Monday, August 30, 2010

Red Carpet Manners – Emmys' Style

This year’s Emmys came a month early and brought with it a new babyfaced host from late night. Thankfully, the Los Angeles weather held up surprisingly well for this time of year and provided us with a day that was goldilocks perfect. The female nominees were smartly dressed in the latest trends of nudes and shades of blue with their male counterparts attempting to compete in their predominantly black tuxes. There was the usual fare of poses on the red carpet and commentators offering hand sanitizer and mints. In our opinion, a few questionable notes were January Jones’ Atelier Versace dress which was a big departure from her demure wardrobe on “Mad Men.” With her just rolled-out-of-bed hairdo and the rigidness of her dress, we thought she could have used a more endearing smile to carry off the look. We were also not quite sure where Ricky Gervais was going with his bit about the lack of alcohol at the ceremony. Was it really necessary to waste our time watching waiters serve bottles of beer to the celebs in the first 2 rows? I don’t think so. We’re just thankful that executive producer, Emily Gerson Saines’, boob did not pop out of her dress as she was accepting the Outstanding Made-for-TV Movie Award for "Temple Grandin." We thought it came dangerously close to being a Janet Jackson/Superbowl incident. Finally, we’d like to send a special nod of congratulations to Steve Levitan for winning Outstanding Comedy Series and for citing his wife as the true inspiration for his work and the success of his hit show “Modern Family.”

After dedicated hours of switching back and forth between pre-shows and then watch the awards show itself, we have compiled our list of "Red Carpet Manners" hits and misses for this year’s Emmys.

Show Some Team Spirit. We thought “Access Hollywood” showed great effort in supporting many of the nominees by creating special moments for them on the red carpet. They went to great lengths by organizing a school pep rally for Matthew Morrison with his alma mater the Orange County High School of the Arts. They showered fellow Glee nominee, Lea Michele, with a birthday cake in a jar to honor her 24th birthday including a lit candle ready for wish making. When it came time to interview Jane Lynch, they had their camera crew noticeably dressed in Adidas track suits as an homage to her on camera role as Sue Sylvester. This is one way to guarantee the celebs stop by next time for interviews. Now that’s team spirit!

Take a Lesson in Grooming. Seal and Heidi Klum, ever the dapper and debonair couple, took to the red carpet in style once again. Dressed to the nines, no details were left uncovered including the his and her nail polish. When interviewed by the TV Guide Channel, we were reminded of Seal’s confident manner when he revealed his newly polished nails. Now we're not talking about the buffed and clear polish some businessmen prefer, we’re speaking of a dark beige polish that complemented his skin and his suit. The interviewer seemed taken aback when Seal went on to espouse the importance of the mani/pedi and men in general developing and embracing their feminine side. Now that's taking male grooming to a whole new level!

Make Good Eye Contact. Petite Paula Abdul needs a refresher course in the importance of good eye contact. In most of her pre-show interviews, we caught her looking down never meeting her interviewer's gaze head on. There is something very disconcerting about someone who cannot look you in the eye. It makes you wonder if they're really present. Paula already skates a slippery slope when it comes to making sense and we think she should be more aware of raising her head and opening her eyes. It might help her to sound more convincing.

Employ An Affable Host. There is no doubt about it, Jimmy Fallon is one likable dude. He comes across as sweet, polite, transparent and loads of fun to be around. All of this was evident Sunday night as he hosted his first Emmys. From the opening sequence of his Springsteen rendition of “Born To Run” to his medley of songs from epic shows that had ended, his vast talent and easy rapport with the audience was apparent. Not only was he a master of ceremony, he was also a master of quick change, able to whip out his guitar for an introduction or slip into a costume to belt out a song. It was a terrific casting by NBC. Kudos to Jimmy for a job well done!

Don a British Accent. Everything sounds better with a British accent. The eloquent and lovely acceptance speech, made by Archie Panjabi for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for “The Good Wife,” was music to our ears. This was her first nomination and win and her concise acceptance speech reminded us of the beauty and vast vocabulary we have available to us in the English language.

Deliver Acceptance Speeches Early. If at all humanly possible, try and get your awards speeches in during the initial part of the awards show. It is a fact that the first few categories have considerably more time to complete their acceptance speeches and as the show picks up steam and loses time, the music signaling it’s time to wrap up becomes more frequent. The exception, however, is Mr. Al Pacino who won for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. We noticed the legendary actor was able to drone on and on thanking everyone from his hair and makeup people to Dr. Kevorkian without pausing and to no interruption of music. Perhaps the producer of the Emmys didn’t want to risk messing with Scarface.

Remove the Tickler from the TV Screen. We all love George Clooney and his humanitarian efforts are more than commendable, but do we need to know that he’s coming on in 17 minutes! Are we supposed to set our clocks so we don’t take a trip to the loo during that time? For some reason, in this year’s show, the Emmys felt the need to provide us with ticklers on the exact whereabouts of the celebrities and when they would be appearing on stage. I suppose for George it was a good thing we were around to see him on stage. After all he is one of the good guys who promotes (in his words), “the best version of the word celebrity.”

Hold Your Own Trophy. Perhaps Kyra Sedgwick is getting a bit bored of winning all those Emmys. This was her third year winning Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama and it seemed like old hat. She even had the audacity to ask Tina Fey, who presented her award, to hold her Emmy so that she could put on her glasses and read her acceptance speech. Tina humorously obliged and winked at the cameras, but if I were her, I would have been a bit miffed thinking, "who is this diva and why can’t she hold her own darn Emmy?!"

Be Present to Accept Your Award. If you are lucky enough to be nominated for an Emmy (even if it is your umpteenth time), make your best effort to get to the show. In one of the biggest upsets of the evening, Conan O'Brien's 'Tonight Show' lost to 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' as Outstanding Variety Series. Making matters worse, Jon Stewart wasn’t even there to accept the award along with his cast. The announcer made a joke that he was "rested on a bed of melted Emmys." Anytime a celebrity misses an awards show, it comes across as a snub and gives the impression that they have more important things to do. If you can’t be there physically, at least have someone be your designated wingman to explain why you could not graciously accept your award and make sure the excuse is a good one!

All in all, there were no major catastrophic events to note. Everyone was fairly behaved and acted accordingly, but we would expect nothing less from television. It is, after all, supposed to be the most civilized of all the mediums, "Jersey Shore" notwithstanding.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"It Doesn't Matter If You Win or Lose" - 5 Goals to Scoring Good Sportsmanship

We’ve all heard the expression, “It doesn’t matter if you will or lose, it’s how you play the game.” With little ones, explaining that losing can be just as fun as winning is a difficult argument to make, especially when you have a husband like mine who is competitive even during a family game of Sorry or a tennis match on the Wii. Each time he wins a round, it is followed by a BOUYAA!! So, of course, my girls have picked up on that and then they start to tease one another and then eventually one gets upset because the other one is winning and then there are the inevitable tears because feelings get hurt, and the next thing you know a perfectly relaxing time at home turns into a stressful evening.

Here are a few ground rules for being a good sport whether playing a board game or electronic game at home with the family or playing an athletic game at school or on the field with team mates.

Goal #1 – Enjoy the Game. The number one most important goal is to enjoy yourself. If you are going to participate make sure you are playing for the fun of it, not just to win. Be realistic about your capabilities so that you do not get frustrated with yourself or set certain expectations with others that you cannot fulfill. Focus on the goal of the game which is to practice certain skills, work as a team player and pursue your personal best.

Goal #2 – Incorporate Rituals. At home, a wonderful ritual is to designate a family game night. Find a comfortable spot in the house, set out some yummy snacks and break open the board games. On the field, athletic games are an excellent opportunity to engage in meaningful rituals such as beginning each game by standing and singing the National Anthem and ending each game with all players shaking hands with opposing teammates and coaches and saying “good game.” In either situation, practicing these small acts of ceremony helps to set the tone for the game and reminds everyone to act in a civilized manner.

Goal #3 – Learn the Rules. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the rules before playing. A team player takes responsibility and knows the dos and don’ts of the game. When playing sports, it is the referee’s job to make certain judgments based on the game. They have the final word and all team players must adhere to their decision regardless of whether they agree with it. With other games, it is always a good idea to select a player in advance to make the final call in the event a discrepancy occurs.

Goal #4 – Cooperate and Play Fair. Good sportsmanship is the result of a team effort. It requires the cooperation of everyone involved. In athletic sports, that includes the assistance of the players, the parents as well as the coaches. In order for everyone to get along, mutual respect and appreciation of the game is the highest priority. All players are expected to play fair and team morale should be positive and supportive. Regardless of the type of game that is being played, participants should encourage one another to do their best and congratulate each other on a job well done or for trying their hardest.

Goal #5 – Embrace Competition. Competition is not a bad thing. It is a great indicator of one’s personal strengths and weaknesses. Competition is what drives us and inspires us to achieve great things. A healthy dose of competition is a terrific motivator and is an excellent example of life’s natural ebb and flow teaching an important lesson that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. The key is to apply oneself wholeheartedly, to always play fair and honestly, and to find pleasure and satisfaction in the experience.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

“Headphones, Peanuts, Restraining Order?” - Today’s Air Travel Etiquette Rules

Last Monday's showdown between JetBlue flight attendant, Steven Slater, and a fellow passenger, was just one more reminder that the friendly skies aren't so friendly anymore. No matter how many Richard Branson Virgin Airways beauties you stick on the plane, the travelling experience is a far cry from what it was back in the day.

I remember so looking forward to getting on a plane going anywhere. It was always an adventure. I still get chills when I hear the United Airlines theme song, Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," play at the beginning of a flight. It sends me right back to my childhood. Back to the day when planes were not oversold so if you booked a domestic flight in coach, you had a row all to yourself to stretch out and get comfortable. I also remember ample leg room and rows so wide my sister and I were able to play cards on the floor in front of our seats 'till our hearts were content. The coup de grace was the ice cream sundae bar, complete with hot fudge, that they used to serve for dessert. Granted that may have been in first class, but I seem to remember a finer selection of cuisine back then. If it wasn’t a hot fudge sundae in first, then it was certainly a twice baked potato with your steak in coach.

Ah, yes, those memories stuck with me a long time until I grew older and became fearful of flying during college. I think it was because I was travelling back and forth from the States to Italy where I was studying abroad for a year. I remember one flight back to New York in which we must have landed a little short on the runway because everything went slamming forward towards the cockpit. That was basically it for me and then I became insanely nervous to the point that I had to enroll myself in an American Airlines "fear of flying" program. I took the 2-day course in Los Angeles and the graduation ceremony was a flight to Lake Tahoe. They must have chosen that route deliberately because it was one of the most turbulent rides I've ever taken! I have to say I did pretty well, finding myself consoling fellow comrades who were way more fearful than I. I don't even remember the particulars, but I am pretty sure that once the program was finished, I was fairly fine with flying again.

Once I became a mother, my relationship to flying completely changed. Traveling became a welcome escape from the humdrum of everyday life. Forget about a stiff cocktail, I was perfectly at peace on a plane with my stack of magazines in tow. (Although, I must admit, I do have a ritual that I swear keeps the plane in the air and flying safely to its destination.)

So how to enjoy the flying experience when we are bombarded with so many negative elements that make it virtually impossible? Here are a few helpful reminders to restore safety and civility and set us soaring in the friendly skies once more.

. Dress for yourself and your fellow passengers. I don't care if you're flying to the Caribbean or Hawaii, forget the flip flops and short shorts and put on something decent for the plane! Years ago, passengers and flight attendants would "dress" for flying. It was all very civilized. Over time, comfort became the norm and all of the sudden everyone started looking disheveled. Nowadays, it is entirely possible to appear quite chic while still being comfortable. When it comes to shoes, select something closed toe and easy to slip off at the security gate. Don't forget to wear socks. Nothing is worse than stepping barefoot on the airport flooring. Wear deodorant, but go easy on the cologne and perfume. It's a good idea to pack some lip ointment and hand creme to combat dry skin. Ladies, put a little lipstick on for goodness sake! You never know who you're going to meet on a plane.

2. Take a chill pill. If you have a severe aversion to standing or waiting in line, do not fly! Unless you hire a special airport greeter or are flying business or first, you must be patient and grin and bear the cattle calls. Getting agitated only makes matters worse. Bring a magazine or book so you can read passively while waiting to check your bags or go through security. To pass the time, you can always fill out your luggage tag. Keep your identification card handy as well as your boarding ticket. You will be asked to show proof of both repeatedly.

3. Be prepared for small annoyances. There is no way to avoid the safety ritual of walking through security. Everyone must remove their shoes and jackets and risk a pat down by a security officer. To make things easier, wear shoes and outer garments that are easily removed and quickly organize your belongings and place them in the open containers for the x-ray machine. Make sure to separate your laptop in its own container for easy viewing. Remove all jewelry and accessories that may set off the alarm.

4. Avoid confrontation. Make it easier on yourself as well as the flight attendant by not attempting to stuff your entire closet into your carry-on luggage. If you cannot lift your bag and place it in the overhead bin on your own, the flight attendant will be forced to help you and may question its size or weight, especially if they see you struggling to jam it into a small compartment. Avoid going down this road and either pack lighter, check your bag or call a delivery service like FedEx to deliver your bag door to door in advance. It's not worth getting in to an argument on this one, the airlines will always win.

5. Respect personal space. In this tube 30,000 ft. in the air, everything is exaggerated. Some people do not wish to engage and prefer keeping quietly to themselves. Be respectful towards those around you and read their signals. (a) If you are bringing your own food on to the plane, keep it simple. Do not stink up the plane with smelly cheeses or a really pungent dish. (b) If someone is reading a magazine or book, do not engage them in conversation as they may not wish to be disturbed. (c) If you are tired, rest your weary head on your own chair with your blanket and use only one armrest for your arms. (d) Make sure to use the restroom before being seated to avoid musical chairs throughout the flight. (e) Before reclining your seat abruptly, check behind you to give your fellow passenger a heads up. They will appreciate it.

Curb the cell phone conversation. There is nothing that equally worries and annoys fellow passengers and flight attendants alike than someone who chooses to completely ignore the FAA's rule to turn off all cell phones and other electronic equipment while in-flight. The jury is still out as to whether the radio signals from these devices can interfere with flying equipment so for the safety of everyone, cut it out and follow the rules!!!

7. Check yourself, not just your bags. If you are in a bad mood, take a few breaths and calm down. The airport and flying experience is hard enough without the attitude. Present a cheerful face, always be courteous saying "please" and "thank you" and be helpful and accommodating. This will smooth over any extenuating circumstance or accidental wrong-doing.

Let's face it, flying in today's world is a challenge. It gets us at our very core, constantly testing our patience and questioning our abilities. How do you weigh in on the flying scale? Are you nice or nasty? Share with us and let us know...