Who pays for first lady’s fabulous fashions?

first_imgWASHINGTON | Michelle Obama’s fashionable clothing has become something of a given in her five-plus years as first lady. Yet her wardrobe still is the subject of endless public fascination and one long-simmering question: Who pays for those incredible outfits?This two-picture combo of file photos shows a model walking the runway during the Marchesa Fall 2013 fashion show at Fashion Week in New York, Feb. 13, 2013, left, and first lady Michelle Obama waving as she arrives at the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) Dinner in Washington, May 2, 2014. (AP Photo/File)It’s no small matter. Her high-low fashion choices mix everyday, off-the-rack fare with custom creations from top designers whose gowns can run into five figures.In recent weeks, Mrs. Obama has turned heads with a forest-green Naeem Khan dress at the opening of a new costume gallery at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. She shimmered in a silver Marchesa gown at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. And her flowered shirtdress for a Mother’s Day tea at the White House (recycled from an earlier event) hit the just right note for an audience of military moms.It takes money to pull that off, month after month. Those three dresses by themselves could add up to more than $15,000 retail, not to mention accessories such as shoes and jewelry.Is it the taxpayers who foot the bill? No. (Despite what critics say.)Is it Mrs. Obama? Usually, but not always.Does she pay full price? Not likely.Does she ever borrow gowns from designers? No.The financing of the first lady’s wardrobe is something that the Obama White House is loath to discuss. It’s a subject that has bedeviled presidents and their wives for centuries. First ladies are expected to dress well, but the job doesn’t come with a clothing allowance or a salary.Mary Todd Lincoln racked up tens of thousands of dollars in clothing bills and considered selling manure from the White House grounds to pay them off, according to the National First Ladies’ Library. Jacqueline Kennedy’s father-in-law stepped in to finance her Oleg Cassini wardrobe to keep clothes from becoming a political liability for President John Kennedy. Nancy Reagan got grief for borrowing designer gowns and not always returning them or reporting them as gifts.Laura Bush, in her memoir, said she was “amazed by the sheer number of designer clothes that I was expected to buy” as first lady.How does Mrs. Obama, a fashion icon with far more expensive tastes than Mrs. Bush, swing it?For starters, the Obamas reported adjusted income of $481,000 last year, and assets worth $1.8 million to $7 million.And like most people, Mrs. Obama (mostly her personal aide, really) looks for discounts.And, for really big events, the first lady has an option not available to every fashionista.Here’s how Joanna Rosholm, press secretary to the first lady, explains it:“Mrs. Obama pays for her clothing. For official events of public or historic significance, such as a state visit, the first lady’s clothes may be given as a gift by a designer and accepted on behalf of the U.S. government. They are then stored by the National Archives.”That saves Mrs. Obama considerable money, although the White House refused to say how often the first lady wears donated clothes and the National Archives declined to say how many such items it has in storage. The White House did say that the first lady doesn’t borrow any clothing and, for the most part, buys her own clothes.The clothing donated by designers includes Mrs. Obama’s two inaugural gowns made by Jason Wu, a lesser-known designer before Mrs. Obama turned him into a star in the fashion firmament. Wu declined to discuss how he works with the first lady.Mrs. Obama and Wu both were there when the first inaugural gown was presented to the Smithsonian in March 2010. The first lady said in her remarks: “The dress I donated today, made by Jason Wu, is a masterpiece.” But the Smithsonian lists the gown as a “gift of Jason Wu in honor of first lady” Michelle Obama, making clear it came from him. The first lady’s office had no comment on that.Two other examples of gowns worn by the first lady that were donated by designers: the blue Carolina Herrera gown that Mrs. Obama wore to February ‘s state dinner for French President Francois Hollande and the gold beaded Naeem Khan gown that Mrs. Obama wore to the 2012 governors ball, now on display at the American Museum of Natural History. Herrera and Khan declined comment.The first lady’s office had no comment on whether the couture gowns worn by Mrs. Obama for her six other White House state dinners also were donated. Nor would it say how many gowns have been donated for the array of other big events for which the first lady is expected to appear in couture finery, such as the annual Kennedy Center Honors ceremonies, governors’ dinners and White House correspondents’ dinners.Wearing donated gowns represents a change in practice from the Bush administration.Anita McBride, chief of staff to Laura Bush during her time as first lady, said Mrs. Bush paid for all her clothes, including her two inaugural gowns: a red crystal-embroidered gown by Texan Michael Faircloth and a silver and blue V-neck creation of Oscar de la Renta.McBride credits the Obama White House with finding a cost-saving way to “keep Mrs. Obama in all those incredible clothes and to have the use of them not once but multiple times.”The costs of a custom couture gown can be phenomenal, particularly if it is highly embellished with something like beading.New Yorker Sarah Phillips, who designed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 1993 inaugural gown, puts the full cost of that violet beaded lace sheath in the range of $50,000, with the Presidential Inaugural Committee paying $10,000 and Phillips and the workshop covering the bulk of the costs. Phillips isn’t sure whether Clinton herself paid anything toward the dress, but the Smithsonian’s website describes the gown as a “gift of Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Presidential Inaugural Committee.”Lawyers who served in the Obama and Bush White Houses describe taking care in working with the first lady’s office to ensure that arrangements with designers didn’t run afoul of ethics rules designed to guard against conflicts of interest and questionable quid pro quos.Beyond the unknowns about how often Mrs. Obama’s clothes are donated, there are questions about how much she pays for those she purchases.In a 2011 Washington Post story about Mrs. Obama’s personal assistant, Meredith Koop, the first lady’s office said Koop acted on Mrs. Obama’s behalf “in arranging for purchases, including considering the best offered price and buying on discount if discounts are available.”That’s still true today, the first lady’s office says, without elaborating.Several designers who have provided clothes for the first lady declined to discuss their arrangements. But given the prestige that comes with dressing Mrs. Obama, it’s widely thought that designers are eager to cut the first lady a break. Former White House lawyers said any discounts provided to the first lady would have to be in line with what designers offer other top customers to avoid being considered gifts.Paco Underhill, author of “What Women Want: The Science of Female Shopping,” said the markups on designer clothes are “astronomical” — and the discounts can be steep as well.“Some of the routine discounts that people ask for are 40 percent off,” he said. “Whether they get it is subject to somebody’s discretion.”First ladies have tried all sorts of tactics to hold down their clothing costs, including keeping some dresses in rotation.Mrs. Obama wore the same dress to this year’s Mother’s Day tea that she’d worn to lunch with Katy Perry in October 2012. She often switches around separates, belts and other accessories to give clothes in her wardrobe a fresh look.Recycling carries its own risks.Mrs. Bush, in her memoir, tells of arriving at a TV studio and noticing a picture on the wall that showed she’d worn the same suit to her last interview there.“Quickly, I exchanged tops with my press secretary, so that it would seem as if I had more wardrobe variety,” she recalled.last_img read more

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A shepherd’s life proves a hit, in print and online

first_imgMATTERDALE, England | James Rebanks sits in his stone farmhouse, describing the hardscrabble mountain life his family has known for six centuries or more. Then his cell phone rings. It’s a big London ad agency, hoping to sign him up for a project.Rebanks is probably the world’s most famous shepherd, with a hit Twitter account, a best-selling book and TV crews rattling up the lane to his farm. He’s gratified by the attention, if a bit bemused.“Somebody from Hollywood rang up yesterday, wanting to make a movie out of my book,” the 40-year-old said. “Which is completely bonkers.”Readers around the world have flocked to Rebanks’ dispatches from a way of life that has — against the odds — survived industrialization, globalization and mass tourism.In this June 5, 2015, photo, shepherd James Rebanks sits with his dogs Tan and Floss in Matterdale, England. Rebanks is the world’s most famous shepherd, with a hit Twitter account, a best-selling book and TV crews rattling up the lane to his farm. He’s gratified by the attention, if a bit bemused. Readers around the world have flocked txo Rebanks’ dispatches from a way of life that has _ against the odds _ survived industrialization, globalization and mass tourism. (AP Photo/Jill Lawless)On Twitter, his descriptions of lambing and haymaking have attracted 65,000 followers. “The Shepherd’s Life,” his book recounting the rhythms of the rural year and the daily struggle to make ends meet, is a best-seller in Britain and Canada and is being translated into German and Swedish. The New York Times called it “captivating.”Separately, British broadcaster ITV is making a reality show called “Flockstars” that will see celebrities compete in sheepdog trials. And “Rams,” a movie about Icelandic shepherds and their flocks, won a major prize at last month’s Cannes Film Festival.Suddenly, sheep seem to be everywhere. But they have been the center of Rebanks’ life for as long as he can remember.He belongs to one of the few hundred families who farm the valleys and mountains, or fells, of the Lake District in northwest England. It’s a rugged area that has produced stubborn people, as well as sturdy sheep whose homing instinct means they can graze, unfenced, on the unhospitable high fells.A land of deep, narrow lakes, gray stone walls and green-brown mountains, the Lake District attracts millions of campers, climbers and hikers each year, and has inspired artists and poets since William Wordsworth 200 years ago. But Rebanks felt one important voice was missing.“If you go into any of the bookshops here, you’ll see hundreds and hundreds of books about the Lake District,” said the burly, talkative farmer. “You’ll struggle to find three or four that tell the story of the people who live and work in the landscape.“Until fairly recently, people were still talking about this landscape being ‘discovered’ or’ invented’ in the 18th century by Wordsworth and people like that,” he said. “Our way of life was fully formed before that person ever put pen to paper.”Rebanks’ memoir describes that way of life, whose essence has changed little over the centuries. It is partly an account of a shepherd’s year, from the treacherous snowdrifts of winter to the burst of new life in spring.It’s also partly a political statement: “If we want to understand the people in the foothills of Afghanistan, we may need to try and understand the people in the foothills of England first,” he writes.It’s also a primal story of fathers and sons, poverty and struggle. Rebanks left school at 15 to work on the farm, but clashed with his father and with the brutal economics of farming. He earned a degree in history from Oxford University in his 20s, came home and struggled to keep the family farm going. The last few decades have been hard for small farmers. Most have second jobs; Rebanks works as an adviser on sustainable tourism to the U.N cultural organization, UNESCO.“We’ve been going to disappear for 200-odd years,” he said. “That’s always been the story. Nearly all books about shepherds are ‘The Last Shepherd.’ There’s always ‘last’ in it because it adds a touch of romance.”Rebanks is determined not to be the last of anything. He lives with wife Helen and three children aged between 3 and 9 in Matterdale, one of the Lake District’s many narrow valleys. The family owns 450 sheep, rising to 1,000 after lambing season.One recent day, with a journalist in tow, he hopped on his quad bike and drove some of his flock down narrow lanes to low-lying fields, with the help of his skilled sheepdogs, Tan and Floss.Rebanks loves sheep, especially the indomitable, white-faced Herdwicks, and he writes about them with irresistible enthusiasm. At one point in “The Shepherd’s Life,” he describes a male sheep, or tup, as looking like Russell Crowe in “Gladiator,” and the comparison seems entirely reasonable. When he sells one prized ram, he misses seeing him, “as if I once had a Van Gogh on my wall and now it is gone.”“It’s as complicated looking at a great Herdwick as it is looking at a great painting,” Rebanks said.Part of the appeal of “The Shepherd’s Life” for many readers is its focus on place and belonging, things many of us think we’ve lost in our hectic, uprooted lives.Colin Dickerman, editorial director of Flatiron Books, the volume’s U.S. publisher, said memoirs “are often about trying to leave somewhere: kids from small towns who want to escape to the city, people who are sick of the city and want to move to the country.”“This was about trying to stay in one place. To me that was really fascinating.”Rebanks has been delighted by others’ interest in his life and work. His Twitter account, Herdwick Shepherd, has fans around the world. When he live-tweeted the birth of Floss’s puppies in March, he briefly became an Internet sensation.He said the popularity reassures him “that people do care about the land, even if they’re a very long way from it.”“I think there’s a sort of Harvard Business School way of looking at the world which is to say, because it’s old-fashioned, because it doesn’t make very much money, people should rationally choose to go off and be IT consultants or bankers in the City of London,” he said. “I think in my early 20s I bought into that. I thought, we’re on the wrong side of history. It’ll all disappear.“Twenty-something years later I’m looking at it, and we haven’t gone anywhere.”Follow Jill Lawless on Twitter at https://Twitter.com/JillLawlesslast_img read more

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Pet porkers pack rescues as trendy teacup pigs fatten up

first_img Marty Koontz, co-owner of the Grazin Pig Acres rescue ranch, feeds one of the pot-bellied pigs living on the ranch run by Koontz and his wife, Nancy Koontz, Tuesday July 14, 2015 in Ramona, Calif. The ranch is home to 98 pot bellied pigs that have been rescued by Nancy and Marty Koontz, The craze for tiny pet pigs started decades ago and gets reignited every few years. Once they grow too big to handle, people give them up. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi) Marty Koontz, co-owner of the Grazin Pig Acres rescue ranch, feeds one of the pot-bellied pigs living on the ranch run by Koontz and his wife, Nancy Koontz, Tuesday July 14, 2015 in Ramona, Calif. The ranch is home to 98 pot bellied pigs that have been rescued by Nancy and Marty Koontz, The craze for tiny pet pigs started decades ago and gets reignited every few years. Once they grow too big to handle, people give them up. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi) A belly rub for pot-bellied pigs breaks out at the hands of the owners of the Grazin Pigs Acres rescue ranch owners, Nancy and Marty Koontz, Tuesday July 14, 2015 in Ramona, Calif. The ranch is home to 98 pot bellied pigs that have been rescued by Nancy and Marty Koontz, The craze for tiny pet pigs started decades ago and gets reignited every few years. Once they grow too big to handle, people give them up. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi) LOS ANGELES | Eva Monroy bought a mini pig for her family and fed it what the breeder instructed: a half-cup of food in the morning and a half-cup at night.But the piglet named Hammond started raiding the pantry and digging through the trash. A veterinarian told Monroy that he was behaving badly because he was starving.The breeder promised the diet would keep him a mere 12 inches tall. But when Hammond grew to 20 inches and 180 pounds, “my husband couldn’t handle it any more. ‘Either the pig goes or I go,’” Monroy, of El Monte, California, says he told her.So she took the animal to Lil’ Orphan Hammies, a rescue about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles. A pot bellied pig shows off his profile at the Grazin Pig Acre rescue ranch Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Ramona, Calif. The ranch is home to 98 pot bellied pigs that have been rescued by the owners of the ranch, Nancy and Marty Koontz, The craze for tiny pet pigs started decades ago and gets reignited every few years. Once they grow too big to handle, people give them up. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)center_img A pot-bellied pig strolls past the florist shop in his enclosure at the Grazin Pig Acres rescue ranch in Ramona, Calif. Tuesday, July 14, 2015 in Ramona, Calif. Each pen at the ranch, which is home to 98 rescued pigs, has a theme for its structure. The craze for tiny pet pigs started decades ago and gets reignited every few years. Once they grow too big to handle, people give them up. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi) A belly rub gets started in the front yard of the Grazin’ Pig Acres rescue ranch by its owners, Nancy and Marty Koontz, and several of the 98 pigs living on the ranch Tuesday July 14, 2015 in Ramona, Calif. The craze for tiny pet pigs started decades ago and gets reignited every few years. Once they grow too big to handle, people give them up. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi) It’s a common story playing out nationwide, leaving thousands of pet pigs homeless and rescues packed. The crunch has led many sanctuaries to limit how many pigs they will accept or stop taking them completely.The craze for tiny pet pigs started decades ago and gets reignited every few years. Online sellers offer teacup pigs for thousands of dollars, promising the animals will stop growing after age 1 and stay small if fed a restricted diet.But the tiny pigs keep growing until age 4 and will starve if they aren’t fed properly with potbellied-pig food or a blend of vegetables, animal groups say. Once they grow too big to handle, people give them up.“There are not enough homes out there anymore. These pigs are in big trouble,” said Sue Parkinson of Lil’ Orphan Hammies in Solvang, which took in Monroy’s porker and others no one else would.Parkinson, who has saved 1,000 pigs since founding the rescue 23 years ago, says she gets 20 calls a day from people trying to get rid of their pigs.Same goes for Nancy Koontz and her husband at Grazin’ Pig Acres in Ramona, 40 miles northeast of San Diego.“We absolutely fell in love with the potbellied pig. But we can’t take more because we don’t have the time, money or help,” she said.Anna Key, vice president of the North American Potbellied Pig Association, estimated that 90 percent of pigs adopted in the U.S. are later taken to a rescue or sanctuary.Complicating things is their care: Some veterinarians won’t treat them because they consider them farm animals. Many cities and counties do not allow pigs on property not zoned for livestock, but that doesn’t stop many pet owners.As pets, people get potbellied pigs, which are a fraction the size of commercial pigs. They typically weigh between 100 pounds and 120 pounds, while farm pigs bred for slaughter often weigh 1,000 to 1,200 pounds.Tiny pet pigs purchased for thousands of dollars aren’t a typical food source, even when they grow larger, because they’re mostly fat with little taste, experts said. However, some are sold for slaughter or raised for meat.Breeders say pet pigs can stay tiny because they’re learning to eat less, but rescues say they’re emaciated and losing muscle mass.“I have never seen a full-grown, healthy, 35-pound pig live to maturity,” said Susan Magidson, owner of Ross Mill Farm in Jamison, Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia. It’s one of busiest rescues in the country, with 250 pigs and services such as grooming, massage and acupuncture.Breeder Patty Morrisroe of Dallas, Oregon, says her smallest pigs weigh 15 to 50 pounds for life by eating specially made feed. She says that her pigs stop growing after one year but that feeding them potbellied-pig food and letting them nibble on grass fattens them up.“Regular potbellied pig chow is not compatible with this extremely small breed,” she said of the food recommended by animal-welfare groups.When pigs grow larger than expected, it can lead to heartrending decisions.Holly Jasma ordered a piglet costing $2,500 from a breeder who promised it would stay small. She had to give it to a rescue when it grew to 150 pounds.“It was gut-wrenching — pretty traumatic for me,” the Seattle resident saidlast_img read more

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Digital decor: harnessing the riches of online design sites

first_imgGET ORGANIZEDFirst, figure out the scope of your project and your goals. Redoing your kitchen, for example, is a lot different and more involved than finding a few natural accents for your living room mantle.Are you going to do the work yourself? How-to blogs and sites like All Things Thrifty, DIY Network and This Old House are your new BFFs.Looking more for ideas to pass on to a contractor or designer? Head over to Houzz or Pinterest.Don’t overlook retailers though. Paint company websites are an underutilized home-design resource, says New York designer Karen Gray Plaisted.“Many times, clients have problems with colors,” she says. “Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams and PPG Paints all have fantastic interactive sites to allow them to ‘try’ a color out, or find a palette virtually first. It also helps me as a decorator to then narrow down the array of colors to find the right one for them.”Annalisa Nash Fernandez, a Connecticut business owner and self-described “serial mover,” started a Facebook group with friends who are also into decorating.“I post all my design quandaries there, and get instant feedback,” she says.FIND YOUR STYLEFigure out what you love. Are you a boho-chic kind of girl or do you gravitate more toward the clean, traditional lines of craftsman-style homes?“To use home-design websites to find your own style, I’d advise you to pin or bookmark photos of every single room you love,” says Amy Bell, owner of Red Chair Home Interiors in Cary, North Carolina. “The more rooms you save, the larger your ‘data sample’ will be. Once you have collected many images, take a step back and look for common themes that the images share.”Are there recurring colors or color combinations? Are you drawn to dramatic contrasts, like white cabinets paired with dark floors? Are the rooms sparsely or heavily furnished and accessorized? What do you notice about architectural elements like windows, doors, fireplaces and ceiling height?“Having a theme and palette in mind really helps narrow down the infinite options on design sites and blogs,” says Patricia Leitao, marketing manager and blogger for the Boston-based site homeyou, which matches homeowners with area contractors.CREATE A PROJECT PAGE OR BOARD“Collection” sites like Houzz and Pinterest allow users to create an unlimited number of boards or “ideabooks.” Go big and create one board for your entire project, or go smaller with more specific boards like “paint colors,” ”accessories,” ”furniture,” etc.As a way to keep track of ideas, these are easier and more visual than a list of bookmarks or a scrapbook of pages ripped from books and magazines.They’re also a great resource if you decide to hire a contractor or home designer.“We love going through our clients’ inspiration boards on content-rich sites. It gives us an immediate look into their personal style and preferences, and we can help them narrow down exactly what will fit into their space and budget,” says Margo Nathanson, a designer with San Francisco-based InteriorCrowd.DESIGN IT YOURSELFIf you’re looking for the ultimate in control, IKEA, Lowe’s and smaller sites like Roomstyler let you design your own rooms from scratch with a virtual planner. Type in your room’s dimensions, then drag and drop furnishings, windows and other elements where you want.Try an unlimited variety of cabinet and countertop combinations when remodeling your kitchen. Or see what your living room would look like with wooden floors. Then tile. Maybe concrete.Don’t like it? Simply press delete.Online:Houzz: https://www.houzz.comPinterest: https://www.pinterest.comRemodelista: https://www.remodelista.comApartment Therapy: https://www.apartmenttherapy.comAll Things Thrifty: https://www.allthingsthrifty.comDIY Network: https://www.diynetwork.comThis Old House: https://www.thisoldhouse.comRoomstyler: https://roomstyler.comIKEA Home Planner: https://www.ikea.com/ms/en_JP/rooms_ideas/splashplanners.htmlLowe’s Virtual Room Designer: https://www.lowes.com/cd_virtual+room+designer_189310537_ In this photo provided by Decor Aid, co-founder and designer Sean Juneja used home design blogs and other online resources to help design a light and airy breakfast nook in an apartment on New York’s Upper East Side. (Decor Aid via AP) In this photo provided by Decor Aid, co-founder and designer Sean Juneja used home design blogs and other online resources to help design a bright, yet rustic living room with industrial accents in a home in Greenwich, Conn. (Decor Aid via AP) There’s Houzz. Remodelista. Home design Twitter feeds. Tumblr accounts. And of course, the granddaddy of all online decor depositories — Pinterest.It’s easy to get overwhelmed by online resources when remodeling or redecorating. Where should you start?For homeowner Sarah Schuster Canahuati, creating an “ideabook” on Houzz was the perfect way to mesh her rustic, farmhouse style with her husband’s more modern tastes when they began renovating their Los Gatos, California, home recently.“It was a very helpful way to give our architect and designer very clear ideas of what we wanted in our remodel, from paint colors to appliances to overall style,” she says.Home design experts and contractors echo those thoughts, and offer the following tips on how to harness the bounty of the Internet for your next project: In this photo provided by Decor Aid, co-founder and designer Sean Juneja used home design blogs and other online resources to help design a clutter-free, serene retreat from the bright lights and busy streets of New York City in a high-rise apartment on the Upper East Side. (Decor Aid via AP)last_img read more

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Film Review: ‘The King’ is guilty of an Elvis crime- excess

first_imgIt’s usually a bad sign when critics start questioning your film before it’s even finished. But director Eugene Jarecki had to endure worse. While making the documentary “The King,” he actually got gruff from a member of his own film crew.After a car breaks down, Jarecki takes the opportunity to ask the driver of the truck hauling it to be fixed what he thinks of the film so far. The crewman responds that he’s not sure what Jarecki’s intention is and doesn’t really buy the tenuous analogy he’s developed so far. Who needs film critics, huh?This image released by Oscilloscope Laboratories shows a scene from the documentary “The King.” (Oscilloscope Laboratories via AP)Credit Jarecki for including the exchange in his meandering, overstuffed and sometimes fascinating film about Elvis Presley and America. The director seems to acknowledge that he may have bitten off way too much here but he still thinks the idea is worth chewing.The idea is this: Get Elvis’ old 1963 Rolls-Royce and invite a wide group of people to sit in its back seat and talk about Presley as they drive through key locations in The King’s life, from his lowly beginnings in Tupelo, Mississippi, to his sad end in Graceland.So far, so good. We get Emmylou Harris to call him a “Greek tragic figure” and Chuck D to explain why he once wrote blistering lyrics that Elvis was no “hero to me.” John Hiatt even starts to cry in the back seat, profoundly sad for a fellow musician who was “trapped” in his fame.But Jarecki seems to want more, something deeper and profounder. Perhaps the rise and fall of Elvis Presley is a reflection of post-World War II America as it morphed from small to imperial to then sick and bloated? Maybe he’s even a reflection of the history of the entire country — from poor and fragile in 1776 to the hottest thing on the planet as a superpower to later addicted to pills and destined to die on a golden toilet at age 42? All this plays out as the Clinton-Trump election comes to its nail-biting conclusion, complete with CNN and Fox news announcements about the race, muddying the focus of the film. Are we Fat Elvis? Is Trump?Throughout “The King ,” you can feel Jarecki desperately working, slicing, trying to make connections. What could have been a gentle, personal travelogue is reworked and reworked until it’s often guilty of the last sin of Elvis — excess. This film is cluttered with half-thoughts and tenuous connections, like footage from 1933’s “King Kong” making frequent appearances without much purpose. (The King. In New York. OK, we get it).The best parts are when African-American critics like Chuck D and Van Jones dig into Elvis, a man who made a fortune taking black music and making it palatable for whites. Yet Presley never marched for civil rights or used his fame to help the very people he plundered. Other valuable spots are when the filmmakers explore poverty, race and the decline of the American dream at the hands of corporations, slick imagery and heaps of cash. But, wait. Wasn’t this supposed to be about Elvis?There are also some curious appearances. Dan Rather is shot very cinematically along the skyline of Manhattan, but adds little. Ethan Hawke has some interesting stories about Elvis’ time at Sun Records but they could have been told by studio boss Sam Phillips’ son, who is weirdly not much included.Speaking of Hawke, he’s clearly a smart guy but what is he doing here? Why is Alec Baldwin in the Rolls-Royce? Mike Myers? They have interesting things to add as cultural observers but there are moments in “The King” where it seems like an extended episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”The film weirdly toggles between speaking to real figures in Elvis’ life — like friend George Klein and Presley’s pianist Tony Brown — and discussing his cultural impact with presumably more exciting celebrities with questionable expertise. (Ashton Kutcher actually makes a powerful witness to the uncomfortable nature of sudden worldwide fame).Then there’s that moment when the Rolls-Royce breaks down and everyone tries to make THAT an analogy of post-industrial America. Actually, Jarecki comes into some good-natured ribbing for even using Elvis’ Rolls-Royce, which is, of course, an English car. More than one observer wonders why he didn’t use one of Presley’s old Cadillacs, a more perfect symbol of America’s trials and tribulations. That’s what this whole film feels like — forever looking for an analogy that fits.“The King,” an Oscilloscope Labratories release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “for language, some disturbing images and brief drug use.” Running time: 109 minutes. One star out of four.MPAA Definition of R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.Online: https://www.theking.filmMark Kennedy is at https://twitter.com/KennedyTwitslast_img read more

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Global Grooves

first_imgWhat do get when you mix the heart of Eurasia with the soul of New Orleans? You get Balkan Funk Line Dancing, a truly unique and intriguing soud.This one-of-a-kind event will be held June 22 at The People’s Building and will feature mesmerizing melodies and soaring solos from Colorado’s own World Citizen Brass Band Gora Gora Orchestra. Klezmerize is set to open.Suggested $10 cover at the door, and no experience is necessary as the line dances will have dance leaders. Opa!7 P.M., June 22. 9995 E. Colfax Ave. For more information, contact peoplesbuilding@gmail.com or visit ThePeoplesBuilding.comlast_img read more

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Review: A Marie Curie biopic in ‘Radioactive’

first_imgThis image released by Amazon shows Rosamund Pike as Marie Curie in a scene from “Radioactive.” (Amazon via AP)It was dirty work, Marie and Pierre Curie’s discovery of radium and polonium. To investigate uranium at their Paris laboratory, Marie acquired several tons of pitchblende, a black ore, and the industrial waste product left over when uranium was removed from it. They ground the rock and dissolved it in acid to separate the elements and, in the process, discovered polonium and radium. They were working, up to their elbows, in poisonous radioactive materials.“Radioactive,” Marjane Satrapi’s biopic of the renowned Polish-born French physicist, is alive to the toil of science. Not just its grubby, physical labor, but the burden of a sexist, male-dominated field, the hardships of a public life and the unrelenting tenacity of a pioneer like Curie. As played by Rosamund Pike, Curie is as tough, prickly and potent as that pitchblende.The film, which debuts Friday on Amazon Prime, comes from Lauren Redniss’ 2010 graphic biography, “Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout.” Satrapi, the Iranian-French filmmaker, has her own roots in graphic novels. She co-directed the adaptation of her own “Persepolis,” a striking coming-of-age tale set against the Islamic Revolution.“Persepolis” had a compelling monochrome look, and Redniss’ book a more surreal, iridescent style. But “Radioactive” is bathed in the more conventional gauzy glow of a biopic, and clings disappointingly to the genre’s familiar rhythms. With some notable exceptions, this is a traditional treatment of an extraordinary life, complete with deathbed scenes that bookend the film and frequent lines, in Jack Thorne’s screenplay, in which Curie single-mindedly speaks of scientific progress less like a person than a grade-school teaching tool.Maybe there’s not anything so wrong with that. Female scientists are so frequently underappreciated that “Radioactive” is worthwhile. Curie hasn’t been absent from screens. There was, most recently, the 2017 international production “Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge” and the 1997 French drama “Les Palmes de M. Schutz,” with Isabelle Huppert as Curie. But not since 1943’s Oscar-nominated “Madame Curie” has she had the full biopic treatment. As the first person to win the Nobel Prize twice — after which she saved countless lives with mobile X-ray labs during World War I — she had the sort of huge life that more than fills a movie.And “Radioactive” has endeavored to capture a full picture of Curie, starting with her romance with Pierre (Sam Riley). Having suffered the misogyny of colleagues and recently been turned out of her office, she’s skeptical of him both professionally and romantically. But he proves an equitable partner and, besides, has something special to offer: laboratory space.Their relationship and their historical discoveries make up about half of “Radioactive,” and while it may be the most dramatic period of Curie’s life, it’s the more inert piece of the film. History is sometimes exaggerated for effect. Marie quarrels with Pierre when he accepts their Nobel without her; he, in fact, refused to until they both could travel to Sweden, which they did two years later. Marie is also shown here as an outsider throughout, which minimizes her role in the scientific community.But “Radioactive” picks up after the death of Pierre in a road accident in 1906. There is scandal; Curie years later came to love Pierre’s protege, a physics professor named Paul Langevin (Aneurin Barnard), who was married but separated. The French branded her a homewrecker and cursed as an immigrant. (Albert Einstein supported her in a memorable letter.) Later, wartime scenes with her 17-year-old daughter Irène (the talented Anya Taylor-Joy) reverberate with electricity missing from much of the film.In its boldest break from the biopic format, “Radioactive” also weaves in flashes of the modern ramifications to Curie’s discoveries: a boy, in 1957, receiving radiation treatment; the bombing of Hiroshima; meltdown at Chernobyl. The leaps ahead — which come from Redniss’ graphic novel — are disjointed and unexamined. But they give the often too rigid and unimaginative “Radioactive” a charge, putting Curie into a broader, never-ending context.In one them, we’re plunged into a Nevada atomic test. There’s a mock town, complete with a stereotypical “nuclear” family including a housewife. We watch as the bomb, a product partly of Curie’s discoveries decades earlier, eviscerates them.“Radioactive,” an Amazon. release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for thematic elements, disturbing images, brief nudity and a scene of sensuality. Running time: 109 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPlast_img read more

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Greig takes medal award in tight finish

first_imgPSC golf Bunker Boys @ The RanchMonday, August 5, Phoenix Lake & Mountain – MedalFour groups of golfers today for our visit to the nearby Phoenix course, on another bright and breezy day.  The course continues to improve with each successive visit, several scruffy areas are being tidied up, and the tree planting project financed by the new owners is still continuing.  Our first group was able to tee off a few minutes ahead of schedule and the pace of play throughout the day was steady.  The course was in excellent condition and the greens were running true, but surprisingly the scores were generally disappointing on the day.Tony presents the KPK voucher to Colin Greig. Gerry Cooney and Colin Greig were playing in the same group and had a nip and tuck battle until Colin put together a run of five pars on the finishing holes, to take the honours on the day by a single stroke.Back at The Ranch, Colin was presented the KPK voucher and there was much debate as to whether we should increase the number of medal rounds that we play each month, since so many players performed badly today under the extra pressure.1st Colin Greig (10) net 722nd Gerry Cooney (13) net 733rd Mashi Kaneta (15) net 74Near Pins: Barry Murnin, Mike Johns and John Graham.Wednesday, August 7, Burapha A & B – StablefordBurapha offers great value on Sports Days during the low season (especially for our senior golfers who regularly use buggies), so it wasn’t surprising that the car park was almost full when we arrived at the course.It transpired that three other local golf societies were also playing the course today, but we were still able to tee off just a few minutes later than our scheduled time.  It was soon apparent that it was going to be a long day, and when we reached the tee box on the par three fifth hole all of our four groups were congregated there!  At least it provided an opportunity to swap some banter and catch up on everyone’s progress over the first few holes, and the final group also had the opportunity to watch all the tee shots of the other competitors (not that it helped your scribe very much as I promptly hooked my shot straight into the water!).The pace of play picked up a little after that stoppage and eventually the round was completed in a little over four and a half hours – almost like a premature start to the high season!Mike Johns produced his best performance since his arrival a couple of weeks ago to take first place ahead of Tony Robbins on a count back, with Lee Butler also showing a return to form to take third place a single point behind.1st Mike Johns (18) 35pts2nd Tony Robbins (14) 35pts3rd Lee Butler (15) 33ptsNear Pins: Tony Robbins,  John Graham, Sean Murphy and Steve Durey.Friday, August 9, Bangpra – StablefordSeventeen golfers today, meaning we had three groups of three-balls leading the way, but the course appeared relatively quiet, and we were able to tee off slightly ahead of our scheduled time.  Unfortunately it soon became apparent that there must have been some slow groups ahead of us and our groups began to stack up after the first few holes.The course was once again in good condition and the weather almost perfect, but as on our previous visit the tees were in their back positions so the course was playing long, especially on the par threes.Colin Greig is one of the longer hitters in our society and he duly capitalized on the conditions to card the best score of the day, finishing one point clear of Mashi Kaneta.The par three seventeenth hole provided a stern challenge at 209 yards and many players elected to use their driver (Neil Griffin would have been in his element!), but John Graham showed how to do it, hitting his ball within five feet of the pin1st Colin Greig (10) 37pts2nd Mashi Kaneta (15) 36pts3rd John Graham (9) 33pts4th Tony Robbins (14) 30ptsNear Pins: Geoff Hart, Gerry Cooney, and John Graham (2).Note: The Bunker Boys are a PSC affiliated golf society, who now play out of The Ranch bar on Pattaya 3rd Road (in front of the fire station, and almost opposite the Buffalo Bar).  We play three times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so if you enjoy a fun day out, and a friendly but competitive golf competition why not come and join us.We meet at The Ranch at 9 a.m. for breakfast and transportation, and new players are always welcome.  Contact “Buff” on 086 046 5091 or 080 605 5663 for all enquiries.  You can find all the news, schedules and results on our website at www. bunkersociety.com.last_img read more

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Pattaya Sports Round up – Friday December 6 – December…

first_imgOcean Marina Yacht Club invites experienced sailors and learners for racing weekends and funsail/training weekends.  The club has 5 star clubhouse facilities and a fleet of 25′ racing yachts available. www.omycsailing.com, phone Kev Scott 087 825 0011.8:00 a.m. Diving with Mermaid’s Dive School.  Contact Mermaid’s Dive Center, tel. 038 232 219 – 20, email: mermaids@loxinfo.co.th8:00 a.m. – noon & 2 – 6 p.m. (Sat & Sun – Also Monday to Friday) Horseback riding at the Horseshoe Point Riding Academy, the biggest equestrian center in South-East Asia.  Show jumping, hacking, trail, dressage and classical dressage.  Training courses from beginners to advanced riders with English speaking instructors.  Leisure trail riding, group and private classes.  All levels of riders welcome.  Over 100 horses and ponies available.  Located on 1,500 acres of beautiful tropical garden land just outside Pattaya.  Free shuttle service available.  For more information: phone (+66) 3873 – 5050 (ext. 4016-18), fax (+66) 3873 – 4973 or email: ridingschool@thehorseshoepoint.com8:30 am. -10:00 am. International Players Academy meets every Sat. morning for Jr. Intermediate level Tennis at Ambassador City Tennis Courts. Visitors are welcome, just bring your tennis racket, ages range from 10-16. For more details call CJ on 086 086 2121Indoor Lawn Bowls Free at Coco Club every Saturday for school or college aged children from 11.00am – 2.00pm, with Male – English and Female Thai tutors.  Parents can sit at the bar and watch.  New champions needed!  Call Sue on 087 135 8357 or pop in to the club at Baan Amphur – signposted behind Phoenix Golf.3.00 pm – Pattaya Cricket Club practice nets at Horseshoe Point next to Siam Country Club. All ages and abilities welcome.  Please contact Simon at pattayacricketclub@gmail.comSundayBadminton players are invited to play 3 mornings a week at X-zyte Sports Club on Third Road. We play 10-12am Sunday, Tuesday and Friday with a mix of mostly 50+ farangs and younger Thai’s.The Amazing Sunday Golfers are a friendly group of average index who welcome new players.  Each Sunday they have friendly games on different courses with a meeting point at the course.  Contact Philippe at 082 546 0770 or email 2012tasg@gmail.com to be updated each week for the upcoming game.8:00 a.m. Diving with Mermaid’s Dive School.  Contact Mermaid’s Dive Center, tel. 038 232 219 – 20, email: mermaids@loxinfo.co.th12:00 p.m. Pattaya Sports Club Softball plays slow pitch recreational pick-ups games at every Sunday at 12 noon.  New players always welcome regardless of skill level, experience, age or time away from the game.  For more information and directions see the softball page at the Pattaya Sports Club website www.pattayasports. org or contact John at scrabbleking@yahoo.com or call 089-932-54332:00 p.m. The Pattaya Backgammon League (PBL) meets every Sunday at B.G. House & Restaurant @ 2 p.m. For further details phone 081 664 9085 or email tournament@ pattayabackgammonleague.com3:00 p.m. Pattaya Jungle H3 meets every 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month and departure is from the Lek Hotel on 2nd Rd at 3pm.  For more info please call Kai on 01 863 5095.Monday1:00 p.m. The Pattaya Bridge Club meets upstairs at Altos Restaurant, 144/99 Thappraya Road near flyover. Contact Jeremy Watson 085 818 2172, www.pattayabridge.org.2:45 p.m. Pattaya Hash House Harriers: The club for drinking people with a running problem meets every Monday at 2.45 pm at the Lek Hotel, (between Soi 12 & 13 on 2nd Road).  The bus leaves at 3.00 pm, and the run starts at 4.30pm.  More info at www.pattayah3.comTuesdayChess and Scrabble Club: every Tuesday 12pm – 5pm at Hoek-Van-Holland in Jomtien. Take Thappraya Road to intersection with Beach Road. Dong Tan Police sub-station is right there. Walk back towards Pattaya 10 meters along walking path. Hoek-Van-Holland is on the right, before the parking lot. Bring your own chess set and/or scrabble board. For more information please see website www.hoek-van-holland.com – Everyone welcome.The Pattaya Chess Club meets every Tuesday evening from 6:30 p.m. onwards at Brauhaus on 2nd Road between Soi 7 and Soi 8. Learners and anybody who would like to play chess are most welcome. Boards and clocks are provided.Pattaya Ladies Netball Club: 7.30 pm every Tuesday at Fairtex Sports Club.  All ages and abilities are welcome.  100 baht per person.  Please email pattayanetballclub@gmail.com to confirm or find us on Facebook – ‘Pattaya Ladies Tuesday Night Netball’Wednesday1:00 p.m. The Pattaya Bridge Club meets upstairs at Altos Restaurant, 144/99 Thappraya Road near flyover. Contact Jeremy Watson 085 818 2172, www.pattayabridge.org.3.00 pm – Pattaya Cricket Club practice nets at Horseshoe Point next to Siam Country Club. All ages and abilities welcome.  Please contact Simon at pattayacricketclub@gmail.com.4.00 pm – Club Petanque Thailand plays Wednesdays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.  The court is open for groups every day. New and bigger surface. Very good drainage as well as better lighting.  No membership fee. Find us at Soi Nernplabwan 100/2 Moo7, next to Sutawas Temple and small Banglamung Police station. Contact: 085 280 7182, fax 038 248 067, email: petanque.Th@gmail.com (English, French, German, Scandinavian); (Thai & Chinese: 080 618 2831.)Thursday7:00 p.m.  Pattaya Panthers and Panties (mixed) Touch Rugby every Thursday night at Horseshoe Point next to Siam Country Club. New players are always welcome – we are a very sociable team! Please contact Paul Crouch on 089 902 6286 or pjcrouch@hotmail.com FridayDFiT, Dusit Thani Pattaya: Visitors using the group fitness membership can avail of the THB 2,000 offer for five visits to the gym after their membership has expired.  The offer includes unlimited use of DFiT facilities including tennis courts.  For more information, call 038-425611 ext. DFiT.1:00 p.m. The Pattaya Bridge Club meets upstairs at Altos Restaurant, 144/99 Thappraya Road near flyover. Contact Jeremy Watson 085 818 2172, www.pattayabridge.org.2:00 p.m. Pattaya Sports Club Bowling at PS Bowl on the top floor of Tops Supermarket at the junction of Central and Second Roads. Contact La at PS after 1:30 p.m.SaturdayPattaya Archery Club meets between 10am and 12 midday every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at our dedicated shooting range within easy reach of Pattaya, near the new railway road.  Beginners of all ages are welcome, and equipment and coaching are free.  For more information call Eric, the club President , on 089 535 1193 or visit www.pattayaarcheryclub.comlast_img read more

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Williams back in the winners’ circle

first_img2nd Nick Looby (13) 34pts3rd Rod Torrie (11) 34pts4th Nick Caulfield (5) 34ptsB Flight1st Frank McGowan (19) 35pts2nd Michael Healy (15) 34pts3rd Anthony Dillon (17) 34pts4th Vincent Gras (15) 33ptsJoe McArdle.As a sign of the times this year we actually teed off about twenty minutes before our allotted time as the course was very quiet, changing times indeed.  It is probably not good for the golf courses but it makes it very enjoyable for the players and we also got around quickly as there were no delays.Although we had a large group out, the scoring was again not very good and none of our group managed to play to their handicaps in either flight.Vincent Gras is back for what for him is a long ten day holiday and for his first game he took the fourth place in the B Flight with thirty-three points after having twenty-one on the front nine, but only twelve on the back.  Anthony Dillon took what seems to be his now regular third place with thirty four points as his friend Michael Healy beat him on the count back to take second.  Frank McGowan is another man who is in form these days and today he was again the winner, this time with thirty-five points, which was the joint best score of the day.In the A Flight, Michael Williams had his first win for a long time with thirty five points and we then had three players tied on thirty four points, with Nick Looby winning the count back to come second, Rod Torrie taking third and Nick Caulfield fourth.Despite having a large group out we had no ‘2’s.Tuesday, Dec. 20, Treasure Hill – StablefordA Flight1st Paul Smith (4) 34pts2nd Michael Healy (15) 32pts3rd Phelim Moran (11) 29ptsB Flight1st Anthony Dillon (16) 34pts2nd Michael Williams (15) 30pts3rd Dan Hobbs (23) 30ptsWe were back at Treasure Hill with our friends from the PFGS today where again we were able to tee off early.  Once again the course came out on top and despite us having some very good golfers and low handicappers in our group, no one managed to play to their handicap, something which seems to happen most days here and seldom at any other course.We had two flights and in the A Flight Paul Smith, who had his first game with us in a long time, came out the winner by going around in four over par to score thirty-four points.  Michael Williams took second place with thirty points and Phelim Moran was third with twenty-nine.In the B Flight, Anthony Dillon decided today he was fed up with getting the third place so he came out the winner with thirty-four points, which was the joint best score of the day and to make it an even better pay day he had the only ‘2’ also.  Michael Healy took second place with thirty-two points and Dan Hobbs was third with thirty.Thursday, Dec. 22, Bangpra – StablefordA Flight1st Joe McArdle (15) 36pts2nd Jon Batty (7) 35pts3rd Paul Bray (8) 34pts4th Phelim Moran (11) 33pts5th Michael Healy (15) 31ptsB Flight1st Peter Henshaw (25) 37pts2nd Russell Gilroy (17) 32pts3rd Joe Peters (20) 30pts4th Pat Carthy (28) 29pts5th Anthony Dillon (16) 29pts2’s: Jon Batty, Donal Lyne, Michael Lyne.Peter Henshaw.Our largest group of the high season arrived here at Bangpra, but apart from ourselves there were very few players around and we again got away twenty minutes ahead of schedule.  Lots of monkeys around today and the caddies were kept busy trying to keep them away from our carts.As this is another very difficult course with lightning fast greens, which caught out most of our golfers, the scoring wasn’t great.  In the A Flight, Joe McArdle was the winner with an even par round, Jon Batty took second place with thirty-five and Paul Bray was a further shot behind to take third place.  Phelim Moran had what I think was his first visit to the podium for this trip and he got the fourth place with thirty three points and Michael Healy took fifth with thirty one.In the B Flight, Peter Henshaw had what was the best score of the day and he won with thirty-seven points.  Russell Gilroy was five points behind Peter but he still managed to take second place and Joe Peters got third with thirty points.  Pat Carthy has just had his two knees replaced and it has obviously worked as he took fourth spot with twenty nine points, beating Anthony Dillon on a count back. IPGC Golf from the Tara Court Golf SocietySunday, Dec. 18, Green Valley – StablefordA Flight1st Michael Williams (15) 35ptslast_img read more

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