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.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Best & Worst Manners Moments 2013

It was the year that popularized two new controversial words in our modern day vocabulary.  Thanks to Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMA’s in September, we spent the last quarter inundated with images of full squat grinding, otherwise known as twerking.  And, it’s hard to imagine how any of us made it through the day without chronicling our every action with a photographed selfie taken on our smart phone.  Yes, twenty-thirteen didn’t exactly change the direction the currents were already flowing in.  On the contrary, it just further validated our humiliating reign as vulgar Americans.  An article in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal proposed that we’ve gone so far off the grid our crudeness has become almost commonplace. We are hardly surprised when a rude act is committed or a public figure experiences yet another fall from grace.  We’ve become numb, desensitized.  Forget blurred lines, how about blurred boundaries? There is no differentiation between private and public life anymore.  The NSA and social media made sure of it.  We are all living under one mega-sized microscope and every action, thought, photograph and post is memorialized for the masses to dissect and discuss.  We can only hope that 2014 brings about dramatic change.  In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at what transpired these last twelve months as we review our best and worst manners moments of 2013. 

Celebrity Model Behavior & Meltdowns

Best: Jennifer Lawrence. Not only is this 23 year old box office darling grounded, but she is transparent and handles herself with age appropriate grace.  A prime example of her humor and authenticity shown brightly at the Oscars when the star accidentally tripped on her gown as she ascended the staircase to receive her award. Instead of ignoring the unfortunate incident, she picked herself up, smiled and poked self-deprecating fun endearing everyone in the audience. 

Worst: Justin Beiber. This teenage heartthrob lost his title this year with a series of offenses that landed him a bucket load of bad press from urinating in a mop bucket to underage drinking, attending brothels and even defaming the sign-in book at Anne Frank’s home. Miley Cyrus also tried desperately to shun her squeaky clean Disney shine with a sequence of stunts laden with sexuality.  Her now infamous duet with Robin Thicke at the MTV VMA’s will go down in history as a turning point for the singer both for the dramatic change in her image, as well as for introducing the masses to twerking.

British Royalty vs Duck Dynasty

Best: Our nod goes to the British, both the Royal Couple and the fictional cast of Downton Abbey.  The world watched once again as Kate Middleton and Prince William introduced a perfect Prince George of Cambridge to the world over the summer continuing to ingratiate everyone with their natural charm and ease. The cast of “Downton Abbey” also gets our vote for their impeccable demeanor both onscreen and off.

Worst: Duck Dynasty. They may be the most watched reality show on television with $400 million in merchandising sales, but that may soon change if patriarch and star Phil Robertson doesn’t watch himself. He landed the family in hot water, and even caused A&E to temporarily suspend him from filming, after learning of his personal and insensitive views on teenage marriage and homosexuality. 

World Class Figures or World Class Embarrassment

Best: We must honor Nelson Mandela, who recently passed, as one of the most powerful and influential world leaders who endured 27 years in prison for his unwavering dedication to integration and inclusion.  He achieved the highest level of decency and humility that may never be matched. Pope Francis also gets our vote this year as the new pope who is of the people, by the people and for the people.  He has been embraced for his ability to accept and assimilate, whether it’s riding the bus, posting a tweet or taking a selfie.  He has also been lauded for softening his tone on sex and abortion and for supporting gays.  He wants the church to return to its roots of being less judgmental and more caring.   

Worst: Other public figures caused unfortunate world class embarrassment to their respective countries. Formerly disgraced U.S. Representative, Anthony Weiner, attempted an honest comeback as mayor of New York only to find himself embroiled in even more scandal that resulted in a tumultuous and ultimately losing campaign. In another shameful incident, Toronto's controversial Mayor Rob Ford, was caught on video smoking crack cocaine and admitting to a habit of drunken stupors.  Amazingly, he has officially submitted his name on the ballot to run for another term.   

Television Hosting Milestones & Mistakes

Best: Good Morning America beloved co-anchor, Robin Roberts, garners a spot on our list for not only returning to the job she holds dear with a bright smile and a complete recovery, but for also bravely deciding to come out on Facebook at the end of the year to thank her supporters and especially her longtime girlfriend, Amber.

Worst: Southern cooking former star, Paula Deen, had one of the worst years of her career when it was revealed she made racists remarks during a deposition. Rather than speak truthfully, Deen irreparably tried to cover up her wrongdoing and then further buried herself in an unfortunate interview on the Today Show that wound up stripping her of all ties with the Food Network, Wal-Mart and Target stores.