Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Polar bear plunges

I love the water. I hate the cold. But in the Rochambeau of my preferences, cold trumps water by a nautical mile because I can’t wrap my mind around polar bear clubs, those collections of brave souls who drop trou and run into the water to celebrate New Year’s Day or some such bullshit holiday. Dudes, that’s what drinking champagne and bungling the lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne” is for.

I can’t bring myself to jump in and out of a plunge pool after a sauna or hot tub. I can only walk into an alpine lake up to my ankles, no matter how sweaty the hike that preceded it. And it takes me a long while to ease into the ocean, even if it’s Florida in August. A polar bear swim isn’t on this girl’s bucket list.

If the folly of diving into icy waters isn’t enough—isn’t the Titanic survival rate cautionary tale enough?—there are the naked polar bear plunges, often for men who haven't seen this side of sixty for many, many years. I don’t want to see that when you’re warm and erect. I certainly don’t want to see your twigs and berries shriveled or hiding between your legs like the latest winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race. That’s a cold-blooded chiller.

I can do things that are good for my health that don’t require the bracing winter waters of a northern lake, sea, or ocean, such as nutritional supplements, Pilates, kale salad, cardio. The only way I want to experience an icy liquid is in a rocks glass. 


Tuesday, March 24, 2015


I’m going to make a bold statement: Evites are the downfall of manners and etiquette. 

Evite burst onto the scene in 1998 and quickly became part of the fabric of our lives, hooking us with its ease of use and transparency.'

And once the site reeled us in with cutesy-wootesy birthday and cocktail party templates, we got lazy.

Too lazy to send proper invites. I just heard today about an evite that was sent out for a small memorial service for a classy, elegant woman. She deserved better. She deserved hand-written invitations on 100-pound cardstock. If you’re having a housewarming party for everyone you know, pick a festive design and evite the shit out of your shindig. If you are having an intimate get-together to mark a significant event, care enough to send the very best. Get thee to a Hallmark, y’all.

Too lazy to explore other options for gorgeous, functional online invitation tools that aren’t littered with ads and a slow user interface. I only find out about sites like Paperless Posts when friends more adventurous than me invite me to something.

Too lazy to RSVP properly or at all. Evite notifies guests on the invite list by sending e-mails but it doesn’t include the event details. So people often don’t even bother to click through to the actual information, let alone reply. And if they do reply, they get a chance to sit on the fence with a “Maybe.” In my day, you either responded with a “Yes” or “No,” not a “I’ll try to come but I might be on a deadline.” I call bullshit.

And yet, I can’t bring myself to just say “No.” The allure of being able to peruse a guest list is irresistible. Is my frenemy going to be there? Is my former lover planning on coming with a +1? Are my favorite people opting out, leaving me to make stilted chitchat with that horribly dull man who never ever asks me a question about myself? Is that fashion plate coming? If so, that means I have to step up my sartorial game for the night. Evite allows us to make quasi-informed decisions regarding attendance without peppering the host with inappropriate questions.

So am I going to finally kick evites to the curb? “Maybe.” But I’m also indulging my love of stationery and loading up on some letterpressed invitations for my next soirée.

Monday, March 23, 2015


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

That adage works for things like your favorite lasagna recipe, but does it really work for an online transactional site like PayPal? I want their engineering team to be constantly upgrading security measures and improving their user interface so they never are in a position to fix anything. 

I will admit that PayPal did finally—after decades of a crappy site that looked like something designed for $500 by a self-taught web designer—retool the site. So there’s that. 


As a seller, it’s still a pain in the ass to navigate your way to saved buy buttons or to create new buttons for products or services. For providing this service, PayPal takes 3 percent for every online payment. I saw Office Space; those pennies add up every time PayPal transfers money from someone’s bank to yours. 

But the real reason to punch PayPal in the face is, as a buyer, I could be providing detailed financial information to a hacker in a remote North Korean village. Like He-Man, PayPal has the power. And they often wield it indiscriminately, locking accounts for no reason and providing terrible to nonexistent customer service. 

Do I really want to trust my checking account or credit card info to the likes of PayPal? No, but the real burn is that I have no choice in the matter. PayPal is the only game in cybertown and I have to PayPal to play.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Nail art

I’ve slowly but surely turned into a fuddy duddy, a finger wagger of the first degree. I don’t like exposed bra straps and still believe in slips. I think hair colors not found in nature are stupid (I’m looking at you, Nicole Richie and Kelly Osbourne). And I find nail art to be like nails on my beauty chalkboard.

I prefer short nails in one color, often Black Onyx or Russian Navy. I don’t like talons that have been whittled down to the point where they could pick a lock. And I certainly don’t like nails with crazy designs and different colors.

My distain stems from several reasons. One, fingernail designs and colors can skew trashy, like Hello Kitty just got hired at the Bunny Ranch or Tara Reid, well, just Tara Reid.

And I know nail art is anything but cheap, unless you’re using the press-on variety. I rarely paint my nails because it chips so fast. Getting your favorite team’s logo or a complicated basketweave pattern on your fingertips just seems like an expensive venture for such as short lifespan. I’d rather put that money in my pocket, not on my hand.

And if you’re doing it at home, it invariably looks sloppy unless you’re ambidextrous and detail-oriented. You start out with the best of intentions and bottles of pink, green, and yellow polish and wind up looking like a crazy colorblind person wearing a botched craft project.

And I finally put my finger on it: the biggest reason that I turn away from these manic-cures is that they pull focus. I want people to look at me, not my clothes, accessories, and beauty choices. I’m not a vehicle for miniature portraits, landscapes, and abstracts; I am the work of art. My manicure doesn’t make me interesting; it just makes me polished.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cold brew coffee

Just when I thought coffee culture couldn’t get any more precious, cold brew coffee shows up to the delight of coffee snobs and the dismay of pretty much everyone else.

The hot drink equivalent of small-batch spirits, cold-brewed (or pressed) coffee is produced by steeping coffee grounds in chilled or room temperature water for 12-plus hours. 

Hipsters far and wide are queuing up for this new brew, which makes the coffee less bitter (while jacking up my own bitterness) because the coffee beans never make contact with actual hot water. This coffee concentrate can then be heated up and added to water or milk for a supposedly transcendental coffee experience.

Cold brew coffee has been popping up around town, with some bars even offering the coffee on tap or in growlers. This translates into lumbersexuals everywhere coming in their artfully distressed jeans.

I hate to throw cold water on this, but if you need a cuppa joe to get your rocks off, you might want to rethink things. A sweet cup of coffee is a wondrous thing, certainly, but it will never beat out a sweet piece of ass. Sip on that.


Friday, March 20, 2015


Well, duh. 

Way to state the obvious, Einstein. Of course we’re blessed. We live in a privileged society with fluoride in our tap water, computers and flat-screens in every home, organic chickens in every pot, access to health care, and Beyonce. We shop at Goodwill because it’s cool.

Adding a hashtag that telegraphs your gratitude and piety wastes 8 characters and clues in your tweeple that you are an unoriginal windbag who’s humblebragging your sweet-ass anointed life (Gwyneth) or trying to cover up the fact that you’re just happy to be here (Lindsay). Either way, it sounds insincere.

Put the #blessed to rest. Swap it out with something that conveys what you’re actually thinking. Instagramming your engagement ring? #couldabeenbigger Tweeting about the French toast your kids surprised you with? #chokingdowngluten Commenting on an unflattering throwback Thursday photo that a childhood friend posted and tagged you in? #paybackisabitch

I guarantee that you’ll get retweeted. #amen 


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Buzzfeed quizzes

I thought I was so smart, managing my social network feeds. I opted out of seeing a certain frenemy’s posts (The “Gwyneth Paltrow of Seattle,” you’d hide her updates, too). I turned off all notifications for Oregon Trail, Farmville and every other bullshit Facebook game. I avoid the various name generator tools. I don’t have a burning need to know how John Travolta would mangle my name.

But I can’t seem to shake the quizzes, oh the horror, the quizzes. They started out benignly enough. I took a two-minute break to find out if a Buzzfeed Quiz could deduce, based on my language and pronunciation preferences, which part of the country I’m from (spot on). I was even curious to find out which typeface I was (a super twee handwriting font that nobody’s handwriting actually resembles).

But then, the inanity mounted. The navel gazing went to a microscopic level. Which Breakfast Club character/breed of dog/color/Dr. Who are you? Which Hogwarts house do you belong in? Which Disney cat should be your pet? Are you more Lorelei or Rory Gilmore? Is this sort of self-reflection and self-awareness helpful or necessary? What kind of insight can be gleaned from finding out which celebrity man bun I am?

Admit it, you hate yourself just a TINY bit for taking the bait and taking the quiz (I’m the Leonardo DiCaprio man bun, by the way). That’s two minutes of your life that you can’t get back. It may not sound like much but that shit adds up. Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, how do you measure, measure a year? The creators of Rent weren’t envisioning 262,800 quizzes you’ll forget about as soon as you answer question 10. You could have read a great article, left a loved one a voicemail or told someone off in the library parking lot, worked on a crossword, gone number two. Better alternatives to these quizzes lurk everywhere, even in the john.

Andrew Peña/