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the uninteresting musings of belle t. llama

Sep. 5th, 2007

12:22 pm


Hey kids:


I have a new blog.


It’s focus is on art, design, commerce, and anything that falls within that scope.


Check it out:

Aug. 14th, 2007

09:11 am - A map is more unreal than where you’ve been or how you feel.

            Mid-August is rapidly coming upon us (it doesn’t count until I get my paycheck in a day, of course) and it’s at once very easy and impossible to fathom that the summer is nearing an end.  It’s difficult to complain much about the season—there were tennis matches and visits from friends/family and weekly trips to the beach (even if it is only the Long Island Sound—any free beach within a fifteen-minute drive does it for me), so despite a lack of vacations (saving up those days for later in the year when there are holidays to go home for), I’m surprisingly well-rested and even a little tanned to boot.  In a way, this is the summer before the potentially  idyllic summer of next year, when many of my Yale pals will be gearing up to finish up their graduate careers and a number of big changes will be upon us all, including a whole host of weddings.

            What?  You didn’t think I’d make it without posting something about weddings?  Given how seldom I do post to this, I guess it has become rather nuptial-centered, but usually I get the urge to write when I’ve gone through (or am going through) one of my little planning binges, where I pick out a bunch of stuff at once and then I feel the need to comment on the process.  Currently I’m going through one—this past weekend I helped my fellow-bride-to-be comrade in picking out her wedding dress and her bridesmaids’ dresses, and she will repaying me with the same favor this weekend as I pick out my veil and my bridesmaids’ dresses.

            Having been in a wedding recently and now planning one long-distance, I’ve actually done a bit of research online, reading articles on and The Knot, as much to learn what not to do as what to do.  “Popular” i.e. “overplayed” songs?  Make sure they are used sparingly, if at all.  Ideas for hairstyles?  Keep them in an online album.  As schlocky as the sites get (The Knot is particularly bad—too much pastel and “tools” for my tatste), they do ultimately serve their purpose, which is educational, which boils down to keeping me from being a sucker.  And ultimately, this will be a sucka-free ceremony, so, I’ll take any help I can get.


            Regardless, it beats the hell out of slinging copies, binding reports, and schlepping to the city for furtive weekends.

Current Mood: black, teal, polka dots.
Current Music: feist - intuition

Mar. 3rd, 2007

09:42 am - quand je marche, je marche.

There are a few people I decided not to invite, and that might make things kind of awkward's my wedding.  And I don't want anyone there who has called me a hussy.


Pam, The Office



            I hate admitting how much I tend to relate episodes of Sex in the City to my own life—I feel like one of those girls that has a blog/myspace page that’s really bright and pink with some completely clichéd title/quote/headline along the lines of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes!” or some other horseshit, or go out to MisShapes parties in the city and then end up on Gawker’s Blue States Lose, rightly ridiculed (scroll down to number 10 and click on the picture link for illustration).  But dammit, the show did have its moments of honesty despite the glitz and the froth, and one of the most poignant was the episode “Change of a Dress,” where both Carrie and Miranda must confront the idea of being “programmed” into insta-excitement about being engaged and having a baby, respectively.  They both go through the motions of being excited, from “faking” a sonogram to “faking” the wedding planning enthusiasm.

            I’ve grown to empathize with their plight in the scant few months I’ve entered the affianced state, not because I’m not psyched to be married, but because weddings, in essence, are bullshit.  Turn to the Style network and you see countless shows about weddings, from destination weddings to shows about wedding planners to shows about wedding planners planning destination weddings; it’s enough to leave a girl sitting on her couch, mouth agape, thinking what the fuck did she do in getting into this mess.  Even the opening titles can strike fear in a normally plucky woman:  “This is the one day you have to express yourself.”  They must be joking, this girl thinks.  No one can be that hung up on what is essentially a party.

            Unfortunately, that is not the case.

            Last weekend we visited the site of the reception and while everything was lovely, lovely, lovely (seriously, I think I said “lovely” about fifty times during the 20-minute tour), I was a little taken aback by the pomp and circumstance surrounding everything.  When we arrived another older couple were already in the lobby of the hotel, likely waiting for an 11 o’clock appointment and we learned that my mom had the bad luck of sharing this woman’s first name as when our guide came out looking for us and saying “Meg?  Meg?” the bat jumped on her and then got really pissed when it was, in fact, our party the guide was referring to.  As we strolled the property, I was convinced that I had made the correct decision (essentially, I authorized the location nearly sight unseen, save for the website and personal recollections of the place) and overall was quite pleased, but I was neither bursting with excitement nor sullen, prompting the girl leading us around to ask me (with a sincere, big smile no less) “Are you dying?”  I, in fact, was decidedly not dying and very much alive, but I knew the only correct answer to her was yes, so I smiled and sort of eeked one out.  She was shocked that I hadn’t started looking for dresses yet, and even gave me a little gentle admonishment.  This of course led me back to the aforementioned SATC episode, and I started to ponder why I was so reticent in starting the process (aside from wanting to lose the obligatory ten pounds excuse).

            During one of the many coffee shop scenes, Carrie starts believing that she has yet to develop the bride gene; after all, why wouldn’t she, of all people, be excited about shopping for a new dress?  As someone who has done some perfunctory shopping for said dress, I can provide one, succinct reason:  there are too many fugly ones to go through.  This isn’t to say that there aren’t beautiful dresses out there, but I’ve come to this conclusion that when you are more adventurous in your everyday attire (or at least have put effort into cultivating your own aesthetic and style), the less appealing wedding dresses actually are.  This, at least, is the case for me—why should I go through the trouble of buying a thousand-dollar-plus dress that can only be worn once and then be sent to a box for all eternity?  They are generally fussy, poofy, filled with the details that I tend to shirk away from in my everyday clothes, and don’t look at all comfortable.  I also generally tend to veer towards my own version of dressier clothes on a regular basis for work or even some leisurely pursuits, so going from 0 to 120 in the glamour department is not a huge personal priority.

            As a result, one of my bridesmaids and I are taking a walk downtown tomorrow to order my dress.  And it’s not going to be from a bridal salon.  Yeah, that’s right.  Medium-hard sodoku, seventeen minutes.  Suck on that.

Current Mood: black, brown, print.
Current Music: the cure--plainsong

Feb. 19th, 2007

06:07 pm - Oooo, how do you like your love?

"A Crate & Barrel bag and a Ciao Bella box--even the garbage on this street is fabulous."—Michael's ruminations while walking down 5th from the Met

Saturday marked out latest foray into the city despite the freezing temperatures we experienced all week. For a city that weathered an ice storm a few days earlier, it was a surprisingly warm and pleasant day for walking around the UES and the West Village. The day began at the Met, which is not the place to visit right now as much of the museum is undergoing significant renovations that are set to be unveiled starting in late April with expanded Greco-Roman space and a revamped Islamic gallery. Much of the impressionist and post-impressionist gallery space is also being renovated, as only the William Annenberg collection was on display (though this is a non-trivial collection, containing some of the most important works made during this period, ranging from Van Gogh's Cypress Tree to one of Monet's Water Lilies to Picasso's At the Lapin Agile). This lack of display space was probably for the best--we were able to see most of what we would want to without necessitating an eight-hour trek through the cavernous museum.


One special highlight was seeing the Nan Kempner appreciation, American Chic. A major patroness of haute couture houses and particular friend of Yves Saint Laurent through most of his career, Mrs. Kempner was known as a socialite who dressed extremely, extremely well. Michael was naturally dubious of this retrospective--"so we're looking at clothes that a woman wore?" he asked me with a look--but a glance at some of the crazier coats, dresses and whatnot that she owned kind of raised his respect. A little, at least. Especially when I told him that she paid for everything she wore (well, I guess it was a combination of the money she was born into and the money her husband had--she didn't work, after all) and that she was the prototypical Social X-Ray that Tom Wolfe immortalized in The Bonfire of the Vanities (she smoked like a chimney in order to stay so thin, and she paid for it with emphysema that eventually did her in in 2005). Regardless, she was the fashion world's answer to such patrons as Henry Clay Frick, Alfred Barnes and Ambroise Vollard--someone who saw the value in providing commercial support to artists she felt were visionary, only the results were worn on her body instead of hanging on the walls of one of her homes. Instead of seeking to change the way we may look at the world around us, she looked to artists who changed the way we viewed the human figure, albeit in clothing instead of not. It's worth checking out if you are at the Met, as it's likely the only opportunity to be exposed to so much of the finest in haute couture in one sitting without having to jet to the biannual shows in Paris. You may even be able to listen to what Michael conjectured to be taken from her CD library--Andrea True Connection's "More More More"--this little comment elicited a delayed snicker from another dapperly-dressed gentleman being dragged through the exhibit by his wife.


The reduction of gallery space didn't diminish the appeal for tourists, however--rooms were full of families traveling for the weekend and high-schoolers perched in front of various works with notebooks and questions to answer on works that they likely had never heard of and didn't particularly care about, as long as the trip included tickets to a Broadway show or a chance to explore the rest of the city. This was all too evident later in the day on the 6 en route from Barney's to SoHo and Uniqlo, as I was shoved up against a North Jersey ponce trying to hit on a college freshman who was being extremely nice considering this kid's high douchebag index.


She didn't look like a freshman--she was by herself and looked comfortable being so. This is intended to be complimentary. I'm not sure when the conversation started exactly, but it was between 51st and 33rd streets when the conversation was getting highly entertaining (and please let it be known that at this point I had no other recourse but to listen--Michael was very far away from me due to another couple separating us). First I learned that our friend DB was from North Jersey and he had just come from the Met, and you know what? So had the girl. Wow. Perfect conversation starter. She said that she had to go there for one of her art history classes--she had to visit a few galleries and write a paper (and DB eagerly interjected: "Did you have specific questions to answer?" She responded with a simple "no.") This then forces DB to admit that yes, he's with his high school on a field trip and he's, "like totally embarrassed to be associated with them right now." A closer look at what this kid looked like, with his blatant attempt to come off as a kid who spent his whole life in SoHo hanging out with the likes of Natalie Portman and Zach Braff (which is completely incorrect, I know, but just humor me for the moment) makes that desperation/mortification all the more apparent. He then went on to detail the rest of their day--they were finished viewing the Cloisters in Fort Tyrone Park as well as the main Met building, and then they were going to meet up for dinner before going to catch an evening showing of Rent. Yeah. He then started to grill the girl about living in the city and whether or not she had been to the Museum of Modern Art yet--for those of you who don't know, "it's like the Modern Art section of the Met but, like, the whole museum is modern art." To this I turn, catch a glance with the girl next to me (who was obviously listening to the conversation as much as I was and who was snickering along with her male companion), keep turning, and mouth "wow." Yeah. Unfortunately, this was the high point of the subway ride--as the crowd thinned out on the way to Spring Street, it was harder to eavesdrop and not be obvious about it, but one last tidbit that Michael picked up summed up the entire experience well--"I'm probably coming off as such a snobbish prick right now." Well, our dear friend DB was nothing if not sadly self-aware.


The day ended with dinner at Pasita, a little wine bar and pizza/Venezuelan small plates restaurant where the food is cheap but the wine is fantastic--and a lovely evening was had by all. Worth checking out for something low-key but special--they are serious about their wine, and the food is merely the accompaniment. Talking to the employees also ruined my love of Cipriani Bellinis, but perhaps this is probably for the best--it's much cheaper to buy a can of the mix and a bottle of Frixenet, with the added bonus of no Fairfield County scenesters to provide unwanted commentary.


Current Mood: red, stripes, dots, grey
Current Music: the office on DVR

Feb. 4th, 2007

08:51 pm - It’s like fucking Crocodile Mile out there…is this game being played on the moon?

The above are just two of the bemused reactions Michael has had in watching the first quarter of the Superbowl—the wetness of the field thanks to a steady, persistent downpour has allowed for some comical fumbles and missed extra point opportunities, and also for some amazing 50-yard TD passes and 60-yard TD runs.  For once the game is actually more entertaining than the ads (which, in my opinion, all have been underwhelming).  It’s also amusing to see the camera lenses continue to fog up and the rain just pouring down in sheets.


In other news, I went to Target today to see what was available of the Proenza Schouler collection that dropped today (allegedly).  The release was so botched that I was actually able to order things online well in advance of the release date (including a now-sold-out brown bustier dress), and not all stores have been consistent in placing the merchandise out on the sales floor (coughNorthHavenTargetcough).  Was it worth the hype that preceded its unveiling?  Probably not—aside from a cropped jacket whose print was very reminiscent of one used in their Spring 2005 show and some adorable A-line skirts with their signature piping detail on the seams, in-store there were just a lot of skinny pants, miniskirts and filmy tee shirts that didn’t look all that different from the Mossimo and Xhileration (two Target house brands) wares a few racks away.  That said, it’s easily the best of the GO International collections that have been released since last year with a mix of clothes that all don’t scream junior, so it’s worth a glance either in-store or online for quirky takes on good spring/summer staples.


As part of a girls’ afternoon in, I watched Children of Men with Weili and Jill (Jill has this fabulous connection that will send her copies of screener DVDs), and it’s as good as they say it is.  Sure, the clichés are there and some expected things happen, but the cinematography and the soundtrack both help tell the story so eloquently, and Clive Owen is fantastic as a beleaguered Brit thrown into the chaos of this particular dystopia.


Oh, and NY Fashion Week started on Friday.  Right now most of the shows being presented are the unknowns or the independents—some aren’t bad, but the real shows don’t really get underway until this coming week.  Let’s hope that this season proves better than the dismal showing of the Spring 2007 lines.

Current Mood: black, blue stripes
Current Music: the superbowl

10:37 am - So let yourself go and get right with me.

So for those of you who think that fashion-industry types are only interested in buying status pieces whose prices start in the low thousands, witness the pandemonium among those invited to a preview party for Target’s newest collaboration at Opening Ceremony in NYC...


More later.

Current Mood: red, blue
Current Music: get right--jennifer lopez. she likes tacos and burritos.

Jan. 26th, 2007

09:14 pm - Sur le fil, tout est calme et tranquille; Sur le fil, tout est simple et facile.

"I've realized that fashion is a very powerful instrument that ... allows you to transmit ideas and shape opinion.  Why aren't people embarrassed to buy beautiful furniture or art for your house?  What you wear says more about you than what you put in your home.”

--Miuccia Prada



            I had separate but similar conversations with both Laura and Michael over the past two days, surprisingly, about the fashion industry as a whole.  It feels appropriate to be mulling this over as Fashion Week rapidly approaches and rumors whirl about in the industry about how the Gap is seriously faulting—so much that Goldman Sachs has been brought in to look at strategic moves the company could make to boost their profile.  Michael expressed his frustration to me as I watched a DVR’d episode of Fashion Television (one of the longest-running shows that has covered the business on television, and far before it became chic to do so), saying that there is so little real criticism in the industry—everyone glad-hands and ass-kisses to their hearts’ content without calling out the presentations that have no basis in reality.  Laura and I discussed the celebrity influence on the way home from Woodbury Commons, bemoaning the fact that nobody dresses themselves anymore yet our culture vaunts these people as style icons.  Though disparate on the surface, one has symbiotically fed the other so well that it’s difficult to determine which is the chicken, and which the egg.

Click to read onto my expository theme...of sorts.Collapse )

Current Mood: green, white, black, grey
Current Music: sur le fil - keren ann

Jan. 19th, 2007

07:50 am - don't go and tell me that it's over. I can't hear a word I can't hear a line.

The fact remains that regarding cultural media, 2006 may not have been the banner year, what with all of the authors being accused of plagiarism, from Kaavya to Ian McEwan, and movies so humdrum that Night at the Museum was number one in box office receipts for three weeks too long.  There were, however, some bright lights among the discoveries I made in, so what follows are some 2006 highlights:


The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions,  Seu Jorge:  David Bowie.  Sung in Portuguese.  The ultimate summertime party soundtrack.


Veneer, Jose Gonzales:  Gonzales is very minimal in his style—just his voice and his guitar, and it serves as a welcome palate cleanser of the more intricate musical stylings of artists such as Andrew Bird, the Arcade Fire, and the Decemberists.  Think of a less-wimpy Kings of Convenience—melancholy and pensive without the sap.


Let it Die, Feist:  Leslie Feist has worked with a lot of notable indie bands such as Broken Social Scene and aforementioned Kings of Convenience, but here she has carved her own niche with a very sensual, if slightly offbeat, album.  She ranges from romantic longing to abject loneliness to flirtatious teasing to giddy silliness all within the course of twelve tracks, with a highlight being a fabulous cover of The Bee Gee’s “Inside and Out.”


Le Fil,  Camille:  She’s touted as a French Bijork, but I think this is a little too limiting to those turned off by any kind of Bijork.  She sings, scats and beatboxes on every song, including humming a constant B…le fil (the thread) of the entire record.  Just when you think she may be getting just a wee bit precocious, she’ll tone it down with a quiet, introspective track that reminds you that she has the goods to back up what could be seen as gimmicks.


La Biographie De Luka Philipse, Keren Ann:   So I’ve been on a total Francophile kick.  Sue me.  Keren Ann is quite different from Camile—a little more worldy and a little less quirky.  There’s a dreamy aspect to this French album that makes you want to walk around Paris, but a Paris of now and not the Paris of Sabrina .  These songs are easy and soothing to listen to, but without the cheese factor so common among American artists appearing on “adult contemporary” charts and radio stations.  Going to the dentist would be much more relaxing if I could listen to this while getting my teeth cleaned.


Once Again, John Legend:  I loved “Ordinary People” off of Legend’s debut album, but I couldn’t get into many of the other tracks right away.  This was a surprise gift to me from Michael one day, so I started listening to it at work and fell in love with the track “Slow Dance,” a revisionist throwback to classic Motown style, Delfonics-style.  The two singles are great, and the rest of the album has provided excellent driving music, but this is the standout worth downloading on iTunes.


Little Miss Sunshine original soundtrack recording:  The music in this film does not jump out at you immediately—it’s not until the final scene that you even realize that you’ve been listening to a delightful theme throughout the entire story, and the collaboration of the composer with DeVotchka, though bearing more than a passing resemblance to Mark Mothersbaugh, allows for infusions of Parisian and Southwestern motifs to permeate through.


Marie Antoinette original soundtrack recording:  Sofia Coppola’s latest soundtrack.  Two discs.  The Strokes, New Order, Bow Wow and Vivaldi.  Any questions?



Other nifty things that I liked:


Things on my radar for 2007:  The DVD releases of Marie Antoinette & The Science of Sleep and continuing The Satanic Verses (as of now—totally and unbelievably fantastic).  Oh yeah, and registering for stuff.

Current Mood: green, white, black pinstripe
Current Music: keren ann - dimanche en hiver

Dec. 28th, 2006

08:59 am - let it die, and get out of my life; we don't see eye to eye or hear ear to ear.

            Today is my last day of work until the New Year—two day work weeks rule!—and while this pleases me to no end, a shade of hauteur has covered my face that only a few cups of tea will wipe away, I’m afraid.  Due to the closure of the gym until January, I was able to hop a ride to the train station and therefore did not have to wade amongst the masses on 95 both days this week, and ironically (or perhaps not at all ironically, as I should have expected this), the traffic on 95 was negligible and the train instead was bursting with day-trippers en route to amusement in town.  I don’t begrudge anyone the right to take the Metro North to Grand Central, as I loathe driving there as much as anyone else, but it boggles my mind that people are willing to hop a train en masse that leaves New Haven at 8:12 in the morning.  This is even more confusing because if you consult the schedule on the MTA website, the 8:40 train that leaves next is eight minutes faster (as it has fewer stops) and puts you in town only twenty minutes later—with the added incentive of not having to pay nine extra dollars for the peak round-trip ticket.

            Despite all of this near-flawless logic, I still had to contend with armies of tourists boarding at the Milfords and the Fairfields along the line, with impossibly large groups looking for banks of seats so they can sit near each other, and when they couldn’t, talk as loudly as possible to make sure the entire car knew what they were up to for the day.  Because most of the green passengers were mothers with their inane teenage daughters, it did allow for some amusing observation (even if they were pushy, obnoxious, and rude):  there was the Fairfield group of three mothers and five daughters, and while I was far from surprised to see the teenyboppers tricked out in the trendiest of Kate Moss-inspired outfits, it was hard to hide my amusement at beholding their mothers in skinny jeans and muluks (for the uninitiated, those are the chunky UGG-like boots covered in fur—and yes, they look as stupid as they sound) and draped in capes that vaguely resemble my dad’s boiled wool army blanket.


            It was this time a year ago I was part of this huddled mass, spending a nice day in the city with Michael as we toured the MoMA and wandered around Barney’s and slipped into the Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel, but even then I was calling shenanigans on the girls with too much eye makeup, zebra highlights and an attitude that probably had come from listening to the Pussycat Doll’s “Dontcha” one too many times.  It was also when I was in a whirlwind of activity as I was preparing to move into the Hall Benedict and to take up residence on the Farm, and while I am still at the H-B (albeit in a bigger apartment), it turns out that though I love to wear the mucking boots, I’m just too much of a city girl to relish life among the rolling amber fields of grain.  It’s astounding what a difference 365 days can really make.

Current Mood: white, black, grey.
Current Music: let it die- feist

Sep. 19th, 2006

10:17 pm - it's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me...and I'm feeling good.

            The highly anticipated Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip premiered last night, and while I wasn’t completely blown away by its inherent awesomeness (which is not necessarily a bad thing), I was left feeling intrigued and wanting to know more.  It was altogether fitting; I in turn started a new job yesterday as well and while being president of a network is a far cry from being an associate at a consulting firm (and in case you couldn’t discern between the two, my title is the latter), it was surprisingly easy to feel a camaderie with Jordan, the irreverent heroine aptly played by Amanda Peet and swaddled in Prada (at least in the premier episode).  She gives impish grins to the two men she hopes will save her network via its suffering flagship show, and can pretend that no studio bigwig can intimidate her with the best of them.  All I’m insinuating right now is that we both wear/have worn Prada at one point and that we both started a job (ostensibly) at the same time.  As for anything else, well, it’s still too early in the game to really say.


            Since July or so, I’ve been scouring to see when the highly anticipated soundtrack to Marie Antoinette would be released, and I have yet to see satisfaction.  Besides Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola is one of the directors/soundtrack coordinators I look forward to most to hearing her film soundtracks; you are all but guranteed a unique experience, utterly perfect to the story she wants to tell yet never quite the same sound twice.  Having both the score and soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides and the soundtrack to Lost in Translation on heavy rotation for the past two months, I cannot wait for the delights that will come from the New Order-laden spectacle.  The only icing to the cake would be a whipped meringue of delight known as whatever Wes Anderson is working on, but, well, let’s not get too greedy.  Great compilations only come out so often, you know.

            I am naturally relived, of course, that the soundtrack to The Last Kiss is out and already the fanboys and girls have come out of the woodwork on the site to bestow it a giddy amount of stars, usually in the 4½ to 5 range.  Taking a gander at the tracklist only proves that it is (as its reviewers happily state) Garden State 2.  This is something I take issue with, mostly because the original is one of the most glorified various-artist albums to come out in years, and considered by so many of my peers as the Bible of indie, sad-bastard rock.  This can only be appreciated by listening to said album in succession while sitting in traffic which I did a few years ago on the day before Thanksgiving, leaving early from work.  Each subsequent track, from the über-sensitive “Don’t Panic” to the random Aimee-Mannesque winding road song only emphasized how sensitive this film was, and I didn’t even have to see the damn film to make that judgment.  What should have been a quiet moment of repose became an emotion-laden spectacle of absurdity, and begged the following:  did any girl want to deal with a guy that full of feelings?

            Apparently I do not.

Current Mood: black, tan, grey
Current Music: seu jorge - life on mars?

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