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31 posts from March 2009

March 31, 2009

Parade of the Springtime A**holes.

Parade of the Springtime A**holes

By Sarah

Is it just me, or have the rest of you noticed that when winter thaws the a**holes rise to the surface?

Croci in snowTake this weekend. On Friday, I cleaned out my garage still messy from construction that was hastily finished as the snow fell in November. Then, like a good little recycling Vermont socially conscientious person, I filled up my car with bags of cans and bottles and tons of cardboard and went down to the dump where I was told that despite paying FORTY DOLLARS a month for curbside trash service to the same company that ran said dump, I now would have to pay to recycle.

So much for pitching in to reverse global warming.

"Rule changed January first," the dump guy said, smirking at my car loaded with smelly disgusting cardboard. "That'll be four bucks."

Now, if I'd been a true Vermonter, I would have burned the whole toxic pile in my backyard and thrown the bottles/old tires/bazillions of paint cans over the hill into the woods. There used to be a car down there Rusted car that has now become one with the soil though my sister in law who has a nice wooded lot in her "city" home downtown spent an entire summer digging up old license plates and assorted pieces of junk from her future garden. So I don't put much faith in that one-with-the-soil business.

Fortunately, I'm middle aged now so I tend not to believe what people tell me, even if they're wearing monogramed blue shirts. Removing the cardboard from my car, I threw it in the crusher and informed said dumpster maitre 'd I wouldn't be paying any fee. Emptied out the whole car in front of him as we argued.

I love being an adult.

Next up? The car wash where, having politely cleaned out my car to the side so as not to block the Ferrarivacuum, I then pulled my car up to the one remaining vacuum only to be cut off by a kid in his late teens driving a newly washed 1998 Honda Civic. He proceeded to wipe it down carefully with a lime green shammy cloth like it was a $200,000 Ferrari while I studied him, contemplating how someone so young could be so stupid. As if he spent his life in a dark room drinking 64 oz. Cokes while flipping through seven hundred channels in a cable-hooked daze. I smiled at him in an attempt to hint that maybe he should start vacuuming. He smiled back and wiped the chrome.

Twenty minutes of careful polishing and no vaccuuming later, a line had formed. He popped open the back of the truck and slowly, slowly rolled the shammy. Look, the Pope would have folded the Shroud of Turin with less care. That done, his friend showed up bass pounding. Oh, lucky day! . At which point, genius strolled over for a little chat.

I leaned out of my car. "Hey! Are you gonna use the vacuum?"

"Nuh uh." The thought, apparently, hadn't once crossed his mind. I'd wasted a half hour.

Back home, my neighbors - the ones in the rental where once the crime lab spent the entire day digging up a buried fetus hence its local nickname, The Fetus House - emerged to rev their engines and shout HillbilliesBooyah! I'm guesstimating two, three families in there. It's a fire trap. Thank god they have the RVs out front to hold the overflow.

Maybe it's because the winters are so tough here and we're stuck in our houses that when the snow begins to melt we emerge, clueless and blinking, dulled by woodsmoke and carbs, with no regard for our fellow human beings. But whatever it is, where I live people are jerks in the early spring.

Like bears.

How about you?

March 30, 2009

Viva Les Villains

Viva Les Villains

By Harley

Last week I went to Edinburg!

Not Scotland; Texas. Courtesy of The Red Queen, a film I acted in last summer that made it onto the big screen.

My expectations were not high, because the film’s budget was quite low. How low? They held a bake sale to pay the salary for me and the film’s other 2 union actors. How low? My agent wouldn’t take commission. (This is shocking.) Everyone else worked for free, for college credit.

The premier itself was fabulous, from the white limousine to the mariachi band. A beautiful sequin-studded man serenaded me with a 17-verse song, not one word of which I understood, as I stood with a mouth full of Rice Krispie treat, trying to convey pleasure without truly smiling (because there were things stuck in my teeth. Actors should not eat at film premiers.)

I loved making the film, working with students. Really talented, nice students. At least, I’m pretty sure they were nice. A lot of communication was in Spanish, Edinburg being on the Mexican border. I liked to think there were deep conversations on the works of Pedro Almodovar and Carlos Saura, but it’s possible they were saying, “If I ingest more vending machine Skittles, I shall go mad.”

I played [spoiler alert!] an undercover lay nun who turns into your standard cold-blooded killer. I got to shoot a large plastic golden gun. Who could resist that?

My friend David wrote and directed it, and my “audition” was as follows:

David: You should do this. I can shoot you out in 4 days and you could stay at our house.

Harley: Can I bring the kids?

David: Yes, but we can only pay for your ticket. Coach.

Harley: Okay. What’s the part?

David: Church Lady. She’s evil. And she speaks French.

Harley: I’m in.

David: Could you do your own French translation?

Oh, and Church Lady had a martial arts fight to the death in the film’s climax. But not to worry, David said. I’d have a stunt double.

Now, in a perfect world, a stunt double bears a passing resemblance to the actor he/she is doubling. This being Low-Budgetville, mine was 30 years younger, 6 inches shorter, Latino, and male.

But gifted! A Latin Bruce Lee. Also, he was able to fit into my blouse (which I left in Edinburg for reshoots, a reason not to wear your own clothes in a film) and someone procured for him a blond wig that started out looking like Doris Day and ended up looking like Charo, so, you know . . . roll camera!

And, as directors like to say, “Don’t worry, we’ll fix it in editing.”

Which they did. I think. I’m no editor. Being an actor, all I see is me. When writers go to movies, they pay attention to the script. Directors notice shot composition. Camera guys focus on . . . focus. And lighting. Hairdressers spot bald spots. Costume people freak out over continuity--buttons that get unbuttoned in the close-up and re-buttoned in the 2-shot. So yes, all I saw during the fight sequence was that Charo wig, but that doesn’t mean you’d notice it.

The main thing was, I had a great time. It’s good to be bad. Yay for moral decay. Because who’d you rather hang with, Clarice Starling or Hannibal Lecter? Who’s a more popular Halloween costume, Obi Wan Kenobi or Darth Vader?

I could go on and on. Luca Brazzi. Heathcliff. Colonel Klink. The Bad Seed. Alexis Carrington. Count Dracula. Lord Voldemort. Cruella deVille, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Dr. No.

Who’s with me? Chime in!


March 29, 2009

Shopping Cart from Hell

Shopping Cart From Hell

By Nancie-the-Gun-Tart

My experience with little people, also known as children, used to be nonexistent. The 10 days I spent with Harley and her three offspring has  elevated my field of knowledge.

Harley decided to give me real world experience. She sent me to the grocery store with the two 6 year-olds. Alone.

I wasn't picking up on the blatant clues. “Good luck,” Harley said as I exited the house and I heard maniacal cackling as the door closed. The next clue was the two hobbits breaking off their conspiring whispering in the backseat and assuming angelic expressions as I backed out of the driveway.

Those of you with children are cackling yourselves at this point. Oh yeah. I’m screwed. 

After we parked the car, those two were battling it out for some reason and laughing hysterically as they tried to trip each other up. “No bloodshed in the parking lot.” I said. They barely gave me a glance as they continue the cage match sans cage. However, a woman overhearing us stared at me, horrified.

The children spied the shopping cart from hell, the kiddie-friendly one resembling a bumper car, and decided we must have this cart. I knew at this point I was violating actual laws: children in my inept care without a permit and no CDL or aircraft carrier operator license. I wasn’t sure what category this cart fell under but I dubbed it the USS Giganitsaurus.

The two little ones squashed themselves into the car-shaped portion. Perfect. I’d have complete control over them if they were in the cart. Bwhaha! I had to maneuver this behemoth of a monstrosity with 40 wheels all turning independently of each other.

The store was kind enough to set up an obstacle course for us with those fragile cardboard displays placed strategically every 5 feet on opposite sides of every aisle. I struggled to avoid the displays and keep little arms away from the lower shelves in their attempts to relocate products to the floor. Due to our abysmal time through the obstacle course and the big dent in the frozen foods case at the southwest corner we failed to achieve recognition in the event.

The cart corral in the parking lot was under some evil mystical force of magnetic energy that can only be described as the weirdest friggin’ thing I’ve ever encountered. Who would charge metal poles to entrap children? The munchkins were sucked into this vortex with such intensity their limbs were instantly entangled. I’d get one released after a struggle and attempt to free the other, only to watch in horror as the first one was pulled back into the forces of darkness. Well, this couldn’t be good. Clearly, I was dealing with something out of my realm. A malevolent supernatural power.

Now what? I imagined if I left with two children I must return with two children and they should be the same two I took with me. 

I finally figured out my inner magnetic force field was the catalyst in this vicious triumvirate of evil and walked away. The children were instantly released and beat me back to the car. 

“So, how did it go?” Harley asked, when we returned. I just looked at her. She nodded. “This is why I plan my shopping trips without the kids.”

“When did I ever question you on this?”

She laughed, yes LAUGHED at me.

Next time I’m going to teach them Slug Bug and other variations thereof -- Cadillac Whack, Dodge This, PT Cruiser Bruiser…

Any I’m missing? Feel free to make suggestions so I can educate a new generation.

March 28, 2009

When Life Hands You Lemons

TLC welcomes back guest-blogger and friend-at-large, Robin Starr

 When Life Hands You Lemons . . .

by Robin Starr

If you’re one of the currently 204 Friends Harley has on Facebook (the woman picks up friends like I pick up crumbs), you might’ve seen a recent reference to lemons. It was a private joke, but due to the confusing and ever-changing intricacies of Facebook, Harley answered for the entire world to see. Now, here I am, in the flesh (of the lemon, as it were) to satisfy your wild curiosity.

This winter I visited Sunny California, to escape the miserable New York winter, and saw my buddy Harley’s new home. I expected magnificence, and was not disappointed -- I was floored by her back yard. Fruit trees. Tons of them. Lemons. Limes. Pommelos (those crazy grapefruity thingies). Kumquats. More lemons. On the trees. On the ground. In the pool, on floats, sipping frosty drinks with umbrellas in them. For a New Yorker lucky to get her impatiens to grow in the summer, this was a source of amazement. But upon closer inspection, I saw that some lemons were mutated. Teenage Mutant Ninja Lemons. Thus began our “lemon joke.”


The first question: how to differentiate lemon trees from lime trees, since they look the same. I delved into the World Wide Web and got more than I asked for, always the case when I start Googling. In a nutshell (or lemon rind): If you tear a leaf off a lime, snap it in half and smell it, it will strongly smell like lime. Do it to a lemon and the scent is much milder. Same thing at the juncture where you snap a stem off the tree, if you get your jollies by putting your nose next to bark. There are a zillion varieties of lemons and limes; what’s in supermarkets is the tip of the iceberg (lettuce?), generally Lisbon or Eureka lemons. Eureka! Limes are picked green so they remain that color; if left to grow they turn larger and yellower, which could confuse you if you don’t smell that leaf.  See? Grocery store limes are generally Tahitian or Persian. Sounds so exotic for something you stick in your Mojito. You can also graft two citrus fruits onto the same tree. The pomelo is an ancestor of the grapefruit. And on and on it went.

At this point lemons were everywhere. Store displays. Magazine ads. Lemon Chicken Chinese takeout. The produce drawers of a friend’s refrigerator (I was looking for chocolate). I went to Florida (anything to escape winter): more lemons. Even one large plastic one in a jar inside a model home I was touring. ($50,000 to have a professional decorator spice up this model and they bought plastic fruit.) I was obsessed with its ugliness. My husband thought I’d lost my marbles.

The high point was Key Lime Pie, one of the best recipes ever created for mankind. Incidentally, Key Limes are not green; they are yellowish, which is the test of a real Key Lime Pie. If it’s a pale yellow, it’s the real deal. Places that want to impress you will color it green. Your mouth buds will not be fooled, if you are experienced, as I am, after extensive pie research in Key West.

So now we’re left with the question, what can our dear Harley do with all those lemons?  She can exfoliate. Lighten her hair. Become a chef. Shove them down the garbage disposal to sharpen the blades. Redden her lips like the ladies of Louis XIV’s court. Fight a cold. Cure scurvy. And as they say, if life gives you lemons . . .

March 27, 2009

Truth or Scare

Truth or Scare

By Kathy Sweeney

Today, let's share what gives us a scare.  Personally, I don't like to be scared - I don't even like suspense. This means, among other things, if you've seen a movie before me, I will hound you until you tell me how it ends.  My son and I almost came to blows over that scene with the ferries in "The Dark Knight".

Blog horror_movies I understand that fear is important - even critical - for survival.  I get the chemistry of it, the endorphins and whatnot that help us run faster and react with greater strength.  I just don't find it fun.  I don't like scary movies; I don't do the real ghost tours of cemeteries; I don't even like to read books that scare me.  An astute counselor helped me figure out how to deal with manufactured fear, so it's not like I'd have a complete meltdown if I went to see an M. Night Shamalan flick, but I don't seek them out either.

There is also a difference between intelligent avoidance and actual fear.  I give you, for example, the squirrel.  Many people think they are just cute as a button and feed them so they keep coming around.  Not me.  Squirrels are roving bands of killer vermin with fluffy tails.  A squirrel will bite your face off and not think twice.  Like that cute little bunny in Monty Python's Holy Grail, a squirrel's playful exterior houses a soulless killing machine bent on world domination.  So the fact that I avoid squirrels does not mean I am afraid of them, it simply means I am smart enough to keep myself out of obvious danger.  I wouldn't run around in the middle of one of Nancie the Gun Tart's shooting ranges, either.  Duh.

Blog roller_coaster Then there is the difference between thrills and chills.  Thrills you can get on roller coasters.  I love them - there isn't a ride out there I won't get on.  But a realistic haunted house?  No way, bub.  Call me crazy, but I don't like surprises that involve chain saws.  Real torture (as opposed to Penelope Pittstop on the train tracks kind), even for pretend, is not entertaining to me.  I totally understand the appeal to lots of people;  I'm just not one of them.

In my day to day life, real things scare the heck out of me.  Every time my kids leave the house without me, I'm afraid something will happen (control issues much?  nah). People who act like total creepers scare me.  Nutwhack jobs with guns scare me. Fire scares me.  And, the older I get, the more stupid people with political power scare me. On the other hand, thunderstorms do not scare me.  Neither does the dark.  We even had a little pet snake once.  Spiders are a nuisance but they don't scare me.  I've kayaked on white water and bungy jumped, but I won't play chicken with a real car (any more).  Get the idea?

Here is today's game, my TLC friends:

Tell the truth.  Do you like scary stuff for fun?  What really scares you?  

Just so you know, you have to tell the Truth because I told Her, Margie and her cousins they could be in charge of the Dares.  Assuming she shows up for work.  Fridays are always dicey with that one.  Come to think of it, so are Mondays.  And sometimes Wednesday afternoons.  Sigh.  

March 26, 2009

Riding Buddies

Riding Buddies

by Nancy    Go to fullsize image


My husband has a buddy he goes riding motorcycles with.  His friend Chris.  It’s an odd sort of relationship, if you ask me.  They ride their bikes a couple of hours, stop and have lunch (they’re on a quest to find the best pie in the state) and then they ride a couple more hours and come home.  The whole of the ride, they're wearing helmets. In other words, the grand total of quality time when these riding buddies might actually be talking is about 20 minutes.  And my husband tells me they spend most of that 20 minutes in what he calls “companionable silence.”

Now . . . to a woman, this kind of friendship is hard to understand.  When I go out for lunch with friends, there are usually at least 4 of us and we can all talk at the same time for 3 hours and keep track of several conversational threads, admire each other's shoes/jewelry/skincare products and offer support for family or career uproars, share titilating gossip, and spill the beans about what books we’re all reading. Or writing.  We talk politics and manicures with equal enthusiasm. During a single lunch, we've been known to give advice on birth control, Opi vs. Sally Hansen and buying a hybrid car.

Men of the blog, I’m looking at you today.  Do you have a guy pal? Someone you hang out with? Maybe you play basketball in the driveway? Go to the driving range on Sunday morning? Is there a man you have lunch with and could ask about, say, Rogaine? Do you share your dessert and phone numbers of your favorite hairdresser/physician/shoe outlet?

Ladies, does your husband have a real friend?  Someone he does things with? Talks to? Shares confidences? Asks advice? 

Lately there’s a lot of buzz about this kind of relationship.  It’s been called a “bromance,” and it’s a close, non-sexual friendship between grown, presumably but not necessarily heterosexual men.  Last weekend saw the opening of a movie on the subject starring Paul Rudd, who’s best known in our household (90% female if you count the dogs) as the love interest in the movie Clueless, but lately I gather he’s been in a lot of dopey boy movies with the likes of Seth Rogan. (Which is why, I’m sorry to say, I probably won’t be making time to see this one either because Knocked Up just infuriated me.)  Anyway, the new movie is about the difficulty a lot of men have in finding a friend and maintaining a friendship without any effort from the wife to set up playdates or the beer-drinking equivalent. 

                               Go to fullsize image 

Fellas, do you have a friend you take to ball games?  Do you go out for beer and pizza afterwards? Talk? At all?

Sure, my husband goes to ball games, the golf course and cocktail parties thrown by accounting firms (look out for lampshades with that bunch!) but he hardly ever goes out with the same guy regularly.  He’s a football official, so there’s a lot of locker room camaraderie in his life. And he’s got what I’d call a healthy relationship with the guys he works with.  Well . . . they talk sports at lunch.  But as for a "best friend"--I don't know if he could name someone.

Get this:

"A 2006 study by sociologists at Duke University and the University of Arizona, found that the number of friends that we discuss things with has decreased by 33% in the past 20 years. And the young, educated male has lost friends in a number higher than that average. Male-to-male companionship is almost lost in the United States . . . "

Now, my husband had friends in college.  They hung out together a lot. But they haven’t lasted. When did they drift apart? When they “grew up?” Or when they got married and their wives took over their social lives?


Or did they simply run out of things to say?

I know somebody here at TLC is going to pipe up with a bromance story. But I've heard that the object of your husband’s bromance is a man the wife can’t stand.  Is that true at your house?


And what about sons?  Do the young men in your household have friends? Or are they sitting in front of their computers playing shoot 'em up or looking at porn?


I think there are some professions that better foster man-to-man friendships.  Like the military. (There's no place like a fox hole to make a buddy?) Or police work.  But plumbers? College professors?  I don't know.


And here's the kicker:  Does it matter if you don't have a friend?


Okay, discuss.  I'm listening.




March 25, 2009

Patriotic Retirement


Patriotic Retirement

By Elaine Viets

I would like to herald David Otterson for his solution to fix our economy. He’s right up there with John Maynard Keynes and other economic brains, at least in my opinion.

David Otterson of Largo, Florida, proposed the following plan in the St. Petersburg Times:

"There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force . . . pay them $1 million apiece severance with stipulations.

"They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings – unemployment fixed.

"They buy new American cars. Forty million cars ordered – auto industry fixed.

"They either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – housing crisis fixed."

Three major fixes for a relatively modest price tag of 40 trillion dollars.

I am awestruck.

The St. Pete Times ran an article asking readers how they would fix the economy. Answers ranged from slashing taxes to investing in space missions. My second favorite idea was to legalize pot, which would empty overcrowded jails, bring in billions in tax revenue, and mellow out the nation.

Consider these additional benefits from David Otterson’s plan:

Working people would be rewarded. Instead of enriching useless memo writers and pointless pencil pushers, folks who actually had to sweat for their dollars might see some money.

Increased respect for older Americans.

Old crocks would become vessels of wisdom. Older working persons (and future millionaires) would be appreciated for their intelligence and maturity, not to mention their money.

A fifty-something receptionist who spent thankless years answering phones, fetching coffee and dealing with dunderheads, would become an Uncle Sam millionaire. She could devote her days to deserving young persons, particularly unappreciated pool boys and righteously ripped parking valets.

A sixty-plus gentleman trapped in a nowhere job would cease to be another bore at the bar after work. Young people would hang on his every word and hope he opened his arms – and his bank account.

Marriages would become stronger: Tired of your spouse after twenty years? Think how an infusion of cash would renew interest in each another. The glow of a million dollars could soften harsh wrinkles, reduce unsightly fat and blind you to turkey necks. As mature couples grew closer together, the men could afford the Viagra their miserable insurance now limits to six tabs a month.

If you still didn’t like one another, well, half a mill is a nice parting gift.

Other businesses would benefit: With a million bucks, mature Americans could afford to travel, eat out more often, buy new clothes and save the economy by spending their way to prosperity. They might even pay their credit card bills and other debts.

Conservatives and liberals would agree: The million bucks should go only to us hard-working Americans, not jobless freeloaders.

What would become of the 40 million Americans suddenly thrown out of work? They could devote their time to hobbies such as traveling, boating, beer-drinking and meddling in their children’s lives. All of these activities times would stimulate the economy, especially the last one. Rewriting your will every week or so would put unemployed lawyers back to work.

I can promote this plan without any taint of self-interest. As a full-time writer, I don’t have a corporate job. But my husband does. If he got a million bucks to leave work, he’d trample those twenty-somethings running for the door. He’d cheerfully forgo collecting Social Security for another ten or fifteen years, thereby letting the fund rebuild. It would be his way of paying forward.

When I proposed the patriotic retirement idea to him, he said, "But I don’t want an American car. I love my 23-year-old foreign car."

It’s coots like you who have ruined this country by refusing to spend, sweetheart. You don’t have to drive the new car, just buy it. Parking is scarce in our neighborhood, so you’d stimulate the economy by renting a parking space. Besides, when our cars are in the repair shop, we’ll have something to drive.

"But if forty million people are millionaires, will our money be worth anything?" he asked.

That’s a risk I’m willing to take.

March 24, 2009

The Amazon Wears Prada

The Amazon Wears Prada

By Sarah

Last week, after years of earning straight As and studying for the SATs and joining the ski team and a bazillion extra curricular activities as well as holding down a job, our daughter, Anna, was accepted to Smith Smith College, one of her top choices and, like her other top choices, a women's school.

Ask the guys she knows what they think of that and you would have thought she'd inflicted a Lorena Bobbitt on them out of spite.

Since applying and especially since being accepted, the general reaction to her choice hasn't been what one might have expected. (Smith? That's a great school! Home to Sylvia Plath and Betty Friedan. You're going to get one hell of an education.) Nope. It's been more along the lines of...

"It's a lesbian school, you know." (The "not that there's anything wrong with that" implied out of politeness.)

This is quickly followed by a not so carefully veiled question intended to ferret out if, indeed, she might find that to be a good thing. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

But what really cracks me up are the guys who, like I said, seem to have taken Anna's choice personally. What? They ask. Don't you like men?

Okay, since when did guys get so sensitive? I mean, when I was in college there were plenty of Mrs obnoxious jerks who accused me of going to school only to earn my MRS. (Good joke, that one. Love it most the five hundredth time it's cracked.) First they ridicule us for going to college with them. Then they demand to know why we don't.

I was thinking of this the other morning when a D.J. for a local radio show read a quote from Julia Roberts about how men don't like her because she's smart and tall and men feel intimidated. Hey, my husband can't stand Julia Roberts, though I kinda like her, so I get the Julia Roberts controversy.As far as I can tell, she never went to college. Just played a Wellesley student on TV.

Julia roberts  On the other hand, the D.J. couldn't wait to chime in how her movie tanked compared to Nicholas Cage who might be tall but has never struck me as particularly deep in the brains department.

I'm going to carefully avoid the larger issue of misogyny going on around the world in various religious cults and cultures because that would only debase these larger and more serious issues. Knocking a girl for going to an all women's college is one thing. Removing her clitoris at age four is quite another.

So, sticking to American culture, I want to know if it's true that men are threatened by smart women - still. Last I checked, they were happy to be relieved of the pressure to earn all the income, make all the tough decisions. Hillary almost beat Barack and she would have probably beaten Whathisface. Thick necked steel workers were cheering her as their gal.

Is that because she's short? True, she did go to Wellesley, though that bus between Wellesley and Harvard Square ran with the reliability of a hookers to a sailor conventions I recall. And there have always been rumors of her sexuality. Still...my understanding was that our country had moved past this strong women = ball busters thing.

Or am I wrong?

Maybe one of you can explain since being neither particularly tall or smart, li'l ole me is just plum confused.


March 23, 2009

Is cool uncool?

When did "cool" become uncool?

By Lisa Daily

Raise your hand if you remember a few years back when every person in America with a TV set was wandering around pointing at objects and exclaiming, "That's hot!" ?

Yes, folks, thanks to the great wordsmith Paris Hilton, America had a new catchphrase.

The other day, I was sitting in one of those spectacular vibrating chairs, getting a pedicure, and flipping through US WEEKLY, noticing a significant lack of Paris Hilton.  Not that I miss her.  It just struck me that she's not making as many appearances in the pages of my favorite gossip magazines as she used to.  "That's sexy!"  didn't catch on the way "That's hot!" did, and the poor girl hasn't been engaged in weeks.  Maybe (gasp!) months.

Anyway, an hour later, I was sitting on the couch at home with my five-year-old daughter watching Schoolhouse Rock.  We were singing along to "Interjections!" and at the appropriate moment, we both sung out "Hooray!"

It occurred to me at that moment that you just don't hear "hooray" as much as you used to.  And I started thinking about how and why words go in or out of style.

Thanks to Candace Bushnell and books on the front table sporting designer shoes and bubblegum pink covers, "fabulous" has reached it's peak of popularity, and is picking up speed on the downslide.   "Cool" was cool for awhile, and then it became uncool, and now, I think it might be cool again.  I'll have to check with my  18-  and 16-year-old nieces, Lizzy and Cassie to be sure.  (As I, sadly, am too uncool to know for sure.)

"Swell" wasn't cool for thirty years, until a couple of smart women attached it to funky dishtowels and martini shakers, and suddenly "swell" was swell again.

Cigarettes used to be "fags" , "gay" used to be happy.  Still is, I guess, although one meaning now drastically overshadows the other one.

And I had many, many discussions with my agent about whether or not the main character in my novel, Fifteen Minutes of Shame, would say "crap!" or something a little stronger.  (Really.)  My thinking was that she'd say crap because 1) she's Southern, and 2) "crap" in my opinion, is the most genteel of all the swear words. My agent, on the other hand, was older than me by about twenty years, and from NYC; She thought "crap" was passé.

New words come into favor or existence because we need them, and try as you might, you'll never find an acceptable substitute for "boy toy" or "spamming" or "High Fructose Corn Syrup" in Ye Olde English dictionary.  

I am fond of words.  I like running across an old favorite I haven't used in a while, like "serendipity" or "effervescent" or  "flatulence".  Some words simply go out of style because they are mean, or degrading, and we as a society have managed to learn another lesson about the power of our words to influence or hurt.  We put these words to rest intentionally.

But what about words like "swell"?  Or "goober"?  Or "Dy-no-mite!"   Why do these words lose their charm?  

What words would you like to see back in circulation?


March 22, 2009

Spring Styling Tips from Rocco


Ciao, Bellas!

Friday was officially the first day of Spring!  Regardless of whether Mother Nature is following along in your neck of the woods, it's a good time to start things FRESH!

I will leave the specific fashion tips to the pros, but I can tell you that softer, happier colors look good on just about everyone this time of year.  Winter skin can be dry and pale - but don't over do it with the make up - it just creates more contrast.  And need I say it aloud? NO TANNING BEDS.  If you need that glow, find a salon that does good spray tanning (in case you didn't know it, most booth/auto spray tans have a smell that is, shall we say, ewwww) or experiment on self-tanners until you find one that looks natural. The Fake'n'Bake is just wrong in so many ways, my sweets, that we all know better by now.

Blog Rocco Ped Let's talk hands and feet!  A good pedicure is a must at least several times a year, and if you can't afford a salon, do it yourself - but do not use the razor shavers at home.  Just take a few moments each time you shower to exfoliate your feet, and over time it will make a huge difference.  Manis and Pedis, by the way, are not just about the polish.  Dead skin is bad skin. Too much of it not only looks ugly, but is bad for all that good new skin suffocating underneath. And unlike hair color, with nails, the carpet need not match the drapes.  Stick with a good, non-chip brand like Chi or OPI, but remember that every body's chemistry is different, so a color that may work for you may not work for someone else. Lots of beauty supply stores have little sampler sets so you can try the colors without investing in a big bottle.  (Many of my lovelies carry the little ones for touch-ups).

Now for the crowning glory: hair.  So, so many things to tell you, but let's start with the absolute must-dos:

You must choose a style that you can maintain.  It's no good if you stop traffic on your way out of the salon if you look like a car wreck the rest of the time.  Talk to your stylist - and go LIGHT on the product - that's the #1 mistake.  Unlike some other things, a little goes a long way, darling.

The photos from the magazines - can be very helpful to your stylist - BUT - and hear me clear, dear, unless your stylist is either a surgeon or a wizard, you are NOT going to look the person in the photo.  Don't mock - you'd be surprised how often this results in tears.

Bangs - easy, now big boys, I'm talking about the hair that grows above the forehead.  Please please please do not cut your own hair.  I know it's just so tempting when you're having a bad hair day, but breathe deep, center yourself, and wait until you can get to your salon.  Most good stylists will do bang trims for free (although a small tip is always nice) because it makes your next trim so much nicer for everyone.  Oh - and don't lie to us, my angels.  We know.

Color!  Things are much more natural and subtle these days - the days of excess are over everywhere, bunny, including spring locks.  Blended highlights rather than stark, and my stars and moons - unless you are performing nightly on stage, the dark roots have been over for so long I shouldn't even need to discuss it.    One more thing - if you try your own color at home, and your hair looks frightful, be honest with us.  We know anyway, and we can't really help you if we don't know what chemicals we're dealing with.  I mean, we're not just pretty faces behind the chairs, you know.  We're educated in these things, both in school and on our feet.

Well!  I already have too many words, according to the blog police, even though I have so much more to share!  Thanks to the Tarts for asking me to guest here, and if you like what you hear, I'll be back!

Remember - a smile makes everyone more beautiful, bellas!