The Official Rulebook on Children’s Party Decorum

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Let Buffy eat the cake.

Let Buffy eat the cake.

Hosting a child’s birthday party is stupidly stressful and I move to get back to my modest roots and reinstate the McDonald’s birthday parties of 1981. Goody bags? Here’s your Happy Meal. Games? Run yourselves ragged on that poorly constructed plastic labyrinth of fun: The Mcy D’z playground.

Where the rulebook? Every time I deliver my kid to Buffy’s Birthday Extravaganza, I just want the escape, I crave to hear those heavenly words, “feel free to drop him off and come back to 2pm.” But even then, I have to worry about the menacing dog or the delinquent older brother with the really bad skin who appears to be planning his own natural disaster. So, here’s the Official Rulebook on Children’s Parties:

To Drink or not to Drink? Even worse are the parties that are merely a means for the adults to booze. I’ve been known to take the bait and knock a few back with Buffy’s great aunt, but it never feels right, does it? Trying to swallow warm chardonnay while listening to some stranger complain about the public school department is right up there with hearing about dental work. Please, just stop.

Tie down that bouncy house.

Tie down that bouncy house.

Hosts and hostesses, stop urging parents to grab a drink when you’ve provided one bottle of white wine that’s been fermenting for an hour. I do not want to arm wrestle the grandma for a glass. And, really, I’m going to need eight screwdrivers to null the sound of the bouncy house mayhem.

It's not that hard, really.

It’s not that hard, really.

The Lost Art of RSVPs is Mortifying: Buffy’s mom & dad, we all know HOW busy you are, mostly because it’s the only conversation we ever have, “I’m so busy I forgot and spoon-fed Buffy gluten!!”, but here’s refresher: RSVP is a request for a response from the invited person. It is derived from the French phrase Répondez s’il vous plaît, literally “Reply if you please” or “Reply please”. So, if I am going to invite your bundle of joy to my little shindig the least you can do is call, text, email or throw something at me to let me know if Buffy is gracing us with his adorable presence. The same can be stated for adult parties (yes, I still throw some of those, too). Just do it, you’ll feel so much better.

Even Allison eats the cake. Sexy.

Let Them Eat Cake. Really, just let Buffy eat the damned cake. Nobody wants to listen to the insipid negotiation over having a slice of cake. Please, just let Buffy eat the cake, and the ice cream and the potato chips. It’s a party.

Watching the Detective. How did you get your house so thoroughly clean? We’re all engaging in some investigative research while attending these parties. I’m spending every moment wondering how people clean their house so well, but other questions I’m pondering include how often the parents get it on, if they have a housekeeper, how much the parents love/loathe each other and I’m also scouring the joint for pictures from their youth. Just beware, we’re all doing it.

Cheers to the kid that recently greeted me at his elaborate front door with the greeting, “we’re rich, and we have tennis courts!” Yes, Buffy, you are rich and you do indeed have tennis courts. Unfortunately, your home birthday party was still a terrible bore, your parents appear to tolerate each other’s presence and your aunt is a lush. Happy Birthday to you!

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Book Review: Susannah Cahalan’s Brain on Fire

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Not an easy read, but a good read.

Not an easy read, but a good read. It will soon be a movie starring Dakota Fanning,

Susannah Cahalan’s Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness is an addictive book that tells the story of Cahalan’s nightmarish medical mystery that attacked her brain and struck her with madness for weeks before being properly diagnosed as a rare autoimmune disorder. Cahalan, a New York Post journalist, was 24 years old at the time she began suffering from seizures that soon resulted in violent, paranoid and erratic outbursts. She was a driven, articulate, interesting and beautiful daughter, girlfriend and writer that woke up to find herself hospitalized for a month, surrounded by the best doctors in the world stumped by what was happening to her brain. Cahalan chronicles her insanity and her loved ones struggles to find out what depleted their intelligent Susannah into a catatonic, sometimes manic patient left without words and barely able to walk.

At first, there’s just darkness and silence.

“Are my eyes open? Hello?”

I can’t tell if I’m moving my mouth or if there’s even anyone to ask. It’s too dark to see. I blink once, twice, three times. There is a dull foreboding in the pit of my stomach. That, I recognize. My thoughts translate only slowly into language, as if emerging from a pot of molasses. Word by word the questions come: Where am I? Why does my scalp itch? Where is everyone? Then the world around me comes gradually into view, beginning as a pinhole, its diameter steadily expanding. Objects emerge from the murk and sharpen into focus.

I know immediately that I need to get out of here.

FROM THE PREFACE OF BRAIN ON FIRE

Cahalan lives to tell her story and her sheer strength as a journalist is evident as she investigates each doctor, every false diagnosis and reviews taped footage of her hospital stay. She interviews family members, nurses and doctors while providing a thorough understanding of the brain and its intricacies. There is not an ounce of vanity in Brain on Fire, Cahalan opens her life and her brain for all to see.

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

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Buy this book for your oldest pal.

Buy this book for your oldest pal.

Nickolas Butler’s smooth debut novel Shotgun Lovesongs is a poignant love story penned for the collective hometown we forget how much we love and miss. A mismatched group of music-loving Midwestern friends find themselves fleeing from, returning to, or being unable to leave their modest yet respectable Wisconsin upbringing. They adore each other and their hometown with a destructive and loyal fervor. The close-knit crew produces one wildly successful rock star, a defected rodeo cowboy and a few seemingly happily married couples. Beth, the sturdy, intelligent center of the group is loved by all and unaware of her influence on the men she’s known for as long as she’s known anything.

The book goes down like a smooth shot of whiskey bought for you by your long lost high school pal. Why do young adults run from the comforts of home just to be an unknown in a strange land? Is one’s first love the only real love? Are all relationships merely replacements for what once was? Butler tackles the sticky parts of growing up in a small town, failing and succeeding while one’s own little slice of Americana judges and applauds. 

The Golden Globes, Cameron Diaz lands a Madden, did Sia just save Shia Labeouf’s career?

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GG

Another month, another awards’ program to stomach.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were their usual breath of hot foul air breathed in the faces of Hollywood elite. Special thank you to both for publicly flogging Bill Cosby, he deserves every lash. Who is encouraging Cosby to continue with his ill-advised comedy tour? It’s so gross. I digress, onto the Globes. While I don’t criticize the fashion much because my own style blends Cyndi Lauper circa 1988 with grandmother chic couture, I can certainly pick on a few attendees.

Let's try some red lips, feathers and purple. It's time Jen.

Let’s try some red lips, feathers and purple. It’s time Jen.

Jen Aniston, if you applied some red lipstick and donned a big purple dress, I think we’d all forget about that silly Brad Pitt thing. You have not changed a highlighted hair on your head during your long career and the media can’t forget about your past because you don’t change. Please, consider something drastic.

KateHudson 1Kate 3Premiere of 'Raising Helen'Kate Hudson, you effervescent flower child with the visible clavicle, can you alter your California girl look? We are so proud of you for resisting the urge to have hit up Goldie for some C cups when you were a teenager, but must we be reminded at every award show? Please, I beg you for a high necked gown.

I wanted to cry too.

I wanted to cry too.

Chrissy Teigen and I looked alike for a brief second; she cried with joy over her husband John Legend winning Best Original Song from Selma while I cried because Lorde was robbed of the title. Yellow Flicker Beat is such a better song.

 Prince, you can do no wrong. The 60 seconds that you graced the Globes with your presence were the best moments of the show. More prince in everything.

The Week in La La Land

I want to be happy for perpetual cool unmarried girl Cameron Diaz finding matrimonial bliss with a Madden brother, but I

These tattoos may not age well.

These tattoos may not age well.

The Madden Bros., they're marrying well.

The Madden Bros., they’re marrying well.

notice his odd shape, and how uninspiring his tattoos appear and I start to feel bad for her. Much like my first wedding, I know that the hip kids were taking bets on how long the union would last. My bet? Four years.

How did these Madden brothers, of marginal talent, marry Hollywood royalty? Does Lionel Ritchie have to pass the peas to the Madden brother twins while trying to figure out which one is married to his daughter?

This is five minutes of pure, deeply uncomfortable joy. I enjoy this Sia song as interpreted by Shia Labeouf and Maddy from Dance Moms. I love that the video is bothering so many people and that it’s disturbing to watch.