Friday, February 8, 2019

In 'Cold Pursuit,' Going Down the Beaten Path With Liam Neeson Until the Trail Leads to Welcome, Untrodden Territory

White Bull (Tom Jackson), right, is the leader of a Native American drug cartel in "Cold Pursuit." Photo courtesy of StudioCanal

BY VW

Watching
the early minutes of "Cold Pursuit," I am immediately disappointed. 

Here is Liam Neeson, an utterly accomplished actor in a film in which he has no business. Unless his business is money.

In "Cold Pursuit," opening today in U.S. theaters, LN is Nelson Coxman, the  operator of a greater Denver snowplow business. His son is killed. He goes after the bad guys.

I'm thinking we've been down this road before. It is called "Taken" and its sequels. Then, when the story turns in the direction outright vigilantism - evoking the ghost of Charles Bronson's "Death Wish" franchise - I fasten my seatbelt tightly, because I am resigned to a bumpy afternoon in a darkened theater.

(I will later learn that Hans Petter Moland's film is a remake of a Norwegian film that is based on a true story in which vigilantism figures prominently).

Back in real time, though, the film veers down another avenue, revealing unexpected signposts. I breathe a sigh of relief. 

Along with the dreaded familiar are some surprises, plus mounds and mounds of cheekiness ... More shortly.

"Cold Pursuit" is rated R. Visit http:// www.coldpursuit.movie/ to learn more about the film.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Open Call to Fashionistas: Slow Your Roll on Fast Fashion. Shop Here, Not There.

The asymmetrical tank dress from Dorsu was designed to minimize fabric use and maximize versatility. It is made from lightweight, blended cotton jersey.

BY VW

FASHIONISTAS,
your attention, please. Smartphones down. Eyes Up. Ears Open.

Please kick the fast fashion habit. It's deadly and there is another way, albeit a tad more costly. But it's worth it.

One can only hope you've been giving this serious consideration these last couple of weeks or so during fashion week season (As you are no doubt aware, New York Fashion Week men's and women's commences next week.).

If you need another call to action to do the right thing, then cast your eyes on The Global Environmental Injustice of Fast Fashion article. It was written by Washington University professor Christine Ekenga and two colleagues and recently published in the journal, Environmental Health. (https://www.bit.ly/2RmuYWx)

In it they posit in no uncertain terms that the inexorable appetite, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom, for clothes that are cheap, readily available and in the first stare of fashion is causing an environmental crisis in what they term low and middle-income countries, or (LMICs). Places like Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Mexico and Vietnam.

The Everlane sweater is made from 100 percent recycled polyester and a mainly cotton trim. The jeans, a Japanese denim, are made from cotton and elastane.

"From the growth of water-intensive cotton, to the release of untreated dyes into local water sources, to worker's low wages and poor working conditions, the environmental and social costs involved in textile manufacturing are widespread," says CE, an assistant professor at WU’s Brown School.

For most of us along the fashion spectrum with a pulse, this should merely be a reminder. Elizabeth Cline was one of the first to raise the alarm about fast fashion in her 2012 book, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. The indictment continued in 2015 with Andrew Morgan's damning documentary, "The True Cost," not to mention the scores of articles and reports on this subject.

Don’t we all remember the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 in Bangladesh that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,100 workers? The poor working conditions that lead to the Renza Plaza catastrophe, pollution and other ills to which CE alludes happen at the major steps of the supply chain.

At production where synthetic fibers such as polyester are made and dyed. Where cotton is also dyed, that is after harmful pesticides are used to make it grow. Then on to assembly. Here, working conditions are poor. Next, these clothes – tattered and possibly out of fashion or out of favor – are discarded. Bundled, they find their way to LMICs where they are sorted by workers laboring in unsafe conditions for resale in LMICs. What is not sold is deemed solid waste. That would be harmful solid waste that takes a devil of a time to breakdown. That is if it can break down. If not, it just devolves into pollution.

Some of these clothes are burned. Imagine what that does to the air, regardless of where it happens when tons upon tons up of anything is burned. Imagine what it does to those forced to breathe in this toxicity.

The Stella McCartney Jame Coat for men is a single-breasted trench made from 100 percent wool with a 100 percent sustainable viscose lining. It also comes in black.

A pause to elucidate on burning as a waste disposal method: It is not just solely fast fashion brands like H&M that are guilty. Do we not expect better corporate responsibility from the likes of Michael Kors, the maker of Cartier watches and Burberry? To be fair, some of these luxury brands, Burberry included, have seen the error of their ways and are repenting. But that was a digression. Back to fast fashion.

So, if fast fashion is not the way forward, then what is? Of course, fashion that is well-sourced, well-produced and recycled if possible. Naturally (to use a word), this includes eco-friendly, sustainable and ethical fashion. Like others who has visited this subject, CE&Co. propose antidotes like the purchase of responsible fashion such as in the aforesaid categories, as well a government and corporate intervention.

Because fashionistas and others so inclined are being called out, a consumer call to action is the focus of this article. It is as simple as buying a Dorsu instead of Topshop. People Tree instead of Zara. Patronizing Everlane instead of Misguided.. And yes, one will be parting with more of his or her currency. In the name of massively good causes, lest we forget

Those with significant blunt to spend won't lack places to patronize. Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher, Rag & Bone, Mara Hoffman and other luxury brands doing eco-friendly and sustainable fashion are willing to separate you from it. Another label to keep an eye on that is between very affordable and luxury it Studio 189. One of its founders is Rosario Dawson.

Incidentally, just because a brand says it is doing fashion responsibly doesn't mean that it is. In the words of the Russian proverb,trust, but verify. Good on You can help with that. Visit the website or download the app. Type in the name of a brand to get information about how responsibly it sources and produces its product at every level of the process, including employee treatment and working conditions (https://www.goodonyou.eco/).

The Eileen Fisher silk satin jacket is fully lined. It has a notch collar and can be worn belted or not.

It is important to state here that this is no witch hunt targeting H&M, Forever 21 and their ilk. The hope is that these companies will tweak their business model responsibly. You, dear fashionistas, can write them yourself, and request that they do so. If you don't have their contact, Good On You does.

The bottomline: fast fashion would not exist if there were not a market for it. Take away the demand, and H&M and company will start making better quality clothes, eliminating the need for consumers to replace them every few months. That's the least you, you, you and you can do to ensure that people around the world – including yourselves – have a better quality of life; to save lives, no?

That would make a huge fashion statement.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Do a Happy Dance:   A Couple More (Mac and Macarons) Popular Options for the Vegan and/or Gluten-Free Set 



BY VW

VEGAN-EATING,
gluten-free consuming, time-constrained, health-conscious individuals, rejoice! There are two more options to add to your meal plan: a savory and a dessert.

It is safe to say that macaroni and cheese (or mac&cheese or simply, mac) has been having a moment these last few years.

This comfort food dish is a popular item on many a menu at restaurants, events and grocery aisles, though not often enough as a vegan, gluten-free option.

Now another company making it so is Chickapea, with its Organic Vegan Mac. Chickapea is the pasta company founded by onetime health food store owner Shelby Taylor.

Its mission is to make available nutritious, delicious, easy-to-make foods for finicky eaters and those with health restrictions and concerns.


The organic vegan mac is, of course, dairy-free. Standing in for cheese is a creamy sweet potato and pumpkin sauce. Some of the other ingredients that make the dish include organic chickpea flour, organic red lentil flour, organic vegan seasoning, organic cauliflower powder and sea salt. Good stuff.

Perhaps after Chickapea’s mac&cheese the meal can proceed to dessert. Just the thing might be Les Macarons Duverger.

These are not your ordinary macarons. Created by Claire Becker, née Duverger, they are made from natural, organic and gluten-free ingredients.

And, yes, they are authentic French macarons. CB began making her confections for friends and family before she scaled up to the general public.

They are available in 20 flavors, not including seasonal varieties such as pumpkin pie. Regular flavors run to Blueberry lavender, Chocolate, Cookies and cream, Hazelnut brittle, Lemon, Orange truffle, Red velvet and Salted caramel.

The macarons also come in quite the splashy color palette (no chemicals) – an elevated version of lemon-yellow and orange-orange – and are a by-product of CB’s background as a painting conservationist.

What more is there to say? Bon appétit!

Visit https://choosechickapea.com/vegan-mac/ and http://www.duvergermacarons.com/home.html to learn more about Chickapea vegan mac and cheese as well as Duverger macarons.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Now, Relax; Chill Out. Every Little Thing Is Going to be Alright Because You Are Showing Mindfulness

Act less like a baby through mindfulness best practices. Archive photo.

BY VW

STRESS
has becomes a way of life, hasn't it.

Your normal operating procedure is to thoughtlessly react (and possibly overreact) to practically everything? You can learn how to slow down your mind and emotions so that you can have calm, rational responses to various stimuli. And less stress.

One way is through mindfulness. Ultimately, it is the process of remaining in any moment and focusing on what is happening without making instant judgments or drawing premature conclusions.

It is a subject that Timothy Riley knows a thing or two about. “Being aware of physical sensations, thoughts and emotions – both pleasant and unpleasant – can help us choose how to respond, rather than simply react,” asserts the assistant professor and associate vice chair for wellness in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Penn State Health in Hershey, PA.

Timothy Riley will have information to impart about mindfulness in the coming weeks. Photo courtesy of Penn State Health (PSH).

Commencing tonight (7 Jan) with orientation at the University Fitness Center, TR will be teaching an eight-week course titled Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Orientation continues on 21 Jan. The course is open to Penn State Health employees and the general public. If you can't make it, keep an eye open for course highlights. The mindfulness course is a feature of the Medical Minute series at PSH.

Mindfulness can and should be practiced in the most common circumstances. Take the desire for a sweet, for instance, TR says. “You walk by Starbucks, see a cookie and you have an emotional response. You want the cookie. Then may come guilt for wanting a cookie.”

Exhibiting mindfulness, you would note both your reaction to the cookie and the resultant guilt for wanting it. You give in to both emotions without beating yourself up. Imagine simply meditating on them both.

“It puts you in this observer stance where we can witness what is happening without getting wrapped up in it,” TR says. “It gives you a bit of space.”

Mindfulness thinking can help us feel better and promote general good health. It can also help us act our age rather than our shoe size. Engaging in it enhances activity in the part of the brain that controls emotions.

Mindfulness thinking promotes overall good health. Archive image.

In other words, fewer adult temper tantrums. “The more we practice mindfulness, the more we are flexing this muscle of emotional regulation,” TR says. “When automatic emotions come up, we can choose whether or not to engage them.”

What a relief, no?

Visit http://
www.bit.ly/2GIzn0p
to
learn more about "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction."

Thursday, January 3, 2019

You've Got Skin in the Game (All of It), Nine Ways to Keep It Looking Its Best

Sky Organics 100% Organic Unrefined Ivory Shea Butter is good for the entire body, including the face. During the winter, shea butter provides more moisture for normal and dry skin than lotion. Image from Sky Organics website.

BY VW

‘TIS
true: If you look good, you feel good – at the very least, better. One thing we can do to achieve that feel-good feeling is to take care of ourselves, especially our skin. To ensure that it looks its best.

Offering pointers (nine) toward achieving that goal are a couple of experts from Houston’s top-ranked Department of Dermatology at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

“All the stresses and excesses of the holidays can leave your skin in bad shape, which makes you feel low, too,” asserts Megan Rogge, an assistant professor of dermatology. “The challenge is that at the start of a new year, we all want to look great. The good news is that with a little extra time and effort, or sometimes just breaking bad habits, you can change your skin condition for the better.”

The annmarie organic bamboo washcloth exfoliates as it cleanses and is naturally woven from a chemical-free blend of bamboo yarn and charcoal bamboo. Photo from annmarie website.

Drum roll, please ...

1. TAKE A CHILL PILL
Stay calm, cool and collected because stress can cause and worsen skin problems. "Acne, psoriasis, eczema and certain types of hair loss all get worse when you’re feeling stressed," MR says. "Unfortunately, these are the four most common complaints of my patients. That’s why I recommend finding time to decompress. Practicing yoga or meditation is a good option, but even just doing breathing exercises can make a difference.”

2. OVERHAUL DIET
In addition to adding unwanted pounds, what we eat can also adversely affect the look of our skin, McGovern medical school clinical dermatology professor Rajani Katta says.

"Your skin definitely feels the effects of your diet choices. I advise my patients to eat more foods rich in antioxidants, especially fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, since they've been shown to help combat the effects of free radicals, which take a toll on your skin."

RK, who speaks nationally about skin issues, also advises her patients to be monitor their sugar intake. “Too many sugar-laden coffee drinks, candies and desserts can elevate your blood sugar levels, which in turn can lead to collagen damage. This makes your skin less supple and more prone to ‘sugar sag.’ "

Water is essential to any health- or self-improvement regimen. Nuff said. Archive image.

3. MAINTAIN SUNSCREEN ROUTINE
Even during the winter, stick to wearing sunscreen. “Sunscreen," stresses MR, "should be an everyday essential. It’s often associated with being sticky and smelly, but most major skincare brands offer a daily version that is lighter and easier to apply. Even in winter, the sun’s rays can still emit damaging ultraviolet radiation."

She recommends a brand with at least an SPF of 30, "and placing it by your toothbrush so you don’t forget each morning.”

4. DRINK SUFFICIENT WATER
It is not necessarily eight glasses a day, but dependent on how much is injested through beverages and food as well as how much one sweats.

Says RK, "It's easy to become dehydrated in the winter. Unfortunately, beyond fatigue and other health effects, dehydration also accentuates fine lines and wrinkles."

5. REMOVE MAKEUP AT NIGHT
Sometimes, it's a real struggle to take off your face after toiling all day, but it is essential and beneficial.

"Any buildup of dirt or oil in your skin can leave it looking flat. It can also block your pores, resulting in acne breakouts and irritations,” warns MR. “That means always removing makeup before you go to bed and doing regular cleansing, as well as exfoliation, to remove the top layer of dead skin. This will help keep your skin clear and shining bright.”

Bananas have myriad benefits, including promoting heart health and improving digestion. And they are delicious. Archive image.

6. GET PLENTY OF SHUT-EYE
When we get enough sleep, not only do we feel better, we look better. “Being sleep-deprived can increase those dreaded dark circles. Concealer can help hide the issue, but there’s no substitute for shut-eye,” RK asserts.

Further, she adds, not getting enough sleep slows the skin's healing process. “Researchers have studied the effects of poor sleep on the skin barrier. In one study, volunteers who reported poor sleep actually repaired their skin damage more slowly than those who reported good sleep."

7. MAXIMIZE MOISTURIZING
The skin becomes dryer during the cold weather season. That is OK for oily or combination skin, and there are particular topical treatments for the latter. However, those with dry or normal skin should keep the skin moisturized with something that has more oomph than lotions, which tend to be water-logged, thus not conducive to good moisturizing, MR says.

Instead, "opt for thick creams to maximize results. Applying twice daily is normally sufficient, and you can help lock in moisture further by applying while your skin is still damp. This technique, called soak and smear, involves only patting dry your skin after stepping out of the shower before applying a moisturizer.”

8. GET SOME FRESH AIR
During winter in particular, we spend more time indoors. The air quality in indoor spaces can be contaminated by smoke from cigarettes, cooking and other things. "While many of my patients recognize how harmful cigarette smoke is to the skin and therefore don’t smoke, some don't realize that secondhand smoke and pollution can also accelerate aging of the skin," says RK.

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
is good for all skin types. Photo from Drunk Elephant website.


"That's why it's so important to avoid these situations whenever possible, and to make sure you're eating plenty of antioxidant-rich foods to help protect your skin from pollution and smoke-induced free radicals."

9. NEVER GIVE UP!
“Setting a routine morning and night is crucial because most skincare regimens give the best results when they are consistently followed,” MR says. “But if certain products aren’t working for you, don’t be afraid to try something new. To give your skin an extra boost, you might want to use Vitamin C and Vitamin E serums to strengthen its defenses and improve elasticity.”

Here, patience is a virtue, she says. “Although it’s natural to want a product to have an immediate impact, it usually takes six weeks to be able to assess its effectiveness and start noticing any significant difference. So before giving up too soon, try to give any changes to your routine a proper chance and you might be pleasantly surprised.”

In short, stick to the gameplan and the skin you're in is only mere weeks away from an improved appearance.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Whys and Whyfors Chicken Noodle Soup Is Good for You - From Someone Who Knows

Chicken Noodle Soup is chockful of ingredients that can make us feel better when we have a cold and other ailments. Archive photos.

BY VW

YOU’RE
sneezing. You have a runny nose. You are having slight dizzy spells. You are tired. You feel lousy. You have a cold and all you want to do is to get in bed and pull the covers over you. And sleep.

At some point during your convalescence, however, someone is going to mention that Chicken Noodle Soup is just the thing to get you on the road to recovery.

Since most of us were knee high to a grasshopper, we've known that chicken noodle soup is one dish that will make us feel better when we're under the weather - especially with a cold.

But few of us have probably ever stopped to think or ask why is that. What is it about chicken noodle soup that can lessen the effects of a cold (and numerous other illnesses)?


Carrots add a pop of bright color to chicken noodle soup. They also have numerous health benefits such as assisting in reducing inflammation.

Now, someone who knows about such things – a clinical dietitian from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center – explains why, major ingredient by major ingredient.

“Studies have shown that a hearty bowl of chicken noodle soup may help clear nasal congestion and ease cold symptoms,” says Sandy Allonen. “It’s all about the ingredients.”

Chicken
Chicken is full of protein that helps support the immune system. It’s also a good source of vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins. They boost immunity and help regulate digestion.

“Chicken is also high in tryptophan, which helps your body produce serotonin that can enhance your mood and give you the feeling of ‘comfort’ that helps make chicken noodle soup a true comfort food,” SA says.



Celery is not the brightest vegetable in chicken noodle soup but it is rich in vitamins C and K.

Vegetables
Carrots are high in beta-carotene and can help reduce symptoms because of their anti-inflammatory properties. Celery and onions also figure prominently in chicken noodle soup.

Like carrots, they are great sources of vitamins C and K, as well as other antioxidants and minerals. “Not only does this help build a healthy immune system to fight off viruses, it also helps your body recover from illness more quickly,” according to SA.

Noodles
Noodles are carbohydrate-rich, which is filling. “Carbs,” SA stresses “are the preferred source of energy for your body, so getting in a good dose through soup can help you feel less sluggish.”

Broth
A broth provides hydration, a necessary weapon when fighting a cold. “A clear broth is warm and soothing, making it a great source of hydration while you’re sick, especially if you have a sore throat,” SA says.

For those on low-salt diets, SA recommends a low-sodium broth.

The low-sodium chicken broth from Pacific Foods is ideal for those adhering to low-salt diets.

Steam
The steam drifting off of a bowl of hot chicken noodle soup can help reduce nasal congestion.

Says S.A., "Steam can open up airways, making it easier to breathe. It also has a mild anti-inflammatory effect that can help relax your muscles and soothe the discomforts of cold symptoms."

Chicken noodle soup, anyone?

Monday, December 24, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide 2018: Coach Door Edition From Lincoln Won’t Fit Under Tree, But This Stocking-Stuffer Won’t Be Returned for Another Size

Echoing the '60s Continentals: 17+ feet of luxe highlighted by easy-in/easy-out doors. Photos from Lincoln Continental.

HEADS UP: Dear reader don’t fret / We didn’t forget / You don’t have a clue / Thankfully we do … Until 24 Dec., the elves at The Wright Wreport will introduce at least one or a series of products, items and brands that we believe are worthy of consideration as holiday gift(s).

BY JOEL LEVIN

GRANDEUR,
uniqueness and exceptional build quality highlight this custom-bodied Lincoln Continental 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition.

This tribute to the iconic Continental of the early ‘60s, with its pioneering center-opening doors and elegant unadorned-slab side panels, is the very definition of exclusive and distinguished. Just introduced on 17 Dec., it can be yours now for summer delivery. Place your order(s) now.

Full-length console with personal controls forms indulgent backbone of first-class cabin.

Allow me to expound on its qualities:
Grandeur – acres of leather, 19-speaker audio, a huge twin-panel moonroof, seats that adjust 30 ways and Black Label trim in a variety of leather liveries and woods.

Practicality – A 400-horsepower, V-6 and secure all-wheel-drive will transport you quietly and securely over the river and through the icy woods to grandmother’s or to Brooklyn. Or wherever you are going.



Distinctive rear-hinged back doors open a full 90 degrees for graceful exits.

The distinction factor – Only 80 will be built for the 2019 model year. The one you order will be adorned by an individually numbered engraved mini-plaque set into a door sill.

For those who prefer to buy American, be assured that the Coach Edition is a thoroughbred. Its special chassis was constructed in Michigan. Body-lengthening and extensive handmade touches were completed in Massachusetts by a custom builder.


Custom bodywork and commodious rear compartment explain the name "Coach."

Not for Scrooges – A sticker price of above $100,000. That is more than 30 grand beyond the progenitor model with its conventional doors. But consider the value of being able to gracefully enter and exit the rear seat wearing a long gown or tight skirt. That rear compartment seats only two because of a huge snazzy console, but the automobile has the largest legroom of any sedan in its class.

To get this type of accommodation and rear-hinged back doors elsewhere would require an upgrade to a Rolls Royce. And a sticker price starting at three times the price of the new Continental!

The Continental Coach wears gleaming, tasteful jewelry in grille and lighting.

Bonus: You can keep your hands clean because ownership of the Coach Edition includes lifetime free car washes and interior detailing.

Visit https://www.lincoln.com/luxury-cars/continental/coach-edition/ to learn more about the Lincoln Continental 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition.

 
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