Monday, July 7, 2014

Manners Monday - Tanning Etiquette from UVA to UVB


I grew up in Miami Beach in the seventies where tanning was a competitive sport. Each sunny day, we would put on our teeny string bikinis armed with baby oil and a metallic UV reflector to worship at the feet of the sun god. The poster girl for suntan perfection was the cute little blonde from the Coppertone ad. Her bare bottom exposing the difference between pasty pale and beautifully tanned skin.  A tan body was the ideal to uphold. The vitamin D made you feel healthy, you appeared more slender, and you looked smashing in head-to-toe white.  

For years, I would continue to abuse my skin. I recall an unfortunate trip to Hawaii in my teens in which I burnt myself so badly in overcast weather that I had swollen to an unrecognizable state and had to seek medical help from the hotel doctor. He recommended a dose of Tylenol, slathering on the aloe vera and bathing with black tea bags to help take the sting out of my body. Sadly, I was sentenced to the room for days unable to move from the scorching pain and blisters. 

Now in my forties, I am still learning from past lessons.  I admittedly forget to slather on the sunscreen and then wonder why I'm developing white spots all over my fair skin.  A recent scare from a close friend who had a pre-Melanoma shark bite chunk of flesh removed from her leg by a dermatologist has me finally reaching for the maximum UV protection.  The universe is also sending me signals. This weekend while shopping at J. Crew in Malibu, I came across a flyer for #JCREWSMARTSUN, an Instagram campaign they launched to coincide with July's UV Safety Month raising awareness on skin cancer and Melanoma research. The message - do sun smart by covering up and protecting your skin.  So to help inspire those negligent souls such as myself, as well as those who may need enlightening in a few areas, I have comprised the following top ten list for proper tanning etiquette tips.

1. Know your "UVA's" from your "UVB's".  Ultraviolet A rays are more serious and oftentimes associated with skin cancer as well as skin damage and aging. Ultraviolet B rays are the main cause of burns due to sun exposure. The label Broad Spectrum Protection means the product protects against both UVA and UVB rays. 

2. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) guidelines.  Don't bother applying a sunscreen with an SPF lower than 15 as it will not protect against skin cancer.  When making your purchase, choose SPF 50 if possible. Anything higher than SPF 50 has not been proven to be more effective. There is no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen, only water-resistant. 

3. Limit time in the sun.  Sunbathe early or later in the day when rays are less damaging.  Typically the sun is strongest between 11:00am and 3:00pm, but stronger at higher altitudes in the mountains as well as lower tropical regions. Beware of water, sand and snow. They amplify the sun's burning rays making them more powerful. 

4. Sunglasses are a must.  Select a pair with built-in UV protection.  CNN news anchor, Anderson Cooper, regrets forgetting to wear his sunglasses while on the water in Portugal years ago.  He became the focus of his own news story after burning his eyeballs and temporarily going blind for 36 hours.  

5. Seek out stylish rash guards.  Great news, you don't have to sacrifice style to protect your skin! Wear hats, shirts, cover-ups and other protective clothing to guard against harmful rays.  I love these zip front 3/4 sleeve shirts by DHUFISH sold at the Beverly Hills Bikini Shop, as well as this sleeveless one from J. Crew

6. Apply sunscreen spray far away.  Unknowing offenders proceed to cover every inch of their body up-wind from their neighbors. Spray sunscreen, similar to substitute sugar packets, easily seeps into the mouth and tastes awful! Let's also mention that it may be inhaled into the lungs which is harmful in itself.  Be mindful of where you are standing and move away from others when applying.  

7. Use lotion sunscreen sparingly.  How many times have we applied white lotion sunscreen only to discover we look like we just finished a face-painting session for clowns? While products with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are highly recommended, they tend to leave a milky white film on the skin.  Find a mirror and rub in the areas around your nose, hair line, chin and neck so there is nothing left visible and you can still look fabulous.

8. Sunscreen 101.  Don't go for a dollop.  Apply a liberal amount of sunscreen over all exposed areas.  Re-apply sunscreen every two hours and especially after swimming. Don't let cloudy skies deter you. Up to eighty-percent of the sun's UV rays can pass through clouds.  Use sunscreen rain or shine.

9. Stick to simple suits.  If opting for sunscreen to flaunt that bikini body. Select simply designed suits and avoid fancy/crazy strap lines or shapes in visible places.  As much as they may be appealing in the store, they become a nuisance when attempting to wear that strapless/backless dress to the next fundraiser.

10. On meds?  No sun for you!  If taking antibiotics, stay out of the sun. Certain medications make you more sensitive to rays and heat and may cause dizziness or dehydration.  Others will cause you to sunburn more easily. Grab a good book and stay in the shade.

Please note, I am not a skin care professional. If in need of expert advice on sunscreen or skin care management, please consult a licensed dermatologist or medical doctor. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Manners Monday - Earthquake Etiquette


I was living with a roommate in Brentwood when the 1994 Northridge earthquake hit.  It was about 4am when most everyone was rudely awakened from a deep sleep only to find the earth moving, shaking, rattling and rolling. Televisions came crashing down, items fell off of shelves, glasses and dishes flew off cupboards, power and electricity ceased to work. This was not a simulation ride at Universal Studios, this was the real deal and it was scary.  Although my roommate and I managed through it virtually unscathed, it was an experience we will always remember and hope not to repeat in the near future. However, should the earth decide to quake again soon, I have compiled a list of earthquake readiness tips to help you be your most poised and prepared.

Stash Emergency Clothing Nearby.  For some reason, earthquakes seem to strike in the wee hours of the morning when people are half clothed and scrambling around for a pair of bottoms.  Most everyone I know was in their pajamas or birthday suit when the last big earthquake hit. Take precautionary measures by keeping a pair of sweatpants nearby should you need to quickly cloth yourself in an emergency. 

Properly Affix Objects.  If you pride the precious crystal stemware passed down by your grandmother or value the important art that is hanging on your walls, head to the nearest hardware store or contact your local handyman to retrofit those items to your shelves and walls immediately. There is an array of non-damaging adhesives from earthquake putty to clear quake gel to secure your most valuable pieces.  For decorative art, use screw eyes or proper painting hooks and then anchor those hooks to the wall.  Refrain from hanging objects above beds or on the ceiling.  Avoid placing glass objects on nightstands.

Keep Phones Handy.  Keep an old-fashioned push button phone on hand along with your earthquake preparedness kit should you lose power and need to use a land line.  Most home phones are wireless systems that will fail during a power outage.  Cell phone reception may also be disrupted in the event of an emergency.  It is best to have several modes of communication available to maintain continuous contact. You'll want to be at your most calm and collected when placing calls.

Stockpile Flashlights and Candles.  These are essentials for finding your way in the dark should an earthquake hit in the evening or before dawn.  Test flashlight batteries regularly to ensure they work and keep a box of candles and matches wrapped together for easy accessibility.  Tread carefully using these tools to guide you through any areas that may be covered in debris. 

Invest in Earthquake Preparedness Kits.  One per household member.  You can never have enough supplies at the ready.  These may seem like a pricey investment at first, but you will be grateful should you need to use them.  Plus, you may be called upon to assist a neighbor or other person in need. Review contents annually to make sure dates have not expired.

Reserve Protein Bars and Water.  Protein packed bars are the most convenient and nutritious snacks to consume during an emergency.  They will provide enough sustenance to keep you going for hours on end. Bottled water is essential for hydration. The recommended allotment is one gallon of water per person per day.  Plan for 3-5 days. This will not only keep you nourished and hydrated, it will keep you rational.

Communicate Effectively.  Contact family members both locally and in far regions to make sure they are okay and to inform others that you are safe so they do not go crazy with worry.  Speak clearly and slowly sharing the most pertinent information first in the event that talk time is limited. Arrange a safety system (in advance) with local neighbors to help one another should you or they need assistance with exiting a home or utilizing a car, etc.

Take Care of the Young, Elderly or Infirmed.  Families with infants must store extra formula, diapers, bottles, powdered milk, medications and wipes. Anyone unable to walk, in need of wheelchair or walker assistance should keep those items nearby. Stock batteries, oxygen and other medications that are used on a daily basis.  Make provisions for anything that may require refrigeration.

Show Empathy.  If you happen to reside far away from the epicenter of an earthquake when it hits and didn't feel a thing, congratulations and consider yourself  lucky! Never taunt or tease those who are frightened by earthquakes, and if someone you know has suffered such a catastrophic event, show the utmost empathy and support.  

Sources taken from www.ready.gov

Monday, March 3, 2014

Manners Monday - Ellen Delivers the Pizza Alongside a Happy Helping of Oscars


The gloomy skies parted just in time for Oscars’ big night and who better to bring the sunshine than the ever cheerful, Ellen Degeneres. All the months of rehearsing paid off as she achieved her mission to make “Oscar” accessible, warm and friendly just like her Emmy Award winning talk show “Ellen.”  Her brand did not deviate - in a good way - with light-hearted, under-the-radar, self-deprecating humor that garnered genuine laughs rather than the typical forced chuckles from the audience. After a brief introduction that made mention of her hosting gig seven years prior and the familiar faces that once again graced the list of nominees, she launched right into her monologue with an hysterical opening line about the weather, “For those of you watching around the world, it’s been a tough couple of days for us. It has been raining. We’re fine. Thank you for your prayers.” So simple and yet poking massive fun at how unequipped this town is to deal with rain.  

She broke television barriers by bringing the audience in close for an impromptu "Selfie" (which set a Twitter record of 2 million for the most retweets) with some of Hollywood’s biggest names and ordering cheese pizzas for the starving celebrities who squeezed into their respective gowns and tuxes and hadn’t eaten a morsel in days. The bit was hilarious, but then turned tedious when Big Momma's Pizza arrived and viewers were forced to watch while the distribution of the pizza and then the collection of money for the delivery man. I was sure someone was going to touch their greasy fingers on their formal clothes and rue the day this happened. 

She cracked funny jokes, “Lupita Nyong’o is here. She is from Kenya. She is a Kenyan. Barkhad Abdi from Captain Phillips is here. He is nominated. He is from Somalia. He is a sommelier. So he knows a lot about wine. Who’s the wine captain now?!”

She teased celebrities both young and old. June Squibb, the oldest nominee, was singled out as if she was hard of hearing, "I'm telling everyone you were wonderful in NEBRASKA!" Jennifer Lawrence, still a newbie, was the butt of a long joke referencing her trouble with tripping (she fell ascending the staircase to receive her Best Actress award last year and then fell again getting out of her car on the red carpet before this year’s show) prompting Ellen to say, “If you win tonight, I think we should bring you the Oscar!” Jonah Hill also received a nod for his role in The Wolf of Wall Street garnering one of the bigger laughs of the evening, "You showed us something in that film that I haven't seen in a very long time!"

She had one mean-spirited moment taking a jab at Liza Minnelli referring to her as “Sir” that left viewers scratching their heads, but then redeemed herself in the end with a joke about racism in Hollywood exclaiming, "Anything could happen tonight! So many possibilities. Possibility number one, 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility number two, you're all racists. And on that note she welcomed “first white presenter, Anne Hathaway.”  

What captured our attention in this year’s red carpet manners Oscar roundup?

Trending on the Red Carpet. Every red carpet has its theme as if designers and stylists engage in a pow wow beforehand to determine the trends. This show was no different. Standout colors were snow white, blush tones and shades of blue. Actresses from Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts to Calista Flockhart and Corinne Foxx (Jamie’s daughter) opted for white with the men getting into the game as well. Ryan Seacrest, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto all wore white tuxedo jackets some with contrasting accessories. Shades of blue were also a hit. The most talked about was Lupita Nyong'o’s Niarobi blue Prada dress which she wore as an homage to her country. Sandra Bullock and Amy Adams also wore blue as did many of the A-list men from DiCaprio to Spacey who decided on a navy tuxedo rather than the typical black formal wear. Ellen single-handedly brought back the female tux appearing first in navy velour, then in all-white ensemble and finally a black smoking jacket. Strapless or backless gowns took precedence along with statement necklaces and Veronica Lake tresses. Jennifer Lawrence was a stand out in Dior red as was a shimmering Kristin Chenoweth in metallic gold Cavalli. Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Angelina Jolie and a slew of others preferred figure hugging embellished blush tones. The biggest misses of the evening came from two Hollywood sweethearts, Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway, whose black dresses only served to distract and detracted from their natural beauty. 

Spreading Positive Vibes. Pharrell was a constant topic of conversation wearing a laid back Lanvin tuxedo with knee length shorts and leather lace ups with no socks.  His album GIRL dropped the same night as Oscar continuing the wave of wild success.  As the first musical performer of the evening, his nominated song “Happy” set the tone with childlike dancing and innocent pleasure that brought a welcomed looseness to the room.

Church Moment. Darlene Love was so moved by her win for Best Documentary for "20 Feet from Stardom", that she broke out in song and brought the house to its feet with a spiritual, church choir jam that had everyone silently saying “Amen.”

Mom’s Night Out.  Oscar moms were all the rage as Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto escorted their proud mothers on their arms showering them with love, admiration and gratitude. These strong women clearly raised good, wholesome sons.   

Ovations Worthy of Standing. Backup singer extraordinaire, Darlene Love, received the first standing ovation of the evening kicking off a domino effect of standing ovations for all the musical performances from Pink and U2 to Bette Midler and Idina Menzel.

Executive Decisions. One of the most noticeable allowances came from producing pair Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.  Although there was a set 45 second limit to speeches, it seemed that recipients of the golden statue were able to own the mike for as long as their hearts desired. No matter how long or awkward, every major award winner had their moment and was able to complete their thanks without fear of getting cut off by the exit music.

The Year of Spectacular Speeches. While we're on the subject of speeches, the best by far came from Jared Leto for “Dallas Buyers Club” and Lupita Nyong'o and Steve McQueen for “12 Years a Slave.” These fine recipients spoke intelligently and eloquently. They were thought-provoking and moving. They remembered to thank their team, both personal and professional. They acknowledged the politics of their subject matter, and above all, they were gracious and grateful. 

Tough Prenounciation.  There were a few very tough names to memorize and rehearse if you were a presenter or part of the press at this year's Oscars.  Lupita Nyong'o, Alfonso Cuaron, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Barkhad Abdi were at the top of the list.  So when a seasoned John Travolta butchered legendary Broadway star, Idina Menzel's name by introducing her instead as "Adele Dazeem," the firestorm of backlash began. The faux pas was so big that it inspired an instant name generator that will Travoltify any name.

Unfortunate Elder Statesmen. While it is an honor to be asked, future older thespians may wish to decline rather than face the scrutiny.  Poor Kim Novak's plastic surgery made it nearly impossible for her to move her mouth while attempting to present her award. Although aided by the beautiful Angelina Jolie, Sidney Poitier's speech was slower than usual and had us hanging on every word to make sure he was still breathing. Veteran actresses, Bette Midler and Sally Field, hit home runs in our book exuding both strength and beauty.

Bonus Thank Yous & Engraving. When the winners walked backstage they were escorted to a bar where they could have their golden statuette immediately engraved and emblazoned with their name. Also backstage, was a brilliant stunt by Good Morning America that allowed winners to write down the names of anyone they inadvertently forgot to thank onstage garnering extra points with those they may have accidentally hurt.

This was one of the first Oscars where I had watched nearly all of the nominated films and I have to admit, I was only sad that "Nebraska" did not receive much recognition.  In my opinion, it was a brilliant, uncomplicated film that deserved more accolades, but I'm not a member of the voting academy.  Oh well.  And there you have it. See you next year!  Alright, alright, alright…





Monday, February 24, 2014

Manners Monday - Medal Worthy Moments & Missteps at the Sochi Winter Olympics


After 17 days, the XXII Sochi Winter Olympics has come to a close.  Seven years in the making and the most expensive Olympic games to date, Russia showcased a newly transformed country worthy of world recognition and finally shed the old imagery that existed prior to the Soviet collapse.  The opening and closing ceremonies portrayed a country rich in culture and proud of their heritage with elaborate productions that highlighted their excellence in classical music, ballet, literature and philosophy. The host country placed number one overall accumulating a total of 33 medals.  Precautionary measures to keep surroundings safe and free of terrorist threats thankfully succeeded and the help of twenty-five thousand happy volunteers helped to smooth over any other ruffled feathers.

Still, Sochi was not without its share of problems.  See meme #sochiproblems. The most noticeable embarrassment suffered was the 5th Olympic ring which failed to light up during the opening ceremony. This was humorously addressed during the closing ceremonies with a self-deprecating sequence that showed a purposefully delayed formation of the 5th ring. Other ongoing storylines surrounded the unusually warm weather with temperatures hovering in the 60’s making the snow slushy and causing the athletes to take more serious tumbles than usual. The Olympic village accommodations caused frustration for a number of athletes and reporters who dealt with spotty electricity, running water and poor internet connections. And, despite Russia’s best attempts to display a welcoming image, controversy loomed over the discrimination of human and gay rights. 

On U.S. soil, viewers had to overcome hampered coverage by sportscaster Bob Costas who suffered an untimely double bout of pink eye until pitch hitters Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera came to the rescue. It was not the easiest of games for Team USA who placed fourth in gold medals and second overall with many of its most prominent Olympians barely placing or garnering only a bronze.  

Each Olympics reminds us of our increasingly globalized society and the opportunity it allows our Olympians to act as mini ambassadors of the U.S. putting forth a message of international peace, tolerance and respect. With that in mind, here is our list of medal worthy manners moments and missteps. Who exemplified Gold medal characteristics and who didn't make it to the podium at all.

Medal Worthy

Perseverance Pays Off.  Meryl Davis and Charlie White won their first Olympic gold in ice dancing after 17 years of practicing together.  They are partners in dance only, have a strong work ethic, share a mutual respect and value the importance of an education.  Both are pursuing a degree at the University of Michigan.   

Bode Miller, Good Guy. Inspirational skier and medal record holder, Bodie had a rough time at Sochi and most likely raced for the last time in his Olympic career.  He said, "It's tough to have my last race here look like that," Miller said. "But I feel really good about where I am. I feel like I did my best. "  When questions arose around an emotional interview he gave to NBC regarding the pain of losing his brother and being the oldest medalist in alpine skiing history, he defended his interviewer on Twitter. 

Tearful, but Proud. After thinking they had the gold in the bag, The U.S. Women’s Hockey Team suffered a brutal loss to Team Canada in the final four minutes of the game. Although devastated they didn’t win the gold, members of the team choked back tears as they picked up their silver medal and professed how proud they were to have represented the U.S. in this year’s Olympics.

Young and Hungry.  Mikaela Shiffrin is a mere 18 years old and won the gold in the women's slalom.  

Puppy Love.  Gus Kenworthy, the silver medal-winning slopestyle American skier, upset by all of the stray dogs wandering Sochi took it upon himself to arrange kennels for the puppies and get them vaccinated in the hopes of taking them home to the states.  

Gracie is Gold.  She may not have won the gold, but she delivered extremely solid performances with grace and style.  Her excitement and enthusiasm were highlighted by her beautiful smile.

Medal Missteps

Loss of Steam.  They were riding high on a winning streak until their final games with Canada and Finland. After suffering the embarrassment of not being able to score a single goal,  rather than continue with drive, perseverance and team spirit, U.S. Men’s Hockey Team became disenchanted and played as if their heads were no longer in the game.

Pressure to Succeed.  Countless medals and a showering of accolades makes repeat performance almost impossible.  Team USA’s most prominent American Olympians, Shawn White and Shani Davis, fell under the pressure to succeed and live up to the expectations suffering losses early in the competition.  Shawn backed out of one event much to the dismay of his fans and then failed to medal in the halfpipe, his signature sport. Shani also gave a disappointing performance.  

Sour Puss.  All eyes were on Ashley Wagner who initially radiated with a hopeful smile after her short form skating performance, but then quickly turned sour when she heard the judge’s low scores.  Clearly upset and unable to control her reaction, she scowled while mouthing a profanity to one of the teammates seated in the ‘kiss and cry’ section launching the first viral meme of the Winter Olympics.

See you in Pyeongchang...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Manners Monday - 5 Ways to Step Up the Manners in Your Marriage on V-Day


When it comes to long term marriage, manners can seem quite elusive. Once you've put in about seven years plus (they don't call it the seven year itch for nothing!) with your spouse sharing living quarters, exhaustive child rearing and/or opinionated in-laws, it's very tempting to bark orders and let your pleases and thank you's slide. Add to that already fragile recipe, a relentless work schedule and 24/7 access to online flirtations, and it's no wonder we are experiencing staggering divorce rates! Perhaps we should turn back the time and take a few cues from the "Downton Abbey" era. Resuscitating these formal niceties may be just the remedy to combat a comfortable rut between spouses. I imagine many a mate would prefer that their significant other stand at attention when they enter a room, rather than fart in it. They would appreciate a spouse who will offer to pull out their chair to be seated as opposed to seating themselves first. And, any partner who will take out the garbage when it is full rather than recklessly trying to cram in one last piece, comes across as incredibly thoughtful.  You see every little action, thought and reaction counts ten-fold in the days leading up to this Hallmark holiday. To ensure yours goes smoothly, here are 5 simple ways to step up the manners in your marriage on Valentine's Day and every day.

Sweat the small stuff. When it comes to marriage, the smallest gestures can make the biggest difference. If that means picking up your dirty clothes from the floor and putting them in the laundry, twisting the cap completely closed on the toothpaste, or greeting your spouse with a warm kiss instead of a grunt when you walk through the door, then so be it. Don’t give them any reason to get upset during this day devoted to love.

Make a new plan.  After many years of togetherness, married couples will take on certain roles. If you're the one doing the driving and shopping, as well as the cooking and the carpooling, your partner should offer to plan something interesting and romantic for you two to share in together. This may take some imagination, but it doesn't have to break the bank. Involve your spouse to make sure you are on the same page, but then show some initiative and confirm all of the arrangements on your own. 

Lose your tech. Technology has succeeded in separating us. When texting "I Love You" becomes easier than saying it face-to-face something is going terribly wrong. Do whatever is necessary to complete your work and show up in person for your spouse. Nothing is sexier than being present, especially if you travel for work or have your smartphone glued to the palm of your hand.  Ask your spouse meaningful questions and really listen to the answers.  This will automatically bring you closer, guaranteed.

Meet them where they are.  It is rare for a married couple to be exactly alike. As much as they have a shared love for one another, what may sound amazing to one partner may be a complete nightmare to the other. You know your spouse better than anyone, so put yourself in their shoes and try to find a happy medium you both can enjoy.  If they are a traditional romantic, put on some relaxing music, cuddle under a blanket, light a fire. If they prefer to loosen up a bit first, join them in a cocktail (or pressed juice smoothie) to take the pressure off. If they want to experiment Fifty Shades style, by all means go rogue, but be safe. Next time, you get to choose.

Communicate Considerately. Long time marrieds have a tendency to address their significant other in the same way they address their children when they are harried or upset. Your delivery doesn't have to be as formal as Lady or Lord Grantham's, however, speaking in a softer tone of voice, being selective with your choice of words, and daring to put a smile on your face can change the atmosphere in the room to a more positive one, almost immediately.

After many years together, you may be looking for some marriage validation. Great news! The book, Love Illuminated, by Daniel Jones, editor of the NYT's "Modern Love" column brings it. I haven't read it yet, but apparently after reading hundreds of thousands of email submissions from readers searching for love, he has found that most everyone is looking for the same thing - marriage and a committed relationship.  Happy Valentine's Day. 


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Manners Monday - Superbowl Etiquette for Spectators at the Stadium & at Home



I am particularly pumped for Super Bowl XLVIII. I don't know if its the fact that it will take place in my home town of New York - well, technically at the Met Life stadium in New Jersey - or because I will be on the edge of my seat waiting to see if cornerback, Richard Sherman, will unleash another outburst on live television.  It could be that this year's half time show with the multi-talented Bruno Mars and awesome Red Hot Chili Peppers is sure to rock the stadium.  Or, perhaps it's because my husband won the pool at last year's game and bet two squares on the grid again this year. Mama needs a new pair of shoes!  And, lest not forget the all-important commercials. The competition on the field is nothing compared to the competition for the most brilliant, simple, intricate, outrageous, expensive, or most original advertisement to fill the 2-3 minute gaps between plays. Regardless if you're rooting for a team or your favorite commercial, one thing is certain, Super Bowl Sunday is on everyone's radar and the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos are sure to put on a good show.  So whether you're braving the cold to experience the game live, or opting for a viewing party where your tootsies will stay warm, here are our top etiquette tips for spectators both at the stadium and at home.  

Keep it Friendly.  Sunday is family day so children are typically in tow.  Keep the atmosphere friendly and comfortable for everyone.  Reserve the foul language for the street when you’re walking to your car at the end of the game and monitor your alcohol intake so you don’t embarrass yourself and regret your behavior the next day.  

Don’t Block the View. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the rare times that the television should be the center of focus.  If indoors, don’t be a ninny and walk right in front of the set blocking everyone’s view as you cross the room to make your way to the hor's d’oeuvres table.  In the stadium, you are more apt to stand and shout for your team, just make sure those behind you can still see the game. And for goodness' sake, no giant hats or wild accessories that will prohibit the view.

Stay on Topic. On Super Bowl Sunday, the main conversation should be on the game. Know your facts beforehand so you are well-versed in the teams that are playing and the host city.  Learn the vernacular, know the difference between a touchdown and a field goal.  You want to be able to bond and converse with everyone.  This is not the time to bring up a serious conversation, mention a grave illness or ask for a job.  Superbowl Sunday is supposed to be fun. Keep the tone light and breezy and pay attention to the ball.  Here’s a complete glossary to everything you could possibly want to know for game day terminology.

Avoid Being the Know-It-All.  You may be the type of person who thrives on knowing every minute detail about the two football teams, the players and the controversy. And you may enjoy spending hours researching the commercials that will be shown during the game, but that information is best kept to yourself.  Today is not the day to sit on your soapbox espousing your knowledge. A know-it-all is a big turn off. 

Display Good Sportsmanship.  Wearing your teams jersey’s and caps, painting your body to show your support, showing the love by cheering them on is all perfectly fine.  What will not fly on Super Bowl Sunday is shouting expletives at the television screen or in the stadium when your team misses the ball or picking a fight with your neighbor because he did a victory dance for a touchdown for your opposing team.  Remember you are not playing in the game, you are just a fan!  Don’t make it personal!

Don’t Bet the Farm.  There are more Super Bowl pools than I care to imagine.  Know your limits.  If you’re an out of control gambler, designate the set amount for your bet before you leave the house so that you cannot be coerced into contributing more than you can afford.  There are plenty of pools to choose from and not all require a $500 ante.  You certainly don’t want to dip into your child’s college fund for a silly square on the football grid.    

Compliment the Chef.  Super Bowl Sunday is the second most popular eating day after Thanksgiving and food plays a major part in the enjoyment.  Hosts spend weeks preparing the special menu of finger foods typically based around the two playing teams hometown favorites. If invited to a party or partaking in a tailgate, take a sec to compliment the chef and, whatever you do, remember not to double dip! 

You Gotta Give Thanks. Of course, it goes without mentioning to make sure you thank the host before you leave and follow up with a nice handwritten thank you note the following day.  The same goes, especially, for anyone who graced you with coveted tickets to the game. That may warrant a special gift of thanks to go with your note!

Who do you think is going to win this year's Superbowl? Did you place a bet? Do you have a special Superbowl dish? Share with us, we'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Red Carpet Manners –Helmets & Hats Off to the 56th Grammy Awards!


Clocking in at almost four hours, our hats go off to music’s biggest night of the year for fulfilling on the promise of an impactful and entertaining show. Distinctively known for its genius lineup and pairings of musical veterans with newcomers, we were thoroughly captivated for most of the show and that is no small feat, especially when most awards shows are snoozers.  

The twenty-one performances covered the gamut from the controversial opening number of “Drunk in Love” by husband and wife darlings, Beyoncé and Jay-Z to the feel good medley of "Get Lucky" and "Another Star" performed by Pharrell Williams, Daft Punk and the legendary Stevie Wonder. An uncharacteristically asexual performance was delivered by Robin Thicke joined by the band Chicago, and an exhaustive, acrobatic solo performance was mastered by the fabulous Pink which then segued into a duet with FUN frontman, Nate Reuss. Our personal favorite was the adrenaline  charged collaboration of Kendrick Lamar with Imagine Dragons performing a combo of their hits “m.A.A.d City” and “Radioactive.” The rapping at breakneck speed, coupled with the pounding of giant drums all united under a cloud of exploding pink smoke left us utterly riveted. And, we have to give props to Beatles surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr for fifty years of music together.  Now that is quite an achievement!

Aside from making musical history, this particular Grammy’s will forever be memorialized as the first ever awards show to publicly embrace gay marriage in a fitting gesture that gathered thirty-three gay and straight couples of varied race and religion for a giant wedding ceremony presided over by Queen Latifah. Of course, the show was not without its flaws and noticeable hits and misses.  Here are our red carpet manners moments gleaned from this year’s Grammy’s.

Fashion Sense.  Female artists Pink, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift receive special nods for rocking the red carpet in high fashion. Pink looked flawless in a form fitting strapless red (not pink) gown by designer Johanna Johnson. Katy Perry took her music literally with a Valentino Haute Couture dress that featured musical notes from an Italian opera song. Taylor Swift sparkled and shined with a gold Gucci ensemble that complemented her delicate frame perfectly.

Fashion (Non)Sense. Helmets and hats were the chosen accessory at this year’s Grammy Awards.  Most recognizable were the gold bling helmets adorned by French duo Daft Punk. Coming in with a close second was Pharrell Williams wearing a Vivienne Westwod hat that resembled a forest ranger and prompted the Arby’s restaurant chain to take to social media and ask the question, “Can we have our hat back?” Other distracting elements included Madonna’s cane which seemed to serve more for balance than looks, and Lorde’s black dip-dyed fingertips which can only be described as creepy and threatened to give us nightmares.

Shouldering a Social Agenda. While a great many lauded the Grammy’s for staging a massive wedding in honor of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ "Same Love" which supports the movement to legalize gay marriage, others argue that awards shows should not be used as platforms to publicize agendas, political or otherwise. Many celebrities have used such media events to air their personal views and beliefs and they have been chastised for it.    

A Social Message with No Agenda.  The beloved Carole King has finally been given her just due as both the recipient of the  MusiCares 2014 Person of the Year and the subject of “Beautiful” a smash hit on Broadway that tells the tale of her remarkable rise to stardom.  Sara Bareilles is no slouch either.  Her hit song, “Brave” is already becoming an anthem for anyone facing an adversity or challenge.  Together these ladies promote positive messages of confidence and empowerment.

Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered.  Katy Perry’s performance of “Dark Horse” in which she conjured up images of demons and other satanic symbolism left the Christian community and many viewers a little shocked and wondering whether they just witnessed live witchcraft.  Beyoncé’s sexually charged opening number was not as appealing as she may have hoped. Her body looked amazing, but to watch the married mother of Blue Ivy twerk and grind like she was in a strip club left us slightly bothered and uncomfortable. We were perplexed and bewildered by pop maven Madonna who was clearly off her game. She just didn’t look well and frankly she didn’t sound well either. Her rendition of “Open Your Heart” fell flat in comparison to Mary Lambert’s spirited vocals.

A Speech Worth Its Praise. Macklemore turned in the most heartfelt speech of the evening remembering to thank the fans, his fiancé and all of the people who supported him along the way.  He was genuinely honored and grateful for his multiple wins, and even went so far as to take to social media to reject their win for Best Rap Album stating that the award should have been given to a more deserving Lamar Kendrick.   

Unexceptional Acceptances. Hands down this goes to the French helmeted twosome who were literally unable to utter one single word each time they took to the stage to accept their Grammy’s. Instead we were left to a helpless Pharrell who struggled to come up with a few eloquent sound bites.  Lorde also deserves an honorable mention in this category for her lack of expressiveness. The audience yearns for emotion and humility during these speeches and when the artist doesn't deliver, we’re left with a feeling of emptiness.