Friday, June 30, 2006

Ikea As Recreation

I am going to Ikea tomorrow. Amidst my planning (because spending the day at Ikea is, for me, an event that must be planned), I went online to check out the website. Because I am odd, I chose to google “Ikea” instead of just typing in That’s how I ended up with This Article by Matthew Baldwin of Defective Yeti fame.

I have to say, not only is the video-game-style walkthrough hilarious, but I had a good giggle over the fact that crazy wacked-out lunatics LIKE ME who plan a whole day at Ikea are exactly what inspired it. Mind you, this is a lot funnier if you are also someone who reads / downloads video game walkthroughs. Cuz the format is pretty much dead-on. He even did the cheesy reproduction of the Ikea logo in dashes at the top - such attention to detail!

In spite of this good laugh at myself, I still started marking pages in my catalog with post-its and checking the website for availability. It’s a sickness. In my defense, I don’t actually buy entire rooms of furniture there. Usually I fall madly in love with an oddly shaped serving plate that I suddenly find I can’t live without. Mostly it’s about THE IKEA GAME - which involves setting yourself a relatively low limit (unless you need something big which in no way counts as a recreational visit - that’s just practical shopping which isn’t even remotely similar) and then figuring out exactly how much you can get for that amount. I suggest $50 or less. The goal is to buy a) as many items as possible, b) only items that you cannot buy anywhere else - what’s the point if you could pick up the same thing around the corner at Target? - and c) only things that you actually have a use for - i.e. no fair buying 20 things that cost 99¢ that you actually have no plan for once they reach your abode. The person who leaves with the largest, most creative array of purchases while staying within their budget wins. Unless you’re by yourself. In which case YOU AUTOMATICALLY WIN. It’s a great game that way.

....then you go to the Ikea restaurant and feel brilliant and thrifty while eating poached salmon for only $5.99!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Closeted Fashion Magazine Reader

Being a woman, and inclined to change my mind in a manner that might charitably be referred to as “often,” I am finding that my bitterness regarding the fashion media has given way to a full fledged resurgence of my former morbid (and it IS morbid) fascination with the impossible, improbable fashion magazines. I find myself shoe shopping and rearranging my scarf collection again. I have a love-hate relationship with my desire to be well turned out. Of late, I have given in to the path of least resistance and made a uniform of my black wedge slides, bootcut jeans and a black v-neck T-shirt. It’s easy. It matches. It’s like Garanimals for grown ups.

Then I crack open a crisp new copy of Vogue (You may or may not be one of those people who understands the joy of opening a flawless brand new copy of an overpriced fashion magazine and poring over the impeccably composed glossy photographs. If you are not one of those people, this will make no sense to you.) and find that I, too, want to wear a diaphanous skirt or buttery soft boots that come up to my knee or high-waist pants or whatever is being touted at the moment. In fact, it is a testament to the narcotic power of these publications that I can be made to drool over a high waisted pant or wide belt as I am 5’2” and naturally could never leave the house in those things.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think that $11,000 for a coat is insane and money better given to charity (for those who have it - for most of us that’s the price of a car, not a coat!). I have still only ever seen one pair of shoes I would pay $600 for (I think it was fall of 2004, Louis Vuitton had these gorgeous wedge shoes in a rich, dark jewel tone fabric with intricate embroidery all along the wedge and if I had been in possession of $600 or so dollars I would have bought them... and then put them in a glass display case in my home). I am a bargain shopper. And I don’t mean “sample sales” bargain shopper. I mean “Seasonal Markdowns at The Limited” bargain shopper.

So what am I doing with my nose in Harper’s Bazaar? I guess I appreciate the beauty of high fashion, silly although it may be. I enjoy a good laugh at the occasional dress that looks like a bubble or a bird’s nest (because both of those looks get re-done every so often) and I admire how Gisele “This Is What The Fashionistas Call Curvy” Bundchen looks posing in intricately constructed demi-couture (see this month’s U.S. Vogue). There’s something about an art form that has some purpose and yet is impractical and unecessary. High fashion doesn’t actually fill a need or accomplish anything other than making people into art. There’s something very appealing about that. It’s indulgent and shallow but also escapist, which can sometimes be a relief.

I admit that I think “this season’s trends” are unimportant compared to personal style and expression. I’ll never like fur (not even faux fur - where’s the sense in that? You’re not wearing the skin of another animal, but you still want to LOOK as though you are? Ridiculous.) and I’m aware of the damage the impossibly thin ideal has done. But spending an hour flipping through pages of beautiful clothes and shoes and gorgeous photography makes me feel like all is well for a short time. And there’s something to be said for that illusion.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Art of Linda Bergkvist

detail of Linda Bergkvist’s “Spoiled” - © Linda Bergkvist

Breathtaking, dark and ethereal artwork. She is tremendously talented and I really reccommend visiting her gallery at I believe it also contains a link for those interested in purchasing prints or a posterbook of her work.

On her site she writes, "I'm planning a book on dark fairytales, and all the images are part of a world I've created. If you do not like fantasy, or pictures of fae and elves, I suggest you look elsewhere. It's the world of the fantastic that fascinates me, you see. I don't draw big guns, and I don't draw realistic things: I simply don't want to (unless, of course, you pay me - in which case it's another matter altogether!)."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Vagina Stadium

one of the finalists for China’s Olympic Stadium design

Talk about a monument to womanhood! This was one of the entries competing to be used as China’s Olympic Stadium. The effort to create a structure that echoes nature rendered the largest and most impressive vagina EVER. Alas, another design won (scroll down the page to B11) and China’s Olympic Stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games will be the avante-garde “bird’s nest” design (as discussed in this article).

Thanks to BoingBoing for another great link!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Kris Radish

Covers of Kris Radish’s books, published by Random House, Inc.

A lot of women seem to gravitate to the chick-lit stuff. I think of it as “reading lite.” Most chick-lit centers a little too much on issues like losing weight, getting a man and shopping for my tastes. Good for a quick read, but not very satisfying. Kris Radish writes books that, on their face, could get mistaken for chick-lit fare. There’s really a lot more to them, without being so challenging that they fail to offer the escape a lot of people look for in a good book. Her work is populated with women who are at different stages in life and have varying backgrounds and interests. Real women. Women who are straight, gay, mourning, celebrating, learning to value female friendships and most interestingly - women who are making decisions and living their lives without a man being the deciding factor in their future. Her characters don’t lose 50 pounds and get a makeover or spend all their time thinking about finding a mate. It’s a nice change of pace.

I picked up her second book, Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn when I was about to move to a new town. I was doing the whole, “oh-crap-am-I-doing-the-right-thing” routine and the book put me in the mood to take a leap. It also got me to reevaluate the importance of women in my life. I had few female friendships, did not see myself as “girly” (shoe fetish notwithstanding) and described myself as “making friends with men more easily.” Funny thing. I’ve met a lot of women who describe themselves that way. It seems like somewhere along the way to equality, we started to look at each other as competition instead of allies. I think the best thing about Kris Radish’s books is that, no matter what theme they follow on the whole, they remind the reader how important it is to have ties to other women.

I’m mad about Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn because I read it first. Her other books, An Elegant Gathering of White Snows (named after a tea, which I thought was great) and Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral were also very good. It might be best to start at the beginning, although the novels are unrelated, because An Elegant Gathering covers a lot of ground and has something for everyone. If you’re younger than some of her protagonists, (a lot of her characters are 40 or 50-ish), don’t let that keep you from picking up the book! Every book has characters that are older and younger than that and covers ground any woman can understand. Check out and you can read a synopsis of each book HERE.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Gilda Radner

”I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned the hard way that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear begining, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the most of it without knowing what’s going to happen next.”

- Gilda Radner

”I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn't itch.”
- Gilda Radner

She was the first person hired for the original cast of Saturday Night Live. She won an Emmy in 1977 for her work on SNL and was awarded a posthumous Grammy in 1990 for the spoken word album of her autobiography “It’s Always Something.” She managed to convey a humor instilled with warmth and a certain innocence that not only made people laugh but also made them feel a connection to her. She was married to one of my all-time favorite actors, the brilliant Gene Wilder after they met on the set of Hanky Panky. If you've never seen them on screen together, rent Haunted Honeymoon, it's funny and they made a great on-screen duo. She died of ovarian cancer at the age of 42 (in 1989). After her death, Gene Wilder established the Gilda Radner Ovarian Detection Center at Cedars-Sinai to screen women at high risk of developing ovarian cancer. He also testified before a Congressional committee that her condition was misdiagnosed and that if doctors had looked further into her family background they may have been able to treat the disease earlier. Gilda’s Club was founded in her memory to provide a place where cancer patients and their familes can go to share support.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Pursuing Awareness... One Email at a Time

I worry about being insufficiently informed about the world around me... and feel guilty about it. I care about human rights and the environment and a lot of things that I don’t make the time to educate myself properly about. To tell the truth, I always have this vague feeling that if I was a better person, I’d quit my job and volunteer to do humanitarian aid work... in spite of the fact that I have absolutely no skills that would make me qualified for it.

So I have come up with a solution - or at least a place to start - that fits into my busy schedule. For women like me, who care about what’s going on in the world around them but are still struggling to stay up to speed and find ways to get involved, it is easier if the information comes to YOU. So I signed up for the newsletters from a few reputable organizations that address issues I care about.

I’m going to list some email newsletters and services I located ( I just signed up for a few - if you get too many newsletters, you stop reading them!). I hope you find something that interests you enough to sign up for one yourself. And remember that a lot of these organizations have shops where you can get T-shirts, bumper stickers or tote bags that tell the world about the issues that matter to you AND offer financial support to those organizations!

Amnesty International’s Online Action Center This page offers the option to sign up for the Women’s Human Rights Network newsletter as well as a variety of newsletters on other Human Rights issues

The National Organization for Women has a sign up at the top of their home page. You don’t have to give out address info if you prefer not to and you pick which newsletters you want to have emailed to you!

The V-Mail newsletter for the V-Day movement “includes news of upcoming events, messages from Eve Ensler (the author of The Vagina Monologues), and opportunities for participating in campaigns”

The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) emails “the latest NAACP Press Releases and Action Alerts. You will receive an email anytime a new Press Release is Added.”

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) email network “Stay informed and involved with the latest news and information on civil liberties and ACLU Activities.”

UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) Newsletter “Learn about challenges, hope and progress for children worldwide, and the impact of UNICEF's work.”

Greenpeace International’s monthly e-zine includes “ways you can help our campaigns for a green and peaceful Earth -- everything from opportunities to volunteer to simple actions you can take with a few clicks of your mouse: you decide.”

The Humane Society will send you “action alerts, tips, news, and special offers via e-mail.”

We’re not going to change the world just by knowing something (just like I’m not going to change the world by recycling all my empty bottles and cans) but it’s a start. Making a conscious choice to be aware is important. And the more people pay attention to what’s going on in the world around them, the more that information will spread. The situation in Darfur may never replace the latest episode of “American Idol” as a water cooler topic, but if we’re better informed, maybe humanitarian and environmental issues will become a part of our daily dialog.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bravia Commercial

It’s a commercial. And I don’t care. It’s really beautiful and bright and soothing and joyful. Set to José González' "Heartbeats" This commercial is worth watching.

Oh! and again, I saw this on Freakgirl’s blog, so you should visit her blog.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Jean Kerr

Click on the image to read the Time Magazine article that accompanied this cover.

”I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want - an adorable pancreas?”

- Jean Kerr

I find Jean Kerr’s humor reassuring in the face of an overwhelming array of everyday tasks and the difficulties of life’s mundane but unavoidable obstacles. If you haven’t read Jean Kerr’s work, you should really do yourself a favor and get your hands on one of her books, like “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” or “How I got to Be Perfect.” You can read more about her and her humor in this blog by Sheila O’Malley written about Jean Kerr after her death in 2003.