New for fall.

In case you haven’t heard: White shirts are in for fall 2009. (Citation, high and low.) On the one hand I am thrilled, as I am a big fan of white shirts and own several, so even though I don’t follow trends, it’s nice to have a trend follow me from time to time.

On the other hand I am disillusioned. Here’s why: A few years ago Alan and I went to New York and saw the Mingus Big Band one night, at a club called Fez. It’s a dense basement space, and all the tables are the same size — six-tops, I think. If you don’t have that many in your party, you share your table with strangers. The woman we sat across from was very nice, also a journalist — what are the odds? As we talked before the show, she said she covered the garment industry for a trade journal so far inside I’d never heard of it, and was based in Los Angeles. She’d come to New York in hopes of finding a job closer to the creative end of the business, as she was tiring of covering the nuts-and-bolts part. What do you write about? I asked.

“Textiles,” she said. Hence the L.A. location — textiles are an industry of the Pacific Rim.

“So,” I asked, “is brown really the new black?” She looked puzzled for a minute, and then said she didn’t really know, as she was so far from the consumer end of the business, she couldn’t even say anymore. The textile industry, she informed us, is two to three years ahead of what you see in stores, and whatever arm of the industry is looking for that sort of thing left the brown/black question behind literally years ago, and had moved on to whether orange was the new pink, or whatever. Industrial looms can’t be changed on a whim, and it takes time to set up raw materials and dyes and supply chains and shipping and whatever else is involved in getting you a new white shirt for fall.

I guess I wasn’t that surprised — the auto industry is the same way, and one of the frustrating things about the discussion of it in recent months has been the public’s ignorance of what exactly it takes to take a car from the imagination stage to the showroom floor. The length of the lead time seemed a bit much — it’s fabric, not a Prius — but who am I to question the mighty Asian textiles industry? I’ll take her word for it.

Like a lot of information, knowing this bit of it both spoiled and deepened my appreciation of fashion. Now, when I see white shirts everywhere, I think that two or three years ago there was a bumper crop of cotton on the world market, not a single simultaneous idea across the entire creative end of the industry. (I don’t know what the return of the ’80s shoulder means, but I’m sure shoulder pads are manufactured and supplied under much the same market conditions.)

The older I get, the more interested I am in commercial and utilitarian art. You could argue that all of it is, but I especially like art that we touch, use, work with or see every day, art that does a job other than entertain or hang on a wall in a museum. It’s interesting to think about the great convergence of market and creative forces battling for the upper hand. Plus I love great design, and the feel of a well-turned handle is a real pleasure. Almost as much as a great white shirt.

And now a pause for Meryl Streep’s great speech in “The Devil Wears Prada.”

You go to your closet and you select, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? …And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of …stuff.

Bloggage? Sure, we got some:

I’m not crazy about anthropomorphizing work animals, but this was an interesting story, with a great slideshow — about the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, which every year around this time takes a break from ordinary training and goes to the seashore at Cornwall for few days of galloping on the beach.

The long-awaited sequel to “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is here — “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.”

A great Detroitblog piece, from the Metro Times (but I’m linking to the blog, because of the extra pictures), about the city’s small troop of outdoor sign painters. That’s one thing I noticed immediately after I moved here — how much of the city’s signage is painted. Paint is cheap, even when you use an artist, and many don’t. I love them for their odd punctuation: We do not buy “stolen” tires or rims. Well, I hope not.

Now I have to read a big chunk of “Walden” — the great-books reading club starts today.

Posted at 9:01 am in Movies, Popculch |

78 responses to “New for fall.”

  1. Danny said on September 16, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I saw a custom, cardboard sign on a pan-handler last night:

    “Why Lie?! It’s really for beer. Smile and have a nice day … Keeping it real.”

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  2. Julie Robinson said on September 16, 2009 at 9:27 am

    What I want to know is when will the new black be navy blue? It needs to be available more.

    In our house we prefer the “classic look”. You may interpret this any way you want, but if you said most of my clothes are 10 or 15 years old, you’d be accurate. Meryl’s character would have had me for lunch.

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  3. moe99 said on September 16, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Well, I hate to say, but my shopping decisions lately are governed by ebay. Brooks Brothers no iron shirts are a standard size for me and they are a great deal there. Especially white. It has taken me more than 30 years to reconcile to white shirts, although I was only forced to wear them daily for my senior year at the Catholic high school in MN (where we had moved to from Defiance, OH). They were required along with a navy jumper.

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  4. Danny said on September 16, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Moe, why would they require a paratrooper? Odd…

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  5. Mindy said on September 16, 2009 at 10:54 am

    I’m with you, Julie. Navy has blue has been my basic black all of my life, and it’s so difficult to find. Especially in styles that can be worn for the ten to 15 years that you and I require. For months now I’ve been hunting for the most elusive prey in the world, a navy blue belt with a plain gold buckle to wear with jeans. Perhaps the Loch Ness monster is wearing it and explains why I’m having such a hard time chasing it down.

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  6. Dorothy said on September 16, 2009 at 10:57 am

    I have a fairly new favorite white shirt that I wore in two scenes in Steel Mags this past weekend. For quick changes between scenes you can’t beat a good white shirt! All I needed was a vest to put on over it and change my slacks and shoes and I was done. It has three quarter length sleeves, and the fabric has a bumpy texture. I love it, and pray that I don’t ruin it by dripping any food stains on it.

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  7. Sue said on September 16, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Danny, how much did you give him?
    In high school my standard fall sewing projects were:
    one pattern for a skirt, to be made in several different cotton/poly blend prints (usually took less than a yard for each skirt, easily) and two patterns for white blouses, because white went with everything. If there was any money left after that I bought a pattern and material for something fashionable. I’ve left those days behind – now I dress for comfort and in layers even in summer because I haven’t been warm in 25 years. I am a lifelong clothes-scavenger, stealing stuff from male members of my family – guys always have the comfiest stuff.

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  8. moe99 said on September 16, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Pretty good Danny.

    Here’s the real deal, although in my day it had to touch the knees:

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  9. LAMary said on September 16, 2009 at 11:05 am

    My fave white shirts are the Foxcroft fitted ones from Nordstrom. I have three. I’ve become very boring in the past few months wearing the standard black or navy or brown dress trousers, white shirt, and a cardigan. Today it’s kind of iris blue/lavendar.
    It is hard to find navy stuff. Lands End always has navy trousers and sweaters when no one else does and they’ll hem to your specifications, which is a godsend for those of us who are not the standard height.

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  10. LAMary said on September 16, 2009 at 11:07 am

    A photo that made me smile.

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  11. LAMary said on September 16, 2009 at 11:29 am

    and another one…

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  12. Julie Robinson said on September 16, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Tide, Tide-to-go pens, and Oxi-Magic. That’s why I can keep my clothes for so long.

    Does anyone else here pick out the shirts and ties for the man in their life? My DH is the most wonderful person in the world but he has no idea what should go together. So my Saturday morning ritual is matching them up and chortling with glee when I find a new combination that I love. It’s like playing with paper dolls when I was a kid. He’s so good about it–always tells me when he’s received a compliment.

    I just realized I sound like Phyllis Schlafly. Next I’ll be telling you to meet your guys at the door wrapped in Saran Wrap. Or was that Marabel Morgan?

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  13. LAMary said on September 16, 2009 at 11:42 am

    That was Marabel. Fascinating Womanhood I think.

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  14. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 16, 2009 at 11:49 am

    ’twas “The Total Woman.” I mentioned to the Lovely Wife that bubble wrap might work, too, but neither made it into the evening wardrobe collection. Sigh.

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  15. alex said on September 16, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    And all these years I thought greeting your man in Saran was a Helen Gurley Brown thing. I remember my mom explaining it to me when it was worked into some ’70s TV skit, “Love American Style” or some such. That’s when I first heard of Ms. Gurley Brown and that’s why it stuck. Like Saran.

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  16. Rana said on September 16, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    My clothes tend to fall into two categories – cheap of-the-moment fripperies, and clothes that I expect to last a long time. Since I work part-time in academia, and the rest of the time at home, my wardrobe has been trending towards more of the latter and less of the former.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that regional differences matter a lot more than one would think; it’s not even so much a matter of “the Pacific Northwest is more outdoorsy and casual” than New York, but rather that the kind of “casual outdoorsy” worn in one place looks different than the “casual outdoorsy” worn elsewhere. It’s one of many reasons why I’m wistful about living where I am; in Oregon my ordinary wardrobe is not only acceptable, but considered stylish, while here I’m shlumpy granola girl.

    And it wasn’t until I went to New York a couple of years ago that I understood why, in part, fashion magazines are so odd. All those weird, trendy things can be seen on actual human bodies, out walking on the street – I never saw so many skinny jeans in my life! – and I think they lose sight of the fact that much of the rest of the country views such innovations with horror, indifference, or disdain.

    I like the idea of white shirts, especially worn with jeans and turquoise, but I am prone to bumping into messy things, so I don’t indulge very often.

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  17. LAMary said on September 16, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    If things didn’t work out with the hot action part of the evening, you could at least sit together and pop all the bubbles in the bubble wrap.

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  18. mark said on September 16, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I’ve known many women who read about fashion trends, discuss fashion trends and subscribe to many publications that offer little more than fashion trends. But I’ve known few women who admit to “following” fashion trends. Curious.

    A helpful rule of fashion when overseas: Dress like a tourist (or back-packer), be treated like a tourist.

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  19. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 16, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    LAMary, i thought that *was* the hot part of the action.

    Tonight, i’m making spaghetti sauce out of our last (last?) bucket of tomatoes, so i don’t even want to think about white shirts.

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  20. Catherine said on September 16, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    LA has a thriving, locally based schmatta trade, along with all the connections to Asia. Anyone want to come visit? I’ll take you to the garment district on the last Friday of the month for the sample sales, and then to Santee Alley for the best designer handbag knockoff you’ll ever own.

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  21. LAMary said on September 16, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    We’ve got a thriving illegal sweatshop trade too.

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  22. Sue said on September 16, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Anyone who’s ever worn panty hose knows what it’s like to be wrapped in Saran. Sexy and erotic are not the words to describe it, although “can’t get it off fast enough” works.
    mark, maybe your attitude is just off-putting enough that no one would admit it to you in any case. Or you don’t know the right women:

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  23. velvet goldmine said on September 16, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I said a briefer version of the following on Facebook when you mentioned the neo-Sense & Sensibility, but my just-turned 14-year-old is in full-blown Austen fandom — to the extent that she thinks Edward Cullen lacks substance! OMG!

    Anyway, since she is mourning the fact that Austen left behind only six perfect and one imperfect books, we gave her the novelty Pride & Prejudice books (P&P&Zombies and Mr. Darcy, Vampire). While she’s been diverted by them, she still has stern criticism for each. I’m really stunned by her depth of judgement; she’s doing a credible job speculating what Jane Austen would have done if she had actually undertaken supernatural plots. (Not an incredible idea, since vampires and Gothic themes were wildly popular in her day, which she lampooned in Nothanger Abbey.)

    My daughter’s now pointing out to me instance after instance of choices Austen would never have made but that the authors couldn’t resist. One of the most obvious being the main love interests snickering over the word “balls.”

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  24. Julie Robinson said on September 16, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Jefftmmo, do you peel and seed your tomatoes? Every recipe seems to call for that. Tried it once, never made spaghetti sauce again until this summer. I just cut the darn things up and tossed them in, then used a potato masher later to mush them around. And the sauce was fabulous. I’m sorry I was too intimidated by the cookbooks for so long.

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 16, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    If the GOP has somewhere in the cranial cavity of its body politic two rocks in its head, a hunk of flint and a piece of steel enough to rattle together, the spark that would show it is: if after “the Baucus Plan” flops to earth after a brief, feeble, semi-inflated bounce, they come out aflame with a specific, detailed plan for reformulating federal health care policy and freeing states and regions to empower approaches to cover the uninsured and uninsurable through expansion of already available means . . . and looking oddly similar to the French National Plan.

    If they don’t, then we’ll get a mangled hybrid “something” (it won’t be the Baucus plan as i’m reading it) barely passed, very few new children and families will find coverage, current individual policies will go up, and the Democrats will still deservedly win a margin in the House in 2010.

    Good news for Dems — i’m hearing no sign that there’s a coherent plan anywhere out in the GOPniverse that’s coming together. Other than tort reform and opening up interstate policy coverage and few small dashes of me-too-ism.

    If the GOP can muster a coherent plan that focuses on the uncovered, they could really muster a counter-majority, and help us rethink this from the flying squid of an approach we’re all stuck in right now. Too many moving parts, not enough respect for basic facts of inertia and feedback mechanisms. Dems are designing health care the way the Pentagon designs new weapons systems, the way the White Knight packs for travel.

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  26. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 16, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Oh, just saw Julie’s query – boiling water, dump ’em in for a minnit, dredge ’em out, set ’em to cool (running cold water over won’t speed it up much), then nick the skin with a knife across the end opposite the stem, and the skin *pops* right off. I don’t seed, but if you have folks with a tendency to diverticulitis, ya gotta do it. I just simmer the seeds into submission.

    The hard part – i have to pick a dry enough white wine to use, and then drink the rest of after i put a cup into the pot.

    Just heard that we have coming “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.” Steampunk meets Hampshire.

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  27. Sue said on September 16, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    VG, has your daughter discovered the Juvenilia? Jane was in her early to mid teens (I think 12 to 17) when she was writing it, and it really shows her developing brilliance.

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  28. Jeff Borden said on September 16, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I forever mark myself as a metrosexual with this statement, but here goes: but I’m a straight, married guy who likes dressing well. I like the look of a crisp shirt, perfectly knotted tie and a well-cut suit with shined shoes. When I was a business reporter, I wore this as a uniform because you never knew when you might wind up in the corporate offices of a company you covered and you needed to dressed properly.

    Nowadays, I dress like this only when I teach. I’m not even sure why. Perhaps I’m frugal enough that I think it’s a terrible waste for these garments to hang unworn in my closet. Increasingly, however, I’m thinking that (a) I like to look like well-dressed and (b) there is value in putting myself on a slightly higher plane than my students, which the clothing certainly does.

    My place for bargains and quality goods is Syms. Instead of the hit-n-miss of visiting Filene’s Basement, Syms always has a large array of suits and coats in my size (40 longs are a small category in most department stores) and the prices cannot be beat. I am still wearing a wicked cool cashmere topcoat purchased about six or seven years ago for $119. BTW, they do have online shopping if you are unlucky enough not to have one of their retail locations nearby.

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  29. Connie said on September 16, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Years ago I bought a Vittorio strainer, and while I don’t can like I used to it is a handy item for straining seeds and skins from tomatoes and apples. You do have to cook them up a little bit first. Then crank your stuff through. The seeds and skins come out one way, your pure sauce comes out another. Couldn’t make applesauce from scratch without it. And one must make applesauce before one can turn it into apple butter.

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  30. Laurie said on September 16, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Avast ye, mateys, re navy. It’s my best neutral, but not as easy to find as black or beige (not as flattering to my pale Irish complexion). Maybe navy has too many connotations of “preppy” or “uniform” for these designers. I’m sure THEY can wear all that black in NYC. Do they wear it in LA, Mary?
    Last spring I picked up some excellent white shirts that I had seen at Nordstrom, for ¼ the price, at a Ross that is like a mosh pit but has some nuggets like this.
    My holy grail would be work separates that don’t have to be dry-cleaned or ironed, aren’t all-polyester (I’m hot enough as it is, “midlife”), abd aren’t low-rise (WHEN will they go away? I don’t have a body like a toothpick). Unfortunately the “no-iron” cottons are too scratchy on my delicate skin. Impossible to suit, I know. So I just keep rollin’ like an overaged grad student, unfortunately.
    In junior HS, I used to sew my own designs, up to wool suits with linings. However, apparel was not an acceptable occupation to be interested in in my family. Loved sewing though. Don’t know why I gave it up. Cheap offshore labor, maybe.

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  31. Julie Robinson said on September 16, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Jefftmmo, that still sounds like way too much work for me. Foot problems=lazy cook. And Connie, to make apple butter all I do is put apple slices in the crockpot for two or three days. Eventually it all cooks down.

    Syms sounds like another excuse to go visit the daughter in Chicagoland. Our son is a 40 long too.

    Laurie, what you want is what every woman I know of a certain age wants. Why is no one listening?

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  32. Jean S said on September 16, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I’ve gone back to sewing–it’s work but also rewarding. And plenty of navy fabric to be found….

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  33. Scout said on September 16, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    White shirts on me act as a magnet for anything that stains: ink, sauce, grass, coffee. I don’t even have to be in the same room with any of those things, just the mere act of wearing a white shirt brings about a spot.

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  34. Connie said on September 16, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I learned long ago that libraries are really dirty places to work, and a white shirt will almost always go home with gray dusty cuffs.

    I too sewed lined wool suits in high school along with velvet formals and other amazing stuff I would never try today. Today I make lots of pants and artsy embellished jackets and tops. I am working on revising and fitting an all purpose pull over dress pattern, still needs work though.

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  35. Dorothy said on September 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Re tomatoes and removing the skin and seeds – Mike bought one of these at the local hardware store for about $60,default,pd.html?SC=XNET8419

    Tonight I’m making spaghetti with one of the jars of sauce he made. I’m not sure how this is going to turn out, as I wasn’t thrilled with the taste of the sauce he concocted. But I’ll thicken it with paste, and the meat I’m going to brown is ground hot sausage. I’ll throw in some chopped garlic and diced onions. I’m hoping that will give the sauce the necessary “zing” it needs.

    Speaking of sewing . . . I bought some great suiting fabric, Jean, about two weeks ago and I’m making this shirt dress. I’m going to cut out the pattern this evening. View C is the one I’ve chosen.

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  36. Julie Robinson said on September 16, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks to that cheap off-shore labor, it’s hard to save money by sewing, but you do get to customize according to your own taste. I just made myself three skirts and have been enjoying wearing them. Two were made with fabric from the basement stash, and the other from the remnant bin. I had to buy some elastic, but I think I spent $6 total.

    Back when our kids were in parochial school, they had chapel every Wednesday and were supposed to wear church clothes. So why did the cooks always schedule spaghetti or other messy meals those days?

    Edit: Dorothy, I like the pattern! What color is the fabric?

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  37. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 16, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Dorothy — try adding a bit of Cholula and Worcestershire sauce along with the bonus garlic and spicy sausage. Doesn’t mangle the marinara, but pulls it up without adding a bunch of salt.

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  38. moe99 said on September 16, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    sugar will cut the bitter taste of tomatoes in sauce. I like brown sugar best.

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  39. 4dbirds said on September 16, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    White is why I didn’t join the navy.

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  40. velvet goldmine said on September 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Julie — If you freeze tomatoes briefly, they will slip right out of their skins. I dislike doing anything in the summer that has an extra step involving boiling water. I don’t really worry about seeds.

    Sue, I’ve told Phoebe about the juvenilia of Austen and the Brontes that I read as part of a college course. It was depressing how advanced they were, in both cases (or all, I suppose I should say — four Brontes and an Austen.) Thanks for the link; maybe that would be another place for her to go to drown her sorrows.

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  41. LAMary said on September 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Diced carrots cut the acidity in tomato sauce.

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  42. Sue said on September 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    This time of year I don’t have enough tomatoes to put up a full batch, but I still have extra tomatoes, even after the neighbors get their share. So into the freezer all the extras go. Come November everything gets pulled out of the freezer and defrosted, put through the strainer and cooked down into one last big batch of sauce. The weather is cold but the house smells all summery and nice, and there’s extra sauce left over after the canning for some nice spaghetti or chili for supper. Great way to end the season.

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  43. Dorothy said on September 16, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    It’s a brown pin stripe with sage undercurrents, Julie. I know that sounds pretentious as all get out, but that’s really what it is! I’ll take a picture when it’s done I promise, and post it to Flickr.

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  44. basset said on September 16, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    after seventeen years in tv news and ten in a mandatory-tie city job, I wear a tie twice a month now, for planning commission meetings – rest of the time it’s polo and khakis in warm weather, buttondown or sweater and khakis in cold, jeans on Fridays.

    I despise clothes shopping, so most everything I wear is either Cabela’s or LL Bean mail-order or something I notice by accident in Wal-Mart or Tractor Supply.

    and I own one suit. when I retire I will burn it right outside my office window.

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  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 16, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    aiiiiieeeee . . . planning commission meetings, where brain cells go to die a prolonged and painful death . . .

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  46. jeff borden said on September 16, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Even worse are township sewer district meetings, which I had to cover as a pup. These make planning commission meetings look like the Folies Bergere.

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  47. Sue said on September 16, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    MMJeff, add to your quote: “until something comes up”. Then Garrison Keillor’s quote is more appropriate:
    “The debate over the war in Iraq is sedate compared to what takes place in Planning Commissions and City Councils. That’s where people form solid enemies who last a lifetime.”
    In my municipality, the something that came up was WalMart. There are still people who are not speaking to each other and the Plan Commissioners, City employees and Council members who had to deal with accusations of bribery and corruption and (unsuccessful) recall elections are more than happy to attend boring meetings.

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  48. alex said on September 16, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    What’s all this talk about last tomatoes of the season?

    My garden’s knockin’ ’em out faster than the Chinese make iPods, and no end in sight. Tomatillos also. Just wish my danged yellow bell peppers would hurry the hell up and turn yellow.

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  49. basset said on September 16, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    my mandatory-tie city job was with the school district. I sat through 9 1/2 years of school board meetings, you can’t scare me.

    my tomatoes are about done, though. trying to get some second-planting peas and potatoes up, don’t know if that’s going to work.

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  50. LAMary said on September 16, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Dorothy, I’m amazed at the price of that pattern, even on sale. I started sewing when I was twelve and patterns were sixty five cents. Vogue patterns were a dollar. I feel sooooo old.

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  51. mark said on September 16, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Beautiful day here. Good day to bring some more tomatos in and to get out of the stock market.

    The dollar has dropped almost 20% of it’s value since January and the drop is fueling currency trading that could spiral and be difficult or impossible to stop in the current economic environment. With borrowing costs near zero, borrowing dollars to sell them short is a low (and quantifiable) risk way to fund the trades, which is aiding a big increase in short selling. Foreign governments are purportedly hedging their t-bill purchases with short contracts on the dollar. If trends continue, we could be in a lot of trouble.

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  52. Julie Robinson said on September 16, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    That’s the MSRP on the pattern. Around here they regularly go on sale for a buck or two.

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  53. Jolene said on September 16, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Wow! Expensive, indeed. I stopped sewing years ago, so I had no idea patterns cosr so much. (Did you know, by the way, that there’s a market in “vintage” patterns?)

    When I was a kid, pattern books and fabric samples could be the focus of an evening’s discussion among the women and girls. The men were talking farming in the living room.

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  54. Jeff Borden said on September 16, 2009 at 5:50 pm


    We’re already in a lot of trouble. Profligate spending for the past 25 years is taking its toll and there’s no tech boom on the horizon to help us out this time.

    There’s a brief but interesting book by a guy named Andrew Bacevich called “The Limits of Power.” It was written in the last year or two of the Bush Administration, but it’s still spot on. His basic argument is that America has squandered its military, monetary and diplomatic power. It’s not a hysterical book, but it’s pretty damned sobering.

    The future of the American economy is still pretty murky. Consumer spending was so much a part of our economy when it was humming. It’s hard to imagine it bouncing back to previous levels given how much debt everyone is carrying. So. . .what do we become? Manufacturing is gone. Service sector jobs are easily transferred to India or China. We still have a strong agricultural base, but how many jobs does it generate?

    I couldn’t say with any degree of certainty that the nation is in inexorable decline, but it certainly feels like we’re at a tipping point.

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  55. Rana said on September 16, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    A help­ful rule of fash­ion when over­seas: Dress like a tourist (or back-packer), be treated like a tourist.

    This is really good advice. What I like to do is pack light, spend the first day or so observing what women my age tend to wear, then hit the shops. Even better is to hit the thrift shops, if you can find them.

    Regarding custom, or semi-custom, clothing, I’ve embarked on a new adventure today. I’m trying out a site that allows you to design a dress (in my case, it will be for our wedding next summer), which they then make and ship to you. They do recommend having a tailor fine-tune the fit afterward (in my case this is vital, since I’ve over a size difference between top and bottom), but it’s nice to not have to do all the work from scratch.

    The most adventuresome bit of garment construction I ever attempted was to sew a corset, complete with boning and lacing, and it quite taxed my ability to stay focused on doing each step correctly. (I’m one of those people who likes to read the directions quickly and then jump ahead as soon as I see where things are going – which isn’t always the best strategy when assembling something complex.) I probably should do more sewing, however; I tend to want what I want, even if I can’t find it for sale, and sewing allows a lot more customization than buying off the rack.

    ETA – I’m amused by the juxtaposition of one conversation about white shirts and another conversation about tomato sauce.

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  56. Laurie said on September 16, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    I remember when Vogue patterns cost the princess-ly sum of 2 dollars–a splurge.
    You are making me think of taking up sewing again, because I have particular tastes and preferences, and it was also a fun creative outlet. I don’t have the eyes or patience I did back then, but maybe there are still “Simple-To-Sew” patterns–you cut out about 3 pieces maximum and, voila, a couture creation! Considering “creative”-type pieces run upwards of $100 at Chico’s and the like (and are often hot-to-wear, drycleanable, and gaudy), it’s worth a try. Julie, you are so right. Why aren’t the manufacturers making clothes that actually work for working women of a certain age?
    Here’s a story for you. I once got a sew-it-yourself kit to make a Gore-tex parka (a lined shell with about 12 pockets) for a BF. It took me ALL summer, and the material and Velcro made my fingers actually bleed. I think THAT Is what put me off sewing. Oh, and he lost it somewhere while drunk. (Need I add that the relationship did not survive?)

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  57. Jean S said on September 16, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Dorothy, that’s a great pattern. Have fun. (by the way, do you know about Pattern Review? a great time sink…)

    I think you can save money by sewing in some circumstances. T-shirts? nah. And I wouldn’t sew another fleece jacket (though I wore the heck out of the one I made), as I can get them at the Columbia outlet for $20, tops. But the higher you go up the design/fabric/fit ladder, the better your odds.

    I suppose it’s like gardening and the proverbial $20 tomato. We do these things for lots of different reasons.

    And on the tomato front: I usually cut them up and roast them in a med-hot (375) oven. Once they collapse and start to brown a little, pull them out and let them cool, then bag them up in freezer bags. Your choice on what to do with the tomato “water” that gets released in the roasting process.

    ps. Laurie, there are lots of new pattern lines. New Look is one. Take a look and give it a whirl!

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  58. Jeff Borden said on September 16, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Occasionally, we have posters here at NN.C who recoil when it is suggested that Rush Limbaugh is a racist. Well, El Rushbo is running hard on the incident in Belleville, Ill., trumpeted by the Drudge Report and other winger sites, where a couple of black kids beat up a white kid on a school bus.

    Sayeth the Big Man: “In Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, ‘Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on,” Limbaugh said. Rush then went on to suggest we need segregated buses these days.

    Can we now agree that this creep is a racist or, at the very least, a race baiter?

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  59. Jim in Fla said on September 16, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Re: Rush – it’s hard to say…He’s principally an entertainer, and I suspect he knows that he’s at best an entertainer. He may be a race baiter, but it also could just be schtick his listeners want to hear.

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  60. Scout said on September 16, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Rush is just an entertainer… until a Republican politician makes the mistake of pointing that out and then finds himself issuing a retraction and/or public apology the next day. Rather powerful for just an entertainer, I’d say.

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  61. alex said on September 16, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Calling Rush an entertainer is an insult to entertainers. Please stop.

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  62. Connie said on September 16, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    No one pays retail for a pattern. Both Joanne’s and your local fabric store, if you still have one, will have one or the other line on sale for a few bucks. Just keep your eye on the ads for the brand you are looking for.

    I bought this Butterick pattern for a few bucks, and it is the one I am adapting for a basic all purpose dress.

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  63. MichaelG said on September 16, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Put some sliced garlic in olive oil. Heat it. Don’t burn it. Quarter or make smaller some tomatoes. Toss into pan. Everything, including skin, seeds and that crappy looking core. There’s lots of flavor and goodness here. Hit tomatoes with the potato masher. Cook on pretty high heat for 10 minutes. You’ll need your lid. Add fresh basil, salt and pepper. Puree with immersion blender. If no immersion blender, let cool and put in regular blender. Amounts/proportions of ingredients are up to the cook. Now you have your basic sauce. Very fast, very easy, very good and low waste.

    I wear dress shirts or collared shirts and Levis or wash pants. Loafers, boat shoes, desert boots, tennies.

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  64. Rana said on September 16, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    I’d say that there are many ways to be entertaining, and the majority don’t involve race-baiting. If that’s the style of entertainment he’s choosing, I think it’s safe to say that he’s comfortable acting in racist ways – in other words, he’s a racist. Whether he’s doing it for fun or money or out of some deep-seated hatred of people of color is irrelevant.

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  65. Jolene said on September 16, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Rana: What is the site you are using to get your wedding dress?

    In addition to the custom hemming that Mary mentioned, Land’s End makes custom-tailored pants. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve always liked the quality of their stuff and have also been pleased w/ their customer service.

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  66. Rana said on September 16, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Jolene, it’s

    One thing that I like about it, in addition to the range of styles they offer, is that they offer green textiles (like organic silk).

    But the dresses aren’t inherently bridal; the one I’m ordering is decidedly non-traditional – knee-length, apple green.

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  67. Dorothy said on September 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    I’m taking a break from cutting out my new dress and marking the darts. Mary someone else already said it, but I’ll repeat here. Patterns are always on sale (or it seems to be that way) at Joann Fabrics. I am on the mailing list and get coupons and ads weekly. I NEVER pay full price for a pattern. I’ve been sewing pretty regularly since around 1970 and the prices on patterns have crept up, just like everything else. Ebay has tons of vintage patterns. And I’m sure there are other websites that have them, too. Even the pattern companies have links on their webpages for vintage or “out of print” patterns. I’ve been saving a few patterns from long ago, like when I first got married. I don’t know if I’ll ever be 120 lbs. again like I was in 1979, but maybe for theater purposes they’ll get to be re-used.

    BTW the sauce I made for dinner tonight was scrumptious!! I added canned tomato paste, 3 cloves of garlic, a chopped onion and a little taste of sugar. And one jar of Mike’s homemade sauce. It was sublime. We were out of worcesteshire sauce so I could not try that. It didn’t need it, anyway!

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  68. alex said on September 16, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Tonight made a fab impromptu dinner. Fried up Albright’s smoked sausage with Anaheims, serranos, Cubanelles, Hungarian waxed all diced up, smaller peppers smaller and larger peppers larger. Threw in an onion and a fat clove of garlic for good measure. When the pan started getting caramelized brown stuff on it, I moistened with a splash of cognac and scraped bottom. The sausage was firm, like Hungarian sausage ordered from Bende in Chicago, without quite as good a flavor, but it sufficed. Surprisingly mild in transit on the mucous membranes, but an even more surprisingly strong afterburn. Wonder if it’ll exit the same way.

    Numbing it right now with mozarella.

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  69. moe99 said on September 16, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Perhaps this explains why Rep Wilson is on edge these days….

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  70. Catherine said on September 16, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Darn it, Rana, I’m going to be playing on that site for days!

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  71. brian stouder said on September 16, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Jeff Borden at 58 – yes.

    I took Nancy’s suggestion Monday, more or less. The big thing is, in the morning when the young folks and I go to the bus stop I would have WOWO’s morning news on the radio. Then, at lunchtime, there would be Uncle Rush in full rant – and it was just annoying.

    So Tuesday morning, I made a point of having Rock 104 on the radio – and the soothing tones of Doc West; and at lunchtime it was The Doors (et al) as opposed to the gutter, and I feel better.

    Alex linked an article yesterday that genuinely angered me – from our small-minded, flatly racist member of congress and furniture salesman.

    My old Republican party is like a pulsar; occasionally expanding and brightening, and then collapsing back into smallness. They were brightly ascendant during the Civil War and then (the failed) Reconstruction, and into the Gilded Age – only to see their long-held economic beliefs collapse with the 1929 crash and then the rise of FDR and the New Deal.

    Similarly, they (somewhat weakly) pulsated back to life in the 50’s, only to spin back into dwarf-star status in the ’60’s; except then, their intense white dwarf gravity ripped the racist southern conservative Democrats away, and they pulsated back up again with the “southern strategy”, and the seeds of their next collapse.

    By way of saying – I now realize that when the Republican Party struck me as a pulsating, positive, (seemingly) forward looking party in 1980 (when I got to vote in my first national election), I was simply wrong.

    Live and learn, I guess…but meanwhile, I’m actively steering around some of the ‘harmful radiation’ being spewed every day; there’s literally nothing new there

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  72. Dexter said on September 17, 2009 at 12:13 am

    JMMO wrote how to peel a tomato already, but I had no idea how to “peel and seed a tomato” until I read an easy method years ago.
    I bring tomatoes covered in water to a boil and boil a few minutes, remove them from the water and just pinch the skin and remove it. Then I core the stem end and discard it. Then I make four slice-cuts 2/3 the length of the tomato, then two cuts 90 degrees the other way, also 2/3 the length of the tomato. Then I place the tomato between my palms , over the sink, and squeeze almost flat. The seeds run out into the drain.

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  73. moe99 said on September 17, 2009 at 12:46 am

    Boy, howdy, the cavalcade of stars flaming out is pretty high today: Mary Travers from Peter, Paul and Mary, and Henry Gibson of Laugh In fame.

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  74. Dexter said on September 17, 2009 at 1:38 am

    moe…first thing I thought of was Arte Johnson when I heard of Gibson’s death…
    but Arte’s alive, 80 years old. Verrrrrry EEEnterrresting!

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  75. mark said on September 17, 2009 at 2:03 am

    Jeff B-

    Agree 100% on the crazy spending of the last 25 years. I just can’t see how we replace it without going through a lengthy down cycle, where peole learn to save for what they want. Uncharted waters, I think.

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  76. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 17, 2009 at 8:26 am

    And Republicans bear their fair side of the blame for the crazy spending, i just get peeved with the reiterated refrain that therefore the GOP can’t vote against spending now without being utterly insincere.

    As a continuing non-Limbaugh listener, i can’t say anything specific, but my impression is that he is undoubtedly a “baiter.” Race-baiter is a heavy label, but Rush is a big man, and can probably carry it. He clearly enjoys baiting minority groups in ways that are generally avoided by polite society and general discourse — how to distinguish between damaging silence and undeserved attention i don’t know. The Limbaugh partisans i know claim that he is important (and this is what i’m told by Glenn Beck fans), because “he talks about stuff no one else will say for fear of being called politically incorrect.” Yeah, well, that can cover a variety of sins.

    So the problem would still be — if Rush or Glenn talk about something no one else in the media will touch (ACORN, for instance) and bring to light a nervously overlooked reality, and that’s counterbalanced by three juvenile rants and one rude, tasteless, and seemingly (whether truly or not) racially offensive cheap shot (“Barack, the Magic Negro” i’d call one, but i haven’t heard it), then does that add up to acceptable content?

    I think Ed and Keith on MSNBC blithely flirt with class war tropes themselves, but not watching works for me, as it does with Rush and Glenn. But if your math comes out differently, let’s hear it. I’m not a fan, either way, for any of ’em. They curdle my coffee, and i don’t even take cream.

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  77. Dorothy said on September 17, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Jean thanks for the tip on Pattern Review. I’m going to sink into it later this morning. Already I’m finding fault with the dress pattern I mentioned earlier. I started sewing the facing to the front of the dress this morning, and the facing is to short up at the top. I hope it works itself out and doesn’t create problems when I go to attach the collar. Which, by the way, resembles a boomarang!

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  78. LAMary said on September 17, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Other than kids Halloween costume patterns (clown, all purpose quadriped) the last time I bought a pattern it was a Vogue dress I made in black wool crepe for an El Grito de Dolores party thrown by my former councilman, Richard Alatorre (he might have been a thug, but he was my thug). It had three diagonal seams across the front with bias cut fabric in each section, making it fit very nicely. A perfect little black dress, sort of Carolina Herrera-ish. I lined it with very lightweight fabric, I’m thinking maybe voile, also cut on the bias. I have no idea where it is. I purged a lot of stuff when the ex moved out.

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