Friday, December 16, 2005

The Case for the Holiday

First we start with the good news, which is that I've finished another quarter this week and it looks like yours truly is going to pass once again with flying colors. Whee! Also: Best. Research Paper/Presentation. EVER. (Okay, more like a personal best, but still.)

With that said, however, the end of another quarter also means that my Christmas vacation has begun, and I have less than 48 hours to clean the house before the parental units fly into the island - extreme domesticity! And by the time I finish, I will definitely not have enough time to blog before we all fly out to Las Vegas for the big family reunion out there - even though I've already gone ahead and finished packing, since I still need to leave room for all the other stuff I'll end up finding at the outlets.

(I'm only going to be off island for a few days, but I'll be here before New Year's to spend more quality time with the ohana.)

So, in honor of this blessed holiday season, Domesticity will be officially on vacation until January 4, 2006. And this time I will make sure to come back with more shopping and snark, plus a few choice Vegas anecdotes or two.

Until then: Mele Kalikimaka e Hauoli Makahiki Hou!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Case For More Random Unpopular Opinions

What the world needs more of now: Carolers.

What the world also needs more of now: "Christmas in Hollis" by Run DMC.

What the world needs less of: Radio stations that switch their playlists to all Christmas songs, all the time as an excuse to overplay the schmaltziest interpretations of Christmas carols ever recorded. (Then again, I don't listen to the radio as much as I used to any more, so I have no excuse. )

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Domesticity Weekend: Caption This!

In honor of my participation in tomorrow's Honolulu Marathon Race Day Walk, I bring to you this actual JPEG from the pages of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

Naveen Andrews of the ABC series LOST explains to former Olympic boxer Brian Viloria that Dominic Monaghan does not, in fact, "swing that way."

"So, Brian, let me explain to you everything that's been happening on the show these last few weeks..."

Naveen Andrews and Brian Viloria discuss the logistics of recreating the Punjabi wedding number from Bride and Prejudice for the audience during the Honolulu Marathon Expo at the Hawaii Convention Center.

"Funny that you should ask - I didn't have time to change, so I went down into the hatch and got my good friend Michelle Rodriguez to help me pick this outfit..."

"Yes, Brian, I understand, but for the last time... please stop asking me for Evangeline Lilly's phone number!"
"Eh, brah, no fair! You promise you go wen' tell Evangeline I jus' like go one date wit' her after I tell Meimei to do the Race Day Walk for you!"

The Case for the Funny

What's more hilarious than reading this blog? (Okay, apart from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the thought of Peter Sarsgaard waking up in the morning thinking, "Damn, I really should call up Meimei to stage a bra intervention for my girlfriend.")

Why, it's Television Without Pity's Project Runway Caption Contest, of course! Hours of entertainment, even if you don't put yourself in the running for the special grand prize. Read 'em and weep.

The Case for the Holiday Wishlist: 2005 Edition, Part II

Enough with the fantasy shopping! I've finally managed to snap out of my funk and get my window-shopping retail mojo back. That means I've been able to try out some goodies, for a change. Here's a few things worth sharing from my recent shopping trip:

- Nike ID: I got to check this out firsthand at the Honolulu Marathon Expo, where the Niketown booth had a display of some of the shoes featured on the site. Anyhow, the Nike ID site is worth playing around with - select shoe, select size (and in some models, width), then go crazy with colors, monograms, shoelaces, the works. On top of the customization services, the site also offers free shipping till February 2006.

- Gap's Curvy Fit Jeans: Seriously, if you're anything like me, this jean fit is definitely for you - not only does it fit nicely around your booty and thighs, but it also works with a pot belly by not bunching around the waistband and not having that weird bulging around the crotch area. Combine it with a low-rise boot cut and a dark rinse, and the effect is nothing short of devastating. (Trust me: I tried the Regular and Straight cuts, but only the Curvy one worked out for the best.)

Note to all Gap shoppers: If you think the store nearest you does not have your size or style for jeans or pants, try on a pair in regular, then check if they have it online, which has the wider range of petite and tall sizes. In some cases, you may even be able to just place the order at the store, and they won't even charge you for the shipping fees. This is doubly crucial in Hawaii, where shipping fees from online stores can take a huge chunk out of your wallet.

- Cargo SmokyEye: Wow! Why have I not seen these babies before? The brush is actually quite substantial (no poking-yourself-in-the-eye), the formula is smooth, and the colors (my fave: Katmandu) are really nice. The effect seems quite soft, though - more Audrey Hepburn than Ozzy Osbourne.

(Which reminds me: I just saw Franz Ferdinand on TV, and Alex Kapranos was not wearing any eye makeup - but he was still hot, yo. Which is more than what I can say about other guys in eyeliner.)

- Urban Decay palettes: Personally, I think I've outgrown the target demographic for Urban Decay, which explains my initial meh-ness upon seeing these in person - sorry, guys, not a fan of the glitter. The Shadow Boxes would've made me go totally “meh” if it wasn't for the glittery neutral shades, but the gloss set is definitely a wow.

- Williams-Sonoma Hot Chocolate: If you're the kind of person who doesn't want anything fancy in your hot chocolate, this one's definitely something you'll enjoy - it's sweet and chocolaty, but not cloyingly so, and goes best with marshmallows.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Case for the Random Unpopular Opinion

Even though she just happens to be dating somebody I happen to like (lucky duck), I do think that Maggie Gyllenhaal is pretty, and talented. I just wish she would invest in (a) bronzer, (b) an IPEX bra, and (c) a decent pair of jeans, so I won't have to keep mistaking her for Jake in drag.

Also, I wish she would just eat a steak or two once in a while. And let Peter do the same.

The Case Against The Grammys

I kid you not - here, nominated for the Grammys along with Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home and videos for Bruce Springsteen, Brian Wilson, and the Ramones, is this magnum opus:

Category 108

Best Long Form Music Video
(For video album packages consisting of more than one song or track. Award to the Artist and to the Video Director/Producer of at least 51% of the total playing time.)


Trapped In The Closet (Chapters 1-5 )
R. Kelly
R. Kelly & Jim Swaffield, video directors; Ann Carli, video producer
[Jive Records/Zomba Label Group]

There is only one thing on my mind right now: Oh my God, a remake... remake... remake...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Case for More Holiday Cheer

A couple of girls just stopped by my doorstep as carolers, and they asked me if they could sing for me. One of them was playing guitar, and both were singing harmony. Their voices were very pretty, and they were just the two nicest, sweetest kids ever.

Usually I have a thing against people -especially kids - who just show up on my doorstep, especially if they want money from me. But these two were an exception; they were polite, they were gracious, and for a moment there they made me forget what a cranky old lady I've turned into lately.

Sigh. Why would anyone want to grow up so quickly at their age?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Case for the Holiday Wish List: 2005 Edition, Part 1

In keeping up with the “theme” of Everything I Want and Nothing I Need, here's a sampling of what my holiday wish list looks like.right now.

WHAT I WANT: The 2006 Ford Mustang convertible. My favorite memories of this year were the times when my friend Lola would pick me up in her 'Stang and we would drive around the island. (Lo eventually had the car shipped back to the Mainland before moving to Europe. Miss her.) That ride was sweet, from the convertible top to the bucket seats. Now I want one.
WHAT MY FOLKS WANT: The 2006 Toyota Prius. Can't argue with that. Great mileage, silent engine - the right balance of practical and trendy.
WHAT I'LL END UP GETTING: The 1998 Toyota Corolla. All the virtues of the Honda Civic, but without the slutty reputation.

WHAT I WANT: These sexy, sexy shoes, because... heck, I gotta live a little, and it's been a while.
WHAT I'LL GET: New running shoes from the Nike outlet, and possibly a Nine West gift card. (Not that it's a bad thing, mind you.)

WHAT I WANT: The Vosges Aztec Collection. If you need to get to my good side (and you know who you are if you have to) , this would definitely be a good place to start.
WHAT I'LL GET: In the absence of a good chile-spiked chocolate bar, there's always a cup of Ibarra or Abuelita hot chocolate, made on the stove with hot milk and lots of love, and served with warm homemade bread. Instant holiday cheer.

WHAT I WANT: A crown roast served with all the trimmings and a good wine.
WHAT I'LL GET: Christmas dinner at an undisclosed location in Las Vegas. And you can bet your sweet bippy we're gonna get us some ham and cheese on that table!

WHAT I WANT: Home Rules: Transform the Place You Live into a Place You'll Love by Nate Berkus. Oh, don't look at me like you've never had that fantasy yourself.
WHAT I'LL GET: The trifecta of Meimei's it-only-looks-brutal reality: Suze Orman's The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke (because those shoes and rent checks won't pay for themselves, my dear); Young and Hungry by Dave Lieberman (even I think he's more accessible than Nate, but that's just me), and Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell (bound to become a blogger classic).

More to follow as we continue window shopping...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Domesticity Reviews: Dead Man Walking

Folks, I know it's been more than 10 years, but Dead Man Walking is a very serious movie. It's definitely not an easy one to watch if you're just looking for a flick to kill time, because it sticks with you.

If you can appreciate great filmmaking, you will enjoy the performances in this movie, especially with Susan Sarandon (who earned her Oscar here-she's very convincing as Sister Helen ) and Sean Penn (who I think deserved it less for Mystic River); you'll be even more surprised by the even-handed and artful way that Tim Robbins handles the script. (Note to Zach Braff: This is how you do a quick-edit montage to music without looking or sounding pretentious.) But the subject matter... well, it's not the stuff of quick watercooler talk, that's for sure. I'm not saying it's heavy, like Passion of the Christ, but the subject of the death penalty and the sanctity of life is not something to be taken lightly, no matter where you stand.

These arguments, of course, are beyond the scope of this site, so I'll leave it at that. But the way the events are portrayed here - in the screenplay, in the cinematography - are so weighty, and so moving, that you may not be able to appreciate anything about the story without having an understanding of the greater truth behind the characters' motivations. You'll definitely need to watch it with a devoutly Catholic (or at least Christian) friend who can handle a good argument. And you'll definitely have to keep a ready and open mind.


And now, a much-needed moment of levity.

Dear Peter Sarsgaard:

You know, I don't harbor any illusions that a single blogger like myself is capable of making another person - let alone a famous person - take a long hard look at his own career, but I'm going to do this anyway..

So I just finished watching Dead Man Walking, which I believe was one of your first film roles. And you know what? For someone who doesn't spend that much time on screen - and gets his head blown up by Sean Penn - you were pretty darn indelible. Haunting, even. (The '80s bangs were not a hindrance to this judgement- but you were soooo CUUUUTE!1!1!!) Who knew you'd turn out to be a good actor? And I still respect that about you. It's your line of work; it's what you do well.

That said. (And this is a very pointed "that said," mind you, coming from me.) You know who else was in that movie with you? That's right: Jack Black. And I like Jack Black, too. Say what you will about Jack Black's integrity of purpose, or credibility as an actor, but Jack Black is about to make more money than you this Christmas by being in a movie that I might actually want to watch. (Okay, me and the rest of the planet, but still.) That's not even with the benefit of hanging around macrobiotic restaurants or being accused of getting cliquey.

(Which reminds me: I figured you could use some holiday cheer for the dinner table, so I ordered this for you... Kidding.)

You know where I'm getting at, do you? Don't front and tell me you don't have any fans, bro, because you do. But what about the rest of us who like you but don't want to see yet another movie where you play another smirky-faced, HoYay-generating scumbag-who-got-that-way-because-of-Something-Bad? You were fine (in many definitions of the word) as an innocent, my sweet. You've got a whole holiday season to think about this. Give it some consideration the next time people start whispering about you while you're ordering your next bowl of miso soup.

Sincerely, Mei.

PS. Dude, if you're ever on Oahu? Lanikai Juice, Boots & Kimo's, and Nick's Fishmarket. That's all I'm saying.

The Case for the (Holiday) Present

Here at Domesticity - where getting into the Christmas spirit means posting a link to NORAD's Santa-tracking site - we have nothing against giving and receiving presents. (Which is good, especially now that we also realize that we do have something against people who eat at macrobiotic restaurants. Oh, Peter. )

So when I was cleaning my place and found a tiny sample of Philosophy's The Present Skin Perfector, I just had to use it. A moisturizer and primer in one, promising "airbrushed skin"? I'm so there - and considering that I've been in the market for both moisturizer and primer (since I'm not going to give up on pressed powder any time soon) I knew this was the way to go. Besides, there was an outdoor reception that I had to attend that afternoon, which provided a perfect opportunity to test drive any sort of cosmetic product.

First things first: The application instructions for this product specify a wait time of two minutes before applying the rest of your makeup. Which is fine by me, since I was doing other things (like talking on the phone) but I personally don't think that this would fly if you're the kind of person who always puts on their makeup in a hurry. Nevertheless, the Philosophy product had a light texture - a cross between a cream and a gel - that went on smoothly and spread out pretty nicely without feeling like I'm spreading Elmer's glue on my face - more like a fast-absorbing cream that made my skin feel smooth in seconds.

But did it look smooth? Well, not exactly - some of the tiny blotches on my face still peeked through, which precipitated me sponging on some foundation. But the amazing thing about using a primer is that I didn't have to use too much foundation; all I needed was a light formula to even out my skin tone, and barely any powder to set the whole look. (In retrospect, I should've gone straight to powder, though, since having foundation AND powder on top of the primer felt heavy.) That's when my skin truly looked "airbrushed," like I was lit up from within and there was no traces of any stress whatsoever on my face. I not only looked like a well-rested version of myself, but a camera ready, well-rested version of myself .

And camera ready I did turn out to be, since there was some picture-taking at the event (okay, digital photos taken by friends that turned out to be candid) and the only thing I had to worry about was getting bits of broccoli on my teeth and spinach dip on my chin. Still, my makeup stayed flawless for those two hours I was out and about, and not once - not once - did my face get the usual itchy feeling it would get whenever I put on makeup. Not only that, but I still did not feel like taking off my foundation when I got home, because my skin was still very much "airbrushed"-looking after all was said and done. Fantastic!

Keep in mind, too, that this isn't exactly the first primer that I've tried - I used to be the proud owner of a tube of Laura Mercier Foundation Primer, which I had until... well, I don't remember why I don't have that any more, but I do remember being skeptical even when I did wear the stuff. I like the fact that at least the Philosophy primer did have moisturizing properties of its own, which would be nice for those days when I don't feel like wearing too much product on my face. In short, definitely a must-consider-buying kind of product.


And for those of you keeping score at home, here's what the rest of my makeup looked like:
  • All eyeshadows by Stila from my reliable 8-pan: Wheat as a base, Rain (discontinued) on lid and crease, and Twig smudged in with a Sephora short-handle crease brush on lashline over eyeliner
  • Rimmel Exaggerate eyeliner in Aubergine (kinda dry, but I like the color)
  • L'Oreal Translucide gel blush (discontinued) in Blushing Glow - not too much to overpower the rest of the face, since the foundation was already sheer
  • Can't say I remember the lipstick color (sorry!) but it was a medium rose in a creamy formula, possibly discontinued; besides, it was all gone by the time I got to the spinach dip. I'd imagine that this look would work with a rosy-mauve "your lips but better" kind of shade, like Maybelline's Wet Shine Fusion in Rose ' N Shine or MAC lipstick in Del Rio. A sheer lip stain would work with this, too.
  • No mascara, no hair product (I ended up tying my hair back in a ponytail) and a generous spritz of Bath and Body Works spray in Plumeria.

Stunning? Definitely. The only regret was that I didn't have this "face" on when we went out the night before, when I ended up at Aloha Tower with barely any makeup and the clothes I wore to clean my fridge.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Case for the Thousand Flowers

Looks like Domesticity's being heavily influenced by the New York web presence: First Sars points me to Apartment Therapy, now Kristin introduces me to more new beauty blogs - including (gasp!) Male Detail, for men into the whole grooming thing! Woohoo! More time to waste on the Internet!

Okay, I take that last sentence back - I still have 20 more pages' worth of action research left to type out in excruciating detail. (Yeah, woohoo to that too, and by the time I'm done I might as well write the BEST RESEARCH PAPER EVER. Pass the bourbon!) And the thing is, now that it's December I can finally get into the holiday spirit! Yeah! I even watched the rerun of Rudolph The Red Nosed Raindeer last night, and it was awesome!

Okay, off to watch Oprah on Letterman. I'm going to be laughing myself silly for the rest of the night. (Then I'll wake up and spend the rest of my morning typing up my gigantor paper. I didn't say life was easy; I just said it was good.)

More holiday goodness tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Case for the Holiday Lull

Still kind of sick today; I thought I could make it to class yesterday because the sniffles had died down, but apparently I still need to get my rest on and just concentrate on studying, which shouldn't be too hard.

Since I believe I'll be on the computer for the rest of the day today (this is what happens when you're doing a major research paper that needs more APA-style attributions - die, sore throat, die), I just though I'd let you know that I just found out about Apartment Therapy, and I'm loving it so much that I'm putting it on my sidebar. Lord knows I could use more ideas for my apartment before the 'rents fly out here for Christmas. (Link via Tomato Nation.)

Question: Do I have my holiday wish list ready yet? Answer: Doubtful - I'm still way too out of it right now, and all I can think of is that 1) I'm on a budget and 2) I'm going to spend Christmas in Vegas for the great big family reunion, so any major Christmas shopping of any sort won't make any sense. (This probably explains why I'm telling people to "surprise me" this year. Who knows, though, I might end up pointing them to Sephora, Pottery Barn, and Williams Sonoma anyway.) But I do have at least a couple of friends who could use some cheering up this season, and at least I already got the baby gifts for Bunny.

If you do want to cheer me up, though (without having to do anything illegal), I'll make it simple for you: Red Fire Bar. Throw in a Woolloomooloo and I'm a happy camper.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Domesticity Reviews: Garden State

The verdict is in: I actually liked this movie. A little. But it's still overrated.

To be fair, the first half left me really, really cold - it's the kind of filmmaking that I would've found so deep when I was 18, but now strikes me as both precious and pretentious. It's as if Zach Braff had watched an entire marathon of Hal Hartley films and came out of the end of it saying, “Dude, I feel like writing my own movie, with, like, deep dialogue and meaningful imagery and drugs and cussing and stuff. It's gonna be, like, so f***ing cool.” Natalie Portman's character still seemed like a bad Mary Sue, with the worst aspects of Kate Winslet's character from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and whoever it is that Kirsten Dunst was trying to play in Elizabethtown.

And yet, I couldn't look away, for a number of reasons. One being the Sarsgaard, which I'll get into later. Another being that Portman does get into character, and she's fascinating to watch as she goes from annoying to vulnerable to endearing. (I also suspect that she's also “letting go” - pun intended - by using her natural accent and hair texture with this role, and she's just running with it and having fun. Brava, Padme.) Most surprising, however, is that the soundtrack actually works in the context of the film - so much so that I actually found myself thinking, “The heck with the movie, I'm buying the soundtrack!”

(And even out of context, the soundtrack does not suck as I thought it would. Frou Frou, all is forgiven.)

So, yeah: the movie still comes off as a long form music video with better quality acting. But I can't say I hate myself for watching this, and neither should you.


And so we get to the subject of my new boyfriend, whose role in this movie is basically that of a scumbag - typical Peter Sarsgaard - but an adorable and amusing little scumbag nonetheless. I mean, I want to hate everything I'm seeing of him in this movie - robbing graves, doing drugs, ripping off stores - and yet he's got that sly canary-eating grin on his face, and he's messing around with the guitar and extolling his own aimlessness... and he's so watchable and charming even when he's playing someone scummy and oblivious.

That, folks, is the mark of a darn good actor for you - when he can make you like him even in a hateful role. As I've said before, as long as he doesn't take himself too seriously and turn into Ethan Hawke, or Edward Norton, he'll always be my boo.

Which got me thinking: Somebody needs to cast Peter Sarsgaard in a comedy. Not just any comedy, but an intentional comedy, where he does not play a slacker scumbag, or a white trash scumbag, or a yuppie scumbag, or even a bisexual yuppie scumbag. Something deliberately ridiculous, like Wedding Crashers or The 40 Year Old Virgin, except that he gets to play one of the good guys. (See: Rudd, Paul.) Heck, throw in a song-and-dance karaoke bar sequence where Pete makes a damn fool of himself to the tune of “In Da Club,” and I'll be more than happy to pay full price on opening day.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Case for Perspective

As a Roman Catholic, I wish I had something really snarky to say about the Pope's shoes. (Especially since the folks who have bothered to comment on Manolo's blog seem to have gotten their collective undies up in a bunch over this. Oh, please, spare me the lectures and let the man wear his shoes already. At least be happy that this wasn't about the Tommy Hilfiger vestments, for crying out loud. )

But when I find a fellow Catholic blogger posting on the topic of death and domesticity in cinema - something that I've touched on not too long ago - I just can't help but smile and do a happy dance. Because, really, if you stop and think about it...


So I tried my best to crawl into Wal-Mart, Ross, and Ala Moana Center today to survey the damage from Black Friday.

And... eh.

I didn't even get to Macy's because I was just so loaded with cold medicine that I wasn't up for any major shopping. That, and the fact that I will be flying out to Las Vegas for Christmas in four weeks, which means that I'll need to pack light anyway.

At least Wal-Mart didn't drive me crazy by playing Martina McBride's version of the "Home For the Holidays" jingle one time too many. Then again, I did notice that the store soundtrack had this ridiculously off-key R&B singer who sounded like a cross between Vanessa Williams and Beyonce.

Back home I not only got my copy of Garden State from Netflix (EEEEE!!!! I love you Peter! EEEEEE!!!, where was I?) but also the Sephora catalog, which showcased some of the great things that I did get to see at Sephora today. My favorites: anything by Philosophy (I'm surprised that they still had some of this stuff in stock - then again, maybe it was just the Hope in a Jar), The Dresden from Smashbox (definitely on my wishlist), Bliss' You Should Know Butter and Buff Love, and (this one's for you, BeautyAddict) the Memoirs of a Geisha set from Fresh. Least favorite, without a doubt: Anything from the Fantasy Britney Spears line, especially the Suprising Twist! gloss (electric kiwi green glitter? heck no) and the Look My Way palette (dark green AND navy blue shadow, AND nude gloss AND shimmer? Didn't I just see this at the Wal-Mart holiday bin for $5?)

And speaking of Sephora: I know that schaedenfreude isn't exactly charitable or Christian, but I had to admit to a certain kind of glee when I saw this on the website's "Sale" section. Because, you know, when the flavored bath and body products aren't doing anything to light up the home fires like before...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

What's Your Fantasy? Holiday Edition: There Won't Be Snow in Africa

NOTE from Meimei: I apologize in advance for the lack og JPEG links to this story, but if you have some at hand I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

Between INXS and Duran Duran, it seems as if this blog has a strange fixation on '80s music - not that there's anything wrong with that, per se, but I was old enough to hear this stuff on the radio, so it makes sense.

Let's face it, the guys back then were mighty cute, in spite of the unfortunate hairdos. Take, for example, the video for “Do They Know It's Christmas?” I remember seeing this on TV for the first time and thinking that I could watch this forever; twenty years later, it's still watchable, but at least for the snark value. Consider:

- Paul Young, who would later give us “Every Time You Go Away” and other cheeseball hits. Looking back, doesn't he remind you a bit of Bill Nighy in Love Actually?

- George Michael: There were two reasons why I never liked him back then: his foofy hair, and his Brite Smile teeth. (Oh, and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Ew.) Now I appreciate him more for the music, but still.

- Simon Le Bon. Oh, how much I love Simon, but he sounded like he was hiccuping through his solo (”when you're having PFHFFFUuuuuuuunnnnnhhhhh....”) and he looked really sedated behind the microphone. Apparently Bruce Springsteen had the same problem during the video for “We Are The World,” too - and you know how much I love my Bruce to this day, so maybe there was something going around.

- Sting. Oh, how much I used to not love Sting. (I blame the video for “Synchronicity.”) But look at him, with a lot more hair and a lot less wrinkling, with his cute plaid shirt. And then he became... Sting. (TM Will Ferrell and Jack Black at the Oscars)

- Tony Hadley. Yes, the guy from Spandau Ballet. (Sing it with me: “I knooooow this. Much is. TRUE!”) Him and Simon were my boyfriends back in grade school. He was cute when he had the mullet. Because of him I sat through all the other videos for Spandau Ballet, knowing that they made the Duran Duran videos look like It's A Wonderful Life. But I guess he's doing well now, especially after getting sampled by PM Dawn on “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss” and settling down with the wife and kids.

- And then there was this annoying dark-haired guy with a red nose, who butts in and yells, “Well, TAH-NIGHT THANK GOD it's THEM, INSTEAAAAD of YOOOUUUUUU!” Oh, hello - you must be Bono.

Subsequent viewings revealed the presence of other artists that I liked back then, including Tears for Fears (I remember Curt being there, but... Roland too? Hmmm) and Paul Weller (who might have been in the Style Council phase at that time). Then there was also Bananarama and Sade, who I would end up forgetting about until much later. And Phil Collins, who still annoys me.

This, in a nutshell, was the '80s for me - bad hair, half-conscious yelping, and people singing about how "there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time."

But all of that would change for me in one afternoon when I turned on the TV at a friend's house and became enraptured bytwo especially gritty videos played back-to-back: “With or Without You” and “Need You Tonight.” The latter, of course, was my formal introduction to Michael Hutchence and Our Band: INXS. And the former... well, I can't say enough about this, because it's still one of the most beautiful clips I had ever seen, and to this day I could not believe that the handsome lead singer in that video was actually the same Bono who used to annoy me, so make of that what you will.

The Case Against Black Friday

Well, well, how's this for irony: I missed out on all the Black Friday action because I got sick.

I swear, I was OK yesterday when I was enjoying all that turkey and pie (there's nothing like a serious garage Thanksgiving on Oahu), and it wasn't like there was anyone sneezing at me all week... but I already knew there was something wrong when I found myself seizing tissues by the handful while my niece was beating me at poker. Waking up sweaty and lethargic in the wee hours did not help, either.

So I missed out on the biggest shopping day of the season, and instead stayed at home while ingesting various combinations of OTC and homeopathic remedies to battle this cold. What's even worse is that not only did I miss out on shopping, but I'm also missing out on my workouts at the gym. Yeah, yeah, go ahead and cry me that river, folks - but, seriously.

My short-term goal for recovery at this point is to be well enough to go out tomorrow night so I can go salsa dancing with my friends, which I've been missing out on for a while. I'm just hoping that whatever it is that I just caught will go away so I could start doing all of the other things for a change. Like, say, exercising. Or studying.


In the meantime, I'm going to start posting a few holiday-themed entries in the next few weeks. Tempting as it is to post something brutally pessimistic about why we're celebrating, isn't it about time we had something else to celebrate instead of feeling so miserable about having nothing worth while to enjoy? Enough with the negativity - bring on the hot toddy! (With extra bourbon and lemon juice!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Domesticity Retail Mini-Roundup, November 2005

We interrupt the Sarsgaardification of this blog to bring you this entry in preparation for the upcoming holiday "shopping" season.

I was at Ala Moana Center today because I though I'd get a gift for Bunny's daughter's baptism. It was really fun because I was out at the baby stores marveling at all the little kids' clothes and the way they're supposed to look like grownup clothes. (And, yes, they even have toddler-size ponchos and "cowboy" boots, for girls. The heck?)

Oddly enough, the designer section of the mall disappointed me. The mannequin on display at Chanel, for instance, is wearing a silvery gray ribbed turtleneck and matching silvery gray ribbed leggings. Leggings, people. They even covered the mannequin's stilettos. Compared to the gigantic poster of Daria Werbowy plastered onto the side of the store, the window looked like something from the Chanel Tasteless Trophy Wife 2005 collection. Just goes to show that the Lagerfeld, he is pure evil.

I didn't walk into Sephora today, but now that I know that Oprah featured Philosophy's Hope in a Jar on her Favorite Things show, I'm predicting that the store will run out of Philosophy by Friday. Count on it.

I also went to Neiman Marcus for the first time in a while, which was interesting since I went straight to their food section. Apparently they now have MarieBelle chocolate, which I'm dying to try - along with Vosges' Red Fire chocolate bar, which I would never have considered had I not watched Chocolat and began craving chili-spiked chocolate as a result. I also got a sample of Russian tea cookies, which was a tad nutty and sugary.

The Disney Store had great huge honking signs announcing that they will be open at 4 AM on Friday morning, which only made me wonder if I should be that crazy. (Then again, that may be because I don't have that many children on my wish list. Or hardcore Disney fans, for that matter.)

There were other stores that I visited during this short jaunt (hello, Ethel M), and more where I should've stopped by, but I just had to mention my last stop at the new Barnes and Noble, where an innocent trip to the magazine rack nearly turned violent when I opened one of the glossies and found myself reading advice from a sex expert who apparently wants to tell me more than I needed to know about the natural scent of my own hoo-hoo. No, I'm not even going to go there.

Let's see how this whole setup holds when I finally go back in there and start the real excitement of finishing up my own Christmas shopping list!

And on that note, Domesticity will now take a short break for the holiday weekend. Regular posts will resume on Friday night. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Case Against Indie-Film Angst

WARNING: Entry contains unhealthy sentiments intended for otherwise attached and oblivious celebrity who may or may not be already reading this blog. Domesticity will not be held responsible for any psychological trauma resulting from reading said sentiments.

As you can see by my newly updated Blogger profile, I have an affinity for the things that are considered to be guilty pleasures by others. Take me to a karaoke bar and you can guarantee that I will not only be the first person singing up front, but I will be the first person pestering the DJ with a list of requests for the rest of the night. (Don't believe me? There's at least a couple of karaoke-bar DJs here in Honolulu who will be more than willing to give you a first-hand account.) Take me to a record store and I'm going to be right by the listening stations, looking for NOW That's What I Call Music! and lip-synching the lyrics of "Drop It Like It's Hot." Most of the time I spend on the phone with my brother - long distance to the Mainland, I tell you - is spent on discussing obscure '70s television shows and the paperback novels that our Dad used to bring home to us as kids. (In Dad's defense, he's the same guy who instilled a love of reading for all three of us kids by also bringing home Newsweek and the International Herald Tribune, so I can't blame him for not being the kind of guy who reads Hemingway in his free time.)

That said, you may wonder if there's anything - anything - that would bring me more shame. More shameful than watching the double bill of Antiques Roadshow and The This Old House Hour every Sunday. More embarrassing than being one out of the dozens of people in Oahu who has yet to be sucked into a Korean soap opera. More gut-wrenching, even, than the time I almost got caught reading the "Celebrity Endowments" thread on the old Fametracker boards.

Well, that moment has come, and I believe that I've finally reached my low:

I have rented GARDEN STATE on Netflix.

And not only have I added said movie to my queue, I have actually put it at the top of my queue - right after I finish with Dodgeball (I love you too, Vince!) and edging out both His Girl Friday and Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior. (Mopey emo disaffection displacing witty banter and radical ass-kicking on a Netflix queue? Not on my watch.)

Seriously. I hate Natalie Portman. I can't stand mopey indie bands. (Frou Frou, I'm looking at you.) And I think Zach Braff should stick to Scrubs. Come to think of it, this movie - not to mention the way it was marketed, and the hipster fandom surrounding the soundtrack - was practially designed to irritate me, the way Reality Bites and Clueless did when I was in high school. (Frankly, the last flick that I thought had "spoken to my generation" was Singles, which then made my 16-year old self want to move to Seattle and work for a feminist zine. Then I dumped Sassy for Entertainment Weekly.) I'm sorry, folks, but I'm afraid this movie will not age well.

In that case, then, there is only one person to blame for this shameful abomination on my already spotty record. And even then, "blame" is too strong of a word, considering that I have yet to find a movie on you-know-who's filmography that won't make me throw my shoe collection at the TV, or send me running to the nearest parish priest after I've thrown my shoes at the TV. Until I can curb my shoe-throwing during high-quality dramatic indie films, the only safe way for me to entertain my fantasy of becoming Mrs. Meimei Sarsgaard is... this, before Jarhead finally makes it to the dollar theater.

At this point, how else will I be able to help myself? He could probably show up any minute now in a Mariah Carey video, and I'd still not hate him. Heck, he could probably end up acting out a live version of all 20-something chapters of "Trapped in the Closet" with Clive Owen, Rodrigo Santoro, and Kiefer Sutherland, and I'd still adore him to bits.

(Peter, baby, I love you... but please don't turn into Ethan Hawke. Better yet, please don't turn into Edward Norton, or I'll end up writing long, depressing essays about how I used to have a crush on you. Call me! xoxox, Mei.)

Now that I've gotten that unhealthy sentiment out of the way, I'll be able to give you a real movie review when Netflix finally delivers the movie to my doorstep... any time now.

UPDATED, 11/22: Edited because "filmography" and "cinematography" are two different words that are not synonymous with each other. Also because I ended up catapulting Dead Man Walking to #2 on my Netflix queue when I realized that a very young Petey-boo shows up in it as the murder vic. Okay, I'll stop now.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Case Against the Naughty Ad Copy

Has anyone here seen the new Victoria's Secret holiday ads lately? They've been driving me crazy for all the wrong reasons. Not because of all the blatant flesh, but because of the new slogan they've adopted:


Yeah, that just brings out the spirit of the holidays, doesn't it? I mean, nothing against lingerie, but I think this just illustrates what I keep telling people about capitalism: Take away lust and greed from the equation, and all you're left is choice. Oh, and don't even get me started on whatever jewel-encrusted cooch coverings that the folks from Vicky's Secret have come up with this year.

Let me remind you folks, again, about what I had to say not too long ago:
As the wise women in my family would say, it's not like anyone's going to care what you paid for it, because you're not going to wear it outside. And if you meet someone who does care that much about your undies, well... ahem. And ahem. And... oh, you get the idea. Point being, there's no point in going broke over underwear, that's all.
(Though, personally, if we're talking about what I want, y'all know I wouldn't mind having this delivered to my doorstep, right? Or this. Or, heck, even this wouldn't be so bad. Just as long as we're not talking about... umm... this. Or for that matter, anything to do with this.)

UPDATED: Edited to fix a broken link, because... um, yeah, I think I should really lock myself up in a room with a bootleg copy of Kinsey already so I could fast forward through the boring parts, if you know what I mean. Also added one more link, because nothing says "ack!" like "the chocolate with moxie."

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Case for the Wedding Gift

Here's what I had to write last summer when I wrote about wedding gifts for the first time:

About the wedding gifts: Remember what I just said about obligation? Just because you're eating and drinking on someone else's tab doesn't mean you can totally get away with being chintzy. My big sister always tells me that the retail value of the gift should be equal or more to how much the host is paying per plate on their tab. You don't want to, say, spend $7 - the current cash value of a regular sized plate lunch at Zippy's- on a wedding gift for a couple who will be having their reception at the Halekulani, where the same amount of money will get you a glass of water and a dinner roll at the lobby bar. You could try and cheat by 1) getting your gift on sale at the original store (et tu, Borders?); 2) raiding a garage sale; or 3) using your craft-making skills to spruce up a purchase from Ross, but you still have to remember to get something that you know will be useful for the couple in question. There is, after all, a reason why the wedding registry was invented in the first place.

I was talking from the perspective of the guest, mind you. Here's a gem of a response from Rebecca Black (and I don't mean this with irony) on the Top Wedding Questions forum (link provided by Never Teh Bride on Manolo for the Brides):

...I don't know where that illogical belief came from that guest should give as much as the couple has spent on them. That couldn't be farther from the truth. You are correct that guests should give what they can. Bravo.

These people chose to marry. They chose to spend as much as they did. They chose to invite guests. They are responsible for their guests costs. The guests are only responsible to congratulate them.

A wedding is supposed to be about the joining of two people and we as guests are invited to share in this joy. A wedding is not supposed to be about draining the guests' wallets.

On the one hand, I do agree with the advice given here; weddings have already become such an orgy of conspicuous consumption these days that sometimes people do forget the whole point about why people get married in the first place. On the other hand... well, I myself have been guilty of buying the underpriced gift for a fancy wedding (in this case for a reception held at a Waikiki hotel), but in my defense the gift was going to turn out to be practical in the long run anyway, and I genuinely wanted said gift to reflect my own high hopes for the happy couple. But even if it had been a super fancy wedding at the Halekulani - even for someone I never knew too well - I'd still be ashamed to walk in there with a gift that cost me no more than a bowl of chili.

If I knew the couple well enough to know that they would really appreciate me being there for them on their day, I wouldn't let a monetary figure stand in the way of my presence. That's the case with a lot of the weddings I attended this year, because so many of the folks who did come to these weddings were so genuinely happy for the couple - and vice versa - that money was no object at all to not being there, as long as they were invited. Some of my friends even ended up with gift cards to the stores they were registered with because there were guests who couldn't afford the actual items in the registry.

Bottom line: An expensive wedding gift - or, heck, an expensive wedding for that matter - does not always bring any guarantees of best wishes for a happy marriage. If you're the guest, the value of the wedding gift is all up to you, regardless of the price. All that matters is that you are genuine about wishing the couple well on their journey.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Domesticity Goes to the Gym

So I've been spending almost every single day this week at the gym, alternating between the treadmill and the elliptical trainer for cardio and only recently mustering enough courage to start lifting weights to work on my upper body. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm hooked - there's just something magical about the way exercise just alters the flow of the chemicals in my body. Even when I'm at my crankiest, I can honestly say that I'm a lot less edgy after working out.

For those of you reading this entry outside of Hawaii, I'd like to state up front that there's nothing sexy or glamorous about going to the gym over here. Okay, maybe not at the other gyms around the island (and, yeah, I too wish I could tell you exactly where and when all the celebrities and hot bikini models work out - don't want to be liable for disclosure, that's all) but my gym of choice now seems more like a casual, sporty affair than a meat market lately. Then again, maybe it's because I don't go to the gym during the prime "meat market" hours, since I seem to share my treadmill time with friendly people from my neighborhood: mommies, grandmas, undergrads, bulked-up local guys (most of whom hang out at the free weights section), and a few friends from school and church.... not to mention the occasional tourist. More like a block party than a pickup joint.

I've only been going for a few days, so there's not a lot to snark about... oh, wait, there is: What is it with people using poor form on cardio equipment? Yes, I shouldn't talk, because I'm just as guilty as everyone else. And yet: Why am I seeing way too many people on the treadmill who are working with inclines so steep that they're practically falling off the machine and they can barely hang on to the handlebars for dear life? Seriously, I saw a woman there who was practically leaning back from the machine on a 45-degree angle off the floor - and yes, management can't be around all the time, but could somebody just step in there and tell the poor thing to readjust the settings on the machine? Thanks.

Other than that, though, it's great to be back - especially now that apparently my aerobic endurance has only gotten better and apparently I can handle using more weight on the machines for my shoulders and abs. We've only just begun...

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Case Against Coming In from the Cold

It seems that, after my recent entry about lip balm (with the inevitable side tangent about my dental-hygiene troubles... ew), I should really start talking about the colder weather we've been getting lately here in the valley. Not that much heavy rain, thank goodness, but the wind's been a tad nippy as of late - and it's been causing me to do more than just whipping out the Chapstick.
First on the list is the fact that I've been paying way more attention to my skincare than I've been used to. Since my complexion has been acting pretty funny lately, I've switched my usual face wash to the Wal-Mart version of Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser, which I also use to wash off my makeup at night. (Yes, I've been wearing makeup more often. Yes, it has something to do with the Peter Sarsgaard look-alike in one of my classes. Shut up.) My other facial cleanser of choice, Lush Aqua Marina, has served me well, but I want to save it more for the days when the zits do pop up and I don't feel like wearing any makeup anyway. I've also started using Aqua Marina on my body - not only does it save me money (heh) but it also leaves my skin extra soft - not to mention it works especially well when I break out into rashes. As for moisturizer, I've laid off using any on my face since I've been getting sensitive lately (recs, anyone?) but I've also been in the habit of combining my drugstore lotions (e.g. Lubriderm and Jergens) with the nice-smelling (but wussy-moisturizing) boutique stuff, so I could get scent and moisture at the same time.

Second on my list is keeping warm... which for me means working out. Now, exercising may seem to be anathema to beating the cold weather, but I figured that I needed another outlet for the stress anyway. I've already signed up for the gym (tomorrow morning is my moment of truth on the treadmill) and for the Honolulu Marathon Race Day Walk next month, so I'm going to have to burn off a lot of that expendable energy from here.

I've also entertained the thought of buying warmer clothes, which is funny since I really shouldn't be thinking about "fall" while living in the tropics. The only thing getting in the way of implementation is... you guessed it, budget. Well, that and closet space, since I still wear what's left of my "corporate" wardrobe to other places.

On a non-fashion note, I think I'm ready for Thanksgiving, since I've been brushing up on my cooking skills - not that I'm going to make something exciting this year (says she who bought the frozen pie because it was on sale- hush!) but I'm looking forward to making more comfort food to share at potlucks and other gatherings. Of course, that also means more comfort food for me - but at least this year I'm eating more vegetables, so everybody wins, right?

Don't get me started on Christmas, though. I don't care what the Retail Industry is telling me about the economy this year; there's no way I'm getting started on Christmas until I get through the turkey season, mmkay?

UPDATE, 11/14/2005: More moisturization news - the Fly Girl at Yu Hu Stewardess posted a review of Crabtree & Evelyn's La Source 60-Second Fix Kit for Hands. Another excellent product, test-driven by the Meimei herself - the cream is really rich, but it's great if you're taking it on the plane with you (I've used it before bed, so I can see how this can work on a long-distance flight with dry recirculated air); and the scrub is the next best thing to a manicure.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Case for the Basics: Lip Balm

Look here, folks: We could talk about Arrested Development getting cancelled and how it's the end of the world as we know it... or we can concentrate on the bigger picture and move on to the other things. Me, I'm not in the mood to take anything or anyone too seriously, so I'd like to go with something frivolous and non-confrontational for a change.

Take lip balm, for example. Now, there's a topic that we can agree on, right? Everyone can use some lip balm, especially now with the colder weather. (And don't look at me and tell me that we don't have cold weather here; the cold winds we always have here in the valley have a way of drying out a girl's skin, I tell you.)

I always insist on having lip balm on hand to keep my lips soft and moist. When I don't wear lip balm, it hurts more to talk - let alone smile - and that can only make me even more of a sour apple when I'm already in a grumpy mood. (This I learned after I got off the chair at the UH Dental Hygiene department after a cleaning - and realized that my lips had dried out from being propped open for three hours straight.)

There's always a lip balm for every occasion. Here are my favorites:

For the plane ride: A petrolatum-based balm will go on smooth in extreme dehydration. Kiehl's #1 Balm is the first thing that comes to mind; I took this with me on my first trip to Israel and it kept my lips sane even in the insane desert weather. Multitaskers like Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream and Smith's Rosebud Salve can double as a moisturizer or highlighter if you're not up to wearing any makeup during your flight. And if your lips really do get chapped to the extreme, there's also Blistex (the original formula in the tube) to keep it from hurting further; my Dad started using this after seeing me dab the stuff on whenever we travel.

For the hike: Whether you're negotiating some serious waterfalls or just going up the hill to your next class, you will need a balm with sunscreen. The classic, of course, is ChapStick Lip Moisturizer SPF 15 - not too pricey, not too waxy, very soothing and has that slight vanilla-y scent to boot. A more appealing choice would be the new flavored balms from the new ONBody line at Old Navy - I have the White Chocolate + Orange balm and I love both the texture and the flavor, which reminds me of expensive Italian cookies.

For your hot date: Flavored is definitely the way to go on this one - and unless said hot date is a rugged, outdoorsy type, you could probably get away with using one that does not have sunscreen. Lush, for example, has flavored plant-butter-based lip balms with names like Whipstick, Honey Trap and EggSnog (just in time for Thanksgiving!), while those more inclined towards fruitiness and softer balms - not to mention more frequent kissing - may find The Body Shop's Born Lippy balms more to their liking. Tinted formulas, like the ones from Almay and Neutrogena, are good enough to wear instead of lipstick - but they do wear off quickly, so be careful.

For your trip to the country club: An online friend of mine swears by Prada Shielding Balm, and I have to agree. Yes, the PRADA name is intimidating - and so is the accompanying price tag (which justifies the gimmicky packaging) - but it's one of those few balms that are buttery without being slippery, and stays put for hours. I've sampled the tinted versions at Neiman Marcus once; the balms look like melted chocolate and they perform just as well as the regular formula.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Case for the Short List

Or, Other Things on my Brain at this very moment

- Just when you thought you were safe from Daria Werbowy in a Bottle, along comes Angelina Jolie in a Tube - now with Red Bull accord! Darnit, Beauty Industry, must you keep ruining my girl-crushes this way? (Thanks to the ever-lovely Beauty Addict for the review.)

- I finally bought the new Franz Ferdinand CD, and I must tell you that it totally rocks. Of course, I'm biased because 1) I'm obviously a fan of the '80s-type dance music; 2) I didn't buy their other album (though I kick myself over that since I got the import single for "Take Me Out" with the slow version of "Darts of Pleasure") and 3) I believe that both Alex Kapranos and Bob Hardy are quite hot.

- Another music purchase: a CD single of Kanye West's "Gold Digger," with the Jay-Z remix of "Diamonds From Sierra Leone." Can I help it if this wasn't the most danceable - and booty-shake-inducing - combination of songs right now? (The videos are pretty nifty, too.)

- And my hot L'Oreal streak continues with my purchase of a Wear Infinite single eyeshadow in Gilded Bronze. The company's been churning out a lot of nice colors that remind me of the posh department store stuff, and this one's no exception - a metallic bronze that's not too dark and not too gold. The formula's great, too - very smooth and long-lasting - so the only sucky part of it all is the cheaptastic packaging.

- Currently at home via Netflix: The Office, Season 1. Nice to break from the old-movie norm, since I've already finished Lawrence of Arabia (borrowed from the school library) and From Here to Eternity (ditto - and, oh yeah, young Burt Lancaster = hot). I also just added Arrested Development: Season 2 and a bunch of British TV thrillers to my queue.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Case for the New Template

So I switched the template from the girly pink rose one (which was causing me some problems) to the ocean-blue cool one, which I think looks a whole lot cooler in a modern way. The font is a tad smaller, too, but at least it's more fitting considering how verbose I get in this blog. Not exactly the "change of direction" I was hoping for - yet - but ya gotta admit it's kinda cool, ain't it?

In other news, I finally bought that L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Powder that everyone's raving about, and so far it's working great for me - it actually goes on pretty sheer, so if you powder your face without foundation, the result looks pretty sheer and almost airbrushed. The shade I'm using - W6 Sun Beige - really does "melt" into my skin so it's practically traceless. Also, I stopped by Lush at Ala Moana and got the new issue of Lush Times, featuring all their new Christmas stuff. (Looks like my Christmas shopping starts here!)

EDIT: Props go to Beauty Addict for the funniest blog entry title of the day. Seriously, as much as I like both Daria Werbowy and Oprah, there's no way I'm spraying that Model in a Bottle stuff on my face. Especially if there's a chance of my eyelids being shellacked open for the rest of the day.

UPDATE: Apparently I got my brand names wrong. L'Oreal Paris USA makes my new favorite True Match Super Blendable Powder, while TruBlend is a line of similar products from Cover Girl. My apologies.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

What's Your Fantasy # 2.5: Parade of Homes

So last night I ended up watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for the first time in ages.

I have no shame; as much as I like to pick on Ty Pennington, his team, and their loudspeaker tendencies, I'm still a sucker for the "heart-warming" stories and the endless parade of "surprise" corporate-placement gifts for the formerly Hapless Homeowner. Which is good, since I already get enough schooling on Bauhaus architecture, home construction, and master carpentry from the guys at This Old House.

This is where it gets complicated.

As soon as I turned on the TV and saw Ty in his toolbelt, the lightbulb finally went in my head, and I said, "Oh, I get it now!" I think it's the shorter hair, because - seriously, without the loudspeaker, the man's actually pretty handsome, and there really shouldn't be any debate about that body. Still and all, though.

Then they brought in the team, and while they didn't have my all-time fave team members with them (Paul DiMeo, who reminds me of the missing link between Keith Olbermann and Ted Allen, and Ed Sanders, who looks like he just walked out of a Guy Ritchie movie and might bust out the expletives at any given moment) they did have Eduardo on - and you know how I've mentioned last week that he's the guy I'd want to work on my yard, preferably shirtless and strumming a guitar on his downtime. (Ahem.)

And then they brought in the new guy, who at first I mistook for Jon Heder - I'm already miffed that they didn't have the "master" carpenters on the show, and then they bring in freaking Napoleon Dynamite? But then Daniel strips to a black tank for the demolition, and then they bring in his closeups, then he designs this awesome stuntman-inspired bedroom... and suddenly I'm riveted (pun definitely intended) because not only has he just landed on my dream list of Hot Handymen, but he's actually earning his place on the list by virtue of his own smarts.

Perhaps the only male Home Edition team member that I have yet to warm up to is Michael, but even then he didn't annoy me in this episode as he used to - though apparently he's still as FLAMING! as ever. As long as he doesn't deliberately go out of his way to incite any HoYay with any of my guys, he should be okay.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Case for Authentic Cuisine

Here's a blast from the past in the form of an essay by Colman Andrews, in the October 2004 issue of Saveur:

An authentic recipe ought simply to be one that accurately reflects the way a dish was originally made, right? If only it were that easy. The term authentic is usually applied to traditional cuisine, and the problem is that traditional cuisine isn't created from recipes. It grows out of the lives that people who cook it - their geography, their history, their religion, their socioeconomic status. It is inspired by the world in which its creators live, imbued with the lesons of that world, and passed down a generation at a time, with infinite variation...

But the point isn't really whether or not a recipe can be authentic; it's more whether we can be. Can we ever really cook authentic traditional cuisine if we're not part of the tradition to which it is authentic?

So how does this apply to the art of restaurant criticism in Honolulu? I'll leave that for the rest of you to discuss.

UPDATE 10/31/2005: Those of you who think that I'm painting all restaurant reviewers with a broad sponge brush should rest easy that I love 'em all. Well, except for that putz who reviewed the Mexican restaurant two weeks ago for a certain publication with the word "Weekly" in their name, to whom this post is dedicated. Chin-chin!

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Next Best Thing

Well, it looks like we've got some bad news and good news.

The bad news is that I may need to take another break from blogging. Not a full-on break where I close the site down or anything; on the contrary, I might actually post a few things once in a while when I'm not stressing out over whether or not I should come up with content. Somewhere along the way I might end up rethinking the creative direction for the blog, but I'm going to keep things the way they are for now.

The good news, however, is that I'm going to take my break to work on a non-blog, non-school independent project - specifically, a novel that I wrote (as Not!Meimei) three years ago, which I have neglected until recently. It's now in the middle of a major rewrite, and I mean major. I've already edited out entire characters and story arcs to make the manuscript more readable, and possibly more palatable.

(Here's how I'd put it: If my novel was a baked good, my old manuscript would be a Christmas fruitcake.)

It's funny because it wasn't until just last week that I suddenly got inspired to work on the book; usually I have a problem with picking up where I left off with my writing, but somehow I was able to get past the writer's block and roll up my sleeves for the rewrite. Like I've mentioned in my previous entry, however, it's still a matter of time and confidence before I could share more about the book. And since I'm doing this while I'm going to school, it's too soon to tell what I'm going to do with the manuscript as soon as I'm done and satisfied with the whole project.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share the great news. Until the next update...

The Domesticity FAQ

Because it's about time I did one...

You sound so familiar. Didn't you used to write under another name?
Of course I did, and I don't regret it. Now if you're wondering what was so horrible that I've decided to post under a different name, well, I just thought I could use a change, so I decided to go with Meimei. Now, if you think I could hide my identity forever, well, I can't - I've already outed myself on Technorati. But that's as much as you're going to get about who I am when I'm not using my online identity, so if you want to ask me any more questions about the things I don't talk about online, I suggest you get a hold of me some other way, because I'm not interested in opening up my private life to scrutiny.

Come on, you already did that not too long ago in your old blog.
And old habits do die hard. Maybe I would do that again too, someday. Right now, though, it's a matter of confidence.

So why go with the whole Domesticity concept? Why blog about makeup/fashion/home decor/ pop culture when you could've been blogging about, you know, God or politics or whatnot?
Let me put it this way: It's already tough enough for me to get into arguments about how I'm supposed to change the world with people I already know in real life. At the end of the day, the last thing I want is to go on my blog and get into another stupid flamewar with people I don't know about things that cut too close to my heart. So I've decided to make it easy on myself.

And what is this that I hear that you're actually a Christian? None of your entries sound particularly Christian to me.
Let's get some things out of the way with the Christian question, shall we? First of all, I don't profess to have any mind-blowing expertise on theological matters, so I'd rather err on the side of caution and diplomacy. (In fact, I'd be happy to point you out to other bloggers who are more qualified to handle these kerfuffles than I am.) More to the point, though, is my own belief that being a church-goer doesn't mean that you have to swear off the makeup and the pop culture altogether. In my case, I feel like I still have a responsibility to challenge what the world tells us about what's supposed to be beautiful - and that includes certain standards of beauty and aesthetics. Again, that does not give me any authority to lecture you about what is theologically correct in terms of hemlines and high heels, but I am more comfortable telling you about what works for me and the lifestyle that I've chosen. Whether or not you agree with my motives, however, is not for me to judge.

I just read your entries about your celebrity crushes, and... I'm sorry, but you have bad taste in men.
Hey, I apologize, too. Let's just agree to disagree and move on from here. And same goes if you disagree with anything else that I've reviewed.

So... do you get paid for this?
No. And frankly, as much as I need the cash, I'd rather keep it this way: outside of corporate interest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Case for the Shout-Out

Okay, now that I've been playing with Technorati (check out the new tag below!) it has finally occurred to me, three to four days later, that I have earned a place on the blogroll of none other than Spirit Fingers.

Oh. My. Goodness. What have I done to deserve this?

*pauses, takes short, sharp breaths*

EEEEEEEE!!! I can't believe it! One of my favorite blogs now has a link to me!

At this point, this is as good as a review. Thanks so much, Spirit Fingers; you're the best.


In other news, I'm already anticipating the backlash following my entry on This Old House, considering that most people still consider it to be Bob Vila's show. I'm going to hold my tongue about Bob Vila, but I'll also admit that I deserve a few brickbats thrown at me for not giving everyone else on the team credit for their expertise. Especially Norm Abram, who I will allow the privilege of torturing my boy Kevin.

And what I would give for a This Old House/ Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crossover! Preferably one where Kevin and Ty are forced to road-trip together (complete with inevitable bullhorn sequence) while Norm and Paul DiMeo bust out the mad carpentry skills, Tom Silva makes the cutesy girls work on the demolition, and Eduardo Xol stays shirtless.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Case for Better Eye Makeup

Those of you who are eye-makeup challenged should find this article on Beauty Addict super-helpful. Might as well do away with the speculation and get to the bottom of this eye-makeup business once and for all.

A note: If you live in Honolulu, you can go to your favorite Korean makeup store at Keeaumoku Street and put together your own eyeshadow palette - at the store where I go, a three-shadow case costs $10, and that's not including the shadows, which are $3 each. Drugstore and Wal-Mart fiends may also find the customizable cases from Cover Girl to be equally nifty, and Rimmel has a 3-color eyeshadow kit that contains nothing but sheer, pale highlighter shades.

Whatever you do, if you've got a tan complexion with gold undertones like me, it is never a good idea to wear any sort of pale baby-blue eyeshadow in any formula whatsoever; it distracts from the eyes and makes your skin look really ashy, which in turn makes you look cheap. Trust me, you won't want that.

Carry on...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What's Your Fantasy, Part 2: Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Front Loader

(Note from Mei: In case you missed Part 1, check out this entry from the August archive; also check out the "Gorgeous Men of Decorating" entry as a point of reference.)

For all the talk about home makeover shows and the hot handymen that populate them, it's easy to understand why This Old House doesn't get as much press. Compared to the younger-skewing shows, which promise swift, miraculous results in no time at all, This Old House is about gradual change, hard work, and small fixes so your house won't end up like a candidate for demolition. You have to sit through the whole season to see what the house will look like, from mockup to moving day. And the homeowners don't holler and burst into tears as soon as the house is unveiled.

All of these reasons, however, are enough to explain why I make it a point to watch the This Old House Hour every Sunday afternoon. Especially since - let's face it - none of the professional handymen featured in the show are anywhere near giving Carter Oosterhouse a run for his money in the hotness sweepstakes.

Wait, I take that last statement back. Because I think Kevin O'Connor is cute.

Of course he's married. Of course he looks more like the kind of guy who fetches the building permits for the other home-makeover guys while they sort through steamy love letters from the ladies. And even if he does scrap the plaid shirts for leather jackets and artfully disheveled rock tees, well, there's still no way he's hiding a six-pack under there, so there goes that fantasy.

That said, there really is something endearing about Mr. O'Connor. The guy's like a more laid-back, non-ADHD version of Ty Pennington: you could tell that he's passionate about his projects and he loves working with the guys, but not so much that every episode ends up becoming All About Kevin. There are times when he could be a prankster and play cute, but this is a guy who lets the project, the homeowners, and the experts speak for themselves. There is no way you would ever find this guy running around the construction site with a loudspeaker so he could harass the contractor for laughs.

(Not bad for a guy who used to be a bank executive before the TV gig came along.)

Like I've said, there's not a lot of things about this guy that makes me want to throw myself at him. And yet, what's so attractive is that I could watch This Old House and find myself sighing about how fun it would be to get together with a guy like Kevin - not just with the handy-round-the-house stuff, but because he just comes across as a guy with a certain kind of passion, who knows what it truly means to have a home. Even when he's talking about how his wife gives him grief about keeping the toilet seat up, he still comes across as the kind of guy who understands his passions and priorities - the kind of guy who will bring you breakfast in bed, even if said breakfast is a chocolate donut and a grande house half-caf from Starbucks...

...What? We've got an entire season's worth of home-building here! Wait till you see what they do to the house!

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Case for the Good Housekeeper

Last night I ran out of detergent - or did I lose my gallon again? - and I had to run to the store and get something. Unfortunately, the store ran out of my usual (All with color-safe bleach - I usually go for the foofy scents in the colored bottles) so I grabbed the next best thing: whatever's on sale.

Sounds banal, right? That's not even covering the part where I realized that I'd probably never find the brand I REALLY wanted to wash my clothes with: Method Triple Concentrated Detergent. I mean, look at it! The bottle's not clunky! The scents are not corny! Why, oh why, won't I ever get my butt down to Costco so I could reactivate my membership and see if they already have Method in stock? Why didn't I buy this on my last trip to the Mainland, where I spent most of my holiday season shopping at Target? Why doesn't Safeway have this in stock? WHYYYYY?

And this, my friends, is the kind of moment that drives the point of the Domesticity blog home.

(WARNING: Lots of personal touchy-feely whingeing in the next few paragraphs. I 'd break and fix myself a drink right now before continuing, if I were you.)

The first time I had an online journal, all I wanted to talk about was my life in college and the boys I was dating and how life was so unfair, blah blah blah. Like I've mentioned so many times earlier, I was young and I didn't know any better. But after a while, even I had to admit that it was getting really boring. Yeah, I wrote about a lot of outrageous things that were personal and profound to me, but so was everyone else, and there was only so much dilly-dallying that I could take.

Meanwhile, the dirty dishes were piling up in the kitchen sink, the laundry was going unwashed, and I was still wearing the same grungy hair and baggy clothes day in and day out. And sometimes without underwear, because I was too busy to take out the laundry.

Yeah, I get it, I told myself back then: I don't live with my parents any more, so I don't have as much time to devote to being cute and fabulous like I used to when I was younger. I still don't have the time, to be honest with you. But that doesn't give anybody an excuse to not take care of themselves - or, worse, to compromise on beauty.

All the shopping in the world can't make up for the laundry that's languishing in the hamper. All the makeup in the world can't cover up a life without priority. And while I did seem a lot more glamorous back when I was younger, my life was still a mess.

So if sex, drugs, politics and rock'n'roll gets boring after a while, then what's the opposite of that? Housework. Proper grooming. Good manners. A world where I could be proud to have a home - and stay there, if I want to.

I remember a tidbit from film class where the come-uppance of the femme fatale in early film noir often came as death or domesticity: if she didn't die by the time the movie ended, the next best thing was to subject her to a life where she would not have to live her life on the edge. If she didn't go to prison, she would have to renounce her evil ways and accept a proposal of marriage, where it's implied that she would have to trade in her allure for the white picket fence and the 2.5 kids. In real life, it doesn't always have to end this way; not all housewives turn out to be so desperate, after all. The older I get, the more I find the Zen in the mundane - and yet I don't feel like I've lost my edge.

Domesticity. It's the opposite of drama.

In the meantime: You know what I'll be using once I'm finished with the detergent I got last night? All Small and Mighty! Wheeeee!

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Case Against MySpace

Or: I Said, GET OFF MY LAWN, You Pesky Rugrats

Hey, kids?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Stop lying about your age on MySpace, OK? And quit posting those naked photos of yourselves already; it's tacky, and I'm telling you this for the sake of decency.

While I'm at it? Let's not forget that the Internet is still a public domain, so no matter how many times you write "Don't Tell My (Parents/Teachers/Anyone Else) HEHEHE" on your blog entries, or how many times you decide to delete your entries, the world will still know you wrote it anyway. There's a reason why search functions and the Wayback Machine exist in the first place. Ask Uncle Greg to teach you how to write your own secred-password entries, or don't write it in your blog. Better yet, get your own freaking notebook, because at least you can hide that in your sock drawer and you'll get less spam from nasty pervs living across the country that way. Do I have to show you how to make a scrapbook?

Trust me, it's better than having somebody snatch you off the street and putting your parents through so much heartache. And it's cheaper than suing the blog service for not protecting you in the first place.

And don't look at me like I don't know what I'm talking about. I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't go through this myself. No, I didn't get stalked by a perv, but I did a lot of tacky things that ended up online, and... let's just say that my family was not happy. But I'm alive, aren't I? That's why I try to edit these posts like a fiend before I post them; you'd be surprised about what doesn't end up getting published in the first place.

Repeat after me: MySpace is not a private space. MySpace is not a dumping space. I will not use MySpace to post anything that I will regret for the rest of my life.

There you go. Now, where did I put my afghan?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Case Against The Celebrity Fragrance

In the category of Hell to the No, this tidbit from this morning's E! Online News First Look:

Marilyn Manson telling Women's Wear Daily he is in talks with a "major" cosmetics company to launch his own fragrance early next year.

I'd make a joke about this, but I blew out a few brain cells from smelling Fantasy Britney Spears at Macy's the other day.

UPDATE, 10/13/05, 1:15 PM: Apparently the Irish Examiner (quoted in Now Smell This) says that Mr. Brian Werner really is serious about this fragrance thing. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to anoint my monitor with myrrh.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Case for a Super Sweet 16

Happy Birthday, Michelle Wie.

Yes, you're rich, you're famous, you'll be paparazzi fodder for the next few years. I don't know about golf, and if you ask me I was far from fabulous when I was your age. (Heck, I would have given anything to rock the dangling earrings when I was your age.) But take it from a sister who knows: You may be still young, but every decision you make from here on forward will have an impact on who you will become in the future. And it's going to suck even more when you've got the press on your tail.

I could give you some practical advice, like putting on sunblock, ignoring the media, not dating anyone sucky (let's just say that if Wilmer Valderrama calls, tell him you're busy), turning down any "recording" contracts and/or "guest appearances" on soap operas, and enjoying this for what it's worth, but I guess you're going to hear that from everyone else. So I think it would be best to leave you with a few wise words that didn't make sense to me until I turned 16:

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away, know when to run
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done

Sing it, Kenny.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Case for What You Need, Part 2

Or: Thoughts from reading Allure's Best of Beauty Issue

- Usually I don't read Allure for the non-beauty articles, and this issue is not an exception: the fashion spreads were boring, Linda Wells' letter could've been funnier, and while I liked the article about hair loss during chemo, it wasn't something that made me want to say, “Gosh, I wanna read this again!” But I was surprised about the interview with Gwen Stefani; usually their cover-girl interviews often tend to paint their subject as the usual annoying celebrities (see: Portman, Natalie; also: Johansson, Scarlett) but I really felt for Gwen on this one, shooting down the reporter sweetly when it came to questions about her personal life. (Note to interviewer: Personal boundaries - look into it.) Still doesn't excuse her craptastic fashion choices of late, but at least she was pretty funny about the whole deal and not pretentious at all.

- Mark my words: Judging by the way this magazine has been scented, you will be smelling Prada at office elevators and Starbucks branches everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Conversely, Paris Hilton's new fragrance, Just Me, has replaced Glow by J.Lo as the Celebrity Perfume that Smells Most Like Hot Buttered Ass.

- Wait: New York has a Korean makeup store, and Allure actually likes it enough to make recs? So why aren't the hipsters raiding the boutiques at Keeaumoku Street with me?

- On to the Best of Beauty (and yes, I mean the makeup - not the pseudo-profound musings on missing blonde babes and Condi Rice's hairdo): The biggest drugstore winner was definitely CoverGirl Outlast Foundation - one of the few things that both the readers and the editors can agree on, which should be an incentive for me to go ahead and buy this for myself as planned. And apparently I can't argue with any of this year's picks at all - nothing predictable or boring now that the other favorites (Maybelline Great Lash and Cetaphil in particular) have been retired to the Hall of Fame.

- You know, I really wouldn't mind if they got me as a Dove girl. I'd probably be a step down from the ones they already have, who at least look better in white underwear than I do, but I wouldn't mind.

- Also pretty, if you ask me: As much as I hesitate to use the term “girl crush,” Daria Werbowy is probably the closest that I'll ever get to one right now. There's nothing boring, androgynous, or alien-like about her; she even looks more attractive when her makeup's been kept neutral.

- Best beauty advice I ever got? All of it came from my mom: drink a lot of water, don't smoke,eat your vegetables, read in good light, don't get too tan (and wear sunscreen if you can't stay out of the sun), and carry lipstick and balm with you at all times. Also, most people just need powder and lipstick anyway, so you don't need to use every piece of makeup in your cabinet - and if you're going to wear the stuff on the plane, you'll only annoy people by bringing that bulky makeup case anyway, so bring only the stuff you need (moisturizer, pressed powder, lipstick, and a little blush or eyeshadow) and stash the rest in your check-in luggage.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Case for What You Need

Or: Thoughts from watching all the videos in the one-disc INXS Video Collection

- Michael Hutchence = sexy. Bearded or shaven, trouser-waist denim or low-riding leather, in a suit or a T-shirt, sometimes with practically nothing at all... and even with the chinchilla on his arm at the beginning of the "Need You Tonight" video, which at first I thought he was saving up for a snack.... yeah, sexy. But also a surprisingly versatile vocalist, too: depending on the mood, he can be sweet, funny, menacing, political, bluesy, love-struck, spriritual, or even subtle if he wants to. I spent all this time concentrating on his booty and I never noticed what an amazing voice he had. And that, my friends, is only going to make me more disoriented about JD "Antidepressant" Fortune replacing him.

- As for the rest of Our Band: INXS, here's how I rank them in cuteness: Garry Gary (in the early clips I actually said, "Oh my, he's just a baby!" - but then he got near shirtless on "The Gift" and all of that went out the window), Jon (nobody air-drums better), Andrew (yep, his pudge was yo-yoing back then, but I gotta give him some credit for the more-insightful-than-you-thought lyrics)... and in a surprising tie for last, Tim (now I can say with authority that I don't blame anyone else in the band for giving him the responsibility of saying "I'm sorry... but you're just not right for Our Band: INXS" - let's face it, though, he was a killer guitar player and a decent chap when he wasn't trying so hard) and Kirk (yeah, great sax solos and all, but not enough to erase memories of his John Waters-meets-The Wiggles performance on Rock Star).

- And speaking of Our Band in the "Need You Tonight" video - Hutch and the pet rat may have taken all of my attention back in the day, but I can't believe how visually striking and surprisingly funny the whole thing was, all in all. Gotta love the part with the other guys in white sweaters acting as backup singers before coming up with their own “choreography” for the chorus - hee!

- Wait... so "Original Sin" was actually that "Dream on white boy" song that I kept mangling back in second grade? Interesting.

- Hello, video for "Devil Inside," directed by Joel Schumacher. Thank goodness I didn't have to look at you all the way through. Which is a pity, because I will forever associate this song with a cute guy in 8th grade named Drew who once got this song stuck in his head and ended up singing the chorus while we were trying to figure out the periodic table. To make up for the video (and, Drew, if you're reading this - call me!) I will settle for the thought of JD covering this in concert.

- Also: “Elegantly Wasted” is still as annoying as I remember. I turned it off as soon as I saw Garry Gary sporting Kirk-style facial hair.

- And where is the video for "Not Enough Time"? That means I'll have to rent Disc 1 of I'm Only Looking...