Miss April Advises: Sports Injury – Clothes fit for the Emperor.

Dear Miss April,

I encourage exercise. Its great to see the svelte and the ample doing their bit to
become their ( or societies) ideal shape.
We have come so far but some things are lost is rush on our daily treadmills. We
have lycra to stream line our bodies as we hurtle about on our stationary bicycles.
We have coloured sports bras and vibrant layering options. These possibly a
distillation of Samantha Fox, Courtney Love and Olivia Newton John. Thanks to all.

I need to digress to provide background information that will aide in my enquiry.
Lycra while seemingly other worldly and eternal is still just a textile and like
all textiles, possibly with the exception of Kevlar or 70s polyester, is prone to
degradation. When tightly bracing and stretched around a body in motion it can be
very transparent when old and worn. Many people are unaware of this unintentional
nudity and can lead to quite the eye full in the street.
I know there are lycra fetishists, to be sure, but, all decent fetishists know that
furtiveness is no substitute for indulging your obsession fully and at length with
others who appreciate your particular proclivity. This is usually done in private
for the most satisfying results, so I’m told.

Although as I said , taking excise is to encouraged it has some side effects. If
done properly it requires effort resulting in perspiration and its bi-product,
pong. Thats why they have showers at gyms, I presume. Its what happens after that
disturbs me. I have seen people in there sports attire in cafes winding down over
large milky caffeinated beverages.

This begs the question, have they exerted themselves sufficiently, showered and
redressed in fresh gym clothes to demonstrate a love of fitness? Its more troubling
if this is not that case. Then why are they shopping for home-wares and high end
furniture in these fecund invisible undergarments?

Do you think we should lobby the garment industry to put used by dates on these
clothes? Like cream and meat for instance. Im sure this would have the same effect
of reducing retching in the street as the sanitisation of the food industry has.

I’m eager to hear your opinion and possible other solutions.


Sports Injury

Dear Sports Injury

What a colourful portrait you paint! This world of lycra fetishism astounds me, surely such things are nonsense, but when I searched the world wide web of information I came across such a disturbing array of fetishes that lycra seemed so innocent in comparison. Who knew swimming caps and goggles caused hearts (and loins) to flutter so!

What is acceptable and what is not? Wearing tight-fitting lycra while shopping or relaxing in a cafe is not in itself unacceptable, it is one of the grey areas of modern society whereby personal expression through fashion is so much more experimental than in my day. However, if we try to claim that there is no dress code, we are deluding ourselves. Abolishing expectations of dress in public is not a freedom, it is moral anarchy. One’s dress is not purely an individual expression of taste, personality and status; like Manners, it is an expression of our relationship to fellow man.

A person’s dress reflects a relationship with themselves and their community. We are a shared society, and pride in appearance, whether it be the time it takes to create a perfectly pointed Mohawk, to coordinate a desired nonchalance, or commit to the highest of fashion, we say to each other, I care enough to make the effort. It says to our neighbour “I see you, and this is how I would like you to see me”. We are connected.

It is unequivocally and entirely unacceptable to wear a sweat drenched exercise costume to eat or shop in public. The mere thought of a lady testing various sofas in her threadbare fabrics steeped in sweat and Impulse sends me a shudder, the implications of hygiene alone – eek. They should be ashamed.

Your suggestion of a use-by date is an excellent idea, are you in marketing? They would double their sales much like shampoo manufacturers did when some genius decided to put ‘repeat’ on the bottle’s instructions. However, my personal conviction is to work toward reducing our consumption, I would not like to recommend for people to discard clothes perfectly suitable for exercise, ironically their very raison d’etre. Perhaps a warning label might suffice?

WARNING: This garment may cause social disgrace if worn in public.
WARNING: People hate you shopping in these clothes.
WARNING: Research shows that you stink after exercise.
WARNING: 20 washes = Emperor’s New Clothes.

The likes of you and me though are in a quandary when it comes to pointing out these miscarriages of dress. How does one do so without seeming rude, or even unkind? It is an art form, truly, and that is why those with such good manners appear so elegant. Perhaps you could discretely follow the culprit around said furniture store? As you witness the derriere bearing down onto the unsuspecting sofa – voila – you kindly insert a water resistant padded cushion betwixt them. “For your comfort, Madam” you say with a dapper smile. After following her around a few more times, she might begin to realise the expectation of herself you are kindly alluding to.  

If you notice a lady drying off at a nearby cafe, pass her a scented wet towelette and a travel hand sanitiser – “you’re welcome” you say to her companions. Do you witness her virtue being threatened in a public street by worn threadbare fabrics? “My lady!” you say with urgency as you run to her aid, wrapping her in whatever comes to hand, towel, street sign, balloons, Thomas Dux bag. “Your honour is being threatened by those underclothes, never fear; I will escort you to your car.”

Thus, you are fortunate to display to the world your generous wallet, community spirit, good character, and one can only hope others will follow your fine example.

To avoid such direct intercourse you might prefer a more clandestine approach – print out this response and post it in pertinent neighbourhoods, on suspects automobiles, in shop windows, etc., etc. A public education campaign could be just the ticket!

Yours faithfully, Miss April

Heed Miss April’s Advice!

Unburden your woes, share your troubles, correspond with Miss April here! Shh, confidentiality assured!! You can Tweet Miss April too!

Miss April Advises: Taken for Granted – Artists are peeved!

Dear Miss April,

I’ve been reading your column. It seems you are quite knowledgable when it comes to the arts and aesthetic issues.
We all hear that the arts industry is unregulated. Its a well publicized and expolited fact. We know that in opposition the goverment is leaden ,bureaucratic and unresponsive. Its a well publicized and expolited fact. What happens when these areas overlap, say with the Australian Council?

We have all seen the self interest, nepotism, shallow thinking and ego pyrotechnics at work, but happens when you get the arts industries heightened pitch overlaid on this gravelly platform provided by the goverment? Well, sometimes its self interest, nepotism, shallow thinking and ego pyrotechnics. It doesnt make for a sure footing.

The grant system seems to help in a direct individual way and the artists/ creaters/ creatives sometimes get some money too, but this cash injection is the most impotent of the boards traits. Perhaps if there were broader impacts than turning up at private openings and previews at the opera house for the bereaucrats. What about lobbying for a better tax position for artists? Imprisonment for lazy curators? Ensuring the funding goes to the artist not their dealers who write the applications? Why hell, even making their web site user friendly? Beneficial longterm outcomes!!

Do you think its time they put down the Chardonnay in Sydney and had a good look at what theyre offering the arts community and the tax paying public?


Taken for Granted

Dear Taken for Granted

Stop, please, don’t! You’re making me blush! It is true that art woes seem to have predominated this advice column, but I believe that may be less about my own knowledge and more about the mindset of our local community. Lucky to have such woes!

Oh, wouldn’t it be a blessed thing to have arts funding policy decided by an Agony Aunt column, the power is making me swoon! It is interesting to note though, that yours is not the only frustrated voice (like him, him , him & her) regarding our nation’s major arts grant body. Why, I do believe our federal fund is currently under review‘transparency please!’ – is the cry upon the winds. I ask you though, what is it that you really want from Miss April? Much of what you say are statements, opinions, questions which demand a nodding and smiling agreement.

I’ll tell you this. Clogging up our prison system with yellow-bellied curators would probably exhaust our arts funding, not relieve it! We’ll have another grant category just to cover it – legal defence funds for dull curators. It is sad that we have a national tradition of ‘I’ll have what he’s having’ when it comes to acquisitions, grants, curatorial inclusions, publicity, etc, etc. All a rather big yawn isn’t it?

I agree, a user-friendly website would be helpful. I mean have you seen this clip? I agree, the system has led to accusations of nepotism! I agree, seeing the same commercial gallery being awarded tens of thousands of dollars year-in and year-out, despite them being the most successful and fiscally liquid business in the industry is rather eyebrow raising. I agree with many of your points. And that is all I can do for you here. Or is it?

Dear Ms/Mr Granted, may I call you Taken? I infer from your moniker you see yourself as a victim of said system? An artist yourself perhaps, a musician, actor, dancer, painter, writer? The frustration at the inequity of the system feels worse because you see yourself at the short end of the stick? Then I would like to impart some advice to you before I sign off here today. Put it behind you. If you spend your energy rallying against the system, not only will you go mad, you will be spending precious time and energy away from your craft. I can imagine it is frustrating that grants are awarded to others under perceived dubious methods, but fear not, because the artist does have the last laugh. Do you know the secret of becoming an artist, truly? The secret is: just do it. Don’t wait for grants, don’t waste your time thinking about policies, don’t waste your time stewing on the system, concentrate on your work.

Not to say that you should not submit your grant requests, continue to do so if you so wish. You’ve got to be in it to win it! Here is a case study where an artist is talking about their approach to writing grant applications. There is some good advice there. However, it also emphasises the need for the artist to be adroit at influential writing skills, not a skill all have, which puts them at an immediate disadvantage. So my advice for you here would be to draw upon your friends and family, if you know someone who can help you prepare – ask them. The video also inadvertently points out a bittersweet element of the grants system – multiple successes for the same artists & organisations, means no success for others. If you want to get involved, why don’t you register as a Peer? If you want to critique or suggest improvements – write, email, call them. Contact the board members. Also, you could contact the Department directly in Canberra. Make yourself KNOWN.

To be honest with you Taken, there could be vast improvements, they could inject some fresh blood and new ideas, and transparent assessment processes; and perhaps I could spend my years pondering such matters, perhaps you could too. But I would rather get back to my typewriter, and you should get back to work. 

Thank you most sincerely for entrusting me with your worries,
Yours, Miss April

Heed Miss April’s Advice!

Unburden your woes, share your troubles, correspond with Miss April here! Shh, confidentiality assured!! You can Tweet Miss April too!

Miss April Advises: Knee Deep – kid’s parties get complicated

Dear Miss April,

I have been placed in charge of an extremely unfamiliar task. A children’s birthday party, under 10’s to be exact.
My memories are of sugary phantasms, sprinklers on lawns and throwing up in the car. I’m sure times have changed, what with child obesity and peanut, wheat and lactose intolerance in the under 10 set filling the newspaper.

I’m not sure how sparking mineral water, imaginary tea, crudites and felafel’s will go down with the pink outfitted ruffians I will be hosting.

Any catering tips would be appreciated?

Soon to be

Knee Deep

Dear Knee Deep

Good old blogs and Facebook pages now hold host to plenty of information about such topics. There is a Thermomix page (for those dedicated to the hot right then 1960s Italian kitchen technology now popular in Australia) where eager food obsessed mothers recently swapped some children’s party food ideas such as: fruit kebabs, rainbow cupcakes, cake pops (very ill-advised IMHO), or even the chocolate beetroot cakes and magic bean chocolate cakes (made with red kidney beans) for those who take delight into tricking children into eating a healthy ingredient cooked to death.

One time-blessed mother listed her complete menu: vegetarian sausage rolls, cinnamon scrolls, apricot and coconut balls, fruit platter with yoghurt dip, popcorn, mini-quiches & pikelets.

Another suggestion was homemade hummus served in individual plastic shot glasses, each fitted with a carrot and a celery stick. Healthy yes, but then you risk the ire of those who condemn such perverse overuse of plastic. A tricky balancing act at party time.

All of these are wonderful suggestions, but really most kids go straight to the cheezels that one’s husband/brother/uncle decided to serve up and ignore all healthy options. All of a sudden there are party pies, fairy bread, and bowls and bowls of lollies that seem to come from nowhere. Well-intentioned mother has wasted her time, and no-one seems to empathise because by golly its a party and time to kick back. One soon finds out, that behind the facade of conversations eye-ball deep in healthy matters, most parents are sick to death of thinking of gourmet options subconsciously suspected as pretentious brainwashing and fantasise about halcyon days of sugar highs, and food full of hyper-real colour.

This pickle of a situation recalls a story I once heard. A story of upright, disciplined citizens with only the best in mind for their child. No additives, no sugar, no fat; only a fully controlled diet for their little boy. But they understood that other parents were not so strict so chose to have their little one’s party at McDonalds, with a large food-colouring fantasy of a cake. Isn’t that nice of them? Their son, of course, could only watch on, nibbling at his rye wrap while his best friends devoured their starch and fat, and delighted in his birthday cake from which he did not taste a crumb. Model parents. A quiet boy.

But I would be remiss to treat lightly the seriousness of food allergies and child obesity. I can solve the latter by simply stating, a child’s birthday party is no place for you to worry about the Western world’s obesity problem. Leave that responsibility where it rightfully lies, with the parents, broader community’s attitudes to fast foods and capitalism. If you do have a guest with food allergies I am certain you would be duly informed, and it is then your responsibility to supply  suitable options for their needs. That’s where the magic bean cake comes in handy.

So take a page out of the child’s manual to parties, put on your tutu and join in the fun.

Bon appetit!
Miss April

Heed Miss April’s Advice!

Unburden your woes, share your troubles, correspond with Miss April here! Shh, confidentiality assured!! You can Tweet Miss April too!

Miss April Advises: Underdazzled

Dear Miss April,

I have attended a performance by Rufus Wainwright at the revised Hamer hall. The performance was dire, underwhelming, phoned in; but that’s not what I’m writing to you about. I had a pre dinner drink and went down to the underworld of the theater to take my allocated seat. I endured the show and with the lumpen throngs exited conventionally up a sets of escalators planned like jack knifed semi trailers tumbling through a cement boot. Arriving at the top and facing away from the exit then redirected by doorstop docents, I trudged with the masses to the exit, like so many heifers at the RNA show toward the front door. An object caught my gaze on exit.At first I thought it the new chandelier as is expected of great concert halls. But it emitted no light, merely reflections from a series of carbuncles growing from tubular space frames. My stunned look elicited a comment from a passer-whizzing-by. “Its art” they blurted. It was in fact forgettable but what I do remember was that it was like an enlarge reproduction of an accessory from my little unicorn that had been vajazzled or some new organic surveillance system.
If you’re passing pop in and tell me what you think it might be.
Even under the heady influence of a dragging performance and now appropriate numbers of pre show drinks , I’m still unsure what I saw.

Please advise.


Dear Underdazzled

You appear to be undertaking the role of Aesthetics Arbiter with noble dedication. Do be careful to not exhaust yourself!

I visited the venue with the mind to formulate arguments in support of artistic interpretation and to dispel your disquieting disdain. As I gazed upon the suspended artwork I found myself painted into a wee bit of a corner, and felt rather amused at my pickle of a situation.

Firstly, let me say if you know of anyone who vajazzles unicorns please slip a note to their therapist. Secondly, I would write a stern letter to the toy manufacturer enquiring as to why they even made it possible to vajazzle their weird little horse dolls.

That said, are you aware of the practice of lauded Australian artist Robert Owen? Geometric abstractionist, interesting colourist, successful public architecture collaborationist? No / Oui? Well, you might be surprised to learn the installation you refer to is in fact the collaborative efforts of Mr Owen and lighting designer Rachel Burke. They are very happy and very proud of Silence. The staff at the art centre are a little more divided perhaps. One kept mentioning that the ‘big chandelier’ is not coming back because it ‘doesn’t fit’, with genuine sadness in her tone. Another younger, eager spokesperson was much more enthusiastic and very proudly told me that no less than 22,000 (!) Swarovzki crystals – I believe that is called Bling Power in TV shopping network circles – were used in the creation of the new Hamer Hall suspended masterpiece.

Alas, we can’t win all of them can we? And that does go for talented artists as well (there is also another dubious construction by way of a building in Southbank which I don’t believe quite makes it either, in my humble opinion). I acknowledge the reference to the art centre spire – the fractal geometric design that seems mandatory for all key Melbourne developments these days. What I do find interesting is the philosophy behind the Art Centre’s decision to ‘reclaim’ it as their own, to point out to all and sundry that they were the originator of this architectural signature and not bleeping Federation Square. A little too insecure for my liking, I mean surely the cute logo spire would have sufficed? However, the light, shadow and movement which the installation achieves also designed with this same message – I was here first – should be appreciated as a worthy effort.

But my responsibility is to defend my position, and I do. I applaud the emotion and the reasoning, but sadly I do think you are right, the installation screams more of My Little Unicorn rather than glamorous artistic achievement. The steel constructions appear paltry and thin within their surroundings, and dare I say it, I believe it would have benefited from more obvious wizzbang rather than the glitter dust and craft kit bedazzling it seems to have received. The distance, the height, the lack of weight of the sculpture does not compliment the materials. I entered absolutely determined to like anything I see if it achieved one thing: inspired the venue going audience to dress well for their event, and abolish this insulting fad of wearing jeans to the theatre. Sadly, I can see that it would only encourage said audience to ornament their prison garb with a home-made bedazzler kit and feel right at home. But it is here to stay, so we should feel lucky that we have kindly neighbours to inform confused guests that indeed ‘it’s art’.

So alas Underdazzled, let us mourn Arcturus together for that brightest star shines no more at Hamer Hall.

Don’t fret too much it only encourages wrinkles, yours in good faith
Miss April

Heed Miss April’s Advice!

Email Miss April!
Tweet Miss April!

Miss April Advises on Art Gallery Etiquette

Dear Readers,

As you may recall I responded recently to Distance Admirer in regard to issues concerning appropriate behaviour at public art exhibitions.

You can then, imagine my surprise and pleasure when I happened across wisdom from the ages which supported my general thesis. What was sound advice to the best American society in 1880 remains steadfastly appropriate for today’s art goers.

“In visiting picture-galleries one should always maintain the deportment of a gentleman or lady. Make no loud comments, and do not seek to show superior knowledge in art matters by gratuitous criticism. Ten to one, if you have not an art education you will only be giving publicity to your own ignorance.
Do not stand in conversation before a picture, and thus obstruct the view of others who wish to see rather than talk. If you wish to converse with any one on general subjects, draw to one side out of the way of those who wish to look at the pictures.”

Truly, commone sense prevails throughout the turning of ages. If only we heeded it well and more often!

Adieu fair readers, let common sense guide your way,
Miss April

Heed Miss April’s Advice!

Miss April Advises: Trolley Doldrums

Dear Miss April,

I’ve been disturbed by an old grievance. Of late I have been witness to a number of abandoned shopping trolleys in my neighborhood. Some seem to have run ashore against some innocent street planting , some have been piling high with garbage outside shared student nests. I remember when these where the exciting opportunities for innocent larks and a mix of apparatus and human conveyance , mostly trundling friends freely and apparently loudly without regard for OH&S down suburban streets while fueled with inexpensive booze.
Now these devices are used joylessly to transport packaged products and children then dumped to full fill ther para function as a council trash receptacle. I had presumed corporations had spent millions to prevent these triumphs of consumerism from becoming street furniture. I had assumed they had invested into protected commodities with digital brakes and escalator runaway proof technologies to deter them from becoming public nuisances but i still see them upturned, vagrant and smoldering.

My question is who is in charge of these devices and what can be done to stop them litter our streets?


Trolley Doldrums

Dear Trolley Doldrums

Thank you for contacting me regarding such a tangible problem to which I can provide an altogether practical solution.

Firstly, I empathise with you greatly. I gather from your letter that you lament the design flaws that have led to this issue. Perhaps less design flaws, as lack of design solutions. How can this continue to be happening, how indeed? I was very surprised to learn of the extent of this issue, living as I do a rather sheltered lifestyle. The enormous amounts of money spent on trolley retention ideas is extraordinary and I boldly call out to all industrial designers – solve this and make your millions! Albeit not technically minded myself, surely there could be some sensory technology involved, whence the wheels of the trolley automatically stop turning once they hit the borders of the supermarket building and car park. Stop the wheels, stop the usefulness as a convenient form of alternative transportation.

However, our immediate problem is the littering of these metal creatures in our lovely streets. The issue of who is responsible I believe is answerable in two ways – both the business from where the trolley comes from, and once it becomes public litter it also becomes the local council’s responsibility.

Firstly, I suggest you try the following solution. If the trolley is from Safeway or Big W go to Trolley Tracker for more information. Report the dumped trolley and enter into a monthly prize draw of $1,000 cash! Therefore if you have a number of trolleys on your street, make separate reports to increase your betting chances – although I do wonder if this might be an incentive for the thieves too! If it is from Coles, alas they have a far duller system of filling out a form and no jolly cash prizes as far as I can tell. If it is from another business call them directly to report the trolleys, and always remember to get a timeframe for collection.

If you do not get satisfaction from the businesses in question contact your local council and report it as dumped rubbish. They are obliged to collect it and would most certainly have a report line, or perhaps even an i-phone app (goodness, these modern days!) to record and report illegally dumped hard rubbish. There are of course fines for the perpetrators, perhaps the next time you catch a culprit in the act you could pretend you are from the council and hit them for an on the spot fine? Do you have a hat?

As much as I considered offering witty creative suggestions for alternative uses such as the popular ‘create art out of everyday objects’ or ‘subversive re-use of discarded materials thereby making 100% recycled art’ I can not in good conscience do so.

Best of luck, I hope you are not in the doldrums for too long. Congratulations on your pro-active stance on insidious litterers.

Truly and in good faith

Miss April

Heed Miss April’s Advice!

Miss April Advises: Distance Admirer

Dear Miss April,

I have been distressed by some unavoidable eaves dropping that is more like a trumpet blast from a soap box Lothario, but everyone is entitled to an opinion.

This has been happening more and more and most often in the arena of the art show preview and opening, on which I base my dilemma and specific grievance.

I was at one of late where bearded juveniles where providing slight but negative analysis of the works. Their low level of visual literacy and the proliferation of punchlines from fashionable art tropes aside, I was offended that this space was rendered airless and did not allow me the oxygen to form my own opinion of the work.

In another recent incident, similarly verbose opening addicts were protesting about the failure of this or that against some malformed half read idea from a journal they were attempting to regurgitate, to impress [ or legitimize] similarly Chardonnay infused colleagues. In this case they were so unaware of their context and that the person beside them, the artist, was the subject of their scornful rant. I was shaken, befuddled and appalled by this hopefully accidental assault. I had read i a recent American journal on art and etiquette that it was acceptable to discuss the work aloud outside of a 6 block radius of the gallery. Melbourne has a different geographical pace and street block dimension to Manhattan. What would the appropriate radius be to allow one to maintain a discretionary and distant private critique?

I hope you can provide some space as I am sure you are prudent , on many lists , an avid fan of contemporary culture and able to hold your lip in mixed company.


Distance Admirer

Ah Ha! Oh, I am pleased. I have been faithfully confident that Chardonnay would make a comeback and over the years it has been slowly clawing its way back up from its position of shun and shame. But now it is well and truly back on top seeing that it’s flowing about hip gallery openings. Hoorah Chardonnay! I am rather keen on trying Lithostylis’ 2011 Ironstone Chardonnay from Leongatha, but I believe it needs a little bit of time yet. Je t’adore Gippsland Chardonnays so I do hope to….Oh, I beg your pardon.

Dear Distance Admirer

Art etiquette is quite a fashionable topic today so I congratulate you on your cultural relevance. I also lament with you at the strangulation of your opinions. I find this to be a most egregious scenario, and a terrible assault on your rights for critical thinking and expression.

Good manners and etiquette create a safer world. Adhering to social expectations in relation to behaviour increases our chances of not getting murdered, or even verbally attacked, one would hope. Sadly, the bearded dilettantes have not the presence of mind, nor education to fully understand how appalling their behaviour is. Perhaps their desire to look like our most famous bushranger has also influenced their rebellious streak in terms of flouting the rules.

The Rules. Once they have broken the rules, you are within your right to ‘pull them up’ so to speak. I once found myself in the presence of a rather vocal young woman who went beyond the voice of critiquing the art and was derisively insulting the artist, their work, their very being. To my great discomfort the artist was well within hearing range and obviously listening. I simply turned to my neighbour and politely removed myself from the situation by stating “I do not want to speak with you anymore. Please go away.” Similarly, in your situation you might have turned to the offender to state: “Good evening, my name is ____. Forgive my intrusion, but are you aware the artist can hear you. I’m sure you don’t mean to be rude, and I just wanted to save you from further embarrassment. Do enjoy your evening.”

Astonishingly I have heard professional assessment of fairs, shows and bieannales that sound suspiciously like recent Facebook status updates by infamous arts writers. Verbatim. Oh dear, it is a sorry state of affairs when we have too many officious opinionists and lament the absence of opinion at the same time. We are all so insecure.

There is a difference between critiquing and insulting. Those boundaries get lost in the blur of egos and copious amounts of free wine. Guides to art etiquette would come in handy here. Although, I find it hard to imagine attendees being able to hold their tongue for a duration of 6 blocks! Perhaps a rule of thumb in Australia could be 10 metres? Speak at a low, soft, discreet register, and NEVER try negative analysis after 3 wines until you are at the dumpling restaurant.

Of course, how to educate others in valuing the rules of good form? Hmmm, many people in these environments envision themselves as unique, above the law, naughty. How does one get them to toe the line? Well, you can start by the above suggestion and point out rudeness wherever you see it. Perhaps get a card printed to hand out to offenders in order to avoid too much confrontation simply stating:

Miss April Advises:
Avoid further embarrassment

[Search: Guidelines for Openings]

However, you really just have to stick to one rule “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” As an exercise in discipline while you’re at an opening do this – look for merit. You might be surprised at how few people actually do this. Repeat this, over and over with a smile and chardonnay. Unless, someone keeps pressing you of course, when people pressure you for your true opinion beyond all decorum then by all means satisfy them.

“If they insist on a real opinion, they’ve got whatever you have to say coming”. – Andrew Berardini, Guidelines for Openings.

Be well and true,
Miss April

Heed Miss April’s Advice!