The Three Questions I’m Never Asking Anybody Ever Again

Okay, so the first question you should never ask anyone is pretty obvious, because almost all of us have done it anyway. The question is, “When are you due?” And the reason you should never ask it of anyone is in case they’re not.

Theoretically you could safely ask this of men, but given the increasingly tenuous boundaries of gender, better to play it safe and just zip your lip. Because, really, if you’re a woman and you’ve ever been asked this when you weren’t, you remember. The moment burns in your memory even if (as in my case) it was decades ago. Pregnancy is a joyous occasion. Having a gut is not. Being reminded that you have a gut really is not. So, don’t ask this question. Even if you’re pretty damned sure she’s due any minute and she’s carrying twins.

The second question you should never ask anyone is, perhaps, less obvious, because sociologically, it’s a more recent development. Read more »

Is Watching Fifty Shades of Grey With Your Friends … Weird?


I won’t be standing in line to see the premiere of the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey on Friday. Nor will I be queuing up to see it with a bunch of my best girlfriends on Saturday, Valentine’s Day. My husband isn’t taking me to a screening for a date night. But apparently a lot of other people are doing all of these things, since advance ticket sales for the movie have surpassed those for any other R-rated feature ever.

In New York City, Lyss Stern is going to the movie with 50 of her friends. This is about 10 times as many friends as I have, let alone friends I could corral into seeing Fifty Shades with me. I blush if I watch sex scenes in movies when I’m sitting in my own living room with my husband. I can’t fathom sitting in a darkened movie theater surrounded by besties while a woman willingly gets tied up and whipped on-screen.
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Jon Stewart Is Leaving the Daily Show at the Right Time


For his own sanity — and, perhaps, for ours — Jon Stewart couldn’t have picked a better time to announce he’ll be stepping away from The Daily Show.

To understand why, you only had to go back one night before his sudden, shocking Tuesday retirement announcement and watch Monday night’s episode of the show. The topic: NBC’s Brian Williams and his apparent record of mistruths when relating anecdotes about his experiences covering Iraq and some of the other big stories of the last decade or so.

Stewart’s take? Maybe lying is bad, but Brian Williams’ lies weren’t nearly as bad as … Dick Cheney’s lies.

You know. The ones from a decade ago.

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9 Philly Missed Connections That Need to Happen This Valentine’s Day


It’s not easy to find love — especially in Philadelphia, especially in February.

But it’s not like we’re not trying. No, we’re trying really hard — from the Whole Foods check-out line to the Market-Frankford El — to make contact with fellow humans. Some of us just aren’t very good at it.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re nudging along some of the cuter Missed Connections posted on Craigslist during the past two weeks. You guys deserve to be happy, if only just for one fake holiday. (As for the gross guys trying to pick up Kelly Drive joggers? Ya’ll are on your own – and stop that right now.)

Recognize yourself? Get in touch! Don’t, but like what you’re reading? These people are looking for love on Craigslist — they’ll probably give you a chance.

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Would You Spend $200,000 on Your Child’s Bedroom?

So last week the Wall Street Journal filled me in on Dahlia Mahmood, an interior designer who created a lovely princess-themed bedroom for a Virginia client’s 2-year-old daughter a while back. The centerpiece of the $200,000 extravaganza is a bed shaped like a castle, complete with a walk-across parapet and turrets in which the toddler can store her dolls. It has its own elfin door, sized too small for adults but perfect for the girl, at least at the time it was built. (I assume there’s some other way for, say, the help to get in and change the linens.) The walls of the bathroom are painted by hand and adorned with Swarovski crystals. The … oh, hell, why don’t I just show you a photo? Here.

Ms. Mahmood’s work was just one exhibit in an article devoted to such grand excesses. Lindsay Dickhout, chief executive of the mobile spray-tanning company Million Dollar Tan, is building her girls, Stella, 4, and Presley, 2, a $70,000 princess playroom. It’s not going to be finished until next month, but it’s going to include a faux-gem-covered stage, a treehouse loft, and — oh, the wondrous whimsicality! — a miniature French café. “It’s going to be a pink explosion,” Dickhout told WJS, “with hearts and bows and crowns and tassels.” For now, Stella must make do with her $6,000 custom-made castle bed.

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Weed Cookies: My Fully Baked Ambien Alternative

Photos: | Photo illustration: Alyse Moyer

The last time I took an Ambien was a little more than two years ago. I was a couple weeks into the prescription and woke up feeling strange, even by insomniac standards.

I knew I wasn’t in any shape to take the El — or, God forbid, get in my car on a medication that inspired the term “sleep driving” — so I jumped in a cab and directed the driver to 15th and Market, an intersection that sounded familiar enough. Read more »

What New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait Gets Wrong About Political Correctness

Jonathan Chait, previously a senior editor at The New Republic and currently a writer at New York magazine, spent a great amount of words last week espousing the virtues of freedom, liberty, and being able to say what you want. The New Republic is seen as something of an institution in journalism, though not without its problems, problems which have been discussed critically and ardently by prominent members of the journalism community, including The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates. In December, the magazine suffered losses as many staffers resigned in response to a change in editorial direction. Chait was among those who resigned.

Now on solid ground at New York, Chait once a voice on the front lines liberalism at his old post, is using his new footing to push back on the criticism he and his colleagues received as editors at The New Republic. Chait’s missive is a challenge to liberal culture’s need for so-called political correctness.

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This Is Why Your Girlfriend Freaked Out When Missy Elliott Hit The Stage

Singers Katy Perry, left and Missy Elliott perform during halftime of NFL Super Bowl XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.

Singers Katy Perry, left and Missy Elliott perform during halftime of NFL Super Bowl XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.

My ears perked up as soon as I heard the opening notes to “Get Your Freak On” on Sunday night. It couldn’t be — could it?

But then, one by one, the Super Bowl party girlfriend couch snapped to attention. Then my phone blew up with increasingly excited emojis (perhaps there were no words, perhaps we’re all borderline illiterate at this point). This was happening — Missy Elliott was joining Katy Perry for the halftime show.

It’s not that Katy wasn’t great. She was beyond great, from her animatronic tiger entrance to her frighteningly catchy — possibly illegally so — medley of hits. I’m in the minority here, but I find her dancing to be fairly adorable.

But Missy Elliott?

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The Worst Ways to Choose a Computer Password

My son Jake came home from college this weekend to watch the Super Bowl with us — I think because he likes my guacamole. The night before the big game, he and I and my husband got to talking about computer passwords. Jake’s a computer science major, and he announced that the best way to choose a password is to pick any three random words out of the dictionary and string them together. (He said this proved it, which it well might, if I understood it.) I announced that that was stupid, because how would you ever remember three random words?

I grew up in the days when you only had to remember two things in life: your street address and your seven-digit phone number (and the first two numbers of that were actually letters). There was no such thing as identity theft, except on The Fugitive. Now I’m expected to memorize — and keep straight — dozens of different passwords that online gatekeepers to my bank, my work email, my home email, my Twitter account, my Amazon one-click account, my primary-care physician’s health portal, etc., etc., etc., decree must be between seven and 10 characters, or must be at least 11 characters, or can be no more than five characters, or must contain at least two letters or can contain no letters or must be all lower-case or must include at least one upper-case letter and the name of one living ex-president. Read more »

Which Girl Scout Cookie Best Represents Your Philly Neighborhood?

In theory, the Girl Scouts’ cookie drive is a simple fundraiser.

In practice? It’s a merciful beacon of light in this mess we call winter in Philadelphia, the absolute only chance you’ll have at joy or hope until, say, mid-April. Girl Scout’s honor, this place sucks in January.

If you’re like us, you already bought a box or 15 (y’all are doing the Lord’s work, troop 82136). You probably didn’t bother to match up each cookie with a Philadelphia neighborhood, but that’s where we come in with our free time and our cabin fever.

Just in time for cookie season, this is the neighborhood guide you never knew you (sort of, maybe) wanted.

(Note: As you may have noticed, the names of some Girl Scout cookies have changed in certain markets. We’re sticking with the far-superior original names. Peanut Butter Sandwich vs. Do-Si-Do? Get outta here.)

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