Friday

Legally Blonde: The Musical. I will never be the same.



Legally Blonde is my milestone marker. My well-worn DVD (I may have even owned the VHS once) has been watched at some point in every major transition or whenever my belief in myself was lacking.  Breakup? New job? Crippling bout of anxiety? Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods was there. I can quote the film from start to finish and always well up at the end when "Perfect Day" plays while Elle is graduating and the subtitles under Luke Wilson's face read "Emmett is proposing to Elle ... tonight." 


So when I went to see the musical version in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, I expected nothing short of life-changing.

We met up with my coworkers Jenn and Rob, who were also going to the show, for rushed drinks beforehand. I regretted my foolish decision to wear my 5-inch glittery platform stilettos to prance around Downtown Pittsburgh and its silly brick sidewalks, but kept my poise because Elle would.

Blocking the poster because we're goobers. And Eric thinks I'M a chihuahua.
I LOVED the show. This was my first movie to musical adaptation, and it was cool seeing what they changed, like turning Elle's Harvard essay video into a cheerleading routine and making her friends a Greek chorus in her head instead of calling her on the phone like in the movie. Never mind that I didn't catch until later that the "Greek" chorus was also a play on the sorority. My cognitive sharpness drops with each sip of booze and extra half inch of heel. Also, Spanx. *shakes fist*

"Chip on My Shoulder" was my favorite musical number. That song encompasses what the movie means to me, a woman who always has something to prove. Giving Emmett a backstory was brilliant, and all his scenes with Elle were spectacles of chemistry and adorableness. The actress who plays Paulette may have gotten the second-loudest applause after Elle. That VOICE! All the songs were catchy and enjoyable. I didn't even get sick of "Omigod You Guys."

Some of my favorite movie moments were expanded in the show (the Bend and Snap was a plot point, and the gay pool boy got his own musical number, with the entire courtroom singing, "Is he gay, or European?"). Damn, that was a lot of punctuation just now.

My connection to this story is so strong that adding song and dance clobbered me with emotion. I was tearing up, more than once. Everyone endures feeling as if they aren't enough, and Elle fights to prove she has more to offer than what's on the surface and more to gain than a man. Although she gets that, too.

A blast. Life-changing.

And the twist with Elle being the one to propose to Emmett? Beautiful, even without "Perfect Day" playing.

Tuesday

"Curly Girl: The Handbook" book and method review


There are genius gems for styling your curls when you get past the awful wordplay like "self mane-tenance" and "multi-curl-tural hair" and subliminal product propaganda in Lorraine Massey's Curly Girl: The Handbook, in its second edition.

Massey is the founder of the Devachan Salon and the DevaCurl product line. Do a search on YouTube for "Deva cut" and you'll find both rave reviews and angry rants about Massey's method of cutting hair curl by curl while it's dry — which necessitates a commitment to wearing your hair curly at all times, because it won't look even while straight. As for the products, I've found some Holy Grail contenders and some underwhelmers, which I'll be reviewing in later posts.

But back to the book. It's a thin, picture-packed and informative volume with styling regimens for different curl types, which are shown on an included DVD, plus a Q and A section and chapters on caring for men's and children's curls. Sprinkled throughout are first-hand accounts of curly girls who've struggled past frizz, bad cuts and youths wasted on relaxers and flat-ironing (hello, my sisters!) to finally embrace their ringlets. It even includes DIY information on trimming your own hair and recipes for treatments (be smarter than I was when I made an avocado hair mask — put it in the blender and don't just mash it with a fork. You'll be digging chunks out of knots for an hour).

The Curly Girl Method is supposed to make your curls their most hydrated, bouncy and defined. Its main tenets are eschewing sulfate shampoos and conditioners and styling products that contain silicone. The logic is that sulfates are drying, and moisture is a curl's best friend, and silicones build up in hair and require the stripping sulfates to be rinsed away.

Of course the DevaCurl line is Curly Girl Method-approved, so this book must be a real moneymaker for Massey. I haven't totaled up how much I've spent the last few weeks trying Deva products, because why upset myself? It can't be good for my curls.

So, I love a few tricks I've picked up from the book. First, the most valuable lesson I've learned is how to properly use hair gel. Gel creates a cast that keeps the curls in place, but you end up with crunchy, ramen-noodle texture. The way to get the curl definition without the crunch is to let the hair completely dry without messing with it — a STRUGGLE — and then scrunch and fluff it out to open the cast. The first time I did this, I think I audibly gasped at the mirror. I'd never seen my hair look so spirally all over! And I like the way my hair looks when I clip it at the crown during drying, as suggested, and think using a microfiber towel probably does help ward off some frizz.

However, I'm not at all a fan of finger detangling. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I just don't think I'm doing much other than adding knots for later. So I sometimes finger detangle, and other times I just reach for my comb or my new Tangle Teezer. I think the tradeoff is my hair looks stringier when I use something other than my fingers, but I just don't have the patience sometimes.

And do you know how hard it is to find a silicone-free styling agent that gives me the shine I crave? Next to impossible. Silicones are in everything, and they're like crack to me. I can't give them up. I can go maybe up to a week and a half at best, but usually I find myself reaching for the glossy, greasy stuff every few days.

And while I'm on board with avoiding sulfates for the most part, sometimes I think my hair and scalp really need a deeper clean, and I reach for my Lush Big shampoo with the sea salt. And ooooh, does it feel wonderful. And naughty. Oh, sulfates and silicones. Gimme gimme.

If you're new to curl care, I recommend picking up a copy of the handbook and trying out some tips. If anything, it'll inspire hours of Pinterest hunting for celebrity pics once you've identified your curl type.

Friday

Ay, Gloria!

With all my shows done for the season, I've been binging on Modern Family. (Oddly enough, Modern Family was another one of my shows that just ended. I watched the most recent season, and now I'm going back to the series beginning. Chronology is for people who play by the rules.) The show is hysterical and by the end of every episode, I'm tearing up because I'm a sentimental sap.

I watch it for laughs, but I also watch it so I can study Sofia Vergara as Gloria.


Primero, she's gorgeous. That face, those white, white teeth and full lips, her hair, that body. Of course those are the first facets you notice.

Then she opens her mouth, and this over-the-top accent hits you. I love the accent. It reminds me of mi madre. I can impersonate it dead on.

Then she gets going, and you realize that beautiful, sexy woman is funny as hell.


Gloria is sassy, sexy, goofy and loving. In the blended Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan, she is the soul. The type of woman who nurtures but takes no nonsense, who makes everyone around her feel like they are important and special. She's not a lady. She's a WOMAN. She will not keep her voice down! She will NOT behave herself!


She embraces her Latina heritage, and I haven't always embraced mine. When she starts talking in Spanish and referencing her family's wild superstitions, and playing out all these Latina stereotypes that I should find offensive, I start slapping the furniture while guffawing like, um, every Latina stereotype.


I could stand to be more like Gloria. And I'm not just talking about hitting the yoga mat a little (a lot) harder and getting a good colorist. She's so present and full of life. Her confidence is KILLER.

She even makes not being able to ride a bike (something we have in common!) look sexy.


Sigh for days. Tell me — who are your TV crushes?

Monday

Balenciaga Rosabotanica fragrance review


I've been daylighting — moonlighting if your "day job" is from rush hour to after last call — with a florist, and it's given me a crazy appreciation for the scent of flowers. One in particular: hyacinth. It's the best scent I've ever smelled, totally intoxicating and dense and just PRETTY.

Finding a perfume that's a close approximation of that hyacinth high is my new life's purpose. While I'm not sure that the hyacinth note in Balenciaga Rosabotanica is just right (I haven't gotten my hands on the real floral recently enough to compare) I was drawn to the perfume's offbeat, unsentimental floral hit as a warm weather fragrance. I wanted a floral, but nothing too princessy or reminiscent of air freshener. And oh yeah, that bottle design, though! It looks perfect on my vanity.

Rosabotanica is described as featuring rose, fig leaf and petitgrain. I'd never heard of petitgrain. It also has citrusy and woodsy notes — I am a sucker for vetiver! — and pink pepper.

When you first spray it, it's very strong. The word that came to mind when I tried it in the store was "green." It's got a pleasantly sharp herbal scent, somewhat minty but not quite. I get zero rose in this. I don't mind because I have plenty of rose scents, but don't go into this buying the name as a legitimate description of what's in the bottle.

The green explosion settles down fast. The midpoint of the romp is the high point for me, when the scent isn't as sharp but still smells different, verdant and sexy, but a little more subdued.

But the problem with Rosabotanica is that it doesn't last. I'm spoiled by Shalimar, a sillage monster that even in the EDT form I prefer smells powerful hours after spritzing. Within an hour or two, Rosabotanica is so faded and clings so close to the skin that you have to bury your nose in your flesh to get a whiff of what little is left. I wouldn't describe the scent as soapy, but it's about as weak later in the day as the scent of soap would be after a shower. I have the 1 oz. version, but I almost wish I'd gotten the much cheaper rollerball, because this scent benefits from periodic reapplication. But the BOTTLE, though!

Overall, Balenciaga Rosabotanica is an interesting floral with a sophisticated yet earthy character. I don't think it's a scent that I'll repurchase, but despite its flaws, I've been wearing it every day since I bought it. If you're drawn to the name because you think it's a rose fragrance, skip this one and try Jo Malone Red Roses or Stella.