Monday, December 15, 2008

LOL Invisibelt

I had to share this with you guys because an announcement for it arrived in my inbox and made me completely giggle and roll my eyes.

It's the Invisibelt, a genius invention which allows you to pass through security at the airport without taking off your belt, and it lays flat beneath clothing so you can wear a long shirt over jeans.

It's just really funny, because I honestly never felt the need for this. I don't find it a hassle to remove my belt at the airport (I'm actually very good at the strip-down/re-dress, even with a cat and laptop in tote) or I remember not to wear one. And if you're not as travel weary as I, there must be other plastic or fabric belts out there for you without metal buckles! In fact, I'm almost positive I have two fabric belts with plastic or nonmetal closures.

As for flat clasps I say -- why not buy jeans that fit? A lot of name-brand jeans are made to fit curvy women these days, and reduce the gap at the waist. Sometimes it takes a little searching, but all you have to do is find the right brand, size and style once and buy them over and over (or be smart and buy two at once). The Style Bard is also an advocate of pricey jeans. They're on my list of things worth splurging for, since they last forever and you really can feel a fit difference in the cuts and styles, in comparison to cheaper jeans.

And if you're wearing a long top does it matter if you're bending over and your pants peek slightly?

Barring all that, if you or someone you know does need a flat, discreet, everyday belt or a travel belt, then this is the product for you. And it is a very reasonable $19.95 for clear or black.

But truly -- what will they think of next?


Monday, December 08, 2008

Win $$$ for FREE SHOES at ShoeParlor!

The Style Bard has been busting her bum to arrange some awesome giveaways the past few months, and she's not about to stop now! December is a new month, which means it's time to launch another great giveaway. This time you can win $$$ toward FREE SHOES from ShoeParlor.com!

Click here to visit Style Bard Shoes for details on two ways to win two great prizes.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Updates & Lulu's Free Shoes Winner!

All right, all right, I'll get to the good stuff first:

"Jess" has won our Lulu's FREE SHOES Giveaway! Congratulations Jess, I will be in contact with you regarding your prize shortly, so check your email. I'm definitely a little bit jealous and I would love it if you'd share what you chose to purchase with your $100 and tell us what you think when they arrive! I'd also like to thank everyone who participated.

Next, I'm very proud to claim that despite road trips and fever, I managed to tie up my 50,000 words and am a NaNoWriMo 2008 winner! Congratulations again to everyone who won this month, and whether you met the deadline or not this year, I hope that everyone continues to press on with these new works they're creating, and that everyone starts again come November 1st, 2009.

Last but not least: on top of wrestling with writing demons, my siblings, Cyber Monday and giving away free shoes, I managed to finagle yet another chance to win a gift certificate for FREE SHOES from another wonderful affiliate! (Do I love my readers or what?) So check back here or Style Bard Shoes for the details, coming up soon.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Free Shoes Giveaway Update

The Style Bard has extended her Thanksgiving trip by one day, and the winner of the Lulu's Free Shoes Giveaway will now be announced on December 2nd, 2008.

My deliquency; your gain. You get one more day to comment on Style Bard or Style Bard Shoes for a chance to win $100 worth of FREE SHOES!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Marshall's Shoe MegaShop (Part 2)

Some of you may recall a Marshalls Shoe MegaShop post here earlier this year, wherein I went running all over town to find some new shoes for an evening event (taking place that very night; yay, last-minute shopping). I wrote about how the new 5,000-square-foot boutique-style display in the Marshalls shoe department compared to the old clearance-rack arrangement. In my travels, I went to three Marshalls stores and in each of them, the Megashop was a bit of a disorganized mess and I found it difficult to shop efficiently (and under a time constraint) for shoes, whereas I recalled being able to quickly browse all shoes in my size with the old set-up. But I promised to return and see if the problem persisted once the Megashop was in full-swing, and not just a burgeoning concept.

So this weekend I went to Marshalls to buy some new shoes for fall, as well as some casual tops. I've been on a mission to dress up my casual look, because I think I've outgrown t-shirts and tank tops. But that's another post. In terms of shoes, I was looking for oxfords, booties, loafers, chunky ankle boots or knee-high boots. I may live in South Florida, but I journey up north for Thanksgiving, and all of my cold-weather clothes and accessories are in storage in New York.

First I have to say that the Megashop was much more organized than my previous excursions. I was able to see all of the shoes with one sweeping glance, and could easily gravitate toward what caught my eye. The clearance wall was in fact organized by size, thank goodness, as compared to the hodge-podge free-for-all that had stood in its place a few weeks ago. (There was one Super Clearance shelf where it seemed like the last of every shoe was just tossed together, and these were not organized at all, but as it was in the spirit of deep-discount clearance bins, it didn't phase me; I took the time to browse for my size.)(If I can survive shoe-shopping at Filene's Basement, I can survive one messy shelf.)

Then I have to say that unfortunately, because I am in South Florida, Marshalls simply didn't have a great selection of boots and booties, which were my first priority. However, they had a nice variety of oxfords, and two ankle boots, and one pair of knee-high boots, and I assume that the range is wider in other parts of the world. This didn't stop me from moving on in my pursuit of trendy fall shoes though, and I managed to make two name-brand purchases for under $50, which is exactly why I'll continue to shop at Marshalls.

My first purchase was these beauties:

Wexford, by Rockport

I thought that these shoes perfectly exemplified the feel of autumn, with rich foliage tones woven through a somber chocolate color; plus, the tweed-like texture makes me think of the cozy, lazy comforts of fall. They have Sole Innovation technology, so the inside is super cushy and the arch is very supportive. I liked them at first sight for their Mary-Jane appearance, and I fell for them when I put them on and felt how completely comfortable they were. Of course, I was ready for commitment when I saw the price tag: $19.99. Marshalls rocks. If you look up these shoes online, they're still selling from $40.00-$75.00 through various retailers. This means I got a fantastic bargain on shoes that aren't outdated or out of stock. I really can't wait to wear them with a yellow, orange or red blouse to pull out the little threads of color in the heels.

I also got these:

Mattino, by Nine West

I love, love, love these shoes. Of all the shoes in the store, these were my absolute favorites, and I had to have them. And since Marshalls carries everything from Payless-level shoes to designer brands, I could have wound up paying a hefty sum for these. But when I grabbed them they were only $29.00. Looking around, I've seen them for about $45.00 elsewhere, so I consider this a fair price. Yes, I know I'm 5'9" and I know they're 4" heels with a hidden platform; but when they're on, I truly don't notice the height. They're so comfortable to wear and I think the chunky, thick look is very "right now." I want to wear them over tights, and I want to wear them against the contrast of frilly, girly dresses. They inspire me. Sure, I'll be an Amazon woman when I go out, but I'll look like a hot Amazon woman. Can you see the little sliver of silver on the heel? Can you see the faint sheen of silver sparkle on the base? Love.

And then once I'd exhausted the shoe racks (almost getting a pair of Etienne Aigner loafers, but then deciding I really wanted black or red loafers, not brown), I went on to purchase some discounted Ralph Lauren polos and a few other casual-preppy-chic shirts to stand in place of my forever-old basics such as three-per-pack go-to Hanes black t-shirts.

All in all, I still wish I could have picked up some boots or ankle boots, but it wasn't in the stars. I'd like to see what's in stock up north at Marshalls. But I'm very, very happy with all of my purchases, and the boutique-style shopping at the Megastore is certainly growing on me now that they've got it under control.

Here's a quick, fun, interactive quiz from Marshalls to help you find your "sole mate" and pick the perfect new fall shoe:



I'm a glittery high heel! No surprise there (although it was a tight race between boots and heels). Now I just need a similar widget to help me pick my soulmate and a new man for fall. Wouldn't that be nice?

Happy Halfway Mark, NaNoWriMo Writers!

If you're writing a novel this month (sure, let's just be so cavalier about it! It's like making toast!) then November 15th was our official halfway point so congratulations to all of us!

I'm not at 25,000 words yet, but I know I'll get back on track. And if you're behind, don't worry! Don't let it keep you from finishing your novel! You can still pull up and win this ink-and-coffee-fueled race. We've made it this far and we have two weekends left to go.

When I'm looking for inspiration, I want to gaze upon something beautiful. Some would turn to a small child smiling, a puppy or the sunrise. I look to fashion. So for inspiration to push through and chase down those last elusive 25,000 words, here's this:




I want to write a character who would wear this dress, and have somewhere to wear it. Doesn't work in this year's story, but maybe next year. Sigh. Just drink in this drool-worthy to-die-for gown. It's worth at least 1,000 of those missing 25K words, if we're to believe the saying! No... this does not mean you only have to write 49,000 words. Now quit stalling and get back to work!




Saturday, November 15, 2008

50 Books

This year, I'm endeavoring to read 50 books in a year. It's some kind of... 50-books-a-year challenge. I dunno, I didn't make it up! All I know is that I've neglected updating this list for awhile, but here we go:

1) The Bostonians, Henry James
2) A Drink Before the War, Dennis Lehane
3) Darkness, Take My Hand, Dennis Lehane
4) Sacred, Dennis Lehane
5) Gone, Baby, Gone, Dennis Lehane
6) Prayers for Rain, Dennis Lehane
7) Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde - Ah, this was just what I expected of it. It was very refreshing after the detective series. I love his little quips, and I like how you can see how this work inspired some of his later works. I like his timeless observations about human nature. And, though I knew the ending, I also thought I knew exactly how we would get there and I was pleased to be wrong. Dorian Gray is a remarkably memorable character, and while the book lagged in some strange places, overall I really enjoyed reading it.

8) The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted, Elizabeth Berg - This was a collection of middle-aged-female-oriented short stories and I ate it up in two sittings and then made my mom read it. Though the narrators kind of started blending together, it was Berg's voice that I enjoyed, so I could let it go. I liked the contemporary peeks at things like weight watchers, being married, getting older, etc. I would definitely suggest the collection but also the author, and I look forward to picking up something else by her next time I'm at the library.

9) The Apprentice, Tess Gerritsen - This wasn't my favorite of Gerritsen's novels. I feel like I really, really love one of her books and then the next one is horrible. For example, I loved Harvest but loathed Gravity. But those are her medical thrillers, and this is a detective series kind of thing, and I don't plan to return for more. The character was a little stale, kind of the female-cop trope, and she falls in love and it's very predictable with whom. There are definitely intrigues and great fast-paced segments, and, as always, I feel utterly rewarded by the very insightful, very factual medical information in her books (she used to be a surgeon before becoming an author). I can't say her books aren't smart in that sense; they seem well researched and even well executed. I just didn't like this whole convention, and I don't think it's meant to be her format.

10) Skin Deep, Gary Braver - Unfortunately I didn't like this book as much as some of his other thrillers. And I'm going to tell you why because you're not going to read it. On the cover, this book boasts of being a medical thriller, and is decorated with a surgical theme. As you begin to read it, you realize that the book doesn't know what it is exactly. The main character stumbles around for a bunch of it. He's a cop and the other main players are cops. They're trying to catch a serial killer. No wait. That's the cover that says there's a serial killer. In reality, only one person dies until like, chapter thirteen. Until then, the cops are trying to catch one killer. We're lead to think it might be the main character in some kind of sleeping-pill-induced fugue, but we're lead there so forcibly that we know it isn't. By the time there's a "serial killer" on the loose, and we've all admitted that it's not the main character doing the killings, it's like page 300 and by now we've guessed that... dondonDON... the only character in the entire book who isn't a cop, his wife or a corpse is a DOCTOR... and for 300 pages we're not supposed to figure out who the "serial killer" of this "medical thriller" is? I mean, give me a break. How insulting to the reader. I'll tell you this, though: there is one great twist right at the end. And if Braver had sprinkled that kind of thing throughout the book, it would have been much, much better. Ambitious, but the novel fell short of the mark. It took me forever to read because I wasn't enjoying it, and really messed up my reading pace.

11) Proof: A Play, David Auburn - After slogging through that more tedious novel, I took a break to read some plays. You can see how I need to switch things up from time to time. Proof was wonderful, for its nuance, subtlety and simplicity. It's the kind that stays with you and makes you think afterward. It's a little hard to explain without giving much away, but there's family conflict and romance and math. Curious yet? Good, you should go read it because it's fairly short (it's a play after all) and pretty good. I'd like to see it done, and I'll probably read it again at some point (if not buy it, because plays are the sort of thing I prefer to own and re-read).

12) The Exonerated, Jessica Blank - Another play, this is what's considered a social agenda documentary-style play. When we're not talking about intense family dramas, this is the sort of play I like because there's a message involved which has ramifications in daily life, and this play focuses on the death penalty. It's comprised of interviews with hundreds of real-life exonerated inmates who were falsely imprisoned for tens of years. There's unexpected humor and a lot of human depth in the stories. My only criticism with this is that it was written by actors, and I feel that it shows. There's something lacking in the organization and the style, and while it's hard to pinpoint exactly, I feel that the answer just lies somewhere in the mentality of an actor versus the mentality of a writer or director. As I said to a friend, when I read Dead Man Walking, I wanted to be in it (and was, but that's another story). When I read Laramie Project, I wanted to read it over and over again to really absorb it all (and eventually chose it as my undergrad thesis topic). I wasn't attracted in that way to The Exonerated; in fact, I think the only reason I would even see it is if it had a very talented cast, because seeing some of the acting choices with these difficult and complex characters would be interesting. I eventually realized that Dead Man Walking leaves audiences wondering if the main prisoner did or did not commit his crimes and if he will or won't die. And Laramie Project is also posed in a more storyline-style narrative. But with The Exonerated, you know that they're already out and were wrongly accused. There's kind of nowhere for it to go. This is one of the things that I feel a more talented playwright might have been able to foresee and find a solution to.

13) All My Sons, Arthur Miller - Speaking of more talented playwrights! Miller is one of my all-time favorites, and while I've read and studied many of his plays, this one play in paticular is in very few of his anthologies (of which I have three, none with this play). I was always too stubborn to buy it on its own, but now I may have to because I really loved it. Not only did I love this play, which was his first big success at age 30, and prefaced his success with Death of a Salesman (you can really see his style bloom between the two), but I also loved the edition I picked up. It had a solid, interesting introduction and overview of the play. The story is about a man who, for family's sake and for profit, sells fault parts to fighter pilots in the war, and as a result, they die. The story unfolds in numerous complexities in terms of plot and character while revealing very much about the mentality of the time (1940's) and humanity. I can't say enough good things about this, so I'll stop gushing, but go read it. I'll be buying it next time I see it.

14) Black Sunday, Thomas Harris - Okay, so I'm a big Hannibal fan and I've read all the books and seen the movies. (Except Hannibal Rising, which I also checked out from the library but then had to return because someone else had it on hold. I'll be seeing you again, child Hannibal!) So I don't know why it's taken me so long to get around to reading his first novel, which is kind of an exploratory effort for him, and basically follows the thriller genre. But it involves political intrigue espionage and a hot Israeli spy and it's very tightly crafted (save for maybe this one weird tangent thrown in to mislead the reader and, I guess, the protagonist but seriously... mostly the reader) and as with Gerritsen, what I like most about Harris is how thoroughly he researches, and how many facts and figures he gives you. It makes the world more three-dimensional and makes the reader feel intelligent. Sometimes his breadth of knowledge amazes me, and his intelligence is obvious. Not that I don't love Hannibal, but I think that when you get to the point of doing prequels, you should go back and try something new. With all of his new exposure and maturity as a writer, I think more and diverse thrillers by him would be completely wonderful and well received.

And I have a next book to read but it hasn't been cracked yet because of NaNo. I think 50 books a year should become like, 45, when there's NaNo, because the month of November is pretty much a wash.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quick Top Chef note...

Not only don't I cook, but about three days ago I literally set my stove on fire. That's how extremely I cannot cook. And that's only a drop in the bucket in terms of anecdotes justifying how the Style Bard cannot cook. However, I really enjoy Top Chef and I'm thrilled that it's back. It's one of the most sincere reality tv show competitions on TV, I feel. It's much too early for me to cast a bid on who I think will make it to the finale, but I do want to say that after tonight's episode, the Culinary Institute of America must be smarting. The two canditates on Top Chef who attended CIA were kicked off first, one and two...so you just know it's gonna be interesting around the student union building tomorrow.




Friday, November 07, 2008

Ready for more cool prizes? I thought so.

Last month, Style Bard offered a chance to win free jeans and a gift certificate to a swanky restaurant. This month, Style Bard Shoes is giving readers a chance to win FREE SHOES.

Here are the details: FREE SHOES from Lulus.com!

This promotion runs from November 8th-November 30th, and winners will be announced December 1st---just in time to buy some new shoes for your New Year's Eve blast!




Monday, November 03, 2008

Free Giveaway Winners!

And after much ado, we finally have the winners of Style Bard's very first free giveaway! The winners are:

Lenweeks

and

Gingerpye

If you are one of these two subscribers, you'll receive an email this evening from me. First Lenweeks can pick his or her prize from either PZI Jeans or a $50 Gift Card to Bruno Jamais, and then Gingerpye will win the other fabulous prize!

Sad you didn't win? Don't worry. We've got another glam giveaway coming right up, where you'll stand to win FREE SHOES from Lulus.com. Stay tuned.



Saturday, November 01, 2008

Free Giveaway Update! Please Read

Hello! I want to thank everyone for participating in my first freebie giveaway.

But first I need to make an important announcement for everyone who entered to win by subscribing to the newsletter. When you subscribed to Style Bard News you received a confirmation email which you must open in order to officially join the mailing list!

As it turns out, over half of you who tried to subscribe are not yet subscribed. That means you can't win the prizes, or receive newsletters for future giveaways! I think spam filters are catching this important email.

So, to make up for the confusion, I'm extending the contest through the weekend. I'm going to give everyone an extra 48 hours to find the confirmation email and officially subscribe to Style Bard News, and then on Monday, November 3rd, I will notify the two winners!

This means that you also have to wait until Monday to hear about the next upcoming giveaway, and I know that's kind of cruel, so I'll give you a little hint today: it's a chance to win free shoes, worth up to $100.

So if you want to win PZI Jeans, a gift card to Bruno Jamais, or if you want to qualify to be entered in the next giveaway for FREE SHOES: open those emails, officially register, and I'll let you know if you're a winner on Monday!

Sorry again for the confusion and thank you again to all who participated. ~SB

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Last Week to Win Prizes!

Remember guys, this is the last week to win free jeans or a gift certificate to a trendy NYC restaurant! All you have to do is sign up.

In case you forgot, here are the details.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Style Bard Writes for a Month

That's right, for the first time ever I am participating in the National Novel Writing Month. With two blogs and a part-time writing job, this should be a blast! (No, but seriously... I think I must be insane. But here goes...)


If you're a NaNoWriMo-er too, let me know and we can suffer through it together!



Friday, October 17, 2008

Giveaways! Win a Pair of Designer Jeans or $50 Gift Certifcate

Okay this one's really easy. Now through the end of October, you can:

Join Style Bard's newsletter Style Bard News
(check out the sign up in the sidebar)

OR

Friend me on Facebook at StyleBard Host

OR

Join my Facebook group Style Bard's Fashionable Friends


...and you'll instantly be entered to win a free pair of designer PZI Jeans OR a $50 gift certificate to the posh New York City restaurant, Bruno Jamais.

(Don't worry, I'm not going to spam you with messages, registration is just for updates and future contests/giveaways like this one. And that's the sort of thing people like to see in their inboxes! Plus, you can unsubscribe at any time.)

Two people will win, so your odds are twice as good! (...or something. I was never very good at math.) And yes, of course, if you subscribe to more than one of the above, you will earn extra chances to win. It's only fair.

The prizes:

Bruno Jamais
"Bruno Jamais Restaurant Club brings the French Riviera to the upper east side. With Chef Hok Chin at the kitchen's helm the cuisine is sure to delight even the most discerning palates. Bruno Jamais and Chef Hok Chin have created a unique menu that has an Asian influence without losing its French integrity. If you are looking to see stars, celebrity patrons have included: Billy Baldwin, Joan Rivers, Cindy Adams, Chazz Palminteri and even former President Bill Clinton. Reservations are suggested and chic attire is requested."

PZI Jeans
"On the street, on television, even in the office, women of all ages and sizes are wearing tight, low-slung jeans that hit at or far below the hip. Celebrities like Britney, Christina and J.Lo made the how-low-can-you-go, hip-hugger jeans a must-have, setting the standard for jeans with a just-so fit. When women are asked what they like most about their favorite pair of jeans, comfort is in a distant second. PZI Jeans, a premium denim apparel brand designed to fit the woman with a streamlined waist, fuller hips and curvy bottom, provides women the ability to enjoy their lifestyle by wearing stylish jeans with comfort."

Here's how the prizes work: two names will be drawn at random. The first name drawn will have their choice of prizes. The second winner receives the other. Now, I know not everyone lives in NYC to make use of the gift card, but I'm sure there's someone you know in or near NYC to whom you can gift it. Or better yet, donate it through a charity to someone who may be unable to have a nice meal this holiday season. (If you need help figuring out how to do so, I would be happy to assist.) So that's it. Just friend me or sign up and you can win free stuff!

Winners will be selected and notified on November 1st.

And right after this one, we've got another fantastic giveaway coming up from the lovely ladies at Lulu's, but you'll have to check back November 1st for more details!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Style Bard on Facebook

Will wonders never cease? Well, now I'm on Facebook like everyone else.

Friend me at "StyleBard Host" or join my group "Style Bard's Fashionable Friends" (it's open to all members).

And while we're moving forward, look to your right and discover my new newsletter services. Sign up for contests and stuff; I have some cool giveaways coming up. And don't worry, I'm way too busy and lazy to harass you. The newsletter is just for a heads up on irregular surprises.

...I feel so grown up and in touch. What's next?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Night Plights

[7:22 P.M.]: i finally finished one hundred years of solitude.

[7:26 P.M.]: I have it, I need to start

[7:26 P.M.]: you should
[7:26 P.M.]: fairly incredible.
[7:26 P.M.]: and dense as hell


[7:29 P.M.]: I guess... reading... is one thing to do on a Friday night

[7:30 P.M.]: sigh

[7:31 P.M.]: I'm hesitant to shower and get dressed without concrete plans because dressed up with nowhere to go is a horrrrrible feeling

[7:31 P.M.]: i agree.

[7:32 P.M.]: you end up in like false eyelashes and 4" heels at a Pizza Hut picking up Extra Cheese to go and wondering if that almost-finished bottle of red wine from last week is still good. It's saaaad.

[7:32 P.M.]: false eyelashes?

[7:32 P.M.]: for example.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Effects of the Economy on the Dating Scene

Everyone is talking about the state of the economy. How will it affect our future? What does it mean for investments we've already made? But a tipsy state of mind and a night out led me to a far more vital inquiry: how is the failing economy affecting my social life?

A few weeks ago I headed to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida to catch the Fergie concert. No, really. Afterward, me and a girlfriend, M., decided to dally in the outdoor clubs and bars--"Seminole Paradise"--to have a good time. Heck, the concert ended at about 10:30pm, it wasn't exactly bedtime yet. As we worked on our second round of drinks, we debated the ever-important question of Have A Third Round Here vs. Move Into The Casino And Gamble While We Drink, which relies on circumstantial variables such as How Many Hot Guys Are Nearby. Which is related to What Are Our Chances Of Getting Free Drinks. (Coincidentally, the first Obama-McCain debate was in full throttle on the TVs behind our heads, featuring rhetoric of similar importance.) This is when I realized that we'd gotten through nursing two drinks apiece and hadn't yet been approached by any guys, or offered any drinks. Now, not to sound vain, but based solely on experience I thought it odd that no one had come over and intervened on our purposefully belabored drink orders. We'd covered the bar girl basics: hem and haw, suck at your ice, chat with the bartender and flip through drink menus as your eyes scan the room to make sure your availability is apparent...just in case some chivalrous male wants to step in and take care of that next drink for you.

Pause me sounding like a completely egocentric drink-slut and let me say that as far as buying drinks go, I am equal opportunity. I often buy a cute guy a drink; in fact, it's my go-to pick-up line because it works. Naturally, being a poor girl, I reserve this tactic for when a guy is just so cute I need an extra oomph to approach him. But it's an opening line that promotes more conversation, ingratiates the receiver to you and displays your interest. Plus, all he can do is say no, and that rejection stings a lot less when you've just saved a few bucks. One more drink for you! This is especially a great approach for a woman, because every time I've done it, the guy gets all wide-eyed and says he has never been bought a drink by a girl before. Every time. It feels good. "Have you ever bought a girl a drink before?" I reply, as I'm paying. And there you go, me and the hot guy are chatting. And if it goes well, he'll probably buy one of my later drinks for me anyway. It's a win-win.

Buying someone a drink is not a bribe to make them sleep with you. I mean, it doesn't hurt, per se, but let's be serious. No self-respecting guy or girl that wouldn't have liked you before is going to suddenly swoon over your $9 generosity. However, and this is why I think guys do it: it's a good investment. It's a numbers game. If he buys enough drinks, if he's putting forth the effort, then every $100 or so he's gonna hit a girl who's worth all the wasted bills. Not that this is a surefire entry to someone's pants, but it's company and conversation (and possibly entry to someone's pants). It's a way in; an audition. Ladies are more tricky, I think. Girls will let you buy them a drink and talk with you awhile and then ditch you, having planned to ditch you all along. Men are less likely to do that; they are more likely to disallow you to pay for their drink and still be flattered by the proposal and stay to chat--or they'll ditch you outright, without being coy. This is not an epic commentary on our sexes; just my observations. And, okay, practices. Like I said, I'm a poor girl.

So while I'm at this bar wondering if I look fat in this dress, or have something in my teeth, or should have worn fuck-me heels instead of these silly flats (comfort suggests having a boyfriend!), it dawned on me: it's the damn economy. Even single men out on the town are watching their wallets right now. Far less free drinks are being traded; $9 is not just $9 anymore. It could be your retirement fund.

In what other ways could the economy be affecting my dating life? Well, let's see. I'd assume there's less shuffle of menfolk; that is, no one wants to drive out of their way just to go out, so if you're hitting your local scene only, you're probably running into the same circuit of available men. And if we're considering gas prices (when aren't we), then you might not want to go somewhere like Hard Rock, which isn't anyone's local scene--it's kind of standing alone in the middle of nowhere. You've got people showing up for events, like the Fergie concert, and there with other agendas, like the casino. Its main appeal is not as a singles scene and therefore it might not be worth it for a searching single to drive there. I like Las Olas, a centrally located strip of restaurants, shops, bars and clubs where you park for the night and wander to several venues in one evening. So even if you're heading to the same place every weekend, you're assured a lot of variety. But of course, Las Olas can get expensive. Or does that mean there are just more expensive mates there? Ack! This economical slant makes me completely reconsider all of the normal ways of looking at going out on a Friday night.

Of course, I turned 21 and began going out when I lived in Boston. This was where I formed my expectations about being bought drinks. But the city is a different scene. First of all, you've got public transportation, so that cuts back the gas factor. But the cost of living is higher to begin with, so does that mean the men are getting even more frugal? (And, if so, does it mean that they're less likely to approach, since displaying any interest at all may indebt them to eventually paying for your drink? And, my goodness, chatting up a girl may be far more expensive investment than a cocktail or two; what if it goes well and you have to take her to dinner?) I wonder if I would still be getting free drinks as readily as I used to, there. Maybe it was always a matter of the tone of the locale, the wealth and class Boston purports, the mere noblesse oblige South Florida lacks. Maybe Beantown is just maxed out with college students, and to make an impact, a competitive young man has to go the extra mile and venture the next cold one (even at the risk of this week's laundry fund). Or maybe regardless of the value of the dollar or state of the stock market, Boston's just going to be Boston and Florida's just going to be Florida.

M. and I decided to gamble a little and grab a drink inside. We left the uneventful Murphy's Law, (where I daresay the same "pub" in a smaller town would have comp'd my drinks based solely on my obvious Irish heritage, which was noted and then shamefully ignored by my clearly non-Irish bartender), and as we were standing inside at one of the Hard Rock's bars, trying to catch the attention of one of the busy tenders, a guy swaggered over and said, "It seems like you girls have been waiting an awfully long time for a drink. Maybe I can help..?" And thus initiated several free drinks on behalf of he and his friends (none of whom we had any interest in sleeping with; sorry). Thank you, random supposedly-ex-model guy. You didn't know it, but you did more than save me cash and maintain my buzz. You allayed my worries about these dire economic times, and more importantly, restored my faith in my flats.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Style Bard Splurges

Uh oh, the Style Bard went shopping again...

Read the tale of my latest splurge over at Style Bard Shoes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Buy a Cute Shirt & Promote Breast Cancer Awareness

The Style Bard always likes when fashion and celebrity uses its power for a good cause, such as the latest example, which is a series of pink shirts by Jaime King, Cindy Crawford, Nicky Hilton, Sophia Bush, Hilary Duff, and Denise Richards. They're $88, which may seem like a lot for a cotton tee (it does to me) but if you think about where the money's going, that takes some of the bite out of it. So does Free Shipping from Shopbop. And with the holidays right around the corner, one of these thoughtful and meaningful tees would make a great present for any of the women in your life. Whether's it's making the purchase, a mention on your blog, or simply wearing the shirt, people have the power to promote awareness, create change, and support one another. You'll feel good about yourself, and look great doing it.

From the site:

"In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2008, we’ve partnered with six celebrity friends to create a capsule collection of tees, and 50% of the proceeds from each will benefit Breast Cancer Network of Strength: an organization whose mission is to ensure, through education and peer support, that no one faces this disease alone."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My TV Picks (aka: Hi, My Name is Style Bard and I Am Addicted to "Reality" Television)

With some shows drawing to a close and some just beginning, I've decided to go ahead and announce come of my choices and preferences in today's competitive reality TV shows. At the same time, I am going to complete embarass myself by admitting some of the crap that I keep abreast of, if not actively watch. I blame DVR for this unhealthy addiction.

America's Got Talent

Disclaimer: I do not actively follow this show. But I do try to keep up with what's happening, and I am guilty of DVRing it. In fact, I refuse to watch it without DVR, because I can--and this is absolutely accurate--watch the entire 2 hours in about 29 minutes. Talk about FILLER.

At the beginning of last week, when we were dealing with the Top Twenty contestants, my favorites were:

The Taubl Family
This is a talented family. They sing, they play various instruments, and they look good on television. I have a little distaste for the Sound of Music-esque troupe affiliations, but I feel that when they really get out and put the show on the road, a good manager and director will know how to keep the young, fresh kids out front and hide away or lose altogether the older generation, or thin the less talented of the pack. I see that the family package is part of the appeal, and I wouldn't take that out of the marketing, but there are really a few too many here. However, some of the music they make is absolutely enchanting and I could watch them do several songs in a row, which says something.

Flaming Baton Twirler, Jonathin Burkin
(you decide what's modifying what, there)
I've never been sure if Jonathon has the personality and starpower to really make a name for himself, but what he likes in attractiveness and charm he makes up for in originality and talent. As they're quick to point out, he never makes a mistake, always knows when to pose or smile, and seems genuinely humble. The real reason I like him is that his act is novel, much like last year's winner. There isn't something like this in Vegas, and I think that's really important. It's something we don't see all the time, and Jonathon masters his craft. That's win-win.

Nuttin' But Stringz
Oh, man. Where to begin? Every time this duo gets on stage they rile the crowd. They're passionate, and they're talented, and they bring together stringed instruments and street attitude. I love them because they're genuine, they glue you to the TV screen, and they come off as modest and charming. I think they can win because they are unique and memorable.

The Cadence
Okay, I have to admit that most of the "talent" I see in this group has to do with how much I want to see them take their shirts off. I'm only human! However, they are actually good at what they do, and I think if they a) showed some skin or b) employed the use of gymnastics or like, harnasses, this could really be a show that's near to the success of one of the current renditions of Stomp! or Blue Man Group. I just never thought they'd make it far in this particular contest, and I don't think they were ready for Vegas. But that doesn't mean they couldn't be, and whoever scoops up the rights to represent this group may have a big hit on their hands in the upcoming years.

I was absolutely aghast at the results which narrowed 20 finalists down to 10 last week (in a staggering 5 hours of television, which I probably watched in about an hour and a half). Nine of them are singing acts. One of them can play a guitar. One of them can play the piano. And one of them is four years old. So it's easy to guess that the only remaining contestant that I could bear to see win would be Nuttin' But Stringz, an act which is unique, electrifying and honestly, the only thing left standing which doesn't make me question the sanity or entertainment quota of America. Except maybe Eli the pianist (you make the easy joke). We shall see.

Project Runway

The remaining contestants: Jerell, Joe, Suede, Leanne, Korto and Kenley.

Who I want to win, based on brief glimpses at their runway collections as well as overall personality and participation throughout the season: Leanne. She can be eye-roll inducing, but she isn't annoying, and she's shown herself to be a strong competitor with a new voice and a love of architectural design. I'd love to see even more whimsy in her design, something always seems to me as though she's still trying to prove herself instead of just being herself, but of everyone left I like her and Korto, but Leanne's final collection made more of an impact and left me wanting to see more. Korto's was also very beautiful though, and I would be happy for her win.

America's Next Top Model

Now this one's just getting started, and I am very much pleased with the quality of the challenges and the entertainment value of the models as opposed to, say, last season. Which absolutely sucked from the very beginning, and left me rooting for no one.

For a far wittier overview of the girls this season, go here. Rich at FourFour is my favorite ANTM recapper, and while I've dabbled with thoughts of covering the show here in depth, I always think of his brilliance and it puts my teasing to shame. And by the way, subtract Nikeysha, as we lost her last week. One bitch down!

So who do I like? Based on two episodes, I have to say my favorite three this far are: Elina, the outgoing bisexual of the season and a stunning beauty with standout facial features; Isis, the transgendered social statement of the season with the cool demeanor to make it through a season of reality TV as well as a kind of inherent talent for editorial posing; and maybe Sheena, just cause this wild girl brings some actual spark and humor to the cast and I want to see more of her. Then again, my enduring favorites are girls I usually pay no attention to in the first half of the season, since early episodes are always filled with drama, hijinx, and obnoxious bitches who are just there to hook the viewers (hi, Hannah!). Often I wind up liking one of the quieter beauties once she finds her place, learns the ropes, and is in a small enough group of girls to get her voice heard. I'm looking at you, Lauren.

And out of the those, my best early choice to take the whole thing would be Isis or Lauren, depending on whether or not Tyra's out to make another loud statement about "different" models (take that to mean what you please), whether Isis pulls her shit together and reverts to her natural modeling talent (ie, stops 'being in her head' or whatever mumbojumbo modeling term they use), and whether someone steps up out of the herd when the duststorm of initial displacement settles. Oh yeah: and how the makeovers go. Eeek, I feel the drama comin' on this Wednesday.

Then again, it's been awhile since a black chick won. I may have to modify these sentiments as the season progresses.

Other shows I'm currently sucked into: Mad Men, Supernatural, and Top Design.
Looking forward to watching: House, Grey's Anatomy, Lost and Stylista.

What are YOU watching? Come on, you can admit your dirty little TV habits...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Looking for a New Mascara?

The first thing I thought as Kenley bawled her way through Project Runway's recent Diane von Furstenberg challenge was: thank goodness the girl has good mascara! Especially with her retro style; sometimes the makeup you use to carry a distinctive "look" can go on heavy and not exactly support a nationally broadcasted crying jaunt. But, interview clip to interview clip, her mascara held up. Bravo!

To be honest, I tend to repeatedly buy Maybelline Great Lash Mascara at CVS or Walgreens. You know, the ones in the notorious neon pink-and-green tubes. If you wait for the right coupon, you get these "buy one, get one free" which is how I took home my first tube of Royal Blue mascara, a beauty item I now cannot live without. I also carry a back-up travel-size Estee Lauder tube, which has lasted absolutely forever and probably came with a free sample of cosmetics. However, I have been looking for one perfect "favorite mascara" to wear on special evenings or with dramatic looks, since I find the brand better for everyday wear. I want something bold, something darker, something that withstands hours and hours out on the town, even after a day of work.

If you're looking for mascara too, you might consider one that's being toted by Saks Fifth Avenue's award-winning Want It! campaign, which highlights noteable trends and products. This season, Want It! is promoting Polished Face cosmetics, and Saks is debuting a complete Polished Face Kit, an affordable cosmetics collection which comes in a lush Marc Jacob Italian leather clutch. This kit features Guerlain’s Le 2 mascara, hailed as "a two-brush mascara that enables you to get to every last lash to create the fullest lashes possible." Hmmm, sounds like what I'm looking for. And yes, it's true, I'm eyeing that luscious clutch as well. (This great offer happens to come in conjuction with TheFind.com, a shopping search site the Style Bard was honored to be recognized by earlier this year. For more information, go here.)

Is Guerlain to be my new big-money brand (aka, "Sephora-worthy", in Style Bard lingo)? I might have to get my hands on it and see. In the meantime, what's your favorite mascara for when you want to make an impact? Let me know in the comments, I'd love any recommendations.

*photo art must be credited to The Minx, whose always-amusing reviews come to the Style Bard via beloved Blogging Project Runway.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fashionable Quote

"She behaves as if she was beautiful. Most American women do. It is the secret of their charm."


Ah, mustn't we love Wilde.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Books, Books, Books

A good friend, K., is doing this 50-books-in-a-year thing, and I was immediately like, ooooh I wanna do that too (cause I'm a big copycat...) and I was going to just start from June, which is when I started reading a bunch of stuff again in a consistent way.

But then I kept putting off the list because I didn't want to backtrack and do reviews for a bunch of books I'd read a few weeks prior, and then I decided, screw it. I'm just going to do it without real reviews, because it's a good exercise no matter what to keep track of the list, push myself to complete the 50 books, and maybe along the line if I'm feeling motivated, I can just arbitrarily do a review or two.

(I only wish Vogue counted. It's 798 pages! And The New Yorker... that thing can be dense! Huffff...)

So, here it is:

1) The Bostonians, Henry James - This took me foreeeeever to finish because James is so damn wordy, and I was only reading a few pages per sitting while I killed other easy books, but I finished it when I moved back, and I did enjoy the read. It very thoughtfully and cleverly explores all sides of the feminist movement of the 19th century. I have no interest in seeing the old movie version, however.

2) A Drink Before the War, Dennis Lehane - This is the first of Lehane's mystery/detective novel series. Not typically my genre, but I fell for him after reading Mystic River for a class in college, and then reading Shutter Island on my own. (Read both of those books, by the way!) I was a little disappointed by the beach-reading ease of this book, but I knew Mystic River hadn't come out of nowhere, so I waited and hoped to see his skills develop in later novels.

3) Darkness, Take My Hand, Dennis Lehane - The second novel of the series, still basically the same tone, but as I learn the characters they're growing on me. The main guy has kind of the self-deprecating, quick-witted tone of DeMille protagonists.

4) Sacred, Dennis Lehane - Enoyable, same few-hours-read kind of deal. I do, by the way, recommend the series just to kick back and enjoy. I don't mean to put it down in any way. It was, after all, summer reading--often consumed next to a pool.

5) Gone, Baby, Gone, Dennis Lehane - At first I hadn't known that this novel by him was a part of the series, thinking it was another stand alone. Realizing that the movie characters I'd seen were actually the ones I'd been reading about was very interesting. I also wondered why this of all his novels was chosen for a film, but as I began reading it I immediately noticed a change of tone, a little more exploration into descriptiveness and poetic writing than in previous novels. I think this is where he really hits his stride as an author. And now I'm looking forward to re-watching the movie.

6) Prayers for Rain, Dennis Lehane - The one thing I didn't like as much about this book was that it veered a bit more toward the vigilante side than I wanted it to. The detectives are usually assigned to cases and go above and beyond the call of duty, but in this novel the lead character is going above and beyond the call of duty just for justice, not as part of any assignment. Also, I really hate the will they/won't they drama of the two main chars' love life because it... basically is nonexistent. They break up and get back together with little fanfare, to the point where I'm almost disinterested. We know they're gonna get back together, yeah, that's the nature of the beast, but when it happens I'd still like to... care? This is also the last in the series so far, and it was printed in 1999, and then MR was a few years later, and SI shortly after that. But this doesn't really sit well as the end of a series, so I'd like at least one more to close it off before, you know, it's been a DECADE since we've heard from these guys. It's not very loyal to the readers, y'know? I just started these this summer but I can't imagine what loyal fans from the 1990's are thinking.

And now I'm starting The Picture of Dorian Gray, which no, I have not read before (and yet studied and referenced in at least 2 classes). So sue me.

And after that I have to go to the library because I am out of books! (Well, I have plenty new books but they're in storage right now.)

Friday, September 05, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 4 Finale

The month of August was a pretty crazy time for the Style Bard, which is why I'm only just seeing the Season Finale of SYTYCD. Better a month late than never, right?

Throughout the season (this was the first complete season of this show I've watched) my favorites were often in flux. I always enjoyed watching Mark perform because of how he took on his roles. I always liked his partner Chelsie for her warm, relateable personality. And then there were Josh and Twitch, two of my favorite all-around dancers from the Top 20. But I was mostly rooting for Will, who demonstrated a brilliant combination of charm, humility, technique and sheer talent.

Watching Will get booted from the Top 6 completely broke my heart. I thought he would at the very least make it to the end. But America's votes proved my choice moot. However, the Top 4, Josh, Katee, Twitch and Courtney are very very strong competitors and I'm not disappointed by any of them being there. They've continued to earn their place and prove to me that the loss of Will wasn't in vain.

Watching the Finale, my top female was Katee and my favorite male was Josh. Courtney's loss didn't slay me, but I was surprised that Katie, another girl, got knocked off first. This really was a season for the men--and, may I say, black men. Then again, I didn't expect two girls to win in consecutive seasons, either. Last year, Sabra's win was a big moment for the show.

I like having a prize for the Top Guy and Top Girl. I find it very hard to compare the female and male dancers to one another, since dance leans so heavily on gender roles, and because this show always couples their dancers male/female throughout. However, doesn't that really suck for the second best dancer (Twitch) to get nothing while the third best dancer gets a prize for being the opposite sex of the winner? I don't know, something bothers me about this situation.

And on Mary Murphy's dance? I gotta say--it's a shame she spends all of that time on-air behind the table, because, damn that woman has some gams.

The Cirque du Soleil dance, "Homage to All of the Rabbits Who Died at the Hands of Incompetent Magicians"? May I just say: creepy and sensational. Loved it. It might have only been too macabre without the leverage of the cheeky title card. And throughout this eery dance, I found the most compelling/repulsive characters to be the ones where their entire faces were concealed, so I especially enjoyed the final touch where all of the masks were removed.

And last but not least, I have to write a little love letter to the costume department on this show... keep up the amazing work, guys. I always love seeing what the dancers will wear next.

One day, one day I will see the dance tour that follows this show. I'm so glad the top ten dancers get to travel and perform, and are guaranteed work for awhile even if they don't win. They all have such a strong fan base, and the fans should get to see these performers working together live. It's a great idea, and I look forward to seeing it one year when I'm incredibly attached to the cast.

As for this year: congratulations Josh, you were always incredibly strong and sexy, modest and smart, and always surprising the judges with your concealed strengths in unpredictable areas. You're a true winner.

Did you watch this season? Who did you want to win? What was your favorite dance? (I think mine was Mark & Chelsie's "Bleeding Love," as pictured.) Tell me what you think!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

CW's Stylista

Okay, stop what you're doing and go check out the preview for the CW's new show, Stylista.

Created by those responsible for ANTM and Project Runway, Stylista is a cross-breed of The Apprentice and like, every Top Something show. Eleven would-be fashion editors compete to be assistant to Elle's Anne Slowey. One is fired every week after performing challenges, as well as one editorial styling. Should be great! I mean, I'll probably DVR it and watch it religiously, compare it to its predecessors, and then watch Stylista: London and Stylista: Canada, etc. as they come. Hello, cat fights and gay boys!

Are you excited? I'm excited.

Stylista starts Wednesday, October 22nd at 9pm. Watch it with me!

Monday, September 01, 2008

~Love. Want. Need.~ Red Agate Cocktail Ring

Every year when I was young, I flew to NY in September to visit my awesome grandmother, and the trip would include raiding end-of-summer sales for insane deals on clothes that I would wear back to school. See, I lived in Florida, so while New York was trying to vacate itself of anything resembling a short or sandal, I was scooping them up by the cartload, since I would be able to keep wearing them year-round. Sometimes I brought an extra suitcase for this purpose.

So you'd think that I would have learned by now that when I'm in FL I need to pay special attention to Labor Day Sales. The sales in-store in FL are not nearly as good as those online, since the wardrobe changeover is not as drastic. Sometimes I forget to look, since, duh, the changing of seasons just doesn't catch my attention until it's too late.

On the other hand, years when I remember to browse the sales, like this year, I usually manage to forget the purpose. After spending an hour shopping the Shopbop end-of-summer section, which is 30%-70% off and one of my fave shopping sites, this is what I end up wanting the most: a cocktail ring.

This Juicy Couture Red Agate ring is not simply fabulous, and a cocktail ring which I so need to complete my collection right now, but it also happens to match my gold/red necklace which has similar braiding detail and a vintage-y look to it. I was drawn to this immediately, and it's 50% off!

But, of course a ring is not what I was supposed to be doing shopping summer sales! I still need a denim skirt... and some new shirts... and hey, I can always use new sandals on the cheap! But now I just really want this one ring...

Shopping failure, Style Bard.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Movies, Movies, Movies

Lover's Prayer/All Forgotten - I know you've never heard of this movie, despite the fact that it goes by two names. It was on in the middle of the night. I watched it because it starred Kirsten Dunst (against Nick Stahl), and she's always doing strange little movies, and I often wonder what her criteria for choosing one is. I thought it was pretty inane and obvious and silly, very self-indulgent--moreso than one would even expect from a Russian period drama. It was first-person narrated and voiced-over, which began to really irk me early on in the movie, and it got no better throughout. Plus, you never really develop a connection with anyone, and they don't have great connections to one another. And there's an odd "B" storyline which weaves in and out but never connects or reaches resolution. Don't watch this; you'll end up staring at the credits feeling had.

Running With Scissors - Strange movie, but I never read the book (and after watching it, don't have any new desire to do so). I didn't really feel very attached to any of the characters, including the protagonist, but then again, it's hard to relate to his embellished life. However, I found it was often entertaining or simply head-shakingly unbelievable, quirky enough to suck you in to see what happens next. I think it could have managed without some of its devices, such as voice-overs and the little summary at the end that ties things up for you. I'd say to watch it if you're looking for something a little different.

Definitely, Maybe - I watched this while I was tired, so I thought it had pacing and dialogue issues which might not exist, so my entire opinion is pending a second viewing. I'm a big Ryan Reynolds fan, and the little girl (Abigail Breslin) is a gifted young actress in all of her movies (although I'd like to see her take on more challenging roles, and a few less where she's more like the Child Character Prop). When the comedic dialogue worked, it was really spot-on. When it was off, it was groan-worthy. I think a few more big names in the leads would have attracted more attention to this movie, but overall it does a good job of what it sets out to do. Just don't expect Love Actually.

TransAmerica - One of the best movies I've watched in a long time. It was moving, smart, not condescending, and relateable. It didn't tie into a little bow at the end. And the performances were spot-on. I actually had expectations for this movie and it was nothing what I expected, straying from formula in a way that's rewarding for the viewer without them having to work for it. It's actually play-like, in a lot of ways, which is one of my highest compliments for a movie, haha. I was actually trying to get some work done as I watched but I kept getting sucked in, which is more high praise. I recommend this.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Project Runway, Season 5 Episode 6

One of these seasons (perhaps to commemorate the changeover to Lifetime) I'm going to return to recapping episodes. However, I am still an avid fan and paying close attention, thanks largely to the aid of Blogging Project Runway.

I love this review from MTV's newsroom. Scroll down to the "Memory" bullet. I TOTALLY wondered how they remembered their drag queen's names! And I always wonder how they remember the models in the beginning. I used to say they always stuck with their own because they didn't know anyone else's names... hahaha clearly, they are prompted somehow.

Now where do I get producers to help me out with that in life? Cause I friggin' suck at names, and it causes a lotta social anxiety for me.

(Quick, what's this drag queen's name?!)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Movies, Movies, Movies

I've been staying up late these past few weeks, and a combination of DVR and tons of movie channels has enabled me to catch a ton of things I'd otherwise never watch. So I thought I'd jot some notes about them in here, and maybe once my life is less crazed, I can even provide some better commentary. Don't worry, I have no illusions of grandeur, I have neither the training nor really the interest in analyzing movies as some kind of authority (unless, of course, I'm remarking on the shoes!). Just some thoughts, just some thoughts. And feel free to share your own! Even if it's, "No way, you actually sat through -that- drivel??" (especially if it's that).

Scary/Horror

Pulse - I'm a big fan of Kristen Bell's from Veronica Mars and Reefer Madness, even though I don't watch Gossip Girl, so I've been meaning to see this. Campy, somewhat predictable, and a little lame, I mostly disliked the last 10 minutes or so when the movie simply seemed to drag on and you didn't care of the protagonists lived or died, as long as you got some resolution soon. And then the final voiceover was so thick with platitudes and righteousness I literally rolled my eyes and was more than happy to click it off. Sometimes spooky, and an interesting concept, it was overall an impossible premise and an unrewarding watch.

The Grudge 2 - I actually liked the original The Grudge, it made me jump and kept me guessing, which is all you can really ask for in this type of movie. I have no idea how they roped Sarah Michelle Gellar into her tiny role in this film, nor do I understand how this got made at all. It simply rehashes all of the old gimmicks and plot from the first movie without introducing any new stunts or depth or plot. It's the sin of sequels, and I didn't even get startled much less frightened. I kept waiting for a twist that never came. Don't waste your time.

The Reaping - Starring Hilary Swank, who is not my favorite female lead, The Reaping was another movie that sat far too heavily on its morals and laurels to satisfy as a thriller. Based on the plagues of the Old Testament, the movie strayed from the most important elements (the plagues and their meanings and repercussions) and focused on the is it/is it not religious questioning of the protagonist which, as my friend warned me, is obvious from the beginning if you have any knowledge of the stories on which the movie is based and the formula of this kind of movie in general. I hate knowing what's going to happen, but I hate even more when none of your observance and intelligence is rewarded with any kind of twists or surprises or nudge-nudge insider hints. See it if you're so inclined, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Lake Placid - As a big fan of campy/funny scary movies, especially involving large creatures, a la Jaws (and Jaws 2, 3, 4,5...), Lake Placid is one of my favorites and this is the fifth or sixth time I've seen it. This is the one that rewards you for having expectations of the trope, and it doesn't take itself too seriously. I love the dialogue, I love the diverse characters and it's just a fun ride to go along with. Even as I anticipate a great line, I laugh as it's delivered by a great team of a cast. If you need further evidence in my bad taste in movies, yes, I also liked Deep Blue Sea and Ghost Ship. And those ones about the giant squid...

Romance

Catch and Release - I'm also not a fan of Jennifer Garner's, (I know, pickypicky), but I don't mind her and she was really great in 13 Going on 30. And I think she did well with those nontraditional romance amidst grief and loss and an eclectic group of friends that we all recognize or wish we had. Sitting back and just enjoying this movie was a pleasure, perhaps even more so because I expected so little from it. It's not novel or surprising, but it is pleasant, and you're rooting for the main pair the whole way. Best of all, unlike romantic comedies where everyone seems to be a type, in Catch and Release everyone seems very human, relateable and really real.

No Reservations - My problem with romantic movies is usually that they spend an hour trying to "surprise" you with two characters falling in love, then throw an uncreative obstacle between them that you know they will resolve by the 90-minute mark. I liked this movie because it didn't treat me like a moron, it didn't try to take me by surprise, and the main drama was actually not really between the romantic leads. You just went on a journey with a bunch of likeable characters and rooted for them throughout. Oh, and it didn't end in a marriage or something corny. I'm not singing it a ballad or anything, but I did like it more than I thought I would. (The hardest thing to get past was Aaron Eckhart in a romantic lead after seeing Dark Knight!)

Iconic

How to Make an American Quilt - It's a story about love and relationships, and in that respect it does its job at featuring the complexities and various situations that people deal with in love, lust, commitment and family. However, it often takes itself a little too seriously and goes on too long with exposition. We understand the parallels and juxtaposition, thanks. The other problem is that the main story is woven with a patchwork of other stories, so the movie jerks around in all different directions and is sometimes hard to follow. I had it on in the background and I don't think I missed anything; in fact this is the way I would recommend watching it. Don't put forth too much effort or investment, but the acting from an all-star cast (featuring Winona Ryder) and the movie's many ideas and opinions are worth a look.

Mystic Pizza - Would you believe I just saw this? Well, I did. It was fun to see so many familiar faces as young, unknown actors (hi, baby-faced Matt Damon!) and simply laughing at the "fashion" of the 80's and the way a bunch of supposed-teens whine and struggle in their love-angst. It's endearing and a classic, unsurprising but warm. If you haven't seen it (though I truly believe I'm the last), then do so.

Other/Random

Akeelah and the Bee - I really wanted to like this movie. I wanted it to be more than another rise-to-success follow-your-heart overcome-adversity mentor-student family movies. But alas, that was all it was. Unknown Keke Palmer as Akeelah was the best part of the movie, and Laurence Fishbourne wasn't bad, he was just nothing more than himself. The most endearing part was the relationship between Akeelah and her spelling bee friend/boyfriend, Javier. Some racial and cultural subtext is skimmed over, but it touches nothing deep and avoids any controversy which may have given this movie actual depth. Unfortunately, I would have to recommend skipping it. Or maybe I don't like spelling bees, as I am also strongly against the Broadway musical Putnam County Spelling Bee and was unimpressed by Richard Gere's Bee Season.

Cars - I originally saw this in theaters and was very pleased by it. I think the second viewing held less magic than the first, but I still think the quality of the film, especially for children, is fantastic. There's also a lot of wit and tongue-in-cheek and meta references for adults to savor. A very original movie, one to add to the permanent collection. But it was no Toy Story.

The Good Shepherd - I liked this movie, but it was a little long and slow for my tastes. I think I expected something different from a movie with Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie and Robert DeNiro (who also directed) about the CIA. Something more fast-paced. But the movie itself, much like its main character, is stoic and introspective, so I didn't really feel included or even very intrigued. It picked up near the end as the stray threads began to come together, but then as the credits rolled I realized I was left unsatisfied by my investment.

Thumbelina - Yes, I just watched the animated musical cartoon from my childhood. It's actually a fun watch as an adult, mostly because you can just make fun of its silliness. Thumbelina is a silly child singing her way through obstacles as a naive heroine, while a cast of crazy-voiced characters (hi, Gilbert Gottfried, Charo and Carol Channing!) sing dopey little songs and create laughable conflicts for her. She's kind of the anti-heroine who is a little stupid and needs to be constantly saved, not a role model I'd let my young daughters watch. Especially because the ones doing the saving are bumbling and inadequate as well, and the only reason she doesn't perish is a series of mockable deus-ex-machina-type interventions and contrivances. But if you're looking for an excellent opportunity for a drinking game, Thumbelina is it. Hans Christen Andersen would be ashamed.

Summer Movies
(In brief, since they're new and you can find far more insightful reviews than mine elsewhere on the 'nets!)

Mama Mia! - Well, I like musicals. And I like musical movies (I think the best transition to film was Chicago, btw). But I never liked Mama Mia! as a musical on stage, I'm not a big Abba fan, and therefore it's no surprise that I didn't enjoy this movie (though I am an Amanda Seyfried fan and she was hands down the best part about it). But I didn't have to pay for it either, so that's good. Just don't try to blame my distaste on the fact that there's goofy singing and dancing, because that's just not quite it. You might like it though; check it out and let me know.

Dark Knight - I'm intimidated to even tiptoe into this dense conversation, eek! Suffice it to say, I saw it twice, I loved it, but the hoopla and wailing surrounding it on all sides is to me a giant turn-off. Also, it could have been two movies. But for such a long film, I found it surprisingly easy to sit through twice.

Hancock - I very much enjoyed this and don't entirely understand its bad reviews. It was unexpected and took you to new perspectives with the superhero canon, one in which the heroes are human and fresh. In a summer of stale or at least stereotypical or familiar heroes and villains, Hancock is refreshing. Plus, I just love Will Smith and Jason Bateman. I would love to see a sequel.

The Happening - *I* loved it, but you might not. I love all of M. Night Shyamalan's work, too. And if you need further proof of the fact that my tastes run a little wonky, see above for Lake Placid.

Wanted - I didn't see the second half, but I want to, and that should say enough. And um, where can I get one of those white blood cell salt baths?

And believe it or not, I think I'm forgetting some! So there may be more to come.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Magazine Mystery

Hmmm, so about two years ago I bought 6- or 12-month subscriptions to Glamour, Vogue and ... something else. Jane? Allure? In some kind of package deal. And I got them for that length of time and then didn't continue them. I think I was swamped with reading for some reason, and that was just before I got my subscription to the New Yorker, which takes up "spare" reading time between books and blogs. But then last week or so I started getting my magazines from those places for the fall. Which, hey, I can't bemoan---yay, September fashion issues! I mean, holy moly, Vogue is like 786 pages or something! (Or 798, whoops it's right in the pic!) Anyway, it's a tome. (As a side note, days ago I also happened to find a current Cosmo at my friend's house and devoured it in a matter of minutes, but I haven't read one of those in ages and was delightfully tickled to find that it contained y'know, the exact same articles I read the last time I laid eyes on a Cosmo, such as 100 Sex Tips. Whoo-hoo! It was a nice guilty pleasure though. This seems to be the month for me to catch up on my magazines. A nice way to take a break from an otherwise too-heavy-serious-sad August so far.)

That is to say, no complaints. But I don't really know why I'm getting these 'zines once again. After a year interval of not receiving them. I'm positive I canceled the subscripts because I remember doing it by phone and it took forever. And a cursory glance at my credit cards doesn't show any fraudulent or unexplained charges. Although, I also distinctly remember that I used my checking account to originally order them, which also shows no indication of me being charged. So... yay, free magazines? Or does anyone else have an explanation for this? Again, not that I'm complaining... just want to make sure I can thank some twist of luck rather than get caught feeling dumb for an oversight.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sorry for the current absence on both blogs; the Style Bard has unfortunately lost a loved one (who happens to whave been very supportive of her writing). I will be back within the week.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Not to Wear & Updates

For even casual viewers of What Not to Wear, you've just got to catch Behind The Seams. You get to watch what really gets put into each episode of the show from start to finish, from submissions to keeping in touch with "contributors" years later. I just loved seeing it, because I'll admit, I NEVER fathomed Stacey and Clinton did SO MUCH WORK. I really thought backstage people did most of the work and they just showed up as pretty talent, but that's hardly true. And as a side note? I totally want their awesome Asian manager/producer/director to be my best friend. And S&C too, naturally. Just...seriously, go see it. If I catch it again I might just hit Record and give you a more thorough summary.

Furthermore, I have some ideas for upcoming articles. I *know* I've been an absent mother to this blog, but I recently started a new job, moved and began throwing a lot of work into Style Bard Shoes - and some other freelance projects I'll get more into in the near future. But I'm still here and I plan to come back with more force than ever - I just feel like it's all I can do to catch my breath these days. You know the feeling.

And by the way--the lovely ladies at Two Sisters Jewelry Boutique are offering Free Shipping on their lovely, creative and affordable jewelry. Expires August 1st. I'm eyeing the Kai necklace and Avery clear earrings. Show some love and check them out! Learn more here.

Thanks for the patience and stay tuned!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

New Favorite Shoes from Marshalls Shoe Megastore

Have you heard about the new Marshalls Shoe Megastore yet? I heard about it through various promotions online, and my local paper covered it (because apparently they understand what's important news to the Style Bard). So, being that I'm all about shoes, I thought I'd do a little write-up of my own. Especially considering that my new favorite everyday shoes came from there.

The same weekend the newspaper article came out, I had the near-coincidental pleasure of running all over town to not one, not two, but three Marshalls locations by my house because I needed to find shoes for two very different purposes. One, new shoes for work, and two, dressier sandals for those not-quite-flip-flop not-quite-heels occasions. (You ladies know what I mean.) I designated Marshalls as the place to go, since I'd heard so much about their renovations and the newly-expanded selection in the shoe department. I had to see it for myself. (Fun fact: I started heavily relying on Marshalls in my college years, when I hardly had two coins to rub together, yet couldn't walk through Downtown Crossing without stopping by their Clearance rack. Shout out to Boston readers!)

So, I do have a bit of a feel for what's new to Marshalls' shoes. But let me tell you more about the store's makeover before I get into my latest little narrative:

A few months ago, Marshalls debuted a new way to sell shoes. The major advertised difference is that you can shop by style, rather than size. Previously, an array of racks displayed the available shoes by size, with a designated Clearance selection. Now, you can walk through rows of shoes with one sample style on display, at the top where it's easy to examine, and underneath you'll find a selection of shoes in the sizes that style has available (think DSW, as opposed to Payless). So basically, when you stand in one spot in the Shoe Megastore, you can easily get a feel for the assembly of shoe styles available and navigate toward what you're looking for. (Don't worry; if my distinctions between old and new are unclear, you can take a Virtual Tour!)

There are a few cons, however.

In two of the locations I visited, about 45 minutes apart from each another, the Clearance section along the walls was a real problem. Rather than being arranged by style -or- size, they were not in any sort of order at all. You could, say, walk the length of the wall, see if you liked a shoe, and then check the size of it (after searching on the sole, footbed OR inner wall of the shoe, depending on the brand) (if it's on there at all) but that's a real hassle. You could, for instance, spot a shoe from afar, instantly fall for said shoe, get to the shoe, and discover it isn't anywhere near your size. In fact, you could do this three times. (And by you, I mean me. It was crushing, really.) Hopefully, this disaster was because the Marshalls Shoe Megastore was new, they just hadn't gotten this under wraps yet. When I'm there again, I'll let you know.

The new system also isn't that great for time constraints. If you have the time to browse through the aisles and look at the shoes, that's one thing. For example, it was easy for me to scour for green shoes (I'll get back to that). But once you locate what you're looking for, you then secondarily have to see if they have it in your size, and try it on. On one hand, if it doesn't fit by half a size, you don't have to entirely relocate to a different size section. On the other hand, if they don't have your size or it doesn't fit, you start all over again- as opposed to being in your general size zone and seeing what they have or don't, right off the bat.

So there are definitely pros and cons to the system, and I hope that the Clearance in particular works itself out because as of right now, it gets a big ol' frown from the Style Bard. But the main renovations are great, you just need to be aware that shopping in a hurry may be out of the question.

Now about my shoes (finally).

As readers of Style Bard Shoes know, I'm on the lookout for some green (and maybe orange!) shoes right now. I was also looking for some new office-appropriate shoes that I could also wear to a party (being held on the night of the afternoon I went to Marshalls).

See, there was this marketing event downtown, and due to a recent move, my items were still in boxes on their way down the coast to me. So I needed new shoes for this last-minute event, fast! But when I got there I discovered that while you could generally run into Marshalls and grab shoes in the past, this new way causes you to slow down and browse and spend time considering shoes that don't even exist in your size. A lot of stooping and rummaging boxes, for naught. I did, in the end, wind up running late to my party BUT I discovered a pair in the eleventh hour. Franco Sarto "Feline" patent peep-toe wedges:



Which were perfect with my dress, despite the fact that I was looking for a colorful shoe when I went into Marshalls. And not only that, but they're soooo extraordinarily comfortable, and I wear them all the time now. They're definitely one of my new favorites.

So much do I love these shoes, in fact, that I want to buy them in Avocado Green, which I also saw in Marshalls... but not in my size. I paid $40 for these shoes. Now? I can only find them online for about $93. Go ahead! See for yourself! So while I'm so happy at the bargain I got at Marshalls, I'm very sad because now I really, really want those patent green wedges, too. (I may be making some calls to other local Marshalls to see what can be done about this. No way am I paying almost $100 when I know I can get them for less at Marshalls!! Heresy.)



Later visits to Marshalls led me not to Avocado Franco Sarto wedges, but to sparkley shiny gold thong sandals that make me very happy and fulfill my second shoe goal (if you can remember back that far). All in all, I think my shopping experince was very fruitful -- and my two very pleasing new shoes? The wedges AND sandals were like, $52 all together. Now that is a fantastic deal -- I can't even buy the one pair alone anywhere else for almost twice that much money!

As a side note, I should say that I did contact Marshalls to ask if they'd ever offer a more comprehensive way to shop online. Because of my shoe sales alerts on Style Bard Shoes, that's something I would be interested in. At this time, they would love to be able to do so but aren't sure when that would be possible. Marshalls across the country are all allotted differing selections from their outlets, so it's hard to really represent what you can find. (I happen to like that aspect; it's the scavenger hunter in me. It's just really hard to represent the store, and more and more people prefer to shop online, so that's a huge market they're missing out on.) You can get a feel for what kinds of shoes they offer here, or just stop by the store and enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

If you visit Marshalls, let me know about your experience and your finds!
And I'd love to hear about the condition of your local Marshalls Shoe Megastore clearance sections.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

e.l.f. -- the makeover

I was going to do some e.l.f. product reviews -- and I still might -- but for now, how about some makeover photos? Yeah, I thought you might like that! But nooo, these are not of the Style Bard's own made-over face. For your enjoyment, I have volunteered my little sister.

Basically I demonstrated how to put on a certain item, and then she copied what I did to myself, onto herself. Me doing it for her, on her, isn't a great way for her to learn -- it's really best if she sees it and then tries it for herself. Practice makes perfect!

(Um, by the way, ignore the lighting -- it is, admittedly, terrible.)


Pre-Make-Over Photo (aka, "Before")


This is our clean slate - a washed, with astringent and toner.


Day Face (aka, "After #1")


Her own foundation, e.l.f. light mineral concealer. Then Sage, Mocha, and Ivory eyeshadow with a light dusting of Coral mineral blush and the light pink lip gloss that came as our free gift.


Evening Face (aka, "After #2")


Close-up. This is with Wisteria and Ivory eyeshadow, Midnight eyeliner, and her own mascara. Sun Kissed face whip blush, Guava lip gloss.


Finished product.

In summary, the products are okay -- especially for the price. I wouldn't suggest e.l.f. as one's primary make-up source, but for little extras in your collection (me), or if you're learning a routine for the first time (little sis), it's a decent way to bulk up your stash for minimal cash.