Friday, August 29, 2008

My Bad

When The Spouse and I started dating he was intrigued by the fact that I kept a coffee maker in my bedroom. It acted as my snooze alarm. The night before I'd set it up with fresh ground beans. Then when my alarm rang in the morning I'd roll over and turn on the coffee maker. When the last gurgle of steam hissed and the fragrance of fresh coffee filled the room, then I knew to get up. Which I would. Right after I had my first cuppa.

The Spouse thought this was pure genius, so he married me.

With two people drinking coffee in the morning, we needed a bigger coffee maker, which moved into the kitchen. But being able to have that first cup right away was still vital so we'd take turns setting it up the night before. One night it was his turn but I did it, telling him that it was my privilege to serve him. (Newlyweds). He latched onto that and coffee duty became The Privilege.

(You do not, however, have to do The Privilege on your birthday. We even have a song about it).

Well, ever since The Spouse started taking the bus to work, he gets up way earlier than me and somehow or another it evolved that he did the Privilege during the week and I did it on the weekends. I don't really know how that happened; there was no reason why I couldn't do it. But then, I think that was emblematic of a lot of things around our house. As an at-home mom, I started doing a lot of things that we used to share because I was here, he wasn't and it just made sense. And if someone starts doing all the laundry it's easy for the other person to stop thinking about doing it.

The other night The Spouse told me that, with me working, it was time to get back to the way we used to do things: trading off cooking dinner during the week, sharing the household responsibilities 50/50, etc. He even said he'd go grocery shopping with me. (He hates grocery shopping and frankly, I don't think we have to take it that far; I happen to love grocery shopping). I'll be honest with you, it rather blew me away. Oh, you better believe I had every intention of broaching that subject but for him to offer it like that was the best "going back to work" present I could have been given. In that spirit of cooperation, I told him that we should also return to sharing The Privilege.

It was my turn last night and I totally forgot.

I'm glad it's a three day weekend. We're meeting some old friends for dinner tonight and one of The Spouse's on-line buddies is coming to stay. But I hope to use the time to get our new systems in place, put away the laundry that was washed days ago and generally try to set it up so that household-y things start functioning a little better. I'm also going to remember to do The Privilege.

All that has absolutely nothing at all to do with today's musical selection. I just happen to think it is a terribly delightful and quite sing-a-longable and it makes me happy.

The Dandy Warhols "We Used to Be Friends"

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Project Runway:Gitcher Motor Runnin'

A little housekeeping. For those of you who just stop by for PR recaps, please note that NOM is no longer The Neighbor's Office Mate. Her name has been changed to MAB, My Awesome Boss.

Thank you.

The Management

Kenley is sad because she and Daniel were best friends and she misses him. Considering how she publicly mocked him 2 weeks ago, I'm thinking "with friends like that...." Meanwhile, Keith informs us in all his perfected arrogance that he wants to change the way the world dresses. My ambition is more simple. I want to kick Keith in the head while wearing a dress made of nothing but swatches which I will then burn after kicking him in the head.

Heidi sends the designers to the rooftop of a parking garage. There is speculation that perhaps they will be designing for some superstar or at the very least be going to a very hot party but it was better than that. Parked on the parking garage roof were, uh, cars. And Tim. And Chris Webb, who has the rocking cool job (I guess) of being Lead Color Stylist for Saturn. (And suddenly I'm wondering what Springsteen lyrics would have been like had he been gay..."I've got a '69 Chevy and it's bright baby blue..."). Mr. Webb announces that the cars are chock full o' car parts and that their task is to create something out of whatever they can grab. The key is "innovation" and, as Tim censoriously reminded them, they didn't "rise to the occasion" on the first (random grocery items) challenge so this time they'd better step it up.

4 minutes to grab stuff. Motor City Joe is all over this challenge. "Because they wear a lot of car parts in Detroit?" I asked. "No," said MAB, "Because they steal a lot of car parts in Detroit". Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure that this challenge is right up Stella's alley but Stella refuses to rush and pretty much just stands there picking out random stuff. Of course, they are all picking out random stuff and all completely without a clue as to what that stuff is going to become. But back at Parsons Tim tells them to "have fun" and they all start whacking parts to bits.

Keith is whining too much. He is whining about the crap he took from the judges last week. He's whining, fundamentally, because he's so brilliant and can't understand why no one else sees it. Whiney McWhinerson. (kick)

Stella surprises by deciding not to do a leathuh anything because that's "not innovative" (at least not for her). Nope. No leathuh and possibly no grommets. This time Stella is going to get outside the box and do something "pretty". Suede, on the other hand, is going to bleed fashion. Suede also gives another Great Beyond tribute, this time to his dad and a '66 Buick.

Korto is weaving seat belts, Kenley is drawing on air vents and Blayne is frustrated because car parts don't go easily into sewing machines. He simplifies his design (seat belts) so he can hand sew. LeAnne is doing a cocktail dress with a twist and is determined, if she uses them at all, to employ her seat belts differently than everyone else; a detail, perhaps?

Stella considers making a "Planet of the Apes" head-dress to accompany her vest/skirt ensemble and Blayne puts it on to do a Darth Vadar impression. Oh, those crazy kids.

Scary Terri asks Keith for his opinion and he whines again, this time about the judges. (Me, again, kicking his head).

Then the big crisis of the week. Kenley's model had to drop out so she's got Germaine (who was just auf'd) She is, I'm sure, a lovely girl, but has a completely different body than Shannon (or whoever). Kenley is freaked and nasal and whiny about the fact that she has to refit her entire garment. (See, Shannon was tall and thin, whereas Germaine is thin and tall).

Tim's Walk Around
Tim pretty much looks horrified at what Blayne is doing but, ever the diplomat, merely says "keep working". He finds the work Jerrel is doing "beautiful" and is impressed with Korto's "mod '60's look". He agrees with Stella that going for "pretty" is wise, but counsels that what she's doing isn't innovative enough. He says to LeAnne the most perfect Gunnian words any designer could wish: "It's extremely well executed and I get it". Keith, on the other hand, is whining again about having shown the judges his POV (relentlessly) but they don't fully appreciate it (whatever) and so he's going for something more streamlined and tailored and all those other things that equate to boring (I paraphrase). And The Gunn, in his infinite wisdom, suggest that he ought not design strictly for the judges but retain his POV. Which Keith dismisses.

I ask you: if Tim Gunn came up to you and said anything about anything would you dismiss him?

I thought not.

Terri mocks Korto's outfit and falls on the floor laughing. Korto says, "I'm hating on you" under her breath and Jerrel tells us that Terri has "2 faces and 4 patterns" and sums up that she's a bitch. MAB and I had already figured that out but still.

The designers as a whole are agreed that Keith has way too much "tude" (he's huffing and whining about sewing machines at this point) and we also learn that Stella is in a relationship with a dude called "Rat Bones". 'Nuff said.

Oh! And Keith gets super whiny at his model because the Loreal Paris Make-up Room people made her sit down when he'd expressly told her not to and so she tore the stupid ass skirt he'd put her in. And of course, he has to whine some more to camera about how he has more at stake in all this than anyone else. (kick kick kick)

The Runway
The totally fabulous and not-actually-pregnant-this-week Laura Bennett (Season 3) is filling in for Nina and guest judge is some chick named Rachael Zoe who we don't know but who, thanks to a Bravo promo, we learn has a show where she makes people cry.

Jerrel: The Neighbor liked this. I thought it looked like something that would be worn by someone who was about to be nailed by Cap'n Kirk.

Keith: YAWN.

Terri: she called it "hard core biker". Maybe. Although it was a cute top. But hi. Bikers not so much with the whole "cute top" thing.

Kenley: amusing. Skirt's a little boxy.

LeAnne: "That's haute!" said The Neighb.

Suede: like what he did with the car mat top but the skirt is way too pom-pom.

Korto: frakking beautiful coat.

Blayne: very first impression was a little bit of wow. Then the model walked in it. Eeeeww.

Joe: seriously forgettable.

Stella: first impact? Gotta love the notion of a tiered pencil skirt made of seat belts. But there seemed to be some construction issues and the the vest was icky with the skirt.

The Judging

Jerrel is actually in the top. Rachael, who makes people cry, found it "quite amazing and intricate". Kors raved that he gave the model "a look" and Heidi found it "very exciting and wearable".

Blayne, on the other hand, was told by Laura that the fit at the top of his garment was "disturbing", Heidi told him he'd get no sex for the next 7 years because of the broken mirrors on the bodice and Kors equated the skirt of his dress to those thingys that hang down when you go through a car wash.

Korto got raves for her beautiful seatbelt coat. Rachael said "I'd walk out the door in that" and Kors celebrated its "restrained drama".

LeAnne was also the recipient of mega raves. Kors found the silhouette "fabulous" and "interesting but chic". (Personally, I never found those two things mutually exclusive). Rachael declared herself "blown away".

Poor Stella, in striving for pretty, was dissed for being too random.

The big news was Keith. Rachael said his look was "confusing" and Laura added that there seemed to be "no concept".

Keith (under his breath): "You should see my other stuff".

Laura (with a look that I'm sure is well known to her 412 children): "Excuse me?"

Keith (first offering a protracted whine about the "sad chicken" comment from last week): "There's criticism and then there's insult".

Kors (puffing up on his seat and turning a deeper shade of orange): "Guess what???" (launches into impassioned "listen, Missy" lecture about the ups and downs of fashion, how people don't always love you and how you have to suck. it. up).

The Verdict

LeAnne won for taking a risk and being innovative. (Extra points for stuffing the model's underwear with muslin to make sure her little hip poufies stood out enough).

And Keith was auf'd for a look that was boring and poorly executed. Although I'd posit that he was also auf'd for being so pissy with the judges.

After the auf'ing it got ugly. Keith bawled. And bawled. And bawled. Like, to the point of making me super uncomfortable. Like, "sorry I wanted to kick you in the head" uncomfortable. He was beating his fists at heaven for the irony of going home after abandoing his POV to give the judges what he thought they wanted.

However, I overcame my discomfort and borderline regret for wanting to kick him in the head. For why? Because Keith's meltdown was a perfect example of his fundamental problem: he always found something or someone to blame and never took a smitch of responsibility for himself. And frankly, I think that's worth both a good auf'ing AND a kick in the head.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

JP and I Are in the Same Time Zone Right Now

A fact he mentioned last night when I called to check in. That's all. I just couldn't think of anything for a title.

First off, it's only been 2 days but I really, really, really love my job. Love. It. Born to do it. Couldn't be happier. Good thing, too, because absolutely every muscle in my body is beggin' for mercy today.

My job is essentially administrative but part of it could also be accurately described as innkeeper. Trust me when I say, I haven't spent this much time running around since The Child was a toddler. Kinda nice to think I have a job that could actually make me trim and svelte again. Unless my extremities just fall off.

Second, I promise to develop a schedule that will allow me to write substantive blog posts again. Because there's stuff to say. Stuff, for example, about the Democrats in Denver. For now, though, allow me to mention:

I big, puffy Michelle Obama.

She is up there in the pantheon of Classiest of Classy Broads. I love her so much I want to put her in my pocket but she's busy right now so I can't. But she will be one of the most awesome First Ladies we've ever had.

Plus, I love how she dresses and she has great gams.

Also, imho, Hillary didn't hit a single false note last night and that pretty much left me in happy tears. I may have been paying too much attention to pundits but I was really worried that after last night the Clintons would have to be dead to me. But Hillary was a class act, gave a fine speech and actually made me love her again. Personally, I wouldn't have gone with the tangerine pantsuit, but then, I've always been more of a pencil skirt kinda gal.

I'm bummed that I won't get to watch any of the fun tonight. The Spouse and I have toget to go to a New Family BBQ at High School tonight. It will be dandy, I'm sure. Seriously. I have never seen a school work so diligently to build community from Day One. I'm sure they won't waste our time. Plus, we need to get our new sweatshirts. We'll be ducking out early because I have to be home for Project Runway.

Ok, so, I'm seriously going to work on the "substantive post" thing. And yes, doing a recap of Project Runway counts as substantive. Sheesh.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bloody Mary Monday

The first day of school/work/everything-changing-pretty-much-overnight-but-we're-fine with-that went very well, thankyouverymuch.

The night before I had trouble sleeping. No, not what you'd think. I wasn't lying in bed worrying or getting all het up about starting work. Starting work feels, at the moment at least, like the most normal and natural thing to do. And this job doesn't have a lot of scary components to it. I know my boss. Not super, duper well but plenty well enough to feel at ease with her, to know that I can joke with her and that she's perfectly happy to answer my questions, listen to my ideas and generally trust me to do the best I can and let me know when I'm not and otherwise leave me to it.

Also, this is a new position. There will be a ton to learn and set up and all that but there's something different about being the one to do it first as opposed to learning how someone else did it, wrapping your head around the basics and then fiddling with procedures and how-tos to suit your own way of doing things.

Ever noticed that about jobs, btw? Like, there's the stuff you really do have to know: Finance needs this in triplicate, the code to the copier is 412, this report has to be updated once a week. Then there's the stuff that someone tries to tell you is part of the job but really it was the way they came to do it and doesn't really have to be done in quite that way? And how proprietary someone is when showing you the ropes of a job they are leaving behind? Well, anyway, there's none of that. MAB and I pretty much get to figure out how we want to do things, including where we put the electric stapler and how many big giant Ikea sunflowers leftover from the company picnic should be displayed in our bathroom. (4: 3 in a tall vase on the counter, 1 behind the commode. Because MAB is a bit whimsical like that).

And I was talking about not sleeping on Sunday night. So I couldn't sleep; mind just wouldn't shut down, even though it wasn't worried, certainly not on any conscious or even obviously sub-conscious level. (I don't think there is such a thing as what I just said). I finally got up and read for a while and went to bed at around 1:30 or so, which meant getting up at 5:45 was a little, uh, brutal. But I survived, powered by caffeine and a strong sense of "good golly I'm so happy to be here".

The Child had a lovely first day of Freshman orientation and has already made a couple of friends (well, of course she has).

The Spouse came home a little early so he could be there to hear about our days.

And ChouChou came over, as she has for 10 years, to have Bloody Marys. It has always been our tradition and even though we had to do it at cocktail hour instead of the morning as is our historical wont, we couldn't/wouldn't let the tradition die.

And yes, I know you wanted pictures but my battery was dead and so we'll have to recreate our looks later. We looked fabulous.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Pop Some Corks

Ok. I'm back. Busy morning. Errands to run, hair to get cut, groceries to buy. You know, like that. Oh. Right. And champagne. Had to buy champagne.

Remember how I said I really needed to be working by the time school started? Yeah, well, The Child's first day is gonna be my first day, too. Yep. I'm hanging up my stay-at-home mom hat and trading it in for whatever chapeaux it is that The Man makes you wear.

Cue the happy dance:
Meez 3D avatar avatars games

I've decided not to reveal too much about where and for whom I'll be working. Suffice to say, this is a job that is pretty much the epitome of everything I've done in my professional career, that it is meaningful work and, oh, yeah, I'll have a superfantastic boss. How superfantastic? You know NOM, The Neighbor's Office Mate who watches PR with us? Yeah, well, we're changing her name to MAB, My Awesome Boss.

How will we handle the adjustment? I don't know, but I'll betcha it'll supply more than its share of blog fodder. There will be challenges, no doubt, but right now I'm excited about all of it, including playing dress up and carrying a briefcase like a grownup. Tee. Also, hee.

A lot of you have been riding along on this journey and being super supportive and I just want you to know how much I appreciate it. Love you like my luggage.

You'd think I'd be totally freaked out about going from at-home mom/housewife to career woman, but I'm not. Partly because I've been ready for this for a long time. And partly because I've had such good role models.

If Donna Reed was my role model for housewifery and at-home-mommery, there is only one person who ever was and ever shall be my model for working woman:

Sonny Curtis "Love is All Around"


There will be a Friday Jukebox video later. I swear. I swearity swear. There's just some stuff I have to do and some stuff I'm waiting on and all that. Check back later. Promise.

(The only reason I'm even posting that much is because there are certain people who start emailing me if I haven't posted wondering what is wrong or whatever so I'm just letting them know that nothing is wrong. At all).


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Project Runway: Not Enough Drama

While our designers are rousing themselves for the day Joe and his roomie are discussing the previous week, agreed that the wrong person was sent home. "Are the judges blind?" Joe asks. Honey, duh. He muses about Keith's "aesthetic" with a weary "Keith, Keith, Keith". That snotty boy's "fringe" freak is starting to wear on everyone.

But joy abounds when they meet with Heidi. The "special" guest looms behind the scrim, a Valkyrie of gigantic proportion who is revealed to be none other than he of the delightful hyena laugh, Chris March, from Season 4. Resplendent with disco ball boobs, he informs the designers that this week's challenge will be designing a look for a drag queen. Out march 11 huge, tall dudes wearing the glitzy tackiness that epitomizes drag. "How," wonders The Neighbor, "are they going to judge this". True that. In a genre where anything goes, the standard is a little flexible. I hear an echo of Nina saying, "If you don't have taste..." This should be interesting.

The drag queens introduce themselves with their riotously clever drag names (I'm sure my favorite was "Annida Greenkard, with a K") and then the designers get to choose who they will work with.

They are told that "fashion is all about putting on a show" and encouraged to be as imaginative and over the top as they can possibly be. I do think it's nice to give them a challenge like break away from the strictures of style, decorum and taste. You have to get your ya-yas out every now and again.

Then Chris and Heidi leave arm in arm: "What do you want to do now?" asks Heidi. "I don't know, maybe get some German food?" says Chris. "Oh!" says Heidi, "Pretzels und beer". Right. Like she eats carbs.

Tim meets the designers in the workroom to reiterate that they must portray the persona of the DQ while being as theatrical as possible. No playing it safe today. They will have 30 minutes to meet with the clients and $200 to spend on fabric. The designs will be auctioned off by Broadway Cares for AIDS programs and the winner will get immunity.

Straight Joe is obviously out of his league here, overwhelmed by the whole scene. He decides that his approach will be to treat it like making Halloween costumes for his daughters.

The queens depart and one of them says, "Tim, call me". Giggle.

Keith is very anxious to get immunity. I am very anxious to kick him in the head. Joe is dancing around in the bra his client left behind and Daniel asks Kenley if he can borrow her bra. What? They're buddies, but she's not helping him that much. Terri is being all that as she has designed for drag queens before so she doles out some wisdom and advice as she busily sews.

Everyone is now completely over Blayne's "licious" issue. Stella grumbles "what is that about?" and LeAnne snaps out of her mousy persona for a bit to say that if she hears one more "liscious" she's "going to barf...that would be 'barflicious', I guess".

Jerrel gives this week's token "I came from nothing and learned I can be something" speech and Suede tells us his dead grandfather sometimes comes to inspire him; this week g'pa sprinkled seeds and Suede is all inspired to put little lettuces all over his costume for Hedda Lettuce. Now I don't know who scares me more, Suede or Suede's grandpa.

Keith informs us that he's only just begun relative to his myriad fringe techniques. Oh. Goody.

The drag queens come back the next day, sans hair and makeup, just a roomful of ordinary guys who happen to dress up like women for fun and profit.

Suede's queen turns out to be more than a little bitchy. He proudly shows off the gloves he's made (which we all agree are pretty cute, with little lettuce heads up the length of the glove) and Hedda accuses him of being too lazy to make sleeves. Ouch. Then she starts suggesting all sorts of other changes and Suede is not thrilled.

In contrast, Joe's client, Varla, is more collaborative. She's afraid the look might be a little too staid but they play together with the elements and hit on a sailor theme that pleases them both.

Tim's Walk Around
Accompanied by Chris March, The Gunn looks over the costumes. I begin to suspect that The Gunn has a secret pash for drag. Who knew?

Blayne is told that his design looks like "a pterodactyl out of a gay Jurassic park", which Blayne, in his inimitably clueless fashion, takes as a compliment.

Both Chris and Tim think Suede's outfit is just dandy and when he complains of Hedda's bitchiness and the lazy comment Tim says, "That's mean" and imperiously declares, "Make her wear the gloves!"

They are not thrilled with Keith's fringy weirdness nor the lack of "exuberance" about Daniel's dress. Oh. No. Children, after 4 years of Project Runway we should have learned that there is one immutable fact: if The Gunn tells you something needs fixed, it needs to be fixed. Daniel, however, says he is "not worried" about Tim's critique. That is precisely the point at which he should be worried. Very worried.

This week we also learned that Blayne makes a very convincing Wookie noise. That's revealed when Jerrell mocks Keith's "Wookie onsie". And Suede confronted Hedda and they kissed and made up and I'm sure we're all very relieved by that.

The Runway

Kenley-old Hollywood, silvery and sparkly and a big feather collar. Kinda rocking.

Blayne-do you remember the odd sadness you'd feel, as a kid, when you got to the last verse of "Puff the Magic Dragon"? That's how I felt seeing this droopy mess.

Joe- HMOG! The straight boy pulled it off! And Varla was clearly delighted with her Pepto pink, skin tight jumpsuit because she was prancing and skipping all over that damn runway.

Stella-there is a dress almost exactly like this in Sims2. Kind of a Tudor princess meets Joan Jett thing. I actually liked it quite a lot but it didn't scream "drag".

Suede-Hedda worked the look, which Suede needed her to do. It was a nice enough outfit, if you enjoy oceans of green, but it seemed a little sedate, more like something a drag queen would wear to lunch than on stage.

Daniel-hmmm. I'm suddenly craving orange sherbet. I hate orange sherbet. I crave orange sherbet so I can throw it at this boring, stupid "you should have listened to Tim" dress.

Terri-and in the memoir of this geisha it is written, "I am the god of hell fire!" This thing is so dramatic and huge it deserves it's own theater.

Jerell-his drag queen is going to lunch with Suede's drag queen.

Korto-anything that sets Nina and Kors laughing like this must be doing its job. Gives a whole new spin to the word "flaming".

Keith-ok, now he's just making fun of us.

LeAnne-NOM describes this as "drag queen impeccable".

The Judging
The answer to The Neighbor's earlier question of how fashionistas judge drag costumes is sitting in the guest chair. Hi, Ru Paul! (Who looked fabulous in a chic pencil skirt, beautiful white blouse and big red necklace, btw).

Terri is in the top with her super samurai. Ru loves it. Nina finds it a cross between Kiss and "Mahogany" and Kors wants the boots.

Keith, who calls his fringe thing "tiling", which I guess is supposed to make us feel better about it, is dumped on for being too random. Nina doesn't understand it and Kors says it looks like a "sad chicken". For once the Kors and I are in complete unanimity.

Everyone is thrilled with Joe's costume. Nina chortles that it shows of her assets (emphasis mine) and Ru appreciates that the clever belt hides her "candy".

Jerrel is also in the bottom but really, I'm thinking it's just because they had to have a 3rd in the lower count. It wasn't nearly as horrible as Blayne's hot mess. Ru thought the proportion was wrong and the worst Kors could say about it was that it looked "kinda of my aunts would have worn that dress".

Korto is praised by Ru for creating a look that the DQ "wore with pride", Nina said it was obvious she'd had fun and Kors lauded the flattering shape (which was praise indeed since Korto's client was the, uh, biggest girl in the bunch).

Then there's sad little Daniel. Nina scolded him for failing to enter into his "moment to do the fantasy of fantasy", Heidi yawned at it's lack of drama and Kors scathingly informed him that he doesn't get drag.

The Verdict
At the break we vote unanimously: Joe to win, Daniel to lose.

And indeed, Joe was awarded the honors. Everything about his outfit just sings and Varla loved it.Terri clearly thought she should have won and made no bones about being pissed...I'm telling you, watch out for her. Korto was a much better sport. Jerrel was safe. Of course he was.

Keith, who Kors suggests is just "manipulating fabric week after week" was chided with a "we've seen it before and are wondering if you have anything new to show us". After last week that had to hurt. (Good). But it was Daniel, with his gooey marshmallow center, who was auf'd for continually playing it safe and giving the judges nothing but excuses.

Yes, it is one thing to be able to defend your point of view to the judges. But just standing there with a defiant "well, I like it" isn't ever going to be enough. (OK, "defiant" is too strong a word for Daniel. I've known 3 year olds with more spine. Maybe Daniel's just a brat).

Anyway, apparently he and Keith have become super good buddies because Keith was just blubbering like a baby and hugging him and blubbering and hugging him. But now that I've slept on it, I don't think Keith was crying for Daniel. I think he's overwhelmed with grief that the judges have yet to discern the brilliance of his frakking fringe obsession. Oy.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Thanks, everyone, for coming to the party yesterday. That was way fun. Place is a mess, but way, way fun. Y'all rock.

I think the stress of impending high school is starting to get to The Child. She's been rather, uh, testy, the last couple of days. I can tell by the way she's turning the simplest of situations into gut-wrenching drama that this is so.

Know what bugs me? Not the fact of her being stressed out; that makes perfect sense. Rather, it's simply that my little chatterbox who used to ask anything, who used to say, very matter-of-factly, "Mommy, I need a bed talk" (meaning, let's go sit on your bed while I unload) is starting to clam up. She's bottling things up until they explode. And while I know that teenagers are not universally known for their forthcoming and cheerful demeanor, what makes me wonder is if this is all a prelude to her becoming more Norwegian.

The Spouse is descended from mostly Norwegians. Nice people. They have a way with fish and lye and they look good in sweaters. In fact, over the years, some of my best friends have been people of Scandahoovian ancestry. Why, The Neighbor is the product of Finns.

But (and yes I realize I'm generalizing but it's my blog so deal) people from such places are, as a rule, not the most forthcoming of folk. They keep things inside. Everything is always "just fine", even when it isn't. Displaying emotion is a sign of weakness. Now, why in heaven's name would you bother someone with your little problems? Who does that sort of thing? No, we're going to just have some more coffee and maybe a bite of lutefisk and everything will be just dandy.

Ya sure, you betcha. You can always jump off a cliff later.

The Spouse has gotten better about being open. Better, at least, as compared to his brother, who is the King of Denial. But to the degree that he expressed concerns and feelings, there is still a deep place inside where he keeps a lot of stuff. And I don't want The Child to find that place. I don't want her to be one of those people who denies her fears or worries, who refuses to think anyone, professional or otherwise, could be of any help, who thinks she just needs to gut through it and maybe tomorrow it'll all be better.

I am descendant from wilder folk, emotional people. We talk. We yell. We find relief in bad language. We tell our troubles, ask for help and aren't embarrassed by that. This method has its drawbacks, too, of course. But I so hope The Child is going to end up more like my side of the family than dad's in this regard.

I wonder if she'd be up for a bed talk this morning.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Usually Never Miss a Chance to Par-tay

Holy cats. Guess what? I just realized that my blogoversary has come and gone. For some reason I thought it was the 25th but nope, it was the 11th. Sheesh.

Is it too late to have a party?


You Should Feel Very Sorry for The Spouse

First Reason

The other night I was sleeping soundly, dreaming of James McAvoy, when all a sudden I heard the most ghastly thump, followed by sustained groaning. The Spouse had fallen out of bed. As you can see (Exhibit A),
our bed is rather high. This owes to the fact that our box spring and mattress came free from friends who were moving. We did not then know that there are two sorts of box springs, high profile and low profile. Obviously, with a sleigh bed, we should really have a low profile box spring but as it was, as I mentioned, a gift, we've made due. Up to this point it has not been an issue. But when your husband rolls over and finds himself no longer snuggly but writhing on the floor in pain, it is perhaps time to reconsider.

I had to help the poor man get to his feet. He was sure he'd cracked a rib. The Child, hearing the noise and thinking it was a burgler came rushing in. When she was told what happened she laughed hysterically. I don't think she was being entirely unkind. Papa did blame The Dog for plotting against him, for one thing. Then there could have been the relief of all that mayhem not in fact being a break-in. Although, really, I guess when you are 14 there is something pretty funny about your dad falling out of bed.

The Spouse didn't crack any ribs, thank heaven, but he did mash himself up quite nicely. The doctor says it will be a couple of weeks before the muscles and cartilage and other mashed bits stop hurting.

He is being a very good sport about it, even though it literally hurts to laugh.

Second reason:

He spent all day yesterday and is spending all day today sitting around waiting to see if he'll be called for jury duty. He actually doesn't mind so much. Civic duty and all that. But still; even with an iPod, a book and a $10 stipend (whoo hoo!) it all sounds a little boring and not very "Law and Order".

If you live in Washington and don't vote absentee remember to get yourself to the polls for today's primary.

There. Now I've done my civic duty.


Monday, August 18, 2008


It was only the hottest, muggiest weekend of the summer. Clearly, no better way to spend it than by having a DYI fit in The Child's room. My "Free Martha" t-shirt may have to be disposed of as a biohazard and I still have paint clinging to my fingernails, although I think I got it all out of my hair.

The final details were completed on Saturday morning, with The Spouse installing a chair rail. When that was done all that was left was to move all The Child's belongings from the deck and back into her room. A daunting project, to be sure, but one I decided to tackle myself because (between you and me) I was looking at it as an opportunity to do some purging. That's a task that The Child understands in theory but not so much in practice. So I didn't really begin moving her back in until she'd left to spend the afternoon (and evening as it luckily turned out) with her godparents.

It took me a long frakking time but the results were, as they usually are with such projects, worth it.


The top of the walls was painted with black magnetized paint, the bottom half with chalkboard paint. Black? you exclaim. A black bedroom? Have you lost your mind? Possibly, says me, but I like to think of a black room with white trim as the decor equivalent of a little black dress with pearls...chic and sophisticated, possibly a little Parisian.

The Child, of course, has a more boho vibe going on so those details are in evidence, too. Which is fine because it is, after all, her room. When I take it over as my studio I can move it back toward the French aesthetic...a black and white toile chaise, for example. But for now it suits The Child very well.

I picked up some frames at Goodwill for mere pence, which we "unified" by painting gold. These hang on the wall to contain her collection of purses and her Broadway show memorabilia:

And this is how we turned her collection of necklaces into serviceable art:

Here is her reading/study area. Her laptop sits on a little movable table that she can pull over in front of the chair when necessary. Storage boxes hold her art supplies, tools for school and reference books.It is all very cozy and grown up. No, the black doesn't make the room too hot. Lord knows we had ample opportunity to test that. Nor is it too dark when it is cloudy and rainy, which it happens to be today. And while I don't know that it will long remain as pristine as it appears in these photos, I can tell you that The Child made her bed yesterday morning without being told so there's that.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Yesterday Once More

It has been very hot the last couple of days and wouldn't you know it, this is when I got around to tackling the big summer project: painting The Child's room.

I hate painting. Love the results, hate the taping and cutting-in and second coats. I really hate doing it in a small room when the temperature is pushing 90°. Also, not so fond of the aching back and continuing to find bits and blotches of paint on myself, no matter how diligently I think I'm scrubbing.

But I told The Child there's be one more re-do of her room, something a little more sophisticated (and something that will work for me when I take over the space after she goes off to college). So we moved everything she owns out onto the deck (the plus of having a hot spell) and got to work. Yes, yes, I'll show you pictures, but not until it's done.

We work fairly collaboratively, trading brushes and rollers and keeping The Dog from dipping his muzzle into the paint. It's hot and we're sweaty and continually encouraging ourselves with talk of how great it will be when we're done. And there's the music. She plugs in her iPod, puts it on shuffle and so we have a soundtrack. Sure, there's all the stuff that makes Uncle JP's brain bleed but there's also a hearty mix of 80s classics, Abba and, of course, the soundtrack to "Moulin Rouge". It's delightful.

So there I am, paint on my nose and some Miley Cyrus thing playing, the smell of drying paint in the hot air and all a sudden I am The Child's age. I'm perched on my bed, using historically accurate colored pencils to fill in my "Henry the Eighth and His Six Wives" paper dolls while Dame Judi is transforming my room. Deep plum paint goes onto the walls...the first time I ever remember picking the wall color for myself. But the real challenge of the project is that Dame Judi is papering the ceiling. She's using gift wrap we found at Pier One Imports. It is wildly floral; not chintz but more of a Peter Max sort of op-arty thing. The flowers are, I think, purple, pink and green. I seem to recall accents of gold. I'm sure it was garish and dreadful but I was in love with it. And as if papering a ceiling with gift wrap wasn't project enough, she was also creating a valance all along the top of the wall, cutting thick strips of the paper and trimming around the flowers so the valance had a scalloped effect.

It was one of the hottest weeks of the summer and there we were, in a stuffy upper bedroom. I don't remember that I was actually helping (although I may have done some of the cutting of the floral border). Dame Judi says my job was just to keep her company. I don't know if I ever told her but the one thing I do remember about that week was a feeling of profound gratitude. My room was going to be soooooooo beautiful and Dame Judi was giving over a whole lot of time to the project.

It's all of a piece: the gratitude, the heat, the smell of paint...the pear tree out my window, the paper dolls and the music. We had our music, too; listening over and over again to the Carpenters "Now and Then" album. Oh, say what you will, but Carpenters were, for me, actually the portal to a lot of other music, the sort that wasn't often allowed in our house and which was otherwise foreign to me. The genius of the "Now and Then" album is that the song "Yesterday Once More" (shoo-be-do-lang-lang) was the entrée to a medley of oldies hits. It was very "concept", snippets of a "DJ" weaving between the clips of "Da Do Run Run" and "One Fine Day" and the like. I loved it and while I'm sure we were listening to other records as well, the B side of "Now and Then" is the soundtrack for that DIY summer

Redd Kross "Yesterday Once More"


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Nothing Comes Between Me and My Project Runway

The mission this week: create a look for a high-powered, chic, professional woman. Who could it be? Blayne prays it's not Hillary Clinton because he knows "I'll never win if I have to make a neon pantsuit". (Me-ow!) Stella is hoping for Sharon Osbourne. Of course she is.

But our "client" is the Queen of the Perfect Eyebrows, Brooke Shields, who was elevated to my pantheon of "Women Who Rock" when she smacked down Tom Cruise over the whole anti-depressant thing a while back. I realize she has other accomplishments but that was just plain sassy and me likey the sassy. NOM on the other hand can never look at her without thinking of "Blue Lagoon". I digress.

What Brooke wants is a look for her character on "Lipstick Jungle" (a show I've never watched because the promos made it look too much like a "Desperate Housewives"/"Sex and the City" hybrid, but whatever). The look needs to be a day-to-evening ensemble and should be emblematic of the character (something about being kinda artsy/boho but becoming more and more high powered. Again. Whatev). The winning outfit will be worn by Brooke on Season 2 of the show. Super! She hands around dossiers of her look from Season 1 and the designers have a little time to sketch before meeting with Brooke to pitch.

We're talking the dreaded team challenge here, kittens. Brooke will pick the top 6 looks and those will be the team leaders.

Little excitement during the pitches. Brooke is generally perky and enthusiastic, most of the designers appear to be coherent. Suede doesn't call himself 'Suede' in front of her. Stella came in with something predicated on a corset, you hear the squeal of brakes and Brooke kindly says, "She still has to go to work in this". Stella looked like a deer in the headlights. You can hear her thinking: "Doesn't every one go to work in a corset? Sharon Osbourne would go to work in a corset".

The top designers are Keith, Korto, Jerell, Kelli, Terri and Blayne (Brooke admits to being a little scared about his concept but tells him she hopes he can be "different without being too shocking").

Brooke sashays off and Tim pulls out the magic velvet bag to determine which team leader picks first. Oy. I start having flashbacks to 4th grade dodge ball tournaments. The match ups are:
Jerrell:Stella. Jerrell says he will be using leathuh so he is actually very sweet and gracious about the fact that, going last, he didn't so much pick Stella as get stuck with her.

At Mood Kenley picks out a truly heinous floral print that Keith can't abide. They butt heads. (Keith knew Kenley was opinionated when he picked her). The Gunn looks at it and says, "May I be honest? Look around".

There's no immunity for this challenge since having your outfit on primetime TV is reward enough. The designers dig in, all the team leaders predictably muttering about all the pressure that is on them to get it right and the worker bees in various degrees of worker bee-ness, varying from supportive and helpful (Stella) to pouty and lame (Daniel).

Suede is completely freaked about cutting the fabric for his and Terri's top, afraid he's going to bollocks it. Privately Terri says "I don't know what he's packing...balls or a vajayjay", mentions that (I paraphrase, politely) she's not a wet nurse and says he better damn well "man up" and do the work.

During an early fitting we see that the skirt Daniel made for Kelli is an unmitigated mess. He assures her it just needs tweaking but she insists he start all over. Terri determines that the first version of the top Suede made is "jacked up" and that "all Suede touches is not gold". She's getting super stressed. I decide that I would not want to meet Terri in a dark alley.

Tim's Walk Around
Blayne has done a walking short as part of his look, which The Gunn deems "too casual" (and it is). Alternatively, he raves about what Jerell and Stella are putting together and that it "looks like a collaboration". (Who knew, right? Mr. Peter-Pan-Meets-Bratz and The Countess of Leathuh? But these two are a model of team work and bonhomie. I am almost not hating Jerell this week).

Kelli gets an "I'm dubious" (her sketch is not translating to fabric in any meaningful way) and he gives Terri a fatherly "I sense you're concerned". She's all kerfuffled about Suede's kerfufflement, particularly around the blouse he's redone. She says, "You don't think it's tragic?" and Tim effuses, "It's gorgeous".

There's some good natured ribbing with Kenley about the horrible fabric she originally picked and he tells her and Keith that their outfit is "fabulous". Korto has done some sort of big orange jacket thing with gold braid and Tim suggests that it "looks like a big sweet potato". At that point Joe pipes up with the fact that he totally questioned the proportions, etc. etc. and Korto totally calls him out for keeping quiet until Tim was there. He's a weasel but Korto isn't taking any of that. Tim diplomatically tells Korto "You have a lot of decisions to make".

Yep, that's the thing about team challenges. The leader has to lead because more often than not he or she is the one who will get the sack. The worker bee needs to just perform to the best level possible and find some balance between speaking up when something is going really wrong but otherwise shutting up and trying to achieve the leader's vision. It's always an opportunity for the Nazis and the weasels to show their colors.

The Runway
Korto/Joe - still looks like a Thanksgiving side dish and the dress sports chic lines but is poorly constructed. (I just heard Nina Garcia in my head).
Kelli/Daniel - sure, if the high powered business woman in question charges by the hour.
Jerell/Stella - oh, holy hell, that is cute. The belt might be a smidge ambitious but it sure says "style" (and Brooke was all smiley and mouthing "YES!" to Jerell).
Keith/Kenley - unquestionably smart although personally I'd be afraid the fluttering skirt would get caught in the fax machine.
Terri/Suede - the top is too baggy and slouchy, although the fabric is awesome.
Blayne/LeAnne-oh geez. Totally sportswear. Walking the dog, sure. Day-to-night, not even.

The Judging
Jerell/Stella get snaps for the "eclectic" look. Brooke isn't sure about the belt but Heidi loves it, Nina thinks it's well made and "flirty". Kors is all over the silhouette.

Brooke tells Kelly/Daniel that the "shape is unfortunate and looks cheap". Kors says, "Hello? Slutty, slutty, slutty!" and Nina, softly, deadly, adds that "you can't get taste if you don't have it".
Daniel whimpers that he has very high end, chic taste, which-and not for the first time- makes Kenley blow milk out her nose. (The Neighbor felt this was very mean-spirited and that it is wrong to laugh out loud on the runway at a fellow designer who is clearly sweating bullets. NOM suggests we don't like Kenley anymore. I say we still do but we agree she should be in time out).

Keith/Kenley are praised for creating something that looks rich and expensive. Kors says they brought forth "great art from 2 different aesthetics".

Brooke tells Blayne that her fears were unfortunately justified, that the look is "too casual and not sophisticated enough". (OK, she did pick him so maybe this can be another example of that whole "trust your gut" thing). Nina sternly intones "You didn't listen". Heidi said she "looks like a woman who didn't have a mirror". Blayne, in a fit of integrity I'd not have expected, does say that if theirs is the loser he should go home because it was his design.

The judges confer, all agog at the two top looks and bemoaning the bottom. Although the conversation bore more on the designers themselves than the looks, because we're at that point in the show where there's enough history to really do that. So we hear, for example, that Daniel hasn't really brought anything yet to the competition. ("We always forget the cool cup dress from the 1st episode", said moi. "Then maybe he should only sew stuff out of grocery stores", said The Neighbor). Nina scolded that Blayne shows "a reluctance to listen; which I find bratty".

We all think Jerrell/Stella will win. 2 say Daniel will go home, 1 says LeAnne. But we're wrong. So wrong. Keith and Kenley are pronounced the winners, Jerell/Stella get a "good job" (it was better than good, Heidi. Come on!) and then she says, "We have problems with the rest of you". (I can just hear her saying that to her little Seal Pups). Worker bees LeAnne and Daniel are safe. Blayne is spanked with a "we wonder if you can ever step out of yourself" but Kelli is auf'ed for her "questionable taste level".

She's a perky thing, though, that inked up little Kelli. Her parting shot? "Maybe I'll go home and hit the jackpot and then I'll make 'classy clothes'". Aww. She may have been a little on the trailer park side but I think she can safely aspire to more than a double wide. You go, Kelli.

Photos: thank you, Bravo.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008


JP, remember that little coffee shop down the street from our house? The one that served panini sandwiches? No. Of course you don't. Because it was a stupid place and we never went there. The Spouse and I always thought the space was more conducive to a little bistro or a pub, either of which would have been a welcome addition to our itty bitty commercial zone that has only ever had one other restaurant (Italian...decent Italian run by very nice people but still...variety is the spice of life, I've been told). But over the years that sliver of space has been 3 or 4 stupid incarnations on the same stupid coffee/panini theme and we have shunned it, vigorously.

Ok, so you don't remember the stupid panini place because we never went there. But remember the restaurant we went to with The Neighbor to celebrate The Spouse's and my anniversary? The one with the delicious food and the elegant, hospitable owner, Carlos, who also acted as sommelier?

Good news! Superfantastic good news. He and his wife have opened a new restaurant in the stupid panini space. Huzzah!

We went there last night and I'm happy to report that it is going to be terrific. There are a few bugs to work out, to be sure. The space is a little loud, but Carlos is already working on mitigating that. Last night was the first or second night for dinner service and, naturally, the food was a little uneven. The Spouse's lamb wasn't cooked exactly to his specifications and my pasta need a little salt (but sheesh, a little I can't put that on my food myself. Which I did. And then it was perfect). The Child had crepes stuffed with wild mushrooms which were excellent. The wait staff was courteous and capable and we were very excited to see that they turned 5 tables during the time we were dining. Not bad for a maiden voyage. The name of the restaurant is Saffron. It's small (only about 12 tables) and decorated with simple elegance. A few curtains to soften the noise (I told you, Carlos is already on that) and it is going to be great. The Spouse and I can already imagine languishing over a bottle of wine and the pate-of-the-day some winter evening, when the rain is driving outside but all is warm and satisfying within.

Oh, and I almost forgot! When you are first seated and they bring out the (very crispy, hot and perfect) bread to your table it is served with warm olive oil infused with shallots and saffron. Oy! I could have just eaten that with a glass of wine and been happy.

Right now they plan to be open for weekend breakfasts and weekday lunches as well as dinners. This is such a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Columbia City, while charming, is stealing all the foodie thunder and much as I like many of the places there it's still just far enough away that you have to be really committed if you're going to walk or else you have to take your car (feeling mildly guilty about it) and then try to find parking. No, what this 'hood needs is a little upgrade of it's own and Saffron could very well be the beginning of that transformation. And even if it's not, it's still so nice to have an actual bistro right down the street.

We're so going there to celebrate when you finally move out here. Or just come to visit again. Whichever comes first.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Story for Sling. But You Can Read It, Too

One night, I was maybe 9 or 10, I was dreaming about being a spy. I wanted to be a spy. "I Spy", "Get Smart" - those were my kinda shows. My brother, George Clooney and I used to play that we were spies a lot. (When we weren't playing "The Sound of Music-Hiding From the Nazis" or "Batman" or "Wild, Wild West" (see? another spy show).

Anyoperative, I was dreaming I was a spy and my orders were to meet a contact who'd be waiting for me in our car.

I carefully crept down our stairs, keeping to the extreme side of the risers to minimize creakage. (I think I learned that from Nancy Drew. See? Spies). The door to my parents' room was right at the foot of the stairs so I tiptoed very carefully past them and into the dark of the dining room. There was no sound. All I had to do now was gain the living room, silently pull back the deadbolt and I'd be home free.

Suddenly, Dame Judi appeared in the doorway.

"What are you doing?"

Obviously, she didn't know about my other life as a spy and I couldn't very well blow my cover and compromise my contact. I had to think quick but we spies are good at that.

"I have to go to the car". (Sometimes the truth is more convincing than an elaborate lie).

"What in the world for?"

"I have to get my blue shoes".

"You don't have any blue shoes. Go back to bed".

Dammit! So close! The security of the free world rested on my young shoulders and I was thwarted, not by an experienced and malevolent Soviet agent but by my own mother! This was not going to go over well at HQ.

I had no choice. I'd have to abort the mission and hope The Chief was in a forgiving mood.
I went back to bed, successfully masking my frustration.

The next morning I went downstairs for breakfast.

"What was all this nonsense about blue shoes?" Dame Judi demanded.

The room grew silent, save for the snap, crackle, pop of my cereal. How did she know about my dream?

"Last night. You were on your way to the car to get blue shoes." She gave me that look that only mothers have...the one that can scan your skeleton and check the density of your bones. Her search apparently revealed nothing nefarious. She smiled. "You must have been sleep walking".

It seemed the most plausible explanation. My secret was safe.

Unfortunately, The Chief was less accommodating. I pulled desk duty for 6 months. It was boring.

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I began yesterday with a plan. A good plan. A plan that listed all my most pressing to dos, neatly prioritized and assigned approximate time frames for accomplishment. I so enjoy those sorts of plans, prettily drawn on a nice, crisp sheet of paper, happy calligraphic little notes just waiting to be crossed off with a firm and triumphant stroke. Yep. That was how it was going to be.

And then every single bloody thing that I did ended up taking 3 and sometimes 4 times longer than it should have. And not for any good reason. It wasn't like the phone was ringing off the hook or that people kept coming to the door or that The Child frantically needed me to drop everything and attend to something pressing. Nope. Nothing like that at all. But somehow all my efforts were swimming in molasses and only about 1/3 of what I hoped to accomplish was even addressed, let alone completed.

Will today be syrupy? (Syrup-like? Syrupticious?)

Anyone else think "syrup" is a very funny looking word? Oh, but it is delicious...provided it is on your pancakes and not the tenor of your day.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Movie Review: Becoming Jane

Last night The Spouse served a perfectly delicious Sunday dinner (rosemary chicken and vegetable-rice pilaf). Afterward, I sat down to watch "Becoming Jane", which seemed like a perfectly appropriate post-Sunday-dinner-very PBS-y sort of thing for me to do.

The movie is based on a book of the same name, a book which I am still slogging through because, frankly, it is full of way more minutiae than I could possibly care about in a lifetime. The essential question is: did Miss Jane Austen have a little more experience of the world and the heart than her traditional biography suggests? The movie decides "yes". I have no idea if it's based in any sort of fact because, as I said, I'm still working through the (very boring and I'll probably never finish it) book.

That said, I was primed for a good time. Let's face it: this pretty much has everything I could possibly want in a movie: women in empire dresses and good looking dudes in breeches (preferably Colin Firth, of course, but in a pinch James McAvoy will do). Toss in the English countryside, some country dances, a couple of small but fine bits by class acts like Maggie Smith, Julie Walters and James Cromwell and I'm pretty much guaranteed satisfaction.

A note: I don't believe nationality should have anything to do with who gets cast for what roles. (I think, for example, of the kerfuffle around the casting of Rene Zelweiger in "Bridget Jones"...certainly she'd not have been my first pick, either, but she owned that part). A good actor, regardless of provenance, should have the ability to learn and deliver the accent of another place. (Paging Meryl Streep, Miss Meryl Streep...). As long as the accent is decent and the performance better there should be no problem.

Anne Hathaway plays Jane. I like Miss Hathaway. I really do. I think she's very competent and interesting to look at and she seems like a pretty level headed and grounded young woman. (We will not discuss her recent and unfortunate choice of boyfriend, if for no other reason than I myself have dated a bounder or two and am therefore not one to talk). So it grieves me to say that I did not enjoy her in this film; primarily because she has a terrible - and I mean terrible - British accent. Oh, sure, she sounded refined and tripped her way elegantly through the prose of the Regency period, affecting all the correct mannerisms while revealing a very Lizzie Bennet sort of sass that was charming. But the woman Can.Not do a decent British accent. And it was, for me, maddeningly distracting.

Here's the thing (and no disrespect to my friends in the UK), it's not that hard to do a passable British accent. Hell, I started working on mine when I was 8 years old, after seeing "Mary Poppins" and deciding that Julie Andrews was the end all and be all.

In fact, the younger generation, inspired by a boy wizard, has the same facility:

So I really don't understand how it is that a young woman with the resume of Miss Hathaway, couldn't affect a more convincing accent or why it was that the casting people decided to go with an American with a bad English accent over any number of British actresses who, I'm sure, would have enjoyed telling a little known story (or complete fabrication, as you like it) about one of Britain's most beloved authors.

It proved to be a distraction that had a profound affect on my overall enjoyment of the film.

That aside there were some nice things about the film. It was effective in conveying the degree to which Jane Austen's simple, country life influenced her writing and for the true Austenphile there are all sorts of references to pick up on, which was fun. It was very pretty to look at and the performances were on balance quite capable. James McAvoy, who is just yummy anyway, was very convincing as the passionate but poor chappie who steals Jane's heart. There was one particular moment, at a dance, that was perfectly executed by both Miss Hathaway and Mr. McAvoy; a moment both subtle and surprising, that symbolized Jane's choices and when it happened I gasped with the delight of it. More such moments and I might have been able to overlook Miss Hathaway's not-accent.

But alas and alack, though there is little to fault in the overall craftsmanship of the film, it was missing something. For a film intending to portray the inspiration behind Miss Austen's stories, it was (save for that one aforementioned moment) fundamentally lacking the tension and wit that were Austen's forte.

"Becoming Jane" was not a complete waste of time but if you need an Austen fix you're better off watching the A&E "Pride and Prejudice". Again.

The Film Czarina gives "Becoming Jane"
out of 5 koihead.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

The Livin' Is Easy

We had guests last night: my sister, Martha Stewart, and her husband, Mr. Martha Stewart and their youngest daughter, Keira Knightly. They were just passing through but Martha and I sat up last night with tea, talking. Keira and The Child were tucked away in The Child's room, laughing and planning The Child's ensemble for the first day of school. Then this morning Martha and I sat in the cool of the morning with our coffee, talking some more. Martha and I have led very different lives, made very different choices, but in essentials we share far more in common than I sometimes remember.

They are gone now, off to visit their eldest daughter, the one who is going to make them grandparents in a couple more months. I need to get to the market, to pick up olives and chevre and some peaches. I haven't made a cobbler yet this summer and that's just wrong. There are just a few weeks now before school starts and before I will, hopefully, be working. Just a few more weeks to sit in the twilight with wine, smelling the rosemary and lavender scented air, pretending that I'm really in Provence and not the back garden of a Seattle neighborhood.

As the family were leaving, Mr. Martha Stewart bent his head to one of the roses in the front garden. "Look!" I said, "He's stopping to smell the roses". It was a joke but it wasn't. It was, in fact, a powerful symbol, a reminder that none of the things we all have on our agendas today are more important that being mindful.

It's still summer and today I feel particularly inclined to remember that and enjoy all the uniquely summertime treasures before schedules speed up, leaves start to fall and sweaters reassert their prominence in our wardrobes.

Janis Joplin "Summertime"

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Project Runway: The Olympic Challenge

I was going to say something like "going for the gold" but then I figured there would be 412 titles using that theme so I didn't. This week The Neighbor and NOM and I were joined by another co-worker of theirs, who we will refer to as Cookie Monster Girl because she made this killer dessert for us involving nearly-baked chocolate chip cookies and ice cream. She also does a spot on Forrest Gump impersonation, but this isn't about us. Much.

To begin with, we were all happy to see our little dolly Kenley but it bears noting that we still don't think she should have won last week. She stuck with her model, Shannon, (dig me, remembering a model's name).

Our designers head off on a little field trip with The Gunn, all a-goggly about the adventure laying ahead. Piled into the van they try to figure out where they are going. I thought I heard Suede say that "Suede loves the Bronx". But they don't go to the Bronx. They go to Washington Heights in Manhattan, to the Armory Track and Field Center, a behemoth of a sports facility. As they stand, dwarfed by the Olympian size of the building, who should come speed skating up to them but my all time favorite Olympic athlete, Peggy Fleming Apolo Ohno!

(By law I am required to love him, because he's from Seattle, but I would love him anyway. And I'm rather proud of the way he's grown up. He's become very poised and, dare I say it, borderline elegant, the legacy, no doubt, of his award winning stint on "Dancing with the Stars".)

Apolo tells the designers that they are to create a look for the opening ceremonies of the Summer Games, which he describes as "the Olympians' version of the catwalk". The Gunn explains that this is the moment to present the image of the US to the rest of the world and adds, what I did not know, that there is a long and illustrious fashion history connected with these looks. If you say "opening ceremonies" to me I immediately picture phalanx upon phalanx of athletes in track suits, sometimes with jaunty hats. But no. In fact, Ralph Lauren designed the "look" for the '08 games. There is a museum at the Armory where the designers will have an hour to look for inspiration from Olympic ceremonies gone by and make their sketches. Oh, and just for the purposes of this challenge, they will confine themselves to designing for the women.

Aside from the fact that Apolo Ohno is going to be the guest judge, I do not find myself thrilled by this challenge. Sportswear, I'm afraid, makes me yawn. I do not wear sportswear, for one thing. I am not a sporty girl. I also rarely watch the Summer games because Apolo's not in them. The Neighbor loves this challenge, but NOM is with me.

The trip to Mood to spend our $150 is more interesting than usual. First, we learn that Scary Stella does not limit her fabric love to leathuh. She also is a fan of fur. (She tells us that her look is going to be "bold-progressive-aerodynamic" and that she's thinking "gladiator". She's also working with black fabric. Know why? "Because black is cool").

Daniel, (who I originally wrote in my notes as "some guy") is already in the weeds. He found no inspiration in the museum and is wandering around Mood looking ever so lost. But we don't really care. 4 weeks in and we can't identify him by sight? He's going to be gone sooner rather than later.

Kenley seems to annoy Korto by questioning the fabric choices of others. Korto snipes to the camera, "Don't worry about me...worry about that plaid you're picking up".

Keith has pissed off Terri because he co-opted some of her fabric while at the cutting table. Let me tell you, the ill impression Keith made on us last week persists. He is not nice. PLUS he's arrogant. Oh, how we hate that.

Back at the work room, the designers talk about their varying degrees of athletic experience in youth. (Stella did modern dance. LeAnne was a cheerleader. Someone played football...perhaps manly Joe the token straight guy, but I don't remember because I was thinking about how completely unsporty I was in high school. Although I think I got a good grade on the square dancing unit).

Other workroom highlights:

Blayne goes on and on about his inability to get to a tanning booth and how he's wasting away because of it. I personally think he's actually beginning to take on an almost life-like hue at this point but he is, Jerrel reminds us, "tanorexic".

Someone asks, "Stella? Why are you making yours black?" and Blayne tosses off, "Because we're in a depression?"

Joe bitches, at length, about the fact that Kenley and Daniel are having too much fun. Terri and Jerrel also complain about Kenley's laugh. This does not ingratiate them with me. I love Kenley.

Korto tells us about being a refugee from the civil war in Liberia and how America is the place of second chances. It could have come off as a "cue the Sousa, unfurl the flag" moment but she was sincere and it was sweet and I just hope America can live up to the promise Korto sees in her eyes, so to speak. (Obama 08).

Tim's Walk Around

Joe, who I have now begun to dislike, is making a skort. Tim says, "Well, by definition that says 'athletics'". He also thinks Joe's use of red and blue trim is "witty". Whatev.

The Gunn tells Blayne his look is "a little Sgt. Pepper", to which Blayne replies, "I don't know who that is". Tim sighs and says, "Oh. Gawd. Youth". But then there was a reprise of the whole "hollah" debacle from last week and some cookie lodged in my throat as I screamed out for The Gunn to resist the forces of evil.

Jerell has got a whole lotta nonsense going on. Tim is concerned that it could "look very Lucy Ricardo" and questions whether muscly, athletic women would be thrilled about an outfit that is employing horizontal stripes. (I think they would, because it would spare them from going around all day saying "Here are my massive thighs. Fear them)."

Boring-and-not-remotely-surreal Jennifer is all droopy because she barely survived last week and was clearly wounded by the "matronly" critique. Now, Tim says, she's gone the other direction and done something "too junior". Poor, dull little pudding. He tells her to "ramp it up" but the frightened look in her eye tells me that is beyond her powers.

After The Gunn removes his sartorial splendor from their sights, we are treated to a few workroom dramas:

Daniel appears to be coming unglued. He's back and forth on his design, he really isn't inspired, there's concern about the way the blue of his fabric will read from the runway. Kenley is worried about him. She also counsels him that the red bolero he's made for his dress makes the outfit look too super hero-y and so he leave it off.

Joe, who I now have decided to hate, becomes completely unglued because Daniel is using "his" machine. He went on at great length expressing his annoyance and displeasure and muttering like Gollum about Daniel rethreading "his" machine with red when clearly he, Joe, had it loaded with white and why doesn't Daniel pay attention and "oh, it's all abut Daniel" and then, to camera he actually has the frakking audacity to say there is too much drama because there are too many queens. Really? Too much drama? Pot, did you need Kettle's number or is it on your speed dial?

Meanwhile, I'm thinking that many of the looks are interesting but dated. Korto agrees with me. I eat some more cookie stuff.

The Runway
Korto: very, very nice indeed...wide leg pants with a sleeveless vesty thing...mostly white...very smart.
Suede: perfect for a cheerleader; Olympic athletes, not so much.
Joe: sadly (because I now definitely hate him) very cute. The skirt part of the skort looks a little like a flag but overall a very sporty look.
LeAnne: enjoyable; the neckline looks like it's swathed in medal ribbons.
Daniel: oh, dear. This says "TWA" not "USA".
Jerrel: this look refers to America on at least 2 levels: he used red, white and blue and I believe we were, in fact, the inventors of Looney Tunes. This is a 1940s cartoon woman come to life and not in a good way.
Stella: do not hate this but don't see it being remotely appropriate for the intended purpose. Too black, too much belly button (which, The Neighbor pointed out, might offend a host nation).
Keith: the top is cute, the bottom is some froofy weirdness that looks diaperish.
Terri: another chic, sporty outfit. NOM and Neighb liked it more than I did (they were entranced by the blazer while I was put off by the weird scarfy business at the neck) but it was certainly far more suitable than...
Jennifer: who made a very cute, sweet, darling little dress. Unfortunately, it had absolutely NO relation AT ALL to the stated challenge.
Blayne: nice pants, weird the shoulder, for one thing, and I didn't really like what he did with the trim. Too whoopsy doodle for the occasion.
Kenley: cute dress, totally her POV, love the plaid...oh, wait...just remembered the point of the challenge...

The Judging
Our top 3 are Terri, Joe and Korto, with Jennifer, Daniel and Jerrel bringing up the rear. So to speak.

Apolo says Terri's colors would read very well. Kors dug it's "Lauren Hutton vibe" and Nina was impressed with the versatility of the ensemble.

Heidi told Jennifer that she "didn't see America at all" in her design, Apolo didn't see "pride" and Nina came down with a harsh "It almost looks silly".

Joe's outfit gets mostly raves. Apolo likes that it would really show off the athletes' physique, Nina was impressed with the sporty, athletic details. Kors liked it overall but thought the skirt was too long. (I told you it looked like a flag).

Daniel, oh, dear...poor, forgettable Daniel. Apolo dissed the fact that it had nothing athletic about it, Nina dismissed it as having "no relevance" to the task and Kors got out one of his signature bon mots: holding his judging card before his eyes he said, "Where is she from? The Republic of Cocktailand?" That was mean. It made Daniel cry.

Korto came on claiming her desire to leave the past in the past and make something for "now". The judges agreed. Nina said that dressed in her ensemble the US would have "a very chic team". Heidi posited that athletes would feel very proud in it. Apolo raved that it looked "comfortable, very '08" and declared himself a "big fan".

Apolo tried to be nice when responding to Jerrell's hot tranny mess, calling it "definitely unique" before regretfully adding that it didn't seem to have anything to do with the Olympics. Nina pronounced herself completely "puzzled" and rendered pretty much speechless. Kors just called it plain "meshugana".

The Verdict
Our judges are sober this week. The high scoring looks are praised for being sporty, sophisticated and athletic, all fine representations of the Olympic spirit. Likewise, they hate the low scoring outfits for all the right reasons: Jerrel is too costumey, Jennifer too prim and Daniel...well, as Kors said, "If her sport is drinking it's a good dress".

We hold our own little vote: 1 for Terri and 3 for Korto to win, with a split decision on the loser between Jennifer and Daniel (although I really want Jerrel to lose because I don't like him, his outfit was stupid and he was dressed in some whicky whack homage to Peter Pan that simply does not inspire confidence in his design sense).

The winner was Korto ("About freaking time," she later said and we agreed) and the loser was Jennifer. Frankly, any 3 of the bottom looks were deserving of aufing. I like to think it's because the judges knew that they sent the wrong designer home last week and luckily, Jennifer delivered another "miss", allowing them to make amends. Because trust, if Jennifer had gone home last week when she should have, we'd have been well shod of Jerrel last night.

All photos courtesy of Bravo.