Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Stiletto bootie: Demi Moore vs. Gisele Bundchen

Smart ^^^^ Don't walk. Just look cool like Gisele Bundchen. I see her now and then and she always looks breezy. The first time was in St. Tropez and like many young women there, I wanted to touch them to see if they were real. They are.

I often am amazed at what shoe designers come up with in their efforts to dazzle, and pull in female consumers.  The latest trend, or yet another sneaky way to keep women on their toes is the "stiletto bootie."  Could their be a more fitting oxymoron? The one above also comes with deadly studs, so could also come in handy as a weapon. But for the sake of this argument.

Here is a random stiletto bootie:

Here are my booties:

Here is the combine brainchild of Christian Louboutin:

I'm not going to be slipping that thing on when I get out of bed to make pancakes.

Like all fashion trends, designers call upon celebrities to bring awareness.  Here is Demi Moore at the Sundance Film Festival when the trend was just beginning. I call this the death-trap bootie. Why anyone would trudge through three feet of snow, capped with ice in stilettos is beyond me.

As an aside, one year at Sundance, my dear friend Allegra Huston and I were walking down slick, snowy Main Street and as we approached an alleyway, this enormous black SUV came barreling between gift shops without stopping. God forbid he arrive late to the next trendy party. Allegra slipped and fell, right in his path. The driver had no intention of stopping, in fact he would have killed her, but that's Hollywood.

I quickly grabbed Allegra by the ankles and pulled her to safety on instinct. We were both kind of shocked, but okay. Unlike Demi, not one person came to our aid, despite Allegra having done a face plant. The driver never looked back. We dusted off the snow and ice and carried on. Allegra was wearing thick, rubber-soled snow boots.  We were soon laughing and figured it was a kind of rapid oxygen facial.

Here we have Jessica Simpson, not only wearing 5" bootie heels, but is pregnant, carrying heavy bags and walking in the middle of the street. In LA. The city with the worst drivers per capita in the nation. I suggest she at the very least cross at a light.

And who can forget poor Gwyneth Paltrow at the Grammys? Not that I watched. But this borders on, well, just plain dumb. I get everybody wants to own/wear/be seen in Louboutin shoes (except possibly me) but this girl deserves some kind of Olympic prize for making it down the stairs, while singing, dancing, smiling and getting her Plume on.

Let's look more closely at the Plume. It's the top of the line bootie, costs more than a small vehicle and frankly is ugly. But that's me. I get these are "works of art." But then put them in a museum behind glass.

Aren't women tortured enough in this society regarding their looks? Not only does this society encourage women to get to cut up their faces, starve themselves to death and where clothes that are grossly uncomfortable, now the idea is to turn them into cripples as well.

Then, yet another genius idea. How could any shoe designer not think of this? "Hey! We missed something. Let's make a mountain hiking boot but a stiletto bootie! Every actress and socialite will where them to Aspen."  Look at this thing--

Unless the heels are serving as crampons, this company should be sued. Things will not turn out well for this girl.

All women know when wearing a high heel, they have to factor in a mathematical problem.  It looks something like this:

On any given occasion you can raise the slope to ground factor, then proceed. I didn't get this right until my 3rd time at a garden party. I'm standing on a steeply sloped, perfectly manicured lawn talking to oh, probably some very important people.

"Rhonda, let's go over to the bar and grab a drink."

So we start to wander over, but my 5" heels are stuck in the thick, moist sod. You never know this is actually happening because you don't actually feel yourself slipping into the quicksand grass. Therefore, when it comes time to actually move, your heels are firmly embedded, you are not, and falling face down ensues. It's horrifying.  But once you get the ratio graph worked out, you'll be fine.

These shoes of course are never made for men. This might be why.

I have a theory why Stiletto Booties are so popular right now. Okay, it doesn't take a lot of brain power. Super Heroes. We are surrounded by them. They are everywhere. Movies, TV, books, board games, role-playing. (Not that I would know.) But what male designers don't seem to understand is women can barely walk in these things, let alone defend herself against Evil Avengers.

So, as women, just remember, this too shall pass.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Planking Junkies

Planking Junkies by Rhonda Talbot

My latest story in The Rusty Nail Magazine, click above link or read below. Thanks!


The day Coral graduated rehab, she was asked to become a counselor. The hours were good, decent wage, and the only requirement was having a valid driver’s license.

 “Sure. I love helping people.” Coral actually had little regard for others, but needed the job. She knew she had blown her opportunities as a registered nurse in one short year after getting caught stealing meds. A darn good job too. But she was programmed in rehab to “not regret the past.” So she didn’t.

Coral was considered a “lightweight” drug user, or a party girl, taking painkillers recreationally with champagne chasers.  There was nothing remarkable about Coral’s looks, but the pills and booze gave her a sense of belonging in otherwise out of reach trendy clubs.

After she was fired from the reputable hospitable, and having forgotten to pay her rent for a few months, and after her car was repossessed, her parents flew out from Michigan and drove her to Belle Grande in West L.A., hoping their prized only child would straighten up.

They had spent over half a million dollars on Coral’s education, first a prestigious private high school, then Sarah Lawrence. Her Healthcare major was a big disappointment, intensified by her utter lack of ambition. Coral’s ability to obtain gainful employment softened the riff between them but it did not last. Of course, the rehab sticker price of 40 grand didn’t help matters.

 Coral enjoyed the recovery center, and met some colorful characters, “hipsters” that generally would never associate with her on the outside. Musicians, writers, and a few actors on TV network shows. The people were similar to those at the cutting-edge clubs, except now they talked to her, laughed with her, even if communal participation was mandatory. Coral did not mind.

 Most of the addicts were entertaining, droll, some quite attractive.  Coral felt this was the real reason she had moved to Los Angeles in the first place. Sure, she loved nursing but it was not a coincidence she chose Los Angeles when looking for a job.

 Belle Grande boasted a sequestered section referred to as the “hopeless cases,” the junkies, who were kept in their own special ward, sealed off like contagion. She occasionally saw them in the meal hall huddled together like a zombie brotherhood. They intrigued her the most with their Twilight mystery and sexy allure.

 Much to Coral’s delight, this would be the group she would be assigned to. Newcomer “techs” were low on the rehab totem pole thus she was relegated to the scourge.

On her first day, Cora wore a tight, black miniskirt, a tank top, heels and black eyeliner hoping to impress the junkies.

She was in the office punching in her employment card.

“Hey. I’m Bobby. You’re counselor buddy.”
“Oh. Wow, really?” Bobby had graduated from the contagion unit just as she was entering the facility.
“I’m in Antioch now studying addiction counseling,” he offered without prompt.
“I’m a nurse. How funny.”
“Not really. Nurses have an incredibly high rate of addiction. I learned that recently.”

 Coral couldn’t believe her luck, working alongside a celebrated musician who had jammed with Springsteen, The Foo Fighters, Dylan, Joanie Mitchell, and the Stones!  Then came his legendary fall into drugs, rehabs, and relapses. Though she was puzzled as to why he would give up his glamorous life, just toss it away to work toward some therapeutic degree; Coral deducted it had to be part of a plea bargain to avoid jail time.

 Coral had an outrageous crush on him. And had for years. Though old enough to be her father, she saw him as a kind of John Mayer plus 30 years more hard living.  Her heart was pounding but she had been trained to slow heartbeats and quickly brought hers down. Breath deep, tense muscles, hold, release.

 “We’ll be working with the lowest of the low, the scum. They’ll shoot you for ten cents and stab you for less.”
“What do we do exactly?”
He studied her with his famous hazel eyes.
“First of all lose that stupid skit, wear a bra and don’t wear jewelry unless you want to get shivved. Second, our job is to take them out. Museums, beaches, parks. Places they’ll hate.”
He led Coral to the ward. “Can you believe these idiots trust me with a key?”
“I used to listen to Baby I’m On My Way over and over in high school.”
“I don’t do that anymore.”
Bobby kicked open a door.
“Get your sorry ass out of bed loser!”

There were four beds, all young men covered in tattoos and heavy blankets. “Go away, Bobby.”
Bobby picked up a broom and started poking them one by one, then handed it to Coral.
“Here, you’ll get used to it?”
“I will?”
 Coral swept lint off one junkie’s back.  
“Yeah, keep doing that,” he moaned.

Bobby grabbed the broom and smacked him on the back of his head.

“Get up! Before the sun goes down. We’re going to the beach.”
They all grumbled and cursed.
“The vitamin D helps with withdrawal.”
Coral was pretty sure this was a lie, but they jumped up, all fully clothed, most wearing hoodies and heavy work boots.
Who’s the hottie?”
“She’s a junkie like you, asshat. Now look at her. She’s going places.”
“I’m not a junkie, Bobby,” Coral whispered. He ignored her.
“Coral was a junked up, near- dead super model. Runways, magazine covers, the whole shebang. Now she’s got a photo shoot for Italian Vogue next week.”
Bobby winked at Coral to go along.
“Yeah, Vogue.”

But Coral was five feet four in heels, probably 15 pounds overweight and didn’t know the difference between Gap and Gucci.

“Come here, honey.”
Bobby nudged her.
The guy’s face looked like it had been chew off by a wild animal. He was missing teeth and smelled like dead fish. It occurred to Coral the junkies looked better from afar.
“You’re the only reason I’m getting out of bed. What’s your name doll?”
“You wanna date when I get out?”
“I’m with Bobby now. We’re living together.”
“Okay, that’s enough. We have to get a few more.”  Bobby lifted Coral over his shoulder and for a moment she thought maybe this was all real.

 Sure he had dated famous actresses and models, but Coral was convinced he was ready to settle on a less complicated girl. He would study, she would get her job back, and they would learn to control their drug use, go to star-studded parties, and maybe have a penthouse wedding at the Soho House.
 Bobby drove to a semi-secluded beach and corralled the dope sick addicts onto the sand where he situated them next to each other, a symmetrical pattern of tightly woven cocoons resembling eight body bags.

 “Huh. That’s a perfect Instagram.” He took their picture on his phone and shared it on a dozen social websites.

Once settled, Bobby and Coral sat nearby, Coral’s opportunity to discuss their future, but his eyes drifted off taking in the beach Barbie’s playing volleyball a few hundred yards away.

“Is that natural? Her tits are perfect teardrops. And that ass! Watch her spike the ball. Shit.”
Coral took off her heels, and adjusted her tank top to partially reveal one breast.
“Man, it’s hot. Hey, Bobby, did you know that Eric Clapton wrote that song Layla for my grandmother. She used to tell me to never get plastic surgery.”
“What? Your grandmother was Patti Boyd?”
“Well, that’s odd cause’ she never had any kids.”
“I mean, like a godmother.”
Coral’s entire body sagged in shame. Of all people she couldn’t have lied about. This potential romance was doomed for good. She thought about walking into the ocean and never returning.
“Anyway, I can always get implants.”
“Coral, you know the rule. No relationships for a year in sobriety. But I don’t think that applies to normies. I bet that girl in the red bikini never took a drug in her life.”
“I’m going to get them some water.”
“Hey, get me a Coke, would you?”

 Coral said a silent prayer to a higher power she did not believe in. Though she was told to surrender anything she might want for herself, she instead asked the power to force Bobby to fall in love with her.

She didn’t really want to get water for the junkies; she just wanted Bobby to taken notice of her firm ass as she walked away. She was certain he was looking. She held her breath and turned, but he was still sitting like a little boy staring at those girls like they were rare mammatus cloud formations.

Coral’s plan was to get everyone their drinks then continue into the ocean and drown, but as she approached the body bags, skeletal hands reaching out of blankets, some grabbing her ankles, she noticed one cocoon was deflated.
Coral returned to Bobby, handing him his Coke.

“Jill is not in her blanket.”
“Maybe she’s taking a piss.”
“Did you see her leave?”
“Are you fucking kidding? I can barely keep track of these girls. They must be UCLA co-eds. Jesus.  Don’t worry. Jill is probably looking for dirty needles in the sand.”

 After coming up empty on Jill in the bathroom, Coral followed her tiny footsteps south. Rickety beach bungalows were strung along the coast, surfboards lining their exteriors. Coral approached a gang of young, buff dudes patiently waiting for a good wave.

“Hey, have you seen a petite girl, all dressed in black.”
“Man, what a head case. Total spinner.”
“Yeah, another Bell Grande success story. She’s working on her fourth step, snorting what’s left of our coke.” They laughed.
“Holy shit!” A perfect swell was bubbling up and off into the ocean they ran.

Jill was sitting at a small kitchen table licking the remains of cocaine from a piece of white paper. Her sleeves rolled up, sweating from the heat and drug detox, Coral noticed a dozen or so slice marks up and down her reed thin arms.

“Hey. Hi. Don’t tell Bobby. Okay.”
“We have to go.”
“I’ll never get better. You know that, right?”
“I tried to kill myself once with a disposable shaver.”
“Now that’s lame.”
Coral gave her a candy bar.

“I remember seeing pictures of you and your mom in People all the time. I would be so envious. My parents are furniture.”
“My mom is a phony bitch. I’m her show pony and could never talk. It wasn’t fun unless I was high.”

Coral would never understand what it was like to grow up in the public eye, yet feel invisible. But Coral knew what it felt like for no one to see you. No words can fix that wound.

Leading Jill back to the group, Coral began to understand why Bobby gave up the life he had. After a while, she understood glamour wore off, perhaps an impossible dullness sets in. For all she knew, Bobby’s wound was bigger than hers. He was not the answer.  Maybe she bought Jill another day. Maybe not. But there was satisfaction in knowing that Coral had gotten Jill back inside the van, to Belle Grande, alive, and Jill possibly might survive another night. Coral could try and connect with her again. Tomorrow.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Top Christmas Albums 2012

With so many holiday albums to choose from and time running out, compiled is a list that won’t disappoint. While the classics such as Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald and a remixed Charlie Brown are always available, some of these new artists are guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.
1. A Very Special Christmas – 25 years (2012) A great collection of artists going back 25 years, there is a bit a cheer in this jam packed record for everyone's enjoyment. Artists include Train, Jewel, Michael Buble, Rascal Flatts, One Republic, Christin Aguilera and more. Lots of festive tracks for various musical tastes.
2. Merry Christmas Baby by Rod Stewart (2012) Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame inductee proudly releases his first Christmas album. Many classics are song by the Grammy Award winning singer, as well as collaborations with Cee -Lo Green, Mary Blige and others. Upbeat, yet soothing, Rod Stewart has a way of spooning you into the Holiday spirit.

3. Holiday Rules (2012) Another complication album; though this one delivers all new recordings featuring rockers, alt-pop, bluegrass, electronica, jazz and more. A few of the artists include Paul McCartney, The Shins, The Civil Wars, Punch Brothers, Holly Golightly, Y La Bamba, Heartless Bastards, New Orleans Gosple and more. Easily the most anticapted and exciting album of the year.
4. Christmas in the Sand by Colbie Caillat (2012) Colbie’s pop radio hits such as Bubbly shot her up in the charts and her holiday album offers similar stylish takes on holiday classics, including a number of duets with Brad Paisley, and Jason Reeves among others. Breezy and fun, just like Christmas in Southern California.

5. Cee-Lo’s Magic Moment (2012) Cee-Lo and friends have created a spirited, funky and soulful record that will put a pep in your step all through the holidays. Already considered a classic, Cee-Lo's unique voice is matched up with some great classics that deserve repeat listening. The ablum also featuers Christina Aguilera and Rod Stewart.
6. Silver and Gold by Sufjan Stevens (2012) Box set. Certainly the most ambitious of the albums with 58 songs on five discs, Sufjan spreads his songs of hope, love and peace while mixing in autobiography, religious fantasy and history, the Chinese zodiac and animals too. The most unique and fascinating of the albums, Sufjan Stevens style of music defies description and so does this album. It is exquisite.

7. A Very Merry Perri Christmas by Christina Perri (2012) The Jar of Hearts break out singer brings her soulful voice to a variety of classics including a few original songs. The ablum also features choral contributions from varied artists such as Michelle Branch, LP and Bushwalla.
8. Home for Christamas by Celtic Woman (2012) Home for Christmas features the celestial voices of this all female Irish music ensemble. They cover many classics with superb harmonizing and an outstanding choir. Their uplifting music has transcended international borders and this album is no exception.

9. What Christmas Means by Kem (2012) R&B superstar Kem covers the classics in this touching, harmonic album that simply soars. Choirs, amazing vocal arrangements and superb production quality is a delight from beginning to end.
10. Cheers, It’s Christmas by Blake Shelton (2012) Blake covers the classics in a grand manor, brining in an orchestra and featuring several duet performances with Michael Buble, Miranda Lambert and his mother Dorothy Shackleford, among others. A highly anticipated album Blake fans will love.
Meanwhile, one of the most beautiful duets ever to be sung, by Eva Cassidy and Katie Melua  will not be an any record.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Okay, I was a little hard on the guys.  They're pop stars, charismatic and kind of cute. I had a talk with my nine-year-girl about the matter. She knew the song Little Things. To my surprise, she knew ALL One Direction songs or as she corrected me 1D.

A:  Mom, you don't get it. They are telling this girl they love her not matter what she feels about herself. Plus it's catchy.


Me: But don't you think it's odd that the boys point out the ways in which she hates herself?
A: No. Because maybe she does, he is helping her by saying no matter what YOU think, I love you anyway. Just like in their song What Makes You Beautiful. She could look like an ogre. He would love her. Why are you asking me this stuff? You don't get it.

Me: Well, what about the part where he's spying on her sleep talk. >>>>>>>>

A: Mom! He's just showing interest. Can you go now? I'm busy here. Can you shut the door, thanks.

Me: Okay, one last thing. If some boy would like you, only if you had, say green hair, or you were bigger or wore jeans, would you do that for him? You know, change for him?

A: Uh, no. Like, never. Why would you even ask that?

I felt like I slipped in a teaching moment, but it wasn't even necessary. My girls have great self-esteem. So far, so good. Nonetheless I need to run this by my cultural odometer guide for a hood check.

I took my complaint to my son who will surely understand why I don't think this is pro-girls, like say, Pink's song You're Perfect. Which I think is very empowering.

My son is a young adult and being at the older end of the Millennials, he has it all covered.

"I can't believe you are making me look at a video of One Direction. No, Mom. I will just read the lyrics."

I tried to impress on him the effect it may be having on the girls which is why he agrees.

He read the lyrics. I point out this section which I find suspect.

I know you've never loved
The crinkles by your eyes
When you smile
You've never loved
Your stomach or your thighs,
The dimples in your back at the bottom of your spine
But I'll love them endlessly

Son:  Mom, it's adolescent. They're like 15 or something. But I get what you are saying. The lyrics are lame. And kind of creepy. I don't even think they're musicians.

Me: See? So, I'm not crazy. Thank you.

Son: Sure. Can you get out of my room now? I need to finish this. Shut the door.

I guess when I reflect on what I was listening to at age nine, it's quite different. The Four Tops, The Supremes, Beatles, Beach Boys, Janis Joplin, The Doors. It was actual music. I don't know what to call this fuzzy pop stuff. But it's everywhere. And growing.

I don't watch any of those "make me famous" shows, but that is exactly what the judges encourage.  Sound poppy, superficial, catchy and be cute. Being white is a plus.

I have to let my kids listen to whomever they want and find their own way. I seriously can't believe I have become a parent that says, "Don't listen to that! It's the devils handiwork!"  For One Direction! Ridiculous.

My own parents never actually cared what I listened to, in fact my mother not only encouraged music, the darker the better, but took me to some awesome rock concerts. She even bought me drinks. I think I was ten at this one, Rod Stewart. Good times. I think the first lyric that really stuck with me was "welome to hell, mother f****rs!"

So I will lay off for now. At least they are not listening to Marilyn Manson or going to rock concerts in tube tops with their mother.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Dumb Blonde Lightbulb Moment

I know you have asked yourself this, how many blondes DOES it take to screw in a lightbulb

Sure, this is a joke of mythic proportions. Along with all the other dumb blonde jokes. Hell, I've even laughed at most of them. Mostly because I'm blonde and I can screw in a lightbulb, so, you know, ha-ha.

But now the joke should be, "How many blondes does it take to screw in a hallogen lightbulb, or fluorescent lightbulb, or energy savers, or LED's or CFL's? This joke just got real.

I'm not going out on a limb here by saying I'm pretty darn good around the house. I can fix broken doorknobs, drain a sumppump, change a fuse, light a water heater, patch a boo-boo and even mow the goddamn lawn.

Recently, my office wall light, hidden behind a lovely sconce, burned out. I replaced it with another hallogen energy saver. Didn't work. Then another. Nothing. So I typed in the dark because who has time to deal with this stuff. I have books to write.

After tripping over my kids tennis shoes for the fifth time and finally twisting my ankle, I thought I had better call an electrician  But first I had to find one. I certainly wasn't going to faffle with the wiring behind the sconce. A girl could get electrified.

At the same time, two wall sconces blinked off in the guest bedroom. So he or she could fix those too.

In my neighborhood, a fabulous women called Paulette Light started this referral system. I had actually started one of these years ago, before Angie's List; I was even in beta, but I am just too damn ambitious. I wanted a referral system in every city in every state, then every country, all at once.  I was 70 pages deep in HTML planning with no end in site and eventually put it aside and moved on.

So when I came across Paulette's TheFriendex,  not called Momstamp I was overjoyed.  It works! Because it's our neighborhood and nearby environs, but is quickly growing and made up of friends, friends of friends, and so on. So the referrals are much more dependable and reliable than say- Yelp- which I never believe anyway.

I found a short list of electricians and jotted down their names.

"Hi. Is this the electrician?"
"Yes. I'm an electrician."
"Oh fabulous. I got your name off Momstamp. People seem to like you."
"Oh. Great. I can't say I know what that is, but happy to hear it."
"So this is Manny?"
"Uh, no. Josie."
"Oh, sorry, I wrote a bunch of names down. Anyway..."

I went on to explain my entire ordeal and almost got into my childhood before he could stop me. Then Josie said:

"What's a conch? You have sea shells on your wall?"
"No... you know those things on the wall that cover light bulbs."
"Oh. Sconce?"
"Yeah. Sconce. Sorry. Did I say conch? I've been writing all morning. My brain is mush."
"Okay. Have you put in a new bulb?"
"Well sure. But it didn't work."
"What kind of bulb?"
"The new kind. The twisty kind."
"Those are fluorescence energy savers. In some houses, they work for a bit, then stop. Have you tried an old fashioned bulb? The kind from 50 years ago?"
"Shit, has it been that long?"

I put in an old fashioned bulb. It was tricky because I couldn't see inside the sconce.

"Okay. Hit the on switch. The wall switch."
"Oh. Right."

And it worked!

"Oh my god. I have light. Josie you're a genius. Can you help me in the guest bedroom?"

I took the phone into the bedroom and stood on a chair, just over the bed.

"Oh. These are shaped like a worms."
"Okay. Those are halogen. See the clips that are holding the worm?"
"Yep. I'll unclip those."
"Well, be careful. Don't touch it if its hot."
"It's freezing. I did it! But I can't wiggle this worm out."

And with that I fell off the chair. It seemed like slow motion. Like in a Tom Cruise movie. My entire body was in free fall, the phone flew to the ground and I hit the bed and bounced once.

 I quickly got up and grabbed the phone.

"Josie? Sorry. I dropped the phone. I think I will leave this for later."

No way was I telling him what happened.

"Well, you sound all set."
"Can I pay you? You are so awesome."
"No. Glad I could help."

I had a feeling Josie was laughing his ass off after he got off the phone. I actually just told a woman how to screw in a light bulb. I bet she was blonde.

I now have light. In every room. And if I trip, I can no longer blame the dark. I do keep flash backing on that free fall. Thank god my bed was there.  But then again the reason I fell is because I stepped on one of the 20 fat pillows I stack on the thing for some reason.

Which, btw, I just purchased on Dark Friday.

Rhonda Talbot weighing in on lightbulbs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Something About Einstein

I came across this article today that distills into 10 "Kick Ass" lessons we can all learn from Einstein. In reading, I thought I would repost something I wrote as these are the very lessons that have carried me through my life and in my opinion essential to everyones. But I call them gifts. Einstein was a gift to all of us.

My published Einstein article.

When I was eight-years-old, my young mother handed me a slip of paper with an Einstein quote, “He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned by contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.”

Why she gave this to me and not her other five children remains unclear. Perhaps she saw in me my disillusionment with the rat a tat, airless echo of school, the Catholic Church, the Sunday roast dinners, our predicable life.

I had been punished a number of times for staring out the school window day-dreaming, maybe about stink bugs, who knows? Then thwack goes the ruler, held by a tightfisted, chalky nun, who sent me off to kneel on the concrete hallway floor for two hours. I would later go home and draw pictures of nuns being kidnapped, held in dark closets being starved to death, begging for mercy, often choking on their own wimples. I hid the stories under my bed, accompanying the other stacks, all stories concerning some level of inequality.

It was during this time, music and freedom were calling my mother to another place, another life, one where she wouldn’t be a “wife,” a more hopeful existence. She was a “hippy” to my father’s buttoned- up businessman.

By the early 70's, she had had enough. My mother did not have many heroes, as they were fleeting and then dead; Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, the Kennedy's, she herself became disillusioned.

But there was something about Einstein that settled into her very core, then mine.

A few days later she confided in me. “We are leaving. Tell no one, your sisters won’t understand. Thor (my father) will be at work and return to an empty house, to compliment his empty existence.”

Then: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” She added, “Don’t forget that. Ever.”

Thus began my own obsession with Einstein. I tucked these quotes into my grandmother’s jewelry box she had given me just prior to her death.

Legions of people remain enamored by this brilliant man, Albert Einstein, not just for what he discovered, accomplished and how he radically changed the world, but because of his childlike innocence, his unlimited curiosity, his great humility, and a legacy of words that continue to endure.

He was a rascal, those wild eyes, the mop of hair, his crumpled clothes, the rumors of his flirtatious encounters. This made him real for the rest of us. He has permeated our culture from the Three Stooges to the bobble heads in the film Night at the Museum.

When you ask a complete stranger to define genius, they often replay casually, “Oh, Einstein.”

I began to collect quotes and read about him in libraries, his humour brought me tremendous comfort. He wasn’t some impervious man one couldn’t access. Quite the opposite. He didn’t believe in separating himself from others and in fact, loved sharing his ideas, while helping others expand on their own. He was approachable. Both alive and dead.

To this day, I keep a tip sheet of quotes tacked up near my computer, and read one every day. It really doesn’t matter which one, as I come away with yet another interpretation.

Born with a kind of eternal intelligence, his curiosity about all “things” began to emerge at age four. While examining his father’s pocket compass, Einstein was baffled. What was causing the needle to move? The empty space made no sense to him so he began to build models and mechanical devices. He wanted answers.  All that empty space! 

Why Einstein? Among so many brilliant minds, he continues to inspire. What of DaVinci, Tesla, Newton, Hawking, Aristotle, Edison, Cervantes. The list goes on. They too share not just powerful minds, but an endless pursuit through curiosity and instinct. They knew knowledge was important, had to be learned, but could only get them so far. The rest is mystery.

My belief is Einstein embodies the mystery. He thought through images and sensations. Something we can all understand. His quotes alone speak volumes and one quote could be expounded into an entire book. “Keep things simple---this requires patience, perseverance, allowing room for empty spaces.”

Turning complexity into simplicity is no easy task.

So many of Einstein’s ideas, beyond his incredible discoveries in the world itself, which would ultimately turn the world on its head, would all contain room, empty space, air to breath.

E=mc2, is thought to be the most famous equation in all of physics eventually setting the stage for the development of the Atomic bomb and nuclear power plants. But had he known where this was going he thought perhaps he should have become a watchmaker. Einstein was very much against war.

He worked on this equation for ten years, never game up, tossed it about until it made perfect sense. Input, criticism, rejection. He embraced all of it. His critics challenged him to work harder. One of the greatest lessons I've learned from Einstein is to embrace criticism, and not take it personally.

To this day, his theories inspire advances, in science, astronomy, physics, philosophers, new-agers!

I’ve been to my fare share of enlightenment lectures, where the self-appointed "gurus" often spout some version of, or direct quote from Einstein. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” “Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds. “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used in creating them.”

Despite the many great brains, his would be the one cut into 240 pieces, kept in jars, cardboard boxes, often hidden, studied under microscopes. (We must get to the bottom of this!) Bits of his grey matter still remain in the University of Princeton hospital. All those years of cutting and probing and analyzing, really amounted to very little as most was hypothetical.

The irony rattles the very jars into a pulpy mess if only because it contradicts what Einstein tried to impress. Stay curious, questioning, love the mystery. Conventional knowledge, though essential, is finite. Imagination is not. This is what Einstein embraced. Perhaps the lore of his brain in a jar, rather than say Plato‘s helps prolong the iconic myth.

As a boy, his father of course knew little Albert was gifted, and perhaps because the elder Einstein (an engineer) had failed at so many businesses, he insisted his son stay in school. He enrolled him in a school in Munich to pursue engineering, but Albert was frustrated with the educational system and clashed repeatedly with the authorities, resented their teaching style and further still wrote about how schools were essentially killing the creative spirit and curiosity of its students. He was 15.

”The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”

When I read this in Junior High School, I could finally relax; a simple statement that brought along a universe of vindication because I simply could not understand the entire educational process of rote learning. It was too easy, too boxed in, too impersonal. I realized I would have to find my own way intellectually alongside the traditional, through books, and by age 12, sitting in on lectures by Rollo May, Erik Fromm, B.F.Skinner, Timothy Leary, and Marshall McLuhan.

I was no genius, simply curious and frankly bored with school and given the number of times my by now gypsy mother moved, staying on track in class made me weary. Another school, another teacher, another set of young people I would somehow have to navigate.

Something Einstein ingrained in me and I hope to never lose is his insistence that we all stay curious, intuitive and of course, maintain our sense of humour.

After countless failed exams at higher learning institutions, and his works of genius being overlooked, he carried on anyway with his writing and exploring; at the Patent Office, the only place he could find a job. Funnier still, he was overlooked for a promotion because he had not "managed to grasp technology!"  Nonetheless, it was here, the now 26-year-old Einstein would develop some of his most radical notions. Unrecognized and working for pennies. Inspirational indeed.

It would be ten more years before he would be awarded the Nobel Prize, (for his discovery of the law of photoelectronic effect) but after he became famous, the world was no longer just a place to study; it had become his stage, the Universe his canvas and he made all of this relatable to us.

Traveling the globe and meeting new cultures was an enormous highlight in his life.

His works, books and various biographies became my anchors during the hard scrabbled years of my life. As though their very weight kept me from floating away into space as my family drifted aimlessly around the country. He was my kite string and I held on tight. He made the crazy seem sane. The insane seem okay.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger; who can no longer pause to wonder and strand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

Recently, while driving my own eight- year- old girls to school, I said, “Remember, imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Through the rear view mirror, I watch them both roll their eyes in that “Oh please, Mom, just drive,” kind of way, they said in unison, “Okay, Einstein.”

Rhonda Talbot on her love for Albert Einstein.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Halfway Decent Girl of Thanks

Just to a note to all of those who are purchasing my first novel, A Halfway Decent Girl, off this website. I was quite happy to receive orders and happier to send them out. Your interest means a lot to me.

All of this Amazon and other sites are so very complicated, and I like adding a personal touch. Sort of a virtual book signing.

Beating Heart

So thanks again as this helps me push forward to complete the next book. Getting there....

As all writers know, we need the occasional break and sometimes I just go to Russel Brands crib. He's super nice and gives me words of encouragement like "Hey then, you can do it. Right on." Btw, he has an awesome set up.

He has a view of a lovely Pepper tree, along with phone wires.  But still, I mostly just look at walls where photographs still need to be hung. Ideally I would like my desk to look like this.

But alas, it looks like this, or a teeny portion of it.

I should mention Melatonin is a lovely sleep aid when needed, it truly works. I keep it on my desk because I forget to take it sometimes and then I can't sleep which makes pushing the rock much harder the next day.

Insomnia has always been an issue since age ten, so if anyone has a solution, you will get a free book. And I will throw in one of my kids paintings because I sense they will be much more valuable with time than my own artistic endeavors.  Thanks again!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My night with Keith Richards

Years ago Keith Richards was my knight in shining armor.

Before I became an overly enthusiastic admirer and amateur historian of Keith Richards, I found myself sitting on the deck of the Hotel du Cap, having lunch with my boss, a prestigious director, a couple of producers from LA and two Rolling Stones.

It’s a rather amazing lunch experience all by itself if only because of the unnaturally beautiful and exquisite setting. The sea is turquoise; the sky is navy blue and the sun throws off a golden glow as though a handful of glitter was tossed down from the sky blanketing the entire affair.

Fun fat: the infinity pool had to be dynamited out of the cliffs and Edward the VIII’s dog is buried in their special celebrity pet cemetery.

Meanwhile, we were talking about a film project Mick Jagger and his team wanted to put together. I have no idea why Keith Richards was there. He sat at the head of the table, wearing a straw hat, a Hawaiian shirt, smoking a cigarette and said very little but would sometimes hum.

The producers were pitching this project about a fading rock and roll star that is given a 2nd chance. “This has Academy Award all over it!” I kid you not.

This line came from blowhard producer, Billy, who talked the most and kept ordering expensive liquor and pushing around the staff. I knew him from LA, never liked him. How he even got on the project was a mystery but that happens often in Hollywood.

I should mention the staff at this hotel is outstanding. These men will throw themselves over a puddle in order for you to cross without getting your shoes wet. And they all wear crème colored outfits that match the hotel. I loved them.

My mind started to wander as it does in pitches and Keith leaned over to me.

(You will have to imagine the accent because I can’t write it properly. He talks in a very distinctive way.)

 “Hello. I’m Keith. You a friend of the directors?”
“Well, not really, I’m more of production side.”

This made no sense. “Oh, I’m Rhonda.” 

"Help me Rhonda, help, help me, Rhonda," he sang. I mean Keith Richards sang at me.

“Yeah I get that a lot.”
“So you work with Billy? He’s one of the producers?”

Billy was shoving caviar in his face.

"No! No. I work with the Pierre, the French financier."

I wanted to confide in Keith, tell him I loathed Billy, that if he is involved this film will never happen because he is that big of an asshole.

“Good for you. Beautiful day, right?” And with that, he patted my knee, got up and left.

“Pleasure,” he said to the group and wandered off through the throngs of people.

Back then I was quite ignorant regarding the Rolling Stones, knew very little, so little I could really only think of a few of their songs and I always equated most of them with Martin Scorsese. Despite the fact that I had been to at least four of their concerts.  Now I have so many favorites, well I nearly covet them all.

That night as I headed back to the hotel, Billy was in the bar. The bar is essentially a big hangout for celebrities. There is also a whole older rich man, younger model thing happening too. I never went in there.


“Hey. Wanna get a night cap?”
“No Billy. I have work in the morning.”
“Well who the fuck doesn’t. I can give you some coke for when you wake up.”
“No. But thanks.”

He grabbed my arm.

“Have a drink. Jesus. How often are you in the South of France? At the Hotel fucking du Cap. Plus how weird we are here together.”
“Why is that weird? We are both on the film.”

“Okay, come to my room and let me show you some stills at least. You’ll be out of there in ten minutes.”

I reluctantly agreed, thinking if I didn’t go it might mess things up if this film were to actually happen. 

He opened his door like, voila, check this shit out. I have an expensive suite!

“Nice digs, right? View of the Mediterranean. Shame I’m alone.”

He had the eggplant suite. The hotel, as said, is amazing, but I found it funny he was in this room. Maybe why he needed to get laid so bad.

“Where’s your wife?”

“Oh, she stays back home with the kids.  Kick off your shoes. Take a hot bath if you want. There’s jellyfish salts in there.”

See why I despised this idiot? Also he looked like a combined effort of W.C. Fields and Gary Busey but with even bigger teeth. And he had small, creepy hands.

“There’s also a Jacuzzi with a velvet robe on the door. Should I order up some champagne?”

“I don’t drink.  So where are the stills. I need to get to bed.”

“Oh, I get it. You’re the kind of girl who likes to be taken. Being all coy, sexy, and quiet, but really saying, fuck me, I’m Catholic. I love that. Yes, no, yes, no. See… I’ve been around.”

Now I'm getting alarmed.  How much coke was this freak on?

Before I could grab my satchel, he had his clothes off. He pulled me to his naked body.

“Just give in. You want it. We’re in the city of love. With the Rolling fucking Stones!”

I pushed him back.

“Get away from me. This is not the city of love idiot.”

 He was standing there naked. And he was hairy. And I had to see that! Just gross.

I moved fast toward the door. He followed.

“I have a raging hard on. Look at my dick!”

“As if!”

“Come back! What are you doing? Everybody has affairs here! I don’t want blue balls.”

Running down the hall, I feared he might be behind me, so I bypassed the elevator and ran to the exit stairwell.

Because my company was French, they had all these deals with hoteliers and put me in an Eden-Roc suite, usually reserved for Tom Cruise, Royalty or the Pope. I have no idea why me.

Walking toward my room, clutching my leather case to my chest I must have looked somewhat disheveled.  Then there is Mick Jagger and Keith Richards walking toward me. 

“Hey. It’s you. The money bird. You a’right?” Keith asked.

I sighed. Should I tell them? But they’re guys. What would they care? Not just guys, but famous ones. Yet, who am I? But they seemed cool. And shouldn’t they know the kind of people they would be dealing with if the film moved forward? They had morals. I heard it in their music. I felt a moral obligation.

“Well, you know that guy Billy.”

They both nodded and rolled their eyes. I guess everyone knew he was an asshole.

“Well he insisted I come to his room.”
“Oh no, oh dear. What that bastard do?” Keith asked.
“Well he kept pulling on me, then took off his clothes and wanted to have sex. It was gross.  Anyway I kicked him and ran out of there. I hope I didn’t mess anything up on the film.”

“Oh my god no. What a cunt.” This was Mick.
“We’ll take care of it.” Keith said.
They both patted me on my shoulders.

“You want to come down with us for a drink?”
“No. I need to get up early. Sorry, I didn’t mean to slow your night down.”
“No worries. We’ll take care of it. Get some rest.”

“Thanks.” I smiled and all I could think about was how awful my outfit was; a cheap black skirt, a white T-shirt and a cardigan.  A smarter girl would know how to dress, have drinks with two rock stars and grow up! But I was scared.  I wanted to go to bed. I wanted to call my mom. 

“Don’t worry about it. Chin up. I’ll deal with it.” Keith said.

I cried myself to sleep, probably out of sheer exhaustion and disgust. Clearly, no hottie at the bar had interest in Billy, so hey, go try and seduce- rape that nobody film chick. 

But I did have a great bed. They have some special kind of thousand count Egyptian cotton sheets that make you feel loved.

Who wouldn't want to climb into that ever night?

I woke up to a wonderful breakfast of real coffee and croissants, then rushed to the hotel lobby to meet the director, my boss and the dreaded Billy.  We were all going into Cannes for more meetings on the project.

“Hi Prestigious Director. Where’s Billy?”
“Oh. He left. Some urgent business back home. Anyway, we don’t need him for the rest of this. Kind of glad.”

I will never know of course if Keith said something to Billy. Or got him fired, because he was no longer on the project.  But the film fell apart anyway.

 I did see Billy over time in LA at various functions and he was always a perfect gentleman, even once pulled out my chair at a charity dinner.


Now of course I know so much about the Rolling Stones. It’s impossible to write here how much I love this band and my level of appreciation for who they are and what they have accomplished.

And Keith. I fell in love with him after reading Life, which I’ve read twice.  His wit, intelligence, honesty, musical genius, humility and uncanny ability to stay alive astound me.  I only have a few living heroes in my life.  And he is certainly one.