Sunday, January 31, 2010

Big Girls Do Cry


One of the best parts of being a feature writer is perusing the piles of romance novels we receive for review purposes.

Unfortunately, the majority of those novels are never mentioned in the paper -- it's hard to write about them without the tie-in of a local author appearance.

"Big Girls Do Cry" was the exception to the rule. Its author, Carl Weber, signs books at 4 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble in Columbus Park Crossing.

So I had pleasure of reading the book -- all in the name of journalism, of course. What did I learn? Never discount a romance novel's worth.

Call them cheesy, but the books have an escapist appeal that's hard to find elsewhere. No matter how broke or stressed you are, you can't help feeling a little better after reading lines like these:

I'm sure I have only one purple thong, Leon. So I want to know, how did this get in the living room if I'm wearing my only pair?

What kind of woman leaves her panties behind anyway? She had to know they were missing with an ass that size.

Mister, the last time someone told me we had a friend in common, she ended up telling me it was my husband and she was sleeping with him.

What he didn't understand, and quite frankly what most men don't understand, is that when women get mad, all their parts get mad. In other words, Big Sexy's Sex Shop was closed!

(All excerpts are from "Big Girls Do Cry" by Carl Weber. Order the book here.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

What's going on this weekend?

Hey party people! Friday, Jamey Johnson and Josh Thompson perform at the Columbus Civic Center. Tickets are $22.50-$32.50 and the show starts at 8 p.m. Details here.

There's also a sci-fi convention, Gallacon, at Gallery 13 (1540 Veterans Parkway). Action starts at 5 p.m. Friday and $5 gets you all-weekend access. Read more here.

Here's the rest of your weekend lineup:

FRIDAY

The Loft: Peggy Jenkins and the Bizness, 9 p.m. $5. 706-596-8141.

VFW Post 665: The Last Rodeo Band, 9 p.m. $5. 706-687-6656.

Belloo’s: The Relics, 9 p.m. $5. 706-494-1584.

The Vault: Dueling pianos, 10 p.m. $5. 706-507-1440.

Daileys: Ophir Drive, 10 p.m. 706-320-3353.

SoHo Bar & Grill: PsykNyne, 10 p.m. $5. 706-568-3316.

SATURDAY

The Loft: The Good Doctor, 9 p.m. $5. 706-596-8141.

Daileys: Ophir Drive, 10 p.m. 706-320-3353.

Belloo’s: The Relics, 9 p.m. $5. 706-494-1584.

VFW Post 665: The Last Rodeo Band, 9 p.m. $5. 706-687-6656.

The Vault: Dueling pianos, 10 p.m. $5. 706-507-1440.

SoHo Bar & Grill: Burn, 10 p.m. $5. 706-568-3316.

We're pregnant!

Don't worry, Mom: I'm not making a life-changing announcement.

Instead, I'm discussing couples obsessed with using "we."

It seems like some daters enter relationships simply to incessantly use the term.

On some occasions, "we" is warranted. Exhibit A: "We will be there at 9."

But unfortunately, "we" has become more associated with unnecessary usage -- times when it seems to drain your significant other's autonomy. For example, "We totally hate that movie."

Then there are the occasions when "we" simply doesn't make sense -- like my biggest pet peeve, "We're pregnant."

Unless your significant other will be craving pickles and wearing elastic-waist jeans, settle for "I," honey.

As much as I hate the word, I understand the motivation for using "we." It reinforces a belief that strong relationships involve shared emotions.

Maybe that's why this study recently indicated couples who refer to themselves as "we" have stronger marriages.

It's enough to make me -- er, we -- reconsider my choice of language.

(via Jezebel)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

RIP, telephone

In the relationship world, have telephone conversations become just as obsolete as phrases like "going steady"?

Here, a Glamour blogger writes a humorous obituary for our good old friend Phone Call. An excerpt:

The Phone Call died a slow death. Its health began to decline in 2002 when unlimited text messaging plans allowed texting to become widespread. It is survived by millions of women who remember the way it provided a means for long-form verbal communication and an opportunity to show genuine effort on the caller’s part.

Sob, sob.

When it comes to romance, Telephone and I have had a rocky relationship. From high school until college, I was absolutely terrified to ask guys out via phone. I'd sit by the phone prepping myself for at least an hour before the call. No joke.

Once I attempted to do The Ask via AOL Instant Messenger. My date wouldn't accept the cop-out, and said I had to call him if I wanted a "yes." I obliged...reluctantly.

Still, I can't ignore the phone's more positive memories.

You know, the butterflies you get in your stomach upon seeing your crush's name first appear on your cell phone. Or the comfort of knowing that amid life's uncertainties, reassurance is just a ring away.

Weigh in: When you're dating someone, do you prefer to communicate by phone call or text message?

Why are you still single?

Don't worry: You don't have to answer that...even though I blame your unattached status on those unsightly nose hairs. (Kidding!)

This post's title was inspired by a NY Times feature profiling John Bowe, a freelance journalist and bachelor. Bowe produced “Us: Americans Talk About Love,” a collection of oral histories about relationships.

The point of the article isn't so much Bowe's project, but rather the 40-something's singledom.

He wears nice clothes. Cooks. Brews mint tea.

On the surface, the qualities seem to constitute what many women would consider a "catch."

So why is Bowe still single? He attributes it largely to a decision to choose a career over relationships, noting, "I think it’s a very arrogant gamble I made in a way. I’ll have time to set up a career that fulfills my spiritual goals and then have time for a relationship afterwards."

Does Bowe really deserve his own feature story? His predicament really isn't all that different from thoughts any single 20-, 30- or 40-something encounters.

You hit a point in your life when you become cognizant of the way seemingly minor decisions have affected your relationship status.

Wider social circles -- thanks, Facebook! -- make us more aware of the high school party comrade who now has four kids...or the college roommate who turned down her dream job to marry the perfect man.

It's easy to look at those examples and wonder, "What if I hadn't moved away?" Or, "What if I had given him another chance?"

But obviously, you can't go back in time...and those thoughts are bound to leave you envisioning dream-like scenarios that are both impractical and unhealthy.

Video: American Idol Dallas recap



Here's my "American Idol" video recap of Dallas auditions. You'll learn about the former "Barney & Friends" star who's now a dominatrix.

Get more information on my "Idol" blog here.

(Camera work by Alan Riquelmy.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Faking it

You stock up on cough syrup, cook some soup and sport your best Florence Nightingale smile...only to find your allegedly sick boyfriend doing jumping jacks in the living room.

Busted.

We've hit a time of year when it's common to complain about flu-like symptoms. And for every genuine ailment, there's about 50 people hoping they've finally mastered the art of faking an illness.

Here, YourTango discusses the tendency to extend -- or even fake -- illness to get extra attention or sympathy from your significant other.

Sure, it's not the best relationship practice. But sometimes you just don't want to let go of the warm fuzzy feelings that come with having somebody deliver you a bread bowl on a nightly basis.

Intent on faking illness? Check out Gawker's rules for calling in sick. Hint: Don't say you have food poisoning.

Video: American Idol Los Angeles recap



Here's my newest "American Idol" video recap about Tuesday's Los Angeles auditions. Get of a full summary of the show here.

Tonight, "American Idol" features Dallas auditions with guest judges Neil Patrick Harris and Joe Jonas. The one-hour show airs 8 p.m. on Fox.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Advances in Internet dating

Say goodbye to your favorite romantic cliche: "I love long walks on the beach."

That phrase could become obsolete if ProfileWiz catches on. The service writes an online dating profile for you, based on your answers to a variety of photo-based questions. The cost: $4.75.

It's not a bad deal, but it also makes it a lot more difficult to weed out weird people when perusing online dating sites.

The profile has long been regarded as an almost fail-safe screening device -- not to mention a way to determine if your date knows the difference between "whose" and "who's."

Weigh in: If you met someone online, and then realized he/she didn't write an original profile, would you break up?

Brangelina

They're the perfect couple, and they look totally cute together.

So why do you want them to break up?

Here, amid recent rumors of a Brangelina split, College Candy admits something that might as well be a form of blasphemy: Some of us want Brangelina to fail.

An excerpt:

Maybe it’s because we are all jealous she can wear a $20 thrifted dress on the red carpet and looking absolutely stunning. Or how flawless her acting career is. Or how she is saving the world, one person at a time. Or how she goes to bed with Brad Pitt every night. She is Angelina Jolie. She is perfect. And now it’s our chance to strike back a little bit; to savor the moment as Angelina’s perfect facade cracks a little and her world comes crumbling down.

Ouch. But strangely, I understand.

I've never prayed for a couple's demise. However, when you look at couples whose interactions seem flawless, it's only natural to secretly hope that behind closed doors, they're experiencing the challenges that characterize "normal" relationships.

Confession time: Have you ever wanted a seemingly perfect couple to fail?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wedding trailers



Tired of receiving "save the date" cards via mail? You ain't seen nothing yet.

Here, Salon discusses the growing popularity of wedding trailers. That's right: Your friends are making videos promoting their weddings.

Don't equate "popularity" with "coolness." As the blog post notes, wedding trailers can be incredibly annoying, with possible exception of the clip I've posted above (also via Salon).

What annoys me most about wedding trailers?

The videos reinforce a growing belief that in relationships, every gesture must be YouTube-worthy. That belief can detract from the romance that often accompanies sheer simplicity.

But if there's a defense for wedding trailers, it's that -- when executed properly -- the clips give couples a rare opportunity to showcase their genuine selves.

And sometimes, amid weddings dominated by appeasing relatives and adhering to outside expectations, that's a rare gift.

(Getting married? Check out reporter Katie Holland's wedding blog here.)

The shame game

How far would you go to shame an ex who hurt you?

I thought about the question after reading this article about a woman who bought billboards after the married man she'd been dating for almost 9 years decided to work things out with his wife.

The billboards featured the mistress posing with the married guy -- right beside quotations like, "You are my soulmate forever!"

I had a friend who learned her boyfriend was cheating -- and then promptly sent a letter to his family detailing his relationship failings.

Shame has never been a big post-breakup priority for me.

Being bad at relationships doesn't necessarily make someone a bad person, and it's a little unfair to make a public issue of what's supposed to be a bedroom matter.

Then again, don't ask me how many billboard slogans I've devised -- in case of emergency, of course.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What's going on this weekend?

Hey everybody! SoHo Bar & Grill hosts a birthday party for Vickie Carson, talent buyer for the bar, on Saturday night. Expect a free champagne toast, giveaways and a performance by Atlanta's Holdcell. Action starts at 10 p.m. and cover is $5.

Here's your full lineup:

FRIDAY

VFW Post 665: The Last Rodeo Band, 9 p.m. $5. 706-687-6656.

The Vault: Dueling pianos, 10 p.m. $5. 706-507-1440.

Daileys: Lazy Swamis, 8 p.m. $5. 706-320-3353.

Belloo’s: Claiborne & Friends with Lou Vandora, 9 p.m. $5. 706-494-1584.

The Loft: Peggy Jenkins and the Bizness, 9 p.m. $5. 706-596-8141.

SoHo Bar & Grill: Losing Adelaide, Ghost of Gloria, 10 p.m. $5. 706-568-3316.

SATURDAY

VFW Post 665: The Last Rodeo Band, 9 p.m. $5. 706-687-6656.

The Vault: Dueling pianos, 10 p.m. $5. 706-507-1440.

Daileys: Lazy Swamis, 8 p.m. $5. 706-320-3353.

Belloo’s: Claiborne & Friends with Lou Vandora, 9 p.m. $5. 706-494-1584.

The Loft: The Kicks, 9 p.m. $5. 706-596-8141.

SoHo Bar & Grill: Holdcell, 10 p.m. $5. 706-568-3316.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Love and video games

Lots of women say their relationship is characterized by one word: WoW.

Unfortunately, that's not a good thing.

That's because it refers to "World of Warcraft," a video game that often hooks players to the point of obsession.

Needless to say, date night isn't best spent staring at a somebody play on a computer. Even if your boyfriend does have really hot knuckles.

The Frisky cites a recent study that revealed 20 percent of women have dumped a guy over video games.

I'm not surprised.

Yes, video games can ignite a child-like sense of wonder in your guy. That's a little endearing.

But the games are also very time-consuming. Not to mention kind of violent. You know things are bad when you don't even blink after hearing, "Saturday was great. I killed two people."

Weigh in: Have you ever had a romantic dispute centered on video games?

What's going on tonight?

Hey party people! Here are some Thursday night party options:

Fountain City Coffee: Open mike, 8 p.m., no cover. 706-494-6659.

SoHo Bar & Grill: Almost Kings, Soul Stash, 10 p.m., no cover. 706-568-3316.

Belloo's: Martini tasting and Ladies Night menu with $5 martinis, no cover. 706-494-1584.

Shanty Shack: Poker at 7 p.m., "Gone Country" night, DJ Tiny Tim, no cover, 706-507-3418.

Video: American Idol Orlando recap



Here's my newest "American Idol" video recap. You'll learn all about the Orlando auditions, which were entertaining, but not as good as "Pants on the Ground."

Learn more on my "Idol" blog here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When nature calls

Don't drink three cups of coffee before entering a movie theater.

Few things beat the discomfort of knowing there's a really good love scene coming up...but wondering if you can hold out on your bathroom trip until that moment.

Fortunately, there's a Web site to ease your pain.

Visit RunPee.com for a list of appropriate bathroom breaks in a variety of popular movies.

The site compiles a list of moments where there's a lapse in action, and tells you exactly how long your bathroom stop must be.

(via College Candy)

The proposal that wasn't

It happens to almost every girl in a long-term relationship, even if you vow you're not "the marrying type."

Your boyfriend takes you on romantic trip, dresses up, buys a fancy dinner. After dessert, he hands you some roses before getting down on one knee. Your heart races.

Until you realize he's just tying his shoe.

The proposal that wasn't.

It strikes even the most careful victims, especially the ones who vow they're not ready for anything serious. Before long, you're rehearsing professions of love and planning your wedding party.

Then, you feel like a total goober when what seemed like a sure thing turns into just a false alarm.

Here, Glamour offers a hilarious story where one excited woman watched her boyfriend romantically reach inside his backpack...and pull out a bag of Doritos.

Ah, disappointment. But it makes for a good story, right?

(Not all marriage proposals are foiled by Cool Ranch Doritos. Ledger-Enquirer reporter Katie Holland is chronicling her wedding planning online. Follow her here.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Video: American Idol Chicago recap



Here's my recap of Tuesday's episode of "American Idol," which featured auditions in Chicago. The talent was a little underwhelming.

Get a full summary by visiting my "Idol" blog here.

Wednesday's one-hour show focuses on Orlando auditions. It airs 8 p.m. on Fox.

Green wars

Are fights about saving the planet sending couples to therapy?

Here, the NY Times has an article where some therapists report an increase in 'green disputes' -- fights that happen when a person thinks his/her significant other isn't being environmentally friendly enough.

Honestly, the whole thing seems a little silly...almost like a spoof piece you'd read in The Onion.

But it raises an interesting question about which divisive issues remain mere disagreements and which ones put couples in therapy.

In relationships, I think it's important to disagree on some policy issues.

For example, Alan and I have entirely opposing views on the medical world. He puts a lot of faith in it, and I'm usually the first one to criticize a medical opinion.

This issue comes up a lot in casual discussions. While we never agree, I've evolved to the point where I don't take his opinions as a criticism of our relationship.

Would those policy disagreements ever land us in therapy? I hope not.

Especially since, you know, I'm a little leery of modern medicine.

Monday, January 18, 2010

'A little bit married'

They sleep in the same bed every night. Share responsibilities for household chores. Own a pet together.

But they're not married.

Sound familiar?

This Daily Beast article points to a relationship trend among my generation: the long-term unmarried relationship. The piece is written by Hannah Seligson, author of a book that appropriately defines the trend: "A Little Bit Married."

The article describes some factors driving the mentality: postponed adulthood, career challenges, heightened access to birth control.

It's all pretty accurate. But even though more of us are becoming "a little bit married," I can't imagine the lifestyle has gotten to the point where it's something people actually enjoy.

Yes, there's some freedom in not having to put a label on your relationship.

However, I think many people enter into a "little bit married" situation with at least a remote hope it will eventually progress into real marriage.

Despite its convenience, relationship limbo can be incredibly grating. And sadly, extended stay in "a little bit married" territory often lands you in the land of "a lot disappointed."

(Not everyone's living in romantic limbo. Ledger-Enquirer reporter Katie Holland recently got engaged, and now she's chronicling her wedding-planning adventures online. Follow her here.)

Golden Globes: Thanking your spouse

Sunday's Golden Globes didn't contain any acceptance speech shockers. Few honorees used the opportunity to bolster their shock value, or make a controversial political statement.

And nobody forgot to thank their significant other.

I think it's a little odd how much we expect celebrities to acknowledge that being married is a central part of winning best actress or best director.

Sean Penn didn't thank his wife while accepting a 2009 Oscar for his role in "Milk." He reportedly said they discussed the issue beforehand and decided it'd be better for him to use the air time to speak in favor of same-sex marriages. Robin Wright Penn filed for divorce a couple months later.

Also, we all remember how much criticism Hilary Swank got for forgetting to thank her husband after winning her first Oscar. They're divorced now.

On the surface, having a spouse doesn't directly bear on your ability to be a good actor, actress, journalist or whatever. If I won a big journalism award, I'd like to think it was a result of my own dedication and diligence -- not some guy holding my hand and patting my back along the way.

But at the same time, especially in artistic professions like acting, your personal happiness can directly affect your professional performance.

What's more, spouses who deal with those professions deserve at least a slight "thanks" for putting up with their significant other's erratic hours and lapses in inspiration.

Weigh in: Is thanking your spouse an acceptance speech "must"?

(For more Golden Globes info, check out my co-worker Dawn's excellent coverage here.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

What's going on this weekend?

Hey everybody! Here's your weekend lineup:

FRIDAY

VFW Post 665: The Last Rodeo Band, 9 p.m. $5. 706-687-6656.

The Vault: Dueling Pianos, 10 p.m. $5. 706-507-1440.

Belloo’s: Big Woody And The Splinters, 9 p.m. $5. 706-494-1584.

SoHo Bar & Grill: The Killing Ground, 10 p.m. $5. 706-568-3316.

The Loft: Peggy Jenkins and the Bizness, 9:30 p.m. $5. 706-596-8141.

Daileys: Zero 2 Sixty, 8 p.m. $5. 706-320-3353.

SATURDAY

VFW Post 665: The Last Rodeo Band, 9 p.m. $5. 706-687-6656.

Daileys: Zero 2 Sixty, 8 p.m. $5. 706-320-3353.

Belloo’s: Big Woody And The Splinters, 9 p.m. $5. 706-494-1584.

SoHo Bar & Grill: Buck-O-Five, Delilah Why, 10 p.m. $5. 706-568-3316.

The Vault: Dueling Pianos, 10 p.m. $5. 706-507-1440.

The Loft: Tim Brantley, 9:30 p.m. $5. 706-596-8141.

Ask me anything

One of my most endearing (read: annoying) traits is my obsession with hearing stories.

When I feel comfortable enough with somebody, I'll utter this line about 596 times a day:

"Can you please tell me a story?"

Weird, I know.

Blame it on my inner journalist. I'm fascinated by people's backgrounds. I love analyzing a person's perception of his/her past. And I really believe your supply of stories is limitless -- the question is really how much of those you're willing to share with the rest of the world.

Anyway, my story fascination sparked when TresSugar directed me to Formspring, a new social networking site that lets users send and receive anonymous questions. For instance, I signed up this afternoon and got questions like this in my inbox:

What's one thing you own that you should probably throw away, but never will?

While Formspring hasn't quite reached Twitter's status, it highlights some interesting ideas.

Yes, the site reflects my generation's willingness to over-share, but its existence also suggests our real-life conversations are a little too one-sided.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Math and mojo

Want to know your chances of finding a perfect romantic match?

Choose carefully. You might not like the answer.

Here, Salon links to an interesting essay where a PhD candidate in economics uses an equation to determine his likelihood of finding a girlfriend.

He plugs in factors like age, location and education level.

The result? A 0.0000034 shot at success.

Then comes the follow-up: Theoretically, love's a little more complicated than that. You don't always fall for people who are your perfect matches on paper.

If I wrote down all my ideal qualities in a mate -- and demanded all future relationships adhered to that definition -- I'd probably end up with pretty poor odds.

The essay prompted some pretty interesting discussions, with people wondering how much you have to compromise your list of desired qualities to find a stable long-term relationship.

Thoughts?

What not to say

I couldn't resist linking to this list of 10 things your boyfriend never wants to hear.

Unfortunately, I'm guilty of many of the lines, namely "never mind."

We're all for gender equality here at the Walk of Shame, so it seems only fair to fire back with the 10 things your girlfriend never wants to hear. You can thank me later, guys.

1. "Is it that time of the month?"

2. "She's just a friend."

3. "What anniversary?"

4. "Did you bring your wallet?"

5. "I'm not a big marriage person."

6. "Do I have to shower?"

7. "Maybe you should wear something else."

8. "My ex-girlfriend used to always..."

9. "No, you can't stay for breakfast."

10. "Sorry, your dog isn't that cute."

Video: American Idol Atlanta recap



Here's my newest "American Idol" video recap. It focuses on Atlanta auditions, including the catchy hit "Pants on the Ground" and the back stories of some Hollywood-bound contestants.

Want a full recap of the show? Check out my "Idol" blog here.

"American Idol" returns to Fox Tuesday with an episode featuring Chicago auditions.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Heidi Montag plastic surgery

Everybody's talking about a recent People magazine article in which "Hills" star Heidi Montag says she had 10 cosmetic surgery procedures in one day.

The procedures range from popular (Botox) to peculiar ("ears pinned back").

Growing up in California, I had early exposure to the plastic surgery world. I'll never forget when a friend of mine got a nose job as a JUNIOR HIGH graduation present.

Fortunately, my skimpy journalism salary makes it impossible for me to get any cosmetic work done, even if I desired it.

But on lonely nights, I always think what I'd do if I ended up marrying one of those rich old guys willing to pay for boob jobs with an ease usually confined to the McDonald's $1 menu.

As much as I'm leery of doing anything artificial to your body, there are certain tiny fixes I wouldn't mind. Then, however, I worry about getting addicted to the process and turning out like a "Real Housewives" reject.

Weigh in, male readers: How do you feel about a girl with plastic surgery? Would you ever go as far as helping your girlfriend/wife pay for it?

And ladies: Would you seek financial assistance from your man if you wanted a boob job?

Video: American Idol recap

video

FYI: "American Idol" premiered its ninth season Tuesday night, and my "Idol" blog is back in action. Access it here.

I'll also be posting video recaps of every episode on this blog. My first recap details the most memorable moments of Tuesday's Boston audition show.

Ideally, future installments will be posted directly after the show. I just encountered a few technical difficulties this week.

Enjoy, and stay tuned for another video recap tonight, when AI hits Atlanta!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Roxxxy robot girlfriend

I resisted this one for almost 24 hours, but the Internet buzz is now too big to ignore.

It's time to talk about Roxxxy the Sexbot.

She was recently unveiled at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. She weighs 120 pounds and stands at 5 feet, 7 inches.

Is she worth her $7,000+ price tag?

Well, in addition to the obvious draw -- you know, the "sexbot" part -- she can also hold simple conversations and be programmed to hold a variety of different attributes and personality types.

Honestly, I'm a little intimidated.

Tell me, guys: What point of desperation -- if any -- would you have to hit to spend a night with Roxxxy?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Boyfriend nicknames

Blame it on Mr. Big.

Chat with a female friend about her recent love interests and you'll almost inevitably stumble upon the good old boyfriend/crush nickname.

One blogger details the nickname phenomenon here, noting:

There was ‘newyearsboy’, ‘filmboy’, ‘tallboy’, ‘marriedguy’,'bartenderdude’….you name it I’ve come up with a name.

Sadly, I'm not exempt from the trend. I once detailed a summer crush to my out-of-state friends while referring to the object of my affection as "Hot Guy" for nearly three months.

Go ahead, envy the originality.

My romantic history also includes Community College Guy and Newspaper Guy.

But while I'm not immune to it, I don't necessarily enjoy the boyfriend nickname trend. It adds an unnecessary level of impersonality to your relationship.

What's more, in this day and age, it's nearly impossible to keep a relationship secret.

Calling your guy "Nerdy Dude" doesn't add any mystery when his real name is tagged on 240 Facebook photos.

Share your most memorable boyfriend nicknames in the comments section. And guys: Is there a girlfriend nickname phenomenon, too?

Engagement bonanza

Facebook, I'm tired of your damn hearts.

You know the drill: You log on and immediately see one of those tiny pink hearts followed by "is engaged."

Then, you have to type a creative, personalized version of "Congratulations! I'm so happy for you!"

Is it just me, or has engagement season been especially rough this time around?

No joke: I've had three friends get engaged in the past two weeks. Total count for this season is approaching 10.

Luckily, I'm not alone. This post was prompted by a deluge of tweets and status updates reading something to the effect of, "It seems like everyone I know is getting engaged."

Unfortunately, engagement reflux syndrome is an inevitable result of our heightened connectivity.

An abundance of casual online "friends" makes it even easier to judge your life against somebody else's.

Chances are, people aren't getting engaged any more frequently than they were three years ago. We just keep more contacts -- heightening our chances of hearing about an engagement.

There's no magic formula for staying afloat when you're drowning in engagement news.

The best advice is to put your discomfort aside and accept the engagement as an addition to someone else's happiness, rather than a detraction from your own.

Cold weather behavior

There were lots of bad things about our recent cold weather streak: heating bills, ugly sweaters, low motivation to exercise.

The thing I hate most about low temperatures?

Cold weather personalities.

Yes, we all know it's cold. But engaging in useless banter about the weather doesn't make things any better. In fact, it kind of makes things worse.

Example: Friday, I was running errands while sporting full cold weather attire. As I left a store, a bystander turned to me and said, "You better keep your coat on tonight. It's going to be cold."

Thanks, dude. Had it not been for your advice, I would have been partying outside in my bikini.

Then, later in the weekend, I was walking all of 5 feet from my car to the gym's front door. I was wearing shorts because, you know, that's what you do while working out. Still, another helpful bystander felt like I needed this line: "Hey, didn't anybody tell you it's winter?"

In fact, no. And I'm really glad you reminded me, because I was totally set to sunbathe tomorrow.

Finally, there are the winter snobs -- a group Jezebel accurately defines here.

These are the people who can't participate in a casual discussion of the weather without reminding everybody that they survived the deadly blizzard of '82, or spent nine winters living naked outside in Minnesota.

I get it: We all love small talk. But please, can we cool the cold weather banter for a bit?

I need at least a month to prepare for next season's cringe-inducing line: "Is it hot enough for you?"

Friday, January 8, 2010

What's going on this weekend?

Hey party people! Don't forget about the Friday block party in downtown Columbus, when one $10 cover gets you into the majority of Broadway hot spots.

Saturday, Flip Flops celebrates its birthday with a red carpet bash that includes prizes and a performance by Atlanta band Aclarion. A $5 cover starts at 11 p.m. The bar's at 1111 Broadway.

Here's your full lineup:

FRIDAY

*Belloo’s: Claiborne & Friends, 9 p.m. $5. 706-494-1584.

*The Vault: Dueling pianos, 10 p.m. block party cover. 706-507-1440.

*SoHo Bar & Grill: SubCam, 10 p.m. $5. 706-568-3316.

*VFW Post 665: The Last Rodeo Band, 9 p.m. $5. 706-687-6656.

*Daileys: Filthy Gamble, 8 p.m. block party cover. 706-320-3353.

*The Loft: Peggy Jenkins and the Bizness, 9 p.m. block party cover. 706-596-8141.

SATURDAY

*Belloo’s: Claiborne & Friends, 9 p.m. $5. 706-494-1584.

*Daileys: Filthy Gamble, 8 p.m. $5. 706-320-3353.

*VFW Post 665: The Last Rodeo Band, 9 p.m. $5. 706-687-6656.

*SoHo Bar & Grill: The Hot Rods, Hellzapoppin Side Show, 10 p.m. $5. 706-568-3316.

*The Vault: Dueling pianos, 10 p.m. $5. 706-507-1440.

*The Loft: Gringo Star with NEC, 9 p.m. $5. 706-596-8141.

Plus one

My co-worker Dawn has some excellent musings about the etiquette of bringing a friend/significant other to a social event -- especially when that person wasn't directly invited.

It's a sticky situation, one that I thought about while watching a recent "Real Housewives" episode about girls' weekend that turned into a couples' trip.

Upon entering a certain phase in life, you have to almost expect all your friends will bring a significant other on outings, even if they don't get your OK.

It can get kind of annoying, namely on occasions when you had your heart set on discussing gender-specific matters.

But a constant "plus one" also reflects life's inevitable changes.

You get to a point where you want to spend bonding time with so many people -- friend, boyfriend, etc. Sometimes, you try to do it all at once to make everyone happy.

The idea makes sense, but some outings are best taken sans boyfriends. Or girlfriends.

So tell me: If you're the one planning an event, is it ever OK to say "no significant others allowed"?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Neediness redefined

One of my favorite people to follow on Twitter is NeedyGirlfriend.

It's a persona that adheres to all the stereotypical characteristics of a needy girlfriend.

Some sample posts:

I was thinking maybe later we could go to the park & you could hold my hand in public & we could take a photo of our hands, for Facebook.

Sometimes, when I want you to call, which is always, I play this game where I say your name over and over while crossing my fingers.

Hilarious, right? I totally agree with the movement to give this girl a book deal.

It's easy to look at a real-life Needy Girlfriend and vow to never be like her.

You know who I'm talking about: the girl who can't even drive to the supermarket without calling her bf to say she misses him...54 times.

In relationships, neediness is often your least-desired trait -- until you stumble upon it accidentally.

For instance: You insist you don't need to hear a significant other say "I love you." Then, however, you get into a relationship where verbal displays of affection aren't the norm and -- bam! -- you suddenly feel like the clingy girl you've always criticized.

Remember, there's a difference between being needy and having needs.

You don't have to feel guilty for wishing your relationship involved more hand-holding.

And don't worry...I'll be first one to shut you down when you approach Needy Girlfriend status.

(PS: I'm not a needy girlfriend -- at least that what my therapist says -- but you can still follow me on Twitter.)


Shanty Shack hosts country night

Would your nightlife habits change if a local hot spot boasted "all country, all the time"?

Today's nightlife column discusses whether Columbus needs a country music nightclub.

Interesting development: Earlier this morning, the Shanty Shack posted on its MySpace that the bar is going country tonight. A DJ will play line dances and "good ol' boy music." The bar's at 4475 Warm Springs Road.

It looks like this could be a weekly promotion at the Shanty Shack. The bar used to feature live music on Thursday, but recently cut that out of its lineup.

Anyway, it seems like there's a local demand for a country music venue. The only problem: There might not be enough Columbus-area country acts to sustain a diverse live entertainment lineup.

Also, I've heard some people say country music fans aren't big drinkers, so country-centered clubs sometimes have a more difficult time making money. I do like the idea of occasional country theme nights, though.

Weigh in: Does Columbus need a country music nightclub?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Romantic action plans

You endure the pain of a breakup, and then reluctantly change your online relationship status to "single."

Minutes later, the e-mails arrive like moths to a flame. Your inbox is flooded with messages from suitors who, you know, just want to say hi.

What's the appropriate time frame for making a move once you learn your crush is finally single?

Naturally, the answer depends on what you'd like out of the relationship. A booty call? Go ahead, make a move now.

If looking for something a little more serious, evaluate your action plan carefully. Pursue things too quickly and you might fall into a relationship that's immediately dominated by romantic baggage.

The early stages of dating are supposed to be blissful, and nothing kills that bliss more than spending your first few dinner dates discussing a psycho ex.

By all means, guys, test the waters the second you see her relationship status change. But only if you're willing to be someone's exercise in romantic rehab.

Thoughts?

Gym personalities

So, are you tired of your best friend's "new year, new you" lifestyle plan yet?

Don't worry: She's one kickboxing class away from a lonely night at the Chinese buffet.

In the meantime, while we're all living under the illusion of a healthy lifestyle, let's discuss the athletic wonderment commonly known as The Gym.

It's easy to go into the gym experience thinking you'll be exercising in the company of human sweat machines, all dressed in Spandex and working toward a common goal.

Not true. Many people at the gym are lazy, annoying and a little unhygienic. Sorry.

Submitted for your approval, newbies, here are my five least favorite gym personalities:

The Person Who's Not Actually Working Out
He walks back and forth between treadmills, talking to any willing athlete about the newest exercise trends. He sounds like he's a workout pro -- until you realize he hasn't been on a machine in the last 60 minutes.

The Person Who's Dirty
Sure, we all sweat. But this athlete takes "unsanitary" to a whole new level, incessantly sneezing on the elliptical machine's handlebars. He also has a habit of shaking his head every five seconds, dousing nearby exercisers with his refreshing beads of sweat. How kind.

The Person With An Odd Exercise Habit
She yells "woot woot" after hitting the mile mark and you think you must be imagining. Then, she does it again -- louder. When she yells the third time, you're convinced you must be on some hidden camera reality show. But you're not.

The Person Who's Working Out For The First Time
He walks into the BodyPump class confidently, sporting bright white sneakers and a shiny water bottle. Seconds later, he's wheezing, drenched in sweat and out of water. He inches toward the door, assuring you he'll be right back. He never returns.

The Person Who Thinks She's A Trainer
She mingles with the instructor before class, and throws around phrases like "new RPM launch." You frequently spot her savoring a power smoothie at the front desk. Gym employee? Nah. Just a poser.

Check out this list of gym rules, and then share your most hated gym habits in the comments section.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nice guys

Say "nice guy" around your favorite female companion and you'll likely generate glee that's right up there with baby animals and pink cocktails.

But what if nice guys don't exist?

Sorry, didn't mean to give you a heart attack. I just couldn't resist passing along this male-penned Lemondrop piece, "Sorry, girls -- there are no nice guys." The premise:

Look -- you know how you and every one of your friends dated a worthless waste of internal organs at some point in your life? That's because every single one of us is at least a little bit of a worthless waste of internal organs. You guys aren't strictly all a bunch of Ma Teresa's and church mice, either. But hey -- guys aren't all Lloyd Dobler or the Antichrist. There's a spectrum for these things -- and that's good.

I'm not a huge fan of the "nice guy" label. It's been thrown around a lot this week, with the return of "The Bachelor" and leading man Jake Pavelka.

Yes, you may be nicer than my last boyfriend. Maybe nicer than every other guy I've dated.

But will I define you chiefly with a "nice guy" label? No. The term adds a false sense of perfection to a relationship personality that's bound to have some imperfections.

Nobody uses "nice guy" to describe their boyfriend. They do, however, often use it to describe the guy who seemed a little, um, off.

Thoughts on nice guys?

What's going on tonight?

Hey party people! Here are two cool Tuesday options:

*House band DixieMafiaa performs at the Shanty Shack, 4475 Warm Springs Road. Show starts at 7 p.m. No cover. Call 706-507-3418.

*Belloo's, 900 Front Ave., has its Ladies Night menu with $5 martinis. No cover. Call 706-494-1584.

Both events are open to partiers 21 and older.

Monday, January 4, 2010

You smell bad

Don't worry: I was just getting your attention. You know I love your "fresh rain" body spray.

I almost ignored this guy's anecdote about going without soap or shampoo for six months. His conclusion:

My wife now mentions more than ever before that "you smell good." OK, I had to post that only because some might worry on that score....


Then, I found this "true dating confession" from a girl whose boyfriend makes her shower before bed.

I've dated guys with normal showering habits. I've dated guys with erratic showering habits. It's never really made a difference to me -- but then again, foot fungus hasn't entered the equation.

Weigh in: When you enter a relationship serious enough to involve shared living quarters, do you get a say in your significant other's personal hygiene habits?

Video: Fun in New Orleans

video

Hey everybody! I'm sure many of you wondered why I failed to disclose my New Year's Eve plans last week. Perhaps you concluded I was participating in some impromptu nuptials, or shamefully savoring Dec. 31 on my sofa.

Well, now the secret's out: I spent New Year's Eve in New Orleans.

Alan had the wisdom to make our hotel reservations in May. Upon arriving, I quickly learned I'd be mingling amid one of the biggest crowds I've experienced in my whole life.

We made this video using the new Flip cam I got for Christmas. The people on the balcony stand there all night throwing beads to the partiers below. Sometimes you have to show your boobs. Other times you just have to look hot.

It was my first trip to New Orleans, and I was initially a little leery of the experience. But it didn't take long to get caught up in the energy.

And overall, the crowds were crazy but manageable -- if you don't mind being spanked by a few strangers.

(Video by Alan Riquelmy)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

National Breakup Month

Happy 2010! Ah, January: quaint winter scenes, warm fireplaces...and a good chance you'll end up brokenhearted.

Huh?

January is National Breakup Month, according to many reports. Some surveys say twice as many breakups happen in January than any other month.

The idea makes sense. It's easy to ignore your relationship's problems during Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year's, when you're exchanging gifts and savoring a packed party schedule. Then, after the New Year's Eve excitement winds down, the realization hits: you're back to romantic boredom.

Not to mention the whole change and renewal thing. New Year's resolutions can make many people focus on where they want to be in a year, and sometimes those goals don't include a couch potato boyfriend.

Nonetheless, dubbing January "National Breakup Month" seems a bit extreme. The label alone might make people prematurely sever their romantic ties -- just because, you know, all the cool kids are doing it.

And if you're in a semi-happy relationship now, shouldn't you at least wait things out until Valentine's Day? Think flowers, ladies.

Weigh in: Does January deserve to be called "National Breakup Month"?