Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Best Show Ever: Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty

When I first heard that Shannen Doherty had been cast in a show about ending relationships for the Oxygen Network, my first thought was, That's random. I also thought, Hasn't Shannen Doherty had enough bad press as it is? Does she really need to participate in a third-rate cable show to really drive the nails into the coffin?

I caught the show for the first time tonight, and, readers, I am a convert to the Church of Shannen.

Her participation in the show makes perfect sense for one reason:

Would you want to be in a bar fight against Shannen? No. Would you want Shannen to have your back if you were in a bar fight? Abso-fucking-lutely.

The show zips among quick vignettes, which is essential. (This is a low-budget cable show, after all, not the TV interpretation of Anna Karenina.) And there's so much raw sadness and bitchery to it that it gives the appearance of being real even though it may not be. (This is reality TV, after all, not a Sundance documentary.) Just watching these poor, ridiculous men break down and/or feign shock when they see their long-suffering girlfriends tell them they want out is PRICELESS. And the silly Candid Camera-esque stunts the show pulls to get the guys to admit they're losers is ridiculous and funny at the same time.

Plus, Shannen genuinely seems to have the moderate-to-high hatred for the average American man that is necessary to make us believe she's rooting for every single one of those women. (Go back to the bar fight scenario if needed.)

So, yeah, this show will definitely replace "Laguna Beach" as my go-to channel-flipping-on-Saturday-afternoon destination.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Prepare for a Finance Rant. Ready? Okay, Read.

Okay, so Yahoo! Finance is growing on me. Slowly. But it's growing.

Here's a headline of today's featured column that I was excited to see: Women Underserved in Financial Planning. "You're damn right!" was my first thought, and I eagerly clicked on it. Now, I'm not sure whom this column is supposed to serve (bankers? the public?), but after reading it, it was pretty obvious that the author read a financial study, ripped out excerpts from it, mashed it together with some run-of-the-mill statistics, and made an insight-lacking column that's the journalistic equivalent of a papier mache cat: cute, but shoddily made and kind of useless.

Yes, women are underserved in financial planning. Yes, we're scared. Yes, we don't understand everything, but we're also more likely than men to admit that. And, yes, now society is changing and we're earning more. So...what should we do? Give us something here. Anything. Don't just wrap it up with a neat little final thought (I like to call these cute, opinionated little wrapup sentences the "and a good time was had by all" endings):

The financial "gender revolution" will likely be just as complex and challenging as women's past transformations of politics, the workforce, and family life. But the enormous economic contributions of women -- and any changes it foments -- should be welcomed by all.

Now, what does that mean? Anyone know? No? Yeah, me either. Because the reporter who clearly wrote this for the guy in the mugshot didn't do his homework and failed to give us anything to chew on.

Here's another wildly inaccurate gem from the column:

The era of women seeking to marry into financial stability has come to an end.

Okay, I'm going to have to object to that, seeing as how I live in New York City and see women gunning for the millions Every. F**king. Day.

Newsflash: For those of you who think sexism is over and strong women are fully accepted in society, think again. In fact, walk into any fraternity party on a college campus and witness the attitudes toward women, and you'll see just how far we have to go. Also, young women still trade on their looks and hope for a rich hedge-fund manager to give them their five-carat cushion-cut diamond and whisk them away from the world of PR/marketing/fashion assisting to somewhere on the Upper East Side so she can focus on what really matters: power-shopping and lunching and foisting Junior off in his Bugaboo stroller onto an underpaid (probably minority) nanny.

I think many, MANY women would like to marry into financial stability. The truth of the matter is, though, it most likely ain't going to happen. Why? Oooh, this would be a good one for a sociologist. Pick a cause, any cause: Alex, I'll take "Because it's so g*dd*mned expensive to live on only one income these days." Wait, no, Alex. How about, "Because young men do not feel they have to achieve as much as men once did." (Also, they have lots of PlayStation to catch up on.) So many choices!

And so many crappy finance stories to read.

P.S. In case you were curious, I'm not even going to devote a full paragraph to the sexist Forbes story that everyone's talking about. The publicity-whore hack who wrote it doesn't even deserve to have his name mentioned on this blog. What's disturbing is that Forbes thought it was fine to publish it. Some things just aren't okay -- even in the name of circulation/web hits.

P.P.S. No, the chick in the picture is not me. She's cute, but, let's be honest: Those shoes are horrible.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Because lately I've become obsessed with all things personal finance (my friends looooove to hear me talk about high-yield savings accounts, let me tell you), I read this online article from Money magazine today: What It Takes to Be Rich.

After I perused the rather entertaining article, I realized two things: I will never be as rich as the people in this article, and that is not just me being whiny. Multiple waterfront homes? Ferraris? Um, yes. Of course. As soon as my magical unicorn flies up to my fourth-floor window so I can hop on and take a tour of the Milky Way. Second, I think Money magazine is a little too advanced for my financial standing. For the time being, I prefer SmartMoney, specifically its website.

Another thing (don't worry, I have more personal finance musings where these came from), I found out Suze Orman has a column on Yahoo! Finance. This was honestly one of the best things that happened to me today. I'm torn, though, because I prefer the look of Google Finance, but I love Suze so. I guess I'll just have to make multiple stops in my daily PF tour of the web.

So, um, yeah. See you at Ramit's online chat tomorrow.

Dear God, I am dorky.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Can't Get Enough of The Hoff

This is pretty hilarious. My favorite has to be The Hoff:

Entertainment Weekly's gallery of the Most Embarrassing Sexy Poses

P.S. I think that pancakes-and-syrup smell is back in Manhattan tonight. IHOP has never sounded so good to me as it does now, as the aroma of golden batter-y goodness wafts in from my walkup's open window.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Two Things I Found and Loved Today

I think I might curl up and spoon with the latest issue of Blueprint magazine while stroking its glossy cover before I go to sleep tonight. I've said it before, but dear God, that magazine is beautiful and snappily written. Case in point: The new fall issue has a small front-of-book piece on a decent mid-price sewing machine. The headline?

"You've Got 99 Problems, and a Stitch Ain't One"

I laughed out loud on my gym's elliptical trainer when I read that one today. I'd like to take the editor who thought of that one out for cocktails because surely she'd be fun.

Also, I liked this article about automatic 401(k) contributions in the Business section of the Times today. In my opinion, EVERY company should automatically enroll its workers in a moderate-risk 401(k) plan and have them contribute at least 2 percent right off the bat, with the choice to opt out or modify the holdings if they want. I think back to my first job and the shiny, confusing-looking folder (with a picture of a cartoon road on it) I received from HR that theoretically was supposed to break down the details of a retirement plan for me. You know what? I never read it. I never even freaking understood what a 401(k) was until a little more than a year ago when I was watching Suze Orman's show, at which time I signed up immediately.

I probably couldn't have afforded to participate during my first job because I was too busy trying to live on my salary of peanuts and trying not to fatten up the credit-card debt that I had accumulated just by moving to the East Coast. But if I had been automatically enrolled at my second job? I'd probably be sitting on $2,000 extra dollars at least. Because there wasn't automatic enrollment for financially undereducated youngsters such as myself, I had to learn for myself about this whole 401(k) thing, and I missed out on a year and a half of savings that would have been especially valuable at my young age. (Ramit has a good post on 401(k)s that I like as well.)

So, yes, that's just my two cents for the day. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go set my cell phone alarm for 9 p.m., when I'll catch a new episode of Suze's show.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Goin' on a Maaaan-hunt

About four years ago, "Starting Over" host Iyanla Vanzant had her own Oprah-esque show, complete with special guests, filtered lighting, and buttery-soft-looking furniture. Except the whole thing was painfully low-budget. For one show, the Iyanla producers decked out the whole set in a jungle motif, fake leafy trees and all. At the beginning of the show, Iyanla held comically large binoculars up to her eyes, pretended to stalk some sort of prey, and announced to the audience, "We're goin' on a MAAAAAAAN-HUNT!" I don't think I had ever seen anything more awkward in my life.

That's how I felt tonight, when my single roommate and I were talking about men and where we could find her a good one. "We need to find a happy medium," I said, "between the pretentious hipster bars of the Lower East Side, the superficial Meatpacking scene, and the douchebags over in Murray Hill." I paused. "Where do all the smart dudes go?"

And with that phrase, I realized just how out of touch I sound and just how long it's been since I've been single. Three years ago, if I were looking for a man, I'd prance my hiney over to Naked Lunch and be done with it. Recipe for hookup: Take a pack of recent college grads, mix with alcohol, add a dash of good music for dancing, and put it all in a bar the size of a matchbox. Sigh. It was so easy back then.

But finding quality guys for more than a makeout session? Not so easy. So tell me: Beyond a standard nondescript Irish pub, where do all the smart, nice guys go?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Uh-Oh. There Goes, Like, History and Stuff

On CNN.com today: The U.S. government has misplaced the original recording of the first moon landing, including astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," a NASA spokesman said on Monday.

Picture how that went down.

Security guard: "Dude, the tapes were, like, totally here a year ago. I don't know where-- I mean, I lent them to my cousin P-Dawg a while back when he was trying to impress that hairstylist, Linda, but he swore he'd bring that shyte back. Man. I mean, P-Dawg has never let me down. Except that one time, with the fake weed, but that was like... Is anyone else craving Cheetos?"

Monday, August 14, 2006

What's Gozarian for "Awesome"?

Best website ever for recovering children of the '80s (especially those who now live in New York):

The Google Maps Guide to Ghostbusters

Whatta Man, Whatta Man, Whatta Mighty Good Man

I wear the pants in my relationship with the Boyf. I have the career with the long hours, the insatiable sex drive, and the say in whether or not he can go to a strip club for a bachelor party. (He cannot.) Some might call him "whipped." I just call the arrangement "sensible."

But sometimes, we strong chicks get tired of making the decisions and dictating which way to steer the relationship. Sometimes we don't want to initiate all the important talks, and we don't want to mention, for the 40th goddamned time, that DIRTY DISHES FROM LAST MONDAY'S CHICKEN DINNER DO NOT WASH THEMSELVES.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised when the Boyf took charge tonight.

We went to Bryant Park, in the middle of Manhattan, for today's Monday night summer movie: Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn. The atmosphere was, to me, classic New York City. We sat in the park, surrounded by trees and other people with picnic makings reclining on blankets they'd brought from home. Overhead, planes flew into JFK and Newark -- maybe a couple going to LaGuardia -- and the windows of office buildings all around us shone brightly, some off and some on, like jack o' lantern teeth.

All of this would have been fine the two girls (one in particular) who parked themselves directly in front of me hadn't decided to chat on their cell phones, to their friends, and to no one in particular at top conversation volume for at least the first 15 minutes of the film. They even snapped a few pictures of themselves hugging each other. On her cell phone, the loudest one asked a friend to "meet up with us" at the movie, which is nearly impossible considering the sea of people at Bryant Park during Summer Film Festival Mondays. I could see what was going on. She just wanted to tell her chic pals who weren't there that she was doing something New York-ish. She didn't care about Audrey. About Cary. About freakin' Walter Matthau.

So I got mad and turned to the Boyf, slapping him (gently) on the thigh. "Should I say something to them?" I mouthed, pointing down. "They've been talking the whole time!" (Here I gave the international sign for "talking," which is making one's hand into a mouth and moving it like a duck's beak.) He looked at them. He looked at them again. Then again. A minute later, I thought he had forgotten all about it, until:

"Excuse me," he said, tapping the loudest young woman on the shoulder, a stern look on his face. "I came to watch the movie, not to hear your chit-chatting."

"Um, okay, like, there is a nicer way to say that--" she said.

"You. Are being. Rude," the Boyf said.

"I would have, like, shut up in two seconds if--" she said.

"You. Are being. Rude," the Boyf said again.

They didn't talk the whole rest of the film. In fact, they left halfway through.

After they'd packed up their belongings, the Boyf leaned over to me and whispered, "I wasn't too harsh with them, was I?"

I leaned back to whisper, my lips gently grazing his ear. "You were perfect," I said. And I looked him in the eyes and smiled.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Here, Kitty, Kitty...

We're all abnormal in our own little ways, but one of the things that makes up my own brand of abnormal is that what many people find humiliating, I find hilarious. Case in point: If I trip on the street and my body is flung forward at such an awkward angle that I must step weirdly and suddenly to recover, sometimes dropping my purse, I'm not embarrassed. In fact, I won't be able to stop laughing. That's because I, myself, find people falling so funny that, post-fall, I take on the viewpoint of the people who saw me bite it. They must be cracking up, too. And that's meta-hilarious.

Same goes for catcalls. Now, I realize that catcalls, when boiled down to their socio-anthro-psychological origins, are extremely sexist and demeaning, but damn if some of them aren't amusing. Plus, I am neither particularly leggy nor conventionally attractive, which makes the concept that I'm being enticed all the funnier. I've been here in New York City for a while now, and these are the top three catcalls I've received in the city:

1. "Hey, White Chocolate! Lookin' good, Mommy!" (Sidenote: I was in gym clothes.)

2. "Smile, Blondie!"

3. Near Radio City Music Hall a few months ago, about 10 young kids ranging from ages 13 to 15 were sitting on a ledge, and I had to pass by wearing a pencil skirt and heels. I knew I was going to hear something, but I didn't expect it to be quite so funny. As I walked by the line of teenagers, there was a domino effect of catcalls: "Damn!" said one. "Damn!" said the one next to him. "Damn!" said the next guy. "Damn!" said the guy after that. "Damn!" said another one. Then, as I had finally passed the last guy, I heard a weak, futile, "Have a nice day!"

I've gotta say, though, I think "White Chocolate" might be my favorite one. If I ever become a DJ, a stripper, or a producer for R&B songs I'm totally using that as my nickname.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Paper Cuts

I have nothing against Papyrus as a place of business. In fact, I think whoever invented Papyrus is a genius. Anyone who can build a store, fill it full of quilted birthday cards and tiny bird-shaped stickers, and charge recovering sorority girls $8.99 for an engagement card featuring a tiny mock wedding dress made out of tulle earns at least the title "entrepreneurial guru" in my book.

Hell, I've only gone into Papyrus three times (once was for a present for the Boyf's mom -- enough said), and even I got tiny goosebumps of joy when I saw they're building a new one right next to my Chelsea gym. (Hey, it beats Motherhood Maternity, the location's previous tenant.)

But I have to draw the line somewhere.

It took a sheer act of God, but I bought and mailed an anniversary card for my parents a full three days before the actual date. (Please save your applause for the end of the post.) After the envelope had been addressed, stamped, and sealed, I saw that Papyrus had left me a tiny "card within a card" as a memento of my card-buying experience. Printed on it was the exorbitant price I had just willingly paid, the message that was inside the frilly card, and an extra little poEM (emphasis mine):

Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. The hummingbird's delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life's sweetest creation.

Memo to Papyrus: All I'm trying to do is send my parents a card with glued-on foam cutouts of a married couple sporting Hawaiian shirts, flip-flops, shades, and little umbrella drinks. I don't need your personal philosophy on the hummingbird -- or anything else, for that matter.

Now, take your $10 and make off with it like the bandit you are. The cute, lacy, sweet, perfect bandit you are....

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Soul Sister

I just discovered No Parachute, and, dear Lord, it is hilarious. I love that this woman is from the Midwest, just like your very own Newbie.

If you have any common sense at all, you will read this post about a unicorn figurine that had me quietly chuckling to myself for two days.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, It's Time to Get Angry

If you read nothing else today (heck, this week), please read this L.A. Times story by reporter Claire Hoffman about Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis.

I'm going to warn you: It will make you sick to your stomach. Beyond what's expected (the usual benign chest-flashing by drunken sorority girls, etc.), the article reports that Francis has a history of assaulting women -- verbally, sexually, and physically. He also coerces underage girls to perform for the camera and touch him.

But I hope reading this article will make you take action. If you're at all appalled by what's going on, please forward this to everyone you know and speak out about him and what he's doing to women in America. I cannot stand by while this man, his crew, and especially his lawyer make millions of dollars off of violence against women.

If any of you has any additional resources or information about other efforts to bring this man and his empire down, please e-mail me or post to the comments section.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Speedy Delivery

The mail was a pisser this week.

In one fell swoop, I received an invitation to my high school Crush's wedding and a thank-you note from my Aunt Shirley that expressed her gratitude to me for flying down to be with her in Oklahoma for Uncle Loren's funeral.

Also, my friend K is getting married, and she's actually past the pick-out-the-cake,-photographer,-and-bridesmaid-dresses stage. I'm not in the wedding, which is another source of my irrational ire, but I won't go into that.

I feel like I'm the female lead in one of those really crappy unnecessarily dramatic movies, like A River Runs Through It, where the viewer follows the characters throughout their lives, and then they reconvene 10 years later, and everyone is different or married or happy or unhappy or missing something in their lives or pining away for someone else or something. This is the moment when the camera zooms in on the wedding invitation or the thank-you note about the funeral. Or on me shoving my way to work on the city streets of Manhattan, drinking Bud Light drafts in a Lower East Side bar, fighting with the Boyf, sweating on the elliptical at the gym. The vignettes would contrast with pictures of K's wedding dress, her moving into her new apartment with her fiance, some foreshadowing of wedded bliss.

It's not that I'm upset that my Crush is getting married. I'm actually quite happy he found someone to latch onto. I have even scoured their Club Wedd registry, but I just couldn't deal with buying them something ridiculous, like a 9x13 Calphalon baking pan, because, honestly, what would that symbolize? Anything? Nothing? And does a gift have to say something? Or is it more like, "Oh, great! The cream-colored hand towel that will complete the set! Thanks!"

No, it's not the marriage thing that I'm upset about. I'm not jealous of K. I'm happy for her and her future security (God-willing).

It's just that I'm suddenly seeing everyone growing up around me.

They've finally picked something.

They took a deep breath, closed their eyes, and said, "Okay. I'm not going to be an out-of-control child anymore. I'm going to choose this and promise to stick with it come hell or high water." And for me? I'm not ready to do that yet. I'm not even dead-set on the CAREER I've chosen, let alone who I'm going to spend the end of my days with. THE END OF MY DAYS. God, that sounds final. Like an ending. A paved-with-real-blacktop road, not this trodden, dirt-packed, snaking trail that I've been machete-swinging my way through for the past twentysomething years. I like the swinging. I like being able to change my mind and switch jobs and move and go INSANE if I want. I like the independence and my own room.

And there's the time thing, too. I can't even find the time to pick up my dry-cleaning, let alone pick out a reception hall, wedding rings, a flower girl, dresses, cakes, food, music, dates. Exhausting.

I'm not trying to mock. It's just that all of this change from my friends with whom I used to openly wonder about the future have now nailed theirs down. And with the passing of Uncle Loren, well, that just serves as a reminder that, despite what I'd like to believe, we do NOT have all the time in the world.

I'm not running out to get hitched. But I am sad to wave goodbye to the times when my friends and I weren't all boring and serious. When we had fun for ourselves and kissed strangers in bars. When we thought about the future as the big, wide-open masterpiece we couldn't wait to fingerpaint right over, not as a nicely priced three-bedroom somewhere in the suburbs.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I (Heart) Suze

This past Saturday, a Suze Orman Show marathon of sorts was on CNBC. Now, I absolutely LOVE Suze Orman. I would rearrange my schedule if I found out she was speaking in New York. Two hours into the marathon, as I sat staring a little too intently at the television, hanging on Suze's every word, ignoring the Boyf's repeated requests for me to start getting ready so we could go to a party we were already late for, I realized this:

I genuinely feel that Suze Orman could fix my entire life.

Already, Suze rescues me from boring Saturday evenings and future financial poverty with her straight talk and her "Girlfriend!"s. I have a 401(k) because of Suze. I have considered going into the field of finance because of Suze. If the Suze show is on, all of my problems are history for that blissful hour. Gained five pounds and looking like hell? No prob, Suze's on. Hating life because of my job? No prob, Suze's on.

Now, I know that Suze can fix my finances. But...just imagine what she could do if I actually brought Suze into my home, my office, and beyond:

Me: (Picking up donut.)
Suze: Do NOT Eat. That. Donut! (Her jewelry jangles, and she points her manicured finger repeatedly three inches away from my face.) Because if YOU EAT. THAT DONUT. You will have invested FIVE-HUNDRED CALORIES in your CALORIE ALLOWANCE FOR THE DAY, and, Girlfriend? You do Not. Want. That. Evidence on your thighs.

Me: (Speaking to my boss.) I think that I would like a raise because, well, I've been with this company for a long time, and, um, my merits, and, well--
Suze: (Storms into boss's office wearing giant gold button earrings and a green blazer embellished with peacock feathers.) Now, Boss. Newbie has worked 57.5 hours in the Past. Week. She has PROVEN HERSELF countless times. She comes in in the morning before everyone else in the department and does it ALL. WITH. A SMILE. ON. HER. FACE. Do you mean to tell ME that she CANNOT have what has been coming to her ALL ALONG? (Stands there with an expectant look on her face.)

Suze? If you're out there, I live in Manhattan, and I'm ready to be made over.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Embarrassing Moment #2,349

Okay, okay. I know I promised a post about my fabulous dinner at Babbo on Friday. But, well, I just got home from work 30 minutes ago, and right now it is too hot in New York City to do anything: go outside, write, read, watch TV, sit, blink, breathe...

So for now, until I find some air conditioning and go all Babbo on you, I give you one of my most embarrassing moments, which happened roughly a half an hour ago:

My roommate (we'll call her Roomie) has been away for the past week or so, and she came back to the city this afternoon. When I got home from work and she heard me walking through our apartment, she came into the living room and said, "Hi!" I said hi and hugged her. When I pulled away, our sweat-drenched skin stuck together just a bit, and I said loudly, "Is it hot as balls or WHAT?"

Roomie turned, opened the door to her room, and said, "Newbie, I'd like you to meet my mom."

A kind-looking woman in a black pantsuit stood there smiling, and I knew that I'd forever be known as the roommate who says "balls."