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.”

Friday, March 11, 2011



“My brain … fires in a way that is … maybe not from this terrestrial realm. When you've got tiger blood and Adonis DNA, it's like, get with the program, dude.”

"I have a 10,000-year-old brain and the boogers of a 7-year-old.”

“I’m not bipolar, I’m bi-WINNING.”

Indeed, Charlie Sheen is winning – not at convincing anyone he’s even remotely sane, but at dominating headlines in the past couple of weeks. Sheen’s nonsensical, vainglorious rants have made the self-deemed “rock star from Mars” eminently quotable as it becomes painfully apparent that his bag of marbles has a hole big enough to fly a spaceship through.

Though he’s tested free of drugs (except one called “Charlie Sheen” that he claims will “melt your face off”), he’s obviously nowhere near emotional sobriety.

I’m certainly not mocking the mentally ill, which I believe Sheen is, but his bizarre tirades are at once saddening and (unintentionally?) hilarious, making him a frontrunner for the Celebs Say the Darnedest Things Hall of Fame, which includes the inductees listed below. (Disclaimer: Writer cannot be held responsible for any face-melting that might occur while reading these quotes.)

* Jessica Simpson: “I'm not anorexic. I'm from Texas. Are there people from Texas that are anorexic? I've never heard of one. And that includes me.”
-- Well, they DO say everything’s bigger in Texas.

* Britney Spears: “I have always wanted to travel across seas, like to Canada and stuff.”
-- Maybe she’s referring to the well-known Lake Erie Sea?

* Tara Reid: “I make Jessica Simpson look like a rock scientist.”
-- And Britney Spears like a geography major.

* Joe Theismann: “The word ‘genius’ isn’t applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”
-- I hear Norm’s brother Albert was pretty smart, too.

* Arnold Schwarzenegger: “I think gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.”
-- Clearly, Gov. Terminator is unclear on the concept.

* Sarah Jessica Parker: “I love the smell of diapers. I even like when they’re wet and you smell them all warm like a baked good.”
-- I don’t even WANT to know what baked goods smell like to her.

* Sienna Miller: “I love cigarettes. Love them. I think the more positive approach you have to smoking, the less harmful it is.”
-- Does that mean my positive approach to eating chocolate makes it less fattening?

* Linda Evangelista: “I don't diet. I just don't eat as much as I'd like to.”
-- Right. And I don’t binge … I just eat everything that Linda Evangelista can’t.

* Kanye West: “I’m like a tree. I feed the branches of the people.”
-- Yo, Kanye! I’m really happy for you and I’ma let you finish, but the redwood is one of the greatest trees of all time!

Paris Hilton: “What’s Wal-Mart? Do they sell, like, wall stuff?”
-- Obviously, she never heard of Brain-Mart, either.

I think I speak for the majority of “the little people” everywhere when I say, “Thank you, celebrities, for making the rest of us look like rock scientists.”