Thursday, August 31, 2006

2006 VMA Ramblings- Yes I Still Watch Them

I am a lifelong fan of the VMA's. I don't think that I have ever missed a year. But is it me, or are award shows just sort of over?

Before this year's show started, my viewing buddy, Megan, and I each chose an adjective that we would best sum up the show. She chose "commercial" and I chose "desperate." We were both right.

There was no excitement. Where are the sore losers? The guys who won best rock band were so soft and girlie. It was embarassing. Where is the anger? Is this another Gen Y thing? Affable rock bands.

Sure, maybe I am just too old to be watching the VMA's but I would say that I knew over 70% of the music. I'm hip with the kids.

I just really hate Jack Black. He is not funny and I don't like Tenacious D either, so all of you Jack Black lovers be warned, I am a major hater.

On the plus side, I was glad to see that most of the artists were actually singing. Megan loved the set. I love that she noticed it. I never notice things like that.

The best part of the night was, hands-down, Justin Timberlake. But that is no surprise. I love the Timberlake. I also love Shakira so I enjoyed her performance. I liked that Hype Williams won the Vanguard award and I loved Missy in her tiny Jeep. And how can you not be thrilled that Pink won for "Stupid Girls" as she sat in a room full of them. And Al Gore wasn't as bad as he could have been either. Hmmm...maybe I liked the VMA's more than I think I did.

The VMA's are still the best of the award shows. I didn't watch the Emmy's and the Oscars are now just an excuse for me to get drunk and eat salty snacks. And are the Grammy's even on anymore?

I just wish that Madonna had won one. She was cheated.

Here are the winners, courtesy of E! online:
Video of the Year: Panic! at the Disco, "I Write Sins Not Tragedies"
Best Male Video: James Blunt, "You're Beautiful"
Best Female Video: Kelly Clarkson, "Because of You"
Best Group Video: The All-American Rejects, "Move Along"
Best Rap Video: Chamillionaire, "Ridin"
Best R&B Video: Beyoncé f/ Slim Thug, "Check on It"
Best Hip-Hop Video: Black Eyed Peas, "My Humps"
Best Dance Video: Pussycat Dolls f/ Snoop Dogg, "Buttons"
Best Rock Video: A.F.I., "Miss Murder"
Best Pop Video: Pink, "Stupid Girls"
Best New Artist in a Video: Avenged Sevenfold, "Bat Country"
Viewer's Choice: Fall Out Boy, "Dance, Dance"
Best Direction in a Video: Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy"
Best Choreography in a Video: Shakira f/ Wyclef Jean, "Hips Don't Lie"
Best Special Effects in a Video: Missy Elliott, "We Run This"
Best Art Direction in a Video: Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Dani California"
Best Editing in a Video: Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy"
Best Cinematography in a Video: James Blunt, "You're Beautiful"
Ringtone of the Year: Fort Minor, "Where'd You Go"
Best Videogame Soundtrack: Marc Ecko's Getting Up
Best Videogame Score: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Video Vanguard Award: Hype Williams

Punk this, Wedding Planner

So you know people are spending an AVERAGE of $27K on weddings. But let's face it, with the dove releases and the cigar bars, people are often plunking down a lot more than that. Imagine everything going just as you planned (and paid out the wazoo for), except you know the minister is drunk and someone shows up claiming to be the groom's other wife in Utah, after which your father screams "I knew there was something wrong with this joker! I never liked him!" and then a rumble breaks out between the bride and groom's sides. Then surprise! Ashton Kutcher shows up to tell you you're just part of "Wedding Crashers," and your nuptial nightmare is going to be broadcast on national television.

On the one hand, I LOVE that this new show will poke fun at the perfect-day obsession that has made the wedding industry one fat cat. But on the other, messing with the she-devil in the Vera Wang-dress? Not so smart.

American Girl Place: Friend or Foe?

I have been noticing a large number of tweens and younger carrying these red bags around The Grove for a few months now and yesterday I decided to investigate.

My thoughts in chronological order:
First I saw the book section: well it can't be all bad if it gets kids to read right?
Then I walked by the "Doll Hair Salon": WTF? Love that the employees for the most part were young men, probably wondering what the hell was going on with this.
Upstairs was all about the Historical characters. These dolls come from different periods in American history. They have period clothes, backstories and books about their lives. I wonder what girl buys the 1930's doll. Kathleen, my fellow pop culture junkie, believes these are the dolls that grandparents gift their grandaughters.

So now I am thinking that I have been too quick to judge. These dolls are teaching girls about history, and about the average young girl's experience during that time period. Then I see the freed slave doll and notice that she has white girl's hair! Again, WTF?

Then I stumble onto the theatre: "let the magic of the costumes, songs, and stories take you on a marvelous journey. You’ll explore the lives of American girls past and present, or the adventures of your favorite Bitty Bunch characters." Is it free? I ask. That's a big fat NO. It costs $30/person.

So here is where I stand after a good 30 minutes on the store:
This is a major money suck. Not only can you buy you and your doll matching outfits, you can have your birthday party here for the bottom basement price of $60/person!! And the "Private Doll Hair Salon Spectacular" is available for an additional fee. Who spends that much on a birthday party?

So I am going with Foe. It should really be called the American Rich Girl Place.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Love the Daily Candy

Those ladies at Daily Candy are some smart, caramels. Lame attempt at a pun, I know. But check this out:

You text msg DC ( )with a category you are looking for, your location and your city and they get back to you with their picks. And it works everywhere they are. And it's free on their end. I like.

This will be great for ghetto non-blue-toothed-PDA people like me. As long as their picks don't suck that is.

A New Reality Low

Last night I discovered my new 2nd favorite TV Show. Ok, well 3rd favorite, behind Girlfriends and Project Runway. My new show? THE ULTIMATE COYOTE UGLY.

I saw this on my guide and had to watch more. Here is what CMT says about their show:

"The series follows Coyote Ugly founder Liliana Lovell's nationwide search for the ultimate coyote - a woman who can sing, dance, flair and bartend better than any other. Beginning in NY, two women are chosen in each of five cities to join a road trip down to New Orleans where Lil lives and where the New Orleans bar needs a grand re-opening. Along the way the women will learn all the Coyote skills - bar flairing, singing, dancing and bartending. Lil will decide who stays on the road trip and who is sent home in regular eliminations until we find five finalists who will compete to be the one to win $25,000 on the night of the bar's grand re-opening. Lil is assisted in her search by veteran Coyotes/mentors Cyndi and Chantel and by choreographer Jacqui."

Why I am sort of obessed with this:
1. These women are competing to be the ultimate what? Bartender? "Dancer"? I know that there is a cash prize to be won and it doesn't say that they will actually BE a bartender at the newly re-opened bar. I hope that these women really want to be the Ultimate Coyote and aren't just in it for the cash prize. Integrity, people!
2. Two of the women trying out were described as "scientists." Really? Would scientists compete to be the best dancer-on-a-bar? Wow.
3. What's next? Competing to be a stripper? To be a Hooters girl? Should I be pitching those ideas? Does anyone have a connection at Live Nude Nudes?

I think that this may be a new low for me. But make no mistake, I got a season pass and will be watching every episode.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Charitable Revenge

This weekend I met a woman, who we'll call Sue, who is single and in the midst of her second Bridal Wave. She is generally good-natured about the whole thing, she buys the gifts, attends the showers and flies around the world to all sort of destination weddings, but last year she was confronted with her first full-blown Lobridemy case.

To give you a taste of what Sue had to deal with: the Lobdridemized B2B called Sue to complain that her friends, "were not excited enough for her." The B2B went on and on, detailing every misstep her friends had made, and never once asking Sue about herself or her training for the Revlon Run/Walk for Women. Sue had lost her mother to breast cancer the year prior and had been training for the run for months.

To make matters worse, when Sue sent out a request for sponsorships all of her friends donated dough.....with the exception of the B2B.

Sue was over it and decided to donate $100 to herself, in her friend's name! Then she sent a note letting the B2B know that in lieu of a wedding gift, she had donated money in her name!

This was an excellent burn, but if you decide to do something like this, be forewarned that it could be a friendship-ender.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Inexpensive, altruistic gift idea (part 1)

If you are looking for an inexpensive shower or wedding gift, consider giving a membership to your friend's local NPR affiliate or Public Television station.

This morning, KCRW (my local public radio station) gave away tickets to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl to subscribers, and I am pleased to say that I scored myself a pair!

My membership cost $50 and when I made the pledge I received a $40 gift certificate to a good, independent bookstore so really it's like I gave $10.

If you gave this as a gift you could choose to keep that gift certificate or include it as part of the present. The membership itself comes with a discount card that I use all over the city, not to mention random giveaways like the one I scored today. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

I also gave my local PBS station a donation and got in return a ticket to a Huell Howser drive-in movie party. If any of you know who Huell is, you know that is going to a night to remember.

An added bonus is not feeling guilty every time the pledge drive comes around.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Don't Marry Career Women

From It has been taken off the site, but I thought I would post it here to get your thoughts.

Personally I think that it is an example of the dangers of quantitative data. Relationships are not quantifiable and if any man reads this and makes a decision to not marry a woman with a career, then I feel like some woman out there just dodged a bullet.

Don't Marry Career Women
by Michael Noer
August 21, 2006

Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career.

Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it. A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women--even those with a "feminist" outlook--are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.

Not a happy conclusion, especially given that many men, particularly successful men, are attracted to women with similar goals and aspirations. And why not? After all, your typical career girl is well-educated, ambitious, informed and engaged. All seemingly good things, right? Sure…at least until you get married. Then, to put it bluntly, the more successful she is the more likely she is to grow dissatisfied with you. Sound familiar?

In Pictures: Nine Reasons To Steer Clear Of Career Women
Many factors contribute to a stable marriage, including the marital status of your spouse's parents (folks with divorced parents are significantly more likely to get divorced themselves), age at first marriage, race, religious beliefs and socio-economic status. And, of course, many working women are indeed happily and fruitfully married--it's just that they are less likely to be so than non-working women. And that, statistically speaking, is the rub.

To be clear, we're not talking about a high-school dropout minding a cash register. For our purposes, a "career girl" has a university-level (or higher) education, works more than 35 hours a week outside the home and makes more than $30,000 a year.
If a host of studies are to be believed, marrying these women is asking for trouble. If they quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy ( Journal of Marriage and Family, 2003). They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do ( Social Forces, 2006). You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do ( Journal of Marriage and Family, 2001). You will be more likely to fall ill ( American Journal of Sociology). Even your house will be dirtier ( Institute for Social Research).

Why? Well, despite the fact that the link between work, women and divorce rates is complex and controversial, much of the reasoning is based on a lot of economic theory and a bit of common sense. In classic economics, a marriage is, at least in part, an exercise in labor specialization. Traditionally men have tended to do "market" or paid work outside the home and women have tended to do "non-market" or household work, including raising children. All of the work must get done by somebody, and this pairing, regardless of who is in the home and who is outside the home, accomplishes that goal. Nobel laureate Gary S. Becker argued that when the labor specialization in a marriage decreases--if, for example, both spouses have careers--the overall value of the marriage is lower for both partners because less of the total needed work is getting done, making life harder for both partners and divorce more likely. And, indeed, empirical studies have concluded just that.

In 2004, John H. Johnson examined data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and concluded that gender has a significant influence on the relationship between work hours and increases in the probability of divorce. Women's work hours consistently increase divorce, whereas increases in men's work hours often have no statistical effect. "I also find that the incidence in divorce is far higher in couples where both spouses are working than in couples where only one spouse is employed," Johnson says. A few other studies, which have focused on employment (as opposed to working hours) have concluded that working outside the home actually increases marital stability, at least when the marriage is a happy one. But even in these studies, wives' employment does correlate positively to divorce rates, when the marriage is of "low marital quality."

The other reason a career can hurt a marriage will be obvious to anyone who has seen their mate run off with a co-worker: When your spouse works outside the home, chances increase they'll meet someone they like more than you. "The work environment provides a host of potential partners," researcher Adrian J. Blow reported in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, "and individuals frequently find themselves spending a great deal of time with these individuals."

There's more: According to a wide-ranging review of the published literature, highly educated people are more likely to have had extra-marital sex (those with graduate degrees are 1.75 more likely to have cheated than those with high school diplomas.) Additionally, individuals who earn more than $30,000 a year are more likely to cheat.

And if the cheating leads to divorce, you're really in trouble. Divorce has been positively correlated with higher rates of alcoholism, clinical depression and suicide. Other studies have associated divorce with increased rates of cancer, stroke, and sexually-transmitted disease. Plus divorce is financially devastating. According to one recent study on "Marriage and Divorce's Impact on Wealth," published in The Journal of Sociology, divorced people see their overall net worth drop an average of 77%.

So why not just stay single? Because, academically speaking, a solid marriage has a host of benefits beyond just individual "happiness." There are broader social and health implications as well. According to a 2004 paper entitled "What Do Social Scientists Know About the Benefits of Marriage?" marriage is positively associated with "better outcomes for children under most circumstances," higher earnings for adult men, and "being married and being in a satisfying marriage are positively associated with health and negatively associated with mortality." In other words, a good marriage is associated with a higher income, a longer, healthier life and better-adjusted kids.

A word of caution, though: As with any social scientific study, it's important not to confuse correlation with causation. In other words, just because married folks are healthier than single people, it doesn't mean that marriage is causing the health gains. It could just be that healthier people are more likely to be married.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Val on NPR!

Check it out!! I got myself on NPR and for a totally Val-appropriate story too.

As all my friends know, I am always in search of inexpensive, fun nights out. For a few years now I have been a huge fan of the movies that are shown at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery ($10/person, byob), and the last time I went I was interviewed by Ina Jaffe for a story on NPR about the screenings!

99% of my interview landed on the cutting room floor, but the cool thing is that we set up the story. You'll have to listen to hear what I mean. Our picture made it to the written piece, but our quote didn't.

I especially like that we represent for dominoes (my favorite game) and for being old school cemetery attendees.

Here is the link:

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New Publication Date!

Our book is being published in January 2007 by Random House. Check back here for more updates!