Thursday, July 8, 2010

She Keeps Talking, But All I Hear is "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

I normally don't like going off on individuals, particularly people I don't know. However, Lindsay Lohan's earned this one.

By now everyone knows that she's earned a grand total of 180 days for probation violation – 90 in prison, and 90 in an in-patient rehab facility. She's pissing and moaning about how incredibly unfair it is, and how she's upset because she has to work, and how can she do that while she's in jail, then rehab? I suggest that we break this down in small chunks so that she can understand. Let's try Question and Answer.

1 – Q: I can't even remember what it was I was on probation for anyway. What was it again?
A: Driving drunk. Twice. With cocaine possession to boot. You skipped out on several alcohol education classes that were part of your probation, and rushed to make them up when the judge got upset that you weren't complying with the terms of your probation.

2 – Q: What's the big deal? It's just probation!
A: Maybe your high-priced lawyer didn't explain this properly, but probation means, “thank your lucky stars your sorry ass isn't in prison.” It means that you've fucked up and that you have to follow the letter of the law or else you'll get the book thrown at you. If someone tells you that you have to attend 13 alcohol education classes and to stay out of trouble within a certain time period, it means do it. Also, this is on their schedule, not yours. You don't get three extra weeks to make up classes because you were working. Yeah, you were working on those classes, but taking your time when you've got a deadline is a no-no, and, in fact, a violation of your probation. Do not pass go, do not get your bail money back. Doing half the things on your list doesn't mean you're in compliance, so either be prepared to comply fully or else face the consequences.

3 – Q: But I need to work! What about that, huh?
A: Let's get something straight: you're an actress. You're not delivering the keynote of a very specific symposium on thermonuclear engineering that only comes once a year; your schedule is very cart blanche. You want to know what some actresses do in order to make ends meet? They take up other jobs. It's not above them, and it's not above you. Also, for others that are in a similar situation, they may bring up to their employer that they have court-mandated requirements. Bosses like honesty, and are willing to make accommodations when they can. People can be quite fair when you admit that you've done something wrong. It's not the judge's fault, nor the fault of your alcohol educators, that you have to accept what work you can get because you've been deemed “unreliable,” “uninsurable” and “unbankable.”

4 – Q: 180 days is a long time. How am I supposed to cope with that?
A: There's this little thing called “personal responsibility” that's a marvel. It works like this: you take a look at everything you've done, and you assess whether or not that was smart, and you own up to what you did. 180 days is nothing compared to what it could have been. On that note...

5 – Q: I'm ready to serve my time, but the sentence was too harsh.
A: Really? Too harsh? You know what's harsh? The fact that as of 2008 (most recent statistics, thanks to our friends at Alcohol Alert, 37% of all deaths in car accidents in the United States were a result of alcohol. That's not counting the damage that's done to the people who manage to survive. Harsh is having to look at a family and say, “I'm sorry that my actions took the life of your child.” Harsh is looking at a paralyzed man or woman and saying, “I'm sorry I did this to you.” Let's look back to question 1 – what were you in trouble for? Oh yeah – drunk driving and drug possession. You could have killed someone. You're lucky you didn't. You had the chance to issue a mea culpa through your actions (please see: Nicole Richie. Given, no one's asking you to get knocked up and do charity work, but damned if that girl didn't issue statements saying that she was sorry, comply with her program, and go on to raise social awareness. Plus, she's never been accused of getting drunk/high and kidnapping anyone since her initial legal troubles.). Others have gone before you and haven't done it again. They got it the first time around. The fact that you're pissed because you lollygagged on your probationary terms and are now getting called on it is insulting. You haven't learned your lesson; you're mad that you're getting your fingers rapped for being an irresponsible git. No, I don't think it's too harsh, because you obviously have not figured out that life can contain some pretty serious stuff that you can't just brush off.

6 – Q: Why do I have to go to rehab, though?
A: Saying that you don't have a problem is a bit like looking at Janice Dickinson and remarking that she's never had plastic surgery. When you have to wear a SCRAM bracelet, you're enough of a hazard and a repeat offender to the point that the justice system wants to keep an eye on you. That's called a problem. I don't think that rehab will work unless if you want it to, but hopefully, when you get to jail and realize that you can't make it through a day without the sauce, you'll wake up. People that don't wake up die.

7 – Q: This is so unfair.
A: Oh shut up, Lindsay.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Wedding Dress Conundrum

Summer is upon us, and with that, wedding season is underway. I'm not opposed to weddings, though I do find that at times, they can take on a certain dog-and-pony show quality. It's often more so for the family than for the couple themselves, though I don't want to go down that road just yet. Today, I'd like to talk about something else that I find rather disturbing. Namely, strapless wedding dresses.

Ladies, I get it: you want to be a princess for the day. You want every eye turned in your direction, “ooooh”ing and “aaaaaah”ing at your ethereal beauty as you float down the aisle to meet your Prince Charming. You want someone to fuss over you, to have 200 of your closest friends and family members – many of whom are often critical in your everyday life – just, for once, be rendered speechless as you become the object of sole focus in the room. It's an intoxicating prospect.

However, let's be realistic. I'm not saying that you're not beautiful. Nor am I calling anyone fat (I hate that word; it's demeaning with all of its connotations). What I ask is that you dress to your body type. Out of 100 brides, maybe, maybe 25% actually fit the body type to wear a strapless gown. Sometimes, these women hit the genetic jackpot and can down 4 double cheeseburgers without gaining an ounce; maybe they work really, really hard at the gym on their backs, shoulders and arms. As much as I may inwardly curse them for being able to do things I can not, I have to admit that they are built to wear that type of dress.

This is some tough love, but girls, sometimes, you're not built for it, and it looks awful. Pitfalls to look for:

・ If you're spilling out in all angles after the initial 15-minute try-on period, it might not be the best fit for you. This goes with most clothing, and it's an insidious trap: it fits for about 20 minutes – enough for you and your friends to declare, “This is beautiful! It works! Wrap it up, take it home!” – and then decides to quit mid-excursion. My ideal wedding dress boutique would allow brides to try on different loaner bodices for the day, to see how they work out. That way, you know what you're in for. Believe me, no amount of tailoring will fix this.
・ Like a good makeup artist or hairstylist will tell you, play to your strengths; your body is no different. If you have a large rack (like me), something off the shoulders will maximize your bust line, and chances are, you're already self conscious about that and have been since the third grade. Why emphasize the elephant in the room? Besides, it's probably not your best body feature. Look at it in terms of playing up the best facial feature: why draw excess attention to your squnity eyes if you have beautiful, pouty lips? It's the same thing with your body. If you have a dainty waist, play to that; don't play off of a chest that's not designed to fit into that type of dress. Go with what's strongest and run with it. Don't try to put a square into a circle.
・ In a similar vein, two words: strapless bra. These are dodgy. They start out as mildly uncomfortable, then get progressively worse. Next thing you know, you've either got under wire digging into your poor ribcage (NOT the lasting impression you want to make that day), or the elastic of the strapless bra quits after a few hours and your poor breasts are left to sag slowly down as they lose the inevitable battle with gravity. Again, if you're smaller in the bust region and perky, go for it. For the rest of us that the Booby Fairy visited and accidentally tripped and spilled the magic pixie dust over a bit too much, well, it's a sad fact that we're going to sag. A lot. No one thinks that looks good.
・ No amount of body shimmer will aid in slimming you down. I don't care if you're only 130 pounds and your arms are your only weak spot. Shiny does not equal tiny. It's the same shoe-horned look, just with extra glitter.
・ Hint: if you're short to begin with, something that compacts your body down will not elongate you. You're going to look a little thicker. Be prepared for that.
・ Take pictures when you try on gowns. If you don't like how you look in the test photos, think of how it's going to look on the big day. The Photoshop Fairy won't save you in real life, and trust me, as most family members think that their camera is the only one that matters, people that won't be interested in photoshopping will be taking and sharing your picture as well.
・ Don't go along with a dress because that's what's mostly in stock at the bridal shop. Really, why must everything be cookie-cutter? Don't be afraid to be different. It's okay to want something else. It's interesting sometimes to see how many girls want to be original, yet they go for the same strapless gown with a tiara look. If it's “your” special day, try not to look like everyone else.
・ While strapless may be practical for the heat, please stop and think about how it's going to look versus the chill factor. There are other ways to beat the heat. Small, portable, battery-operated fans are one way. Bottles of water are another. It can be done.

This isn't meant as a bitchy attack. It's public service. Friends don't let friends wear bad fashion.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Lost Art of Thank You

Growing up, I came from a family of manners. We said, “please,” “thank you,” “yes, sir,” “no, ma'am,” and just about every other variation. We chewed with our mouths closed and sat with hands in our laps. We didn't use an adult's first name unless if we had express permission to do so. Every birthday, Valentine's Day, Easter, etc., we wrote thank you notes if a gift was given. My grandfather summed up manners thusly: “Someone has done something nice for you that they didn't have to. The least you can do is say thanks, because not everyone has to be nice.”

Ah, Gramps. Too true. Too true.

Another nugget I received along with the one above was, “Be nice to someone. It can turn around their bad day.” Grandpa was a wise man, so I listened. I did, and still do, hold doors open. I say excuse me if I need to get through a crowd. I write thank you notes. I don't do this entirely out of a sense of duty – I do it because it's nice to give that back to someone. Call me selfish. When I was younger, I didn't mind it if someone didn't say thanks for a kind act; I just figured, “That was how he/she was raised. No biggie.” Despite that sometimes when I do so, I get looked at as though I've just waded through three feet of manure in 90 degree heat and haven't showered in a week. You know that look – the “what the fuck smells?” glance, as I like to call it.

As I've gotten older, I've become a bit of a jaded prick.

It's one thing to occasionally be busy and not say, “Thanks” when someone holds a door open for you; we've all been there (we're thinking about how we're running late. Or how we need to get that present before it flies off the shelf. Or you have to get home in time for the school bus.). When you stare me down with the air of, “That's right, peasant, HOLD THAT DOOR FOR ME BECAUSE THAT IS YOUR PLACE!” well, that's when I take issue. In my book, no one's above being kind to someone else. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people walk past someone struggling with a package or stroller, look directly at them, then head in. The way I was raised, you offered to help. Try it; it's usually met with gratitude. Plus, expressing gratitude doesn't cost a thing; just a breath. If you can't spare that, then please do me a huge favor and stop breathing. You're wasting space anyway.

Some people are a mystery – it's as though those two little words have never made it into a collective lexicon. It's not contained to one socioeconomic sector (although, I have to say, the higher up on the ladder you are, the guiltier you tend to be of entitlement). Grateful people are hard to find. I'm starting to turn urban explorer and am actively looking for The Lost Thank You. It's mythical. Some days, I think I have a better chance of finding the Holy Grail before finding someone in Pittsford who is capable of uttering those two words. (Sidenote: to see what I'm talking about, visit Barnes and Noble on Monroe Ave. Really. Try it. Wear hockey gear. You will be tousled, stepped on, glared at, cut in front of, interrupted, and kicked from behind, amongst other things. If I'm getting that kind of reception, come on, at least buy me a beer...).

Of the worst offenders, I've noticed two sets (please bear in mind that I don't believe this of all of them, but a chunk of them, as I hate generalizing as a rule): upper-middle-class soccer moms and senior citizens. The soccer moms think that their 2-carat engagement ring and designer handbag seem to preclude any act of kindness bestowed upon them by the lower classes. Sorry, but to me, that's bullshit. No one's better than anyone else. Likewise, the senior set can be just as guilty. I can understand and appreciate everything you've gone through in your 75 years; however, that does not give you the right to glare, snap at or haughtily walk by someone, then complain about the state of young folk. My taxes are paying your social security which your generation is bankrupting for my generation, so the least you can do is offer a meager “thank you” if I hold a door and smile.

You know what's terribly sad? When people act like a little kid who happens to be schooled in manners is some sort of alien. When I was a kid, no one praised me for it because about 90% of us did it. It wasn't so rare that other people felt the need to comment on it. My kids use manners, and have since the time they could talk. They heard it at home all the time – a “thank you” for passing the salt, an excuse me after a burp. The everyday experience is how you teach; it becomes second nature, not a long process they learn starting at age 14. My 4-year-old is currently holding doors. She's quite proud of herself, but still working on the mind-to-mouth filter. She asked, rather loudly the one day, “Mom, why didn't that lady say thank you?” after an old lady glanced down at her as though she were owed the favor. The woman looked shocked by the question I was asked, obviously abhorred that a little kid would question her silence. On the outside, I explained that not everyone is as polite as her. On the inside, I chuckled and thought, “Lady, you just got pwned by a preschooler.” Simple pleasures...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Playground

I get the whole rebellion thing. Everyone needs to test boundaries. It's healthy. It's normal. It's a rite of passage. It's also a cliché, and sadly, quite a few people never grow out of this. All cliques are guilty of this. No exceptions.

Now I'm all for people from all walks of life hanging out wherever they choose. It's a free country. However, please make note of your audience and express some tact. Namely, the douche bag, wannabe emo/skater kids that were hanging out at the playground around noon today. Here are a few of my thoughts:

1 – Don't go to a playground, then whine that there are little kids there. It's a playground, you idiots. That's like going to a Dave Matthews show and then bitching that hippies were there.

2 – Come to think of it, what person over the age of 15 that doesn't have children and/or is a teacher hangs out at a playground? I was a lame teenager. And by lame, I mean LAME. I didn't drink. I didn't do drugs; hell, I was so lame I wasn't even offered weed as a teenager. I thought school was awesome. I rode my bike as a mode of transportation. I bummed rides from my parents and went to see my grandparents every weekend because that was fun for me. I didn't party. With all of those things taken into account, though, I would have been damned if I sought my kicks out by tooling around the kiddie slide and swing set. Skate parks I can get; those are legit, and for all ages; it has its own code amongst patrons, which I can dig. But a playground? Really? I love simple pleasures, but there's a fine line between having fun and just looking like a dumbass.

3 – Watch your mouth around kids. Not just my kids, but as a general rule. I understand that you're trying to wear the badass shoes, but really, have some tact. I know that my kids will see and hear things I don't want them to, as well as pick up some habits I find unsavory, but there's a time and a place for them to hear swearing. It's called Grandma and Grandpa's house.

4 – Likewise, don't smoke on a playground. If your mom did that around you with her 19th boyfriend on the back porch while standing over as you played in your sandbox, that's your childhood. I know smokers that can and do keep their habit from wee folk. I'm not against smoking; do with your body as you please, so long as I'm not forced to join you. Don't go into a kid-friendly place and start puffing away. It's not fair to them.

5 – Let's get something straight right now: cutters don't make their activities known to the general public. I've known enough of them to know this about the group: they do it under secrecy, and will hide it at all costs because it's one more way they feel freakish and ineffective in the world. The pain helps them cope with the world around them, and it's something they feel they can control. It's isolating for them. It's not advertised. When you walk into a public place and start showing off your cut up arms, you don't really have a problem; you want attention. That's the opposite of cutting. Get over yourself and go find something productive to do.

6 – Get. Your. Hair. Out. Of. Your. Eyes. Head flicks don't count. Try a headband. I've got five bucks and CVS is around the corner. My treat. I watched A Night at the Roxbury. Once. That was all I needed.

7 – This one, I'm guilty of as well. As a self-conscious teenager (hell, even as a self-conscious adult), I wore pants in all weather. I hated my legs. In many respects, I still do. However, I know now that when it's 80 degrees and humid, it's fucking HOT. You're not doing anyone a favor by wearing a hoodie, kid. It's okay to ditch it. We've all got batwings.

I know that people need some time to grow up. I'm just here to help move the show along.


Welcome to the show, kids. I'm lacking a mind-to-mouth filter, and I'm not afraid to use it. If you don't like what's said, the answer's simple: stop reading. If you're on board for some equal-opportunity sharing -- ripping and praising of various acts/people/etc. -- then come on down!