Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Long on Leather Shorts

So what’s new in the world of fashion?

According to The Wall Street Journal, “if one of fashion designers’ key goals is to dream up items that women don’t have in their closets, they have certainly succeeded.
Their invention: leather shorts.”

Well, that completely knocked me off guard, kicked me down from my studded pedestal.  I mean, who would've thought?

But fashionistas remind us that lederhosen go back to the Bavarian maidens and the Von Trapp children circa World War II--you remember those happy times.

But these shorts are nothing like those, they're fresh—without the suspenders and front flaps—and wildly imaginative, adding cuffs and many cut to the crotch.

So please don’t sell them short (forgive the pun) because they don’t come cheap. Zara’s sells them at a bargain price of $99, but most go for several hundred, and Ikram’s Boutique in Chicago will give them away for three grand.

‘Course they’re worth it ‘cause nobody’s got them hanging around the house, while experts claim the trend will last for years.

Colleen Sherin of Saks was convinced to invest heavily in leather shorts after leather leggings, priced between $500 and $1,000, had a surprisingly strong run in the store.

When women were asked what they thought about them, many were enamored.  Designer Helmut Lang jumped on the idea and created them for Niemans at $695.

Seems like a small price to pay for heaven.

Still, there are caveats to be followed.  One fashion expert advised “that leather shorts…look best on people with toned legs.”


So then if two-thirds of our population is overweight, are they automatically excluded?

You'd think but not quite.

Everyone knows that lots of women have no taste at all, so I have to add twenty percent back to the two-thirds.

(Remember the film Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts when she wore those thigh-high boots and looked like the whore she was playing? And remember the women who ran out and bought the boots to look like her?  Did they think Prince Charming would climb their fire escapes too?)

That leaves the last third of the female population.  Some will opt out because they are older, think it’s a waste of money, or don’t like their tushies sizzling through fabric that doesn’t breathe in ninety degree heat.

Which basically ends up with Miley Cyrus and Rihanna and the rest of the stars and the kids who are perfectly comfortable in the latest fashion.

But what happens when it's over?  I mean what if Hitler-era shorts peaks and it's the last great idea before we go back to bloomers?

I’ve been searching my closet, trying to come up with something I don’t have and never wanted, but desperately need.

How about a fleece evening gown for those weddings in the dead of winter.  Your coat might be lined but hardly warm enough to keep out the frost while waiting for your car after the party's over.

Or a feathered bathing suit.  Don’t worry about the feathers drying out or laying flat.   Birds get wet all day long and do fine.

Have you ever thought about a tank top made from a tank?

I’m talking about weaving scraps of metal from a ship that the navy’s decided to mothball from the World War II/Korean era.   Aren’t people already wearing shorts and jackets that look like fatigues? And this tank top-tank shop could double as an historic souvenir.

So, I’m like coming up with all these ideas while I’m dressed in my leather shorts and standing here holding my whip.

“WHAT? Can't hear ya."   I lower the volume on my Ipod, looking confused. “What do you mean the Von Trapps didn’t use whips?   That ruins everything.   Because that was my other idea.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

From Fondue to Foie gras

Drama cuts across America as food enthusiasts, armed with digital cameras, tripods and lights, click memories of their nights out eating.

Am I talking about taking snapshots of their friends and dinner guests?


Do I mean celebrating life’s milestones like getting engaged or reaching retirement?


What else is left except the food on their plates, the chairs at the table, the table itself, the waiters, silverware, chef.


A growing group of foodies believe that meals should be visually enjoyed before physically eaten, so they’ve made it an art of taking pictures to remember what they’re about to consume.

And I’m not just talking about gourmet creations.

According to P.J. Huffstutter of the Wall Street Journal, people save memories of their 7-Eleven hotdogs to the butter dish at the Michelin three-star restaurant.  The trend’s exploded as the food culture’s swept across TV and the internet, transforming our chefs into celebrities and foodies into worshipers.

Flickr, the photo sharing website, has seen the number of pictures tagged in the group, “I Ate This,” climb from 20,000 to 307,000.

Camera manufacturers, too, have jumped on the bandwagon.  Nikon, Sony, and Olympus now sell cameras offering food or cuisine settings.

And food bloggers tweet and yak 24/7 online.

So is this good and meaningful, peaceful and cultured?

Well Sarah Palin’s not involved, so that’s a positive point. And it’s got nothing to do with the tea party,the health care plan, Iran, or Afghanistan.

It’s all about the chefs, who slave over their stoves and are flattered by the sudden attention, and the finished products that they produce.

But lately even the cooks are getting annoyed.

They’re aggravated that picture taking’s slowing down the service and disrupting restaurant operations. Regular customers complain about the glare of lights and the snapping of shutters, often demanding another table away from the glare.

And thing’s are getting worse, though the foodies are oblivious.

“I’m sharing my experiences with my friends,” said Hong Pham, who runs the blog, the Ravenous Couple. “Why shouldn’t I share what inspires me?”

One restaurant reported that a man ordered a table for two, then reserved another table for his camera equipment.   No money was made at the second table.

And if the foodie is taking photos of every course in a ten course dinner, that could delay the service an hour longer, which means other reservations are backed up, and those waiting get frustrated, and angry

A friend of ours saw this camera scene in action.   First it looked cute: the guy backing up from his table to theirs, trying to catch a wide-angle view of his dinner.

He clicked about thirty times.  Mission over achieved.  But then he kept standing, oohing and ahhing at something that looked and smelled like a regular pepperoni pizza before asking his girlfriend to bite into a piece.

That was the big deal?       
Bending to catch the image, his cargo shorts slid a couple inches below his hips.  Bending further, the top of his crack peeked through.

Our friend should’ve been taking the photo behind the photo but resisted.

So I beg to ask the question.  Is this love, and how come I don't feel it? 
And what have I been missing all these years?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nicolas Cage and the Big Bad Wolf

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that some of the wealthiest Americans are losing their homes to foreclosures.

Robert Fuscone, a former bigwig with Merrill Lynch, was about to see his 18,471 square foot mansion in Westchester, NY go up for auction  but declared personal bankruptcy to delay the action.

Some others weren't so lucky--like Nicholas Cage.

Cage blames his monetary troubles on his former money manager and is suing him for 20 million, but insiders say the actor was a prolific spender, even by Hollywood standards.

I don't know.   What do you think?

According to The Daily, Cage's spending spree lasted more than a decade. Here's a brief review:

Two dozen houses, two Bahamian islands, motorcycles, jets, yachts, vintage and new cars, expensive watches, dinosaur skulls, shrunken heads, the shah of Iran’s Lamborghini, meteorites—yep, you read that right—an enormous pet collection, massive amounts of jewelry for the women in his life, group vacations for his entire entourage, and so on.

Last week Cage defaulted on his 35 million Bel Air mansion, and it was returned to the lender.   His two mansions in New Orleans have been foreclosed upon and will be auctioned off later this month.

In February alone 352 mansions owned by the super rich across the country went back to the bank, compared to 1,312 for all of 2009. At a rate of 14%, the upper stratosphere are more likely to default than ordinary people, who lose their homes at a rate of about 8%.

Anyone ready to pull out their violins for a sympathy fiddle?

Christ, how do we even relate?

We look at our own checkbooks and wonder why Cage didn't add up the numbers, figure tight times, or for once develop severe writer's block.   Couldn't he have stopped at a fifteen houses, one island, and a dozen less diamonds?

Did it make him happier or just more determined to keep collecting until he topped out his fortune into the clouds?

By the way, how much is a square foot of heaven?

And what is it about HAVING IT ALL when no one can possibly come close to reaching the goal?

I laugh uncomfortably.

Of course, it's schadenfreude, taking pleasure from the misfortune of others, yet maybe for a moment, we should glance at ourselves.

I just had someone out the other day trying to design me more closet space ‘cause I suddenly got too much stuff and too few inches to fit everything under cover.

While the woman talked, I wondered how I acquired all this crap and why I needed it in the first place.  Why not save a few bucks and just clean it all out?

Yes, I’ll do it!  My brain fart!  I developed a plan!

As soon as she left, I entered the "bad" closet, armed with excitement, high on motivation.

But then I stopped. 

Reality smacked me in the head.  Hey, that's a lot of work, and I only own ONE house, no islands, and when was the last time anyone saw me nosing around for shrunken skulls?

Besides, who doesn't need a few extra shelves behind closed doors?   It would make things look neater, more organized, and I could still discard the junk I don't wear--someday--and go out looking for more.

THAT settled, I heated a bag of microwave popcorn, slipped in the new DVD, and grabbed a cushy seat in the family room.

Couldn't wait to see the award-winning documentary about an over indulgent Hollywood star who went broke from overspending and lived out the rest of his days hiding from the public in a rented bungalow in Illinois.

Everyone says it played great in Peoria.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Whose Chin is That Anyway?

I saw Barry Manilow last weekend in Vegas, and he was terrific.

Even if you don't like him, the man knows how to enterain.  Writer, composer, arranger, and singer, he kept the show flowing.


Except I hadn’t seen him on TV in awhile, and although he looked great, I couldn’t put my finger on how he had changed.

No, it wasn’t age.  Not that.  So what about him that was driving me nuts?

Not till a flat screen dropped down from the ceiling showing a video of Dick Clark interviewing Uncle Barry in 1975, did it hit me.

It was his face.

That chin, that nose, the entire shape.

Plastic surgery.   How come I didn't realize it before?

After the show, my husband and I drifted around the Paris Hotel and made our way into a gift store. We chatted with the manager who said she refused to see anymore headliners who'd been under the knife.

I stared a moment. “You know any puppets performing?”

“You got a point," she said. "Guess I’m cutting myself a little short.”

“A little?”  I thought about Cher.  She was coming back to Vegas in another week, and there were posters of her all over town.   Her daughter Chastity might have turned herself into a man, but her mother barely looked twenty-five.

Lately all the stars are getting facial tune-ups.   Brows and eyelids lifted, boobs enlarged, tummys tucked, and tushes redesigned.

It’s become my latest quiz game. As soon as the celeb appears, I calculate what they had "fixed", listing every possibilty and then keep reevaluating as the star continues to perform.

Definitely eyes, I think, but was it her forehead too?

And those lips. Jesus.   They looked like the red waxy kind I’d stick in my mouth for Halloween.

Wasn’t that what ruined Meg Ryan?

Born beautiful, she got lip injections and then funny implants.  Fans were aghast at the unnatural results.  Who would think to fiddle with God's perfection?

Maybe most of us want to change something, but a few of us remain real.

Al Pacino enters a scene—intense, contemplative, combative, caustic. An inherently gifted actor, his energy flows from depths many of us will never dig deep enough to recognize.

Still, he used to be so gorgeous in The Godfather. Couldn’t the guy get those bags sucked away from under his lids? I mean it’ll only take a minute or two.

And Tommy Lee Jones.                                                                       

When was the last time he passed a mirror?

But the real question is, why am I even playing this game?

Have I become so swept away by the fake that I can no longer accept what the real?

Do I want to grow up like Joan Rivers?  She's a 76 year old freak whose face has been stretched from here to Timbuktu.  If she hadn't created her own spotlight, she’d be locked into some circus train heading for the next country town.

Remember the talk about inner beauty?

There is certainly facial loveliness, but the truth is always hidden beneath the fa├žade, and it takes some work and a little time to find it.  Maybe all of us would do well to get past the velvety jowls and start searching.