Friday, May 28, 2010

Don't Forget To Wear White Next Week

It's almost Memorial Day weekend, y'all, and in honor of that, we're taking Monday off. Some of us have great plans (a weekend in wine country! A college reunion!) and some of us...well, some of us have a conference all the way through Sunday afternoon, but are trying really hard not to be bitter about it.

So, whether you're hanging out in Chicago with the Obamas (hey Sasha, can I borrow your top?), kicking off the official start of BBQ season, or hanging out at the pool because it is finally open, we hope our US readers have an amazing weekend. And our non-US readers should also have an amazing weekend, because it's the weekend YAY.

And get ready to bust out those white pants next week, because no longer will you have to worry about that Secret Footage - Stacy and Clinton decree it, and this chick approves.

UbyKotex - So Obnoxious - Watch more Funny Videos

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don't Be Afraid to Screw Up

From Conan O'Brien's speech to the Harvard Class of 2000:

I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of the Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet every failure was freeing, and today I’m as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good. So that’s what I wish for all of you—the bad as well as the good. Fall down. Make a mess. Break something occasionally. Know that your mistakes are your own unique way of getting to where you need to be. And remember that the story is never over.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't Forget that Brown Women Wear Makeup Too


As a teenager, I started my love for fashion and beauty magazines. I still remember the joy and anticipation in opening a big fat August issue of Seventeen magazine and circling all of the exciting new fashions for the coming school year. I would get to see what my favorite celebrities were wearing, read try to convince my mom to buy me some of the full outfits that I saw in the "Going off to College" pictorial, and read all about doing a smokey eye and using blush and powder to contour your cheekbones. Except the problem with the magazines is that the makeup tips never quite worked for me, because in the ranges of skin colors they would show the best new makeup shades for, the darkest skin color was always olive. I wrote a letter to the editors of Teen magazine about that once -- I still remember, I signed it as "My skin is not olive" -- and got some form letter back.

A lot of things have changed in the past fifteen or so years, and thankfully, I have a better time now in the pages of Lucky and Allure in finding makeup shades for me. Better, but still not great -- there are still usually about four possible shades for white women and one for brown women, and I always get excited when a brown skinned celebrity is on the cover, because I'm then sure of finding out what great lipstick they used on her. But I really didn't think that there were still makeup companies that don't even make shades for women of color, but even in the world of Michelle Obama, I was wrong.

A few weeks ago, I was looking for a new tinted moisturizer, and was browsing the aisles of Sephora. A skincare line that I've liked a lot in the past, Korres, had a tinted moisturizer with SPF that I had read about and was excited to test. Except when I went to test the shade against my skin, I discovered that their darkest shade was still way too light for my skin color. I said something to the woman helping me at Sephora, and she said that since Korres is a Greek company, they're not used to the range of skin colors in the US. Yeah, she clearly didn't believe it either. I came home and wrote Korres a letter about it; this time I didn't even get a form letter.

What I don't understand about this is that Black and Latino women obviously care about makeup. From Michelle Obama (whose makeup is always flawless, and oh wow, I wish I knew which products she used), to RuPaul and everyone in between, we are all pretty fabulous. We love lipcolors, from muted to in your face, we love doing delightful things with our nails, but mostly, we love makeup just as much as white women do. I'm not sure why magazines and makeup companies continue to ignore this market, but I'm really tired of them assuming that there's only one shade of woman of color, and it's the light shade of either Beyonce or Zoe Saldana or the dark shade of Gabby Sidibe. There are many shades in between (and lighter than Bey/Zoe and darker than Gabby).

I loved the products that I got from you, Korres, but in the future, I will send my makeup and skincare dollars to companies that care about me and people who look like me. Therefore, here is an incomplete list of resources for women (and men!) of color who want to find great makeup:

Bobbi Brown is awesome, and has lots of foundation and powder shades for every range on the skin color wheel (and I totally suspect that Michelle O. wears some of her stuff).
M.A.C has long had lots of great shades for women of many colors, and even though their salespeople are usually bitchy and make you look like a drag queen, their stuff is still awesome.
Stila, the brand that I eventually got my tinted moisturizer from, had a wide range of possible shades, and there were some just slightly lighter than me and just slightly darker than me that I didn't get, because the shade that was my shade was perfect, amazing.
Carol's Daughter, not strictly makeup, but has lots of hair and skincare stuff for women of color.
Iman and Black Opal Beauty are both drugstore brands geared towards women of color (warning, the Iman website plays music. Seriously, Iman?).
This awesome blog, Makeup 4 Black Women, has color ranges, makeup tips, shade reviews, and great tutorials.
Another fun blog, Makeup and Beauty Blog is all about what it says, and is written by a woman of color.

And finally, I give you this fabulous man who has a ton of makeup videos and is hilarious, has good tips, and just all around rocks, and his advice is great for women of all colors.

Please feel free to share your favorite makeup for brown women resources!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday Quickies: Old Lady Edition

Oh lord, you guys, my college reunion is this weekend. I've been looking at my old scrapbooks and wishing I'd had a better idea of how damn cute I was back then. Screw changing history; if I had a time machine I'd go back and tell my college self, "You aren't going to have those boobs forever, you know. For god's sake, have more sex."

So in honor of my decrepitude, some links (very) loosely themed around youth and young womanhood.

I don't know how goddamn many times I'm going to need to say this, but your vulva doesn't need to be pretty. Vajazzling is just another way to get you to Spend. More. Money. Don't do it.
The kind of girl who ices her muffin (Not That Kind of Girl)

Don't believe a phone can make or break friendships (again: Your money. They want it.)
Microsoft's Kin Ponders the Nature of Friendship (AdFreak)

Don't look like a moron when you give a commencement speech:
Ann Curry speaks at Wheaton College...but which one? (Boston Globe)

I don't think these shots would work if you were actually drinking beer:
Amazing Beer Pong Shots (YouTube via Sports Guy)

Don't forget that corporate America is evil in many subtle ways:
Your Office Chair is Killing You (BusinessWeek)
Your Commute is Ruining Your Happiness (Scienceblogs)

Don't be afraid to just tell a blowhard to stuff it, but if you need help, use these:
Stop Talking (Design Within Reach)

Don't stress about dinner. The internet has you covered:
What the Fuck Should I Make For Dinner

Don't be cynical about love. Remember that romance can happen anytime, anywhere:
Groom-to-be pops the question at Whole Foods (Boston Globe)

Don't use empty boxes and a piece of plywood as your coffee table:
Neil Gaiman's Cthulhu-esque table (made by Chul An Kwak)

Don't forget your towel:
Towel Day (Wikipedia)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Do Drugs, Kids

Or else you might go from looking like this:

To this:

in five short years. Oh, and also lose any career, friends, and grip on reality you once may have had. Oy, she makes me sad.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Don't Buy Cosmo Just Because You Like The Cover Girl

So I have this problem. And by "problem," I mean girlcrush, and by "girlcrush," I mean I am crushed with INSANE LUST. Her name is Pink, and she's just about the hottest, most talented, most badass, most adorable and hilarious (follow her on Twitter!) celebrity on Earth. I adore her. I simultaneously want to be her best friend and also sleep with her. I am far too invested in her relationship with her equally adorable (and lustworthy) husband - I was unreasonably happy when they got back together, and I want them to live happily ever after, riding their bikes and mocking each other for all eternity. And all this is not even to mention her music, which is so good, and her voice, which is brilliant, even when she's hanging upside down. Her I'm Not Dead album got me through what was equally the best and worst year of my life - my soon-to-be-husband bought it for me during a two week hospital stay, and I listened to it nonstop on the beach during our honeymoon four months later. Basically, Pink rocks, and you should just bow down to her. You saw these performances, right? The Fug Girls have it dead on.

What you should NOT do? Buy the issue of Cosmopolitan that is currently on newsstands, no matter how effing hot she looks on the cover. (And y'all, she looks seriously effing hot.)

Here are some actual, genuine quotes from this gem of an issue.
"As much as we admire Angie [Jolie]'s ballsy attitude (or at least used to), the actress...has shown that she's willing to do whatever it takes to get the Mr. Smith she wants...and no wife - sorry Jen - is about to stop her."
(They KNOW that The Breakup was FIVE YEARS AGO, right? And that he was the married one?)

"So what is important? Well, it's hard as hell to figure out because no dude is going to outright articulate what he needs from you to be happy."

"...maintaining a sense of mystery is especially crucial as things become serious...TMI is not only a turnoff, but it also forces him to rethink his image of you as a strong, sexy woman."
(BTW, their definition of TMI includes sharing that you have to pee and mentioning your waxing appointment. Strong and sexy women don't need to pee or maintain their brows!)

Plus, an article about why men heart skanks (name-dropping specific celebs and mistresses, then referring to them as "trashy chicks" and "low-rent floozies," glossing over the fact that the guys those mistresses were sleeping with were the married ones...sensing a pattern?), a charming few pages about How To Make A Man Commit (full of great blanket statements like, "Men want someone fun - plain and simple" and "He doesn't want to see you in sweatpants three nights in a row," which means that I'm pretty sure my husband's going to be filing for divorce any second now), a You, Even Better feature reminding you that your new husband won't love you if you gain the 21 pounds that the average woman gains after she gets married (apparently he'll "feel freaked" and decide you don't care about him anymore), and a full page of people taking pictures of strangers and sending them to the magazine, bitching about their terrible clothes or accessories.

And seriously, EVERY SINGLE ITEM relates back to sex in some way. Even if you save some money (Dates Under $10!) and go to the cheap carnival in your town, you should, according to Cosmo, then want to bone. And did you know they have PORN now? Seriously! Two pages of porn! When did Cosmo start swiping Penthouse's Letters leftovers?

(This is where we remind you not to take sex advice from Cosmo. No seriously. That has not changed in the last couple of months.)

When your magazine puts a strong, badass, unique talent like Pink on the cover, it would be nice if the content reflected some of those qualities. A two-page interview with one of the most individual and self-posessed celebrities out there does not make up for all the other garbage - encouraging readers to hide who they are, second-guess what they do, say, and wear, and to revolve everything in their life around getting, keeping and pleasing a man? When the magazine spends pages and pages telling you about how shitty and stupid men are? Something tells me that Pink would not approve of any of it.

So if you're wandering by the newsstand and you see her glaring out at you, looking fucking fierce, just stop, think about taking an extra five minutes to read the article while you're standing there, and then don't waste your money. Save your five bucks and get a few of her songs off iTunes. It won't make you feel shitty about yourself, I guarantee it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Don't be afraid to roast a chicken

Roast chicken

One of the easiest and homiest meals to make for a dinner party, your family, or just yourself is a roast chicken. The idea of making a whole one apparently scares some people, but I am here to tell you that it is as easy as pie. Okay, wait, not as easy as pie, because many of you are probably scared of making pie too, but don't worry, I'll address that soon! How about as easy as spaghetti?

I roast chickens all the time, sometimes for other people, and sometimes on a Monday night just for me, and I'll feast off the leftovers all week, many times repurposing them into things like chicken pot pie, chicken tacos, chicken salad, chicken sandwiches, you name it. It's also an easy meal for when people are coming over -- when there's a large group of people, I've just put two chickens in the oven at the same time on a big roasting pan, and it works perfectly. And then while the chicken is cooking and resting, you can deal with any of the side dishes, and greeting your guests, and the whole house smells great as they walk in.

A great base recipe is Thomas Keller's, of The French Laundry and Per Se fame. But don't let that put you off! I know he is famous for his oyster and pearls and other super complicated dishes, but this is not one of them. Here's his recipe: take a chicken, as small as you can get it (he wants you to have one for around 3 pounds, but this works for larger ones too); preheat your oven to 450; dry the chicken off really well; salt it well with kosher salt and black pepper; tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine*; put it in a roasting pan and in the oven, and then walk away, and come back in about an hour. That's all! That's it!

Now, people will freak out about how to know that the chicken is done. A lot of people will tell you to use a meat thermometer here, but though I have a good one, I never use it when I roast a chicken (you can, of course, if you're nervous about that, just make sure that it's in the thickest part of the chicken thigh and not touching the bone, and that it's 165 F). The chicken is generally done when you can wiggle the drumstick and it will easily wiggle for you. But when it hits either 165 or wiggle time, it's not time to cut into the chicken -- that's when you put it on a cutting board, cover it loosely and let it rest -- the chicken will keep cooking as it rests, and then it will be super moist when it's time to eat.

Once you master that basic recipe, though, there are plenty of ways to dress it up and make it your own. I usually bend the wings backward and tuck them under the chicken before roasting, because it makes for a prettier presentation and then the chicken sits a little more upright on the pan like above. I often tuck some herbs down into the skin on the breast, and sometimes I'll start the chicken breast side down and flip it over to make sure that the whole bird cooks evenly -- I usually flip it with my handy kitchen tongs, probably my favorite kitchen tool (get the 12 inch ones, they're the most useful), but you can just use your hands tucked into oven mitts, or a spatula and a long fork. I usually cut up a lemon and tuck it inside and around the bird too, becasue it makes the skin all lemony, but there are about a million ways to flavor it and make yourself happy.

But for all that is good and holy, do yourself a favor and cut up a few potatoes and put them in the roasting pan when you have about 30 minutes left of roasting the chicken. When you take the chicken out of the pan to rest, stir the potatoes around and return them to the oven to keep roasting until they're done. Those potatoes that roast in the chicken fat are some of the best potatoes that you will ever make or eat, trust me.

And with those potatoes, a nice green salad, and some green beans, asparagus, or sauteed kale or chard, depending on the season, you have a fantastic dinner for almost anyone, including one for just yourself.

*Actually, he wants you to truss it, but if you're a beginner, just tying the drumsticks together with kitchen twine works just fine.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday Quickies: Geek Edition

(Daisy's Christmas tree. Spot the geekery!)

I don't believe you can get plush toys of all the subatomic particles. (I want a tachyon!)
Particle Zoo

After you get the particles, don't forget to buy baby's first physics book:
Pat Schrodinger's Kitty (Etsy)

I don't entirely understand the physics here (I need the plush toys to act it out for me!), but the final quote is fabulous:
From Fermilab, a New Clue to Explain Human Existence? (New York Times)

Don't spell without it:
The Geek Alphabet (Geeks are Sexy)

Don't call me a geek without checking this venn diagram first:
The Difference Between Nerd, Dork and Geek Explained (Great White Snark)

And don't call me a fanboy either. For one thing, I'm a girl.
Fanboy! The strange true story of the tech world's favorite put-down. (Technologizer via Gizmodo)

Don't put this in your house if you ever want to have sex ever ever:
Star Wars Wampa rug (ThinkGeek)

Don't get these tattoos if you ever want to have sex ever ever:
Nerd Tatts of the Week (Nerdist)

Don't date someone you don't like kissing. It's science:
Pucker Up: Scientists Study Kissing (CNN)

Don't even think about claiming astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson as your science boyfriend. He is mine. Mine, I tell you!
The Secret Life of Scientists: Neil DeGrasse Tyson (PBS)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Don't Be Afraid to Take Fashion Risks

Y'all expect me to rip on the photo above, don't you? I mean come on: it's a pair of turquoise skinny jeans! That are so tight the poor girl is knock-kneed! But I have to tell you, she was kind of working them. It helped that she was about sixteen and radiating the kind of Eff you, I'm hot shit attitude vital to pulling off crayola-colored pants.

But my point is that it's easy to fall into a fashion rut, especially when you're lucky enough to know exactly what looks good on you. I was unwillingly yanked out of my rut when I didn't magically return to my pre-pregnancy weight (which will be the subject of a future post titled "Don't tell me I still need to lose a few pounds, DAD."). Tops that used to be flattering now make my boobs look like two melons in a plastic shopping bag. Skirts that used to rock now turn me roly-poly.

So I end up trying on pretty much half the store whenever I'm shopping now, and I'm not going to lie: it's frustrating as hell sometimes. But! The glee I feel when I try on something I was sure would look ridiculous and it magically turns me into a hottie instead? Totally worth it.

So if you're looking for kick-ass boots in black? Try them on in hot pink too. At worst you won't like them, and at best you'll be like the young lady in the picture above: inspiring random strangers to think, Girl, you are Pulling. Them. Off.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Don't Miss In The Heights

What was the last Broadway show you saw? Actually, what's the last Broadway show you can NAME? Cats? Phantom? Les Miserables? Maybe even Rent? If those are your answers, I have a proposition for you. And that proposition is: Read this post.

For me, it all started with the 2008 Tony awards.

During the first hour, the cast of a show I've never heard of called In The Heights performs, since it's nominated for Best Musical. I find it intriguing and exciting, both musically and lyrically ("It's gettin' too darn hot/Like my man Cole Porter said" is pretty genius) and hey, isn't that the kid from Camp?? I love Camp! I therefore love this!

Then, a while later, the show wins Best Original Score, and this goofy looking dude, who is apparently also the star, gets up and gives the best acceptance speech I've ever seen. Complete with improvised Sondheim shout-out! Go ahead and watch it. I'll wait.

The next day at lunch, I went to the record store and bought the soundtrack and listened to it for days - okay fine, weeks - in a row. The story - about three days in the life of a Latin community in Washington Heights, Queens, New York - is, in many ways, far away from my own life. But the themes of home, family, love, belonging, loss and hope are themes that even the most cyncial person, living far from that world, can relate to. I loved it, and I was so bummed that I lived about seven states away from the Great White Way, the only opportunity I had to experience In The Heights in person. And so I did what any non-NYC-living Broadway freak would do: I turned to the internet.

Things like Legally Brown (Matthew Morrison appearance!) and Heights Cool Musical were discoveries that followed, and then, at Christmastime, there was this, and I was done. My enjoyment of the show was already through the roof, but my enjoyment of Lin-Manuel Miranda? Turned into slightly creepy stalker-y type adoration.

In 2009, Lin (we are clearly besties who are on a first name basis) worked with Stephen Sondheim on translating dialogue and lyrics from West Side Story into Spanish for the revival. He composes for and appears on the revival of The Electric Company. He won a Grammy and was a finalist for the Pulitzer for In The Heights. He was House's roommate. He left the show, with a wonderful final curtain call. He got engaged. He was part of this documentary that has been on my Tivo since May. He performed for the First Family. And he's going to Run This Tour.

(He also just turned 30.)

So that's the timeline of my slightly creepy obsession with Lin-Manuel Miranda. But what about the show? Why am I lecturing you about some random show that's far away from you in NYC?

Because, didn't you watch the Run This Tour video? THEY ARE ON TOUR. AND YOU SHOULD GO. Mr. Roxy and I had the privilege of seeing it TWICE when the show was in our city, and it was worth every penny and moment that we spent with it.

The tour cast, though maybe easy to dismiss, is phenomenal. The first night we saw it, four of the lead characters were played by their understudies. You'd generally think, especially with a tour cast, "Oh hell. Understudies." (When we saw Les Mis on tour a few years ago, we got stuck with understudy for Valjean. It was a rough few hours.) Not with this company. Every role, even those played by people who had never done it before, was pitch-perfect. We had two different understudies when we saw it the second time, and it was still just as wonderful.

If you think you don't like theatre, or that musicals are cheesy, or that there's nothing in this story that appeals to you or that you can relate to...well, you're wrong. And I'm sorry for being bossy, but isn't that the point of this whole endeavor? So when you see In The Heights roll through your town, just stop, think about how your life could use some culture - or just some dancing - and don't miss out.

(PS, I'm not getting anything for writing this post. I just love it, and you should trust me. Have I led you astray yet?)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't Whine About Spoilers


This title may come as a surprise to some of my friends, because I am one of the biggest spoiler-phobes out there. I have always hated knowing anything about books, movies, or tv shows in advance, I boggle at the people who read the end of a book before the beginning, and I usually don't read the book jacket before reading the book, because it often spoils a key element of the book. And don't even get me started about Entertainment Weekly cover stories, because those always spoil something about a movie or TV show. But you know what? For spoiler-phobes like me, it is all about, as Mad-Eye Moody would say, CONSTANT VIGILANCE.

This is all the more important because I live on the West Coast, so I see all shows at a minimum of three hours after they've ended for much of the country. When there is a finale for a big show, especially a big reality show where everyone will be talking about the winner, I stay away from the internet until I've seen the show, because I know that spoilers are out there everywhere. For every episode of Lost this season, I stay off Twitter and off Facebook until after the closing credits, because I don't want to know anything about what happens until I actually watch the show.

So when the finale of this season's Project Runway happened a few weeks ago, I was absolutely boggled that people had the gall to complain that they had been spoiled for the winner... on the Facebook page for Tom and Lorenzo, probably the biggest (and certainly the most fun) Project Runway blog out there. Then there were the people who said that they were spoiled by following Laura Bennett on Twitter -- Laura Bennett, former designer on Project Runway, who was hosting the big finale party at her home. WHAT? If you follow her on Twitter, would you not EXPECT for her to say something about the winner? If it is that crucial for you to go onto Twitter before watching the show (which, no, it is never crucial to go onto Twitter unless you're being arrested in Egypt or something), then you just unfollow anyone who you think may spoil you in advance. On Facebook, there is this handy little Hide button hovering on the side there -- just hide people in advance if you care about spoilers.

And people, especially if you DVR'd the show and are not planning on watching it until a day or so later, you need to recognize that the world does not revolve around you. I know, I know, DVRs have changed the way we all watch TV, sure, except that if you don't watch the show on the night that it airs, you need to accept that a whole lot of people around you did. I'm not saying that you can't DVR a show and watch it when you want to, just acknowledge that you need to do the work to avoid spoilers, and you cannot be all whiny if you decide to go to the Entertainment Weekly website, or onto a TV blog and then get spoiled.

And look, people, it goes the other way too. Don't spoil your friends on purpose! If you know that a friend hasn't watched a show, don't start a conversation around them about who died in the most recent actually good episode of Lost. If your friend lives on the East Coast and you live on the West Coast, don't IM them at 10:15 your time with "Oh my GOD, I am so angry that my favorite is gone from Survivor!" especially if they know who your favorite is. Because then you're just that guy who runs into a Harry Potter book 6 release party and yells "SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE" and you don't want to be that guy. And no, that's not a spoiler anymore, sorry people.

People who like spoilers and people who don't, we can all get along, we can, we just need to respect one another. That means not trying to make other people move to your side (spoiler lovers) and not getting upset that you get spoiled if you're in a territory likely filled with spoilers (spoiler haters). But please, spoiler-phobes, stop the whining, you're making my side look bad.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday Themeless Quickies

We are all kind of disasters over here this week, so today's Quickies are late. And also have no theme - besides awesomeness, because there are some great links in here.

Don't forget what Times Sqaure will look like after the apocalypse:
Times Square Evacuated for Suspicious Package (Gothamist)

And speaking of the apocalypse, Don't be unprepared for zombies: Zombie Preparedness Initiative (Zombie Preparedness Initiative)

Don't be afraid to take advantage of Visa. This time, it's their JOB: How To Make Visa Obey Your Every Desire: The Credit Card Concierge Experiment (The Blog of Tim Ferriss)

Don't ignore Barney Stinson's advice. Or his suits: How To Pick Up Women With Style (Esquire)

Don't underestimate boredom or bacon: You Had Me At Bacon (Bitchin' Kulture)

But Don't think bacon goes well in EVERYTHING: San Francisco Bacon Camp. Brownie attended Bacon Camp over the weekend, and gives a thumbs up to bacon hot sauce and bacon cornbread, but a thumbs down to bacon brownies. Irony! (Laughing Squid)

Don't mock geeks - this is actually pretty great: My Handmade Hobbit Hole - Bag End From Lord of the Rings (Mads Hobbit Hole)

Don't think Twitter is on the cutting edge: Twitter Updates, the 18th Century Edition (WSJ)

Don't blame us if you're pissed after you see this: Visual Guide to Facebook's Privacy Changes Over Time (Huffington Post)

Don't wear complicated shoes if you're going to get this wasted: Wasted Guy at Coachella 2010 (YouTube)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Don't Overcomplicate Motherhood

My daughter had her first snotty nose last week. (How did we go nine months without having to deal with baby snot? I think we worked with lepers in a past life.) So I asked the leader of my mother/baby group for any tips she had for successfully suctioning the baby's nose.

What I wanted was some sort of ninja hold whereby I could still the baby's flailing arms, legs, and head with one hand and get the bulb up her nose with the other. What the woman suggested was buying a $15 device that sounded even more difficult to use than the two-dollar one I already owned. Which leads me to today's topic: Don't make motherhood more complicated than it already is.

One of the biggest baby trends today, something I had never heard of until I had a kid, is making your own baby food. Not, like, cutting up the banana so she doesn't choke on it, but buying sweet potatoes and brown rice, cooking the hell out of them, then pureeing them. And later pureeing chicken and potatoes and whatever else our mothers fed us out of tiny jars. Every mother in my baby group does this. I had an attack of mom guilt and told my mother this, and her response was, "Wouldn't you rather spend that time with the baby?"

Yes! Yes I would! Whew. Thanks, Mom. In that same conversation I was freaking out over all of the conflicting information about every single thing I had questions about, and she said, "Well, just pick the answer you like the best and use that one."

Now, my mother doesn't have any degrees in child development, but she raised or helped to raise seven younger siblings, four children, and seven grandchildren, none of whom have knocked over any convenience stores as of this writing, so I'm inclined to follow her advice. And I have found that her advice always boils down to "Do the easiest thing that will make you and the baby happy."

So I don't play my girl much classical music, but I put on the WFNX Leftover Lunch every day and sing Cure and Clash songs to her to develop her musical side. And I never even bothered to read up on "cry it out" sleep methods, because I already know that I birthed a mini-version of my stubborn self, who will scream until she pukes rather than give up and go to sleep. (This is not hyperbole. We had a stubborn-off early in her life, and I ended up covered in throw up.) Not that I have any problem with parents who do employ those methods, but when I hear mothers say, "I know I'm not supposed to rock her to sleep..." or "Everyone tells me to just let her cry..." I get sad, because getting through the day with a tiny human who not only can't tell you what she wants but frequently doesn't even know what she wants is tough enough without the added weight of unwelcome expectations.

You know, I should also clarify that if you like making your own baby food, I am totally cool with that. I don't ever want to be one of those people who looks at a mother who's trying her hardest and goes You're doing it WRONG! But if you're standing in your kitchen miserable and covered in mashed peas because you think it's what you should be doing? I promise you, the organic shit in the little jars actually tastes pretty good, and my kid's head hasn't started spinning around like The Exorcist in the two months I've been giving it to her.

By the way, my mother's response to the nose bulb question? "I hated those things. Just take her in the bathroom, turn on the shower, and wait for her nose to drain enough so that you can feed her." Thanks, Mom.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pop Culture Quasi-Quickies

Happy Friday! What a crazy week, am I right? Therefore, it's time for Quasi-Quickies - because why say just a little bit about something when you can say more? That's my motto, anyway.

Without further ado, here's a few Don'ts from this week in pop culture.

Don't Be The Lohans
I mean, where to even start? Don't be Dina, who takes her kid out to clubs right before said kid's court date, dealing with the kid's substance use problems. Don't be Michael, who sells tape-recorded conversations with his daughter to the tabloids and airs his family's dirty laundry on Twitter. Don't be Ali, who, at 16, is living with her (allegedly) drug-addicted sister, which is...not her fault, so, back to Dina and Michael. And, of course, don't be Lindsay. Sure, she's going to be in the sure-to-be-awesome Machete (no, that's not sarcasm - Grindhouse was the highlight of my summer in 2007), but that's about the only positive she's got going for her. She's being threatened with "serious jail time", falling into cacti, and just generally being a disaster. Of course, her parents' crazy doesn't help, but neither do blog posts wondering why we're all being so hard on her. Y'all, it's not about that she's "maybe having a cocktail," it's about that she can't get - or stay - hired, that she's taking her high-school-age sister to booze- and drug-soaked music festivals in the desert, that she's blowing off court-ordered alcohol education...and when a professional Lohan apologist (hi, that's me) can't make the professional apologies anymore, things are bad. Someone go check on Cody, please. Quietly.

Don't Forget To Tell Us You HAD A BABY, John Winchester
So Jeffrey Dean Morgan (the long-lost triplet of Robert Downey, Jr. and Javier Bardem, who keeps showing up on my TV as a dead guy) and Hilarie Burton (who got stalked, adopted, married and pregnant in six seasons on One Tree Hill) - two people who hadn't seemed to ever have SPOKEN to each other - apparently have a baby boy who is a few months old. We here at Don't Do That are totally on board with SECRET BABY being the new Hollywood Trend, so get on that shit, y'all.

Don't Miss This Girl's Awesome Crazy
I know nothing about gingerslam2 beyond the fact that she writes absolutely hysterical entries for Oh No They Didn't, featuring crazy tinhatting of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto (aka Kirk and Spock from Star Trek). Every one of her posts make us laugh, and, frankly, make two relatively boring celebrities way more interesting. Some publicist for other boring celebs should hire her. Alternatively, she could be ONTD's ambassador to the rest of the internet.

(Sidebar: ONTD, a formerly notorious bastion of ugly internet misogyny, has really stepped it up in the last year or so, don't you think? Less ugly, WAY more funny. Well-played, guys.)

Don't Blow Off The People Who Tell You About Good TV
Okay, okay, I know Daisy wrote about the total opposite of this. And yet! People have been talking at me about Friday Night Lights for years. I tried the first episode when it started airing, and for some reason it didn't stick (partly because this was Before Tivo in the Throatpunch household, I'm sure), and then it started streaming on Netflix and we accidentally watched six episodes on Sunday and now...well, this is me, telling you to watch it. I understand if you are annoyed and ignore me for a few more years, but in 2013, when you finally give in because there's nothing else on, I expect an email. You are welcome.

Don't Ignore Gabby's Birthday Wish
Remember how we told you about how awesome Gabby Sidibe is? Don't you think it would be extra awesome if she showed up on Glee? I know, a lot of people have Issues with that show - its portrayal of women, its overly-processed musical numbers, Matthew Morrison's white-boy rapping. But come on! You really think that Gabby would let them put her into their little box? Doubtful.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Don't Do That to Me, Lost


I am still incapable of any rational thought after last night's Lost. No spoilers here, but OH MY FUCKING GOD, right? I was sort of expecting one of those things to happen by the end of this season, but my God, not the others.

Because I can't string two words together about the episode that make any sense, here are people who can and did:

Sepinwall (who has now moved from his nice, clean looking blog with a full RSS feed to a bloated slow loading site with a two line feed, which makes me a little more angry than any TV critic's job change should)
Mo Ryan
Tom and Lorenzo
Celebritology from the Washington Post
What the producers said

And eventually, Doc Jensen will be up with something long and totally confusing at I'm now going to go read them all and cry at my desk.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday Quickies: Mother's Day Edition

We're departing from the usual Quickies format today to remind you: Don't Forget Mother's Day! As a daughter and a mother, I can tell you that it really doesn't matter what you get your momma--when I was a kid, I gave my mother silk flowers in a vase from the Christmas Tree Shop. I think it cost me all of three dollars. She put it in the kitchen and left it there until I came home from college one year and suddenly realized that she'd left that hideously tacky thing out for all those years because I had given it to her.

Of course, I'm not saying you should get your mom any old crap, but that she will cherish any gift you give with love, even if you wait until the last minute to buy it like I think we all do every year. (It's not just me, right?) So here are some ideas for the ladies who raised you:

For moms who love shiny things:
Wendy Mink Jewelry (ooh: 20% off through May 9!)
Melissa Joy Manning Jewelry
Coast Mountain Crafts' beautiful silk wraps.

For crafty moms:
Purl, for all her knitting needs.

For tasty moms:
Cookbooks nominated for the 2010 James Beard Award (Winners list)

For home & garden moms:
Yellena, fun & funky prints
Feral Glass, to make her garden glow

For literary moms:
Heather Jeany, handmade cards and stationery
Pocket Full of Poesy, quotes of note on blingy rings

For grand moms:
Eye of My Heart, a book of essays on grandmotherhood.

BONUS For Boston-area moms:
I Survived the Aquapocalypse shirts and mugs

(We're not getting anything to promote these stores. In fact, they have no idea we exist. We just like 'em.)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Don't Write Wrong

(An ALOT, the bastard child of stupidity and laziness, awesomely defined and illustrated by Allie Brosh at Hyperbole and a Half.)

While this post is about writing errors that drive me batty, I actually nearly titled it Don't Be An Asshole About Grammar, because I've kind of had it with people who think their ability to point out where you've screwed up affect/effect makes them morally superior to you. Yes, I agree that people who ignore grammar and spelling wholesale should probably be fed to wolves, but pointing out and/or judging the errors of writers who are trying their best means two things will eventually happen to you:

1. You won't be set up with somebody's cute, smart friend who rescues puppies in his/her spare time but can't tell the difference between "its" and "it's."

2. When you inevitably make a mistake, instead of politely overlooking it, everyone will point and laugh.

That said, here are a few mistakes that just about make me pass out from nerd rage every time I see them.

Baited breath

It's bated breath, people. It means "the condition of waiting for something to happen" and is generally used in moments of high anticipation. Which is why it kills me to see "baited," because I flash right to fishy-smelling breath and the tense mood is ruined. RUINED. Okay, really, I usually just giggle and keep reading, but it definitely throws me out of the story.

Sadly, in researching this, I discovered that since "bated" is so archaic that it's basically only used in this one phrase, "baited breath" may actually become standard usage. It's even used in Harry Potter. This makes me cry. But I am not the language police, so I may just have to get used to anticipatory fish breath.

All intensive purposes

I'll be honest, I'm pretty sure I say this in conversation all the time. But, you know, I also tell my daughter that she "ate good." My spoken English sucks. The real phrase is all intents and purposes and it's just a fancy way of saying "for all practical purposes." When I'm writing, I remember the correct phrase by considering that while you can be intense about your purpose, the purpose itself cannot be intense.

Bare with me

Roxy actually asked me about this one the other day, and I explained that it's bear with me, and she could remember it by thinking that "to bear" equals "to carry" and the phrase basically means "carry on with me." It's not an exact analogy, but if it helps anyone remember that the saying should not be spelled so that it means "get naked with me," it will have served its purpose. (Or you could try remembering the more formal explanation.)

Mute point

Or, if you're Joey from Friends, "moo point." I don't have any logical objection to this one, really, since the meanings of "moot point" (an irrelevant point) and "mute point" (a silent point, I guess?) are similar enough, in that they are both points that don't need to be talked about. I just think "mute point" sounds ridiculous. But it might be the longest lasting mispronunciation on this list, with an example dating back to 1749.

Mistaken homophones are a big point of annoyance among word enthusiasts, but usually they focus on the most common mistakes, so I'll just address two less-frequent screw ups that crack me up every time.


I don't know why I find this mistake so funny; I just do. Maybe it's that the meanings are so different. (taut = pulled tight. taught = past tense of "teach.") All I know is that seeing "taught tendons" or "faces pulled taught" kills me.


I totally know why I find this one funny! When one word means "face down on the ground" and the other is a frequently troublesome human gland, the inherent absurdity is comedy gold. Don't believe me? Read this and try not to giggle.

Okay, those are my pet peeves. What are yours?

And because I love you all and want everything you write to be perfect, here are some resources you can use if you're unsure about a word or phrase. (Or, if you're a word nerd like me, you can read for fun and education. I had no idea it's "card sharp" not "card shark!")

Common Errors in English Usage
100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in [British] English
Terribly Write