Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Small pleasures.

Late winter is a time of small pleasures. When it's cold and gray and (depending on where you live) snowy, and maybe you're not leaving the house as much, and not being as active as you are in the spring, summer and fall, it's a good time to notice little things that can make you smile or give you a pleased sensation, which is what you hang onto to get you through till spring. (Whew, that was a long sentence.)

Here are a few of my small pleasures right now:

--Gain HE detergent--in lavender! I love Gain, but they've only ever made their high-efficiency detergent in the original scent. Which is nice, but sometimes you long for a new smell. I was so happy to find a lavender scent at Wal-Mart the other day (it almost made going to Wal-Mart feel worthwhile!) Plus, they have a lavender fabric softener. My sheets are tumbling in the dryer right now and giving off a wonderful aroma.

--Craig Ferguson. I've seen lots of clips of "The Late Late Show" on Youtube and, and I read Craig's memoir a few months ago, so I've been a casual fan for a while. I've been up late a lot of nights this past month with stomach pain and general anxiety-based insomnia, and so I've gotten to see Craig in real time. And I love this guy. He is ridiculous and goofy, but somehow that goes down better at 1:00 in the morning. And his interviews are a delight. He is really interested in everyone who comes on the show and always manages to make them come off as funny and interesting. And that accent! Love him.

--"Talking" greeting cards. I don't buy greeting cards with those audio chips in them very often, but every now and then I find one that's perfect. I was shopping for Valentine's cards for my nephews and nieces the other day, and I found the perfect one for my 13-year-old nephew. The front says "This little card isn't meant to embarrass you..." and then when you open it this very high-pitched woman's voice shrieks, "Hi, honey! Hi! Guess who wuvs you? I do!" It makes me laugh every time I open it, and it makes me laugh when I picture Tanner's face when he'll open it. I highly recommend this card if you have a teenage boy.

--Sharpie pens. More accurately: Sharpie / Pen. They're bleed-proof permanent pens with a clickie top. I picked them up at Walgreens and they are the black pen I've always dreamed of!
Yes, I dream of pens. Don't judge me.

--Ella and Louis. I mean, Ella and Louis. In my continuing quest to become a senior citizen before my time, I've really gotten into jazz/swing/big band music. Pandora is invaluable for stepping outside your musical rut, because it's a great way to hear a lot of an unfamiliar genre without having to buy a bunch of albums. And then if you hear something you love, then you can track it to Amazon and snatch it up. I was cleaning out the fridge a couple weeks ago and listening to my "Bing Crosby" station on Pandora, which pulls up tons of other stuff beyond Bing, and "Isn't This a Lovely Day?" came on, and I literally stopped what I was doing to listen. I had to buy the CD because this track is not available as an mp3, so I used the Amazon gift card my parents gave me for Christmas. What a great purchase.

What are your small pleasures this winter?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

What's wrong with aging gracefully?

I have a morbid fascination with celebrity plastic surgery. Whenever we see an older celeb on TV or in the movies, I'm always searching their faces, looking for the signs. Usually you don't have to look too far--sometimes it slaps you right in your own face. I've never gotten over whatever it was that Steve Martin did to his wonderful eyes ten or twelve years ago; they're a good inch farther apart than they used to be.

Several months ago we went to see a very good movie called "Easy A" which starred young Emma Stone, who is a favorite of ours, and which also starred the not-so-young Patricia Clarkson (age 51) and Lisa Kudrow (age 47.) In all of Clarkson's and Kudrow's scenes, I kept staring at their faces and marveling at how natural and wonderful they each looked.

They each have some wrinkles, but it works for them. They don't have weird cheekbones, their eyes aren't too far apart. Clarkson in particular just glowed on-screen, and I understand they have make-up and lighting people to make them look good, but her face still looks natural.

I think both ladies looked even better to me because we had just sat through a preview for the movie "Burlesque," starring Cher, whom I hadn't seen on-screen in quite a long time.

To be fair to Cher, she is 64 years old, older than Kudrow and Clarkson. And when you find a picture of her where she's holding her face still, she can almost look normal--not 64 years old, but not quite a circus freak yet. But watching her try to move her mouth and talk through all that filler in her face was frankly horrifying.

All this came back into my memory tonight when I was watching this show on PBS called "Pioneers of Television." I've only managed to catch a couple episodes of this, but they take a TV genre and go back and look at some of the key shows and interview whatever stars they can find who are still alive and relatively coherent. It's fun and nostalgic.

Tonight the topic was crime dramas, and there were three women who were interviewed for this show who made me wonder all over again how it is that we've bought into this belief that loads of plastic surgery are the only way we can hang onto the illusion of youth--and that youth is an illusion worth hanging onto in the first place.

Barbara Bain was drop-dead gorgeous 40 years ago, playing a covert agent on "Mission: Impossible." Now she's 81 years old, and I think she still looks terrific.

My mom always used to tease my dad about Angie Dickinson--apparently he had a little crush on her when she was on "Policewoman" back in the 70s. She was beautiful then:

And I think she's held up pretty darn well for someone pushing 80:

And then there was Stefanie Powers, who starred in a goofy little show called "The Girl from UNCLE" in the mid-60's and also in "Hart to Hart" in the 80's.

She's almost 70 now and still looks amazing:

It's not that I believe none of these women have had plastic surgery. We're talking Hollywood here--I think they give you an open-ended coupon for one free procedure when you get your SAG card. In the cheekbone areas, especially, I wouldn't be surprised if all three of them have had work. But it's unobtrusive. It enhances rather than distracts. And most importantly, they left some sags and wrinkles and folds, instead of just polishing their whole face to a smooth flat surface like...well...

I also don't think plastic surgery has been kind to Meg Ryan (age 49):

Or Priscilla Presley (age 65):

To quote Helena Bonham Carter (age 44 and un-plastic surgeried): "You have two choices. You can have the work done and look weirder, or have nothing done and look older. I think the only way I’ll continue to get work is if I don’t get anything done…I can still move all my face muscles! There aren’t many who can still do that."

I think I'd rather look old than weird. Ask me again in 20 years, and I may choose differently, but I think old is okay. And there are so many beautiful older women! They're older, they own it, and their faces are still beautiful. I love being able to see a person's life in their face, not their surgeries.