Monday, August 31, 2015

Red Carpet Manners at the 2015 VMA’s – A Bacchanal Buffet of Erratic Behavior

After last year’s less-than-stellar ratings, MTV was ready for a comeback and they did so in spades by inviting Miley Cyrus to host their signature event.  Channeling her 2013 no-holds-barred, viral performance with Robin Thicke, they figured she was the perfect gal to turn up the heat, and capture the controversy.  And, boy did their bets pay off.  She was just what they needed to put the famous moon man back on the map.

The overly sexualized twenty-two year old seemed proud to dispel all notions of her younger, innocent self.  No longer preaching “It’s the Climb,” but coming across more like a “Wrecking Ball,” she was now running wild on an endless rampage to shock, provoke and disturb.  Perhaps this is a passing phase, but it stings nonetheless, especially while trying to raise my two impressionable girls.  How to rationalize all the references to her “titties,” her unabashed love of marijuana, and her erotically-charged demeanor has become quite the challenge both as a mom and a manners expert. 

The night was a spectacle of low brow entertainment.  The only association made to etiquette was when Miley called out Kayne for not sharing his personal stash of grass, “Where’s your awards show etiquette?”  There was, however, a sprinkling of fairy dust in the form of Taylor Swift who for brief moments elevated the show along with a couple of other standout performers.  On that note, here is a recap of the night’s red carpet manners hits and misses…

Most Brash & Brazen Host. Miley has claimed that her onstage persona is all fun and games, nothing to take seriously.  Okay, but does she have to flash her middle finger and spew expletives every five seconds?  We get it, she’s butting up against the establishment.  Hardly an original idea, but I can think of a lot more creative and intelligent ways to express the same sentiment.  And, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the ten wardrobe changes.  While she’s never been in better shape revealing some seriously lithe hip bones, her ensembles resembled more of a cross between I Dream of Jeannie and a circus clown than anything. 

Underdressed & Understated on the Red Carpet. MTV has always broken the barrier when it comes to red carpet fashion with a motto that screams, the more skin, the better. Miley led the pack and Nicki, Rita, Chrissy, Gigi, Ciara, Serayah and Demi all followed suit with a showcase of lissome legs, bodacious booties, and daring declotage.  However, statuesque goddess Taylor Swift, is the only one who gets our vote for her appropriately hip head-to-toe stunner of an outfit and heels. On the male front, only Empire’s, Jussie Smollett, stood out in his dapper suit ensemble.  Otherwise, it was a less is more feel for Kanye and Justin Beiber who dressed down purposefully not wanting to look like they put too much effort into their appearance.  And, what possessed Kim Kardashian to go braless?  Her massive pregnancy boobs should’ve been harnessed and her nipples properly tucked into place.  They were a complete distraction.  Even Miley noticed it!

Music’s Amiable Ambassador.  From the moment Taylor Swift arrived with her Bad Blood posse, she was all smiles and owning the room.  Bonding with her beautiful friends, raking up award after award, she professed her gratefulness and exuded graciousness whether it was to acknowledge her "Blank Space" director and production team for their hard work on her video or to convey her congratulations to the Straight Outta Compton crew for the film's huge box office success. She is a world-class collaborator, a consummate performer and a professional who deserves every accolade.

The Beibs is Back.  After a five year hiatus from his last VMA performance, the boy who once relieved himself in a restaurant mop bucket was feeling pretty relieved after the successful premiere of his new single “What Do You Mean?”  He was overcome with emotion as tears of joy flowed down his face.  The last several years he had gotten used to being booed for his behavior so when the audience jumped to their feet cheering for the heartthrob, he seemed genuinely grateful and appreciative to be back.

Mad Love & Bad Blood.  The evening began with a mea culpa between Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift who collaborated on Nicki’s “The Night is Still Young” burying the hatchet on a scuttle that exploded on Twitter weeks earlier.  But audiences were stumped by the Nicki Minaj challenge that erupted with host Miley Cyrus later in the show.  Miley, who was interviewed by the New York Times, had commented on the Taylor/NIcki rift and claimed her words were twisted by the press. Nicki wasn't buying it and before she excited the stage went on to mouth, “Don’t play with me, bitch.”  

Video Vanguard Award Goes Wild.  No one puts Yeezus in the corner, especially not MTV.  The highly anticipated Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award presentation went completely off script when a gum-chewing Kanye West took a painstaking thirteen minutes to soak up accolades from the audience and then proceed on an endless rant of ‘bros’ and ‘listen to the kids’ references before announcing his run for presidency in 2020.  Taylor Swift, who presented him with the award, miraculously kept her composure while Kanye recalled the infamous incident in 2009 when he interrupted her acceptance speech to delare Beyonce the more deserving winner.  She didn’t flinch when he admitted to smoking a little something to take the edge off before taking the stage, and she stuck loyally by Kim’s side offering her own personal “Imma let you finish” moment to Kayne as he continued to bury himself on live TV.  My eleven year old summed up his speech best when she turned to me and said, “Kanye West is having an emotional breakdown and needs to see a therapist.”  

Packed Performances That Blew Away.  Unfortunately, the best performances of the night went largely unnoticed compared to the outlandish celebrity behavior that stole the thunder.  In the event you missed it, our favorites were an energy packed Macklemore & Ryan Lewis debuting their song “Downtown” set in downtown Los Angeles, Tori Kelly who came out of the woodwork and literally brought down the house with a simple guitar and stunning vocals on “Should’ve Been Us”, and happy-go-lucky Pharrell whose penetrating “Freedom” should be one for the history books.  

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.