Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What Do You Want from Your Favorite Blog and Website?

In case it's not clear, you're on your favorite blog, and this is your favorite website. But we really, really, seriously want to know ... (this is your cue to hit that little "comment" button down there) What do you wanna read about/discuss here? What do other blogs and sites do that you really love? Which SirensMag stories do you like most? What makes you wanna click on over to the site? What makes you wanna click back here and hit that little "comment" button?

Go ahead, you can do it ...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

You Want to Do What Before You're 40?

I suspect you may relate to my admission that my life is filled with “to-do” lists. For the 21st century woman – particularly us Capricorns – the ability to keep track, to plan, to script, and to remind is a basic survival skill, on par with sleeping or eating … Hell, sometimes I need to even write those into my list, lest I neglect to take care of them (and man do I love checking off “eat lunch”).

In the to-do lists of life, though, there are trees, and there are forests, and it’s all too easy to forget the latter for the former. A little long-term listing can be healthy – the best way to keep ourselves starry-eyed and youthful, after all, is to keep those dreams and promises we once made ourselves alive and active. And I hate to blame it on The Man, but think of all the little things we manage to make happen because Society tells us we should: When we put our minds to it, we can find partners, lose weight, save up for new shoes. Just think what we could accomplish if we applied that kind of concentration and gusto to our grander personal goals.

For inspiration — because, yes, some things are worth a little warm-and-fuzzy reflection — click here for what some Sirens have put on their “Things to Accomplish Before 40” list ...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Coming Out Is the New Black

It's hard—at least among us liberal urban types—to be anything but happy that we're clearly seeing a critical shift in the rules about coming out in Hollywood: Namely, it's totally okay now, whether you play a guy women love to love on TV's No. 1 show, a very straight player on TV's most underrated sitcom, or a tough chick in, well, anything that needs a tough chick. But what's even cooler is that it doesn't even seem like that big a deal anymore (Lance Bass People magazine covers and the aforementioned rather cagey outing of Michelle Rodriguez aside).

In fact, I really wish straight stars' personal exploits could be handled in the same straightforward, unapologetic, whatever kinda way. If you answer every question with, "Yeah, so what if I am?" it takes a lot of wind out of the story. If there's no room for weeks and weeks of speculation, there's nothing to keep covering.

Look, I'm no fool—I cover celebrities for a living and am actually required by my job to read the likes of Us Weekly regularly. I know these things won't go quietly into the night; they're big business right now. But it's up to everyone to stop caring about these things so that they fade away—and stop polluting our entire society's views of what relationships are, aren't, should be, and can be. Meanwhile, we can all take a lesson from T.R. Knight, Neil Patrick Harris, and other stars who do it right—there is something to be said for running your own relationship like a (smart) celebrity.

Biz Travel in Tight Times

Times are tight in corporate America these days, which means a career girl can't simply work her way down the five-star list on her company's dime anymore.

We’ve been in that panicky position of picking a totally untested hotel while on the line with travel services—or trying to set up a business meeting only to stammer, “Uh, I don’t know, where do you wanna go?” So we’ve culled together our picks for more modestly priced (but still plenty posh) lodging and dining in four big business travel cities. We’ll even let you take the credit when those auditors pat you on the back for saving the bottom line.

Of course it used to be cool when you could grab those pricey hunks of meat this city is known for at critical darling Charlie Trotters or celeb fave Gibsons Steakhouse, but how to explain those $100- to $200-per-person price tags? Instead, meet up at Maggiano’s Little Italy — yes, it’s a chain, but that only means there are more of them around to choose from. And once you see the wine selection and taste the heaping portions of food (the four-cheese ravioli with pesto Alf redo is pure pasta heaven), you’ll forget there were ever other options on the table. Or impress your clients with your local know-how by grabbing pizza at Gino’s East — the Windy City’s known for the deep-dish, but the thin crust is what keeps real Chicagoans coming back. Accommodation-wise, check into The Seneca Hotel & Suites, a boutiquey place just a block off the Magnificent Mile but tucked away on a quiet, tree-lined street. Or try the Congress Plaza Hotel for that old-Chicago glam feel at reasonable prices.

Los Angeles
Okay, so maybe Aubergine and Spago are no longer options. Whatev — we’re so over Wolfgang what’s-his-name anyway. Try A.O.C., which has about a bazillion yummy tapas items and cheese plates—plus fantastic wine—that will keep everyone in your party happy. Or hit Luna Park, where you’ll be so taken with that trendy-yet-cozy atmosphere L.A. does so well and the mini s'mores setups that you’ll barely remember to order entrées (but do because they're good). And when it’s time to go to sleep at night, opt for the Sunset Marquis — which, though hardly cheap, doesn’t come with the sticker shock of a L’Ermitage or Four Seasons. And somehow its intimate pool area, mood-lit bar, and just-off Sunset location will make you feel even more like a star ... For two more fab cities, click here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Cheese for Every Mood

It melts, it crumbles, it spreads, it squishes … cheese is the perfect food, really. What else can go with meat, vegetables, grains, and fruit, as well as other dairy products? And before you get all worked up about "fat content" and "cholesterol" and all that, ree-lax. Cheese has calcium, which all women need more of as they get older. It also has protein, which a lot of us forget to consume enough of. And by the way, moderate consumption of dairy products (we're not talking about chowing down on a Velveeta loaf here) actually speeds the body's metabolism. And cheese has that comfort-food quality that works wonders on your moods: We challenge anyone not to perk up at the taste of a grilled cheese on a rainy day.

But we've found that it does more than just comfort us when we're feeling gloomy. It can indulge and enhance all your ups and downs (and trust us, we’ve got plenty of those around here). From arousal to anxiety, we’ve matched some our favorite varieties to our many moods ... for more click here

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Some Good News, Finally

So the energy around pretty much, like, EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD, has been dark and depressing and just plain bad. Astrology types say Mercury is in retrograde, and it will be through the next two weeks. I say: Ugh. Also: Blech.

Approximately a dozen people in or near my social circle are going through breakups, some are just going on bad dates, some can't catch a break at work, some who run websites (who could that be?) had to beg and plead with their host companies to fix a fatal error that trashed their last year's worth of work, and most of us are having general existential crises. Also, it is raining.

All of that said, good things—at least relatively speaking—started to happen yesterday. First, Britney and K-Fed broke up. Second, the election results didn't totally suck. Third, news of Britney's divorce did not overshadow that of the elections.

The world has not completely lost its mind. I'm trying really hard to take solace in that.

For a bunch more election day chatter, visit the blog run by SirensMag's brilliant political editor, Allison Hantschel.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Safety Dance

The day I arrived at college there was an orientation seminar. How to talk to your professors, how to get along with your roommates, how not to be that girl at the party who does 15 tequila shots and has to be taken to the hospital.

How not to get raped.

There were elaborate rules laid out for young women, meant to keep them safe. Don't walk alone after dark, call a friend to come and walk with you. Don't go places with strange men. Don't let people buy you drinks. Don't go to parties without at least one friend knowing where you are at all times.

Don't ever, ever, ever take the dark path down by the lake to the dormitory after 9 p.m.

Sensible advice. Reasonable advice. But deep down, it was just one more "Don't want men pawing you? Don't dress like a slut" lecture out of the male-female dark ages. If you walked alone at night, you were asking for it. If you had the temerity to venture out on the streets where you lived, you should have expected something bad to happen to you. If you let some guy pour you a beer, what, did you want to get assaulted?

Raped? Wouldn't have happened if you'd just followed the rules. It's all your fault. Again.

That seminar came back to me recently as I thought about our present national security "debate."

Don't take liquids on airplanes, it isn't safe.

Don't make international phone calls, or we'll have to wiretap you, it isn't safe.

Don't leave your backpack sitting on your seat while you get up for a pack of cigs at the bar, or we'll evacuate the building, it isn't safe.

Don't pay cash for your airline ticket, it looks suspicious, we'll have to strip-search you, even if you're 80 years old.

Don't act this way, that way, any way, because it isn't safe.

Somewhere in the past six years, as we've debated national security with slogans and signs, we've focused all our energy in discussing the individual's safety, instead of society's. How can I be safe, instead of how can we be safe ... Click here to read the complete story.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween Ain't Over

It's my favorite holiday. I have been a pirate, a gypsy, a flapper (more than once) and this year a geisha. I love giving candy to kids--but scaring them first. I love Victorian Halloweens and candied apples and old-fashioned spook houses with bowls of peeled grapes for eyeballs and boiled spaghetti for guts. I love Old Hallow's Eve, the skull and crossbones, the witch's cauldron, playing dress up, sneaking from house to house, apartment to apartment, club to club, in search of goodies.

Halloween is proof that things can be spooky and fun at the same time. I don't react to fear well since 9/11. But yesterday, the sidewalks in my neighborhood glittered with lost sequins and stray rhinestones from all the costumes of the high school kids, putting aside their neat urban cynicism for one day--not Christmas, really--but Halloween, to dress up as lions and rock stars and giant butterflies.

We should always dress up--it's good for us to get out in full costume, in full makeup, and tear apart the town. It gives us girls the illusion of confidence, as we strut in slutty costumes (and any costume can be made stutty). It give the boys imagination, and the ones without costumes at last night's masquerade ball did not interest me or my corseted friend, Miss Julie.

Enough with casual fridays and Gap wear and boxers. Let's dress up again, and make it All Hallows Eve all over again.