Purchase anxiety

imagesCA5WQQR4March 29, 2013 – My good friend Dina is the first person I heard use the term purchase anxiety, the feeling that she gets when spending money on something she shouldn’t.

I’m not a sufferer, but sometimes wish I was. Instead, I   have buyer’s remorse, or post-purchase anxiety, which is worse because it makes me ask myself “why the hell did I buy that?” a little too often. I’m out the money and worry about my sanity at the same time. At least purchase anxiety stops you from making some insane purchases.

Case in point: here’s a list of five items I recently bought that I should have thought twice about. They may seem innocent, but they are not.

 5. “The Good Earth” – I bragged about Pearl S. Buck’s classic novel about a Chinese farming family on this blog not too long ago. My goal was to read it by the end of 2012 after being inspired while taking a writing class at Ms. Buck’s home in Perkasie, Pa. I didn’t accomplish my goal, though I tried. And I tried again and again before realizing I didn’t like it. Now it sits on my nightstand with the rest of the books I need to read taunting me. If I never purchased it in the first place, I’d be happier, I’m sure of it.

 4. The black leather purse with the feather fringe – When I saw this bag about six months ago on Macys.com, I had to have it. It was different and a little fresh, considering I hadn’t seen fringe like that since the early 1970s. And it was from rock legend Carlos Santana, new to the bag design business, but I have other bags of his that I adore. Yes, I do have a bit of a purse addiction. I love buying them and rarely suffer from regret even if I don’t carry it often, but after one use, I wondered what made me buy such an ugly bag. Sorry Carlos. Only good tasting bags get to stay in my closet.

3. The black nail polish – Not for my nails mind you, but to touch up the chips that were flaking off the dashboard/stereo of my Volkswagen Jetta. I thought it seemed like a brilliant idea because the paint that chipped off or bubbled revealed the white underneath, which drove me crazy. The polish turned out to be more shiny than expected. It’s also chipping now and driving me crazier. At least I didn’t try to get rid of spots on top of my car with a Brillo pad like someone else I know!

 2. A chrome storage shelf unit –I moved into a new home recently (packing all the weird stuff I own was inspiration for this blog post) and I thought I’d save some money by being a little creative. Instead of buying a baker’s rack or a kitchen cart, I decided to try one of those chrome metal storage units they sell at Target for $39.99. It looked ridiculous when I pulled it out of the box. Sure, it would be perfect for the garage to store baby jars filled with nuts and bolts, or behind the doors of a pantry to hold canned goods, but not in the middle of the kitchen. My savings idea cost me because I had to buy the actual piece I needed in the first place. The storage unit sits in the basement closet, since I’m not the nuts and bolts kind of girl, complete with the receipt and waiting to be returned. Problem is I also suffer from return anxiety.

 1. The timeshare – No, just kidding. I would never do that. And why I’m at it, I’ll include anything in the Skymall.com catalog or in the “As Seen on TV” category, which luckily I’ve stayed away from in the past year. Still, my last item, a pair of Clark’s patent leather shoes, (my most favorite shoe brand) is almost as crazy. These shoes carried a hefty price tag and come complete with a relatively high platform and even higher heel that still has me scratching my head and asking why. They’re super cute, but I’m just too smart to torture myself with them now. What was I thinking?

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It’s risky business for companies looking to hire the right employees

hire-talentMarch 26, 2013 –You wowed them at the job interview, handled every question with ease, and received a call back for another interview, yet you still didn’t get the job.

It’s frustrating, but new information available indicates it might not be too late to land that job, after all. According to a recent survey conducted by CareerBuilder, nearly seven in 10 companies have new hires that don’t work out. It also means if you come across an interesting job that’s already been filled, send a resume anyway. It may pay off in the end because that company may be looking to fill that position again in the near future.

A whopping 69 percent of companies reported in the survey they are unhappy with a bad hire in the last year – and for good reason – it costs them up to $50,000 per hire.

What defines a bad hire? Employers reported several reasons including quality of work, failure to work well with other employees, a negative attitude, attendance problems, complaints from customers and failure to meet deadlines. Employers say they account for bad hires because they needed to fill the job quickly, had insufficient intelligence, had fewer recruiters to help review applications, they failed to check the applicant’s references, or they just made a mistake.

CareerBuilder’s survey confirms something we’ve known all along. Hiring a new employee is a difficult decision, and every decision is risky and unpredictable. With most people putting their best foot forward during the interview process, it comes down to intuition for those hiring.

For instance, I’ve heard recruiters and managers say they know within a few minutes if the person they are interviewing is right for the job. That’s gut instinct, and the survey results prove that isn’t always accurate.

It’s also difficult being on the other side of that equation. As a candidate, you wrack your brain trying to figure out what a hiring manager is looking for, and the survey results may indicate that those in charge can be just as clueless. It appears that hiring managers are now discovering what job seekers knew all along. Finding the right person for the right job cannot follow one specific formula.

That sort of levels the playing field, doesn’t it?

Movie review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

the-incredible-burt-wonderstoneMarch 24, 2013 – There are two kinds of people in the world, those who can appreciate the illusion of tricks and the magicians that offer them, and those who cannot.

I fall into the latter category. Magicians don’t entertain me because there isn’t any magic involved, and I don’t like to be fooled. Yet, I enjoyed “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”.

The comedy directed by Don Scardino, who is better known for his work directing television programs such as “30 Rock” and “The West Wing”, tells the story of superstar magicians (Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi) working along the Las Vegas strip. The duo earned popularity and huge paychecks over the ten years they’ve headlined, until one day their magic begins to look stale because of a new street magician (Jim Carrey) willing to go to extremes to take their audience.

Alan Arkin co-stars as an old-time magician who inspired Burt as a child, along with James Gandolfini as the owner of the hotel where they perform, and Olivia Wilde as the magician’s assistant.

John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein wrote the screenplay, which like magic is viewed best if you can suspend your belief in reality, a possibility because it is hilariously funny if you take it for what it is – a fun and crazy comedy about absurd people.

Carell and Buscemi are great, playing childhood friends who began with their magic act early on and end up performing in Vegas. As years go by their friendship is threatened and their act get old when they meet up with Carrey, who was made for this role.

Gandolfini and the always-charming Arkin were also perfectly cast. It is the role of Jane, the magician’s assistant and wannabe magician, played by Olivia Wilde, that didn’t make a huge impact. Wilde is fine, but any Hollywood actress could have filled her role, and that can’t be said for the other characters.

The story is almost fable like; someone with an ego as large as Burt Wonderstone must hit rock bottom before he succeeds. And his rise back is where the best parts of the movie come in. Carell is at his best when he’s shown adapting to life off the Vegas strip in small rooms with tiny beds, and when he finds work entertaining older folks in a retirement home, who are all former Vegas entertainers. I always appreciated when his egotistic characters are knocked down. He plays that well.

Whenever Carrey is on screen, there’s a plethora of gross humor for those who like that sort of thing. I typically don’t, but I found Carrey hilarious, anyway. This is a different role for him. I’ve grown accustomed to see him play the stupid, but loveable character, like in his earlier works, i.e. “Dumb and Dumber”, “Ace Ventura” and “The Cable Guy”, but he’s deliciously evil in this role.

Many critics and moviegoers alike didn’t care for this movie, especially the ending. It’s box office earnings are only a quarter of what “Oz the Great and Powerful” made over the last two weeks, and I’m not sure why people are staying away because it’s far more entertaining.

That said, you can’t think logically while viewing this story or it is ruined. Think humor along the lines of “The Forty Year Old Virgin”, “Anchorman” or “Stripes”, and don’t expect intelligent humor like you’d see in “M.A.S.H.” or “Frasier”. It’s laugh out loud funny, and the audience I enjoyed it with laughed out loud along with me. I adored the ending and found it clever and unique.

Suspending your belief in what is real is what most comedy is about. If you have no problem with that, you will have no problem enjoying “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.”

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Rating: 4

Rating System:
5. Great Movie, see it now
4. Good movie and worth the price of admission
3. It’s OK, but I’d wait for the DVD
2. Proceed with caution
1. Don’t bother

Celebrating the BIG 5 – 0

imagesCAY4IW70March 22, 2013 – Today is a significant date in Fab Four history.

Fifty years ago, on March 22, 1963, a day that changed music forever, The Beatles released their debut album “Please Please Me”.

Music historians report the album cost about $500 to produce and less than 12 hours to record. It paid for itself in an instant, staying on top of the charts for 30 weeks, until their second released album knocked it from the number one spot. “Please Please Me” was voted 39th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of all Time.”

The album turned Lennon and McCartney into song writing machines. They wrote eight of the 14 songs, an uncommon occurrence for the times, and went on to write 217 songs (that were recorded) on 13 studio albums over the next seven years.

That doesn’t include the gems written by my favorite Beatle, George Harrison, who is often overshadowed by Lennon and McCartney. Harrison wrote and recorded an additional 22 songs for The Beatles. His contribution to “Please Please Me”, aside from the instruments he played and background vocals, was the lead vocal on the song “Chains”. His first written contribution for “Don’t Bother Me” would have to wait until their next studio album, “With the Beatles”, released eight months later.

To commemorate the grand occasion, musicians including Joss Stone and The Stereophonics will gather at Apple Studios today to reinterpret the tracks originally laid in 1963. The live session will broadcast on Radio 2 in London, and will likely make it across the pond at some point. Stay tuned.

Spring

imagesCA9FOG7HMarch 20, 2013 – Today, in the northern hemisphere spring arrives.

For many of us spring signifies longer days, increasing as the season progresses and the temperatures begin to rise.

For the student, spring means break, whether it’s home to Mom and Dad for a week, or off to a tropical island to celebrate time off.

For the gardener, spring equals rebirth. Seeds are planted in nurturing soil and bloom into colors so vibrant they put rainbows to shame.

For the religious, spring often means the renewal of faith.

For the poet, “A little madness in the spring is wholesome even for the king.” – Emily Dickinson

For the romantic, “Always its spring, and everyone’s in love and flowers pick themselves.” – e.e. cummings

For the literary, “Spring drew on . . . and a greenness grew over those garden beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

For the music lover, spring is Vivaldi.

And for the sports fan, spring is the happiest season of all. Opening day is 11 days away…Go Phillies!

My weekend with Michelle

marilyn_storyMarch 18, 2013 – Now and then you need time to chill.

Staying home for most of the weekend allowed me to do that, yet it didn’t stop me from catching two new movies. I checked the cable channels and was pleasantly surprised at the selections available and new to me, and discovered two starring Michelle Williams, who charmed me in “Oz the Great and Powerful”.

I’m not sure why I haven’t noticed Williams before. After reviewing a list of her projects on IMDB, I realize I have seen a few of her movies, but she never made an impression on me until last week. With my DVR loaded with “Blue Valentine”, starring Williams and Ryan Gosling, and “My Week With Marilyn”, with Williams, Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judy Dench, I was set.

“Blue Valentine” tells the story of a young married couple, with flashbacks to their promising beginning, right up to the last two days of their relationship’s sad collapse. Well acted and praised by critics for its raw realism, I can’t say I found it entertaining. It felt too real, as if I were spying on someone I knew. If I wanted that much realism in my entertainment, I wouldn’t go to the movies, I would simply watch through the windows of my neighbors’ homes and hope I didn’t get arrested. Find me a middle ground between far-fetched and realism that let’s me escape for a while.

The film did earn an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for Williams, and Golden Globe acting nominations for both Gosling and Williams, but I couldn’t recommend it for anyone who doesn’t want to feel hopeless after the credits rolled.

“My Week with Marilyn” was the polar opposite. The film focuses on the true story of Colin Clark, a young English man who worked with Sr. Laurence Olivier’s film production company when Marilyn Monroe was in Great Britain filming “The Prince and the Show Girl.”

Despite dealing with depression and desperation like “Blue Valentine”, there was lightness about “My Week with Marilyn” that I craved. Charming and witty, Williams played the part to perfection. As Marilyn she was believable and intrigued all of the men and women she worked with while making the movie. Still, the darker themes weren’t glossed over – we saw Marilyn’s insecurity through Williams when it came to her self-esteem and her relationship with playwright Arthur Miller – but it didn’t consume the story.

We also got to see Monroe drive Sir Laurence to the breaking point – she didn’t possess his love of acting or use the same methods as one of the greatest actors of our time – and it was clear she didn’t want to be an actress at all. She just wanted to be loved. It was also strange to hear others on set call the great but testy Olivier, Larry.

Always a delight, Dench playing British actress Dame Sybil Thorndike, stands out in her role as the only one in the film who was kind to Marilyn and encouraged her along. Yet it was Branagh and Williams who were nominated for the Oscars, and both deservedly so.

The two movies couldn’t have been more different, and Williams did a good job convincing me that two different actresses played the lead roles, proving her range. If you haven’t seen either of these movies, skip “Blue Valentine” and treat yourself to the charming “My Week With Marilyn” instead.

More mid-March warnings

ides_of_marchMarch 15, 2013 – Sure, you’re familiar with the phrase “Beware the ides of March”, commemorating that day in 44 B.C. when Brutus, the ultimate backstabber, murdered Julius Caesar. Ides, referring to the Roman calendar, signifies the middle of the month.

But you may not know that March 15 is also “National Everything You Think is Wrong Day”.

Does that mean because I think Caesar was murdered on this day that he really wasn’t? Or can I safely assume that those events actually happened because history tells me so, and I should be confident that I know it instead?

I may sound like an astrologer who warns you about Mercury going into retrograde, but it’s probably best to avoid making any major decisions today. Lay low and wait for tomorrow. Then again, don’t listen to me because anything I think today is obviously wrong.

It will all work out in the end because tomorrow (March 16) is “National Everything You Do is Right Day“. And if you’re still confused, remember  March 17 is St. Patty’s day, so toss back a few cold ones and it won’t matter if you’re right and wrong.