Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel

This was one of the most interesting, unique museums I've ever been to, and one of the coolest things we did on our trip. As a Martin Luther King admirer, I was initially worried that it might be too sad and depressing to see the place where he was shot. But I'm glad we went there. It was poignant, but somehow visiting it felt more inspiring and positive than sad. The pokey, shabby, totally ordinary quality of the motel really brought home the truth that, yes, Martin Luther King was a real person, and despite all the great things he accomplished, he was still just a man staying at a crummy hotel, just like any other regular person. In a weird way, this realization makes his achievements even more impressive. He wasn't a superhero, he wasn't magical...he was a human being who was called to greatness and who was brave enough to answer the call.

Here are some "fun facts" from their website:

Originally named the Windsor Hotel c. 1925.

Renamed Marquette Hotel in 1945 and offered for sale.

Purchased by Walter Bailey in 1945 and renamed the Lorraine, after his wife Loree and a song titled “Sweet Lorraine.” At the time of purchase the Lorraine included 16 rooms, a cafĂ©, and living quarters for the Baileys.

The Lorraine became one of only a few hotels to which African American travelers could enjoy overnight accommodations while traveling during this segregated period leading up to the late 1960s in America.

Under the Bailey’s ownership there were at least two major additions to the hotel. The first addition added a second floor and 12 rooms to the hotel while the next addition created even more guest rooms and drive up access. This change converted the Lorraine Hotel into a motel.

Guests of the Lorraine, both black and white, returned time and again for its upscale atmosphere, home cooked meals, including bar-b-que, affordable prices, and its reputation as a clean and safe environment.

Song writers and musicians working with the Stax Records Company were frequent residents of the Lorraine. Recording stars Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, Aretha Franklin, Ethel Waters, Otis Redding, The Staple Singers and Wilson Picket were among the many that stayed in the Lorraine during the heyday of the late 1950s- early 1960s.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stayed at the Lorraine Motel numerous times. He was a guest of the Lorraine when he came to Memphis in 1968 in support of striking sanitation workers.

The Lorraine Motel is designated an historic site by the Tennessee Historical Commission.
History of the National Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum was birthed out of the success of the civil rights movement and the tragic violence that occurred at the Lorraine Motel, taking the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The aftershock of the assassination on April 4, 1968 eventually plunged the Lorraine into a long and steep decline. The motel’s owner, Walter Lane Bailey maintained two rooms – Rooms 306 & 307 - as a shrine to Dr. King and in memory of his wife Loree who died days after the assassination.

Realizing the symbolic significance of the Lorraine, Mr. Bailey reached out for help to maintain the property as a civil rights shrine. He reached out to Mr. Chuck Scruggs, program director of local radio station WDIA radio and the Save The Lorraine campaign was born.

A group of prominent Memphians, concerned that this historical site would be destroyed through continued neglect and indifference, formed the Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation and in 1984 changed its name to the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum Foundation.

Under the leadership of local attorney and activist, D’Army Bailey, the Foundation raised enough money to purchase the property on the courthouse steps at a public auction for $144,000.

Using a design report by former Smithsonian Institution curator, Benjamin Lawless, the Foundation moved forward to create the educational facility and memorial site that today is the National Civil Rights Museum.

The Museum was dedicated on July 4, 1991 and officially opened to the public on Sept. 28, 1991. Since opening the museum records more than 5 million to the site.

In 1999 the Museum acquired properties facing it, the former Canipe’s Amusement store and rooming house, which were an integral part of Dr. King’s assassination investigation. In 1968, James Earl Ray stayed in the rooming house.

The museum became custodian of the police and evidence files associated with the manhunt, indictment and confession of the assassin of Dr. King. This transfer affords the National Civil Right Museum the distinction of being the first museum of its kind to receive evidence materials and court documents connected with a criminal case into its collection holdings.

Opened to the public on Sept. 28, 2002, Exploring the Legacy, is a 12,800 sq. ft. expansion project aimed at addressing three key questions: 1) Did the Movement die with Dr. King? 2) Was James Earl Ray the assassin? and, 3) What is the legacy of the movement?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hostile Anime Takeover

Oooh, watch out, Japan! I've never really gotten the appeal of anime, myself. But clearly there is major money in it:

China making anime push as Japan hits slump

By TOMOKO A. HOSAKA (AP) – 21 hours ago

TOKYO — Yoko Komazawa had been at the Tokyo International Anime Fair for nearly six hours when she fell in love with a brown-and-white stuffed panda — a character in one of the fair's featured cartoons.

"It's so adorable and interesting," she said, staring into its gleaming pink eyes. "I want it."

Unfortunately, the panda wasn't for sale and Komazawa had to settle for a photo. But she walked away from the small booth impressed by the panda's creators — from China.

"Japan is certainly an amazing anime country," said the 30-something anime fan and collector of all things cute and cuddly. "China has some intriguing characters though. They're different, and that definitely catches my attention."

Komazawa's enthusiasm for something new is a small victory for China's fledgling animation industry, and could well represent a widening crack in Japan's global anime dominance. Japan may be the birthplace of anime, but China is gunning for its future as it mounts an aggressive effort to expand the country's creative prowess and reputation.

In November, the government's cultural arm established the China Animation Comic Group Co. to foster a "great leap forward" in animation production, technology and marketing. Part of the plan includes building a "China Animation Game City" in Beijing that would be a national hub...

China's growing ambitions coincide with an ominous industrywide slump in Japan.

After peaking in 2006, the number of anime minutes made for television fell 20 percent to 108,342 in 2009, according to the Association of Japanese Animations. A survey of the group's members shows that overseas anime revenue fell 21 percent between 2006 and 2009.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Happy Sunday

I like this sweet little song, and Sunday feels like the appropriate day to post it. I admire the direct, sincere way that Johnny Cash sings this song. But, as Guy pointed out...turns out Johnny was wrong about the Hall of Fame part!

Well, you talk about important people that you say you know.
Presidents and superstars of big television shows.
Well, I know someone personally who's bigger than 'em all,
And next to him your superstars look mighty small.
And I have a talk with him each day, and he's interested in every word I say.
No secretary ever tells me he's been called away. I talk to Jesus every day.

Well now I don't think that I'll ever be in any Hall of Fame,
And the social register of wealthy folks might drop my name.
But my name is written in the Book of Life, I'm proud to say,
And that's all that really matters anyway.
And I talk to Jesus every day, and he's interested in every word I say.
No secretary ever tells me he's been called away. I talk to Jesus every day.
I talk to Jesus every day.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Maybe I'm Amazed

"Amazed Cat" is the latest Internet star making the usual rounds. I haven't seen an animal do anything this impressive since the dramatically-reacting Prairie Dog of 2007:

The Wordy Shipmates

If there is ever a time when you really, really want a good book to read, it's during a long plane ride. Personally, the only two activities I am able to somewhat enjoy on planes are 1) sleeping, and 2) reading. The problem with the first option is that it's often too uncomfortable on planes to sleep. With the second option, it's important to choose the right kind of good book. I've made the mistake before of telling myself: what better time to attempt a very challenging, difficult book than on an hours-long plane ride with nothing else to do?

The problem with this--I have found out the hard way--is that it's pretty hard to concentrate while traveling, even if you do have hours and hours to kill. Better to choose a book that is easily engrossing and will gain your immediate and lasting attention.

Sarah Vowell's latest book, The Wordy Shipmates, fits this bill nicely. I started it on vacation, but mostly read it on the plane ride home. The fun thing about her books is that they are substantive and intelligent, but also totally entertaining and easy to read. I learned a lot about early American history from reading this book. She is really, really funny too. (Oh, also: she voiced the character of Violet in The Incredibles, which was a very cute movie.) This is a review from Amazon:

"Starred Review. Essayist and public radio regular Vowell (Assassination Vacation) revisits America's Puritan roots in this witty exploration of the ways in which our country's present predicaments are inextricably tied to its past. In a style less colloquial than her previous books, Vowell traces the 1630 journey of several key English colonists and members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Foremost among these men was John Winthrop, who would become governor of Massachusetts. While the Puritans who had earlier sailed to Plymouth on the Mayflower were separatists, Winthrop's followers remained loyal to England, spurred on by Puritan Reverend John Cotton's proclamation that they were God's chosen people. Vowell underscores that the seemingly minute differences between the Plymouth Puritans and the Massachusetts Puritans were as meaningful as the current Sunni/Shia Muslim rift. Gracefully interspersing her history lesson with personal anecdotes, Vowell offers reflections that are both amusing (colonial history lesson via The Brady Bunch) and tender (watching New Yorkers patiently waiting in line to donate blood after 9/11). (Oct.)"

Friday, March 26, 2010

So long, suckers! or something

For all Tiny Miss Fran knows, Beebo and Guy are already back in the leggish arms of Deebo, fresh (or not so fresh) from their flight home from Pensacola. Still, she'll try to sneak in just one more posting (to join the many, many musings and bons mots she has shared with you during Beebo's hiatus-y thing) before probably scuttling all memory of Beebo's username and login.

What better way to bid adieu to you, readers, and bienvenue to la Beebeau than with a picture of Edith Prickley?

TMF is pretty sure Edith Prickley had some kind of trademark sign-off, but she is too lazy/Internets-impaired to track down what that might be. She thinks it started with an S. Sayonara? See you later, sweetie? Say a prayer for me, sir?

Oh wells, y'all will have Miss Beebo back for good pretty soon. Bye!

Tiny Miss Fran

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cracker Barrel

I finally got to go to a Cracker Barrel for the first time ever here in Alabama. The hostess was a cute petite girl named Angel. She asked if we'd been to Cracker Barrel many times before--I think she must have overheard me effusing about it--and I said, "This is my first time!" and she said, "Ever??" and I said, "Yes! I'm excited!" and she said, "I'm excited for you!"

I ordered the chicken fried chicken (that's not a typo; it's like chicken fried steak except instead of steak, it's chicken. But it's not fried chicken because that would be on the bone. This was a fillet) and it came with three "vegetables" of my choice.

The list of vegetables made my mouth water, but also made me laugh, because Alabama is one of those places where the definition of "vegetable" is "anything that's not meat." So I got to choose between things like fried okra, corn, and green beans, as well as the more loosely defined "vegetables" such as mac-n-cheese, baked beans, and dumplings.

I went with mac-n-cheese, beans, and potato casserole. It was gooo-oooo-oooood!

Friday, March 19, 2010


When we were in Nashville, we saw this great band called Jipsy. It was three girls and a guy. The guy looked like young Kris Kristofferson, and the girls were all cool-looking--one looked like Katy Perry, with shoulder-length black hair. The other two had short hair and boots--one had short platinum blonde hair and the other (the lead singer) had short black hair. The Katy Perry one smiled at me when we walked in.

Music seems to work differently here than in Seattle, in ways that I think are way more fun. In the Nashville bar, people just breezed in and out, with no one getting carded, and the music started early. Everyone sat comfortably at tables or at the bar. There was no cover charge, but the band occasionally walked around the room with their tip bucket, shamelessly soliciting tips, while chatting with people and taking requests.

They did covers of all kinds of great country songs, including an awesome cover of Dolly Parton's song "Jolene."

A short while later, some weirdo patron requested "Jolene" again; either he'd just walked in or he was too drunk to realize that they had just played it. The band sort of complained about it, but they sang it--I think the rule is, if you pay, they play. So we got to hear "Jolene" twice in one night, which I enjoyed, since I like repetition.

Last night in Memphis, we enjoyed a fun singer named Barbara Blue, accompanied by a piano player. She was much older than the Nashville band and had clearly been around the block a few times. She trolled for tips even more shamelessly, saying she "accepted all dead presidents" and calling herself "a professional musical whore." She also inventively offered this deal: if she was singing a song you didn't like, five dollars would stop it in its tracks.

She also endeared herself to Guy and me by remarking that she was glad she never had kids, but she had four rescue cats and four rescue dogs at home.

And she also sang "Jolene." That makes four times we've heard it on this trip (if you include listening to it in the car).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Breakfast at the Loveless Cafe

About 10 miles outside of Nashville, on the way to Memphis, you start seeing more cows and rolling hills and you feel like you're really in the country...and that's where you'll find the Loveless Cafe, where we ate breakfast. It's kind of a famous restaurant, with signed photos of various country music stars all over its entryway walls, but it still has a modest homey feel.

After breakfast (which included grits, smoked ham, and platefuls of hot biscuits and gravy), we wandered around for a while taking pictures. I kept walking past the smokehouse and eventually a guy inside called out, "Hey! You're taking a lot of pictures!" For a second I thought he was about to yell at me, but then he said, "You really oughta come in here and get a picture of the smoked pig butts!"

So I went in and took this photo:

Yum! I asked him, "Are you George?" (the waitress had said something about George earlier) and he said, "Absolutely!" and I asked him if I could take his photo and he said sure. Here's George:

George is a nice fella. Here's some art on a wall near the smokehouse:

And this painting was inside, hanging over our table. It's a portrait of Carol Fay, who makes the biscuits using a secret recipe:

Here's what the outside of the smokehouse looks like:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Glamour Fit

Tiny Miss Fran had a totally ass day at work, but nothing soothes her frayed nerves and frothing resentment like coming home to a new L.L. Bean "Signature" catalog! The new line features some sophisticated colors and cute wrap dresses, and the usual yummy cashmere that always ends up all shrunken and slutty-looking because she's too lazy to dry clean it so she has to take it to Goodwill after trying to wash it at home.

But the best thing is the catalog itself, which smells and feels almost as good as the Sunset did before the subscription ran out. The slightly slick finish! The pointy page corners! The drool-worthy ink scent that makes Tiny Miss Fran feel all peaceful and woozy!

This fancy new L.L. Bean "Signature" catalog is to TMF what The Elf is to her feckless brother Buckaroo... and you can see how much lub that thing has been subjected to:

Greetings From Nashville

Since Tiny Miss Fran hasn't changed the password on my account quite yet, I am seizing this opportunity to post some photos I took today in Nashville. It's a fun town. We did some shopping, then went to the Country Music Hall of Fame museum, then had lunch. The music museum was incredibly great, and made me even more ashamed than I already was of the EMP, Seattle's sad-ass excuse for a music museum.

These are some photos I took today: some sidewalk art; a bear that Hank Williams shot (from the museum, natch); and a delicious smoked Tennessee shoulder pork sandwich.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tiny Miss Fran asks Beebo questions about her blog.

Tiny Miss Fran: I think I can deliver on the squirrels and the cooking, but your fans may have to go elsewhere for their Gaga/Winehouse coverage while you're gone. What other beats do you want me to follow? H1N1? The Middle East?
Beebo: The nice thing about my blog, TMF, is that I basically have no standards and no quality control. So you can do whatever the hell you want! My only guideline has been trying to post at least one thing a day--but you don't even have to do that, if you don't feel like it. Most of my posts are just stories that I lazily jacked from other websites, so there is really no pressure. I'm a very lazy blogger. Just try to not make it ALL about kibble and string, Tiny Miss Fran.

TMF: Are there any words or phrases you would prefer I not use on your blog? Please be very explicit.
Beebo: Heh! Well, TMF, I try not to "go blue" when I can help it, but once in a while, profanity is called for. So just do what "feels right." The internets might be shocked if a cute tiny little cat curses like a sailor...but that sounds kinda cute too.

TMF: Where is it you're going again? What do you expect to be the hi-lites and lo-lites of your trip?
Beebo: We're meeting Glenda in Tennessee and going to GRACELAND!! I expect that to be the highlight. Then she's driving us to Alabama where we will stay with John B et al and possibly see some GATORS. (that could be another hi-lite.) Jennifer and Diana have a trip that will overlap for a few days and they will drive us to FLORIDA BEACHES (which apparently are close by). If one of us gets eaten by a shark, that would be a lo-lite (but also, let's face it, a hi-lite) of the trip.

TMF: Will you send me updates from the road that I can share with your readers?
Beebo: Oooh! I will if I can!! Our computer access won't be great but maybe I'll send you a psychic update or two.

Bea Arthur Mountains Pizza

Derivative? A tad.

Adequate compensation for being snubbed at the Oscar obits? Surely not.

Pleasantly diverting despite the meaty closeup in the March 11 entry? Darn tootin'.

Bea Arthur fans, the link of the day is for you.

Tiny Miss Fran

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nashville & Memphis

Well, we're off to Nashville and Memphis tomorrow! I'll say hi to Elvis for you.

I may or may not be posting from the road, but look for guest posts from Tiny Miss Fran over the next few weeks. I'll return on March 26.

I'm going to ask the King to make me one of his famous peanut-butter-and-bacon sandwiches...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Telephone Fashion

From Perez Hilton's sister site, Coco Perez, here is a helpful cheat sheet for all the amazing fashions that appear in the Telephone video:

Striped prison dress custom made by Jean-Charles De Castelbajac with sunglasses by Mercura.

Crime scene tape outfit custom made by Brian Lichtenberg.

Chain jumpsuit custom made by Viktor & Rolf with cigarette sunglasses and shoes made by the Haus of GaGa.

Studded jacket made by Search and Destroy with vintage sunglasses by Chanel.

Studded bra and panties worn by GaGa and her dancers by the the Haus of GaGa.

Both Gagita and Honey Bey's vintage hats and outfits created by Thierry Mugler.

Beyonce's body hugging yellow dress and hat ensemble designed by Atsuko Kudo paired with Jeremy Scott's mouse trap sunglasses.

As we mentioned before, Gagaloo's blue telephone headpiece was custom made by Fred Butler.

Chef outfit made by Rachel Barrett with her yellow telephone hair piece by Danilo.

Gaga shows off her patriotism in an outfit once again made by the Haus of GaGa, Beyonce's red white and blue dress designed by Oscar Lima and the back up dancers were outfitted in custom made denim get ups by Franc Fernandez & Oscar Lima and leather costumes by Noki, Bess and the Haus of GaGa.

Jean-Charles De Castelbajac appears again, this time on Beyonce who is wearing both a jacket and shoes made by the designer. The denim booty shorts are also made by Franc Fernandez & Oscar Olima.

GaGa's spotted kitty cat jumpsuit was custom made by the Haus of GaGa.

In the final scene Beyonce and Lady GaGa are wearing cowboy hat and outfits by Emilie Pirlot.

Lady Gaga and Beyonce in "Telephone"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Be as wise as serpents, and as tender as doves."

"A French philosopher said, 'No man is strong unless he bears within his character antitheses strongly marked.' The strong man holds in a living blend strongly marked opposites. Not ordinarily do men achieve this blend of opposites. The idealists are usually not realistic, and the realists are not usually idealistic. The militant are not generally known to be passive, nor the passive to be militant. Seldom are the humble self-assertive, or the self-assertive humble. But life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony. The philosopher Hegel said that truth is found neither in the thesis or the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two...

"Let us consider, first, the need for a tough mind, characterized by incisive thinking, realistic appraisal, and decisive judgment. The tough mind is sharp and penetrating; breaking through the crust of legends and myths and sifting the true from the false. The tough-minded individual is astute and discerning. He has a strong, austere quality that makes for firmness of purpose and solidness of commitment.

"Who doubts that this toughness of mind is one of man's greatest needs? Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think...

"This undue gullibility is also seen in the tendency of many readers to accept the printed word of the press as final truth. Few people realize that even our authentic channels of information--the press, the platform, and in many instances the pulpit--do not give us objective and unbiased truth. Few people have the toughness of mind to judge critically and to discern the true from the false, the fact from the fiction. Our minds are constantly being invaded by legions of half-truths, prejudices, and false facts. One of the great needs of mankind is to be lifted above the morass of false propaganda."

--Martin Luther King, Jr. from Strength to Love, chapter one: "A tough mind and a tender heart."

"Hi Mr. Snake Bird" painting found here:

"Get Ready for Your Close-up, Joan."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Celebrity Fat Club

It's weird how Kevin Federline keeps getting himself into contexts where he somehow comes across as "the mature one." I'm not sure how he does that, but it happened with Britney and it's happening again on Celebrity Fit Club: Boot Camp.

The last episode (that I watched) featured a spectacular bitch fight between the two biggest divas of the season, Tanisha Thomas and Sebastian Bach. The producers must be really glad they cast them, because K-Fed really isn't pulling his weight (pun intended) in the drama department.

But Tanisha and Sebastian are both ridiculously over-the-top, hot-headed, and immature, so it was inevitable that they would eventually clash.

I can't remember how it started--I think they were both just tired and cranky--but at some point, Sebastian escalated the fight by insulting Tanisha's weave. Tanisha instantly went ballistic, explaining later in an interview that you can't insult a black girl's weave and expect anything less than a nuclear reaction. Yeah, I can understand that.

Anyway, the fight devolved into name-calling and silly posturing with one or both of them stomping off angrily. I can't remember how it ended, but I think it was mostly just because they eventually ran out of insults for each other.

Later, after they'd both had time to cool down, Tanisha solemnly and hilariously decided to be "the bigger person" and walk over to Sebastian's cabin to apologize. Sebastian pouted and sulked like a big baby for a while, but they ended up hugging it out and he admitted that he actually likes her weave.

And then, the weekly weigh-in. This was my favorite part of the episode, because they had all the "emotional counselors" and "experts" lined up, and then there was this priceless exchange:

Counselor (in a sensitive, meaningful voice): When Tanisha said "Fuck you" to you...what did you hear?

Sebastian: I heard "Fuck you"!

Counselor: Yes, but...what did it mean?

Sebastian: It meant "Fuck you!"

Hahahahhaa! Oh, Sebastian, I love you. (You too, Tanisha.)

Mad Men + Barbie = Pure Genius

Wow! Mad Men dolls! Of course. It's so obvious once you think of it. It's genius. And, hey! They were designed by Robert Best! Project Runway fans will remember that he was a competitor one memorable season, causing many viewers (like myself) to wonder, "Why is he even bothering with this reality show? He already has the best job ever--designing for Barbie!"

From the NYT (these are just excerpts, see this link for the full article):

The Barbie and Ken versions of the “Mad Men” characters are, from left, Joan Holloway, Roger Sterling, Don Draper and Betty Draper. Soon, the show will enter a realm of the pop-culture pantheon that its creator, Matthew Weiner, says has surprised even him: Mattel plans to bring out versions of Barbie and Ken styled after four “Mad Men” characters.

The dolls are part of a premium-price collectors’ series for adults that Mattel calls the Barbie Fashion Model Collection. Although there have been Barbies and Kens based on other TV series, among them “I Love Lucy” and “The X-Files,” the dolls will be the first licensed line for that collection, Mattel says, with a suggested retail price of $74.95 each.

The characters to become dolls are Don Draper, the show’s leading man; his wife, Betty; his colleague at the Sterling Cooper agency, Roger Sterling; and Joan Holloway, the agency’s office manager who was Roger’s mistress.

That two dolls represent a relationship outside wedlock, and Don Draper’s propensity for adultery, may be firsts for the Barbie world since the brand’s introduction five decades ago. But for the sake of the Barbie image, her immersion in the “Mad Men” era will go only so far: The dolls come with period accessories like hats, overcoats, pearls and padded undergarments, but no cigarettes, ashtrays, martini glasses or cocktail shakers.

“The dolls, we feel, do a great job of embodying the series,” said Stephanie Cota, senior vice president for Barbie marketing at Mattel in El Segundo, Calif. “Certain things are appropriate, and certain things aren’t.”

The pairing of Barbie and “Mad Men” is more interesting than the typical licensing agreement because of their shared history. Barbie was introduced in March 1959, and the first episode of “Mad Men” is set in March 1960.

“ ‘Mad Men’ represents so beautifully the universe that created Barbie,” said Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University, because the series is about the selling of the American consumer society.

The personification of Betty Draper as Barbie is particularly resonant, Mr. Thompson said, because she represents “the wife who lives in her dream house whose soul is eaten away.”
“I have this fantasy of an 8-year-old getting a set” of the dolls, he added, “and saying: ‘Mom, can Chelsea come over? We want to play “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.” I’m going to be the organization man, and she’s going to be the soulless drone.’ ”

Such considerations were, of course, not driving the executives of Mattel and Lionsgate to make the deal. Rather, the arrival of the dolls, scheduled for July, will help promote the fourth season of “Mad Men,” which is to begin that month on AMC.

And postcards bearing sketches of the dolls by the Barbie designer Robert Best, which were used to produce the final versions, will be included in the DVD and Blu-ray boxed sets of the third season, scheduled for release on March 23.

As for fears that “Mad Men” could be devalued by too much kitschy merchandise, Lionsgate “is fairly restrained,” Mr. Beggs said, promising that “no sharks will be jumped” — the TV term for a series that self-destructs through overreaching...

The dolls are “a realization of a fantasy, in a weird way,” Mr. Weiner said, because “on some level it’s such a measure of success to see your characters embodied by Barbie.”

“Anybody who likes the show for its attention to detail will get that from the dolls,” he added, which earned approval from him; Janie Bryant, the costume designer for “Mad Men”; and Scott Hornbacher, an executive producer.

As an example of their scrutiny, Mr. Weiner said he told Mattel that the sideburns on the Don Draper doll needed “to be higher” and the haircut needed “to be tighter.”

The deal also provided Mr. Weiner with a moment evocative of the Rosebud revelation in “Citizen Kane.”

“I grew up with two older sisters and lots of Barbies in the house,” he recalled, including “a doll named Midge,” a pal of Barbie’s. In retrospect, he said, she may have been the inspiration for Midge Daniels, a mistress of Don Draper’s in Season One.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Sam Rockwell--isn't he awesome? (Correct answer: yes.)

I love him mostly for his work in Box of Moonlight and Galaxy Quest, two of my favorite underrated movies of all time. Guy and I just rented Moon, a low-budget science-fiction movie that came out last year. The story was pretty interesting, and the effects look amazingly good for such a cheap movie. It successfully conveys that crisp, clean, "cold" feeling of classic science-fiction, but Sam Rockwell's performance is affecting (and also funny). He plays a homesick astronaut filled with anguish and confusion when he stumbles upon his own clone:

"Moon is the first feature film directed by commercial director Duncan Jones, who co-wrote the script with Nathan Parker. The film was specifically written as a vehicle for actor Sam Rockwell. The film pays homage to the films of Jones's youth, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Silent Running (1972), Solaris (1972), Alien (1979) and Outland (1981). Jones described the intent, "[We] wanted to create something which felt comfortable within that canon of those science fiction films from the sort of late seventies to early eighties."

"The director spoke of his interest in the lunar setting, "For me, the Moon has this weird mythic nature to it... There is still a mystery to it. As a location, it bridges the gap between science-fiction and science fact. We (humankind) have been there. It is something so close and so plausible and yet at the same time, we really don't know that much about it." The director described the lack of romance in the Moon as a location, citing images from the Japanese lunar orbiter SELENE, "It's the desolation and emptiness of it... it looks like some strange ball of clay in blackness... Look at photos and you'll think that they're monochrome. In fact, they're not. There simply are no primary colours." Jones referenced the photography book Full Moon by Michael Light in designing the look of the film.

"Moon's budget was $5 million. The director took steps to minimise production costs, such as keeping the cast small and filming in a studio. Moon was produced at Shepperton Studios, London, England, where it filmed for 33 days. Jones preferred using models instead of digital animation. Jones worked with Bill Pearson, the supervising model maker on Alien, to help design the lunar rovers and helium-3 harvesters in the film. The moon base was created as a full 360-degree set, being 85–90 feet (26–27 m) long and approximately 70 feet (21 m) wide. The film's robot, GERTY, was designed to be bound to a rail within the base since the tether was critical storywise. The visual effects were provided by Cinesite, who sought cut-price deals with independent films.Since Jones had an effects background with commercials, he drew on his past experiences in creating effects under a small budget.

"Damon Wise of The Times praised Jones's "thoughtful" direction and Rockwell's "poignant" performance. Wise wrote of the film's approach to the science fiction genre, "Though it uses impressive sci-fi trappings to tell its story—the fabulous models and moonscapes are recognisably retro yet surprisingly real—this is a film about what it means, and takes, to be human."

"Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ stars out of 4, saying, "'Moon' is a superior example of that threatened genre, hard science-fiction, which is often about the interface between humans and alien intelligence of one kind of or other, including digital.

"Moon was screened at NASA's Space Center Houston at the request of a professor there. The screening was part of a lecture series. "He'd been reading online that we'd done this film about Helium-3 mining and that's something that people at NASA are working on," says Jones. "We did a Q&A afterward. They asked me why the base looked so sturdy, like a bunker, and not like the kind of stuff they are designing that they are going to transport with them. I said 'Well, in the future I assume you won't want to continue carrying everything with you, you'll want to use the resources on the moon to build things' and a woman in the audience raised her hand and said, 'I'm actually working on something called Mooncrete, which is concrete that mixes lunar regolith and ice water from the moon's polar caps.'"

From Wikipedia.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fu Man Fortunes

My mom took Guy and me to Fu Man Dumpling House yesterday for lunch. It's difficult to find a good Chinese restaurant in Seattle (outside of the International District), so this place is an amazing discovery. The food is so delicious and amazing. The noodles taste really fresh and flavorful, and the servers are so nice.

Neighborhood: Bitter Lake
14314 Greenwood Avenue N.
Seattle, WA 98133
(206) 364-0681

I was just reading reviews on Yelp which are overwhelmingly positive. Since I'm too lazy to write my own, here's a sample review from Xander D:

"Two words: PORK BUNS!!!

"On a whim, we were yelping dumpling eateries in the area and found this hole-in-the-wall gem on Greenwood! I've been craving the pork buns ever since I had them. AND, as has been mentioned before many times, the homemade garlic sauce is fantastic.

"We ordered the Pork Buns, BBQ Pork, Chow Mein Special, and Hot and Sour soup with Dumplings. After ordering, the guy said, "That's too much food. You don't need all that!" LOL! We couldn't believe it. Never have we heard someone turn down an order! But we went ahead with everything, and of course he was right. But the Chow Mein was delish the next day, for sure.

"This is definitely a place we will go again: great service and delicious food!

"I feel obligated to comment on the decor, since so many do in their reviews (just talking in general here). I don't need fancy ambiance when eating. It is nice, of course, but not necessary. So don't expect anything fancy here. There were 8 or so tables, close together, but it never felt cramped. A few of the tables are right by the door, so if you don't want the cold, don't sit by the door! Either way, if you want to eat there or take out, it's worth it for sure!

"Here's hoping that Fu Man is around for a long time!"

Word, Xander D. I've noticed that decor doesn't seem to matter much in restaurants, as long as the food and "energy" of the place are good. What I mean by energy is just a friendly, happy, welcoming feeling radiating from the servers, as if they like each other and it's a nice place to work. I have a theory that this "gets into the food" somehow. I know it's woo-woo, but that's been my personal experience. Other restaurants that have this special quality are Machiavelli (an Italian place in Capitol Hill) and Little Thai (in the University District).

Even if the food is great and the restaurant is beautiful, if the place radiates unhappiness, the food won't taste as good. But if the place has a good energy, it nourishes your soul as well as your body.

I also really liked the fortunes in our cookies. Mine was the first one: When your heart is pure, your mind is clear. But because I'm kind of woo-woo like that, I decided that all three fortunes were secretly meant for me. Thanks for the friendly support, Universe!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Look at me. I am bloggin'!


Is this thing on?

This is a picture of my little friend in France. She lives in Menton, which is a town on the Riviera and also means "chin."

Tiny Miss Fran

Friday, March 5, 2010

Office Dramas

Apologies to my loyal readers. I haven't been able to post much this week due to some pretty major office dramas. Rather than waste everyone's time by boring you with all the gruesome details, I thought I'd instead post this scene from True Romance for your viewing pleasure. It is the perfect metaphor for what this week was like for me (with me in Patricia Arquette's role).

Yep, it was a hard week, just about as intense and exhausting as it looks here. Still, when you get to that moment when you are slamming that screwdriver straight through James Gandolfini's foot, and then setting him on fire with a lighter and a can of hairspray, somehow it all feels totally worth it in the end.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lobster Hat and Chicken Claw

Oh Gaga, I love you. Don't ever change.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Things Are Looking Sunny Today

This Saturday I went to see a play at ACT theater and guess who was sitting at the end of my row? Local weatherman Steve Pool! Now, I don't really watch TV news and never have, but I've lived in Seattle since 1991, so I guess the awareness of Steve Pool seeped slowly into my consciousness over time, since he's been our local weatherman since the dawn of time (or 1984 anyway).

Isn't he pleasant and engaging? Here he is dispensing sage advice about preparing for winter weather:

Let's learn more:

"Steve Pool (born November 5, 1955) is the principal weather anchor for KOMO-TV in Seattle, having joined the station as an intern while attending the University of Washington. He joined in 1977 as KOMO's principal science reporter, in addition to serving as weekend news anchor and weather forecaster.

"In 1984, he became KOMO's primary weather forecaster after the retirement of longtime KOMO weather anchor Ray Ramsey. That same year, he began hosting a program on KOMO-TV titled "Front Runners" which aired every Saturday at 7:30PM on KOMO. The show would soon pick up nationwide syndication and featured the stories of people who beat all odds or had a unique talent, etc. Memorable segments of Front Runners include a look behind the scenes at the world of Bill Nye the Science Guy and a look at the career of fellow KOMO colleague Kathi Goertzen, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour at KOMO. Front Runners was produced by Ken Morrison and won many awards in its run, including scores of Emmy Awards. The show ended in 1996.

"KOMO News anchors Dan Lewis, Kathi Goertzen, and Steve Pool have the third longest-running tenure out of any news team in America, having worked together at KOMO-TV since 1987.

"He has won seven Emmy Awards during his career to date, made more than 80 appearances as a guest weather talent on the television show Good Morning America, and appeared in the movies Vixen Highway (2001) and Life or Something Like It (2002).

"Additionally, he is the author of a book about weather and its forecasting, titled "Somewhere, I Was Right." During the 1990s, Steve Pool hosted a video series titled I Wanna Be...(astronaut, construction worker, pilot, TV news reporter, etc)."

...Being a local celebrity seems like maybe it would be better than being, say, Angelina Jolie or someone like that. You could still enjoy some of the perks of fame, without having to deal with stuff like paparazzi and fans mobbing you every time you left the house.

However, even being a mild celebrity apparently doesn't rule out the possibility of some wackjob ornamenting himself with a giant tattoo of your face!! Yes, some weirdo got this huge portrait of Steve Pool tattooed onto his leg. I don't know who it is...someone posted it anonymously on the KOMO news website. Creepy...but also kind of sweet, in a way. I can't decide. As far as tattoos go, this is a friendly one, with a hopeful, optimistic vibe. But it's surprising that anyone would feel that strongly about Steve Pool. I wonder how Steve Pool feels about it?

Wholesome Canadians

I kept waiting for this Kids In the Hall skit to have some kind of dark, creepy twist. But it didn't: it just stayed sweet!