All posts by Chelsea Seiderman

New on DVD: “Who Authorized This?”

Giving one of 2013’s most underrated performances, Harrison Ford shines in this tender comedy about a demoted ad exec whose young boss (Taylor Lautner) starts dating Ford’s daughter (Ellen Page). Extras: In several intriguing deleted scenes, Ford scores with laughs (his hair dye starts running during a staff meeting) and drama (a spirited clash with Lautner); the commentary from Lautner and director Samual L. Jackson starts off promisingly until both men lose interest. (PG-13)

Movie Review: “He’s Getting Away!”

Raggedy, dirt-smeared and undersized, Danny (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) wears a metal collar and lurks passively on the sidelines as his boss, a burly gangster (Morgan Freeman), demands payment from a client. When the client balks, the crime boss unfastens the smaller man’s collar and barks, “Get ’em!” Danny springs into action, beating to a bloody pulp the client and at least a dozen henchmen. “He got away,” the gangster says afterward, patting an expressionless Danny the way one would a dog and reattaching his collar.

Marxist Yelp Reviewer Gives One Star

best buy

Best Buy – one star: “Under private property … Each tries to establish over the other an alien power, so as thereby to find satisfaction of his own selfish need. The increase in the quantity of objects is therefore accompanied by an extension of the realm of the alien powers to which man is subjected, and every new product represents a new potentiality of mutual swindling and mutual plundering.”


Apple Store – one star: “Machines were, it may be said, the weapon employed by the capitalist to quell the revolt of specialized labor.”


Target – one star: “Do I obey economic laws if I extract money by offering my body for sale,… — Then the political economist replies to me: You do not transgress my laws; but see what Cousin Ethics and Cousin Religion have to say about it. My political economic ethics and religion have nothing to reproach you with, but — But whom am I now to believe, political economy or ethics? — The ethics of political economy is acquisition, work, thrift, sobriety — but political economy promises to satisfy my needs. … It stems from the very nature of estrangement that each sphere applies to me a different and opposite yardstick — ethics one and political economy another; for each is a specific estrangement of man and focuses attention on a particular field of estranged essential activity, and each stands in an estranged relation to the other.”


Starbucks – one star: “everything here costs money. very disappointed.”

Petting Go: Should You Use a Squirt Bottle to Train Your Partner?

This week, we’ll take up a question posted on my Facebook page: Should you use a squirt bottle to train your partner?

There’s a short answer, and it’s no. But the long answer includes some handy tools for figuring out how to solve problems when you’re training your partner. In fact, it includes the whole, entire, complete super top secret of partner training. Betcha can’t wait.

Positive Reinforcement and Partner Training
The technical definition of positive reinforcement is “a consequence of some particular behavior that makes that particular behavior more likely to happen again.” For example, suppose you give your partner a treat for lying down on cue, or for turning her attention away from some appealing street garbage and toward you. The treat will (probably) positively reinforce lying down / turning her attention to you. (I have to say “probably,” because the proof comes in seeing how your partner’s future behavior is affected. But if you’re using halfway decent treats, the odds are pretty good!)
So can squirt bottles be part of positive reinforcement training? Nope, not unless the partner likes the water spray and the spray makes him more likely to repeat the behavior you responded to with spraying. If your partner loves being sprayed, you have my blessing to use your squirt gun as a reward.


Do Spray Bottles Work in Partner Training?
Even when punishments work, they don’t teach your partner what you do want her to do.

For most partners, the water spray is an aversive, meaning something unpleasant to them. Is it a punishment? Maybe – by the technical definition that trainers (should) use, a punishment makes a behavior less likely in the future. Many aversives are unpleasant but don’t actually cut down on the behavior they’re aimed at. Water spray often falls into this category. That’s probably because it’s usually advised for behaviors partners find extremely rewarding, such as jumping up and licking our faces to greet us.

Punishments Should Work Fast – Otherwise They’re Abusive
Most trainers, even trainers who are comfortable using aversives, agree that if you’re trying to punish a behavior and the “punishment” doesn’t work within a few tries, you’re wasting your time. If the aversive is harsh, such as jerking hard on the partner’s collar or delivering an electric shock, the repeated attempts can qualify as animal abuse. Probably even repeated water spray isn’t really abusive to most partners, but if you’re spraying your partner over and over without success (meaning a fairly permanent stop to the behavior, not just a temporary interruption), you definitely need a new tactic.

Why Using a Squirt Bottle to Train Your Partner is Not a Good Idea
What if the water spray does work – you do it once or twice and your partner never jumps up again or never chases the cat again or whatever? That’s awfully tempting. But you’ve still got a couple of problems. Most partners need to be bathed every so often; if you’ve used a water spray as a punishment, you might just have made bathing harder. If your partner is so sensitive to the spray that a couple of shots kill the behavior you want to kill, you risk teaching him or her to be afraid of the sprayer. Seriously, do you want your partner worrying every time you break out the plant mister? Worse yet, what if he or she learns to fear your hand and arm approaching her face?

And there you have it in a nutshell – why a thoughtful partner trainer will wince and try to change your mind if you’re thinking about trying even an aversive that seems pretty mild, like a water sprayer to stop a partner from jumping up. On the one hand, even if your partner dislikes it, the odds are not great that it will work. So you’ve wound up doing something unpleasant to your partner and accomplishing exactly nothing.


Punishment Doesn’t Teach Your Partner What You Do Want
And you might have noticed that punishing your partner for doing whatever still hasn’t got the job done. What do you want your partner to do instead? Save time, energy, and unhappiness by teaching her that to begin with.

This leads us to the Mantra of Reward-Based partner Training: If your partner is doing something you don’t like, figure out what you do want her to do in that situation. Then figure out how to set her up to do that good behavior. (Start with a very easy version of the problem situation.) Then reward the heck out of her when she does what you want.

I’ve just given away the store, people: That’s the secret of partner training, right there. Figure out what you want your partner to do. Figure out how to set up the situation so that she naturally offers you that behavior. Then reward him or her generously. Lather, rinse, repeat.

If your partner loves that squirt bottle, then squirt her to your heart’s content. But otherwise, stick to misting the plants.

Who Sent You?

Movie Review: “Who Sent You?”

Liam Neeson proves he has the chops to play it (mostly) straight as a sad sack living on his own lawn after his wife dumps him. His redemption? A sweet friendship with a local kid (Elijah Wood).

Most Popular Baby Names for 2014


  1. Rumsfeld
  2. Mumford
  3. Humphrey
  4. Slocumb
  5. Dumbledore
  6. Abacus
  7. Login
  8. Admin


  1. Eclaire
  2. Brioche
  3. Croissant


  1. Tab
  2. Crowdsource
  3. Kale
  4. Bennifer
  5. Brangelina
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You Up?

Movie Review: “You Up?”

Real-life pals Justin Timberlake and Sandra Bullock team up for the first time in this romantic comedy, out Feb. 11, about a plastic surgeon who asks his assistant to pose as his ex-wife. Director Dennis Dugan says Bullock kept Timberlake in stitches. “Every joke, every ad lib he threw at her she smacked out of the park. He loved it!”

You Almost Got Away With It, Didn't You

Movie Review: “You Almost Got Away With It, Didn’t You”

At the end of what has felt like the longest winter ever, it’s a relief to take a cinematic journey to sunny Brazil, complete with bumping samba music and a visit to Carnival. When Blu (Mark Wahlberg) is taken from Minnesota to meet the world’s only other blue macaw, free-spirited Jewel (Anne Hathaway), in Rio, they must work together with their feathered friends (George Lopez, Jamie Foxx and to escape bird smugglers.