July 12th, 2010

How To Be Just Like Me

As you all know, I am completely perfect in every way.  Moreover (can someone who uses the word moreover be truly perfect?  never mind, must not get distracted.  again.), my life has been problem-free since I reached the pinnacle of any writer’s career, turning my self-indulgent brilliant and effortless blog into a bestselling book.

How can I be more like Pam?, I bet you’ve wondered.  Or maybe: Gee, Pam just sits around on her fat ass all day, staring into space and writing down all this stupid shit, and then she lands on the fucking New York Times bestseller list!  When I am so obviously the one who much more richly deserves it!!

(Another little distraction here: I heard from my old friend, the amazing cartoonist Mimi Pond, the other day.  Mimi reminded me of when I told her I was pregnant with my first child, while smoking a cigarette.  In a restaurant.  Yeah, I’m that old.  Anyway, Mimi’s husband is the incredible painter Wayne White, whose book is Maybe Now I’ll Get The Respect I So Richly Deserve.  Order it right now and shave five years off your creative thinking.)

Anyway, back to me.  And you.

Now you can find out firsthand exactly how I created this blog and turned it into a bestselling book, and how you can too.  I’m doing a webinar this Wednesday, July 14, at 1 pm at the wonderful SheWrites.  Sign up here.  Listen and download — I made a bitchin’ PowerPoint, if I do say so myself, though when don’t I?  And who else will, if I won’t?

Hope to see you there.  Bring questions!!

July 8th, 2010

#151: Never Wear Shorts and Socks Together

How Not To Act Old turned two a few weeks ago, and all this time I’ve been pussy-footing around the issue of clothes. Why? Well, mostly because I didn’t want to step on the toes of my old Glamour colleague Charla Krupp, whose excellent book How Not To Look Old deals with stuff like fashion and beauty ably and thoroughly and oh-so-seriously.

But since it seems as if Charla thinks I’ve stepped on her toes anyway, I figure, WTH?  Or maybe, WTFH?  I’ve been covertly snapping pictures of oldly-dressed people for months now, and my (extremely young and eagle-eyed) intern Sonia Tsuruoka has been doing the same, so now, in the interest of saving you from yourselves, I’ve decided to issue my Summer Fashion Guide. And hey, Charla, let me remind you that I was a fashion editor way back in the Pleistocene Era, when you were covering celebrities, so I kinda have first dibs on this patch.

How Not To Act Old summer fashion advice article number 1: Don’t tie a sweat-garment around your waist in an effort to camouflage bulges.


I know the impulse well, dude, and you might even think you were being cool and modern-mannish by wearing that semi-skirt.  But a bunched-up sweat-garment never did much for anybody’s waistline.  Plus: The long shorts over the tall socks with the heavy shoes seems to be a common summer fashion mistake of the crusty.  Witness:


Sonia snapped this one.  Lady on the right looks great in her flattering long slim shorts and sensible-yet-chic flat sandals.  But oh, those khaki shorts worn with a belt and shirt tucked in, plus white socks and the dreaded white running shoes — he kinda looks like his mommy dressed him.  His 92-year-old mommy.

In fact, the white running shoes are enough all on their own to make you look old.  Also beware the Easy Fit jeans.  Check it:


That’s enough denim to upholster a couch.  But I don’t want to pick only on the fellas.  There are plenty of old woman-y fashion mistakes out there too.  For instance:


On my way to ask the station about the Staten Island ferry times, I snapped these two gals hurrying along the 98 degree Manhattan streets yesterday.  You’ll spot the offending white running shoes on the left, but apart from that what looks old are the square-shaped, short-sleeved, waist-length knit tops (especially in that infernal heat), the capri pants, the too-short haircuts, the dumb (and heavy-looking) fabric bags.

There is only one thing that both looks and feels right in the city in hot weather, and that’s a simple dress and sandals.  I saw them yesterday on women of all ages, shapes, and sizes, and they all looked great.

But of course, it’s also possible to err in the other direction and try to dress too young.  One look that must be avoided by everyone over 27 years old and 103 pounds: short shorts and combat boots.  This girl (and I use that term advisedly) looks fab, but don’t attempt to copy her, unless you spend all you time on shopping websites like Shoes Fella or Boots boots Boots. Point is, you need to be a boot expert to pull this off.


June 1st, 2010

#150: Wait, Go Ahead, Maybe You Should Act Even Older….


It’s been a long time since the HNTAO News merited two posts in one day, but I wanted to draw special attention to the new Gallup poll that claims happiness declines from the 20s to the early 50s, when it does a quick reverse and starts climbing again. From 50 on, according to the new study, almost everything gets better for everybody in every way.

Eighty-year-olds feel more satisfied with themselves than 18-year-olds, says the study of 340,000 people across the country. Worry and sadness peak around 50 and then taper off, while enjoyment is at its nadir when we’re in our early 50s before it begins to rise and keeps rising for at least 25 years.

What’s so bad about 50 compared with 75? Researchers don’t know. Neither gender, marital status, employment, or parenthood made any difference to the happiness levels; age seemed to be the only significant factor.

But I can hazard some guesses. By 50, not matter what you’ve been doing for the past two or three decades, you’re just freaking exhausted. Building a career, finding a spouse, maybe finding another spouse, having a couple of babies, getting a mortgage and renovating a kitchen, doing approximately 11,000 loads of laundry and preparing 24,000 meals, gaining 55 pounds and losing only 23 of them in five diets, planning 27 summer vacations that, 24 of those times, don’t really turn out to be very much fun — it takes a lot out of a person.

Plus, by 50, it’s pretty clear that a lot of those big dreams you had at 22 aren’t really going to work out. You are probably definitely never going to become a movie star or a drummer in a famous rock band, never going to make a million dollars a year or marry someone royal. You’ve had all the children you’re going to have and while they’re wonderful, they also have, you know, buck teeth or ADD or a nasty temper. And please, let’s not even talk about how your thighs look in a bathing suit.

And then — remember, just guessing now — you say: Fuck it. I’m still here. I like how I spend my days. I’ve got some good friends and I still have sex once in a while. And now I know: a glass of white wine, a piece of warm cherry pie, a funny sitcom and a bed with that soft pillow I really love — this is happiness. This is it, and it’s all mine.

To make the most of your next quarter century, check out The Happiness Project. And to make me even happier, go visit the denizens of Ho Springs.

June 1st, 2010

#149: Quit Yer Bellyaching

complainingHNTAO afficionados know that the whole point of this blog is to point out new ways of not acting old. We don’t warn against stereotypical granny behavior — covering your furniture in plastic, sucking on hard candies — because, duh, we all know we’re not supposed to do that, right? Right???

So why are you still complaining?

Your defense might be that complaining is done by people of all ages, and of course you might be right. Last night, in a desperate end-of-holiday-weekend attempt at finding something we all wanted to watch on TV (and if you detected several complaints hovering around the edges of that statement, you would be correct), we tuned into the ten-year-old movie Prozac Nation, in which a beautiful young person complains about: 1. Having to go to Harvard 2. On a scholarship! 3. At the encouragement of her too-involved mother 4. Where she is oppressed by all the attention she attracts because of her magnetic sexuality and amazing writing prowess 5. And then is forced to go home for the holidays where other people cook her too much wonderful food.

At that point, rather than complain about how much the movie sucked and (for the edification of the beautiful young people with whom I was watching the film) how obnoxious and ungrateful the character seemed, I simply passed out.

But if you’re young, gorgeous, successful, and complaining, you’re simply a brat. Or troubled. If you’re, you know, our age and complaining, you 1. should know better and 2. start to sound like a granny.

Gretchen Rubin’s wonderful Happiness Project newsletter landed in my in-box this morning — and for those of you who haven’t yet read her book, you better rush right out and buy it — reminding me of all the reasons not to complain.

And hey! Right after you buy Gretchen’s book and stifle all your incipient complaints, run over and check out my new site, Ho Springs.

(Question: Does anyone even know what “bellyaching” means anymore? I think of it as a relic of such Depression-era films as The Little Rascals, in which some young tough would inevitably say, “Aw, quit yer bellyaching.”)

May 2nd, 2010

#148: Don’t Fear Porn

Way back in the last century, when I was a young and semi-innocent lass, I lived one summer on a soybean farm. Given that this farm was owned by a farmer and that I was living with a fellow who both believed that women shouldn’t work (yes, that’s how long ago it was), and that I believed that women shouldn’t cook or clean the house, the only thing left to do was spend the summer lying in the sun reading the farmer’s bodacious collection of Playboy magazines.

This farmer had, it seemed, every Playboy ever printed, so this was not as light a load as it might seem. I did read the articles, but that’s not what I remember about the magazines. I remember the pictures, coyly posed shots of young women exposing — well, by the standards of today, not all that much.

These were women whose bodies were in proportion to their breasts, who’d never heard of waxing anything but floors, and who employed such quaint props as flamenco fans and white gloves to cover up their cooters.

The availability of porn over my lifetime seems to have run in inverse proportion to my hormones. When I really wanted to see it, it was hard to get and not all that great once you had it. And now that I’d rather watch an episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey, all I have to do is type in youporn.com or xtube.com and….

Whoa! You thought I was kidding, right?

If you haven’t yet followed the links above and you have delicate sensibilities, I warn you, please don’t….

Jeez! You couldn’t resist, could you?

For the two people out there who’d rather have me describe these sites to you than see them for yourself, all you have to do is click Enter and there splashed before you are thumbnails of dozens of hardcore videos of “real people” (not) having sex (in ways that would make any Playboy Bunny blush to the tips of her airbrushed nipples).

Yes, this is what your 16-year-old is doing up in his bedroom.  And he’s not the only one.

I’m not saying that, in the interest of avoiding fogeydom, you have to make youporn a routine part of your life any more than you need to get your area code tattooed on your neck. But you at least should know how accessible such extreme porn is, and perhaps take a peek just for, you know, education’s sake.

One note to youporn copywriters: Women who look like they’re in their 20s should not be classified as “mature.”

What’s that? You have a question? You want to know whether there’s any porn like this down in Ho Springs?

You may have to run right down there and check it out.

April 9th, 2010

#147: Don’t Take Pictures of Your Freaking Flowers

Okay, I’ve been getting complaints. Ho Springs is okay, people have been telling me. But we really love How Not To Act Old and want you to write some new posts instead of just leaving that big honking Ho Springs ad up there day after livelong I’m-so-bored-I’m-going-to-blow-my-brains-out day.

All right, not a very effective way to get me to bring HNTAO back. Telling me how much you adore Ho Springs, how you’re making all your friends rush right over there and tweeting it up and posting Juliette’s facebook status as your own would do much more to motivate me to give you what you want.

Instead, I kinda feel like Woody Allen in Stardust Memories:

Okay, I wish I were like Woody Allen.

I’m going to keep urging you toward Ho Springs, which is absorbing a lot of my creative fervor right now. And those hungry for more HNTAO can join the facebook group, where there’s always lots of spirited discussion on matters of age and not-age.

Meanwhile, though, to quench the thirst for up-to-date instruction, resist the urge to photograph all those flowers coming into bloom. Don’t even get me started on the implications of gardening, but flower-photographing can be an age-related danger even for those not growing flowers of their own.

And when you’re really bad, like me, you take videotapes of your flowers. I made the one following the other day as a way to document the overzealous leaf-blowing of my neighbors, but jeez, I gotta say: How old and cranky is that??

February 16th, 2010

Go Ho!

Picture 55

Today, the best thing you can do not to act old is to rush over to my brand new website, Ho Springs. Ho Springs is an online serialized novel that will be updated every day by me, with contributions from fabulous other writers like Benilde Little, who’s writing meth ho Taryn’s Little Black Book, and Debra Galant, who is doing tarot readings for the Ho Springs gang.

There are recipes from food writer and former restaurant owner Susan Sherrill Axelrod, and Juliette’s Secret Diary, by my intern and secret How Not To Act Old informant Danielle Miksza.

Ho Springs also features original music — the first selection is Wandering Feet by Matt Michael — and a gorgeous design by Katie Mancine and Dennis Tobenski. I promise it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before and I hope you’ll get addicted.

You can also become a fan of Ho Springs on facebook, and follow the site on twitter @hosprings.

December 17th, 2009

#146: Don’t Dress Up. I Mean, Don’t Dress Down.

articleInlineEverything boomers do is bad.  You know that, right?  Not only are boomers selfish, greedy, boring, and disgusting, but, worst of all, they’re deeply unfashionable.

Witness today’s incredibly offensive piece in the New York Times Style section on Dressing for Success, Again.  It wasn’t enough for the writer to make the point that young men are (theoretically, anyway) wearing pin-striped suits and wingtips ala Mad Men; he had to contrast the supposed nattiness of the Evil Young against the 55-year-old “worst-dressed man in the room.”  The new dressing-up, according to the Times, is nothing less than an enlightened revolution against boomer slobbiness.

Gee, just when I was about to think it was okay to wear pajama pants and Uggs to the theatre.  Seems to me it was the boomers, as young professional bucks in the 80s, who wore Gordon Gecko suits and starched white shirts to the office.  And our youngers who pioneered ripped jeans and untucked shirts and running shoes, not to mention free-range Labradors and indoor basketball courts, at work.  Who practically viewed a necktie as a noose.

You see what’s happening here: The Evil Young are changing the rules yet again for the sole purpose of making us seem foolish and unattractive and very, very wrong.  We dress up; they call us convention-bound and uptight.  We dress down; they say we’re clueless slobs.

If David Colman, who wrote the Times piece, weren’t so blinded by ageism, he might have been able to focus on the real story, which is that men have felt increasingly free to embrace their feminine sides, to care more about style and grooming, to take time off to be with their kids or fall in love with someone smarter and more successful than they are.

But why dig that deep when you can just gun down daddy?  And why pander to the only constituency that still gives a shit about reading your newspaper when you have to try so hard to prove you’re not over the hill yourself?

Colman ends his piece by urging moronic boomers to do what he says they’ve always idiotically done: jump on yet another age-inappropriate trend, albeit this time the laudable one of wearing argyle sweaters with plaid pants.

“What’s the worst that could happen, Pops?,” he writes.  (I swear I’m not making this up.)  “Someone might think you are 10 years younger?”

No, a-hole.  i could spend over a thousand dollars on the janky outfit on the cover of the Style section, and then you could turn around and tell me Springsteen tee shirts and baggy jeans are back in.

December 11th, 2009

#145: Don’t Be White (Or Just Act Like It)

The new Pew Research study on The Millennials aka The Evil Young is out, and among the findings that weren’t too boring for me to focus on was the one about the younger generation being more diverse than previous generations of Americans.

Pew quantified that statement with actual rising numbers of young people who are Hispanic, black etc., as opposed to plain old boring white, but I think there’s a qualitative, gestalterific difference here too. Younger people, whether or not they actually are white, are less likely to want to be white, to try to act white, to value what’s whitest about American culture.

I would go so far as to say that the list of Stuff White People Like, constructed, not coincidentally, by a young ‘un, might as well be called Stuff That Is Really Bland and Dorky, Except You’re So Boring — and Okay, I’ll Say It, White — You Think It’s Cool.

In fact, now that I think about it, How Not To Act Old might also be called How Not To Act Boring, Lame, or Embarrassingly White. It’s old-acting to be racist, for instance, or tell racist jokes. Definitely way old to belong to any club or frequent any establishment that might as well be whites-only. It was not-old to vote for Obama, old to back McCain (Pew’s numbers bear this out). Not-old to groove on rap, old to heehaw to country. Not-old to date or marry inter-racially; old to stick to your own kind.

The BBC is too white, a charge against which they’ve actively tried to campaign. In fact, much of the liberal media is too white, too male, and too damn old. I could go on, but then I’d have to write Stuff Too White People Like, and I think that’s been pretty much covered.

The point: Go ahead and be white, if you must. Just don’t be so damn proud of it.


November 23rd, 2009

Larry David, Style Icon?

Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Seinfeld Reunion finale may have attracted 98 percent of the viewers in the uncoveted 45 and over demographic. I was watching, though I couldn’t exactly tell you what happened or even whether the episode was any good. I was too busy checking out Larry David’s clothes.


That’s right: Larry David is my style icon. LD may seem an unlikely fashion inspiration, but I think he dresses in a way any middle-aged person, male or female, would do well to emulate: casual yet not scruffy, comfortable but never sloppy, easy-fitting yet not baggy, formal but not uptight, stylish but no slave to fashion. He almost always puts together an interesting blend of neutral layers, with a round necked tee shirt under a high-vee sweater with a loose hem, under an unstructured sport coat, over chinos that are not always chino=colored, worn with leather or suede sneakers. He’s got nice simple round glasses and hair that’s just the right length.  (Note to men: Women don’t care about baldness, at least not nearly as much as men fear they do.)

More to the point, LD’s style has an ageless quality: He doesn’t dress like a kid, he doesn’t dress like an old man, he simply dresses like some timeless version of himself. Over the seasons of Curb, his style has morphed a bit. He used to wear more vintage-looking shirts and more overshirts with collars, which I’m glad he left behind.

The problem is that Larry David Style doesn’t really look good on me.  I’m too curvy, too, well, female, while Larry has that lanky, supple-looking (could he possible do yoga?) figure.

But it’s easier to find older guys whose style you want to imitate than it is to find great-looking women style icons, at least in contemporary life.  Period films sometimes prove inspirational in terms of fashion.  One recent movie that launched me into a brief black and white period was Coco Before Chanel.


And Jane Campion’s Bright Star was gorgeous, as were Abbie Cornish’s clothes, which made me, for a day or two, want to dress only in dusty blues and pinks.


I wish there was a grownup woman in the movies or on television who looked not like a Super-Cougar nor a Super-Mom nor a dowdy granny nor a crazy person.  A woman who looked like the female equivalent of Larry David.  Until then, I’ll have to keep dressing Larry-style.

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