celebrities, reviews, videos, YouTube

Repost: Teen Steam! Teenaged Alyssa Milano works out!

Here’s an old review I wrote for Epinions.com about Alyssa Milano’s laughable Teen Steam workout video. I reposted it on my Dungeons of the Past blog, but I’m also going to post it here so it doesn’t disappear. I like to preserve my Epinions reviews when I can, and I am probably going to discontinue the music blog at some point in the near future. This review is AS/IS– it has not been edited or updated. So please read this as if it’s 2009, not 2022.

Did you know Alyssa used to be a pop star in Japan?  I like her better as an actress.

Yikes! I’m sure she’d like to forget about this project.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie’s plot.

Ah 1988… What a year that was for people born in 1972. Our birth year may be the one and only thing Alyssa Milano and I have in common, besides being female. As a kid, I used to love watching her on Who’s The Boss, an ABC sitcom in which she played Tony Danza’s daughter, Samantha. And, of course, I’d seen her play Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daughter in the 1985 film, Commando. Back in 1988, all the girls admired her and a lot of the hormonally crazed boys wanted to do her. Naturally, that meant she should put out an exercise video. Perhaps that’s how Teen Steam, starring Alyssa Milano, produced by her mom, Lin Milano, and featuring music by her dad, Tom Milano, came to be.

I will be honest. Back in 1988, when this video was selling via television ads, I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in it… not even for the “stylish” Teen Steam digital watch that was thrown in to sweeten the sale. All I remember was seeing Alyssa Milano on those ads, dressed in a spandex shirt and torn up jeans, hawking her exercise/dance video and singing a very annoying but catchy theme song. My curiosity finally got the best of me and I finally ended up getting the chance to watch the thing. And now, some enterprising soul has posted the whole video in its entirety on YouTube for the whole world to see.

The video

Teen Steam is definitely a low budget affair. Currently only available on VHS, it’s now out of print. Used copies are available on Amazon.com. Judging by some of the comments left by reviewers on that site, I’m guessing that this video might have been meant for teenaged girls, but actually appeals more to adult men. It runs for 30 minutes and is not rated. Below is the actual video, which is still available on YouTube.

I read a comment from one guy who said this video made him shoot “huge loads”. Sounds like he’s using Teen Steam for “off label” purposes.

The “plot”

Okay… actually, Teen Steam doesn’t have much of a plot. Basically, the video starts off showing Alyssa in her bedroom, dressed in spandex biker shorts and a tight fitting white tank top that ends just below her budding bosom. She’s listening to her answering machine and gets a message from a girl named Tiffanie (Tiffanie Poston) who claims she’s having a major problem and asks Alyssa to call her back. Then the phone rings and it’s a girl named Michelle (Michelle Simms), who evidently tells Alyssa that she’s also heard from Tiffanie, but Michelle’s problem is even worse than their mutual friend’s. Alyssa, obviously the most level headed one in this group, invites them both over to her house so they can “work it out” together. Given that this video is a “workout” video, I guess that was sort of a lame play on words. On the other hand, maybe it was an unintentional play on words.

Alyssa heads over to her “hi-fi” stereo and puts in what looks like a mix tape. She presses play and suddenly the room starts to pulsate with some 80s era techno dance music. Alyssa says forlornly, “Another one of those days. I can feel the steam rising.” Suddenly, she’s joined by Michelle who complains that she can’t go out that weekend because she has to babysit her little brother. Then Tiffanie gripes about being grounded for bringing home a D on her report card.

Alyssa turns to the camera and says she likes to work out the stress by working out. Then she rattles off an obviously scripted spiel about how warming up is the most important part of the workout. The three girls start to work out to the increasingly lame techno music as Alyssa directs them, gamely trying to sound just like a pro.

I’m not a horny teenaged guy, so I don’t get into watching Alyssa Milano work out. I suppose I might have gotten into watching this if, as a teen, I really looked up to Alyssa Milano. But she’s my age, so I didn’t see her as a role model back when this video was on the market.

The girls do some obligatory chit chatting as they do stretches and basic dance moves to a soundtrack that sounds like it was inspired by the jungle. I don’t really get the feeling that these girls are friends in real life, but they look nice enough on camera. Speaking of the camera, it pans around to show Alyssa’s face as she sweats and gyrates to the music. Just when I think it can’t get any cheesier, Alyssa and her buddies start to rap sort of half-heartedly. Afterwards, Alyssa giggles and says the next exercise is hard to explain, so we should “follow her”.

Alyssa then leads her buddies in floor exercises. She claims she’s already done her exercises for the day, so she’ll just play coach. Alyssa sits between the two girls and counts, offering constructive criticism every so often. It’s at this point that the music threatens to overtake the girls’ chattering. Between the music and the constant giggling, it’s hard to make everything out. Although Alyssa does a good job of keeping things moving, she’s not very convincing as an exercise leader. But I get the feeling that most of the people who would seriously want to watch this won’t care about that. 

When the floor exercises are over, Alyssa joins her buddies in stretches. She begins with an exercise she calls “pretzel thingies”. Then she tells her audience that if they still have energy left, they can “dance it out” with her and her friends. She faces the camera and reassures viewers that the steps are easy and they probably do them all the time when they’re dancing with their friends. Then she tells them if they get lost, they can either rewind the tape or come up with their own steps. Finally, she offers a half-hearted encouragement, saying “Let’s do it!” as she walks through her bedroom mirror. Real helpful, Alyssa!

The next part of the video is the dance segment. As Alyssa walks through her mirror, she ends up in what looks like a dark alley. She’s dressed in ripped acid washed jeans, high tops, a pink spandex shirt that shows off her midriff, and a jean jacket. She’s joined by a bunch of dancers who gyrate to the cheesy electronic music, but Alyssa’s workout buddies are nowhere to be found. This part of the video is sort of set up like a music video, complete with a loosely told story. It’s really pretty hokey. Alyssa Milano isn’t the best dancer in the world. In fact, she sort of emulates Tiffany’s “hand jive” moves that were kind of popular back in the day. But I’m guessing that most people who would really want to watch this video won’t care about that. 

When Alyssa’s done dancing, she walks back through her mirror, once again dressed in her biker shorts and tiny tank top. Suddenly, we see Alyssa’s friends again. They appear to be doing exercises in fast forward. Alyssa says “Oops” then snaps her fingers. The friends act as if they were stuck in some kind of time warp. At this point, Alyssa does something truly cringeworthy. She appears to try to emulate Dana Carvey’s Church Lady as she sneers, “Well… wasn’t that effect… special?” It’s enough to make you want to jump out of your skin.

At this point, we’ve seen Alyssa work out, play exercise coach, and dance. Now it’s time to hear her sing. That’s right, folks. Alyssa Milano sings too. Apparently, she had a number of hits in Japan back in the day. She walks over to her tape deck and turns over the cassette. I’m suddenly surprised that she doesn’t have a machine with auto-reverse. I would think with the way her career was going in the 1980s, she could have afforded it.

The punchy electronic theme song to the video starts and suddenly Alyssa’s in the recording studio, dressed in her ripped jeans get up. Holding an earphone to her ear, Alyssa starts to sing the following prize worthy lyrics:

“My parents want an angel, my teachers want a brain, my friends all want to party and it’s driving me insane”

She looks like even she thinks the song is stupid, but ever the professional, she sells it as best she can. The lyrics to this song are pretty inane and seem inappropriate for a girl Alyssa’s age, but she has a passable singing voice and the melody is catchy enough. If you’re not careful, it’ll be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. After about three minutes of this, the credits mercifully start to roll, the irritating theme song playing all the while.

Overall

I don’t think I would have liked this video when I was a teenager. I will admit it’s kind of fun to watch it 21 years later, but only as a lark. To be honest, it’s not a very interesting video and Alyssa doesn’t seem that invested in it. I got the feeling that she was doing it just for the money. Come to think of it, she probably was.

That being said, I will comment that this video seems to be popular among men, especially those who admired Alyssa Milano when she was a teenager. She was a very good looking girl and has blossomed into an attractive woman. I’m sure this exercise video was meant for adolescent girls, but I think it’s more appealing to men… and that makes me wonder what the hell her parents were thinking when they got involved with this project! In fact, I also wonder why Alyssa Milano needed to do an exercise video. She hasn’t seemed to have gone through that cursed transition to adulthood that a lot of childhood actors do. I don’t think she ever had an ugly duckling phase.

Anyway… I don’t think I’d recommend this video to anyone who plans to take it seriously. It’s fun to watch for nostalgic purposes and, judging from some of the comments on YouTube and Amazon, some people also watch it for sexual purposes… but remember, Alyssa was only 15 years old when this video was made. Tsk tsk tsk…

Recommend this product? No

Not that I think many people want a VHS cassette of Alyssa Milano’s cheesy exercise video, but here’s the link to Amazon in case anyone does. I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
book reviews, healthcare

Repost: Review of Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist…

Here’s a reposted book review I originally wrote in 2011 for Epinions. com. Hope you enjoy it, as/is!

I guess I can thank our recent return to watching television for introducing me to former cosmetic dentist Michael Zuk’s 2010 book, Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist.  It was sort of a “one thing leads to another” thing.  I was watching Extreme Home Makeover and remembered that there used to be an Extreme Makeover show dedicated making over peoples’ appearances.  I looked it up on imdb.com and someone mentioned Zuk’s tell all book about cosmetic dentistry.  I went to Amazon, noticed the reviews were pretty positive, and decided to download Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist to my Kindle.

What’s this book all about? 

Back in the 1990s, Michael Zuk was bitten by the cosmetic dentistry bug.  He bought into the highly motivational speeches he heard about how cosmetic dentists can change peoples’ lives for the better by giving them beautiful smiles.  So Michael Zuk became a cosmetic dentist and eventually added orthodontics to his practice.  He got into the business of overhauling smiles by giving his patients veneers, replacing enamel with porcelain, and bleaching teeth into brilliant whiteness.

Somewhere along the way, Dr. Zuk lost his enthusiasm for cosmetic dentistry.  He started to notice how some of his overly aggressive colleagues were ruining their clients’ teeth with veneers.  He also noticed that cosmetic dentists were raking in a lot of cash for procedures that might eventually ruin a client’s perfectly serviceable, but not quite camera ready, teeth.

Dr. Zuk also discusses orthodontic treatments and offers his opinions on some of the newer treatments that are available, such as Invisalign.  A lot of clients are attracted to so-called high speed braces, even if the treatment won’t make that much of a difference.  Dr. Zuk explains why clients need to be more informed about their options and the potential risks that can come from cosmetic dentistry.

My thoughts 

I think Dr. Zuk has written a very interesting and useful book for the general public, especially those who might be tempted to undergo a cosmetic dentistry makeover.  Dr. Zuk is brutally honest about the effect some of the more popular procedures, especially bleaching and veneers, might have on a person’s teeth.  He seems particularly against veneers, which are apparently especially damaging to some people.  It seems a lot of cosmetic dentists sugar coat what actually happens to natural teeth when they undergo cosmetic restorations.  Clients may be left with a big bill and teeth that eventually fall apart.  I was pretty shocked when Dr. Zuk wrote that he’d sooner trust a good family dentist rather than a cosmetic dentist.  He seems to think the cosmetic dentistry industry is all about money and, in fact, often comes across as quite cynical.  On the other hand, some of his comments are pretty funny, too.  I actually laughed out loud a couple of times.

One thing I noticed about this book is that it seems to be somewhat poorly edited.  I don’t know if it’s because of the Kindle, but in many instances throughout the book, there was no spacing between words.  So I ended up reading several sentences thatlookedlikethis.  It got to be pretty annoying.  Another thing that might be off putting to some readers, particularly if they are in the dental profession, is Zuk’s rather pessimistic attitude.  He makes a lot of comments about how cosmetic dentists are only in the business to fatten their wallets.  He claims that cosmetic dentists are constantly fixated on other people’s smiles, looking for ways they could be improved at a pretty penny.    

Overall

I am lucky enough to have pretty good teeth, so I have never been attracted to the idea of getting cosmetic dental treatment.  Nevertheless, I did learn a lot from Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist and would recommend it to anyone, especially those who might be thinking about taking the cosmetic dentistry plunge.  I do wish the book were better edited, especially for the Kindle. ETA in 2022: It looks like this book is no longer available on Kindle, anyway.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
reviews, sex

Repost: A review of the Hitachi Magic Wand… 

I wrote this review for Epinions.com back in 2007, when Bill was deployed to Iraq, and just before we moved to Germany the first time. As you can see, I didn’t like it as much as a lot of others did. This review actually ended up in my getting some unwanted correspondents. However, this was one of my most popular reviews. It made a lot of money.

First thing’s first. I am a woman in my 30s (er, I’ll be 50 in a few weeks) and I haven’t seen my husband, Bill, in months. Like lots of women in their so-called sexual peak, I have certain needs. Unfortunately, while my husband has been off defending God and country, my old massager started an irreversible death spiral. As I was shopping for a replacement, I remembered my husband’s comment that the Hitachi Magic Wand Massager HV-250R was the “Cadillac” of vibrators/massagers. Guess he read the ads on the Internet, too. Remembering that little tidbit of information, I decided to purchase one to keep me company until Bill comes home.

What is the Hitachi Magic Wand Massager HV-250R?

Chances are, most people reading this review already know that lots of women use the Hitachi Magic Wand to satisfy their sexual needs. However, I think it’s important to point out that the Magic Wand is actually billed as just a plain old massager. If you look at the packaging, you see leotard clad women using the device on parts of their bodies that are perfectly acceptable for public viewing. Read through the instructions and you’ll find no mention that this product can or should be used for intimate purposes. In fact, the instructions even include a diagram of a fully clad woman marked with positions where the massager should be used. There are no arrows pointing toward the diagrammed woman’s genital region.

This massager is sold by drugstores and sex shops. Attachments are available and sold separately. They looked kind of scary to me, so I opted to just buy the wand. I had high hopes for this product, since it got so many great reviews and seemed to be so powerful.

Specifications

The Magic Wand has two speeds, high and low, which have vibration frequencies of 6000 and 5000 per minute respectively. Designed to be used in North America, the massager uses a 110-120 volt power source and consumes 20 watts. The manufacturers don’t recommend using the wand with an electric converter, which means that when I move to Germany, I’ll have to find a new toy. The Hitachi Magic Wand is about twelve inches long and has a soft, smooth, flexible head. The power cord is about seven feet long. The massager comes with a one year limited warranty and is intended for home use.

My first impressions

Oh boy, was I excited to get this package in the mail last week. I was especially happy because DHL had lost my package in transit and I had visions of some DHL employee playing with my new toy. I was relieved to get my new Magic Wand in a box that showed no signs of tampering. When I pulled my new machine out of the box, I noticed that the plastic seemed a bit lightweight. The power cord was also flimsier than the cord on my other massager.

I plugged in the Hitachi and tried it out at both speeds by just touching the vibrating head with my fingers, something the manufacturers warn that I shouldn’t do. I wasn’t all that impressed with its power, or lack thereof. Later, I tried it as a sensual aid and found that it’s not as powerful as my old massager was when I first bought it. For me, that’s a big drawback, especially since it takes longer to get the desired effect. The Magic Wand uses a motor to make vibrations. The longer you use it, the hotter the motor gets. The hotter the motor gets, the sooner it will overheat. Others may find the Hitachi Magic Wand plenty powerful.

One thing that does strike me as a good thing about this massager is that it’s very compact. Lightweight at just 1.2 pounds, it’s small enough to easily stow in a suitcase. It would be very easy to travel with this massager as long as you’re staying in North America. I also don’t think this massager is excessively noisy, so that’s another plus.

The Hitachi Magic Wand Massager HV-250R is widely available, so even if you’re feeling a little unfulfilled, you can buy it without embarrassment from a number of different retailers. The list price is $69.99, but I wouldn’t pay more than $40 for this massager. Luckily, that’s pretty much what it’s going for these days.

Precautions

I have to admit, I found reading the instructions for the Hitachi Magic Wand very entertaining. Obviously, they weren’t written by a native English speaker, although whoever did write them is very fluent in the language. Here are a few direct quotes from the precautions section in the instructions.

You’ll want to use your massager on your shoulders, arms, back muscles, and legs. It’s not for your chest and certainly not for use around you [sic] thyroid gland (just below the Adam’s Apple)…

The rated maximum continuous use of your massager is 25 minutes. That’s really long enough. Should you wish to use it longer, turn it off and wait about 30 minutes before using it again…

Don’t turn the vibrating head by hand or press it tightly to your body. You could bend the head-supporter, and heavy pressure does not produce a stronger massaging effect anyway…

Never drop or insert any object into any opening. 

Yuk, yuk, yuk…

There are also standard warnings about not using the massager while taking a bath or on inflamed or swollen areas of the body. In fact, the folks at Hitachi even specifically warn that the Magic Wand should not be used on an “unexplained calf pain”. Ouch.

Seriously, this massager seems safe to use as long as the user has common sense. Don’t use it around water, on open wounds, or when the motor is so hot your fingers are burning, and you should be just fine. And be sure to avoid that “thyroid gland”, too… (snicker)

Would I recommend the Hitachi Magic Wand Massager?

It depends. Frankly, I didn’t find this massager powerful enough for my particular “needs”. I don’t like the fact that it’s made of flimsy plastic and has a lightweight and somewhat short power cord. However, I think this massager would be fine for general use on sore muscles. And I also think that some women would find it plenty powerful enough for their sensual tastes. Hell, I find that just reading the instructions is a source of entertainment all its own! But for me, personally, this massager is less like a Cadillac and more like a Dodge Neon.

AND, since it’s a short post, here’s a repost of a blog entry I wrote in 2013, about taking this particular vibrator to the dump.

Taking my vibrators to the dump…

As we’re preparing for the packers to come here tomorrow, Bill and I have been discussing what to do with some items we haven’t been using.  A few years ago, when Bill was deployed, I invested in a “Magic Wand” vibrator by Hitachi.  I was really excited about getting this device, since I’d heard such great things about it.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed with the wand.  Somehow, I also ended up with two of them.  I reviewed the wand on Epinions and ended up getting some uninvited correspondence with yucky, horny men on Yahoo! Messenger.  It was way gross.

So, since about 2007, my vibrators have sat in the bottom of a drawer, bereft of my attention.  I needed something a little more powerful than the Magic Wand and ended up finding something more like a jackhammer for my “special sensual needs”.

I have a few other massaging items that I don’t use anymore… a water bath with jets for my feet, an electric vibrating foot massager, and a cheap chair massager for my back that never fit any of the chairs in our house.  So there’s a pile of massaging items in our bedroom waiting for a trip to the dump.

I’ve been imagining what it will look like when Bill takes these items to the landfill.  One time, when he went there, there were people hanging out at the dump, waiting to see what people were throwing out.  They were delighted when Bill offered them an ugly 40 year old yellow American Tourister suitcase I had inherited from my mom.  They referred to it as an “Ike Turner” suitcase.  I can only wonder what their reactions would be if he offered them my vibrators…

Incidentally, the Magic Wand doesn’t really look pornographic.  In fact, if you read the directions, there’s no discussion of it being used as a sensual aid.  It’s supposedly intended for use on parts of the body that are perfectly acceptable for public view.  But I have never heard of anyone using the Magic Wand for anything other than a sexual toy.  Go figure.

As far as I know, no one who was hanging around at the dump in 2013 wanted my vibrators. I can’t blame them.

Standard
book reviews, celebrities, healthcare, mental health

Repost: My review of Brooke Shields’ Down Came the Rain…

One last repost before I hang up my blogging efforts for the day. This is a book review I wrote for Epinions.com in October 2006. I am posting it as/is.

Having come of age in the 1980s, I have always been very familiar with Brooke Shields’ work as an actress. Brooke Shields has always appeared to be a woman who has it all… looks, brains, money, a successful and apparently fulfilling career, and at last, just a few years ago, she seemed to have found love in her second husband, Chris Henchy. The one thing that was missing was a baby.

Shields was having trouble getting pregnant. She had once had cervical surgery to remove precancerous cells and the surgery had left her cervix shortened and scarred. As a result, in order to have a child of their own, Shields and her husband had to undergo in vitro fertilization. Shields got pregnant, but suffered a miscarriage that was so emotionally painful that she almost decided to give up on her dream of being a mother.

But Brooke Shields found that she couldn’t forget about having a baby. She underwent IVF again and got pregnant, and this time it stuck. Nine months later in May 2003, Brooke Shields and her husband, Chris Henchy, became the proud parents of Rowan Francis. And then, Brooke Shields found herself holding a ticket into the hell of postpartum depression. That hell is what prompted her to write her 2004 book, Down Came The Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression.

I read this book partly because my husband, Bill, and I have been trying to have a baby. Like Brooke Shields and her husband, we have some issues that may prevent us from conceiving naturally. I also have a strong biological history of major depression, so I may be at risk of postpartum depression if I do have a baby. Also, I found this book used and dirt cheap at Fort Belvoir’s thrift shop. I doubt I would have thought to buy this book at its full price or even borrow it at a library, but I am glad I read it. It turns out Brooke Shields is a pretty good writer and her topic is both timely and relevant to a lot of new parents.

Down Came The Rain is not an autobiography of Brooke Shields’ life, although it does include some information about her family. The information is personal, but it also has something to do with Shields’ state of mind and stress level as she embarked on her quest to become a mother. First off, Shields and her first husband, Andre Agassi, were divorced after two years of marriage. Shields doesn’t write much about their time together, except to explain that they had both wanted children, but the opportunity had never presented itself. Not long after the split with Agassi, Shields met and subsequently married Chris Henchy. Then, Shields’ father became very ill with prostate cancer. He died just three weeks before Rowan Francis was born. All the while, Shields was also dealing with insecurity about her future in show business. She had taken time off for her pregnancy and Rowan’s birth.  

Divorce, remarriage, fertility issues, childbirth, career issues, and the loss of a parent are all extremely stressful events on their own. With all of those issues combined together, it must have been almost impossible for Brooke Shields to function. Shields also had serious medical trouble during the birth of her daughter. The child had to be delivered by Cesarean section; the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Shields’ uterus had herniated and she almost had to have a hysterectomy. Somehow, Shields and her baby survived the birthing process intact. Shields was left to recover from major surgery as she became acquainted with her baby daughter and the huge role of being a parent.

To be sure, I could empathize a bit with Brooke Shields. She’s a human being and certainly not immune to human problems like postpartum depression. Shields initially didn’t want to go on Paxil, the antidepressant that helped her get through her ordeal with postpartum depression. She didn’t like the connotations that she needed a drug to help her with her moods. I can identify with that sentiment. When I had depression, I didn’t want to take a drug to feel better, either. I liked to think I could will myself to feel normal. Once I found the right antidepressant, it became enormously clear to me that clinical depression is a very real biological problem that affects the whole body. Brooke Shields also came to that conclusion. She started to feel better and was able to function with the help of antidepressants. Like me, she became a believer in the drugs’ efficacy, despite her very famous public feud with Tom Cruise about their usefulness.  

I applaud Brooke Shields for writing this book about her very personal and painful experiences with the hell of depression and her success using antidepressants. I think it’s always helpful when people talk about personal experiences with mental illness because it helps reduce the lingering stigma. I also like the fact that Shields apparently no longer feels ashamed of her use of antidepressants. Too many people don’t seek medical help for depression because they fear becoming “hooked on happy pills”. As someone who has experienced depression and has taken antidepressants, I can affirm that the pills never made me feel “happy”. Indeed, they made me feel normal, which was a huge improvement over feeling hopeless and suicidal. 

On the other hand, as I was reading Down Came The Rain, it was very clear to me that Brooke Shields has advantages that most women don’t have. For one thing, she hired a baby nurse to help her as she was getting over her postpartum depression. Although Shields makes it clear that the nurse was temporary and she had no intention of handing over the job of raising Rowan to hired help, most women don’t have the financial resources to hire baby nurses when they suffer from postpartum depression. In fact, far too many women can’t even afford to take the antidepressants that Shields took as she suffered with postpartum depression. And it also occurred to me that some who read this book may even feel somewhat bitter about the fact that Shields was able to afford several rounds of IVF, too. That’s a procedure that is well beyond the budgets of many Americans.  

Clearly, with her financial resources, Brooke Shields can afford solutions that are well above the grasp of many women. I don’t mean to imply that Brooke Shields wasn’t right to use whatever means necessary to get past her postpartum depression; I just think that some women might resent the fact that they don’t have access to the resources that Shields does. Shields explains what she did to get over the depression, but she doesn’t offer solutions for ordinary women who can’t afford to hire baby nurses or seek out sophisticated medical help.  

Also, it’s important to know that Down Came The Rain is not the story of Brooke Shields’ life. This is strictly an account of her experiences with postpartum depression. She explains what the depression felt like, how it affected the people around her, and what she did to get over it, but that’s about it. If you’re looking for a whole lot of insight about Brooke Shields’ life outside of her experiences with postpartum depression, you might be left disappointed. There is no photo section, although there is a small picture of Brooke Shields and Rowan on the inside of the book cover.  

All in all, I think Down Came The Rain is a good personal account of the phenomenon of postpartum depression. And if after reading this book you’re left wanting to learn more about postpartum depression, Shields includes a reading list and addresses to reputable Web sites that offer information about the disorder. I think Brooke Shields has written a valuable book that will help a lot of people who are caught in the throes of postpartum depression, whether they be new mothers or the people who love them. What’s more, Shields’ story ultimately has a happy ending, since she has gone on to become a mother again. On April 18, 2006, Shields and Henchy became parents again to daughter, Grier Hammond… ironically, on the very same day, and in the same hospital, where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had their baby girl, Suri.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
book reviews, travel

Repost: Concierge Confidential: The Gloves Come Off—and the Secrets Come Out! Tales from the Man Who Serves Millionaires, Moguls, and Madmen

Here’s a repost of a book review I wrote for Epinions.com in 2011. I am reposting this review as/is.

As an average American of average means, I have never really considered how a hotel’s concierge services might benefit me.  The most I’ve ever asked of any hotel concierge is directions, or perhaps to order me a taxi.  But hotel concierges do a lot more than give directions or make reservations.  The best ones can pull off logistical feats that would dazzle the average person.  And if you’re in a place like New York City, a good concierge can mean the difference between eating in a hot restaurant at 8:00pm or eating at Sbarro’s.  I never considered any of these things until I read Concierge Confidential: The Gloves Come Off—and the Secrets Come Out! Tales from the Man Who Serves Millionaires, Moguls, and Madmen (2011), a book written by concierge extraordinaire Michael Fazio and co-author, Michael Malice.

The book’s premise

Michael Fazio is the co-founder of Abigail Michaels, Manhattan’s premiere concierge service.  But before he helped found Abigail Michaels, Fazio worked in Hollywood for famous actors and as a concierge at New York City’s InterContinental Hotel.  He admits to having the “service bug”, which I would think one would have to have in his job.  After all, he was routinely asked to do things like get tickets to sold out Broadway shows and score tables at hot restaurants for people who were “nobodies”. 

But aside from helping unknowns who were staying at the hotel, Fazio also had to arrange for some exotic requests from people with more money than they could possibly spend.  Fazio arranged for a bathtub full of chocolate for one client, who was hoping to impress a ladyfriend.  He arranged for a last minute helicopter ride to Atlantic City for a mysterious Russian with a suitcase full of cash.  And when the same people kept coming back to him for help, Fazio and his former co-worker, Abbie, started their own concierge business catering to the rich and famous.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this book and probably would have gotten through it in a matter of hours had I not been trying to read it on a very small cruise ship.  I have a tendency to get motion sickness, so every time I tried to make progress in this book, I started to feel sick!  Once I was off the boat, I whizzed through it in record time.  I really enjoyed Fazio’s anecdotes and the enthusiastic tone of his writing.  I felt excited as I read about some of his more dramatic exploits in the concierge business.  Aside from telling stories, Fazio also includes some handy tips on how to get what you want from a concierge, book the best restaurants and hotels, and even how (and how much) to tip.

I definitely have a new perspective on the value of a good concierge.  Now that I’ve read Fazio’s book, I might even venture to the concierge desk during my next hotel stay!  Who knows?  I might end up with a completely different experience than I might have otherwise had!

Overall

If you’ve ever wondered what your concierge can do for you, you should definitely read Fazio’s book Concierge Confidential.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard