Sunday, June 27, 2010

Just for fun: Dead End Jobs Mystery Movie

I'm having so much fun catching up on "The Dead End Job Mystery Series" by Elaine Viets (see my prevouis post Fun Fictional Females) that I've conceived and cast the movie version -- if only in my dreams.

Really, though, this would be a wonderful franchise.

Plus -- the cast is age-appropriate and attractive. I should have been a casting agent.

As Helen, the stubborn heroine who ends up in Florida working dead end jobs for cash to evade her ex-husband, Rob: Academy Award Winner Sandra Bullock ("The Blindside," "Crash," "Miss Congeniality.")

As Phil, Helen's mysterious neighbor: Brendan Fraser ("Crash," "The Mummy", "Bedazzled.") There's more to Phil than meets the eye.

As Margery Flax, Helen's street smart land lady who keeps her secrets: Helen Mirren ("Love Ranch," "State of Play," "National Treasure Book of Secrets.")

As Peggy, Helen's neighbor who's never without her avian companion, Pete the parrot: Debra Messing ("Will & Grace," "Along Came Polly.")

As Cal, Helen's notoriously cheap Canadian neighbor who spends only enough time across the border to qualify for national health care: Jim Carrey ("Yes Man," "Bruce Almighty.")

Is what's good for the gander really good for the goose?

The pairing of older men with much-younger women has been a standard practice on the silver screen dating back to the days of Bogie and Bacall.

With age gaps of as much as 20 years, what could such couples have in common? Sometimes these pairings appear silly, unlikely, or just icky.

But, what about when the situation is reversed and a older woman is paired with a much-younger man? Would the same critique apply?

In other words, to twist an old expression, "Is what's good for the gander really good for the goose?"

While thumbing through some back issues of Entertainment Weekly, I found a couple of films that made pairings of stars who are close in real-life age. I find this much more realistic and workable. I hope it's something we see more of.

"Love Ranch" Joe Pesci, 67, and Helen Mirren, 65 opens in limited release Wednesday, June 30. Watch the trailer here:

Is this film feminist? Maybe not. Is it exploitative? Possibly. Who cares? Not me -- I love this pairing and the example it sets -- and the question it raises: "Is what's good for the gander good for the goose?"

FYI: Helen Mirren is married to Taylor Hackford, 66, the film's director.

Another great on-screen pairing is my birthday twin, Tina Fey, 40, and Steve Carell, 48, in "Date Night." I think they look great together.

Look for "Date Night" on DVD August 10. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer:

News Flashes

Free AIDS testing this week

from the Detroit Free Press

Today, Sunday June 27 is National AIDS Testing Day.

Twenty-five percent of Americans who have AIDS don't know it.

AIDS Partnership of Michigan will provide HIV testing and syphilis screening Tuesday from 5-10 p.m. at 1959 East Jefferson in Detroit.

Visit for other testing sites.

Good news for coffee, bad news for tea

from and UPI

According to a 2009 Harvard Medical School study that tracked coffee habits and strokes among 83,000 American women for nearly a quarter century, drinking coffee lowers women's risk of stroke by 19%.

Women who drank one to three cups of coffee a day reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 24%, although it was noted that this benefit diminished as the quantity of coffee rose above three cups. Other recent studies have shown that coffee is protective against certain brain tumors, endometrial cancer and advanced prostate cancer.

And yet ...

Women who drink tea may increase their risk of rheumatoid arthritis, U.S. researchers say.

Drinking any amount of tea was associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis but the researchers found no increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women who drank coffee.

Neither the method of coffee preparation -- filtered vs. unfiltered -- nor the presence or lack of caffeine showed any significant associations with rheumatoid arthritis.

"It is surprising that we saw such differences in results between tea and coffee drinkers," Christopher Collins of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, said in a statement. "This does make us wonder what it is in tea, or in the method of preparation of tea that causes the significant increase in risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis."

The study -- involving 76,643 women ages 50-79 taken from the 15-year Women's Health Initiative Observational Study database -- used statistical hazard models to determine whether tea or coffee consumption was associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system harms the body's own healthy cells.

Afghanistan lacks health care, education and security for women
Average life expectancy is only 44 years

from Epoch Times

Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be pregnant according to a report on maternal mortality by the Afghan Ministry of Health, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for disease control and prevention.

In Afghanistan one woman dies every 27 minutes from a pregnancy-related condition that is preventable, in most cases, with access to medical care and health facilities.

Only an estimated 14% of Afghan women received skilled medical attention -- such as a midwife -- during labor and delivery.

Afghanistan also has the highest infant mortality rate in the world and the second highest maternal mortality rate according to the U.S. Government's statistics.

In fact, the average life expectancy for women in Afghanistan is only 44 years.

An estimated 87% of Afghan women are illiterate and girls fear going to school for lack of security.

Violence targeting women and girls is widespread and rape is a frequent problem. Rape is underreported and concealed, according to Norah Niland, chief U.N. human rights officer in Afghanistan. It affects all parts of the country, all communities, and all social groups.

One in three Afghan women experience physical, psychological, or sexual violence at some point in their lives and often find themselves prosecuted for adultery rather than the perpetrators.

As a result of the oppressive atmosphere, an increasing number of women in Afghanistan are choosing suicide as a way to escape violence and abuse.

In 2008, more than 80 women tried to commit suicide by setting themselves on fire in the province of Herat -- many succeeded according to a human rights report prepared by Canada's foreign affairs department.

Beaumont Hospitals name Carbone first woman, physician COO


Dr. K. Bobbi Carbone has been named executive vice president and chief operating officer at Beaumont Hospitals.

She will join Beaumont July 26 as the first physician as well as the first female COO in Beaumont's 55-year history.

Dr. Carbone was previously the chief clinical operations officer at Memorial Hermann Health Systems in Houston, Texas.

She earned her medical degree at the University of Wisconsin, held a residency in anesthesiology at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, and a fellowship in cardiac anesthesia at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Carbone also has a master's degree in business administration from The Wharton School of Pennsylvania and a bachelor's degree from Amherst College, Amherst, Mass.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On aging, longevity, and immortality

I recently interviewed Lake Orion resident Eddie Bird who turned 103 this month.

Read the article here:

103 and counting The Oakland Press 23 June 2010

On the theme of longevity, here is an interesting interview from today's "The Takeaway" show on NPR (WDET 101.9 FM in Detroit.) It's an interview with Jonathan Weiner, author of the book, "Long for this world: The strange science of immortality."

Is it possible for many more of us to live past 100 -- like Eddie -- or even longer? Do scientists really understand aging? These are just some of the questions answered in this amazing segment:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Poetry Podcast: "Personal" and "Preference" by Beth Gylys

Listen to the poems here:

About the poems:

The personal ads.

That's how we used to hook up in the 1980's and 1990's before there was eHarmony and chat rooms.

Beth Gylys' poem "Personal" reminds me of those days gone by when we quaintly spelled out our likes and dislikes and waited for someone to respond. First they came in letter form, and later via voice mail. Then, we picked and chose.

Gylys is very specific about what she wants and doesn't want. Her poem comes right to the point.

Then, there's "Preference." This poem is about the expression of intimacy. It takes different forms with different couples. It's about knowing what feels good and teaching your lover what feels good then putting it all together.

This poem is so smooth you can feel it on your skin.

Both poems were selected from Gylys' collection "Bodies that Hum" for which she won the Gerald Cable First Book Award. The collection was published by Silverfish Press in 1999.

About the Poet:

Currently, Beth Gylys is a professor of English and creative writing at Georgia State University. In addition to "Bodies that Hum," Gylys also published her collection "Spot in the Dark," which won her the Journal Award. It was published by Ohio State University in 2004.

I also found Beth Gylys' "High Five," an essay where she discusses her favorite poems and poets.

"(I) decided to focus on five poems/books that were important to me at the beginning stages of my writing career-some were central to my understanding of self as writer before I even had any idea I/one could actually BE a writer in the contemporary world. All five poets I discuss below are writers whose work transformed my notions about what poetry could do and be," she says.

Read Beth Gylys'"High Five" in its entirety.

Print copies of "Personal" and "Preference" and sample other poems by Beth Gylys at Boston Review: A political and literary forum.

Beth Gylys' poetry collections are available at Prices range from $7.46 - $26.95.

One special dad -- a story just for Father's Day

This is a story of coparenting in action.

Happy Father's Day from Chester Wyatt's daughter.

Stay-at-home dad loves his job -- The Oakland Press 20 June 2010

Ecofeminist Excursions: The great snapping turtle adventure

It was a quiet Sunday morning at the Rolfe house until Chris returned from a short run to the store and told me, "There's a huge turtle on the lawn down the street."

It's rather ironic that he would encounter a turtle, because we just sponsored one at the Lloyd Stage Nature Center in Troy.

Of course, I had to go see for myself.

This was one big turtle. It was very prehistoric looking with a long tail and a huge head almost the size of my fist. Chris and I tried to determine if it was a "snapper" a.k.a the common snapping turtle or chelydra serpentina.

Some sage advice I received while studying biology at Oakland University -- "If you come upon a snapping turtle -- turn around!"

Instead, I stayed to her back and gently probed her with a dry flower stalk to see if she would snap at me. She didn't. Her head went down, but not all the way into her shell.

I continued to probe her back legs -- very carefully -- with my finger. This should have been a give away because snappers can't retract and her legs remained outside the shell. Still, I remained clueless.

Our neighborhood is not an ideal place for a turtle. First of all, there's traffic and she could be run over by a car. Second, many of our neighbors use chemicals on their lawns that are not healthy for turtles and other living things, and third, the only water source is a drain that runs through our subdivision.

So, the Rolfes performed a turtle intervention -- probably against the advice of most wildlife experts.

Chris went back to the house and returned in his truck with gloves and a large tub we use to mix potting soil.

I donned the gloves, picked up the turtle -- which was surprisingly heavy -- and set her in the tub. Together we rode home in the truck bed.

She was strong and tried to escape the tub. I had to gently restrain her until we reached the house.

She never once hissed or snapped at me. Hmmm ... maybe this wasn't a snapper. Could this have been someone's pet?

Now what? I don't know anyone who does turtle rescue.

We tried to think of a place that would make a better home for her.

We loaded her -- with some effort -- into a large cat carrier and transferred it to my car. We headed north.

We wanted a quiet, relatively safe place where she would have water, plenty of food, and minimal human contact.

We found that place to be Bear Creek Nature Park in the Charter Township of Oakland. The 107-acre park is a snapshot of the township's landscape before it was settled in 1827 and radically changed by humans.

Here was the perfect turtle habitat.

We found a secluded marsh area, opened the carrier, and set the turtle down in the mud. She eventually made her way into the water and submerged. Her head bobbed to the surface once, then she was gone.

When we returned home, Chris logged onto the internet.

"What kind of turtle do you think that was?" he asked me a few minutes later. On his laptop's screen was a picture of Michigan's largest turtle -- the snapper -- who looked just like our new friend.

"You're lucky you still have your fingers," Chris said.

She might have been a female ready to lay eggs -- that would explain why she was out and about looking for a sunny spot for her nest. Also, the female of the species might be less aggressive.

Or, I was just really lucky she didn't bite me.

This was the latest chapter of our wildlife encounters since we moved to Troy 10 years ago.

I hope our reptilian friend is happy and safe in her new home.

Blessed be, fellow earthlings.

Read more about Michigan's turtles -- including the snapper -- at

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jewel on body image

"We should be more like men ... They can take their shirts off and show their man boobs, and they don't give a hoot. But women are so critical of themselves.

"If you can't stop looking in the mirror, at least try to not think badly about yourself when you do."

A great quote from singer/poet Jewel in the July issue of Self magazine (via the Detroit Free Press.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

And then there's "The Real Girls"

It's not "Sex and the City."

It's not "The L Word."

What it is is a smartly written venture into global feminism.

What it is is "The Real Girl's Guide to Everything Else."

"The Real Girl's Guide" is a web series of six episodes ranging in length from five to ten minutes each.

This is truly original programming that was written, produced, and financed by women.

The story begins with a Rahsha, a journalist who wants to write a book about the plight of women in Afghanistan.

Her publisher, however, has other ideas. Research will never sell, she's told. What the publisher wants is a "chick lit(erature)" book about dating in the middle-east.

Rahsha employs what feminist researcher Arlene Daniels called "interactional shitwork" -- basically navigating the internal personal and political processes to gain cooperation -- along with some clever writing, to get her message across.

Of course, she draws support from her girlfriends -- a diverse group of women who know how to keep it real.

There's Sydney, an artist/graphic designer; Angie, a nurse; Vanna, a singer; and Liz, a book editor.

NPR has praised this series and had this interview with the cast of "Real Girls."

Is this a step towards an independent feminist media? We could be looking at the future here as far as the way shows are produced using the tools of today's brave new world.

Watch all six first season episodes of "The Real Girl's Guide to Everything Else here.

Cherie makes OU Dean's List

Hey, I'm proud of this accomplishment. Join me in the celebration:

Oakland University 2009-20010 Dean's List

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Feminist Bookshelf: Fun, fictional females

Charlaine Harris' latest installment in her wildly-popular "southern vampire" "Sookie Stackhouse" series "Dead in the Family" is still in the top five titles on The New York Times' best seller list.

(By the way, if you were a fan of the books first, the HBO series "True Blood," based the Sookie titles, blows. At least that's my opinion.)

Although I do not consider the Sookie character to be a feminist because of her over dependence on stronger, male characters for help and salvation, I am a fan of the series. It is a showcase for Harris' skillful writing and vivid imagination.

What I like about this series is that each volume contains enough background information -- skillfully written in by Harris -- so that readers can pick up the story at any point in the series.

To me, this is a mark of good writing.

Harris has also written other series worthy of a read.

The "Lily Bard" mystery series revolves around a survivor who refuses to continue to be victimized.

Lily was brutally raped. She survived and recovered and has taken up karate to build her physical and emotional strength in the aftermath of the attack. She exerts her independence by being self-reliant and self-supporting.

And, she just "happens" to solve murder mysteries in the town of Shakespeare, Arkansas.

What I like about Harris' female protagonists -- feminist or not -- is that they are down-to-earth, one-of-us women.

Sookie is a waitress, Lily cleans houses for a living.

As for me, I am spending the summer with one of my favorite fictional females -- Helen Hawthorne from the Dead End Job Mysteries by Elaine Viets.

Helen is a forty-something former executive who comes home early from work early one day to find her house husband, Rob, on the deck sexing up the next door neighbor. After destroying Rob's SUV in a rage, Helen files for divorce.

Much to her surprise, the judge awards Rob "alimony" and a share of Helen's future income. Helen vows that Rob will never see a penny and takes off on the run.

She ends up in Florida working a series of "dead end jobs" for cash to survive and stay off Rob's radar. In the process, she makes new friends, finds love, and, of course solves murder mysteries.

Author Viets claims to have worked dead-end jobs similar to Helen's including a bridal planner, dress shop salesperson, hotel day maid, and telemarketer.

I love Helen. Her situation is contemporary. The books are hilarious and fun. Read one and you'll be hooked. Viets employs the same clever writing technique so the series can be read in any order.

Currently, I'm catching up on the series with 2008's "Clubbed to Death" in which Helen is working in the customer service department of an elite country club. She returns to work on Monday morning to find one of her coworkers killed with a golf club -- literally "clubbed to death" -- putting her in the middle of another murder mystery.

In the high-tech, fast-paced age we live in, reading for pure pleasure is a small luxury we afford ourselves less frequently -- so treat yourself this summer.

Blessed be.

Elaine Viets' "Dead-end Job Mysteries"

"Half-priced Homocide" (2010)
"Killer Cuts" (2009)
"Clubbed to Death" (2008)
"Murder with Reservations" (2007)
"Murder Unleashed" (2006)
"Just Murdered" (2005)
"Dying to Call You" (2004)
"Shop till you Drop" (2003)
"Murder Between the Covers" (2003)

Charlaine Harris' "Lily Bard" Mystery Series
(all have "Shakespeare" in the title. Shakespeare ... Bard ... get it?)

"Shakespeare's Counselor" (book one)
"Shakespeare's Trollop" (book two)
"Shakespeare's Christmas" (book three)
"Shakespeare's Champion" (book four)
"Shakespeare's Landlord" (book five)

(FYI -- This series is best read in order.)

Charlaine Harris' "Sookie Stackhouse" series (all have "Dead" in the title.)
"Dead Until Dark" (book one)
"Living Dead in Dallas" (book two)
"Club Dead" (book three)
"Dead to the World" (book four)
"Dead as a Doornail" (book five)
"Definitely Dead" (book six)
"All Together Dead" (book seven)
"From Dead to Worse" (book eight)
"Dead and Gone" (book nine)
"Dead in the Family" (book 10 - latest release)

Related links: Charlaine Harris, Elaine Viets

More on the Troy Public Library sitch

My latest story from The Oakland Press:

Starting July 1, Troy library patrons will see fewer hours and less staff --
11 June 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cherie at The Oakland Press

Here are more links to my internship articles at The Oakland Press:

Friends group looks for ways to keep Troy library open -- 30 May 2010
Shared byline with Bonnie Caprara

Volunteers step up to keep Troy running -- 28 May 2010
(This story had one correction: The Lloyd Stage Nature Center will continue to offer programs such as Little Acorns and Junior Naturalist Club, as well as hosting children's birthday parties after July 1 of this year.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cruel Dairy

Got milk?

You might want to rethink your dairy consumption after you see this video by Mercy for Animals - an animal advocacy group that recently conducted an investigation of an Ohio dairy farm:

Who wants to look -- right?

Yes, dairy consumers, the truth is ugly. What you see on this video is not new. These are common practices that have gone on for years. If you've watched "Earthlings" with, Joaquin Phoenix, you already know that animals suffer abuse like this, and worse, every day.

I hate to have to put images like this out there, but it's important to know the truth.

So what can we do to make a difference for these animals?

There is something we can do every day that will make a difference -- and it requires just a little change and adjustment on our parts.

Milk was a staple in my family's fridge growing up. I used to like to drink my milk "on the rocks" to make it even colder while enjoying a brownie or a cookie.

But, I've given up milk. I haven't had a drop in months.

I consume dairy products sparingly, but I chose to eliminate milk completely because I drank it regularly.

We don't need milk anyway -- cows' milk is for baby cows. Think about it.

What do I use instead? Here are a couple of options:

Soy milk. I can still enjoy it ice cold with a cookie and not have abuse on my conscience. Soy milk can be used in place of regular milk in recipes.

My brand of choice is Silk. Silk also makes a coffee creamer that I buy when I can find it.

Almond Milk: Some people react to soy. Fortunately, Silk also makes almond milk. Blue Diamond is an alternate brand.

Both soy milk and almond milk contain calcium and Vitamin D so there's no nutritional sacrifice involved.

Believe me -- your palate adjusts easier than you think.

Another easy thing to do is replace butter with margarine, or another vegan substitute, which many of us do already.

Just reducing the amount of dairy products we consume can make a difference. Why not alternate soy or almond with regular milk?

Try it -- you'll like it.

Soy incentive? Silk is currently running its "Green Caps for a Greener World" promotion. Buy Silk cartons with green caps. Then, go to and enter the 12-digit UPC code from the carton (it'll take a minute to register.) For each green cap, Silk will make a donation to one of two green causes to support wind energy or farm families. Coupons are also available at the site.

Acts of green kick off the summer

Summer has unofficially started and the Memorial Day weekend has come and gone.

Our weekend was mellow; mainly relaxation at home and a trip to Lowe's and Bordine's for our traditional flower planting and yard projects.

In the process, we chalked up a few "acts of green." What better way to usher out spring and welcome summer?

>We planted another tree in the backyard. Chris found this cutie at Lowe's for $10. She's little, but she'll get bigger. She's a Colorado Blue Spruce and can grow up to 30 feet tall.

In fact, according to an Associated Press article, by Lee Reich, from the May 27 Free Press, it's better to plant a smaller tree.

"Financial considerations aside, research has shown that if a large and small tree of the same species are planted under similar conditions, growth of the smaller tree often outstrips that of the larger one after a few years.

One reason why smaller trees grow better is they suffer proportionately less root loss in transplanting. A larger tree needs a lot more water to recover from its move, and because it takes longer to re-establish itself, watering must be continued longer, often for a few years."

>Instead of using a chemical weed killer to rid our driveway cracks of weeds, we used a product called "Burn Out" made of lemon juice and vinegar. It works best in hot temperatures and is available at

>I found a pair of vegan (contains no animal products, such as leather) summer shoes at Target --"Oceana" by Mossimo Supply Company ($17.99.) Finding vegan shoes is a challenging task -- but worth the effort because nobody gets killed.