Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Registration Please

OK, Clever Couples- we have taken a bit of a break on the wedding planning tips- so I thought it was time. We are heading into the season when 80 percent of people get engaged and I hope this site can be a valuable resource for those of you heading into the stress of wedding planning. I consulted a friend and author of "Donnie Brown Weddings" for some advice on registering.

Your Bridal Registry

By Donnie Brown

In the world of wedding planning, couples get so caught up in the details they very often forget about the registries until very late in the process.

As with most things in life, don’t put off critical items until the end. Registering for your wedding gifts can be a lot of fun and certainly less stressful than most of the decisions you will have to make along the way. Below we have compiled some tips for developing your bridal registry that should help to make the decisions easier and better thought out.

  • Register early – plan on at least three months ahead of the wedding date. This gives guests time to look it over, and you time to think about your "couple style."
  • Choose things you really want!
  • Select items that will be available on and around your wedding date.
  • Find out about return policies and guest services, i.e. shipping, gift wrap/messages, and backorder updates.
  • Register together, as you may find some concessions need to be made, which will make you both happier in the long run. Flatware REALLY matters to most men. Who knew?
  • Choose enough items for guests to choose from. A good rule of thumb: Two to three items per invited wedding guest. 150 guests = approximately 375 items
  • Be sure to select items in several price points. Be considerate of your guests who cannot afford the more expensive items. The rule of thumb is for the guest to spend the equivalent to the amount you and your family will be spending on dinner for the wedding. Approximately $50 per person attending or invited should suffice.
  • Choose the things you’ll use- even if you still have to learn how. Do what is right for you. If you don’t want to the whole china place setting with cup and saucer- just register for the accent salad and dinner plates. Mixing and matching different sets can make a great personal style statement. Or register for something that you can add to your grandmother’s inherited pattern to make it feel more your own.
  • Make choices that will last. You should choose quality over quantity and items you feel will not have to be replaced for a very long time to come, if ever. For instance, one great omelet pan, a great sauté pan and a large quality stockpot beats a pre-packaged set of eight any day. Think about the types of things you use and might use in the future. Perhaps watch Alton Brown on the Food Network in advance of choosing your cooking items. He has a lot of tips for good kitchen items that will help you make the right decisions.

For further assistance in developing your wedding registries, as well as other wedding planning tips, perhaps you should come and see me live in person at Dillard’s at The Shops at Willow Bend. The event is at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010, in the store's fine china department. Use the east entrance of the lower level. There will be many outstanding prizes and giveaways,great vendors and lots of fun. Seats are limited, so please call and make your reservations as soon as possible. See you there!

How to Score in- Not DURING- Football

OK, So Very Clever Girls- a cursory read of this, take in some games and you should have a working knowledge of the game. Any more than that could seem like competition.

From the Top

After the coin toss determines who will be on offense there is a kick off. The ball is kicked by a place kicker from the defense’s 30-yard line to the offense. An offensive player will attempt to catch the kick and run it toward the offensive end zone (99 out of 100 times this is the direction in which the person holding the ball is running or passing- look on YouTube for the exceptions). Where ever he is tackled will be where the offense begins its series of plays (downs). If the ball is kicked into the end zone, the kick returner can either run the ball out of the end zone or signal the ball down (touchback) and the offense will begin its drive (attempt to score) on the defense’s 20-yard line.

The Offensive Drive

I myself have been subject to some pretty offensive attempts to score, but this is about football. The object of the game is for the offense to move the ball (gain yardage) toward the offensive end zone to score a touch down (six points). All movement is measured in yards gained or lost. The offense is given 40 seconds between each play to begin the next play. If they do not do so, they are penalized for delay of game (usually a loss of yards). Each time the offense takes possession of the ball, it gets four opportunities (downs) to advance the ball 10 yards (or score). If they are successful, they are awarded a first down and they get four more downs. It is the objective of the defense to both stop the offense from scoring and keep the offense from gaining a first down. If the offense is unable to advance the ball 10 yards, they lose possession of the ball. On the fourth down, the options are to "go for it" and attempt to secure the first down by gaining the necessary yardage (this is a risk for one reason- if they do not secure the first down, the defense takes over as offense and likely will have great field position to start their offensive drive), punt or kick a field goal.

The Line of Scrimmage

Each play begins with the QB issuing orders to his team. The line of scrimmage is where the center snaps the ball to the QB who either passes the ball, runs the ball or hands it off. These are the methods of gaining yardage. All passing of the ball must happen behind the line of scrimmage and if the pass is caught by another player it is complete. If the pass is not caught, it is incomplete. If the pass is intercepted by a member of the defense, it is an interception and the possession is turned over (this is called a turn over) to the defense who becomes the offense. The run ends when either the runner scores, is tackled by a member of the defense (one or both knees touch the ground), goes out of bounds or falls.

The Punt

In a fourth down situation, when the offense has failed to obtain a first down, and the yardage is such that "going for it" doesn’t seem an option (too long or if they fail, the field position given to the defense to begin their scoring drive as offense is too advantageous), nor does attempting a field goal, the offense will kick the ball down the field to be received by the defense. By turning over the ball to them, the defense becomes the offense and the offense becomes the defense. The object of the punt, is to kick it as far down the field as possible without it entering the end zone. If it enters the end zone, the same rules apply as in a kick off and a fair catch can be signaled putting the ball on the twenty yard line to begin the offensive drive. Ideally, the ball would not be caught and roll to the one yard line, forcing the offense to start their drive at the furthest possible point.

How to Score in Football

(that's IN football not DURING a football game- and ladies, it's not as easy as you might think)

The Touchdown

Either by run or pass, crossing the goal line into the end zone results in a touch down valued at six points. Immediately following the touch down- the offense either kicks for an extra point(which will or will not result in a point depending on whether it goes through the goal posts), or the QB will attempt to run, pass or hand off the ball to cross the goal line again resulting in two points instead of one (two-point conversion).

The Field Goal

If, after the third down is played and the offense is unable to secure a first down, but they believe they are close enough to kick the ball through the goal posts- they might attempt a field goal resulting in three points. If the field goal is missed, the defense takes over the offense where the last offensive play took place.

The Safety

Two points are awarded the defense if the offensive ball handler is tackled behind their own goal line. This often happens to QBs who are sacked (tackled, ball in hand) after scrambling backward to make a play.

The Turnover

There are two major forms of turnovers (and they are not raspberry and apple). This means that the possession of the ball is turned over to the defense during an offensive scoring drive (this is not out of the kindness of their hearts). The interception happens when a member of the defense intercepts a pass, automatically forcing a change in possession. A fumble occurs when the ball handler loses possession of the ball either by dropping it or having it stripped by another player. The team who recovers the ball gets possession, as long as the play has not been whistled dead by the officials.

The Play Clock

At the end of the first and third periods, whoever has possession of the ball will retain possession as the new quarter (second and fourth) begin. The second half begins with a kick off as in the beginning of the first quarter.

The play clock stops when a player goes out of bounds, when a team scores, when a penalty is called or at the end of an incomplete passing play.

If the game is tied at the end of regulation play, a 15-minute period is extended and played as sudden death- the first team to score wins. Possession is determined by a coin toss. Overtime is different in college football. This is a great opportunity for you to ask "I know they do sudden death in the NFL, how is overtime handled in college?" I'm not going to tell you- look it up if you MUST know- otherwise, keep this in your back pocket to allow him to shine in front of all his friends. Make sure you are focused on his response and ask further questions if you need to.

Clever Girls, I'm so proud of you for getting this far. There is no doubt learning about a sport you don't even like is a beating, however, you don't have to be an aficionado- just an apprecionado. In other words- appreciate the fact the men in your life enjoy the came and if you simply can't abide it- find something worthwhile to do.

Game time is the PERFECT opportunity to do all the things he really doesn't want to do- but tolerates at times. Catch up with friends, catch up on work, catch up on "Grey's Anatomy"- whatever it is just do NOT guilt him for wanting to spend time with the guys, enjoying the game.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What Are You Visualizing?

I must say I adore being inspired by others and today a Very Clever man named Preston Ely was the ONE. I stumbled onto his blog on Facebook and the post I read today regarding visualization made me burst out laughing (almost). What it actually did do is bring out the very snarky side of me- which isn’t necessarily a good thing- but given the fact I’ve beat up on marriage- AGAIN, I should probably focus on something positive.

However, I will say- the "Are you COMMITTED to the INSTITUTION of Marriage?" was designed to be a very positive post. Just trying to shed some light on the supposed new PURPOSE of marriage. LOVE. It is no longer an ecumenical arrangement or even an ARRANGEMENT at all. We have choice and the choice should be love and love doesn’t have to lead to MARRIAGE.

If love does lead to marriage- I am advising clear communication of expectations as to how you will handle raising children, religion, finances, the inevitable impulse to have an affair of some type (because there are ALL kinds of them now- "emotional," "intellectual," "physical," "sexual," – I personally am having a very meaningful one with Gucci footwear). There are so many posts which will be born of the "Institution" post- but now is not the time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Are You COMMITTED to the INSTITUTION of Marriage?

OK, I am going to acknowledge off the block this post is going to piss off most women. However, I was doing some research on marriage and several things made me burst out laughing (bol).

Two words jumped out at me. To begin, the word institution immediately conjures "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest"- padded walls, restraints and one day bleeding into the next while in a drug-induced stupor. Now there are many definitions of the word- and it might mean different things to different people- and hell, the fact that MENTAL institution is the first thing I think of when I see the word might be telling.

A society formed for religious, social, educational or similar purpose- hmmm. Nothing about romance in there at all.

The reason I bring THAT up- is that I’ve long wondered when the "romantic" notion of marriage was introduced and how it took hold. How did we come from parents bribing a family to allow their son to marry their daughter with a dowry to dreaming of weddings and proposals on bended knee?

Where did all of this "He's the one" start? In the beginning it was rather clinical- arranged even. Marriage was a method by which families joined noble blood lines, increased social status, combined wealth and offered an acceptable frame work for procreation.

I thought back to Shakespearian times and even read through some of the sonnets, which comprise some of the most vivid articulations of longing and desire, yet very little talk of marriage. It is as if, even then, romance, desire, longing and lust were part of pursuing. We know Shakespeare was the master of star-crossed love stories, want and desperate love generated by unfortunate and impossible circumstances. The pursuit was of one that could not be had. The longing often for unrequited love.

It was not uncommon for bards of talent to be commissioned by men or women to woo others. It is, in my estimation, the principle reason there is speculation William was gay. He's been commissioned by a noble gentleman to pursue a young, flaxen-haired man and was no doubt quite successful. Ah, the power of the written word- a true seduction in the absence of dating services, the Internet, cell phones and texting.

So who introduced the notion of romance into marriage? When did we start longing for the INSTITUTION of marriage with the man or woman we loved and adored?

I was watching some westerns the other day- yes, part of the So Very Clever initiative- and found it interesting the women all spoke of their husbands poorly- "I married him for money- pure and simple- what’s a girl to do?"- while stealing lusty kisses from the ranch hand. It's the same saga over and over throughout history- the woman who falls in love with the chauffer after decades of neglect by her wealthy husband.

I believe it was Hollywood that began this crusade to incorporate romance into marriage. Think about Disney- all of the romances involve a clandestine or misunderstood romance that ended in marriage (often a comedy of errors). So, then did women start believing that marriage would elevate them to a pedestal with her husband? Is that where women want to be? If they are elevated, do they become complacent?

I think it may have been an accident. Perhaps romantic love was so unusual for the time the portrayal of such in movies was almost taboo- and, in that, very alluring.

What is the net result of this allure? Unreasonable expectations. It would seem marriage worked just fine when it was arranged- the functions were served- continue royal blood line, procreate. Simple. It was accepted the men had courtesans or paramours and the women were likely not growing grass under their feet. Illicit and dangerous liaisons with other men abounded. However- there were no divorces- what was the point? Everyone was happy. The families, the state, society, the husband, the wife. I am sure the kids were, at that time, still byproducts of marriage and not revered the way they are today. Born to ascend or to work and contribute- not much more, if they survived childbirth and their young years.

Now, we spend our young lives dreaming of the perfect mate. Not sure what that really means, as our version of that is ever changing. Then adolescent and post-adolescent years are geared toward experimenting and disappointment. Then at some point between (hopefully) the age of 18 and 50, we find the ONE. What does that mean? Well, to each person, something different, no doubt.

How often to people spend time discussing expectations beyond the courtship? How much time if any? The courtship is lovely and as the euphoria stage ends and reality begins to set in, there is still no hint of actual marriage in the relationship. It is still a dating and elective relationship. Easily (theoretically) ended if expectations do not come in line.

Now, my question is- why is marriage the apex of a relationship? Shouldn’t love be the apex? What happens if you get married and fall out of love? You’d be naïve to think that doesn’t happen. "And they lived happily ever after" doesn’t work for everyone. So, doesn't it make more sense to elect to be in a loving relationship? Or do we need to be COMMITTED?

That was the other funny word that leapt out at me during my research. COMMITTED- like to a mental INSTITUTION. Interesting all these references to marriage and insanity. Let's go back to the top when I said the word "institution" conjured images of padded walls, restraints and one day bleeding into the next as if in a drug induced stupor. Sounds like a LOT of marriages I know of. Telling one another what they can and can't do- and complacency as we drift through our days hoping for anything that will break up the monotony.

OK, I’m not beating it to death- I'm all for healthy and productive unions. However, the apex is love- not marriage.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's That Time Again! Are You Ready For Some Football?

Here we go, Clever Girls. Undoubtedly, when you finish this post (I am breaking it up into three parts), you will feel as if hell has exploded inside your head, but fear not. All this information can be applied practically. As you watch games and listen to commentators (every dude in the room is a commentator), you will get a good sense of what is going on. The key is to pay attention. Listen instead of speaking. Don’t be afraid to ask questions- preferably during commercials, and try not to assert or declare unless you are prepared to back up your theory.The only thing worse than embarrassing yourself is embarrassing your date.

The Game

A football game is a match up between two teams, the goal of which is to score the most points by the end of regulation time (four 15-minute quarters with a 12-minute break at the half).

Before the game begins, the captain from each team (or a special guest) toss a coin to determine which 11 man team will have possession (opportunity to score) of the ball first (offense). The team without the ball is the defense. The winner of the coin toss gets to decide whether they want to kick or receive.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Catching up with Clever- August 2010

OK, Clever tribe- let's catch up. I have gotten quite a few e-mails complaining about my lack of posting. In my defense, I did warn you the editing of first novel, "Consumed," would be a time-consuming (had to do it) process. Alisa and I have been working So Very diligently to maintain our publisher’s schedule. We were lucky enough to be able to sit down with our editor, Meredith, in person and work with her for a week- that was productive beyond measure. We have just completed the second edit and Meredith will now get us a finished manuscript (typeset and all!) for review prior to printing what are called ARCs (advanced reader copies).

The ARCs will be sent out to reviewers and trade publications in hopes of reviews- so, if anyone knows ANYONE who reviews books, let me know. Our whole team is working hard to generate contacts for reviews. Once that is done- we will publish and are still on course for having "Consumed" available to the public by Dec. 15th of this year. OMGOSH!

We are running a contest at If you want to vote for the cover art- do so there. Everyone who votes will get a bookmark featuring the cover and one winner will be selected and receive a complimentary autographed copy of the book.

We are establishing relationships with book clubs, and for the month of January, Alisa and I will likely be visiting with specially selected book clubs in our area. If you are in a book club and interested in discounts on books from The Little Things Publishing- go to their site for information.

I've been immersed in research for the second novel and it’s been intense. When the time comes, I am going to need some help naming this book, so …

The best news I have is that it is OFFICIALLY football season. This means Clever Girls are going to need to be So Very Clever.

I will start you out by running football "rules" and overviews and then we are going to have to gear up for a huge season. The other good news is we are still a month away from preseason hockey and basketball, which gives you some but not much time to get your feet under you. Clever Girls don't need much in the way of time- we make up for it with quickness.

Another upcoming event that will impact So Very Clever is Soup Fest 2010. Some of my most favorite Clever Girls and I will get together and make as many soups as we can, from scratch, in one day. Sloane is the new girl, so her entire job will be to record the made-up soups so we have recipes. I will then begin to post the soup recipes for those of you who might love soup as much as we do- although, it’s tough to think soup when it is 185,000 degrees outside.

So, your job is to begin voting on covers for "Consumed" at and to let our publisher know if your book club would be interested in reading "Consumed." Also, I am thinking of running a contest on So Very Clever. If you are getting married, or know someone getting married, keep it in mind- you might be able to secure your wedding photography or wedding photography for a friend or family member free of charge anywhere in the country. Hmmm.

Alright- I'm radio silent until Monday and it might be time to talk about women's fashion again- I’m getting a LOT of complaints from men.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Deepest Recesses of HELL are too Pleasant

OK, now I am pissed. I know I talk about judgment and the evils of it- but there is one caveat, if you will recall: Anyone who hurts a child intentionally.

I heard a story today on the news about (and yes, I could get this pissed off every day watching the news) a 16-year-old girl who perpetrated graphic sexual abuse on a young boy while he was in her care.

Now, while the storyline is one we’ve heard often, it is rare the perpetrator is a girl. Girls are changing, people- WAKE UP!

How many times have we heard the charming little vignette about a young boy losing his virginity to the "hot" babysitter. High fives all around- smirks, winks- way to score!

Well, guess what- that is a FELONY. It is a FELONY for a reason- because children do not have the emotional maturity to make rational decisions about sexual conduct.

I’ve heard this argument before- "Go back 100 years and 13-year-olds were picking out baby furniture and planning weddings." Well, are you ready for my response? That was because the f-ing life expectancy was 23. When the freaking hell else were they supposed to do these things? How else would the population have survived?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Having a Sense of Occasion will Differentiate YOU from the Ruck

So there I was at Mercy Wine Bar (and the answer is, YES, I go there a lot) and was being driven mad by a table of cackling women on the FAR side of the restaurant. This is not a small place and I was poised at the bar working.
My crisp glass of pinot gris was being soured by my environment and I was growing frustrated. I gazed at those around me and wondered if I was the only person becoming annoyed.
Fact of the matter is- there is something called a sense of occasion, and I find more often than not people do not have it. Let me elucidate.
To have a sense of occasion is to be aware of your environment and how you can not only blend seamlessly with it- but behave appropriately. My mother taught me to have a sense of occasion early in life. My brother Dave missed the boat on this lesson as he never did realize that the “F” word at extended family functions fell on the ears of elders like, well, the “F” word.
So, the lesson- you go to a hockey game and even if it’s your first time, you dress comfortably (it is a sporting event and not a fashion show- unless you are in Dallas and then frankly, you can’t overdress- HOWEVER, the further you are from the glass- the more likely you are to appear an escort and not a “fan”), observe discretely and enjoy yourself. If you go to a fine dining establishment, dress appropriately and conduct yourself with dignity- this is different behavior than one might demonstrate at, let’s say, a cookout. Even if you are underdressed (gasp)- grace and poise can make up for it.
I observed the intrusive women- and they were cute, various ages, dressed to impress- but the attention in their direction was all negative. Why? Because their behavior was offensive. It was articulated perfectly by the handsome and So Very Clever gentleman next to me who muttered loudly, “It’s a wine bar, not a kegger, ladies.” I was dangerously close to aspirating my sip of wine and thought- he could not have summed it up more perfectly. When I caught his eye he said- “Not sure 'ladies' was the right word.” I smiled.
I’m not saying you have to be sedate- but, as I pointed out in a previous post called “Tone it Down”- be considerate of others. I have often thought the volume at which one speaks seems a direct reflection of one’s self- importance. If you can not get attention without nearly “yelling” in a quiet restaurant- you need to invest some time in this blog. The woman who does this will likely follow it up with the inevitable “throwing the head back and letting out a far too loud laugh she thinks is the pinnacle of sexy”- oh, and the requisite hair toss.
Here is a tip- demure works just as well as obnoxious. Hell, I even advocate coy over brazen. Another post I did sighting some of this objectionable behavior was “When did Women become So Very Gross?”
I decided to put this to the test and compare this table with another full of women. At this point after a couple bottles of wine, the aforementioned were rather insufferable and the other was a table of equally well appointed late thirty-somethings. The latter women were speaking in hushed tones and laughing bashfully into their hands, eyes fluttering around as if they were fearful of raising a ruckus. It was rather charming and it wasn’t long before gentlemen started drifting over and inquiring as to what was soooo sensitive it must be whispered.
The women enjoyed the attention and in one case invited a man to sit with them for a moment. There was polite conversation and laughing. He didn’t over stay his welcome or act a reprobate. After a while, he meandered back to the bar- I couldn’t help noticing one of the ladies slide her business card to him. Good for her. Love seeing So Very Clever and fearless women who don’t accept the card of a man- after all, it’s nice to place the contact in the hands of the man (see post "Why Didn't He Call- He's Not Interested").
So, all this to say- there is a time and a place for everything- knowing where, when, how and why makes you So Very Clever. It’s an art form and part of being Clever is being Artful- so, let’s pay attention, shall we?
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