Happy Holidays

kate west good wishes

Please take the time to enjoy peace and joy with others and to help those less fortunate. Have a healthy, happy 2009.

www.unionstationfoundation.org Read more!

A Day Without Gays

America voted for its first African-American President. But opponents of full equality for another minority were also successful across the Nation.

It's time to take a stand for FULL EQUALITY for ALL AMERICANS, including the LGBT Community.

45 States ban gay marriage in some form.
30 states ban gay and lesbian employment protection
16 states are planning to ban gay adoptions and fostering.
Civil Unions are denied the 1100 Federal benefits of marriage.

Join us on December 10th, International Human Rights Day.

STRIKE - Take the day off, close your business, or call in sick (unless you may get fired because you are gay or lesbian).

BOYCOTT - Don't buy anything, spend money or support the economy.

PARTICIPATE - Don't stay home. To volunteer, petition or protest, go to www.adaywithoutgays.com.

(If you live in California, go to www.couragecampaign.org to find out how to help overturn Prop 8).

THIS IS ABOUT RAISING AWARENESS. A one-day strike/boycott is symbolic and will not have a huge impact. However, for millions of gay and lesbians, the current economic situation is made even worse without the rights and benefits of marriage or employment protection. Also, gay marriage would have brought $683 million and over 2200 jobs to CA in 3 years. If you really support America's economy, support Gay Marriage.

"The world only moves forward. We will be citizens! The time has come." - ANGELS IN AMERICA

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Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening

a kate west review

directed by Michael Mayer
music by Duncan Sheik
book & lyrics by Steven Sater
based on the book by Frank Wedekind
at the Ahmanson Theatre
Center Theatre Group
135 North Grand Ave, Los Angeles 90012
contact 213-628-2772
www.centertheatregroup.org or
running October 29 - December 7, 2008

The hip multi-Tony-award winning (including Best Musical) "Spring Awakening" comes to Los Angeles at last, straight from Broadway. Likened to be as freshly liberating as Jonathan Larson's rock 'n roll version of "La Boheme" ("Rent") over a decade earlier, the show presents the tragedy of teen angst as universal truth, in any era. Based on the controversial 1800's German play by Frank Wedekind, the story encompasses all that is painful about growing up restricted and inhibited by misguided social morals.

Like the original, "Spring Awakening" the musical is set in 1800's Europe, where boys and girls know very little of each other and their need to express themselves leads them down some dark paths. Accompanied by a fantastic musical score by Duncan Sheik (lyrics by Steven Sater), generational German oppression gives way to pounding rock, eliciting wild cheers from audience members. The seriousness of the dialogue contrasts wonderfully with the free-spirited and raucous musical score, when the actors burst into song, filled with desperate emotional intensity. Abortion, homosexuality, masturbation, rape, suicide and lots and lots of plain old sex and lust are some of the striking issues this piece explores. So prepare yourself for some heavy heartaches (complete with adult language) and leave the young kids at home.

Christy Altomare is the fresh-faced Wendla, who wants to know where babies come from. Her Mother refuses to tell her, feeling that it is not a proper topic for a young lady. Blake Bashoff (most recently on television's "Lost") is the tortured Moritz, who keeps having sex dreams and is humiliated by them. Melchior (Kyle Riabko) is his confidante and classmate, who attempts to help him understand what's happening, while pursuing Wendla. Steffi D is slightly off vocally as Ilse, the runaway, and Martha (Sarah Hunt) confesses dark family secrets in "The Dark I Know Well". The arrogant Hanschen (Andy Mientus) and the innocent Ernst (Ben Moss) explore feelings and Otto (Anthony Lee Medina) lusts after older women. Angela Reed portrays all the adult women and Henry Stram all the adult men and everyone heartily stomps and belts their hearts out.

The music definitely makes the show. Among other thought-provoking gems, the women sing the sweetly lyrical "Mama Who Bore Me" as a plaintive lament over their ignorance of how life works. The school boys sing "The Bitch of Living" (also a popular You Tube video from the 2007 Tony Awards) on the unfairness of adults and school and life. A couple's first sexual experience happens with the beautiful "I Believe" and the ensemble sings "The Song of Purple Summer" to finish the show on a powerful note. Each song is another cry of help from youth stemming directly from the perplexity of censorship. Choreographer Bill T. Jones has the cast leaping and gyrating to the dramatic score, in sync with Michael Mayer's intriguing direction. The cast members often sing out to the audience in lone spotlights and some lucky audience members get to sit directly on stage and witness the excitement close up. A spare set conveys several locations, with a few chairs and a slowly swaying hay loft. Scenic Designer Christine Jones creates a towering stage wall, with eclectic pieces haphazardly strewn about. All this effort in production puts all the focus on the fierceness of feeling.

The overall mood of the piece is bleak indeed, but the strong passion and desire in the actors voices fills us with light. And the majority of the company is strong indeed. Afterward, you might want to sit down with your teenagers and set them straight on a few things. Even in this modern era of openness, they still may have a lot to learn, since, as depicted in the show, it doesn't matter when your adolescence takes place. It's all in the title. And a MUST see.

Get the Soundtrack Here:
Spring Awakening (2006 Original Broadway Cast)

The Original:
Spring's Awakening Read more!

Jane Austen Unscripted

Impro Theatre presents
Jane Austen Unscripted
a kate west review

directed by Dan O'Connor
and Paul Rogan
produced by Matthew Quinn

Fri, Oct 10 – Sun, Nov 16
Fri, Sat 8pm
Sunday 7pm

Theatre Asylum
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 960-7753

Cast and Company: Patrick Bristow (special guest), Tracy Burns, Kari Coleman, Lisa Fredrickson, Brian Jones, Stephen Kearin, Lauren Lewis, Brian Lohmann, Nick Massouh, Jo McGinley, Dan O’Connor, Edi Patterson, Jennifer Riege, Paul Rogan, Carla Rosati, Michele Spears, Mollite Taxe, and Floyd Van Buskirk.

Impro Theatre specializes in presenting rapt audiences with such impressive improvisational feats as "Dickens Unscripted", "Tennessee Williams Unscripted", "Shakespeare Unscripted" and even "Sondheim Unscripted". The latest presentation, "Jane Austen Unscripted", is equally noteworthy, complete with gorgeous period costuming and language. Directors Dan O'Connor and John Rogan lead the brilliant troupe in bringing the celebrated author's sensibilities to life, as it were.

Company members take a couple of suggestions from the audience and spin an entire Jane Austen styled original play. One hundred percent improvised, the complex plot unfolds, hearts are won, witticisms flung and poetry recited, all in perfect synchronicity. Yes, amazingly enough, the actors are making up the entire dialogue right under your very eyes. It's like watching a Jane Austen movie that delivers a clever wink to the audience. The accomplished actors also gently acknowledge the occasional transgressions in ad-libbing, turning funny situations into even more humorous turns. The time flies by and when you are transported back to your modern era, you will want to come back for more.

The company treats their revered authors with the deepest respect, creating lines befitting the original works. Theirs is definitely an original spin, but seemingly lifted from what might have been written. Consummate professionals through and through (look up their long list of credits) , the players will make you laugh and then inspire you to read the classic works for yourself. What will they think of next? We can't wait to find out.

Austen's Works:
The Complete Novels of Jane Austen (Wordsworth Special Editions) (Special Editions) Read more!

Red Scare on Sunset

Charles Busch's
Red Scare on Sunset

a kate west review
directed by Cindy Gendrich

at the Attic Theatre
5429 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
contact 323-525-0600
running Sept. 11 - Oct. 18

Charles Busch, playwright, actor and drag queen extraordinaire, brings back his reflections on the 1950's Hollywood Blacklisting in "Red Scare on Sunset". Famous for such outrageouness as "Psycho Beach Party" and "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom", Busch often cast himself in the fabulously dressed female leads (www.charlesbusch.com). Filling in Charles Busch's high heeled shoes, is Drew Droege in the latest version of "Red Scare".

Droege takes on Busch's famous alter ego movie star Mary Dale, giving her his own full out drag flair. Mary's actor husband Frank Taggert (Chris Tarantino) is drawn into the Communist party against his will, subcombing to the dark Hollywood left. Best friend Pat Pilford (the delightfully fun Michelle Begley) supports Mary but still has to keep her own black secret. Mysterious Marta Towers (the rather weak Sona Tatoyan) gums up the works, making the moves on Taggert. Mary must save her husband and her career, all the while keeping herself in stylish couture. Busch tries to fit it all in - suicides and murder, sex and scandal and a reminder that even the entertainment industry can demonstrate intolerance.

The cast is unbalanced, some much weaker than others. Amy Proccaci has a few fun turns as R. G. Benson, a sharp-talking oldtime director, as does Dane Whitlock as various sexually ambiguous characters. Drew Droege and Michelle Begley are definite stand-outs, as well as being the best dressed. Some very fine delectable 1950's dresses, indeed. Director Cindy Gendrich makes some nice stage pictures and Droege has some priceless facial expressions as Mary sinks further and further into despair, to arise triumphant, strong and red-white-and-blue conservative in the end.

The company obviously enjoy their take on a Charles Busch classic and while it runs too long, it is fun to watch Droege expertly inhabit the intensely sheltered and delicate movie star who turns out to be much tougher than anyone suspected. He's the best thing about the show, pretty much. The actual story is almost secondary to showcasing that particular Charles Busch portrait.

Pictured below: Drew Droege, Michelle Begley, Chris Tarantino

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Tilted Frame

Tilted Frame
a kate west recommendation

Thursday - September 25 at 8:30 PM
Preview tickets $5.00

October 2 – November 20
Thursdays at 8:30 PM
tix $10

Theatre Asylum
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Contact (323) 960-7753

Created during the .dot com era of San Francisco by C.A.F.E in 2002, Tilted Frame merges technology and entertainment with live media, live theater and the Internet. The talented cast takes suggestions from the audience and riffs, improv style, but with a technological twist. With video and computer screens, they maneuver in and out of the stage (you have to see it live to get the full effect). There are a few glitches here and there (and kudos for being able to coordinate dialogue while manipulating media), but the actors use each mistake to their advantage, joyfully pointing them out, in fact, and gaining our respect. It is obvious they are all having the time of their lives.

Directed by Groundlings alum Patrick Bristow (www.groundlings.com) and Matthew Quinn (Executive Producer). Featuring Jordan Black, Candace Brown, Dorien Davies, Jayne Entwistle, Beth Geiger, Shawn Gonzales, Michelle Johnson, Caleb Martin, Drew Massey, Carl Peterson, Amy Procacci, Colleen Smith, Kenny Stevenson, Victor Yerrid, Brennan Vetter.

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Newgrange Falconry

Newgrange Falconry

a kate west recommendation

One of the most ancient sports has to be falconry. From the age of the Samurai and Medieval times to present day royalty, people have flown falcons and hawks as part of an elite partnership with nature. It may not be as blatantly popular these days as it once was, but you can still find avid pockets of enthusiasts. The birds will also rid you of pests - if you can coax them to work for you. All you need to do is to provide them the precise amount of food, keeping them just barely hungry enough to come back to you. And it's best to resist the temptation to anthropomorphize, as they will stay with you as long as they feel like it and are never guaranteed to fly back to you, which is part of the inherent risk of the sport.

If you happen to be in Eastern Ireland (and really, why wouldn't you be - it's near charming old Dublin), please look up the Newgrange Falconry. Husband and wife team Brian and Barbara McCann provide lessons for the novice and advanced student alike. They will bring the birds to you and fly a few different types all afternoon, instructing you and giving you a history lesson, along with a side order of local Irish charm. You can hire them for corporate events or even a private party. They will tailor the lesson just for you and by the end of the day, you will have made new friends, both human and raptor. It will be the experience of a lifetime to watch the birds soar freely above picturesque landscapes and Brian's passion for his work will perhaps rub off on you a bit, inspiring you to reach new heights once you float back to reality.

Nothing you've experienced will match a day with the birds and you'll be surprised to find that you've amassed incredible details on the creatures, but in a much more gratifyingly special way than a day spent in a dry lecture hall. Reading about them doesn't cut it - you must trek out to the hills and give them room to be themselves. You are guaranteed not to regret this beautiful moment with magnificent birds and warm, good company. Where else can you find that interaction in this modern life of text messaging and TIVO? So turn off your phone, shut off your engine, and be still. Listen to the wind and watch the birds. They will break your heart.


My previous posting on falconry here: http://www.katewestreviews.com/2007/09/bees-and-raptors.html

Erin Go Bragh. Getting there:
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Mike Got Spiked

Mike Got Spiked

a kate west recommendation

Mike Got Spiked is a kick-ass Irish rock band, currently taking the American musical scene by storm. Consisting of Gavin McGuire (lead vocals), Conall McMahon (lead guitar, vocals), Johnny Myles (bass guitar), David Lodge (drums, vocals) and ranging from all over Eastern Ireland (County Meath, Carrickmacross, Castleblayney, Drumconrath and Dublin), they've quickly grown from a local Irish group playing pubs to an international sensation, in just a few short years, and even recently seen at Los Angeles' famous Whiskey A Go-Go on the Sunset Strip.

First formed in June 2002, enchanted critics have labeled MSG "blender music" (mixing jazz, funk, ska, rock, punk, and metal). After debuting their amazing album, "Caveat Emptor", the band claimed influences from Incubus, Ben Folds, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alice in Chains, Pantera and Slayer, to name a few, and the sound is unmistakeably hip. Their hit "Come Dancing" was featured on Irish television's "The Ex-Files". One can only assume that their irrepressible energy will take them down the path of stardom, faster than you can say "Danny Boy". Fiercely alive and vibrantly raucous, the passion of the band will send you into a joyous rockin' frenzy and you won't be able to resist buying their ultra cool Cd's and t-shirts, available at every concert. Then you can say you knew them when.


1 All You Need 2:55
2 Whiskey For Me Tae 2:21

Mike Got Spiked videos:

  1. 5 Second Heaven
  2. All You Need
  3. Aversion
  4. To Have You Here
  1. Live acoustic performance of speechless on Stim TV in Oxnard, CA. February 2007
  2. Live acoustic performance of speechless on NTV in Kearney, NE. November 2007
Touring America in 2009!
8901 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90069

On stage 8pm. Tickets $12 advance, $15 at the door.

From their very own blog:

Ireland got real small, real fast for mike got spiked, who bagged themselves a top 30 single and international five-star reviews for debut album Caveat Emptor within a couple of years of their formation in late 2002.
America beckoned for the schizo-rock four-piece, and a slot on the 2005 Vans Warped Tour alongside the likes of My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy and The Dillinger Escape Plan strengthened their conviction.
Subsequent support slots with Anthrax, Head Automatica, Biffy Clyro and Kerbdog showed them they were well able to take on the best in the business, and so began an 18-month American odyssey that took in 42 states, 130,000 miles and more than 300 shows.
Now based full-time in the USA, they are signed to Los Angeles management company Associated Talent Management, who also boasts the likes of The Dead Kennedys on their roster.
Relentless touring, record sales topping 11,000 units, hundreds of thousands of MySpace plays and a top 10 slot on the Warped Tour's official download chart have predictably helped the band turn the heads of record labels.
But rather than put out on the first date, the band is still flirting outrageously with the labels hovering nearby, having turned down a couple of deals last year.
Having finally parked the van for a couple of months to write their second album - slated for release by 2009's end - the band members are now preparing themselves for an all-out assault on minds and ears in the US and beyond.

Give a listen:
and www.myspace.com/mikegotspiked

Hear them live:


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Aspirations of Grandeur Post-Divorce

In Her Words

One girl's dream of being a cougar

-Kate West 

(originally published August 2008 on bettyconfidential.com)

Dating sucks. Tell you something you don't know, right? But what happens when you jump back into the game ... later? A fine question, and one I'm still trying to answer as more and more of us find ourselves single later and later. The bad news for me personally hit home when, in 2001, after almost a decade of marriage, I was suddenly divorced and back at sea. I had to relearn how to swim.

Dating used to be this exciting kid-in-a-candy-store kind of deal, as I had just graduated from a boy-starved all-girls high school. Guys finally paid attention to me. They even told me I was pretty. All of which led directly to my first boyfriend, at age 18. Sure, it seems kind of late for these Britney Spears modern times, but did I mention the girls' school? It was so easy back then. All you had to do was stay in your 20s. I never had to ask one boy out; they all came to me. I got married in my mid-20s and didn't have to worry about it anymore. Or so I thought.

Flash forward to the new millennium and my current dating dilemma. The last time I went on a real date, George Michael still had FAITH. I think I bought my very first CD then too. Feeling old yet? Good times and lots of love and lust to be had. Alas, gone are the passive days of attraction. Now ... I am invisible. Welcome to your 40s. Not just a nasty side effect of living in youth-obsessed Hollywood, it's an inevitable reality now, as my single friends tell me it's pretty much the same all over. Succumbing to limited options, I tried Internet dating. Yikes. Guys my age do NOT want girls their age. In fact, most of them request girls in their 20s or at the most, early 30s. Needless to say, I didn't get many hits. So what does that leave me with?

Answer: not many options. Until I read about a growing phenomenon: cougars. Once used as a derogatory term for an older, desperate, predatory woman, the term cougar these days refers to an older, desperate, predatory woman who is now considered hip and cool. Thank you, Demi. But how to become one?

1. The first thing you need is money. Cougars are stylish, accomplished, professional (as in have a damn good job) women who can take care of themselves. Men their own age are intimidated by them, but younger men are surprisingly and openly fascinated. My problem starts right there. I have no money. In addition to having married way too young, I made the mistake of majoring in liberal arts. So although I am professionally successful at running a reputable program, it doesn't exactly pay well (the downside of nonprofit). But don't let my limitations stop YOU.

2. Now you are the hunter. After a lifetime of being hunted, it's a bit unnerving to try and turn that around. My first few attempts at being seductive were met with blatant panic (ouch), so you'll need to try a more subtle approach. But not too subtle, since you are aiming for the young prey, and they tend to be a little dense. Practice. Start out by hanging with a younger crowd, maybe attending a few of their "rave" parties. (I know, I know, but have a heart, see my '80s references above.) If this doesn't prove to be too humiliating, start hanging out with them even more by going to movies, etc. If you find you can no longer tolerate the inane conversations (sorry, kids, there are only so many reality-show-based chats I can listen to before I want to kill someone), you are obligated to stop immediately and go find your dignity. Which is not to say there aren't sophisticated young studs capable of matching wits, but let's face it, aren't they a little scarce in L.A.?

But if, however, you find all that virile youth, er, stimulating, then encourage the young cubs to pursue your interests. Take them to museums and play readings, if they aren't already familiar with such cultural outings. You are the educator, and believe me, they will be eager to learn. And I mean everything. You're more experienced in every possible way, and this is deeply attractive to them, so use it to your advantage (and to their delight).

I mean, why should men be the only ones appreciating the younger set? If Samantha can do it in Sex and the City, we can do it too. After all, surely she's modeled after real, viable, confident, strong and striking women. We didn't do all that marching back in the '60s (and even 1800s) not to be able to take control. Besides watching Madonna get down with Justin Timberlake, there's Cher, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Aniston, Katie Couric and even Star Jones. I'm sure you know some personally. They show up in the news more and more now and are increasingly accepted. It's heartwarming.

Now just so you know, a lot of cougars are in it for the fun (stereotypically, that is, and there's nothing wrong with that), but it is possible to find lasting love. Just ask Demi. Hey, I'll try it if you will - so good luck and happy hunting!

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The Friend Factor

How being friends with my ex-husband helped me find me

-Kate West 

(originally published August 2008 on bettyconfidential.com)

I've always been puzzled by the radical notion that people could be friends with their exes. Plenty of people I know have amiable relationships with exes; some out of respect for the children involved, and others because, well, they're capable of adult maturity. Bully for them.

I, on the other hand, wallow and obsess and allow my wounded self to heal in precisely half the time we were together, just like my magazines dictate. The trouble is my emotions and expectations get all tied up in the person I'm with, so when that part of my life is over, I really do have to start life all over again. Note to my future prospects: I'm totally better at this now, I promise!

So when my husband walked out on me after 13 years, I wanted to be stronger. This was the biggest break-up of my life, and I went from being with someone for that long to being completely and suddenly alone in one unexpected instant. But since he was so nonchalant about it all, wasn't it better not to give him the satisfaction of seeing how destroyed I was? It took me a while, but I did come to realize I was mourning my life more than the relationship itself. No one expects or ever wants love to end or to peter out, as ours did, into a brother-and-sister- like zone, with mind-numbingly boring daily routines. Sometimes you can climb out of those ruts (if you both work on it), but sometimes, sorry to say, you really can't, especially if no one is working on it. So I suppose we really were better off in the long run, in the end after all - just not in the execution of the event.

Anyway, I felt I had no choice but to follow his friendship lead, since there was apparently no going back. And I wanted to be sophisticated, which meant we met for lunch every week where I whined about Internet dating and he told me every detail of every conquest. Fun! I felt positively European. Yeah!!! But I knew I had entered new territory one day when he called and asked me for some free tickets at the theater where I worked. I usually provided comps for friends, and since I was absolutely determined to maybe try out actually kind of being friends with an ex for the first time, I told him sure. After all, what harm could it do? (Don't answer that.).

Then he said he was going on a blind date and wanted to take her to the show, and asked if that would be a problem. Well this was a first. Since we were not (ha-ha, Freudian slip, I meant now) best pals, I left the tickets for him at the box office, the result being that Yours Truly is the one solely responsible for giving the two lovebirds the memory of where they first met and started dating. They've been together for years now (told you). This turned out to be a great story to tell my friends and to garner sympathy from relatives as well as random strangers. We could all chat about my self-respect and relationship issues all at once because no one else had ever suffered a loss like mine, right?

But then I realized that each of us is responsible for our own choices. I did say I wanted to be friends, and if we truly had something before, and we must have, then I had to be happy for him now. And I am. I am happy for myself too. If I were to be brutally honest, neither of us was living to our potential. We married too young and then didn't grow together the way we were supposed to. If I could get over my own ego - and believe me, this takes years - I'd be able to look at the big picture and see that I am being handed a brand-new life, a clean slate, and a way to find my true self. When else would I get this opportunity? I intend to take full advantage of this, to put down that carton of Ben & Jerry's (why is that tired old cliché so tragically true during break-ups?) and go live my life. MY life. One problem with getting into a relationship too soon is that you are in danger of living someone else's life, and then you will lose sight of your own.

So I freely gave my ex and his girl their memories, and the instant I did that, my heart once again became free and open. And I am finally ready for the next big relationship - - the one with myself. Yes, I have baggage, but now it fits neatly under my seat. Bon voyage! 

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Beijing 2008

a kate west olympic congratulations

Congratulations to Gold Medalists:

PHELPS Michael, WEBER-GALE Garrett, JONES Cullen, LEZAK Jason, ADRIAN Nathan, WILDMAN-TOBRINER Ben, GREVERS Matt, LOCHTE Ryan, BERENS Ricky, VANDERKAAY Peter, WALTERS David, VENDT Erik, KELLER Klete, PEIRSOL Aaron, HANSEN Brendan, GREVERS Matt, GANGLOFF Mark, CROCKER Ian, WEBER-GALE Garrett, COUGHLIN Natalie, NYMEYER Lacey, JOYCE Kara Lynn, TORRES Dara, SMIT Julia, SILVER Emily, JOHNSON Shawn, LIUKIN Nastia, MEMMEL Chellsie, PESZEK Samantha, SACRAMONE Alicia, SLOAN Bridget, DIX Walter, MERRITT LaShawn, TAYLOR Angelo, NEVILLE David, WARINER Jeremy, TAYLOR Angelo, CLAY Bryan, WILLIAMS Serena, WILLIAMS Venus, ZAGUNIS Mariel, CAFARO Erin, SHOOP Lindsay, GOODALE Anna, LOGAN Elle, CUMMINS Anne, FRANCIA Susan, LIND Caroline, DAVIES Caryn, WHIPPLE Mary, CAFARO Erin, SHOOP Lindsay, GOODALE Anna, LOGAN Elle, CUMMINS Anne, FRANCIA Susan, LIND Caroline, TUNNICLIFFE Anna, WARD Mclain, KRAUT Laura, SIMPSON Will, MADDEN Beezie, ELLER Walton, HANCOCK Vincent, CEJUDO Henry, WAGNER Aly, KAI Natasha, LLOYD Carli, MARKGRAF Kate, O REILLY Heather, RAMPONE Christie, RODRIGUEZ Amy, SOLO Hope, TARPLEY Lindsay, BARNHART Nicole, BOXX Shannon, BUEHLER Rachel, CHALUPNY Lori, CHENEY Lauren, HEATH Tobin, HUCLES Angela, COX Stephanie, MITTS Heather, SONI Rebecca, ARMSTRONG Kristin, HARPER Dawn, BROWN TRAFTON Stephanie, WINEBERG Mary, FELIX Allyson, HENDERSON Monique, RICHARDS Sanya, PONDEXTER Cappie, AUGUSTUS Seimone, BIRD Sue, LAWSON Kara, MILTON-JONES Delisha, LESLIE Lisa, CATCHINGS Tamika, THOMPSON Tina, TAURASI Diana, FOWLES Sylvia, SMITH Katie, PARKER Candace, DALHAUSSER Philip, ROGERS Todd, WALSH Kerri, MAY-TREANOR Misty, BOOZER Carlos, KIDD Jason, JAMES Lebron, WILLIAMS Deron, REDD Michael, WADE Dwyane, BRYANT Kobe, HOWARD Dwight, BOSH Chris, PAUL Chris, PRINCE Tayshaun, ANTHONY Carmelo, DALHAUSSER Philip, ROGERS Todd, TOUZINSKY Scott, LAMBOURNE Richard, LEE David, MILLAR Ryan, PRIDDY William, ROONEY Sean, SALMON Riley, BALL Lloy, GARDNER Gabriel, HANSEN Kevin, HOFF Thomas, STANLEY Clayton

results.beijing2008.cn Read more!

Starbucks Fervor

a kate west reflection

It's about time I commented on the eternal Starbucks craze, having drunk maybe a small lake's worth of their product in my time. The phenomenon that is the coffee behemoth has now reached heights of absurdity. Not being the biggest Theater of the Absurd fan (except for my all-in-black-coffee-shop-dweller years in college), I've been rolling my eyes at every caffeinated development. Unbelievable as it may seem, as many people are now protesting the latest closing of Starbucks chain stores as were protesting the company's unstoppable encroachment and growth not too long ago. What other company can say this?!! What is it about this place that inspires such passion (a mystery addictive drug - I mean, besides caffeine)?

For those of you who don't know (I'm assuming you've been on a deserted island the past twenty years or so?) here's the short tale: First of all it's Seattle-based, the city of grunge, known for liberal viewpoints and environmentally friendly businesses for the most part. Second, you can sit and read in your local chain store, and even write in your laptop; you've entered a comforting community recognized everywhere. Where else do you want to go when it rains, but a coffee shop? (Does anyone visit libraries anymore except students?) I myself find it very convenient for blind dates since you can so easily find one based near (and far) from where you actually live. Even when you travel abroad, you can slip into the nearest Starbucks and find a haven. Not everyone thinks that's so wonderful, as we homogenize the earth more and more, but it is admittedly better than fast food and at least the stores are always clean. Individualism is still alive and well, even in the most cosmopolitan of cities, I assure you. I've traveled some.

So how did we all end up like this? Entrepreneur Howard Schultz talked the existing Starbucks company into adding espresso to their menu in 1983 and the result is sweet coffee history (why, oh why didn't my family invest, argh). And actually, he was inspired by kaffee hauses in Europe. The first non-American chain opened in 1996 (Tokyo, Japan) and now Starbucks appears virtually everywhere. So it's an established American icon which I guess "legitimizes" neighborhoods. Thus, the panic over the store closings. In this economy though, we are all suffering (except the very, very rich, who always manage just fine, even when doing illegal things, but that's another story). And just when I contemplated a part time job at my local Starbucks. Boo.

But I have a feeling that Starbucks will be alright, with the support of a loyal customer base. So don't feel too bad for this capitalist, multi-million dollar organization. Sure, some baristas are hurting, but they'll all bounce back, and come back to selling the free trade products and overpriced beverages we all know and love.

Except now I have to drive an extra five blocks to get my vanilla latte. Hate that.

p.s. Hmmm, they can even inspire millionaires, what will they think of next:
How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else

UPDATE: The above seems the least of our problems now. And I can't even comment on the current financial crisis, as I can't seem to get out of the fetal position to muster the effort to type it out. YIKES! Read more!

How To Look Good Naked

A Little Inspiration
a kate recommendation

Kelly Park Says Getting Naked For Carson Kressley Changed Her Life


How To Look Good Naked, Lifetime's double-dare, self-esteem building reality show hosted by Carson Kressley, kicks off its second season [watch a preview] with a brand new make-over star on July 22. Her name is Kelly Park. She's a 39-year-old working mom, married for 12 years, who fell out of love with her body and herself. Kelly spoke with Fancast’s Quendrith Johnson about her incredible transformation from a woman who hid her figure in maternity sizes to showing off her new sexy styling self thanks to Carson and his HTLGN crew. Here's her story in her own words:

Why did I go on ‘How To Look Good Naked’? Good question. I didn’t like the way I looked, and I didn’t like myself. But that wasn’t always the case. I grew up a poor black girl in Philly. My family struggled. We never had enough food. But as I got older, I loved my body. I had a thin waist and beautiful little breasts. I was hot.

Then I got married, had a baby, and my body started to change. Things shifted. I went through this time when I woke up in the middle of the night and I discovered this strange white stuff on my nipple. I had no idea why. For two weeks, I thought I had cancer. What else could it have been? Then I figured out it was deodorant. My breasts had grown so large that they slid in my underarms. Okay?

I stopped paying attention to who I was. I didn’t feel like my body was cute anymore. I stopped wearing cute clothes. Seven or eight months after I had my daughter, I looked at myself standing completely naked and I simply could not believe that was my body.' What happened? Where did it go? My stomach has rolls and lines. I had stretch marks. Things were hanging. I just wasn't the same person.


[Preview the new season.]

And it freaked me out. I used to look at myself in car windows! Then I started to feel invisible in the sense that my mom, who’s in her early sixties, started talking to me about as women get older, not just get bigger - as they age, they become invisible. Men just don't find them as attractive. I thought, 'wow, I'm going through that now, and I'm in my early 30's!'

Then I saw the casting notice for ‘How To Look Good Naked.’ I watched it for a couple weeks. I was like 'yeah, yeah.' Then something moved me, and I said to myself, 'You know what? I'm going to audition for this. I think this [sort of experience] is what I may need in my life.'”

I didn't tell my husband. I didn't tell anyone. I went in, and I auditioned. That was a dramatic process itself. It was kind of like Nip/Tuck in a way. The producers were like 'Tell me what you don't like about your body,’ and I really exposed myself. What did I have to lose? So I told them everything, starting from when I was a kid to the present day and how I felt like my dreams had been deferred because of the way I viewed myself. I even revealed how I am with my husband in private, our relations. I couldn’t believe the things I said.

Then, a couple days later, they called me back. As I talked to them on the phone, my husband asked, 'Who's that?' I said, “Oh, yeah, I auditioned for `How to Look Good Naked.’ He was like, 'WHAT!?' I said, “I auditioned for this incredible show, I think it can help me.”

I had no idea you had to get totally undressed. When I watched the very first episode of 'How to Look Good Naked,’ I never really saw the point where she took all her clothes off. I just saw the photo shoot. I thought yeah, maybe this is something I can do. I can just sit and talk to Carson!' I didn't know actually getting butt naked was part of the process!

But by the time they called me and said 'we want you on the show,' I was so ready for change, for whatever they told me to do. I remember talking to Carson, and he asked, “Do you trust me? Do you trust me on this journey that I am going to help you realize who you are?'”

I said, “You know what? Yes! Yes!”

At that point, there was no diet that was going to fix me, no self-help book that was going to help me. I had done all that, all of that stuff and it didn't work. I could not accept who I was; I would not accept it. I needed something drastic.


[See Fancast's Kressley photo gallery.]

Carson also opened up to me. He told me about his life as an entertainer. He said it had been difficult for him as a gay man to become something in show business, to get himself to the next level. But he had trusted himself, believed in his own abilities, and he asked me to do the same in myself.

He said, “I just need you to rely on yourself. Always trust yourself. Do whatever you need to do to get to the next level in your life -- to reach happiness, to reach that nirvana.”

He was extremely spiritual, and highly intelligent! I must say! It was a bit shocked by that. I thought wow, Carson Kressley is really smart. I also related in an unexpected way. Being a gay man, Carson was very sensitive to my issues. Because he's been through it; he's been through something. I could relate to what he's been through, being a woman of color. Both of us had faced, and overcome adversities in our lives.

But the point where I (totally) trusted him was on the second day. We were in a beautiful loft. Carson took me aside and said, “I need you to trust this part of the process. Take a deep breath, because we are going to start the healing now.”

Then he took me over to the mirror and we stood and looked at my reflection. Neither of us spoke. It was very powerful. Finally, he said, “Okay, now that you see yourself in your jeans and your 'maternity' shirt'' -- which I did wear maternity clothes, which was hilarious – “I need you to strip your clothes off.”

I was blown away when he asked me to do that. First, the whole Lifetime crew was there. Can you imagine that? It was a good 15 to 20 people. There was absolutely no privacy. If it was just Carson and me, I would’ve been sure, no problem. But there was an audience, and I hesitated. But he said, “I need you to do this.'”

I took off my clothes – except for my underwear. They told me to leave that on.

Still, I was sweating so much that I thought I was peeing on myself. Seriously. There was sweat running down the back of my thighs. I was terrified for the first three minutes. I showed my breasts, my underarms -- the things I thought were unsightly! And Carson didn't think anything of it. He was like, “You have a body! This is what it is.”

Normally when I looked at myself in the mirror, I only saw the things that I thought were ugly, horrible and tragic. But what was really powerful was that when Carson and I looked in the mirror together, he just kept pointing out the things that were beautiful about me. I never looked at my shoulders the way he looked at my shoulders. Or my wrists. Or the backs of my calves.


At that point, I was so in the moment and, thanks to Carson, already starting to feel better about myself – and we were just getting started. We shot for seven days. Behind the scenes, I talked to the crew, some incredible, beautiful women, and they told me their issues. I was like, wow, I’m not alone. I saw that stuff on "Oprah,” but to really talk about it? It made me feel better.

The process was still difficult. For the first two days I cried like a child in the shower. I wanted to change my body, but nothing was going to change it overnight. In the meantime, I had to learn to accept my body as it was. Yes, I wanted to change, but this was my body, this was what I had to work with, this was me. I remember standing there saying, “You can’t hide anymore. You’re losing opportunities, losing in love, just losing…”

One day, I was sitting in a chair talking to the director, crying about everything I felt that I had lost in my life due to the fact that I couldn't accept my body. Suddenly Riaz Patel, the showrunner and executive producer, came over, put his hand on my shoulder and looked me dead in my face. '”Listen. I am going to tell you something,” he said. “You a crazy-ass fool.'”

He said it so brilliantly. Because I mean I'm from Philly, that's how we talk. That was the sounding bell. I was done wasting time. I was done losing.

Every day Carson asked, “Did you wake up this morning and say how beautiful you are?” And I said yes. Every day, they accentuated the positive. And it affected me. My husband could not believe how every day when I came home I was a little different, more aware, and kinder to myself.

By the time I got to the photo shoot, I was ready. I mean, this time there was no drama or hesitation. When Carson said it was time, I took my clothes off. I took everything off. I had no underwear on. No bra on. I was completely ready -- and completely naked!

And I loved me. I thought I looked hot again.

Everybody said, “Well, maybe it's the make-up.” No, they did my hair and face, but everything else was au natural. There wasn’t anything on my body. They didn’t even do my toenails. And there wasn’t any photoshopping. When I took off my clothes, there was only one thing different about me, and that was the way I thought about myself. It's 100 percent perception.

I also learned a lot. There were things they told me about putting on a bra that I don't even think my mother knows! Susan Nethero, the show’s 'Bra Whisperer,’ told me about certain underwire you shouldn't wear. Do you know you are never, ever, supposed to put a bra in the washing machine?

She also gave me some of the most incredible panties. I am a big girl, size 14, and I can wear sexy panties!

I thought I couldn't wear dresses because I had a pot belly. But Carson gave me this dress, a Donna Karan, and said, “Do you see your pot belly now?” I said, “NO!" He said, “Now do the catwalk like Naomi Campbell.” I said, “Naomi Campbell ain't got nothin' on me!' Tyra Banks ain't got nothing on me!” Later, after I showed some women that dress, they were amazed that I’d worn it without a girdle. But I did.


[Watch all HTLGN videos]

I feel like Carson and I were separated at birth. We connected on and off camera. We were so ridiculous together. He was like my fairy godmother, no pun intended! We paid homage to Ethel Merman. I’ve never met anyone like Carson in my life. When you look at him, he's all Armani-ed out with his Prada shoes. But inside, he’s all love.

Carson kept referring to the universe that things happen for a reason, embracing your journey. He said things I always believed and heard and talked about. He said 'you need to love yourself Kelly; it's an insult to the universe if you don't!' He would always say that. He was right.

The best part is that I feel like my journey started when that shoot ended. One day after the shoot, I was at a Starbuck's around the corner from my house. There was a woman in front of me, and her bra was almost up to her neck in the back and the front of her bra was hanging almost down to her knees. It was terrible. I walked up to her and said, “Excuse me, I'm sorry, you have the wrong bra on. I just went through this incredible process -- and I just want to take you in the bathroom and show you my bra.”

So we went into the bathroom together, and I said 'I used to think I was a C; I am an S cup. I want to show you how this bra works. It was the strangest thing, obviously, but she thanked me. I said, “This is just the beginning of the process of changing the way you feel about yourself.'

We need to have a spectrum of beauty, not just one (skinny) type. There’s nothing wrong with that type, but there’s nothing wrong with other types.

I would say to women all across the world, we have to stop loathing ourselves just because we don’t look a certain way. Instead, we have to start loving ourselves no matter how we look.

Let me just say that my sex life is at an all time high! We are so in love again.

Original post here:


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