• The Hidden Meaning of Valentine's Day Gifts

    posted by Eden M. Kennedy February 11, 2012 at 8:08 AM in Love & Sex
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    I've always loved making unusual valentines to express the goofiness of my love. One year I made my husband a basket filled with pink donuts and toothbrushes; it showed I wanted to please his palate, but I also cared about his dental health. Another year I just took a check from our checkbook and made it out to him for the amount of "one million blow jobs." It made him laugh and acknowledged the fact that after five years of togetherness we had become exceedingly, comically blunt with each other.

    On Valentine's Day we might want to find a way to convey a big message simply: our love is eternal, I appreciate you, you still turn me on. But sentiments like that don't always get to the heart of what keeps love alive. The Victorians used the language of flowers to acknowledge the complexity, the messiness, and the practical side of their unspoken feelings, so why can't we use symbols, too?

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  • Make Super Bowl Sunday Fun for Everyone

    posted by Eden M. Kennedy February 2, 2012 at 2:11 PM in Sports
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    When I was a kid, my father used to get so upset yelling at bad calls and missed balls during the college bowl games that he finally had to stop watching them for fear of giving himself a heart attack. So it is safe to say that I grew up with an unreasonable fear of televised football, because WHO KNOWS? IT MIGHT KILL YOU.

    Still, I am a wee bit envious of people who look forward to Super Bowl Sunday. Especially women who know what a touchback is and who not only own but proudly wear their favorite team's jersey. Who are they, and how did they get that way? Why aren't they spending the entire game on their laptops having emotional affairs on Facebook, flinching every time someone scores a touchdown?

    I know, you could always just leave the house if you don't like the Super Bowl -- the streets are empty! It's the perfect time to go to Target! Fortunately, there are a lot of good reasons to stick around for the game.

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    The Academy Award nominations were announced this week, and if you're into this sort of thing you've already quietly picked out who you think will win, who you wish would win but probably won't, and who you are so indifferent to that you wouldn't see their movie unless it was being shown on an airplane, you were straight-jacketed into your seat, and the dialog was blasting over the intercom system. (On a personal note, that's how I finally saw Seabiscuit. It's really hard to blow your nose without using your hands!)

    I love only two awards shows, the Oscars and the Golden Globes. I can't really explain why I care so much about celebrities two days a year, but do you know how much fun I had live-Tweeting the Golden Globes this year? I am holding my arms far apart enough to hug a giant panda, THAT is how much fun I had. (Giant pandas are mean. I risked my life to Tweet about Madonna's neckline.)

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    Chinese astrology, like Western astrology, has 12 signs, but instead of changing every month, they change every year. Each animal in the Chinese zodiac has its own unique qualities that affect everyone, if you believe in this sort of thing, which I totally do. On January 23, 2012, we enter the year of the dragon, which is roughly equivalent to Aries, which means we're all in for a year of ramming our heads into things, filing our hooves, and being competitive for no reason.

    Even with only 12 signs, Chinese astrology runs on a 60-year cycle. Elements come into play (earth, fire, water, wood, and metal), as well as our old friends yin (female) and yang (male). So as we leave 2011, the year of the yin metal rabbit, 2012 will be the year of the yang water dragon, 2013 will be the year of the yin water snake, and so on forever until you don't need to care anymore because you'll be dead.

    Let's talk about what sign you are!

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    Maybe you're trying to get through your book group night without looking like an ass who never reads anything more complicated than InStyle magazine. Or maybe you're just sitting there getting your roots done when your stylist asks you if you ever read that dragon tattoo book. Of course it's okay to say, "No, I never read anything more complicated than InStyle magazine," but sometimes we want to look like we're actually driving through life with two hands on the wheel and a full tank of gas.

    So here, let me help you pretend to know what's going on at the top of this week's combined print and e-book bestseller fiction list from The New York Times.

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    Thanks to the holidays, the roll of flesh you now see sitting triumphantly atop my waistband is composed almost entirely of butter, chocolate, and discount champagne. And yes, at the top of my list of New Year's resolutions are the words "get stronger (back to yoga)" followed closely by "STOP EATING M&Ms FOR LUNCH."

    (Full disclosure: I am eating M&Ms while I write this, but it's just a mid-morning snack. Also, they are dark chocolate. M&Ms are full of antioxidants.)

    So, you say you want to get back in shape for the new year, too? Come, let me guide you through seven important steps that will bring you closer to making everyone think you're working hard to get healthy again.

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    How did a giant ball slowly descending on Times Square become our national symbol of New Year's Eve, and why on earth is Dick Clark in charge of it? Our story begins way back in the twentieth century, when The New York Times persuaded the city of New York to rename the area in front of their building Times Square. Let's just think about that for a moment, because before that most squares were named to commemorate an inspiring person or heroic/tragic event (Washington Square, Trafalgar Square). But to have a commercial enterprise get naming rights made Times Square the NCAA Tostitos Fiesta Bowl of 1904.

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  • How To Be a Great Last-Minute Gift-Giver

    posted by Eden M. Kennedy December 22, 2011 at 5:36 PM in Home & Garden
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    "You know what would be great?" said my husband last summer. "One of those heavy grill press things that keeps meat and bacon from curling up when you're cooking it." You know what he's getting for Christmas? A heavy grill press thing that keeps bacon from curling up when you cook it. He never bothered to put it on his wish list, I just made a mental note and bought one, and I plan to pat myself on the back every time he uses it.

    This, I like to think, exemplifies a crucial aspect of skillful gift-giving: listening. Another crucial aspect: remembering. Also crucial: time, money, and feeling some affection for the person you're buying for.

    But what if it's December 22 and none of those aspects are in place, and suddenly you need to pick up a little something for the person in your office who invited you to cocktails Friday night? Or your husband's step-sister who suddenly decided to fly in from Norway? Or the sitter who's coming. over. right. now?

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    There are several kinds of holiday gatherings most people have to negotiate this time of year, from classroom cupcakes to family dinners and more, more, more. Let's see if we can help you get through the next few weeks of mandatory cheer without killing anyone, dying of embarrassment, or losing your mind.

    1. The Office Party. Work parties can be great, especially if you work in a pressured environment, because all it takes is one person lighting a tray of shots on fire to make everything unravel into chaos. Chaos can be very entertaining, but you're more likely to keep your job if you're watching the mayhem from a safe distance. Ultimately, the success of an office party depends on how much you either like your coworkers or don't care at all what they think of you.

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    As we've seen in the recent Republican presidential debates, most candidates make a point of saying they go to church. This is good politics for a lot of reasons. It implies that the candidate has a strong moral foundation because they publicly adhere to a system that clearly spells out Right and Wrong. Knowing right from wrong is an important advantage when you're making decisions that affect millions of people in the U.S. and around the world. That "one nation under God" thing gives people a lot of confidence, because who doesn't want God on their side? Even most atheists I know are willing to concede that, should heaven and hell exist, they'd prefer not to spend all eternity up to their butts in hot lava.

    The problem is, what if I say I know how important it is to be Good, but then act Bad off and on for 13 years with a lady who's not my wife?

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About This Column
Eden M. Kennedy

We don't always have the time, resources, or attention span to keep up with the latest news. So Eden M. Kennedy is here just in case you are in need of a brief history of the mortgage crisis, a tour guide for the Kardashian wedding, or ten obscure facts about whatever country we invaded this morning. She'll be your knight in shining armor, with answers in hand, to make sure you don't make a fool of yourself at the water cooler. 

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