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Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Pad Your Ass! Buy These Panties And It's Booty-Time

In behavior, Fashion, women on July 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm
{008/100 Possibilities} Villain Made A Friend ...

Nice booty! Image by vmiramontes via Flickr

In case your butt isn’t sufficiently curvaceous.

From The Wall Street Journal:

When Tara Rachel Benson went out on a recent night to an album release party in Los Angeles, she put on her makeup, a tight-fitting Herve Leger dress, stiletto heels—and a pair of padded panties.

“It’s part of the whole outfit,” says Ms. Benson, a 25-year-old assistant to a music manager. Wearing the Booty Pop brand of underwear, which contain egg-shaped foam pads to plump up the posterior, “I look better, I feel better, and as a result, I act better,” she says.

Upstart company Booty Pop thinks it has the answer for women who want curves like Beyonce and JLo: padded underwear.

For centuries, women have wriggled into girdles and other slimmers to minimize their rear ends. Now, a fascination with the hind-quarters of celebrities like Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian is fueling a booming market for undergarments that amplify the derrière..

Booty Pop projects it will sell close to 1 million pairs of padded underwear this year.

Make this go away.

Here’s my thoughtful, serious analytical take on the matter. Transplants!

Why mess around with a fake ass that, should you actually undress in front of someone you hope to seduce, will suddenly be…not there? Just buy yourself a permanent butt. Take all that nasty fat from somewhere else on your body, or maybe someone else’s. No biggie.

I’ve considered donating my ass, on occasion, but the sweetie has forbidden it, bless him.

It would only be for scientific purposes, research, the advancement of knowledge. All that.

Could You Wear The Same Six Clothing Items For 30 Days?

In behavior, business on July 23, 2010 at 5:38 pm
Men Shopping for Clothing Accessories

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Interesting anti-shopping story from The New York Times:

This self-imposed exercise in frugality was prompted by a Web challenge called Six Items or Less (sixitemsorless.com). The premise was to go an entire month wearing only six items already found in your closet (not counting shoes, underwear or accessories). Nearly 100 people around the country, and in faraway places like Dubai and Bangalore, India, were also taking part in the regimen, with motives including a way to trim back on spending, an outright rejection of fashion, and a concern that the mass production and global transportation of increasingly cheap clothing was damaging the environment.

Meanwhile, an even stricter program, the Great American Apparel Diet, which began on Sept. 1, has attracted pledges by more than 150 women and two men to abstain from buying for an entire year. (Again, undies don’t count.) And next month, Gallery Books will publish a self-help guide, called “The Shopping Diet,” by the red-carpet stylist Phillip Bloch. (“Step 1: Admit You’re an Overshopper”… “Step 9: Practice Safe, Responsible Shopping”… “Step 10: Make the Diet a Way of Life.”)

Though their numbers may be small, and their diets extreme, these self-deniers of fashion are representative, in perhaps a notable way, of a broader reckoning of consumers’ spending habits. As the economy begins to improve, shoppers of every income appear to be wrestling with the same questions: Is it safe to go back to our old, pre-recession ways? Or should we? The authors of these diets — including some fashion marketing and advertising executives, interestingly enough — seem to think not.

Sally Bjornsen, the founder of the Great American Apparel Diet (thegreatamericanappareldiet.com), said she was prompted to stop buying clothes for a simple reason: “I was sick and tired of consumerism,” she said.

I just spent two weeks living out of a suitcase while on vacation. I confess to taking more than six items, my excuse being….well, I didn’t need one. I flew business class so could afford to have more than 50 pounds with me. That sounds like a lot. It is a lot. But, (including toiletries and shoes and books), those ounces add up fast.

Thin summer clothes are the least of it!

If I did wear only six items for a month, they’d be:

Summer:

1) black cotton leggings; 2) a black cotton tunic; 3) a white long sleeved T-shirt; 4) a gray silk broomstick-pleat skirt; 5) a dress; 6) a lightweight cardigan. Numbers 1,2,3 and 6 got the most wear in 14 days, aided by doing laundry enroute.

Winter:

1) black wool trousers; 2) grey cashmere turtleneck; 3) brown cotton dress; 4) brown wool cardigan; 5) long black jersey dress; 6) a colored long-sleeved cotton T-shirt.

I like this idea, although I do think six is tough. I’d go for ten.

It also depends, for women especially, on your style, and ability and willingness to accessorize really well; (I own a gazillion scarves, which helps.)

In summer, you’ll be doing a lot of laundry (which is itself tough on clothes) and if you perspire heavily and/or live somewhere hot and humid, you’ll be wearing your undies a lot, and not much else. I just endured 90+ degree heat and humidity in three cities in a row and had to change into fresh, dry clothes every day. It’s also very difficult if you don’t have some bo-ho, home-based creative job or need to impress someone at a client meeting or job interview.

But I do applaud the notion of buying a lot less and wearing it well, cared-for and maintained, for years or more. I grew up in Canada, a land of lower incomes and higher taxes than the U.S., where credit card interest was never tax-deductible, so shopping like a crazy person — for a variety of reasons — just wasn’t something everyone did all the time. We bought clothing and shoes to last, not “disposable” fashion a la H & M or Target.

And, if you find shopping a bore and annoyance, owning many fewer things cuts that right out of your life.

If you had to pick six things to wear for a month, what would they be?

Women Really Are Shoe-Aholics, Study Shows — And The Problem Is?

In behavior, business, women on July 23, 2010 at 9:37 am
Golden Lotus shoes

Image by Linda N. via Flickr

Well, it’s true. Women are shoe-obsessed, according to a British study of 3,000 women:

In analyzing the spending of some 3,000 women, a British pollster finds the average female buys seven new pairs of shoes a year, and for a 67-year period. At close to $400 annually — which may even be lowballing when it comes to North American women — the grand lifetime total tops $26,000.

It’s an astounding figure, to be sure. But with no male comparison, critics say it’s yet another example of shoe purchases having become shorthand for female frivolity.

“It really is a very feminist issue,” says Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. “Men’s excesses are often seen as somehow positive — ‘He works hard, so of course he should have that Rolex’ — whereas women are constantly belittled for them.”

The new survey, conducted by OnePoll for Gocompare.com, doesn’t address male shoe budgets.

Pollsters do, however, report that a quarter of women rarely divulge their shoe purchases to their partner “as he doesn’t understand their obsession,” and that “predictably, 29 per cent of ladies say shoes are the one thing they can’t resist buying, regardless of whether they can afford them.”

This year, I’ve beat the average — nine (so far.) Two pair of athletic shoes; three pairs of flats; a pair of dressy pumps and three pairs of sandals. That’s not typical for me and seven of those (she whimpered) were on sale. None cost more than $100. It adds up, but the number, for me anyway, is less the issue than their longevity.

I blogged here about the recent loss of our local shoe repairman, Mike, who closed his shop a month ago. I keep my shoes (and clothing) for many years, sometimes decades; a pair of monk-straps and loafers date to 1996 and still — thanks to Mike — look new.

Every women knows that new shoes are are easy place to indulge quickly and painlessly. No calories! You can gain — or lose — 5, 10 or 50 pounds — and still wear gorgeous shoes.

Unlike much of life, new shoes are forgiving. If you’re anything over a size 12, looking for beautiful, well-made clothing, good luck with that. Buying shoes doesn’t demand squeezing into a dressing room, or waiting for one. And, if decently made and cared for, they last, unlike much clothing that stains, tears or can’t be altered.

Men, too, have their sprees.

For my Dad, it was safari jackets and Irish tweed hats (and pipes.) The sweetie has an enormous collection of caps that I know will only expand further — and all those golf games add up to serious coin.

They just don’t fit into a closet.

The Pleasure Of Solo Travel

In behavior, travel on July 23, 2010 at 1:06 am
Cover of "Come, Thou Tortoise"

One of my vacation reads. Loved it!!! Cover of Come, Thou Tortoise

There are couples who boast that they have never spent a night apart.  Cue violins!

I think: Shoot me. Just shoot me.

I think every long-term couple needs serious time apart. Granted, this is much more difficult if you have kids, especially  very small ones, when time without another person’s labor can feel like drudgery.

I am home now in NY after 14 days away from the sweetie. He couldn’t pick me up at the airport because he was working, but I came home to flowers and, while away, to a half-bottle of champagne sent to my hotel room.

My Vancouver room, at the Sylvia (go!), was barely 150 square feet, but bright, airy, quiet — perfect for one person. The beach was, literally, across the street. (And, of course, turned out my grandmother lived there when it was still an apartment building; built in 1911, it’s a Vancouver landmark.)

While away, I did a variety of things I love to do, some of which he hates. (And vice versa.)

He hates crowds so, last night, alone, I sat for 5.5 hours (yes, really) on the beach awaiting the U.S. entry in Vancouver’s annual fireworks festival. I wanted a good spot; by the time it began at 10:00 p.m., some 200,000 people had joined me. I read, slept, listened to music, read, slept, watched all the people around me.

I sat still. I don’t think I’ve ever just sat anywhere in New York, ever, for 5.5 hours without moving. Or, more to the point, feeling restless or bored or that I should be doing something. Vancouver is a city jammed with slim, blond, lithe folk. I saw no one one obese and few over 30. Everyone’s in spandex or on a bike or roller-blading. And, even mid-week, many people were on the beach.

Doing a lot of nothing productive, for once, meant I fit in right in. Whew. I can’t wait to go back and do a lot of nothing again, soon.

I spent six days with my Mom; as her only child, she likes my undivided attention. She whipped me at gin rummy; I beat her at Scrabble. Competitive, us?

Instead of reading three papers a day and listening to the radio and TV, I listened to music and scanned a few papers. I read three lovely novels: Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin, The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald (a Canadian writer) and Come, Thou Tortoise by Newfoundland writer Jessica Grant.

I liked “Brooklyn”, and loved the others. As a Canadian, I really enjoyed the many references that resonated for me, whether the name of a colored pencil set or landscapes I know well.

I went out for dinner with Colin Horgan, a fellow True/Slant writer whom I’d never met before, a brave move on both of our parts — what if we were bored? Or awful in person? We had a terrific Indian meal and a great time.  Solo vacations are all about adventure and meeting new people without the easy out and familiar comfort of your partner.

The sweetie played a lot of golf and watched the Golf channel uninterrupted and worked hard and caught up with his friends. We spoke  and emailed — and missed one another.

When you’re partnered, do you go away on your own? Do you enjoy it?

Alaina Podmorow, 13, Raises $300,000 For Afghan Women

In behavior, women on July 22, 2010 at 12:07 pm
Topography

Image via Wikipedia

“The worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Alaina Podmorow heard those words — from Canadian journalist Sally Armstrong — during a speech on the treatment of Afghan girls and women. She was nine.

Now, Podmorow heads a non-profit, Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan:

Poised and confident, Podmorow, 13, now gives inspirational speeches herself as the founder of the nonprofit Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan, a fundraising organization that channels money for teachers’ salaries and training through Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.

“I found that it doesn’t matter how little or young you are, you can make this difference,” she said in an interview during a conference on Afghanistan hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women.

Her first fundraising effort in her hometown of Kelowna was aimed at raising $750, the amount she was told would pay an average salary to a teacher for a year in Afghanistan.

“We raised enough for four teachers’ salaries for one year and I was so amazed because that was more than I could have ever imagined raising at nine years old,” she said.

Chapters of Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan have sprung up around the country and fundraisers have been held in many cities. The groups have raised about $160,000 from the public and almost the same amount again in matching funds from the federal Canadian International Development Agency, the foreign-aid wing of the federal government.

Canadian kids helping other kids overseas in so organized and sophisticated a fashion isn’t new. In 2002, Craig Kielburger — then 19 — was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his aid work, which he began at the age of 12. Kids Can Free The Children has built 316 primary schools around the world, allowing 20,000 children to attend school. It has 100,000 members in 35 countries.

I’m proud of kids like these. I wish their names and actions were widely-known — not morons like Lindsay Lohan.

Sitting At The Bar

In behavior, travel on July 22, 2010 at 2:24 am
great dive bar in lower garden district, New O...

Image via Wikipedia

I usually have such good luck.

Not tonight. It was the end of the fireworks — 200,000 happy Vancouverites having thronged the beaches to watch them from a barge in the harbor. I sidled up to my hotel bar and found myself next to the most boring person I have ever met.

Ever.

“I can’t believe how hot it is here,” he said; he being a contractor from a suburb of San Francisco. “I thought Canada had perpetual winter.”

Normally, I smile indulgently. Not this time.

“You’re kidding, right?”

He went on to rave about the novels of James Michener and how great they are, like “Hawaii.”

And, sue me, I hate it when men ask your name right away. Lively conversation first, ask name later. It’s the price of admission.

I make it a point to sit at the bar most of the time, especially when eating alone. It’s usually a lot more fun than reading or watching people read (please) their emails.

Earlier this week I met Homa and Babak, an Iranian couple, and had a great conversation — I had no idea Tehran has a ski hill. (Homa showed me a photo on her Iphone.) Then chatted with a young Australian girl who’s just moved here.

In Atlanta last fall, I sat in a great old dive bar and had an hour-long chat with a terrific local guy, so when it works, it works well.

Do you sit at the bar and talk to strangers?

Longboarding Takes Off — While B.C. Mourns 28-Year-Old Competitor Killed Last Week

In sports on July 21, 2010 at 11:39 am
A 40 inches long longboard (skateboard)

Image via Wikipedia

From The New York Times:

Whether on a hair-raising rural road in the Pacific Northwest or in teeming Midtown traffic, longboards have become the fastest-growing segment in an otherwise sluggish skateboard market. In recent years, they have lured new participants to a pastime traditionally dominated by teenage boys and young men performing perilous stunts.

“There’s a real neo-hippie, everybody-welcome kind of vibe to longboarding,” said Adam Goldstein, 43, who skates with his 10-year-old son around Manhattan.

Goldstein, who directs commercials, says he takes a longboard to commute while working in Los Angeles or Toronto. “You can just go anywhere,” he said.

With decks usually 34 inches or longer; trucks (axles) adapted for easier turning; and big, soft wheels, longboards provide a smoother skating experience than boards designed for performing tricks. Their size and stability make longboards well suited for cruising streets and college campuses. The price of a good longboard starts at about $150.

Yet last week, several newspapers featured stories on Glenna Evans, 28, killed while longboarding after she failed to negotiate a turn and slammed into a van:

“Glenna Evans was a serious longboard skate competitor for several years and has placed well in international competition in the US and Canada,” her family said. “She was practicing in full racing gear at Mount Seymour.”

The Vancouver woman, who had raced competitively in the past, was an Honours student in the Fine Arts program at Emily Carr University.

Comments of grief and sympathy were pouring in Saturday for their “coast sister” on online forums for longboarding communities.

Mike, a 25-year-old North Vancouver longboarder, told The Province that “everyone is really shaken up” over the death.

“It’s like losing a sister because it’s a really small community of longboarders,” said Mike, who did not want to give his last name.

This is one of the times it helps to read more than one media outlet, let alone across borders. The Times piece offers a cool, fun new sport — while the Vancouver Sun obituary column (where I first noticed Evans’ picture and age) tells a very different story.

Have you tried it?

Would you?

Is Your Partner A Lazy, Disorganized SOB — Or Is ADHD To Blame?

In behavior on July 20, 2010 at 10:06 pm
Day 382 / 365 - Back in Colour - What a mess

Image by xJasonRogersx via Flickr

Fascinating story in The New York Times, with lots of comments pro and con:

Does your husband or wife constantly forget chores and lose track of the calendar? Do you sometimes feel that instead of living with a spouse, you’re raising another child?

Your marriage may be suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

An A.D.H.D. marriage? It may sound like a punch line, but the idea that attention problems can take a toll on adult relationships is getting more attention from mental health experts. In a marriage, the common symptoms of the disorder — distraction, disorganization, forgetfulness — can easily be misinterpreted as laziness, selfishness and a lack of love and concern.

Experts suggest that at least 4 percent of adults suffer from the disorder; that as many as half of all children with A.D.H.D. do not fully outgrow it and continue to struggle with symptoms as adults; and that many adults with the disorder never got the diagnosis as children.

Adults with attention disorders often learn coping skills to help them stay organized and focused at work, but experts say many of them struggle at home, where their tendency to become distracted is a constant source of conflict. Some research suggests that these adults are twice as likely to be divorced; another study found high levels of distress in 60 percent of marriages where one spouse has the disorder.

I know I wouldn’t last a week with someone like this. I’m lucky to have a partner who pays, in general, very close attention.

Has this ever shown up in your relationships? To what effect?

Emotional Eating — When You've Gotta Have Some Salt/Fat/Sugar

In behavior, food on July 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm
Brussels Waffle (known in the USA as Belgian W...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been so good — eating much less and much healthier than ever before.

But yesterday I fell so far off the wagon it was lost in the the distance.

Because I had to say goodbye to my Mom, who I see, at most, once a year and sometimes only every two years; we live very far apart and the costs of hotel (small apartments for us both with too-big personalities) make it a challenge to do it frequently. She lives in Canada, and I in the U.S., having traded our native countries.

I hate that goodbye, not knowing when, or if, I’ll see her again. She’s 76, in OK health, living alone. I’m her only child.

She beat me bloody at gin rummy and I trounced her at Scrabble. That’s a good visit for us.

So it was a plate of Belgian waffles, (whipped cream and strawberries), that morning on the ferry ride back to Vancouver. It was a beer at lunch, and some of the fries that came with my fish and chips. It was a package of wine gums (a chewy candy I can’t find in New York.)

Yes, dammit, all in one day.

Comfort food. It didn’t heal my sadness, but at least I’m now quite conscious when I make lousy choices and why.

Today I took a long bike ride around Stanley Park, admiring herons and seaplanes. Healthier, more fun, fewer calories.

The first wagon-abandonment — and the first time I was really aware of this comfort connection — was the day True/Slant was suddenly sold to Forbes, putting my future with them (still) in doubt. I had a small scoop of ice cream and it tasted very good. Wrong choice, yes, but the day a carrot really makes me feel better I’ve turned into a rabbit.

What’s your comfort food? What pushes you to (over) indulge in it?

20 Fun Things To Bring Home From A Canadian Vacation

In travel on July 20, 2010 at 12:50 am
Mountain Equipment Co-op in Vancouver, Canada.

The MEC Vancouver store. Image via Wikipedia

I’m finishing up a two-week vacation in Canada, two days in my native Toronto and the rest in British Columbia: Vancouver, Victoria and Kamloops. In June I spent five days in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, just south of Montreal.

From this trip, I’m carrying home a new strategy for gin rummy (thanks, Mom!), some new clothes and shoes, two Olympics hats. Nothing fancy. But I know where to shop and what I can’t (yes, really) find in New York City.

I grew up in Canada and go back several times a year, stocking up on favorite items, some of which we natives know all about, but visitors might not.

Some you might find fun or useful:

222s. It sounds like ammunition, and in sense, it is — a powerful headache pill that contains codeine. They are not sold on the drugstore shelf but you have to ask the pharmacist for them. They really do the trick.

Beer. While you can find some Canadian beers in the U.S., there are many great microbreweries. We love the apricot-flavored beer we find in Quebec. Sleeman’s is another favorite. After you’ve tried some of our best, weak dreck like Coors or Budweiser will never cross your lips again.

MEC. It stands for Mountain Equipment Co-Op, and there is one in every major Canadian city; similar to an REI or EMS, offering everything you might need for outdoor adventures. Their duffel bags and backpacks are well made, good-looking and affordable. I always know someone’s from Canada if I see them in NY or Europe with an MEC pack. It’s a co-operative, which keeps prices low, and you can join it too. They also have a full-time executive charged with ethical sourcing.

Something Mountie-related. They’re everywhere…T-shirts, mugs, caps. They are a 137-year-old mythical part of Canada’s history and unique in this respect — Americans don’t wear FBI T-shirts or buy FBI bears or drink from FBI mugs, but Mounties are well-loved. I especially like them because they saved my Mom’s life, busting in her door when she lived alone in a small town and needed rescue. (This is part of what they do, filling in for local or provincial police.)

Voltaren. I took it as an oral steroid for my arthritic hip but in Canada (not the U.S.) it comes in a tube as a topical cream, also something you have to ask a pharmacist for.

Algemarin. My favorite product, ever — a German-made, dark blue, sea-smelling bath gel that turns your bath into a grotto. I’ve never found it in the States.

Canadian candy. Crunchie, Aero, Big Turk, Crispy Crunch, Macintosh Toffee. All are amazing. The chocolate is much smoother and sweeter than anything made by Hershey. Try it once and you’ll be hooked for life.

Miss Vickie’s chips. The best potato chips ever.

Butter tarts. Not made of butter. A sort of molasses/raisin filling, so gooey they can’t be eaten tidily. So good!

Tuques. A simple wool pull-on hat, the type you can tuck into your purse or pocket. I snagged two Vancouver 2010 Olympic ones on sale at a rest stop.

Peameal bacon. Americans call it Canadian bacon; we call it back bacon or peameal bacon. If you get to Toronto, go to the St. Lawrence Market and have a peameal bacon sandwich.

Aboriginal art, sculpture or jewelry. It might be Indian or Eskimo (the correct word is Inuit, pronounced In-weet), but there are many lovely examples to be found, whether lithographs, silkscreen prints, soapstone or bone sculptures, scarves, silver jewelry. I grew up surrounded by Inuit prints and sculpture and love it; a small soapstone bear, so tiny he fits into my palm, sits on my bedside table, a gift when I was a child.

A U of T T-shirt or cap. OK, it’s my alma mater — but Malcolm Gladwell went there too. It’s Canada’s Harvard. Americans have only heard of McGill, but U of T kicks its butt. (That’s U of Toronto.)

A maple leaf sticker, badge, luggage tag or decal. If you plan to travel in parts of the world where Americans are unwelcome, this is a standard trick — look like a Canadian.

A newfound taste for Canadian media. Pick up The Globe and Mail or The National Post, or magazines Macleans (newsweekly) or The Walrus or Maisonneuve (sort of Harper’s-ish) or Adbusters or Azure, the shelter magazine. Listen to CBC Radio, especially and see how differently (or not) stories are conceptualized and reported. You’ll never find Canadian magazines in the U.S. (except for a few libraries) and if you like the radio you hear, you can keep up with it on-line.

A loonie and a toonie. Our $1 and $2 coins, good souvenirs.

Appreciation of a nation with cradle-to-grave government-supplied and run healthcare for everyone and $5,000 a year tuition at the nation’s best universities. That’s where the new, dreaded HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and all those taxes on liquor and gas and stamps goes. Payback!

A Roots or M0851 bag. Both are made of gorgeous leather in a small but simple/cool array of styles. Both have their own stores in many Canadian cities, selling everything from a tiny change or makeup purse to weekend duffels and dopp kits. Tough to resist. (They sell leather jackets, too.)

A Holt’s bag. They’re now bright fuchsia. Holt Renfrew is Canada’s (only) answer to Saks/Neiman-Marcus/Barney’s/Bergdorf. Even if you just buy a pair of socks or a lipstick, it’s worth a visit to their elegant stores. The Toronto one has a lovely quiet cafe on the top floor. The Montreal store has terrific period Art Deco doors. (Their accessories department is small but offers excellent, European options — I saw Keira Knightley there a few years back, and admired her Chanel sandals.) Holt’s is in several Canadian cities.

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