Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bartlestein's First Fling

By Joseph Epstein, Commentary

LARRY BARTLESTEIN has played it safe all his life, and playing it safe has paid off. At sixty-four, he is a wealthy man, his two daughters are married, he has two grandchildren and another on the way, and he and Myrna will soon celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. In his set of friends, this last fact is nearly worthy of Ripley's Believe It or Not. There were lots of early divorces, and a number more when couples reached their mid-forties. Some had still not settled in. Bartlestein read in Chicago Magazine last month that his high-school classmate Joel Meizels, the real-estate developer, had just forked over $40 million to his third wife. The figure made him whistle. The two earlier wives probably hadn't done much worse.

To Bartlestein, playing it safe came naturally. He had been a passably good student in high school, majored in business at the University of Illinois, taken and passed the CPA exam, and married Myrna Perelman, his high-school girlfriend, soon after graduation. Myrna, who had gone to the National College of Education in Evanston, taught grade school for the two years that it took Bartlestein to get his MBA at the University of Chicago. A job offer from Merrill Lynch followed, but it involved moving to Dallas. It was around then that his father-in-law made Bartlestein one of those offers not many people could refuse.

Perelman Plumbing is a major manufacturer of sinks, tubs, and faucets in the Midwest, one of the four or five largest in North America. Irv Perelman, the first Jewish licensed master plumber in Chicago, built the business out of a small warehouse on Western Avenue, near Diversey, after returning home from World War II. A genuinely modest man, he retained the thick, callused hands of a plumber, grime permanently encrusted under his fingernails.

"Larry," Irv Perelman said when his daughter told him about their prospective move to Dallas, "what's it going to take to keep you two here? I'd like the business to stay in the family, and Myrna's mother and I like having our daughters close by." Myrna's older sister Susan was married to a dentist in Highland Park.

"What do you have in mind?" Bartlestein asked.

"I was thinking about making you a vice-president in charge of the administrative side of the company, and eventually let you run the whole business if you turn out to be good at it. Starting salary of $50,000 a year."

In 1966, $50,000 was serious money, more than twice what Merrill Lynch was offering to move Bartlestein to Dallas. Besides, Myrna wasn't eager to leave Chicago. Why not, Bartlestein figured? He told his father-in-law he was grateful for the offer, and ready to give it his best effort.

Irv Perelman was of the my-word-is-my-bond school. He had no craving for power or status or glory, and he felt no need to bully or lord things over his son-in-law or anyone else. He just wanted to turn out a good product at a reasonable profit. His employees, who after five years became automatically vested in the company's profit-sharing plan, tended to stay put, many for their entire working lives. "No need to be a pig," he once said to Bartlestein. "Run this business right and everyone will do OK."

Bartlestein spent long hours mastering the details of the plumbing business. When Irv Perelman turned seventy-five and stopped driving, Bartlestein began picking him up on the way in from Northbrook. Most mornings, Irv read the Trib and then, after he put down the paper, the two generally talked business: investing profits, enlarging the plant, designing a new line, patching up troubles. After much careful effort, Bartlestein had gotten the firm's less expensive sinks and faucets into Home Depot, which turned out to be a shrewd move. His father-in-law treated him without condescension, as if he were a full partner, which is what he made him on his 50th birthday.

One morning, on the drive down, Bartlestein mentioned that he was thinking of getting a new car, a Mercedes. His father-in-law came alive. "Do me a favor," he said, "and buy another kind of car." Bartlestein asked why. Irv, who never talked about his wartime experiences, answered that even today he didn't like to think about it, but his battalion had been among the first to liberate the Jews at Treblinka. "I don't consider myself a prejudiced man," he said, "but the least I can do to keep the sights of those days out of my mind is not to have to drive to work with my son-in-law in a German car."

Bartlestein bought a Lexus. He continues to buy a Lexus, a new one every three years. He has come to think the Lexus is the perfect car for him: dependable, not too showy, efficient, quietly luxurious. He has himself become a kind of human Lexus.

AFTER THE death of Irv Perelman--at eighty-one, of a heart attack, early one morning at his desk Perelman Plumbing has continued as a family business, with Lawrence R. Bartlestein as chairman and chief executive officer. Bartlestein has invested both the company's and his own personal profits well. He has twice been president of Temple Jeremiah. He is among the major contributors in metropolitan Chicago to the Jewish United Fund, manufacturing division. He golfs at Bryn Mawr Country Club. Myrna, a better golfer than he, regularly wins the over-fifty women's title at Bryn Mawr. His daughter Debbie is married to a cardiologist and has two children Of her own. Jennifer, his younger girl, married a documentary filmmaker and is now, after two fairly traumatic miscarriages, in her eighth month. Her husband Charlie isn't making his nut, so Bartlestein helps out with a couple of grand a month.

At his annual physical less than two months ago, Bartlestein was assured by his internist that he is in excellent health. He does the treadmill and rowing machines at the East Bank Club, his weight is about what it should be, and all his numbers--cholesterol, blood pressure, PSA, and the rest--are good. Financially, medically, domestically, he is in the black, in the clear, sailing in calm waters.

So the question is, what is Lawrence R. Bartlestein doing in his office at 6:45 P.M. on a Wednesday night slipping his hand under the blouse of a young woman named Elaine Leslie, a designer at Perelman Plumbing? Elaine at this moment has her hand on Bartlestein's belt buckle, loosening it with what seem like very deft hands.

Only minutes ago, Elaine Leslie was standing behind Bartlestein's chair as he studied the designs and production costs for a new mid-priced line of faucets, a project she had brought in for his comments. He felt her hand touch his shoulder, then go upward, massaging gently, her fingers raveling the hair on the back of his neck. He pushed his chair away from his desk, and before he had time to say anything she slid smoothly onto his lap, and his arms were around her. Presently she will descend to do unbidden what Bartlestein, head of a company whose estimated worth is well over $100 million, has never quite found the nerve to ask his wife to do.

Bartlestein feels himself trembling slightly as Elaine, moving quickly, removes her blouse and slips out of her skirt. Now they are on the floor, Ms. Leslie (as Bartlestein persists in thinking of her) directing the show. Bartlestein feels oddly detached, hugely excited yet curiously outside himself, looking in. He recalls that he is a grandfather. He has had back trouble of late, and hopes he will not throw something out of whack before this session on his office floor is over. Until now, he has never in his life slept with anyone but Myrna.

Earlier this year, Bartlestein had lunch with Eddie Jacobs, who handles his account at Bear Stearns. Eddie's third wife is in her early thirties, and, Eddie confided, he is sexually very active. That was the slightly bragging phrase he used, "sexually very active." Bartlestein's own sex with Myrna is and always was decidedly less so. He enjoyed it, and tried to be a patient and in no way brutish lover; Myrna was without expressed complaint. But after the first year or so of their marriage, sex had never been at the center of their life. When their daughters arrived, and his responsibilities at the office increased, most of Myrna's complaints were about the hours he worked at Perelman Plumbing. Bartlestein's adult life has been lived through a very sexy age, and he has tried his best not to be swept up in the craziness.

Bartlestein and Elaine Leslie are now lying on the Oriental rug in front of his desk, she on her stomach, he still on his back. He looks at his watch: 7:18. The Polish cleaning women, he knows, come on at 9. Clothes are scattered across the floor. He is still wearing his T-shirt and black socks--"executive length," as the saleswoman at Marshall Field's described them to him. Now they remind him of those ridiculous movies shown at the stag parties he used to attend for friends on the night before their weddings.

"What exactly are we doing here?" he hears himself ask.

"I believe there are several names for it," Ms. Leslie answers.

"I guess I mean why are we here?"

"For pleasure," she says. "It pleased me. I hope it didn't displease you."

Bartlestein feels complimented. "I'm still not putting it right," he says. "How did we get into this position?"

"I got us into it, Larry," she said. "It's OK to call you Larry, isn't it? I thought you could use a little relief."

Relief, Bartlestein thinks: interesting word.

They dress, and Bartlestein asks if she would like dinner; he can tell Myrna he has to entertain a customer at the last minute. She says no, thank you, but since her car is in the shop, she would appreciate a ride home.

On the way, Bartlestein finds conversation awkward. He asks if she grew up in Chicago and she answers New York, but she has lived here for almost twelve years. "I still think of myself as a New Yorker," she adds. "Can't help it. Being a New Yorker is like being a member of an ethnic group." This makes Bartlestein wonder. Is she Jewish? Her name doesn't give much of a clue.

Bartlestein drops her in front of her large apartment building on Armitage, off Lincoln Park. No talk about his coming up; no mention of their getting together again. Looking back as she closes the car door, she says, "Thanks for the ride, Mr. Bartlestein," forgetting to call him by his first name.

DRIVING HOME, Bartlestein attempts to decipher Elaine Leslie's motives. He rules out simple sexual attraction, at least on her part. Although, like all men, he still checks out every woman in sight, and figures he will probably do so on his deathbed, there is nothing of the flirt in him. He is careful to send no signals to his female employees, and has certainly never sent any to Elaine Leslie, who was hired not by him but by his father-in-law. He is without illusions about his own attractiveness; women, he knows, find him perfectly resistible.

Perhaps, Bartlestein thinks, still searching for motives, she views sex with him as a way of getting ahead in the office? Blackmail is always a possibility. A wealthy man with a settled home life, Bartlestein has put himself in a position where Elaine Leslie could do him real damage. His mind racing, he conceives the possibility of an office pool, with the prize going to the first female employee to bang the boss. Who knows?

He thinks back to the day when, near high-school graduation, he and Myrna first made love--"going all the way" was the name for it then, a phrase, it occurs to him now, that assumed there was no way back. Having taken her virginity and in the same moment given up his own, he felt, rightly or wrongly, beholden to her. In those days the sex act was not only exciting but a matter of the deepest intimacy, implying trust on every level. There was nothing trivial about it. Now, for Elaine Leslie, it was a means of relief. Which was the better arrangement? Bartlestein hasn't a clue.

He is not disappointed to discover that Myrna isn't home. A note in the foyer tells him she has gone to her book-discussion group at Sue Levin's. There's lasagna in the fridge, with instructions for warming it in the microwave. She may not be home until after 11, and will try not to wake him. Bartlestein, who gets up at 5 A.M., is usually asleep by 10:30. The note, as always, is signed "Love, Myrna."

Eating the lasagna quickly, Bartlestein moves to the bedroom where he checks his shirt for lipstick and his clothes for perfume, and--always the safe player--showers before getting into bed. He is sure sleep won't come easily but it does, and without any of the anxiety dreams that have plagued him since he turned sixty.

In the morning, Bartlestein looks over at his wife, her face, even in sleep, shining with kindness. He and Myrna don't confide in each other regularly; there are many things, chiefly business worries, that Bartlestein keeps to himself. But their marriage is built on being able to count on each other, on never being a cause of embarrassment, let alone humiliation. What happened last night, if it were to come out, could only cause her both.

Usually they have coffee and toast together, but this morning he decides not to wake her. After he has shaved and dressed, he kisses Myrna gently on the forehead, and tells her he is leaving a bit early. "Love you," she says, pulling the covers up and falling easily back to sleep.

IN THE office, checking Elaine Leslie's file, Bartlestein learns that she is 23 years younger than he, is a graduate of the Pratt Institute of Design, earns just under $70,000 a year, and is divorced with no children. She has been with Perelman Plumbing for eight years. According to the reports of the people she has worked for, she is excellent at her job. She is also, Bartlestein reflects, good-looking, dark, petite, and vibrant. Not to mention fine in bed, or on the floor.

The question is how to erase what happened last night. These days you have to be very careful about letting someone go, even someone who royally deserves to be fired, which Ms. Leslie clearly does not. Screwing the boss hardly qualifies as a reason, especially when the boss has put up no fight whatsoever; more likely it qualifies as grounds for a high publicity sexual-harassment suit.

Earlier, driving to work, Bartlestein wondered whether he might arrange to have her lured away by another firm, perhaps even fix things so as to pay part of her salary. He is on friendly terms with Teddy Mohlner, head of a rival and larger plumbing firm. What if he confessed to Teddy his "indiscretion"--that is the word he decides he will use--and asked him to take Elaine off his hands by hiring her for $20,000 more than she is now making. He would come up with the additional money out of his own pocket. Once the deal was in place, he could tell Elaine he had heard Mohlner was looking for designers and was willing to pay up to $90,000. Was she interested?

But now Bartlestein thinks: what am I, nuts? Imagine confessing his problem to Teddy Mohlner. Imagine signing up to pay twenty grand or more a year for the foreseeable future, all for a quick roll on the floor. Talk about dumb schemes!

"Hi. Larry Bartlestein," he finally says to Elaine Leslie on the office phone. "I think we should probably have a talk. Are you free for dinner any night this week?"

"Tonight I can't," she says. "But tomorrow night's OK."

"Great," he says. "You know Erwin's, on Halsted? How about we meet at 7."

"See you there," she says.

Bartlestein's heart is racing. How the hell did he get himself into this? He sees scandal, lawsuits, a divorce, his careful life going down the tubes. The problem facing him is how to disengage smoothly, without bad feelings and worse consequences, but his mind floats off when he seeks a solution.

AT THE bar at Erwin's, it occurs to the waiting Bartlestein for the first time that maybe he doesn't really want to disengage from Elaine Leslie. Doesn't he deserve a little time off for an entire life of good behavior? He can afford a lady friend, and what with his long working hours and frequent business travel he feels reasonably sure he could arrange to bring the affair off. Maybe it makes sense to let this business unfold, wind down of its own accord.

Erwin's is a restaurant with good food and a fairly low level of pretension. Hoping that he won't be seen, at least not by friends or business associates, Bartlestein has scanned the room with care. Elaine Leslie is only a few years older than his daughter Debbie. Seeing them together, would someone take him for her father? Better that, he thinks, than for some old guy chasing young broads, a sugar daddy. As he ponders whether people use words like broads and sugar daddy any more, Elaine walks up to him at the bar.

She is wearing jeans, close-fitting, and a red cashmere cardigan over a white T-shirt. Her dark hair, cut short and brushed back, accentuates her delicate ears. On them she wears simple silver ball-shaped earrings; on her feet, moderately high heels. Her lipstick is darker than what she uses in the office. Noting these things, Bartlestein thinks that Myrna, who jokes about his obliviousness to her clothes and jewelry, would be amazed at his powers of observation. He also thinks he would have a hard time convincing anyone that this young woman, dressed for the attack, is a niece from out of town, or a business associate.

"I don't know this restaurant," she says. "Looks like a good place for a tryst. Or are trysts only in the afternoon?"

"Good place for dinner, actually," Bartlestein says, "and for talk. What're you drinking?"

She orders an apple martini, something Bartlestein has never heard of. From a small bag she takes out a white box of long, slender cigarettes. Lighting one for her, Bartlestein feels he is in a movie from the late 1940's, which, he reminds himself, is well before Elaine Leslie was born. In fact, everyone in the restaurant seems young to him: the fellow who asked for his reservation, the bartender, the woman who has shown them to their table, the waitress who recites the list of the evening's specials. After the first two specials, Bartlestein can never keep track. Elaine orders a veal chop, he the swordfish.

"So," Bartlestein begins, as the waitress goes off. "What do you see happening here?"

"Between us?" she says. "I kinda think that's your call."

"I'm a lot older than you, I'm your employer, I'm married, I'm even a grandfather."

"Really," she says. "I don't think I've ever slept with a grandfather before. I certainly never slept with my own."

Her jokiness puts him off, but he persists. "Why would you want to waste your time with me?" he asks.

"Think of me as Florence Nightingale," she says, lifting her martini glass--tall, with a blue stem--in a toast to herself. "I like the idea of bringing comfort to the wounded troops."


"Maybe not wounded. Maybe stifled. I don't know, but when I was standing behind you at your desk, I felt an overpowering sadness, as if you were a little boy who always did what he was told and didn't have all that much fun doing it."

"I don't think of myself that way at all," Bartlestein says. "I think of myself as a lucky man, in lots of ways."

"I'm only reporting what I felt," she says. "Funny: you say 'think,' I say 'feel.' Difference between men and women, I suppose."

When their food comes, Elaine's veal chop is enormous.

"They don't spare the horses here," Bartlestein says.

"Let's hope they do," she replies with her quick smile.

Bartlestein is impressed by the way she tucks into her food. Myrna, who worries about her weight, nowadays rarely eats anything but salads and fish, and never much of either.

"How do you eat like this and stay so slender?" Bartlestein asks after she has polished off the chop, the potato, the broccoli, and a large salad, and ordered a dessert of chocolate mousse and raspberries and a double espresso.

"The torture of exercise," she says. "The choice for me is simple: jog five times a week or buy my clothes at maternity thrift shops."

"Which reminds me to ask, if it's not too personal, how come you've never had children?"

"Pretty personal," she says. "My ex-husband turned out to be a child himself, and since he didn't show any signs of growing up, I didn't see much point in raising another one. There's another reason. I had an alcoholic mother. I'll spare you the details, except to say that my dad took off and left my brother and me in her very shaky care. When your own childhood has been a misery, you think hard before bringing more children into the world. At least I did. Still do, actually."

BARTLESTEIN FINDS himself touched by this young woman. He learns that her younger brother died in a car accident. She went to college on Long Island, to a school called Adelphi that he had never heard of. To help pay her way, she had waited tables. She wanted to be an actress, but auditioning made her too nervous. She had always been good at visual art, had an instinctive sense of design, and was able to get together a portfolio that won her a scholarship to Pratt. Her marriage, she tells Bartlestein, lasted four hellish years.

What Elaine described was a life lived pretty much on her own. How different from the case of Bartlestein's own daughters. Mostly thanks to Myrna, the girls had been carefully guarded and ushered through a gentle girlhood ending in safe marriages to Jewish boys of roughly their own background. They had been backed up all the way. Elaine Leslie flew solo, and was still doing so. Bartlestein admired that.

"You know," he says, driving her back to her apartment on Armitage, "we really haven't talked about the purpose of this dinner."

"You mean the purpose wasn't strictly nutritional?" she says.

"I mean where we're going."

"I think I'll let you decide that," she says. "I understand your situation is much more complicated than mine. If you want to put a stop to things now, we can do that, too."

"You're an amazing kid," Bartlestein says, pulling up in front of her apartment. "But maybe you already know that."

"I do," she says. "But it's nice to get reinforcement." She gets out of the car before he can come around to open the door for her. "Have to be up early," she says, looking in, "I work for a real tyrant. Thanks for dinner."

On the drive home, Bartlestein feels exhilarated, youthful, high and happy as he hasn't been for years--decades, really. He knows men whom he thinks of as terrific chaos managers. At the East Bank, he occasionally runs into Jack Meltzer, a friend from high-school days. On his fourth marriage, all of them to much younger women, Jack has twice declared bankruptcy, is in serious hock to the IRS, and at one point had mafia goons after him for too-slow payment of juice loans. Yet he shows no obvious traces of stress. At the club he still takes more than his share of shots at half-court basketball, flirts with women, tells jokes at which he himself laughs the loudest.

Bartlestein is not like that. If a shipment is delayed or profits are down by a half-point from last year, he can't sleep. How he has avoided ulcers is a mystery. "Know your limitations" was one of his father-in-law's great mottos, and Bartlestein, taking it seriously, had discovered his early on. He needs his risks to be carefully calculated, his days to be orderly, his life to be routinized. Take care of the details, he believes, and the larger matters will take care of themselves.

Are we talking about a mid-life crisis here, Bartlestein wonders? He had never put much stock in the notion. Men of a certain age become interested in younger women and want to drive around for a while in red convertibles. Not much crisis there, it seemed to him, just random desire conquering good sense. So isn't he entitled, too? At sixty-four he is already well past mid-life. Hasn't he earned a last--make that a first--fling?

Details, it is all a matter of details, and details are Bartlestein's specialty. If he could master the details of the sink-and-bathtub business, surely he can master the details of a relatively simple love affair without stirring up trouble. True, the stakes are high. If he is caught at it, Myrna will never again regard him in the same trusting way; she might even want a divorce. He will lose the respect of his daughters and their husbands.

Before he turns off the freeway at the exit for Dundee West, he has decided not to break things off with Elaine Leslie.

"LARRY," MYRNA says as soon as he enters the house, her voice shaking, "I've been trying to reach you for hours."

Bartlestein takes out his cell phone. He'd turned it off before going into the restaurant.

"What's the matter?"

"It's Jen. The baby was stillborn, strangled on its umbilical cord. She went to the hospital by ambulance, but it was too late. Larry, it's horrible. Almost full term, and now this nightmare." Tears are in his wife's eyes. She embraces him. She sobs, clutching at him. Bartlestein holds her, rubbing her back slowly in a circular motion. He tries to block out everything he has been thinking on his ride home. The thought crosses his mind that his own behavior may have had something to do with his daughter's misfortune.

Bartlestein does not think of himself as religious, but he leads his life as if cosmic justice prevailed. A man does good, and good is likely to be his reward. The reverse is also true--not always, not inevitably, but mostly. He knows there are thousands of exceptions, but somewhere firmly lodged in his mind is the certainty of cause and effect, of acts having roughly predictable consequences, of people getting what they deserve. Somewhere, an accountant keeps a fairly careful record.

"Dr. Oberman says that Jen isn't going to be able to have children, ever," Myrna says. "She's heartbroken. The hospital put in a cot, and Debbie is going to spend the night. Thank God Jen won't be alone."

Bartlestein's mind, usually so concentrated at moments of business crisis, is scattered. Despite himself, he can't help comparing his wife, her makeup ruined by tears, body slumped in grief, eyes red, exhausted by her daughter's suffering, with Elaine Leslie's youthfulness. He feels a perfect son of a bitch; and he feels his own age.

EARLY THE next morning at Highland Park Hospital, Bartlestein finds his daughter sitting in a chair near the window. Her older sister has gone home. Her mother is coming in later. Jennifer is his perennially troubled child. True, until now her troubles, though real enough to her, have been minor. She needed glasses, then braces. Her skin wasn't as good as Debbie's. She turned out to have a bit of a learning disability, and needed remedial teachers in grammar school and special tutoring later on. She sulked through adolescence, her sadness strong enough to send her to a therapist. She was unhappy with her nose--the Bartlestein nose, high-bridged, nostrils flared. Bartlestein didn't protest when Myrna said it should be fixed.

Nothing has seemed to go easily for Jen. Maybe because of this, Bartlestein loves her even more than her sister, though he tries never to show it. He loves her more because she needs him more.

"You OK, baby?"

"I'm OK, Daddy," Jen says, and her eyes begin to tear up.

"How's Charlie taking it?"

"He's been great. He's talking about adopting. I wanted my own children so much." All her efforts at bravery collapse, her head drops to her chest, she begins crying. "Why me, Daddy? Why always me?"

Bartlestein holds her, kisses the top of her head, rubs her back as he did her mother's last night, mutters over and over that everything's going to be all right. He feels her thinness through the robe. He stays for twenty minutes, holding his daughter's hand, neither of them saying much. He leaves after hugging her at great length, feeling inadequate.

Will this inability to have a child become the story of his daughter's life? Maybe he has raised both his girls too protectively. He has done everything he could to make them safe, has been the net over which they flew. Except they never really quite flew, not even Debbie; they never even quite got off the ground. They are conventional girls-decent enough, not mean or selfish, but in no way out of the ordinary.

But then, Bartlestein thinks, neither is he. Through cautiousness he has ventured little while gaining much. He has concentrated all his energies on his business: making and selling sinks and tubs and faucets. But what has he given up in return? Passion is what Bartlestein feels missing from his life. If he lived more by his instincts, he would already have begun to let his affair with Elaine Leslie play itself out, to see where it led. But he doesn't live by his instincts; he lives by rules, by repression and self-sacrifice, by fear of shame and worry about guilt, by what he has always taken to be moral principle. At the moment, he doesn't feel particularly moral.

On the floor of his Lexus, Bartlestein notices a small suede bag. Opening it, he discovers lipstick, a tweezers, a small mirror, a compact. It must belong to Elaine: lucky thing he didn't take his wife to the hospital. It's only a little past 7:30, so he decides to drop the bag off before Elaine leaves for work.

On the freeway, his cell phone rings. Myrna.

"What do you think?" she asks anxiously. "Is she going to be all right?"

"She's obviously very depressed. It's understandable enough."

"What terrible luck!" his wife says. "She wanted this baby so much."

"Rotten luck," Bartlestein agrees. "Crappy, crappy luck."

"We have to stand by her, Larry. Jen's going to need a lot of help."

"Right," Bartlestein says. "Look, babe, I'm just getting off the freeway. Call you later."

Bartlestein finds a parking spot half a block from Elaine's building. Ringing her up from the lobby, he's answered by a man's voice. Bartlestein says he has Elaine's cosmetics bag. The owner of the voice says she's out jogging but he'll come down to get it. A minute or so later, a young guy, tall, in shorts and a tank top, a baseball hat worn backward on his head, greets Bartlestein.

A relative of Elaine's, Bartlestein asks?

"No, a friend. Scott," the young man says with a smile, putting out a hand for Bartlestein to shake. He has large good teeth, very white. Bartlestein, a grinder in his sleep, has lost four teeth on the lower left-hand side and now wears a bridge.

"Thanks," the young man says. "I'm sure Ellie will be glad to have this." As he walks away, Bartlestein notes his long sun-tanned legs and athletic calves.

BARTLESTEIN GOES through his day, takes meetings, deals with suppliers over the phone, answers correspondence. Part of his plan is eventually to leave the business. He has thought he'd probably sell it to one of his larger competitors. What exactly he will do with the time available, he doesn't know. He'll find something.

Actually, until meeting Scott, he had been thinking that one of the things he might do was to show Elaine a few bits of the world in an expansive, expensive way. Now, he is thinking about his foolishness in imagining this could ever have happened. At a little past four, his secretary buzzes that Myrna is on the phone.

"Larry," she says, speaking quickly. "Bad news, but everything's OK."

"Myrna, be clear, please."

"Jennifer stuffed a fistful of pills down her throat. Thank God they got to her in time." Myrna is sobbing.

"My God!" Bartlestein says. "What do we do now?"

"I don't know," she says. "Please come home right away. I need you. We all do."

Bartlestein drives in a dark rain along the Kennedy expressway. Myrna's last words on the phone had been, "You're so good in emergencies, darling." Vaguely, he wonders if he will ever create an emergency or two of his own before he leaves the earth. But that is not his role. He tries, without much success, to imagine his daughter's despair as she grabbed and gobbled down those pills.

A list is forming in his mind as he turns off the freeway. He will press ten grand on his son-in-law to take Jennifer on a vacation once she has her health back. He'll find the best shrink in the city for handling this sort of post-partum problem, if post-partum depression is what Jen is going through. He'll call Marry Cohn, his lawyer, to see what he knows about adoptions in China, in Korea, in Guatemala, here at home. He'll look into the business of surrogate mothers; another lawyer he knows, Henry Waller, has made a minor legal specialty of this. Naturally he'll pay the expenses.

Tomorrow he'll call in Elaine Leslie. In his office he'll tell her that, pleasing as the prospect is, his life is too complicated just now for them to continue seeing each other. He'll mention serious family troubles, not going into any details. He will always be grateful to her, he'll say, leaving unspoken what, exactly, he is grateful for. What he is truly grateful for, he realizes almost with relief as he pulls into the driveway, is that she showed him a kind of life he is now certain he could never lead. He pauses for a second or two as the engine of the Lexus dies away, breathes deeply three times through his mouth, and heads for the house. It's a little past 5. Marty Cohn never leaves his office before 6:30. Might as well call him now, Bartlestein reasons, his spirits picking up.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

10 Tips for Freelance Success

1 Show-that you care about your target markets
"Showing that you care" means understanding the publication you're writing for--and demonstrating that understanding.

Freelancer and former magazine editor Judy Keene explains: "When I was an editor, the quality I valued most--and found least--was an almost perfectly honed sense of my magazine's voice: its tone and point of view, our readers' needs, knowledge of previously run material, etc. I had a couple of freelancers who knew the publication and our audience almost as well as I did. When I saw a query from one of them, I knew before even reading it that I was going to find something absolutely on target. Barring something similar in the works, their assignment rate was close to 100 percent."

2 Be a team player
"For editors who ask reasonable things, I am more than willing to help out," notes freelancer Margaret Littman. "That's what you do for your co-workers in an office setting--and that's the way I think of editor/writer relationships. If I learn a fact or see an item that I think may be of use to that editor, regardless of whether or not I think it will turn into an assignment for me, I'll pass it along, just as I would in an office. Being willing to be a team player makes editors more likely to call me with assignments."

3 Stay in touch during the down times
Writer Elizabeth Johnson makes it a point to contact one of her editors even when she's not working on an assignment. "Every few weeks, I drop her an e-mail letting her know that I'm available. Sometimes she'll call me back in day or so with an assignment. Recently, she didn't have any assignments for me, but because she knew I was available, she passed my name on to another editor at the publication, who had a feature she needed to assign. If was a surprise story for which I wouldn't have been considered if I didn't keep in regular contact."

4 Follow up on your assignments
"When I e-mail a finished story to an editor, I always follow up a few days later just to make sure it was received, if I haven't heard anything," writer Dara Chadwick notes. "If I run into a potential problem on a story, I'll usually let the editor know way ahead of the deadline. Many times, I'm able to work around the problem and still meet the deadline. But I think most editors appreciate knowing."

5 Mind the details
Integrity and accuracy are the traits that keep many editors going back to the same freelancers. That means finding reliable, authoritative sources and checking facts.

"Notice the deadline," adds Meg Guroff, a feature editor at AARP The Magazine. "I know I'm supposed to say, 'Always meet the deadline,' but, frankly, most of the best writers I know have deadline problems. Writers who blow past the deadline without comment cannot be trusted with work in the future, but a chagrined phone call a day or two ahead saying the first draft will be a little late is not always a catastrophe."

6 Be patient
Many magazines receive hundreds of queries every week and don't always have staff available to review them. Holidays, sick days, vacations, office meetings and overall work flow all play a part in how quickly an editor can respond to a new story idea or a completed assignment. As a result, it can sometimes take six to eight weeks for an editor to get back to a writer just to say "No thanks." Sometimes--thanks to the internal approval process--it can take even longer to get a go-ahead. In such cases, patience is a virtue. Even so ...

7 Be persistent
Go-aheads also can take a while at AARP The Magazine. Guroff adds, however, "I'm much more likely to keep pushing [in-house on a writer's behalf] if the writer checks in periodically, without a hint of aggravation. Besides reminding me of their idea, this also demonstrates that the writer will be good at tracking down potentially reluctant sources. Same goes if you've turned in copy and haven't heard anything in a while." Don't be afraid to keep knocking, politely, until you get a response.

8 Be willing to revise
When writer Sal Caputo turned in his copy for a bridal magazine's new advice column for grooms, he learned he still had some work to do.

"Apparently, I was a little too irreverent," he says. "The editor wanted more Everybody Loves Raymond than Saturday Night Live. I took a deep breath and said, 'Let me take another crack at it.' When I handed in my revised version, the editor called to say that she and the publisher were exceptionally pleased with the column. It looks like I'll have a new steady gig with her magazine."

9 Offer something surprising (in a good way)
"Don't use all the good stuff in the query," freelancer Wayne Curtis suggests. "Leave out some fun surprises for the final piece." That way, your brand-new, well-polished manuscript won't feel like old news to the editor who has been living with your query for a month or two.

If he's really got a jump on his story, Curtis will sometimes surprise his editor by submitting his first 200 to 400 words a week or two before deadline, "just to give the editor some comfort and to allow the art department to start thinking."

10 Show that you care about your work
"We don't change things just for the sake of changing them," Guroff says. "So if a story comes back to you repeatedly with questions and changes, it's because it needs more work before it will fit well in our magazine. A writer who sees such feedback--or pretends to see it--as a chance to perfect the piece makes me happy. Someone who turns in a draft and says, 'Do what you want with it,' or tends not to know the answers to follow-up questions off the top of his or her head--indicating a minimum of curiosity about the subject--scares me."


Thursday, October 26, 2006

What, Me Worry?

An industry leader explains how a climbing mishap helps him keep fear in check.

Paul Gagner, president of Sierra Designs and Ultimate Direction, wasn't always a corporate honcho obsessing over sales figures and marketing schemes. In July 1995, deep in the Canadian Arctic, he had more elemental concerns: He wondered if his climbing partner, Rick Lovelace, would eat him if he happened to die first.

They had just put up a first ascent on Walker Citadel, a 4,000-foot granite wall on Baffin Island. They called their 26-pitch climb Superunknown, which is exactly what they got into upon their descent. To their dismay, they found that the sea ice had broken up, blocking their intended over-ice hiking route back to the nearest settlement 70 miles away. stranded with antiquated maps and no radio, their survival was both a waiting game and a race against starvation.

BP How did you find yourself in such dire straits?

PG On all my other trips--the Himalaya, Alaska, Patagonia--there was always someone I could call for beta. For Baffin, there was nobody. I got some broad info from Conrad Anker, and that was it. Locals said it had been a warm spring and that the sea ice was melting, which shortened the window for our climb. Then with high winds, our climb took a week longer than expected. Our plan for returning to Clyde River was to ditch our climbing gear and hike across the frozen fjord. Our outfitter would pick up our gear after breakup, so no one was scheduled to come get us. Our plan B was to traverse the edge of the fjord, but the terrain was a minefield of crevasses. Our maps weren't accurate, and while we had a compass, we were so close to magnetic north that it didn't give us precise info. We had no GPS and no radio. We returned to basecamp hoping that when we missed our flights home, people would come looking.

BP Did you think you were going to die?

PG We waited for rescue for 2 weeks; one without food. I lost 20 pounds and felt like I was floating out of my body. We got pretty weak--it took all my energy just to pee. We took a photo of ourselves in front of our climb (see above) and joked it might be our last. Rick is stockier than me, and I asked "Hey, are you going to eat me if I go first?" We made light of it, but sitting there for 2 weeks, going through scenario after scenario, it could get grim very quickly if you let it. But we never really felt we wouldn't make it.

BP What did it feel like to hear the boat that finally rescued you?

PG A river near us made noise, which sounded to us like a boat engine. That was frustrating as hell. But this one time, the pitch was different, and it clicked: This is a boat. We bolted up, looked out the tent door, and saw three angels on a boat coming toward us. Relief. It made everything we'd been through feel worthwhile. The guys were hunters who spoke no English, but it was easy to communicate our gratitude--and our hunger. I'd been a vegetarian for about 6 years, and I was ravenously hungry. We had caribou stew.

BP What did you learn from this epic?

PG Be confident that there will be successful conclusions and make smart decisions toward that end. No freaking out! I tell my employees, "Look at El Cap; know that the goal is to stand on top of it. But break that down into stages you can attain." Right now, I'm working on restructuring our business in Japan, which I could really thrash around about--it's a big job. But you've got to look at a bite-sized goal first, like who our partners will be. Intense situations build character and stock your toolbox for real life.

By Shannon Davis, Backpacker

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Vexing Success Of Avandia

Some 18 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes, and 41 million more are at high risk of developing the disease. A newly published study finds that the "at risk" group can cut the odds of developing diabetes by 60% if they take Avandia, a pill used to treat the disease. The results create a conundrum for doctors, however: Diet and exercise can lower the risk by the same amount, without the potential side effects of a daily pill. "But lifestyle changes have limited usefulness because so few people are willing to make them," says Dr. Jill Crandall, head of the diabetes prevention program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Avandia is made by GlaxoSmithKline, which also sponsored the research. For three years the study followed 5,269 patients in 21 countries with impaired glucose tolerance, half of whom were given Avandia.

Reporting in The Lancet, the researchers projected that 144 cases of diabetes could be prevented for every 1,000 pre-diabetics treated with the medicine. The patients on Avandia did have a slightly higher rate of congestive heart failure, which specialists said could limit its effectiveness. At about $170 a month, the drug could also be costlier than lifestyle changes. But as Crandall notes, insurance companies are more likely to pay for the drug than to cover the costs of a dietician or fitness trainer.

Copyright The McGraw-Hill Companies, Copyright 2006

Survival of the Fittest

How working out saved David Lee Nall's life--in more ways than one

Reportedly Men's Fitness, some people just try to survive their workouts, while other people survive because of them. David Lee Nall, of Austin, Texas, is in the latter group: He credits exercise for not only giving his life joy and direction but also helping him sustain it.

A skinny kid growing up, Nall didn't have many friends or a constructive pastime. "I was also dyslexic" he says, "and I got D's and F's in high school." Smoking pot and getting into fights caused the cops to visit Nall at home more than once, and he found no outlet in sports. Osgood-Schlatter disease, a rare genetic disorder characterized by pain in the joints associated with growing too quickly, prevented him from almost any physical activity. "I went from 5′6″ to 6′1″ almost overnight" says Nall of his teenage development. "My knees ached for days whenever I tried to run, but my doctor told me I could lift weights."

Unlike the pounding and jerky motions that running and other sports would subject him to, weight training was easy on his knees and could even improve them by strengthening the muscles around the joint. Psyched to have found an activity he could take part in, Nall threw himself headlong into lifting.

"I got up to 222 pounds at 6′3″," says Nall, and he competed successfully as a 'bodybuilder in regional shows. "And I started to care about learning. Dyslexia had made me hate reading, but I read my first book when I found Arnold Schwarzenegger's Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. I just kept reading it until I could comprehend the words."

Upon graduation in 1994, Nall was spending almost all his time in the gym. At 18, he took a job cleaning up his local Bally's club. A few years later, he married and earned a reputation as a brilliant club manager, ultimately overseeing several gyms in the South and Midwest. However, he was growing tired of the politics involved in operating a successful gym and, seeking a more lucrative occupation to support his wife and newborn baby, ended up buying in to a franchise office-cleaning service.

Though no stranger to long hours, Nall started logging 90-hour weeks running his new operation. He stopped working out, and protein shakes gave way to sodas with every meal--and cake and cookie dough weren't far behind. Nall swelled to an unsightly 245 pounds and 25% body fat.

But the ultimate impetus for change came with Nall's discovery of a lump on the side of his belly. Though a surgeon told him it was a benign tumor, he warned Nall that he could have more. "That was my wake-up call" says Nall. "I was only 27. My son was 4, and I wanted to see him grow up."

In December 2004, Nall learned of a local natural bodybuilding competition and made it his goal to compete again. He started eating smaller, superhigh-protein meals throughout the day. (The rest of his diet was moderate in carbs and low in fat.) In the gym, he'd train heavy one week and light the next, forcing his muscles to keep adapting.

In six months, Nall was down nearly 50 pounds. His waist had returned to a svelte 32, and he had a dean bill of health from his doctor. By May 2006, he was ready to compete, and he took second place at the contest, weighing 186 pounds. Saved a second time, Nall, now 30, knows he'll never again lose his fit habits. "Months later, I'm at 4.1% body fat--even better than I was in the contest!"

Maintaining his incredible appearance has even gotten Nall noticed by several fitness-modeling agencies, and he hopes to appear in an upcoming ad campaign. But he also knows it's not all about him. "My son works out with me. He's 6 now, and I got him a mini exercise bike and bench with foam weights on it" Nall is even training people again, all the while still growing his business. "Everything in my life changed when I started working out. I only hope that my transformation can inspire other people to have the same experience."

Stick With It
How soon will you see results? Depends how long you've been training.

We all know it can take weeks before you see any measurable progress from your workouts. But if you give up beforehand, you won't see any progress. That said, if your program is on track, here's about how long it will take to yield good gains.

Almost immediately. Your nervous system learns to recruit more muscle fibers every time you repeat an exercise, so strength gains should come regularly (especially if you're a beginner or coming back from a layoff).

If you're relatively new to lifting, six to eight weeks. Once your nervous system has recruited all the fibers it can, the fibers themselves enlarge, creating bulk.

A month. The body can shed water weight in just minutes, but to lose fat safely without losing muscle is usually a pound-per-week process. Depending on how much you're trying to lose, four weeks should give you noticeable--and maintainable--results.

By Sean Hyson

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tricks For Halloween Treats

Did you know that each American eats an average 11 of 25 pounds of candy a year? That's a lot of sweet stuff. It can be fun to trick-or-treat and then pig out on candy. But you have to admit that it can also leave you feeling … icky. Here are five ways to enjoy a healthier, happier Halloween.

Instead of going candy crazy all night, limit the number of houses you go to and get just a few pieces. Then settle in with friends and watch a scary movie.
Pace yourself by creating a schedule. For example, you can choose to eat eight pieces of candy on Halloween and then one piece a day after that until it's all gone. Or decide that you will eat no more than three pieces a day for a week.
Separate your candy into three piles: what you really like, what you sort of like, and what you couldn't care less about. Then give away all but the first pile.
Stay in and make your own healthy Halloween recipes with friends. Try this recipe for
Bloody Finger Pizza. You'll need: • chopped red bell peppers

• low-fat string cheese sticks

• cooked pizza crust

• pizza sauce

Spread pizza sauce on cooked crust. Arrange cheese sticks on the pizza. Then place bell pepper pieces at tips of cheese to look like fingernails. Heat in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cheese starts to melt.

5 Skip Holloween candy altogether this year. Instead, trick-or-treat for charity. Ask people for loose change in place of chocolate. The United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, is a popular and well-known organization that helps children in need worldwide. Go to or ask your teacher to order collection boxes for the whole class. Helping others will make you feel better than eating a box of candy.

Source: Current Health 1, Oct2006

Sex Tricks For Experienced Girls Only

You aced Bedroom Basics 101, and now you're ready for graduate-level get-it-on instruction. Complete our advanced amorous assignments and he'll be begging to be the teacher's pet.

• "Overall, my sex life is pretty fantastic," says Beth Rarchart(*), a 26-year-old travel agent. "But still, I'd kill for some new moves. And I would love my orgasms to hit new heights."

Yes, even those of us who routinely earn A's in bedroom basics can up our pleasure by mastering a fresh trick or two. That's why we're having open enrollment for Cosmo's Sex School--the only place where you'll learn how to increase your passion proficiency in every sensual subject from Dirty Language Arts to AP Penis Pleasing. Our top-notch ecstasy instructors--real women and sexperts--will provide you with the hot and heavy homework that will help you graduate with orgasmic honors. Just commit our hooky notes to memory and you're sure to be ranked number one in bedroom fun.

SULTRY SUBJECT 1 Dirty Language Arts
You already make him melt with your sexy moans, groans, and bad-girl dirty talk. But after a while, he might get too used to the same old vixen vocabulary. So we came up with new lusty wordplay games that will quickly grab--and hold his attention.

"Write naughty words on his back with your fingers for a fun change of pace," suggests Ava Cadell, Ph.D., Los Angeles sexologist and author of Stock Market Orgasm (Peters Publishing, 1999). "For example, draw the word lick on his skin using a sexy touch. Have him guess the word you drew. Once he gets it right, do that to him." Take turns drawing on different body parts. You'll be amazed how erotic the back of your knee and other overlooked areas can be.

Jennifer Hooper, a 26-year-old dance instructor, shares a different form of carhal communication. "After months of talking dirty to my boyfriend in bed, I wanted to try something racier," she says. "So one night, I borrowed one of his porn mags and started reading the X-rated story that accompanied one of the nudie layouts. The plot was about a horny girl who has her car fixed by an even hornier mechanic," Hooper's man was immediately turned on by the sound of his woman's voice uttering these wicked words. It didn't take long before she had to throw the magazine down because he was all over her!

Turning him on? That's easier than study hall. You know exactly how to rub, kiss, and lick your man before the real action begins. But you can make that pre-sex period even hotter by spicing things up with a little pre-boink bondage.

"Because it builds anticipation, gently tying him up is a great way to heighten sexual arousal," says Lady Green, author of The Sexually Dominant Woman (Greenery Press, 1999). Use a soft bathrobe sash to tie his hands together behind his back, she suggests. You want the knot to be comfortable but firm, so he can't get out of it easily. Then stimulate his hot spots in ways only you know how.

Candi Harris, a 25-year-old bartender, has a similar S and M way of firing up her boyfriend. "I wear black thigh-high boots and a naughty teddy to set the mood," she says. "Then I fasten his hands together and blindfold him for a little game called Tease 'n' Tie." She begins her seduction by slowly licking his chest and nipples, then she stops for a few seconds. "Next, I stroke his penis passionately until he's fully aroused," she says. "Then I completely stop again. Not knowing what I'm going to do next really drives him wild, to the point where he's begging me to untie him. And when I do, he returns the favor--and then some."

SULTRY SUBJECT 3 AP Penis Pleasing
Sure, you know how to wake up his willie. But how do you make a major impact on his member? Here are a few penis projects that will put him in absolute awe of your creativity.

First, grab a hair scrunchie that's not too tight. "After he's fully erect, wrap it around the base of his testicles and the base of his penis [wrap it twice if it's too loose]," explains Cathy Winks, coauthor of The New Good Vibrations Guide to Sex (Cleis, 1997). "Make sure the scrunchie is tightly secured, but not so tight that it's uncomfortable." Once your passion prop is in place, stroke or kiss his penis. Don't be surprised if he moans more than usual. "That extra squeeze at the base of his genitals keeps the blood trapped inside his erection and causes pleasurable pressure," says Winks.

Another prizewinning penis move? "During oral sex, I'll give him a hummer," Michelle Conrad, a 24-year-old bank teller, says. "I put the first two inches of his erect penis in my mouth, and I make a low, vibrating noise in the back of my throat." Meanwhile, she uses her hands on the bottom of his shaft and testicles for extra stimulation. "He thinks I'm a genius!"

SULTRY SUBJECT 4 Climax "G"-ography
So, you have reaching your passion peak down, but are you doing everything you can to climb even higher? Expand your big-O know-how fast by finding your G-spot, the hidden happy button you may have heard or read about.

To begin your horny homework, bring his penis in contact with your G-spot by getting in the woman-on-top position and leaning forward slightly. When you're about to climax, reach down to the middle of your pubic hairline and press in with three fingers, Think of that area as your G-spot on the outside. (If you don't feel anything, press a few inches higher or lower until you do.) "Massage it using a firm circular motion," suggests Barbara Keesling, Ph.D., author of Discovering Your Sensual Potential (HarperCollins, 1999). "You'll feel G-spot stimulation from the inside and the outside, which can intensify your orgasm."

But don't stop there; you can still break even more big-O records. Just use your other hand for clitoral stimulation while you rub your G-spot externally and his penis hits your G-spot internally. This triple-play is bound to bring on an outof-this-universe "blended climax," which involves both clitoral and G-spot stimulation. "Women who have had this type of climax say it's the most intensely pleasurable sensation there is," says Keesling.

Marge White, a 25-year-old optician, uses this double-whammy orgasm technique often. "I feel waves of excitement inside and outside my body--and my orgasm lasts longer," she says. "My husband is totally turned on by my A-plus abilities."

"My Passion Professor"
Real women remember the sex-perts who gave them an unforgettable hands-on how-to-do-it tantalizing tutorial.

• "His name was Dave, and he was a pro at foreplay. We'd make out for hours, bringing each other to the brink of orgasm, then backing off. Finally, when we couldn't stand it anymore, we'd have intercourse. Dave taught me that liming is probably the most important element in incredible sex."

--Corette, 25

• "When I was in Paris, I had a fling with a hot Frenchman. We'd have mad, animal sex in elevators, on the beach, and behind the bleachers in a public park. He added an adrenaline rush and excitement to sex that I had never experienced before. Now I'm not afraid to pounce on my current boyfriend in bar bathrooms or while we're in the car!"

--Elizabeth, 23

• "My boyfriend got me past my fears of oral sex. Before, I could never enjoy receiving it. I was worried about my smell and taste. He reassured me that he loved kissing me down there. As a result, I began having the most intense orgasms of my life."

--Joani, 27

(*) Names have been changed.

By: Kemp, Kristen, Cosmopolitan

Friday, September 29, 2006

Ford Motors: an underdog story

A new documentary on Ford shows the reality behind the turmoil

Inside a dim boardroom at Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich., senior executives are negotiating with unlikely partners: documentary filmmakers who want full access to the company so they can expose Ford's problems and post the footage online. "There's no secret," one of them says. Mark Fields, executive vice-president for North and South American operations, sits forward in his leather chair. Camera operators circle in front of him, a boom mike hovers overhead. "The one thing we're trying to do throughout this organization is rip out the BS, rip out the political posturing, and get the issues out on the table, and have constructive conflict," Fields says. He smacks his hand on the table. A cameraman interjects, "No fear about letting it all hang out?" Fields shoots back, "The American people love the truth. And they love an underdog. That's us."

At least that's how the company is trying to position itself in the eyes of consumers, and the Ford Bold Moves online documentary is all part of that plan. The film launched in June as one piece of a new advertising campaign, and in the 11 videos posted since this introductory "webisode," production company Radical Media Inc. has interviewed gloomy detractors, union workers and even executives, all of whom bemoan the company's biggest problems -- deteriorating market share, dull product design, overproduction and rising costs. "Ford is obviously in a challenging environment today and in a difficult business situation. We don't necessarily think it's the time to sing and dance," says George Rogers, president of advertising agency JWT Detroit, which developed the campaign. "It's designed to demystify what's going on in Ford. We're telling the inside story about [the company's] turnaround."

That turnaround, dubbed the "Way Forward" plan, was announced in January by then-CEO Bill Ford (who remains chairman) with the pledge to close 14 plants and cut 34,000 jobs by 2012, but it has been wholly unimpressive. (This plan replaced another ineffective restructuring strategy that Ford proposed when he took over the company in 2001.) In the last quarter, Ford lost US$254 million, and its shares sit at around $8 today, down from an all-time high of $37 in 1999. "[Ford] cannot afford to post losses forever," Jay Palmer, a senior editor at Barron's, warns in one episode. What's more, its U.S. market share has continued to drop for more than a decade, and Toyota Motor Corp. is aggressively threatening to take over Ford's place as the No. 2 auto manufacturer behind General Motors Corp. According to Kevin Tynan, an analyst with Argus Research Corp. in New York, Ford's market share has fallen to 17.9 per cent so far in 2006 from 19.1 per cent last year; Toyota has climbed to 15 per cent. "We're in trouble because we sat still while others ploughed ahead," says Robert Shanks, vice-president and controller for the Americas, in one video.

Ford's complacency in creating energy-efficient vehicles comes up repeatedly in the documentary. "Ford has the worst fuel efficiency of any automaker in America," charges Jennifer Krill, director of Rainforest Action Network's zero emissions campaign, in an episode, adding that its products consume some 1.8 million barrels of oil every day. While its perceptive competitors invested in innovative technologies and hybrids, Ford has hoped that the success of its sports utility vehicles and F-Series trucks (which currently constitute 30 per cent of the company's annual sales) will continue indefinitely. As Richard Kassel of the Natural Resources Defense Council says in the doc, "Ford has a business model that depends on selling gas guzzlers at a time when people don't want gas guzzlers," whether that's because of environmental concerns or the increasingly expensive price of gas.

And, adds Tynan, Ford's dated production models means that the company is unfortunately set up to mass-build one kind of vehicle rather than various types of customized products, which is the way he sees the market shifting. "You have more brands, more technology, more options, so to drive the cookie cutters is not necessary anymore." Where other car manufacturers have taken risks with unique designs, Ford has created similar versions of the same mass-market vehicles for decades. "The cars that are being produced now have no style to them. They all look the same," complains Anthony Dettore, a collision repair centre owner, in one episode. Ford's attempts at cutting edge design get watered down, and "so you go to the market with vanilla instead of rocky road," admits Hau Thai-Tang, director of advanced product creation at Ford. As Fields puts it in one episode, "We have to get that design mojo back. Today it's about what does the customer want, not what does the factory need. And that's a big change for Ford."

That kind of blunt honesty is disarming, but Bold Moves does manage to promote many of the changes happening at Ford. The rebirth of the Mustang Shelby GT500 is documented with nostalgia and frothy anticipation as a hedge against GM's Camaro reincarnation. The latest F-Series trucks are sentimentalized by customers whose grandpappies also drove a Ford. Cabbies bid enthusiastically for fleets of Ford Escape hybrids (new to the product mix) that will save them money on fuel.

The webisodes don't, however, take on some of the most interesting recent developments at Ford. To date, there is no "inside story" on the new CEO, Alan Mulally, who was lured over from Boeing Co. earlier this month. While he will likely understand the manufacturing side of the business, Tynan wonders if Mulally will appreciate the importance of giving customers what they want. "You and I jump on an airplane and we don't really have a choice what kind of plane we get on. But I certainly have all the power when it comes to choosing what kind of car I drive," he muses. Mulally's arrival could also blunt the advantages of a proposed Ford alliance with Nissan-Renault, which was partly attractive because it would have given floundering Bill Ford access to Nissan's star CEO, Carlos Ghosn. There have been no videos about Ford selling off its luxury vehicle brands such as Jaguar, Lincoln or Volvo. Nor is there any coverage of Ford's August decision to cut fourth-quarter production some 21 per cent, to its lowest level in 25 years.

The effectiveness of Bold Moves, says consultant Alan Schulman of Brand New World in New York, lies in its ability to reveal truths to consumers in an emotional way. "This will cause someone to say, 'I'm rooting for these guys.'" But he is cautious about Ford putting too much effort into ads, and not enough into its cars. "The greatest advertising in the world can't sell you a product you don't want."

By: Gulli, Cathy, Maclean's, 9/25/2006

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Cooking-class tip from exec: Add right spice, get blood boilin'

THERE ARE people who love to cook.

And then there are those who see cooking as a form of foreplay.

Shari Stern, by day the director of natural and organic products at Haddon House, conducts couples cooking classes-with a twist.

Bulletin: Dessert may be served in the boudoir.

Starting as a fill-in for another chef in 2003, Ms. Stern conducted a couples cooking class, and one thing led to another. "At the time I was reading 'In the Devil's Garden' by Stewart Lee Allen, which contains history and folklore on aphrodisiacs. I thought it would be a relevant topic. … It was a success, and word of mouth spread, and soon I was getting called to do the classes for private parties.

"It wasn't long before a certain spice began being referred to as 'naughty nutmeg' in my classes. It's a heat-producing spice … gets the blood moving."

Class participants are encouraged to bring a sense of humor to the front burner. "I once did a class called 'Latkes With Libido' where I took traditional foods for the Hanukkah holiday and made them sexier. I made Latkes With Libido [potato pancakes] with a ginger curry coconut sauce, Let's Get It On Kugel [a noodle pudding stuffed with goat cheese, rosemary and honey-soaked figs] and Tooty My Fruity Jewish Apple Cake [traditional Jewish apple cake with brandy and cardamom-soaked apples]."

It's not like this is new ground, the 32-year-old foodie said. "I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to culinary history and nutrition. I always have been.

"As I started to look more into aphrodisiacs, there are cultures all over the world that linked food to fertility, sex and love.

"I do believe that aphrodisiacs had a place in history. In the days before Viagra, fertility drugs … people had to seek out foods that had nutritional properties beneficial for reproduction. Or they may have needed a stimulus to get them in the mood. We know today that infertility is a common problem. … If you've been on a diet of potatoes and onions, how likely are you going to conceive a healthy child?"

Beyond her cooking classes at the Restaurant School in Philadelphia, Ms. Stern also conducts classes in homes.

"I bring a four-course meal. Luckily, the trend is big, open kitchens that lead into another room with no separating wall, which makes cooking demonstrations easy.

"In between each course, I talk about the aphrodisiac properties and talk about how the foods were prepared. Everyone gets to take home recipes. This way has been working well because I find that people attend mostly for the food and the fun aphrodisiac stories."

Ms. Stern related the story of a dessert called A Little Less Conversation-bananas with chocolate rum sauce. One participant, "a guy in his 70s, who had been devoted to the bottle of wine he brought along, explained he and his wife had actually signed up for a Mexican cooking class but somehow ended up at the aphrodisiac class instead.

"Then he said something he probably shouldn't have: 'I'm not sure about these aphrodisiacs, because at my age you just use hope.'

"The class laughed hysterically, but his wife shot him a glare and elbowed him. … He'd be spending the night on the couch."

Ms. Stern recommends small portions and lots of color.

"Mixing colors and flavors … and sharing off a common plate is good," she noted. "I prepare a sexy Ceviche, which I serve in a champagne glass topped with lime wedges and tortilla chips.

"The colors of seafood and bright vegetables, burst of citrus and heat from peppers is very invigorating," Ms. Stern noted with a wink.

• Devoted to a worthy cause? Found a great summer hideaway? If you have a fascinating Off Hours activity, describe your passion in an e-mail to Mike Ryan at

Shari Stern
Director of natural and organic products, Haddon House

A recipe that will make you feel good all over:
Pasta: 1 lb. fresh or frozen fettuccini
Cook according to instructions, al dente
1/2 cup strawberries
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
Five fresh basil leaves and three for garnish
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Salt to taste

By: Ryan, Mike, Advertising Age, 8/28/2006

A fair assessment of captors

Jill Carroll's account of her ordeal is riveting. As someone who just returned from seven years of teaching in Egypt, I appreciate the accuracy of her details in verbally illustrating her captors. While I found many people in Egypt virulently against American government policies, I felt that their political views did not taint the way they treated me personally.

I appreciate Jill's fairness in her ability to recognize this quality in her captors (despite going through such a horrendous ordeal) and to write so honestly about her experience. What she points out is the paradox between what her captors believe is "doing right" for their country and "following God's will" in their cause, and what they know to be right - as their culture and religion dictate - in how they should treat another human being, particularly a woman.

Marrin Robinson
Marlboro, Vt.
Jill's journalism: personal, informative

I want to thank you for publishing this very important story. Often extreme stories like this can be told to gain readership. I am a journalism major in my senior year in college. Jill's account of her experience is one that is not only personal but informative, giving the reader insight into a world we only see on television. Her intellect, spirit, and bravery set an example for humanity.

In addition, hers represents the kind of journalism that should be practiced by all news media. Thank you again for not exploiting her story and presenting it in a way that honors her strength and courage.

Leslie Carleton
Jupiter, Fla.
Warm wishes from a marine

I just wanted to contact you as a man, a father, an American, and a marine to let you know how moving the Monitor's series on Jill Carroll's captivity is. I met Ms. Carroll briefly in Husaybah, Iraq, as a combat correspondent attached to the 6th Civil Affairs Group. It is here that Ms. Carroll had the conversation with the platoon commander in Part 3 of the series, where he said a platoon of marines would come for her were she ever captured. While we could not effect her rescue, it was, in fact, a company of marines who eventually captured some of her abductors. That was somewhat satisfying.

It was a punch in the gut seeing Jill's face on screen while I was eating at a chow hall in Al Asad - safely in the rear area, eating a warm meal while this woman I had only briefly interacted with was pleading for her life.

I wish her all the best of luck and my deepest and most sincere wishes that she is able to recover from her protracted captivity and the death of her friend and interpreter, Alan Enwiya. As a father, I also extend to her parents the relief I feel at her safe return. God bless you, Jill! You showed courage and strength I only hope I possess.

Stephen M. DeBoard
Jacksonville, N.C.
2nd Marine Division, Public Affairs

Will the series affect other hostages?

I have been following Ms. Carroll's story chapter by chapter. I appreciate the reporting of her story. But I wonder if she has considered, by reporting the fact that she felt mistreated (even though her captors went out of their way to make her a sympathetic victim), that it would influence the treatment of current hostages?

I understand that hostages have been tortured and killed before Ms. Carroll's ordeal, and I am by no means putting this on her. It is just something that is in the back of my mind when I read this. I think she is very, very brave, along with this paper's staff, to report this.

Theresa Russell
San Diego
Grace in handling the critics

Dear Jill: After an ordeal as wrenching as your kidnapping, your ability to present the complexities of the region as clearly and as fairly as you have speaks volumes to your intellect and talent as a journalist.

While watching the interviews of you responding to e-mails from the public, I was enraged by the person who labeled you a fraud and a traitor.

My heart went out to you as you struggled to respond, and then, with a grace and aplomb that I would never have managed myself, you presented one of the most eloquent and magnificent defenses I have ever heard of the free press.

And you respectfully but firmly reminded us all of the responsibility we have to seek out knowledge to inform our decisions.

You have said that you are not a hero. Ms. Carroll, I most respectfully disagree. You are a shining example of the best aspects of the human spirit.

Hans Utz
San Francisco
Keep correspondents from harm

War correspondents have taken risks and risked their lives for decades. Danger does go with the territory. That said, I think the current trend toward putting correspondents in harm's way, be it hurricanes or terrorists, is a bit overboard. We could manage with less coverage, or less in-depth coverage, and save a few lives.

News organizations that choose to do otherwise should be willing to pony up the dollars to hire security and be sure that their employees are safe.

Please inform Jill Carroll that my family and I prayed for her every day of her captivity, and I urged the group of senior citizens whom I pastor to do the same. She was never far from our thoughts during those weeks of captivity.

Michael Ross
Forest Grove, Ore.
Was the media blackout a good idea?

While I can certainly see why the Monitor felt a news blackout would help ensure Jill Carroll's safety, and why other news agencies voluntarily went along with it for a time, I think it was wrong.

People must know the news that they are given is as complete, as accurate, and as objective as possible. Any reason for a weakening of that bond of trust, even a reason like this one, is not reason enough to break the faith journalists have with the public.

It's not an easy issue, and I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision. Nonetheless, I want my news untampered with; in fact, I depend on that.

Don't limit the facts I'm told for my own (or someone else's) good; that's not your decision to make.

Janet Margul
Plano, Texas

I'm glad the media did black out the news in the first hours. It is absolutely the right thing to do if it might save a life. I just wonder if the media would have been as cooperative if the hostage had not been a journalist, one of their own.

Jim Allison
Naperville, Ill.
How to counter religious fanaticism

I just read the first five parts of the Jill Carroll story and was prompted to offer my thanks and congratulations first and foremost for Jill's safe return, and, second, to all involved in this poignant and worthwhile read.

The juxtaposition of the brutality of the murder of Jill's translator with the sentiment one of the captives showed in trying to console her while she was crying illustrates something quite foreign to me as an American reader.

But it comes as no surprise that there is humanity in even the most ruthless of killers, and it is this appeal to a person's humanity that will eventually win the war on religious extremism at home and abroad.

This conflict that claimed the life of Alan - and nearly the life of Jill - cannot, will not be won through strength of arms, but by the soundness of our morality and our unwavering commitment to it.

Russell Claus
Lewisville, Ohio

To overcome religious extremism, religious leaders throughout the world need to promote the ideals of tolerance of other beliefs. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all branches of the same form of monotheism, and all follow the golden rule.

They need to promote the concept that religious beliefs are personal and are not something that becomes a divisive force in their relations with other human beings.

John Hodgkins
A chaplain's gratitude for Jill's release

My unit was blessed to have Jill Carroll spend a number of weeks with us last fall. Her professionalism and dedication to her calling impressed not only this chaplain, but every member of 3rd battalion, 6th Marines.

I am so thankful for the successful end to her captivity and for this message she is now able to communicate to the world.

Praise the Lord for Jill, her family, and the Monitor family who stood by her. Thank God for His love and answered prayer.

Bryan Crittendon
Virginia Beach, Va.

Source: Christian Science Monitor, 8/28/2006

Chenga's Last Comp

"If you build it they will
come…" To hell with Kevin Costner and baseball. That phrase is the best possible way I can describe the legacy known as Chenga World Skatepark. There was NO scene in Ohio in the mid 90s. Dave Shafer and Scott Powell changed all that. Two goofy flatlanders saved their money from doing shows at Sea World all summer and dumped it into a filthy building in North Ridgeville, Ohio. Ten years later riders from alt over the country came to pay last respects to a park that changed BMX. The very last Chenga contest went down on December 4th and 5th and it was quite an event. Old-school rock stars like Adam Banton, Jamey Spritzer, and Jeff Harrington were seen riding along with the new-school kids like Dustin Bauer, Shanton Wilson, and Morgan Wade. I didn't get that "contest" vibe the whole weekend. It was more like an awesomejam where everybody was going off.

It was awesome to see so many people that Chenga has helped nurture. Riders like Mike "Hollywood" Brancato, Jason "Dorito" Perz, Shanton Wilson, and Bryon Striker. We are forever grateful to the Mecca known as Chenga World for changing our lives. That place was "the first park" for thousands of people. Friends were made, tricks were learned, and our love for this crazy thing called BMX grew deeper. The contest was sick, with Chenga local Dorito taking the win with lines you can only find after countless hours of riding Chenga. Hollywood won Pro Mini. He is another classic case of what riding Chenga every day will do to you.

The contest was amazing, Morgan did a nosewheelie-to-barspin over the box. Joey Hill won best trick with a barspin-to-fuf-to-barspin on the infamous Chenga sub. Dorito 720'd the box long ways, hit his head on the ceiling, and still pulled it. It wasn't about tricks, though. It wasn't about the 1,400 smackers for first place. It was about making that trip to Chenga one more time for good friends, great riding, and amazing times. Thanks go out to Scott and Dave for making Chenga a reality, Mate Wessel building paradise, and all the people behind the scenes at Chenga (Kerry, Afro Pat, Chuck, Dominic, Cico. Doll, Jeff ), and most importantly, all of the riders out there for supporting a rider-owned park that gave us all ten years of the best memories ever.

results PRO PARK
Jason Pen
Morgan Wade
Shanton Wilson
Dustin Bauer
Ben Hittle
Tony Cardona
Tony Hamlin
Dane Wild
Jaimy Spreitzer
Mark Potocsny
Jaimy Spreitzer
Jeff Harrington
Nick Bonner
Zack Warden
Kris Kumhiro
Nathan Powell
Billy Howard
Kris Marcum
Joel Barnett
Joey Hill (barspin-to-fufanu-to-bar spin on a sub)

Andy Chapman
Brandon Dosch
Eric Doll
Jeff Sylvain
Steven Blake
Scott Carlson
Brett Robinson
Chris Bansemre
Chris Chambelan
Tony Smith
Kyle Dailey
Jimmy Barnicle

By: Yankush, Zack "Catfish", Ride BMX

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Funny Situation

Funny Situation (Photo)
Funny Situation (Photo)
Funny Situation (Photo)
Funny Situation (Photo)

9 SILLY Pet Tricks


Swinging through the trees? Leave that to Tarzan. Momoko the macaque seems more at home water-skiing! Standing on a four-foot-long board with handlebars, this playful primate zips across the water of the Setonai Sea as she's pulled by a boat going nearly 20 miles an hour. Owner Katsumi Nakashima brought home baby Momoko from a local shelter and introduced her to the water during boating trips. Nakashima gently towed Momoko as she stood on the board, then gradually increased the speed. Soon the macaque could ski faster than most humans. And speed is important: If the boat moves too slowly, gets bored!

These pets like doing tricks, but your pet may not. Never force your pet to do a trick it does not want to do.

Talk about toeing the line: Zoe the tuxedo cat can pad across two side-by-side wires suspended four and a half feet in the air--and she hasn't fallen yet. "We taught Zoe the trick by placing her on the same end of the wires where her treat was," says one of Zoe's trainers, Rob Bloch. "Then we slowly moved her farther and farther away from the reward." That way, the cat had to walk across the wires toward her favorite snack, usually chicken- or beef-flavored baby food. "We try to stay away from turkey" Bloch says. "That makes her too sleepy!"

Sabrina the English bulldog hasn't earned her driver's license, but she can certainly cruise around on four wheels! After watching kids ride a skateboard one day, sporty Sabrina ran after the board and pounced on top of it. But even more amazing was that the pooch stayed on the board as she zipped down the block. "Sabrina rides just like a person," says owner Jeanette Chaidez. "She puts one or two of her paws on the ground and pushes off to build up momentum" She can even fly down a six foot-long skateboarding ramp at a local park. There's just one problem: "She'd skate all day if we let her," Chaidez says. "So sometimes we have to hide her skateboard!"

Ms. Prissy the Chihuahua never takes a "paws" when it comes to this trick. The tiny pup performs a one-pawed handstand in owner Gary Noel's palm. "I'd hold her back legs while she was in a handstand position to build up her front muscles," he says. It wasn't long before Prissy learned to life up her left leg and perch in this paw stand. Now she can hold the move for more than five seconds--and that's pretty much the only time she's not yapping. "Even though she's the smallest of our dogs, she thinks she's the biggest and the baddest," Noel says. She barks louder and acts tougher than dogs ten times her size!"

Maybe he's just wearing four very lucky horseshoes, but Hotshot the horse has no problem hoofing it onto a seesaw. Trainer Gerald Easley built the 1,200-pound horse's first seesaw by placing a sturdy wooden board on top of a metal pole lying on the ground. "I coaxed Hotshot on top of the board so that he was balanced in the middle, he says. Once Hotshot found his footing, Easley raised the board 16 inches off the ground with a new metal support (left), and the horse moved the seesaw up and down by gently nodding his head. Some animals might say "neigh" to this tough trick, but for Hotshot, it's merely horseplay.

Most cats avoid water, but Ice Breaker the bengal house cat can't get enough of the wet stuff. This H20-friendly feline surfs small waves along the South Florida coastline. Ice Breaker revealed his talent when he was just a kitten. "We put him on a boogie board in the pool and pulled him around," says owner Jackie Essa. "It was raining, but he loved it." Soon Essa brought Ice Breaker to the beach, where he rode real waves atop a bigger boogie board. But even when the cat isn't at the beach, he still finds a way to play near the water. "All I have to do is turn on the shower," Essa says. "He comes running!"

If Kiri the Congo African gray parrot ever gets tired of flying, she can skate wherever she needs to go. To learn the trick, Kiri first stood on the roller skates, just to get comfortable. "I put blocks in front of Kiri's feet so the skates wouldn't move;' says trainer Tani Robar. Then Robar used a foot-long rod attached to the front of each skate to gently pull Kiri forward, one skate at a time. Soon Kiri could push off and move her feet without Robar's help. The bird can even skate in a full circle! Her reward? A little bite of a peanut. Guess you could say she's one nutty bird!

When he travels by car, Striker the border collie always insists on getting the window seat. That's because this clever canine can roll down a car window! Striker learned the trick after owner Francis Gadassi accidentally locked the dog--and the keys--inside a car. Using words that Striker recognized, such as "paw" and "nose," Gadassi prompted the pooch to push the hand crank up with his nose and down with his paw. It took Striker 15 minutes to open the glass a few inches so Gadassi could rescue him, but now the dog can lower an entire window in just under 12 seconds. This dog's really on a roll!

He may not be a famous pop star. but Dinky the dingo sure can belt out a tune! After innkeeper Jim Cotterill helped rescue young Dinky from a trap in the Australian outback, he noticed that his new pet liked to "sing" along with the piano. When guests would play a song, Dinky would hop on top of the keys and howl a tune to match the notes. "A group of musicians told me that Dinky actually has pretty good pitch" Cotterill says. "When the notes go higher, so does Dinky's voice."

By: Pressner, Amanda, National Geographic Kids

Saturday, July 29, 2006