Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's Been Lovely, Emma Clarke

We're off!

To London that is, so you'll have to entertain yourselves with the archived postings. And we're off the air.

If you really miss the sound of our lovely elocution, use the Broadcast Audio feature to the right. It plays all of our past Knifestyles radio broadcasts for your listening pleasure. Just pick the blog post and follow along!

Mind the gap.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Older Women on TV

Ahhh, the Golden Age of television. We late Boomers were weaned on the first televised appearances of Leonard Bernstein and Arturo Toscanini, high-culture opera (Amahl and the Night Visitors) and ballet (The Nutcracker)!

Mixed in with all that high culture commercial programming was, well, the junk we consumed.

In the '50s & '60s, we children ate off our TV trays a large helping of home-style comedy and there was always sure to be a menopausal woman in there just to keep it real.

This was all before the dawn of rejuvenation surgery. Even Joan Rivers didn't get her first facelift until the mid-1970s (more about her later).

Pre-dawn, menopausal women on TV came in two two flavors: lonely-loony spinsters or old wives whose beleaguered old husbands put up with them. Both asexual.

Is there a Boomer alive who can't sing the theme song for The Beverly Hillbillies? Probably not. Irene Ryan at 60-years-old showed us how delightful aging could be.

Miss Hathaway epitomized the hopeless spinster, thanks to Nancy Kulp who was a mere 42 at the time. Her physical attractiveness was always disguised with scripted self-humiliation and ugly glasses.

Frances Bavier as Aunt Bea kept Opie and Andy in line with home-cooking and housekeeping on The Andy Griffith Show. She was 58 years old when she took the role as Aunt to Andy Griffith's 34-year-old sheriff and 6-year-old Ron Howard.

Childless Gladys Kravitz risked being throttled on a weekly basis, she was such an annoying Bewitched neighbor. However, cancer got her first and chinless Alice Pearce (age 47) was replaced by Sandra Gould (age 48).

Vivian Vance collected the rent on I Love Lucy, playing over-the-hill Ethel Mertz when just 42 years old. When Lucille Ball (40) found middle-age reality conflicting with the storyline, it was rewritten just enough to make baby Desi Arnaz, Jr. plausible in the second season.

Bea Benaderet was 57 when she lost out on playing Granny or Ethel, but starting in 1963 she succeeded in running the Shady Rest Hotel in Petticoat Junction. As Kate Bradley, she mediated the crises of the owners of the three petticoats hanging on the side of the large junction water tank (all of which is so outdated as to mean nothing to someone under 50 today).

Sylvia Field at 58 portrayed Mrs. Wilson, the kindly grandmother-type next door who always had a smile and a plate of cookies ready for little Dennis the Menace. We all recognized the archetype as the next generation of Beaver's mom.

Rose Marie Mazetta and her little black bow provided spinster comedy at age 38 on The Dick Van Dyke Show. The wisecracking comedy writer and designated typist, Sally was always on the lookout for a husband.

Hazel kept Mr. B doing things her way by withholding desert– an interesting application of child rearing pedagogy, given that Shirley Booth (then 63) played the maid to an ostensibly grown man, corporate lawyer George Baxter.

Television will never be the same.

Old ladies on TV? They've all been operated on! Surely this explains why Generation X infotainment journalists don't see it when composing inane online articles titled "Stars in Their 60s Are Sexy!" – yet eight of the nine white women featured have had face work done. Goldie Hawn's (63) abdominoplasty and facelift scars are visible from Hawaii!

At about the same time that tube television sets became obsolete, the true face of menopause began disappearing from our screens.

Solid-state televisions in the '70s ushered into American living rooms a whole new age, pun intended. Fewer shows starred older women characters and when the parts were cast, none of these women actually looked like our grandmothers. The top two such shows from the mid-80s are illustrative.

Angela Lansbury (59) starred as Jessica Fletcher in the Murder She Wrote series from '84-96. It doesn't take much sleuthing to know she had facial surgery in between solving crimes. In this scene, aging becomes a series of clues about what parts of her face have previously had the most surgery.

Bea Arthur (63), Betty White (62), Rue McClanahan (51) and Estelle Getty (62) played the Golden Girls with facelifts from '85-92. Strangely enough, Estelle Getty needed the help of goofy glasses and a wig to portray the mother of Bea Arthur's character. Arthur, of course, was older than Getty. Here are 'the Girls' from June 2008 (Getty suffered from dementia for the past two decades and was not seen in public).

The effects of earlier surgical alterations are even more obvious when their faces are animated: check out the YouTube video concerning Estelle Getty's death this past July.

These are not aging faces found in nature.

According to Joan Rivers' (75) new book, plastic surgery is all about men. Specifically: luring them in with surgically-created beauty and youth so one isn't alone in old age.

She practices what she preaches. In her February 10, 2009 interview on The View, her neck and lips are still stiff with swelling from her latest procedure and Whoopie looks demoralized. Rivers' best work is behind her (at right, March of 2007). Her present look is a stiff caricature of womanhood.

My personal favorite, Margaret Rutherford (1982-1972), looks and acts just as I remember my own grandmother. In her early 70s Dame Rutherford starred in four made-for-tv Agatha Christie mysteries, wearing her own clothes and her own husband (Stringer Davis). I guess she didn't need Joan Rivers' advice.

Join us Thursday @ 10am to hear Anne flesh it all out with Kevyn Burger on-air. Can't make it? Use this link to find the FM107.1 audio archive of Knifestyles broadcasts by date (second hour). Step one: select the date shown on the blog posting; step two: click on Kevyn Burger; step three: click on second hour. Add your comments below!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This Week in the News: Tameka Raymond

hy would the new bride of R&B singer Usher Raymond (30) go to Brazil to get liposuction? Tameka Raymond né Foster (37) is reported to have suffered suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest last Saturday while being anesthetized for the cosmetic surgery. In plain English, she died and then was revived.

ASA risk grades (physical status scale to predict risk) are used to decide if a patient should have an operation. It will be interesting to know if this could have been predicted à la Kanye West's mother, Donda West.

Cardiac arrests related to anesthesia have an incidence of roughly 1.1/10,000 in the US, Australia, and France. Half of those patients die. The causes are usually anesthetic overdose, hypovolemia (drop in blood volume), or hypoxemia (dop in blood oxygenation ) due to faulty airway mangement. Human error is almost always involved and avoidable.

Some assume Raymond went to Brazil to keep a post-baby tummy tuck and liposuction "mom job" secret/private. The Essence magazine outtake at right is after Usher baby #1 (November 2007) and before baby #2 (December 2008). [Picture removed.]

A neurosurgeon from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Dr. Gabriel Hunt, was flown in to monitor her treatment at Sírio-Libanês Hospital in Sao Paulo– not a good sign. If reports of a drug-induced coma are accurate, it's usually to treat intracranial hypertension. One possibility is generalized brain swelling that can occur in ischemic-anoxia states.

Of course the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has campaigned against medical tourism, though not very convincingly.

Hear Anne flesh it all out with Kevyn Burger on-air. Use this link to find the FM107.1 audio archive of Knifestyles broadcast on 02.11.09. Step one: select the date shown on the blog posting; step two: click on Kevyn Burger; step three: click on first hour.

Add your comments below!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Octo-Mom Revealed

ell, now we know. Nadya Suleman (33) is clearly and profoundly disturbed. I think it's safe to say she has a narcissistic personality disorder and the self-indulgent factor rides at the top. The obvious facial plastic surgery fits right in with having all the children just because she wants them.

Here's a short closeup of her face during the interview with Ann Curry on NBC.

Her nose is definitely operated and not very tastefully. It's too small for her ethnic face. Her lips have been augmented (and recently) to rival anything in Hollywood. Which is the next clue: her chosen face and family is supposed to remind you of the celebrity she wishes to emulate– in her own twisted fashion– Angelina Jolie (33).

This woman doesn't (and won't) see the disconnect between what she says about raising these children and the reality of what has been going on since the very first birth.

Hear Anne flesh it all out with Kevyn Burger on-air. Use this link to find the FM107.1 audio archive of Knifestyles broadcast on 02.11.09. Step one: select the date shown on the blog posting; step two: click on Kevyn Burger; step three: click on first hour.

Add your comments below!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Baby Love x 8

Eight? Really? Eight babies. In one uterus.

What's happening?!

We pride ourselves here at Knifestyles on being the "Science Thursday" of the celebrity world, exploring the medical misconceptions showcased in People magazine and the like.

But now a young, six-time mother presents the taxpayers of California and Kaiser Permanente with eight premies.

Twins are the up-to-the-minute fashion accessory in celebrity circles (Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Lisa Marie Presley, Geena Davis, Marcia Cross, Nancy Grace, Dennis Quaid, P. Diddy, Melissa Etheridge, Diana Krall, Patrick Dempsey – oops, I've run out of room). Has this engendered a public right to likewise 'put in an order' for a multiple pregnancy?

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has come a long way since Baby Louise who just turned 30 (our first test tube baby works at the post office now).

The case of Nadya Suleman aka Doud (33) does not just raise questions, it shouts them. The only thing we know for sure is that someone's not telling the whole truth.

Q: How did she procreate so many, so often?
High tech fertility à la mode requires a lot of expertise and equipment. This was not a do-it-yourself job. It's possible that a one-time pharmaceutical hyperstimulation of the ovaries (eg, 10 day course of injected pergonal, hMG, or FSH) may have provided enough to stock the freezer. Donor-dad has only one brief performance to make, usually in the clinic restroom with the magazine of his choice. Once stockpiled, these frozen embryos can be thawed sequentially and stored indefinitely.

Q: Doesn't the biological father get a say?
Well, no, if it's done through a reputable sperm bank. But several of the previous birth certificates list the Y chromosome as belonging to "David Soloman." It's a bit queasy knowing this name translates to "Doud Suleman" in Arabic.

Q: How did a single parent of six, attending school and living with her divorced mother, afford repeated IVF pregnancies?
In California it costs about $12,500 per cycle to attempt IVF, slightly lower in areas where insurance plans cover it. Five successful transfers in six years is staying pretty busy; each pregnancy is 40 weeks in gestation plus another few weeks in pharmaceutical preparation. I'm going to hazard a guess that her egg retrieval and first five transfers were covered under her insurance and were done by-the-book. She was probably on a first-name basis in the fertility clinic. She may even have sold eggs to help defray the copays.

Only this last time was different.

Q: Why eight?
Perhaps her parents' financial underwriting was at an end: "this is your last baby and I mean it!" If she hadn't met her goal, she may have reasoned (okay, too strong a word) she could get her way by using up all her remaining frozen embryos in one fell swoop. But– eight out of eight embryos all take in one transfer? It is statistically improbable.

Q: Why would a doctor go along this?
He or she wouldn't. It's unbelievably risky for mother, babies, and physicians. The serious and sometimes lethal complications of high-order multiples are enough of a medico-legal liability to dissuade any physician from transferring so many embryos, but there are also professional guidelines.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) both call for no more than one or two embryos for a generally healthy woman under 35. Reproductive endocrinology is a small club and its members are aghast. "Anyone who transfers eight embryos should be arrested for malpractice" says bioethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan.

All of which leads me to suspect we'll find out that this last IVF was without physician involvement. Perhaps Suleman and a highly-trained technician pal made use of an employer's facility to thaw and transfer the remaining baker's dozen on their own time. I'm taking bets on it.

Q: But what about the Chukwu octuplets in Texas?
The only other live-birth octuplets in the US were delivered in 1998, the result poorly monitored fertility drug use, not IVF. The smallest died within a week and the other seven needed about $250,000 of NICU apiece just to get them healthy enough to go home.

Q: Who's going to pay for this?
Kaiser Permanente, the largest not-for-profit managed healthcare plan in the US, will likely pass along their costs to their 8.6 million members. The average price tag for just one cesearean birth is about $25,000 in California; this one took 46 doctors and nurses to deliver. NICU care is in the range of about $2,000/day/baby. The bill will be well over $2M.

Dr. Charles Sophy
, medical director of Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, says studies estimate the providing the bare necessities to raise a child to adulthood is $2.5 million. Or roughly $35 million for 14. The cost of services for the babies with on-going health problems and disabilities, the ones short-changed in that crowded uterus, increases that amount exponentially.

A family living on $61,742 and owing creditors $984,426 as of a year ago, is unlikely to be able to meet even a fraction of these crushing expenses. The cost will most likely fall to the state of California.

Q: Can any of this possibly be in the best interests of the children?
A single parent with fourteen children under the age of eight, eight of whom are going to mature simultaneously, is quite outside the laws of human nature. I wish we could rewrite the ending of this fairytale.

Join us Thursday @ 10am to hear Anne flesh it all out with Kevyn Burger on-air. Can't make it? Use this link to find the FM107.1 audio archive of Knifestyles broadcasts by date (second hour). Step one: select the date shown on the blog posting; step two: click on Kevyn Burger; step three: click on second hour. Add your comments below.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In the News: Swayze, Jobs, Jett Travolta, First Dog

his week, we go over the medical news: Steve Jobs and Patrick Swayze share hospital beds, Jett Travolta and epilepsy, and the Obama's quest for an allergen-free White House pet.

Strange bedfellows, those two. Patrick Swayze (55) and Steve Jobs (54) were both laid low last week with complications of pancreatic cancer. Both have remained in the public eye, but with markedly differing attitudes.

The pancreas is a large gland that lies horizontally behind the stomach and supplies the body with insulin and digestive enzymes. Ninety-five percent of pancreatic tumors are adenocarcinoma. One of the most aggressive and difficult-to-treat of all cancers, fully 75% of patients die within first year after diagnosis. Famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti succumbed to it, as did actors Michael Landon, Fred Gwynne (aka Herman Munster and Harvard grad), Jack Benny, Rex Harrison, Donna Reed, Fernando Lamas, and Joan Crawford. All of Jimmy Carter's three brothers and his father died of it.

In mid-2004 the legendary head of Apple underwent treatment (most likely a Whipple procedure) for an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor– a different and very rare pancreatic cancer responsive to treatment. Approximately half recur, often spreading to liver.

Defiantly private, Jobs' increasingly cachectic appearance and failure to appear at Macworld trade show led to a sharp drop in Apple shares ($5.5 billion). Always a force to be contended with, on January 5th Jobs testily proclaimed it nothing more than a "hormonal imbalance" and shares went up. Just a week later nearly $10 billion in shareholders' market value was wiped out when the "more complex" test results came back, requiring a five month medical leave.

If Jobs' has had a recurrence of his cancer, shareholder lawsuits will likely result. A CEO's personal health is a private matter until it affects the operation of a publicly-held company. Misleading statements about such lie within the realm of securities fraud.

Voted People's sexiest man alive in 1991, Patrick Swayze is terminally ill with Stage IV pancreatic cancer and he knows it. In an extended interview with Barbara Walters (79) January 7th, Joffrey-trained Swayze credited his wife of 33 years, Lisa (51), with helping him get through "this elegantly as I have."

This from a guy who went one-on-one with Chris Farley in SNL's Chippendale's tryout skit.

Both of the women in the interview have had full facelifts, browlifts, volume added, and probably some eye work. Swayze himself has undergone some endoscopic face work, sometime early in the decade. Check out Keeping Mum (2005, a lovely film)– it's not the same face that made Baby do Dirty Dancing (1987).

The untimely death of Jett Travolta (16) on January 3rd has raised questions about how a closely supervised teenager could die of an epileptic seizure.

Seizures are often a side effect of other illnesses (eg, Sen. Ted Kennedy's event at the inaugural luncheon), but not often the cause of death. The 1% of Americans with convulsive seizure disorder have the same life expectancy as others. There is, however, a poorly understood syndrome called sudden unexpected death in epilepsy patients, or Sudep, which occurs in 10 to 15 of 10,000 patients with poorly controlled seizures.

Officially speaking for the family, lawyers Michael Ossi and Michael McDermott have added to the confusion by offering medically nonsensical statement. An exclusive interview was given to, the celebrity gossip site underwritten by Warner Brothers & AOL and known for a mix of salacious content and speedy posting.

The 16-year-old suffered from uncontrolled grand mal seizures after being taken off Depakote (valproate semisodium), the most prescribed anti-epileptic drug worldwide. The Travoltas, after consulting neurosurgeons, stopped administering it because they felt it had lost its effectiveness.

Scientology believes in medical intervention for physical illnesses, but does not recognize those involving the mind as such, eg, autism or psychiatric disorder, nor the use of psychotropic drugs. Based on precepts laid down by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard (d. 1986), its adherents view mental illness as psychosomatic and to be treated via its proprietary brand of spiritual healing, not with conventional therapies. Only when a physical (organic) cause for a "mental" disorder is proven, does it move from the field of psychiatry to the field of medicine.

The Obamas' dog dilemma?

That an easy one. There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. The major allergen in canines is a protein that dogs excrete in sweat and shed from their skin. There are no skinless dogs!

If anything, factors related to individual dogs seem to influence the allergenicity more than breed or gender.

So here's the deal, Malia. You can have a dog on trial. The dog stays out of your bedroom, since you spend a lot of time in there. Wash your hands after you pet it. And make sure those staff keep the White House clean. But (there always is one, you know), if you have to visit the ER for asthma or you need significantly more medication, the dog has to go.

Tune in @ 10am to Anne flesh it all out with Kevyn Burger on-air. Can't make it? Use this link to find the FM107.1 audio archive of Knifestyles broadcasts by date (second hour). Step one: select the date shown on the blog posting; step two: click on Kevyn Burger; step three: click on second hour. Enjoy!