Sunday 28 October 2012

Secrets of the Tabloid World II. From Khloe Kardashian to J.Lo.

Today we turn to STAR and OK for three more insights into the secret Tabloid World.

Insight # 1: IT’S A WAR ZONE.
Exploding BOMBSHELLS are an everyday thing, as O.J. Simpson, Monica Lewinski, and Angie can attest, but Matt Lauer went nuclear and had a MASSIVE MELTDOWN. Khloe K. and Lamar were lucky: they reached only the BOILING POINT although they had a BLOWOUT fight. And poor Britney can’t even have a mani-pedi without experiencing MAYHEM and screaming at people in a BRITISH ACCENT, OK tells us. I’m just glad Arnie Schwarzenegger wasn’t there. He would have screamed in a German accent, which is much much scarier.

Will there ever be peace in the Tabloid World? No, it’s a bloody battlefield out there, and everyone is just so DISTRAUGHT. Ashton and Mila Kunis, for example, had a HUGE BATTLE because she’s no longer pin-thin and he has GANGED UP on her with Dior. Meanwhile Lindsay and her mom got their pics into both STAR and OK because of their NEVER-ENDING WOES and permanent arguments that ESCALATED into a fight. Other celebs manage to keep it down to a FEUD, like Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez. Mind you, feuds are no fun either. They always come with a NEMESIS, and can be a regular SMACKDOWN.

Thank God for babies which bring joy to tabloid photogs, whether they come in HOT STROLLERS like Jenny Alba’s or HAND-ME DOWN T-shirts like tightwad Angie’s or are being DROPPED by scary mom Britney. Some like their babies cute, but Clare Danes and husband Hugh Dancy are just glad theirs is a HUMAN BEING and they felt profound relief. In fact, we are all breathing a profound sigh of relief because new mom Snooki has gotten used to NOT SLEEPING. By contrast, poor J.Lo feels no relief because she has BABY FEVER, according to OK. Watch out J.Lo or you’ll infect your baby! That’s what happened to Nick Lachey’s son who caught CINCINNATI BENGAL FEVER. To avoid all risk, we advise sticking with a PROSTHETIC BUMP like the one Sofia Vergara carried in Modern Family. Or even better, forget baby and opt for a dog, like Marissa Jaret Winokur, whose Lola is a regular show girl.

Insight # 3: OLD AGE.
Yes, amazingly and in spite of everything, some people in the Tabloid World are aging, and horrible things happen to them. Liam Neeson’s KNEES CREAK, Julianne Moore CAN’T STOP SWEATING. Matt Lauer (who had a massive meltdown, see above Insight # 1) makes CATASTROPHIC MISTAKES and BARKS at his staff. Arnie Schwarzenegger only looks like he’s barking, but that’s because his dentist made catastrophic mistakes. Andy Cohen has turned into a CAMERA HOG and sneaks into celebrity photo ops. Only Brad has escaped the ravages of old age. His former golden locks “might be more salt and pepper now,” the Star says, but it adds to his SOPHISTICATION.

Great coverage, you say? No, I’m deeply disappointed with STAR and OK. They forgot to include THEN and NOW photos, which as the ENQUIRER knows are essential to age-related features. So how can I be sure that Liam wasn’t born with creaky knees and Brad was less sophisticated in former days?

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Secrets of the Tabloid World. From Sarah Palin to Brad and Angie.

Inching forward in the queue at the checkout counter I’ve often stared at tabloid covers and asked myself: who are those alien-looking people in the blurry insets? I finally caved and bought a copy of the National Enquirer, and, yup, it’s as I suspected. The tabloid scene unspools in a world of its own. Let me guide you through the main features:

TIME passes for all of us, but in the tabs it comes with THEN and NOW photos. We, the ordinary people, generally age, while the tab people become younger. This isn’t because they live in a time warp, as I thought at first, but because they have cosmetic surgery. Now this stuff goes on in the real world as well, but in the tabs, cosmetic surgery, although always DRASTIC, remains a SECRET until REVEALED in a tabloid. By then it has turned into a a woman's WORST NIGHTMARE, like Chris Jenner’s surgery, which will DESTROY HER LOOKS.

WEIGHT is a problem for many of us, but in the tabs weight gain or loss is much like cosmetic surgery: DRASTIC and never without THEN and NOW photos. And it’s always indicative of SECRET developments. Monica Lewinsky, for example, is going through a cancer drama, at least in the eyes of the check-out counter readers. Insiders who shell out money for the tabloid, discover that she doesn’t have cancer after all (whew!) although medical experts tell us that obesity puts her at risk and makes her a WALKING TIME BOMB. Now you’d think that people who lose weight will avoid those health risks, but that’s because you don’t understand the secret world of tabloids. In that environment, weight loss doesn’t make you slim and fit. It makes you SCARY-SKINNY and a SHADOW OF YOUR FORMER SELF, like Sarah Palin who is WASTING AWAY. Her cheeks are sunken and her hips have disappeared. I’m not surprised she’s sparked a HEALTH ALARM. Matt Lauer and Matthew McConaughey haven't sparked alarms yet, although one looks FRAIL and GAUNT and the other has WASHED AWAY to skin and bones.

BODY LANGUAGE. Watch out, celebs! In the tabloid world, reporters have x-ray vision and can read your every move. So here are some things you mustn't do under any circumstances:

Touch your tummy. That means you are PREGNANT. Celebs who carelessly put their hands on their tummies run the risk of up to ten pregnancies a year in the tab world.

Lean forward. No one ever “leans forward” in tabs. They SLUMP and COLLAPSE, are STRICKEN with sadness and depression, or else are BOOZE-PLAGUED and end up in rehab.

Pull a carry-on. That means you are moving out on your lover. Your relationship is DOOMED and IN TATTERS, like Brad’s, who is doing all sorts of things behind Angie’s back (BOOZE AND DRUG BOMBSHELL!) and will cause her to lean forward and collapse in tears. It also means the tab is obliged to offer photos of the pair in happier times (THEN and NOW!), before they had a BLOWUP and went BERSERK.

More insights into the SECRETS of the tabloid world in my next post!

Sunday 21 October 2012

Looking for VIP treatment? Here is what you need to know.  

Let me begin with a warning. Standards have sadly declined since the term was first used in the 1930s. I came to that conclusion when I received VIP tickets to a museum exhibit.  Me, an important person? Are you serious? I was, like, totally confused. So I researched the concept, and here is what I found out:

VIP treatment at your local movie theatre means reserved seats plus delivery of beverage to your seat without spilling sticky froth over your shoes. This is a LUXURIOUS EXPERIENCE. I’m quoting

But perhaps you prefer the MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE offered by Epcot.  As a special VIP service to Chase Card holders only, they offer electronic charging stations. Charging stations? Would that be what non-VIP schlubs call electric outlets?

And then there is the UNFORGETTABLE DONOR EXPERIENCE. has six suggestions to make donors feel like VIPS. Four of them are: Thank them. Thank them in writing. Thank them personally. And: Give them a pat on the back. Is that what non-VIP persons call sending junk mail? That would definitely make me feel great.

I don’t need a pack of tarot cards to see the future of VIP treatment. Here is my utopian vision:

MCDONALD’S: reserved supersized garbage bins.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION:  reserved standing room near reachable overhead straps.
PUBLIC HOUSING: reserved warm air grills on quiet street corners.
USED CAR DEALERS: reserved phone line to tow truck companies.
COLLECTION AGENCIES: reserved line to distress help centre.

Still dreaming of limos, red carpets, photo ops, and goodie bags? Yes, it’s out there, a click or a phone call away, but it’s called kid’s birthday party now. Check out Extreme Birthdays on or and introduce your pre-schooler to the AMAZING EXPERIENCE of kiddie VIP treatment.

So maybe we need a new definition for adult VIP treatment? I googled the initials and came up with VIP = Virtual Implant Placement. That sounds about right: unreal, painful to contemplate, and screwing up your head.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Neighbourhood Alert: Do you know where your bar is?

In case you haven’t noticed, neighbourhood bars are changing. You used to go there to get sloshed and, depending on your orientation, hitting on someone of the same/opposite sex. Maybe those places are still around. If so, they should be marked with flashing neon signs YE OLDE BAR so you don’t accidentally fall into the hands of unscrupulous personal grooming bar operators.

I first sensed the danger twelve years ago when I lived in L.A. and a colleague looked at my sandaled feet and said, with pity in her voice: Oh. You do your own toenails?

Until that point I naively associated bars with pleasure. Then I noticed them: the juice bars, the mani/pedi bars, the brow bars, the wax bars, the botox bars.

The old-style bars had the decency of keeping their walls solid and their lighting low, but these new establishments have no shame. They sport floor to ceiling plate glass windows. They brazenly show off their sordid practices. They play to the voyeur, invite you to catch clients in the act, with their fingers splayed and their feet soaking in pomegranate and lime while Asian slaves, tortured by piped-in cheesy rock, cower before them and labour away at their primp jobs.

It’s a billion dollar industry, ranging right below mortgage payments on some people’s budget. And what do you get for your money? After schlepping from one bar to the next and emerging, finally, hairless, buffed, and shiny, you no longer have the energy to show your body off at YE OLDE BAR. And even if you do, there’s no payback. In the dim lighting your expensive new body looks just like the old one. Plus, your hangover will be unbearable. Your botoxed face won’t allow you to contract your brows or twist your lips sufficiently to let out a good groan, and what’s a morning after without a good moaning and groaning?

It’s time to organize and put pressure on local politicians. Demand clear and prominent warning labels on the new-style bars, something like the screed on cigarette packs: The Surgeon General has determined that too much grooming is detrimental to your fun and may lead to the eradication of sinful pleasures. Need help to quit? Write to www.gospafree or leave a comment on this blog.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Suffering from anxiety? The Mayo Clinic has an app for you.

Where do you turn for relief from anxiety -- God, man, or machine?
I myself like machines. Had enough instruction? Simply press the off button. God is more difficult to turn off. He tends to lord it over you and bring out thunder bolts or forty days of rain if you balk. People can be hard to shut up as well, like the Baptist preacher, whose talk Joe Fiorito attended at the Parkdale Library (The Toronto Star, 12 Oct). If renouncing Satan from the basement stage of your local library relieves your anxiety, the preacher guy is your man. If not, the Mayo Clinic has an app for you. It’s called Anxiety Coach (  Apparently the machine has a to-do list for you. If you are afraid of dogs, for example, you “begin with standing outside a room and looking at a dog and progress to lying on the floor and letting the dog eat treats off your forehead.”

It’s as simple as that, people. With the Mayo model in mind, let’s look at other anxieties and draw up a to-do list for you.

EXAM ANXIETY: Begin by standing outside the exam room and watch the exam papers being distributed. Progress to placing your hands on the exam booklet.  Once you feel comfortable with the sight and touch, stand behind a student (preferably someone known to get straight As) and look over his/her shoulder.  When you are ready, copy the contents of his/her paper onto your exam booklet.  Complete the process by putting your name and student number in the appropriate slot.  If the person supervising the exam protests, explain your handicap and insist on special consideration. This usually works for educational institutions.  In the commercial world, a different approach is recommended.

JOB INTERVIEW ANXIETY:  Begin by standing outside the office building where you expect to land a job. Progress to the lobby and study the names on the directory until your find your father’s/ uncle’s/best friend’s company. Proceed to the relevant floor and present yourself to the receptionist. After adjusting to the environment, enter the office of your father/ uncle/best friend. Make pleasant conversation until he mentions job opportunities. Chanting OM at this point is relaxing, but chanting salary figures above 100,000 is more immediately effective.  Now that your breathing has normalized, leave the rest to your father/uncle/best friend.

ANXIETY IN SOCIAL SITUATIONS: Begin by choosing an on-line profile you are comfortable with. Thinking of yourself as attractive, intelligent, and wealthy usually helps.  Proceed to post that profile on a dating site. Keeping in mind the regrettable tendency of people to exaggerate their personal attributes, choose potential partners only from the A-list.  After cruising message boards, choose conversational bits that are in tune with your on-line profile and weave them into your own posts. If you find a suitable partner and are at ease with your virtual relationship, leave it at that. Why meet face-to-face, be disappointed, and start the vicious cycle of anxiety all over again? 

In fact, never mind the Mayo Clinic Coach. Here’s my golden rule, guaranteed to take care of all types of anxiety: Stay home, sit in front of a screen, eat potato chips. Voila: No more anxiety.

Thursday 11 October 2012


In response to my last post, I had a comment from my REAL son protesting that my blog was too revealing. MY blog? OMG! Don’t tell me I’m the Rummel behind Rummel’s Incredible Stories. You see, all my life I’ve been trying to answer the great existential question: Who am I? I thought I had the REAL me pinned down as a super-cool, super-attractive, super-intelligent being. In other words, the best. Then I turned 19, read Derrida, and got all confused. It turns out everything is relative. Bummer! Canada is to blame as well. I came here and couldn’t understand a word. They all spoke English, can you believe it? So I discovered the new REAL me: dumb, and the addressee of many rejection letters. The phrase WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU came to sum up my existence. Then I had children, which ended every woman’s search for herself in those days. I was handed multiple personalities: the devoted wife, the caring mother, the engaged professional. And that was just from 6 am to midnight. The rest of the time I was the teeth-grinding monster. So, I had a surfeit of personalities for a while and didn’t look further afield. When I could breathe again, it was the age of reality shows. That’s how long it took TV to catch on to my way of life: the woman who is on stage all the time. Judging by the applause meter, I was best in the role of engaged professional. So maybe it was a mistake to give up my profession and go looking for my REAL self again. But you know what? I think I’ve missed the age of the REAL self. We are into the VIRTUAL self now. So, maybe I’m Rummel. Or Siri. Or the author of PLAYING NAOMI, a novel about an actress who impersonates an author. But in the spring I have another novel coming out, HEAD GAMES, about a woman who replaces missing persons, filling the empty spots in other people’s minds. Maybe that’s me. Does anyone out there have empty spots they would like me to fill? I’m desperately looking for the VIRTUAL me.

Monday 8 October 2012

How to Keep Healthy

Medical pronouncements used to be good for a century or so. Now their lifetime is a couple of months, but I’m getting used to the shuffle. Yes, daily Aspirin! No, daily Aspirins are risky! Screen for cancer early and often! Oops, false positives. Take vitamin supplements! Um, not sure they are any good.
Remember way back when, in the summer of 2012, they told us not to worry unduly about hygiene, and that exposure to germs would make us resilient? When they told us that allergies and asthma have increased because we are trying too hard to keep clean? Now for the shuffle. Headline in the Globe & Mail, Oct 4: “You can’t be too clean!”
So put on your facemasks, everybody, get on your knees and scrub that floor with Lysol. And get rid of your body hair. That’s where the ugly stuff hides. Shave your head, go Brazilian on the rest of your body. Now let’s have a closer look at your life style.
Food:  The safe thing is not to eat, but if you can’t get yourself to go intravenous, I suggest eating only what you have grown yourself, which in Canada may limit you to eating about four months a year. Alternatively you could convert your spare bedroom into a greenhouse. Cannabis grows really well indoors, I’m told, but if you can’t live on smoke alone, mushrooms on a log in the basement could be a healthy fallback.
Drink: Many municipalities will try to persuade you that tap water is perfectly safe, but that’s just because they are hostile toward entrepreneurs and begrudge them the $ 2/bottle they charge you. Support your local ripoff-artist and drink only bottled water.
Clothing:  Wear only what you’ve produced yourself, so you know what goes into the fabric. Sheep are easy to care for in your backyard. Knit your own wool sweaters and try to live with the itch. Conversely grow cotton in your spare bedroom/greenhouse and spin wraparounds. Don’t want to be seen running around in a toga? Don’t worry. You shouldn’t go outside anyway. That’s where people breathe and sneeze on you, not to speak of those dangerous cheek-kissers, fist-bumpers, and hand-shakers. You know how many germs are exchanged per kiss? 56, 325! And don’t even ask about French kissing.
Pets: Do what the airlines did some years ago when Mad Cow Disease was rampant in the UK. They made you slosh through a pan of don’t ask me what, just in case those nasty germs were clinging to the soles of your shoes. That should work for your pet’s paws, too.  Just make sure to keep the disinfectant at a level that won’t drown your gerbil. But ideally, regift your pets to the Humane Society.  
The air you breathe: that’s the real problem, isn’t it?  It’s packed with germs and viruses, and I mean, how long can you hold your breath? Convert your bedroom into an oxygen bubble.  Get rid of all your human housemates. Regift them to their families. You don’t need them. You have Facebook friends, don’t you? That will have to do. Ditto for your job. Get one that allows you to submit your work electronically.  Why do you think I’m blogging? Haven’t had a cold in two years. Haven’t had love in – oh, well, there’s a drawback to everything.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

From Justin Trudeau to the Presidential Campaign:  A Recipe For Political Success
What’s the most important asset for a politician? Integrity, vision, experience? PUH-LEEZ. Under what stone have you been hiding the last twenty years? The most important asset are pearly white teeth and an ability to stretch your lips sufficiently to show them off without giving the impression that your jaws are coming unhinged. That’s an art, people, and Trudeau Junior has it, along with  Silvio Berlusconi, Nicolas Sarkozy, Mitt Romney, and Barak Obama (well, I won’t give him perfect marks, he doesn’t smile hard enough).  Trudeau Senior’s fuddle-duddle smile or Diefenbaker’s buckteeth wouldn’t stand a chance in today’s dentally perfect world.  And I’m just stunned -- gobsmacked stunned --that Harper’s schoolmistress smirk made it past the polls.
What else does a politician need? Policies? A platform? Naw. Never mind boring facts, as long as you have a good story, preferably about your hard scrabble life -- eating off an ironing board, making a desk out of an old door, that sort of thing. Romney and the Democrats got that right. And having Clint Eastwood talk to an empty chair at their convention – that was genius! The message: See that chair, folks? It’s as empty as Romney’s pockets.
Yup, Romney is poor. Or looks poor. Or is trying to. But otherwise, what politicians need first and foremost is money. That’s why those limits on campaign spending are just plain silly, and Super Pacs are a good thing. Let’s face it, a politician can’t win relying on the 47% who live on handouts from the government and have no idea how politics work. It’s the other way round, you sad yokels. You pay, and politicians pocket your money.  What do they need it for? To buy publicity of course. Do you know what TV ads cost nowadays? If you ask me, that’s why Romney is slipping in the polls: his ads aren’t up to scratch, or maybe they don’t speak the language of the average viewer, the guy watching the sports channel. You want to reach him, you need to stick to sports metaphors: knock-out punch, front-runner, game over – you get the drift. If you can’t cram a minimum of six sports metaphors into your ad, forget it. You might as well talk Russian or Chinese.
Which brings me to that other all-important requirement: a good campaign manager. is critical of Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades. They accuse him of skulduggery, mischief, and dirty tricks. Don’t they understand? That’s what you want to see on a manager’s resume. I mean, Mattie Boy has what it takes. He doesn’t care about politics, tells us with endearing frankness. “He isn’t inspired by ideology.” He just likes a good fight. And he is “a man of few words, plenty of them profane.” If you ask me, that man Rhoades is tops. Now if he could just make those campaign ads funnier or nastier or more like a football game.
 What else do you need as a politician? A wife and children who are willing to sacrifice for a noble cause, who will stand by their man and make him look human. Their message: You see? He’s no robot guided by aides working a central control panel. He has a wife and children. There is real blood flowing in his veins. Maybe Reagan went too far when he got involved in an actual assassination attempt, but the general idea was good: show the voter that you are flesh and blood. Just don’t be too human, like Clinton with Monica Lewinski. Blood is good, semen stains are too much of a good thing. But the all time worst mistake was made by Jimmy Carter, who admitted to dirty fantasies when looking at Playboy.  No wonder he remained a one-term president. Would you trust a politician who has ideas in his head?

Monday 1 October 2012



Last week, Israel’s Prime Minister used a cartoon drawing of a bomb to protest Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Puh-leez, Mr. Netanyahu! I’ve seen better artwork on the fridges of doting grandparents.


You’ve heard about donor fatigue? I’m suffering from protest fatigue. It’s very sad, but the entertainment value has gone out of demonstrations.  I thought we had hit rock bottom with the Occupy Movement. I mean how many days in a row can you watch tent city and talking heads? I want something more exciting than a guy doing line drawings with a red marker. Something more dramatic than Olympic fencer Shin-Lam doing a sit-down to protest a referee’s decision. Something more gripping than a bevy of overweight public servants walking in circles with hand-written cardboard signs. I nodded off reading the signs. Sorry. What were they protesting? Discrimination against persons of belly fat?

 If you ask me, Nick Wallenda, the guy who did the tight-rope walk across Niagara Falls, missed out on a great chance to protest something, like wasting water on gawking tourists instead of bottling it and selling it to pay down the province’s deficit. I mean he had people hooked. So, Mr. Netanyahu, next time, I suggest, you bungie-jump for peace. Or you do a nude hot-tub protest, preferably with people who have ogle-worthy bodies. My personal beef is the monopoly of the Ontario Liquour Board over alcoholic beverages. I’m thinking of organizing a drink-in, something involving a conga weave down Yonge Street with circle-puking and slurred-word shoutouts. I bet you I could get Aspirin to sponsor it.  I can see the banners now: ASPIRIN THE LEADING CURE FOR HANGOVER.

 A few years ago someone in Australia started the idea of Movember, a moustache growing charity event. Is that gender-biased, or what? I mean except for your Russian cleaning woman, what female can grow a competitive moustache? I suggest something more gender-balanced, like growing your toenails to promote a cure against blue nail polish or growing warts to protest Rowling’s new novel, or in the spirit of science, growing your own liver from stem cells to protest genetically modified crops. For instructions on how to place the clusters of stem cells on a piece of porous biodegradable plastic, check out Henry Fountain’s article in the NY Times. On second thought, maybe that’s a tad too slow to garner attention.

 Generally speaking, I’m tired of virtuous people plugging for humanity. I think we should all get together and promote reckless driving, over-the-top spending, serial adultery, numbing or deadly drug mixology, lying politicians and mindless twittering (oh, right, that’s been done), and pretty soon all the world's problems will go away. Many would-be do-gooders will be dead, unconscious, or too busy to notice those around them. And let’s face it that the source of most problems: we are paying too much attention to other people. Bring on the total tech-age and leave me alone with my i-devices, and in no time you’ll see: It’s a beautiful world.