Thursday, July 17, 2014

Public School Big Man on Campus With International Woolmark Prize USA Award

Public School designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne with the model wearing a winning get-up (center). Photos courtesy of The Woolmark Company.

THE gray&black hoodie and baggie short get-up in leather and wool is a high concept piece from the design team, Public School.

It also won the 2014 International Woolmark Prize Regional USA award for best menswear in the first year that The Woolmark Company, for which the IWP is named, is introducing an award for menswear.

“We wanted to create something timeless,” Dao-Yi Chow explained after the awards ceremony Monday night at Milk Studios in New York. “We created this story about this world where only one fiber existed. And in this world is a lost tribe that based theier existence on merino wool.”

The judges, including Alexander Wang, apparently bought the story, and Public School walked away with a glass plaque, plus $47,000 USD. A regional win also advances the label to compete in the menswear finals in January 2015 in London against the winners from the other four regional finals – Asia, Australia, Europe and India/Middle East. Success in the finals will net Public School or the eventual winner nearly $100,000 and placement in select high-end retail stores around the world, including Saks Fifth Avenue and David Jones.

The 2014 International Woolmark Prize Regional USA award nominees.

Australia-based The Woolmark Company is an authority on wool and merino wool. It has presented the IWP to emerging designers to help them develop and sale their collections for 61 years, retooling it in 2012. Past alums include two giants in the rag trade, Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent.

The IWP USA regional winner for womenswear was M. Patmos, designed by Marcia Patmos. She produced an understated, slightly deconstructed coat, top and abbreviated bell-bottomed pants ensemble in gray&white. She will compete in March 2015 in the womenswear finals in Beijing.

Meanwhile USA menswear winner, Public School, is a label that is made in New York and created by a duo that was also made in New York. Founded in 2008, Public School sources from references high and low, far and wide to create relaxed, laidback, effortless affairs in a color palette that is mainly black&white&gray. In February, during Mercdes-Benz New York Fashion Week, the label introduced womenswear to good notices.

Marcia Patmos (left) with the model wearing her IWP-winning womenswear outfit.

The minds behind the magic are content to bask in the glow of this latest success, not thinking overmuch about January. But what will Public School do with the nearly $50 grand? They're not going to Disney World.

“It goes right back into the infrastructure,” baritoned Maxwell Osborne, the other half of the design team.

Visit the following Web sites to learn more:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

That Potato Chip You Whisked Off the Floor Has Germs Whether God Blesses Them or Not

Lollipop, lollipop Oh lolli, lolli, lolli, lollipop, lollipop. Archive photo

REMEMBER when you were a kid, skipping along the sidewalk, enjoying your cherry lollipop, then you drop it. Remember? First, surprise, then consternation. Then what? You sprang into action. You snatched it up in record time. You uttered your, “God bless the germs,” gave that lollipop a licking and kept on kicking, right? Of course, because you grabbed it so fast that germs really didn't have time to pounce.

As adults we call that the five-second rule. Within in five seconds, no harm, no foul.

Well … a germ doctor begs to differ. “A dropped item is immediately contaminated and can’t really be sanitized,” asserts Jorge Parada, medical director of the Infection Prevention and Control Program at Chicago's Loyola University Health System. “When it comes to folklore, the ‘five-second rule’ should be replaced with ‘When in doubt, throw it out.’ ” … More shortly.

Friday, July 11, 2014

'Fed Up' With Simplistic Blame Game of Fat Documentary

“FED UP,” the documentary about the colossal obesity problem in the United States – particularly among children – is a damning indictment of the food industry, even likening it to a cocaine dealer.

Produced in part by Katie Couric, the film has lots of folk in its amen corner, including First Lady Michelle Obama. But professional foodie Lisa Cimperman asserts that the film seems to give a pass to an important combatant in the obesity fight – you, you and you. (See film trailer above).

"The movie seeks to remove blame from the individual who is obese and overweight," says LC, a clinical dietitian at Cleveland's University Hospitals Case Medical Center. "The overriding theme is the food industry and sugar are responsible for driving the obesity epidemic."

“Fed Up” continues a slow crawl across the United States, opening today in several theaters in Alabama, California and Colorado ... More shortly.

“Fed Up" is rated PG for thematic elements including smoking images, and brief mild language;

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

'Cue Tips: Science Behind What Makes That Barbecue Chicken-Rib-Beef Good Finger Lickin'

'Cue Man: Chef Chris Lilly of North Carolina's Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Grand Champion of the 2014 World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Photo from WCBCC Facebook page.

EVER wonder what makes barbecue barbecue? Of course not! It tastes good and that is all that matters. Let someone else ponder the whys and whyfors.

Incidentally, May is National Barbecue Month. Unofficially, so are June, July, August and September. For the most devoted, October, too. The official month, though, is a period during which festivals abound, including the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Memphis.

A body who knows about the essence of barbecue is food scientist Guy Crosby, a guy with a lot of capital letters behind his name. GC took questions from Institute of Food Technologists staff ahead of the IFT14 Annual Meeting and Food Expo in New Orleans last month on the very subject of barbecueology.

GC explains how meat takes on wood flavor. He also speaks calmly about the Maillard Reaction, as well as other barbecue business. (See video above).

There's a sure method to making and keeping barbecue meat moist. Photo from WCBCC Facebook page.

Q. How does using a marinade make meat more tender?
There are some misconceptions around this topic, typically only salt or salty ingredients such as soy sauce make the biggest difference. It really depends on the type of meat and the muscle structure. The protein that forms when the salt breaks the muscle down helps to retain moisture, and makes the tissue a little looser. Acid-based marinades such as lime, lemon juice or vinegar don’t have a huge effect. They will help break down some connective tissue and flavor the meat, but it’s really only on the surface.

Q. Does searing a meat before cooking help keep the juices inside?
Searing does not trap or keep moisture inside a piece of meat; it’s an old kitchen myth.

Corn on the cob, baked beans and cole slaw on or off sandwich are nice complements to barbecue. Photo from National Barbecue Association Web site.

Q. Why does a piece of meat need to rest before cutting it?
When you cook meat the muscle fibers and the proteins begin to shrink and squeeze out moisture. If you immediately slice a piece of meat, the moisture that has been squeezed out of the muscle fibers will run out. But if you let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the meat, the fibers start to soak back up some of that moisture.

Q. What is the Maillard Reaction?
A French scientist in 1912 discovered certain proteins and amino acids react with certain kinds of sugars and cause browning. When meat is browned it forms hundreds of very potent flavor molecules that affect its aroma and taste.

Doing prep work at the 2014 World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Photo from WCBCC Facebook page.

Q. When smoking a piece of meat, how does the wood flavor get infused into it?
The oxygen breaks down the lignin in wood and releases a smoky aroma that sticks to the moist surface of the meat, flavoring it.

Q. What is an easy thickening agent to use at home to thicken a barbecue sauce?
The most common one would be cornstarch. The best way is to add cornstarch to room temperature water first, mix well, and then add the combination to the sauce and heat. Flour is another option.

Making it saucy. Photo from WCBCC Facebook page.

Q. Why cook low and slow?
The lower you cook the temperature, the less the fibers will shrink, the less tough the meat will be because it won’t lose as much moisture. Typically tough cuts of meat are cooked this way to keep the meat moist. Cooking the meat slowly breaks down tough connective tissue to form gelatin, which binds moisture. The amount of fat also helps because it breaks up the protein, lubricates the meat and makes it tenderer.

There it is, the makings of barbecue.

Visit to learn more about the Institute of Food Technologists.
Visit to learn more about the National Barbecue Association (NBBQ).
Visit to learn more about the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.
Visit to learn more about Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hey Smiley, Have a (Good) Care With Your Toothbrush

When it comes to toothbrushes, don't share. Archive photo.

IT presents a romantic image: The bathroom the morning after. Partners, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep and invigorated with memories of last night's hot, passionate lovemaking. Laughing, flirting, hurrying, scurrying to get to work. Oops, only one toothbrush. No problem, they share, then celebrate with a deep, wet kiss. And why not, they've shared a whole lot else.

Romantic, yes. Hygienic, no. One of the no-nos of toothbrush care is no sharing. Advice to heed always, but especially now with National Toothbrush Day (26 June) so recently observed.

“This seems like a no-brainer, but a large proportion of spouses admit to sharing toothbrushes,” says Maria L. Geisinger, assistant professor of periodontology in the School of Dentistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). “That means bacteria on those toothbrushes are being shared, including the ones that cause dental decay and periodontal disease — the two major dental diseases in adults.”

Toothbrushes can harbor freeloaders with names like coliform, pseudomonad, staphylococci, yeast. Not to mention intestinal bacteria and fecal germs.

Proper toothbrush storage and care are important to achieving personal oral hygiene and optimally effective plaque removal, MG says. In her amen corner are Tin Chun Wong, president of the Geneva-based FDI World Dental Federation and Aaron D. Johnson of The Smile Center in Bismarck, ND. (See AJ's video on taking care of toothbrushes above.)

“Over 90 percent of the world’s population will suffer some form of dental disease in their lifetime but many of these can easily be treated or prevented with a good oral care routine,” the dental body's TCW said ahead of World Oral Health Day (WOHD).

Celebrated on 20 March of each year, WOHD is the occasion that FDI members (schools, associations, groups, etc.) organize events – around a single theme – that focus on the important role that oral health plays in overall health. The theme for 2014 was “Celebrating Healthy Smiles.”

MG of the UAB dentistry school is bullish on healthy smiles and fielded questions from the UAB News to help anyone with teeth achieve those ends.

Toothbrushes should be kept upright. Photo courtesy of UAB News.

Q. Can bacteria from your toilet really reach your toothbrush?
The short answer is yes. Enteric bacteria, which mostly occur in the intestines, can transfer to toothbrushes and thus into your mouth.This may occur through inadequate hand-washing or due to microscopic droplets released from the toilet during flushing. The topic of dirty toothbrushes was a recent subject of the popular Discovery Channel show “Mythbusters,” when 24 toothbrushes were tested, and all of them demonstrated enteric microorganisms – even those that had not been inside of a bathroom. In fact, toothbrushes may be contaminated with bacteria right out of the box, as they are not required to be packaged in a sterile manner.”

Q. What is the proper way to clean your toothbrush to help remove germs?
You should thoroughly rinse toothbrushes with potable tap water after brushing to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Additionally, soaking toothbrushes in an antibacterial mouth rinse has been shown to decrease the level of bacteria that grow on toothbrushes.”

Q. How should toothbrushes be stored to avoid germ and bacteria buildup?
The American Dental Association recommends that you not store your toothbrush in a closed container or routinely cover your toothbrush, as a damp environment is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms. Also storing toothbrushes in an upright position and allowing them to air dry until the next use is recommended, if possible. If more than one brush is stored in an area, keeping the toothbrushes separate can aid in preventing cross-contamination.”

Q. What is the proper toothbrush protocol when you are sick?
Any illness that can be transmitted through body fluids should warrant separation of the toothbrush of the infected individual and, if economically feasible, replacement of the toothbrush after the illness.”

Logo for 2014 World Oral Health Day. Image from FDI World Dental Federation Web site.

Q. How often should your toothbrush be replaced?
Toothbrushes should be replaced at least every three to four months or when bristles become frayed and worn, whichever comes first.

In addition to not sharing a toothbrush, MG makes three other recommendations for better oral health and avoiding or limiting bacteria toothbrush buildup.

* Use antimicrobial mouth rinse before brushing. This can decrease the bacterial load in your mouth considerably and may reduce the number of micro-organisms that end up on the toothbrush after brushing.
* Routine dental care. Routine dental care, including regular dental cleanings, can reduce the overall bacterial load and types of bacteria in your mouth. This can also reduce bacteria on your toothbrush. Good dental care is essential if one has gum disease because the oral bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream during everyday activities, including eating, chewing gum and brushing teeth.

Synergy Organics offers two antimicrobial rinses, Sexy Mouth and Fresh Kiss. Image from Synergy Organics Web site.

Finally, how many times did so many hear it when they were growing up. Even now, adults have to be reminded of this. And workers – especially those in the food industry:
* Wash your hands. Hand-washing after using the restroom and before using a toothbrush can reduce the likelihood of fecal-oral contamination.

Visit to learn more about FDI World Dental Federation and World Oral Health Day.
Visit to learn more about The Smile Center.
Visit to learn more about Synergy Organics (and Ecoideas).

Friday, July 4, 2014

Indomitable Roger Ebert Gives 'Life Itself' Two Thumbs Up

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert in the critics' chairs. Photos by Kevin Horan for Magnolia Pictures.

MUCH of the beauty of “Life Itself” is that Roger Ebert was involved in its making up to his death last year. In a way, it is an “as told by” work.

The documentary opens today in select theaters and rolls out in theaters around the country over the next few months. It is also available On-Demand and iTunes. (See video below).

"Life Itself" is based on the film critic's 2011 autobiography, “Life Itself: A Memoir.” It is reverently, but not obsequiously, directed by Steve James. SJ came to public notice in part because of RE's championing of the former's “Hoop Dreams.”

“Life Itself,” which had its world premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, is a film for moviegoers and those drawn to thoughtful and largely balanced film criticism. Of course, RE was the longtime film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, working up until his death. His rise to international fame and acclaim began when he and the late Gene Siskel cohosted PBS' film criticism show,“Sneak Previews.”

The critics would eventually move from PBS and become cohosts of two different highly rated and utterly entertaining shows bearing their names, “Siskel and Ebert,” in the title. To date, the shows remain the most influential nationally televised shows ever dedicated to film criticism.

It is a testament to the regard in which he is held that RE – a film critic – would be the subject of a film. Martin Scorcese is an executive producer of “Life Itself.” RE counted among his friends Oprah Winfrey.

Not only was he the first film critic to receive a Pulitzer Prize for film criticism, he was the first film critic to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. No doubt, his writings are destined for the Smithsonian Institution or some similar august clearinghouse.

“Life Itself” is about life – RE's life and how he saw the world and some of his thoughts about it and some of the people and politics that inhabit it. It opens a window on his childhood in Urbana, Illinois, early newspaper jobs, his tenure at the Sun-Times. His are frank observations or seemingly so. For instance, he doesn't gloss over some of his quirks and peccadilloes (alcohol abuse).

If RE weren't such a integral part of so many lives, such minutiae would not matter. Few would care. But many in the film-going public grew up hearing or reading RE's take on the movies. Choices were made based on the direction of his thumb. This reverence is borne out in “Life Itself” by reminisces about how lives and work were influenced by RE's impressions.

No film snob, RE reviewed the most hackneyed blockbusters with as much vigor and enthusiasm as he did exquisite arthouse flicks. No doubt, this made him a trusted source for the moviegoing public. To that end, many will have a care about his childhood just as much as they will about his observations about John Wayne or the aforementioned MS.

In 2006, thyroid cancer robbed RE of his ability to speak and to eat and drink normally. It transformed his appearance; he lost weight, rendered a shadow of his former self. But it would take more than a debilitating illness to destroy his determination to keep working. He worked harder. His ability to think and type were not impaired.

Young Roger Ebert did not start out to become a film critic.

“Life Itself” is a combination love letter and memorial. It is sad and will cause some to tear up.

It will also elicit smiles and laughs. It will make viewers privileged to have had RE in life itself.

Life Itself” is not rated; visit to learn more about the film.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How to Really Treat Them, Now That Toenails Are Out and About

Toenails can be everything from whimsical to demure, but they should always be healthy. Archive photo.

FOR the next few months, toes will be front and center. Whether turned out in nude or a full riot of color, toenails should look good.

Like fingernails, which are exposed year-round and are generally less an afterthought, toenails should also look healthy and be healthy – even under four coats. A true professional – podiatrist Coleen Napolitano – discloses how this can be achieved.

An associate professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, CN says toenails, unlike fingernails, should be kept short for good reason. Toenail contact with the a of the shoe can cause an escalating series of problems: discoloration, blisters, infections and – yikes!, ouch! – toenail loss. (See video below).

“By following a few simple guidelines, you can keep your toenails healthy while also looking great in sandals,” says CN.

For instance, since the toenail should extend no farther than the end of the toe, cut so that only a sliver of white is left at the end of the nail. Go shorter, if you do high-impact activities such as running and Zumba classes.

Nail salon professionals always advise using a base coat to preserve the manicure / pedicure. Another reason that goes to aesthetics is to avoid discoloration. This is especially good advice to heed for those who favor bright colors like Heartbreaker red from the new company, Chrome Girl, launched last year by Melissa Ravo and Jaime Boreanaz.

Chrome Girl's Heartbreaker and other bright nail polishes should go on after the base coat. Photo from Chrome Girl Web site.

Incidentally, Heartbreaker and all Chrome Girl product are 5-free. That is, sans the harmful, harsh and dangerous Camphor, DBP, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde resin and Toluene.

Ever wonder why technicians ususally cut the nails when they are wet? Because they are softer, thus more pliable. In other words, easier to cut. For home pedicures, a cut is ideal after a bath or shower.

CN recommends cutting nails with clippers that look like wire pliers because they don't leave jagged edges or cut deeply like those old clippers that often come in nail care kits. Any beauty supply store would carry the plier type.

Now that the nails are cut use an emery board to smooth edges and be sure to file in one direction instead of back and forth. OK, clear away nail dust and get ready to coat and polish.

Keep toenails short to avoid blisters and other problems. Archive photo.

So you rely on a nail salon for the care of your toes, do you? Then you won't be doing any polishing. For salon jobs, CN offers some common-sense caveats:

* Patronise only salons that are clean. If you have doubts about cleanliness when you walk through the door, turn around and walk back out;
* Ask management what method is used to clean the salon's instruments. The best is autoclave, a high-pressure steam process. A solution is fine, too, as long as instruments are sterilized after each use;
Plier-shaped nail cutters do the best job. Archive photo.* Do not use the whirlpool footbath if you have open sores;
* Let salon management and staff know if you are a diabetic or are taking a blood thinner.

Now, it's toe and tell time.

Visit to learn more about Chrome Girl products.
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