Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

Category: Humor

Spider-Man threads net a free Carl's Jr. burger July 4

Spider-gal-carlsjr
Dust off that Spider-Man costume from Halloweens past because, if you have the courage to wear it in public -- specifically, to a Carl's Jr. -- this Independence Day, it'll net you a free grilled cheese bacon burger.

As part of a promotional tie-in with the July 3 release of Columbia Pictures' "The Amazing Spider-Man," any appropriately clad web-slinger who swings into a Carl's Jr. or Hardee's restaurant starting at 11 a.m. on Independence Day will be rewarded with an "Amazing Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger" (a charbroiled beef patty tucked between two slices of grilled bread and augmented with bacon, American cheese, Swiss cheese and mayo) which would otherwise cost a grand total of $3.29.

Apparently the folks behind the counter won't care if your costume is a professionally made store-bought version or a home-spun, DIY version of the instantly recognizable red and blue body suit, but in the interest of not setting off everyone's Spidey sense, everyone involved is asking that you leave the mask part at home -- or at least in the car --during your visit. And don't try to play sneaky spider by hitting the drive-through, since the offer is only open to dine-in customers.

And, to keep folks from channeling their inner Peter Porker, there's a limit of one free burger per costumed customer -- while supplies last.

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-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: The "Spider-Man eats free" TV ad campaign encourages Spider-fans to dress like the web-slinger to get a free burger from Carl's Jr. or Hardee's on July 4. Credit: CKE Restaurants Inc. 

Orrin Hatch: Obama's traded the hard hat for a 'hipster fedora'

Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch

The hat seems to have become a political brickbat of sorts.

At least the "hipster fedora" has, thanks to a Feb. 29 comment made by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) during an energy policy debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

"President Obama has traded in the hard hat and lunch bucket category of the Democratic Party for a hipster fedora and a double-skim latte," he said, giving the distinct impression that the official chapeau of Williamsburg and Los Feliz was tantamount to donning a pickelhaube at a peace rally.

(On a side note to Hatch's speechwriters: It would have been infinitely better to go with "stingy-brim fedora" instead of "hipster fedora." The former sounds in-the-know, the latter makes him seem like an angry old man shaking his fist and yelling at the neighbor kids who won't stop playing ball in his yard.)

Sure, we know it was intended to be good, clean, election-year bloviation (for the record, we don't recall seeing Obama sporting any kind of lid lately), but it got us thinking: In this era of heightened hat sensitivity, what kind of hat could the president wear without alienating some segment of the electorate?

The cowboy hat seems too "last president" (and the two presidents before that), the beret too Che, the sombrero sends the wrong signal (two actually: pandering for the Latino vote and appearing pro-illegal immigration), and the top hat, in a nod to Lincoln, certainly seems presidential enough at first, but in reality it's just a monocle and a cartoon bag of money away from the 1%.

The fez? Too Shriner. The scholar's mortarboard? Too Ivy League faculty lounge. The pill-box hat? Too Jackie O. And, while it might be good fun to watch the president solve the mystery of the economy wearing the kind of deerstalker hunting hat popularized by Sherlock Holmes ("Elementary, my dear Biden"), he'd probably want to puff on a pipe like Holmes did, which would run afoul of the anti-smoking crowd.

The only logical option, then, would be the kind of good, old-fashioned, patriotic tricorne our founding fathers wore back in the day -- around the time they were dumping tea into Boston Harbor. There's no way that could send a mixed message, right?

Of course there are plenty of folks in the millinery business who wouldn't mind seeing Obama don a hipster fedora -- or a porkpie, trilby, bowler or tam o'shanter for that matter. In fact, in an interview about his new headgear line last year, Cedric the Entertainer singled out the commander in chief as someone who could single-headedly turn the hat business around.

"When JFK didn’t wear a hat, he kind of killed it from the presidential standpoint, right?" Ced opined at the time. "So all we need is for the president to start wearing a hat again and everyone will be: ‘OK, hats are back!'"

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Return of the broad-brimmed hat

 -- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), left, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wearing cowboy hats at the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001. Credit: Ron Edmonds / Associated Press

Calabasas company demonstrates 'virtual dressing room' at CES

CES FLoor
Although the really big fashion news coming out of Las Vegas isn't expected until next month's MAGIC trade show, our Business section compatriot Andrea Chang reports in today's Times on a Calabasas company's demonstration of technology it hopes will revolutionize the dressing room experience.

Called Swivel, developed by FaceCake Marketing Technologies and shown at the Consumer Electronics Show, Chang reports it's designed to allow customers to try on virtual outfits, receive recommendations on accessories and send images of final "looks" to friends. Her description of the process reminds me of the futuristic kind of full-screen wall technology in the 2002 film "Minority Report":

"Select a category -- say, dresses -- by waving your hand over it. A lineup of gowns will appear on the right-hand panel; another wave of the arm selects the dress you want to try on and digitally overlays it over the live image of yourself."

Technological advances in the clothes-shopping experience are all well and good -- especially with recommendations for the accessory challenged (I wonder if it gets commission), but Chang's report made me wonder how Swivel might react if asked aloud the dreaded dressing room question I always think to myself: "Do I look fat in these pants?" 

If it's programmed to answer truthfully, I'd suggest reinforcing that virtual dressing room with a whole lot of un-virtual Kevlar. 

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-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: The crowd on the show floor at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. Credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images

Grin and bear it: Old Spice introduces the deodorant koozie

Old Spice's "deodorant protector"
Just in time for the holidays comes the perfect gift-you-never-knew-they-needed for that hard-to-shop-for Old Spice aficionado, man-cave outfitter and ursine enthusiasts on your holiday list: the bear-shaped deodorant koozie.

The Old Spice folks actually call it a "deodorant protector" but we've decided to call it a koozie since it reminds us of those ridiculous foam sleeves ostensibly designed to keep a can of beer cold but are actually promotional giveaways -- miniature billboards to wrap around your Budweiser tinny.

As for the ferocious beast pictured above -- which has been designed to stylishly stow a stick of Old Spice deodorant -- it's promotional, yes, but giveaway? Not so much. According to the information we've received, when the limited-edition tchotchke goes on sale exclusively at the Old Spice Facebook page on Wednesday (Nov. 23), it will bear (we couldn't resist) a price tag of $19.99.

Yes, it's ridiculous. And, since we aren't aware of any recent increase in deodorant thefts that would necessitate hiding one's Old Spice inside a woodland creature, we're going to go out on a limb and call it useless as well.

And, for some reason, those two facts make us want one even more. 

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-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: The limited-edition Old Spice bear deodorant protector will sell exclusively through the brand's Facebook page for $19.99 starting Wednesday. Credit: Old Spice.

Poll: Which living face of fashion belongs on a U.S. stamp?

Are Ralph DVF and Tom Ford Stamp Worthy
On the way into the office this morning, I heard NPR mention that the U.S. Postal Service is waiving its requirement that someone be dead for five years before appearing on its postage stamps, and is asking the public for suggestions.

My brain was in overdrive the rest of the commute. Surely there's some living, breathing person from the world of fashion and style who deserves to be so honored, right? Even if you disagree on that point, there's got to be someone who'd at least spur the sales of stamps (which, with the money problems the U.S. Postal Service is having, is more to the point.)

By the time I made it to my desk, I had the following short list:

Ralph Lauren (really, who epitomizes the American dream better?)

Marc Jacobs (once delivered late, your mail now arrives precisely on time)

Diane von Furstenberg (this stamp would be designed to wrap around the letter)

Vera Wang (probably a go-to for mailing out those wedding invitations)

Tom Ford (the stamp could have its own five-o'clock shadow)

Although I briefly considered tattoo artist/clothing line inspiration Don Ed Hardy, I left him off the list since the stamps might end up leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Who deserves your stamp of style approval? Vote on one of the five or post your own choice in the comments section.

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-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: From left, American fashion designers Ralph Lauren (Credit: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images), Diane von Furstenberg (Credit: Karl Walter/Getty Images for DVF) and Tom Ford (Credit: Mikhail Metzel/AP Photo)

The 'caperon,' a cape-apron hybrid for the superhero of the grill [Updated]

Betabrand_Caperon
Just in time for grilling season, the folks at San Francisco-based online clothier Betabrand have introduced a star-spangled garment that combines the kitchen efficiency of the apron and the kitsch factor of the superhero cape.

Dubbed the "caperon," its made of 100% cotton, has adjustable straps, an extra-wide front pocket, a utensil holder and a utility loop, retails for $50 and sells exclusively online (like the rest of Betabrand's wares), practically a steal when you realize it'll also be a good starting point for not one but two future Halloween costumes (Las Vegas-era Elvis one year and Evel Knievel the next).

But, as much as I love Betabrand's mash-ups of fun and fashion, I think the crew missed a great opportunity with the caperon by not offering it in a fabrication a little more flame-resistant than cotton -- like Dupont's Nomex, for example.

After all, anyone who's seen "The Incredibles" can tell you that it's the type of wardrobe choice fraught with dangerous possibilities. Which is precisely why the the superheroes' costume designer Edna Mode repeatedly insisted: "No capes!"

Still, if you're going to play with fire, I can't think of a more heroically patriotic way to blaze the trail.

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-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: At left, Betabrand's ($50) cape-apron hybrid in action; at right, a sketch of the star-spangled grill garb. Credit: Jason Van Horn* / Betabrand

[*Updated 6/8/11 11:29 AM: An earlier version of this post incorrectly credited the wrong photographer.]

Why not ask what Kate Middleton won't be wearing?

Rage_middleton

Speculation on every aspect of the royal wedding dress reached a ridiculous level Tuesday morning on "Today," when Meredith Viera breathlessly shared the tidbit that, based on recent pre-wedding preparations (I think it was something about a protective runner being laid down on the floor of the church), "We at least know one thing Kate Middleton will be wearing ... [a dress with] a train!"

Wow, really? Surprise, surprise, didn't see that coming. But Viera's comment made me realize that despite the swirling rumors (from the most prevalent -- that Alexander McQueen's creative director Sarah Burton designed the dress -- to the seemingly inane -- that Middleton designed and made the dress herself) the news blackout has become the new black for the fashion flock.

Which means that the safest ground for speculation -- as far as I can see it -- is to begin with a list of what Kate Middleton won't be wearing when she walks down the aisle on her big day.

My short (make that skort) list includes:

-- a skort

-- a yellow track suit a la "the Bride" in "Kill Bill"

-- a Spirit Hood

-- John Galliano

-- PajamaJeans

-- a turkey-burger-print bikini

-- anything bearing the Ed Hardy tattoo wear "Love Kills Slowly" design 

-- a Norwegian OnePiece

 --a Chuck Norris "Royal Flush" T-shirt

Got one that belongs on the list? Feel free to share it in the comments section below. With any luck, we'll have the options narrowed down by the wee hours of Friday morning.

-- Adam Tschorn 

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Photos: Among the things Kate Middleton won't be wearing to her wedding are (from left), the yellow track suit Uma Thurman wore in "Kill Bill" (Credit: Andrew Cooper/Miramax Films), a skort (Credit: Adidas) or anything bearing the Ed Hardy "Love Kills Slowly" tattoo design. (Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Holiday Trends: Nuts for the Nutcracker

Rage_nutcracker

Is it just us or is the menacing wooden Nutcracker getting more than his fair share of the marketing limelight this holiday season?

Sure, the whole military trend is huge. And yes, we realize he's one of only a handful of stock Christmastime characters -- and there are only so many ads filled with pointy-eared, cap-wearing elves the viewing public can tolerate -- and that the title character of Tchaikovsky's 1892 ballet has appeared Rage_mm in many a commercial (last year, he appeared as a rapping DJ in a Radio Shack commercial, and used a Garmin to enjoy a night of holiday revelry in another), but over the last few weeks we swear we've seen the little wooden fellow everywhere.

At Walgreens we found him casting a shifty gaze toward some chocolate-covered almonds on packages of holiday M&Ms, on TV he can be found singing back-up vocals for Target's Electronic Santa ads and flapping his jaw in a conversation with other ornaments (in a thick accent that's probably supposed to be Russian) as he dangles from a Christmas tree in a Vons commercial.

But possibly the creepiest -- and highest-profile -- manifestation of the character came with Planters'  new Mr. Peanut ad campaign, in which "Richard Stevens" (the name he bears on Mr. P'Troika_nutcrackers Facebook page) crashes the Christmas party with a six-pack of root beer and briefly apologizes for his past boorish -- but undescribed -- behavior (whatever transgression it was -- and we can only guess -- it left our top-hatted legume with a bandage and a cracked shell).

Maybe it has something to do with the big-screen, live-action 3-D "The Nutcracker" that hit theaters this season. Or perhaps it's that the soldier with the nut-cracking jaw represents the dark and destructive side of our otherwise cheery holiday outlook, marching to the beat of his own drummer.

Or maybe his presence in the popular culture pantheon hasn't changed at all since last season.

And we're just nuts.

-- Adam Tschorn

Upper photo: Nutcrackers standing at attention at a Dresden, Germany, Christmas market, Credit: Sean Gallup / Getty Images)

Middle photo: An M&M Nutcracker on a bag of holiday candy. Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: A screen capture from Target's Electronic Santa TV ad.

Below, a Planters holiday ad:

 

It's 11/11 -- the day calendar and corduroy coincide

Rage_cord
Do you know what Nov. 11 is? Yes, it's Veterans Day (and as the product of a U.S. Army meet-cute, I've got a little extra to be thankful for). But since it is 11/11, it is significantly "the date which most closely resembles corduroy" on the 2010 calendar, in the words of the Corduroy Appreciation Club.

The 5-year-old club, which, according to its website, holds meetings on "days that resemble corduroy," is holding a meeting in New York City today to mark the occasion, and plans are apparently already underway  for a busy 2011, culminating in a Nov. 11 event.

"11|11|11 will be the date which most closely resembles Corduroy, ever," says a note posted at the site. "Nascent plans are in development for a Cordinated international spectacular. It will be the greatest day ever."

So if you've got some cords kicking around in your closet, now might be an appropriate time to show you're in the know. As for me, since I can't walk more than a few steps in corduroy pants without sounding like a zydeco band, I'll stick to showing my fealty to the fabric by rewatching "Rushmore" -- and Jason Schwartzman in that shrunken corduroy suit.

 -- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Olivia Williams, left, and Jason Schwartzman in a corduroy suit in 1998's "Rushmore." Credit: Van Redin / Touchstone Pictures

Fashion infestation: Bedbugs are so hot right now

This whole New York City bedbug thing seems to have legs, and the little critters are cropping up all over the pop-culture landscape these days -- most recently in an episode of HBO's "Bored to Death." Rage_duckie brown Before that, they invaded the Sept. 27 New Yorker cover.

And maybe it's just me, but it seems like Cimex lectularius has spent less time under the mattresses of Manhattan, and more time making its way into the fashion fold.

First there was the high-profile closures of an Abercrombie & Itch store (sorry, I meant "Fitch"), and a Victoria's Secret boutique (I think we know the secret now ...) and a couple of Niketowns. The bugs also apparently made their way into the offices of Elle magazine.

The bedbug invasion even managed to hit the runway at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. At least the black-and-white insect-print shirts that Duckie Brown included on the catwalk looked like they depicted bedbugs ("Damn it, Jim, I'm an etymologist, not an entomologist!").

In light of such high-profile cameos in the clothing business, I think we might be ready to add a new nickname to an already lengthy list that includes monikers such as "mahogany flat" (which sounds like it should be the name of an a capella singing group), "crimson rambler" (which sounds like an awesome vintage car), "heavy dragoon," and -- my personal favorite --"red coats."

It's just too bad that "fashion bug" is already taken.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: A spring-summer 2011 runway look from Duckie Brown, shown during New York Fashion Week. Credit: Peter Stigter and Jonas Gustavvson / For The Times


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