When baby name SEO gets out of control

First, let me present this, sent to me from a friend who is a part of what is essentially a mom’s group on Facebook.

baby names


As someone who is one of many, many Stephanie Simons (and someone married to a Michael Simon, no, not that Michael Symon), I appreciate the focus on wanting a unique name. I considered not taking my husband’s name because of it.

In a world of Google, I think it could be forward-thinking to give your baby a name with good SEO. I’ve seen numerous articles about naming your baby a la a brand.

But this isn’t a car. Or an energy drink. Or a podcast company (Startup did a fascinating ‘cast on naming their company, Gimlet, which is worth a listen). This is a BABY. Who will become an adult human who will introduce himself as the name you select for the rest of his life. Reconsider.

Bad bitch weekend: Marie Antoinette, tattoos and Annie Lennox

A quick recap of some important notes from the weekend, full of bad bitch-ness.

  • Hubs and I had tickets for the Steppenwolf Theatre’s newest show, “Marie Antoinette.” It’s the story we were all taught in high school, but pretty sympathetic towards Marie, who was basically a child bride. Plus it has modern dialogue and amazing costumes (think Beyonce in the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour).

THE CLOTHES, PEOPLE. She started off the show with a tiny crown nestled in a three-foot-tall wig and a bedazzled top that said “BOSS.” Between scenes there was dance music and strobe lights. Stylistically one of the coolest things I’ve seen. The second act dragged a bit, but hubs and I give it two thumbs up. Go see it, Chicago!


  • After years of toying with the idea, I finally got inked. I joined the Chicago flag tattoo club. I brought some moral support who ended up getting an impulse tattoo. (Bad bitch props to her.) Hat tip to the guys at Studio One in Pilsen who gave us a great experience. They were chill and funny and patient. Plus the shop is uber clean, intimate and has cool vintage decor. I’ll definitely recommend them to others and get more work done there.


  • Annie Lennox at the Grammy’s. Flawless. She starts in around the 2:05 mark. Get it, girl.

Also doing work at the Grammy’s: Lady Gaga looked and sounded amazing. And I give props to Madonna for doing her thing.


Why I didn’t like Sundance 2015’s biggest hit


This was the third year hubs and I went to Sundance, and, as in trips past, we had tickets to the U.S. dramatic grand jury prize winner.

This year it was “Me and Early and the Dying Girl,” also winner of the audience award.

It’s the story of Greg, an awkward high schooler whose mom forces him to befriend Rachel, a classmate with cancer (why exactly mom does this, and why he’s so compelled to actually do what she says, still bothers me about this flick). He’s a quirky kid who films remakes of classic movies with his only friend, Earl, who he refers to as his colleague. It’s not a teen romance nor does it delve much into Greg’s relationship with his family. Most of the story focuses on Greg’s time befriending Rachel. I won’t give away any spoilers, but the movie does have “the dying girl” in its title.

I have a few problems with this movie.

1. Character development. Earl and the dying girl are two of the main characters, but they’re very one-dimensional. I found it pretty offensive the way they cast Earl, the only black character, as a stereotype. He lives in the bad part of town, and the only thing we see of his life is his older brother who sits on the front porch with a pitbull (which is constantly trying to attack people). His most frequently uttered line is “those titties.” Rachel is a similarly flat character. She has little personality, we don’t know anything about her aspirations or desires and really we aren’t even sure why Greg enjoys her company so much.

2. It tries so damn hard to be quirky. The main character makes remakes of classic films (but weird versions!). His dad wears a kimono and is always cooking some weird Southeast Asian dish! He confesses to a cute girl that he masturbated into a pillow! He spends lunch hours with his overly tattooed, pho-eating history teacher! I have a fair amount of contact with high schoolers. No one is this weird or interesting.

3. The kids with cancer genre, or “sick-lit.” Remember those Lurlene McDaniel books? I read her books as a preteen. Typically they dealt with main characters who had chronic illnesses (the title of her books say it all: “Don’t Die, My Love,” “Til Death Do Us Part” and “Mourning Song”). Then there’s “A Walk to Remember” where—spoiler alert—Mandy Moore dies!

Add in “The Fault in Our Stars” and “The Red Band Society.” It feels like an easy way to create drama—just add a dying child! Cancer is real, and those going through it should be able to see themselves depicted in film. But it feels exploitative. An easy way to elicit tears (of which there were many in our screening).

I only saw eight of the many films at Sundance this year, but “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” was not the best one. To its credit, the movie has some genuinely funny moments. The boys accidentally trip on edibles. And supporting cast Molly Shannon and Nick Offerman make for a colorful background. Add to that the interesting shots and some animated cutaways, and it’s pretty entertaining. I have no doubt it will be a commercial success.

But I won’t be recommending it to anyone.

Back at it: Lady rockers, doc films and more

So…um…hey guys. Yeah, I’ve totally been neglecting my website. *slaps hand*

I feel like I need to get back at this. I’m not quite sure of what it’s going to be. Probably a mixture of stuff I’d Yelp about and The Love List and the lint in my coat pocket. We’ll try it on for size; see how it goes.

So let’s just dive in. A few things I’m obsessed with at the moment and need to discuss:

  • HAIM (pronounced to rhyme with “time”). Y’all. Why didn’t anyone tell me about them?! It’s like if Fleetwood Mac and Feist had three badass babies who happened to be sisters and formed a rock band. I’ve listened to their latest album about four times in 48 hours.

I first found out about HAIM via Taylor Swift’s Instagram account, which I hate-read (hate-scroll?) from time to time (like in bed at 5 a.m.). Apparently the HAIM ladies are going on tour with T-Swiz, and I looked them up to see what trash they sang. And then I kind of loved it. Taylor Swift, why must you put your claws into cool things? Lena Dunham, then Lorde, now HAIM? Also I love the weird dancing in this video:

  • Meru. Hubs and I saw this documentary at Sundance on Sunday.

Let me preface this by saying I give not two shits about mountain climbing. Just not interested. But this movie about three dudes trying to summit Mount Meru isn’t a “climbing movie.” It’s a movie about strength, passion, self-doubt and determination. And the guys who were climbing this huge peak in the Himalayas, where they likely could’ve died at any moment, FILMED IT ALL THEMSELVES. Imagine hanging by a rope 18,000 feet in the air with a camera. Insane. The cinematography is breathtaking. The story is inspiring. Go see it.

  • Call Your Girlfriend. Podcasts are uber trendy right now (just ask Alex Blumberg). I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this one, but I quickly fell in love. The ‘cast’s tagline is “A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.” It’s like someone produced you and your best ladyfriends’ banter. There are listener letters about friendship problems, musings on pop culture, a segment they call “This Week in Menstruation” where they discuss things like the pros and cons of IUDs and more.

I converted Hannah, and she’s been so smitten, she sent them a listener question (more of a comment) about the infuriating and condescending handmade signs that often grace the stall doors in the lady’s room (you know, the ones telling you “Don’t even think about flushing your tampon, or else you’ll RUIN EVERYTHING!”). I’ve known many a man to try to flush inappropriate items—are there signs in the bathroom berating them too? Anyway, they actually discussed Hannah’s question, which makes her my shero.

Check Out Culture Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow on BlogTalkRadio

Customer service through social media

Have you ever tried to get in touch with someone via email, and they just refuse to answer you?

I was running into this problem with a bakery I was hoping to work with for my upcoming wedding. I initially contacted them to see what they offered. I got a response a few days later (which, to someone who nearly always responds to emails within 24 hours, seemed like a lifetime). Last week I shot them another email wanting to finalize an order. No response. This week I sent another email. No response. I was getting anxious – wedding planning has been stressful, and I wanted to get things nailed down. I even went to the bakery’s brick and mortar location and was told I needed to contact the person via email (the same one I’d been trying to reach).

Yesterday I was on the bakery’s Facebook page when I noticed its Twitter feed. Though my emails were going unreturned, I saw that tweets were posted multiple times per day – one even within the last two hours. I quickly sent them a tweet:




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