Thursday, January 31, 2008

No Time!

I spent my entire lunch hour reading & commenting on OPBs (Other People's Blogs), and now must go back to work. Pffft. I mostly blame I Heart Fashion, as she had three fab, long posts, complete with lovely photos, about her trip to Italy.

Okay, I should really mostly blame myself, as I had not checked in on her blog for a few days, hence the post pile-up.

Go take a vicarious vacation with her. She went shoe shopping...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm Cranky But Inspired. And Scared.

My mom has pointed out that everyone seems to have the January Blues, and bloggers aren't posting as much as they usually do and blah blah. She's right. Some of you may have noticed that I posted a photo of a very pretty Valentino polka dot shoe yesterday, and that was all. No accompanying text, just the photo. I'm SOOOOOOO super cranky, and all "oh who cares if I post anything, nrrnh nrrhn".

To say I was "inspired" today, sounds incorrectly profound. I should say I was "nudged" today, into posting about Things That Scare Me.

Keenan asked if I had seen the movie "Cloverfield",



which, from what I've heard, is a scary film that you need to watch with a motion-sickness bag, a la "The Blair Witch Project". I will pass.

Vomiting scares me.

Then, over at Retail Recovery, Editor posted a great photo from "Sherlock Holmes".


The photo itself is not scary, unless you're frightened by un-matching plaids. But when I was in grade school, we had these mini-microfilmstrip movies we could watch, and I was obsessed with the Sherlock Holmes series.

The absolutely most frightening story was "The Speckled Band", which might not be so terrifying to me now, if I could stop shaking long enough to watch it. There is a totally creepy little song that plays in parts of the little movie, and I will never forget it.

Some other Things That Scare Me:

*"The Amityville Horror" - the book, not the movie. I read this when I was teaching English in Korea, and could only read it in the middle of the day, while sitting in the communal teachers' office, surrounded by people.


*The organized terrorists in the movie "Blood Diamond". I had to make myself watch this movie, which was fantastic by the way, and then felt much less confident about the prospect of traveling in foreign countries where I'm not really sure what's going on politically.

*Envelopes from my bank, that appear to be "insufficient funds" notices.

*Severe anorexics.

*Needles.

*Centipedes, Millipedes, and any other pedes that have many, many wiggling legs.

And, of course,

*Crocs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fernando - Still Doing Seattle

Fernando and I were finally able to get to the park, on a sunny day, to take a Seattle cityscape photograph.


Fernando couldn't see, so I had to boost him up.


He was really enjoying the nice weather, and drinking a lot of coffee. But then one day, I came home to find Fernando in a deep depression, and he was wailing about how he missed WhiskeyMarie. He had managed to dig up a couple of old CDs that reminded him of Minnesota, and was playing them over and over and crying into his little scarf.


To perk him up a bit, I took him over to Kerry's condo, which has a fantastic view of Puget Sound. Well, a fantastic view if you can figure out how to take nighttime photos (Landis? Stacy? HALP!).


We then went to a bar, and I think after a few glasses of wine, Fernando felt better.


He's ready for his next adventure, which will be this weekend


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Video Post - That I Am Unable To Post...

I tried to post this video, but it didn't come from YouTube, and I am not tech-savvy.

I would like to dedicate the video to Skyler's Dad, who always posts video that I can't watch at work (no sound on computer), but that I'm certain are hilarious.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fernando Does (Part Of) Seattle

Yesterday was Bring Your Pink Plastic Pig-Houseguest To Work Day, and since Fernando had sobered up in the cage, I tucked him in my purse and dragged him to the salt mines.

I forgot he was there, until lunchtime.

I had to run a few errands at lunch, so I figured
"Fernando is probably dying to go to Marshall's in West Seattle". And I was right. He could not be-LIEVE the screaming deals on this Ralph Lauren skirt:


And Michael Kors dress-shorts:


I know what you're thinking. "SEVEN DOLLARS? SHE SPENDS SEVEN DOLLARS ON A CANDY BAR!"


And you know what I was thinking? "If I don't stop eating those $7 candy bars, I won't be able to fit into these $7 dress-shorts". Fernando was thinking "Is that bacon in that candy bar? Should I be worried?"

On the drive back to the salt mines, I let Fernando take the wheel, so that I could
photograph one of the 4 sunny days Seattle sees between October and May. If you squint, you should be able to see the Olympic mountain range. Squint hard - they're beyond the water.


We took a nighttime jog up to Kerry Park, and as you can see, I still haven't perfected the nighttime photo. Let's try it with the flash on:

Nope, how about with flash off:


Notsomuch, how about with the red-eye reduction. I am fully aware there were no red-eyes to be reduced, but there are only so many functions on the camera:

I am praying for nice weather this weekend, so I can get a clear photo with the Space Needle in the background. If not, we'll take a trip to TJMaxx.

(Don't worry, McGone, Fernando will have Big Fun in Austin next weekend).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Allegedly Drugs

Heath Ledger died of a drug overdose.

RIP - Oh this bums me out.




The Mystery of Candy Bars

If I'm eating a candy bar marked "May contain peanuts", is that like secret protein?

Monday, January 21, 2008

I Am A Press Junket - Sort Of

I have one of those "my friend's friend's hairdresser's cousin's roommate" connections to this movie:


My friend Joanna, was dorm-mates with Jieho Lee, the director, and if she says he's good stuff, he's good stuff. This also means, I am 1 degree from Jieho Lee, and do you know who is in this movie? That's right. Kevin Bacon. I'm already 2 degrees from him, but this just really confirms it.

But TravelGretta, where can I see this piece of cinematic mastery?

I'm glad you asked:

CALIFORNIA - JAN 25

1) In LA: Laemmle Sunset 5 Theater (Director/Writer Q&A's on Friday--the evening 6-7-ish screening and the 8-9-ish screening; and the Saturday matinee - exact times to follow on Wed.)

2) In Burbank: AMC Burbank 30

3) In Pasadena: Laemmle One Colorado

4) In Orange: AMC 30 at The Block

5) In Irvine: Regal/Edwards Westpark

6) In Santa Monica: TBD


NYC - JAN 25

1) AMC Empire 25 Theater (Midtown)

2) AMC Village 7 Theater (Downtown)


REST OF THE COUNTRY - FEB 8

1) PORTLAND: The Regal Fox Tower

2) SAN DIEGO: AMC Fashion Valley 20

3) SAN FRANCISCO: Sundance Kabuki Theater

4) SEATTLE: Regal Meridan 16

5) CHICAGO: AMC Piper's Alley 4

6) AUSTIN TBD

7) Other Cities/States pending (AZ, FL, TX)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What Do They Say About Fish And Houseguests?

A very important visitor arrived today. He flew out, all the way from chilly Minnesota, where he had been visiting with our girl Whiskeymarie.

Fernando von Bakonstein, a close relative of McGone at the IHoB, arrived at Chez TravelGretta already half in the bag.


As you can see, he had been drinking martinis the entire journey. Now, since I haven't had the chance to get to know the IHoG, I am going to assume his behavior was a result of the alcohol, but thus far, he has been a frightfully inappropriate houseguest.

The first thing he did, after stumbling out of the bag, was sexually harass an unsuspecting Herb


And he didn't take "no" for an answer


To be honest, I couldn't tell if Herb was enjoying it or not, but the next thing I knew IHoG was in the fridge, gobbling up everything in sight


He spent a couple of hours on the phone, and I'm not sure, but I think I heard him speaking Mandarin
When I caught him in my underwear drawer, I was shocked, and a little embarrassed


But the final straw was when I found him trying on my shoes.


I am going to give him a Time Out, so that he can sober up, and think about how he would like the rest of his visit to play out. If I see that he is genuinely sorry for his behavior, I will show him the real Seattle, but until then, he's under house-arrest.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dear Producers of "Make Me A Supermodel"

Whose idea was this? Is Britney working at Bravo now?

I just watched the episode where the potential models were asked to discard one, or more, items of clothing that supposedly signified their "old" life.

Did the discarded items go into a bag, to be donated to charity, for the less-fortunate who need clothing?

No, they did not. Pfft, charity doesn't make for edgy reality television. How pedestrian of me.

The contestants were lured down to the riverbanks, to a trash can bonfire. I had to witness some very reluctant participants shoveling lovely, perfectly in-tact, and possibly expensive designer garments into a fire. And the more they dumped in the fire, the more positive and encouraging the response from host Tyson Beckford.

Not only is this probably environmentally wrong, but the irretrievable wastefulness of it was just incomprehensible. I know models are typically accused of being stupid, but this wasn't their idea.

Dress for Success, Goodwill, Salvation Army? These are organizations that could have benefited from the "supermodel challenge".

GAAAHHHH - I'm so completely disgusted by this that I would like to take this opportunity to exercise my seldom-used vocabulary:

abhorrent, repugnant, revolting, loathsome, repulsive, repellent, detestable

Now, I'm no Bravo producer, but I'm guessing these aren't words you would want associated with "Make Me A Supermodel". Please put a little more thought into what you're doing, so I don't have to bust out my wildly impressive vocabulary again. It hurts my head.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Courteney Cox Is An Awesome Mom


Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea how many times I begged my mom to let me wear my dress-up chest pink frothy tutu outfit outside the house? This is one happy kid.

Do you know what happens to children whose parents deny them these simple sartorial pleasures? The clue to this answer lies in the header photo of this blog.

Oh, Craig's List. Where do you find them?

I think Tad Safran may have a younger brother, and he lives in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago.

"$500 WickerpPark - Hot Condo w/Parking - Female Roomate

Reply to: hous-542949862@craigslist.org

Date: 2008-01-17, 11:33PM CST

Close to blue line, pretty much brand new condo. THree decks including a private roof deck. Blocks away from Blue line, North ave bus, and Western Ave bus.

I dont really need a roommate, but i would like a girl to live here. Dont worry about being messy or whatever, i have a cleaning lady come twice a month. Drinks fine. No smoking as i just quit. You can do whatever drugs you want in your room. If their good, you need to share... hahahah.

Im a professional and barely even here. Male, in good shape. 27 years old. I have everything, all you need is a bed and bedroom furniture.

Rent is $500.00 including utilites if you are AVERAGE looking meaning a 6 out of 10. Each point up towards 10, you can subtract $100.00. So if you think you are a 7, $350, 10- you pay $50.00. Same thing if it goes the other way. If you are a 1 or something, be ready to fork up $950 a month. I will obviously be the judge. If you want we can also pick three people off the street and get the average of the three. Oh, and the rent can change month to month (i.e. you sit around and eat doritoes with french onion dip everyday and gain 30 pounds, you better be ready to fork over some dollars).

How great of a person you are or your personality will have no bearing on your score. btw, no parties, not a lot of guests unless you are a 7 or above and your guests are equal or better females. good luck."

I know I should be most-bothered by the sentiment behind the ad, but I'm really just more annoyed at his lack of appropriate punctuation and abominable grammar. "I have everything", except a conscience, and a solid grasp of the English language.

The top of the page had this disclaimer: Stating a discriminatory preference in a housing post is illegal - please flag discriminatory posts as prohibited

And if you think I didn't take it upon myself to unleash my inner-tattletale, you're giving me far too much credit. Guys like this deserve to pay full price for their "hot condo"; I asked three people on the street, and the verdict was unanimous.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Feel The Need. The Need For Scientology.

The assist for this goes to Kevin. Kevin was kind enough to send me an email with a link to Gawker, who is refusing to remove the Tom Cruise Scientology indoctrination video that has been circulating all over the web.

I'm not going to risk posting the video itself, as word on the street is that the Scientology lawyers are going bananas and removing the video from blogs right and left.


I'm not here to be edgy. I don't even wear black that often, and I actually really like the new Carrie Underwood CD.

So the subject line of Kevin's email read: Tom Cruise. Is nuts. And I think he was hoping for a little more of a solidarity-type response from me, than the one he actually got:

"Is it wrong that I just think he looks kind of hot in that video? I can't listen to all the stuff Maverick is saying - he just looks hot. How old is that footage?"


I mean, of COURSE Maverick is here to help/save everyone. He's in the NAVY. They are here to rehabilitate criminals, and unite cultures, and make sure no one's ego is writing a check that their body can't cash. It is their responsibility, and now is the time, and there are bogeys at twelve and three o'clock, and you're going to Top Gun.


And in the video interview, when Maverick starts using all those crazy acronyms that I don't recognize I just think "Oh, it's the military - they have their own language".

Kevin wants me to start using the phrase "I've canceled that in my area", but I think that should be reserved for
the handful of men who were the best fighter pilots in the world.

At ease.

Dear Everyone,

Please excuse TravelGretta from posting today (unless she discovers some free time later). She has been slightly more diligent at Holiday Golightly.

Sincerely,
TravelGretta's Mom
(Ed note: I totally forged this note)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hollywood's Undiagnosed Allergy to Condoms

Matthew McConaughey is going to be a father. For the baby shower, the couple is registered for shirtless ensembles only.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jennifer Garner


I know everyone is talking about how Jennifer Garner declined Tom Cruise's "advances" (if advances are a 10-year contract to pretend she was his wife), but I just wanted to post this photo because I love the outfit.

I Apologize, In Advance

...but it looks like my new obsession is Liz Jones.


From Wikipedia:

Liz Jones is an English journalist and writer. She is currently the fashion editor for the Daily Mail. Previously to this she was the editor of British Marie Claire. She is a former anorexic [1] and suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder[2].
She also writes a weekly column for the
Mail on Sunday called Liz Jones’s Diary in which she writes about her life with her (now ex) husband, the author Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal.

I am now finding myself Googling her, and feeling utterly compelled to read things like:


or


or better yet, a book she wrote, which is now as current and relevant as the Dead Sea Scrolls,


Part of me wants to give her a hug, and march her right over to a good therapist, to spend weeks, months...probably years learning to actually like herself.

The other, less altruistic, part of me is fully aghast that she is so prolific a writer, with such a vast audience, and probably legions of fans who hang on her every word. Fans who take her advice, and fiercly defend her when she rides her unicycle, while wearing exhorbitantly expensive silver leggings, right down the middle of Main Street in Crazy Town.

But then I look at this photo:


And I feel terrible, and want to hug her again. She actually looks like someone I would like, and having read snippets about her husband - who supposedly had like 7 affairs during the 4 years they were married, blah blah - and the anorexia, and OCD? Sad! She needs a hug!

I do have my limits, though, and do not have any desire to hug this:

At least, not until it puts a bra on.

Footwear I May Hate More Than Crocs


It's Uggs-meets-moon-boots. And the meeting isn't pretty. Can you find 7 other things in this photo that aren't pretty?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Liz Jones & Tad Safran Go On A Date


I am not kidding. This ongoing saga could not get any better if it were melted with chocolate and peanut butter, poured into a giant ceramic mug, and served to me by a shirtless Cameron Mathison.

I read the entire article, and the situation is like Oreo cookies, to me. I know they're extremely unhealthy, full of toxic ingredients, but when I dig into them, I can't stop eating.

Here's the synopsis, from Liz's perspective. And yes, it absolutely did require my comments in bold.

"When I read the piece in a national newspaper in praise of American women, by screenwriter Tad Safran, I was outraged.

A single, solvent man in his mid-30s, living in London, he was bemoaning, in great detail, without pulling a single punch, the sorry state of British womanhood.

In short, he accused us of being ugly and unkempt.

Friends had tried to set up Tad with a woman who was, according to him, "something that surely would have been happier hunting for truffles in the forests of France or grazing on the grassy marshlands of Canada. My friend's wife had told me Sophie still had the body of a 20-year-old. Maybe she did ... dismembered in her freezer at home. She certainly didn't have it on her skeleton".

Poor Sophie never stood a chance, did she, when up against the women of his homeland: the glossy haired, over-aerobicised, high-achieving, Frenchmanicured, designer-clad U.S. female?..."

She still sounds a smidge bitter.

"...No wonder his vitriolic comments have caused such a debate. I, for one, was outraged. I spend £400 a month on my hair, have been known to trek for six hours in search of a competent beauty therapist to wax my eyebrows (that was in the Himalayas) and, well, let's just say at least the man from Net a Porter knows the location of my letterbox..."

I cringe at the needy pandering.

"...And so, I arranged a dinner date with the aforementioned Tad (what sort of a name is that?) to find out [why he would prefer American women to British].

Let's just say I went to an awful lot of trouble..."

I think she should have smoked a pack of Marlboro's and stood in a wind tunnel for 15 minutes.

"...First, I booked a table at Claridges - you can't get more English than that - and also a suite, should we take a shine to each other..."

HANH? Whaaa? Are you kidding me? You're kidding me. Aren't you? Kidding? Is everyone understanding this? She booked a hotel room, in anticipation of the date with Tad Safran. You get that. Okay.

"...I had my hair coloured and cut, put my legs in a sling for a Brazilian bikini wax and invested in an all-over airbrush tan..."

Now, what have I said about rustic tangerine as a skin tone?

"...I performed my own pedicure and manicure (Chanel polish, naturally; none of those nasty cheap New York brands)...

I bought a soft tweed dress from Alberta Ferretti, its bodice studded with jewels. I slung over my shoulders a Dolce & Gabbana cardie that is so exclusive it never even went into production, wedged a pair of Bottega Veneta bondage sandals on my babysoft feet (I wanted to send a signal that the average British woman's taste in the bedroom is very far from vanilla)..."

I am still aghast that she believes this guy is worth all the preparation.

"...and applied my no-make-up make-up with dexterity, even separating my eyelashes with a sterile pin.

I even had my teeth cleaned that morning in Harley Street. It's fair to say I was flying the flag for British womanhood.

Poor Tad. When he turned up - in, commendably, a new shirt bought that day from Emmett on the King's Road, a blazer, slouchy Levi's and a pair of proper shoes (British men, and I feel another article coming on, should take note) - he looked terrified, mainly because he had also (and here again I point to the laziness of British men, most of whom are too lazy to even bother) Googled me, which meant he had good reason to be apprehensive.

'I read your description of your former husband as a 'fat, sportswear-clad nobody',' he said, kissing me on the cheek, and sitting down. 'So, I thought I'd better make a bit of an effort.'

Just don't mention anyone named Daphne.

"...Tad, ...tried to challenge my viewpoint by pointing out that I have, in fact, written articles encouraging British women to spend more on grooming and products, and marvelling at the soign├łe, long-limbed beauties you see as a matter of course on the streets of Manhattan and Paris. Which is true, but I still think British women are more naturally beautiful, and don't men prefer that to someone who irons her hair?..."

Indeed! Hair ironing! (note to self - don't forget the European pronged flatiron).

"...'I love it when a woman gets out of bed, pulls on jeans and a T-shirt, doesn't do her face and walks out the door looking stunning, he swooned. 'But the reality is that to look good past the age of 17 takes hard work, and dedication. Brits are too lazy for that.'

Has he seen any beauties on the Tube while he has been here? 'Honestly? No. Their make-up just looks wrong, their clothes are unironed and really cheap-looking, their boots are scuffed.'

Maybe they are all Polish, I venture..."

Ms. Jones has the most severe case of generalization-itis that I've ever witnessed. And she, apparently, hasn't noticed that Poland is responsible for producing a vast number of supermodels.

"...'No, they are Londoners. In the U.S., even the secretaries look a million dollars...'

The generalization-itis is dangerously contagious.

"...'Here, the female CEOs look scruffy. They think it is beneath them to spend money on how they look, or to appear ambitious. Or, actually, even to be ambitious. British women who went to really great universities and attained good degrees settle for really demeaning jobs, while in America they go all out to succeed.'

Is he intimidated by a woman who earns more than he does? (He seems fairly solvent, having sold several screenplays since he gave up his job as an advertising copywriter a few years ago.)

He laughed. 'Not at all. The fact that American girls are predisposed always to expect the man to pay is the one thing that puts me off them,' he said. 'One, when she spied my green American Express card, exclaimed: 'Do they still make them in that colour?''..."

I will never grow tired of that story.

"...He moaned a great deal about the fact we British girls moan a great deal. 'You are always complaining about juggling your careers and your lives, about not having a man, or if you do have one how awful he is, and about bringing up children. American women would never dream of airing how hard it is - for them, that's a sign of weakness.'..."

What? Is he kidding?

"...What does he prefer, a Brazilian wax or just a plain old bikini?..."

Oh my God, I'm now witnessing an episode of "Blind Date", just before they suggest a dip in the hot tub.

"...'I'm just happy to be there.'

Can he name the designer of my dress? 'Nope. Even American men don't care about labels. We just want you to make the most of yourself, and to try.'

I then asked him to describe me in three words..."

This does not sound like a smart request for her to make.

"...'You first,' he said, ordering a glass of red wine, having carefully grilled the maitre d' about its provenance (I have to say, I do find a man who knows about grapes strangely arousing).

'OK,' I replied, remembering he has a degree from Penn, his favourite author is Kurt Vonnegut and that his favourite film openings is that of A Matter Of Life And Death, a Powell/Pressburger English classic which I also love. 'You are kind, funny and intelligent.'..."

AAAAACK! Am I reading a script of "The Twilight Zone"? She read his article, and lists "kind" first?

"...He certainly doesn't know how to repay a compliment, displaying that great American trait: lack of tact.

His three words to describe me were 'bitter, driven and forward-looking', which would have been the most damning words of the evening ("Well, you do talk about your ex-husband all the time"), had he not then gone on to say he only fancies blondes. Charming..."

This is the point where I would hand Ms. Jones a copy of "He's Just Not That Into You", and comment that I hope she had not pre-paid for the room at Claridge's.

"...Even so, I did quite like him..."

I am completely out of exasperated, confused sound effects, and am now just shrugging.

"...mainly because, and I told him this, I didn't have to dumb myself down to be with him, something I often have to do with men because, the poor dears, they can't seem to cope with someone who is super bright..."

Bright...like Lapland in December. At midnight.

"...'Come on, I deserve a better review,' I admonished him a couple of days later via e-mail...."

Stalking will not garner you a better review.

"...He replied: 'I don't think you will be short of male attention for long, if that's what you want. You clearly pride yourself on making the most of yourself, and manage it without looking like something destined for a display case.

'In fact, you're a pretty good example of the point I made in my initial article: a British woman who is not ashamed to be seen to be making an effort, and looking all the better for it.'

You see? He didn't even ask what I was doing on New Year's Eve..."

Just more helpless shrugging from me.

"...Men may witter on about wanting women to be groomed and at the top of the career ladder and to stop moaning about our lot, but in reality, when confronted with someone who is the real McCoy, they don't get our jokes or find us remotely amazing..."

I find her astonishingly amazing. Just not in the good way.

"...All they want is a 22-year-old blonde who is as bendy as a pretzel and will look up to them rather than challenge them.

I think Tad is being a tad disingenuous. What he means when he says that British women don't measure up is that they are a bit too 'real' and challenging, rather than Barbie-like and empty-headed. American women are welcome to him."

Like the shiploads of tea you sent over, several centuries ago, we will politely decline.

We're, Um, Flattered?

So, you all remember Liz Jones, and her hatred for American Women, yes? Her statements were in partial-response to this Times online - UK piece, written by Tad Safran.


Since I'm going to be in England in just over a month, I am slightly obsessed with this story. And you just know I must comment, in bold. (This article was long, so I edited a bit - click here to read the entire piece) Blogger, WTF, why is this print so huge?.

"Although I am American, England has been my home since I was three years old. I now split my time between Los Angeles and London and regularly visit New York. There are many, many differences between the British and the Americans, but none more glaring than UK women’s approach to their own upkeep.

I am a massive fan of British women. UK girls, in my opinion, are the greatest natural beauties in the world . . . when they’re 17 or 18 years old..."

Is there a BBC version of "To Catch A Predator"?

"...The girls I was surrounded by when I was a teenager were sublime roses with lustrous hair, flawless skin, bright eyes and lithe, athletic bodies. They dressed as if there would be a prize at the end of the night for the girl wearing the least. I then went away to Philadelphia for university. Four years later, I came back and wondered: 'What the hell happened to all the beautiful girls I knew?' My first assumption was that one half of them had eaten the other half and washed them down with a crate of lager. These girls looked phenomenal when looking good took no effort. But when British women get to the age where they have to make an effort, they appear unable, or uninterested, in rising to the challenge.

I’m recently back from a two-month sojourn in Los Angeles and New York. Maybe I have come back with fresh eyes..."

Eye lift.

"...Maybe I have grown accustomed to the effort American women put into their upkeep. Either way, you don’t exactly need callipers to figure out in which country the women look after themselves more.

An informal poll of my US female friends revealed that they spend roughly $700 (£350) a month on what they consider standard obligatory beauty maintenance. That covers haircut, highlights, manicure, pedicure, waxing, tanning, make-up, facials, teeth whitening etc. They will spend a further $1,000 (£500) a month on physical conditioning... I’m not sure any of my British female friends spends £700 during an entire year on her appearance. American women see these costs as a simple and sensible investment in their future..."

I have, unwittingly, been shirking my investments.

"...A perfect example of this was presented to me last week. I was set up with Sophie (I have changed the name) by married friends. Sophie was a truly beautiful girl I used to be friends with, but hadn’t seen in 15 years. I was surprised to hear that she was still single and was excited to meet her again. At dinner, I found myself sitting opposite something that surely would have been happier hunting for truffles in the forests of France or grazing on the grassy marshlands of Canada..."

This is how he talks about someone he used to be friends with...

"...My friend’s wife had told me that Sophie still had the body of a 20-year-old. Maybe she did . . . dismembered in her freezer at home. She certainly didn’t have it on her skeleton..."

Well, now I'm confused. Is she a skeleton, or is she hunting for truffles in France/grazing in Canada.

"...I’m not saying that I’m the greatest prize out there, but at least I’d put on a clean shirt, shaved and brushed my teeth. Sophie tumbled into the house looking like a refugee from Hurricane Katrina. She smelt like the R&D lab at Philip Morris..."

I can't argue - I am not a fan of cigarette smoke.

"...Her outfit was about as sexy as a half-pound of ground meat..."

Seasoned, or un-seasoned?

"...And, surely, the only time she’d seen the inside of a gym was to ask directions to the nearest pub..."

Okay, I'm not being glib. I'm actually confused as to the mental picture I am supposed to have of Sophie. Too heavy? Too skinny? Maybe just thirsty?

"...I was hurt that my friends thought I’d be remotely interested in Sophie. Even more insulting was when my friend’s wife pointedly said: “Tad, I hear you just sold a screenplay to the producers of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” I could not believe it. She was selling ME to HER!?..."

Unheard of! He seems like such a sweet guy!

"...I sat there watching Sophie tuck into a second huge plate of shepherd’s pie and realised why no self-respecting American girl consumes carbohydrates after 2pm..."

Crap. I thought I was self-respecting.

"...I’m not surprised Sophie was having trouble finding a boyfriend. Regardless of whether she was interested in me or not, she was unwittingly sabotaging her own chances with any man.

It’s not entirely Sophie’s fault, I suppose. My friend’s wife didn’t manage my expectations. Maybe it would have been better if she had said: 'Tad, you enjoyed The Lord of the Rings. Would you like to meet an orc?'..."

Okay, again, this is someone he used to be friends with?

"...Why is it the case (and I’m generalising here)..."

All right, at least he's qualifying the statements. Liz Jones, take notes.

"...that British women spend so little time and effort on looking after them-selves? Take, for example, Helena Bonham Carter, a spectacular example of the English rose. And yet she is regularly photographed looking like a bag of spanners. Can you imagine a similar photo of the American equivalent, say Michelle Pfeiffer?

Absolutely not..."

Helena Bonham Carter's first big film was "A Room With A View". Michelle Pfeiffer's was "Grease 2". No offense to Ms. Pfeiffer, I'm just saying.

"...As with many societal ills, I blame the parents..."

Now I'm listening.

"...British mothers do not instruct their daughters the way American mothers do. In the US, beauty treatments appear to be a large part of their growing-up experience. A trip to the beauty salon is a group event for girls, an opportunity for a gossip and a catchup. This continues into adulthood. As an experiment, I went for a manicure and pedicure in Chelsea..."

Riiiiiight. An "experiment".

"...The place was packed (thankfully not with anyone I know), but was as quiet as a cathedral. The women sat silently ignoring each other with their noses buried in magazines... When I went to pay for my “mani-pedi”, I discovered another reason why British women do not have as many treatments as American women: the cost. Beauty treatments are vastly more expensive here...Regardless of cost, change your hairstyle from the one you wore to your debutante ball. It is not an admission of defeat.

Another part of the problem is that women in Britain do not help each other. American women have no qualms about telling their friends, in no uncertain terms, when they look like crap, or have put on weight, or are dressed like a bag-lady..."

I do not want to be friends with his American women-friends.

"...In Britain, women are too polite to set their friends straight. I’ve been in a room with two English girls when one is preparing for a black-tie ball.

She came out in her outfit and asked: “How do I look?” The other girl cocked her head sympathetically and said: “Adorable”.

I thought, “Adorable . . . like a hooker.” I understand that she did not want to hurt the other girl’s feelings, but there’s such a thing as constructive criticism..."

If the girl had already purchased the dress, and was getting dressed for the ball - there is no time for constructive criticism. If they were in the dressing room at the store, prior to the dress purchase? Yes to the constructive criticism. But afterward? Unless there was an alternative dress waiting, the criticism would have just been cruel.

"...Alternatively, the girl giving the advice actually did think her friend looked adorable and it was simply like one cannibal asking another if it’s wrong to eat human flesh.

Ultimately, English women are like men doing DIY. No matter how lost they are, they refuse to call in professional help. It’s utterly irrational.

A beautiful English ex-girl-friend of mine was, at the age of 29, as uncomfortable operating an eyelash curler as I’d be operating a crane. She approached beauty salons the way men approach buying porn – with darting glances and prayers of “Dear God, I hope no one sees me”. For some reason, being seen to make an effort with one’s appearance is regarded as shameful among British women..."

And yet, she was the "beautiful English ex-girlfriend"...I'm even more confused.

"...There is one aspect of their appearance about which British women do obsess: their shoes..."

Amen, sisters.

"...Great, I’m glad you have beautiful shoes that pain you in all types of exquisite ways (that men would never put up with). I’m sure other women will be incredibly impressed by your new Jimmy Choos or Blahniks. But, ladies, the only time a man will notice your shoes..."

Important note to Mr. Safran: We do not care if men notice our shoes.

"...is if your feet are wedged on top of his shoulders bouncing either side of his head..."

Klassy, with a "K" Mr. Safran.

"...I don’t want you to think, though, that I believe American women have nothing to learn from British women..."

God forbid, he wouldn't have advice for us as well.

"... The irony is that, as obsessed as American women are with their looks, they totally ignore their social skills. Within 10 minutes of meeting an American woman, I guarantee you will know her salary and most recent medical/ dental procedure..."

Someone may want to re-assess where he's meeting American women.

"... I once got to the end of a date in New York, pulled out my credit card to pay and the girl solemnly remarked: 'A green American Express card? I didn’t know they still made them in that colour.'..."

That is, actually, kind of funny.

"...American women also take themselves too seriously and are annoyingly confronta-tional..."

I have noticed that men like this often mistake conversation for confrontation.

"...The good news for men, by the way, is they are convinced that the best way to prove they are equal to a man is by sleeping with him. Um . . . Go ahead, that’ll teach me. And they won’t even ruin your night’s sleep by staying over as their personal trainer is coming to their place at 6.30 the next morning..."

Someone's ego may not have considered this, but they may not have been impressed with the performance.

"...American women are generally more grasping than British women socially and financially so I suppose that it makes sense that they are more striving aesthetically, too. Their obsession with their looks, however, can be unattractive and can even turn unpleasant...It’s not healthy to have one’s cosmetic surgeons on speed dial. (Then again, an English girl I recently and briefly went out with had four drug dealers on her speed dial, which is not especially healthy either.)..."

But, given the choice, a hot, skinny, coked-up girl is undoubtedly far more appealing to Mr. Safran.

"...Nobody’s perfect. Certainly not the men who get to take out these women. British women are, without a doubt, the best to have a pint and a laugh with. They are the most self-reliant, uncomplicated and unflap-pable. That they are neither obsessed with their looks, nor insecurely competitive, are wonderful qualities. And their self-depreca-tion is incredibly endearing. But when it comes to making the all-important first impression, do you really want it to be, 'I’ll bet she was really hot ten years ago'?..."

But, on the other hand, do you really want to run the risk of attracting someone like Tad Safran?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

It's My Half Birthday

The last time I celebrated my half-birthday, Card showed up with half-a-cake. It looked like this:



This year, I may go shopping and just buy one shoe.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fergie Songs - Two Issues


1) "...you can hold my hand if you want tooo-iyoooo, cause I wanna hold yours toooo-iyooo"

Yuck.

2) "...sippin', reminiscin' on days when I had a Mus...tang"

Every time I hear it, I want her to say "mustache". She never does, but it would be so very awesome if she did.

Liz Jones - writer, hater, ex-wife of player

In honor of our girl Kimmy, who recently relocated to the United Kingdom, I would like to direct your attention to a British tabloid columnist, by the name of Liz Jones.

Liz has made some outrageously unflattering comments about American girls.

I am prone to making gross generalizations, but Liz Jones makes my rantings sound like specifically categorized Gallup polls.

Here she goes, and here I go, interrupting her sweeping criticisms with my always-useful opinions (in bold, of course - I'm American):

"I admit I have a bit of an anti-thing going on with American girls. Basically, I hate them..."

She hates, roughly, 150 million people. That is, kind of, a lot.

"...This is not helped by the fact my former husband had a rather lengthy affair with one..."

So, yes, directing the hate at 150 million women, and not your former husband, makes perfect sense.

"... the dreaded Daphne, who lived in Brooklyn in what was probably a 3sqft bedsit, spent a lot of money on pedicures (I know this because I intercepted his texts to her, in praise of her toes), was incredibly self-obsessed (oh dear God, the e-mails about how she wanted to work for a non-profit organisation stretched to five pages), not funny at all, and obviously in possession of a very loose set of morals..."

Compared to your former husband, who was clearly a bastion of integrity.

"...One drawling voicemail from her to my husband went: 'Hi, how are yeeeewwww. I really want to talk to you about the off-Broadway play I saw on Friday' (I mean, honestly, how contrived!).
Yes, OK, American girls are well groomed, and take intense care in their appearance, unashamed to tell whoever will listen how much their personal ashtanga yoga guru charges them when he arrives on their doorstep at 5am.
But unlike quirky, cool British girls...




...U.S. ones have no real style when it comes to fashion, merely putting on whatever American Vogue tells them to.
They (and I am talking mostly here about women who work in the fashion and media worlds, and who live in LA or New York)..."

Okay, so NOW she's making some distinctions.

"...are also incredibly, earth-shatteringly, want-to-eat-your-own-arm-when-they-are-talking-to-you boring.
We shouldn't be fooled by Carrie Bradshaw and her ilk - they have scripts..."

Scripts written by American girls.

"...When you have the misfortune to meet one, they will give you a glassy, unfocused stare...


(Ed. note: Amy Winehouse. British.)

... like that of a shark, swiftly followed by the mantra: 'Hi, how are yeeewww?' (as if they care, unless you are A) male; and B) own a yacht)..."

Would you like some bitters with your bitter?

"...American women are also mindbogglingly stupid..."

Seriously - 150 million is, kind of, a lot.

"...Rare is the New York female high-flier who A) knows how to dial Britain; and B) can ever work out that they might just be ringing in the middle of your night..."

That bitter has a lingering taste, doesn't it.

"...They all have several masters degrees, which makes me think the American version must be multiple choice..."

I love multiple choice.

"...are fearsomely ambitious, despite having absolutely zero talent (have you read the super-sycophantic dribblings in New York Magazine? Ohmigod!), and obsessed with staying young and marrying rich.
Why any man would prefer one of these honey-skinned, difficult, vacant, blow-dried-daily divas to a lovely, super-intelligent, witty, self-deprecating British girl (OK, me) is beyond belief."

Did I miss the part where she was self-deprecating? I just heard the American girl-deprecating parts.

That last sentence reminded me: I really need to find a good straightening iron that will work with the 220 voltage in England. Unless I can find a salon there, where I can be blow-dried daily.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Pretend Word

"Wosh" - verb.

A less-sincere form of the verb "wish".

Used by extremely busy, spell-check-challenged friends, who are in such a rush to decline invitations for Drinks With The Girls, and yet still retain the illusion of wanting to join in.

Used in a sentence:

"Wosh I could make it but I have aa work dinner. If I finsh up early i'll stop by."

In our next lesson:

1) Freudian slips, related to overdrinking, and 12-step programs.
2) New Pretend Word "Finsh"

I wosh you would all finsh your homework before class.

You Know What's Funny?

When you decide to change your header photo, and the new one shows up in IMAX format.

But then, who doesn't love a giant suitcase full of shoes?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Focus on February

Whilst we are a smidge crabby at the moment, we must keep our eye on the prize.

The prize, in this scenario, is February. Pretty much the entire month of February. Black Thursday Valentine's Day aside, February is going to be my bestest, mostest favoritist month, and I may be adding "est" or "ist" to the end of as many words as I can. And after I explain why, no one will listen to me if/when I try to complain about how much I hate January.


(Ed. note: above photo is, essentially, November-May in Seattle)

I have signed up for the Fun & Drunk version of the "Mommy & Me" course, and we'll be participating in this, in Austin, Texas (and staying at the Driskill Hotel, because I'm admittedly spoiled, and my mom is awesome - and not necessarily in that order):



I'm forgetting January already...

and then, I will also be a guest at the Sundance, Utah chapter of "Stepmommy & Me", with Kerry & Ted, and their fabulously generous Stepmom, Terry, who is truly fabulously generous, and also has very cute shoes. She's practically Oprah.

I'm already sore from skiing, but have absolutely NO business complaining...

and then, it's off to Amsterdam, with Peanut...


Peanut has some fabulously generous friend in Amsterdam, who is possibly not thinking clearly about having two very bossy, loud girls staying in his apartment with him...

and then, finally, joining up with The Girls in England, to celebrate our Kimmy and her nuptials. EGADS, isn't "nuptials" just the grossest word???


I am fully aware that I will not be permitted to whine again, for at least the next 6 months. I admit, that it is good to be TravelGretta in February.

I may complain, however, that I am now too broke to buy any more shoes...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Find Your Happy Place

Am doing some mental deal-making with self.

Me: Self, you are cranky, yes.

Self: Oh shut it.

Me: Okay, we need to get you out of the cranky-space.

Self: Maybe you didn't hear me the first time.

Me: Try thinking about all your Happy Places - do that visualization thing.

Self: May I have a cookie while I visualize?


HAPPY PLACES
Wrigley Field


Las Brisas, Acapulco


Sonoma Cheese Factory


Spier Winery in South Africa



Self: That was nice, but I'm going to need another cookie.