The Oscars

I should start this post by declaring how pop-culturally out of it I am this year.  I don’t know who was nominated; I haven’t seen anything but The King’s Speech and Toy Story 3; I don’t know who hosted (oh, that’s right, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, somewhat inexplicably), and, at this point, I don’t even know who won.  Though I’m sure I’ll find out in the process of writing this post.

But all we really care about are outfits, right?  I’ll be getting my pictures from and linking to them.

1. Case in point – this woman?  I’m not totally sure who she is.  And she won for Best Supporting Actress.  (For The Fighter.  So that’s who she is.)  I am pretty out of it.  Her dress?  Interesting concept, but I don’t like the concept for the Oscars, and I don’t like the execution of the concept on her body.  It’s making her look weirdly proportioned, I think.  Or this particular shot is.  Still, congrats!

2. You can always count on Cate Blanchett to look interesting.  And this is that.  I don’t know, I kind of like it, although it’s a little pale for her.

3. Damn, girl!

4. Justin Timberlake brought his mom?!  I don’t care one way or another about Justin Timberlake, but squee!  Also, she looks great; I love that color.

5. Annette Bening is another person I feel like I haven’t seen in forever.  Interesting choice.  I feel like I can’t really judge it as a dress, because it’s making her boobs look weird.

6. Love the dress, not so much the hair, but congrats and also good job hauling your extra person to the event and all.

7. Oh, Helena Bonham Carter.  You just couldn’t help yourself, could you?

8. Well, I’ll tell you the trouble with this dress, right here, Sandra Bullock.  Everything you ever wear after this is going to be a disappointment to you.  You’ll have fabulous gowns, charming little jeans-and-tops outfits, beautiful and comfortable sundresses that can be dressed up with heels and jewelry or thrown on over a bathing suit with a coloful tote, and no matter what, you will always say, but remember  the 83rd annual Academy Awards?  I looked perfect then.

9. Um, wow.  Gwyneth Paltrow, I was starting not to like you very much, but between this dress and your Glee stint, I am warming to you again.

10. One – Matthew McConaughey be lookin’ skinny.  Isn’t he a pothead?  Doesn’t that give you an appetite?  Two – that would be a fabulous dress on his girlfriend (wife?) except the hem is all f-ed up.  Is there a shortage of decent seamstresses and tailors in LA?

11. This is a weird choice for Nicole Kidman.  It makes her look oddly proportioned and what’s with the orange shoes?  On the other hand, I’m always happy when redheads have, you know, red hair.

12. Celine Dion looks great, sure, but haven’t I seen her in this outfit before?

13. Is there even any point in talking about how fabulous Helen Mirren looks anymore?

14. Or Halle Berry?

15. On the other hand, what’s with Marisa Tomei‘s dress?  That’s . . . not good.  I just . . . it’s not good.

16. I understand the concept here, and if, say, it went from white to pink, like Gwen Stefani’s wedding dress, or white to blue or purple or orange or gold or something, fine.  But white to gray?  It just looks like Hilary Swank got her dress dirty.

17. Sharon Stone has actually died or maybe is very ill or in hiding, and is now being played by an impersonator with a penchant for parody.  Right?

18. Work it, girl.  Although, if I may?  Maybe not the necklace and some fabulous earrings instead?  I have to say, I think with the high-neck gown, if you have long hair, there’s the debate about up or down, and generally, I think, up veers on frumpy for young women, so I think Amy Adams made the right choice there.

19. Love it.  Well, mostly I love the color.  And I do kind of like the effect of the different color lace.  But seriously.  Where are her boobs?  Did Ryan Reynolds get them in the divorce?

20. While Jason and I were watching this week’s Glee episode (which was, I thought, the best one in a long, long while), Jason was wondering about Rachel Berry’s dress, and why she would wear such a thing, and where a young woman such as herself would even get such a thing, but I guess she and Florence Welch shop at the same place, the store for bridesmaid apparel for participants in extremely religious weddings.

21. Hailee Steinfeld looks very nice, and I hear she was some kind of wonderful in True Grit, but I think she went for age-appropriate and actually hit a little bit too young.  Better that, though, then the other kind of error for a young woman in Hollywood.

22. Michelle Williams looks like she might have lost a lot of weight.  After she had a fitting for that dress.  I like her make-up, though.

23. Mandy Moore looks very tall here.  And I like her hair color.  The dress is fine, I suppose.

24. Jesse Eisenberg, stand up straight.  Get your hands out of your pockets.  Get your hair out of your eyes.  Now give your grandma a little kiss, my little bubbeleh I’m so proud of you.

25. Yowza.

26. Very nice.  A bit boring.  Par for the course for Anne Hathaway.

27. You know, I have to give this woman credit.  It is not easy to find a dress that actually utilizes the tattoos you already have as a perfect accessory.

28. Okay, I know I liked basically the same dress on Christina Aguilera, but I feel like Julia Ormond can do a lot better.

29. I love you, Colin Firth, oh, yes, I do!  I love you, Colin Firth, and I’ll be true!  And also you look great and your wife is beautiful and has a lovely dress on.  Congratulations on a well-deserved win!

30. OMG Reese Witherspoon looks so frickin’ cute I can’t stand it.  Love, love, love the hair.  And the attitude.

Well, congratulations to all the winners and the nominees and I’ll try to watch your movies soon!

Kate, what did you think?

A Defense of a Disney Princess?

Ugh, I don’t really want to do this.  I mean, I let my daughter watch the Disney princesses and everything, because I liked those movies when I was a girl and I want her to experience them, too, but I recognize their problems – obsessions with boys, tiny waists, the nods toward feminism that make the actually not-at-all feminist nature of these stories all the more insidious – and I don’t really want to defend them that badly.

But sometimes I think their stories get misread.

I just finished Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein and I really thought it was terrific.  I think Peggy Orenstein is great; in preparation for this book, I also read her 1994 book Schoolgirls which was about middle school girls she interviewed while I myself was in middle school, which was sort of interesting.  I think she’s very sensitive and very thoughtful, even if she does sometimes sound a little – well, fuddy-duddy.  I mean, not too bad, not hand-wringy like Caitlin Flanagan, who I’ve gone on about in other posts.  But it’s clear she doesn’t share a cultural frame of reference with her subjects.  But Cinderella Ate My Daughter certainly deals very well with a lot of the issues I know I’m having or will have while raising Zoe.  I, too, complain constantly about the excessive pinkification of stuff for little girls – like, even Minnie Mouse on The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has a pink dress now!  Why?  She always had a red dress before and was still recognizable as a girl because of the hair bow and the eyelashes and the FACT THAT SHE WAS WEARING A DRESS.  I love that she deals with how you talk to your daughter about feminine beauty in the current climate – do you tell her she’s beautiful no matter what or that beauty doesn’t matter?  How do you do both?  It’s a similar story when it comes to sexuality – in a world that tells your daughter to learn to BE sexy, but never to FEEL sexy, how do you teach your daughter the exact opposite?  I really like that she addresses the problem of being told, as parents, that if we don’t like all the pink, all the princesses, all the dollZ, all the Facebook, to just say “no.”  In fact, I wish she’d go further with that, and in a specifically political way, like, here’s how we can organize to protect our kids from this kind of marketing and these kinds of products, and to promote better products, so we don’t always have to be the ones saying no.

But she said a couple of things about Ariel that I think are just wrong.  When feminist-leaning writers write about Ariel, they always say, as Orenstein does, that she gave up her voice for a man.  But the thing about the movie is that that is portrayed as the WRONG CHOICE.  The person who tells her that giving up your voice for a man is a good idea is the EVIL WITCH who is deliberately fooling Ariel into making a stupid decision, not the man himself, or even a trustworthy character.  It kind of reminds me of the Harry Potter naysayers who cited that line about there being no such thing as good and bad, only people with power and people without, and used it to illustrate that Harry Potter was teaching horrible lessons to children, when, in fact, that line is spoken by the villain of that novel, who is himself quoting the villain of the series, the biggest evil that ever evilled.  And, as it turns out, giving up the voice to get the man is nearly disastrous for Ariel because the man is LOOKING for the girl with the voice.

In discussing the then-upcoming movie Tangled, Orenstein talks about the original Rapunzel tale, in which the prince hears Rapunzel singing and falls in love with her.  Orenstein says, “(T)hat makes Rapunzel the inverse of Ariel – she is loved sight unseen because of her voice” (italics hers, p. 191).  Except that that’s almost exactly what happens in Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  Prince Eric can barely see Ariel; he can’t even discern her hair color (which is why I guess he can get fooled by the sea-witch-in-disguise-as-a-brunette later – well, that and her magic seashell necklace).  But he hears her singing voice and falls in love.  Then he refuses to fully recognize his attraction to Ariel because he CAN’T HEAR HER VOICE.

Now, there are plenty of problems with The Little Mermaid.  I can’t even get into it now; it goes too deep.  (Although I was annoyed when someone I read recently complained about how one of the key characteristics of a Disney princess is how nicely she sings, like this is an anti-feminist thing.  Um, the movies are musicals.  Of course it’s important that the girls can sing in a musical.)  But I think she’s consistently misread by Peggy Orenstein types – you know, adult women who are feminists and look at pop culture, especially pop culture for the under-18 set – as a bad figure for girls because of this giving-up-of-the-voice thing, when the movie fairly explicitly paints that as a stupid-ass choice.

As a note, I thought her discussion of whether Disney would fuck up the good things about Rapunzel in Tangled was interesting and I wish I could see where she came down on that.  I read in an interview that she liked it but I’d like to hear more.  She loves that in the original, the villain is not so much a villain as an overprotective mother, and doesn’t die a grizzly death in the end, and obviously, Tangled does away with that.  But I do think it does a very interesting villainization of the “helicopter mother.”  Mother Goethel, who in Tangled takes Rapunzel for her own selfish purposes, because Rapunzel’s hair has the magic power to keep her young forever.  And in order to keep her in the tower, always available to keep Mother Goethel young, Mother Goethel tells Rapunzel that the outside world is just too dangerous, and that Rapunzel, as young and naive and incapable as she is, could never handle it.  And don’t helicopter parents basically tell their kids exactly that?  And isn’t it, in a way, maybe subconsciously, keeping them young, too, by maintaining a situation where a child is dependent on them, rather than independent and over their need for that much parenting?  (I’m one to talk.  I’m nearly 30 years old, and when I got a bee sting this summer at my daughter’s birthday party, I still whined to my mother about it and had her take care of me.)  You know, how old can you be if there’s still a child in the world who needs you to cut up his grapes so he godforbid doesn’t choke, even if said child is in his early teens?  I thought that was pretty terrific.

Again, not that Tangled doesn’t have its problems.  Like, sometimes I get tired of trope that a sense of childlike wonder is sexually, or at least romantically, attractive to a guy.  Although it plays a lot better in a movie aimed at children, who should exhibit an uninhibited enthusiasm and delight in the world, than it does in, say, “Sex and the City,” where a forty-some-odd-year-old woman should perhaps conduct herself with smidgen more dignity for heaven’s sake.  But I digress.  As usual.

The other issue for me was, does she have to have a pink-and-purple dress?  Really?  And I think the decision to have the guy cut off the magic hair – rendering it un-magic – was really interesting.  On the one hand, she was about to be even more and more cruelly enslaved by the deranged Mother Goethel, to whom she’d be useless without the hair, and therefore free, so his move rescued her in that sense (and at the cost, he thought at the time, not realizing he was a hero in a Disney movie, of his own life).  On the other hand, he disempowered her in a very significant way that she did not ask for or approve.  Maybe she wanted to have hair with healing powers for the rest of her life?  Maybe she was hoping she could escape and then use her power for good?  Or maybe not.  We don’t know; Rapunzel doesn’t seem, during the movie, to take any special pride in the fact that her hair can heal.  She’ll use it that way, sure, but it does seem rather incidental to her own sense of self; she seems to recognize that it’s what others would find important about her but not what she finds important about herself.  So the moment that he cuts it off is interesting and difficult to read.  And that’s without even getting into the possible losing-her-virginity metaphor the whole thing could be.

Speaking of losing-one’s-virginity-metaphors, never sing “A Whole New World” from Aladdin with a group of fourteen-year-olds.  I did, albeit while I was myself a fourteen-year-old, and you can read a lot into that song if you’re trying.

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

I don’t have time for a long thing right now but I just wanted to get this up.  The above quote is Michael Pollan’s famous manifesto, as quoted in Mark Bittman’s column.  Here’s the line I really like from Mark Bittman’s column:

“The truly healthy alternative to that chip is not a fake chip; it’s a carrot. Likewise, the alternative to sausage is not vegan sausage; it’s less sausage. This is really all pretty simple, and pretty clear.”

Have a good day!

More Passion for Fashion

This is a response to my sister’s post.  She credits me with the idea for this sort of thing, but the truth is, she inspired my first post in this vein.  She sent me the gallery with her thoughts; I merely posted what I had replied to her in e-mail.

As in her post, the numbers will refer to the photos in this gallery.

1. Hot damn.  Also, Kate, please tell me that MOST of your readership would catch that reference, or I will feel like the oldest person ever.

2. I like this better than her Golden Globes dress, actually.  And I was one of the few people who liked that dress.  Although I agree about her hair.  And also, plenty of people get pregnant out-0f-wedlock.  There’s no sense in her cowering in shame over it or something.  Although she and the boy could be a little more circumspect about certain aspects of their relationship, considering that he was still living with another woman when it started.  Or so I’ve heard.

3. Totally, totally agree here.  It’s nice to see Tina Fey dressing like a gorgeous actress rather than a frumpy librarian who is totally on a red carpet by mistake.

4. Totally disagree here.  I hate that color on her; to me, it’s the color of the dress you put on your 14-year-old cousin because she’s too old to be your flower girl but too young to be your bridesmaid and even though she’d be just as happy to sit in the back at your wedding hiding a novel under the pew, her mother would stop speaking to your mother if you didn’t put her in your wedding party so there you have it.

6.  See, I sort of like January Jones’s dress here, although it would look more appropriate on a woman about 20 years her senior.  As would that hairstyle.  But at least she’s smiling instead of looking like it’s torture being a beautiful actress on a critically acclaimed and popular television series.

7. I agree that Jon Hamm’s actual personality combined with his ability to play someone with Don Draper’s personality combined with his looks is a seriously delicious package.

8. Great alliteration, Kate.  Yeah, that dress is not good on her, and she’s too pretty to wear dresses that don’t look good on her.  It’s making her hips look weird.

11. That dress is confusing.  Claire Danes certainly looks pretty, and I like that shade of lipstick on her, but the dress is . . . it’s like, that material should be in some other shape, and that shape should be in some other material, and the belt is really too literal for a formal event . . . I don’t know.  Weird.

14. Um, that does not look like a prom dress to me.  Maybe things were different when you went to prom; my year, we were definitely about the princess-y dresses.  On Christian Bale’s grooming habits – I feel like there’s a certain group of men in Hollywood who are very talented and want to be taken seriously as actors, and are also seriously handsome, and for some reason they see a “but” where I see an “and” and try to detract from their handsomeness so as to be taken seriously as actors.  But guys, who do you think you are?  Girls?  Because usually we’re the ones who have to worry about being too attractive to be taken seriously.

21.  I don’t understand what’s going on here.  Jenna Fischer is very pretty.  I don’t know what team of people forced her into this look, or what she’d done to upset them beforehand.

25.  She’s on The Good Wife, starring Julianna Marguiles and guest starring Chris Noth.  I haven’t watched this season, but I liked it last season.  And her character is awesome and she is awesome at playing her.

26. She’s a cast member of The Office.  She’s pretty funny, and that’s pretty much what her hair looks like.  I’m no big fan of the dress, but I don’t hate it, either.

27. I thought that was Lisa Kudrow at first.  She does look excellent.

31.  Oh, man.  I am vehemently opposed to the jumpsuit.  And yet, Julie Bowen looks so fantastic.  What to think?

36.  I don’t know who that is, either, but she is really, really itty-bitty.

37. That guy plays Cam, one half of the gay couple, on Modern Family.  I imagine he’s dressed sloppily here because his character is always so sharp?  I think the girl is just his date.

38. I agree, this is not Penelope Cruz’s little sister at all, and it’s very va-va-voom.  Combined with that GQ spread and her Cosmo cover, I guess Lea Michele is trying to remind us that she is, in fact, a totally sexy actress in her mid-20s and not a 16-year-old prude.  Did you know that she and Matthew Morrison used to date, btw?  Anyway, I think it’s a little too low-cut, although, thank the lord, she doesn’t have much in the way of boobs, so it doesn’t matter, and the belt is unnecessary, but otherwise, she looks pretty good.

39. In agreement.  Awesome.

44. Christine Baranski always, always rocks my world.

46.  I think the problem is, she doesn’t need that necklace.  She either needs a huge, glamorous collection of rocks or nothing.  But she’s Susan Sarandon.  If she showed up in a series of burlap sacks, I’d suddenly be dreaming of the day I could pull off a series of burlap sacks.

47. He’s also on Modern Family.

49. I think maybe velvet because she’s embracing the “look” of Mad Men?  Velvet was once very popular for little girls.

51. He’s the other half of the gay couple on Modern Family.  Why aren’t you watching this show?

52. I’m just glad she doesn’t look like the Bride of Skeletor here.

54.  I don’t really love this dress (nor do I know who this is) but I think I could have been swayed if she’d had some bigger hair.

55.  Gorgeous, of course.  Did you know she’s a Russian Jew?  Her real name is something like Agronsky.

60. I want to like this but I don’t like the way it’s gaping.  It is an awesome idea of a dress, but I think the construction is not as perfect as it needs to be.  And I don’t know who this is.

63. Patrick Stewart’s guest looks an awful lot like Deanna Troi to me.

64. Barbara Hershey is a pretty major actress.  Her most famous role (to me) was opposite Bette Midler in Beaches.  I like the dress but it looks not so formal to me.

66.  Different hair would have been good.  But damn, does she have a body on her.

67. Oh, stop.  Women in suits are fine.  Although, here again, I would not have been able to resist the urge to coordinate better with my date.

68. She is a rather bizarre-looking woman.  And very, very tiny.

70. I will not, will NOT, acknowledge that this is a very pretty dress.  I will not forget.  I will not forgive.

See you for the Oscars!

What Zoe Has Been Up To Lately

This isn’t going to be all adorable stuff, although, of course, since it’s Zoe, it’s got a strong shot of adorableness in it.

1. She’s very invested in emotions lately.  If I get upset with her, or even if I just don’t look cheerful at the moment (because I’m concentrating on something, or lost in thought), she gives me hugs and says, “You’re getting happy!  You’re happy, Mommy!”  She also discusses the emotions and states of being of other people, like observing that Jasmine is sad and crying while watching Aladdin, or that Daddy is sick, or getting sick, when she hears him cough.  I know that this is awesome, but sometimes I get a little bit worried.  Like, she’ll be throwing a fit over something, and then she’ll look up and, still sort of weepy, go, “I’m happy!  I’m fine!”  I don’t know if I should be worried about this or what.  I guess not; it’s not like she ever refrains from crying or screaming if she’s upset about something.

2. Along the same lines, she is very interested in who likes what and why.  When she wants to put on a movie, for instance, she’ll state that she likes that movie, and then ask if I like it, and then mention that Daddy likes it, even if Daddy is not in the room.  When people are eating, she is always asking if we like our food, and talks about whether or not she likes her food.  She’ll say that she likes a certain activity or book or color, and then ask and/or state my liking of the same object.  Last night, she wanted to put on Despicable Me, and we told her Grandma Lisa (who was at our house at the time) doesn’t like that movie, and she said, “Despicable Me is funny!” like she was trying to convince her to like it.  Pretty interesting.

3. By the way, “movies” are “noovies”.

4. Hoods on a jacket or shirt are “raincoats.”  Also, you need a raincoat.  And she needs a raincoat.  And if you don’t have a hood, she’ll grab a hand- or dishtowel to serve in its place.

5. She really likes this song they do in preschool that goes, “Five little monkeys, swinging from a tree/Teasing Mr. Alligator, can’t catch me!/Along comes Mr. Alligator, quiet as can be/Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand SNAPS! that monkey right out of that tree!”  I love it when she does the SNAP part, but I really love it when she turns to us at the end of the verse and, just like her preschool teacher, goes, “Now, how many monkeys are left.”  And she’ll enact this song with random objects, sometimes calling them monkeys, and sometimes inserting their name in place of “monkeys” in the song.

6. I was upset with her today and yelling at her to do something, so she ran to snuggle with her father on the couch instead.

7. For some reason, she keeps talking about “macaroni” in connection to art projects.  This shouldn’t be abnormal in a child attending preschool; preschools frequently employ macaroni in art projects.  But her class hasn’t done that.  So I don’t know what’s up with that.

8. She lied to me last week, twice.  I went to pick her up at preschool and she showed me her watercolor painting.  I admired it, and then she told me Brody took it away from her.  Brody had stayed home sick from school.  Later the same day, I came downstairs to see that she had drawn in crayon on the windows.  I said, “Uh-oh, looks like someone made messy.”  She said Sydney, another kid from preschool, did it.  Only Sydney had not been in our house that day.

9. She continues to quote movies.  My favorites, lately, are when she takes a hand towel, puts it on her head, and sings, “No, sir, not me, I guarantee it!” from Beauty and Beast, and when she says, “Look at my face!  Do you still think it’s a great sale day?” from Despicable Me.  Also, “Did you rub my lamp?  Did you wake me up?  Did you bring me here?  And now, you’re walking out on me?  I don’t think so, not right now, you’re getting your wishes, so SIT DOWN!” from Aladdin.

10.  She dances, a lot.  She also enjoys holding Glee Dance Parties and making me spin her around, which she calls “very fast.”

11. She hops on furniture.  She jumps from the ottoman to the couch, or the coffee table to the ottoman.  Sometimes she calls out “Jump!” and sometimes she calls out, “Hopp-dee!”

12. She likes playing catch, mostly with a ball but sometimes with whatever strikes her fancy.  She calls out, “Catch to you!” and throws – really pretty well, I think, for an untrained 2-year-old.  Sometimes that gets combined with a “Hopp-dee!” if she jumps while throwing.  She’s even sort of caught herself, and she always calls out, “I did it!”

13. Once with Aunt Kate and once with Grandpa Alan (Grandpa Lalan), she had long, sustained phone conversations on a variety of topics.

14. She learned about throwing snowballs today with Uncle Evan and me.

15. She continues to be extremely physically affectionate, which is awesome, but she is also kind of obsessed with my breasts.  When I carry her, she usually has one hand halfway down my shirt, and when she’s really upset or she’s just woken up, she really tries to get her hands all the way into my shirt.  Sometimes she says, very sweetly, “I love your breasts so lovely.  I can pet them.”  Then she pets them and tells me she’s touching them “veeerrrrrrryyyyyyy niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiicely.”

16. The “I love your _______ so lovely” speech pattern applies to other things, like my hair, and my face, as well.  Which is nice to hear.

17. “I can (verb) it” is also a frequent construction in her speech.

18. She also continues to apply dramatic intonation to a variety of phrases.

19. She pushes the furniture around for the purpose of climbing or jumping.  She especially likes to push a dining chair over to the kitchen counter so she can get up there and make trouble.

20.  When we went over to her best bud’s house last week, she accosted her best bud upon walking in the door and started dancing with her, positioning her hands on her shoulders and singing “Once Upon A Dream” from Sleeping Beauty.

Finally, this isn’t something she did, but something someone else said.  We went to the doctor’s last week because she had a persistent cough and then she got a fever the night before.  The nurse said when she saw Zoe’s name on the call sheet, she was so happy because she’d get to hear her adorable voice.