Monday, May 30, 2011

How to Catch a Man

Having recently perused the truly awful man-catching book "Fascinating Girl" by Helen Andelin, I decided that I could come up with some better suggestions than acting like an incompetent imbecile and helping to set back women's lib 200 years of so. I actually ran my suggestions by an actual man (man, not Neanderthal or male chauvinist, which is who you would attract if you follow Andelin's advice).

Men like real food. They don't like inventive or frou frou food. Basically, if it has Craisins or sliced almonds in it, don't serve it to a potential mate.

If you can make buffalo wings, queso dip, and have a big flatscreen tv, you stand a good chance to peak a mans interest, or at least an interest in watching movies or sports at your house, where you can impress him with your buffalo wings. And if you serve him pie, he will be yours forever.

Do not talk baby talk. Men really hate that. Or use stupid pet names in public, or on Facebook. For example, if a girlfriend calls her man Pooky on Facebook, all his friends and family are going to start calling him Pooky, and he's probably going to dump her.

Do not pretend that you like to fish if you really hate it. He's going to be very upset if he marries you under the pretense that he has found someone to fish with. It's better to go into a relationship as yourself, not a fake projection of who you think he is looking for.

Be willing to compromise. For example, for every chick flick you pick he gets to pick an action movie.

Remember that you are seeking a partner, not a daddy or a son.

Do not think that you can change him. You can probably change his wardrobe quite a bit, and possibly even his hairstyle, but the core of who he is will stay. If you don't like him now, don't think you're going to like him anymore in 10 years.

Friends come and go, but family is forever. If you really can't stand his family, think long and hard before you commit to a lifetime of Thanksgiving dinners with people you loathe, or who loathe you.

See how his father treats his mother. It's usually a good indication of how he'll treat you. When my mom saw that my dad's father treated his wife like a queen, she said "that's for me." And that's pretty much how my dad treated her.

Remember that Mr. Darcy is a fictional character and you are not going to find Mr. Darcy no matter how hard you look.

Do not force a man to watch Twilight, or any other crazy female craze.

If you are dating a sports nut, recognize the fact that most weekends he will be watching sports and you will be left to scrapbook or read romance novels alone.

Learn to live within your means. Coming into a relationship with a large debt load, particularly if you maxed your Visa out buying Jimmy Choos, could be off putting. Unless you are marrying a sugar daddy, it would be helpful to know how to live on a budget. Even those who earn large incomes usually have massive student loans to pay off.

Don't make a huge fuss over anniversaries, and be prepared to be disappointed when he doesn't do something elaborate for Valentine's day. If he gets you flowers or chocolate, count yourself lucky.

Do not expect a man to guess what you want for your birthday. Just send him an email.

Don't say stupid things like "this is our two and a half week anniversary. "Guys hate that.

Don't always expect the man to pay for everything.

Try not to make a big deal if he leaves the seat up. And if you fall in the bowl, it's really your own fault for not checking to see that the seat was down.

Let him open the door for you, and don't make a fuss if you have to open your own doors.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Say What?

I have recently had occasion to do some research on the First Amendment. Specifically, does it apply to children or teenagers? Does the Constitution only kick in when you are an adult, or does it take effect from the minute you become a citizen? Are children considered citizens the minute they are born? Yes. Does the Constitution apply to children? That appears to be up for debate.

I started thinking about this when I was recently told that some parents had banned their daughter from writing in her journal after reading something that they didn't like. Personally I have issues with the fact that they read their daughter's journal. Your journal is a place for your personal, innermost thoughts and feelings. What you write in it is nobody's business. And a lot of times you process through anger and hurt feelings by writing it down, and you move past it.

What is worse though, is the fact that the parents said not to write in it anymore. I really don't feel that anyone should be telling anyone else how to feel, and I certainly do not believe that anyone has the right to tell anyone else that they can't write what they want. Haven't wars been fought over this? To me, that is a First Amendment issue.

One of the best things about living in the United States is that we have freedom of speech. If you think the current president is an idiot, you can say so without being worried you're going to be thrown in jail. At this point in the history of our nation, freedom of speech is often taken for granted because it's something that we have always had.

But does the First Amendment, or any of them for that matter, apply to children? There are several court cases that dealing with this topic, including a current case regarding the Fourth Amendment working its way through the Supreme Court. Should children be allowed to say what they want? Do they have freedom of religious expression? I agree that there are things that are inappropriate to be said or done in certain situations. I certainly don't think that it would be okay for a third grader to spray foul words on the side of the school building. I don't think people should stand up in church and yell profanities, even if legally they are allowed to. It's not appropriate.

But I personally don't believe that children are exempt from the First Amendment. I do not think that this set of parents was within their rights to tell their daughter to cease and desist writing in her own personal journal. We do not have laws in this country banning personal writing, regardless of age. Whether the child could take the parents to court over the matter is something I haven't been able to ascertain.

Overall, I couldn't really locate much information on any rights that children technically have. I assume they have a right to public education, and to necessary healthcare. According to Wikipedia, most scholars agree that to be healthy and free children need the right to freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom from fear, freedom of choice and the right to make decisions, and ownership of one's body. I am not saying that parents should not be allowed to make decisions for their children. Overall children would do a poor job of raising themselves if they were allowed to run free. But I do believe there are certain, inalienable rights that no one, including ones parents, have the ability to take away. No one should tell anyone else how to feel, how to think, or what to write in their personal journal.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Another Hometown Pageant

Ah, yet another local beauty scholarship pageant. This one is for the town, and I use the word loosely, right next to the one I live in. This one promises to be just as good as the last one. Last time the scores I came up with matched the judges choices dead-on, so I am curious to see if I can pick the winners again. Plus, there's nothing quite like watching girls teetering around in high heels, wearing questionable evening gowns and attempting to sound intelligent when asked a stupid question. I certainly hope tonight/s questions are better than the last pageant, which I will refer to as Miss P. If they ask questions based on the contestants talents or interests, I might hurl. For example, a crappy question is "do you like yellow?" A good question, and I'd love to see a beauty queen answer it, is "should the world rejoice now that Bin Laden is dead?" But since this is a small town, I doubt there will be any political or current event questions.

I was really expecting the opening number to be Black-Eyed Peas, because almost every pageant I've seen lately, including Miss America, has used "Tonight's Going to Be A Big Night" as their opening number. Not so tonight. The opening number was seven girls dancing (and I use that word loosely as one of them was just kind of moving a little bit and smiling) to Liza Minelli singing "New York, New York." The girls were all dressed in black dresses, and one girl had a dress covered in sequins, which pulled attention from the other girls. They had fluorescent sashes around their waists, and six of them had matching fluorescent hats. A word of advice for future contestants—if you can't dance, stand in the back or fake a sprain.

The cheesiest part was when Miss S 2010 came out wearing a feather boa and joined the contestants for the dance number. It wasn't executed well.

Before the pageant started we all stood for the "Star-Spangled Banner". Our poor national anthem has been mangled so many times, and sadly tonight was no exception. If there is a song that you should know the words to, it's the national anthem. Here's a hint: ramparts don't gleam, and they don't burst in air. To make matters worse, the woman sang the third verse to the song as well. As we know, no true American knows the words to the second and third verses, much less that there is more than one verse to the anthem. She forgot the words partway through the song, and we all stood there waiting for her to finish. Finally she looked in her book and with its help finally managed to make it through the song.

I was relieved that none of the contestants were performing White Water Chopsticks. That song is getting overdone on the pageant circuit.

The emcees had jokes from Laffy Taffy wrappers to fill dead space. Sadly, they used some of them. The best thing about the emcees was watching the crown sparkle on the beauty queen.

Eventually the technical crew managed to lower the screen and start the PowerPoint slide show of the contestants. Sadly, the accompanying song was "I Love Being a Girl." I have heard the song before, but I couldn't place it. Thanks to my Droid and Google, I learned it was from a Rodgers and Hammerstein show called "Flower Drum Song." This particular show got really bad reviews, and seems to be generally regarded as the pairs biggest flop. But that's off topic.

Finally we got to the talent competition. Contestant One, who was my personal pick to win the pageant, danced to "Ruby Blue". The dance was interesting, and kind of sounded like it should be in a burlesque show. Her outfit, which I liked, didn't match her dance. It was pink and sparkly, and really would have worked better for a tap dance routine. Her dance pants were very distracting, as they were white and it looked like her panties were showing. Still, I gave her the best score out of any of the contestants for talent.

Contestant Two also has a burlesque style dance, and wore a red flapper dress. Number Three appeared to get a second use out of her prom dress, and made a rather weird face when she came out. She was the only girl who didn't dance, and she played the piano instead. Her posture wasn't very great, and she tried to cover up her piano playing ability with fancy hand movements. Number Four had a bright pink sparkly short dress, and could do the splits, which was kind of cool. However, her song choice was dreadful, and the voice of the singer was kind of grating. Number Five's outfit looked like it came from an 80's workout video. She did a lot of one-handed cartwheels. Sadly, one-handed cartwheels aren't very impressive. She got my lowest score.

Number Six was probably the worst performer of the night. Bad song choice, bad costume choice, bad talent choice. She was a larger girl, and unfortunately her song had lots of loud parts where she stomped. Not only did the stomping call attention to the fact that she was big—thundering elephant herd came to mind—but she didn't quite do the stomping at the right moment. And the costume choice—a large oversized shirt over what appeared to be tights but were determined by us to be leggings—didn't do anything to help her out. Number Seven rounded out the performances with yet another dance, and was a nice break from all the burlesque-type numbers.

Why do these girls always insist on doing interpretive dance? No one enjoys watching interpretive dance. Why not just go with ballet, tap, or even clogging? Why mix them up? And a note for last year's winner—you really can't clog while wearing a flapper dress. They just don't seem to go together, even if you add in the Charleston.

Finally we got to the on-stage interview question. The girls came out on stage and were asked two questions by the current Miss S. They picked their own questions out of what appeared to be a poorly done copy of the goblet of fire. I was actually hoping some flames would jump out of it just to liven up the night. The contestants were asked a question regarding their service platform (which was nice because that part was missing from the program), and then an allegedly random question. I'm pretty certain the girls had seen the list of questions before hand, because quite a few of the answers seemed canned.

Contestant One's platform was driving while texting. She was against it. The second question was "What three places in our town would you tell visitors to go." Um, what? My husband Brent came up with a good answer "well, the traffic light is pretty neat, and the four-way stop is a must see, and of course you need to stop by Jenny's house." A tourist mecca this town ain't. Number Two was concerned about first aid, and planned to help children learn how to call 911 and also wanted to teach CPR. We were very surprised when her question turned out to be "What are the key issues facing our country in 2011?" She said something about the economy, I don't really remember her answer because I was looking at her bright red heels that didn't seem to go with the rest of her outfit.

Number Three was concerned with stranger danger, apparently because a stranger had approached her as a child. Her question was regarding the greatest gift we can give the next generation, and she answered self-worth. Better than world peace as an answer, I guess. Number Four's platform was childhood obesity. Her question was on how we can get others to help with the natural disasters going on. I personally thought she had the worst answer of the night, regarding that she should go and help and set a good example. Yes, I can just see a beauty queen in heels, tiara and sash filling sandbags or slogging through mud to rescue people or animals.

Number Five wanted to get the word on preventing teen suicide. Her question was "how she would like to be remembered if she won Miss S?" She said something about her personality and how she has grown as a person since the last few times "I ran". At least she didn't say "I run", but it still sounded wrong. Number Six was concerned with body image, not too much of a surprise since she was the larger contestant. She was asked what questions she would ask the President if she had the chance. She rambled a bit about campaign promises and while it didn't seem very coherent it showed she was at least somewhat aware of current events. Number Seven was concerned about kids finishing high school, and managed to work her platform into her answer of "how she defined at-risk youth". She didn't really show that she gave much thought to her answer.

While the girls changed into evening wear, we had to watch…er got to watch the local high school drill team perform. Overall they did a good job, although some of the girls timing was slightly off. Then we endured the emcee singing a song, half of which was in Italian. The person in front of me was trying to use VCast to help her identify the song. Um, that doesn't work on live performances, but it livened up the performance for me. Personally, I would rather see local talent perform and fill in the gaps during a pageant than watch someone who isn't even from the town. Why not have some local dance groups, or the high school choir perform? Or maybe last year's winners could each do a performance, instead of just one of them. I'm just saying.

Onto evening wear, my personal favorite part of the competition. Contestant One wore a long black dress with a sparkly belt and sparkly straps. Kind of plain for a pageant dress, but not a bad choice. She was chosen as Most Photogenic, and she had very good posture. Number Two was very a dress that just made you say "holy purple Batman!" The cut was a little mature, and the fabric looked a little costumey. While her smile seemed a little forced, her dress was tight enough to show she was in fabulous shape, as there was no way to hide anything. Number Three was wearing a red sparkly dress that appeared to be strapless, but when she turned around you could see that there was actually a strap over one shoulder. Her hair was down and covered the strap from the front. She was obviously not very comfortable on stage, because she made it across the stage and was off before the emcee's had a chance to finish her bio. Perhaps she wanted to get off the stage so no one would notice how bad her hair was.

Number Four, who ended up winning the pageant, was wearing a black and teal dress, which was sparkly and slit about as high as a slit should go. The shimmering of the dress took attention away from her bad hair choice, and was mesmerizing in it's own snakelike way. There must have been a special on one shouldered dresses, as Number Five was wearing a blue dress, with curving sparkles and a slit. Number Six was wearing what can only be described as a bad prom dress or bad bridesmaid dress. Strapless, red, and ruffles on the skirt. I was embarrassed for her. Number Seven wore the only dress with sleeves. The color can best be described as Pepto Pink. The music stopped during her walk around the stage, but it didn't seem to phase her. I had her down to win 2nd Attendant, and I was wrong as she won 1st. I had Contestant Two down to win 1st, and she got second.

I thought Number One was going to win, and she didn't even place. Number Four won, and I had her down as ranking 5th. Oh well. The audience seemed excited by it, although everyone started to leave before her crown was even pinned on her head.

When the former Miss S took her final walk, no one knew because there wasn't a light on her. My favorite part of the slide show was the picture of the back of the parade float, which made it look like a giant casket.

I forget the contestant this referred to, but her bio mentioned how flexible she was as she could walk on her hands, and that she was obsessed with Alice in Wonderland. All the things you could have listed, and she went with that.

I wish there had been more variety in the talent choices. Six dances, one piano solo, and that was it. No singing, no other instruments. Just once I'd like to see a contestant do a drum solo. She probably wouldn't win, but it would be memorable. I also wish the program had included more about the contestants, including who their parents are, what their platform is, and a little bit about them. Instead all we got was their names under their pageant photos.

More on pageants coming soon.



Friday, May 6, 2011

Max & Ruby

Sometimes H watches Max & Ruby on Nick. I find this show to be really irritating. Ruby, the big sister, is always bossing Max and expecting him to be quiet or sit still. She is always doing something for Bunny Scouts, and is trying to practice a skill of some kind. Meanwhile, Max wants to play and is always interrupting Ruby, but by the end of the episode he is finally getting what he wanted in the first place.

First of all, where are the parents? You see the Grandma, who shows up and watches Ruby show off her skills, but Grandma doesn't seem to jump in and watch Max, so Ruby still has to watch Max even if she is trying to synchronize swim with her bunny troop but still has to keep an eye on Max in the pool. It's no wonder Ruby never gets any better.

You see other bunny parents, but never Max and Rubys. Are they secret agents? Are they dead? Are they buried in the basement and Ruby is trying to keep things going so they don't get put in foster care? Who pays for the house? Why does Ruby always have to watch Max? Does she say "I'm going to practice swimming with my bunny scout troop." "Take Max with you." "But I always take Max and I can't watch him in the pool while I'm swimming with the troop." "Take him with you anyway. We don't care if you get better at anything, or if it's unsafe, just take Max and let us do our mystery business."

And what about the neighbors? Don't they wonder why Ruby is always caring for Max? Is someone going to call bunny protection service (BPS) and report that the parents are neglectful? It seems like an abusive situation to me. Ruby's childhood is being eaten up by caring for Max, which is turning her into a very bossy big sister.

Today is a Mother's Day marathon on Nick. Let's see if the mysterious mom shows up, or if Max and Ruby give their grandma a present. Really, Ruby is the one who should get a present from Max, since she is basically his mom. Alas, it's the episode where they go to buy grandma a birthday present, and Ruby ends up spending all the money at the Laundromat cleaning Max's clothes, and buying food, and then not only is there no money for the birthday present, they don't even have bus fare to get home. They end up having to give grandma the vampire teeth that Max bought at the candy shop when he was supposed to be getting a lemonade. Although, why did Ruby think that Max would actually get what he was told to do? He's a toddler and doesn't really have language skills.

One has to wonder about the grandma. Doesn't she notice the neglect going on? Maybe things are different in bunny land. And perhaps Ruby is older than I think she is and is the legal guardian of Max.