Tuesday, March 27, 2007

All things come to those who wait

I have always wanted one of those cool lift thing-a-ma-jiigs at the end of my bed, that open up and send a television rising up as though by magic. I've seen them in magazines and on some tv shows over the years, most always in the homes of the rich and famous - emphasis on rich.

Well, it seems that as go flat screen TV prices (down, down, down), so too go hydraulic TV lift prices (who knew?). Just the other day, meandering through one of my favorite stores, Inner Living by Shannon Michelle, I stumbled upon a sleek, tall, espresso chest - a cross between a buffet and a dresser. I loved it right away.

But then! Oh, my friends, but then! I saw an odd rectangular cut-out section in the top, and, like Glinda the Good Witch, the top lifted and a steel post rose slowly, dare I say majestically, from the top of the chest. I looked around to see a staff-member with a remote control in her hand and a little grin on her face. "That's where the TV goes" she said.

Of course that's where the TV goes.

Now, granted, this little number costs more than your average buffet or media cabinet from a barn, a barrel or a, ahem, hardware store - but not all that much. Really. It's from the Thomas O'Brien collection by Hickory Chair - and let me tell you, Hickory Chair, well, it ain't your grand-pappy's furniture company.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ghost Rider - not ghostly enough

All I can say is (well, okay, not all, since I'm clearly about to say more, but...) this movie was lucky to get a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes!

Let's get one thing clear first - I love good brain candy, and Nic Cage has been in some great brain candy (Con Air? Face/Off? National Treasure - ok, not great, but pretty darn fun).

And let me add something else... I'm more than happy with super-hero movies where you've got folks flying around, disappearing, stretching, bouncing bullets, etc. That said, there are some rules - really. Think about it - the best 'supernatural' films create a reality that offers you some logic, some explication that, albeit requiring a leap of faith, carries you from your reality to the film's reality, which you can then inhabit and in which you can believe. And the key to this? Rules folks... sorry, but there you have it.

First rule? The backstory... and this rule is actually pretty easy, there has to be one. Yeah. That's it. Not too tough. Unless there isn't.

    Superman - born on a planet that destroyed itself and, in a last-ditch effort by his parents to save him, ends up on the third rock.
    Spiderman - didn't anyone tell him to beware those pesky biting spiders in cutting-edge laboratories?
    X-Men - global warming, animal species disappearing at a rapid rate, is it any surprise the human genome is mutating like this?
    Batman - ain't it amazing what tragedy, trauma, trust funds and triceps to die for can accomplish?

Why am I rehashing all of this? Well, I don't know the Ghost Rider comics, or the story therefrom - and, sadly, after seeing the movie, I still don't. You should not walk out of a super-hero movie without knowing how and/or why that superhero came to be. Actually, let me rephrase, you shouldn't have to sit through an entire movie without knowing how or why.

Second rule: whatever the backstory is in the comic books, you have tell it, and hopefully tell it well, in the movie.

On top of that ignominious disregard for basic comic book protocol, Nic Cage phones it in (and really, how could he do anything else, since his face seemed not just botoxed, but actually ironed smooth), Eva Mendes does a creditable imitation of a block of wood, and a blow-dried Peter Fonda looms periodically, presumably with malicious intent, in a long, flapping coat.

You get the idea - there's just nothing here. Sad to say, this movie is a big, fat pass.

Of all the potteries, in all the towns, in all the world...

Preconceptions can really trip you up. I spent the weekend in a small town in southern Ireland - Shanagarry, to be precise - and I wasn't expecting much other than to see my friend Karen and the cooking school she's attending. After all, this was Ireland, and a small coastal town in Ireland at that.

I was expecting green, and rain, and the world's most wonderful accent. I was not expecting a fabulous pottery and artisan gallery tucked away behind a church and across the street from the Goalpost pub. The Stephen Pearce pottery and gallery has distinct local roots in Shanagarry and County Cork and "proudly participates in preserving the heritage, culture and environment" of same.

I was expecting to meet some of the nicest people on earth, to drive on the wrong side of the road, to eat some artery-clogging-but-worth-it butter and cheese. I was not expecting to wander into a store that could just as easily be on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Santa Monica or Prince St. in New York.

So, it just shows to go you - as my mother would say - great design, interesting accessories, beautiful things can, and will, be found just about anywhere, if you keep your eyes open and your biases closed.

And because the world is, after all, a global village, Stephen Pearce will happily ship anywhere in it. To ship to the United States, they charge 30% of the total value of the order. Did I mention the gorgeous personalized mugs they make? Karen bought one for each of her housemates - I'm hoping she posts a picture of them on her blog... I'll keep you posted.

And, yes, Ireland is still gorgeously green, it did indeed rain, the people there are still the nicest on earth - and their accent still melts my brain every time. If you haven't been to the Emerald Isle, go, by all means, go!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Change a lampshade, change your life

Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, BUT... I do believe that small changes make big differences.

A new lampshade (or a whole new lamp) next to your sofa or on your night table can brighten up the room and bring a smile to your face every time you turn it on.

Ivory shades are great, don't get me wrong - they're versatile, classic, boring, neutral, safe, boring, easy... well, you get the point.
A colorful lampshade (like this one from Slip) is a great way to bring some color, some pattern, some oomph, into a room - without an enormous investment. You could say it's interior design for the commitment shy.

On the other hand, if you're married to that ivory shade, think about a great new lamp base. Tracy Glover makes beautiful hand-blown glass lamps - complete with, yup, you guessed it, a range (bestill your heart) of beige, ecru and taupe shades.

If you're ready for a small change to make a big difference - shed a little light and brighten your room and your day.