Aug 31, 2010


Break out the booze: Heavy Drinkers outlive teetotallers.

Animal, vegetable or mineral? South Sudan cities.

Beware the wrath of writers.

Now, that's a downward facing dog.

I prefer a wimple

To that godawful black taffeta poke bonnet worn by the nuns in "Doubt."

Meryl Streep is an overactor

There, I said it. I just saw "Doubt," and I found Ms. Streep's much-vaunted ability to do accents a huge distraction. I'm happy to see that I'm not alone.

I did like the movie, though. And I actually sympathized with Sister Aloysius, though I don't know if I'm supposed to. Apparently the author/writer/director, John Patrick Shanley has mommy issues. And the movie is dedicated to the Amy Adams character, a sweet and trusting nun who comes to believe in the innocence of the priest, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Hoffman, who is excellent, plays Father Flynn, a likeable, progressive priest trying to breathe life into the Bronx parish whose school is run by the iron hand of Sister Aloysius Beauvier. But the devil always has the best lines. So who are we to believe: The earnest, compassionate priest or the dried up old termagant?

CIA guns

Virginia Postrel ponders the sartorial choices of Joan Campbell, a CIA chief played by Kari Matchett on "Covert Affairs."
Joan ... never covers her arms. Is this a new form of power dressing? Is it Michelle Obama's influence? Or is it yet another Hollywood fantasy? (They've been putting female detectives in tank tops for years. But at least they also have jackets.) You'd think that Langley's air conditioning alone would dictate more coverage.

Others have also noticed. And it's not just the lack of sleeves. Matchett's character also sports plunging necklines with a concomitant bralessness that's extremely distracting. And not in a good way--if you're looking to suspend your disbelief and enjoy the show, that is. If you're just there to see Matchett's assets, you're in luck.

Joan should take a cue from another TV woman with a high-powered job, Diane Lockhart from "The Good Wife."

Played by the terrific Christine Baranski, whom I adore, Diane always looks both elegant and professional. It helps that Christine Baranski can really wear clothes.

Baranski's older than Matchett and her character is likely richer, so maybe Joan would do better to use the title character as her inspiration. Julianna Margulies seldom shows as much as an elbow at work, yet she still manages to look gorgeous.

Aug 27, 2010

Channeling Rachel

Cool old photos of English schoolchildren.


Another blonde overlooked

Farah Fawcett, the subject of the best-selling poster of all time. Really, this list has some serious omissions.

Who's your favorite blonde?

Aug 26, 2010

Jean Harlow didn't even make the cut

Marilyn Monroe tops the list of greatest blondes. That's fine, I suppose, but who the hell are these other people? Denise Van Outen? Holly Willoughby?

But Jean was the original blonde bombshell. She also died tragically young.

What the young, hip political woman is wearing

Halle by Kate Spade

[T]he Kate Spade wedge heels are not just one candidate’s shoes. They seem to be the shoes of a circle of younger women aspiring to power or already in it, women directly and indirectly passing on to one another ways of navigating the particular challenges of being a woman in the public eye. A woman must look put-together, but not as if she is a slave to fashion; she must look groomed, but never be spotted grooming.

Not for nothing, but if the NYT is gonna devote an article to a shoe would it kill them to show a picture of said shoe? A better picture than this, that is.


Whither the medical revolution?

Where sheep may safely graze: Hobbiton.

Why are Palestinians still refugees?

The nutty dressers luncheon.

Aug 25, 2010

How not to give good customer service

When you're talking to a customer angry over an error made by your company and she says, obviously referring to the company, that "you erroneously deducted $100 from my account." Don't reply: "I didn't do anything."

Aug 24, 2010

Wrong and downright harmful

Government eating guidelines.

According to Scientific American, growing research into carbohydrate-based diets has demonstrated that the medical establishment may have harmed Americans by steering them toward carbs. Research by Meir Stampfer, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard, concludes that diets rich in carbohydrates that are quickly digestible—that is, with a high glycemic index, like potatoes, white rice, and white bread—give people an insulin boost that increases the risk of diabetes and makes them far more likely to contract cardiovascular disease than those who eat moderate amounts of meat and fewer carbs. Though federal guidelines now emphasize eating more fiber-rich carbohydrates, which take longer to digest, the incessant message over the last 30 years to substitute carbs for meat appears to have done significant damage. And it doesn’t appear that the government will change its approach this time around. The preliminary recommendations of a panel advising the FDA on the new guidelines urge people to shift to “plant-based” diets and to consume “only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry and eggs.”

First class creep

Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester.
6. At the end of the book, Rochester is blind and maimed from the fire that ultimately destroyed Thornfield Hall and killed Bertha. (He does rescue the servants and tries to rescue his wife–I’ll give him that.) But once Jane has declared that her love for him still remains, he reveals that for the past year, he’s been wearing the pearl necklace (ahem) he had given her during their engagement. Some might call this romance, I call it a problem. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rochester likes to wear Jane’s underwear, too. Or, let’s be honest: Bertha’s.

Someone's gonna be late for work

Chinese traffic jam enters its 10th day.

Aug 23, 2010

Even a stopped clock

How Jimmy Carter saved beer.

ADDED: But even the pretentious Marin County microbrewers have their doubts about Jimmy Carter redux.


How to defeat the Death Star: Power Point.

The truth about Charlie Chan.

The recluse, thanks to Holmes.

Sibling rivalry: Hollywood's oldest feud.

Whatever happened to quicksand?

Daniel Engber:
If you're a 9- or 10-year-old at the P.S. 29 elementary school in Brooklyn, N.Y., you've got more pressing concerns: Dragons. Monsters. Big waves at the beach that might separate a girl from her mother. Thirty years ago, quicksand might have sprung up at recess, in pools of discolored asphalt or the dusty corners of the sandbox—step in the wrong place, and you'd die. But not anymore, a boy named Zayd tells me. "I think people used to be afraid of it," he says. His classmates nod. "It was before we were born," explains Owen. "Maybe it will come back one day."

Hmmm. I remember being afraid of quicksand. Also, improbably, tsetse flies, thanks to a neighbor kid's mother who assured us that there had been an influx of the creatures one summer. She warned us not to go to sleep if we got bitten, or we'd never wake up. I spent many a long night that summer trying to stay awake, afraid that one of the mosquito bites on my legs was really the work of a tsetse fly.

Aug 4, 2010

The Onion

Blurring the line between farce and reality.