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.