Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kickin' It: Havaianas Steps Up With Soul 2.0 and Slimmer Flat ... In Clarks: Rebooted, 65 and Counting While Putting Its Foot Down, Too

The Havaianas Origine Sneaker II Espadrille (men) is from its relaunched Soul Collection). Photo from Havaianas Web site.

IT is lightweight, sports a canvas upper, cushioned footbed with textured rice pattern and detailed stitching.

It may be any number of colors – yellow yolk, orange tile, ruby red, electric blue, black, white, tutti frutti (pink), light yellow, black dark gray ...

Any idea what it is?

No?

One more clue: it has a rubber flip flop sole.

If you guessed the Origine Sneaker II Espadrille from Havaianas, kick up your heels! The Brazilian maker of the famous flip flop has relaunched its closed-toe Soul Collection.

Aside from the aforesaid sneaker, it spans nine other espadrille styles for men and women ($38-$54). They were on view recently during a press preview at New York City's Dream Downtown Beach venue.

A Havaianas storyboard, including styles (women) from the Flat Collection. Photo by Yours Truly.

Now that the warm weather is finally breaking, at least in the Northeast, Havaianas Soul is ready to take it to the streets. Ditto for the more familiar flip flop.

Speaking of, there is news in that corner, too – specifically the Flat Collection. These styles were also no view for members of the press, some of whom (including Yours Truly) availed themselves of a pair, plus a complimentary pedicure.

Flip flop lovers will be hardpressed to choose just one style. At $18-$22, they won't break the bank if a buyer procured two or six pair in eye-catching solids, two-tones and print: florals, geometrics, animal prints and animal paw.

Made with the signature Havaianas rubber sole, Flat Collection styles are distinguished by a shorter strap. Notably, they are also slimmer. Not only is this a boon for those with narrow feet, the more svelte silhouette adds polish, taking the slippers beyond footwear more appropriate for around the house or at the beach.

Espadrilles (mens) from the Havaianas Soul Collection. Photo by Yours Truly.

The collection comes in 30 colors, including shocking pink, lemon green (solids), beige-pink, yellow-purple (two-tones), and deep purple, orchid rose, pistachio, tropical green, rose gum, ice grey (prints).

Visit http://www.us.havaianas.com/ to learn more about the Havaianas Soul Collection, Flat Collection and other lines.

Clarks:Rebooted, or One Milestones and Many Landmines

A reboot is going on at British shoemaker, Clarks and you, you, you and you want to be a part of it.

The Desert Frank designed by Frank Bowling. Photo from Clarks:Rebooted Web site.

Two reasons to get onboard with Clarks: Rebooted: First, to own a pair of really fine boots designed by one of 14 UK artists to commemorate 65 years of the original Clarks Desert Boot. Second, along with Clarks partner, The HALO Trust, to kick landmines to the curb … More shortly

Visit http://www.clarksusa.com/us/halo-trust-desert-boots to learn more about Clarks: Rebooted; visit http://www.halotrust.org/ to learn more about The HALO Trust.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Stinking Thinking Does Your Pocketbook No Favors, Either

WHEN Zig Ziglar famously uttered the words, doubters and distractors pilloried him. Perhaps, it was his Alabama drawl.

In any case, evidence continues to mount in support of the then-incendiary words of the late salesman and motivational speaker: “Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude.”

The latest is a study published in a recent issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. In “Cynical Beliefs about Human Nature and Income: Longitudinal and Cross-Cultural Analyses,” researchers report that cross-cultural analyses show that generally people who are more cycnical make less money than their more trusting counterparts … More shortly.

Visit http://www.bit.ly/1R1PM9Z to learn more about “Cynical Beliefs about Human Nature and Income: Longitudinal and Cross-Cultural Analyses”

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

It's All Good at Cheftopia: The 30th Annual Chefs' Tribute to Citymeals-on-Wheels

Fried Chicken, Whipped Smoked Onion Butter, Smoked Bacon Waffles and Chipotle Mustard Maple Syrup (Jonathan Wright, Rainbow Room, NYC). Photos by Yours Truly.

Early Summer Tartine: Cloumage Cheese, Young Vegetables and Herbs (Octavio Becerra, State Grill and Bar, NYC).

Seeded Foie Gras Lollipop (Barbara Lynch, Menton, Boston).

IT is not a mouthful of chocolate. It is a Seeded Foie Gras Lollipop.

Who knew cow tongue could be so beef-stew beefy?! It has been left to Tongue Tacos, Fermented Chilies and Wild Garlic to point it out.

These are just some of the more than 30 dishes on the menu at Cheftopia: The 30th Annual Chefs' Tribute to Citymeals-on-Wheels at Rockefeller Center Plaza.

Rumor meal has it that the Pacific Oyster Pan Roast on Jim's Toasted Yeast-Raised Corn Bread (Larry Forgione (LF), The Conservatory for American Studies CIA Greystone Campus, St. Helena, CA) is decadently delicious. It looks it, too.

Likewise, the forecast for the Bourbon Crab Succotash, Green Peas, Chantarelle, Pickled Cherry Tomato (Sebastien Archambault, The Back Room, NYC.)

Assistant chef Daniel Tackett presents Pressed Duck and Ground Cherries (Scott Conant, Scarpetta, Los Angeles).

Fact is, every Cheftopia dish is some form of delicious. Sumptuous. Scrumptious. Heavenly. Divine. After all, these delights, such as the aforesaid foie gras lollipops (Barbara Lynch, Menton, Boston) and beef tongue taco (Marc Forgione, Restaurant Marc Forgione / American Cut, Khe-yo, NYC), are the creations of top chefs (and team) from around the country.

That's how they roll (chop, mince, grind, simmer, saute) at Cheftopia. By now, Cheftoria is a familiar story: honorees this year and founding chefs, LF and Johnathan Waxman, got it into their heads in the mid 90s to birthday gift Citymeals co-founder James Beard with a cookarama event to raise funds for his charity.

Amuse bouche is an apt description of the Pressed Duck and Ground Cherries (Scott Conant, Scarpetta, Los Angeles). What an explosion of flavor on the palate!

Indeed, Cheftopia is a birthday gift that keeps on giving! How wonderful! How marvelous! How ecstatic are foodies! How helpful for the chronically disabled senior citizen population that
Citymeals serves!

Sunflower Risotto with Shaved Button Mushrooms (Eli Kulp and Jon Nodler, Fork Restaurant / High Street on Hudson, Philadelphia and NYC).

A welcome combination of hard and soft textures in the Early Summer Tartine: Cloumage Cheese, Young Vegetables and Herbs (Octavio Becerra, State Grill and Bar, NYC).

Monday night's Cheftopia 30 raised more than $850,000. Since its founding, it has raised nearly $20 million for Citymeals, a really good friend to the homebound elderly.

At this moment, a certain palate is doing cartwheels. The cause of this commotion: chicken&waffles. Specifically, Fried Chicken, Whipped Smoked Onion Butter, Smoked Bacon Waffles and Chipotle Mustard Maple Syrup (Jonathan Wright, Rainbow Room, NYC).

JW's iteration of c&w is set apart from others because it is not cloyingly sweet. Sweet!

Visit http://www.citymeals.org to learn more about "Cheftopia" and Citymeals-on-Wheels.

Pacific Oyster Pan Roast on Jim's Toasted Yeast-Raised Corn Bread (Larry Forgione, The Conservatory for American Studies CIA Greystone Campus, St. Helena, CA).

Bourbon Crab Succotash, Green Peas, Chantarelle, Pickled Cherry Tomato (Sebastien Archambault, The Back Room, NYC).

Fixings for Tongue Tacos, Fermented Chilies and Wild Garlic (Marc Forgione, Restaurant Marc Forgione, / American Cut, Khe-yo, NYC).

Friday, June 5, 2015

Not Your Typical Spook, Melissa McCarthy Saves the Day and Snatches the Case in 'Spy' ... In 'Entourage,' the Madcap Ventures of Vince, Ari and the Gang Continue on Big Screen



WHEN most people think of spies, a certain image comes to mind. A handsome British (or Irish) guy playing James Bond. On assignment in some exotic locale, performing gravity-defying feats, making near-death escapes and romancing beautiful women.

Most people do not imagine a spy working in a Washington, D.C. basement, feeding intel into the ear of a James Bond type in a danger zone thousands of miles away.

Aside from Mata Hari, most people do not think of women as spies.

Most people do not think of overweight people as spies. Of – truth be told – spies being possibly morbidly obese.

Perhaps, in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of our minds, we know spies don't fit that lone handsome-guy stereotype. But this knowledge resides in the dank, dark subconscious, rarely exposed to the light of awareness.

Most do not think of someone like Melissa McCarthy as a spy – not in real life, certainly not in the movies. No. They. Do. Not.

Most must reorder their thinking. (See video above).

In “Spy,” she is desk agent Susan Cooper, the one in the ear of her partner and field agent Bradley Fine played by Jude Law.

On occasion, Susan has saved Bradley's life, earning her dinner in fancy French restaurants and interesting pieces of jewelry. A hoot, "Spy," opens in U. S. theaters today … More shortly

"Spy" is Rated R for language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity; visit http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/spy to learn more about the film.

More Exploits From the 'Entourage' Fans Love to Love


Clockwise from top: Jeremy Piven, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara and Kevin Connolly in "Entourage." Photos from "Entourage" Facebook page.

Vince has a new, failing marriage and is about to move into a new direction … Ari is a top dog … E has female problems, including baby mama drama ...Turtle also stands for Tequila, Titan and Trim … Johnny Drama … well some people never change.

The boys are back! … in film “Entourage,” based on the Emmy-winning HBO series, opened Wednesday in U.S. theaters.

The film pick up several months after the series ended. Its main storyline is whether Vince's (Adrian Grenier) directorial debut, “Hyde,” a modern-day take on the "Jekyll and Hyde" story, will wreck his acting and directing career as well as Ari's (Jeremy Piven) fledgling career as a studio chief.

The film is over budget, and Vince asks Ari for more money. Its financiers Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) and his knuckle-headed son, Travis McCredle (Haley Joel Osment), are unhappy but relent with strings attached. Naturally, contretemps ensue as Vince tries to finish the film.

Amid all of this, the boys party and wench and generally be good friends to each other. They converge to try to help E (Kevin Connolly) with his women woes.

Meanwhile, Drama (Kevin Dillon) does what he does best: creates a lot of unnecessary drama, including paying too much attention to himself. Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) may still be having problems getting women, though he's nearly half his former self. Speaking of which, kudos to the actor for keeping the weight off, dating to 2010.

Of his weight loss JF has said: “I got on the scale and I weighed around 203. I’m only 5’7. I was about to turn 30, and I wasn’t active anymore. So I started working with a nutritionist and a trainer. I played basketball twice a week. And soon it all just became a habit for me. I became addicted to something good for a change.”

Yours Truly is a fan of “Entourage,” the series, though I can clearly see the sexism, bordering on misogyny. Ok, reality check: the series is misogynistic, though not in mean-spirited way, if that is possible. Generally, women do not fair well.

It is no different in the film. I forgive a lot, because I often remind myself that series “Entourage” is based on the exploits of Mark Wahlberg (as with the series, MW is a producer on the film) – one of myriad cameos in the film – and his boys after he left Boston (Dorchester) for Hollywood.

The boorish behavior depicted is not unlike that of many young, up and coming and successful Hollywood actors&posse. One reads far worse in a Jackie Collins novel … It is what it is.

Incidentally, “Entourage” always struck me as a counterpoint – a rebuttal – to another HBO property: “Sex in the City.” In fact, I christened it “Sex in the City of Angels.” Both can be polarizing and have a very loyal following.

The uninitiated will probably be put off by film “Entourage,” an extended version of the series, albeit with less vim and vigor. It's as if series creator and film director, producer and screenwriter Doug Ellin dumbed it down a dozen degrees to capture more audience.

At this writing, the film has made about $7.3 million on around 3,100 U.S. screens. These numbers do not suggest a blockbuster.

Do recall that “Entourage” is an HBO vehicle. In and of itself, this suggests an edginess that would not translate on the commercial networks. Now, film “Entourage” is aiming for the metroplex, not the arthouse. Consequently, it may likely seem silly and banal.

Newbies may wonder about the surfeit of cameos, overdone for sure – Jessica Alba, Warren Buffet, Liam Neeson, Pharrell, Russell Wilson and the aforementioned MW among them. The surfeit of party scenes. And the surfeit of zingers – many of a sexual nature – that are uncharacteristically flaccid.

Turtle (a still-slim Jerry Ferrara) fights for love in a scene from "Entourage."

Not surprisingly, film “Entourage” is not of the same caliber as series “Entourage” for some of the aforesaid reasons. Not as clever. As nuanced. It has too many peccadilloes to even be considered good.

However, fans will be more magnanimous. After all, they are invested in these characters. Fans parted with the series four years ago with a heavy heart. Eight (seasons) was not enough. The characters became family, friends, inspiration.

It's a treat to witness the exploits of the boys again, warts and all. Here's to hoping for another film "Entourage" in two year's time.

"Entourage" is rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use; visit http://www.entouragemovie.com/ to learn more about the film.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2015 Slow Living Summit Considers 'Food, Mindfully' ... For Second Year, Winner of 'Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic' Is City Harvest

The 5th Slow Living Summit turns the conversation to food. Photo from Slow Living Summit Web site.

WHAT'S Eating You? Funny and Entertaining Musings About Food. It has to be a gourmand and gourmet's delight.

An open mic for foodies! It is also one of the highlights of Day 1 of the three-day 2015 Slow Living Summit. It opens this afternoon (through Friday, 5 June) in Brattleboro, Vermont. Here's a venue where stories about how lemonade was made out of lemons in the context of food will have a captive audience.

Titled “Food, Mindfully,” the 2015 summit is a series of speeches, breakout sessions and food demos.

This year it revolves around five major themes: Food Entrepreneurship; Food Systems; Nourishment and Wellness; Food Justice and Access, as well as Food Policies (Register at http://www.slowlivingsummit.org/2015-summit-registration/).

In a moment in time when the family farm is an endangered species, Bunker Farm: Preserving a farm with community connections (Friday) is a Food Justice and Access breakout session that merits attention.

Bunker Hill farm vice president Noah Hoskins-Forsythe and Joan Weir (Vermont Land Trust) lead a discussion about the various stakeholders, including community fundraisers, involved in making out of this new farm a viable operation.

A breakout session under the Nourishment and Wellness rubric with some interesting possibilities is “The Happiness Walk: Happiness is Soul Food” (Thursday). Summiteers should get a delightful earful from Linda Wheatley and Paula Francis about their experiences on The Happiness Walk (http://www.happinesswalk.com/).

Linda Wheatley and Paula Francis have been walking the country, asking some meaty questions. Photo from The Happiness Walk Web site.

These uber walkathons / reconnaissance missions undertaken by the two women, a project of Gross National Happiness and embarked upon to ascertain from their fellow Americans what matters and how we can create more of that, started in 2012. This maiden trek took LW and PF from Stowe, Vermont to Washington, DC.

The most recent was completed earlier this month from Savannah, Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida. Joining the ladies in the discussion is dancer Cyndal Ellis of SoBo Studio. (http://www.gnhusa.org/, http://www.sobodance.com/)

Essentially, the Slow Living movement and summit are a cross section of individuals who coalesce around an imperative to slow down. To take the necessary quality time to smell the roses in every aspect of life.

In short, the way we interact with our environment, our earth, each other; how we practice art; the way we govern, seek justice. How we treat our land. And the food we grow and eat, hence the theme of summit No. 5: Food, Mindfully.

“The Healthy Gluten Free Diet" is further evidence that those who have problems digesting wheat can eat good and well.

Quinoa Risotto with Shitake Mushrooms and Arugula could be one of the dishes on the menu during a demo (Friday) presided over by Abigail Gehring. She is the author of “The Healthy Gluten Free Diet: Nutritious and Delicious Recipes for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle.

AG will be joined by Tim Lawrence (“Classic Candy”) and Chef Ismail Samad (The Gleanery, http://www.thegleanery.com/).

It seems there is much to chew on and mull here.

Visit http://www.slowlivingsummit.org/ to learn more about the 2015 Slow Living Summit.

50 Cents and A Lot More at the 8th Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic

50 Cents at the 8th Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

WHY is 50 Cent looking so chill? Any number of reasons.

Among them, he has a couple of films coming out over the next month or so. He's a very cool fellow. And he turned out for the 8th Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic over the weekend at New Jersey's Liberty State Park.

The shindig is fast becoming a must-attend event on the greater New York social scene. It's not all fun and games, though. The sporting event raises funds for City Harvest ... More shortly.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Despite a Handicapper's Checkered Record, the Tony Goes to ...

Chita Rivera in The Visit. Photo by Thom Kaine.

BY TAMARA BECK

SOME
of us handicap the ponies, some of us the Tonys. By way of full disclosure, this critic's record is about zero for five, but one must soldier on.

The crop for “The 69th Annual Tony Awards” stand taller this year. This very shortlisted version will consider Best Musical, Best Leading Actor in a Musical, Best Leading Actress in a Musical, Best Revival of a Musical and Best Play.

“The Tony Awards,” hosted by Tony nominee this year Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming, is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Sunday, 7 June at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. The ceremony will be broadcast live on CBS.

“An American In Paris” has my heart and support as Best Musical. Alas, Gershwin tunes, a triumphant pre-Broadway run in Paris, the skills of ballet choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and the artsy dancing will not help the production win in this category.

Director John Doyle and choreographer Graciela Daniele have mounted a truly Brechtian and novel Kander & Ebb musical in “The Visit” – certainly a contender. It stars two-time Tony winner, the esteemable Chita Rivera.

The new kid on the block, “Fun Home,” with its downtown cred and darkly quirky theme, is also in the mix. But honestly, after a trip to 1590s England in “Something Rotten!” ...

It is packed with Broadway marquee talent, including Brian d'Arcy James and Tony winner Christian Borle. Even its theatrical posters are funny, as a quick visit to the St. James Theatre will reveal.

I wager that "Something Rotten!" will walk away – nay dance away – with the 10 Awards for which it has been nominated, including best musical.

Among the 12 nominations for “An American in Paris” is Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Robert Fairchild. Also nominated in this category are Michael Cerveris (“Fun Home”), Brian d'Arcy James (“Something Rotten!”), Ken Watanabe (“The King and I”) and Tony Yazbeck (“On the Town.”

One would love to see RF, New York City Ballet's prince charming, emerge as the victor. Truthfully though, Bd'AJ's Nick Bottom, who is afester with jealousy and defeat, deserves the honor.

Oh my, what to do? Chita's up for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. So is Kelli O'Hara. So are Tony co-host KC (“On the Twentieth Century”), Leanne Cope (“An American in Paris”) and Beth Malone (“Fun Home”).

At 82, CR is still a trouper to contend with, giving a heart-wrenching performance in “The Visit” and with two Tonys on her resume. However, KO'H has been nominated six times and never gone home with the prize. She's the sentimental choice this year and deserves the win for a beautiful performance as Anna in “The King and I.”

For Best Revival of a Musical, the nominees are “On the Town,” “On the Twentieth Century” and “The King and I.” The latter, a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, has been given a classy remount at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre.

"The King and I" has a great cast. It is splendidly directed by Bartlett Sher, has a luxurious orchestra under the musical direction of Ted Sperling, and dazzling production values. In short, it is remarkable and spectacular. Need I say more ...?

Of the four entries in the Best Play category, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” “Disgraced,” “Hand to God,” and “Wolf Hall: Parts One &Two,” “The Curious Incident” is not the quirkiest.

That distinction would go to the one about the satanic hand puppet (“Hand to God”). “Disgraced” is a well-wrought and heartfelt play, which made a transfer from off-Broadway to be in the running. “The Wolf Halls” have the gravitas of subject matter.

Meanwhile, “The Curious Incident” is unusual. It is a riveting production with an unexpected theme, and a main character whose gifts are ingeniously presented. Playwright Simon Stephens adapted Mark Haddon's best-selling mystery to the stage in a brilliantly simple and direct fashion, creating a moving and dynamic drama.

Special stage effects (Paule Constable, lighting designer and Finn Ross, video designer) and minimalist sets (Bunny Christie) further the plot twists and turns. Under the direction of Marianne Elliott, the ensemble is terrific; the performances are comfortingly naturalistic.

“The Curious Incident” will take the Tony for Best Play.

Visit http://www.tonyawards.com/ to learn more about “The 69th Annual Tony Awards” and for a complete list of nominees.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Tallying up the High Price of Low Fashion in 'The True Cost'


WHAT cost fashion?

That is precisely the question and partial answer that is provided in “The True Cost.” The documentary from Andrew Morgan considers many unseen implications of a $5 T-shirt and $10 dress.

The film opens today in New York, Los Angeles, London as well as on iTunes, VOD and DVD/Blu-ray. (See video above).

In two words, low fashion is a dirty, deadly business … More shortly

"The True Cost is rated PG-13; visit http://www.truecostmovie.com to learn more about the film.
 
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