Okay, here's where I get to take off my healer hat, and have some fun. I'll share with you some great things I've found, and warn you about some things to avoid. If you're a seeker of quality, it's easy to be disappointed by the lack of it in our society. People used to take pride in their craft or service, but finding this level of integrity, commitment and work ethic today, seems a rare experience. For those of you who feel similarly, write me about a good or bad experience you've had, and I'll try to include it here.


RAVE: Dr. Richard Zoumalan~ the man who saved my face. I'd torn my lower lip in half after blacking out in the middle of the night from the pain of hernia surgery that morning. By the grace of God, this facial trauma (plastic) surgeon came at 4:40am to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. He's brilliant, as mine was "the worst lip trauma" he'd ever seen, and the fact you can't tell I was hurt 3-plus months later, is a testament to his genius. I'm sure he'll be doing my facelift one of these days. (310) 278-1900 in Beverly Hills, and say I sent you.

RANT: Citicard's dividend credit card. I'd recommended this to you in the past, but we're making a change, 'cause Citybank has changed the terms of their cash-back card. They've lowered their point rewards to only 1% for all spending, and they're now sending your checks, in only $50.00 increments. But fear not--I have another solution! Chase Bank has an array of dividend cards that will get you far more bang for your buck! I have the Ink business ('cash') card, which I'll be using instead, from here on in. This gives me 3% dividend points at; restaurants, gas stations, office supplies and home improvement or hardware stores, and 1% on all other purchases! You'll receive $50.00 (incremental) reward checks--but you'll be getting more back for your spending. Here's their link; Chase (Ink) credit cards. Enjoy more. OK, listen up! Pay attention to your points reward section in your bill. They'll dock you points you haven't used (they'll expire), so you can never get the rewards checks I promised you. It's a shitty way to do business, and it's sneaky and unfair--but be sure to call them, to get a gift card for Starbucks, or a restaurant they've partnered-in, so you keep accruing points!

RAVE: OK, for all you smokers who WANT to quit, here's a nifty gadget that works: www.NeverLightAgain.com (and you can even 'smoke' in public!).

RANT: I'm disheartened that our "justice system" is corrupt, and unjust. I'd had the considerable misfortune of appearing before (traffic) Commissioner Elizabeth Munisoglu awhile back, and I'm sorry to say that she ruled with extreme judicial prejudice--and (adding insult to injury) downright lied in her rebuttal statements to my Appeal. If we're sworn to tell the truth in court--how is it, that Officers of the Court don't have to? There's something terribly wrong with this picture, don't you think? Be careful out there, folks.

RAVE: I've found a fantastic bone density scan facility! After being quoted up to $800.00 (which is heinous), this resource does your lumbar region and hip for only $50.00! Live in Los Angeles county? Phone (213) 742-1376, book your appointment with Maureen--and say, "Shari sent me." Orthopedic Hospital, 2400 S. Flower Street, L.A. CA 90007.

RAVE: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Loved this foreign film! Subtitled, but I had no problem tracking with it (which is pretty rare, with my attention span). I think you'll really enjoy it.

RAVE: A Single Man, with Colin Firth. For the life of me, I can't understand how this one escaped an Oscar. All the actors were superb in this film, and Firth should have gotten Best Actor, hands down. Such poignant exploration of attachment, grief and possibility has been beautifully choreographed, to remind us that each hour we're able to live and to love is priceless. It's my favorite movie this year (and An Education is well worth your attention too).

RAVE: Is your computer running slow, or kinda lousy? I recently bought a computer tool that fixes these problems, and it's called Registry Mechanic. It works like a charm, and it isn't costly. It scans your entire registry system for errors, and gives you a free report on that. I'm naturally skeptical about this kind of thing--and always afraid my PC will get worse, not better if I screw with it. I'm happy to report that didn't happen with this product. I love it! Click on the link above, to check it out.

RAVE: Mickey Roark in The Wrestler. Knew I didn't want to see this on the big screen, and watched it on HBO recently. This man made me fall in love with him all over again (and it's been a long hiatus since Body Heat--when I was certain he'd have a brilliant career. Much to my dismay, he really took some bad detours). But what a terrific performance. Whew! The sweetness and authenticity of 'Randy' really got to me. Special nod to Marissa Tomei; always a stellar actress--and how does she keep that phenomenal body up??

RATS AND RAVES: If you have a rodent problem in or around your home, and you want to be rid of those little furry creatures without killing them, do what my friend Shirley did, and buy the PRO PestChaser (approx. $35.00). This is a plug in unit that emits a sonic sound. The company even makes 'mini pet- chasers,' for about $9.00. Get it here; http://www.victorpest.com or look for it at your neighborhood hardware store.

RAVE: I just saw a fantastic documentary film called, The Living Matrix. Try to catch a screening, or order it here; www.TheLivingMatrixMovie.com (click on 'store' once you get to their web site). It will forever change the way you think about healing and health, and inspire you!

RANT: These damned TV commercials about protecting your kid against the Papilloma Virus! Read the truth: http://GettinBetter.com/earlydetection.html (I've also posted about this issue on Twitter).

RAVE: You really must visit my dear friend Florentina at CiaoFlorentina. Just landing on her scrumptious blog site is a marvelous feast for your eyes and spirit. She adores cooking, and will share with you her delectable recipes. On the heels of seeing Julie & Julia recently (which I loved, by the way) I was introduced to the delightful culinary magic of Florentina. I may even talk her into catering my next birthday party, in fact.

RAVE: My One and Only is the most stunningly directed film (by Richard Loncraine) that I've seen in a great while. Every single frame of this period piece was a gem, and the musical score matched. Renee Zellweger (one of my fav's) is terrific as the well-meaning but narcissistic mother of two teen boys, who leaves her husband after catching him with his pants down in an extramarital affair. This movie is superbly acted, and just prior to my second viewing, I was pleased to meet Molly C. Quinn in the theater lobby, who plays the comely little red-headed neighbor to Mrs. Deveroux and her sons. Ms. Quinn is visually captivating on screen--and so lovely and gracious in the flesh, you feel like you're meeting someone much older than her actual age (fifteen). Catch her on the current TV series, Castle. Great production by George Hamilton.

RANT: HBO's Hung. I'm thinking this one should be filed under; the bigger they are, the harder they fall. I'm so very disappointed with this series pilot! I was awaiting it with baited breath for weeks, and the first episode was so anti-climactic, I'm almost afraid to watch the second. These are the creators who brought us The Riches (which I loved, incidentally). What happened to that series? God only knows--must have been too smart for middle America. I liked Thomas Jane as the lead, but whose idea was it to hire those plump, nerdy kids--who look nothing like either of their parents?? I'd have been far happier if the backdrop of this guy's life had been meted out across several episodes, than shoved down my throat (you should pardon the expression) during the first installment! Can we spell "re-write"? Jeez--with this premise, I'd crossed my fingers for another Sex and the City (boy style), but this one sank like dead wood--and do not even get me started on that grisly show; toward the end, I literally needed subtitles just to figure out what the heck was being said. Alexander Payne's directorial pacing seemed slow on Hung--but then, I had the same sense watching his movie, Sideways. I'm looking for titillation, and humor that makes me laugh. Hung misses on both counts.

RANT: Trader Joe's has stopped carrying their Purify Tangerine Sugar Scrub! Regular table sugar or salt can be used as skin exfoliators. TJ's product was very moisturizing, and I've mixed some up in my own kitchen. Here's how I did it: 1 oz. (each) sweet almond, sesame and grapeseed oils by Aura Cacia, and I threw in about a half oz. of jojoba oil too. For fragrance, I used Aura Cacia's tangerine oil and lemongrass oil. I filled the rest of my TJ jar up with sugar and mixed thoroughly. All these oils were on sale at Whole Foods, and cost me roughly $33.00. I've got plenty left, to make up 3 - 4 more batches! PS: when it starts to get 'soupy' with too much oil at top, add more sugar, and stir.

RAVE: Here's a number worth putting in your cell or home phone's speed dial: 1-800-goog411. This is an awesome service from Google that's totally free, and fantastic when you're on the road. Don't waste your money on information calls, and don't waste your time manually dialing the number. If you're driving along, and need to call a golf course or restaurant but don't know the number, hit the speed dial for Google 411 information that you've pre-programmed. A voice prompt at the other end says, "City & State," and you reply. Then it says, "Business, Name or Type of Service," and you reply, and hear "Connecting" and your desired party answers the phone. How great is that?! Click this link for a short demo; http://www.google.com/goog411/ (Business listings only.)

RANT: I am not what you'd call a politically savvy person, and I only write about what I know about. There's no doubt that I'm pretty opinionated, but I always try to tell the truth, and fight clean. Having recently responded to a private e-mail asking me to share my opinions about Sarah Palin, I thought I'd let you read 'em too. Some of you will love me, and others will hate me--but at least you'll know me better, so you can make up your mind about it: "Since Palin's been named for Vice President on the Republican ticket, I've become anxious and uneasy. She represents a dangerous constituency in this country that not only wants to reverse women's rights, but undermine our separation between church and state. Add to this, teen pregnancies and STD's continue to be serious problems in our society; what kind of message is being sent to our young people, when potential Heads Of State sanction pregnancy mishaps with shotgun weddings (and have the arsenal to back it up)!? The psychological community does not consider that someone has outgrown adolescence, until they pass 23 years of age! Two wrongs don't make a right--and this is one more pitiful example of babies having babies, which erodes the stability and mental health of societies everywhere. As a staunch child advocate, I am extremely concerned about parenting deficits that underscore failures to educate, nurture and model responsible, healthy behaviors--and c'mon folks, if this female can't even manage a family, and seems willing to put the critical needs of her own infant aside, should she be allowed to parent an entire country?? Maybe Palin's 17 year old daughter was just trying to get (busy) Mom's attention; it seems she's figured out an ingenious way to go about that--and send her mother a very public "Screw You," at the same time. Frankly, I'm relishing the irony, especially given this climate of Roe vs Wade. There's no way I can applaud McCain's apparently senile choice, nor the prospect of having this lipsticked animal killer step in, when the old man can't get up for the Party (pun intended). By the way, how can we be certain that the aerial shootings aren't just badly wounding those poor creatures, and they're suffering slow, agonizing deaths? How you do anything, is how you to everything. I don't know about Palin's God--but mine's pissed off about this."

RAVE: Rogaine. I absolutely love this stuff! My hair's been growing thick and full, after bouts of extreme shedding over the past couple decades. I'm using the extra-strength 5% Minoxidil (men's) formula. This is a colorless, odorless liquid that I apply only once a day ('cause I'm lazy), and it's worked real magic. Do not use this where you think you need it; I initially put it on my thinning hairline (in front), and ended up looking like a Werewolf! Honest to God, I had to wax off all the little black hairs growing on my face--but at least, I knew it worked. Follow directions! The 5% solution will last you six months, with once daily application. Chains like CVS Pharmacy sell it under their name; you'll save money with the generic, and get the same results. As for thinking you'll have to do this "the rest of your life," so what! You bathe and brush your teeth at least once a day, don't you?? PS: Costco sells this product, and I've seen it at my local (L.A.) Von's market, where you'll be able to $ave even more.

RANT: Okay, I'm a Showtime fan and I like their new series; Secret Diary Of A Call Girl (definitely a fun little British romp)--but is anyone else having trouble understanding the dialogue, or is it just me? I'm sitting here with my remote, rewinding the darned thing six times, and I still can't decifer what's being said. I need subtitles, please--or a Director who's a bit more sensitive to American ears. This season (2010), the background music's drowning out the dialogue. 2011 update; it's gottin better!

RAVE: Tired of spending a bloody fortune on injets for your printers/copiers? I recently bought color cartridges from 123Inkjets, and I'm really pleased. It may benefit you to phone them, as they offer (current) specials, which could mean even more savings to you; www.123inkjets.com.

RAVE: If you haven't gotten there already, go and see Lars And The Real Girl. This is a fantastic little low budget movie; funny, touching, intelligent, and terrifically handled on every level! Admittedly, I generally appreciate films with psychological underpinnings--but it's a treat when the material's presented in such a way that makes me know without a doubt, that the writer/creator 'gets it.' This modest but heartfelt movie had me laughing and weeping, because of its undeniable brilliance in this regard. Huge applause for Nancy Oliver who wrote this little gem! Her prodigious talent is obviously flourishing, since bringing us HBO's Six Feet Under (which I'm still missing, by the way). More, more more, please.

RAVE: I'm delighted to say, HBO finally gave us something worth watching. TELL ME YOU LOVE ME is very raw, real and intelligently directed (special kudos, to Melanie Mayron). While I might be hooked for another season, I have some gripes about this show: First, with the exception of only two episodes, I'm cringing at the way the therapist's part (played by Jane Alexander) is written; seems to me, the creator of this series (Cynthia Mort) hasn't had any valuable or meaningful therapeutic experiences (which may be her point). Pity. I'm also dismayed by the gratuitous sex, which (while very realistic) is unnecessarily graphic and far too frequently utilized, for me to think the writers are confident in their ability to keep us entranced week to week. Besides, if I really wanted to see senior citizens getting it on, I'd install a #@$%^&+* mirror on my bedroom ceiling! Thankfully, this show's brilliantly acted, and interplay between its characters is sufficient to keep me watching--but while I could never be considered a prude, I do feel I'm being manipulated with all those sex scenes. And speaking of manipulation, we now have yet another television series, that's given us solid portrayals of borderline disordered women. Who says, television isn't educational? HBO has said No to a second season, by the way.

RAVE: Are you happy with your chiropractor? Dr. John Min's beautiful new Marina Family Chiropractic and Massage is right here in L. A., on Washington Blvd. John's terrific with adjustments (for me, it's all about the neck). Here's their phone: (310) 301-0558, and the new website should be up soon. Visit John's existing site, and view his photography; www.johnemindc.com. When you meet him, say "Shari sent me."

RANT: Avoid Best Buy stores! If you're considering an electronic purchase (like a new computer), your best buy is to get it somewhere else! Under an extended warranty, I brought them my laptop for repair (the manufacturer diagnosed the probable issue as a "video card" problem, which I stated 3 times, at drop-off). I was told there'd be a 14 day wait, so I called the store for status on the 15th day. Turns out, my computer had come back in 4 days, was awaiting pick-up at the (Culver City) store--and nobody had phoned to tell me. To make matters worse, the problem wasn't fixed! Instead, they'd "replaced the LCD." This 'replacement' part was banged up/scratched, and was obviously someone else's old monitor casing (mine was in pristine condition). In case you're thinking all this was bad enough--hang on, there's more: While sitting in Best Buy's service department or with the 'Geek Squad' in their store that extra 11 days, my software program for processing credit card payments was stolen! The ramifications of this theft have been unimaginable, in terms of what it's cost me in time, energy and revenue. Thankfully, there have been no negative consequences for any clients--and I use a different system now, but save yourself from consumer abuse; purchase your next computer elsewhere. PS: My new PC repair guy says he's personally heard at least 50 horror stories from other people about Best Buy, that make mine seem insignificant by comparison (scary)! Don't ever say I didn't warn you--and if you've already had a personal run-in with this company, write and tell me about it. I'm taking 'em to court!

RAVE: E-machines computers (made by Gateway) deserves honorable mention, in reference to the above entry: During this horrible fiasco in the summer of '07, I called their corporate offices out of sheer exasperation. I explained that my "extended warranty" with Best Buy was about to expire, and I obviously couldn't trust them to re-repair my computer! I told the gal who answered my call that they were my last hope for resolution, and I didn't know where else to turn. She sympathized with my predicament, and arranged for a pick up of my laptop, even though they "never" work on a computer that's past the (one year) manufacturer's warranty. This company demonstrated something we never hear of anymore; they made an exception to policy, and stood behind their product! I am really impressed, and my PC's been running great ever since. Thank you, E-machines!

RAVE: Do you know about www.OldVersion.com? This is a fantastic site! You can find and download older versions of software there, "because newer, isn't always better." Various programs, upgrades and applications are available to you absolutely free! This site came in handy recently, for my older latop; its operating system can't support AOL's newer software, and I needed to reinstall their 8.0 version. AOL's phone tech took me there (yes, now and then they're actually helpful)! Make sure to save this site to your *favorites* and tell all your friends about it! PS: Here's another one of these sites, just in case you're needing more; www.versiondownload.com

RAVE: Stupidly, I cleaned my old laptop (Compaq Presario) with something I shouldn't have, years back. When I needed to use it as a back-up recently (my current PC went in for minor surgery) the palm rest area was so sticky and tacky, I couldn't stand it (obviously, this is why they tell you not to use anything but water on these things!). Well, not having found answers to this problem on the internet, and being determined to find a way to improve this situation, I began experimenting with all kinds of 'solutions' I had around my house (including contact lense solution, if you can believe it). Long story short, I tried Johnson's Baby Oil. A few careful applications of this (with a rag, of course) brought the finish almost back to normal, and what a relief!!! My techie uses rubbing alcohol to clean PC's. It works really great!

RANT: Ok, I'm probably gonna get a lot of flak about this one--but as that's never stopped me before, here goes: An old friend (let's call him "Vinnie") left a voicemail, and invited me to call back and "catch up." We hadn't had a chance to visit in years, so I looked forward to it. We had what I thought was a terrific conversation, and I asked if he'd done some inner work--or perhaps some couples therapy with his (soon to be) Ex-wife, because it sounded like he had a better grip on himself than before. To this, he replied that he'd gone to Landmark Forum. As this topic had come up organically, I shared some views (both pro and con), based on what clients and friends who've "done the Forum" have told me. I've known people who worked for Landmark and conducted their seminars, so I'm familiar with their program. Vinny had evidently benefitted from this venue, and I was pleased for him! I've always said, the very best advertisement is example. If someone notices a positive/enhancing change in you, they'll (at least) consider it for themselves; it's simple human nature. Anyway, Vinnie left another message the following night, saying he was uncomfortable about something, and wanted to "clean it up" with me. Nothing had shown up on my radar, but I phoned him the next day. Turns out, he'd neglected to invite me to an introductory Forum seminar (I'm now hearing the real reason he's making contact after all this time). I said I was glad this hadn't come up during our initial dialogue, as I'd have surely resented it. Vinnie got defensive when I suggested he might to be trying to "clean up" something with himself, rather than with me; it seemed his motives for calling (as stated) weren't honest or clean, and perhaps this troubled him. Maybe he regretted missing an opportunity to pitch The Forum, but I'd have respected him more, had he stated his intent, and not tried to camouflage it! I congratulated Vinnie for trusting his instincts enough in our earlier dialogue, to sense that I wasn't open to being recruited. Apparently, Landmark doesn't teach you this critical life skill--but perhaps they should.

RANT: Is it just me, or has HBO been falling down on the job? Remember their slogan; "Sunday nights are HBO"? Well, those days are obviously gone! For the past couple of years, their programming's been in serious need of help, and Sunday nights aren't just lacking good shows, it seems we're expected to endure all these horrible, tedious documentary series! Is this entertainment? I think not. Can someone please tell me what the hell happened to those HBO execs who believed in entertaining their audience? Frankly, SHOWTIME gets my vote these days (their original programming is sensational), with Dexter, The Tudors, Brotherhood, The L Word, Weeds, etc. I'm also a big fan of the FX channel; Dirt with Courtney Cox is great, as is Rescue Me and Nip/Tuck etc., and do you think Eric Schaeffer's Starved is ever coming back? I sure hope so; what a brilliant, talented (but neurotic) guy! I'm totally hooked on Mad Men (on AMC). Anyway, as soon as the final season of The Sopranos is over, I may cancel my subscription. If you share these views, maybe you should, too. When HBO's popularity falls and hurts their revenue, maybe they'll (finally) get the hint over there.

RANT: Beware of LastMinuteTravel.com! I used this site for a recent trip, and they sent me confirmation for round trip tickets on Alaska Air. Leaving nothing to chance, I called Alaska to confirm my reservation two nights before, and was told I was flying out on Delta and returning on American. LastMinuteTravel.com never even hinted at this! Apparently, some airlines have contracts with other carriers for places they don't fly into. The upshot is, if I hadn't made that call, my cab would have dropped me at Alaska Air's terminal--and I'd have very likely missed my plane! Avoid using this (non-refundable) service!!!

RAVE: If you live in the Los Angeles area and have problems with your feet, see podiatrist, Dr. Mel Present. I've known Dr. Present for about 3 decades, and he's been wonderful with me, and many of my friends. He's an honest, highly skilled, kind/caring practitioner who will never do a procedure you don't absolutely need. I totally trust this man, and so can you. Mel's great with all kinds of foot problems, and he can fit you with orthotics, if you need them. New Beverly Drive/Pico office: 310 659-6088. Say "Shari sent me."


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