Wednesday, August 26, 2015

National Dog Day - Start Your Pooch off on the Right Paw with these Simple Rules of Petiquette

Before children, we had a pet Maltese dog named Max.  He was white, fluffy and absolutely adorable.  He was the love of my life until our girls were born.  I bought him cashmere sweaters, made homemade doggie treats and threw him dog birthday parties in the park.  He was very high maintenance and a tremendous medical expense with so many visits to the pet hospital that our pet insurance cancelled us. Unfortunately, Max had become so severely ill that we wound up having to finally put him to sleep.  It was extremely sad and, ever since, our pets have been limited to whatever can fit into a fish tank. In second grade, my daughter won a blue crayfish at school and named him Georgie.  He was a smart crayfish constantly finding sneaky ways to escape his tank.  One day we would find him hanging out in the kitchen sink, the next he would be crawling around on the hardwood floor.  Lord knows how he got there.  After about 5 years and several layers of shedding his shell, he passed away and we have buried him in our backyard. Now we have Jambalaya, the pet turtle.  My nanny Sonia bought him as a gift one Christmas. He is a colorful painted turtle and lives happily in his tank feeding and burrowing holes.  He is very low maintenance, requiring only food and a clean tank.  We live in the canyon without sidewalks so as much as our girls ask for a dog, it is not happening anytime soon – at least until they are old enough to walk a pooch safely on the street. 

Here in Beverly Hills, it is quite commonplace to treat your pet like a person.  They are a bonafide member of the family attending power lunches, going to the salon and staying in the finest hotels. They hide inconspicuously in Hermes totes and parade down red carpets with equal ease, but just don’t let me catch your pet relieving themselves on my nice Persian rug or clawing their way up my expensive wool coat.  Follow these recommended rules of ‘petiquette’ to keep your furry friend in check.

Be Mindful of their Mess.  My aesthetician told me about a client who routinely brings her pet to the salon only to leave small presents on the bathroom floor for others to clean up.  The dog isn’t exactly potty-trained.   This is not only unsanitary and could cost the salon its license, but it is inexcusable.  Rule number one is clean up after your pets mess.  Have your scooper and small bags handy to remove said offenses immediately. Don’t let your pet relieve themselves anywhere, certainly not on other people’s property. Walk them curbside and encourage them to ‘go’ there.

Approach with Caution.  Not everyone is aware of how to properly approach a pet.   Big, excitable or aggressive dogs must be tethered or leashed in the event a small child or elderly adult decides to get close without a formal introduction.  Want to get up close and personal? Ask permission from the owner first and then proceed cautiously.

Train them Young.  Obedience training is a must for all dogs.  It is for their safety and yours.  Simple commands such as how to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ are a necessity and will help socialize your dog so that they can be around others.  Even dog lovers do not appreciate a pooch that jumps and claws at you when you walk through the door. 

Travel Companion or Therapy Animal?  As many a non-disabled person will circumvent the law and obtain a handicap placard for easier parking, there are those that claim their pet is a service animal so they may travel with them first class.  Pet Partners® has never been more popular!  If you have an emotional or physical disability and are in desperate need of a therapeutic travel companion, I understand. Have your applicable paperwork, tags and licenses on hand. If not, please don’t subject the rest of us to your service pet antics, it is not very becoming.

Observe Pets Presentation. They say many pets resemble their owners. You’ll never see a disheveled or unkempt pet in Beverly Hills.  Just saunter through Neiman Marcus on any given Saturday and you’ll see an assemblage of pets expertly coiffed, dressed to the nines, smelling like a rose in brand name carriers. These owners will have ample supplies on hand, wipes for muddy paws, portable water dishes with filtered water to quench thirst and resting pads for getting some shut eye.

No Barking or Begging Zone.  Excessive barking can be a big nuisance and upsetting to those within earshot.  You don’t want to risk a noise complaint from next door.  High strung pets who live in smaller quarters should have a regular exercise routine to release repressed energy.  A little fresh air and running around will exhaust them and calm them down so they will not bark unreasonably.  Begging is unacceptable and can also spread germs. Never feed a dog table food and if begging ensures, remove them immediately from the scene.

Preferable Pet Sitting.  Leaving town and need a place to park your pet?  Don’t burden your family and friends with the responsibility.  If they are interested in babysitting your pet while you’re away, they will let you know.  Neighbors make a nice option, especially if the relationship is reciprocal and you both leave town at different times. Otherwise, enlist the help of a professional pet sitting service.  Check references and make sure they are insured and bonded before dropping your unsuspecting pet at their door.

Love Me, Love My Pet.  You and your canine may be attached at the hip, but that does not give them carte blanche to tag along to your social engagements or accompany you at work.  Many people are allergic to pets fur. Untrained pets may damage furniture or permanently stain rugs leaving a wake of destruction in their path.  Showing up with yours unannounced can be considered incredibly insensitive.  If you are in a bind with your pet, have the courtesy to ask permission and wait for the okay.  Be gracious and make sure your pet is on their best behavior.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Beware of Licking or Picking - BBQ Etiquette Tips for the 4th of July

Fourth of July is the hallmark of BBQ season.  Sitting outside, soaking up the sun and savoring great eats is a time-honored American pastime enjoyed year after year.  While more hot dogs are consumed on this day than any other, barbecuing is no longer limited to just grilling dogs and burgers, the fare has expanded to everything from pizza to fruit. Plus, there's something about barbecuing that just makes everything taste better.  So if you're entertaining today or attending a party as a guest, take into consideration these BBQ etiquette tips to ensure your July 4th is a smash success!

Be Prepared. There is nothing worse than being invited to a barbecue and arriving when your host is wiping away the cobwebs from the grill or has to run out to the market to purchase the food. If you are hosting a barbecue, plan your menu and purchase your food items a day or two before your event. Clean your barbecue well in advance of your guests arrival and make sure your barbecue tools are handy and in good working condition. You don't want to be flipping burgers with your fingers!

The Hotter the Better. Preheat the grill and allow plenty of time for it to reach the appropriate temperature so that cooking time is efficient. Generally guests come hungry and they will not be very patient waiting an extra half hour for the grill to heat up.

No One Wants to Be Eaten Alive. Everyone knows that outdoor barbecuing means you have to put up with an assortment of bugs invading your space, especially pesky flies and bees. Arm your backyard with insect repellent such as citronella candles and an electric bug zapper. Purchasing food domes will also not only keep food warm, but will dissuade bugs from hanging around the table.

The Grill Master is King. Every household has their designated grill master who is king of their domain and not does want to be told what to do. He or she is confident they can grill anything to perfection. Show them respect by letting them do their job and be supportive by helping in anyway you can. No backseat grilling please!

Finger Lickin' Good.The best tasting foods at a barbecue are the ones that happen to be super messy or difficult to eat. Think ribs smothered in sauce, buttery corn on the cob or watermelon juice running down the chin. Not only do these foods require a ton of napkins, but they also tempt us to want to suck the sauce off of our fingers at any given time. Provide cleansing wipes for sticky foods and toothpicks to remove kernels of corn from teeth.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Manners Monday - Graduation Etiquette: From Dazed & Confused to Grateful & Charming

The week leading up to my Sarah Lawrence College graduation was mostly a blur of endless parties, excruciatingly late nights, and boxes and boxes of Kleenex. Not necessarily from tears of joy or sadness - although after four years at my alma mater I was feeling pretty nostalgic - but from an especially strong New York pollen season that had me reaching for a limitless stash of tissues.  Somehow when my name was called, I managed to shake hands, accept my diploma, and return to my seat before anyone was the wiser.  All that blowing, however, must have made me light-headed because I haven’t the faintest clue as to who was in attendance, where we celebrated, or which parties I attended afterward.  All I do remember is that I felt a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment knowing the four years of incessant studying, paper-writing, and test-taking were behind me.  

Graduating from college was a big deal then and has only become an increasingly arduous endeavor.  With tuitions hitting record highs and academic standards reaching new plateaus, the pressure cooker to stay in school and get good grades can be debilitating. It demands a student’s fierce dedication and a family’s unwavering commitment.  As a show appreciation, here are 7 ways for the graduate to shed their dazed and confused demeanor and turn on the charm for guests who have come to celebrate their achievement.  

Cordially Invite.  Eschew the electronic invite in favor of customized printed invitations to distribute to family members and close friends two months in advance.  Out-of-town guests will appreciate a ‘Save the Date’ including hotel options at least six months in advance.  Colleges located in especially tony towns tend to fill up very quickly.  While you want to make everyone feel special, tickets are typically limited to attend the ceremony. Circumvent hurt feelings by making sure all guests receive an invitation to the celebration afterward.  

Dress to Impress.  Although you’ll be covered from head to toe in cap and gown, graduates should dress to impress in appropriate commencement attire. Ladies should wear a dress, slacks or skirt with a nice blouse. Flats or low heeled shoes for comfort and safe walking.  Limit accessories to only those that are necessary.  Have a family member hold your purse. Men should wear dress pants or khakis with pressed button-down shirts and a belt.  Tied shoes or loafers for footwear.  Caps are worn flat on the head with the tassels on the right side unless otherwise instructed for photos, etc. Caps are removed by men only as a sign of respect during the National Anthem.

Glean Jewels from Commencement Speeches.  This is not the time to take a snooze. Put down your phone, sit up straight, perk up your ears, and lean in.  After years of schooling, you must now apply what you’ve learned in the real world and that is no simple task. The commencement speech delivers the goods on exactly what it will take to not only survive, but thrive.  Legendary commencement speakers like Steve Jobs offered priceless pearls of wisdom that still resonates.  Listen with intent, take advice to heart and aspire to live up to the standard your education has provided you.  

Receive the Diploma in a Dignified Manner.  You will rehearse countless times how to approach the stage to receive your diploma, but here are a few extra pointers to be mindful of. Posture, posture, posture! Stand tall, shoulders down and back and walk with dignity being careful not to trip on your gown. Make good eye contact, administer a solid handshake with your right hand using two pumps, and use your left hand to accept the diploma. Move the tassel on your cap if directed by the photographer and be sure to smile with your eyes, as well as your teeth.  Continue offstage confidently and return to your seat. 

Split Time Sensibly between Guests & Grads.  Guests have come far and wide to witness the occasion and they deserve a little quality time and undivided attention before running off to party with your friends.  If your family is hosting a celebratory luncheon or dinner on your behalf, make it your mission to be charming, gracious, interesting, interested and grateful.  Connect with each guest and personally thank them for coming.

Allocate Announcements.  If you have extended family and friends whom you’d like to share in your joyous occasion, limit announcements to those who actually know you are graduating.  “No gifts please” should be added so recipients understand this is purely a gesture to include them in your achievement.

Handwrite Appreciation.  By now, you hopefully own personalized stationery as you are going to need it.  Not only for gifts received for graduation, but also for the countless interviews you will be taking with prospective employers, mentors and other advisors. Thank you notes should be written within a one to two-week period.  Monetary gifts may include a sentence on how the money will be used such as towards a future savings or summer trip.  Being the gracious graduate you are, an expression of gratitude will also be mailed to those who came to support you, but did not bring a gift.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Manners Monday - National Etiquette Week 2015

When people learn that I teach manners they automatically adjust their posture and start minding their P's & Q's. Instantaneously, the mood in the air changes.  All of the sudden, they become more self-conscious. They politely ask a few questions to feign interest, but for the most part, can't wait to get the hell away from me so they can be themselves without judgment or embarrassment. I get it. As a society, we're already living under a giant shaming microscope, do we really need some etiquette expert critiquing us on the minutiae of our lives?  After all, who cares if I use my salad fork for my entree?  What if I don't feel like shaking hands web-to-web?  Why do I need to hold the door open for someone walking behind me?  If I let it shut, is the door police going to give me a citation?

For this reason, I've adopted my "Off Duty" rule to preempt any uncomfortableness that may arise from those who are less than enchanted with my field of work and who could, frankly, care less. I do not walk around espousing unsolicited advice to strangers, let alone family or friends.  At the most, I may sneak out a look or glance of disapproval, but that is it. If someone reaches out with a query or quandary, I am happy to help, otherwise I try to keep my big trap shut.  

Clients, however, are fair game. They specifically seek my tips, tools and advice on a host of topics and I am more than willing to dole out information unabashedly. On that note, I present to you National Etiquette Week 2015 which begins today and runs through Friday. In honor of these five days devoted to all things manners, I have compiled a list of 20 random etiquette questions and answers to give you a bit of a jump start. Enjoy!

1. Waiting in line for your morning cup of Joe? Bring a book, take a magazine or read the paper on your smartphone. Anything to help you wait patiently for your turn.
2. Attending dinner at a friend's home?  Take your lead from your gracious host and wait for them to dictate everything that happens at the table. 
3. Schedule a lunch meeting with a prospective employer? Be prepared to pay. Arrive early and hand your credit card to the Maitre'd to make payment in advance. 
4. Seated in the aisle or window seat on an airplane? Defer to the passenger in the middle seat by letting them utilize armrests on both sides of the chair. 
5. Taking the stairs or escalator? Keep to the right to allow those in a hurry to pass quickly on the left.
6. Going out on a first date? Refrain from revealing too much, too soon. Some things are better left unsaid or at least until you are more committed.
7. Own an Apple Watch? To avoid distraction, turn it off completely when engaged in a face-to-face meeting or meal with others. 
8. Accommodating latecomers to their seat? Turn your knees in the direction they are walking which will allow them to pass more easily and find their seat. 
9. Uncomfortable making eye contact? Focus your gaze on the area between the eyebrows. It still gives the appearance of looking someone directly in the eyes.
10. Want to sound more intelligent? Strip the use of filler words from your vocabulary. The most common offenders include: like, yeah, nah, huh, um and whatever.
11. Not a natural smiler?  This is one area where you can fake it til you make it. Turn that frown upside down by practicing smiling in the mirror when you brush your teeth. 
12. Wondering whether to send a thank you note or email?  When in doubt, err on the side of formality with a proper handwritten note. It will always be appreciated.
13. If asked to pass a community basket of bread? Items are always passed to the right, however, please offer first to the person seated on your immediate left.
14. Want to make yourself appear slimmer?  Stand up tall like a palm tree, tummy tucked in, shoulders down and back. You'll feel confident and your clothes will fit better.
15. Pondering the best way to strike up a conversation?  Offer up an authentic compliment or ask a thoughtful question. Either make great ice breakers.
16. Curious how to propose a proper toast? Use the opening line, "I would like to propose a toast." Next, remember the 3 "B's." begin, be brief, and be seated.
17. Crafting a witty comeback to a lengthy heated text? Don't. Pick up the phone or have a face-to-face conversation instead. It will resolve the issue much more quickly.
18. Tempted to break out Mr. Finger in a formal restaurant? Utensils exist to aid us in bringing the food neatly into our mouths. Use both your fork and knife to help. 
19. Want to impress at the next networking event? Be the first to initiate a solid handshake with two pumps, smile and introduce yourself. 
20. Suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out)? Stop torturing yourself and lay off the social media for a while. Go offline and arrange plans with friends and family in person. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

March Madness - A Guide to Gracefully Handling School Acceptances, Rejections & Waitlists

In homes across the nation, March Madness does not refer to the NCAA men's basketball tournament, but rather to the more stressful, high stakes admissions process when students receive notification as to whether they were accepted, rejected or wait listed by their first choice schools.  Who got in and who did not? This roller coaster of emotions is not just for kids.  Parents either feel elated or ashamed.  Some seeking shelter before the event even occurs.  Families vow to stay close to home primed and ready for their email notification to arrive.  Mailboxes are staked out for the requisite letter that will follow in the mail, the results all of which are coveted.  However, one doesn't have to be a mind reader to decipher the answers, you can tell by a simple read of body language as to whom is walking with their head held high or skulking behind a large baseball cap.   

I remember the day vividly.  Notifications were to arrive via email around mid-day and my daughter was given strict instructions by her school to shut down her cell phone.  She was attending a Bar Mitzvah service of a classmate at her temple school and the headmaster did not want anything to detract from the coming-of-age celebration.  Both parents and children were sent emails in advance with explicit directions for how this day should be handled.  No one was allowed to check their phone while on campus during the service and there would be no speaking of said results at the party which followed later in the evening.  Everyone was on pins and needles.  Confined to a sacred place helped for any last minute prayers and pleading with a higher power.  Once off school campus, we turned on our phones and held our breath.  I already knew the answer based on good old-fashioned mom intuition.  My daughter did not get accepted to her first choice school, but did get accepted to her second.  And not because she didn’t write a proper thank you, but more due to the fact that her first choice school was rigorous academically and she was probably better suited to a school with a more nurturing environment. 

Nevertheless, I felt her pain as she struggled to squelch back tears that were streaming down her face. We lived around the corner from her first choice school and this was where she had envisioned herself going since preschool. Needless to say, it was a tough blow, but an important lesson in life’s disappointments she would have to overcome many times in her future.  As I share with the parents who send their children to me for interview coaching and finally learned firsthand, your children wind up at the school that is the best fit for them. There is no voodoo magic that will change that. Now, here’s the proper protocol for what to do with all those acceptances, rejections and wait lists.

Prepare a Family Plan.  Since email communications will be distributed on Saturday, parents make yourself available to be around and present. If your children are engaged in activities, restrict them from checking their phones at a party, sporting event, school function or other public setting. This is a private moment. When the notification arrives, give your children your undivided attention to address their feelings whether they be elation or disappointment.  Allow them space to process the situation before setting anything in stone. They may wish to sleep on it and visit the subject in the morning. Regardless of the result, vow to handle yourself with grace and dignity and make sure your child follow’s suit. Both parents and child should write additional notes of thanks to every school regardless of the outcome. 

Share Freely, But Do Not Brag or Ridicule.  Share your happy news freely with family, but tread carefully with friends unless prompted.  When you do disclose your child’s results, speak from the heart. While you may be very proud, try not to boast or brag.  In the same vein, don’t feel pressed to divulge unhappy news. Frankly, it’s nobody’s business.  And by all means, do not ridicule, put down or disparage your child. Show empathy and comfort them with encouraging words that all will work out as it is supposed to.  Assure them that there is a perfect school for them and that they will be happy.

Be a Friend, Not a Gossip.  Don’t start lobbing calls to everyone you know to find out who got in where.  Do not corner, pester or provoke friends to share with you their results and don’t be a blabbermouth sharing the results of third parties.  Resolve to be a good friend. If a friend tells you information in confidence, keep that private information to yourself.  Offer support and reassurance to those friends who seek it. 

Act Appropriately with Acceptances.  Congratulations, you're in! This is not the time to forget your manners. If your child plans to attend, notify the school immediately and express your enthusiasm with a note of acceptance to the Admissions Director. If they decide to turn down the acceptance, disclose your decision as soon as possible to allow a space to become available for the next person on the wait list. 

Deal Tactfully with Rejections.  Do not let hurt feelings dictate your actions. Realize that this is not a personal attack on you or your child's character or capability.  It is simply a decline.  Rise above the emotional level and write a sincere note of thanks to admissions expressing how grateful you are for having had the experience. You never know if a decline for the moment may transform into an acceptance down the line. 

Make the Most of Wait Lists.  Getting on the wait list is a good thing and often results in a bonafide space becoming available before the start of the school year. Seal your child's spot at the top of the list by sending a thank you note to the Admissions Director restating their wishes to attend.  A school where they were previously wait listed may turn their decision around based on your thoughtful and honest prose. 

Write Extra Notes of Thanks. Express gratitude to those who helped you along the way with an additional notes of thanks or a small token of appreciation to any other friends, family or colleagues who acted kindly on your behalf or wrote a letter of recommendation to help your child get into a school. This acknowledgment will be appreciated and noted for years to come. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Seasoned Host Barely Skips By in His Skivvies – Red Carpet Manners Oscars 2015

A much anticipated hosting gig by Neil Patrick Harris was largely superseded by an emotionally and politically charged plethora of winners with meaningful messages.  The emcee made famous for his star turn as host of the Tony’s and Emmy’s, had a tougher time with Oscar pouring through a steady stream of jokes many of which fell flat. Typically quite confident with a song and dance routine, this show opener was thankfully resuscitated by a much needed Jack Black who added range as well as levity.  NPH’s most memorable moment may have been his most raw stripped down to his skivvies in a nod to Best Picture nom Birdman.  Taking the stage and revealing a very fit physique in nothing but a pair of tighty whities, he begged the biggest question of the evening – was he or was he not packing?  In an interview on Live with Kelly & Michael, it was revealed that an extra pair of undies were sewn into the fabric lest the shining stage lights reveal too much of his anatomy. Great excuse, but we’ll buy it. Much less notable were his awkward riffs in the audience with Steve Carell and the seat fillers. It’s hard to improvise with two million people watching! Known for his magic tricks, we thought the bit with the briefcase would have more punch. Instead, we were left bored and perplexed as he gave detailed instructions to Octavia Spencer on how to properly guard the goods containing his personal Oscar predictions.  When the big reveal arrived at the end of the evening, it was an accordion fold recap of the night’s events. Clever, but more of a poof than a bang. Sadly, this is par for the course in the biz, they build you up only to tear you down. NPH has been the host with the most with an amazing run, but nothing lasts forever. 

Red Carpet Fashion Favorites & Those We’d Forgo.  We’re always so excited to see what will unfold on the red carpet, but this year’s Oscars pulled out more misses than hits, at least on screen.  Too many of the gorgeous beauties did not radiate in their usual manner. Actresses like Reese Witherspoon, Patricia Arquette, Viola Davis and Kerry Washington were sorely lacking in their blah ensembles.  Similarly to the Globes, red made a major appearance on the carpet with dresses adorned by Dakota Johnson, Rosamond Pike and Sophie Hunter.  Red was also showcased by Lady Gaga, Nicole Kidman and Idina Menzel who donned red gloves, a red belt and a red top respectively. Even David Oyelowo got into the action with a Burgundy suit.  Short slicked-back hair was showing chic by the lovely Faith Hill and Scarlett Johansson.  Cut out designs were a favorite with Naomi Watts and Lupita Nyong’o and bold statement necklaces added drama to Viola Davis, Scarlett Johansson and Cate Blanchett’s formal gowns.  Biggest hits in our book were the eternally impeccably dressed J. Lo along with Rosamond Pike, Naomi Watts and Sienna Miller in head turning looks that fit their frames. Oprah pulled out all the stops in a blush number that hugged in all the right places. Two-tone tuxes were all the rage for Michael Strahan, Eddie Redmayne, Kevin Hart and NPH who wore one during his many outfit changes.

Speeches that Left Us Speechless.  It was the night of sobering speeches that began with an earnest J.K. Simmons who won the first award of the evening for Best Supporting Actor in Whiplash. After appropriately thanking his wife and kids, he then pleaded with children everywhere to call their parents in favor of texting or emailing them.  Patricia Arquette accepted her Best Supporting Actress Award for Boyhood and then launched into a political campaign defending women’s equal rights and wages garnering cheers from females in the audience, especially megastars J. Lo and Meryl Streep.  Julianne Moore’s win for Best Actress in Still Alice shed a much needed light on the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. Graham Moore, Best Adapted Screenplay winner, brought attention to teen suicide inspiring young teens to stop taking their lives in favor of staying weird and hopeful. And, the most eloquent speech of the evening came from a humble Eddie Redmayne who accepted the Best Actor award for The Theory of Everything winning the hearts of the audience for his portrayal as the suffering Stephen Hawking crippled by ALS. Holding on tightly to his Oscar, he pledged to do everything in his power to help fight the debilitating disease.

A Trip to the Stage.  The single biggest fear of most nominees is the worry that they will trip and fall on their way to receiving the big award.  Jennifer Lawrence famously fell ascending the steps to accept her award for Best Actress in Silver Linings Playbook last year and then quickly laughed it off. This year, we noticed a couple of minor tripping incidents both on and off the stage.  J. Lo almost had a major accident exiting the stage after presenting an award and one of the winners for Best Documentary Short nearly lost his footing as he ran excitedly down the aisle to collect his award on stage.

Scruffy is the New Smart.  A lack of manscaping was prevalent at this year’s awards show with many opting for the scruffy less-than-manicured look bearing unshaven necks a la Channing Tatum or full-fledged hairy beards like Matthew McConaughey. The otherwise handsome Mexicans from Birdman made a statement with their wiry, unruly locks of hair going for a sultry suave look.  

Best Blatant Ignore of Exit Music.  Awards etiquette rule 101 is keep your speech short and sweet lest you run the risk of being played off by exit music. This show seemed particularly bias with the music coming on fast and furious for certain winners and failing to appear at all for others.  Best Foreign Film winner, Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski, disregarded the music altogether plowing through his speech well until the full orchestra was sounded.

Chomping at the Bit.  A 'just grateful to be there' Michael Keaton was either feeling the jitters or worried about bad breath as he chomped away on his chewing gum for most of the show. Every time the camera panned the audience with a mention of Birdman, Mr. Keaton was featured chewing like a cow.  Mints are a much better choice next time, my dear. 

Monumental Musical Performances.  One of the most emotional moments of the evening was dedicated to the movie Selma.  Winner for Best Original Song ‘Glory’, Common and John Legend brought the entire Dolby theatre to its feet complete with tears streaming and a rousing standing ovation. Second to ‘Glory’ was an astonishing rendition of ‘The Sound of Music’ by Lady Gaga.  Not an easy song to sing, her tribute to the film’s 50th anniversary culminated with Dame Julie Andrews taking to the stage herself and another standing ovation.

A Hug it Out Moment. What might have turned out as a cute amends resulted in a rather awkward and laughable moment when John Travolta and Idina Menzel shared the stage to present an award.  Attempting to make up for last year’s guffaw when he butchered her name and addressed her accidentally as Adele Dazeem, the actor’s chin grasp, condescending smile and extended hug were a bit much for our taste.  Better to have left water under the bridge. 

Despite the sudden downpour and upper 50 degree temperature, Hollywood's biggest night succeeded as planned. The stars flashed their smiles, the champagne was flowing and all was good in the land of LA. That's all folks!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Manners Monday - #DareToBePolite - The Final Frontier

As we approach the final days of our #daretbepolite campaign, I’d like to leave you with this thought: manners are the final frontier. At a time in history, where so much turmoil, disruption and distraction persists, where are we to turn, but to manners for some semblance of order, direction and calm.  They are, in essence, the last stop.  We are in more need than ever of a framework to capture all of the craziness and restore a sense of stability and substance.  While brushes of good behavior certainly exist, the #daretobepolite mission is more about daring society to ‘boldly go where no man has gone before,’ breaking out of the molds and misperceptions about manners to make them more authentic, accessible and accepting on an ongoing basis.  This is the space I would like to explore further.  One in which we hold ourselves accountable first before we start pointing fingers at everyone else, where we are more mindful of our own words and actions before we so willingly dissect those around us, and where we can still have fun, enjoy life, crack jokes and be witty without causing offense, harm or outrage to others.

As we’ve said time and again, manners touch every facet, every minutia and every molecule of our lives. They exist between the cracks, and like glue, they are the adhesive that hold everything together.  If left unused, the adhesive dries and renders itself ineffective leaving behind only chaos to follow.  It can be something as massive and weighty as the Sony debacle where the public was privy to private email communications that caused shame and embarrassment to top executives in the entertainment industry or as small and silly as the recent ‘manspreading’ epidemic accusing men of taking up too much space in their seats.  It can be something as deadly serious as the Charlie Hebdo massacre where two men launched terror on the Parisian satirical magazine challenging the right and respect for freedom of speech or as insanely ridiculous as the invoice that was sent to a family for their child’s failing to attend a friend’s birthday party.  Manners, or the lack thereof, affect us both at home and in our world and they all boil down to something very simple – RESPECT. 

So whether you’re twisted with agony over how to apologize to your mother-in-law, racked with worry about which fork to use for your fish course or riddled with guilt as to the best way to decline your boss’ advances, manners are your finest friend.  They are there to save you from your worst self, to fall back on in your time of need, and to protect you in the most precarious of situations. They are locked and loaded ready to employ at a moment’s notice. Use them wisely and they will keep you whole.

Step 3/Week 3: Manners: The Final Frontier.  Rather than limit ourselves to just one more week of practice, take the remaining ten days of January to reflect on everything we’ve covered these last few months. Turn up the heat index on your manners and share with us what you observe in yourself and in others. Join us now! Make the final vow to #daretobepolite!