March 2004 Archives

the league of extraordinary gentlemen

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March 31 movie: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Why, when we have so many good movies on the DVR and from Netflix just waiting to be viewed, did we sit through this? I loved Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic. Which should have been reason enough to avoid this crap fest. But no, I had to see for myself if it was any good. Well, it wasn't! Now you know.

Georg said he thought it might work better if you didn't know the comic existed. I don't know about that. I can't imagine the movie would have been interesting to people who aren't already at least somewhat familiar with the characters. But people who have the teeny tiniest bit of knowledge of 19th century literature would have to be put off by the ultra-lame exposition from Mina Harker, Dorian Grey and Allan Quartermain, each in turn explaining who they are. Couldn't they have worked the backstories into the movie somehow? Did we have to see Dorian Grey stop the action and give a speech that began with "There's this painting, see..." Does any movie viewer like that kind of condescension? I sure don't.

I could have forgiven the near total departure from the comic, if it had provided an entertaining story in its own right. But instead we got a jumbled mess. All I can say is, now I understand why Moore calls making movies of his work "butchering [his] children."

rollerball

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March 30 movie: Rollerball. I like dystopian sf stories as well as anyone, and probably more than most (heck, I liked Omega Man), and I had heard of Rollerball as an excellent example of the genre. But actually it was a boring, plodding, "tell don't show" sports movie. On roller skates. It made Soylent Green look like classic entertainment. I'm not crazy about sports movies under the best of circumstances, but this was atrocious.

The only bright spots were 1. trying to determine what or who James Caan's mumbling Texas accent reminded me of (never did figure it out), 2. laughing at the "best friend" character, whose cheesy moustache made him look like the old Brawny man, 3. imagining John Houseman saying "They make money the old fashioned way: they earn it" every time he opened his mouth.

Interesting trivia note: According to Robert Osbourne (and by the way, what the hell was this movie doing on TCM? The C stands for "Classic," not "Crappy") the cautionary message about violence in sports was so completely lost on movie audiences that a group of investors actually approached director Norman Jewison about setting up a real Rollerball league. Yikes.

peking opera blues

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March 28 movie: Peking Opera Blues. Georg, Lisa and I saw this on Duke campus Sunday night. Georg and I had rented it years ago, but the subtitles were totally illegible -- the screen had been cropped, so we could see the subtitles in Mandarin, but only the very tops of the letters in English. It says something about the movie's (dare I say it?) operatic quality that I enjoyed it even though I had no idea what the heck was going on. Ever since then I've wanted to see it again with legible subtitles. This time the subtitles were very poorly written, sometimes nonsensical, but at least we could read them.

The movie was great! Completely lived up to my expectations. The only scenes I really remembered from the first time were the very end, and the hilarious scene early on where two women end up on stage at the opera house in the same costume, and the co-star is trying to find out why there are two Wu's tonight, but they all stay in character, singing and performing acrobatics while arguing it out. My favorite line from the scene is when one of the women forces the other one into a split and she sings "Ouch! That's difficult!" while the supporting cast lift her up, still in the split, and carry her off stage.

There was a lot of drag -- not only the opera company, who of course are all male actors, but also Brigitte Lin's character dresses like an Edwardian dandy, and may I say she looks damn sexy in men's clothes -- and I wondered if that was at all shocking when the movie was made.

We ran into Marty from the station and his fiance Robin before the show, and afterwards Marty commented that he had enjoyed the fantasy fighting style. Which amused me because I had been thinking that the fighting was more realistic than I had expected! There was less wire work than you often get in later HK action movies -- for example The Bride with White Hair, also featuring Brigitte Lin (alas, no men's clothes), is full of flying.

unzipped

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March 28 movie: Unzipped. I know, I know, I already saw this recently. What can I say, I'm lame! I was flipping channels and it was just starting, and I was only going to watch for a minute or two but then Eartha Kitt came on and purred "Are you going to make me gowns?" and then Isaac, imitating her, also purred "Are you going to make me gowns?" and I was hooked. Had to watch the whole thing.

I don't think I mentioned this before but the music in this movie is wonderful too. Really captures Isaac's sense of camp and joy and fun. I ended up playing "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" by Jimmy Somerville of Bronski Beat on my show the next day. Which, unfortunately, was not the same artist as from the movie (the credits were really hard to read, I couldn't tell) but was the right song, so I guess that was close enough.

Sylvia called during the song and asked me if RPM was the new disco. I said "No way, it's the old disco!" She came by the station at the end of my show and we ended up hanging out most of the evening. She showed me some cool scores she'd made recently in vintage patterns and fabric and records.

captain blood

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March 26 movie: Captain Blood. It's turning into Swashbuckler Weekend for us! This pirate movie was Errol Flynn's breakout hit and has a lot in common with probably his greatest film, The Adventures of Robin Hood: he leads a band of British patriots who are forced into lawlessness by an unworthy king, Olivia de Havilland plays his love interest, and Basil Rathbone plays his swordfighting nemesis. (The only thing missing is Alan Hale as one of the merry men, er, I mean the pirates.)

Basil Rathbone looked so young! He and Flynn both did, but it's most striking on Rathbone who plays Captain Levasseur, a rival pirate captain. After seeing him as the stiff, somewhat prissy nobleman villain in so many movies, it was nice for him to get the chance to loosen up a bit and play a raunchy pirate. He gets to leer a lot and talk with an exaggerated "Pepe le Pew" French accent and then get killed by Flynn when he tries to take advantage of Olivia de Havilland. Flynn, of course, being an upstanding pirate who won't stand for mistreatment of female prisoners.

We had a great time tossing off lines from Pirates of the Caribbean, for example when Flynn accuses Rathbone of violating the articles of their pirate agreement, Georg said "The pirate's code is really more of a guideline."

mark of zorro

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March 25 movie: The Mark of Zorro. I'm not that up on the whole Zorro mythos, so I don't know how well this movie fits in. Come to think of it, I don't even know where Zorro comes from. Is it a folk legend, like the Mexican Robin Hood? Or just an adventure story that has been used for movies lots of times?

In any case this wonderful swashbuckler stars Tyrone Power as Zorro and Basil Rathbone as his nemesis. Power's Zorro trained as a swordsman in Spain, earning the title "The California Cockerel," which, as double entendres go, is almost as good as "The Gay Blade." Back in California, Zorro decides that the best way to throw off suspicion is to convince everyone that he's a useless "Scarlet Pimpernel" style dandy. So he spends the entire movie doing magic tricks, fanning himself with a lace hankie, and mincing around in extremely tight pants.

Also stars Eugene Pallette, reprising his Friar Tuck role from The Adventures of Robin Hood as Fray Felipe, a warrior monk who wades through fight scenes clubbing people on the head and muttering "God forgive me!" after every clonk. The only thing that would have made it better is Alan Hale among the merry men, er, I mean the caballeros.

titanic

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Yesterday I went to the Titanic exhibit with my friend Patricia. The exhibit was really fun. They have corridors and staterooms set up to look like first class, second class and steerage, lots of salvaged objects that belonged to passengers, fixtures and tools from the ship, and testimony from survivors on the audio tour. I was amazed by some of the salvage: postcards, playing cards and clothing! I didn't realize paper and cloth would survive 70 years in the ocean. The room about the sinking even has an "iceberg" that you can touch! A block of ice about 6 feet high and the length of the room.

There was a big model of the ship in the first room, and I confess I couldn't resist holding up my finger right next to the prow of the ship and squeaking "I'm king of the world!" Thankfully, there were no actual clips from the movie in the exhibit. Although they were selling copies of that big diamond necklace in the gift shop, as well as DVDs of the recent movie and an older one, also called Titanic, starring Barbara Stanwyck. I thought I had seen a really good older movie about the Titanic called The Longest Night, but I just looked it up on imdb.cm and that's something else entirely. So maybe the Barbara Stanwyck movie was the one I saw.

Instead of tickets you get a boarding pass with the name of an actual passenger on the back. At the very end is a list of everyone on the ship so you can find out whether your passenger survived. (The big wall chart of survivors also included the crew, which allowed you to compare the survival rates of first class, second class, steerage and crew. But I think the tickets all had the names of passengers.)

My card had Mrs. Samuel Herman, a second-class passenger from Somerset traveling with her entire family to visit her brother in New Jersey. She and her two daughters survived, but her husband and son died. Patricia's card had a first class passenger (I forget the name) who also lived. I wondered if everyone on the tickets survived, but then I heard some kids say their people had died.

The exhibit is at the Natural History Museum in Raleigh. I'd never been inside before, it was really interesting! They had displays of plants and animals native to NC (fun with taxidermy!), plus whale skeletons and lots of dinosaur bones too. They have the only known dinosaur heart! It's an iron deposit inside the chest cavity of a dinosaur skeleton. I guess the iron must be from the dinosaur's blood. The best part is, that dinosaur is named "Willo." Aww!

We had lunch at Cafe Luna, which was yum. I had a crab salad. It was simple -- just greens piled with fresh crabmeat and vinaigrette -- but really good and pretty filling. I was pretty tired by the end of the day (not just from the museum, but also because we couldn't remember which parking deck we were in and walked up to the 5th floor of the wrong one, then walked up to the 5th floor of the right one).

the women

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March 23 movie: The Women. I love this movie! Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford star in an all-female film about gossiping society women who get a lot of divorces. So much fun and such great clothes! I heard Isaac Mizrahi did the costumes when they revived it on Broadway recently. The ensemble also includes Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, Paulette Goddard, and Mary Boland. The "all female cast" thing is handled pretty well; the first time I saw the movie I didn't even notice the absence of Y chromosomes until halfway through. There are only a couple of scenes where the lack of male cast is a little awkward. Mostly they handle it by having the scenes in places that only women would go to, like a beauty parlor or a fashion show.

The only disappointment of the movie is Virginia Weidler as Shearer's daughter. She was terrific as the little sister in The Philadelphia Story ("it was pret-ty roo-ty too-ty!") but cloying and whiny here. I wonder what happened to her? I looked her up in imdb.com and her last movie was in 1943. I guess she never made the transition from child actor to grownup roles.

tights, day 24

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I'm not so sure about this pair. They were a gift and they're a bit Raggedy Ann for my taste. They've never been worn so I might be able to give them to a good home.

And with that, the tights project is done! 24 pairs in all. It would have been more if I hadn't culled out some of the really grungy pairs a week or two before starting this. I think next time I have an idea like this, I'm going to take the photos a bunch at a time and then post them day by day. Trying to find time to dress up and take a photo every day was not working, especially by the end of the month when my work schedule got so busy.

tights, day 23

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This pair are really cool, but alas they have a humongous run down one leg. You can't really see it in the photo but believe me, it's huge. I think I'm going to have to regretfully toss these as well. Lina and Thirteen both made it into the background of this photo. They're eating dinner, except Thirteen saw the flash and came out to see what I was doing. She eats behind the dining room table because she feels safe back there. It's sort of her hiding place.

tights, day 22

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We finish up with some fun stripey pairs. I must have forgotten I had these black and white striped ones. Or maybe I never wear them because every outfit they go with, also goes with the checkerboard tights which are more unusual. But there's plenty of room in my tights collection for both.

tights, day 21

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Four days behind on the tights project! Not a very auspicious way to end the thing. Well, at least by getting caught up now, I'm still finishing on the correct day.

This grey pair hardly ever get worn because they're a lot like the green ones from day 18: I don't much like the ribbing anymore, the color doesn't go with any of my clothes, and they're full of holes. Into the trash they go.

yoanna! yoanna!

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Considering that I like reality shows and love fashion, is anyone surprised that I've been watching "America's Next Top Model"? I suppose I should call it a guilty pleasure, but I try not to have guilt about any of my pleasures. Last night was the season finale. And it was great! The girl I liked least (Shandi) was ejected halfway through the episode, and the one I was rooting for (Yoanna) won.

Yoanna was my favorite because we have so much in common. She lost over 50 pounds last year, and I did too. She adores fashion; I do too. "Fashiontrance" is her favorite show; I watch that show too. She's kind of bitchy and makes fun of people who annoy her, and hey, I'm kind of bitchy too! The other girls thought she was a snob because she used big words and overenunciated; I use big words too! She's 5'11" with flawless skin and a strikingly beautiful face, and I'm ... wait. Damn.

Okay, so maybe we don't have that much in common. Still, seeing her "before" and "after" photos made me feel in some silly way like, if I were only 10 inches taller and lost enough more weight to become an anorexic freak, I could be America's next top model too!

I was glad to see Yoanna win but I'm bummed about the show being over. In some ways it's the best reality show out there. (The only thing wrong with it, I think, is that Georg won't watch it so we can't snark together like we do with Survivor.) OK, so the show was full of everything that's wrong with the fashion industry -- for instance, even after getting down to a size 2 just so she could be on the show, Yoanna took all kinds of crap for being too fat for a model. (She's the one on the left in this photo.) But that's the beauty of the show: all the fucked up craziness of fashion, plus reality TV craziness, plus great clothes!

I'm trying to decide what was the best moment of the series. It was either the runway lessons from the drag queens (one of whom called Tyra Banks' walk a "symphony," way to suck up!), the bizarre acting class where they all ended up staring at blank pieces of paper and crying hysterically, fashion designers Dean and Dan Caten hitting their fists together and saying "Wonder Twin Powers," or the hot tub orgy scene with the hot Italian guys. Who the hell am I kidding? It was definitely the hot tub scene.

chad sexington

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Slate.com did an article on the new Brawny man ad campaign. You might not have seen these ads if you don't watch much TV aimed at women -- they run all the time on ABC daytime -- but the ads feature a roll of paper towels with the old, 70's porn star Brawny man, and another roll with the new, sensitive-but-still-manly Brawny man. In each ad the new Brawny man does something sensitive (watch a soap opera, do yoga, sigh over a couple having a picnic in the park) and the old Brawny man scoffs at him. Slate wasn't that enamoured with the ads but I think they're hysterical.

As Georg pointed out, the Slate article committed a major omission by failing to mention "Chad Sexington," the "Burly paper towel" man that Marge fantasizes about on The Simpsons. I don't think the actual Brawny man had a name. Last time I bought paper towels they had both new and old packaging in the store. I confess I bought the one with 70s porn star Brawny man.

more catching up

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So our visit with Peggy and Chris was great. They lived here before, but moved to Texas in 2000. Peggy and I tried to go to Untidy Museum on Sunday, but they were closed! I felt awful about it, because I had been telling her what a fabulous store it was, and then we couldn't get in. There were people in there and I knocked on the window, hoping they'd let us at least look around since that was Peggy's only chance to see the place, but they wouldn't come to the door. I really should have checked their hours, but I know I went there on a Sunday a couple of months ago. Maybe they were open longer hours before the holiday?

After Untidy Museum we dropped in on our friend David, but he was taking a nap and his roommate wouldn't wake him up. I don't think she (the roommate) remembered Peggy, which was kind of a bummer. It sounded like she thought I had just brought some random person to meet him unannounced. I actually met David through Peggy. I bet he would have wanted to be woken so he could at least say hello to her.

By that point we were 0 for 2, so we went for a walk in the Duke Gardens. They have a gift shop now in the parking lot. Or possibly a gifte shoppe, I don't know because we didn't go in. There's also a little shop inside the gardens (near the gazebo) that sells sandwiches and drinks. I guess we spent a couple of hours walking around, it was really nice. Although the temperature dropped precipitously while we were there.

After that I dropped Peggy off at her hotel and went home to get dinner ready. It was Peggy, Chris, Chris' daughter Jennifer and her boyfriend Jim. Of the six of us, Peggy and I were the only ones who don't work for Whole Foods. But the rest did a good job of not talking shop too much so we didn't feel left out.

We talked a bit about plans for the big art car parade in May. Looks like we're going to leave a few days early and spend some time in Austin with Peggy and Chris. Then we'll head to Houston on Thursday and get there in time for the Art Car Ball that night. Peggy and Chris will join us on Friday, along with a couple of their neighbors who want to see the parade too. Peggy's been working on her costume (she walks alongside the car and gives little mermaids to kids along the parade route), which reminds me that I seriously need to get to work on the car. The decorations are badly in need of repair and embellishment.

I must say, this was possibly the lowest-stress dinner party I've ever had. The house was already in pretty decent shape, so while we did spend time the day before tidying up, it wasn't a frantic "clean everything in sight & hide all the junk" experience. (Which would never happen to me, I'm just speaking hypothetically of course!) Best of all we had planned a menu that could be almost entirely prepared in advance, so there wasn't much cooking to be done on Sunday evening.

Georg made his amazing beef short ribs. The process actually takes three days, but it's not as labor-intensive as some multi-day cooking projects (like Chinese pork buns for example, those are so much work I didn't even want them by the time I was done). The first day he browned the meat and prepared the marinade: cooked vegetables and a whole bottle of wine. Any recipe with a whole bottle of wine is OK by me! Anyway the marinade is poured over the browned meat and put in the fridge overnight. Day 2, strain out the marinade vegetables and add new vegetables. (same vegetables though: onion, carrot and celery.) The whole thing is baked for 3 hours, then degreased and put back in the fridge. Day 3, remove the bones -- some of them fell right out by this point -- and bake another 45 minutes. The recipe calls for straining the sauce but we like it better a little rustic, with the chunks of carrot and onion still in it.

The short ribs were the star of the meal, but we also made mashed cauliflower, roasted spring onions and sugar snap peas. The spring onions were so sweet! I'd never had them like that before, but oh man. My only regret of the meal was that we started the sugar snaps too soon & then had to keep them warm, so they weren't bright green and crisp like they should have been. Still tasted good. And the cauliflower is an old reliable dish. I put in a little horseradish so it wouldn't taste wimpy next to the short ribs. You couldn't really taste the horseradish but I think it gave it an extra oomph.

For dessert we had strawberry/rhubarb parfaits. Didn't really match the dinner, which was mostly food for cold weather, but I thought we'd want something light after all that hearty fare. I always use sherry instead of vanilla in the whipped cream, and also mix sour cream into the whipped cream, sort of a poor man's creme fraiche. This time I also put a little ginger and lemon juice in the fruit, which made it nice and tart. We had just gotten a microplane, and wow! It turned the ginger into a paste just like that. I'd heard before that a microplane is an essential kitchen tool, and I have to agree. I don't know how we got along without one before.

catching up

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I've been seriously sleep deprived the past few days, but finally got a good night's sleep last night. I feel great! It's amazing how good it feels not to be tired. Time to catch up on my journal.

Yesterday was a busy but really good day. First I dropped off the final corrections on that 20 page brochure. I don't think I ever mentioned that the proofs had come back on that. Well, I'm really happy with it. But I might save the details for another post. But anyway they said that we'll have the finished brochure by the end of the week. Yay!

Next I had to go to the other printer to pick up the stationery. It looks great! Exactly what I wanted. That screened back logo, which was way too dark on the proofs, turned out just right on the finished piece. I knew 10% was the right percentage for that. And the logos are nice and smooth, that blockiness from the proofs is gone just like they said. What a relief!

After that I dropped an invoice in the mail for a small website I had done (yay!) then had to hurry to my lunch meeting at HKB. Which went pretty well, we're getting some loose ends tied up over there. Then off to the radio show. Which was a blast. I played louder & faster music than usual because I was trying to keep myself alert. If I had played lots of mellow RPM I might have ended up taking a nap under the board. Which would be bad because, have you ever looked under there? It's disgusting.

Once my show was done, off to the client's to drop off the stationery. Which they loved, as well they should. They had photos of their new house in Florida, which is very impressive. It's got this thing in the back which is basically like a huge screened porch except no roof, just more screen above. It lets them hang out outside all the time with no bugs. They called it a birdcage but I don't know what it's really called.

Best of all, I got home and my show had recorded! Finally I got that software working again. Georg made a simple dinner (roast chicken and leftover vegetables from Sunday night) and we relaxed and watched the wretched Reign of Fire. All in all, a great day.

reign of fire

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Mar. 22 movie: Reign of Fire. Oh. My. God. That was the suckiest suck that ever sucked. Christian Bale, looking scarily pumped up, leads a ragtag post-apocalyptic community living in Northumberland and hiding from dragons, who now rule the world for some bizarre reason. Then Matthew McConaughey shows up, he's some kind of military guy, but really he's a steroid-inflated dickhead. He announces "I lead. You follow," then gets all of his own men and almost every adult in Bale's community killed. But since he's stronger, faster and better than everyone else, it's OK for him to be a jingoistic hotheaded bully with no respect for anyone but his own crew, whose decisions make their problems ten times worse. It was like American foreign policy with dragons. And we wonder why the rest of the world hates us!

As Georg said, we hope that Reign of Fire is the worst movie we see all year. McConaughey's is the only character in the entire movie with a personality, and his personality is revolting. Also, Dr. Bashir from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was in it, but he only has one or two lines and then he dies.

tights, day 20

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I'm a bit behind on the tights project -- and on posting in general -- because my good friends Peggy and Chris are in town for the weekend, and we're making dinner for them tonight. So we were tidying up and cooking most of the day yesterday & I'll be out with Peggy most of the day today.

Anyway. I used to wear these red tights a lot, but eventually I decided that with every outfit I would wear them, brown tights would actually look better. Also the waistband is shot so they don't stay up without the help of a second pair of underwear. Still, I'm not going to get rid of them. Red tights are a good thing to have.

tights, day 19

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Another pair that I bought at Century 21 in New York. They've got this unusual stripey pattern, and I'm surprised that I don't wear them more often. I think the problem is that a lot of my clothes are brown, and these tights don't go with brown. They would go with blue or purple, but I don't have any blue or purple clothes. (How very strange! Except for jeans and a couple of old sleep shirts, I don't have any blue clothes, and nothing at all in purple. Ten years ago almost everything I owned was blue and purple.) So the only thing I have to wear them with is black, and I've been more into the monochromatic thing lately, so have been wearing black tights with my black clothes. I should find something to wear with these tights. They deserve to be worn more often.

lost in translation

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March 18 movie: Lost in Translation. I feel silly writing a review of a movie that everyone in the world besides me had already seen. So I'll just say that I enjoyed it as much as I expected to, which was a lot. The DVD did not have as many fun extras as I might have hoped, although they did have the whole scene of Bill Murray's character on the Japanese variety show.

I realize it's completely missing the point to try and figure out what Murray whispered to Johansson at the end, but I felt like I could hear it well enough to more or less puzzle out what he had said. Went online and discovered many people who insisted they heard him perfectly clearly (either by turning up the volume or reading lips or whatever). Each of them heard something totally different (none of which matched what I thought I heard). I'm pretty sure that means I did not hear him at all. Which makes me feel much better about the ending.

tights, day 18

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I have no idea why this pair are still in my closet. The color is yucky and I don't like the ribbed pattern. I'm going to get rid of them now that they've been photographed.

The nice thing about this tights project is that it's making me take out every pair of tights and put them on and, in several cases, decide that I don't want to keep them. I had already culled out the really ratty pairs, but several more are going to go as I work my way through the rest. More room for new tights!

tights, day 17

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This is a first for the tights project; a pair I've never worn. I got these at Century 21 in New York as a future replacement for my chartreuse tights when they wear out. The color isn't exactly the same (the current pair are a yellowy green, more like the tablecloth in this photo) but they'll do if I don't find anything exactly the same.

overheard

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overheard today in Target, conversation between a couple with separate shopping carts:

she: I've got my phone, we can call each other when we're ready.

he: I don't have my phone.

she: Oh. Okay.

he: That's even better.

squirrels ate my cruise control

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The mechanics fixed my cruise control. Turns out some wiring had been chewed through. Squirrels are the likely culprit. Jeff (the mechanic guy) said there's nothing I can do to stop it from happening again. I guess I could hang a squirrel feeder far away from my car.

They couldn't find anything wrong with the turn signal or seatbelt, and no drain on the battery. Jeff suggested coating the terminal with Vaseline to prevent corrosion. That's why it wouldn't start yesterday. The connectors were so corroded the current couldn't get through.

tights, day 16

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I have a confession to make: I'm starting to get tired of the tights project. Some days I am just in no mood to get dressed up and take a photo of my legs. I've already done the tights that I like to wear; now I'm down to the ones that hang on in my closet for some obscure reason. Well, at least I only have 8 pairs to go after this one.

Anyway, today's pair of tights. These were a gift many years ago. I think I've only worn them once. They're cute, but they don't really go with my clothes and they don't stay up very well. Still, I can't get rid of them because they're in perfect condition. Because I never wear them. It's one of those vicious things.

I think the writing on the tights says "peace." You'd think I would know that, having studied two years of college level Mandarin. Well it was a long time ago, cut me some slack. I can barely remember how to write my own name at this point.

Note Thirteen in the background of the photo. She looks vaguely disturbed, like she's trying to figure out whether I'm going to do something that will require her to get up and hide. Life is difficult when you are a dog whose laziness is only matched by your neuroses.

goldie hawn hair

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Got my hair cut today. It was great! David Sutton is the best hairdresser ever. No wonder it's so hard to get an appointment. (I always schedule my next cut as I'm paying for the current one, and even 7 weeks out he's starting to book up already.) I took a bunch of vintage pattern envelopes to show him the styles I liked. He said he wanted to give me a style more like Goldie Hawn (he'd just seen her in a 60s movie) because her hair was mod but not totally straight.

I really, really love the cut. It's exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately, it was rainy today and by the time I got home, my bangs had already started to curl up. Good thing we were able to take that photo in the salon. (yay for the camera phone!) I have my doubts that it will ever look this good again. I'm just not that good with a round brush. Even if I never get it to look like that again, at least I had a few hours of perfect hair. Now I know why people have their hairdresser style their hair on the day of a big event.

I tried to take David's photo too, but he adamently refused. Said he hates having his picture taken. I didn't press -- I know all too well how he feels -- but as it turns out he's in the background of the photo I took in the mirror. Don't tell him I posted it online! (and by the way, can you believe that photo was taken with a phone? This camera phone is amazing!)

a new one

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Here's a new one: woke up this morning to discover I had been visited by a comment spammer who forgot to include the URL. Um, what exactly is the point? I guess I ought to go ahead and MT-Blacklist them, but for now I'm so amused I'm going to leave it be. If they manage to comment spam me with their URL, I can always blacklist them later.

float vs. stomp

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I love this show on the Style network called "Fashiontrance." It's a series of runway shows, three or four in every show, with little editing and no narration. Just music and a series of little factoids at the bottom of the screen. They don't run the show all the time, just at the begining of each season. This past week they've been showing the Spring 2004 collections. Which, of course, came out last fall, but are hitting stores now.

Yesterday I saw one with the Bill Blass collection. Which featured one of the weirdest culture clashes I've seen in a fashion show. They had brought back a few retired supermodels from Blass' heyday (Karen Bjornson, Pat Cleveland, and Diane DeWitt). Now, if you don't follow fashion you may not know this, but the current style of runway walking is this weird, angular, jerky sort of stomp where the model lifts her knees really high, juts her hips, and crosses her feet while walking. It makes the models look like horses clomping along the catwalk.

The older models at this show (especially Pat Cleveland) were the polar opposite of this herky jerky style. They floated down the runway, lifting their arms to make twirly hand gestures, smiling and making eye contact with audience members. Mixed in with the younger models, all stomping and glaring straight ahead, the effect was bizarre. The older women looked so happy and engaged with the audience. While the younger women walked like, I don't know, like they were in a dark alley late at night, and the only way to get out of that alley alive was to walk like a bad-ass and not make eye contact ever.

The really cool part was when I remembered having heard a segment about this Bill Blass show on the radio last fall, and wishing at the time I could have seen it, because it sounded like such a crazy scene. And now I have! Thank you, Style network.

blame it on the shoes

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So the trip to the printer this morning was actually not the most stressful part of the day. That honor goes to my car breaking down on the way to my show. I was wearing my new shoes, see, and I almost never wear heels, so driving was a little uncomfortable. I was at a stoplight, and when the light turned green my foot slipped off the clutch and the car stalled out. And adamently refused to start again. At first it went "click click click," then nothing. The weird thing was, all the stuff that runs off battery -- radio, dash lights, etc -- was fine. It just wouldn't start.

Sigh. I called Triple A, called the station to tell Sarah R. I was going to be late, called Georg and asked him to post a sub request to the list. Contemplated my deep and abiding love for my new phone, without which I would have been screwed. Gratefully accepted the help of a kindly man who spoke no English and helped me push my car out of the middle of the road.

While I was pushing the car it occurred to me that I had brought this on myself by doing my nails yesterday, and wearing my nice new shoes today. I was just asking fate to get dirt under my fingernails and all over my shoes. It also occurred to me that worrying about my shoes at a time like that was pretty damn shallow. It was probably the closest I'll ever come to a Carrie Bradshaw moment. Figures that my "Sex and the City" moment involves pushing my car out of the street in the rain.

Triple A showed up really fast, jumped my car, and warned me that it probably wouldn't start again so I should go straight to the mechanic. But I didn't want to leave Sarah in the lurch so I went to the station instead. Where my show was about as together as you would expect. In other words, not very. CD3 wasn't working, which I discovered by trying to play a CD and discovering that no sound came out of it. It was just like one of those bad dreams I'm sure every DJ has had, where you keep pushing the button and nothing happens and you have nothing else cued up and the horrible silence gets longer and longer.

After the show my car, as predicted, would not start. Georg came by to give me a jump, but alas his battery wasn't in a giving mood. So I called Triple A again, who again came more quickly than expected. This guy cleaned up the terminals and told me I probably had a battery drain, maybe a short somewhere. I have been noticing some weird electrical problems: seatbelt sometimes goes up and down when it's not supposed to, cruise control no longer works, turn signal sometimes ticks extra fast. Things like that. So I dropped the car off at my mechanic. Great, electrical repairs. That's always simple and inexpensive! Well, I knew I was going to have to get the cruise control looked at eventually so I guess I shouldn't complain.

Most days I don't need my car, but tomorrow I have a hair appointment, and these appointments are nearly impossible to reschedule. So I'll have to drive Georg to work tomorrow so I can take his car.

And that, in a nutshell, was my day. Have I whined and complained enough yet? Things are much better now. I'm in my pjs, listening to my recording of Georg's awesome show from last Friday, writing in my diary, and enjoying the marvelous smell of the marvelous dinner Georg is making for me (carnitas! my favorite!). I think I'm going to go make some cocoa.

why I rarely do print work

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I think I've mentioned that I rarely do print work (largely) because the stress level is, for me at least, much higher than with web work. This morning I had the proofs for one of the two print jobs I have out. I had a nightmare about it this morning just before getting up. I used to have these nightmares routinely when I worked for a graphic design studio. One time I sat up in bed in the middle of the night yelling "The keyline! I forgot the keyline!"

So anyway, I went in to look at the proofs. They gave me color lasers, not bluelines. Unfortunately, there were inevitable problems:

1. The graphic isn't as close to the edge of the envelope as I had expected. I knew they couldn't do a true bleed, but you can ask them to get as close to the edge as possible, and another printer I've worked with can get it so close that it almost looks like a bleed. But these are almost 1/4" away from the edge. I'm not going to complain about this one, it's just a disappointment.

2. The smallest instances of the EPS logo look blocky, not smooth curves. They say this is a product of the type of proof and won't affect the actual printing. I suspected it was something like that, because larger versions of the same graphic look just fine. However, I'll be nervous to see how the finished product looks.

3. On one page I had three rows of text spaced out to line up perfectly on the left and right sides. At the last minute, I changed the size of a couple of square bullets and now one of the lines doesn't quite line up anymore. This nags at me, but I doubt the client will even notice so I'm trying not to obsess over it.

4. There's a graphic in the background behind some text that is a bit too dark. This is the big one. I looked at it on a color inkjet, and onscreen in a PDF, and it looked fine. But on their color proof, it's too dark. Distracting from the text that runs over it. I thought about asking them to change it, but decided against it because it would have to be done on every page, as well as every page of the other print job. It's a 10% screen, obviously it should have been 5%. It's so hard to predict though. I've had instances in the past where I did this -- a screened back logo behind text -- with a 5% screen, and the logo disappeared. You couldn't even tell it was there.

This morning at the printer it seemed like a minor thing, a disappointment like the distance from the edge on the envelope. But now I'm looking at the proof and feeling a bit sick to my stomach. This is probably just because I'm at the end of a long and stressful day. See why I don't do much print work? I'd probably have ulcers if I did.

[Edited to add:] I showed the proofs to Georg and he didn't think that graphic was too dark at all. I think I'm obsessing. I'm going to put the proofs away and not think about it again tonight.

tights, day 15

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On to today's photo. This is my other pair of white tights. I really like softer, thicker, cotton-socky tights like this. This morning I was wondering why I hadn't worn this pair all winter, until I sat down on something cold and realized they have a hole in the back of one leg. That's probably why. I was trying to convince myself that no one would notice, but at my lunch with the office today Jason said "Hey Sarah, you have a hole in the back of your tights." So much for that!

Other than that, this pair is still in good condition. I'm going to hang on to them to wear with longer skirts. (Right, because I wear so many of those!) This photo also provides a better view of my new shoes.

tights, day 14

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Today's been a pretty stressful day. But before I get into that, let's get caught up on tights, shall we? These orange tights were given to me at the same time as the chartreuse ones. I wore them both all the time. My favorite outfit for the orange tights was these loose navy blue shorts (they looked like a very short skirt but since they were shorts, there was no danger of exposing myself), a dark pink sweater and a bright yellow T shirt. It was this outfit, you just can't see the orange tights in the photo. I wish I had a photo of the entire ensemble, just to show people who think I wear too many colors now.

Unfortunately, this pair wasn't as astoundingly long-lasting as the chartreuse pair. These aren't microfiber, just a regular soft ribbed knit. They're pilling badly, the knees are stretched out, big runs and holes up at the top, they don't even pretend to stay up, and there's a hole in one knee and both big toes. I tossed them in the trash after taking this photo.

Goodbye, favorite orange tights. You brightened many a day. I'll think of you and miss you every time I wear my new orange tights. The new pair are nice, but they're not the same as you.

the eyeball thing

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If I'm at the station and feeling idle, sometimes I like to put the webcam right up against my face and try to get a close-up of my eye. This involved climbing up on the counter where the turntables are kept, holding the cam against my eye and trying not to blink for as long as possible. I'm always too busy to do this during my own show, but on Friday afternoon I hung out with Georg while he subbed a show and got this one. I must admit I liked the eyeball thing better with the old black and white cam. It looked more eerie. But maybe I just wasn't close enough to the cam. It looks better if the eyeball is filling the whole image.

throne of blood

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Mar. 13 movie: Throne of Blood. I guess to make up for the last few movies being so light and fun, today I watched this, Kurosawa's version of Macbeth. Whoo-ee, a laugh riot! Toshiro Mifune is always great, and the movie also costarred Takashi Shimura (featured in almost every Kurosawa movie for 20 years, including the leader of the samurai in The Seven Samurai). Good stuff.

Last night and this morning I also re-watched The Italian Job and Keep the River on Your Right with Georg, as he hadn't seen them. I had already decided to include re-viewings in the movie list, even if a movie ends up on the list twice. I wasn't expecting to watch the same movie twice in a week, but on the list it goes. I don't have anything new to say about either movie, except that they're both excellent and everyone should see both of them.

tights, day 13

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Okay, the date again matches the numbering of the tights. The tights project is back in sync. Whew!

This is far and away the coolest pair of tights I've ever owned. I've had them for years and I still get comments every time I wear them. No idea where they came from. Either Georg got them for me in NY, or I bought them at Anjana's in Chapel Hill, which once had a really good selection of tights. (Alas, no more.) This photo also gives me the opportunity to show off the groovy new shoes I got today while shoe shopping with Lisa and Shayne. I really needed another pair of black shoes to wear with skirts. These are a bit more than I had wanted to pay, but they're super styling and comfortable too. So I won't complain.

tights, day 12

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Skipping a day has caused a serious nomenclature problem. Because this is the 12th pair of tights, and the 12th day I have posted about tights, but the date is the 13th. I think after finishing this post I'm going to put on another pair of tights and take another photo to get caught up.

Anyway, these tights. Have I mentioned that you can never have too many brown tights? Because it's really true. Especially if you wear as much brown and red as I do. These shoes, from Børn, are the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. Including sneakers.

vosges

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The amazing Vosges chocolates, introduced to me by Lisa, are now available locally. Southern Season is selling good-sized bars of four flavors: Black Pearl (wasabi, ginger and black sesame seeds), Red Fire (ancho and chipotle pepper and cinnamon), Naga (curry and coconut), and for the less adventurous, Gianduja (hazelnut and almond).

We got a Red Fire bar because the other three were in the truffle assortment Lisa gave me for my birthday. Man oh man, is it good. Not that spicy, but the ancho and chipotle flavors are nice and strong. Spendy, but well worth it.

speaking of misspelling...

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I had to laugh over this line in my previous post: " If I screw up an [sic] misspell a word on a web page, so what?" I wrote that post in a hurry but still, that was priceless.

i was wrong

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OK, so I thought the tights project would force me to post every day, but I was wrong. I was wrong!

Yesterday was just too much of a crush to post. I had to finish an overdue project in the morning, and then I had to get that 20 page training catalog ready for the printer, which took a couple of hours, then I had to take it to their shop in Morrisville, which also took a couple of hours because I got lost.

I get lost all the time in Raleigh. I think probably every single time I go someplace new in Raleigh, I get lost. But this time it wasn't my fault! The guy told me to go the wrong way off the exit ramp from 40. Plus, he didn't give me street names, just "turn right at second light" type directions. I got all the way to Briar Creek shopping center at 70 before I called them and got better directions from someone else.

So now both big print jobs are at their respective printers. This is the part that reminds me why I hardly ever do print work. It's so stressful. If I screw up an misspell a word on a web page, so what? We just fix it. But from now on, any mistake on those print jobs will cost money (my money, if it was my fault). If I don't catch it until after it's all printed, it won't be fixable at all. No wonder I used to have nightmares about bluelines when I worked for a graphic design shop.

But it hasn't been all stress. I have a new phone! Georg and I went out Thursday night and got phones. His first, an upgrade for me. I must say, phones have changed a lot in the past two years. This one has a functioning battery (unlike the old one), plus a color display, lets me assign different rings to different people, and oh yeah, has a camera! Which is really bad at taking photos in low light, but not that bad in decent light. Best of all, I had a 2 year contract before, so I got a hefty discount on the new phone, and they had a rebate going on, so the camera phone ended up costing about $10! woo!

tights, day 11

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It's supposed to warm up again next week so I better get all the thick tights out of the way. This pair are the same style as the brown ones from Target, but I didn't get them from Target. I can't remember where they did come from unfortunately. I used to wear them all the time, but I've had them long enough that they're developing pretty big holes in the toes. I really hate that, so I rarely wear them anymore.

learn something new every day

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Things I learned yesterday:

--America's Next Top Model is trying its darndest to get the title of "trashiest trash that ever trashed." There aren't nearly enough drugs and nudity to achieve the dizzying heights (or is that depths) of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, but they get an A for effort.

--Pretending it is warm enough not to need a jacket doesn't make it so.

--I love that RAW software even though it keeps screwing up and not recording my show. Because it allowed me to go to bed early on Tuesday night, then get up Wed. morning and listen to Lisa's and Alicia's kick-ass shows from the night before, while I worked.

--Writing legibly on IRS forms is very important. If they can't read one line of, say, the schedule of federal tax liability, they won't ask you to send a clearer copy. No, they will redistribute your total tax liability across the entire quarter. If said quarter happens to include an unusually large payroll at the very end of the quarter (for example, Christmas bonuses) this will cause them to decide that you didn't make your deposits on time, even though you really did, and charge you a $750 penalty. And they will leave it to you to explain to your boss what the hell this is about and why they can't just leave us alone and why our money isn't enough, they have to waste our time too.

--(corollary to the above) The people at the IRS help line are a lot friendlier than they used to be. Hold times are shorter too. They still left it to me to explain the situation to my boss.

--Whole Foods has the best brussel sprouts ever in their deli case. They make them with pecans and garlic. Sounds like a weird combination but is it ever good. The guy at the register did not, however, say "Brussel sprouts? Wow! Are these for you?"

--A 17" Powerbook is a beautiful thing. Drool.

tights, day 10

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I have had a request for photos from a different angle. Do y'all know how hard it is to get these photos? My arms are too short to easily hold the camera far enough away. So I lean forward as far as I can, balancing with one hand on a table (when indoors) or retaining wall (when outdoors), and snap the photo with the other hand. I'm pleased just to manage one angle! I suppose I could dig out the tripod and the remote release, but that sounds way too much like work.

In any case the request came too late for today's photo. So you get the same old angle today. This is the other pair of DKNY tights that I got at Century 21 in New York in January. They're not sparkly like the grey ones, but they are microfiber so they feel nice and I expect them to last a long time.

tights, day 9

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I was weirdly tired last night and fell asleep before I had a chance to post yesterday's photo. Oops!

Like I said, you can never have too many black tights. These are thicker than the last pair of black tights I posted, making them perfect for this week's chilly weather. What's up with that, anyway? I'd gotten used to the sunny 80° days, and breezy nights with the bedroom window open. Now we're scraping frost off our cars in the morning again. At least the weather turned cold again before I got around to space-bagging all the blankets and sweaters.

The lighting yesterday was perfect: overcast, so no direct sun, but not too dark. The photo came out pretty much exactly like they really look. I guess I need to find a shady spot to take my photos on brighter days.

thank god for mt-blacklist

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Just out of curiosity I checked Movable Type's activity log for the first time in ages. Unbeknownst to me, the MT-Blacklist plugin has been hard at work. It's rejected twelve comment spams just in the past two days. The occasional evil comment spam still slips through, but I can deal with it once in a while. If I had to manually delete all the ones MT-Blacklist is taking out, I'd switch comments off and be done with it.

are these for you?

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Had a hilarious exchange at Southern Season a few days ago. I stopped there to pick up a couple of things. The guy at the cash register rang up the first thing and commented:

"Horseradish cheddar spread, that sounds good!" I made some noncommittal reply to the effect that yes, it did sound good. Then he got to my next item and exclaimed:

"Chopped liver! WOW! Are these for YOU?"

I didn't really know how to respond to that. I think I said, "well not all at once, but yeah, they're for me." The guy went on and on about how great chopped liver is, and had I tried fried chicken liver (I hadn't) which is just as good. He seemed so happy about the conversation. I wonder if he'd never before met a chick who would eat stuff like horseradish and chopped liver? I'll eat almost anything, as long as it's good. (And not primarily made of eggs.)

(For the record, the horseradish cheddar spread is too sharp to eat on crackers, which is how I normally have cheese spreads. But it's really good in place of mustard in a grilled cheese sandwich. Cooking seems to temper the sharpness, and it melts all nice and gooey. The chopped liver was as good as always. Didn't try it in a grilled cheese sandwich.)

tights, day 8

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These are my very favorite tights. Unfortunately, the photo doesn't at all do them justice. They look off-white in the photo, but really they're a very light, yellowy green. Exactly the same as the green in the skirt I'm wearing in the photo, but a bit lighter.

I've had these forever; someone I worked with at my old job gave them to me for Christmas 8-9 years ago. The waistband is shot -- I have to wear an extra pair of underwear outside them to hold them up -- but the tights themselves are in perfect condition. They're DKNY which is why I have such a high opinion of that brand. They go with a lot of my clothes so I wear them all the time. I even found a headband that matches the tights at Target. I feel so coordinated today!

gay divorce?

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I think the recent flurry of same sex marriages is a wonderful thing. Beyond wonderful; it makes me happy to be alive today. I feel like no matter how screwed up our country is, when scenes like this are taking place we can't be all bad.

But I have a question, which I haven't seen addressed in my (admittedly limited) reading on the subject; What happens when a same-sex married couple wants to get divorced? I feel like a party-pooper, looking at photos of dozens of happy couples and thinking about breakups. But if half of all marriages end in divorce, sooner or later state governments are going to have to deal with the issue. I guess in the states that issued the marriage licenses, they'll just get a divorce like everyone else. But what if they're in another state that recognizes same-sex marriage but doesn't perform the ceremonies? Would they have to go back to California or Oregon or wherever to get divorced?

(And when is Carrboro going to start issuing same-sex marriages licenses? I think it's about time!)

tights, day 7

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I'm too tired tonight to write much about these tights. So I'll just say that they have an interesting checked pattern in the weave, which I thought would make me want to wear them all the time but has actually had the opposite effect. Maybe the pattern is too busy and competes with my clothes or something, I don't know. Still, one can never have too many black and brown tights.

Also, my floor looks really dusty even though I swept this morning. This time of year is bad for the floors because the dogs are in and out constantly, tracking dust and pollen in every time.

unzipped

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Mar. 7 movie: Unzipped. Considering how much I enjoy fashion, I had to love this documentary about Isaac Mizrahi. The movie begins the day after his spring 1994 show, anxiously reading the (negative) reviews, and follows him through the creation of the fall 1994 collection. The movie follows the highs (a press conference with Eartha Kitt) and lows (being scooped by Gaultier, who bizarrely has the exact same idea to inspire his collection, but showed his first), and ends as it began, with Mizrahi reading the reviews the day after the show.

I didn't learn a whole lot about the fashion industry, but I did feel like I learned a lot about Mizrahi. I read that the director was Mizrahi's lover at the time, which explains the access (they filmed Mizrahi in the tub, and in bed watching movies) that you wouldn't normally expect in a film like this.

My favorite quote from Mizrahi: "Everything is frustrating except designing clothes. That's beautiful and liberating." Seeing this movie again reminded me how wonderful his ready to wear designs were. His clothes were so fun, and still so pretty. Not freakish or hideous which often passes for "fun" in the fashion press (John Galliano and Betsey Johnson, I'm looking at you.) I've been wondering if the goal of his Target label is to raise money towards reviving his ready to wear line. I hope so.

beyond the valley of the dolls

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Mar. 6 movie: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Oh, lordie! Speaking of trashy good fun, this was the trashiest trash that ever trashed. My goal for the evening was to shut my brain off, settle back and enjoy a couple hours of mindless entertainment. I don't think any other movie could have done better.

Between the crazed, depraved story ("over the top" doesn't begin to describe it) and the wide-eyed, utterly sincere performances, I found myself wondering at times whether the movie was a parody or not. Apparently that was intentional: according to screenwriter Roger Ebert (!), director Russ Meyer thought the satire would work better if the actors weren't winking at the camera. So he spent so much time talking to them about their motivations that even they got confused about whether the movie was serious or parody.

I can't even describe the freaky fun of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. If you have any appreciation for camp, you have to see it.

escape from new york

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Mar. 6 movie: Escape from New York. I think this is one of the all-time great B-movies. I'm not a big Kurt Russell fan, but with Donald Pleasance, Harry Dean Stanton, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Adrienne Barbeau and Isaac Hayes, how can you go wrong? Trashy good fun of the highest order.

I've seen this before of course, but I don't think I had ever been in the actual New York at that point. Not that the sets were triumphs of realism, but still it was interesting to see them with a frame of reference. Rather than the first time, when the "post apocalyptic New York" visuals were meaningless to me.

(I gather that accuracy in movie location shots, or sets based on actual places, is pretty rare. When we watched Night on Earth Georg expressed surprise when the characters looked out the cab window and saw the view from the George Washington Bridge, and then the camera pulled back to show the taxi actually was on the George Washington Bridge. Apparently most directors just go for the best looking shot without concern for such niceties.)

the italian job

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Mar. 5 movie: The Italian Job. "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" Michael Caine, Noel Coward, and three Mini Coopers star in a fabulous 1969 crime caper. I don't know what else to say about the movie, except that you haven't seen stunt driving until you've seen this.

The DVD comes with a "Making Of" documentary with some interesting tidbits. For instance: Recognizing a product placement opportunity when they saw one, Fiat offered the filmmakers a sweet deal (all the cars they could destroy, $50,000 cash, and a free Ferrari) if they would use Fiat 500s instead of Mini Coopers. I think they made the right call not taking the offer, because (as the producer put it) the whole point of the movie was "our lads vs. their lads." Also, they managed to get permission to film those chase scenes by basically lying to the people of Turin. They said they were going to bring several "machines" into the church, palaces and arcades, without specifying that the machines would be moving cars. And finally, that "what the ???" ending came about because the writer had provided four endings, none of which they liked. They came up with the literal cliffhanger in hopes of spawning a sequel. No word on why the sequel never happened.

tights, day 6

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I had hoped to spend the day in my pajamas, which didn't work out because I had to go out for groceries. But on the bright side, the rain cooled things down enough that I could wear today's tights. I hardly ever wore this pair because I remembered them being too snug & not staying up very well. But today they fit just fine. And they're cute, too. It's kind of a shame that I'm rediscovering some great tights in my closet, now that it's getting too warm to wear them. I wish I had started this tights project in the beginning of winter!

(The extra bonus of this entry is the photo of .... someone else's overgrown driveway. Not mine, no sir!)

tights, day 5

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Another day that was way too hot to wear tights, so I put these on just for the photo. These were my very favorite tights for years. I wore them all the time. There's a photo of them here from 1997. That's what I loved to wear with these tights: short skirt, big sweater and Doc Martens.

Alas, I haven't worn them in a while -- a couple of years now, I think -- because I wore them so much they stretched out and are now too long for me. They sag and bunch up so much around my ankles that it looks just awful. You can see in this photo that they're already starting to bunch up around the knees and ankles, and I'd only had them on for five minutes.

I really miss wearing these tights & hate that they don't fit anymore.The striped tights from Target were an attempt to replace them, but they're just not the same. (Barbara just pointed me to an online company with some striped tights that are expensive, but look really similar, and I'm going to look into those.) I've often wondered if it would be possible to stitch up the excess length at the top, where it wouldn't show. Only problem is, if it didn't work it would destroy them. On the other hand, I can't wear them anyway so it might be worth the risk.

ah, friday

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Have you ever had one of those days where a half-dozen different projects are breathing down your neck, and no matter how hard or fast you work you'll never get everything done in time? The past couple of weeks have been like that for me. Earlier this week was better -- I was actually able to work at a comfortable pace towards reasonable deadlines. But yesterday was awful. Not only had the pace picked back up, the phone rang constantly. Some work-related but mostly personal. Argh! I couldn't turn off the ringer because I was expecting a call from a printer with a price quote, and I had some questions for her so I needed to get her call. I need to be better at telling people when I'm working and can't talk. It's just hard to interrupt a friend to say you don't have time to talk to them. At least, it's hard for me. Even if I can get off the phone quickly, the interruption can really disrupt my thinking if I was working on something involved.

But enough griping. At least it was a productive week. I got done everything that absolutely had to be done, and most of what would be good to have done as well. There's only one thing that's still really hanging out there, and I can make some headway on it this weekend. My client meeting today went great. They love the piece (a 20 page catalog), had no quarrel with the print prices, settled on quantities and are OK with me handling the printing while they're out of town for the next two weeks. Best of all, they bought me lunch.

I really like these clients. They're buying a house in Florida (they're on their way down there to close next week) and they invited us to visit when they get furniture and all. They say that even after they relocate, they still intend to do business in RTP, including working with me. I hope it turns out that way. (The printed pieces they just approved all have their RTP address, so they're clearly serious about maintaining a presence here.)

Lest you think I'm some kind of high-powered freelancer now, I have to admit that not all of the projects that drove me nuts this week were for money. I was also working on a sewing project -- dresses for the two daughters of some old friends who Georg is visiting this weekend. He left today from work, so the dresses had to be done by this morning.

I stayed up pretty late last night finishing the hand-sewing, but the dresses (gowns actually) turned out really nice if I do say so myself. (and in truth, it's kind of fun to sit by myself, watch a movie, listen to my dogs snore, and sew.) Clothing for children can be difficult because it involves all the same work as full-sized clothes, but everything is smaller. That wasn't so much of an issue because these girls are pretty big (one is a girl's 7 and one is a girl's 14). But on the other hand, both dresses were made of slippery satiny fabric, which is harder to work with. Also, I don't usually bother edging pieces that will be totally covered by a lining. But that was a big mistake in this case: one of the dress fabrics was a brocade that frayed so badly I was a little worried the seams were going to fall out. But it held together and I was really happy with how both dresses turned out. Unfortunately I forgot to get photos of the finished outfits. But Georg took his camera and promised to take pictures of the girls wearing them. I didn't have the girls' exact measurements, so here's hoping the dresses fit!

And yesterday wasn't all work. I had a nice dinner with my friend Judith. She's written four romance novels and is now working on the transition to contemporary mainstream fiction. Pretty exciting. Also she edited a collection of the letters of Charlotte Smith, which I got to see for the first time last night. Really impressive. Apparently the book includes every Smith letter known to exist. Wow. No criticism intended of Judith's romance novels; they're great fun and I have high respect for popular entertainment. But this book is a serious scholarly achievement. I was impressed with the book's design too. They had a staggering amount and variety of information to deal with, and were able to format it meaningfully, clearly, and attractively. And I can't even imagine the headache of trying to proof a book of 18th century letters with original spellings retained.

So I'm on my own until Monday evening. The house is lonely but on the other hand, I'm so tired that it will be nice to have a couple of days by myself to sleep it off and get caught up on housework.

the talented mr. ripley

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Mar. 4 movie: The Talented Mr. Ripley. Just saw Purple Noon a few days ago, but even though they're based on the same book and have the same basic plot, the details and how it all plays out were different enough to really engage me and yes, keep up the suspense even though I knew the ending.

Due to my loathing for The English Patient I previously regarded Anthony Minghella as a director to be avoided at all costs. But now, having seen two good movies by him in the past month (this and Cold Mountain) I guess I have to cut him a break. There was something a little English Patient-y in the grand sweeping visuals all over the place, but they didn't overwhelm the story. What I really hated about The English Patient was the bloated "I'm an EPIC! I'm GRAND! And so IMPORTANT!" tone that crushed the life out of the movie. There was a touch of that in Cold Mountain but I didn't notice it here.

[major spoilers] Tom Ripley is a fairly different character in this movie. In Purple Noon he's pretty much a cold psychopath from the get go, calmly telling Phillipe his plan to kill him and assume his identity just before doing so. He's even seen eating his roast chicken with Freddie's body still in the apartment (and I'm embarrassed to admit, my first reaction on seeing that scene was "Ew! That chicken fell on the floor when he killed Freddie!") In The Talented Mr. Ripley, he's more tragic: an ordinary guy, albeit a "have-not" with an extraordinary level of envy towards the "haves," who more or less stumbles into the crimes. I don't recall any indication that he seriously intended to steal Dickie's (same character as Phillipe in Purple Noon) identity before the fight between them set it all into motion, and he's clearly tortured by what he's done. [end spoilers]

I haven't read Highsmith's novel so I don't know which interpretation is more true to the source, but I must say I appreciated the Purple Noon version more. Minghella places the sympathy squarely with Ripley; there's really no question of who you're supposed to root for. I had much more complicated feelings while watching Purple Noon. Because he's so cold and amoral and self-assured, I wanted him to get caught -- and also wanted him to get away with it. Ironically, Jude Law (who played Dickie) would have been really good at the Clement version of Tom Ripley. He has that coldness in his eyes.

Last comment: Phillip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant as Freddie. I can't think of a single movie I've seen with Phillip Seymour Hoffman in which he was not brilliant. It's tragic that Matt Damon, around whom Hoffman can act circles with one hand tied behind his back, is a superstar while Hoffman is a character actor. I hate to think that it's just because of the way they look, but that's probably it. I actually find Hoffman better looking, because Damon's looks remind me of the asshole frat boys who populated Duke. Hoffman looks like a handsome normal guy.

tights, day 4

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It's way too hot to wear tights today, so I'm using a photo I took on Feb 29. Lisa and Christa gave me these orange tights. Yay for people giving me tights! I really needed new orange tights too; my old pair had gotten all ratty and gross.

I need to remember to take these photos in natural light. The flash is making all my tights look much sheerer than they really do. This pair are much more orange in real life. The skirt was a major find, on clearance at the Gap for $10. The skirt and the tights almost perfectly match, but are off just enough to not match at all. Which is sort of an accurate statement about my fashion sense in general.

you can't take it with you

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Mar. 3 movie: You Can't Take It With You. For me Frank Capra is the Steven Speilberg of his time. By which I mean Capra has flashes of brilliance (It Happened One Night) but most of his work is saturated with treacly sentiment that I find off-putting, and mostly I don't get why people think him such a great director. You Can't Take It With You is a perfect example. Jimmy Stewart, son of a stuffy banker, falls for the daughter of an eccentric extended family led by patriarch Lionel Barrymore. Wacky hijinks ensue. In other hands it could have been as funny as My Man Godfrey or Bringing Up Baby, but Capra, lacking the edge of Sturges or Hawks, ends up suffusing the family with a sentimental glow every moment they're on camera. Bleh.

That said, either Jimmy Stewart or Lionel Barrymore make almost any movie worth the time, and there were some fun moments. I'm not sorry I saw it, though I probably wouldn't see it again. Sad trivia note: Barrymore's character has a cast on his leg to explain the use of two canes when he walked, which his failing health required.

tights, day 3

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This pair is pretty nondescript, and I don't have a lot to say about them. They're black (although they look kind of grey in the photo), and sheerer than most of my tights, more like hose. Which made them a good choice for today's marvelously warm weather. I don't remember where I got them, but I wear them a lot.

target

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The new Target is open! Yay!

I feel kind of lame about being so excited over a store opening, and not just a store but a mega-chain. Ah, what the hell. Yay!

Georg and I went by after I was done at Stoneline. Didn't buy anything but I did see a belt and a top that I'm going to think about and maybe go back for. That's the best part about having a Target right here, not having to shlep all the way to Cary. I rarely went to the Cary store so whenever I did go, I felt like I had to buy everything I might conceivably want. Now I can think about it and go back the next day without having to drive all that way.

more photos

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Despite the snafu with my show not recording, yesterday was a great day. The warm weather always makes me feel good, especially since I had to be out driving around so I actually got to experience it. (Unlike Sunday, when I was working and didn't set foot outside the house all day.) My lunch meeting went well, my show was great fun, and I had tons of mail waiting for me at the mail center.

I got a deck order (for 2 copies! yay!), my check from the CD price-fixing settlement ($13.85, almost enough to buy another overpriced CD), a pattern for a Mondrian dress I had bought from Ebay, some green and white vintage fabric I had bought from Ebay, a great package full of goodies from my sister, and the new Fiesta I got with my birthday money.

The Fiesta is in a new color, tangerine, which I really love. Tangerine is the middle color in this photo, the small plate. It's actually a pastel, not as bright orange as in the photo. Which is too bad because the color in the photo is spectacular. But the true color is very nice too. I couldn't get everything I wanted because the color is so new that only a few pieces are available. But I did get a couple of dinner plates, a couple of dessert plates and a serving bowl. yay!

My other acquisition of the day was a mood ring which I found while killing a few minutes before my show. Yes, a mood ring. Yes, I am a dork. But it's pretty! And only $4! And it tells me my mood! Actually what it seems to tell me is how warm the room is. I guess my house is pretty cold, because when I left it on the table overnight it turned black. But most of the time it's either blue or green. Except right now it's kind of purple. Hmm, I wonder what that means.

purple noon

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Mar. 1 movie: Purple Noon. I expected to enjoy this, and I did. It's Rene Clement's (Diabolique and The Wages of Fear) take on The Talented Mr. Ripley. Ripley is does some very-not-nice things, but for me probably the most chilling scene was one near the beginning where he puts on Phillipe's clothes, looks in the mirror and talks like Phillipe while kissing his reflection. Brrr! [spoiler alert!] My only quarrel was with the ending, which is from what I understand radically different from Patricia Highsmith's novel and the recent Hollywood movie. Maybe Clement couldn't deal with letting Ripley get away with it. I did like the fact that he let the story play all the way out & then snatched victory away from Ripley in the very final moments. The last shot is Ripley's triumphant face, just before he finds out that he's lost. So you never see him defeated. That made it easier for me to treat this movie like Suspicion and pretend it has the ending that it should. [end spoiler] I added The Talented Mr. Ripley to my Netflix queue & am looking forward to comparing the two movies.

tights, day 2

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I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I love wearing horizontal stripes. I luurrrve them. I'd probably be wearing them every day if I hadn't gotten into the mod thing. I think it started out as a rebellion against that fashion rule about them being "not slimming." Which is just as stupid as the rule about white after Labor Day, only more stupid because it also preys on people's insecurities about their size.

So at first I wore horizontal stripes as my own personal "fuck you" to fashionistas and their stupid rules, but now I just really like them. The more the better, and if they don't quite match, better still. The outfit in the photo is a jacket, top, skirt and tights which all have horizontal stripes. But you can only see the skirt and tights in the photo. (The skirt is actually longer, but I pulled it up a bit so you could see the tights better.)

I think I bought this pair a year ago at Target. They're a little different from most tights because they're cotton and have the texture of thin socks, not hose. Also unlike hose, they have an extra panel in the seat which makes them fit better on those of us who, um, got back. They are so comfy! I love to wear these tights and skirt with a big sweater and fleece socks on cold evenings. A little too warm to wear today, but since it's probably only going to get warmer this month I thought I'd get them out of the way early.

24 days of tights

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I've been inspired by Lisa's ode to her Fluevogs to do a similar overview of my tights collection. One a day until I've posted photos of them all.

I keep them in one of those shoe organizers you hang on the closet door, and I think the shoe thing is full (not sure right now because a couple of pairs are in the wash). Which makes 24 pairs of tights. Unfortunately, just a week or two ago I culled and threw away a few pairs that I knew I wasn't going to wear again. If I hadn't done that I could have easily posted a pair of tights every day for a month.

I'm not going to do this in chronological order or anything; I'm just going to snap photos as I wear them. Also I won't have nearly as much to say about individual pairs as Lisa did about her Vogs. (Tights costing about 20 times less than Fluevogs, I generally have much less emotional attachment to them.)

Anyway, here's the pair I wore today. I bought them at Century 21 in NY when I was there in January. They're sort of sparkly metallic grey, and they go with black or grey clothes. They're DKNY which is the best brand of tights I've ever worn. They feel nice and last a long time -- I have another pair of DKNY tights that I've been wearing for about 10 years now. I have high hopes of this pair becoming a long-term highlight of my tights wardrobe.

[Edited to add:] I just noticed that Thirteen is standing in the shadows in the background of the photo. I wouldn't have noticed except that one of her eyes caught the flash and got a demon-glow. She hates the flash! Like everything sudden, it scares her.

dammit

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I had the best time doing my show today. Couldn't wait to get home and listen to it, because I played music under my talksets and was also trying not to say "um" so much & wanted to know how it sounded. But the software didn't record it! I don't know what happened. The scheduled recording looks exactly the same as last week's, but it didn't kick in for some reason.

:(

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