Take Me Out to the Bar Mitzvah…


Roger Owens has been pitching with the Dodgers for 50 years, ever since the team moved from Brooklyn. His accuracy is uncanny, and he remains a crowd favorite. He throws under the leg, behind the back and even two at a time, sometimes more than 30 rows back.

Owens, also known as the “Peanut Man,” started tossing peanut bags at Dodger games when the team began playing at the Coliseum in 1958. And Owens, who knows more than his fair share of nutty jokes, also makes a good side income making guest appearances at various bar and (sometimes) bat mitzvah celebrations.

“Everyone wants to do something different,” he said. “They want to reward their son for all the hard work, studies and learning about his Jewish heritage and his grades at school.”

With baseball’s season opener less than a month away, it doesn’t take much to organize a grand-slam celebration that reflects your child’s love of the game.

The idea of a blockbuster bar mitzvah celebration at Dodger Stadium was played for laughs in the 2006 film comedy, “Keeping Up With the Steins,” complete with Neil Diamond booked to sing the national anthem. But there are ways to put on a baseball theme that won’t break parents, which can include a day at the stadium, complete with hot dogs, ticket booths, an organ playing “Charge!” and appearances by former baseball greats.

Locations

Renting space at either Dodger Stadium or Angel Stadium is not as expensive as one might expect. The Stadium Club or Dugout Club at Chavez Ravine can be had for just $650, said Jill DeStefano, partnership management executive with the Dodgers. However, costs for food or beverages are separate, and prices can range from $35 to $100 per person.

Renting out the field is also an option, albeit a much more expensive one, she added.

Angel Stadium’s Diamond Club, Knothole Club, Homeplate Club and Music Garden in Anaheim cost nothing to rent, according to Ron Lee, division manager of premium services. Once again, the cost comes from food and beverages, plus security. Aramark, the professional services company in charge at Angel Stadium, also allows clients to rent the field at a minimum of $25,000.

Still, the teams are accommodating — as long as the celebration isn’t on a scheduled home game or in October (“It’s empty because we want to be in the World Series,” DeStefano said). May and November are popular months at Dodger Stadium, but the baseball season is tricky, because the team doesn’t know its playing schedule until the year before.

Julia Erling, an Aramark catering sales specialist, said November through March work best at Angel Stadium, but annual Motocross events eliminate renting the outfield in January and February.

But if everything works out and the stadiums are available, “The sky’s the limit,” DeStefano and Lee said.

In Los Angeles, one can pay for batting practice, either on the field or in the indoor batting cage, or pitch in the bullpen, complete with radar gun. Both parks can have videos playing on the giant outfield screens and have DJs hook up their equipment to the stadium sound systems.

Food

Andrew Atwell, Aramark’s West Coast senior executive chef, said all options are available: plated food, buffet or “action stations,” in which the cooks interact with the guests. “It’s all in the presentation,” he said.

Action stations could be anything, Atwell said: fish, salad, a carving station or dessert featuring crème brulee. To keep with the theme, hamburgers could become sliders, complete with condiment bar with different cheeses, lettuces and grilled onions. Hot dogs could have onions, sauerkraut, horseradish, cheese, peppers or salsa.

If guests specifically wanted kosher food brought to Angel Stadium, Atwell said Aramark would contract with kosher caterers and have the food brought.

Levy Restaurants, which provides catering at Dodger Stadium, has used Kosher on Wheels for its kosher catering needs.

Special Guests

After he’s introduced as a surprise guest during the celebration, Owens, the Peanut Man, walks out wearing his own uniform, carrying a box filled with plenty of bagged peanuts to toss. He then makes a two- or three-minute speech during which he tells the guests about how great it is to be at the party, recites what school the honoree attends and areas in which he or she excels (baseball, usually) and how proud the parents must be. He’ll crack some peanut jokes, then stick around and sign autographs.

DeStefano said former Dodgers, such as Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and “Sweet Lou” Johnson, have made appearances, “but they’re more for the adults.” Getting current Dodgers (Russell Martin is a popular request) is more difficult, because the team might be on the road or the player might not live in Los Angeles during the off-season.

Erling said stadium tours are offered, and former Angels pitcher Clyde Wright (1966-73) might be the tour guide. Player appearances are subject to availability, but expect to pay at least $5,000 for a current player and $1,500 for a former player.

Theme Touches

If a stadium party is out of reach, event planners suggest leaving details for a baseball-themed party up to the imagination. Ticket booths, seating assignments that resemble ballpark tickets, table centerpieces that look like baseballs or include team names and logos are common.

Paula Gild of Gilded Events suggests costumed performers dressed as concessionaires bringing out the hot dogs, popcorn, Cracker Jacks and other stadium-type foods.

For more information, visit:
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Roger Owens

A down-home way to treasure that special day


You’re planning your bar mitzvah boy’s big day, and all you can think of is filling the grand ballroom with a mind-boggling maze of identical round tables topped with painted blue carnation centerpieces and a breast of rubber chicken on each plate. Oh, and finding a DJ who knows how to orchestrate a hora.

Do you really want your son to have the identical shindig as the rest of his buddies, or would you like to surprise him with a reception that will model the creative, free thinker you want him to become?
Consider orchestrating a Bar Mitzvah Treasure Hunt that you can host in your backyard, throughout your house or even in a hall rented for the occasion.

Greet your young guests with bunches of flowers and let them choose one which they think best describes your son. Try some stargazer lilies, honeysuckles, Sweet Williams, tiger lilies, snapdragons, windflowers, cornflowers, lilies of the valley, larkspurs, baby’s breath, St. John’s wart, sweet peas, birds of paradise, foxtails or snowballs. Even though they’ll resist, have them tell you why they chose a particular flower. They’ll be embarrassed and act silly, but that’s good. It will prepare them for the pièce de résistance.

Hand each teen a piece of paper with five activities to choose from, and form teams that feature five young guests each. In order to partake in an activity, teams must find particular items hidden in the yard/house/hall. Allow an hour for this hunt so each teen will have time to participate in at least two activities.

Some suggested activities include:

  • Create a new sport and demonstrate it.
  • Paint a mural.
  • Decorate a cake.
  • Write a poem or short story.
  • Compose a song with both lyrics and melody.
    Suggested items to hide:

  • Sport: various sizes of balls, rackets, paddles or nets.
  • Mural: felt tip pens, paints, brushes, and aprons.
  • Cake: decorations such as sprinkles, pastry tubes and icing.
  • Poem or short story: books of poetry as models, yellow pads with lines, pens.
  • Song: pens, pads of white paper, a musical instrument.

All of the activities should honor the bar mitzvah boy. They can be funny, scary, attractive, embarrassing, or plain old congratulatory. But they must all be original and clever. Encourage teamwork and ingenuity. They don’t have to be the best artist or write the best poem but they must have a good attitude and be good-hearted.

If a teen doesn’t find the item for his chosen activity — he can’t find the cake decorations and he desperately wants to adorn that cake — then it is up to him to “buy” or “trade” an item for an activity he doesn’t want for one he does want. We’re not talking money — we’re talking barter. If he sees a disgruntled young guest holding a pastry tube and looking confused, he can try to wrangle that tube from him by offering to trade something he has, or maybe sing a song, answer some obscure question about the Dodgers or even fetch his friend a drink of punch. Hopefully each teen will end up with his favorite activity. If not, he’ll have to learn to do something new.

Choose a panel of judges to decide the winning team. They will be judged not only by what they produce, but also on their teamwork.

So they won’t starve before dinner, you can scatter snacks such as raw vegetables, chips or pretzels throughout the area where the items are hidden.

Of course, their biggest prize will be this delicious dairy dinner. Beg, borrow or hire friends and relatives to help you cook, or give the recipes to a caterer and see what he or she says.

Grilled or Broiled Artichokes With Spicy Smoked Tomato Chili Mayonnaise

From Frank Ostini, winemaker and chef at the Hitching Post Restaurant and
Winery in Buellton.
Smoked pasilla peppers -- a mild to medium-hot pepper --
and tomatoes are available at specialty stores and online.

6 artichokes
1 stick butter
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Break off small outside leaves of artichokes. Cut off tops with a knife;
trim the sharp points of the leaves with scissors. Soak in water, then
rinse in cold water to remove sand.

Steam about 25 to 35 minutes until tender, or until a bottom leaf pulls
off easily. Allow artichokes to cool.

Cut in half; remove choke stickers with a spoon. Grill on a barbecue or
broil in an oven, basting with butter, oil, white wine and lemon. Season
artichokes with salt and pepper, and quarter with a knife.
Place artichoke pieces on a platter with dipping bowls of Spicy Smoked
Tomato Chili Mayonnaise.

Spicy Smoked Tomato Chili Mayonnaise

4 garlic cloves
1 pound large onions, sliced thin
4 dried Pasilla peppers, halved with seeds removed
4 dried large tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 quart homemade or commercial mayonnaise

Roast garlic and onions on a barbeque or in an oven. When cool, remove
skins. Puree garlic and onions with the dried smoked peppers and tomatoes
in a blender or food processor. Add spices and mix with mayonnaise.

Makes six servings.

Tossed Salad With Pears and Cranberry Vinaigrette

Recipe by Colin Cowie. Choose wild baby greens, which are sold in bulk,
and supplement, if you wish, with curly endive, red curly leaf, red oak
or your favorite greens. You might wish to add fresh cranberries to the
vinaigrette jar to liven up the table, and you can also toss some fresh
cranberries into the salad for color.

2 pounds greens
6 winter pears, such as Bosc or Winter Nellies, sliced
1 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Tear large leaves into bite-sized pieces. Toss gently with vinaigrette.
Add more as needed until each leaf is coated. Toss with pears, cheese
and pine nuts.

Cranberry Vinaigrette

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 4 tablespoons cranberry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Blend ingredients together with wooden spatula or fork. Add more vinegar
to taste.

Cranberry Vinegar

2 cups good white wine vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon sugar

Place vinegar, cranberries and sugar into saucepan. Bring to boil; immediately
lower flame. Simmer three to five minutes, until fruit is tender. Cool. Pour
into sterilized jar.

Store in cool, dark place for 10 days. Pour vinegar through strainer, removing
cranberries. Pour gently into decorative glass jar or vinegar cruet for serving.

Makes 12-14 servings.

Citrus Pesto

Recipe by chef Ido Shapira, Cutlet Catering Company, Tel Aviv, Israel.

1 cup flat leaf parsley, stemmed
1/2 cup cilantro, stemmed
1/2 cup pine nuts
2/3 Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Grated zest from 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon, strained
1/2 cup olive oil

Prior to preparation, chill first five ingredients in refrigerator, along
with the bowl of a food processor. Place mixture in processor; pulse just
long enough so ingredients are thoroughly combined but not mushy. Strain
through a chinois into a bowl so pesto remains and escaping liquid can
be saved for another use. This pesto may be made ahead of time and kept cold i
n the refrigerator.
Serve with your favorite pasta.
Makes eight servings.

Josephine Coppola's Tiramisu

5 whole eggs or egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1 pound mascarpone (Italian cream cheese)
2 1/2 to 3 cups strong brewed espresso
1/4 to 1/2 cup Marsala, brandy, rum or amaretto
1 1/4 cups ladyfingers (about 40 cookies)
Shaved chocolate for garnish (optional)

In a medium heatproof bowl or top of double boiler beat eggs or egg whites
while slowly adding sugar. When egg-sugar mixture is foamy, fold in mascarpone.
Set bowl or top of double boiler in pan with barely simmering water.
Whisk or beat continuously until mixture reaches 160 F.
Remove bowl from pan and let cool for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix espresso with Marsala or other liqueur. Cover the bottom of a 10-inch
glass pie pan or quiche dish with a layer of ladyfingers.
Drizzle coffee mixture over ladyfingers until they are soaked. Spread
half the egg-mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers. Add another layer of ladyfingers;
drizzle again with coffee mixture. Spread on remaining mascarpone. If desired,
sprinkle shaved chocolate over tiramisu.
Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight to allow flavors to meld.

This should be made at least two hours ahead and can be made the day
before, and kept for two days in the refrigerator.
Makes four servings.

Spectator – The Theme Park Without a Prayer


Bible Storyland must have a guardian angel. Dissolution by the clergy, dormancy for 45 years and a fatal fire were not powerful enough to erase the plans for this Bible-based theme park from history.

And now, art collector Harvey Jordan is working to inform Californians about this piece of their past in a new exhibition at the University of Judaism titled, “Dream Parks: Artwork From the Bible Storyland Theme Park.”

Nearly five decades have elapsed since Nat Winecoff, former Disney promoter and theme park developer, conceived of a $15 million Bible story-based Disneyland-esque place, which he planned to build on 220 acres of land in Cucamonga (now Rancho Cucamonga). Investors included actor Jack Haley and Donald Duncan of Yo-Yo and modern-day parking meter fame. However, the clergy allegedly quashed the idea and Bible Storyland was never erected.

More than 200 drawings and watercolor paintings of Winecoff’s brainchild, created by former Disney artist Bruce Bushman and a handful of other artists, remained after the deal went sour. Another art collector purchased the artwork from Winecoff’s estate and kept it holed up in his apartment until he and his possessions perished in a fire. Miraculously, 50 paintings of Bible Storyland survived the blaze.

Bible Storyland was a unique concept that mingled Disneyland-type family-oriented rides and attractions with biblical stories. A press release issued in 1960 described the plans at length.

To be constructed in the shape of a heart, Bible Storyland would have included different “lands,” each with its own theme, tied to either pre-Christian times, the Bible or the New Testament. Parkgoers would arrive at a Star of David garden and could then saunter through the Garden of Eden and visit Adam and Eve. Visitors could also venture to Israel and ride animals through Noah’s Ark Carousel, explore the inside of the whale with Jonah and watch Moses on Mount Sinai. Other locales would have included ancient Egypt, Babylon and Rome, as well as Ur, where Abraham began his journey to the Promised Land.

Jordan has assumed the role of promoter and savior of the history of Bible Storyland.

“I am now the holder of Bible Storyland,” he said. “From what I understand, I have the rest of the drawings and nobody else has kept them alive or written about it.”

The art can be seen at the Borstein Gallery at the University of Judaism through Aug. 20. 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. For more information, call (310) 440-1201 or visit

Proud to Have Guilt


Once Mireille Silcoff had been hired to edit a new quarterly Jewish magazine for young people, she needed to give it a name.

“At one point I just started asking people, ‘What are the first things you think of when you think about your Jewishness?'” Silcoff recalled. “You can’t imagine how many times ‘guilt’ came up. And ‘pleasure’ came up enough to be interesting.”

Guilt & Pleasure — “A magazine for Jews and the people who love them” — hit newsstands across North America last month, offering readers content ranging from long-form essays and memoirs to fiction, comics, photography and archival material.

The magazine aims not only to inform and entertain, its creators say, but to get Jews talking about issues they think ought to be more fully explored.

Each issue of Guilt & Pleasure will revolve around a theme. The first, called “Home & Away,” will examine issues of “place and identity and the nexus between them,” publisher Roger Bennett said. It includes original contributions from novelists Gary Shteyngart, Lara Vapnyar and Etgar Keret as well as graphic artist Ben Katchor. The second issue will look at fights and battles; the third will be about magic.

Each edition will be connected to interactive Web-based discussion guides.

As a “strong proponent” of secular Jewish culture, Shteyngart — who wrote the best-selling “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook” — says typical Jewish newspapers, emanating from a “very organized community basis,” don’t speak to him. Guilt & Pleasure, which he called a Jewish Paris Review, does.

“For as long as there have been Jews in America, there have been Jewish secular cultural enterprises,” he said.

Still, he sometimes wonders what, if anything, binds non-religious Jews.

“What among secular Jews makes us a community? Are we a community? I don’t have an answer for that,” he said.

But he’s hoping Guilt & Pleasure will spur some discussion on the topic.

For more information, visit

Get Your Creative Jews Flowing


Calling all creative kids. If you have a way with words or an aptitude for art, you can use your unique talents by entering the first annual Jews for Judaism Jewish Students’ Creative Writing & Art Contest.

Working with the theme "I Love Judaism," future scribes and artists can express their feelings about their young Jewish lives by writing original poems, songs or short stories or creating a piece of artwork. The competition, which is divided into three age groups, is open to Southern California Jews in first through 12th grade.

The contest is sponsored by Jews for Judaism, an international organization that provides a wide variety of counseling services, along with education and outreach programs, that enable Jews of all ages to rediscover and strengthen their Jewish heritage. The group is also the Jewish community’s leading response to the multimillion-dollar efforts of cults and Evangelical Christians who target Jews for conversion.

"We wanted a proactive approach toward keeping Jewish kids involved in Judaism," said Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, Los Angeles director of Jews for Judaism. "In addition to being a responsive program — most of what [the organization] does is reactive — we want to emphasize that Judaism needs to be proactive and fun."

A team of professional writers and artists will select nine contest winners who will be awarded prizes.

For more information or to enter the contest, visit www.jewsforjudaism.org or call (310) 556-3344. The entry deadline is Dec. 31.

Hess Kramer Gets Wacky


Petroleum jelly-covered watermelon relays, gunk-filled balloon popping and prom dress-clad swimming pool races — not your typical day at Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu.

The Wilshire Boulevard Temple camp was turned upside down on Tuesday, Aug. 6, when it became the location for the last episode of Nickelodeon’s 10-week summer series, “Wild and Crazy Kids” (WACK) — “WACK at Camp.” “WACK,” which originally appeared on Nickelodeon between 1990 and 1992, has returned and is even wilder and crazier than before.

The show has a different theme each week, including “WACK on the Farm,” and “WACK at the Beach,” and features two 15- to 20-member teams of kids between the ages of 8 and 12 going head-to-head in a series of wacky, hybrid sports.

The inspiration came from the experiences of Woody Fraser, the show’s creator and executive producer, who is an only child. “When I was a kid I had to keep myself from getting bored,” Fraser said.

Some of Fraser’s other creations have included “Good Morning America,” “Nightline” and TNN’s “Ultimate Revenge.”

Fraser discovered the Hess Kramer location because a classmate of his 11-year-old son was a camper there. He approached Howard Kaplan, director of Camp Hess Kramer, who consented to the shoot and recruited 10 of his campers, including his son, Ari, to participate. “It would have been all of our campers, but there was a schedule change and we were between sessions,” Kaplan said.

Approximately half of the kids who participated in “WACK at Camp” were Hess Kramer campers.

“My dad told me that ‘Wild and Crazy Kids’ was going to come here and that I would get really messy and I love getting messy, so I thought it would be fun,” said Ari Kaplan, 12.

“This is a wonderful use of the camp,” said Rabbi Steven Z. Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. “It showcases the camp beautifully and exposes it to a lot of kids who aren’t Jewish.”

“Wild and Crazy Kids” airs Mondays at 6 p.m. on Nickelodeon. The “WACK at Camp” episode will air on Sept. 30. — Rachel Brand Contributing Writer

Still Got ‘Game’


Like Budd Schulberg’s “What Makes Sammy Run?” Phillip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint” and other milestones of Jewish American literature, Will Eisner’s “Name of the Game” explores the depths of Jewish self-loathing and assimilation. But what separates “Name” — a tale chronicling two immigrant families that merge through marriage for social advancement and then suffer destructive consequences — from the others, is that Eisner’s work is a comic book.

Make that a “graphic novel” — the term attributed to ambitious comics with mature themes and a traditional bound format. Graphic novels have become a multimillion-dollar cash cow. Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” revolutionized comics in 1986 with its brooding, cynical interpretation of Batman. Art Spiegelman’s nonfiction Holocaust opus, “Maus,” won the Pulitzer Prize.

“I was frankly enthused when Spiegelman got the Pulitzer,” Eisner told The Journal from his Florida studio, “because it gave the medium the credit it deserves.”

Eisner’s latest is a 160-page saga in which the destinies of two social-climbing immigrant families collide. It’s a stunning study of disconnect, in which characters choose money over love, practice infidelity in the bedroom and in the boardroom, and embrace assimilation over identity. “Name” comments on the American Dream, and the lengths some will go to deny themselves in their quest to obtain and maintain it. It was inspired by folk tales, as channeled through the prism of Eisner’s Jewish American experience.

“Jewish and Russian folk literature, they had a similar thread to all of them,” said Eisner, married to wife Ann for 52 years. “Everybody succeeded in elevating themselves, and that’s through marriage — certainly in Yiddish folklore. Nobody succeeds in fairy tales unless they marry the prince or the princess.”

Eisner, who has been writing and drawing graphic novels since the 1970s, actually created this genre. The first graphic novel, his landmark “A Contract with God,” was originally published by Baronet Books in 1978. The Jewish-themed, Bronx-set story depicted protagonist Frimmer Hirsh’s relationship with his Maker.

Eisner also authored a seminal textbook, “Comics and Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling,” and taught popular cartoonists such as Drew Friedman and Pat McDonnnell at New York’s School of Visual Arts. Since 1988, the Eisner Awards, named in his honor and held annually in San Diego, have become the industry’s Academy Awards.

However, his major contribution to his industry is his classic strip “The Spirit.”

Conceived in 1939 for a newspaper comics supplement, “The Spirit” told the tale of Denny Colt, a policeman reborn as a Stetson-wearing masked detective superhero. Eisner used the strip to redefine the medium by employing cinematic compositions and pacing, noir design sensibilities and a cartoon realism unseen in comics back then. His storytelling style reflected the moviemaking of his day — Fritz Lang, Jacques Tourneur, bringing to comics what Orson Welles brought to movies with “Citizen Kane”: sophistication.

Both “The Spirit” and its creator were a product of what is now called the Golden Age of Comics — a time when New York Jews ruled an industry that was beneath most non-Jews; the same era explored in 2000 by Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” for which Eisner was a consultant.

Since 1978, Eisner has explored his most personal art through his graphic novel format, works that capture facets of his upbringing as the son of Jewish immigrants in 1920s-30s New York. “The Heart of the Storm,” for example, tells his parents’ story — his father was a fine artist from Vienna; his mother of Czech descent.

The Jewishness of Eisner’s tale was never an issue for his publisher.

“They were very supportive and never attempted to make editorial content,” Eisner said, singling out his longtime DC editor Dave Shriner.

Unlike DC’s flagship characters “Superman” and “Batman,” “The Spirit” never materialized in Hollywood, save for an unaired 1984 TV pilot produced by DC’s parent company, Warner Bros. Eisner doesn’t believe “The Spirit” translates to other mediums.

Nor does he even want to return to his iconic character in his own medium. His list of upcoming project ideas has grown too long for him to look back.

“There would only be two reasons I would revisit ‘The Spirit,'” Eisner said. “To prove that I could still run a quarter mile and to make money. I don’t need either.”

Learn more about Will Eisner at www.willeisner.com.

Holocaust Wins at the Emmys


Three television dramas with Holocaust themes won top honors in their categories at Sunday night’s 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Award ceremony, proving once again the lasting impact of the Nazi horror in our popular culture.

"Anne Frank" on ABC was named best miniseries for its powerful, four-hour long exploration of Anne’s life, from her happy school days, through her two years in hiding during which she wrote her famous diary, and her final days at Bergen-Belsen.

"Conspiracy," a dramatic reenactment of the 1942 Wansee Conference, which drew up the blueprint for the Nazi extermination of European Jewry, won two awards for HBO: one for actor Kenneth Branagh, who portrayed SS leader Reinhard Heydrich, and the other for Loring Mandel, who wrote the script.

Brian Cox, in the role of Field Marshall Hermann Goering, won supporting actor honors for the TNT miniseries "Nuremberg," a dramatization of the 1945-46 trial of top Nazi war criminals.

Other Jewish winners:

  • Barbra Streisand earned her fourth career Emmy for the Fox special "Barbra Streisand: Timeless."
  • Television veteran Doris Roberts took home the award for best supporting actress in a comedy series for the CBS show "Everybody Loves Raymond."

The awards, held at the Shubert Theatre, had been twice postponed following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Actress Ellen DeGeneres hosted the show and drew the evening’s biggest laugh when she observed, "I’m in a unique position as host because, think about it, what would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit, surrounded by Jews?"

Be Your Own Interior Designer


The most important thing to remember in decorating your home is editing. (The same is true of organizing schedules and handbags). Decorating is not about acquisitions but rather about fine-tuning what we have, ruthlessly. Clutter is just that, and a nuisance to tidy and dust. Needless to say, the one design category where accumulating may be acceptable is when you live in an old farmhouse in Wales and you are unaffectedly doing “Sweet Disorder.”

Things

All you really need for great home design are a few great pieces. The selection of these pieces may vary. Look for a great painting or photographs, an amazing old piano, a serious piece of furniture or chandelier. You still must take care to mix these with some other pieces, but the overall viewpoint will be distinguished by the more designed items.

Colors

The best color that I have found for walls is named “Linen” on many paint lines. Use an off-white color to contrast slightly on the trim work and doors. If you want to go bolder, consider doing one wall in Rothko Orange or Georgian Rust and the other walls in a warm but neutral coffee shade. This way, the overall look is not overwhelming. Several paint lines are now offering small, reasonably priced “tester pots” that allow you to try the paint on the wall for color and quality.

Floors

When you are purchasing a few great pieces, do not forget to buy several area carpets in wool or silk. Traditional patterns with dark ground colors are the best, as they wear well, do not look dated and do not need a lot of cleaning. Wood floors are then the main flooring. Sisal or coir matting is also good as area carpets, and it can be replaced when needed.

Style

It is best to not cultivate nor indulge in any specific style. Waking up in a lime green bungalow or the mall’s version of French Country is just not okay. Well-designed pieces that you appreciate will naturally sit well together.

Experiment

Do not forget the shmatte! When you go to a fabric shop or showroom, take swatches of the fabrics that you like. Then, ask good questions about the pieces that you have chosen, to be sure that the fabrics will be suitable for specific rooms. For example: Is the fabric durable enough to upholster a sofa that is used by children and dogs when lounging? Will the fabric fade in a sunny window if I purchase it for drapery? What is inter-lining? I am looking for fabric to recover my dining room chairs. Do you have a fabric that is Shabbat-friendly; i.e. crowd and stain resistant? More to the point, fabric that is Uncle Manny-proof?

Theme

Just a quick note about children’s rooms: avoid an abundance of novelty and storybook prints that have a theme in mind. Avoid themes altogether.

Being a designer, I naturally want to style everything, and I confess to being overly concerned about my domain. Perhaps my daughter, like all children, will rebel against her mother’s sense of aesthetic control. I tease myself with the thought of her someday living in one room with naugahide seat cushions and plastic mini-blinds. She will be under-styled, unfussed, and, no doubt, altogether happy. And that’s the point: the real secret to designing is to help yourself feel at home.

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