This Halloween, Can We All Just Ghost?

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I committed a grievous etiquette sin last weekend. I pulled a Halloween ghost.

Let me explain, and see if you wouldn’t have been tempted to, too.

We were invited to the wedding of a friend of our daughter Marcy. Marcy was in the wedding party, so I had gone to the wedding shower as well. I’d dutifully bought gifts for both occasions. My husband Doug and I got dressed up on a Saturday and got to the venue on time. We’ve had the happy couple over to our house for a couple of parties. We’re not close, exactly, but we like them and wish them the best.

We enjoyed the ceremony (I cried), and chatted with acquaintances and strangers at the hour-plus cocktail hour. Then we found our seats for dinner, introduced ourselves to our table-mates, and made quite enjoyable conversation with them for a couple of hours while the meal was served. It was lengthy because it was interspersed with speeches and first dances. By the time the floor was opened to general dancing, we’d been there for four-plus hours, and frankly, we were beat.

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Crowdfunding Has Consequences

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Over two weeks this past summer, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge poured millions of gallons of frigid water over people’s heads and millions of dollars into the ALS Association’s coffers. (“Coffers”: one of those words used only in writing, never in conversation.) The combination gag phenomenon/act of charity caused a social media tsunami and quadrupled the foundation’s usual fund-raising take, drawing 70,000 new donors to the cause.

I thought about the Ice Bucket Challenge when I read in the New York Times about the “Table of Peace,” a nifty little jewel-bedecked item of 18th-century French furniture (see close-ups here) that made a guest appearance in Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way. (Fancy!) The table was in the Times because it’s the latest item the august Louvre is attempting to buy through crowdfunding. Turns out the French government has had to downsize financial support for cultural institutions for two years straight, so the museum launched a campaign to raise a million euros of the $12.5 million euro price tag set by the current owners, the family of the Baron de Breteuil, from the people. (Let them eat cake off of that, amirite?)

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Will This New “Sex App” Clear Up College Sexual Assaults?

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In his eloquent paean last week to watching porn, Daily News scold Stu Bykofsky equated the practice to stopping by the watercooler to chat with a colleague. There’s one essential way, at least, in which the two acts differ: One is solitary, and one is not. Stu cited the statistic that 29 percent of Americans say watching porn is morally acceptable.

I’m surprised the number’s that low. I don’t give a royal hoot who watches porn, though I’d prefer public officials not be doing so while they’re on the job. But what’s being called “Porngate” reminded me of a handy app that’s being pushed as the answer to the current “crisis” of sexual assault on college campuses. The app, Good2Go, takes the mushy gray out of “He said, she said” college sexual assault accusations by reducing the question of consent to a Wawa touchscreen condiment choice. Read more »

Women-Only Coworking Space The Hive Is a Great Idea

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Like a lot of people who freelance, I’m writing this post from my couch. My company for the morning? A clearly annoyed cat, a news anchor who has no business looking so perky, and a not-so-modest amount of toast crumbs.

Right about now, The Hive is looking like a wonderful idea.

Opening this fall in Old City, The Hive is a coworking space that follows in the footsteps of Indie Hall and Seed Philly (among others — plenty of us are getting sick of the crumby couch). This time around, however, it’s girls-only: billing itself as a “chic coworking space for the self-made female entrepreneur to learn, network and thrive,” this gorgeous 900-square-foot office is strictly for “queen bees.”

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Solomon Jones’ Quaint Views on Women, Men

solomonjones-400x400When this old world starts getting me down and people are just too much for me to face (doo-doo, doo-doo), I like to open the pages of the Daily News and find me some Solomon Jones. If you don’t know Mr. Jones, he is, as the Daily News describes him, the author of 10 books, the married father of three, and a parenting columnist. I can understand why he became a parenting columnist. On a planet that so often seems to be spinning too quickly, Mr. Jones is a calming influence, an anodyne presence, an antidote to the harsh rush of reality. Mr. Jones’s world is more akin to Mayberry or, perhaps, the land of the Lockhorns than the present day. One of his role models, after all, is Mr. Wilson, Dennis the Menace’s curmudgeonly neighbor from back when TV, and so much else, was black and white.

Consider, if you will, the piece he wrote not long ago (he has a weekly column at the DN) on the TV show Marriage Boot Camp. It was a small, gem-like riff  on how real life is much more fraught with hazards than any “reality TV” show could ever be:

On each of these occasions, marriage boot camp is in full swing. Someone’s going to start yelling, trash cans are going to start rattling and one of you is going to have to drop and give your spouse 20. You’ll have to give them 20 seconds to hand over the ice cream. You’ll have to give them 20 sentences of dialogue during the NFC Championship game. You’ll have to give them 20 minutes of affection when you’re exhausted. That’s marriage boot camp, my friends. It’s on every day at my house, and it’s probably on at your house, too.

Because, seriously, fellas, don’t you just hate it when your wife wants to talk to you during the big game? Don’t you detest it when you’re tired and she wants to cuddle? Women — so unreasonable and demanding, amirite? I can just hear those trash cans rattling! Read more »

Rich People Are Stupider Than You and Me

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Rich people, F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, are different from you and me, and there was a doozy of an article in the New York Times last Thursday that proved it. The story was about rich people who send their kids away to ritzy boarding schools and then buy or rent houses near those boarding schools so they can stay close to their kids.

Let me repeat: These rich people send their kids away to boarding schools and then buy or rent houses near those schools so they can stay close to their kids. This shows precisely how rich people are different from you and me: They’re batshit insane.

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No, Thanks, Really, I Don’t Want Another Dog

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I wrote a story for the September issue of the magazine about some very nice dogs. I started working on the story back in February, so for a long time, whenever anyone asked me what I was writing, I would tell them about these dogs. This provided an opportunity for people who knew me to say, “So! I guess you’re thinking about getting another dog!”

This was especially true of my two kids, who, when they were growing up, frequently accused me of loving our dog more than I loved them. There was some truth to this. Homer, the collie/shepherd mix who shared our lives for 12 years, never once kept me waiting, never couldn’t find his shoes, never talked back, never got arrested. It’s been five years now since we had to have him put to sleep, and I guess that’s considered a suitable length of time for mourning, because suddenly everybody is convinced I must want another dog.

“Don’t you miss when we used to take Homer for walks?” my daughter Marcy will ask, apparently forgetting that she frequently had to be hauled out of the house kicking and screaming when it was time for those walks. “A dog would make it easier for you to make new friends,” my son Jake will say. He’s become convinced I need to “make some new friends your own age,” as he puts it, like I’m a socially inept sixth-grader and he’s the parent. He recently guilted me into paying $220 for a special tailgating parking pass at his college, to fulfill some fantasy he has of me clinking highball glasses with the parents of his football teammates before the games. But he’s not going to guilt me into getting another dog.

I don’t want another dog. Read more »

Apple (Yawn) Launched a New iPhone and a Watch Yesterday

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I find it difficult to get excited about new consumer technology these days. It may be a sign that I’m getting older or cheaper, or perhaps a bit more jaded about how much easier things need to be. I already blame my iPhone for my waning ability to remember things, and I hold Netflix responsible for how much time I spend sitting in one place on weekends: Binge sessions of House of Cards have become a priority in my home.

I also find it difficult to get excited about big Apple releases (like yesterday’s) because I’m not quite sure that Apple is at the forefront anymore.

When I heard about the iPhone 6 release, I wasn’t all that excited. In truth, I haven’t really been excited about Apple since Steve Jobs died in 2011. I’ve had the 4s for as long as its been out and it suits me just fine. I watched the release announcement yesterday, not because I wanted the phone, but because everyone else was — I thought perhaps I missed something.

What was missed yesterday was an opportunity, at least from a branding perspective.

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I Just Can’t Even With Jezebel Anymore

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I remember back in the olden days when I first met Jezebel, the distaff online blog of the mighty Gawker empire. It was like stumbling into the best party ever. The women who wrote for it — Anna Holmes, Anna North, Tracie Egan Morrissey, Moe Tkacik (who worked with me at Philly Mag for a while) — were like the coolest girls ever, except they weren’t mean to other girls, only to the rest of the world. I loved their writing, and I loved what they wrote about (even, a couple of times, when they were writing angry stuff about me). Jezebel felt like home in a way no other website I knew of did.

That was then. This is now — last Saturday, to be specific, when I clicked on a story on the site that was headlined, “Indiana Man Raped and Tortured His Wife Under Forced ‘Slave Contract.’” Who reads stories like that on a lovely weekend afternoon? The sort of people who love Law & Order: SVU, which would be me. My excuse is that I’m interested in the human mind and criminal behavior and emotions and love and hate. Anyway, the write-up, by Isha Aran, was pretty much what the headline described — just your average Midwestern rape-and-torture-ordeal tale. What got to me — what made me send myself an email with a link and the all-caps subject line PLEASE WRITE ABOUT THIS — were the comments following the piece. Read more »

The War on Household Germs Goes Nuclear

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Last weekend I was at the Shore with my relations, as I am every August at this time of year. We’d just finished supper, and as some of us got up to clear the table, I began putting the leftovers away. I packed some rice into a bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and went to put it in the fridge. “You’re not going to put that in there now, are you?” my cousin Joan asked in horror.

“Why not?”

“If you put leftovers covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator before they cool down, they’ll give you cancer,” she said.

“What?” I said. “I never heard of such a thing.”

“It’s true,” my cousin Pam said, in a rare instance of backing up Joanie. “Some kind of chemical collects on the underside of the plastic wrap.”

“Did you ever hear of this?” I asked a nearby sibling.

My sister Nan shook her head.

“I think the fridge uses up more energy if you don’t let them cool down first,” my daughter Marcy said tentatively. “But I never heard of the cancer thing.”

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