Thursday, January 31, 2008

Progressive in conservative's clothing.

Once, during high-school, just after my parents had removed to remote and unfashionable Darrington, I left for a date wearing a knee-length grey jersey shirtdress. As I walked to the car, my mom called out, "You're wearing that to see a boy? You look like a frumpy librarian!"

This is the same mom who now has an enormous closet full of floor-length floral skirts (though I guess floral's en vogue now, too, proving all fashion transitory and vaguely arbitrary, basically a game of roulette winnable by anyone with some semblance of personal style).

Anyway, I occasionally did feel like a prudish aunt trapped in a teenage world of magazines lined with navel-skimming J-Lo necklines and department store shelves overflowing with thong-baring 7 jeans. All I ever wanted was to be a responsible adult, with a job, an apartment, a kitchen-aid mixer, and a nice pair of pumps. My first crush was Alex P. Keaton, and I while I quickly was bred into liberalism, my biker/hippie mom was obviously unable to break me of my affinity for pinstripes. It may never be my work wardrobe, nor (more unfortunately) Brian's, but I do love a nice suit.

So it was with enthusiasm I read the The Newly Uptight in the NY times. Blazer-loving women unite! Next week's NY Fashion Week promises a wealth of pencil skirts, pumps and properly-fitted strong lady pieces.

Beyond my general appreciation for the conservative aesthetic, these structured suits are safely non-trendy (read: timeless, not boring), and more flattering than most contemporary fashion -- designed in the 1950's/early '60s, when important women drove markets and not their troubled teenage daughters. It may all be fashion, but knee-length wool skirts are not equal to skinny jeans.

I can only hope the Jackie O manicured, first-lady-waiving, perfectly coifed image will actually replace the now-popular Mary Kate and Ashley O stringy-hair, anorexic-hunched, boho image for some significant duration. If the Times' quotations on this movement as "fashion comfort food" for the current/impending recession are to be believed, I imagine it may be safe beyond autumn.

Photo: Old ladies, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Arts and Sciences

UW News ran a story on a UW bioengineer's lab images that "could be mistaken for modern art." Actually, the most interesting image, Van Gohh's Cells, above, looks much more like the work of contemporary aboriginal artist Gloria Petyarre -- SAM has a piece very similar to the one below on display.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Creepy science.

Occasionally I feel compelled to read some engineering-related article, and find it vaguely interesting, thanks to my current position of faux-expertise. Bunnies wearing contacts that provide "super-human vision" (super-bunny vision?), however, goes beyond interesting into slightly disturbing.

I don't debate the benefits of circuit- and diode-laced lenses. Innumerable people could benefit from enhanced vision. My reasons for freaking out are twofold: one, bunnies with robot eyes look frightening; and two, it's difficult enough to navigate campus among a student body plugged into iPods -- imagine if they were "surf[ing] the Internet on a midair virtual display screen that only they would be able to see." Yike.

Monday, January 28, 2008

6 a.m. in Wallingford

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pants rants.

Sarah: oooh i went to the opera last night
me: yeah ...
Sarah: saw pagliacci
me: ooh?
Sarah: so GOOD
me: how was it?
Sarah: dramatic
i liked it
4:56 PM me: we went to the symphony today
it was video game scores.
i fell asleep for a few minutes

5:05 PM Sarah: omg, for real
video games?
5:06 PM me: yeah
so it was basically like movie scores.
5:09 PM Sarah: hmmm
was it good?
what was the crowd like?
5:10 PM me: some of it. it was like 2 hours and they covered maybe 10 or 12 games, so it was lots of short bits. kind of obvious-sounding music, nothing mindblowing.
The crowd was ridiculous!
holy crap.
5:11 PM just the clothing -- nerds in suits, a couple girls in full-length gowns (at 1 pm), a high school kid wearing a furry hats with ears and everything, and then some bad harajuku knock-off girls, then someone wearing a black veil and fur cloak ...
5:12 PM plus normal parents and kids, and 20-something men.
Sarah: wow, just as I was hoping
I was mad last night
there were A LOT of people wearing jeans
me: oooh
Sarah: and I just got so annoyed w/ seattle
5:13 PM it's like can't you even dress up for a FRIDAY night at the OPERA
me: in know. it doesn't even need to be super fancy, just put on some slacks or something.
What did you wear?
5:14 PM Sarah: a knee length black skirt, pin striped v neck shirt
and a nice coat
5:15 PM lysondra wore black pants
a nice shirt and a nice coat
i would have been ok w/ people wearing khakis
but jeans is just too much
me: it always seems so awkward, even for the nicely dressed people, to have no standard dress code.
5:16 PM no one really looks quite right
5:17 PM Sarah:i know, it just bothers me
i just think the opera is something that is formal
especially an evening show
i'm glad to get out of seattle
Lyso told me that she went to this gala one time
5:18 PM for some organization
and it was fancy
and there was someone there wearing birkenstocks
me: woah.
yeah ...
5:19 PM it's not like nice clothing it any less comfortable.
Sarah: jeans can be kind of uncomfortable
me: yeah.
5:20 PM Sarah: But i'm also annoyed by girls in prom dresses
me: yes.
someone needs to come in and give seattle a talking-to.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Spinning" is a frivolous-sounding name for a workout from hell -- a hell full of sweaty, spandex-clad women with perfect legs and butts.

I will go again Friday.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dog walk.

Weekend of things to wear and eat.

For being three days long, the weekend's been uneventful -- brunch, shopping, baking, movies, and knitting class tonight. But, for uneventful, it's been successful.

Yesterday I found the most fantastic, pefectly-fitted, black eyelet shirtdress, along with an almost-as-exciting Marc Jacobs skirt. After much debate, I went with the dress and -- like an cash-register miracle -- it rang up at half off the already 75%-off price. I took it home and wandered around in it for a while before making dinner.

I've never noticed Kay Unger's clothes before (maker of the shirtdress), but I recognize the name from Tim Gunn or Vogue or somesuch name-dropping fashion media. Looking through the copious lady-like skirts and dresses on her site, I may be a fan (though I'll need more miracles to afford much else).

I love that the clothes are almost entirely dresses -- I wish I owned more, because they required very little matching or planning, and it's easier to spend money on something when you know that's your entire outfit -- no $80 jeans required in addition.

A number of pieces are unappealing, I think because there's a lot of color and print. But many of the more simple dresses are fun without being childish -- in a marathon of juvenile shift and baby-doll dresses, it's nice to see grown-up clothes with waists and everything. The cuts all look very flattering (though anything feels flattering when I can order a size 2).

I also did some cosmetics testing yesterday while downtown. I wanted a new perfume, something very delicious for spring, and was having trouble deciding between replacing my almost-empty D&G Sicily from Berlin and buying something new. Although reviews were mixed on Covet, as they seems to be on every scent, I was barely able to tear my nose off my sleeve when I tried the scent the first time. I tried it again yesterday, and confirmed Spring would be a good time to wear something warm, fun, and edible -- woodsy, sweet Covet it is, and not soapy Sicily.

Also tried Diorkiss glosses after reading many a favorable MakeupAlly review. Awful. Love a Dior Ultra Gloss, but these are too scented (Spicy Guava came off before I could even look in the mirror), too glittery (Fruit Splash left a residue of gritty rainbow speckles worse than a kindergarten craft project), and unimpressive in all other regards - - lack of color, lack of selection, distractingly thick texture, inconvenient packaging. Nevermind, not for me.

This morning, I made the most fantastic blueberry coffee cake ever. It's really very amazing. I would have it again for dinner if we didn't already have plans.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

OhMyGoodness! I almost had a heart attack when I heard, mid-sewing project, that Martha was releasing a line foods at Costco, starting with my very favorite, soup. I am not sarcastic, this is probably the third-most exciting thing that's happened today. First, hearing from Sarah after her Israel trip, and second, hemming my pants with no jamming of the sewing machine or anything. Oh, how domestic-nerd exciting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oooh, this is fabulous!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Love Miss America Reality Check. Espech when they call Miss Washington "the most popular girl here." Woot! Wapato! If only she was a UW alum, I could be really excited.

Wait, wait, this just in from the Colbert Report!! Will Smith a Scientologist? Oh, nope, apparently he just studied it. And then his press agent told him to get out of the cult and back into popularity. The real question is, why did he wear this suit out before tailoring? I can hem those for you, Will.

It was a great weekend for big screens. The Critic's Choice Awards, watched at the gym, were made more appealing from the tentativeness of the Oscar's, and Don Cheadle accepting the innaugeral Joel Siegel award for actors who are also good people. I thought it strange that he accepted an award for using his celebrity to publicize the crisis in Darfur, but didn't use his time at the mic to mention the issue.

Saturday night plans for Juno became plans for a drink and Atonement with Nate + Melissa. Thanks to the exceptional film, I think I've come to terms with Keira Knightly as a real actress (though not a real human; why can't she stop posing her face?).

Beautiful costumes, music, people. cinematography. Stylistically, it seemed to reference multiple Very interesting direction andgenres depending on the purpose of the scene, sometimes Casablanca-classic (McAvoy running after face-posing Knightly as she rides away on a tram), sometimes almost surreal (blood-red-curtained hospital room at night, with whispered conversation about croissants while the nurse re-wraps bandages over a soldier's throbbing brain). Overall, very contemporary, but not overwhelmingly so -- rather than feeling like a 2007 period piece, it is a fairly timeless film set (primarily) in the past.

Keira Knightly's Cecilia Tallis is too flat to form an opinion of, though it doesn't turn me off -- she's mostly forgettable, but not offensive; Briony Tallis is selfishly bitter and misguided, I can'tlike her; and James McAvoy is so wonderful that I did love his Robbie Turner until realizing the character is far too weak a man for me to be comfortable esteeming as a romantic hero. Despite this, I must have felt empathy for them, because I still loved the film. Comparatively, Sweeney Todd's line-up are all just bad people, for whom I felt nothing, and I don't particularly want to see the film ever again. In conclusion: quality film with characters I am ambivalent about is better than quality film with dislikable characters and lots of fake blood.

Then, Sunday, the final big screen of the weekend. Dissatisfied with 46" and imperfect black levels, Brian spent an unspeakable amount (think fabulous Tiffany ring [what?! who put that link there? Can't have been me.]) on a new TV far too large for any other apartment we will move into. We were halfway through constructing the Ikea throne when the King of TVs was delivered. Many cords, much recycling, and some Northlake pizza and pink wine later, we watched Harry Potter -- at least I did; Brian fell asleep halfway through. Apparently while money can buy as much entertainment as one wants, lack of sleep will still still get the better of you.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


The sun fell beautiful and warm over Wallingford; Buster and I raced down 1st toward the water -- he always wins. Fantastic day for walking the dog, and for maybe the first time ever I felt excited about spring's approach.

I could usually care less about the tepid skies and mid-school-year blahs of spring. I know technically Spring isn't here till late March, but I spend most of post-New Years months impatient for sun and warmth, stubbornly referring to Springtime in an attempt to make seasons jump calendar and become summer already. Autum's start and Summer's end of school dictated all my interest in seasons.

Then, the standard pastels are an unwelcome replacement for the rich and sparkily colors of fall and winter. This spring, however, I think lots of navy (that "nautical influence" is back for, what, the third year?) and my favorite peachy-coral color will be perfect -- if I can find polish to match the Raffia Orange gloss I bought Friday, I will be as spring-time-perky as the Jesus on Easter.

I do, however, inexplicably, like the floral dresses I thought I was seeing everywhere -- until I tried to find a photo online. Apparently there are no photos on the internet. But the florals are out there some where, trust me.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Don't tell my boyfriend, but I like to buy clothes. Big clothes, small clothes, plain clothes, clothes far too flamboyant for me (usually this includes anything close to color and definitely all print but pinstripe), cheap clothes, "aspirational" clothes. And often, sewn into seams or pinned on the label, are spare buttons.

I first noticed the accumulation of these buttons early in my $255-a-month apartment days -- when the cheap rent offset my vice; I think I spent a few seconds planning some self-reflexive art/craft project built around buttons.

But I suppose it became just part of life to snip the teeny ziplock bags or envelopes of spare buttons out of clothes and toss them in a drawer -- I hadn't thought about it again until I pulled a jersey blazer out of the closet and decided I'd like it much more if I replaced the horrible bright yellow plastic "gold" buttons with a crafty-chic array of spare buttons.

So I started pulling them from the sewing box, then from the office supply box, then the pencil box, the bathroom drawers, the nightstand, the jewelry box -- everywhere, buttons! For a few minutes, I was Crazy Button Lady, next-door neighbor to Crazy Cat Lady.

Then it was time to inspect my unintentional collection. Big buttons, small buttons, mostly browns and whites and blacks, blacks, blacks. I poured them over the table methodically till I pulled one from an envelope with a tag reading $79.99, and I thought, "I spent $80 on something, and I don't even recognize the button." A little pearl, two giant mottled brown ones, a hot pink one, were also unfamiliar.

But there were some I knew, a wooden shank button from a Brooks Brothers sweater, a fabric-covered button from a grey jacket I visited twice in the store before buying, a tiny gold button from a Levi's sweater that looked pretty great on, a Marc Jacobs button I felt compelled to leave in the labeled envelope.

I spread them over the table, organized them by size then color, to select 11 to sew into my jacket sleeves and placket. The collection was a tiny history of my college and post-college wardrobe, punctuation marks from the past 6 years. It could represent consumerism or identity-formation, marketing gimmicks, or the steadfastness of my insecurity (so sure was I that I'd lose all my original buttons). But I sewed my buttons, and I felt safely between these places -- not quite college insecure anymore, not quite Crazy Button Lady yet.
"And then," thought Raven, "my life will be complete."

Friday, January 4, 2008

Arts and Entertainment 2008. The first four days.

Apparently the Miss America pageant is a full reality show now. They're "reinventing" the ordeal to make it more real, less cheesy, more glamorous, less sequins and hairspray. Hum.

Maybe the rare thrill I feel at discovering a beauty pageant on TV is more mocking and ironic, less genuine and awed than the producers want. But it's escapism and aspirational entertainment, an absurdly classic foil to absurdly of-the-moment Vogue. I don't want to tame the big big curls any more than I want magazines to drop Ghesquiere's $4,175 Balenciagas for reasonably-priced Steve Madden flats -- I don't pay maqazine subscriptions to see shoes I have all over the closet floor. I don't want to be like Miss America, and I do not want Miss America to be like me. And yet ... with the sharp little Michael Urie as host/cheerleader, and my favorite Stacey and Clinton pillaging the ladies' wardrobes, it may be very entertaining. And ps, the girly cheers and colored teams remind me of Girls State, a pivitol moment in high school lady's social development.

Hey Marseilles at the Sunset last night with Admissions folks. Excellent, as last time, very fun and engaging. Far too talkative crowd though. What's wrong with Seattleites? All the caffeine goes to our mouths, but our hips are far too tired to dance?

We saw Sweeny Todd last Sunday. I liked it till it was over, when there was no plot left to engage me, only just the thick, sticky residue of fake blood and sadism. For all the talent, style, and story, I had no empathy, no hope, no passion. I love Johnny Depp but I do not love the demon barber.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

christmas in the mountains

I desperately need the gym to open at 6 again. A month of aerobics replaced by Christmas baking has done me no good at all -- although my hair looks great from all the extra time I have in the morning.

Really, great.

All presents were excellent this year. I really can't think of one I cringed at. Much much fine tea, some candles probably, a good little wear-all-day scarf, a culinary miracle in the form of a rice cooker, two (2!) Martha Stewart how-to-be-perfect books, delicious lotions and soaps, perfect big gold stud earrings, an ice cream maker (egg nog + rum + frozen = amazing. repeat, gym must open soon), knitting lessons. Which may begin next week. I should check on that.

I survived a couple days in Darrington. I could definitely (and has) been less enjoyable, but I couldn't help lying awake desperately thinking how incredibly pointless it was for me to go Sunday for a Tuesday Christmas. I was good for the first two wine-enhanced hours at Grandma Joy's. Then everything went boring boring boring until Caitie showed up at 2 Christmas morning. Not only was her visit nicely limited, she got Christmas Eve-generous tips till 1.

But I did get a large amount of knitting done (one polite way to distract myself from the magnitude of Darrington's blandness and family's incessant chatter -- I ust don't understand how some people find so many words to say). Fingerless high-fiving handwarmers for Cait, scarf for mom, more of the Fancy Hat that Melissa and I are both doing. Because I obviously have enough to rant about - I don't need to be chilly as well.