Monday, October 19, 2009

Can't Wait For Halloween!

Well, Halloween is fast approaching, and being that it's one of my favourite holidays of the year (I just love dressing up and handing out candy; the whole thing!) I thought I'd take a gander at Digg and see whether anything interesting is going on in the wonderful world of haunted houses, since I'm in the market to go see a few this year.

Turns out most of the really good ones are in the 'States, but if I get the chance I'd love to head down there and check some of them out. They look really spectacular!

Here's a link to the thirteen best haunted houses in the United States. Pay special attention to the ones in New Orleans: I was there a few years ago, and boy is it ever a creepy town. Beautiful, but creepy – especially at night time. All those old houses sitting in the middle of can really see why Anne Rice decided to base the Vampire Chronicles there. You're half-expecting Lestat to leap out of the darkness and lunge for your throat any second – and in some of these haunted houses, that's just what happens!

Hope you enjoy it, and maybe I'll see some of you there this Halloween!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mermaid Spotted in Israel, $1 Million Prize - ABC News

I'm not quite sure if this is true. But I would LOVE to see a photo if it is!

Mermaid Spotted in Israel, $1 Million Prize - ABC News

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Lu Galasso on Men's Fashion Icons

I discovered this article on and I couldn’t resist passing it on. I have so much respect for everyone on this list. And I mean seriously, who can pass up a list that has Marlon Brando, Brad Pitt and Michael Jordan all in one place.

– Lu Galasso

14 Mens Fashion and Style Icons

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Fashion has always been, and always will be dynamic. But style is timeless. The former is largely concerned with the what is cool, or what trends are at what time, etc. The latter, is not. Few men exhibit times timeless cool and display of good taste, and those that have shone in the public eye deserve mention. The following fourteen men are ones which we believe deserve mention as having some of the most iconic style, during the last century

Frank Sinatra

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Sinatra embodied an era of men’s style and grace. The hard-drinking, heavy-smoking ‘Rat Pack’ founding member seemed to never lose his cool, even in the midst of his son’s kidnap debacle. People questioned his potential ties to the mafia, but no one ever denied that he was the entertainer of the day. Old Blue Eyes always seemed well put-together, and our hat goes off to him for his matter-of-fact and effortless style.

Joe Namath

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The panache it took to wear saddle shoes, a fur coat and wayfarers while on the sidelines is second to none. Joe Namath was a football player back in the days when athletes could still be national heroes, not petty criminals or castmembers on third-tiered reality television shoes. Namath also showed us that athletic prowess and a penchant for dressing one’s best were not mutually exclusive. Kind of a Sean Avery of yesterday – but without the pomp and circumstance. Broadway Joe was also famous for predicting his Jets would win Superbowl III and in later years, he would don a mean fu-manchu – before it was ironic, or cool to have one.

Marlon Brando

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We’re not talking bitch-tits, Dr. of Island Moreau Brando, we’re talking bad ass, A Street Car Named Desire Brando. Widely considered the first noticeable male sex symbol of the silver screen, Brando would later come out and appease his entire fan base, by admitting to being bisexual. Brando’s take on men’s style would spawn generators of emulators, and his iconic style would only be emboldened by later roles in The Godfather franchise, and breaking the jaws of paparazzi. Interestingly, his grandson, Tuki Brando, is currently the face of Versace.

James Dean

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Not a whole lot of commentary is really needed to help explain why Dean is on the list.

Brad Pitt

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Fight Club. Mr and Mrs Smith. Snatch. Oceans Eleven. Legends of The Fall. While some of these movies might not be everyone’s favorite, they all contributed Brad Pitt’s superstar status. Pitt consistently tops the ‘Most Attractive Men’ lists in the celebrity gossip rags, and his performance in Fight Club alone would merit his inclusion to this list. In the last decade, Pitt has shown the world that he can play serious roles too, and seems to never be caught off guard by the paparazzi. Whether he’s working with orphans in Addis Ababa, or he’s cruising on his Triumph in New Orleans, he seems to do so with a masculine grace that has only developed as he’s entered middle age. We look forward to the release of Inglorious Basterds.

Paul Newman

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This picture (above) is a perfect illustration of the actor that would go on to embody the titular role he filled in Cool Hand Luke. Newman was famous for his fidelity, even though he could have had any woman in the world, at the drop of a hat. And integrity is never in bad form. His decision to go into organic food production before it was the in thing to do, only adds to his status as a a trailblazer. One of the few actors to transition from 1950s cinema to that of the 1960s and 1970s, Newman remains an institution of America male style, and arguably one of the coolest guys of all time.

Johnny Depp

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After his work on the Pirates franchise, Depp seemed like he was taking his role as a Keith Richards-as-Jack Sparrow a little too serious, but this ended up not being the case. No one has gone from 1980’s teen heartthrob to critically-acclaimed actor quite like Depp, and we appreciate his take on the Hollywood superstar that seems to not appreciate the attention. While his appearance might actually be the choreographed workings of a team of stylists, it seems very thrown together and carefree. This fits his demeanor, and is one that most everyone can appreciate in terms of aesthetics.

Steve McQueen

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Steve McQueen was rumored to smoke a pack of cigarettes and consume whiskey, marijuana and cocaine on a daily basis, all while maintaining a 2-hr daily exercise regimen. That’s what we call dedication – both to a serious affinity for vice, as well as to maintaining a well-defined physique. The King of Cool had an effortless and oft-imitated style, that seemed to be just what the world was looking for at the time. He was a sort of anti-hero, and his style transcended the clothes he wore; the guy raced motorcycles and pretty much all of his own stunts.

Jason Statham

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This former diver-turned-actor has proved to bald men everywhere that it if you are losing hair, there is still hope: you just have to get in really good shape, acquire a street-smart Londoner accent, and kick a lot of ass. But in all seriousness, Statham has been able to earn major roles even though he shares few characteristics with the stereotypical Hollywood leading man. He also tends to carry himself in a confident way that never looks bad. He is probably the most unassuming inclusion in this list, but deserves mention nonetheless.

Cary Grant

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Cary Grant was for many decades the prototypical leading man: debonair, handsome, and charming. Try finding a picutre of him in anything other than an impeccably tailored suit – they simply do not exist. His public image represents all that should be masculine about men’s fashion, and his timeless appearance has become the benchmark for black-tie events, awards presentations, and galas. Grant also deserves special mention for the fact that he was an ardent Republican, but never used his stardom as a soapbox, to preach his political opinions. Only later in his life, when his friend Ronald Reagan ran for President, did he come out and publicly support any candidates.

Robert Redford

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Robert Redford was Brad Pitt before there was a Brad Pitt. Packaged to audiences as the quintessential all-American male, Redford has a number of accomplishments in various capacities. If you need a reminder of what Redford was like in his prime, watch The Natural or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The amount of trim he was able to rack up, probably rivals that of Wilt the Stilt.

Sean Connery

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This foul-mouthed Scotsman was not what James Bond creator Ian Fleming had in mind for an on-screen adaptation of his beloved character. But, it just seemed to work. Rumor has it that after Dr. No, Fleming was so taken by Connery’s ability to morph into the suave, special agent that he worked into the character’s back-story a half-Scottish, half-Swiss ancestry. Even into the early 1980s, wherein Connery donned a number of questionable head-rugs, he still was able to give believable performances as the ultra-masculine, sexually charismatic Bond that subsequent actors have only attempted to recreate. To many, Connery is Bond.

David Beckham

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Love him or leave him, Beckham has got style. While the personal lives of professional footballers and their lady friends have recently become a thing of undeserved scandal, Beckham’s is the real deal. While some claim he is overrated as a mid-fielder, the long-serving captain of England’s National Team has done a lot for the game, including (many argue) contributing to the increased popularity of the sport in the U.S., and he is often lauded for his many charitable works. To top it off the guy always looks well put together, with either long hair or a shaved head, and he can pull of his many tattoos even in business-casual attire. Even his high-pitched voice seems appropriate, and slightly capable of cutting him down to size – but it doesn’t.

Michael Jordan

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Michael Jordan’s style has always seemed effortless, whether he was on the court, or in a well-tailored, Italian suit. Many basketball players look a bit funny in suits – truth be told – because it’s hard to look sauve when you are nearly 7′ tall. But Jordan pulls it off in swell fashion. Jordan also merits special distinction for balding with grace and dignity. He actually met his receding hair line head-one, by just shaving the whole thing. When you are the most dominating basketball player of all time, no one is going to bring up the fact that you are losing your hair.

Bob Dylan

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Many claim Bob Dylan is really a poet, but he just happens to sing and play music as well. Regardless of your take on that bit of whimsy, no one can deny Bob Dylan’s contribution to musical style and innovation. Fashion wise, this rolling stone is also one of the most widely-emmulated individuals the entertainment and arts industries have ever experienced. The above picture does a good job of summing up why this is the case; he’s basically on the same level as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, but without the decade-long periods of fashion insanity and peyote.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lu Galasso and The Half-Blooded Prince

Okay, so I have always been a Harry Potter girl. The first book came out when I was somewhere around the age of 10 and I fell in love. I read the first, second and third as soon as they came out. When the fourth came out I got half way through it and because I was older then I had more homework I had to complete so Harry, Ron and Hermione got put on the back burner. Then the movies began coming out and that resparked my interest. I watched the first 3 films and still didn’t repick up the book. Then I watched the fourth movie and thought, why did I never finish that book? That’s when I finished that book and made sure I read every other one as soon as they came out.

That being said, I have been excited for the release of the 6th film since I heard about its original release date. I was heartbroken when they pushed the date until nearly a year later. Over the weekend I was finally able to go and see it. Now, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it. I knew what was going to happen and so there were no surprises but I had read mixed reviews on the film. After seeing it I understood what was going on in the reviews. Those who did not like it (mostly critics) and those who called in “slow” or “uneventful” were those we had clearly never read the books, or at least they had never read the 6th book. I’m no expert but the impression I got from reading the 6th book and then the 7th was that the 6th book was positioned to set up everything that was going to happen in the 7th and final book. It was if the 6th and 7th book were written together and then seperated in the middle. The 6th book is all about being able to figure out how Voldermort can be defeated so that the 7th can be all about trying to defeat him. The 6th book is a catalyst for Harry to become, for lack of better words, “his own wizard” and for him to come to terms with the fact that he really is “the chosen one”. It is all about Harry and his two best friends to establish to the readers and the other characters that they have grown up. They aren’t little kids anymore. It’s time to bring out the big magic!

The film was done in exactly the same pace as the story. With lots of detail, the addition of new characters and providing new pieces to the puzzle. Although the book always provides more information and better detail than can fit in a film, the film wasn’t too shabby. If you’re a Harry Potter lover, you’ll like this one too. For those who aren’t, well Ron and Harry have certainly grown up. Ron’s even got some muscles now. There’s a little big of magic, a little bit of romance, some mystery and you won’t want to miss the unexpected ending!

Lu Galasso

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lu Galasso Talks Julie and Julia

In August, a film entitled Julie & Julia will be released in theatres. The film stars Meryl Streep as the infamous Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell, a blogger who for one full year would cook Julia’s recipes and write about them on her blog. What interested me about this film is that my mother has Child’s cookbook in her kitchen and growing up it always just seemed like the essential reference guide everyone should have around (that and The Joy of Cooking). The movie shows the lives of the two women, who have never met in person, and how Child’s influenced Powell’s success. The Globe and Mail did an interview with a long time friend and publisher of Child’s (Child passed away in 2004) about the upcoming film and how the cookbook came to be.

Sarah Hampson

From Monday’s Globe and Mail Sunday, Jul. 26, 2009 05:06PM EDT

Judith Jones arrives, perfectly edited.

The 85-year-old wears a tailored turquoise linen suit, her white hair in a neat bob and low-heeled Ferragamo pumps on her feet. Her slim legs are crossed elegantly at the knee and at her neck, a colourful scarf is arranged artfully over her shoulder.

Her words, too, are carefully chosen. She knows just what to describe and what to omit.

The legendary editor and vice-president at Knopf in New York, who still works part-time at the publishing house where she has been employed for close to 50 years, is very much in control of what gets shown, what gets said and how she lives.Lu Galasso - Julie and Julia

At this particular moment, she is discussing Julie & Julia , a delightfully engaging film to be released in early August, about the late cookbook author, Julia Child, and a young woman in New York, Julie Powell, who wrote a popular year-long blog about cooking her way through Ms. Child’s ground-breaking 1961 book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking . It was Ms. Jones who had brought Ms. Child’s book to the American public after the manuscript had been rejected by other publishers.

Based on Ms. Powell’s 2005 book, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen , the screenplay by Nora Ephron plays up the parallels between the two women’s lives, even though they never met before Ms. Child, played by Meryl Streep, died in 2004. It is also clear in the film that Ms. Child, who had been informed about the younger woman’s blog at the height of its popularity in 2002, did not approve. She refused to have contact with her.

Asked why that was, Ms. Jones, who remained friends with Ms. Child throughout her life, produces a demure smile and offers a perfectly measured diplomatic response. “We looked at [the blog], and Julia said, ‘I don’t think she is very serious about cooking and I don’t want to have anything to do with it.’ It was partly the use of four-letter words to describe food. It was just offensive. In our generation, we don’t throw them around quite as easily. But I think if she had met Julie, and seen some of her personality …,” she says, trailing off, shrugging her shoulders a little.

Long before Ms. Jones discovered Julia Child, she had earned some fame for insisting that The Diary of Anne Frank be published in the United States. After the war, she was working for Doubleday in Paris. “I was just a girl Friday, answering the mail, and my boss one day went off to lunch, and said, ‘There’s a pile of manuscripts I’ve looked at. Would you get rid of them?’ One was a book in French, but it hadn’t been published. It was a bound galley, and I was drawn to it because of the face on the cover. It had a picture of Anne Frank. I started reading and I read all afternoon, and when my boss came back, I said, ‘We have to get this book to New York. This has to be published.’ And he said, ‘What? That book by that kid?’ A lot of editors had turned it down in New York.”

Almost a decade later, in the summer of 1959, she was back in New York when another overlooked publishing opportunity landed on her desk at Knopf. It was a huge manuscript from three unknown women: Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The two French women, Ms. Beck and Ms. Bertholle, had met Ms. Child in Paris, where she was living with her diplomat husband, Paul. Smitten by French cooking, Ms. Child, who was born in California and educated at Smith College, soon became fluent enough in French to start Cordon Bleu courses. The two French women asked her to help them adapt the classic cuisine for the American housewife. Their exhaustive two-volume manuscript was rejected as too complex for the average housewife. But when Ms. Jones looked at it, and subsequently tried out the boeuf bourguignon recipe at home, she had a hunch that its timing was perfect.

“People were travelling more. Even a secretary could put away her pennies and go to Europe on an economy flight and have her first bistro dinner,” she says. “And [when the book was published] the Kennedys had a French chef in the White House.”

In her memoir about her life in publishing, The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food , Ms. Jones said she was “ boulversée ” upon reading what became Mastering the Art of French Cooking . “There was nothing like it,” she says now. “It was a unique book, and it changed the way that we think about cookbooks, which is that it isn’t so much about the recipes, it’s the techniques.”

Lu Galasso - Julie and JuliaThe book ushered in fame for Ms. Child, a tall, mannish-looking woman whose playful personality belied her arch upper-class appearance. “As Julia would say, ‘I am quite a ham,’” Ms. Jones recalls. “She was totally spontaneous. When she would fish out a little herb bouquet, and it was all grey, and she’d toss it in the garbage, and say, ‘It looks like a dead mouse,’ that’s what she was thinking.”

That authenticity is far rarer in the foodie industry now, Ms. Jones says. “It’s gone the other way now. You have to be a celebrity. I find it offensive because I don’t think they are really teaching and enabling the home cook. So much of it is show-off cooking. I don’t think it’s a competition. To really understand cooking, well, it’s a very subtle art,” she says, folding her hands neatly on her lap.

She believes the movie’s depiction of Ms. Child’s passion and determination, mirrored by Ms. Powell’s, close to 50 years later will bring about a renewed appreciation for classic food preparation. “It may help to bring us back to our senses,” she says in her staunch New England accent. “And it shows a generation, who doesn’t really quite even know, who Julia Child was. It brings her very much to life.”

Ms. Jones parlays her love of the meticulous into many aspects of her life. She describes her regimen for staying fit and elegant in a nonsensical manner and seems bemused that anyone would find it extraordinary. She does yoga every night. When she is in Vermont, where she has a house, she swims in a pond, the length of a football field, twice a day. Her swimming prowess saved her life in 1997, the year after her husband, Evan, died. She was driving along a country road in the rain when a small stream suddenly turned into a torrent. She escaped by swimming. “I also do weights to fight osteoporosis,” she adds. And to keep her brain fit, she memorizes lines of poetry.

Widowhood is also manageable, she says, because she never lost her love for cooking, even for one. In September, her cookbook, The Pleasures of Cooking for One , will be published.

Preparation of dinner is a highlight of her day, she says. “It’s really one of the sacred things in life.”

She nods her head slightly, almost imperceptibly. It appears that the word sacred was exactly, precisely, what she meant.

The article can be found here

– Lu Galasso