What’s the latest from Athens? It’s Greek to Me

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By Risë Birnbaum

Haven’t seen so many flip flops since South Beach this winter.  What’s up with Greece?

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version – Yes, Greece defaulted on a big loan payment because the country and its creditors aren’t on the same page.  This is right up there with Antigone as a Greek tragedy.  The scoop is Greece wants more money, but didn’t want the higher taxes and lower pensions to help cover the loans.  So ATMs around the country are now only dispensing 60 euros to any one bank customer.  Ouch.

And then Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made a U-turn and decided he could agree with most of the bailout terms if a few changes were made.  But, wait, it’s not over yet.  Now, it seems as if Tsipras is again urging Greeks to vote AGAINST the bailout.  And if there is a “no” vote, Greece will be shipped out of the eurozone.

What to do?  Send John Stamos over as the new Greek “ambassador” to explain what’s going on?  Open up some new Greek yogurt plants around the country?  Send more Royal Caribbean cruise ships to Athens filled with tourists and pray no one gets a stomach bug?

In the meantime Puerto Rico said si, it’s also cash-strapped.  All this 3-card monty has the global markets stuttering.

Greek is in a pickle cause its borrowing power is now zilch and even if the country votes yes, it’ll take weeks to work out terms and who knows what happens to the government during that time?

Meantime bankers’ hours in Greece are as short as they’ve ever been with all banks closed, and the economy wasting away.

This has become a euro-disaster with only one short-term solution.  It’s a four letter word that’s pretty potent.  Nopel, not euro.  OUZO.

Gay & Be Marry!

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Reporting from the ‘gayest’ city in the US, the streets of DC are rainbow-ed. The United States Supreme Court announced a 5-4 ruling that same-sex couples have the right to marry in any of the 50 states. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and said, “The reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples.” Love is in the air!

So, the courts finally say “Yay!” on gay.  After avoiding the question in 2013, the government has finally boarded the LGBTQR2D2C3PO… train. Though it took us waaay too long, we have actually moved into the 21st century.  Even though Ireland, one of the most Catholic countries in the world, beat us to it – better late than never.  While 35 out of the 15 states were already ahead of the game, SCOTUS has finally accepted that gender does not matter – love is love.

Gays can be flashy as hell, and they sure didn’t disappoint today. There is nothing short of a celebration outside of SCOTUS, and Twitter is just as much of a party. Even Obama  (well, one of Obama’s official tweeters) – tweeted his support:

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zcomm felt the gayness, happiness, and love first-hand. An experience unlike any other, two of our own ventured the three quick blocks to the White House and were immersed in gay pride.  zcommers are gay for gay!

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SO, for the 15 states that hadn’t approved same-sex marriage; sorry you’re late and your opinion no longer matters. Now, let’s just call it marriage, instead of gay marriage!

So Bummed over Hannibal

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By Risë Birnbaum

NBC put a fork in the show and said “it’s done.”  And I need to up my meds ‘cause the thought of losing Mads is maddening.

I’ve been a fan of Mads Mikkelsen since “After the Wedding” years ago, and you couldn’t ask for a more perfect lead to this lush, beautifully shot, seductive show.  I mean I love food shows AND thrillers and this is the perfect blend of the two.  Where else can you watch a guy in a painted-on Savile Row suit flambé a human liver with cognac reduction and nibble on it with a side of kidney carpaccio and a full-bodied red?  This is not exactly Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and it’s even way too bizarre for Mr. “I’ll eat anything” Andrew Zimmern.

This show is divine — a feast to our senses.  I swear I can actually smell all the roasting and toasting as Hannibal so capably sears up a storm in his kitchen after dispensing with another victim.  A recent show had Hannibal keeping a colleague alive while he skillfully removed one leg, then the next limb, braised them to perfection and then invited the poor wheelchair-bound houseguest to the table for dinner.  A meal to die for.  And his knife skills are pure heaven.  (Even Gordon Ramsey would concede that fact.)

It seems I’m not alone in my Hannibal romance (Hannibromance?).  When NBC announced it was dropping the show’s next season, fans (or fannibals) took twitter by storm to try to resuscitate the dying show #Hannibal.  How can we lose this lush, sexy mix of style, fashion, food and blood?

My guess is, we won’t.  If NBC doesn’t backpedal and opt to keep the show, another network will gobble it up fast.  It’s too good.  Mads Mikkelson is the perfect dinner host, and Gillian Anderson and Hugh Dancy make very nice side dishes.  And if they aren’t enough, the word round the table is that David Tennant may make a guest appearance.  Now, that’s a dinner party worth joining.  Just don’t wear white.

Hope for the Pope

By Risë Birnbaum

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I’ve always liked the whole Pope-mobile/red shoe thing the Popes have going on (Gucci or Prada?), but never been a big fan of the Church’s silence on pedophile priests (at least up until last week!).  That said, the Pope’s latest document on global warming is pretty darn cool.

Pope Francis defends science by saying, “plenty of scientific studies point out that the last decades of global warming have been mostly caused by greenhouse gases … generated by human action.”

So, what do some of the Catholic Presidential candidates have to say about the pope’s latest scientific declaration?  Both Jeb(!) and Rick S. pretty much distanced themselves from the papal white paper.  Bush said, “I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”  Santorum made it clear we need to leave science to the scientists.  Then, Bush mumbled something about the waters getting higher around Miami (hope he has an arc in mind…or at least Carnival Cruise Ships).

The thing is, this ongoing “I am not a scientist,” Republican line is beginning to wear a little thin.  Why?  Because not only are the world’s scientists the ones claiming that climate change and global warming are real, but also because Pope Francis is actually a scientist.  Yup.  The current pope earned a degree in chemistry and worked as a chemist before joining the seminary.  Put that in a pipe and smoke it.

Get this irony – many of the Republicans want to leave the science to scientists, yet they won’t listen to the factual evidence for climate change. Isn’t that what science is all about – the study and behavior of the world through observation and experiment?  Don’t we know there are facts surrounding climate change that are rock solid?  And now, they won’t listen to the Church either.  It’s obviously going to take more than heaven and earth to get these folks to listen to someone with a brain. Honestly though,

And, if the Repubs want to get millennial’s on their side they better start seriously thinking about the reality of climate change, gay marriage and evolution ‘cause these are big issues for the flip flop-wearing, texting crowd.

As for Pope Francis?  Given his views on abortion, gay marriage and climate change, I’m definitely warming towards him.  I mean, who can argue with a guy who says all dogs go to heaven? Just pray others are, too.

Cocktails with Clinton

Risë Birnbaum

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Hillary Clinton and I are soooo tight.  OK, strike that, maybe not “soooo” tight, but, I did get a chance to chat a bit, shake hands, look into those intense blue eyes and see her in action, up close and personal.  This all took place at a beautiful home in Washington, D.C., under sunny skies with ample glasses of rosé, small plates of roasted veggies and various salume.  Yum.

The first part of the evening was a little shoulder-rubbing with (and in my case, rubbernecking of) some D.C. elite.  The home was large, art-filled and beautiful.  After about a half hour of cocktails and conversation, we were herded into a room where we had the opportunity to quickly chat and take a photo with Hillary.  I mentioned to her that I was friends with her son-in-law’s cousin, and she knew exactly who that was.  I’ve met Hillary twice before at various events, and one thing that stands out is that when she locks eyes with you, you firmly believe for those 20-odd seconds that she is standing on this planet just for you.  Call it what you will, but I call it a phenomenal asset that is hard to come by.  If I had to shake hands with 100 people, by number 30, I’d probably be dozing off.

No dozing during her speech, that’s for sure.  She spoke on the outdoor patio near the pool for nearly a half hour.  And it was just what I wanted to hear from her.  She reinforced the need for more funding for early education, discussed the challenges of climate change and its’ dangers, as well as the need to both align with foreign leaders and be wary of some.   One thing is for sure, I’m not sure Hillary has any room left in her passport for more stamps.  She sure has foreign affairs down pat.

I do not think of her as a hawk (despite the fact she voted for the Iraq war, which was a mistake) but rather as a seasoned politician who is extremely capable. What was my take away from the event?  A higher regard for Hillary as a politician, grandmother and future leader.  And just as an aside…she looks damn good in person.

 

BYE BYE BRUCE, HELLO CAITLYN

It’s Trans-Jenner Time

Risë Birnbaum

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Caitlyn Looking Coy

Just when you think you’ve heard and seen it all…there’s more.   World — meet Caitlyn.  Caitlyn is gracing the July cover of Vanity Fair and, yes, Caitlyn used to be Bruce.  Annie Leibovitz captured Caitlyn for a cover that will go down in history about a his-to-her story.

No, this is not a still from Ex Machina, it’s formerly Bruce Jenner, the worlds’ greatest Olympian, who is looking pretty hot in some lingerie.  I’m not sure she’ll be the next Victoria’s Secret model, wait — strike that.  I think Victoria’s Secret might jump all over this opp.

Remember, this is the same testosterone-fueled person who jumped higher and ran faster than any other Olympian in the world (though hormone levels have probably changed).  And now this javelin-tossing athlete is striking a pose like a 1950’s  pin-up girl.

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Bruce Jenner wins the Decathlon

As the red blooded all American woman that I am, I still drool over pics of Bruce when he won Gold.  That said, I guess Bruce-turned-Caitlyn still looks pretty fetching.

I could crack jokes all day.  It’s too easy.  This is an amazing story that will hopefully liberate men and women who believe they were born the wrong sex and are determined to do something about it.  If Bruce had not become Caitlyn, he might have died.  He and his family admit that.

So, Caitlyn is waaaay out of the closet, way beyond that box of Wheaties and way beyond the limits that we place on ourselves.

Bruce was amazing at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.  But, mon dieux, Caitlyn is even more amazing on the cover of Vanity Fair in 2015.

FEE-FI-FO-FUM I SMELL THE STINK OF A FIFA BUM (OR MANY)

THE GIG IS UP FOR THE WORLD CUP

Risë Birnbaum

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Wow!  Hang onto your cleats.  FIFA just became a household word.  But, def not in a good way.  Overnight, the FBI busted a whole bunch of FIFA execs who allegedly took a ton of bribes and kick-back moola to help steer media, marketing and sponsorships in the Americas worth like gatrillions.  Talk about inflated balls.

Why were our G-men able to make the bust?  Because the plans and payments were reportedly made and carried out in the U.S. — that’s why.  After all, the US TV market is like #1 in media money when it comes to the World Cup.  So, when it comes to ad dollars, The Cup runneth over.

What were some of the clues besides the fact US prosecutors smelled something rotten at FIFA for years?  One big one is that Qatar is hosting the World Cup in 2022 and the summer temps can climb to a toasty 105 degrees.  That’s schvitz city for any pro soccer star and definitely NOT a place to start kicking the ball around.  Think about it, a soccer player could play 100 minutes running up and down a 130 yard field for almost 8 miles in just ONE match.  Add 105 degree sun to that formula and I just hope the medics are on call.

As for Russia winning the Games for 2018…I’m sure some rubles changed hands, but at least there’s a much lower chance of a sand storm or heat stroke.

And for FIFA – it’s one big red card.  And a big score for the FBI.