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.    

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Manners Monday - Gym Etiquette for Regulars & Newbies

Getting in shape consistently ranks at the top of the charts when it comes to New Years resolutions.  Come January 1, throngs of newbies bombard the regulars to test out their fitness of choice. Some prefer the trendy (Soul Cycle and Tracy Anderson), others go for the more spiritual (any form of Hot Yoga) or simply the mundane (Pilates or Bar Method).  I personally favor an old school style and just go to the gym.  I have been a member of the Sports Club LA, now known as Equinox, for at least 15 years.  In my opinion, you get much more value out of a super gym where you can virtually live there all day for the same monthly price as some wind up paying for only four classes in a boutique setting. 

Truth be told, I have to work out at least three times a week and it’s not necessarily because I enjoy it.  At just shy of 5 feet, I work out so that I can eat and the more cardio involved in the class, the better. When considering instructors, I look for the most fit (and by fit, I mean lean, not bulky) because it is much more inspiring to take a class from someone you aspire to look like than someone who looks like they enjoy downing a bucket of fried chicken after an intense workout.  I am a rare bird at the gym in the sense that I like to get in, work out, and get out as quickly as possible.  I don’t linger in the locker room or chat at the water cooler.  I do, however, appreciate that there are guidelines for appropriate gym etiquette and believe that everyone should abide by them.  

I recently had to phone the head of group classes at Equinox in Beverly Hills to complain about the incessantly childish behavior regarding saving spaces in the room. Some of the obsessive adults were acting like territorial preschoolers attempting to save coveted spots for themselves and their closest friends. Some going so far as to arrive an hour early to stake out these spaces!  It was getting out of hand and I decided to do something about it.  So for the patrons of Equinox, as well as eager gym goers everywhere, here are my top tips to incorporate into your routine from this point going forward. Happy exercising and best of luck getting in shape!!  

Wear Appropriate Workout Attire. Gym clothing that is explicit and exposes the front or the back is unacceptable.  Save your skin displays for the nightclub afterward.
Clean Up After Yourself. The number one unspoken rule at the gym is to clean up after yourself.  No one wants to touch a machine that is full of sweat left behind from your workout. Always bring a towel with you and wipe the machines down when you're finished. Most gyms offer wipes or sprays strategically located around the gym for this purpose.

Dispose of Items Properly. Return all used towels, weights, mats, and other items to their applicable bins. If it drops on the floor, pick it up.  Recycle newspapers and return magazines to their proper shelves.

Mind Your Weights. Don’t assume everyone can handle ten million pounds on the leg press machine, be mindful and take some of the weights off when you are finished.  If you are working out with free weights, especially heavy weights, never toss them back into the holding rack or dump them onto the floor.  Lay them gently into their place.

Share The Equipment. If you are doing multiple sets on a machine, it's common courtesy to let others share the equipment during your rest periods. This may not always be practical, but it is nice to offer to share whenever you can.

Keep Your Voice Down. Chatting loudly with your friend while training on the Elliptical is no less of a disturbance than talking on your cell phone while running on the treadmill. Unless it's an emergency, curb your lengthy conversations to before or after your workouts.

Don't Hog The Treadmill. Many gyms have time limits on cardio machines during busy hours. There is a reason for that, and you should obey it. Throwing your towel over the display doesn't fool anyone.

Group Exercise.  You are not in Kindergarten.  Just because you have chosen to stand in the same space for your group exercise class, it does not entitle you to claim that space as your own.  Unless the designated spot has your name on it, anyone is perfectly free to stand in your space.

Yoga. Yoga class is supposed to be calm and relaxing.  Do not push your way into the room to stake out a spot. Take a deep breath, open the door and allow someone else to enter in front of you.  If you are late, enter the room discretely and quietly obtain your mat.  You may want to do a few warm up postures to prevent injuring yourself before joining the rest of the class. 

Early Departures.  In any group exercise or yoga class, do your best not to leave before the end of the class.  It is very disruptive to your fellow exercisers and tends to start a domino effect in which everyone feels it’s okay to depart.  Leaving early not only increases your chance of injury because the cool down at the end of the class is important, but it is also disrespectful to your instructor.  If you know you have to leave early and it cannot be avoided, mention it to your instructor at the beginning of the class.

Cover It Up. Accepting your body and having the confidence to walk around the locker room naked is terrific. Knowing when to cover up with a towel to keep the locker room a comfortable place for everyone is even better. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Red Carpet Manners at Golden Globes 2014 – FeyPo Tried their Darndest to Deliver

For the darling of awards shows that joins together talents from television and film under one happy roof, dynamic female duo, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, tried their darndest to deliver the goods. Before a single syllable was uttered, the pressure was on to repeat their performance from the previous year as the hostesses with the most who hit a home run with both the viewing audience, as well as their peers.   So when Fey admitted that in Hollywood when something “kinda works, you keep doing it till everybody hates it,” we wondered if this was an ominous premonition. It’s not that anything catastrophic occurred, the evening just felt a bit odd.  The constant flowing of Moet & Chandon - the official champagne of the Globes - may not have done anyone any favors. Alcohol and public speaking do not mix.

Nevertheless, the girls had their share of witty one-liners. My personal favorites were the opening line that poked fun at Lee Daniels calling the telecast the, (“71st Annual Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler Golden Globe Awards”), the dig at George Clooney and his penchant for younger women (“Gravity is nominated for best film: It’s the story about how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.”), and the double standard in Hollywood when joking about Matthew McConaughey’s weight loss of 45 pounds for his role in Dallas Buyers Club (“what actresses call ‘being in a movie.’”)  Our favorite quote from the evening though came from Amy Adams on the red carpet. When interviewed for her role in “American Hustle” as to how she was able to keep her déclotage intact, she replied, “Good posture keeps everything in place.”  Great advice, not only for the red carpet, but for every day.  

This year’s show had all of the fanfare and glitz we have come to expect when you put the hottest stars of the big screen and small in the same room.  The celebs did their best to turn on the charm and donned their finest wears for the camera as they kicked off the height of awards season.  Here is our recap of red carpet manners highlights and low points from one of Hollywood’s biggest nights.  

What they Wore.  Black, red and green were the chosen colors of this year’s Golden Globes. A-listers Amy Adams, Lupita Nyong'o, Tina Fey, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus all looked smashing in cherry red.  A laundry list of actresses including Amy Poehler, Jessica Chastain, Sofia Vergara, Julianna Margulies, Uma Thurman, Hayden Panettiere, Julia Roberts, Melissa McCarthy and more opted for an elegant and sultry black to contrast the red carpet. Other more daring personalities like Reese Witherspoon, Helen Mirren, Olivia Wilde, and even Matthew McConaughey selected rich shades of green and happened to wear them very well - not an easy feat.  Lena Dunham would’ve succeeded in her canary yellow dress if only she added a piece of material to cover the massive tattoo emblazoned on her right arm.  It was distracting and detracted from the overall splendor of the dress.  The men are stepping up to the plate more and more with each year. A great number were decked out in a traditional Tom Ford tuxedo.  Weatherman and song man, Al Roker and Usher, went rogue wearing burgundy. Beauties Taylor Swift, Sandra Bullock and Julie Bowen elected a color-blocking pattern while others like Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence and Zoe Zaldana went with various B&W ensembles.

The Long Walk.  We noticed an inordinate amount of long painful walks to the stage.  Most obvious was Jacqueline Bisset who was clearly stunned by her win and almost unable to move. Unlike the People’s Choice Awards where stars receive their nods beforehand and are seated theatre-style near the stage, the Golden Globes ballroom is overflowing with wall-to-wall tables making it difficult for those placed towards the middle or back to reach the stage in a timely manner.  The farther away you are located, the more people you feel compelled to kiss and hug along your way, not to mention managing not to trip on your dress.  The only benefit of the long walk is that it gives winners an opportunity to compose their thoughts and hopefully recall who they wish to thank.

Malfunctions & Expletives.  What we originally thought was a poke at the recent Michael Bay incident at CES turned out to be a genuine teleprompter malfunction early on in the show. Wolf of Wall Street stars Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie handled it well however and improvised their speech until they were handed a yellow piece of paper helping them to recite their category and the applicable winner.  We also noticed an inordinate amount of swearwords sprinkled throughout the show as celebs seemed to have forgotten their manners and the fact that they were on live television in front of millions of people, not just in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton among their friends. Jacqueline Bisset, Elisabeth Moss, Diane Keaton and Aaron Paul all put their hat into that ring.

Beyond Bizarre Moments.  Jacqueline Bisset’s win will forever be remembered as one of the most bizarre moments in Golden Globe history.  So astonished when her name was called that she was frozen in time, hardly able to walk or talk pausing for what felt like an eternity before taking to the mic.  Her speech was a mixed bag of incoherent rambling and frustration especially when the exit music began. She offered some sage advice from her mother, “Go hell and don’t come back,” as well as a few words about forgiveness being the best beauty treatment and then somehow managed to leave the stage. Emma Thompson didn’t do much better announcing the Best Screenplay award with a Martini in one hand and her Louboutin’s in the other.  Appearing a bit more sloshed than necessary, she forgot the most important item – the envelope!! After reciting the list of nominees, she realized she was missing the envelope containing the winner’s name. Once received, she tossed her shoes into the air, handed her drink over to Miss Golden Globe (Sosie Bacon) and then finally announced the lucky recipient. And, we get the profound friendship that exists between Woody Allen and his muse Diane Keaton, but did that warrant a camp rendition during the Cecil B. DeMille award?  We think not. It was very strange and reminded us of fellow actress Meryl Streep when she sang at the end of Postcards From the Edge.   

Effervescent & Expecting.  Expecting mommies, Kerry Washington, Olivia Wilde and Drew Barrymore all beamed from ear-to-ear providing a much needed distraction from all of the craziness onstage.  Experiencing a banner year and eager to share her happy news was a smiley Kerry Washington who couldn’t contain her excitement confiding that her belly was her best date ever. First time pregnant stunner, Olivia Wilde, also prominently displayed her baby bump in a tight sequined Gucci number.  And of course, the perpetually positive, Drew Barrymore, proudly flaunted her rather large tummy in a flower dress that was completely suited to her bubbly personality.

Forget Photobombing, What about Micbombing?  What is it about P. Diddy and Kayne West that they can’t contain themselves around a mic?  Sean “Diddy” Combs turned his formal presenting gig into a casual affair interrupting musician Alex Ebert as well as band U2’s speeches to interject some nonsensical information that was best kept between friends.  Did we really need to know that he was on a boat partying in St. Bart’s with the winner recently?  An emphatic NO!    

Best Acceptance Speech. In a sea of poor acceptance speeches - some riddled with expletives - the ever polite Texan, Matthew McConaughey, gets our vote for the most humble and gracious at this year’s awards ceremony. From his respectful praise towards the other gentlemen in his category addressing them as Mr. Hanks, Mr. Redford, etc., to his perserverence as he shared how his film was turned down 96 times before receiving the green light, he also thoughtfully thanked everyone in his life including his wife and children reserving a special thanks for his mother for encouraging him to do things for himself. The speech ended on an uplifting note claiming that his movie, The Dallas Buyers Club “was never about dying” and with that he reminded everyone to “just keep… (livin).”  Inspiring words to live by.