Monday, June 21, 2010

What Trinny and Susannah did next

British style mavens Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine were once hugely popular television personalities in the UK, and even here in the U.S., they achieved a certain level of notoriety with their show, What Not to Wear (where they could always be counted on to grab and push up some hapless woman's droopy boobs to show the viewing audience what a good bra could do). But in recent years, the duo's been more of a staple in gossip columns with Trinny's divorce and supposed hookups with Keanu Reeves than fixtures on the television.

They've done something, though, that I think is inspired, not to mention hilarious: They've created a mockumentary series for called What They Did Next about their quest for an advertising contract. The first episode went up today, and each Monday, they'll be releasing a new one. It's very well done, a mix between the U.K.'s The Office and the U.S.'s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage.

What do you think? A hit or a miss? Add your comments below.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I must have a Storm Kettle

This weekend, since the weather has been so spotty, I've been planted in front of my computer watching gardening videos on YouTube: stuff like how to divide rhubarb rhizomes, which hoe works best in tough, rocky soil, and how to make a lasagna garden (which, to be honest, I long thought was a garden filled with tomatoes, oregano, and basil). And then, while watching Alys Fowler work her allotment garden on a Guardian video, I started to covet something she called a "storm kettle." (Ok, I also covet her dog ... and her scarves ... and her pale red hair that is sort of wild, like mine, but looks far more fetching on her than it does me.) She used this kettle to make herself a hot cup of tea, and all it required was twigs and matches to heat up the water.

Come to find out, the brand name in the UK is Storm Kettle. (In Ireland, they've got a Kelly Kettle brand.) How it works: a double-wall of aluminum lets you build a little fire in the middle of the kettle, heating up the water in between the walls. It holds 40-oz. of water so you can boil up enough tea for several friends.

What an ingenious idea, although not necessary a new one ... these kettles are a bit like hobo stoves made popular during the Depression. Immediately I tried to find one at REI or EMS, but no dice: all the kettles there require a separate heat source, and camping stoves require butane or propane -- yech. The only place in the U.S. that sells the Storm Kettle brand is Lehman's, but at $100 -- ouch! -- I guess I'm going to have to hold out until Christmas. Which might not be so bad if I have a lot of winter work to do in my garden.

Anyone here have one? Do you like it?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sarah Ferguson's Oprah appearance -- a recap

... and surprise, surprise, the taped interview took up the whole hour-long show.

It was a painful interview to watch, quite frankly. First, because I take no enjoyment watching someone's distress on national television. I'm not condoning Sarah Ferguson's behavior nor do I feel particularly bad for her as I think she's got more advantages than most 50-year-old women have in this world. But she looked ... shattered, I guess is the word, and I guess I'm a big softie because I don't like watching anyone fall apart, even if they've brought most of the trouble on themselves. Then second? I'm not a huge fan of daytime talk shows, "Oprah" especially. The shows are just way too new agey for me, with guests talking about their "authentic selves" and "Little Sarahs," which makes me think of ... never mind.

With that out of the way, the highlights for my European readers who may only see short clips:

  • Oprah was warm and fuzzy, but also fairly direct with Ferguson. She called her on some b.s., like when Ferguson claimed "a friend" had introduced her to the undercover journalist and when she tried to explain (lamely) how she started with $40K payout (meant for "a friend") but eventually increased her price to £500,000. Wasn't that $40K some kind of down payment on the £500,000?

  • Ferguson said the journalist had stolen the identity of an Indian businessman whom her friends and associates knew; they checked references and everything shored up.

  • Yet unbelievably, Ferguson also claims at the first meeting, she knew the "businessman" was a journalist with the News of the World and called him on it. Her solution was to draft up a confidentiality agreement, which of course, the "businessman" eventually tore up. Yet Ferguson, so "out of her mind," by this point, ignored her suspicions and pursued the money trail.

  • As Oprah viewed the tape with Ferguson, Sarah uttered, "I feel sorry for her." She also said, "The woman on the tape is out of control." Oprah called Sarah on this, too, curious as to why Ferguson would refer to herself in the third person while watching the tape.

  • Sarah is not drunk on the tape, nor does she ever imply she has a drinking problem. Instead, she was just drinking that night. Finally, something I can believe.

  • When Oprah queries Sarah on the dates of all the meetings with the News of the World folks, Sarah interrupts her with, "You know better than me." Wait, was Oprah at those meetings?

  • Sarah Ferguson says the £500,000 figure was "plucked out of the sky" during her meeting with the businessman. So I guess Prince Andrew didn't suggest this figure?

  • When Oprah asked Sarah about her divorce payout, suddenly Sarah was mum and said she couldn't discuss it because she had signed a "confidentiality agreement." Which is odd, because she'd been talking about that $20,000 a year settlement to anyone who would listen a couple weeks ago.

  • She wouldn't reveal anything about Prince Andrew's response to her actions or what he said to her.

  • And the apology? She kind of said sorry at the very end of the interview, but it was more like, "I'm sorry for letting down my family, my friends, my charities, etc." It wasn't the big huge confessional apology I expected it to be.

To tell you the truth, I felt kind of icky after watching this. I didn't believe half of what she claimed and I felt like I was watching a small child try to wiggle her way out of a bad pinch. Not fun. I sincerely hope Sarah Ferguson figures out a way to deal with her problems in a responsible manner and finds some peace with herself. She's clearly not a happy woman.

If you're here in the U.S., did you watch the interview? What did you think? Were you sympathetic to her story, or did you feel it left more questions than answers? Add your comments below.