Sunday, September 28, 2008

Netflixable: Burn After Reading

While down the shore last week, we had one rainy-awful day that made taking long walks on the beach unpleasant, if not impossible.

So, we did just like I did as a kid during vacations: we took in a movie.

Unfortunately, the theater in the town we stayed in had nothing playing that we were interested in (the latest Nicholas Cage debacle, for instance, and the DeNiro/Pacino movie that just looked a little too violent for vacation fare).

Luckily, we found a theater just a few miles away that was showing Burn After Reading. I love all the Coen Brothers movies, whether they make sense or not. And John Malkovich just seems so unhinged.

This one received so-so reviews, but maybe because there was not much going on that day, it was totally dreary and rainy, and my expectations were set pretty low, entertainment-wise, but I loved this 97-minute goof.

Mr. Spandrel gave it an "eh," mainly because he felt that it was hard to see where things were going during the first half of the movie. The minute the credits rolled, the woman sitting on the other side of him burst out with a "Worst. Movie. Ever!"

But I thought the connections that were revealed made sense, there were laugh-out-loud points and randomness such as you'd find in life. That's all I'll say.

That, and add it to your queue when you have a chance.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Project Runway Episode 11: Sayonara Suede

Suede really got the shaft this week. Poor guy. Although his talents were limited and his character was annoying - especially given the third person references - he seemed like a nice enough guy, unlike Kenley, who struck me as evil from early on.

Kenley really crossed a line when she basically dissed Tim and his advice. Especially galling when she essentially took his advice the previous week.

Why didn't Michael Kors really call her on her 'tude?! She should have received the fashion-is-about-criticism-girlie, so get used to it talking-to that he'd given other designers in the past.

Kenley needs to grow up, take the criticism for what it's worth, learn from it, retool and move on.

Another site pointed out that this season, the producers went more for character (oh, really?) and less for talent.

Personally, I'd take talent any day.

It takes more creativity on the editors' and producers' part to make a good season out of it. Picking "characters," as pseudo as they may be, cheapens the show and makes for much more boring television.

Good thing Bravo still has a shot of keeping the show in their stable!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Gardening is just not in my genes. But an appreciation of others' horticultural handiwork is. This is part of a garden that I walk by on the way to my favorite place to meet friends, relax and enjoy a salad.

The past few seasons in fashion, shades of green have been pretty big; so much so that it's something of a cliche, having worked its way down to the Targets of the world and back out again.

But I adore all the shades of greens you can find in nature, and pairing them with deep purples and vibrant blues makes both colors just pop with electricity.

I'm in awe of gardeners who can interpret "Plant 24 inches apart in bright sun, will grow 8 to 10 in tall" and know that they'll have an undulating carpet of color before summer's end.

Perhaps a course is in my future, and that may help. Understanding which plants are good for support and background while others need to be propped up to shine may help my own planning efforts.

They say that fall is the best time to install perennials, so after we get back from a quick trip to the beach, that's on my agenda, too.

In the wake of this week's financial turmoil, it might be restorative to think about nature, and not ones and zeroes and decimal points for a while.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Project Runway Episode 10: It's Fixed, I Tell Ya!

You could call it divine intervention, fate, karma, what-have-you.

I say those buttons in Heidi's bag were stacked.

That the producers matched up the designer with the model/graduate that would make for the most interesting show.

How else could you explain Kenley getting the vintage mini-me? (And what of the rant how Tim doesn't understand her style, that she's not cutting down that tulle? Yet on the runway, just an inch or so of the stuff peeked out from the hem?)

Jerrell designing for the printmaking major who'll work as an artist's assistant? (Can I tell you? I love-love-love this look! I would wear it myself tomorrow if I could get my hands on it.)

Joe - whose lower-level skills make him fit-challenged to begin with - being given the largest model? (Did that jacket have tails, as in tuxedo?)

And Suede being paired with the photographer who loves pants - an item that he just can't sew? (Toward the end, I could hear the producers nerves begin to fray because, drat! She fell in love with his mall-rat dress.)

Saddling Leanne with the mother-daughter team that was all a-twitter with opinions for just-add-water instant drama? (You could see her head spinning as she had to rework the dress after the first fitting when it was too matronly - and probably "too Leanne." But in the end, her pleats made an appearance, and all seemed well, despite throwing her into the bottom three for a little bit o' drama.)

The only one who seemed unfazed was Korto (who in typical Korto fashion, kept her laid-back cool with her model... but I think Korto's really in the zone, has the skills, knows her stuff, and realizes that she's just got to keep producing whatever she likes and she'll be safe).

This particular episode was poorly filmed edited. I kept wanting to tap people on the back and ask them to get out of the way and let me see what was going on. Obviously, a tactic of the director's, keep things hidden until the runway show, but still annoying.

Are we there, yet? I'm getting so bored with this season...

So, Joe and his interview costume didn't make the grade.

Kenley again looked miffed when the judges didn't give her the highest grades.

Jerrell hitting all the right notes with his artsy-fashionable take on an artist's assistant.

And while the jacket ended up being a fitted, gorgeous triumph, Korto's design would have been more flattering to her model overall if the skirt had been just a couple of inches longer. I think the judges just didn't want to insult the college grad by saying so. Regardless, the client adored it.

I still say the final three remain:
  • Jerrell
  • Korto
  • Leanne
But who'd be surprised about that, at this point?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Good Things

Lavender buds.
Friends you've had since you were six.
Colorful textiles.
Electric blue patent leather handbags.
Knives with heft.
Tomatoes so good you eat them like apples.
Walking under a canopy of trees.
Cheerful banter.
Seeing with fresh eyes.
Knowing someone understands you.
The unexpected Roz Chast cartoon.
The foam at the edge of a crashing wave.
Good sleeping weather.
Spotting a cache of butterflies.
Being pleasantly surprised.
The glide of a pen over smooth paper.
A perfect cartwheel.
Bananas with no spots.
Undulating waves of flowers planted by someone who cares.
Using your strengths.
Biding your time.
Biting your tongue.
A coupon you forgot you had.
Well-worn shirts.
Oft-read books.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Project Runway Episode 9: Odd Man Out

Yeah, so I guess the judges decided it was time to let Blayne go out in a blaze of glory, manifested by neon pink and turquoise poufs that cascaded oddly down his model's body-stockinged garment.

He was kooky, but self-consciously so. He was savagely tan, resembling a turkey ready to pop out of the oven. And he wanted to unleash the ideas that rattled around his head onto the runway.

Ah, Blayne, we hardly knew ye. Well, we knew ye enough.

Obviously talented, but very young. Just like Stella called it. "He knows nothing." Live a little, Blayne.

Kenley's model had triceps-on-steroids shoulders pumped full of air, the proportions staggeringly ridiculous. The plaid in the top and the tull-laden puff skirt were just awful. Bad fabric. Bad design. Bad self-promotion. I predict that Kenley's either getting auf'd this next episode or she's in for the long haul, and we'll have to suffer through her like we did Wendy Pepper. And we'll have to sit through her boring Betty Page-inspired collection [yawn!].

But enough of the baddies.

Sagittarius Saves the Day
Jerrell is hitting his stride with his textile mix-and-match skills, which were put to good use these past few challenges. His Sagittarius garment was far and away the best - he earned that win - and he obviously took inspiration from Tim's comment that the design was on the precipice between utter disaster and taking the prize.

And I give Jerrell a ton of credit: Rather than shrink back from his design, second-guess himself, and present something weird and half-baked, he looked like he just forged ahead. We haven't seen much of Jerrell's design process... I wonder if that's because it's being saved for the last 2 episodes. (Or it's just too boring to capture on film?). I couldn't tell what fabric that little jacket was made of, but the colors and just worked together.

My sister's a Sagittarius, and although she'd laugh to hear this, I could totally see her rocking that dress.

Leanne's exoskeletal Scorpio was interesting in concept, but in execution, looked a little, I dunno, flappy.

Korto, I loved the color interpretation of her Aquarius dress, but damn, it looked like a caftan and the same flowy shape she's done a kajillion times before. Is it me?

Other Hot Messes
Terri = disaster (Hello? What does shiny red have to do with a lion - I mean, other than offal?). Suede getting called out by the Duchess for his third-person shenanigans - ha-ha! - clearly zapping his delusions of grandeur.

Oh, yes, and Joe's ruffled rust mess made it all the more evident that he is employing the "I don't have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you" strategy. Which is kind of lazy. Or what less talented people do.

Really, if Blayne hadn't indulged in that fabric explosion and instead played it safe with a more traditional garment, we'd still be seeing his goofy betanned grin next week. Ah, well. Can't blame him for going for it, I guess.

Final Three
These are my hopes for the final three:
  • Korto
  • Leanne
  • Jerrell

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Heart Sweet Leaf Tea

I admit, it was the Granny cartoon mascot that drew me in one day while at a gourmet market, looking for something to drink with my overpriced lunch.

But one sip of this stuff, and its cane sugar sweetness, and you'll never go back to high-fructose corn syrup sweetened Snapple.

(Digression: I once met a guy who traveled on business with a full case of Snapple Lemon Tea in his luggage - his assistant confirmed that every day he glugged down two bottles of the stuff before his first 8 a.m. meeting and simply could not operate without it.)

Anyway, Sweet Leaf Tea has become my obsession, and while their Lemonade Tea is pretty good, and they have the obligatory Peach and Green Tea versions, their original Sweet Leaf Tea is just spectacular.

Go out and try it!

Monday, September 8, 2008

List Envy

My lists are seldom this entertaining.

Or detailed.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

You, Sarah Palin, are No Tina Fey

Much has been made of Sarah Palin's presentation, specifically, her glammed-up look... and what she calls her "librarian glasses."

Since seventh grade, I've worn eyeglasses. And as family photos prove, in various forms: my own frames have ranged from super-sized 80s goggles rendered in mauve plastic to my favorite current pair of rectangular ones by Face A Face, tortoise fronts with oversized striped temples.

Those rimless frames, I do not understand. They strike me as frames for people who don't want to look like they're wearing glasses - but I know some stylish people who have interesting versions.

But for styles like Sara Palin's, I just think they look strange in photographs and on TV, with that floating temple hanging off the ears, and a bridge suspended mid-air, balanced over the nose.

A full frame is more in keeping with the librarian theme - the kind that are actually sported by Tina Fey.

[And now I'm kicking off my heels and climbing up onto the soapbox:]
Can we please stop it, already, with all these comparisons of Sarah Palin to Tina Fey?

How lame are the Daily Show dudes - whose Democratic and Republican convention coverage was otherwise spectacularly funny - when they mash up the words brunette and glasses and decide that makes the two women doppelgangers?!

There's just no comparison.

Aside from the outspoken Democrat position, not only does Tina Fey not have the same temperament - political or otherwise - as Ms. Palin (um, hello? Tina supported Hillary), I'd also like to point out that she wears real eyeglasses.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Project Runway Episode 8: The Day the Music Died

So, I could see where this was headed. Although she lives in the meatpacking district area, Stella is just such a marked contrast to Diane Von Furstenberg, that despite her ability to adapt the challenge to her point of view, we were headed for a terrible train wreck.

Or was that simply the story we were fed?

Kenley's dress, while the fit and execution (sewing-wise) looked pretty strong, I must be the only person in the country that hated that wacky print. I thought the lace lace collar was dreadful and the black belt just wrong-wrong-wrong. She nailed the silhouette, but she came in second for a reason...

Leanne, you Quirky-Girl, you are surprising me! The dress was just beyond chic - it called to mind the Anette Bening character in that movie (from the 80s?) Bugsy. Sexy, flowy, emphasizing all the assets. The jacket looked like a modified hoodie that the judges somehow just decided to ignore in making their choice, which was just as well.

Joe got a major reprieve, and should just pack his bags because he'll be on the road to nowhere sometime soon.

Granted, Stella's heart didn't seem entirely in it, and maybe that's the problem.

And a part of me is convinced she threw the race. (Perhaps the first time anyone's thrown the competition in the show's history? Can you think of another?)

The seatbelt skirt last week barely held together. The trash bags, for crying out loud!

When getting her auf smooch, she acknowledged her own ego was probably too big to last long in this alterna-reality world, and I think she was right.

I mean, she knew she was outta there.

Witness, her exit ensemble: Her leathuh, full makeup and shiny blowout. Brilliant!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Brooching the Subject

Often when I see women sporting brooches, the look is kind of old-school, school-marmish, or a throwback to the late 80s linebacker-shouldered power-suit days.

Or they're little itty-bitty things, like barely a commitment to wearing jewelry.

But Michelle Obama's brooches during the Democratic National Convention gave a nod to fashion, a certain kind of style sense, one that I can't quite put my finger on.

The starburst speech on her teal dress added to her radiance during her speech. Brooches lined the neck of her fuchsia and black Thakoon dress on the night Barack gave his address.

Clearly, whether she's styling herself, or someone else is providing advice, keeping the fancy framing her face is a great tactic; every closeup shot of her applauding caught site of the sparkle, which was just enough, very chic and not at all over the top.

She's like her own assemblage of a Thousand Points of Light with those brooches, turning heads and laying claim to a style all her own.