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Saturday, July 26, 2008

White Flip Flops

For the longest time, my summer staple have been simple white flip flops. Not the rubber beach kind, but the more sophisticated and dressy type, with actual soles, made of non-rubber material. They are just awesome, because they are summery, comfortable and matches with absolutely everything- perfect for a casual summer day. Ever since my pair of Nine West white flip flops with chunky heels (just the right height!) expired a few years back however, I haven't been able to find a pair to properly replace them.
That is until I laid eyes on my friend's pair of Tory Burch white flip flops (over at their website, they call it thongs.... I have no idea what the difference is). They are just EXACTLY what I've been looking for. While the design is simple and casual, the little gold emblem and the wooden sole gives it just the right amount of sophistication that makes it elegant and classy. I LOVE it. Unfortunately, I've walked through the shop and all the usual department stores, and couldn't find them. They're also sold out online of my size! But while I was browsing, I noticed that they had this design in many different sharp colors, like this yellow one, which I think works great to match/clash with this season's bold color theme.
Another white flip flop I've looked at are these ones from Banana Republic. The patent leather strip and sole transforms this simple, classic design from the beach to the streets. This design also comes in a rainbow of sharp colors and are relatively cheaper than the Tory Burch's (more available too!). The only question now is which color? Other simple flip flops I'that also fits the bill are these ones from Nordstrom. They're basically the same as the ones from Banana Republic, except the straps are a bit wider and have a bit more elevation in the heels. These little details actually help to make these more sophisticated. But the gold shiny stuff on the soles kind of put me off even though I know it won't show when I'm wearing it.... should definitely go check them out!

Image Source: Tory Burch, Banana Republic and Nordstrom

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Hung Huyhn Comes Out... Asian-American.

(Hey, Antonia "Chinese Restaurant" Lofaso, you might want to watch this.)

Richard Blais: For Racist, Change-Averse Southerners, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “Not as Crazy as Bacon Ice Cream”

Oh dear, possums.

We hasten to add that, aside from his annoying overuse of the phrase and concept of things being “a play on” other things, we like and admire Richard Blais and his creativity and maturity. This makes it all the more wince-inducing to come across this passage in an interview he did with the Phoenix, Az., East Valley Tribune:

[I]s Atlanta the right city for you? Would your style be more accepted in a New York or San Francisco?

It’s a tough question to answer as I’m walking around the parking lot of my restaurant here. I’m a New Yorker originally. I’m into college football, and a lot of college football coaches will have that one clause in their contract that’s like, “Here’s my contract, but if this one school comes calling, all bets are off.” I lived in San Francisco and I’m a new Yorker, and I love those two cities. And I love Atlanta because it’s put me on the map and there are so many people here that are great. Is it a place I can see three or four really creative restaurants surviving over a long period of time? Probably not. Just in general, if you think about the South, it takes them a long time to embrace things not as crazy as bacon ice cream, you know? Historically, it took the South a long time to embrace the civil rights movement, for example. So we’ll see where it goes. The difference is that Atlanta is a big metropolitan city and the South is almost disconnected from that. You know what I mean? I live in Atlanta. I don’t feel like I live in Georgia.

For what it’s worth, possums, we don’t think that Blais, despite his unfortunate and poorly chosen words to that effect, actually believes civil rights are “crazy.” We get what he was trying to say, but oh what a way to say it. Is a touch of megalomania (comparing his signature bacon ice cream and the civil rights movement in the first place) a more forgivable sin? Does molecular gastronomy have a recipe for foot in mouth?

Hoot on Sight

Brandon Heffron

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chasing Harry Winston

Even without the fabulous pair of Louboutins and the three gorgeously fantabulous diamond rings on the cover, the name Lauren Weisberger is enough to make me pick up the book. Not that I think she's a particularly great writer, but because I know that it will be light and fun summer read- just what I am looking for. The whole fabulous, gorgeous people living extravagant and successful, perfect lives looking for love is a bit overdone these days, but I've always felt a connection with Weisberger's books. Even though it wasn't very memorable to some (HG barely remembers it), I felt a strong connection with the character in Everyone Worth Knowing. Bette's story might as well have been the fictionalized version of my future (she went from finance to the fabulous life of party planning to realizing that her true calling was writing)!
Back to the book at hand (at this point, you should realize that there are potential spoilers here). This one is about three best friends making a pact to change their way of lives. One tries monogamy after a life of polygamy. The other goes in the opposite direction and goes on a tour de whore. And the last attempts to convince herself that her perfect life really is perfect. Over all, I thought it was pretty badly written and that Weisberger is now just publishing by reputation rather than by content (this situation sounds oddly similar to the dilemma of yet another bestseller author mentioned in the book!). A lot of times the writing was long-winded and unnecessary. She spent the majority of the first chapter, where the author is supposed to captivate the readers, talking about Leigh's need for personal space and control freak quirks with a detailed description of her apartment. It just made me want to pick up a pen and edit everything out! Only her name on the cover kept me going.

The plot was predictable and mellow. I felt like I was just cruising along the story. Nothing exciting ever happens, because she tries this technique where she just ends the chapter when something does happen and then picks up again after the event. Leigh breaks up with her fiance and we get to read about how nervous she was before the event and her reflections after the event. Adriana meets her "future husband" and we hear about them dating from talks by the other two girls. It was like a whole book of reflection, where the readers were put in the peripheral of the story instead of INSIDE the story. And the other thing is that nothing bad ever happens to the characters. They all lead a charmed, perfect life and everything just magically comes to them, with no obstacles to overcome or anything. One decides she wants to travel the world and a fabulous job miraculously appears. One wasn't even trying and simply finds her true calling in writing. And the other just decides to leave everything she's worked for behind and everything works out. I know that being realistic is not exactly the primary goal of chick lits, but this is just a bit overboard. To give her credit, the characters do each experience life changing revelations (there really wouldn't BE a story otherwise), but everything just came together a little too perfectly.

The relationship between this story and Harry Winston is not a giant rock on a ring as I'd first imagined (and the cover alluded to). The only reference to Harry Winston is a pair of diamond earrings that Salma Hayek wore to the Oscars from there, that a suitor gave to one of them. I guess they were just looking for a catchy title.

One thing
Weisberger does do well however, are her characters. She paints them all in a very distinctive but relatable light. My favourite character is Leigh, who has the perfect job and the perfect boyfriend. The thing I love about her most is her control freak tendencies and need to be alone. I can totally relate to that. I LOVED it when she applied sunscreen on her body, then sprayed herself with more sunscreen in case she missed any spot and THEN applied a more expensive sunscreen on her face- rationing that the rest of them will regret it later when they need botox and laser treatment to get rid of their wrinkles and dark spots. That is MY rational as well (although I don't apply quite so thoroughly as she does). Next is Emmy, who just got dumped by her ex of five years, and her dearest dream is to get married and have lots of kids. Having never "played around," she is still very shy around guys and we get to see her get out of her shell in that respect. I feel for every step she took. Then there is Adriana, the fabulously gorgeous and wealthy Brazilian girl who leads the perfectly charmed life. However, even she feels a bit empty, lost and worried about her future. Sounds familiar?

Honestly, not a very original, engaging nor well-written book. But if you are looking for something light and brainless to past time on the beach (or just time in general).........then by all means. It's good and cheery enough to bring a smile to my lips in the end (happy endings always warms me up!).

Image Source: Amazon

Meeting Sketch dump

Heres a huge dump of sketches done during meetings at work...Im pretty sure this is what meetings are for, though I could be worng.

Amuse-Biatch Report from the Trencher: Spike “Asshat” Mendelsohn’s Establishment Beset by Asshattery

The Army of Possums is out there, possums, and not surprisingly, they have teeth. Possum "R." had the misfortune to happen upon the not so aptly named Good Stuff Eatery, the Washington, D.C., eatery recently opened by Spike Mendelsohn. This is R.'s account of the experience:

I work on Capitol Hill and decided to stop by…for a milkshake (I was NOT waiting in line to eat lunch at a joint owned by Spike) and…my experience [can be summed up with the verdict:] incredibly incompetent staff. I ordered what was advertised as a dulce-de-leche shake. I assumed this is what was meant by the "D-lechable leche" on the menu, which sounds a little bit too much like “lecher” and less like “delectable” than I’m sure Spike intended. The poor boy, bless his heart, is no Shakespeare. I ordered the lecher's shake because they didn’t have any malt left, and a malt was what I really wanted; they seemed to be out of EVERYTHING and it ended up tasting much more like butterscotch than dulce de leche.

Also, when we arrived (a colleague was with me) at approximately 3:15, a crudely hand-written sign on the door said they were closed from 3:30-5:30 to get ready for the dinner rush. I went to open the door and a group of employees sitting outside said they were closed. I pointed to the sign and noted that it was 3:15. They said they weren’t serving anything. When I noted that I only wanted a milkshake, they relented and let me in. But then the two very young (maybe even high-school-aged) girls behind the counter repeated the fact that they were closed, before someone appearing to be a manager walked by and said it was O.K. The service didn’t really improve much from there.

A colleague had gone by for a carry-out lunch the previous day – I think it was opening day – and had the patience to wait in line. Spike himself made her salad. All his salads are iceberg-wedge-based – which, besides being utterly unoriginal (it’s very 1999-chichi-Northeastern-steakhouse) also created a problem for takeout orders. My colleague said all her salad’s toppings had migrated to the bottom of the carry-out container by the time she got back to the office and actually ate the thing.

All we can say, possums, is that we’re not surprised by the asshattery. Our thanks to R. for sending in that report. At the risk of sounding a little Doug Llewellyn, we ask you, possums, to oblige us: if you happen to eat somewhere where a cheftestant has had a hand in the food, do like R. and send us a write-up of the experience.

Pink Navy Sets Sail for “Project Runway”

Yes, possums, it’s a tad off-topic, but we wanted to let you know that, with our freshly grown claws, we are turning our attention to Project Runway as well.

Yes, it’s the final season, and yes, our mothers did tell us not to kick a man when he’s down.

Unless you’re wearing stilettos.

And this time we have company—the incomparably catty Hughman will join the fray for the season.

Do come join us at Pink Navy, possums. It ain’t the Love Boat, but we know you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bras with Different Straps at the Back

At the end of last summer I evaluated my wardrobe (-something everyone should do at the end of a season or the beginning of a season,) and decided that I really didn't have enough young, casual clothes. Most things I owned seemed so stuffy and old -imagine really boring, plain clothes with boring, unhip cutting. So when I onlined shopped a few months ago, I made sure to reject clothes that were too plain and looked for some colour.

I really liked this tank top (by Kate Moss Top Shop) because it had a hint of colour and interesting pattern on it but it was still my style. But when I bought it, I didn't realise how low the hole at the back was and I liked the top so much I didn't return it. So then I started to look for a bra that was backless or had a ok-to-be-seen-strap.

Why not just show the back of a normal bra? Because I've seen a few people wearing tops and dresses with showy backs like these Top Shop tea dresses with their normal bras showing and believe me, they were not attractive!

Since the UK doesn't have Victoria's Secret, the first place I looked was Marks & Spencer. This bra was kind of what I was looking for. The straps at the back were thin and interesting enough to not remind me of the traditional thick back strap. Unfortunately, it only comes in black, and since the material of the tank top was pretty thin, I didn't want a black bra to be seen obviously underneath.

Then there was this bra. I admit that I've always thought transparent straps as sort of tacky-looking in most situations. (Is it just me?) But I love the idea that the back strap was transparent -an alternative style for the thick strap at the back. Alas, I forgot to buy one before leaving the UK. Now I have to figure out how to wear the tank top! (I prefer not layering with another camisole because it just doesn't look as nice and defeats the purpose of keeping cool.) Any ideas?

Btw, I didn't even consider a strapess, backless bra because I imagine they would feel very uncomfortable and insecure. If any of you have used one, what did you think of them?

Image Credits:,

Amuse-Biatch Heterosexual Wednesday: Padma Lakshmi Inspires Us to Bare All

Well, possums, we have now returned from the customary hiatus that follows the end of a Top Chef season, a time during which we attend to what, if we remember correctly, James Mason in The Shooting Party referred to as “death, disease and dentistry.” Mind you, we also use the time off to grow new claws, and new brain cells when we can manage it. This time around, though, we did a little something different. Foodie networking site FoodCandy kindly and unexpectedly asked us to sit down for an interview, and we—inspired by Padma Lakshmi’s penchant for self-exposure—couldn’t help but say yes. We won’t take off our top, but we will reveal the innermost depth of our shallowest thoughts.

So if you’re interested, possums, do go and have a LOOK.

Our thanks to dB of FoodCandy for a wonderful experience.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Kevin's Favorite 25 Movies, #1: 8 1/2

click here to watch video

1) 8 1/2
dir. by Federico Fellini

In the interest of keeping this somewhat short and not overly analytical, I am going to use the bullet format to showcase some of the famous imagery and moments that make this my favorite film of all time: the masterful, beautiful, poignant, elegiac, sexy, and highly influential and innovative 8 1/2 by Federico Fellini. Fellini said that when he made 8 1/2 he wanted to create a film that showed the three levels upon which our minds live: past, present, and conditional. There isn't another film that I have seen that is both so pleasing and wonderful to look and still has the ability to move me every time I watch it. Most films will always have the aesthetics down, but the power of the film erodes after each viewing (think a film like The Bicycle Thief). Not so with 8 1/2, I still get a little choked up at the "audition" scene where all of Guido's sins are being displayed in the form of screen tests...but more on that are the bullets, in a somewhat orderly matter:

Opening Sequence/Traffic Jam: An almost ethereal experience as some form of gas fills up Guido's (the main character played by the awesome Marcello Mastroianni) car and he can't seem to escape. The film is definitely an exercise in self-reflexive art. Guido is indeed Fellini (Marcello often represented forms of Fellini in all of his films) and in this opening sequence you can see Guido being suffocated. But then he appears out of the car and floats away...only to be pulled down ("down, for good.") by a man who is in control of the string attached to his leg. The metaphor is clear: the camera is the creative force, the liberator, and you have the producer, the money-man, pulling the director down from his heights to dwell in reality -- or rather what people will pay money to see. This is the dilemma for Guido (and Fellini who often said he "winged" it on the set of 8 1/2) as he cannot think of a way to get his film (read: life) started and on track. Guido is like any good Italian man...he loves women, and when he invites Clara the mistress to come to the shoot instead of his wife Luisa, that's when things get even murkier and more confused for the cheating Guido. And simply: it's one of the most amazing sequences I have seen in any film. The crazy and frantic opening shots, the compartmentalized imagery of arms hanging from a bus and quick shots of faces. There is such a weird feeling to the opening, and so much to see and admirer, that you may have to stop the film after the dream sequence is over, and start over again.

The Thermal Spa
: What's great about this scene is the use of music that accompanies the great tracking shot. It's one of the first films to use an already-composed piece of music as the guide track for the scene. Also, this introduces the always beautiful Claudia Cardinale as the woman of the spring, the muse Guido seeks all film. It's an amazing one-take tracking shot.

Framing/Blocking/Lighting/General Symbolism through mise-en-scene
: Throughout the film there are brilliant examples of mise-en-scene especially in the hotel sequence where Guido wanders the halls keeping watch on all of his production assistants working, but he has nothing creative to add to the process. Also, the scene where young Guido encounters Saraghina and the punishment from the priest that follows (and the tracking shot of young Guido and the portraits of all the priests on the wall) as he confesses, but decides to return the seductress Saraghina rejecting the sacred for the profane. Later in the film there is a masterful use of lighting as Guido sits in a car with his muse; she fully lighted, Guido dark except around the eyes, as if in a confessional booth. The moment is brilliantly executed. There are too many examples to share about blocking and lighting and so I will just say, the entire film is a feast for the eyes. Visually, there is nothing boring about this film

The Women: Fellini always employed beautiful women to star in his films, and even though most of them are regulated to being ogled at; Luisa is one of the strongest female characters in a Fellini film. Played by the gorgeous Anouk Aimee, she isn't fooled once by Guido and his cheatin' ways. Her scene with Guido after the embarrassment of the screen tests is so sad and so telling of how Guido (Fellini) treats the woman he is supposed to love and be faithful to. The famous Harem sequence is also a hilariously overblown wet dream for Fellini, as all of the women in Guido's life come together to serve him, and when they are revealed to be too old or from a time too far past, they resorted to the "upstairs" where they are more Madonnas and caretakers than sexual objects; which means Guido will pay them no heed. It's a brilliant scene, hilarious and awful all at once, and very telling of how Fellini felt about women.

Shades/Glasses: A common image found in Fellini's films. Marcello wears shades in most of Fellini's films; representing a blindness to what is around him. Whenever Luisa is around or when there is some confusion about the plot of the movie, he puts the shades on, as some form of escapism and voluntary blindness. Luisa is the only woman seen without shades. Her normal glasses make her look "unattractive" (she really isn't), but they are clear lenses, able to see into Guido what he cannot. They are mirrors adding to the self-reflexive themes of the film. The screen test is just another example of what the glasses represent: mirrors. Also, by the end of the film when Guido has his epiphany, he is wearing clear lenses rather than shades.

The real vs the fantastic
: I have already mentioned the Harem scene, one of the most fantastical of the film, but also the whole nature of the film is a revolt against artistic reality -- remember Fellini began working right around the time Italian Neo-Realism was huge -- for artistic freedom. The film fades in and out from reality to fantasy (the influence here on Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth is obvious) often times making it hard to tell which is which.

Control: Young Guido vs Mature Guido. Who controls what by the end of the film. 8 1/2 is the greatest film about a film ever made, and with that comes the importance of the director; the person who controls things. The entire film we see that Guido has little control over his film (read: his life) and by the end when we hear the words: "life is a celebration, let's live it together" it is an epiphianic moment, he may not change his womanizing ways, but he is inviting Luisa to join him in celebrating life, and he too for the first time will enjoy life with her. Guido has realized that he can't control everything, and that he should just live life and make films and enjoy everything as it comes. The dance around the spaceship structure at the end of the film is a beautiful image: the opposite of what Bergman portrays with his dance to conclude The Seventh Seal. Hear Fellini is interested in a dance of life, rejuvenation; a celebratory moment of reverie, keeping with the films dreamy feel, the end just lifts you up both emotionally and physically as you cannot help but get up and want to cheer for Guido. There is no way you cannot be moved by the end of this picture. It's simply the perfect example of narrative and aesthetic working together to create the most beautiful moments in film. It's why film is such a wonderful medium, 8 1/2 has the power to change who you are. Just like Guido the viewer is invited to use the film as a mirror to reflect on their own life and the choices they have made. It's a perfect example of the power of cinema.

Fellini invites you to participate with him in reexamining life and what it may mean for you. It's like the end of another Fellini film La Dolce Vita (clip is above for context), the symbolic "dream girl" turns to the camera and smiles: asking us whether or not we do indeed see. It's not a matter of if we hear the words over the breakers, it's whether or not we are able to see that her lips, her actions, are signaling for us to cross the threshold, take that first step towards the sweet life. She is physically uttering the words: "Come with me, I will usher you into a better life, a life of celebration; a life worth living." If you can see, then the dream girl, or whatever that may represent for you, is obtainable...but you have to be able to see. Take the shades off and see what life offers.

8 1/2 is such a beautiful film, not only asking us to reexamine as look in the mirror, but also inviting us to laugh. When Fellini was making the movie he kept a note on the camera that read: "Remember, this is a comedy." Reminding the viewer too that it's okay to laugh and enjoy life. There is no other film that moves me, makes me feel the poignancy and that special deep satisfaction and clarity -- a rare state of reverie, when you know you have just witnessed something special; something that leaves you speechless and in a a state of awe -- that is what 8 1/2 does to me every single time I watch it. It's something special and something to behold. I am glad I am able to talk about it and share it with you all. This is what film is capable of doing and this is why I am so passionate about it.

Kevin's Favorite 25 Movies, #2: Pulp Fiction

Click here to watch video

2) Pulp Fiction
dir. by Quentin Tarantino

Yeah I know. Pulp Fiction. Obvious, huh? I mean what 26 year-old film buff doesn't love this movie? But I don't really care if this is a somewhat predictable choice. Quentin Tarantino's masterful interpolated tale of seedy gangsters, their wives, sadomasochists, boxers, and inane drug dealers is still one of the freshest films I have ever seen. The film has been somewhat watered down due to all of the parodies and aped wannabe films that followed, but it was a rite of passage film for me; a film that was like a ferryman taking me across the river of casual film admirer to fully evolved film buff.

It's the first time I re-watched a film twice in one day. I remember it vividly, because I was never allowed to see the film, and I was staying over at a friends house (I think I was in like 6th grade or something) and we watched it -- shocked by what we just had seen -- we had to watch it again. There was no other choice...I mean, did that really just happen? Did we really just see what we though we saw? Wait is that the end of the film? These were the questions we turned and asked ourselves after the initial viewing. From that moment on, whenever anyone would ask me what my favorite movie was; I would mention Pulp Fiction. Whenever I was asked which film inspired me the most to leisurely write about film, I would mention Pulp Fiction. Whenever anyone would ask me: which film do you recommend for us tonight? I would answer Pulp Fiction. By now most everyone has seen the film, its influence on pop culture is well noted. It's a masterpiece of postmodern filmmaking and it pretty much introduced the world to the bizarre mind of Quentin Tarantino.

The film is still fun to watch too; time has not made the film easier to look back on be dismissive towards it. Yes, the buzz for the film and its merits were huge when the film came out; the kind of buzz that usually spells doom for the film five years down the road. However, Pulp Fiction still holds today with its weird pop-philosophy (see the clip above, which is actually quite moving), nostalgic postmodernism (the Jack Rabbit Slim's scene), outrageous violence ("I just shot Marvin in the face"), and quotable dialogue (there's too many to list here, but come on, who doesn't know the foot massage discussion, or ask anyone, even if they haven't seen the film, where the "Royale with cheese" line comes from, and you will always get the right answer). The film is also famous for the revitalization of John Travolta's career (damn you Tarantino, because of you we had to endure Mad City, Face/Off, Broken Arrow, Michael, The General's Daughter, and of course Battlefield Earth), but it also has tremendous and star making performances from Samuel L. Jackson -- who it seems to take a lot of roles that want him to be a different version of the Jules character he plays here -- Uma Thurman, and Ving Rhames. It's also interesting that this film, even after repeated viewings, is never not interesting. It still has the ability to make you laugh and squirm and sit on the edge of your seat (especially in the virtuoso scene of Vincent injecting a comatose and OD'd Mia).

What else can I say about the film. It's one of the best ever made, and its influence on the genre and film in general is immeasurable. Yes, there were a lot of horrible Pulp Fiction rip-offs (2 Days in the Valley, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead) but it also made films like Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Tarantino's later film Jackie Brown more accessible to a larger audience. And anytime you can flood the cinema with something a little edgier and a lot different than the usual Hollywood crap that comes out, well then, we should all thank Pulp Fiction for that. Truly one of the best films ever made...ah...but there is one that is better. As I grew up even more and enriched my palette I found a film that excels in both narrative and aesthetics in a way that no other film I have ever seen has. That would be my selection for my favorite film of all time which is...tune in tomorrow to find out.

We can always count on Chris

what did he put in his mouth you may ask...?

well... none other than these... and he did it like 3 times! brave!

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