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Thursday, April 29, 2004

'Oh-my-God!': 'Friends' lives on in lingo
Tammy Paolino

Saying goodbye to our Friends after a decade is not easy.

The very idea of Thursday night without Joey and Ross and Rachel is almost too much to bear.

At least we are left with an endless supply of reruns. Friends also leaves us with an altered lexicon. There's Janice's now-famous expression (Oh, my God!) and Joey's penchant for "going commando." Consider those and other expressions the gang at Central Perk have added to our pop-culture language:


Just when you've forgotten Janice, Chandler's on-again, off-again, oh-so-annoying girlfriend, she pops up again like a big, bad hair day.

Of all the characters who have come and gone in Friends' 10-season run, Janice is probably the one who is the most fun to hate.

And her trademark response, every time she bumps into either Chandler or wife Monica, is one of the most imitated expressions on the popular sitcom.

Just make sure you flail your recently manicured long nails out into fans for maximum gesture-ability and emphasize every syllable.

'Going commando'

Early in the third season, Ross invites the gang to attend a speech he is giving, but no one is ready on time. In fact, Joey and Chandler are too busy fighting over a chair to get dressed. That is, until Joey decides to put on all of Chandler's clothes at once - except for his underwear. "Going commando" is an expression sure to stick around long after Joey and company go off to syndication heaven.

'Going Monica'

What can you say about a woman so obsessed with cleanliness and organization that she drives her friends to distraction?

Monica is also supercompetitive, even with herself (remember her challenge to outdo her own Thanksgiving dinner from the year before?). In one episode, Phoebe warns her not to "get all Monica" about it, and we all know what she means.

'The List'

Are there certain people on the planet so out of our league that should we happen to get the unthinkable opportunity to sleep with them, our partners should let us?

Bored one day at the coffee shop, Ross is asked to make "The List" of his top five choices.

Unfortunately for him, he laminates his list just after deleting Isabella Rossellini, who promptly walks into Central Perk. Die-hard fans know there is another episode that also involves a list that Ross makes, this time of the pros and cons of choosing Rachel over his new girlfriend, Julie. In both cases, "The Lists" will haunt Ross for a long time to come.

'The Break'

In the numerous ups and downs of the Ross and Rachel romance, "The Break" is the most notorious of all. After Ross had problems adjusting to Rachel's busy new career, the couple agree to "take a break," at the suggestion of Rachel and to the reluctance of a still-smitten Ross. But the rules of this "break" are never clear to Ross, who promptly drowns his sorrows and sleeps with the cute Xerox girl at the copy store. "The Break" was referred to (mostly by Ross, as in "We were on a break!") throughout the remainder of the series.


In one of the sweetest Friends moments, as well as one of the funniest, the gang is watching a video from Monica and Rachel's high school prom night. When Rachel's date is believed to be a no-show, Ross steps in and offers to take her himself. "See," says Phoebe, from her perch on the couch, "she's his lobster."

"It's a known fact that lobsters fall in love and mate for life," Phoebe explains. "You know what? You can actually see old lobster couples walking around their tank, you know, holding claws like . . . (she demonstrates her 'claws.')."

Is Rachel really Ross' lobster? We have to wait till that final episode to find out for sure.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Dog feels below par after eating 28 golf balls
'Libby' recovering from operation to remove dimpled spheres

Updated: 12:43 p.m. ET April 23, 2004LONDON - Vets cut open a German shepherd dog to find she had scarfed down no fewer than 28 golf balls.


Eighteen-month-old Libby had been coughing blood after weeks of fetching golf balls at the northern England course where owner Mike Wardrop works as a bar manager.

Wardrop told Reuters on Friday he hadn’t realized the dog had a secret appetite for the dimpled balls she found at Didsbury Golf Club in Manchester.

“When I take her for a walk every day she is prone to finding golf balls,” Wardrop said. “She can fit five in her mouth.”

Libby is now recovering from the operation to remove the balls, with 30 stitches across her belly.

“I’ve had to buy her two footballs,” said Wardrop. “She can’t swallow them.”

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Israeli Theater to Screen Gibson's 'Passion'

JERUSALEM — An Israeli movie theater plans to screen Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," a decision likely to raise an uproar in the Jewish state over accusations the movie is anti-Semitic.

The Tel Aviv Cinematheque is in final negotiations with Gibson's production company for a one-time showing of the film in Israel, probably in a few months, cinema manager Alon Garbuz said.

The release of the movie in the United States sparked a debate over whether Jews bore responsibility for Jesus' Crucifixion. Rabbis in the United States warned that the film would fuel anti-Semitism.

Angry Jewish reaction prompted the Vatican to reiterate its stance that Jews were not collectively responsible for Jesus' persecution. Gibson has said he didn't mean to portray Jews in a damaging light, and was only trying to depict the New Testament as it was written.

Palestinians have applauded the film, saying it truthfully shows Jews as the culprits, and have compared the Crucifixion to their suffering under Israeli occupation.

Garbuz said the cinematheque has been criticized for its decision to show the movie.

"I think that those who think that the film is anti-Semitic shouldn't come see it," he said. "No one has the moral duty to decide for the public what they can see."

Jewish and Christian clergy will oversee a discussion with the audience after the viewing.

Israel's censorship board could prevent the screening if it deems the movie is anti-Semitic, but Garbuz said he has received word the board won't stop the showing.

Alabama Atheists Allege Unfair Treatment

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — When state officials ordered the removal of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court (search) building last year, advocates of church and state separation claimed victory. Eight months later, a new controversy has them crying foul.

Larry Darby, president of the Atheist Law Center, plans to hold a rally outside the state capitol on May 6. At the same time, Christians will gather in observance of the national day of prayer.

If it rains, state lawmakers will allow the religious gathering to move inside. But when Darby requested the same access for his atheist group, his state representative, Republican Jay Love, turned him down.

"Many of the beliefs that he's espoused and said publicly, a great deal of my district finds offensive. A great deal of the people of Alabama would find offensive," Love said.

Groups organizing any activity inside Alabama's capitol require the sponsorship of an elected official. But by putting the burden on state legislators to determine what organizations can rally inside the capitol building, critics say the process becomes political.

Some state officials say atheists may have had better luck securing the capitol had they not chosen to rally on a day honoring religion, especially in this Bible belt state still reeling from the removal of the Ten Commandments statue.

Some Papers Pull Controversial 'Doonesbury'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A few newspapers around the country edited Friday's "Doonesbury" (search) comic strip to remove an expletive used by a character injured while fighting in Iraq, and at least two newspapers pulled the strip altogether.

In a story line that began Monday, B.D., a football coach-turned-soldier, lost a leg after being reactivated in the Army at the end of 2002.

In Friday's strip, his doctor explains how amputees go through a grieving process that starts with denial, followed by anger.

In the final panel, B.D. curses from behind a hospital curtain, skipping the denial.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning comic strip written by Garry Trudeau appears in 1,400 newspapers nationwide. The Anchorage Daily News declined to run the strip, instead publishing a note saying the comic "contained an unnecessary profanity."

The (Nashville) Tennessean also declined to run the comic. Editor Frank Sutherland said in a column that it uses language "we consider inappropriate for newspaper use."

The Green Bay News-Chronicle in Wisconsin edited out the expletive.

"I'd have a hard time printing that phrase as a direct quote in a news story, let alone as part of a piece of fiction on the comics page in big, bold letters," editor Tom Brooker wrote in a story published Friday.

The Beacon Journal in Akron, Ohio, also removed the expletive.

"Context is everything," managing editor Mike Burbach said in an article explaining his decision. "In the Beacon Journal, 'Doonesbury' runs on the comics page. In that context, we decided it was best to bleep out the bad word."

The Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune ran the strip on its editorial page instead of the comics section, and said the move would be permanent.

The strip's distributor, Kansas City-based Universal Press Syndicate, said newspapers weren't contractually allowed to edit the strip, and the syndicate said it planned to contact those that did.

"I don't know what will happen," said Kathie Kerr, a spokesman for Universal Press. "It may just be a heads up just to refresh their memory about the protocol."

Kerr said 11 newspapers had called Universal to talk about the strip. She said she knew of two papers that were not going to print Friday's installment but declined to name them. Newspapers are not required to inform the syndicate when they pull a comic strip.

Trudeau said he started the story line to illustrate the sacrifices American soldiers are making.

"We are at war, and we can't lose sight of the hardships war inflicts on individual lives," said Trudeau, who began writing "Doonesbury" in 1968 while a student at Yale University.

The strip has a history of addressing controversial topics.

Just before the 2000 presidential election, at least two newspapers pulled an installment that accused George W. Bush of cocaine abuse. In February 1998, at least four newspapers refused to run strips about accusations that President Clinton had sex with a White House intern.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

'We Built This City' ranks as the worst record ever
By Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY

We Built This City is the single worst single ever constructed, according to Blender's ranking of reeking tunes.

The magazine's list of "The 50 Worst Songs Ever," which hits newsstands Tuesday in New York and Los Angeles and April 27 nationwide, distills the lamest popular rock-era records into one sonic landfill.

Starship's 1985 anthem, the runaway No. 1 stinker, "seems to inspire the most virulent feelings of outrage," editor Craig Marks says. "It purports to be anti-commercial but reeks of '80s corporate-rock commercialism. It's a real reflection of what practically killed rock music in the '80s."

Also sealing the song's fate were Starship's steep fall from grace as the admired Jefferson Airplane and "the sheer dumbness of the lyrics," Marks says.

The May issue, a sequel to the 2003 roundup of history's worst bands, coincides with a Blender/VH1 special, The 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever, which airs May 12.

Harvesting clunkers that range from The Doors' The End to Aqua's Barbie Girl entailed more digging than expected.

Each dud had to be a hit to make the hit list. Though Right Said Fred's I'm Too Sexy got in, such novelties as Macarena and Who Let the Dogs Out, which by design are cheesy, were nixed. The jury also whittled down the bulk of "rotten, excruciatingly bad low-hanging fruit from the '70s," Marks says.

Blender had no qualms about riding herd on sacred cows, inducting The Beatles' Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, R.E.M.'s Shiny Happy People and John Mayer's Your Body Is a Wonderland. The entry most likely to peeve fans is Simon & Garfunkel's The Sounds of Silence.

"It's the freshman-poetry meaningfulness that got our goat," Marks says. "With self-important lyrics like, 'Hear my words that I might teach you,' it's almost a parody of pretentious '60s folk-rock.

"If Frasier Crane wrote a song, this would be it."

To accommodate coming horrors, the list can't be considered definitive. Noting that Clay Aiken's Invisible landed at No. 11, Marks predicts that "as soon as the American Idol season is finished, there will be a new entry."

Friday, April 16, 2004

Matera, Italy, where actor-director Mel Gibson filmed his movie "The Passion of the Christ"

Italy not Israel was the setting for Mel Gibson's "Passion"
Residents of Matera hope that the film will spark a major tourism boom for this remote, picturesque town

By Victor L. Simpson
The Associated Press

Matera, Italy - There's the hotel where Mel Gibson slept, the restaurant that dished up his favorite fettuccine, the cafe where he stopped for his morning cappuccino.

As the director's film "The Passion of the Christ" opened across Italy this week, no place had as much of a stake in the movie’s success as this corner of Italy's poor Basilicata region.

For two months last year, Gibson and company set up shop in Matera, filming the graphic sequences of Christ's last hours, the bloody scenes of his torture and crucifixion. Now, they hope to turn it into a tourist bonanza.

Along with its famous sassi, the caves dug into the rock that gives Matera the look of ancient Jerusalem, the town now has the film's backdrop to offer tourists on package tours — along with the scores of locals who worked as extras.

Anna Calia stands at the door of her cafe, La Casa di Lucio, and residence, where actor Jim Caviezel slept and director Mel Gibson often sipped a cappuccino during the filming of his movie "The Passion of the Christ"

"We are off the beaten path, I don't have too many illusions," said Rosalia Giura Longo, who runs the Italia hotel and whose photo with Gibson hangs in the lobby alongside a thank-you note he wrote her. "But this year it looks like things are moving."

"Passion" tour packages by travel agencies reportedly have sparked interest among visitors from the United States, while Easter Week tourists from Europe — Germans, French, Norwegians and Italians — are already strolling Matera's narrow streets and up the hill where Jim Caviezel, the American actor who played Jesus, struggled under the cross.

"It's not yet a boom but business is picking up," Maria Laura Isola said as she stood in front of her tiny Sassi Tourism office.

Biblical looks, world class vistas

Matera isn't new to the "Passion" business. Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini shot his "The Gospel According to St. Matthew" in Matera in 1964, clearly struck by the same scenery that led Gibson to the site.

The cave houses dug out of tufa have been on the U.N. World Heritage List for a decade, but the town suffers from isolation. It's some 150 miles east of Naples, far from the sea, an airport or superhighway and served only by a one-track rail line to Bari on the Adriatic coast.

Not to miss this occasion, the town is unabashedly plugging its link to the Gibson film, which pulled in an opening-day record 250,000 spectators in 663 movie houses in the country Wednesday, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.

Although the film carries an R-rating in the United States — meaning children under 17 need to be accompanied by an adult because of the graphic contents — there's no such restriction in Italy.

Mel slept here

Chef Gigi Sanrocco stands next to a menu showing a photo of himself and actor-director Mel Gibson, as he holds a dish of "fettuccine alla Mel" at the entrance of his Trattoria Lucana restaurant in Matera

The Italia hotel is eager to show off the room where Gibson slept and another where the director attended Mass each evening.

At the Trattoria Lucana, owner Gigi Sanrocco whips up a plate of "fettuccine alla Mel," featuring a sauce of mashed fava beans, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes.

Anyone you talk to seems to have a Gibson story, anecdotes about cast members or friends who are featured in the movie. One young man who said he played a Roman soldier pointed out to anyone who would listen where highlights were filmed.

"One morning I saw Gibson walking and said, 'Ciao Mel,'" gushed Anna Calia, who put up Caviezel in her residence in the sassi for the entire shooting. "He stopped and shook my hand."

Monday, April 05, 2004

Great gripe-off: Single vs. married
Who's got the moral high ground and the funniest complaints?

By Amy Keyishian

Who Has It Easier: Singles or Marrieds?

There's a bigger divide than girls against boys; it's the one between single folks and their married friends. For those who haven't walked down the aisle, it can feel like the state of holy matrimony has declared war on anything fun or spontaneous. On the other side of the fence, it seems like all you did was take the next logical developmental step, and now your old friends hate you. And never the twain shall meet?

"Sometimes it feels like my not being married makes me an alien," sighs Lisa, 28, in Toms River, New Jersey. "I don't mind being a third wheel at brunch. I'm not going to steal the married men if you invite me to a party. Just invite me, for heaven's sake."

And for marrieds, the single life can seem like the most self-indulgent state possible -- one that can evoke both envy and hostility. "Single people are just so... so... so well-rested," complains Elizabeth, 43, a mother of two in Los Angeles. "I'll tell you a secret: Sometimes, if I've got unmarried houseguests, I send in one of the kids to wake them up at an ungodly hour, and then pretend I knew nothing about it. Heh. Sweet dreams."

In some cases, a toxic cocktail of misunderstandings wrought by differing paths in life can mess up long-term friendships. "I've got an old, old buddy who just isn't into my 2-year-old," says Anna, 27, in San Francisco. "That was already a problem, and then she got in a huge fight with my husband and now hates him -- and hates me for not standing up for her. I still love her, but that's two big hurdles. We're losing touch, and soon we won't talk at all. I hate it, but it's a classic case of growing apart."

And we thought that breakin' up was hard to do.

Gripes from Couples About Singles

Okay, so what are the specific gripes that couples secretly harbor toward their single friends? For the sake of friend education, we took a brief peek inside the master bedroom of that cute little house in The Land of the Married.

Those folks who are married sometimes gripe that singles don't do enough to help themselves develop healthy relationships. "They say, 'All I want to do is get married and have babies.' Yet they're hanging around at the same post-college bar, dating commitment-phobic, post-adolescent men -- gee, do ya think that's gonna lead to anything?" asks Genine, 29, in Cincinnati. "I try to give good advice," adds Sue, 38, in Falls Church, Virginia. "But they just repeat the same frustrating cycle year in and year out -- so after a while, I can't stand to hear them anymore." And the most damning indictment of all: "Hey, guess why you're still single? You're acting like an idiot!" says Chris, 28, in Spokane, Washington, soon to be married. "That bitter-singles routine is getting tired, and guys can smell your bad attitude a mile away."

Of course, that attitude can do more than hurt a single's chances of finding a healthy relationship; it can, perhaps surprisingly, make a married guy feel awkward sharing the details of his happy relationship. "A single woman will tell me about all her good and bad dates, which I don't mind at all," says Mike, 50, in Lexington, Kentucky. "But she does not want to hear about the romantic date I had with my wife. I guess people don't want to hear about the fun married couples are having if they aren't having the same kind of fun."

Scheduling conflicts are a major bugaboo for many. "My single friends always get pouty about not having enough time with me, but then they try to make plans on Saturday night -- for 'just the girls,'" says Celine, 31, married and living in Los Angeles. "I mean, hello, maybe we could make it brunch? Could you allow for the fact that it's normal to be with your fiance on a date night?" Or sometimes the disparity in availability for "going out" creates trouble, with singles having much more time for the bar scene or for a night on the town than those in committed partnerships. "Okay, so I met my husband at this one bar, the Gaf," says Jen, 33, in New York City. "But now that we're together, we've got, like, different priorities. And our old friends still go there -- not just once a week, but three, four times. It's like Cheers. And we're more like Mad About You. Sorry to be an old fuddy-duddy, but there's a big wide world out here."

More Complaints from Marrieds

Many complain that being married means taking on more weighty matters at times. And an ill or depressed spouse just doesn't compute with some single friends, frustrating their married friends. "This past New Year's, a pal asked me what we did, and I said, 'Nothing, we had to stay home -- Matt had a bad stomach flu, and I had to take care of him,'" says Kelly, 31, in Voorhees, New Jersey. "And her response was, 'Well at least you had someone to stay home with.' Yes. Well. He did have the flu." Similarly, Belinda, in Maplewood, New Jersey, had to nurture her husband through a tough work situation. "Doug didn't get the promotion he was expecting, and it was just devastating," she says. "I had to cancel a night out, and you would have thought I was backing out of a car deal, it was such a scandal. Hello, we can have sushi anytime -- when my family needs me, I'm there first."

Not surprisingly, a lot of gripes from marrieds center around the lack of understanding they feel singles have for their obligations to children. For those who have kids, the lack of understanding from those who don't can be utterly frustrating. "I've got six kids, and single friends don't seem to comprehend that a babysitter -- or two, for this brood -- is expensive, and I don't have $12 to spend on a cocktail," says Barb, 35, in Cincinnati. "If I invite friends over for dinner, they don't understand that they can no longer be 'fashionably late,'" says Margie, 37, who has a 2-year-old in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "Arrive at eight, and I have to run upstairs to put the baby to bed. I feel like a crappy hostess."

And of course, there are broken promises. "I love these insincere offers to babysit," says Kelly, 29, in Tallahassee, Florida. "I understand if you can't make it last-minute, but pull out that calendar and make a date if you really mean it. Otherwise, stop offering."

One of the sweetest gripes comes from a guy -- Marty, 34, in Falls Church, Virginia. "There's this attitude that the wife has to be the old ball-and-chain. If I want to leave a night out and be with her, all I get is groans and teasing. It's a stupid attitude -- I wouldn't have married someone that I couldn't wait to come home to." Mike, in Kentucky, agrees: "Sorry, but belching guys with barbecue sauce on their fingers are no match for a glass of wine and a wife in a silky red teddy." (Sigh. Do these guys have brothers?)

Singles Have Their Gripes, Too!

All right, all right. But guess what? There are complaints on the other side, as well. Singles say their married friends can be annoying beyond belief. The troubles are sometimes less fashionable than Carrie's on Sex and the City, but the stories have the same (little gold) ring.

There seems to be an attitude harbored by many marrieds that they are the normal ones. Such notions cut deep for many singles. "What's all this talk about budgets?" asks Alicia, 34. "Looks to me like everything costs half as much. They bring one dish to a potluck, one bottle of wine to a dinner party...." Colin, 32, agrees. "I'm sick of hearing how my two-income friends are jetting off to Spain while I'm jetting off to Costco," he tells us. "I have four words for you: Couples tax break -- why?" asks Jill, 50, of Hopewell, New Jersey.

"I get them each a birthday present, but I only get one collective gift from them," agrees Deb, 24, in Austin, Texas. And where's the party? At the couple's house, not the bachelorette pad. "Oh, I can never convince a couple to socialize chez moi," says Olivia, 32. "It's like coming to a single woman's pad would be slumming -- as if the Doritos are going to taste better in their matching Bondi bowl set." A rule from Bella, 35, in Providence, Rhode Island: "No 'we-mail.' That's my term for couples who share one e-mail account with their combined names. Blech!"

Then there's the struggle to stay friends after the rugrats come. "Babysitting? Yes, I do," says Amy, 25, in Madison, Wisconsin. "It's the only way I can see my friends -- we hang out when the kid's asleep." Then, there's the bring-along: "I didn't invite the kids to my party, so don't bring them and then run around asking my guests not to smoke and turning down the music," complains Karen, 30, in Philadelphia. "Strangely," points out Fiona, 38, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, "the same people who won't go anywhere without their kids totally ignore the fact that they're screaming and running up and down in the restaurant the whole time we're out."

"Okay, here are the new rules," adds cranky Bella. "No kids on the answering machine. Keep the blurry, unreadable ultrasound printout on the fridge and out of my e-mail inbox. And as cute as your child is, I do not want to hear about the texture of his poop."

Then again, not all singles are childless, and that brings up some more serious complaints. "Some of the other moms at my son's school have the luxury of staying home and having hobbies, while I'm struggling to make sure the pipes in my house don't freeze and shoveling the driveway," says Allison, 43, in Montclair, New Jersey. "When they complain about how overtaxed and tired they are, from all their (optional) fundraising and charity activities, I want to shake them." Working single moms regret that they don't get consideration. "The men I work with can stay as late as they need to," says Jill, 50, in Hopewell, New Jersey. "But I've got to get dinner on the table and oversee homework -- you know, that stuff their wives handle. That doesn't compute, for some guys."

And social life can be tough. "My married friends are great about including me and my two teenage daughters at holidays," says Erica, 45, in Brooklyn, New York. "But Saturday nights seem to be sacrosanct. Even when they're not doing anything special together, they won't commit to doing anything with me, so while my kids are out, I'm watching Pirates of the Caribbean on my big-screen TV. Alone."

More Singles Complaints

Even when single moms do get to go out, the dating world can make them wish for the comfort of married bliss. "Forget dating a guy who's never been married -- he has no concept of the demands on my time, and just gets resentful and pouty," says Erica. "I'll only date a guy in my situation -- with part-time responsibility for kids." But even within that subset, problems arise. "My friends feel free to fix me up with any single dad that crosses their path, even if he's a butcher and I'm a vegetarian," says Catherine, 38, in Blue Hill, Maine. "It'd be nice if they saw past the single-parent thing to really put some thought into the matchmaking." And single dads don't escape unscathed. "Going to neighborhood barbecues on weekends when I don't have the kids -- it's just impossible," says Emilio, 37, in Queens, New York. "I feel like a depressing freak of a failure, missing my two most important parts, and my friends don't know what to say. If they complain about their kids being a pain, I want to punch them. I'd rather go to the office and catch up on work."

Then again, did we say "bliss"? Married gals do gripe about their guys, which can cause a rift with single friends. "My friends complain about their husbands all the time, and it just makes me think -- who wants to get married, anyway? They don't call when things are good," says Maria, 40, in Brooklyn, New York.

"My best friend's husband knows his wife complains to me about him," says Tina, 42, in Atlanta. "So he avoids me, because he thinks I'm biased against him -- when in reality, I understand how the game works, and I like him just fine." And of course, there's the fact that some girls can see right through the complaints. "My friend blames her husband for everything, including the fact that she flaked on my birthday," Tina adds. "Let me see. Now he keeps your calendar? I don't think so."

But the No. 1 complaint among single women with married girlfriends is... the pity. "They get this look on their faces," says Fiona, 38, in New Orleans. "You haven't seen them in two years, and the first thing out of their mouths is, 'So, are you dating anyone?' Then they give me the old head-tilt, sad-face look. It makes me want to scream."

"It's not my married friends that bug me, it's the engaged ones," says Darren, 30, in Brooklyn, New York. "I'm talking about the ones that are so goony about their state of betrothal that they can't stop gushing about the happy life they're going to have. It makes me want to shout, 'Sixty percent divorce rate, people! See you in five years!' But I might be a little... bitter."

Ah, the Joys of Singlehood

But there's one thing both marrieds and singles agree on: Being married isn't perfect, and yes, there are things that even the happiest wife misses about her single days. And there are singletons who value their status, even if they're sometimes lonely. Here are the top things you can enjoy on your own, courtesy of singles and marrieds.

"I love my giant panties. Love them!" Greta, Brooklyn, New York "I can hog the remote and set all the radio stations to NPR." Stacey, Scarsdale, New York "The bed, the blankets, and all four pillows: Mine, mine, mine." Laura, Topeka, Kansas "My unhappily married friends ask me for advice, because they admire the fact that I've been through a bad divorce and come out the other side. Their admiration and faith in me feels good. I love being Mother Confessor." Erica, Brooklyn, New York

"I deal with only one bizarro family -- my own." Taryn, Morristown, New Jersey "I check with one person before I make plans: me." Rebecca, Larchmont, New York "I like to run into old flames and see their wives smolder with that 'I'm-so-threatened' look." Maria, New Orleans "When my mom sends her regular shipment of books like 'Find A Husband After 35,' I get to trade them in at Barnes and Noble for really good novels!" Raisa, Oradell, New Jersey

"Hiking in the woods with my dogs and waking up to find my son snuggled next to me because he thought the vampires in his room might get him -- that's sweeter than dealing with some cranky, unpleasable dude." Sarah, San Diego "I do the museum at my own pace." Lynn, Boston "I really like not discussing the movie." Liz, Charlottesville, Viginia "I appreciate my kids a lot more now." Orlando, Queens, New York "You can go to the theater and get great leftover single seats on standby -- for cheap." Patty, New York "Two words: shopping spree." Mariette, Los Angeles