Jason Alexander's second sitcom since the uber-successful "Seinfeld" has gone off the air.
"Listen Up" was cancelled by CBS last week, just as Alexander's new children's book "Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy?" hits bookshelves.
So far the only "Seinfeld" alum who has found success in television is the show's creator, Larry David, whose "Curb Your Enthusiasm" has fared well on HBO. "Seinfeld" stars Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Alexander have all seen their shows go off the air rather quickly.
There really does seem to be a "Seinfeld Curse," but let's hope the curse can be broken with Alexander's book.
"Tooth Fairy" is labeled a children's book, but it is more a book for parents confronted with aging children who begin to question conventional fairytale wisdom — like, is there really a Santa Claus? — and gives them an option on how to deal with those questions.
It's a valid book — however, one of my biggest Grrrs with the publishing industry is that people who strive to be writers, like last week's Stupid Lit'l Dreamer — Marc D. Giller — have to work for years before getting the attention they deserve from publishers, while celebrities are handed opportunity after opportunity simply because they are famous.
That's not to say Alexander is not a talented individual.
Indeed, he's very talented, having starred in movies, TV and theater, most notably as George Costanza on "Seinfeld" — and after meeting and interviewing him last week for FOX Magazine, I've also learned he's one of the most down-to-earth and nicest celebrities on the planet.
Get this quote on raising his kids.
"The thing that I have to deal with," he said, "is finding a way — particularly being that I live in Los Angeles, which is a town full of illusion and questionable values and morals, and the fact that my children are being raised with financial means and the odd behavior that surrounds a celebrity — so imparting to them what really has value and worth is a little harder than how I was brought up in a middle-class family," he said.
When Alexander goes to Disneyland with his children, for example, he says they don't wait in lines. It's important, therefore, he says, to teach his two young boys that that is not normal and that they are not better than the families who are waiting in line. It's just that skipping the lines is the only way for them to experience the rides as a family, as otherwise he'd be bombarded by autograph requests.
"I can say that until I'm blue in the face," he said, "but will they get it? I have to deal with giving them a real sense of what is valuable, what is right and what is moral, when all they see at their age is privilege, and that's tricky," he said.
That's one of the most honest things I've ever heard a celebrity say. Here's a guy who's on top of the world, and what's important to him is that his children are brought up the right way.
"Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy?" (search) looks like a children's book, but its message is very adult, and a good read for all.
I made such a rookie mistake a few weeks ago. I bought a puppy from a pet shop. Now granted, not all pet shops are The Death Star, and the folks at the store where we bought our dog seem nice enough.
But the beautiful little Yellow Labrador Retriever we named Ginger Snap (see her pictured with baby Maxine in the photo section above) succumbed to pneumonia over the weekend, after visiting four separate veterinarians, including a specialist emergency hospital.
Her first visit to the veterinarian came just five days after we bought her. She was diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection and labeled "unfit for sale."
I don't even want to tell you how much money the vet bills ended up costing, but it's a lot more than twice the amount of the puppy's purchase price, which is what the pet shop is liable to reimburse me, according to the bill of sale.
I've heard plenty of stories from people who have had bad experiences purchasing pets from pet stores, but I thought, naively, that it wouldn't happen to me. Unfortunately it did, and I am not alone. Thousands of pet owners are sold pets who are already sick — anything from kennel cough to respiratory tract infections to pneumonia — every year, and the problem is not unique to pet stores.
"These bacteria are airborne, and a lot of puppies contract these types of illnesses," said one of the doctors who saw Ginger at the Garden State Veterinary Specialists, (search) a by-referral-only animal hospital.
Ginger was given a throat wash, where fluid is shot down her wind pipe and then pulled back, followed by a sample of what kind of bacteria is in her lungs. This is done in order to prescribe the most affective antibiotic.
The doctors also nebulized her, where she is put in a chamber to breathe in a mist that loosens the fluid in her lungs, and then she is pat on her chest for 15 minutes so that she'll cough it up and out of her system.
Unfortunately, the pneumonia was too advanced, and at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, she curled up in a corner of her cage and stopped breathing.
Where is the protection for the consumer in these cases?
Ginger became part of our family as soon as we left the pet shop, so not trying every means possible to save her life was not an option. Unfortunately, that costs money, and there's not much a consumer can do about it except hope for the best.
So what can be learned through all of this?
"There are different ways people get dogs," said Dr. Tom Scavelli, founder and director of Garden State Veterinary Specialists. "You can purchase them from breeders, from pet stores or you can get them from friends," he said. "Each one is a viable way to get a dog. The issue is to have an exam by your veterinarian within a week. This way any genetic problems and certain infectious things can be detected."
Dr. Scavelli also recommends getting issues of The American Kennel Club Gazette, "which will often have contacts for people who have litters of certain breeds, but the key is to be checked out quickly," he said.
That's good advice. Unfortunately we couldn't save little Ginger Snap, and it'll be hard for us to consider buying another dog again.
The 2005 graduating classes at colleges and universities around the country are dressing in polyester gowns, smiling and waving at family members with video cameras and accepting their diplomas, which symbolize four years of hard work.
Four years ago, as these students began their first semesters of collegiate life, the world was turned upside down by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Suddenly, frat parties and football games didn't seem so important, being away from the comforts of home seemed more challenging than some had anticipated and these college freshman had to rely on each other for support, even though they were virtually strangers.
For many students, the attacks altered their outlook on the future. Some changed their area of study while others chose to join the armed services. In addition, the group has been influential in increasing the level of religious and political debate and social activism on campuses nationwide. In some ways, the attacks and their aftermath have made these students stronger and certainly more aware of the world in which they live.
As the class of 2005 takes its next step into the "real world," they will always share a common bond. Forced to mature faster than most college freshmen, these graduating students have experienced courage, support and determination that will keep them and theirs and our nation in good stead for years to come.
Mike Straka is the director of operations and special projects for FOXNews.com, and covers entertainment and features on the Sunday program "FOX Magazine." He also writes the weekly Grrr! Column and hosts "The Real Deal" video segments on FOXNews.com