Friday, June 03, 2011



If you’re a techie who keeps abreast of the latest in cell phone gadgetry, you’ll hold iPhone’s newest application near and dear to your heart. If you’re just curious about what you or your sweetie would look like with certain, er, “physical enhancements,” this is one invention you’ll definitely cleave to your bosom.

Say hello to iAugment, a free iPhone app that gives women a virtual visualization – of what they would look with, um, a bit more bounce. The Photoshop-style tool allows users to take a picture of themselves and increase their, uh, “décolletage” using more than a dozen 3D (or should I say 3-double-D?) implant sizes.

Before you make a boob of yourself and assume that a man invented iAugment, it’s actually the brainchild of New Orleans plastic surgeon Elizabeth Kinsley, who created the app with Touch Studios, which develops custom apps for iPhone, Droid, Blackberry and iPad, as well as programs for Facebook.

“This is designed to give them the best idea possible of how they might look after surgery,” Kinsley said. “You can show your friends, your boyfriend or your husband and say ‘what do you think?’”

iAugment also includes the option to find a plastic surgeon near you, which might support Kinsley’s claim that the app is meant for women considering going under the knife were it not for several users’ discovery that the nearest (and only) recommended surgeon is Kinsley herself.

Serious purposes notwithstanding, there’s no doubt a lot of folks won’t give a hoot about the app’s intended use and will download it strictly for entertainment value. I, of course, would NEVER engage in such juvenile tomfoolery, but I DO have a “friend” who tried out the app using pictures of numerous celebrities – some of them female – with hilarious results.

The application is selling so fast, stores can scarcely keep ‘em on the racks, and if the scores of positive online reviews I read are any indication, iAugment won’t be going bust anytime soon:

“What an awesome app! Scheduled my appointment 2day!”

“I downloaded it for my wife, she loves this app.”

“I just have it for making funny pics!”

“I wish that it could go to extremely absurd sizes … I don't care what its true purpose is.”

“Great fun. Works on your butt, too.”

“I'm a guy … how I can undo this?”

A word of caution, though: Dangerously close to iAugment’s “Save” button is another button that posts your results to Facebook. One wrong move and you’ll be saying “ta-ta” to your dignity.

Friday, May 20, 2011



It was the wedding of the century for Anglophiles, adorers of all things British including The Spice Girls, Chumbawamba, and spotted dick.

Like his father Charles’ fairytale wedding three decades before, Prince William’s news-making nuptials last month captured hearts and headlines around the globe. Starry-eyed romantics set alarm clocks and DVRs, determined not to miss the ballyhooed event; some fanatics took it a step further, like Teresa Cunningham, a Missouri woman who said “cheerio” to her job and flew to London to camp outside Westminster Abbey the night before the joyous event.

The bouquet tossing, rice throwing, hailing and farewelling may be over, but Royal Wedding Insanity certainly isn’t. As the pomp, publicity and paparazzi surrounding the April 29 ceremony dwindle, the money-making merchandise machine is just getting warmed up.

Prince Charles and Lady Di’s vow-swapping spawned an endless line of garish plates and mugs, but that memorabilia doesn’t hold a Union Jack-emblazoned candle to the chintzy chotchkes, crazy collectibles and strange souvenirs being sold to commemorate the union of “Wills” and Kate Middleton. There’s virtually something for everyone, though I doubt anyone but hardcore fans would want most of these items:

Royal Wedding Silk Knickers (that’s “panties” to us Yanks) – Keep the Royals close to your, um, heart by ordering these crown-

and-frill-bedecked bloomers for $11.52 on Ebay.

William and “KaTEA” Bags
– ‘Cause nothing says “romance” more than watching the happy couple drown in a sea of Earl Grey.


Royal Cellphone – Features “God Save the Queen” as its ringtone. You’ll want to drop this phone in the toilet after a couple of hours of having to stand up every time you get a call.

Royal Wedding Sick Bags – Bloody perfect for folks who are royally sick of all the hoopla and feel like “throne up.” (

Papa John’s Will and Kate Pizza – Mushrooms, peppers, olives, pepperoni and other toppings make up the likeness of the couple on this pie selling for $500 - that's a lotsa mozzarella! Though not sold in the U.S., the very idea makes me want to reach for a Royal Wedding Sick Bag.

Will and Kate PEZ – With England’s history of beheading kings, who WOULDN’T want to eat candy from the gaping neck-holes of the royals?

Crown Jewel Condoms – Sales slogan: “Lie back and think of England.” Blimey!

Hopefully, these and other madcap mementos will make their way to home shopping channels. After all, Teresa Cunningham needs something to occupy her newfound free time.

Friday, May 06, 2011



As the Carpenters and Neil Sedaka before them sang, “Breaking up is hard to do.”

Sometimes relationships start with a spark but fizzle out, sometimes they’re fractured by infidelity, sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there, sometimes people simply grow apart. And sometimes, the rose not only falls off the bloom, it’s ripped from the vine before it even has a chance to blossom.

Most of us have had relationships fraught with red flags of warning, couplings we knew early on just weren’t going to work out. But in some cases, the realization blindsides us and brings the liaison to a screeching halt, sometimes even on the first date. Something happens, something so jarringly unacceptable – an action, insult, or cringe-inducing discovery about our honey-bunnies – that douses the flames of passion and leaves us boggle-minded and reeling.

This is the moment commonly known as “the deal-breaker.”

I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill complaints like, “She squeezes the toothpaste from the top,” or “He puts the empty milk carton back in the fridge.” That’s mere nitpickery compared to the breakups chronicled on Robert K. Elder’s blog, “It Was Over When: Tales of Romantic Dead Ends” and his book by the same name. The tales of good love gone bad are sad, stupefying, hilarious and often unprintable in a family newspaper. If you think you’ve dated some jerks, freaks and psychos, you’re bound to feel better about your own failed affairs of the heart after reading user-submitted stories like:

“It Was Over When …”

* “… she wanted us to drink each other’s blood so we would always be together.”

* “… he sent me some online weight loss tips.”

* “ … he wanted to go to Kohl’s and buy me underwear that he had bought his wife.”

* “…she said, ‘If you go to sleep tonite [sic] you will not wake up tomorrow.’”

* “ … (My son’s principal) informed me it was against school policy for my husband to pick up a senior cheerleader for lunch dates.”

* “I caught her in a cheap motel with a co-worker. Her mom was in another room with a friend of the co-worker.”

* “He refused to use nail clippers, instead pulling his foot up to his mouth and chewing off his toenails! Then he spit them out on my carpet!”

* “I placed a fake ad on the personals page of a local paper pretending to be exactly the kind of guy I thought she’d like. The ad only got one response, and it was from my wife.”

* “Two days after my best guy friend passed away, my boyfriend said, ‘Now I probably won’t feel jealous anymore.’”

These are interesting reading, but I’d love to see a blog called “It Was Over When: Celebrity Version.” I’d wager that Charlie Sheen’s ex-goddess is just itching to write, “It was over when he cleared all my bottled water out of the fridge to make room for his tiger blood.”

Friday, April 22, 2011



Easter means different things to different people. For some, it’s about commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus; for others, it’s a time for chocolate rabbits, jellybeans and psychedelic eggs; for many, it’s both. One thing’s for sure: For most of us, the day at some point will involve the consumption of ridiculous amounts of ham.

What to do after three helpings of cheesy potatoes have turned you into a couch potato? While you’re sitting around waiting for your belly to recede so you can re-button your pants, why not add some timely movie viewing to your Sunday celebration?

No column about Easter movies should overlook such praiseworthy films as “The Passion of the Christ,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” and “The King of Kings.” But if your sights are set on the secular scene, here are some screen gems to put in your basket:

It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown” (1974)
The Peanuts Gang is gearing up for Easter with visions of rainbow-hued eggs dancing in their heads – except for perpetual wet blanket Linus, who’s telling anyone within earshot that the Easter Beagle will take care of everything. Fortunately, things pan out a little better for young Mr. Van Pelt than in the embarrassing Great Pumpkin Debacle of 1966.

Easter Parade” (1948)
Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) is crushed when his partner (Ann Miller) ends their partnership to go solo. To prove he can make it without her, he goes all Simon Cowell and vows to make a star of a random performer. He chooses Hannah Brown (Judy Garland) and the dancefest is on like Donkey Kong. The Irving Berlin score includes the well-known tunes “Steppin' Out With My Baby” and “We're a Couple of Swells.”

Animated seasonal specials are a trademark of the legendary Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, so here’s a triple tip o’ the hat to the gentlemen who produced these Easter classics:

Here Comes Peter Cottontail” (1971)
Pete goes toe-to-toe with the evil Irontail in a competition to be the chief Easter Bunny. The top-notch casting includes the voices of Danny Kaye as Seymour S. Sassafras, Antoine and Col. Wellington B. Bunny, Vincent Prince as January Q. Irontail, and Casey Kasem as Peter Cottontail.

The First Easter Rabbit” (1976)
Any cartoon narrated by the great Burl Ives is a good time. Loosely based on “The Velveteen Rabbit,” it’s the tale of a stuffed rabbit that comes to life and accepts a mission to deliver Easter treats to the children of Easter Valley, a beautiful land where it’s always sunny – kinda like Palm Springs without the retirees. When a villain tries to cancel Easter by freezing the valley, Stuffy triumphs with the help of friends including Rankin/Bass’ most often recurring character, Santa Claus.

"The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town" (1977)
Featuring the voice of Fred Astaire, this is the story of Sunny the Bunny’s efforts to deliver Easter treats to a town with no kids, aided by his friends from Kidville, a town populated ONLY by kids – kinda like “Children of the Corn” without the killing.

Friday, April 08, 2011



Once upon a time, there was a Little Mermaid who fell in love with a prince after saving his life. But if you’re thinking the prince loved her back, she became human and they lived happily ever after in a fairyland where unicorns breathe clouds of cotton candy, you’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for the romanticized version of this story.

While watching the 1989 Disney blockbuster with my nine-year-old niece, I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth according to Hans Christian Andersen: “Happily ever after” only happens for the prince – that cad – who marries a princess while the Little Mermaid and her stomped-on heart float away to spend eternity as a blob of sea foam.

Disney movies occasionally show the darker side of the tales upon which the films are based (e.g., the death of Bambi’s mother), but for the most part, the end results bear little resemblance to the originals. After researching some of the stories that spawned the sanitized silver screen adaptations, I decided this is one instance when ignorance really IS bliss. A comparative look at the original and Disney-fied versions of two more tales will convince you to keep those kiddies naïve, Mom and Dad, unless you’re ready for months of sleepless nights and a huge therapy bill.


According to Disney: A little wooden boy goes through trials and tribulations (including, of course, lying-induced nose extension), and learns valuable life lessons along the way to becoming a real boy. He and beloved father/creator Geppetto live happily ever after.

Originally: Carlo Callodi’s ending found Pinocchio hanged from a tree (which may or may not have been his father; DNA results from Maury Povich are pending). Depending on which version you read, Puppetboy is turned into a donkey, tossed into the sea, devoured by a school of ravenous fish, and/or gets his feet burned off. To put it mildly, the kid’s life is one bummer after another.


According to Disney: Though Bambi loses his mother, he goes on to become a stud who offs a rival buck and a pack of hunting dogs, lands a hottie named Faline, and becomes the new prince of the forest, as well as the proud father of twins.

Originally: In Felix Salten’s novel, not only is Bambi traumatized by his mother’s death, he seems to be a death magnet for small woodland creatures. His squirrel buddy (whom Disney changed to Thumper the rabbit) gets shot and dies. Bambi then befriends another squirrel … who also gets shot and dies. The moral of the story: If you’re a squirrel with a friend named Bambi, keep your life insurance policy current.

I won’t even get into the truth about “Rapunzel” (hint: It’s a weave). Kinda makes you long for the simpler days when the worst thing that happened to a fairytale kid was being kidnapped, force-fed and almost cooked by a witch.

Friday, March 25, 2011



We're well into the second week of Daylight Saving Time and all my clocks have been adjusted except my internal one. "Spring forward, fall back" isn’t just a catchy reminder; it’s also a good description of my attempts to get out of bed each morning for at least a month after losing that precious hour of sleep. The time change throws me into a bleary-eyed fog so thick that I found myself at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, trying to set the bathroom scale ahead an ounce.

Contrary to popular belief, DST wasn’t implemented by aliens to keep earthlings in a state of subdued disorientation (which makes all that probing much easier), nor was it instituted to stiff graveyard shifters out of an hour’s pay. DST was first adopted during WWI to replace artificial lighting with extended daylight hours, thus saving energy needed for war production. I get that. But it’s 2011, and what once was practicality has become a pestilence for many, especially first-shift employees. Trust me, the roads are much safer with me driving to work by the dawn’s early light rather than navigating the murky darkness with eyes at half-mast and brain cells on E.

I asked a random sampling of friends why DST started and was surprised to learn how many folks mistakenly believe "it had something to do with helping farmers, right?" Wrong. In fact, farmers generally oppose DST because it affects harvesting, reduces labor time in the summer, and confuses the heck out of the animals because they don’t wear watches.

It’s said that DST also hurts prime-time TV ratings. I can vouch for that: DST caused me to missed a half-season of "Frasier" in the mid-‘90s because it took me three months to figure out what time it was on. It also took me that long to figure out I’d forgotten to turn the living room clock back, but that’s beside the point.

Obviously, I’m not a fan of the spring-forward concept, but falling back? I’m all for that! Yes, I know we’re fooling ourselves into thinking we’re getting an extra hour when really, it’s just a refund of what we lost in March, but who doesn’t still look forward to that 60-minute bonus, real or imagined? Some parents, that’s who. Like animals, most toddlers don’t wear watches, so the beginning or end of DST doesn’t make a whit of difference to them. As a friend with a 1-year-old told me, "I think, ‘Wow, she slept till 6! Then I realize it just 5 a.m. posing as 6 a.m. It’s still 5 a.m.!" Yet another reason I’m not a parent. (Or a farmer.)

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to deep-six all this time-shifting tomfoolery. I'm moving to Djibouti, which not only ignores DST, but is fun to say.

Sunday, March 20, 2011



Modeling is a cakewalk for Alex Katz.

One day, the 22-year-old Daytonian was a Columbia University senior working a side gig as a bartender for private parties; the next, he was strutting his stuff – and a dessert designed by the “Cake Boss” – in a world-renown fashion show. Weeks later, he’s still reeling from the whirlwind of events that took him from student to supermodel.

“I graduate from Vandalia-Butler High School in June 2007. With four duffle bags in hand, I move into my dorm on the Upper West Side of New York,” Katz said. “At the beginning of my senior year, I start bartending to supplement my life in my adoptive, ridiculously expensive new city. I’m hired to pour champagne at a baby shower. I’m asked to walk a fashion runway. I must have missed a step somewhere.”

Three months after working the bar at a baby shower hosted by Kristen Naiman, head fashion designer for the Isaac Mizrahi runway collection, Katz answered the phone to find Naiman’s assistant on the other end. “He asked, ‘We have a small runway show coming up. Would you like to take part?’” Katz said. “I thought he was a satisfied customer calling to schedule another bartending gig, so I agreed.”

But when the assistant started throwing out words like “casting staff” and “fitting,” Katz was flummoxed. “I said, ‘I’m sorry, can you back up? Do you want me to serve drinks or be in the fashion show?’”

As it turned out, Katz was being requested for the latter job, and the “small” runway show was the debut of Mizrahi’s Autumn/Winter Collection during Fashion Week, a celebrity-studded extravaganza hosted semiannually in New York, London, Milan and Paris. This year’s New York event took place February 10-17.

Though Katz was puzzled as to why a self-described “tall, awkward kid with a Jew-fro” would be picked for a major fashion show, he thought, “Why not?” and decided to have fun with it. “I figured it would end up being the best experience ever and make a great story,” he said. “It’s not my dream job, but I had one helluva time!”

Because Fashion Week overlapped with the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden, Mizrahi chose “Poodles and Cake” as the theme for his show, which featured female models wearing his latest designs while carrying small poodles with matching hairstyles and dye jobs. The male models, including Katz, walked the runway in waiter attire with trays of colorful cakes created by Buddy Valastro, owner of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, N.J., and host of TLC’s “Cake Boss.”

Preparation for the event included Katz’s first-ever manicure and an offer to get a “Brazilian blowout,” which he declined on the grounds that it sounded smutty and/or painful. (It’s a hair-straightening treatment, by the way.) After his curly locks were sufficiently straight, a stylist began putting a wax-like product in Katz’s hair. “When I asked him what he was using, he replied in his gruff English accent, ‘It’s magic is what it is,’” Katz recalled.

That brusque Brit was none other than Eugene Soleiman, who has tamed the tresses of such celebs as Julianna Margulies and Lady Gaga, and created hair fashion for designers including Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and Alexander McQueen.

Katz also met Mizrahi himself for a New York minute and was pulled aside for a fashion network interview. “The reporter asked me what modeling agency I worked for and I had to honestly respond that I wasn’t a model, but if she’s interested in bartending services, I knew a capable server!” he said.

Most first-time models would fret over remembering their cues and not getting stage fright. However, Katz’s background in theater quelled any anxiety about appearing in front of a large audience. “I’ve been onstage in front of a lot of people before, and I’ve also been in embarrassing costumes,” he said, chuckling.

Instead of worrying about how and when to sashay, saunter or pivot, Katz was more focused on walking, period. “The shoes they gave me had no back to them, so I kept thinking, ‘Don’t lose a shoe!’” Impractical footwear aside, Katz said the prevailing thought during his stroll down the runway was, “Don’t drop the cake!”

Fortunately, the show went off without a hitch, making Katz something of a celebrity in his personal circle. “I thought I might have some female friends who might be excited about it, but I was surprised by how many people knew about it,” he said.

After Katz’s girlfriend, Elena, found a video of the Mizrahi show online and a friend saw his photo in The New York Times’ online review, word spread like wildfire. “There was a formal dance at school that evening,” he recalled. “It was the first time I walked into an event feeling like a star.”

Katz’s brush with “the beautiful people” hasn’t transformed him from a T-shirt and jeans kinda guy into a metrosexual fashionista. “My style is very basic. Outside of a dress suit, I don’t own any casual clothing that’s worth more than $20. I don’t lay out my clothes the night before, I just choose something in the morning and hope it matches!” he said.

“However, I do have a new appreciation for the fashion industry and what they have to go through.”

So, to an already-eclectic résumé that includes working in the NBA store, teaching Hebrew School, tutoring secular studies and bartending, Katz can now add “Supermodel.”