Apr 30, 2007

Who's braver?

Last Thursday night, with nothing better to do than flick channels and nurse allergies, my clicker landed on the following shows. As I read the descriptions and watched each show for a few moments, I asked myself: "Who's braver?"

Here's a description of a recent episode: "Les Stroud tried to survive a frigid week on Baffin Island with a hunk of uncooked seal liver, some oil rich blubber for heat, a seal hook, and ..." Who cares? We know this uber boyscout survived, otherwise they wouldn't air the show!

Survivor Fiji Contestants
"The Castaways compete for a seaplane ride and trip to a spa, but an injury to Boo leaves him struggling in the contest." Ha ha ha ha ha! From what I could see, a pulled knee ligament left Boo struggling in the mud when a CBS doctor hurried onto the scene and declared him miraculously cured after a commercial. I flicked the channel to...

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
When I saw John, a burly marine, compete against five cute 10 year-olds, I knew I was watching a truly brave soul. There he was sweating bullets over such tough questions as "Bern is the capital of what European country?" or "Light is the only thing that can escape a black hole." (T or F.) Our brave marine stayed in the game until he won a half million dollars.

Any man willing to pit himself against a gaggle of cute kids to make a fool of himself in front of millions of people is brave in my book. Plus he jumped, screamed, and rolled on the floor like a man possessed as he realized he was going to win the brass ring. Now, that made for great t.v. (He fell short, but didn't care.)

Want to pit yourself against these kids? Click here to answer some 5th grade questions. (Taking the quiz from Week 1, I would have made $1 million in the first show without the kids' help. Would you?)

Camel Beauty Pageant

Chosen for their physical attibutes, much like Miss USA, this year’s dromedary winner will be chosen among a bevy of desert ship lovelies from a variety of Bedouin tribes. “In Lebanon they have Miss Lebanon," jokes Walid, moderator of the competition's Web site. "Here we have Miss Camel.”

According to an anonymous source, this year’s annual Camel Beauty Pageant competition will be especially tough. “Who can choose among all this long-nosed magnificence?” said a nameless Bedouin judge as he stood amidst a braying group of camel-toed ungulates. “They are all worth their weight in riyals. All can spit noxious stomach bile with equal vigor! They all possess the most beautiful, yellow teeth. And I could sing praises to their majestic humps throughout the night!”

Guest celebrity judge includes Joe Camel, who, even after a long absence, is still regarded as one hot, smokin’ dude.

In all seriousness, here’s an interesting link about camels and one to the original news story.

Apr 29, 2007

Ah, spring!


During the loveliest time of the year, when birds sing, bees dance from flower to flower, and breezes are delightfully fresh, a number of us are stuck indoors behind closed windows struggling to breathe.

Once again I am on prednisone. Once again I find myself observing with ill disguised horror the build up of a thin, sickly yellowish green layer of pollen. I pray for rain each day to wash the pollen away. Of course, rain encourages the production of more pollen, so it is a self-defeating wish.

Ah, spring! I'll adore your humidity-free days from afar and will leave it to others to enjoy the outdoors. As for me? C'mon, summer! Hurry up. I can't wait to start breathing again.

Quelle Horreur: What were they thinking?

Just when you think things can't get worse on the runway than John God-Awfuliano, here come Victor and Rolf! While their ready-to-wear designs are surprisingly accessible to the hoi polloi (translate: me), their mode of runway transportation is quite dangerous and unique. Not only are their delicate (translate: anorexic) models tethered to dental-nightmare cranes, but they are forced to walk the platform in Dutch wooden shoes. As you view the photos, please pay particular attention to their deer-in-the-headlight expressions:

Lord preserve these emaciated waifs from hell-bent-for-leather designers. Here's a review from Style Weekly:

Should anyone have the idea that today's models are a limp and weedy bunch, they might take a look at what they had to put up with—literally—at Viktor & Rolf. First, the girls had to shoulder heavy steel rigs, further weighed down with tungsten lights and speakers, some of them built up high above their heads. Then, unable to bend or use their arms to balance, they were asked to walk the runway wearing giant, clunky high-heeled Dutch wooden clogs. As the rigs got bigger and the girls' expressions more frozen with fear, involuntary gasps escaped from the audience. "Oh my God, she's listing!" hissed one observer. "I can't look!" cried another. "That poor girl's slipping!" shrieked someone else. By pure luck, no one did fall (...)

Read More of the Style Weekly Review of Victor and Rolf's Fall 2007 Ready-To-Wear Collection and See it Here

Apr 27, 2007

This is why I need spell checker!

Your English Skills:

Grammar: 100%

Vocabulary: 100%

Punctuation: 80%

Spelling: 80%

Barney RIP

This morning marks the first anniversary of Barney’s death. One year ago on a beautiful Friday morning I held my 14 year old Toodle (Terrier/Poodle) in my arms and felt his spirit slip silently away as the Vet injected him with a powerful drug. I never bothered to ask what it was.

I found Barney at the pound in 2000. He’d been incarcerated for two months in a cage that was so tiny, his tail had to be amputated after his ordeal. He was 8 years old when his previous owner abandoned him. The moment my pooch and I met we fell in love. I was with a friend, but Barney chose me and I happily let him.

Neither one of us had an easy time of it. I had never owned my own dog before, and no one bothered to tell me that some abandoned doggies suffer so much from their ordeals that they are never quite the same again. My magnificent pup suffered from acute separation anxieties. He was also a fear biter. One trainer told me that Barney's combination of problems would be extremely hard to resolve. Over time his behaviors did get better, but we could never quite trust him with strangers or children.

For everyone's safety, he was placed under permanent house arrest, allowed outdoors for only a short time to do “his business,” and always under strict supervision. When strangers came to my house, I placed Barney in my car in the garage, telling him we were going to “Washington,” or “Philadelphia,” depending on the length of the visit. Content to be confined in an area that smelled of me, and protected from the sight of strangers, he would go to sleep and wait for the house to empty again.

Soon after I adopted him it became apparent that Barney was afraid of strange men who approached him from behind. He’d drop on all fours and shiver with fright. My wonderful Toodle, it turned out, had been beaten to the point where he refused to bark. For two years my pooch was silent, never uttering a sound.

Then, one day he barked, a short, truncated sound. He promptly dropped to all fours, expecting a beating. It took him a few more months to figure out that I would never lay a hand on him. He then unleashed his voice in all its lusty glory. It turned out that Barney was a barking virtuoso whose tiny throat could generate magnificent canine sounds. The Barnes weighed only 35 lbs, but he could bark as loud as a pack of hunting beagles.

Thankfully my house sits apart from its neighbors.

Even though Barney led a tough emotional life, his last six years were fairly happy. I gave him shelter and love, and he gave me all of himself - a lopsided trade if ever there was one. In those early days, Dad would often shake his head when he witnessed Barney’s anxieties. My pooch would lick at one spot until a sore would develop (an Elizabethan collar took care of that problem), and he would wander endlessly in circles in front of us, rubbing himself against me each time he took a turn around the coffee table.

Dad would shake his head and say, “Any other person would have put him down long ago. But no, you're too stubborn.” My persistence with Barney, and insistence on giving him a good life, changed my relationship with my father. We became closer than ever, and I think Dad had a newfound respect for me, especially towards the end when he saw how much Barney had changed and how content he was with me.

At this time last year I was at a conference. On my fourth day away, Barney did something he never did before. He walked down the circular stairs to the basement. Suffering from arthritis, he slipped, falling down the length of the stairs and paralyzing his rear. I was able to grab an early flight back, and return in time to hold him one more time. During that one hour visit, with an IV drip limiting his movement, and confined in the small space he so detested, he still showed his indomitable spirit. Slyly he stole a kleenex from my hand and began to play with it, as you can see from the photos.

But it became painfully apparent that Barney would never walk again. My last living image of him is outside, held by the vet, the sun shining on his curly white fur and a breeze ruffling his muzzle. Barney tried to stand, faltered, and then sighed, as if to say, “Go ahead, make your decision. It’s time.” I hardly felt Barney’s life spirit leave him, so peaceful was his ending.

It’s been twelve months, but my heart is still raw from missing him.

Apr 26, 2007

Seen in the Personals

Aural Erotica with a naughty, Boston Brahmin, raconteur. Uninhibited, unhurried kinky fun and fetish friendly. Calls are NOT recorded. Elizabeth www.ElizabethPaxton.com

If you were like me, I'd be beside myself with you. Sex, sandwiches, seaside strolls, Debussy and Frank Sinatra. Loathe soul music. M, 52, WLTM F. timasitwere@fastmail.fm

Delectable amuse-bouche seeks gourmand for that timeless savoury pleasure. Heston Blumenthal wannabes to 49 apply to tartine@hotmail.co.uk

It seems to me that some of the above folks writing in the personals, could use the services of the following person:

Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (Cambridge, MA). Experienced, Harvard educated psychotherapist based in Harvard Square specialises in the predicaments, conflicts, and neuroses of creative and metaphorically minded individuals, especially academics, writers and artists. Call 617-234-4488 to enquire about a consultation.

London Review of Books

Food Shopping in Shanghai

During my ten-day stay in Shanghai, we ate street food. But we also shopped at Carre Four, a French-based mega grocery store in Pudong. From a distance, the shelves seem familiar. Close up, the cultural differences become apparent. The variety of food is mindboggling, the labels are in Chinese, the clerks do not speak English, and often the food is live.

Fresh seafood...

...including live eels

...and live turtles. Poor dears. In the meat section one can hear the steady chop chop chop of meat cleavers separating fresh beef from bone.

A sampling of noodles and rice. One container that fed five adults and two children cost the equivalent of U.S. $1.50.

Take away food. This is a Chinese "salad bar". You pick out the ingredients and ladle them onto a tray. Then you visit a clerk, who mixes your choices to your specification with oils, sauces, spices, and other condiments. This section is packed with well-to-do Chinese on Saturdays and Sundays.

More choices from the "salad bar."

Chewing gum aisle. The candy and chips aisles are even more extensive.

A variety of meat- or vegetable-filled dumplings, all freshly made.

And enormous amounts of fresh and dried fruit and vegetables. People are standing in line (if you look closely) for fresh eggs, which had just arrived that morning.

Prices were amazingly different from what I expected. California wines were more expensive than French wines, and Great Wall wines cost only $3/bottle.

Chocolate chips were prohibitive at $8/bag, but kroepoek (shrimp wafers common to the Philippines or Indonesia) cost only 30 cents per bag of approximately 60 precooked chips. I found American foods in the imports aisle, and spicy condiments, such as sambal, for 1/10 the price I am accustomed to paying.

Apr 24, 2007

Eye Candy, 50's Style

Ok, so Marlon Brando turned into a poster boy for obesity and reclusiveness in his later years. He also squandered his vast talent on piddly but well paying projects. (Anyone remember his role opposite Faye Dunaway in Don Juan de Marco? Thought not.)

But in his prime the man was hot, hot, hot. Before his star turn as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire, t-shirts were mere undergarments. After Brando, they made fashion statements. In the Wild Ones, he (and James Dean in real life) helped to make motorcycles and black leather jackets hot.

And as Terry Malloy, the failed boxer in On the Waterfront he made it OK for tough he-men to show their vulnerable sides. Who can forget his anguished speech in this scene: "You don't understand! I coulda had class! I coulda been a contender! I coulda been somebody! Instead of a bum, which is what I am. Let's face it."

Turner Classic Movies will honor Brando with a two part documentary on May 1 & May 2, and show his movies without interruption after each segment. If you haven't been introduced to the young Brando, may I suggest that you watch a few of his early movies?

My two Brando faves are A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront. Acting simply doesn't get better than his turns as angry, rebellious, or anguished young men.

In a review about the special, Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly says, "This two-part documentary veers away from mere biography to offer moving and hilarious anecdotes about Marlon Brando by everyone from Johnny Depp to Martin Scorsese...The clips and awed testimony explain why he was brilliant and maddening. And that he taped his dialogue to Maria Schneider's body in Last Tango in Paris so he wouldn't have to learn his lines." Ken rated the special an A-.

Apr 23, 2007

Shear Genius

This show is sheer fun! If you haven't seen it yet, and if you loved Top Chef and Project Runway, this show is for you! Not only is our blog, Bravissimo, recapping Shear Genius, but so are the Project Gay guys, Tom and Lorenzo. There's so much to cover, there's room for us all!

This reality t.v. show is so delicious and fun that you MUST give it a chance. The hair dressers, with their over the top personalities, the colorful (but insightful) judges, and the crazy hair challenges are worthy of an hour of our time. Don't worry if you can't catch this show on Wednesday nights - Bravo offers reruns ad infinitum!

My favorite characters so far?

Judge Sally (got more mojo than Cojo) Hershberger. This lady's tough but fair. I trust her judgment.

Tabatha, who tugs at my inner dominatrix heart strings. She's tougher than 100 year cured leather!
Anthony, who's talented and interesting and yummylicious.(He's this week's winner in the center.)

Daisy who cries at the drop of a hairpin and who reminds me of my good friend Leslie.

Dr. Boogie. 'Nuff said.

Then there's Theodore, who worked without a shirt. ICK! His armpit hair hung over his model's face! Double ick. It's a wonder she didn't upchuck her lunch when he was working on her.

Paul Jean was the first hair artist to get CUT!
Dahlings, he deserved to get booted. In fact, his terrible "do" reminded me of Cruella de Ville.

In fact, can you see a resemblance between his "peak" and the stylists' first toast? Even though Paul Jean came from Nice, he didn't come across as very nice. Ta, ta, dahling. I wish you all the best.

As for our second auf'd designer - Jim - personally I liked him, but boyoboy did that beet hair color suck.
His model should receive an Emmy for pretending to be calm, cool, and collected. Observe her "Little House on the Prairie" smile as she stood in front of the judges!

When I saw her hair, I was reminded of Chuckles the Clown. (A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants!)

Congratulations, Bravo, for getting it right this time! I love this show. Love Jaclyn. And am salivating over Rene Fris. Hubba, hubba, hubba.

Dahling, take your finger outta your mouth or I've gotta go and douse myself with ice cubes.