Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons To Cheer Up This January

January 19, 2011

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

So in case you didn’t hear, Monday January 17th was allegedly the saddest day of the year. Based on a mathematical formula, sadness is predicted to peak on the third Monday of each new year. This is usually a result of post-holiday blues/failed New Years Resolutions/bad weather and the like. Some even refer to it as Blue Monday.

If you found yourself inordinately down on Monday – or any day this month – here are five reasons to cheer up:

1. You’re not Sarah Palin. Although she can seem sometimes like America’s Princess Diana, former Alaskan Governor and ex-Vice Presidential running mate Sarah Palin is having a bad month. In the aftermath of the tragic shootings in Arizona, Palin failed to adopt a sufficiently conciliatory and empathic response. Instead, she went on a tear, aggressively defending herself from insinuations that she was to blame for the massacre and painting herself as the victim, rather than the 6 people who died and 13 who were injured. (The press also played a hand in this, mind you.) A post-Tucson Gallup poll commissioned by USA Today found that Palin’s rating is at its lowest level since she burst onto the national political scene in September 2008. She is seen in a favourable light by 38% of US voters, while 53% have an unfavourable view.

2. You’re not Amy Chua. Amy Chua – a.k.a. Tiger Mother – wrote a chilling oped in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks back about the draconian tactics she uses to exact perfection from her two daughters. And the blogosphere hasn’t ceased talking about it since. (Initial WSJ article has 6,800 comments and counting…) As someone who wrestles with having high expectations for her children – albeit without denying them food, drink or bathroom breaks as Chua claims to – I’m not entirely immune to Tiger Mother-like tendencies. But, boy, is she in the dog house this month, especially among Mommy Bloggers. My colleague Joanne Bamberger likened Chua’s child-reading tactics to child abuse. Ouch.

3. You’re not Ricky Gervais. British comedian Ricky Gervais hosted this year’s Golden Globe Awards in Hollywood and the consensus in the American press, at least, seems to be that he bombed. I actually thought that with one or two exceptions, Gervais was pretty funny. (Watch his opening monologue and judge for yourself.) But the rumor is that he is persona non grata at the awards ceremony next year, which – not that you asked – he has no interest in hosting anyway.

4. You’re not Robert DeNiro. If you think Gervais stunk the place up at the Golden Globes, then Robert DeNiro really tanked. As a huge fan of award shows, I was totally befuddled by his acceptance speech for the Cecil B. De Mille Lifetime Achievement Award. This man needs to stop working in the Focker franchise and go back to real acting so that he remembers show to properly thank people for recognizing his amazing career.

5. You’re not Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Not a household name? This is the now-exiled former president of Tunisia who was just tossed out as leader of his country after ruling for – oh – about 25 years. We won’t feel too sorry for Mr. Ben Ali, who fled the country with 1.5 tonnes of gold worth more than $60 million. Still, it’s fair to say that it wasn’t a great month for him, either.

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And speaking of having a bad month, in case you want a quick update on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s latest sexual shenanigans, here’s my post for Politics Daily.

Image: BAFTA 2008 – Ricky Gervais by claire_h via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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Roman Polanski, Julian Assange Battle For America’s Most Hated Figure

November 30, 2010

Amid the furor surrounding the WikiLeaks scandal, you’ll be forgiven for not remembering that the European Film Awards will be given this coming Saturday, Dec. 4, in Talinn, Estonia. What may also have escaped your notice is that Roman Polanski’s new film, “The Ghost Writer,” has the highest number of nominations.
Roman Polanski — remember him? He’s that really creepy European director who raped and sodomized a 13-year-old girl 33 years ago and remains a fugitive from justice in the United States . (If you want a quick primer on the case, read this excellent summary by my Politics Daily colleague, Eleanor Clift.)
When we earlier checked in with Monsieur Polanski, he was living under house arrest in Switzerland, after he left his home in France to attend the Zurich Film Festival in September 2009. In July, the Swiss authorities decided not to ship him back to the U.S. for trial on the grounds that American authorities had failed to provide confidential testimony about Polanski’s original sentencing procedure. As a result, he was declared a “free man” and he returned to his home in Paris (albeit with an outstanding Interpol arrest warrant in 188 countries).

Needless to say, it seems unlikely that Polanski will venture forth to Talinn to collect any prizes, should he win some. (The film is nominated in seven different categories, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay.) Earlier this year, “The Ghost Writer” (titled “The Ghost” in Europe) won Polanski a Best Director Award at the Berlin Film Festival, although he was under house arrest at the time and was unable to attend.

Read the rest of this story at www.PoliticsDaily.com

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Speaking of Wikileaks, here’s my round up of European reactions to the scandal on Politics Daily.

Image: varios 84 by fotos de camisetas de SANTI OCHOA via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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Divorce Hits Prime Time At HuffPo With Nora Ephron

October 7, 2010

Well, here’s a sign of the times. The Huffington Post is launching a new section devoted to divorce. It was conceived by writer/journalist/filmmaker Nora Ephron, who will also serve as founding editor.

In some ways, one’s tempted to ask: What took you so long? After all, as my colleague Bonnie Goldstein reported last week, marriage is at a historic low in the United States. And while U.S. divorce rates have declined slightly with respect to their all-time high in the early 1980s, they are still high by international standards. According to The National Marriage Project’s State of Our Unions 2007 report, for the average couple marrying for the first time, the lifetime probability of divorce or separation remains between 40 and 50 percent.

But, of course, it’s one thing to know that divorce is in the air and it’s another to say that out loud, as my colleague David Gibson noted last week with respect to divorce within Christian communities. Which is to say that when a mainstream publication like The Huffington Post makes divorce a special focus — on par with, say, “religion” and “politics” and “education” — that’s really saying something. (Full disclosure: I also write for the Huffington Post’s Living section.)

Read the rest of this post on www.PoliticsDaily.com

Image: Redesign At The Huffington Post by jessabean

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America’s 10-Year-Old Susan Boyle: The Newest Child Star

August 16, 2010

Move over, Susan Boyle. You’ve got competition. She’s 10 years old, she’s beautiful and, boy, can she sing.

In Tuesday’s episode of “America’s Got Talent,” Pennsylvania native Jackie Evancho knocked the audience off its feet with her rendition of the Puccini aria “O Mio Babbino Caro.” The judges could not believe their ears: During an interview with Jackie after she was finished, one of the judges asked her to re-sing a note — just to be sure they really were listening to a 10-year-old and not some offstage diva.

Read the rest of this story at www.politicsdaily.com

Image: Vocal Microphone by Magic Photography via Flickr Under A Creative Commons License.

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For those who are interested, I’m also over on Politics Daily today talking about the latest round of controversy surrounding the Lockberie Bomber’s humanitarian release from a Scottish prison last year.