge advertisers for advertising space. The higher the paid circulation of the newspaper, the more advertising space in that publication costs.

Newsday is accused, in the lawsuit, of taking a number of steps to artificially and fraudulently boost its circulation numbers.

A spokesperson for Newsday Publisher Raymond Jansen has issued a denial:
"The suit is absolutely without merit."

Some of the schemes allegedly perpetrated by Newsday to artificially boost its circulation include:

Threatening to cut off disctibutors who wouldn't lie about the number of unsold papers returned to them

Forcing distributors to take more newspapers than they ordered

Telling street vendors to throw away unsold newspapers

Faking circulation of up to 50 per cent when there was a major news event.

We at NIPPIES find all this circulation fudging stuff very interesting. We know a former newspaper carrier who suspects a newspaper publisher - which owns a couple of dozen newspapers in the U.S. besides the one he delivered - of boosting their paid Sunday circulation fraudulently. If this is what happened, it was done rather ingeniously by transferring newspaper carrier tip money sent in by one set of prepaid subscription customers to the accounts of the customers who were receiving "free" Sunday newspapers. In other words, robbing Peter to pay Paul, in a way.

The scheme, if that is what it was, was brilliant, and very difficult to expose. Unless there is a complete audit of all prepaid customers' payments during 2003 and all tips allocated (as credits) from those payments to the newspaper carriers, no one will be the wiser. Here's how it might have worked...

The customers send in the tips for their carriers with their subscription payment. The carriers and customers not only do not know one another (carriers are usually assigned routes not close to their homes), but rarely run into one another. This is because the newspaper carrier, by dictate of their publisher, MUST deliver the newspaper before 6 a.m. - or be docked the equivalent of an entire days profit. Therefore, the carrier never knows how much the customer sends in for a tip, the customer never knows if the carrier gets the tip, etc. All of the subscription customers' tips are disbursed to the newspaper carrier strictly by the honor system. The publisher must have the honor.

Worst of all: carriers are given no chance to get to know one another to unionize or compare notes on tips, etc. In prior years, before this new publisher bought the newspaper, when a carrier wanted to take a week or a few days off, their manager would supply them with a few names of other carriers to contact. NOW, no names of other carriers are given out. Instead, the carrier must pay one of the salaried bosses THREE TIMES what the carrier makes to deliver the route. That means the carrier actually LOSES money when he goes on vacation.

In addition to this change, the new publisher has made it mandatory for all carriers to sign lengthy contracts which, of course, does not protect the carrier in any way. The carrier, in the contract, agrees that he will be punished with fines of $1.00 per newspaper (his profit is less than 10 cents per paper) if a newspaper customer complains about a wet newspaper and the dispatcher must drop off a new newspaper. Another fine is: if the carrier sleeps in, thus missing the 6 a.m. deadline, and reports himself to the newspaper, the newspaper will fine the carrier $5.00. If the carrier does NOT report himself, and does the route and the newspaper finds out because a customer complains, etc., the carrier will be fined $10.00, which is often more than the profit for the day.

This theory is not full of hot air. This particular newspaper carrier proved that the tips sent in by many of his prepaid, subscription customers were NOT being passed along to him. He did this by comparing the records of tips received during 2003 (the tips appear as monthly credits on his bill from the publisher) with cancelled checks from some of his best customers. These customers helped him out when he asked to be told how much they'd tipped during the year. The amount of tips sent in by customers to the publisher for him did NOT match with what he'd received on his bill. He had been shortchanged, over a period of eight months, a total of 85 percent in tips. In many cases, customers sent in as much as $45.00 each, and the carrier had not received even one penny.

It's also a fact that the newspaper was giving away "free" Sunday newspapers at the same time that the tips were not going through to the carriers. Is it a coincidence that the amount of missing tip money is about the same as what the free Sunday newspapers cost? Was the tip money being used to boost the newspapers PAID Sunday circulation? Our friend, the newspaper carrier, doesn't know for sure. But he strongly suspects this is the case.

The publisher is going to get away with this. The publisher found out that the newspaper carrier was checking with customers and asking for cancelled checks. (One of the prepaid customers had a daughter who worked in the publishers' offices). A quick cover up followed: the publisher send a hurried memo to all carriers that there was to be a "lump sum" issued in tip money to make up for the "computer glitches" which had shortchanged them. By the time the newspaper carrier had gathered his proof and lodged his complaint with the newspaper, everything had been swept under the rug. The computers were even "down" for 4 days for adjusting- something that had never before happened in the six years that our friend worked for the newspaper.

Our friend demanded a complete audit of his account for the time in question. He wanted to be shown, customer by customer, records of how much had been sent in for him and when, so that he could compare these amounts with his records of tips received. He refused to take the publisher's word for it that he'd been properly reimbursed in his "lump sum". The publisher ignored the repeated requests for an audit. Finally, in disgust, the newspaper carrier handed in his notice and contacted a government office. The office contacted the publisher but did little else to force the publisher to prove that they had righted all accounts. The government office, two buildings away from the publishing headquarters, said they were not adequately staffed to do a thorough audit. The U.S. Department of Labor cannot get involved either, said the representative from the government agency, because newspaper carriers are considered to be "independent carriers", even though, in this case, these carriers were micro-managed and treated more like employees than independent carriers.

At any rate, the publisher wins. The publisher is quite powerful....

Hey, you can think what you want about all this. But if you do or think nothing else, please do this: don't send tips into the newspaper offices if you want to be sure that your carrier will get all of your tip money. Instead, get up early some morning and wait for your carrier. Hand him, in cash, any tip money you want him to have. Or, if you prefer to send a check, ask for the carrier's home address, and send any tips directly to your very hardworking newspaper carrier.

Don't trust the publisher. Because you never know.

If you are a newspaper carrier who has found this entry because you have a particular concern, such as "am I an independent carrier", check this link:


More Estrogen Pill Warnings

On Thursday, the FDA asked manufacturers of hormone replacement therapies to add to their labels the results of a medical study which found that hormone pills don't keep women's brains sharp, as was previously believed. According to an AP story in the New York Post, long-time users of estrogen pills over the abe of 64 actually had a "higher risk of dementia".

This warning is in addition to last year's dictate that makers of pills containing estrogen and progestin must bear warnings that the combination of those hormones increases the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes.

This is all very interesting and a big turnaround from the trend of the past dozen years or so when it seemed that nearly every menopausal woman was popping hormone replacement pills, and urging their friends to do the same.


Keeping Abreast of the Janet Jackson/Superbowl Developments...

It was bounnd to happen. Someone filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of those Americans who were "caused to suffer outrage, anger, embarrassment and serious injury" after they were exposed to the Janet Jackson exposure on Superbowl Sunday.

We at NIPPIES got a good laugh over this little news item by Arnold Ahlert of the NYPost. The lawsuit was filed by Terri Carlin and was dropped within a short time after filing, according to the Ahlert article.


American Airlines Apologizes

The chief executive of American Airlines issued an apology recently. But the apology was not for delayed flights, bad meals, or the high price of an airline ticket.

Gerard Arpey, the AA chief executive, issued the apology on behalf of American Airlines in relation to the recent incident whereby one of their pilots, Rodger K. Findiesen, asked Christians aboard his flight to identify themselves by raising their hands. Findiesen then requested Christians to discuss their faith with their fellow passengers.

The apology was issued after Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, a group that monitors anti-Semitism, complained about the February 7th incident.

We at NIPPIES miss the days when an incident such as this was simply cause for an understanding smile or, at the most, fodder for a lively discussion at the dinner table later that evening. Don't we all take ourselves just a little bit too seriously anymore, folks?


Smokers: Brain Storming?

Smokers are always getting picked on these days. It's no wonder there are so many closet smokers.

A new study, performed by a team of scientists at the University of California Irvine, has determined that some people are "born to smoke". According to the study, carried out by Dr. Steven Potkin, a professor of psychiatry and a brain-imaging specialist, brain-imaging studies suggest that the "same genetic variations that give people hostile personality traits may also make them more likely to become addicted to nicotine,", according to Reuters news service.

We at NIPPIES are not scientists. Perhaps the scientists are right. But we hope they allowed the smokers a cigarette break during the brain-imaging sessions to be sure that the volunteers were's simply going through nicotine withdrawal fits.


FDA Approves Erbitux

We all know by now that Martha Stewart is in court, at least indirectly, because the FDA failed to approve Erbitux in December of 2001. Sam Waksal, the head of ImClone, got wind of the FDA rejection and began dumping his family's stocks - which is called insider trading. He's now serving 7 1/2 years for his decision to act on insider's knowledge.

Now comes the final irony: the cancer drug which started Martha's woes,Erbitux, was approved by the FDA on Thursday.

Don't get too excited about this drug, however. According to the research, Erbitux shrank colon cancer tumors in 23 percent of patients who used it in combination with chemothereapy. However, we at NIPPIES heard on a radio report that there was little, if any, indication that the drug actually extended the lives of cancer patients who took this medication. If this is true, and perhaps we are revealing our ignorance here, it sounds like Erbitux needs a lot more work. Perhaps shrinking the tumor can improve the quality of life in a cancer patient, and certainly that is a good thing. But, God willing, researchers at ImClone can actually improve quality of life and add some extra precious time to that life, as well.

Saint Valentine (269)

He was a priest at Rome, beheaded for the Catholic Faith. Because this day is considered by many to be the first approach of Spring, and so connected with romance, Saint Valentine's Day is celebrated for other than a religious reason.

No matter whether you celebrate this day as a religious day or as a secular holiday to be marked by gifts of chocolate, flowers, jewelry and silk, we at NIPPIES wish you and your loved ones a very safe and happy day!

February 13th, 2004

Happy Friday the 13th

We at NIPPIES try hard not to be superstitious. However, be careful today. Don't test fate.

Movieoke Debuts in New York City

By now you've probably heard about Karaoke's cinematic kissin' cousin, Movieoke, which debuted recently in the basement of an East Village pizza parlor and video store called the Den of Cin.

Lucky Manhattanites, on one special night per week (Wednesday), can now act in their favorite classic scene. (No fee was mentioned in the article). It does sound like fun idea. According to a Reuter's story, there is a "huge selection of films to act along with." participants must pick out a specific scent from one of the available movies. The scene is projected onto a screen, and the accompanying monologue shows the scene and the dialogue to follow.

Movieoke was invented last October by Anastasia Fite, who moved to the New York City from Los Angeles. She is a film buff who says she got the idea for her invention after making a short film about a girl who talked only in movie dialogue.

A man from Ireland, by the way, claims to have applied for a trademark on the work "movieoke", according to some articles.

February 11th, 2004

Sergey Brin and Larry Page: Google Founders on

We at NIPPIES think that you will be hearing a LOT more about Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the Stanford U. alumni who started GOOGLE in 1998. Why? As we've previously mentioned, GOOGLE will soon be trading on the big board - the stock exchange, if you will.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page were two names with which we had no familiarity until CNN announced the upcoming IPO offering for Google. The offering promises, according to CNN's financial analysts, to be the hottest IPO offering in many moons. And to think that GOOGLE was started in the fall of 1998 so that a personal check of $100,000.00 which had been sitting in a drawer could be cashed, according to some stories. (You'll have to look that one up.)

Naturally, being the very curious souls that we are, we went a-searching for information on Sergey Brin and Larry Page. And, lo and behold, we found out that on October 14, 2003 the soon-to-be-happy-couple-of-billionaires were interviewed on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. This NPR show happens to be one of our favorites. You can hear an archive of the show by going to

By the way, that was a good week on Air. Carol Burnett was interviewed. Also interviewed during that time period was Bill O'Reilly (around October 8th) of "The O'Reilly Factor", who walked out of the interview in anger because he'd felt that Terry Gross had treated Al Franken better than he was being treated- or at least that she'd asked less pointed questions. That, anyway, is what we at NIPPIES remember about the interview. (Both Franken and O'Reilly had books coming out about the same time, and Franken had been a guest only a short time earlier.)

February 10th, 2004

Barbershop2: Back in Business - #1 at the Box Office Despite Bad Review!

Do you remember how we at NIPPIES reported how Joel Siegel of Good Morning America gave the thumbs down to the sequel to Ice Cube's hit movie, Barbershop, on Friday? That was the day that the movie was scheduled to hit movie screens across the country.

Well, it looks like Barbershop2 is having the last laugh! According to the Monday edition of the New York Post, Barbershop2: Back in Business "clipped the competition to become the No. 1 movie over the weekend." (page 28) BS2 took in a whopping $25.1 MILLION dollars.

Miracle, the Disney feel-good movie starring Kurt Russell and Patricia Clarkson (as well as a myriad of real hockey players), came in second with a box office take of $19.4 million. Miracle was very heavily promoted last week, prior to its general release: Kurt Russell, who portrayed the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team coach, Herb Brooks, in the film, was featured on Friday's The View;there were ads in major publications; the movie was very favorably reviewed by Joel Siegel of GMA, and so on and so forth.

We at NIPPIES haven't seen either movie, and will let our readers know what we think when we do. In the meantime, give us your opinions!


Why Anna Nicole Smith Slimmed Down: A Stern Lesson

Anna Nicole Smith talked to Larry King on Larry King Live about what motivated her to finally lose THE WEIGHT: it was all the fat jokes!

Anna Nicole confided that her stint on the Howard Stern Show was especially grueling. Howard invited her on the show and, according to Anna Nicole, was cruel, as were his callers, once she got on the air.

According to Anna, Howard Stern said to her, "OK, Anna Nicole. I know you weight 300 pounds. We have a scale here- we want to get you on the scale."

Anna Nicole Smith also states that Howard Stern's callers were rude. They taunted her about her weight.

Something good did come out of all this. Anna Nicole is now slim again. She never did lose her beauty, even with all that weight. Along with regaining her figure, we hope she regains her dignity. For awhile, in our opinion, she'd lost it.


$600 Million Spent Annually in Search of Pearls?

Yes, Americans spend $600 million per year in search of pearls, but not the type you find in oysters. We are talking about the kind of pearls you find in your mouth...pearly whites.

CNN reported today that Americans spend approximately $600 million annually on teeth-whitening products. That is an amazing amount of money, we at NIPPIES think!

CNN also featured one of the editors of Prevention magazine on their tooth whitening feature. The Prevention representative stated that the magazine researched about 20 home whitening products. She said that all of these at-home whitening products worked well - from the cheapest to the most expensive. She especially favored the whitening wand.

Some of the benefits of home whitening products include the savings (it can cost up to $1000 for a professional whitening treatment at your dentist's office), and that less harsh bleaches (usually hydrogen peroxide base) are used in OTC tooth bleaching products.

Some of the drawbacks of the at home whitening kits are that they do not whiten teeth which are grey in color (this greyish discoloration in teeth comes from within the tooth). The teeth bleaching kits bought in stores work best on teeth with yellow stains, which have resulted from coffee and tea, nicotine, and other external staining factors. Also, even though the home whitening kits work,they are not as powerful as the whitening treatments you will receive at the dentist.

According to the Prevention magazine editor, home teeth whitening kits are generally safe. However, if gum irritation occurs, you should discontinue use and consult your dentist.


Cialis v. Viagra - Stiff Competition?

Yes, Viagra now has stiff competition, ahem. is the name of the new web site for the new product which will correct your erectile dysfunction, guys. And here is the rub: the new product, Cialis, allows you to choose your moment of passion - within a 36 hour window.

Here is a small excerpt from the web site:

"In clinical trials, CIALIS was shown to improve the ability of men with ED to have a single successful intercourse attempt as long as 36 hours after dosing. CIALIS has not been studied for multiple sexual attempts per dose. "

Notice that the makers of the CIALIS tablet refer to "erectile dysfunction" as "ED". The poor guys with that nickname now must join the ranks of all the "Dicks" of the world.


Top Dog to be Determinte Tonight at Westminster Dog Show The Westminster Dog Show wraps up tonight. The top dog will be announced.

We at NIPPIES own a beautiful, old mutt. We don't know anything about dog shows, pedigrees, or anything to do with this subject. So, instead, we'll recommend a great movie: Best of Show, the comedy starring Jamie Lee Curtis's husband, Christopher Guest, and Catherine O'Hara. It was a very, very funny movie, and the whole movie is about this particular dog competition.


GAGA over GOOGLE Public Offering

Investors are going GAGA over the IPO offering of GOOGLE. Google, founded in 1998 by two Stanford students, is expected to be one of the most sought-after stocks in the history of the stock market.

Google is the search engine which powers Yahoo!, by the way.

Google technology performs over 200 million searches per day. Sergey Brin, one of Google's founders, will have much to celebrate in the near future - and will mostl likely become an instant billionaire.


Dr. Atkins Shocker

According to a blurb on the bottom of CNN, Dr. Atkins' widow admits that the diet doctor had a heart attack in 2002 and other heart ills. But Veronica Atkins has made a statement in which she claims that her husband's health problems had nothing to do with his diet. (The doctor reportedly weighed 258 pounds and had high blood pressure.)

There has been a lot of brouhaha lately about Dr. Atkins and whether or not the physician followed his own low-carb advice. Last month, New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg was caught allegedly dissing the late diet doctor while speaking "off the record" with a group of NYC firefighters (fire fighters? two words?). He reportedly stated that, while at a function at Dr. Atkins Hamptoms home, he noted that the diet doctor appeared to be "fat", and that the food served was so bad that he spat it into his napkin.

We at NIPPIES have this to say about the low carb craze: it's nuts. We tried this diet years ago. It left us terribly tired. And even though we lost some weight, we went nuts and ate and entire box of animal crackers when we finally broke the diet. AND gained all the weight back - rather quickly.

February 9th, 2004

The National Enquirer Tidbits

As we at NIPPIES magazine have said in the past, we go on and off the wagon when it comes to buying - and reading - The National Enquirer. This week, we fell off the wagon; we picked up the tabloid to browse while in the grocery line, and just couldn't put it down.

Here are some highlights from the February 17th, 2004 issue of the tabloid:

James Brown, the 70-year-old "Godfather" of soul, landed himself in jail recently after being charged with beating his 34-year-old wife, Toni Rae. Toni Rae called 911 after her husband allegedly pushed her into some broken glass- which he'd broken after smashing some wedding pictures, according to Toni Rae Brown. The cops came and hauled James Brown off to jail with his PJs still on and with his hair terribly disheveled. Now Toni Rae, who is recovering from multiple injuries at her mother's house, is upset about the unflattering police mug shot of Brown that went all over the country.

Toni Rae wants the soul singer back, but, according to TNE, James Brown doesn't want a reconciliation.

We at NIPPIES don't know what magic this man works on his women, but we remember years ago,during another jail stay, when his previous wife begged for his release because he was having dental problems.

Julia Roberts threw a surprise birthday party for her husband, Danny Moder, and flew Danny's whole family in for the event. The National Enquirer reports that the ice is slowly melting between the Moder family and Julia. As you may recall, some members of Danny's family reportedly blamed Julia not only for breaking up the marriage of Danny and his first wife, Vera, but for the fatal heart attack of Danny's mother in 2001. (Danny's father has since remarried.)

We all remember the aloe vera- translated "a low vera" tee-shirt that Julia sported, and the paparazzi snapped, when Vera Moder would not give Danny a divorce. We at NIPPIES like Julia Roberts, but have to say that tactics like that one were very high-schoolish. We are glad Julia Roberts is finally learning that honey works better than vinegar.

Matthew Perry is again seekinig help for his drug and alcohol problem, according to the NE. An article in this week's NE states that the star of the hit sitcom, Friends, fell of the wagon in early 2003 and is now clean and sober again after returning to Alcoholics Anonymous. We at NIPPIES wish Matt the best of luck on the road to recovery.

One thing the National Enquirer did that we at NIPPIES think was really in poor taste: they snapped a photo of Matt Perry outside an AA meeting as he spoke with his fellow recovering alcoholics. Even though the eyes of his companions were blacked out, anyone familiar with these people could easily recognize who they are! In addition to the photo, we at NIPPIES wonder just how the NE got a quote about what Matthew Perry said at the AA meeting....did a reporter go into the meeting, or did a fellow Alcoholics Anonymous member tell the tabloid what Matt said?

Has The National Enquirer forgotten that the second "A" in AA stands for Anonymous?

Obituary news

The National Enquirer reports that Ann Miller had a baby named Mary who died shortly after birth. According to the NE story we read, Ann Miller felt the baby died as the result of a fall down a flight of stairs that she suffered - after the hands of her millionaire "steel heir" husband, Reese Milner, pushed her. The wealthy and powerful Milner family, according to the Enquirer article, took the little girl's body away before Ann even had a good look at her daughter. For many years, Ann didn't even know where the baby was buried! A very sad story. In accordance with the legendary dancer's wishes, Mary's tiny casket was exhumed and now lies in the same resting place with her mother, Ann, and Ann's mother.

We at NIPPIES always enjoyed Ann Miller's performances. Everyone talked about her "million-dollar" legs. But it was her pert little nose and very chubby, almost chipmunk-like, cheeks that gave her a look of eternal youth, in NIPPIES' opinion.

Ann Miller was very busy right up until the end, and will be missed by her many fans, friends and family.

Jack Paar recently passed away peacefully in his sleep at age 85. Jack was married to his beloved wife, Miriam, for sixty years. According to this week's National Enquirer story, Miriam held a "small, private ceremony for just the immediate family" to "celebrate his life". According to Miriam, Jack Paar was not a religious man, and the ceremony was a secular one.

We at NIPPIES don't remember the time when Jack Paar was the king of the late night airwaves. But we always thought he was a very witty and intelligent man- and always very entertaining whenever he appeared on a television show or granted an interview. Our sympathy goes out to the Paar family.

Dear readers, we at NIPPIES are not about to become an advertisement for The National Enquirer. However, there are many other meaty articles on interesting topics in this week's edition (February 17th, 2004) of the rag:

Michael Jackson - Nation of Islam - Louis Farrakhan connection:
Did Farrakhan have a Michael Jackson confession taped?

Scary news about the ingredients in some beauty products...

Martha Stewart's pre-court beauty ritual: she spends $185 to have make-up applied and hair blown out!

John Kerry: his plastic surgery!(on his jaw)
his Irish-sounding name! (his roots are actually Jewish, the National Enquirer lets us know. The original name, changed by Kerry's grandfather, was "Kohn". Why is this relevant??)
his $550 million dollar wife (Teresa Heinz was the widow of John Heinz, heir to the Heinz ketchup and pickle fortune)

How to write a good resume (always useful news)

Marla Maples Trump looking for more money from her ex-husband, Donald Trump, for their daughter, Tiffany Trump. Read about what media appearance got Marla's dander up enough to contact a lawyer!
Finally, there is an interesting article about the relationship between the Scott Peterson family (Jackie Peterson and Lee Peterson) and Laci Peterson's family (Laci's mom, Sharon Rocha and Laci's stepfather, Ron Grantski). The two couples were once on very friendly terms. Things are not very friendly now, as both sets of parents seek what they consider to be justice. So, there you have it.

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