Friday, November 30, 2012

Setting Things to Rights Mob-Style in 'Killing Them Softly'

TYPICALLY, anywhere from about late October through the 31 Dec. calendar year deadline is the period when production companies with Oscar pretensions commence to getting their product to the U.S. marketplace, particularly the Los Angeles County part of it. 

One doesn’t want to be too early and risk being forgotten in the frenzy of Oscar campaigning. In just the last few weeks titles expected to be in the Academy Awards sweepstakes have opened. They include, “Anna Karenina,” “Cloud Atlas,” “Flight,” “Hitchcock,” “Life of Pi” and “Lincoln.”

The latest to join this lot is “Killing Them Softly.” Brad Pritt and a formidable cast of acting talent star as mob types tasked with seeing that justice is done. It opens today in the United States, as well as Brazil, Finland and Iceland. See video above … More shortly.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

All Recycled All the Time at The Sway

The Stud Biker Jacket. Photos from The Sway.

In case you haven’t heard, it’s fall. Autumn! What a wonderful time of year, no? For weeks now, those in the rag trade have been rolling out their new stock for shoppers who may be in the market for a few more threads and layers or to get shoppers in said mood. To help trade and to help VEVLYN’S PEN readers and followers (potential shoppers), Yours Truly will be bringing to your attention over the next few weeks or so various fall collections. What shall I call these snapshots, for I won’t bore you with a treatise? Yes! I've got it: “Glimpses of Fall.” I reckon just about every Thursday through Thanksgiving or November (whichever comes first; I haven’t checked the calendar:o), I’ll provide a peek at a collection/line/brand that I deem captivating and worthy of your notice. Happy shopping! (potentially).

THE Bondi Stud Biker Jacket is a fetching little number in triangle patchwork leather with zipper pockets and rhinestones all over.

It isn’t a standalone piece. A tote bag and leather protective pouch, as well as leather fringe keyring complete it.

The jacket and its various accompaniments are from The Sway, ( a new label that is doing what increasing numbers are doing now – working in recycled materials. In this case, the material material is leather.

The Mini Augustine Shag Pouch.

The Sway, which at the moment trades mainly in handbags, purses, jackets and the odd key ring, comes to the world from the creative wellspring of Belinda Pasqua.

Every product without exception, including the Mini Augustine Shag Pouch, is made from something recycled. Not only is leather recycled, but so is paper and cotton fibers. Like Eco-Couture (, for instance, The Sway is both sustainable and fashionable … More shortly.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Petit Verdot: Worst Named Best Tasting Red Ever

The inky-dark Petit Verdot grapes produce wines with depth and complexity. Photo by Eric Hwang.


HEAD’S UP: The scheduled arrival of “Argentine Wines: Beyond the Basic Malbec” has been delayed by an unexpected snowstorm. Or something of the sort. Still waiting for an exquisite bottle of wine via the post. In its stead is the formidable Petit Verdot.

REMEMBER the show "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas"? Personally, I never saw it or the Dolly Parton movie, but I love the title. How many contradictions can one name have? Can anything be little in that state of the so-called Texas-sized proportions? Does the word "best" belong anywhere near "whorehouse"? The name is teasingly misleading. And the same holds true for Petit Verdot (pronounced: puh-TEE ver-DOH).

Translated literally from the French, Petit Verdot means “the little green (one),” but the varietal's grapes are not green. Its mature wine is not mild, but heavy, strong and full. Is its name a form of false advertising?

Not quite – just shorthand that creates a humor of its own.

The Language of Petit Verdot
Verdot grapes grow in tight, long and droopy clusters. One varietal produces large grapes – Gros Verdot – while the other produces small grapes – Petit Verdot. The reference to size in the name relates to the size of the grapes, and not to the relative fullness of the wine.

Likewise, ‘Verdot’ does indeed relate to the word vert – green in French – but both Petit and Gros Verdot produce dark blackish-red fruit. The grapes take so long to mature that sometimes a frost comes in, wet weather arrives or some other calamity occurs before they have reached their peak. Often picked somewhat under ripe, the grapes’ wine can remain a little underdeveloped, or green. Verdot relates to the maturation of the grape, not its color.

Terra Savia has a lot of spirit and is not for the fainthearted. Image courtesy of Saniel Valley Vineyards.

So what does the average slightly under ripe Petit Verdot wine taste like? Does it tend toward the fresh, very fruity and light taste of Beaujolais Nouveau or Tempranillo (which, by the way, can be loosely translated from the Spanish as “a tad early”)?

I have no idea. And neither do most people, in fact. Most never taste a young Petit Verdot straight. Used primarily for mixing, it is actually one of the few varietals permitted in Bordeaux blends, imparting both a deep inky color and sometimes a wild tart or zing (tannin).

Ripe Bold Red Petit Verdot
So what is a mature 100 percent Petit Verdot like? Ahhh. That is the question. A feisty grape, the varietal cannot be produced in any great quantity. Producers who manage a few barrels still have to judge whether its strident tannic qualities can be tamed enough for public consumption.

A certain Dolly Parton film makes about as much sense as a red wine with a green name. Photo from Wikicommons.

Well-made, Petit Verdot makes a perfect wine for game, roasts, and the biggest, juiciest, Texas-sized steaks, either found in the best whorehouses there or not. (I wouldn't know. I haven't been.) The ripe grape is racy, and not for the faint-of-heart. White wine drinkers, run away now while you still have a chance. How’s that for a teaser?

OK. And now for substance. Think of Petit Verdot this way: some wines tend toward fruity, delicate, and let-me-sip-a-glass-by-itself-just-because. Petit Verdot is not that kind of wine. Don’t take this one home to Mother. Petit Verdot is a rugged, classy not-so-gentle man. Imagine sipping a red wine while smelling a fine leather bag. In some cases, imagine sipping a wine while smelling a freshly opened pack of cigarettes. Yes, that hearty, that formidable.

Petit Verdot needs food. Spicy food or a hunk of meat. Petit Verdot needs to breathe, to “open up” as some would say. Uncork and let the bottle sit for about 30 minutes to help soften the taste (partially oxidize the tannins). Petit Verdot is so taken with itself that it loves to hear the sound of its own name purred: “Petit Verdot. Petit Verdot. Petit Verdot.”

Finca Decero has the stamina to make it through the meal. Image courtesy of Remolinos Vineyards.

Clearly, Petit Verdot is not for everyone. But for those who dare, it can more than meet your wine thrill.

Finca Decero
2009 Petit Verdot
Remolinos Vineyards (Argentina)

Ever drink a wine that somehow seems too flimsy for the meal at hand? That will never be a problem with Decero’s Petit Verdot. Dense but soft; definitely let the bottle breathe for at least 30 minutes for the layers of flavor to unfold. A wine of beautiful character.

Terra Savía
2008 Reserve Petit Verdot
Saniel Valley Vineyards (Medocino, CA)

Made with organic grapes, Terra Savía is a scotch-lovers wine. Imagine sipping a deep red wine with its own built-in slightly peaty-smoky scotch aftertaste lingering long on the palate (long finish). Can anything pair better with game or steak? I think not. Then again, if scotch is not your cup of tea, then skip this one. Built to last, Terra Savía will store well for years to come.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Empire State Building Bathed in Pretty Incredible Light

RED, navy, pink, yellow, chartreuse, silver, turquoise ... They all eventually appeared in the flip of the switch.

That was the scene last night when Alicia Keys moved the light switch from off to on and the tower of New York’s iconic Empire State Building (ESB) was lit up like a Christmas tree with state-of-the-art LED lights for the ESB's first-ever light show. (See video above.)

The colors are among an inventory of more than 16 million. Yes, 16 million, up from a paltry 10, not 10 million. That means lemon-yellow and orange-orange; it means pastels, earthtones, muted and blindingly bright. After all, there are 16 million of them. Only a relative few, however, were displayed last night, but they had great backup to the tune of AK’s mini concert (broadcast on Clear Channel Media and Entertainment), featuring the Grammy winner’s “Empire State of Mind” and “Girl on Fire.”(See photos below.)

Alicia Keys with hands on switch ready to start the light show. Photos courtesy of the Empire State Building.

ESB threw in with lightmeister Philips Color Kinetics for the upgrade, which will allow for a lighting-scheme change in real-time rather than the laborious hours-long process that required a village. Not only are there now more colors and less time in which to display them, the colors are high-def, meaning they will be more brilliant, illuminating features of the building that were heretofore obscured.

With the Philips Color Kinetics LED system, light can also be strategically focused and used to create fanciful effects such as bursts, particles and ripples. Further, the light is harnessed, minimizing any disturbance to surrounding buildings. And best of all, it will complement the night sky rather than stand out like a garish beacon.

Let there be light, then, and plenty of it!

Visit to learn more about the Empire State Building LED lighting system.


Navy blue and silver

Fire-engine red, marine blue, navy blue and magenta

Marine blue, gold and fire-engine red

Gold, pink, red and purple

Navy blue, silver, pale pink, and turquoise

Monday, November 26, 2012

'One World. One R 1200 GS.' Five Riders and Four Judges.

Rick Yune, Charley Boorman, Adrien Brody and Jutta Kleinschmidt take turns autographing part of the frame of the BMW R 1200 GS. Photo by Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images.

ONE more milestone achieved for the BMW Motorrad "Ride of Your Life": The celebrity judges have been named.

Charley Boorman, Adrien Brody, Jutta Kleinschmidt and Rick Yune are the fab four who will determine, along with Team Motorad, which five lucky motorbike riders will be permitted to take a roadtrip to far corners of the world on BMW Motorrad’s new and improved BMW R 1200 GS.

Motorbike riders from the world over have until 30 Nov. to apply ( for “Ride of Your Life.” The tour starts in January 2013 in Asia, then rolls through Africa, New Zealand and the United States before ending in Europe come April.

Tour 2 of the "Ride of Your Life" passes through the Baviaanskloof Valley in South Africa. Photo from BMW Motorrad.

The redefined R 1200 GS, an apt little machine for such a first-of-its-kind enduro event as the “Ride of Your Life,” is billed as a perfect blend of sport, adventure, action and style. The riders, too, will embody these attributes, as do the judges.

Charley Boorman communes with the BMW R 1200 GS. Photo by Stefania D'Alessandro for Getty Images.

“As one of the most successful rally riders of all time, Jutta Kleinschmidt represents the sporty nature of the bike. Charley Boorman is the adventurer and has travelled around the world on a GS 1200,” according to BMW Motorrad p.r. “Actor and martial artist Rick Yune is the action man, and even when riding for fun he always chooses BMW motorbikes because safety is a key priority for him. Oscar winner Adrien Brody has been riding motorbikes since he was 13, and expects a bike to offer a combination of power and design.”

The "Ride of Your Life" starts in Laos. Photo from BMW Motorrad.

The judges will be sending the five endurists on quite a trek. Before “Ride of Your Life” comes to an end, the riders will have logged myriad miles, traversing the dense forests and rustic bridges of Laos and South Africa's Baviaanskloof Valley (aka Valley of the Baboons) and a coastal road leading to the Cape of Good Hope where two oceans meet. Also on the route are Mount Aoraki and Queenstown, Oak Creek Canyon, Monument Valley Reserve, as well as Spanish sierras, the Pyrenees mountains and on to the finish at BMW headquarters at Munich.

What a ride!

Visit or to learn more about BMW Motorrad "Ride of Your Life.

'Songs of War' & Other Surprises at 40th Intl. Emmys

"Songs of War" director/writer Tristan Chytroschek, actress Prerna Wanvari and "Songs of War" commissioning editor Susanne Mertens are smiling for good reason at the 40th International Emmy Awards ceremony. Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images.

“… I was expecting Queen to win. It just looked like such a brilliant movie that everybody loved …”

These are the words of an uber ecstatic Tristan Chytroschek moments after his documentary, “Songs of War,” won an Emmy in the Arts Programming Category at the 40th International Emmy Awards” ceremony. The gala was on the docket for Monday night (19 Nov.) at the New York Hilton.

“It’s like great … so … I’m just shocked and awed," the German filmmaker said, describing what he could utter in polite company about his state of mind. "It’s absolutely brilliant; it’s amazing.”

TC's film had stiff competition from the affecting “Queen – Days of Our Lives,” about the rise of the British band fronted by the late Freddie Mercury.

“Songs of War” concerns itself with how perfectly innocent music is used in torture practices. The film pays particular attention to songs, including some from “Sesame Street, that have been played during interrogation sessions at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

“Songs of War” was a surprising victor at the 40th International Emmy Awards ceremony on a night when there were very few. Not surprisingly, for instance, season two of the gritty French police drama, “Braquo,” won in the Drama Series category. A welcome and surprise winner in this category would have been the fanciful and campy “The Kitchen Musical” from Singapore. It follows the shenanigans at a fictional French restaurant. (See video above.)

Hardly a drama, but chock full of it, the show is a cross between “Glee” and “Hell’s Kitchen.” In fact, creator, CheeK, got it greenlit by invoking "Glee." Dancing and singing also figure in “The Kitchen Musical,” as well as behind-the-scenes chef drama.

“Chefs have the biggest egos in the world,” CheeK said during the nominees panel at the 2012 International Emmy World Television Festival on the weekend preceding the awards ceremony. “The first guy walked out in the middle of the shoot and said the food was not right.” Everybody on set was incredulous, CheeK recalled.

Chef 1.5 quit in a huff. Now, “The Kitchen Musical” is on Chef 2.0, but drama may be percolating from this corner. “He said he does not work with turkey,” a smirking CheeK revealed.

Elsewhere at the 40th International Emmy Awards ceremony, Jessica Lange was in the house to present the International Emmy Founders Award to Ryan Murphy. RM’s claim to fame is as creator, writer and director of "Glee," "American Horror Story" and "Nip/Tuck." He was not only on the receiving end of proceedings, RM presented two special 40th anniversary Founders Awards to Alan Alda and Norman Lear.

Noelle Stevenson, Film Commissioner, Broward Office of Film & Entertainment and Alan Alda are in a celebratory mood at the 40th International Emmy Awards ceremony. Photo by Diane Bondareff.

Another surprise at the awards ceremony, hosted by an effusive Regis Philbin, is that the Brits did not walk away with a disproportionate share (two) of the awards. Could it be because this year there were fewer (seven) programs nominated from that country? Or because this year the competition was stiffer.

Here’s to hoping it is the latter case.

Visit to learn more about the International Emmy Awards.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Straight Dope on Continent in 'Africa Straight Up'

THIS is not your grandmother’s or father’s. Africa. This is not the dark continent (nor has it ever been). It is not backward.

Indeed, Africa is (moving) forward. This notion is the main theme of “Africa Straight Up,” a new documentary produced by founder/CEO and former Goldman Sachs executive Teresa H. Clarke. The film, just shy of 30 minutes, chronicles a quiet renaissance going on practically all over the Continent. (View it in its entirety above and/or at

A new generation of Africans – mostly from regions south of the Sahara Desert – is tired of these tired-old, one-note stereotypes about them and their homeland. Many speak English among other languages; this is particularly true of the educated class. South African singer Lira, who discloses in "Africa Straight Up" some self-actualizing discoveries, speaks four. No truly thinking person should be surprised by such trifling facts.

Lest too many forget (and to those who are completely unawares), Africa is the home of civilization. It is the place that gave birth to mathematics and science that others have snatched credit for. It is the place that enriched a destitute Europe. Indeed, the European enrichment program continues. Africa is the place that is currently enriching China, but some principled folk are in place in various pockets to ensure that it does not do so to the utter detriment of the African peoples.

Sure, Africa has corruption, catastrophe and calamity. No one is denying such obvious truths. However, as “Africa Straight Up” correctly and persuasively points out, the Continent is also a place of culture, computer technology and commerce.

“Africa is not waiting for aid,” asserts an Ethiopian businesswoman, sharing the view of the Nigerian Minister of Finance and others. “Africa is open for business and business is agriculture.” founder and CEO Teresa H. Clarke. Photo from

Business is also technology, which is enabling agriculture and other sectors. Speaking of technology, Kenya is the Silicon Valley of Africa. Who knew Kenya was responsible for anything aside from safaris and marathon runners? People in the know, that’s who.

Viewers of “Africa Straight Up,” available free for all who wish to see it, will learn some things that will straighten or curl their hair, as the case may be. For instance, Africans were using their mobile phones to transfer money to and from bank accounts long before such services were available in the United States and Europe. Of course, mother was the necessity of invention because much of the Continent does not have the brick and mortar structures that are common in the West. But, still. Who knew, for Africans aren’t capable of such innovation, right? Wrong!

A main driver of this African renaissance that virtually no one in the West and other parts is aware of is Africans. Increasingly, Western-educated Africans, like the female Harvard grad shopping for a country in which to make her mark, are now returning with the express purpose of lifting the Continent out of the debilitating role of “aid recipient” in which it has too long been typecast.

“I have never heard of a country that developed on aid. If you know of one, just let me know,” one businessman challenges. “I know about trade and innovation and business. I don’t know of any country that got so much aid and suddenly became a first-world country.”

This is the dominant sentiment among the new generation of Africans. This new blood, many associated with an outfit called the African Leadership Network (ALN, also recognizes that corruption must be dealt a death blow. Numerous initiatives are underway to do just that. One businesswoman cautions, however, that such an undertaking will not happen overnight. To that end, no one should expect corrupt government officials and leaders to disappear in the blink of an eye.

One caveat as it regards “Africa Straight Up”: it is hoped that all of this talk of lifting up the Continent will have a trickle-down effect to the lowliest woman in the remotest village. For if prosperity is to be the domain of only the so-called elite with Western educations from top tier schools, the Continent will be no better off for it – only trading one over-privileged class for another. Africa has had quite enough of that.

Lira made some observations about Africa and Africans that aided her in achieving some goals earlier than she would have otherwise. Photo from

Yet another sentiment that is echoed in “Africa Straight Up” is that returning the Continent to its rightful place on the world stage is the job and responsibility of Africans and Africans alone. In doing so, an admonition from an ALN member.

“I wish and I hope that it is not your prayer to simply get to the top of the world,” he emphasizes. “I hope that your prayer and your ambition is to change the world and be on top of that changed world.”

Well said.

Visit to learn more about “Africa Straight Up” and

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Strike a Pose With 'A Table Full of Turkeys!'

Some famous characters to hang out with on turkey day. Photo from GoldRun.

WHO to spend Thanksgiving Day with – Darth Vader or The Terminator or family? Why not all of the above?

Perhaps, you’ve already dined and have had your fill of football. You’re not going out shopping this evening as you did not this morning. So, what to do? Even if you don’t need to put distance between you and any particular loved one, you can still have a little escapist fun while you while away the hours.

GoldRun, an IOS/ Android virtual photobooth, believes it has a fun idea.The idea is its new and free photo app, “A Table Full of Turkeys!” GoldRun has made possible similar virtual experiences for the Super Bowl XLVI Champion New York Giants and collaborators NBC and Bloomingdale’s. (See video below)

Basically, “A Table Full of Turkeys!” allows you and you and you and you to place yourselves in photographs with the aforementioned, Angelina Jolie and at least seven other folk far more famous than yourselves as though you were literally posing with them. Of course, this is all virtual, but it looks real enough, including the turkey, hence “A Table Full of Turkeys!” The app is currently available on iPhone, iPad2 3GS, Android (, iTunes Store ( and Google Play Store(

The app is easy enough to access:
Step 1: From chosen platform (i.e., iPad2, Google Play Store), download the GoldRun app for iOS or Android;
Step 2: Next, log in using Facebook Connect or Twitter;
Step 3: Click on the Table Full of Turkeys featured image;
Step 4: Click the camera icon on the Featured Screen;
Step 5: Snap the photo.
Share your pictures directly from the app.

Users of “A Table Full of Turkeys!” have an opportunity to be art directors, rearranging and resizing images as they see fit. Make Vader and Terminator look as small or as large as you please. Lick your tongue at them. Give them the peace sign.

Vader and Terminator not your thing? Saddle up next to Big Bird, who is probably safe because of Barack Obama’s re-election as U.S. President. Make yourself taller than BB. Already too much fowl on Thanksgiving? Royalty, then.

Pose with the Queen of England, likely included in “A Table Full of Turkeys!” only because there are no available images of the Queen of Sheba. Hollywood royal watchers may opt for a photo with Elizabeth Taylor – perhaps with gewgaws to rival her own. Finish off “A Table Full of Turkeys!” by sharing the results on Twitter and/or Facebook.

That’s at least a couple of hours’ distraction, no?

Visit to learn more about GoldRun.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Thanksgiving Challenge From No Kid Hungry

REGARDLESS how one feels about Thanksgiving, an often polarizing celebration on the calendar in the fine, but flawed United States of America, no one believes that children should go hungry.

As America prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow by shopping, overeating, arguing with family and watching football – in that order – the good, fine folks at Share Our Strength make a strong appeal.

They are asking those (you know who you are) with the means to part with at least $46 (but any amount will help) to their No Kid Hungry campaign. The campaign’s national spokesperson Jeff Bridges is canvassing, too. (; see above video of previous canvass that is still in play).

While most are aware that there are many children around the world facing hunger and going hungry, precious few, incredibly, associate this problem with the United States. In reality, an estimated 16 million children in this country face hunger. The numbers will continue to grow as long as the so-called Great Recession persists. Further, Hurricane Sandy has also added to woes.

No Kid Hungry has self-issued a Thanksgiving challenge to raise $300,000 by 30 Nov. As of this writing, it is almost two-thirds of the way there. Surely, those who really don’t need that extra mobile device, flatscreen TV or pair of Manolos can throw that money at a cause dedicated to ending childhood hunger by ensuring that children have food where they live, learn and play. (See video below.)

Get this; $46 can do a whole heap. According to Save Our Strength, that amount kept a Colorado kid in meals all summer and on average a school year of breakfasts. It would cost a bit more to do that in New York state, but talk about stretching a dollar!

It costs so little to do so much that it is difficult to believe that the good, fine folks of America won’t step up and propel No Kid Hungry far beyond its goal.

Just sayin’.

Visit to learn more about No Kid Hungry and Share Our Strength. Rx

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Andy Warhol's Appeal Endures to Delight of Christie's

Andy Warhol triptych: "Endangered Species: Bighorn Ram," "Endangered Species: San Francisco Silverspot, "Jackie." Images courtesy of Christie's.

ANDY Warhol's own 15 minutes of fame (or infamy) continue to tick off at a seemingly never-ending pace.

Works by the artist known for his ministrations on the Campbell's soup can helped Christie's score more sales records for the second consecutive week and furnished irrefutable proof that a few folks in this sometimes god-forsaken world have plenty of money to spend and burn.

The Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art sale, the largest ever at the auction house in this category, was aided and abetted by several AW works. They include "Endangered Species: San Francisco Silverspot," (estimated: $1,000,000-$1,500,000; sold for: $1,258,500, "Endangered Species: Bighorn Ram" (estimated: $700,000-$1,000,000; sold for: $842,500 and "Jackie" (estimated: $300,000; sold for: $626,500).

Proceeds from the sale of AW works, one of several planned over several years at Christie's, will go to The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts ... More shortly.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

BMW i Born Electric Tour and the Way Forward

12 Nov. 2012/NEW YORK – BMW brought the future to New York City and invited guests, the most notable of which was Uma Thurman, to see it.

Aside from UT, the main attraction at the automaker’s opening night of the North American BMW i Born Electric Tour were the all-electric BMW i3 Concept and the plug-in hybrid BMW i8 Concept Roadster. The first i3s and i8s should be available in Germany in November 2013 before rolling out around the world. For now, though, it is a get-acquainted campaign for the two products from BMW i, a sub-brand of BMW dedicated to developing sustainable mobility solutions. (See video above.)

The BMW i3 Concept is electric. Photos from BMW.

The venue of the tour, which has been free and open to the public since Tuesday and closes at 10 tonight, is the display space at 6th Avenue and 42nd Street. Unlike UT, visitors had a chance to look at, but not touch, the compact-on-the-outside, roomy-on-the-inside i3.

The car operates solely on electric power and is meant for city driving. Aside from being emissions-free, it earns its sustainability status from other components that went into its manufacture such as olive leaves.

The sporty, low-riding i8 possesses the best qualities of a sports car – e.g., speed, agility – but is fuel-efficient because it runs on both gasoline and electric power rather than gasoline only. Wheel covers designed to keep out air also contribute to fuel conservation on the autobahn and other wide open highways.

Uma Thurman was only one of very few people who were allowed inside the BMW i8 Concept Roadster.

Combining both form and function, i8 has new Laser Light technology, resulting in lights that are aesthetically pleasing and more efficient than LED.

BMW i Born Electric Tour kicked off in Rome back in June before traveling to Dusseldorf and Tokyo. After New York, it journeys to London, Paris and Shanghai.

Visit and to learn more about the BMW i Born Electric Tour.

NYSPCC Lauds Friends Who Work for the Kiddos

Margo and John Catsimatidis are recognized do-gooders. Photos by Mireya Acierto, Patrick McMullan.

13 Nov. 2012/NEW YORK – WHETHER by design or not, the grand ballroom of The Plaza Hotel seemed to be a metaphor for the work of NYSPCC.

Soft light bathed the entirety of one of the most gorgeous and famous rooms in New York City. Amiable chatter resonated throughout the space. Tables were beautiful and so were those gathered around them.

These elements combined to create an environment of peace, serenity and security, a place where one could relax and just be. It had the feeling of a cocoon, a refuge from a world gone mad.

Miss Sweden Hanni Beronius has a heart for children, too.

Indeed it was an apt setting for the Protecting Kids First Gala of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. The agency's mission in large part is to provide such physical and psychic spaces for its charges. Throughout the evening presided over by Deborah Norville, NYSPPC officials explained the important work of the organization and the importance of having as many partners as possible. Honors were also bestowed on worthy individuals.

Victor de Souza has designs on Jean Shafiroff (left) and NYSPCC gala co-chair Penny Grant.

Presented with the agency’s Strength of Our Society Award for their good deeds on behalf of children were Fox News Channel’s “The Five” cohost Kimberly Guilfoyle and prolific philanthropists John and Margo Catsimatidis. JM is CEO of The Red Apple Group and Gristedes Foods.

There was strong sentiment among many, including Miss Sweden Hanni Beronius, that NYSPCC particularly needed support in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Already tenuous situations would be exacerbated, went the general thinking. New situations could erupt, owing to losses by families who’d heretofore had everything and now had little or nothing.

Kimberly Guilfoyle (left) is a good storyteller and Deborah Norville knows how to work a gala crowd.

Quite a few checkbooks were produced when a direct appeal was made for assistance. Here was a lot that appeared to be cheerful givers, and its gifts added up to more than $450,000 (and counting, possibly).

Cheerful could fairly describe the evening. In such luxurious surroundings, it was difficult not to be.

Visit to learn more about the New York Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC).

Friday, November 16, 2012

Keira Knightley as 'Anna Karenina' in a Film for the Stage

ONE of literature’s most adapted works is LeoTolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.” There have been countless ballets, stage productions, films and made-for-TV movies.

The latest film version, Anna Karenina, features Keira Knightley in the role of Tolstoy’s tragic heroine. The film is directed by KK collaborator Joe Wright from an adaptation by Tom Stoppard.

"Anna Karenina" continues its months-long (through 2 May 2013) rollout across the world after premiering in Toronto in September. It opens today in Taiwan and in limited release in the United States. (See trailer above.)

Because this fine work about a wayward wife in image-conscious, high-society Tsarist Russia has been done ad nauseam, JW decided to do things a tad differently. Most of the drama among Anna, her husband Karenin (Jude Law), calvary officer Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and others in their cloistered St. Petersburg milieu takes place on the stage – in an actual theater.

Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Anna (Keira Knightley) in a stolen moment in "Anna Karenina." Photos courtesy of Focus Features.

The director reached this decision after making an observation about these characters in late 19th-century Russia before the arrival of Napoleon’s forces.

Ironically, the Russians admired French high society and endeavored to emulate it in almost every way. This propensity is particularly striking in Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” in which much stock is placed on speaking French perfectly (which was the language of choice in the various salons) and having the latest fashions, food and flatware from France.

“Anna Karenina,” which arrived in a serialized version over several years after the publication of the former work, can almost be considered a condensed version of it without the threat and ravages of war. Tolstoy is hoeing the same rows

In any case, “Anna Karenina” director JW observed that these denizens of St. Petersburg and other fashionable cities in the fatherland – but St. Petersburg in particular – lived their lives as if they were on a stage, as if they were characters in a grand play. And so on the stage a good deal of “Anna Karenina” is set, including a horse race. One wonders how many takes were involved in getting just the right shot. Unfolding the action on stage is, of course, a little gimmicky but it actually works.

Passion drives Anna (Keira Knightley) to break with convention in "Anna Karenina."

KK, a wisp of a performer – she was a teenager – when she starred in “Bend it Like Beckham” and later joined the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, has blossomed into an actor with a capital A. She was delightful in “Pride and Prejudice;” righteously determined in “Atonement.” Hers was a riveting, if not occasionally over-the-top turn in “A Dangerous Method” last year.

In “Anna Karenina,” KK is required to keep her emotions rather more in check. She does so admirably. It is her film to carry and she bears it well.

Anna Karenina is rated R (for some sexuality and violence). Visit to learn more about “Anna Karenina.”

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Saving World and, Showing Fashion Sense at EcoCouture

Interchangeable dress in bamboo rayon knit with tear-shaped cutout gathers at waist and can be worn from front to back and back to front. Like many looks in the Fall 2012 collection, it is available in several colors, including plum and black. Photos by Steve Ledell.

In case you haven’t heard, it’s fall. Autumn! What a wonderful time of year, no? For weeks now, those in the rag trade have been rolling out their new stock for shoppers who may be in the market for a few more threads and layers or to get shoppers in said mood. To help trade and to help VEVLYN’S PEN readers and followers (potential shoppers), Yours Truly will be bringing to your attention over the next few weeks or so various fall collections. What shall I call these snapshots, for I won’t bore you with a treatise? Yes! I've got it: “Glimpses of Fall.” I reckon just about every Thursday through Thanksgiving or November (whichever comes first; I haven’t checked the calendar:o), I’ll provide a peek at a collection/line/brand that I deem captivating and worthy of your notice. Happy shopping! (potentially).

“… OUR goal is not to offer ‘green’ clothing without sacrificing fashion but rather to advance fashion without sacrificing our world.”

This is the core value of Los Angeles-based EcoCouture, a new women’s contemporary brand. It believes that fashion-forwardness and social responsibility can and should co-exist.

The leather pants are made from recycled leather.

Take polyester, for instance. It can be created from recycled plastic bottles or even recycled polyester fabric. It doesn’t have to be made from environmentally unfriendly petroleum. Just one pearl of wisdom that EcoCouture drops for all who have ears (and presumably consciousness about the fashion they buy and wear).

Plunging v-back or v-neck dress in bamboo rayon knit can be worn front to back or back to front. The belt is not included.

Judging by the Skinny-leg Black Leather Pants made out of recycled leather, EcoCouture, founded just last year by Karundi Serumaga, has produced some mean, green threads. Likewise for the Interchangeable Plunging V-neck Dress.

Bamboo jersey dress with one kimono sleeve and asymmetrical neckline.

While the Fitted Dress in bamboo jersey does not announce this loudly, nor is it detectable by the naked eye, that bamboo-jersey combo was sourced from a company with a proven commitment to fair trade and justly treating its labor force.

Organic jersey blend top with scoop neck and one kimono sleeve.

With this kind of pedigree, wearer has to take pleasure from owning an EcoCouture. If that doesn’t produce goosebumps, then the knowledge that a portion of sales from this Made in the USA brand will go to social welfare organizations committed to preserving the planet has to seal the deal, no?

“We aim to create timeless staples reflecting a sophisticated lifestyle in an ecologically sensible manner,” EcoCouture asserts on its Web site.

So far, so good.

Visit and to learn more about EcoCouture.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rock the Rieslings, Part 3: American Beauties for Thanksgiving

Dr. Konstantin Frank's Semi-Dry Riesling graces the table at a U.S. Department of State state dinner. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of State.


a basic word association with the term “Rieslings” and the majority of the time people will mention wine, white wine, Germany, Austria or Alsace.  Perhaps 1 percent of the time someone will mention New York State’s Finger Lakes Region.

Now don’t giggle. And please un-scrunch the nose. It’s not polite. This isn’t "Sesame Street’s" “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other.” Times have changed, and so have New York State wines.

New York State Wines, Back In The Day
For those with short memory spans, owing to chronological considerations (as in not yet having been born), New York State wines of the ‘70s and ‘80s were once synonymous with … well … how to put this nicely ... rocket fuel. Yes, that will do.

While beautiful fertile valleys, an overabundance of Appalachian water, and wild grapevines ambling along the wooded lanes cried out “WINE COUNTRY,” the locals made wine with what grew in abundance: Concord grapes, the same sweet jammy fruit used for … well …  Concord Grape Jelly.

Right. Not so great wine, but people could make a lot of it. But then again, the ’70s were well known for quantity over quality. Remember the heyday of McDonald’s hamburgers by the sackful? Remember Kentucky Fried Chicken by the bucket? Remember Taylor and other jug wines of old? Some are avidly trying to suppress the memory. From such a high volume of truly terrible wines came the reputation of American viniculture in the Late Leisure Suit period: unredeemable.

Map of the Finger Lakes Region. Image from Wikipedia.

But this is only part of the story. California vineyards began to experiment with varietals such as Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, producing wines far superior to that of upstate New York. American winemaking, defined by West Coast producers, began to emerge from its dark ages. New York seemed to be left behind.

New York State Wines & Rieslings
While many New York State vineyards sold their harvests to Smuckers Jelly Co. and large wine conglomerates, a tried-and-true business venture, some opted to take a walk on the wild side. Concord jelly completes childhood with its peanut butter and jelly, but kids grow up. What about the grapes for adulthood? Smaller literally mom-and-pop producers began to take the grapes and the region (terroir, definition 1) very seriously, thinking outside of the Concord box.

Riesling is always a good choice for Thanksgiving turkey or any other kind. Photo courtesy of Clemson.

One of the first commercially successful wineries to match the specific type of grape (varietal) to the winemaking potential of the soil (terroir, definition 2) was that of Frank Konstantin. Trained in viniculture in Europe, he realized that the climate and soil in the Finger Lakes Region mirrored that of the finest winegrowing regions in Germany.

Eureka! he cried, I think. Then he imported grafts of the traditional grapes cultivated for select wine production in Europe (vinifera). And thus the fine winemaking tradition of Upstate New York took hold. One of those vinifera varietals is Riesling.

Much like the coffee sensation boomed in Washington State, peaked in Seattle and spread across the United States, so did the American Riesling movement boom in New York State, peak in the Finger Lakes Region roughly 10 years ago, and is slowly spreading throughout the wet and cold northern U.S. states and southern Canada, especially Ontario. But the finest, by far, are produced in the Finger Lakes Region

Riesling Finger Lakes Dry Falling Man Vineyard 2010 has a predominant peachy note. Image courtesy of Keuka Lake Vineyard.

How Good? THAT Good
A biased boast? Apparently not. It’s one thing for little ole me to say they’re great, but it’s another thing when the U.S. Department of State serves a New York State Riesling at an official luncheon for the Chancellor of Federal Republic Germany Angela Merkel. That’s gutsy!

That’s like serving Californian Champagne to the Prime Minister of France! Now one might think that perhaps Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had a momentary lapse of judgment, but considering that she was First Lady for eight years and presided over numerous official state functions, I think not.

Rock the Rieslings for Thanksgiving
New York State Rieslings are that good. From dry to sweet, from tart to smooth, from citrus-based to mineral-tinged, below are a selection that will compliment roasted turkey, braised root vegetables, cornbread stuffing, tangy cranberry sauce and even pumpkin pie. True American beauties for a traditional American meal.

To find the wine that works for you, brush up first, Then read the descriptions below.

Wonderful wines for Thanksgiving dinner:

Vintner's Reserve 2008 (Riesling) from Hosmer Winery tends toward a sweetness that is not at all cloying. Image courtesy of Hosmer Winery.

Keuka Lake Vineyard
Riesling Finger Lakes Dry Falling Man Vineyard 2010,
$30 online,
A bold, gorgeous saucy wine that people will notice, the fruit tends more toward peach than to citrus and the rich flavors linger nicely – perfect for a leisurely Thanksgiving feast.

Hosmer Winery
Vintner's Reserve 2008 (Riesling)
$25 online,
The acidity makes the wine seem a tad sweeter than it actually is – sweet in the way that a roasted vegetable might be sweet: delicately so. The guests will be impressed.

Anthony Road Wine Company
2011 Dry Riesling
$16 online,
The white wine for red wine drinkers, AR’s 2011 Dry Riesling has a minerally tart aftertaste (finish) without any bitterness whatsoever. Sample to believe the beauty of this wine!

Heron Hill Winery
2010 Ingle Vineyard Riesling
$20, on sale online,, $15
Brace for impact upon uncorking! The scent (nose) of pure petrol might scare lesser souls, but the hearty full rich flavors are well worth the risk. Heron Hill Rieslings are always spot-on.

The 2011 Dry Riesling is one for red wine lovers. Photo courtesy of Anthony Road Wine Company.

Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars
2010 Dry Riesling
$16 online,
On the mineral-lemony end of Rieslings, Dr. Frank’s 2010 Dry Riesling compliments vegetables and cuts through the heaviness of gravies and creamed spinach. Long lasting flavor (finish) will make the most jaded smile.

Semi-Dry wine for dinner or even dessert

Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars
Dr. Frank 2010 Semi-Dry Riesling
$14 online,, at this writing, six bottles left!
What Madame Secretary Clinton served Chancellor Merkel in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department. Lovely sweetness reminiscent of fruit and honey. Mouthwatering lusciousness.

If you like, buy! These wineries craft quality not quantity, often producing a mere 100-150 cases per vintage. Some wines of distinction have already sold out:
2010 Sheldrake Point Dry Riesling
2008 Anthony Road Semi-Dry Riesling

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Next: "Argentinean Wines: Beyond the Typical Malbec."

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