Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back To School Manners - The College Years

The beginning of a new school year is sometimes met with bittersweet sentiment, especially for those parents with older children who are leaving the nest and going away to college for the first time. After years of preparation, test taking, filling out applications and going on tours, the final weeks are spent shopping for dorm room essentials, new wardrobes and such.

I remember my first day of Sarah Lawrence College like it was yesterday. I recall the outfit I wore and the friends that I met. I remember the strange feeling of being in a new environment on my own and left to my own devices. It definitely took some time for me to settle in and feel comfortable. I can only imagine what college will be like by the time my girls attend in about ten years. One thing's for sure, I will want to arm them with survival skills to ensure their transition is a smooth one and bears no resemblance to an episode of Gossip Girl. Below are 8 surefire ways for your child to make the most of their college experience while simultaneously maintaining their respect as well as their reputation.

Be Approachable and Friendly. The quickest way to win friends and make allies is to be approachable, kind and friendly. Your fabulous presentation and engaging personality won't mean much if you forget to smile. Being happy and smiling sends a signal to others that you wish to engage. Use all three to your advantage. At all costs, stay away from negative body language. Crossed arms give the appearance that one is uncomfortable, defensive or does not wish to be bothered. Be aware of this so that you always put forth a positive first impression.

Know How to Start a Conversation. College is a melting pot filled with students from cities all over world. To connect with others, your conversation skills must be up to par. Those that can speak about a number of subjects are more attractive and appear more intelligent. It is a good idea to brush up on cultural events, national news and local happenings so that you may contribute to any conversation topic that may arise. Remember the key to being an expert conversationalist is to be a good listener and ask thoughtful questions.

Keep Your Dorm Room Neat & Be Respectful. When living quarters are shared, it is important to pay extra careful attention to keeping your belongings neat and tidy. Not only are students coming together and meeting each other for the first time, but they are also expected to live together under the same roof and learn to put up with each other's habits and so forth. Be respectful of your dorm mates, maintain your privacy and allow them the same courtesy. This will go a long way towards making sure you and your dorm mates are still close at the end of the year.

Beware of How You Present Yourself Online. Social media has become a very big part one's college identity. After all, Facebook was started by a Harvard college student! Begin your college experience with a clean slate by easing in to your online communications. Remember professors, school administration, your parents and many others may be able to view your postings. Stay away from uploading inappropriate photos or posting offensive messages about yourself or others. Keep certain information private. Leave some details to be uncovered during your face to face communications.

Practice Face to Face Communication. Although you may favor texting to talking or emailing to chatting, it is important to incorporate some quality face time in your relationships. Technology, although convenient, has only moved us further away from our personal interactions and has, in effect, caused us to separate from the people we care about. Schedule regular face time with your friends because no matter how many emoticons you incorporate into your devices, it's nice to read one's true emotions and feelings in person.

Maintain Good Health Habits. Just because you're off to college and there's no adult around to nag at you doesn't mean you should neglect regular hygiene and eating nutritionally. Trust me, your roommate has no interest in living with the stench of someone who has not showered in a week and eating nachos and drinking 20 ounce Diet Cokes for breakfast, lunch and dinner will provide you with absolutely zero nutritional value.

Challenge Yourself and Diversify. You may have already chosen all of your classes, but there are many extra-curricular activities you can enroll in to broaden your horizons and help make you a more interesting, well-rounded person. A challenge is always necessary for growth, take risks and do something that is different from what you are accustomed to. The rewards of breaking out of your comfort zone will pay off in the long run.

Have Fun and Act Responsibly. Most importantly, the time spent at college is meant to be fun. Since you will be there for a good four (or five years), you may as well make the best of it, possess a positive attitude and embrace everything it has to offer. Just remember that fun would not be as fun without the balance of responsibility. Dressing appropriately, showing up for classes on time, communicating respectfully to administration, staff and fellow students, participating in school activities, doing your laundry regularly and finding ways to contribute to your college community are all excellent examples of showing you are growing into a responsible and mature adult.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

“Red Carpet Manners” at the VMA’s – “Heavy on Crass with Just a Touch of Class”

When you enlist someone like Chelsea Handler to host the show, hold on tight because you know you’re in for a wild ride. She appeared on stage in all her glory dressed in a Lady Gaga regalia with a house on top of her head while releasing white doves from her pikachu. Before launching into her emcee duties, she made sure the audience knew that she was the first woman to host the VMA’s in the last 16 years. Without skipping a beat, she began a series of off-color jokes that included encouraging everyone to be on their worst behavior, telling them to feel free to break out weapons, and asking the audience to help her “turn this mother out.” Finally, she ended with a little secret that, while sobering up for a week preparing for the show, she was now “high as a kite.” MTV is about as low brow as it gets and we would expect nothing less than a full blown effort from Ms. Handler as a first time host, but as far as awards shows go, this one really takes the cake! Here are our top honors for most crass with a couple of nods to most class thrown in for good measure.

1. The Cast of The Jersey Shore. Only on MTV, would the “charming and sophisticated” (not!) cast whose claim to fame is GTL, tasteless outfits and swearing like truck drivers, be invited up on stage to present an award from a hot tub.

2. Lady Gaga. Her outfits were so outrageous that it required four discharged soldiers from the military to keep her from toppling over. They included an Alexander McQueen with lobster claw heels
and matching headdress, a black Armani dominatrix ensemble, and a "meat dress" with accompanying purse made by Franc Fernandez. The meat dress was probably the most offensive, especially to fans of P.E.T.A.

3. The Cast of Jackass 3D. The shock factor started early in the show when one of the cast members of the movie dressed in a mint green tux decided to strip to his white thong to present the award for Best Rock Video. More gratuitous garbage in our opinion.

4. Katy Perry. On the red carpet she decided to flip the photogs the Russell Brand (he was last year’s host) bird. She had his likeness painted on her nails and posed giving the finger. Later on in the evening when presenting an award with Nicki Minaj, she commented about the award statue as being stiff and intimated that Nicki should take one home for some fun! Classy, Miss California Gurl!

5. Ciara’s Performance with N.E.R.D. An interesting partnership with car maker Chevrolet had Ciara bumping and grinding and bending almost backwards in half into a table top position. Not a very becoming position for a lady.

6. Chelsea Handler. Famous quotes from the host. “They are backstage stapling their balls to each other”. She used this joke two times we think by accident to the cast of Jackass as well as Glee! “I’d like to take a ride home on your face” when referring to "True Blood" star Joe Manganiello. “Get your tongues ready because I want those tongues shoved in places they're not supposed to be." Sage advice dispensed to the audience.

7. Kim Kardashian and Justin Beiber. Ms. Kardashian did her best Mrs. Robinson trying to play with the made up crush on teenage heartthrob Justin Beiber, but her attempt was awkward at best. The Beib’s actually put in a really good performance. All of the sudden he’s all grown up and seems to have taken some recent lessons in smooth from his mentor and employer, Usher. Loved the drum solo at the end!!

8. Kanye’s Closing Performance. The moment everyone was waiting for fell surprisingly flat and remarkably uncomfortable. There was no formal apology or words of regret, instead Mr. West, in typical fashion, performed an ego driven song dedicated to his mother that touched upon his past behavior with embarrassing lyrics in the hook that included, “Let’s have a toast for the douchebags/ Let’s have a toast for the a–holes/ Let’s have a toast for scumbags.” Thoughtful? Compelling? No, just plain ridiculous.

9. Taylor Swift’s Ode to Innocence. Thank goodness the VMA’s had the good sense to allow Ms. Swift her just due by allowing her one of the few sane musical performances. She appeared in perfect hair and red lips on a simple stage, just her and her guitar to sing lyrics that wound up revealing the whole debacle between she and Mr. West at last year’s VMA’s. Ms. Swift handled this song and herself with grace and dignity rising way above the fray almost touching the clouds and stole the show in our opinion.

10. Florence & the Machine in Goddess-like Fashion. We had no prior knowledge of this band before the VMA's, but were really impressed by the lead singer's incredible stage presence and command of the material. She was a real live goddess on stage and handled herself beautifully belting out good lyrics while skipping barefoot around the stage. It reminded us of a combination between Jefferson Starship and Kate Bush.

Agree? Disagree? Share with us your personal top honors from the show!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Jumping The Gun" - A Classic Ari Gold Moment Offers Important Manners Lesson

Last week's Emmys preempted us from watching our favorite Sunday night guilty pleasure, "Entourage". We had to wait several days before we had a chance to check out the second to last episode of Season 7. Luckily, we felt did not disappoint. In fact, we found it to contain a valuable lesson that we thought was important enough to share with our readers.

For those of you who live under a rock or simply have no time to watch the show, here's what happened. Uber-agent, Ari Gold, known for his outrageousness and bravado, had a big blow out with his arch nemesis, Amanda Daniels, at a fancy restaurant in LA. In the weeks leading up to this episode, Ari had been dealing with a professional crisis that involved a disgruntled former employee and her supposed release of his slanderous audio tapes to a notorious Hollywood insider. This wound up costing him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring an NFL team back to Los Angeles. With a badly broken ego, he vowed to try and become a much more kinder, gentler version of himself. He was going to spend more time with his family and be a better father and husband. This was working fairly well until he learned that, Amanda, the woman behind the supposed release of the tapes, was now orchestrating her own attempt to bring an NFL team back to LA. For Ari, this was the last straw. To him, this meant war. He was now on a personal mission to destroy her.

Later that night, it just so happened that both parties were dining at the same popular LA eatery. Ari and his wife were there to have a quiet romantic dinner and coincidentally Amanda was seated at a table across the restaurant courting the NFL heads. She had been trying to call Ari all afternoon and once she spotted him, she walked over to his table to speak in person, but before she could utter a word, an outraged Ari unleashed the wrath of G-d. He spewed every thought, feeling and emotion he'd been bottling up since the whole debacle began. His arrogance, however, is what drove him to the end. Once his tirade was over, Amanda calmly and collectively said to him that she was not responsible for leaking the tapes and that it had been an unruly ex-employee with his own ax to grind against Ari. She went on to explain that despite her hatred towards him, she thought he would have been an excellent asset to bringing in the NFL, but now, after hearing him bury himself in the restaurant, in front of his wife and the NFL heads, there was no room left for second chances. The self-proclaimed "king of the entertainment business" was done.

So what is the very important lesson we had to share with you? Simply put, "don't jump the gun." Do not assume that the tape playing in your head is real. There are many sides to every story, but there is only one truth. If you fly off the handle before knowing all of the facts, you will always do irreparable damage to yourself and to others. Ari lives in a world of narcissism. Everything about him screams "me!" If he took one second to put himself in Amanda's shoes to see things from her perspective, perhaps he would have been able to change the course of events from spiraling into a free fall.

I'm not sure where Ari is going to be able to go from here. He suffered a public humiliation of the worst kind in front of his wife, the NFL heads, and one of his top clients (Vince was also at the restaurant) in a town that is less than forgiving. Rather than seek another shrink, perhaps what he really needs is a good, old fashioned lesson in manners. A quick no-nonsense reminder of "The Golden Rule" should pretty much take care of everything from learning how to be a good listener, to giving people the benefit of the doubt, and refraining from texting at dinner.

We look forward with anticipation to "Entourage's" final episode next Sunday, September 12th. They're certainly going to have to pull out all the stops to compete against the VMA's (which is rumored to have Taylor Swift & Kayne West performing a song together). Ari, remember, we're available for a little private coaching session in Season 8. No one has to know. Please feel free to give us a call. LOL.