Hot Reads

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Pinterest. I think there are a lot of people out there who think Pinterest is for housewives to post recipes and baby stuff but it’s so much more! The idea of a virtual bulletin board is so much fun and that’s what Pinterest is. There’s so much I run across on the internet that I want to keep. In the past I’ve used Delicious and Instapaper which are good sites in their own way but I rarely went back to look for anything I kept there. I don’t use them anymore because I’ve started using Pocket where I’ve been very diligent about proper and useful tagging so I can find something when I want it. So far, so good. But the thing I love about Pinterest is the dominant visual aspect of it which makes it so easy to find stuff. I’m a very visual person and Pinterest is perfect for cataloging the gorgeous photography and art that I love, for giving me the push to try that new recipe (yes!) that I saved that looks so damn good. (See previous post!) It’s great for so many things and now I’ve started a new board which is what this post is about.

On my personal Pinterest account I’ve started a “Hot Reads From NOLAFemmes.com” board. I’ve been keeping articles from the internet that grab me on Pocket since I opened the account but I really like, again, the visual aspect of Pinterest that helps to pique your attention. These are pieces I want to share with our readers so I hope you’ll follow and enjoy the board. I also plan to try to post my Hot Reads here every week (or so) with a link to the board.

So what were my Hot Reads last week? I thought you’d never ask!

hotreads11. From Mother Jones, “Lidia Yuknavitch Flicks Off Frued.
Tagline: An irreverent remake of a renowned case, the new novel “Dora: a Headcase” delivers a gritty take on girlhood.
My favorite quote: “I want to create new girl myths,” she says of Dora. “Instead of always talking about how women struggle in the face of certain models, what if we spent more energy highlighting all these great other possible girl-paths, and turned away from the dominant culture?”

2. The Wall Street Journal: “Maggie Gyllenhaal on The Honorable Woman.”hotreads2
Tagline: Just as war in Israel and Gaza fills the news, a drama on SundanceTV explores the region’s turmoil.
My favorite quote: “Behind my intention in making this is compassion and, maybe it’s naive, a belief in the possibility of reconciliation, which our show never takes off the table.”
Note: I watched the premiere of this series and it’s looking really promising.

3. From The New York Times, “Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminism.”
Tagline: The author speaks with Jessica Gross about her favorite definition of feminism, ‘‘Sweet Valley High’’ and the fetishization of bad writing.hotreads3
My favorite quote: “I think that narrative is a fetish among faculty, not a reality. They fetishize the idea of bad writing, and they are more interested in the lore of bitching about students’ writing than they are in actually evaluating students’ writing as it is.”
Note: Gay’s Bad Feminist comes out this week and I can’t wait to get my pre-ordered copy!

4. From HuffPo, 8 Great New Books By Women You Should Definitely Readhotreads4
Every Hot Reads list has to have a book list and this is the one that intrigues me the most.
Maddie Crum begins by saying, “2014 has been deemed the Year of Reading Women. I wholeheartedly support this movement; after all, only diminutive steps have been made towards gender parity in the literary world since the institution of VIDA’s annual book review count (with the notable exception of the New York Times book review, which bounded towards equal coverage in just one year).”
I say, Yep! Read women! And follow the Twitter feed.

hotreads55. From Brain Pickings, Vacation Sex: A Poem by Dorianne Laux
Every Hot Reads list MUST include a great poem and this is a great poem and a great way to end the list. The piece includes text and video and, damn, who doesn’t want to read about vacation sex?

“It’s boring to play the girl role.”

This is a good video of Olivia Wilde speaking and participating in a panel on “The State of Female Justice 2014: What Makes You Rise?” “The State of Female Justice” panels bring women from diverse movements together for a shared public conversation about justice and equity. In this short video (4 minutes, 2 seconds), Olivia talks about why women aren’t being empowered by the media and shares a story about an acting exercise she participated in that’s very interesting. Enjoy.

More about “The State of a Female Justice” here.

Charlotte’s Top Five + 3 For Lagniappe: Oscar Fashion

Last night was the Oscars and, as usual, I was tantalized by all the glitz and glitter. However, I skipped my ritual of watching E! for the pre-show red carpet arrivals in favor of a restorative nap while nursing an earache. I woke up feeling a bit better and settled in for what we know is always a looooong (and often boring) viewing of the Oscar show. I was glad to see Ellen hosting this year again. She is the only host that can make jokes that are actually funny instead of cringe-inducing. I love Ellen.

One non-fashion Oscar thought: I was happy to see 12 Years a Slave win Best Picture. It’s the first time a film shot predominately in New Orleans has won the Best Picture catagory.

Now on to my fashion  picks from The Academy Awards 2013.

cateblanchettCate Blanchette is my Number 1 pick for Best Dress. This gorgeous, spangly nude and white Armani fit her like a glove. Her earrings, hair and makeup complimented this dazzling look perfectly. Cate never disappoints and is one of my personal style icons.

Naomi-Watts-Oscars-2014#2 is Naomi Watts. This is another beautiful white dress, by Calvin Klein this time, that was tailored to Naomi’s body perfectly. White dresses can often come off as too bridal but both of these dresses avoided that cliche and just made these women look stunning. And I couldn’t take my eyes off her stunning diamond necklace.

Lupita.Prada

Lupita Nyong’o also made my best of the Golden Globes and her Oscar look didn’t disappoint. This flowing blue Prada is my third best pick. It was like a breath of fresh air and I’m sure headbands will be the next “new” thing for hair adornment.

sandra.mcqueen

Sandra Bullock looked very goddess-like in this #4 pick navy draped  number by Alexander McQueen. Doesn’t she have the most gorgeous hair and eyes ever?

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What can you say about Meryl? Always classy, always impeccably dressed on the red carpet. This black and white Lanvin is pure, understated elegance. It may be my #5 pick but Meryl will always be my #1 favorite actress.

I think the fashion in general was really great at the Oscars this year and I didn’t see too much I didn’t like so I’ve only picked one look that didn’t make the grade, IMO.

glenn.zacposen

Sadly, Glenn Close is my pick for worst dressed. She wore a black Zac Posen dress which reminded me of an 1800’s widow,  all buttoned up from neck to toe on her way to the funeral- one long column of depressing black. There was nothing of the sophisticated black dress in this one for me.

johnandgayle

John Ridley (screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave) and wife Gayle get my nod for best dressed couple. I love his grey on black combo, very sleek, and her purple dress is beautiful on her. They compliment each other so nicely.

jared

Finally, for best dressed man I pick Jared Leto in this slightly unconventional look. The slim black pants are perfectly tailored, the white jacket is very Rat Pack and I love the pop of red bow tie. All together he looks hot, hot, hot in Saint Laurent.

Who were your  favorite picks?

Downton Abbey season 4, episode 7

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The Dowager Countess is like an eagle that swoops in on her prey – she picks up on the subtlest of cues and then goes in for the kill. She got it out of Lady Rosamund and Lady Edith the real reason for their trip to “learn French” in Switzerland. She picked up on Lord Merton’s interest in Mrs. Crawley, and her ongoing sparring with Mrs. Crawley makes one bust out laughing. She has returned in full form.

And as I predicted last week, it did happen, Lord Gillingham’s valet is dead. And Mr. Bates disappeared from Downton, with permission, on the day it happened. I think too many people know, so it will be interesting to see if the secret keeps. Now I get the feeling that Anna is not happy with the outcome and seems to question Mr. Bates’ integrity.

I am loving all the other pairings too: Mr. Molesley and Miss Baxter, the “menage” pursuing Lady Mary, Branson and the teacher Sarah, love is definitely in the air. But not for Rose, her pursuit to prove a point has left poor Mr. Ross with a broken heart. Not for Alfred either: Ivy turned down his proposal of marriage and has left him broken hearted as well. Unrequited love is so hard, but it is better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all. I predict Alfred will resurface again…

Lord Grantham has returned, and it is now evident that he is quite the force and steward of the estate. It was evident in his absence how much he holds it all together. I want Lady Mary to marry a strong man to take his place. I would like to see Mr. Blake win out in the end. They can’t keep the audience on tenter hooks for THAT long until Mary decides who will win her heart.

So next week is the season finale. I hope it holds some good story, without the devastating cliffhanger. Tune in next week…

Downton Abbey season 4, episode 5

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Well guess what – Lady Edith is pregnant! And oh no, Mr. Griegson has gone missing! Poor Edith is a wreck, and we got a sneak preview of next week’s episode in which she confides in Lady Rosamund – we’ll just have to see where it goes next, or if Mr. Griegson reappears. Personally I think he’s a spy for the British government and has gone deep underground. I just hope Lady Edith doesn’t do anything rash. I so truly want Edith to triumph, she more than  deserves it.

The footman Albert got a second letter from the Ritz, offering him a spot in the culinary training program. Of course Daisy is now brokenhearted and Ivy is the recipient of everyone’s wrath. And James went a bit fast on her on their last date, so now the downstairs romances have had a huge bucket of ice water thrown over all of them. Also in the big chill still is Anna and Mr. Bates. They are struggling to recapture their magic, but I am starting to have my doubts. The long suffering Mr. Molesley seems to have won a position as Albert’s replacement, and I wonder if a romance buds between him and Mrs. Baxter the new ladies maid for Lady Cora. Thomas is still pressuring Mrs. Baxter for information, but she is starting to have misgivings. I can’t wait to find out the bond between those two and exactly what Thomas has hanging over her head.

Lady Rose’s birthday surprise for Lord Grantham seemed to have been a hit. The jazz band certainly livened up the Abbey. But Lady Mary found her and the bandleader kissing downstairs at the end of the evening. Rose is playing with fire flirting with all of these different men, I hope she doesn’t get into trouble like poor Anna. Lady Mary is still planning for the future of the estate and a new man has entered the scene, the handsome Mr. Blake. So far he and Lady Mary seems like oil and water, unable to mix properly and sniping at each other. We’ll have to see if he becomes smitten with her too: Mr. Napier visiting alongside Mr. Blake, certainly seems like he is still smitten with Mary.

Lastly the tug of war between Lady Violet and Mrs. Crawley forges on, and a welcome witness to those two fighting is Dr. Clarkson. It is a hoot to watch him roll his eyes while they spar. The butler Spratt is added comic relief and his facial expressions are priceless! I do believe that the battle royale this week was dominated by Lady Violet, “game, set and match” according to Dr. Clarkson.

Cora’s brother Harold is in trouble financially, and seems to be drawing in Lord Grantham. That story line promises to be interesting. So just when I was losing hope, Downton becomes more intriguing, leaving us hanging on for more. Until next week…

Downton Abbey season 4, episode 3

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If I can sum up this episode in one word its PUSHY! Lord Gillingham was pushing Mary to marry him (my if this only happened in real life maybe more people would couple off and marry!), lady’s maid Edna got Branson drunk and pushed herself on him in his bed, then Mrs. Hughes pushed her right out of a job, my my (to quote Mrs. Hughes) what tangled webs they weave. And what’s to happen with Lady Edith? She has fallen from grace and now we are left to wonder if she has left herself flapping in the wind with Mr. Griegson leaving for Germany?

The relationship drama downstairs is starting to devolve into a circle of repetition: while cute, we want them to make up their minds! Yet we have the Bates and Anna saga, with poor Anna now scared of her shadow and rejecting Mr. Bates affections. For once, Lord Grantham has words of wisdom for the aching Mr. Bates, comforting him and reassuring him that yes its a relationship with ups and down and that this too shall pass. I certainly hope so I hate seeing Bates emasculated like this. And I miss the bubbly Anna.

For one, I’d like to see a story line develop for Lady Rose, and watch a suitable mate hunt her down. The bandleader Jack Ross saved her virtue after her partner wobbled off in a drunken stupor, and he was quite chivalrous towards her despite the fact that he couldn’t sing a lick!

The Countess dowager is reemerging and she is ever at the ready with a sharp quip. Check out this website for some cool quotes to remind you of her wit.

In all the chaos, the one person that holds it all together is the beloved Mrs. Hughes. She is such a rock for that estate, everyone including Mr. Carson that I shudder to think what would happen if she was not such a bedrock of stability. She is an honorable woman, but I would like to see her obtain a level of personal gratification, instead of giving of herself to everyone else. Maybe that is her satisfaction, being the stable force that everything else swirls around. I hope she gets her due, in a good way.

Can’t wait for next week! If you want to refresh this past episode, you can watch it here

Downton Abbey season 4, episode 2

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For  a one hour episode, there sure was a lot of drama packed into the episode! The highlight was a house party at Downton Abbey, but I say there was no forewarning for it in the previous episode (maybe I missed it). From the list of guests we meet a potential suitor for Lady Mary, Lord Anthony Gillingham. Quite the dashing figure, he come in and subtly reawakens Mary’s spirit. But alas, he is engaged, however we all know that Julian Fellows likes to blow up conventionality for love…

Lady Edith continues her romance with Mr. Griegson, and with the house party in full swing, has him blend into the festivities. Several attempts to bring him and her father closer together fail, but in the end a card game in which Mr. Griegson wins back all the money lost to the card sharp, including Lord Grantham’s finally elevates him to be acknowledged. I’m sure Lord Grantham may have much to say if it comes to pass that Lady Edith moves to Germany to be with her intended. I am happy for her, she deserves the love in her life…

There is continued drama downstairs and it seems like Jimmy is finally falling for the sweet Ivy. Now if only Albert would set his eyes on Daisy, but for now, Albert has his eyes set on rattling pots and pans in a high class restaurant. The new lady’s maid, Edna is silently stalking Branson, and I don’t know if you caught this but she silently slipped into a bedroom at the end of the episode and I’ll bet you dollars to none she forced herself into Branson’s bedroom. She wasn’t the only one forcing herself: Lord Gillingham’s valet forced himself onto poor Anna, with a horrid rape scene at the end while Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was singing upstairs and all the kitchen staff were out of earshot to Anna’s screams. I knew about this happening, and read about the huge outcry in England against the graphic portrayal of a rape scene. But I don’t know that there will be such an outcry here in the states; haven’t read any kind of online protests as of yet. This is not to minimize the fact that rape is a brutal crime against nature, because Anna certainly did not deserve being brutalized. I fear that the fallout from this will drive a wedge between her and Bates, it seems to have already begun. Slate had an interesting take on this, with a story exposing the continued mistreatment of the Downton Abbey female characters. I just hope that Anna can pull herself out of this tragedy.

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Lady Violet continues her background manipulations, correcting poor Branson’s interactions with the Duchess for one, but I saw in her a soft side. Isobel continues to mourn Matthew terribly, and the dowager has been quietly supporting her in her grief. Can it be? The dowager has turned the corner to become an old softie? I for one am glad to see it, this makes her character even more lovable.

The episode is online to stream if you’d like to watch again, I know I certainly will before Sunday nights. The next episode airs on Sunday January 19 on WYES at 8pm with a one hour episode. And while you’re at it, leave the TV on the same channel afterwards, Masterpiece Mystery Sherlock season 3 begins right after.

Charlotte’s Top & Bottom Fives: Golden Globes Fashion

I love awards shows. There, I said it. I love them primarily for the fashion and I always watch E! for the pre-show red carpet. This year I thought much of the fashion was underwhelming but there are always a few stars that stand out from the rest. Here are my top five picks for the best fashion, listed from #5 to #1.

julliannaJulianna Margulies in Andrew Gn – Classic perfection.

 elisabethElisabeth Moss in J.Mendel – love this art deco-inspired dress. (But I would have picked another shoe.)

lupitaLupita Nyong’o in Ralph Lauren – just stunning. The color is beautiful against her skin and I love the caped look.

zooeyZoey Deschanel in Oscar de la Renta – Beautiful from head to toe, a total knock-out look. The beaded crop top made this look so fresh.

michelleMichelle Dockery in Oscar de la Renta

Michelle is my #1 pick because she looks so flawlessly effortless in this beautiful taupe dress with gold embellishment. This could have been just another strapless dress that we see over and over again at awards shows but the high/low hem, the gold embellishment and the perfect fit elevated it to a superior level. Her shoes and jewelry are perfectly understated highlighting  her peaches and cream complexion. I love this classy look.

And then there were the not-so-good looks. Again, from #5 to #1, here are my picks for the bottom five fashionistas.

juliaJulia Roberts in Dolce and Gabbana looks like she’s wearing her husband’s shirt under a strapless gown. Messy.

annaAnna Gunn in a Donna Karan dress that’s the same color as her skin. She’s beige from head to toe.

ediefalcoEdie Falco in a big orange bow…..I mean, Lanvin. I’m sorry to say this but the fabric looks like cheap, shiny poly.

jenniferJennifer Lawrence in a bound toilet paper roll…..I mean, Dior. I’m so disappointed in this dress.

zoeZoe Saldana in a friend’s design.

I have to give Zoe props for being sweet and wearing her friend’s design but, my goodness, what a mess of a dress. It looks like repurposed stripper lingerie bits and pieces. I saw her interviewed on the red carpet on E! where she over-explained why she was wearing it at all. Poor thing.

And, for a little lagniappe:

kerry Kerry Washington in Balenciaga, most beautiful pregnant woman.

 

naomiandliev Naomi Watts (wearing another dress I loved by Tom Ford) and Liev Schreiber, most beautiful couple.

 

usherUsher in Calvin Klein, best dressed beautiful man. (But, of course, I’m prejudiced because I like him so much.)

So,who were your picks?

Downton Abbey Season 4, episode 1

I really cannot put my finger on the reason for the obsession with Downton Abbey. Its like an addiction to anything: an opium fix, double chocolate fudge cake, sex with someone you really click with, the fixation on Downton Abbey ranks right up there with them all. It was evident in the fall building up to last Sunday’s premiere: searching for any news on the cast, trying to avoid all the spoilers (there are some very shocking events in store!) and the cast tour of America and all their interview videos, I couldn’t get enough!!!

But the wait is now over and I watched it Sunday night, the Tuesday night repeat and this morning I watched it again online – its hopeless for me!

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Please stop reading if you haven’t see the episode yet, but if you haven’t, where have you been hiding under a rock for the last 4 years (lol!)

The show opens with O’Brien, Lady Cora’s ladies maid, leaving the Abbey in the middle of the night to go to India to work for “gasp!” Lady Cora’s cousin Susan Flincher. The search then commences to find a replacement and Lady Rose intervenes and who turns up but Edna Braithwaite, the tart that tempted Branson last season. Now Edna has received a “proper training” and manipulates her way into Lady Cora’s boudoir. Poor Branson, I hope he doesn’t get caught in Edna’s spider web again, but for now she is weaving a nest alongside Barrow the underbutler to trap poor Anna and Bates. She fit quite nicely into O’Brien’s wicked shoes.

But back to Anna – it seems like she is becoming a bit more deceptive in her role. Previously playing by the rules, she has taken a twist and it may come back to haunt her. She is embroiled into helping Lady Rose, the dowager’s great niece staying at Downton to behave badly. Anna took Rose to a dance hall, where Rose met a handsome worker to dance with and by the end of the night there was a fight erupting over Rose. Needless to say, the young man later marched right up to Downton’s back door wanting to see if Rose was OK. Anna then helped Rose change into a maid’s uniform to have a secret tete-a-tete with the young man, but when would you have thought Anna to pull off such a ruse! Jimmy the footman bore witness to all the events so I suspect there will be more with all of them and the smitten young village man.

There continues to be more secret crushes in the downstairs milieu, what with the episode opening on Valentines Day. One of the more interesting unrequited love stories involved of all people Mr. Carson and a long lost love of his. A man from his past surfaced and Mrs. Hughes took it upon herself to assist him and try to arrange a meeting between him and Mr. Carson via the help of Mrs. Crawley. The episode ended with Mr. Carson coming to terms with his old friend, despite the fact that the friend wound up marrying the love of Mr. Carson’s life. In parting the friend shared that this woman had died, and at the end she confessed to loving Mr. Carson and regretting not being with him. How sad that this happened to him, its shows how missed opportunities in life can haunt someone until, if they are lucky can get some kind of closure – definitely ending the episode in tears.

Which come next to the heartbreaker, Lady Mary. After 6 months she is climbing out of the abyss of grief over the death of her beloved Matthew. Her state of mind is palpable and we all want her to “buck up” for the sake of baby George. It takes Mr. Carson to lend a hand to climb out and get back with the land of the living to quote the Dowager Countess. Speaking of, Lady Violet was somewhat subdued this episode, but I expect her to unleash her trademark zingers soon. Meanwhile, I am pulling for Lady Edith, and her happiness, she so deserves her reward in the form of handsome Mr. Griegson.

Aside from some drama with the nanny getting caught treating poor Sybbie badly and being immediately dismissed by Lady Cora, this about sums up episode 1. I know I’ll probably watch the online video 2 more times before next Sunday. Its hopeless…..but in a good way!