Friday, September 29, 2006

DAY 143

Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girl, gather 'round and take a gander at the one and only El Sid:

Yup. That's or newest roommate. What's that? You want to see more photos of the world's cutest puppy? Well, okay. If you insist...

E is convinced that she likes me better. Don't tell him I keep a pocket full of freeze-dried liver treats on me at all times. It'll be our little secret (yours, mine and Sid's).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

DAY 13something

E and I went to see Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers at the Hollywood Bowl last night. One word describes the show: Supercrazyfantastic. The Strokes opened for them and Stevie Nicks performed a few songs with them as well (including Stop Dragging My Heart Around and Insiders). That might be one of the best things about seeing shows in L.A., the surprise celebrity guest appearances are over-the-top good.

Go out and buy yourself some classic American Rock. I highly recommend the She's The One soundtrack. Not so great a movie, but really great album. And if you ever get the chance to see Tom: run, don't walk.

Friday, September 22, 2006

DAY 137

Behold the fried Twinkie in all it's gooey glory. It's a thing of beauty, n'cest pas? If you've never had one, let me tell you it's the better than the best doughnut you've ever had. E and I enjoyed this one at the L.A. County Fair. The Fair, by the way, exceeded my expectations. True, all I expected was a fried twinkie or two... but the Fair was simply huge.

This was the view from the sky tram. It cost about $4 per person, per direction. A small price to pay for the opportunity to drop bits of popcorn on people below. Okay, we didn't do that but I really wanted to. This weekend is the last weekend so if you've been meaning to go, get out there!

Monday, September 18, 2006

DAY 133

After seeing Hollywoodland and reading Hollywood Kryptonite, there was only one thing left to do: go see George Reeves' house. So that's what we did today.

George Reeves was killed in the bedroom of the house his lover, Toni Mannix, bought for him. The picture on the left shows the upstairs bedroom window (which the murder likely used to escape). That house is located at 1579 Benedict Canyon in Beverly Hills -- not too far from E's and my favorite Sunday morning bagel place so we headed over there right after breakfast. This might seem a bit morbid (because it is) but E and I accidentally had our first date at a crime scene so now it's kind of a thing for us. We actually started our first date at a bar called Firefly but it filled up quickly on a Friday night so I suggested a little Italian place near my new apartment in Studio City: Vitello's. So we go over to Vitello's and we keep thinking the name is so familiar... when it hits us that Robert Blake killed his wife there (allegedly). How romantic! Right? Well, it was definitely an ice breaker. But I digress. Back to Reeves.

Having finished the the book, I am pretty sure Toni Mannix had George killed. E concurs. She's the only one with motivation. Think about it: she's in her late 50's, her looks are gone, she's in an unhappy marriage, her whole life has been Reeves for the last decade and he ditches her for a pretty young actress. She starts making hang up phone calls to his house. She kidnaps his dog (and apparently killed it). The brake fluid was drained from his car (causing a significant accident). And then when he announces he's marrying said actress (Leonore Lemmon) and is about to jet off for an extended honeymoon, boom! He kills himself? With a house full of people? I don't think so. I think Toni (who had lots of mob ties through her ruffian husband, Eddie Mannix) made a call to have a hit. After all, at 4:30 in the morning (when the police were calling in the crime) Toni was calling a friend to say that George had been killed. How could she possibly know that? It's a clear case of: "If I can't have him nobody can." And that Leonore woman will look like the murderess and spend the rest of her days in prison. Only that Leonore woman said it was a suicide. Ooops. That really messed things up.

This particular theory accounts for the extra bullet holes in the bedroom floor. The hit man comes in, he fires at the ground to make it look like a struggle, then he shoots George in the head. Leonore goes upstairs, sees George murdered. Knows she will be the prime suspect and spends the next 45 minutes (that's how long it took her to call the police) covering up the extra bullet hole with an area rug and getting her story together with the other occupants of the house. If she'd done the deed herself the other house guests would surely have turned her in at some point. If it were a suicide, there wouldn't have been extra bullet holes in the floor and a rug covering them up. There probably wouldn't have been a bullet casing under George's body either. And maybe, just maybe, George wouldn't have been planning a honeymoon if all he wanted was to die. And why didn't Leonore just say somebody else must've been in the house? Because she was afraid Toni would kill her too. And what does a scared girl do? Flee across the country. Which is exactly what Leonore did. She ran. And she stuck to her story.

Here's a nifty map to celebrity crime scenes, if you're interested in visiting some.

photo source

Friday, September 15, 2006

DAY 130

Huzzah! The crazies are back in town! This week the designers learn that Vincent and Laura will be allowed to come back and compete again. The looks on their faces were priceless and this was easily my favorite episode of the season. The challenge? Design completely in black and white. The twist? No fabric scraps. They had to use every bit.

Here's Laura's (winning) dress. I guess I can't complain that Laura failed to use any color at all given the challnege. Still, one word describes her creation this week: "Meh." The hormones are obviously taking their toll on old Laura but, to her credit, she still managed to muster the strength to bitch slap Angela one more time. Hearing Laura say what thousands of viewers must have been thinking warmed the cockles of my shrivelled black raisin heart and won me over to Team Laura, if only for a fleeting moment. And I was impressed with her for following the rules and using ALL her fabric and in a sensible manner (she created that matching clutch).

This is the dress got Kayne auf'd. THIS?! I mean, come on. He's done so much worse. I actually like this one (from the front, anyway). The back was a goodish idea but ended up looking a bit like the underside of a trampeline... you know? How they have to lace the tarp all tight?

This is fabulous. Michael totally should've won this week. I loved the detail on the belt. And, as duly noted by the judges, the model is styled flawlessly. Let's not forget that styling was supposed to be an integral part of this challenge.

I think Catherine Malandrino said it best: "No. No. No. No."

And the styling? Please. She looks like a girl I knew in 7th grade who would get dropped off for school in a reasonable outfit but then immediately dash to the girl's room where she would change into some hooker outfit she had stowed in her backpack. The same girl who would sit in the back of chemistry class and light a match to melt the tip of her eyeliner pencil and then proceed to apply hot melted black grease to her already raccon-like eyes. And we all know what happened to her.

I like Uli's dress. I totally agree with Our Own Ninagarcia that the sleeves should be shorter. And the necklace was awful. BUT, at least she didn't just stuff her fabric scraps into a purse like Angela did. More on that below.

Where have we seen this dress before? It looks so familiar somehow. OH! I remember! It'is Angela's Audrey Hepburn dress. Only with a shrug that you would positively kill for (if you were going to an Anne Rice convention). The thing that really made me lunge at the television though was when Angela revealed where all her extra fabric went. Thankfully Heidi called her out on it or I would've had to quit my job to free up time for writing lengthy letters to the producers.

And finally, I present to you a Vincent Libretti orignal. When the model walked down the runway, E looked over at me and said: "You know, it's not bad!" Which is when I realized that E totally misses the early 80's when women were Simply Irresistable. Seriously.

Special thanks to The Project Rungay Boys for the runway screen caps hyperlinked in this post.

Monday, September 11, 2006

DAY 128

Five years ago today my clock radio went off and NPR told me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. "Wow, what are the odds of that?" I thought. I hit "SNOOZE" and rolled back over. The radio came on again seven minutes later and I hit "OFF" so fast I didn't hear a thing the announcer was saying. Shower. Dress. Car. NPR back on.

As I got onto the 163 South from Hillcrest to downtown San Diego, I heard the announcer say that the building was totally collapsing. Collapsing? How could a building that BIG be collapsing? From a plane? As I pulled up to work my confusion grew.

There were about a dozen big black SUV's with tinted windows lined up ass-to-nose in front of the building. There were soldiers in front of the door. Soldiers? What the hell could that mean? It was only my second month on the job at the United States District Court in the Southern District of California but I knew this wasn't routine. I wondered if there was a bomb threat or something. I made no connection whatsoever to the news story.
I just didn't get that there was a connection between a building in New York collapsing and my office. I couldn't even fathom the concept of being a target.

I showed my ID, I went through security and when I got to my desk I started to realize I was one of maybe three federal employees in the building. And that's when I really started to get scared. Pretty soon the chief judge closed the court and I was released for the day, possibly the week.

I didn't know where to go. It was a beautiful sunny day. On a whim, I drove over the Pacific on a bridge to Coronado Island. Which is when I realized I was driving towards a Navy base and probably the hottest target on the West Coast. And I panicked for a minute. I was sitting on a bridge over the Pacific Ocean headed toward a military target and I can't turn around for a mile and... Are we at war? Finally realizing how clueless I was, I went straight back home and like everybody else glued myself to the television and called everyone I know and love as the rest of the day's horror unfolded.

I called my parents first. My mother told me that my brother was scheduled for a Boston to Los Angeles flight that morning. He had just cancelled at the last minute; some change at work. I was stunned and deeply wounded and relieved and grateful all at once. The news coverage seemed endlessly the same but I didn't dare watch anything else. The images grew more and more brutal, more and more intimate, and I kept searching for faces of people I might know. I remembered a recent meet-and-greet event the bar held where I met some attorneys from Sidley Austin. Wasn't Sidley Austin in the World Trade Center? Oh God. It's definitely in the World Trade Center. The list of people I knew grew and grew.

In the following months I would be trained to identify "suspicious packages" in the judge's mail. I was issued a face mask and a box of rubber gloves for handling such packages and underwent training for opening and disposing of packages which may or may not contain anthrax. The bomb sniffing dogs actually started coming into chambers for pass throughs.

The news started featuring lessons on sealing off your windows and doors with duct tape and plastic. There was a run on duct tape at the local markets. People lined up for blocks to buy bottled water. Everybody chatted over lunch about their emergency kits that they were keeping in their cars, in their homes. And then, we were told: Don't be afraid. Keep on living, keep the economy strong, keep being American. And so I did what I was told. And each passing day put more distance between tragedy and my current reality.

And, before I knew it, five years had passed in what feels like the blink of an eye. And isn't that how all tragedy is? If you can just find the strength to keep on keeping on, you will surpass it. It's inevitable. You won't forget it, and you won't be exactly the same, but you will surpass it.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

DAY 127

Oops. I bought another Diane Von Furstenberg dress. This time I went directly to the source. It's charcoal cashmere so I guess I won't be wearing it until the temperature drops some. I must say, the sales girls at DVF are not exactly... umm... how do the French say it? Courteous to customers? But they do know how to wrap the dresses just right -- it's a little trickier then you might think to get the fit just so. I also picked up a cute kimono-style top and a copy of Diane's book: A Signature Life

I haven't fully adjusted to the price of retail career wear... but I haven't bought decent work clothes since law school (can you say "End-of-Season Sale at Ann Taylor"? I knew you could!) so I figure it's time. I mean, there comes a point in your career where people cease to be amused by your fabulous finds from the sales bins at Express.

So, I call my friend Erin from law school to sing the praises of the DVF store and she totally took the wind out of my sails! She says: "Oh that's great! Good work! And guess what? When I was in China I had that Marc Jacobs jacket I just bought remade in suede and two more in cordoroy... what's that? Oh, I think the suede one cost about $40 and the cordoroy was maybe $30?" Gah. She's always one step ahead. I mean, she went to effing Shenghai and had clothes custom made for her for like 10% of the cost! I'm totally putting "trip to Shenghai" I my next 101 in 1001 list. She also mentioned that she got a pedicure in Beijing and they painted little goldfish on her toenails. How cute is that? Goldfish!

Apparently the phone call resulted in some really good shopping kharma because on the way back to my car I found an adorable pair of open-toe navy-blue leather with dark-wood platform heels for (are you sitting down?) $19.99. I know, I know. It's not possible! They were marked down from $120 (so it's not like we're talking Prada but they are darn cute). They'll look fabulous with a dark denim pencil skirt and Brooks Brother's blouse. If I get off the couch today, I'll try to post a photo.

DAY 125

E and I went to see Hollywoodland today; it's the story of the original Superman, George Reeves. Reeves' story is fascinating and tragic. He despised the Superman role, thinking it was beneath him and longing to be another Clark Gable. Despite winning performances by Adrian Brody as P.I. Simo hired to investigate Reeves' death, Ben Affleck as Reeves, and Diane Lane (love her!) as Toni Mannix, the film is really unstastisfying. The film presents three alternate theories for Reeves' untimely demise and suggests that Simo finally writes it off as a suicide -- but I realy think there should have been more of a commitment to a single theory. They also waste scads of time on Simo's home life. Who cares about Simo's home life? Not I. I would've preferred more time on Reeves' lover Leonore Lemmon's history (I kept suspecting that Lindsey Lohane is a reincarnation of her, and not just because of the initials) or on the intricacies of Reeves' affair with Mannix.

So much was left unresolved by the film that I actually read Hollywood Kryptonite (a copy of which E conveniently had lying around) when I got home. It's a quick read but really a fascinating tale. In fact, I highly recommend that you read the book first and then, if you really want to see it played out, go ahead and rent Hollywoodland when it comes out on DVD. I honestly have developed a whole new appreciation for Superman and the man who personified him. If only George could've taken to his role like Shatner took to Kirk. It's heartbreaking. If you like noir, you'll like this story. Check it out.

DAY 122

Wow. I've really fallen behind. I blame the out-of-town visitors we had at work all week. Whew. They were time consuming. But enough about them! Let's talk runway people:

You know how I feel about Old Laura, but still I have to point out that she is designing in *yawn* black and white. And I get where she was trying to go with that collar -- but OY! did she miss or what? I mean, this dress is what Herman Munster conjurs up for his French Maid Fantasy. Next!

When Michael had this dress on the form it started out pretty; I love the color. He was too ambitious with the hand rouching -- but I still like the idea. And folding those falsies back into the neck line really made a big difference. Unfortunately, like Laura, Michael missed this week. Next!

It's certainly not the worst thing he's done. Yes, it's upholstery. Yes, it's ill-fitting. Yes, it would look better if the model put it on backwards. But it's simply not laugh out loud funny. Next!

Yeah, it's to much brocade baroque whatnot going on in the bodice... but that fabric in the skirt is gorgeous. I also loved the asymetrical lace-up corsette back on this. It was very sexy. C'mon, he's got talent. He just likes sparkles a wee bit more than the rest of us. Next...

I love Uli's dress. I totally understand the criticism about her narrow range, but I disagree. I think that she has a very distinct voice and you see it in all her designs; much like the venerable Diane Von F. Uli has mad skillz and this was an exceptionally difficult challenge. There's no denying that she's the only desinger who truly achieved it. This is the challenge that Robert Best would've knocked out of the park; it's a pity he had to do the recycle challenge but didn't get a swipe at this.

Jeffrey, like Uli, let us hear his voice in this design. I wouldn't buy this dress, I wouldn't wear this dress, but I like it very much. I could easily see it on Gwen Stefani. But the plaid and the cotton really remind me of this Diane Von Furstenberg runway dress from her Fall '06 collection that I absolutely would wear:

It's not an evening gown, but it's lovely, classic, and a more wearable plaid. I wouldn't mind seeing a plaid challenge on Project Runway; I'd love to see each of the remaining designers take on it.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

DAY 119

Today E and I headed to Knott's Berry Farm. We were out having bagels and trying to decide what to do with the day when the idea of roller coasters became very compelling. Neither of us had been there in quite some time and, well, wow. They should rename it Knott's Crappy Farm.

For starters, nearly every concession stand was closed or manned by a single (incredibly overwhelmed) staffer. I never fully appreciated the underground uber-secret tunnel system at Disneyland until I saw how awful it looks to have staffers running around with cases of hamburger buns or scads of packages of cole slaw balanced on their shoulders. So, anyway, getting a soda takes about 30 minutes and costs about $30. Fabulous.

Also, they do not enforce the whole "no cutting in line" rule. No less than twenty people would pass us in line, typically without saying so much as excuse me. Essentially, giant groups of people hit the park and split up. They send one grandma to each major ride and she has a cell phone. When she gets near the front, she calls one of them who brings the whole gang over and they just literally push their way to the front. Super!

Once night fell, we were stunned at how dark the park got. Like can't-see-your-own-shoes dark. And, strangely, the darkest part of the park seemed to be Camp Snoopy (the designated toddler area). That said, they did have several outstanding roller coasters (of course, you have to treck through about 50 acres of retail to get to the next ride but it gives you time to regain your equilibrium).

We had a good time, but it sure is good to be back home on the couch.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

DAY 118

Sunset in Sherman Oaks. This was the view as we grilled some salmon filets and polished off a fine chardonay.