Monday, December 28, 2009

Death of Brittany Murphy

Do you see anything wrong with this?

One of the first things Brittany Murphy did when she showed up on the Oregon set of her indie thriller "Something Wicked" last June was acknowledge -- and apologize for -- her weight.

"I met her on the first day she arrived [on set] in Eugene with her husband," said Scott Chambers, a principal at Chambers Productions and an executive producer on the picture. "She looked ill, as much as 10 pounds underweight, and she's a small person to begin with. She easily could have made an excuse not to come to work, but she didn't. She said, 'I've got to get better, but I want to do this part.' "

A day after the death of the 32-year-old actress, people in the film business on Monday described a woman who continued to work tirelessly even as her star-wattage dimmed somewhat and health issues began to take their toll.

Murphy spent about three weeks shooting her role as a psychiatrist in "Something Wicked," a mystery thriller about a teenage couple experiencing eerie supernatural phenomena. Chambers noted that though the part was not physically demanding -- most of the scenes took place in an office setting -- he was nonetheless struck by Murphy's commitment to her part given her fragile state.

Mr. Chambers, your admiration is unwarranted and inappropriate.

It wasn't admirable that Brittany worked when she was both or either mentally or physically ill. What would have been admirable would have been if the people she worked for made an addendum to her contract that she demonstrate improvement in her condition by some criteria as perscribed by a mental health professional or medical doctor.

Mr. Chambers was sensitive to note Brittany's distress. However, he, and many of the other people in her life, were too cowardly to hold her hand on the path to wellness.

It's so easy to say, "not my problem." I just wonder why as individuals we feel that we have no responsibility to help those crying out for help.

Not to mention in Hollywood and popular culture Anorexia it is still an acceptable vice because being thin is so hypervalued.

And this trickels down to some men and women who view this look as an ideal In fact, I saw it written almost in the same breath that Murphy was hot and anorexic.

I've given up on most media embracing healthy women. But I do hope the next time an underweight actress walks into Mr. Chambers office he shows her the door to the nearest medical doctor.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mount of Olives

A foreign camel noisly stands atop the Mount of Olives
entertaining tourists
tracing Abraham's path
to sacrafice his son
before God commanded "psyche".

There Herod built a holy Temple where nearby
Jesus was crucified.
Would his cross have had the view of the
Dome of the Rock?
Big and Shiny
in contrast to the endless matted Jerusalem stone.
For every religious icon sits millions of graves.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Interview with producer and writer of hit t.v. show

Here's an article I wrote for OyChicago after interviewing the writer and producer of "Being Erica."

Check it out:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2010 Resolution

I learned this today.

From whom doesn’t really matter. Actually, no one said this to me, but brought it up tangentially, and now it’s going through my head.

The key to happiness and success, however you define them, is based on the balance between non ritual behavior and ritualized behavior. There is also balance between what we ritualize and how much weight we give to each ritual. A positive ritual could turn negative if hyperritualized.

When I speak of rituals, religion is not my focus, although it is a huge source of both positive and negative rituals. I haven’t done a study, but I’m guessing the more ritualized someone’s life is, specifically with positive rituals, the happier they are. However when rituals, such as religious ones, become a spiritual or economic burden, they no longer are positive. Why are some even fanatically religious people very happy? They are not burdened by their religion. It enhances and defines their lives. However, if your lifestyle conflicts with any of the rituals or communal rituals (sometimes homosexuals, singles, women, politics, divorce) then the rituals are burdensome rather than positive.

I know a lot of people with kids. Most of my friends and relatives are really good parents. However, despite the mommy wars, it seems to make no difference if one parent works and one stays at home or both parents work or if the kids are raised by nannies. What matters most is that their lives are ritualized positively (and this doesn’t mean overprogrammed with lessons in this and that, just daily continuity). Some families can only accomplish that if they have a parent at home. And that’s fine. But some families can accomplish a ritualized household through a balance of child care and parental involvement.

It’s why it’s so hard to fix the education system. Although 180 days a year kids’ lives are ritualized in school, if the other 185 days their lives are in chaos because of their home life, crime in their neighborhood and/or financial and nutritional stressers, school doesn't matter enough. Add to that that some of their time is spent with problematic teachers and classmates, success becomes too steep a hill to climb.

What constitutes a ritual? Anything can be a ritual depending on how and when you do it. Whether or not it’s positive or not depends on the ritual’s execution. The most basic ritual that almost everyone does is brush their teeth in the morning. This would turn into a negative ritual if someone brushes their teeth 100 times a day or not at all. The ritual isn’t maximized if you don’t brush your teeth before bed, because you don’t make time or prioritize the ritual.

Eating, working, exercising, watching media or sports, drinking, cleaning, praying, shopping, sex are all possible actions that can be and if ritualized can make for a wonderful life. However they are all also probably the most likely activities to become out of balance and their ritualization becomes detrimental and injurious.

So instead of losing weight, or cleaning more, or pledging to do this or that, perhaps my New Years’ Resolution for 2010 will be to incorporate more positive rituals into my life and phase out the negative ones. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Do you know someone with a cough, cold, H1N1, or flu? "Cure" them with this!

Eva Cohn Schulman's Chicken Soup
The kind of chicken soup that cures everything.

Serves: Many
Difficulty Medium - some experience needed
Prep Time: an hour
Cooking Time: Many hours
Ingredients: See below. Take notes.
This is only for cooks who can handle not needing a recipe. Giving exact measurements would mess the entire thing up.

Until I was 14 years old, I would eat my Bubbie's chicken soup at least once a week. After the first taste everyone would say, "Good soup, Bub"& On December 24 I find myself nostalgic for my grandparents. Every winter vacation we would make the 23-hour trip to Hollywood, Florida. The journey would begin with a trip to the Donut Shop. We would eat our other meals at the Waffle House or other southern eateries. Once we arrived in Florida, we ate at only two different restaurants for the entire two weeks. When I was little, I thought Southern Florida only had two restaurants, both with pickles on the table. Below is my Bubbie's chicken soup recipe in an im chat between my dad and me. You may notice there are no exact quantities, there is no need to measure or quantify the ingredients. You just need to make it with a lot of love.

sharna: dad do you have bubbie's chicken soup recipe on you?
Abe says: no, I can approximate it.
Abe says: who wants it?
sharna: gabi is very sick and i wanted to make it for her
Abe says: Take a large pot and fill the bottom with chicken pieces or halves, skin and all.
Abe says: Cover the chicken with water, but just cover not too much water
sharna: ok
Abe says: bring to a boil and skim until no more scum accumulates on the top.
sharna: before you add the veggies?
Abe says: yes
Abe says: after removing the scum turn the temperature down to medium - low and add vegtables, 2 boulion cubes, and seasoning salt. Vegtables should include one onion, parsnips, carrots, celery and dill.
sharna: ok
sharna: now, didn't bubbie use beef
Abe says: do not add any water. the boulion can be beef or you can add some beef to the chicken before the veggies.
sharna says: ok
sharna: what kind of beef?
Abe says: chuck
Abe says: you have to skim it also so put in with chicken
sharna says: ok
Abe says: good luck
sharna: gracias
Abe says: let me know how you make out
sharna: ok
sharna: i will
Abe says: be sure to use a low flame and cover the pot
sharna: ok
Abe says: after it starts to cook you can crack the lid.
Abe says: do you know what to do after its done?
sharna: no
Abe says: take out the veggies (I forgot parsley), save the carrots, celery, and parsnips in a bowl
Abe says: drain all the liquid into another bowl and put in refrigerator.
sharna : ok
Abe says: Wash off the chicken and beef, removing the skin from the chicken and put into a large pot or even the same pot if you rinse it out
sharna: why do you seperate it?
Abe says: about a half hour later remove the liquid from the fridge and skim off the fat. that's why you separate it.
sharna : that's a lot of work
Abe says: If you don't care about the fat just remove the skin and add back the carrots, celery and parsnips
sharna: ok
Abe says: if you want to make matza balls just follow the instructions and make in the soup
sharna says: ok
Abe says: good luck, you'll love it and Bubbie will be proud.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Favorite Quotes

I haven't been so inspired to write lately. Work is busy. I'm a little self involved. But I was reading some of my favorite quotes and thought I would put them here for your enjoyment. They are from my FB profile, but I don't think so many people read favorite quotes on a Facebook profile:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' ... There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you...And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.-Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love.

I still have cinder -- the stuff they use to surface the track -- littered under my skin like constellations across the night sky.

Some people get tattoos; I wrecked out. It’s all good.
-Zachary Osterman, IDS, May 27, 2009

Even now, all possible feelings do not yet exist. There are still those that lie beyond our capacity and our imagination. From time to time, when a piece of music no one has ever written, or a painting no one has ever painted, or something else impossible to predict, fathom, or yet describe takes place, a new feeling enters the world. And then, for the millionth time in the history of feeling, the heart surges, and absorbs the impact. - The History of Love

But who is set up for the impossible that's going to happen? Who is set up for tragedy and the incomprehensibility of suffering? Nobody. The tragedy of the man not set up for tragedy-that is every man's tragedy. -American Pastoral

The spiritual journey can be a very valuable and enriching thing. It is very easy to fall into gullibility and superstition…it’s true on the spiritual path you are by definition embracing irrationality. Irrationality is part of the human mind, part of the human psyche. We can’t get rid of it. It’s there. So is critical reason. So is rationality. So is skepticism. If you abandon those things just because you are on a spiritual path, you are giving up a good part of what it means to be a human being.-author Geoff Gilpin, author of "The Maharishi Effect," in a segment broadcast December 30 ,2007 on “To the Best of Our Knowledge.”

Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. - George Carlin

To live in indecision, to waver between defeat and a new life offered as much pleasure as pain. - Snow

Soul and body, body and soul--how mysterious they were! There was animalism in the soul, and the body had its moments of spirituality. The senses could refine, and the intellect could degrade. Who could say where the fleshly impulse ceased, or the psychical impulse began? -The Picture of Dorian Gray

I'm not political anymore. I mean, equal rights is one thing, equal pay is one thing, but blaming everything on being a woman is just passe. -The Heidi Chronicles

I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential...i have been a victim of my own optimism. -Eat, Pray, Love

Friday, December 4, 2009

Katie's Story: You may be the one to save her life

By Lori Rosen

My sister desperately needs your help. Please read her story and consider registering by attending one of the upcoming drives (listed at the end of this story) or going to

My sister, Katie, is 26 years old and has been through more in the past year and a half than anyone should have to endure in a lifetime. In spring of 2008, one week after her 25th birthday, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Our lives were turned upside down. Unresponsive to chemotherapy, she and my mother, Nancy Meacham, moved to Houston, TX in order for Katie to receive treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She underwent an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant, which put her in remission. Upon returning to New York, she became heavily involved in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She has become a friend and resource to countless others battling cancer.

Just after celebrating a year cancer-free, Katie received the devastating news this past September that she has relapsed. My heart broke. Yet, she met this news with the same courage, determination and hope that she held throughout her initial diagnosis and treatment. I wished, as I have many times, that I could make this illness just disappear. Her strength of spirit inspires me everyday.

Doctors have said her best chance at long term recovery and survival is for her to undergo an Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant, meaning now she needs blood stem cells from a matching donor since her own blood stem cells didn’t keep the cancer away. I am begging for your help. You may be the one to save my sister, or one of the other 6,000 people searching for a life-saving match each day.

Right now, of the 14 million people currently registered to donate, not a single one is a match for Katie. This is due in part to her unique genetic make-up which includes the Jewish A69 gene (from her mother, of Middle Eastern European Jewish descent) as well as genes from her non-Jewish father who is of German and English ancestry. Although it is more likely that her match will have a similar background, it is certainly not compulsory.

Registering involves answering a brief set of medical history questions, then swabbing your cheek with special Q-tips, which are provided to you by the testing service. It is free and painless. If a donor is called upon to donate, 70% of the time the procedure involves removing blood from one arm through a needle, collecting the stem cells from the blood, and returning the blood to the donor through a needle in the other arm. It only takes the donor a short time to replenish their stem cell supply.

Additionally, we are trying to spread the word amongst families with babies on the way, that the blood from the umbilical cord of a newborn, which is typically discarded, can also be given to a public cord bank, where it could potentially reach a patient in need. Learn more about cord blood donation.

Both of these procedures require so little of the donor, and mean absolutely everything to the recipient. We are desperate to find a match for our Katie, and hope that you will consider registering to become a donor by attending one of the donor drives or registering online. If you aren’t a match for my sister, you could be a match for one of the thousands of others in need, who are holding out hope that the next new donor will be the one who saves their life.

Over the next couple weeks, donor drives are being held throughout Chicago in which the entire registry process can be completed on-site. Details are below. It takes six weeks to get in the database and sadly cancer does not wait for paperwork to be filed, so please do it now.


Friday, December 4, 2009 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Chicago, IL
UIC Hillel
Levine Hillel Center
924 S. Morgan St.
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 357-6922

Saturday, December 5, 2009 10 a.m-12 p.m.
Elmhurst, IL
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Kickoff Event
York Community H.S.
355 W St Charles Rd
Elmhurst, IL 60126
CONTACT: Danielle Vickers (LifeSource):

Sunday, December 6, 2009 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Chicago, IL
Emanuel Congregation
5959 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60660-3643
(773) 561-5173

Sunday, December 6, 2009 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Chicago, IL
Anshe Emet Synagogue (during Hannukah party)
3751 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60613-4104
(773) 281-1423

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 10 a.m-5 p.m.
Chicago, IL
Spertus Institute
610 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605-1901
(312) 322-1700
Lobby and 2nd level