Posted by: Ariel Leve | June 13, 2010

Same Book, Different Title

I know I have not blogged in a long time – more on that later.

In the meantime, The Cassandra Chronicles is now out in the UK paperback and you can buy it here

It’s been re-titled: It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me.

This is the US title – which I love. AND it now has the US cover, which I also love.

That’s not me under the pillow.

But it could be.

Posted by: Ariel Leve | April 18, 2010

Anyhow is a good word

People say all the time you live and learn, but sometimes you just live and keep going.

Today, The Fussy Eater column is in The Observer Food Monthly.

There was a nice review in for It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me.

Posted by: Ariel Leve | April 10, 2010

40 Days?

That’s right. It’s been 40 days since my last blog post.

How do I know this? Because a loyal reader sent me an e mail alerting me to the fact that he’s been waiting. He also let me know that he will give up his allegiance unless I post something soon.

There’s nothing like the threat of abandonment to get me motivated.

Plus, I’ve just discovered I have something new to add to my “Things I’m Not Good At” list. Blogger!

It’s a long list.

Next Tuesday, April 13th, my book will be on sale in the US.  I’m excited. There are a few things that I will post here next week –  an interview with the hilarious AJ Jacobs  – but the link is not up yet. Check back for it please.

You know how people say: don’t judge a book by it’s cover?

Well in this case, you CAN judge the book by it’s cover.

Posted by: Ariel Leve | February 25, 2010

A Few Things

1. Thank you to all the nice e mails from people who listened to Quote/Unquote on BBC Radio 4 the other day.

One woman wrote: You sounded a lot better then I thought you would.

I like that she had such low expectations.

We taped two shows back to back and a new show will be on  Saturday the 27th at 11 PM.  Marcel Theroux, Mary Beard and Arthur Smith are also on the panel and make it worth listening to.

2. The Observer Food Monthly column will be called The Fussy Eater (i love that title) and the first one runs Sunday March 14.

3. I’ve been shortlisted for British Press Awards Interviewer Of The Year. The dinner/ceremony is on March 22 and win or lose (which we know will be: lose) I will report back on how it went.

4. Is it okay to wear the same dress I wore two years ago when I went? Why not. I haven’t worn it since and it’s still in the dry-cleaning bag. No one will notice. And if they do, who cares. I hate the thought of having to shop for a new dress. My self-esteem plummets when I don’t fit in the one I really like or worse, when I DO fit into it and only then, look at the price-tag.

5. I’ll be in the Oxford Literary Festival March 27th at 4 — a debate between an optimist and a pessimist.

My event is scheduled at exactly the same time as Martin Amis.

Posted by: Ariel Leve | February 16, 2010

Men Should Never…

Last night, while waiting for a friend to arrive at t a restaurant, I decided to scrutinize all the men in the room and note the most unappealing moves. There were the obvious ones: using a Blackberry, nose-picking, etc. But there were also some lesser known moves.

If the goal is to be sexy, here is a list of things a man should never to do in a restaurant:

Licking your fingers.

A handsome man in a suit was licking his fingers after devouring a piece of shrimp tempura. Is this really necessary? That’s why God invented a napkin. Unless you’re at a Bar-B-Q, there’s no reason to lick your fingers. And even at a Bar-B-Q, if you’re over the age of ten, it’s questionable.

Using a bread stick to emphasize your point

Batting the air with a bread stick does not enhance your masculinity. Neither does pretending you’re a conductor and waving it in front of an invisible orchestra while you speak. No one should require a bread stick to communicate with authority. This also applies to a chopstick.

Reading the menu out loud

There was a couple on a date and the man was shouting the menu across the table even though the woman he was with was neither deaf, nor four. She was looking down, reading it for herself. He wasn’t suggesting things either or making comments along the way. He was simply reciting it to her. And because she was British, she was too polite to tell him to stop. Nothing is less attractive than a man yelling: “Shi-tacky mushrooms”

Admiring oneself in the mirror

There was a long mirror on the wall behind the banquette and men were seated facing it. Most of them were doing a good job of discreetly glimpsing every now and again. But one man in particular was clearly struggling with having to look at his date. The only thing less attractive then a man looking in the mirror while at dinner is a man looking in the mirror at another woman who’s just walked in.

Gargling the wine

Chipmunk cheeks are not sexy. Swishing liquid around in your mouth is not an attractive move. If we’re married and you’re in front of the bathroom sink with a mouthful of Listerine, naked, it’s cute. If you’re in a restaurant, gargling the first taste of wine it’s not cute. It’s annoying. You can taste it without swishing it. Take a sip like a normal person.


If you’ve ordered a drink that comes with a straw, there is no reason to for anyone to hear you consume those last few sips. Let them go. Or, order a new drink and start over. There is no woman who will find this attractive, Unless she’s looking for Homer Simpson.

Posted by: Ariel Leve | February 9, 2010

What Not To Say

Don’t get too excited. Just because The Labor Department reported the number of people out of work fell from 10% in December to 9.7% in January, that doesn’t mean the recession is over. It fell because fewer Americans were looking for jobs, not because jobs were no longer being cut.

Here’s a list — partial, not comprehensive – of things not to say to someone who has lost a job:

“You never know who will end up where.” I know this is intended as an optimistic statement: someone who likes you, values your talent, and sees your potential could one day be in a position to hire you.  But it could just as easily go the other way. Someone who dislikes you, doesn’t get you, and secretly longs for your failure ends up with the power to turn down your job application.  What’s the message? Be nice to everyone no matter how inept and unqualified they are. One day, that person might be your prospective boss.

“You’re not alone.” I’ve never understood how this is a comfort. So there are other people in the same boat, but if the boat is sinking, is that supposed to make drowning more enjoyable? Why is thinking about how other people are suffering meant to make me feel better?

Something else will come along.” Yeah, poverty.

“You should have/you should be…” Complete the rest of the sentence with anything as long as it’s totally unrealistic and unattainable. For instance, “You should have your own TV show.” Good idea! I’ll go out and make that happen. I know it’s meant as a compliment, but it generally reveals a fundamental lack of understanding as to how things actually work and therefore feels alienating. And it’s even worse when someone suggests a job that’s already taken by someone successful. “You should have Diane Sawyer’s job.”  Thank you. And you should have Bill Gates’ bank account. Good luck with that.

“You really have to milk your contacts now.” My heart starts to beat faster whenever I hear this. What contacts are those? The contacts I never kept in contact with so that I didn’t use up my free pass for a favor for when I really needed it? If I was the sort of person who was capable of milking contacts efficiently, chances are I’d be a lot better off.

Posted by: Ariel Leve | February 5, 2010

Breaking News. Almost.

Thank you to everyone who has written to me about Cassandra.

Here’s the news. I will be writing a monthly column for the Observer Food Monthly – starting in mid-March.

There will be a new Daily Beast column out tomorrow.

What else. I am still writing for the Sunday Times Magazine.  I have something running this Sunday.

In America, it’s known as Super Bowl Sunday.  Can’t wait!

That’s not true. I can wait.

Here’s something else that’s not true. People say all the time you live and learn.

But sometimes you just live … and keep going.

Posted by: Ariel Leve | January 23, 2010

The End. Kind of.

Welcome to my blog.

We’ll see how it goes.

Right now, it’s not as terrible as I thought it would be.

So, Cassandra has ended. It ran for five years and I’m ready to move on. (Not really but I don’t have a choice)

But I’ve got a NEW column. I’m excited.  Here it is on The Daily Beast.

I hope you will check it out. Same voice, different venue.

Posted by: Ariel Leve | January 22, 2010

Frankly, I’m Getting Fed Up

Frankly, I’m tired of people putting “frankly” in front of everything that comes out of their mouth. It used to be used sparingly – and it meant something. When someone prefaced a sentence with “frankly”, you had a right to expect them to reveal something interesting – or at least, candid. But now it’s become a conversational tick, a convenient way to introduce every meaningless utterance and make it sound serious. As soon as I hear someone say, “frankly, I prefer the chicken”, I know there’s no going back. Just say you prefer the chicken. You don’t have to make an announcement.

But at least “frankly” is familiar. There are all sorts of expressions I’m hearing lately that I don’t even understand. Recently, I heard about some of the new office jargon that people are using.

One saying is; “let’s not try to build a chestnut fence to keep the sand dunes in”. The translation for this is; “let’s confront the problem head on”. Why isn’t saying “let’s confront a problem head on” good enough? And what is a chestnut fence anyway? Maybe in Britain where everyone gardens, it makes sense.

Another saying is; “let’s put this idea in the fridge and snack on it later.” I can’t imagine who would think this makes them sound professional.

Another expression that’s become popular in the workplace is: “I’m coming into this with an open kimono.” Luckily, my workplace is at home where I won’t ever have to hear someone say it. It’s a variation of a slang term used in the business world. “Open the Kimono” means let’s see what you have to offer.

Who thought this up? I don’t want to visualize some shlubby finance director throwing open his kimono. And aren’t kimonos wrapped front to back with the open side tied with a sash at the back?

Another visual that makes me cringe is when someone says, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Yuck. I find this expression extremely unpleasant – particularly when i’m eating. And I’m not even a cat person.

In the category of annoying expressions, the one I’ve always had an issue with is when someone says, “I like to think outside the box.” If you’re the sort of person who says this, you’ve just demonstrated that you’re not an outside-the-box thinker.

People latch on to words all the time in order to couch bad news. The buzzword I’ve been hearing a lot of lately is that someone didn’t “respond” to the material. Writers hear this regularly. I guess it’s a gentle way of saying they’re not interested but why does it have to be sugar-coated? It doesn’t sweeten the rejection.

Also, it’s not even accurate. If I hear “she didn’t respond to the material” I think – she DID respond. She didn’t like it. That’s a response.

Of course, the classic expression everyone hates most is “at the end of the day” and yet, people still say it. I think they can’t help themselves. There should be interventions for people who are unable to control their cliché usage. If you say more than three clichés a day, you go to cliché rehab. You’re surrounded by other people walking around saying things like “it’s not rocket science” and “we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

But the worst – the all time worst – is an expression that’s become increasingly popular over the last year or so. Someone will voice an opinion on something innocuous like what they had for dinner and follow it up with: “I’m not gonna lie.” Why telegraph it? And is anyone even challenging the authenticity of the statement? Usually not. People who say this add it on to a sentence that doesn’t require lying in the first place. As in, “Nice kimono, I’m not gonna lie.”