Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada -- Teaser #2

Interesting critique of The Devil Wears Prada at The New York Times. The article claims that the fashion image presented in the film is not a realistic image of the fashion industry but is instead a bit forced and over-the-top (not surprising, given that Patricia Field styled the film, but even so). The article quotes Anne Slowey from Elle:

Those costumes are "a caricature of what people who don't work in fashion think fashion people look like,"...Conceived and styled by Patricia Field, who assembled the wardrobe for "Sex and the City," "the clothes are a little too head-to-toe perfect."

And what does Patricia Field have to say in response?
For Ms. Field, the costumes were never intended to match reality. "Did Holly Golightly represent reality in a Givenchy dress? I was in that zone," she said. "My job is to present an entertainment, a world people can visit and take a little trip."

Sounds vaguely familiar to her response to criticism that the Sex and the City wardrobes were unrealistic as well!

Movie Review -- A Prairie Home Companion

I finally got around to seeing Robert Altman's latest ensemble film: A Prairie Home Companion. PHC is an odd little movie about the final episode of Garrison Keillor's real-life radio program (Keillor wrote the film and plays the lead, GK, in the film). The cast is packed full of celebrities -- Kevin Kline as the film's narrator, a security guard for the program; Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep and Meryl Streep play the singing Johnson Sisters (with Lindsey Lohan as Streep's suicidal daughter); Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly play the cowboy duo, Dusty & Lefty; and Virginia Madsen plays an angel (yes, you read that right) otherwise known as the "Dangerous Woman" who appears in the theater on its final night to....oh, I'll just let you watch the film for that. In smaller roles, Tommy Lee Jones plays a wealthy business man who has bought (and is prepared to break down) the theater and Maya Rudolph (from SNL) plays a very-pregnant stage manager.

What a fun, fun, fun movie. At one point, the guy behind me was tapping his feet so hard, my entire row was shaking. But I didn't care, because my feet were a bouncin' right with him. Streep and Tomlin, especially, are too funny for words; their comic timing is sheer perfection, and I could have watched two hours of just the two of them getting ready to perform in their dressing room. But they weren't the only amazing performances -- Reilly and Harrelson are hilarious as somewhat-raunchy cowboys; Kevin Kline is (of course, as always) his own brand of subtle humor, his "seriousness" a nice contrast to the over-the-top antics of the radio performers. And, while it was no Mean Girls or Freaky Friday, La Lohan has finally taken a brilliant turn as an actress; even though her role is supporting, she has finally stepped into adult roles in adult films, and hopefully (along with keeping on some weight) she'll continue to play such mature, complex roles. Go Lindsey! All of the actors performed their own songs, according to IMDB, live in the theater instead of in a prerecorded studio. That energy makes the movie more alive; you could tell the actors were having a fun time in their roles.

I'm kind of mixed about Virginia Madsen's role as "Dangerous Woman." It gave the movie more of a plot (beyond the closing of the theater) but it just wasn't working for me. Though I love Madsen in any role, it distracted me from the fun on stage.

But overall, this was such a fun movie, perfect for lazy summer afternoons. I give it FOUR STARS!!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada -- Fashion Teaser!

Since the countdown to The Devil Wears Prada has officially begun, I thought I'd get the party started with some of the fabulous fashions from the film. This dress that Anne Hathaway is wearing as Andrea (also known as "Ahn-dre-ah") has gotten tons of attention. Expect hordes of fahionistas to be belting their dresses this fall.

This Calvin Klein Trench looks classic but simultaneously fresh with a cute newsboy cap and to-die-for t-straps.

And anyone who knows me at all knows that I'm salivating over this look: David Rodriguez boatneck top, Miu Miu white shirt, Chanel cap and Chanel jewelry. If I could dress like this every day (any day) trust me, I would.

(Top photo from Yahoo Movies; bottom two from Yahoo News!)

Christmas in.....June???

I just started this new short story that's set around Christmas time. So, to give me the right sound and mood for the piece, I downloaded a bunch of Christmas music and have been listening to it all afternoon.

My head's spinning. I think I need a drink.

Monday, June 26, 2006

BBC -- Review of Bone

Let me start by saying that I simply could not get into this book. In theory, Bone is exactly the type of novel I enjoy reading as it's a story about the necessity of story for our very survival, the need for story to reveal the truth behind one's circumstances, and how story helps us understand our identity, as individuals and as members of families, cultures, and communities. The story of the Leong family -- its tragedies, its joys, and most imporantly, its secrets -- is an intimate portrayal of life in San Francisco's Chinatown as told by first-person narrator Leila. And it is a story that the tour books and history books don't tell.

The narrator's urgency in understanding her heritage, both in the past and in the present, is the heart of this story; the narrator's inability to understand who she is as a Chinese-American woman, a woman torn between her traditional Chinese heritage and the modern "American" world she lives in, drives the story forward, Chinatown representing the two worlds coming together. And it is primarily the secrets of the family -- the unexplainable suicide of middle daughter, Ona; the story behind the disappearance of the narrator's biological father; the true lives of the three daughters in contrast with the images they present to their parents; the failure to return Grandfather Leung's bones to China -- that create the tension in the story. The characters' refusal to confront these issues head on only perpetuates this tension; it seems crucial for Leila to face this tension through her storytelling. For her entire life, Leila has only received fragments of her life's story, and it seems vital for her to piece her story together, bit by bit, through whatever means she can. Only through story can Leila face who she is and perhaps create a stronger, more authentic sense of self.

Okay, I get all of that in theory. And I'm not sure why I didn't connect with this novel. I admired the relationships in the story, felt the pain as the family struggled with dealing with tragedy. The prose was admirable, poetic, smooth, real...especially for a first novel. As narrator, Leila tells her story with brutal honesty; she doesn't sugarcoat herself or her experiences. But the story felt choppy to me; I got lost in when things were taking place (is Leila married yet? is Ona dead yet?) and kept having to flip back to previous pages to try and piece it all together. And at the same time, things felt rushed via too much exposition as opposed to carefully drawn-out scenes; so much took place in under 200 pages, I wondered why the author didn't write 400 pages instead. Sure, it's a good book, no denying that, but if someone wants to read a story about Chinese-American experiences, I'm going to suggest The Woman Warrior. And if someone wants a story about the damaging impact of secrets on a family's survival, I'm handing them Beloved.

(Though perhaps that's an unfair expectation for any author -- I mean, Maxine Hong Kingston and especially Toni Morrison are about as good as it gets!)


A couple of weeks ago, I met this real estate guy at the dog park and made the grave mistake of telling him that I *might* be contemplating buying an apartment in the near future (that's a pretty might-y *might* as this is San Francisco and everything's way way way expensive). Well, pretty much every day since then, he approaches me with another real estate gem.

Today he hands me a brochure for a studio in a pretty crappy neighborhood. No parking. No real storage. Starting at the bargain price of $258,000 (a STEAL in San Francisco) I can get 260 square feet. That's a 16 x 16 foot room to house my kitchen, bathroom, closet (oh, the shoes alone), books (I currently have 5 bookshelves), bed, workspace, living space, dog, etc. etc. I figure the entire studio would be about 1/3 of my current apartment.

I mean, I could probably afford the starting price, but c'mon. Give me a break.

Oh, studios with lofts (which pretty much looks like storage space, not sleep space) start at $335,000 and quickly enter the $400s, and one-bedrooms start at $441,000.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Happy Pride 2006!

To all of my gay, lesbian, bi, & transgendered friends and readers, Happy Pride 2006 from (believe it or not) sunny San Francisco!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Bestest-est-est feeling

Finishing a draft of a short story and sending it to your first reader.

Ahhhhhh......kind of like giving birth (er, a metaphoric birth, so as not to offend any mothers out there!)

Now really

Can you imagine waking up next to this?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

How to get the guy, part deux

As I've been overwhelmed with my own dating disabilities (well, and also simulateously -- and perhaps somewhat ironically -- I have somehow acquired a life), I've gotten behind on my television. Last night, I finally got a chance to watch episode two in this season's trainwreck of a TV show, How To Get The Guy. And I must say, while the show is still a disaster filled with cliches and archaic advice, Monday's episode had one redeeming segment. Literally, the women went on blind dates. The women (and their dates) were blindfolded and then had a 3-course dinner date with two different men; for course one, one of the men sat with them, and for course two, the second man came in. The women had to choose which man they preferred for a blindfold-free dessert.

Not surprisingly, the women were stunned by the results. One of them (the "free spirit") picked a guy who was the opposite of the "type" she normally goes out with; he's a Jersey guy who's a bit rough around the edges and definitely not the earthy, new-agey character she typically goes out with.

Okay, the show is still summer-filler-fluff-garbage, but it got me thinking that, logistics aside (for how many of us walk through life with literal blindfolds on, as opposed to metaphoric ones), this is an excellent way to meet, really meet, potential partners, as so much of what we base our decisions on amounts to nothing. It's an obvious concept, dating blindly, and yet still so often we're rejected (or we reject) because we don't meet a certain "type."

And it's not at all surprising that so many of us -- in spite of how much we might complain about our situation and claim to have open minds -- are still alone.

That was close!

I'm not really a loyal-product gal. I tend to buy whatever is cheapest or easily available when it comes to toothpaste, lotion, razors, deodorant, etc. etc. with a few treats thrown in every so often. Sales and "gift with purchases" are my favorite things. The one exception has been my near year-long obsession with MAC's Viva Glam V lipglass, which we all know (or you should know) is the perfect lip color. (It's gotten to the point that I stop at every MAC counter, even if I'm not buying anything, just to make sure that they aren't, in fact, taking it off the market.)

So, it will come as a surprise to hear that I nearly had a heart attack when I went to three different drugstores plus Target (and I HATE Target) and found that my Olay® Complete Defense SPF 30 Daily UV Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin was nowhere to be found. We fair-skinned gals need our SPF 30, dammit! Luckily, I have discovered Drugstore.Com for all of my beauty needs (and not needs) and have just purchased three bottles of MY mousturizer.

How on earth did we survive without the internet?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


To give some sweetness to my life, today I was lucky enough to find a shop in San Francisco that sells my favorite Australian treat: Tim Tams. Just in case there's a blizzard or a Tim Tam shortage, I bought six packages. For those not in the know, I highly suggest ordering a package (or even better: buy twelve!)

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Joke Is On....Me

Just when I thought I'd experienced every possible dating scenario.

I'm writing a short story about a woman who becomes addicted to dating seminars. As research, I've attended a couple of seminars, and tonight was one of the ones I've signed up for. The seminar was about how to meet people (not really a problem for me as I've never been shy) and about 80% men (which is just fine by me as I've always been flirtatious). Right away, I start flirting with the very foxy guy (VFG) sitting next to me. I'm thinking, Score one for me! Research AND a cute guy!

So the seminar is all yadda, yadda, yadda...nothing new...but the final bit of advice (pay attention, boys and girls) is on how to turn meeting someone into asking someone on a date. The instructor advises us to keep it simple using a strategy he calls, "DQD" -- Declaration, Question, Declaration:
  • D) I've really enjoyed chatting with you;
  • Q) Are you single...or Are you seeing anyone?;
  • D) I'd like to see you again (followed by asking the person out)

Seems simple enough.

After the seminar ends, VFG and I keep chatting and flirting. We walk together to the subway, get on the same train, keep talking and flirting. We happen to be getting off at the same stop, and as we're getting ready to part, VFG says, "I've really enjoyed chatting with you. Do you want to get together sometime?"

I laugh and say, "Of course....But you forgot to ask if I'm seeing anyone."

He says, "Are you?"

I say, "Of course not! We met at a dating seminar."

He says, as I hand him my phone number, "Oh, I'm in an open relationship."

End Scene.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday's Fashion Fantasies

While everyone else is still thrilled about summer fashion (yawn) I'm already thinking of autumn. I just love fall, with woolen knits and layers and perfectly-tailored suits.

How about these funky Dolce & Gabanna Platform Oxfords? (I'm not so much into platforms, but I love these shoes.)

And I'm loving this Armani turtleneck sweater and tiered skirt. Would be perfect for teaching, and we all know that Ms. Audrey would approve.

I'm salivating over the back of this Roberto Cavalli matte jersey dress. Not that I would look remotely as good as the model does in it (who would?) but still, a girl can dream!

(All fashion from Nordstrom Designer Collections!)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Things that are beyond "ick"

The Creepy-Men-Whose-Movies-We-Never-Ever-Want-To-See Club has a new king, and his name is James Woods. In the June 26, 2006 issue of Us Weekly, James Woods, 59, is quoted as saying of his girlfriend, Ashley Myrick, 20:
She has it all: beauty, brains and charm. I knew her when she was a little kid.
Ummmm....does he mean "when she was a little kid" as in two years ago? Ick doesn't even begin to describe that.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Two Weeks: A Comparison

Last Week = Pathetic
  • Jury duty
  • Paint bedroom purple
  • Watch paint dry
  • Watch entire Sex And The City series -- again!

This Week = Sublime

Monday, June 12, 2006

So was really bad

"I'm not exactly sure what to think about this date. Mike's a really nice guy, but I just keep asking myself, 'Am I really having an entire conversation about sour Blow Pops on a date right now?'" -- The Party Girl

Tonight I decided to check out ABC's How to Get the Guy, the newest how-to reality show on dating and love. I must admit that I was drawn to the show initially because it's set in my beautiful city, San Francisco, a city with a (false) reputation of being a dreadful place for single, straight women to find single, straight men. And I was also drawn to the show because its subject feeds directly into the fiction I've been writing this summer.

The show focuses on four different women, each of whom gets instantly categorized into a different stereotype of single womanhood, The Dreamer, The Girl Next Door, The Party Girl, and The Career Girl (their real names and real personalities seem insignificant to the show as we are constantly reminded of the "type" of woman that each has been labelled as rather than who the real woman actually is), and the difficulties that they have finding "The One." They are "coached" by two alleged experts in dating, but I'd think "pimped" might be a better word for it; their coaches offer supposedly inciteful "rules" of dating such as: Drop the hankie (make eye contact for four seconds, smile, proximity). They kept repeating this one again again again, and I think it was supposed to be some sort of metaphor or symbol, but it never worked; women don't carry hankies these days, do they? Maybe I just wasn't taking detailed-enough notes. In response, the women (and the men they meet) offer loads of cliche responses about finding the one and being incomplete without him (or her).

Is this supposed to be revolutionary learning? Are we supposed to be enlightened? Is this really going to inspire anyone to run out and "drop the hankie"?

The coaches often sound like they're reading bad dialogue from a Lifetime For Women movie starring Gabrielle Carteris and Lisa Dean Ryan. The women often just laugh uncomfortably. It was so bad, I found myself asking, "Is this supposed to be ironic? It has to be. There is no way people living in 2006 can believe this nonsense." Are women so stupid and desperate that they must be talked to -- and portrayed -- in such a condescending, one-dimensional way? And why is virtually every man they show a total loser? I live in San Francisco, and I can attest that there are plenty of smart, interesting, funny, monogamy-professing men here (and plenty of smart, interesting, funny, monogamy-professing women looking for them).

I'll keep watching it of course, as there is so much material here for my own writing. And like a 40-car pile up on I-80 (preferably one involving a turned-over truck carrying chickens, jars of honey, elephants, and clowns on unicycles) it's something I simply cannot keep my eyes from.

Peep Peep!

As in shoes (not packaged marshmallow delights!)

I am obsessed with finding a pair of peep-toed pumps. Is there anything more elegant that you can put on your feet?

These by Marc Jacobs are classic, but still funky.

Then there are these by Kate Spade that I just love, love, love!

(Shoes are, of course, from Zappos Couture!)

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Very Imporant BBC Announcement!

Hope all of you are reading your copy of Bone for this month's BBC reading selection. If you aren't, there's still plenty of time!

We've decided the "deadline" for the book will be the 26th of June, so if you want to join in the discussion, give me or Vanessa a holler and make a post on that date (and/or come read and comment on what others have to say).

We'll have the book choices for July's BBC book up in a few days!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006



If this is true, will People ask for a refund?

Edited to add: The plot thickens! The article has been "removed" from the above site.

(Blogger's 5-second editorial: Give me a frickin' break. It's a baby, not an alien sighting, bigfoot, or the loch ness monster.)

Things that make you go "HUH????"

I know many of my readers are site meter obsessed (just like I am!) so I thought I should post the latest site meter bafflement.

I clicked on my site meter today and noticed that I already have more than the average number of hits I get per day. Odd. I mean, it seems like I have some lovely new readers, but it's not even 10 a.m.; what the heck's going on?

So I look at referrals. And there are about thirty searches for "Catalonian Dish," from all over the U.S.A.

Okay, is there some sort of Catalonian Dish revolution going on that nobody told me about?

Edited to add: OMG! And I'm the first thing that comes up at Google! Craziness.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Today's inspiration

No one lives his life.
Disguised since childhood,
haphazardly assembled
from voices and fears and little
pleasures, we come of age as masks.
Our true face never speaks.

Somewhere there must be storehouses
where all these lives are laid away
like suits of armor or old carriages
or clothes hanging limply on the walls.

Maybe all paths lead there,
to the repository of unlived lives.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Rilke's Book of Hours
Barrow & Macy, tr.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The World According to Mister Rogers

Imagine my joy when I opened my mailbox this afternoon and found in it a little gift from my mom: The World According to Mister Rogers.

Here's my favorite excerpt thus far:

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.

Movie Review -- Friends With Money

Okay, let's just get this out there. I am a long-time member of Team Aniston. Consider the facts: (1) Jen's slimy ex, Brad Pitt, is the vice president of Creepy Men Whose Movies We Never Ever Want To See (second-in-command solely to Mr. Tom "Ick" Cruise); (2) Above-mentioned ex left dear Jen and flaunted his relationship with Angelina "One Week I'm Making Out With My Brother And Poking Myself With Knives While Dressed In S & M Gear And The Next I'm The Poster Child for U.N. Diplomacy" Jolie; (3) A.J. is, well, strange. (While we can never truly hate Angie (for she was, after all, Gia) we can still say, "WTF are you thinking slapping the sisterhood in the face like this with that weasel of a man? Why don't you just stick with making out with your brother which was more fun for us to watch?")

But I must confess that I bypassed Jen's recent Derailed and Rumor Has It after lukewarm reviews made me think they are, at best, There's-nothing-else-I-haven't-seen-at-Blockbuster rentals. But Friends With Money looked to be just what Jen needed to catapult her out of Rachel and into her next chapter.

In an outstanding ensemble cast (including Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener, Joan Cusack, Greg Germann (from Ally McBeal!)) Jen plays Olivia, a woman who seems to have been left behind by her friends -- in terms of money, relationships, work, family. She is a single, pothead, ex-teacher working as a maid who is still hung up on her ex (who cheated on his wife to be with her) while her friends are all married, with children, and financially well off.

The film raises the question of whether or not friendships can survive such crossroads; would they even be friends with Olivia were they to meet her today? But I think the questions the film raises about happiness and intimacy (both in romantic relationships and in friendships) run far deeper. What strikes me as most important about the film is how real the relationships are; these aren't fluffy, never-talk-about-each-other-behind-each-other's-back relationships. The women (and men) gossip and are critical of each other (and their men) while simultaneously loving each other, just as in real life. For a rather short movie, all of the characters have well-developed conflicts and issues that they are dealing with as individuals, and it is through their interaction with each other that these issues come to the surface. The stand-out relationship was between McDormand (who, of course, steals every second she is on-screen) and her "Is he gay or not?" husband (played by Simon McBurney).

I could have seen the movie being longer, but primarily because I was so drawn to all of the characters. The movie ends a bit ambiguously, but I suppose that life never has neatly-resolved solutions to problems; like life itself, our issues go on and on.

A quiet film, but one worth watching. I give it FOUR STARS!!!!!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

You Know You've Surpassed Sloth When... aren't working (in fact, you aren't doing much of anything besides watching SATC on dvd) but your apartment is a disaster (because who cleans when SATC is on?) and the laundry is starting to block the TV so you decide to send it out to be cleaned (because why would a person who isn't working or (in fact) doing much of anything have time or energy to launder her clothes herself?) but then contemplate just hauling out your 80s clothes (tube tops and Hammer pants, anyone?) because the cleaners is a whole half a block away and that would require actual walking (with a huge pile of laundry strapped to your back) and who wants to walk that far when SATC is on?

Alright, Mom. I'm going.