Light up the Nights on Champion (2005--I'm lazy)

20 shows in 2 weeks

I'm just so excited for Michael right now, composer of my musical, who's seeing 20 shows in 2 weeks in New York City. What a lark! What a mind-boggling oddysey of theatrical displays! What a study! I'm waiting, meanwhile, to hear all the music from the second story. Via email--what a world!

Feeling very lucky to have found the right person. Crossing my fingers to keep meeting all the right people. (Sounds like we'll need a barbershop septet and a reed player who also does electric guitar...)


Deconstructing "Deconstructing the Deco Diet"

It's true I like to make fun food, but I found a way to make fun of it, as well. One night I popped a frozen pizza in the oven and sat down to read an old cookbook. Next thing I knew, I was writing about the old musty thing for The Sophisticate, the journal of the Art Deco Society of California. Well, someone in Miami Beach, (a.k.a. Mecca) liked it so much he invited me to speak to the Miami Design Preservation League.

What a whirlwind! I flew all day last Monday, and all day Wednesday, 4000 miles in 20 hours, give or take a few time zones. Tuesday was a kaleiedoscope of hairpins, curious food, and Art Deco Design! There are hundreds of hotels along the lush, palm-lined beach down there, all designed within 20 imaginative years, competing to tell their stories and out-stylize each other. Here's me with my buddy Scott Timm outside the Sherbrooke hotel, where I stayed:

I started out my morning painting my nails in the car and balancing a cake-like "Luncheon Loaf" on my knees on the way to a TV studio, for the food segment of "South Florida Today." While struggling to pin my unhappy hair into place, I disturbed a snoring Cheech Marin in the green room, who had also flown out from the Bay Area, and was promoting an art exhibit on Latino art. We discussed vintage weddings (I had just read in Nancy Eaton's "Your Vintage Wedding" that he performed one on Treasure Island). He teased me for running around without my 4" red snakeskin vintage peekaboo-toe pumps, calling me "The Barefoot Contessa."

No, Cheech, you're quite mistaken. All I can seem to make is luncheon loaf. (And yes, that's *parsley* in the green layer...)

I also met a fabulous celebrity event planner and designer of glamorous retro aprons!

Ironically, while thinking about, talking about food so much, I was starving most of the time. While enjoying a picnic breakfast on the beach at sunrise, I was assaulted, Tippi Hedren-style, by evil seagulls who plucked my fried egg sandwich right out of my hand, and threw it in the sand! But here's the gastronomic experience that truly made my day: South Florida STONE CRAB claws! Aren't they adorable?
The beauty of this delicacy is that the crabs are not killed in the harvest. Fishermen just rip their fattest arm off and toss the creatures back to grow a new one for next year. Nauseating? Yes. Comforting? That, too. Above all, delicious enough to want to go back next crab season.

If you're interested, here's the article about my lecture in the Miami Herald.

Do I look a little like a Stepford wife here? Read "The Cook's Creed" (Meta Given, 1942) and you'll understand why.

Just look at this luscious layered luncheon loaf!:

Here's the iTunes soundtrack of songs about food from the era:

If you're not tired of this story yet, check out the "official" web page for links to the article, TV spot, and suspicious menu suggestions from the era.

If you want to see more photos, check out my album!

Special thanks to Laurie Gordon for the vintage bathing suit (alas, unworn...I'll have to go back) and Theresa LaQuey for coaching and the Luncheon Loaf recipe.


Our Poop-Throwing Fundraiser

Just last weekend, I invented the MOST disgusting use of Jell-o, EVER. And the kids loved it.

I volunteered to plan a booth for the first annual Harvest Festival at my son's school. I got the idea from PTO Today to do a toilet-paper toss as a booth -- gross, but kids love it. Another mom wanted to do a "gooey/gross toss" with Knox Blox. We combined the idea. A certain dad snickered that maybe the Jell-o blocks should be brown and yellow. Blithely, I mixed them up with leftover orange juice, chocolate pudding, and—er, why not?—a can of corn. My third-grade son was reading Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toiletsand made a text-to-life connection. Now we had a literary reference! What a wonderful family/community collaboration! It was all coming together! I papered the outside of the can with cartoons photocopied from the book.

"Step right up!" I called. "Help Captain Underpants defeat the Talking Toilets!" Kids flocked to the table. "Wear underpants on your head if you want to play for free!" (Don't worry, they were right out of the package.) I let them choose what material to fling — "Wet or dry?" — the yellow stuff, the brown stuff, or the roll of toilet paper? "Kids, don't try this at home," I warned. The kids chose both options evenly, some pinching even the roll of TP with two fingers, wearing a pained look on their face; some squishing the Jell-o between their fingers with glee in their eyes.

As the sun rose higher into the heavens and this baby bacchanal progressed, however, the game got more and more gross. Sand stuck to the Jell-o when it fell on the ground. The brown stuff left skid-marks all over the toilet seat. Even the toilet paper got covered with goo. At one point I looked up to see a passerby with a look of abject horror on her face. Immigrant moms in their traditional garb stood far, far away. Suddenly I realized the shame I'd brought upon the school with my sick and twisted leadership. I smiled brightly and batted my eyelashes, unable to think of what else to do.

"Tra-la-laaa!" Welcome to Sequoia, where your kids can fling poo! If there is one thing that parents learn early, it's that s**t washes off. Besides, it's only a game.


Musical Madness

This is a test to see if you can put MUSIC in a blog.

Presenting, "The Big Bitch"--think Cinderella....

Want to see more? Go to the Shoes, a Mirror, and a Big, Pink Rose website!


A Great Day for the Dimond! (and me!)

A memorable day about family and community.

Dave was the Emcee,
Kristen performed the opening act with members of Donald's class.

Nancy Peterson la Guitarrista!

Mr. Nichols performed "Oakland Roads," written by students.
Student performers included
Dagmawi, Simone, Larisa, Nomi, Kenny and Johnathan.

The store is gorgeous~food delicious & healthy~a turning point for our neighborhood.

Good job everyone! Congrats Joe & Diane Tam... and the whole neighborhood! Thanks to all who made it happen.



"A Return to Glamour"

I was as amused as Jon Stewart at this year's Oscar theme: "A Return to Glamour."

"What a relief," he said. "After last year's theme of 'sweatpants and jeans' it will be a real treat."

And of course, everyone looked properly gorgeous and well-groomed. If there was a hair out of place, it was put there deliberately by a high-paid stylist who was aware all the other stylists were doing it in the same way. Every gown was tasteful, every tux was pressed.

Yawn. Same old glamour.

I did appreciate Charlize Theron's attempt to recapture an "old Hollywood" style with her beehive hairdo and oversized shoulder-bow, but it came off as more of a costume than an homage. But no risks were taken (probably because people are still making fun of Bjork and Cher) and there was little fun to be found. Necklines plunged, but nowhere near as far as J.Lo's did a few years back. Naomi Watts wore a torn-up confection suitable for a gal who's been in the fist of an ape, but even that seemed a little last-year. Or maybe next year? But not this year -- this year was mostly about taffeta. Here we are, it's ot-six, and we're halfway through the decade, when the themes of fashion settle. So what's the 00's style? Maybe it's so settled now I don't even notice it.

There was something new: some big-skirted dresses (Sandra Bullock and Amy Adams) had pockets. Who wouldn't want pockets in an evening gown? And there was something missing, too: the rocks. What was that all about? If we're returning to glamour, doesn't that mean a carat or two--or ten? Harry Winston hates a natural beauty.

But look at me complaining. I had a marvelous time, sitting on my couch in my sweatpants (so last year!) eating buttered popcorn -- and the gold-dusted chocolate Oscar from last year's basket, courtesy of my friend Abby Letteri and her Oscar™-winning husband Joe Letteri™, animator of Andy Serkis™, who got the props he deserved but no statues. I sat there appreciating all those beautiful people who worked so hard to get where they are, and then worked so hard to look as good as they did last night. Pedicures, peels, polishes, (I got tired just thinking of it). All just to entertain little old me.

God bless the Oscars. God bless America. And God bless Hollywood for gay cowboys, happy pimps, and making glamour seem normal.


Dreaming of Glamour

A photographer approached me at a ball and asked if he could photograph me in my home, wearing my gown. He was German, doing a book on Americans and our whimsical ways of costuming. I wish I could remember his name!

Just before the shoot, I decided there should be cherry blossoms in the picture. I went out to pluck a branch from the trees blooming on the street, my high heels giving me the reach I needed.

My neighbor came home at that moment and saw me in my big fluffy dress. He thought I'd finally cracked, running around in the middle of the day, while other people worked for a living, lost to my fantasy life.

The photo has become a favorite of mine, just for this reason. The dress is a Mark Jones reproduction of a Ginger Rogers dance dress. I modeled it a few times in vintage fashion shows, then my husband (my prince) surprised me with it for Christmas one year.

In my dreams I am wearing this dress to the Oscars for a screenplay I've written about Old Hollywood couture.


Wonder Woman

This was my Valentine's poem from Dave today:

Wonder Woman

Wonder where her glasses are
Wonder where her keys are
Wonder what's for dinner
Wonder when she'll be ready
Wonder if she's got her phone on
Wonder why she puts up with me
Wonder where she shops
Wonder if she'll like this poem
Wonder what I did to deserve this
Wonder what I did to deserve her

- Dave 2/14/06

Answer to the 8th line: I do.


The 10-Second Rule

Everyone knows that if you're going to be idling your car for a while, you should turn off the engine to save gas. But how long or short, I've always wondered, is that "while?" I'd heard 3 minutes, I'd heard 30 seconds, but most often I'd heard "leave your engine on. You don't want to wear out the starter."

I decided to do some research. It was harder to find an answer online than I thought. Click & Clack only say "If you're stationary for more than a couple of minutes, shut it off, and save gas." The EPA website is vague, suggesting merely to "turn off your engine if you anticipate a lengthy wait." (http://www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/17-tips.htm) Even the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy site says "Idling gets 0 miles per gallon. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than do cars with smaller engines." And I say, Duh!

At last, the Canadian Office of Energy Efficiency (http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/english/index.cfm), provided me with a rule of thumb, and the answer surprised me. If you're going to be idling for more than TEN SECONDS, you'll save gas by shutting off your engine. Ten seconds?! Stoplights take six times that long, at least!

As a matter of fact, in Basel, Switzerland, it is a law that everyone has to turn off their engines at stoplights. This city was once the dirtiest in Europe (the Rhine river caught fire), and now it's the cleanest. Is anyone paying attention, here?

No, in America we're still thinking in the Stone Age. Or at least the carburetor age, when it really did stress a car out to be turned on. All cars are now made with fuel injection, and starting a warm engine is nothing. "Doesn't it wear out your starter?" A guy asked, who was listening to the conversation I was having with a Saturn mechanic. The answer is maybe a little, but if you have to replace your starter six months earlier, so what? The savings you get in the years until that happens are worth it.

What savings? I tried it myself to find out, and was amazed, when I went to fill up on gas, to see that I had gotten 30 more miles on that tank than usual. Thirty more miles -- that's more than one gallon of gas. If I could save a gallon of gas every time I filled up, I'd have $75 extra dollars at the end of the year. And I drive a pretty fuel-efficient vehicle already. A 10% savings on every tank of gas would really add up if I drove an SUV.

So spread the word. Try it yourself. And think about stopping the war, saving the environment, and breathing better while you're at it. If we all used the 10-second rule, we'd be saving more than gas.