Friday, January 16, 2009

*These Boots Were Made for Bloggin'

I promised a product review yesterday, and I'm sure legions of you were crushed to find that I lied. I can't even remember what I did instead.** Probably went to the gym and watched Wall-E for the quintillionth time.

Ah, fascinating life, you do bewitch me!

It turns out I was more inclined to write a 'Shout Out' than a straight up 'Product Review.' Or a combo. We'll see what emerges.

Before I begin though, I want to draw your attention to all of the rad photography on Back to Me. No, not the "borrowed" celebrity pics — the ones by studiosaynuk. Most of you that read this know that he's my breadwinner, er, husband/personal photographer/graphic designer/super-dad/great guy. I love his work and I want all of you to love it as well. Check out his cool macro stuff here: morningmacro and everything else here: studiosaynuk. I really am such a lucky girl. Now, on with the blog.

Born Contrast Stitch Boot
A great pair of boots is fundamental, especially in the Northeast where boots are somewhat of a religion. It's cold; we have kickin' jeans; we want boots. Some people buy many pairs of boots and match them accordingly to the event and outfit. This is far too logical and expensive for me. Yes, I might like a pair of slouchy boots, a pair of high-heeled booties (hate that word) or at the very least a pair of tall black boots, but what I have are these Born boots.*** Cut like a riding boot, they are the perfect brown and made of soft Italian leather that creases just so. Loyal, broken in, comfortable. I wear them too often, to too many things, but they look great with comfy dresses and leggings, or skirts and tights and of course, with my ever-growing jean harem. I don't think they are available at Garnet Hill anymore, but I definitely recommend the Born brand, especially if they make another boot as devoted to excellence as this one. In other boot news, I am currently coveting these if anyone can spare a couple hundred dollars.

Tomorrow's blogging (for real this time): Friday Night Lights. Yippee!

* I tried to find another song about boots to use for a pun-y headline and there are surprisingly few. A Russian folk song called "Felt Boots," but it was fabrically incorrect, so I went back to the Nancy Sinatra well.
** Just remembered we play-dated with some excellent friends. That is worth skipping a blog post for.
*** Not counting my Bean boots and my Wellies, because they don't count.

• photo by studiosaynuk

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Squeezing My Mind Grapes

One week ago I laid out my resolutions and I think it's time to check-in, because I know at least 8 of you can't wait to find out. (Speaking of that, I want to give a mini, inter-blog, shout out to my Jersey contingent. Thanks for reading! Heck, thanks to all of you.)

1) Write at least 3x a week. This is my seventh post since January 5th, so I am definitely kicking that resolution's ass. That said, it's really hard. Not peace in Darfur hard, but the reasons that kept me from writing for so long haven't gone away. I still have to take care of my kids, cook dinner, do laundry, check Facebook (seriously, I do), go to the gym, run errands, see friends. That's a full day. Now, I realize there are 8 million working poor in this country, who often have to choose between food and rent, who are often uninsured. I know how fortunate I am. But, I can only live my own experience and I don't like putting my kids in front of the TV so I can write.* I don't mind putting them in front of the TV so I can have some peace and quiet, but that's a blog for another time. The writing itself is hard too. I'm constantly questioning what I've written. Reading it over and over again. I am alternately satisfied and mortified, but I keep on. The feeling of euphoria I get from writing, especially if I think it's good, but even if it is bad, extends to everything else in my life. It's as if I've opened up a part of my brain that had been asleep. Anyway, it's a good thing.

2) Send one pitch a month to some sort of magazine about something. I have not done this yet, but the month ain't over yet. (I have been notoriously bad at this, hence my flourishing non-existent freelance career, so we shall see.)

3) Do 20 squats and 20 lunges everyday. Nope. And I actually don't care. I go to the gym and walk all over creation with 60 lbs. of kids packed into a 20 lb. stroller - that's 80 lbs. for you English majors - isn't that enough? I might revisit this resolution when we get a little closer to bathing suit season.

4) Cook more vegetarian meals. I made a very tasty salad with manchego cheese, oranges, butter lettuce, sunflower seeds and homemade vinaigrette, from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. It's just a salad, but it's a start. I made a pasta dish and a lentil dish that could have been vegetarian and threw meat into them, does that count?

My sub-resolution to cook more and meal plan is going well. I've cooked 7 out of the last 9 days. We had a house guest the two days we ate out. She graciously ate my chicken chili on Friday, but why should she suffer because of my complex grid of resolutions, co-resolutions and amended resolutions, so out we went. And it was so good. My April plan to not eat out for a month is going to really suck.

5) Learn HTML. So far I've only learned how do strikethroughs.

6) Do more crafty stuff and baking with the kids. We took them to MoMA, where they got much, much too close to the artwork and made clever and funny observations.
Me: How do you think Jackson Pollock held the brush to get the paint on the canvas like that?
Mimi: Just like a regular old man, Mom.
We are going to bake cookies today. The rest of the time they have been watching TV and playing dress-up so I can write. There is a reason that the children of writers, pen their own scathing memoirs as adults. I promise to do what I can to make that memoir interesting.

7) Learn to knit and sleep more. I just added these, so they don't count yet.

Don't worry I won't be tallying my accomplishments weekly. Maybe monthly.
Tomorrow: Another product review. Oh, the anticipation.

* I'm writing at Starbucks today, while the girls hang with Adam. Bliss.

• photo by studiosaynuk

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bluck You

Seriously, why did I think I could focus on Gossip Girl while Mimi and Violet were still awake and fighting over who got to have the 3-inch Cinderella figurine in bed with them. Oh, they were supposed to be asleep, but they were not. Even with the power of the pause button (thank you DVR), I'm not sure I caught everything, so feel free to berate me if I leave out some juicy bit.

Maybe it was the constant interruptions, or my extreme fatigue last night,* but I found this episode kind of dull, although Adam pointed out that a lot was revealed. Interesting that 'he who does not watch Gossip Girl,' not only noticed that things were revealed, but seemed pleased. He's needs to own up and embrace his inner Dan Humphrey. He totally brown bagged it in private school.**

Anyway, yes, much was revealed, but it was very soap opera. Plus, Rufus' hair was bad. Not Jenny homicide-inducing bad, but the wispy bangs aren't a good look for him. I used to love the parents, because they are just a wee bit closer to my age than the teenagers and pre-wisps Rufus had a hot-dad, grunge thing going on. (I go for that these days.) But the whole adoption thing has ruined the hot parent thing.

Is it me or did Lily seem kind of pleased that the kid was dead? I found it pretty predictable that he isn't actually dead, but I am curious to see how it plays out. Just please let him not look or act at all like Aaron. What was with Lily's weird speech outside Rufus' door? Was she breaking up with him? Apparently not, since they are all going to be one big happy-ish family: Dan Humphrey, his girlfriend Serena, Eric and his hag Jenny. I'm excited for their Christmas card.

Don't you love that throughout the course of Lily and Rufus' trip to Boston their kids couldn't reach them, and they didn't call to check on them and the kids basically had to sort out all of their feelings about the love child BY THEMSELVES!? Not to mention the fact that it was revealed by Gossip Girl. And, ew, they don't share DNA.

I know some bloggers are rocking the mean girls, but I'm not. I don't know why. (Oddly enough, I love the mini-meanies. Very cute.) Maybe my dislike is really my fear that someday my girls are going to be on the wrong side of a group of girls who have the moral compass of Bernie Madoff. Or worse that they will be one! I know Blair is a mean girl and I love her, but we've seen her gooey, Chuck-loving, bulimic center. We know she's more than the bitch on the steps.

I'm also not sure if I believe that Nelly Yuki would have stolen Dan Humphrey's phone and spilled that level of dish. I see her more as a hanger on, than an actual sociopath like her 'friends.' I realize that Blair and her minions' machinations do keep the show moving and they often have the best lines, so I suppose I will shake off my real life woes and tolerate what must be.

Speaking of 'friends,' Blair and Chuck aren't even that anymore. After spending the entire episode in his tiny, tiny suit and lady's trench, Chuck took his sad eyes up Blair's elevator and was dismissed. Big time. And it's hard to argue with her logic. Whores, pills, public embarrassment, and the word 'wife' spit at you like bile, can make a girl pack it in. Really Bluck fans, none of you want a weak Blair and that's where she was headed if she took Chuck back, even though they weren't together together. They sure do have crackling chemistry though and are, I would argue, the best actors on the show.

(How HOT was Blair's dress for their non-romantic/romantic, didn't happen dinner? Blake Lively might be on the cover of Vogue this month, but Leighton Meester is a real beaut.)

There was some other stuff in this episode too. Chuck the Teenager was given control of his father's jabillion dollar company and then lost it to his conniving uncle, because of the aforementioned whores, drugs, etc. There was a fake-out last week that something had happened with Blair and Uncle Jack, but apparently that got dropped. For now anyway. Oh, and Vanessa and Nate had some sort of anniversary, for which coffee and candy is given. They are scintillating.

Next week it looks like Blair is back to being Queen Bee, and this time she's taking on teacher.

As for me, I forgot how hard it is to write and do anything else! This recap took me forever. More on that tomorrow. xoxo

* One of my resolutions was to get more sleep! I forgot to add it to my earlier list. Now I'm putting it out there, so I have to do it. Another one I forgot was learning to knit.
** He was a pb&J guy and as far I know never landed himself a Serena Van Der Woodsen.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Curious Case of Brad Pitt's Extreme Hotness

By the time Brad Pitt comes roaring into his early 40s, riding a vintage motorcycle one-handed, it doesn't much matter if The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is an epic tale exploring the mysteries of our inner lives or a documentary about gerbil hunters in Minsk. He is beautiful. He is Robert Redford from The Way We Were (sailboat included) and in exchange for shedding the weird make-up, hair and old man body, he acquires a gorgeous wardrobe full of leather jackets and perfectly worn-in boots.

Something about the sight of him on screen not only set me gasping, but also reminded me of the generation that I belong to and the people that are a part of that. I felt at once physically charged by seeing him on screen and oddly moved by having 'known' him since he showed Geena Davis how to hold up a convenience store with a hair dryer. It was a strange moment of nostalgia, while watching a movie about that very thing. 'Nothing lasts,' says Benjamin.

At the same time that I was having all of these palpitations and 30something musings about Pitt, I was perplexed by his performance. He has shown in other movies that he can plumb the complex depths of grief and melancholy, most recently in Babel and most exquisitely in A River Runs Through It, but in Button he is oddly restrained. In many scenes he barely speaks, and both he and the love of his life, Daisy, played with equal emotional detachment by Cate Blanchett, rarely shed more than an elegant tear. They never break down. It is still a good performance in a very interesting movie, and in some ways it makes sense for Benjamin, who lives in two worlds at once, often unsure where he fits in, to be very remote. And yet, this is nearly 3 hours of sorrow, including an excruciating scene where Benjamin has to walk away from his young family. And still nothing. Why do we care what happens to them, if they don't?

Perhaps 10 years of constant tabloid attention has made Pitt sensitive to cracking open the actor inside the celebrity. I'm not sure what Blanchett's excuse is. She is an actress who is often described as luminous and lovely and the 'best.' I won't disagree that she's beautiful and sometimes transformative (Elizabeth, Notes on a Scandal), but I think she also gives off a chill, especially as Daisy - and I would argue in her Oscar-winning turn as Katherine Hepburn as well - that makes it unclear what exactly Benjamin falls for. Their beautifully photographed and sweetly acted love affair at the center of the movie finds her loosened up and the silly dancer's posture dropped, and it all makes a little more sense. 

The story of their love and Benjamin's life is grasping what you can, while you can and enjoying the perfection of that moment for as long as it lasts. Finding the connections. In the end there is for Benjamin a return to innocence and for Daisy a bittersweet slip into convention, and of course, nostalgia.