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/

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


My name is Jennifer Worick and I am a geek. A Coke-bottled, bookworm, comic book-reading, Nerdist-loving geek. But apparently, I’m not a cool one.

I have never been to Comic-Con. And I don’t have a closet filled with Logan’s Run, Xena, Zira, Bellatrix Lestrange, or Jem and the Holograms costumes. I’m just a run-of-the-mill geek who, sad to say, doesn’t own any wigs.

And I’m okay with that.

See, I’m also a grown-ass person. Everyday isn’t an opportunity to recreate Halloween and indulge in a flamboyant case of arrested development. I get it, Stormtrooper, I get it. You were a kid with Star Wars sheets who doesn’t currently have a girlfriend and wants to take out your agro-bro feelings under the guise of white plastic while trolling for a slave Leia who's DTF. And sexy Uhura with your skirt up to there, I know you had braces and crippling shyness as a teen so now you’re making up for lost time and looking for a Mr. Spock who will appreciate both your human and Vulcan sides. I bet you’d even settle for that Klingon over there, even though that goes against Starfleet regulations.

Take the lead from kids, who save the serious costuming for Halloween. Dressing up for every comic book, pinball, sci-fi, supermachiner, manga, Magic the Gathering, videogame, Trekkie conference co-opts what should be ONE special day and frankly, throws you into the same sorry bunch as Steampunkers and Ren Faire enthusiasts. You just have more interesting eyewear. 

So go away. Go to a galaxy far, far away. Wrap your knitted scarf around your neck and step into your TARDIS. Here's' hoping you run into some Daleks who are looking to exterminate a Time Lord. 


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Food restrictions

Going out to eat with friends or family is one of life’s greatest pleasures. At least it should be. But it turns into an exercise in frustration and mortification when that loved one has food restrictions.

Being gluten-free is child’s play in the face of folks who are trying to work a menu when they are avoiding dairy, nightshades, high-fructose corn syrup or sugar in any form, prefer their water filtered, and are currently avoiding eight major foods as part of an elimination diet.

This is when I’d like to eliminate them. Or disappear into the floor of the restaurant, after giving the server a sympathetic look and a massive tip.

We all thought Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally was a high-maintenance diner. While she might be the patron saint of these picky eaters, her requests for salad dressing or ice cream on the side seem downright quaint.

It’s great that as a society we’ve evolved to the point that we can cut out major food groups and pantry staples from our diet. It’s a modern first-world problem. The Irish weren’t in a position to cut out starches or any other foodstuff when the famine hit the Emerald Isle, for feck’s sake. And I bet a starving child in Burundi would be more than happy to down that lobster mac and cheese you just poo pooed, dairy, gluten and shellfish sensitivities be damned.

If you don’t want to eat something, navigate toward a more palatable dish on the menu or stay home and roast an organic chicken. Don’t ask the chef to change a dish he or she spent considerable time perfecting. And don’t broadcast your laundry list of food issues to the table. This type of extreme self care just comes off as an attempt to pull focus from what really matters—that lobster mac and cheese, of course. I’m packing Prilosec.

Monday, March 16, 2015


When strolling the galleries of museums both grand and intimate, I am always grateful for the discerning eye and expertise of curators even if I don’t always fancy the art itself.

In college, I interned at a terrific museum in Washington, DC devoted to art by women. I went on behind-the-scenes tours of other museums ranging from the National Gallery to the Corcoran, and sat down with curators for brown bag lunches to learn about what they do. I even helped take a Frankenthaler off the wall.

Respect, y’all.

But sadly the ranks of actual curators have been breached and sullied. Just like anyone can start a blog, print up 100 Moo cards, and call themselves a professional writer, so too can some yambag create a list of cured meats for a regional magazine or a collection of sunglasses or yoga pants for Piperlime.

So you eat a lot of sausage and like to shop. Do you have a PhD in anything remotely relevant? Is there any standard that makes you a bona fide expert in anything other than being obnoxious? And there’s the trend to call employees “content curators.” Call me crazy but in my day, that was an editor. So go ahead and offer your top ten list or opinion freely and often, but don’t call yourself a curator. The only thing you’re qualified to select and collect is my ire.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bay shrimp

I love shrimp, I do. So the description of “bay shrimp,” found on menus at crusty country clubs everywhere, sounds delightful to me, like the shrimp had been surfing some tasty waves off the Baja Peninsula before it was netted.

So, so off base.

Rather, bay shrimp are teeny-tiny versions of a grown-ass shrimp. These embryos look like they should have had more time in the water to gestate and become fully cooked. As they are, they look like they should be sent off for stem cell research instead of dressed with ranch dressing or made into seafood salad.

In lieu of a scoop of Bay shrimp, I’ll take two to three grilled prawns, thank you very much. Drop that pink larvae on a decomposing body so it can get to work or ship it off to some fisherman so it can be used as bait for something more worthwhile.


Thursday, March 12, 2015


I recently went to a new watering hole, all warm low-lighting and fancy bar menu designed by someone with interesting eyewear and a penchant for Copperplate. The drinks, with the clever names you’d expect from a hipster bar that requires a secret handshake to enter, were made out of exotic ingredients. My pal and I were parched so we just ordered up two Tanqueray & tonics.

No Tanqueray.

No problem. I can roll with a locally distilled and hand-crafted gin.

Minutes ticked by. The thirst mounted.

Finally, our server appeared with a pair of ginger-colored cocktails gleaming in their old-fashioned glasses. “Good news! We have this amazing tonic; it’s made from Peruvian tree bark.”

My face became the visual version of a needle scratching a record. Peruvian tree bark in my gin & tonic. That explained the tea-stained color.

Again, I’d like to think I’m open minded. But hell if it didn’t taste vaguely like cinnamon-laced apple. And it was as flat as Keira Knightley’s chest.

Needless to say, I sent that drink back to South America and gave my best stinkeye to the bartender. Excuse me, mixologist.

Hand-crafted bitters infused with rare herbs. Schnapps produced in a tiny Alpine hamlet only during avalanche season. Drink names that combine the mixologist’s last vacation destination with a weather phenomenon or natural disaster. No, I do not want a Cabo San Tsunami, Amsterdammit! What’s next? Vodka made from Brussels sprouts?

Mixologists are easy to spot. Their plumage comes in the form of a natty vest and they all vaguely resemble Joseph Gordon-Levitt. They have an extensive knowledge of Absinthe and the ruined men who loved her, are judgmental of anyone else’s cocktail-crafting abilities, and rejoice in taking half an hour to make a Ramos gin fizz (which, admittedly, is delicious).

While they follow spirits trends, they pride themselves on being an exhaustive repository on all things boozy. If you want the backstory on that 15-year-old Calvados, the mixologist is your man. But if you want a drink without a side of “I know better; let me make you a new and improved cocktail,” head to your closest dive bar. You can get pissed drunk instead of pissed off.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Ancient grains

Question: What is Amaranth?
  1. A city in the Holy Land where Jesus reputedly lost his sandals
  2. A flowering bulb similar to Amaryllis
  3. The latest celebrity baby name
  4. An gluten-free ancient grain
You probably have a frenemy who sings the praise of a gluten-free lifestyle when you’re tucking into Eggs Benny at brunch, so you know the answer is 4. You also know that ancient grains and their grassy-eyed acolytes need to be ground into a fine flour.

Along with spelt, ancient grains like quinoa and teff sound more like onomatopoeia describing a punch to the gut than a digestible alternative to wheat. And Quaker Oats had to go and get on the picky foodie bandwagon. They just rolled out quinoa granola bars. What’s next? Millet Pop Tarts? Kamut Krunch cereal?

Ancient grain devotees think there’s some magical quality associated with something that’s old, that rated a mention in the Bible. Newsflash: that prophet in Ezekiel eating millet? It didn’t give him the key to eternal life. Back in the BC days, they suffered a high infant mortality rate, plagues, short lifespan, and a host of problems that were not going to be cured by a bowl of wheat berry porridge. Now, if these foods had antibiotic-infused kernels that would keep my UTIs in check or heal a wound, I'd be the first in line to cook up this stuff for consumption or a poultice.

Ancient grains may be healthy but they’re not the way to the promised land. That’s what kale is for.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

TED Talks

Have you noticed something spreading?

Nope, it’s not the measles.

It’s the proliferation of TED Talks here, there, and everywhere. As well as that sentence, snuggled between the bizspeak and the chitchat: “Did you see that amazing TED Talk?”

When the TED conference series was launched in 1990, I loved the idea of talks on technology, entertainment and design, but like New Yorker cartoons, I didn’t know if they were for me. They were heady and mind-blowing, and catnip to the NPR totebag-carrying, interesting eyewear-wearing crowd. These video vitamins were good for me but sometimes hard to swallow.

Then TEDx happened. Community-organized talks sprouted up everywhere and I couldn’t keep up. I can barely stay abreast of This American Life episodes, WTF podcasts, and all the shit queued up on my DVR, what with my job and all. How am I going to find time to watch 10- to 20-minute videos on how to use a paper towel and bands that make their instruments out of vegetables?

Does every cul de sac have ideas worth spreading, or more importantly, ideas worth my time? I’m thinking no.

For every Brené Brown talk that truly changes your thinking, there’s a talk about the importance of ticking off your bucket list items. Nice idea, but I can listen to a Tim McGraw song for that, and that only takes 4:27 of my life, allowing me to step away from my laptop and toward actual bucket list activities.