The beauty industry

by Lorin Michel Thursday, January 21, 2016 7:01 PM

I got my hair done today. I may not have as much as I used to (I blame hormones) but what I do have grows like a proverbial weed. It had started to look like a weed as well. I was actually scheduled to have it done next Friday and I knew I couldn’t possibly last another week. I called and changed the appointment to this Friday instead. But I have a client coming into town to work on her book, so I changed the appointment again, to this morning. Luckily my new hairdresser Todd could accommodate me. I like Todd. He’s my fourth hairdresser since I moved here and the one I like best. He’s no Tammy, but then, who is? 

I love getting my hair done. Not the actual process. I hate sitting in a chair and not being able to do anything for an hour and a half. It goes against my nature, especially during the day. All I can think about is what I have to do and what I’m not getting done while sitting there in luxury. 

Before you roll your eyes and say “For dog’s sake, it’s an hour and a half. Do yourself a favor and enjoy it” I’d just like to proffer that I realize how ridiculous it is that I consider getting my hair done a frivolous waste of my precious working day. Note the use of the word “frivolous.” Like getting my hair cut and colored is tantamount to sitting on the couch and watching TV all day, feet up, not a care in the world. This is decidedly not the case. 

It’s necessary. And I love the result. At least I love the result lately. 

When I sit in Todd’s chair, or anyone’s chair for that matter, my eyes always stray to what products are on his station. I attribute this to my many years in the beauty industry. I like to see what hairdressers are using; what they find that helps them do their jobs better. What they like about certain product lines; what they dislike about others. Todd seems to be particularly enamored with KMS. I like KMS. They’ve been a client of mine, both here in the States in Santa Monica and at their headquarters in Germany. Their products are as good as anyone’s and in some cases better.

I rarely if ever see Sebastian products. I cut my writing teeth – a painful metaphor if ever there was one – at Sebastian. I often say it was the best thing to happen to my writing career. I learned a lot about the inner workings of the industry, especially about hairdressers. They’re an interesting group, sort of misfits in regular society and yet completely comfortable in who they are and what they do. I admire hairdressers, and not just because they can be on their feet all day. I admire them because they’re always open to what’s next. They’re anxious for it. It has made my job easier in many ways. 

When I started in the industry, it was at its heights. It was the late 1980s and most of the professional product manufacturers had started slowly in the 1970s. Almost to a one, they were all started by hairdressers. John Paul Mitchell Systems, Nexxus, Redken, Aveda, Sebastian, KMS. People who were open to new ideas and who were positively averse to anything that had been done before. They were forever seeking the what’s new, what’s hot, what’s coming. I loved the energy, the passion, and even the shallow nature of it. At least that’s how I used to think of it. After all, it’s only hair and makeup. It’s only beauty. It doesn’t matter as much as, say, brain surgery or rocket science. Except it does. It helps us all to feel better about how we look and looking better leads to feeling better. It’s a winning combination.

The beauty industry is now mostly conglomerates. Procter & Gamble owns Sebastian and has effectively run it into the ground. Aveda is owned by Estee Lauder. Redken and Matrix were gobbled up by L’Oreal. Like everything, the beauty industry is now run by corporations not by people and certainly not by hairdressers. 

But beauty is still a sensorial thing. It’s hands on. It’s warm water and a head massage during shampoo. It’s a comb out and a cut. It’s hands running through the hair to disperse product; it’s the lush scent of that product. It’s the intense stare of the hairdresser as he or she studies what they’re created. That’s the beauty industry to me now. That’s what keeps it real; what keeps it human. And it’s what I’m celebrating today.

It's beauty and the beasting

by Lorin Michel Thursday, February 26, 2015 8:37 PM

On Valentine’s Day my wonderful husband gave me a rose. I don’t get flowers very often; I’m not really a flower girl. I’m not a romantic like that. I’m more of a pragmatist. Give me good conversation and lots of laughs and I’m happy. I do love flowers when they’re outside and coloring the earth. And I do love the life they can bring to a house when everything seems to be a shade of dreary. I loved the gesture of the rose. It was a simple and simply lovely expression.

We trimmed the rose, and put it in an empty plastic water bottle where it thrived. Normally, single roses last just a couple of days. The flower opens and it is stunning. Then the stem ceases to hold it up, it wilts and the petals begin to fall. The rose itself becomes tinged with black. It could be an analogy, a symbol for a love going bad. I’m sure a poet somewhere has used it. I don’t buy it. I think it’s just the rose’s time, hastened because it was cut from its natural residence, the rose bush.

My rose is still going strong, another symbol of my marriage. The stem is strong, the flower seems almost frozen in time. But today, several of the leaves broke free and drifted to the table. Kevin walked by and commented that it was beauty and the beasting.

In the exquisite 1991 film, Beauty and the Beast, which remains a personal favorite, the Beast is originally a handsome and human prince. But he’s not very princely. He turns a haggard old woman away from his door one night because of how she looks. She warns him not to judge solely on appearance for true beauty is found within. Naturally, since it’s the beginning of the story and the movie, he doesn’t listen. She then reveals herself to be a true beauty who sees no love in the prince’s heart, and so she turns him into a beast. Not content to stop there, she also turns his staff into living objects.

When she leaves, she leaves only a rose, promising that it will bloom only until his 21st year. As he ages, so will the rose. Only if he can learn to love and be loved in return, before the last rose petal falls, will the spell be broken. If he fails, he will remain a beast forever.

The Beast keeps the single rose under glass, safe in his bedroom, where he watches it constantly. It reminds him of his selfishness and cruelty. When he turns 20, the countdown truly begins. The stem of the rose begins to wilt and the petals begin to fall.

In my rose’s case, there is no haggard old woman, unless it’s me, there’s no spell cast, I’m long past my 21st birthday and I learned to love long ago. I am loved as well.

The last petal in the film falls just as Belle tells the dying Beast that she loves him. Suddenly there is lightning and magic and the Beast is lifted into the air. He swirls in a haze of white and gold and stardust and then, he is once again a prince.

The rose’s petals fall, signifying the death of something beautiful, but in the end, something more powerful emerges. Love.

My husband gave me a beautiful rose for Valentine’s Day, and today, 12 days later, it is beginning to wilt, to die. And I’m OK with that because what I have will far outlast the flower. I can see the stardust beginning now, there is swirling and whirling and bright lights. All this even as my prince is concerned that the flower he gave me is beasting. But in the best way possible.

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I have come to terms with the fact that I will never look like Gisele Bündchen

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, December 31, 2014 5:44 PM

It’s the last day of 2014 and you know what that means. Tomorrow is Lorin’s annual and official de-Christmasing. But as I have this last day to muse and mull, I thought I would share a little something that has gradually occurred to me. I am no longer 35. Yesterday was my birthday, and I haven’t been 35 in actually quite some time. But I use 35 as a metaphor. When I was 35, I was at my physical best. I was tall and thin, still running so I was in great shape. I could slip into my old 501 jeans and have them look spectacular.

I haven’t been able to wear those jeans in a while now though they still hang in my closet because I remain hopeful. I have aspirations.

But I will never be 35 again. I am now safely in my 50s and I am actually very OK with that. I am beginning what many have come to term the more ideal second phase of life. This isn’t to say or even imply that the first phase was un-ideal. In fact, quite the opposite. The first phase saw me get an education and embark on a career that I loved and miraculously still do. It allowed me to appreciate my family. It gave me the opportunity to make real, true, and lasting friends. It gave me my first husband to show me exactly what I didn’t want in a marriage, and thus gave me my favorite husband, Kevin who in turn gave me Justin. And Maguire. And now Cooper. The first phase was the time of my life where I began.

The second phase is the time when I enjoy. Justin is out of school and making his own living. We are now at the time in the parents-child relationship when he actually likes talking to us. When there is no agenda, just love, laughter and joy. It was a long time coming. I’m glad it’s here.

It’s a time when we have reinvented ourselves, picked up our lives and moved to a new city with a new culture, where we can spend time rediscovering things that we like. Art galleries. Restaurants. Sitting by outside fireplaces listening to nothing but music. Watching a house get built on a hill. Meeting new people. Engaging with those our own age. Being unapologetic for it and embracing this second phase as opportunity. Opportunity to live differently and possibility to change because we can. And did.

It’s a time to also realize that 50 is the new best age. We don’t look like we did at 35. We have more lines. Things sag that didn’t used to. Things don’t fit the way they once did. Hair is thinner, for both men and women. But it’s all OK. Because it’s real and true and honest and life.

I titled this post “I have come to terms with the fact that I will never look like Gisele Bündchen.” The fact is, I bet Gisele Bündchen, also known as Mrs. Tom Brady and the highest earning super model in the world, probably doesn’t always look like her magazine-self either. She’s pretty; makeup and hair and clothing and Photoshop make her stunningly gorgeous. But she’s 32. I wonder how she’ll look and feel at 53.

I was perusing the internet earlier, just bouncing around as I often do between projects. It’s how I cleanse my creative palette. I came across something entitled “GQs Sexiest Women of 2014.” Naturally I clicked. I’ll tell you about it so you don’t have to look yourself. It was filled with what men seem to think women actually look like. Most of them were women probably in their early 20s who had lithe, ridiculously hairless bodies that they showcased readily, squirming in the sand, writhing on satin sheets, all sex and foreplay. There were only a few whose names I even recognized, like Lizzy Caplan, Rashida Jones, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the latter of whom is also 53. She will never look like Gisele either and I suspect she, too, is just fine with that. It’s called acceptance, and reality. And being OK with who you are, without Photoshop.

As we wrap up 2014, I hope that some of you, too, have decided that this next phase of life will be one of wonder and fun, love and laughter, and yes, beauty. And that when you look in the mirror, you’re OK with the person looking back because that person is truly worth celebrating, this day, this night and always.

The mother of us all

by Lorin Michel Monday, October 29, 2012 9:33 PM

I am forever amazed at the power of nature. I am even more amazed at how we mere mortals think we have power over that power. We build skyscrapers near fault lines and pretend that we have the technology to allow a 100-story building to sway in the face of an 8 point earthquake. We build mansions on a coastline that is continuously ravaged by a pounding surf. We put houses in the middle of nowhere and nowhere burns.

I am forever reminded of this, never more so than when we have a major weather event, which we seem to have at least once every couple of months. Sandy has come ashore and it is wreaking havoc up and down the eastern and weather-beaten seaboard. It made landfall in Atlantic City, New Jersey at 6:45 pm with 90 mile per hour winds and torrential rains. 2.2 million people were already without power before the superstorm hit. Thousands of flights were cancelled. A replica of the HMS Bounty sank off of Hatteras, North Carolina, stranding many and killing one. Snow was being forecast for elevations above 3000 feet. Parts of West Virginia were already under a blanket of white.

Mother Nature has such beauty, such majesty. This planet of ours is truly remarkable. Just look at what is in this country alone. The rocky shoreline of the northeast, the towering pine trees and arching mountain ranges. The sandy beaches further south. The warm waters of the gulf. The thick trees that give way to rolling hillsides and ice-cold lakes. Flat plains covered with wild grasses that blow all the time. Cold winds and more mountains across the north, flat desert sands and deep red canyons to the southwest; palm trees and another coast that’s less rocky and thus more accessible. The waters churn with the tides. Birds fly, fish swim, animals prowl and people are invited to be one with it all, to embrace the beauty and the wonder and the idea of something greater than all of us.

Most of us do; some of us are too arrogant. We think that it’s all here for us. It’s not. It’s all here in spite of us, and it is our responsibility to care for it. I’m not going to get into environmental correctness, though I think we should all practice it. I believe, as the saying goes, that we are but stewards of this house. We are so blessed to have this planet, to live with our mother Earth. Our Mother Nature.

She is not simply of our country. She became popular in the Middle Ages but her origin can be traced to Ancient Greece. Her name occurs in Mycenaean Greek as Mother Gaia. In Greek mythology, “Demeter (the goddess of harvest) would take the place of her grandmother, Gaia, and her mother, Rhea, as goddess of the earth in a time when humans and gods thought the activities of the heavens more sacred than those of earth.”

She also appears as Inanna or Ishtar on Mesopotamian tablets in the third millennium B.C. Of course, later medieval Christians in Europe thought of Mother Nature as something created by god. She was a personification, not a goddess.

The Algonquian legend says that “beneath the clouds lives the Earth-Mother from whom is derived the Water of Life, who at her bosom feeds plants, animals and human.” She is strong and rarely silent, forceful but not necessarily vengeful. She will not, however, be taken for granted and she announces her presence with authority, as she did this morning when the news coverage began, and tonight, when she roared ashore.

While I would never celebrate the devastation nor the inconvenience, I am celebrating the power and the majesty, her majesty. As one who has lived through blizzards, firestorms, mudslides and earthquakes, I have come to respect her authority and to worship her beauty any way and all ways.

I wish all those who have been visited by this mother of a storm dog-speed and high ground. 

Turns out, I have a rose garden

by Lorin Michel Friday, May 25, 2012 1:27 AM

Kevin and I are big fans of the 1995 movie The American President, starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. It’s charming, idealistic, romantic and fun without being stupid. I suspect it has something to do with liking Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the film, and went on to also create – and pen most episodes of – The West Wing. I thought of fictional President Andrew Shepherd today as I was out in my back yard.

I’ve spoken previously about the rose bushes we have outside. Red, yellow, sterling and pink. In the past few days they’ve begun first to bud and now to bloom. I was on the patio the other day and noticed a tall red bud reaching toward the sun. I knew if would be just a matter of time before it blossomed and it has, seemingly overnight. It’s huge as roses that bloom in the backyard always seem to be. Much bigger than those that come from a florist. Don’t know if the roses are a different strain or if it has to do with when they’re cut, or if it’s simply my imagination, but either way, the red beauty along the wall in my back yard is huge and stunning. I walked over toward it and before I even got there I could smell it. Outside roses are sweeter and infinitely more fragrant than indoor roses as well. I don’t know that I ever realized that until today. Standing there, leaning into my flower, I finally understood the meaning of succulent.

As photographed by Kevin Michel

Then I noticed that one of my sterling silver roses had also opened itself up to welcome the day. The stalk of the bush wasn’t as hearty as that of the red rose, and so the stem didn’t have as much support. The rose bloom was so heavy it was dragging the entire stem toward the ground. The dusty purple petals were only inches from the grass but they weren’t yet touching. I called to Kevin to come and see what was happening right here on our little postage stamp of land. He came and brought along his trimmers.

We snipped off the sterling rose and I took it and its nice long stem into the house to put in a vase. On the same stem are two more buds waiting to open. It will be interesting to see if they do, and if they do, if they’re as big and fat and lush as the other. It may give my theory about florist-bought roses some credibility. Or not.

While I was busying myself in the kitchen with my rose, Kevin started trimming some of our other plants. I could hear the sharp snip as each stem was cleanly shortened, against its will. I have to watch him when he does this because sometimes he goes a little nuts and cuts back everything. And while I understand that it needs to be done, I like my flowers and am not quite ready to let them go. Not today.

We have this one meandering and flowering plant that we have trained up against the back wall. It snakes its way along the nearly invisible wire and then drapes itself over, hanging, blooming, reaching. It’s the most incredible shade of vibrant fuscia. The flowers are paper-thin but they’re plentiful, and in amongst the blooms are tiny white flowers that can’t be seen unless you’re up close. The flowers had become so thick and full they were encroaching on yet another rose bush, this one close to Kevin’s studio. So armed with his trimmers, he cut several flowering sprigs from the bush. I scooped up some of those as well and trooped back into the kitchen. I trimmed them up a bit more and put them in the vase with my sterling rose. It was quite the display, as pretty as anything that would come from a florist, perhaps more so because it came from our own backyard.

I walked back through the house, toward the sun, and the fuscia plant visible through the back slider still bursting with life and color out in the yard. Kevin had taken just enough away; not too much. We put another stalk from another similar plant into a water-filled wine bottle and left it out on the table. This one is coral and peach, not as vivacious but equally lovely.

That was when I remembered the scene from The American President. At the end, just before he delivers his state-of-the-union speech he’s finally able to give his girlfriend the roses he’s been trying desperately to give her for just about the entire movie. He’s able to do it because it turns out, he’s got a rose garden.

Ours may not be nearly as big and impressive as that of the White House, but for our little house, it’s perfect.

As I sit here, the fragrance from that one rose is filling the house. It’s the definition of flower power, and cause for celebration on this beautiful spring day. 

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I love you baby, and if it’s quite alright

by Lorin Michel Monday, April 30, 2012 9:50 PM


Like most people, I’m a big fan of music. Unlike most people, I’m a big fan of almost all kinds of music. Most people like one, two, maybe three varieties. But I can’t really think of any music I don’t like. Granted I don’t listen to a lot of country though I don’t mind it. I don’t listen to a lot of classical, but in certain situations, it doesn’t bother me. I like jazz of all kinds, some pop, most rock, the standards, Celtic, new age, some opera. On my desert island list I have songs like Rod Stewart’s Maggie May, Janis Joplin’s rendition of Me and Bobby McGee, several songs by Bruce Springsteen like Thunder Road, Tony Bennett’s Fly Me to the Moon, and Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.

You’re just too good to be true; Can’t take my eyes off you; You’d be like heaven to touch; I wanna hold you so much.

The song was written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio and recorded by Frankie Valli in 1967. It quickly went to the top of the charts and was one of his biggest hits. It’s so popular it has become a staple of both film and television, beginning in The Deer Hunter in 1978 when the main characters sang along as the song played on the jukebox. When it was performed by the late Heath Ledger in the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You, the song – and Mr. Ledger – was nominated for Best Musical Sequence in the MTV Movie Awards.

At long last love has arrived; And I thank God I’m alive; You’re just too good to be true; Can’t take my eyes off you.

The song is also featured in the still-running Broadway musical Jersey Boys, and has been recorded by over 200 different artists, ranging from crooner Andy Williams in 1968 to Maureen McGovern in 1979 to the Pet Shop Boys in 1991 to Australia’s Manic Street Preachers in 1996 to Sheen Easton in 2001 and Barry Manilow in 2006. In 2011, the Welsh rock band Stereophonics’ lead singer Kelly Jones sang an acoustic version as a tribute to former Wales national football team manager Gary Speed. Country band Lady Antebellum (who I think has one of the best group names around) has covered it as has the English rock band Muse.

Pardon the way that I stare; There’s nothing else to compare; The signs of you leaves me weak; There are no words left to speak.

It’s a song about a basic human reflex. Think of it this way: you’re at a party with your favorite person and a person of the opposite sex walks in, and you stare. It’s involuntary but you literally can’t take your eyes off of this person. There have actually been studies done. Jon Maner, associate professor of psychology at Florida State University and three of his graduate students conducted a study of 440 students measuring what they called attentional adhesion, or the length of time something or someone holds your attention even though you know you’re supposed to be looking at something else. Study participants sat in front of a computer terminal as various images flashed on screen including a beautiful face followed by a circle or square elsewhere on the screen. The time it took for participants to shift their gaze to a new image was measured, with differences measured in 100 milliseconds. Beautiful faces were stared at longer than average faces. The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

But if you feel like I feel; Please let me know that it’s real; You’re just too good to be true; Can’t take my eyes off you.

I love that there’s scientific evidence that such a phenomenon as not being able to take your eyes off of someone is actually true. I felt that way about my extraordinarily handsome vintage puppy.

I love you, baby, and if it’s quite alright.

I feel that way about my husband.

I need you, baby, to warm a lonely night.

I feel that way about so many things. Things I can’t take my eyes off of. I just have to see them.

Let me love you, baby, let me love you.


Waiting for the rain

by Lorin Michel Monday, January 9, 2012 9:01 PM

I consider myself to be somewhat of a philosophical person. I like to think and to reason, to see if I can find the logic behind an event or a conversation, even an argument. Many see philosophy as the study of problems, but I actually view it as the focus on solutions. I like to think that I have an open mind, at least about most things. You’d be hard pressed to change my political persuasion or my non-religious persona, though I might be open to hearing an opposing view that’s interesting and makes me think. I can’t imagine changing my allegiance to my beloved Patriots, even when they play badly. But I’m the first one to say that they have played badly and I’m willing to talk about it. I’m not blind, just loyal. Naturally I feel a certain way about my husband, son, family and friends, and it would be difficult to change my mind about any of them. You’ll never convince me that Maguire isn’t the greatest thing to ever happen to four feet. Still, having discussions, welcoming conversations, exploring communication and embracing the wisdom of others is, I think, a good thing, a worthy thing.

I also think that thinking differently can be very open-minded and responsible. Looking at a situation and seeing it in full-dimension, in all of its glory, rather than just the flat, one dimension we often resort to is the smart way to approach most of life. One dimension is easy; lazy.

I was thinking about this last night while not sleeping, a relatively common occurrence. I was cold then I was hot, then the wind blew and the chimes sang and I couldn’t get comfortable. It went on like this for some time. The winds usually mean there is no rain in our foreseeable future. Evidently they blow it all away, out to sea or inland towards the mid-west. All I know is that the winds mean sun, and sun means warm, and warm and sunny means no rain. I love the rain. I obsessively watch the weather on the evening newscast, a cast I otherwise cannot stand for its relentless ridiculosity and drama. Everything is reported in the anchors’ best doomsday voice, even a closure on Pacific Coast Highway because of a traffic accident is nearly apocalyptic. But I love me some Dallas (Raines, one of our local weather dudes) and we watch him, well, religiously. Waiting for the weather; waiting for the rain.

I wonder sometimes why I’m waiting. Is it because I crave a change, from the dull sunshine? It could be because I simply love it, even when it’s pre-rain, when it’s cloudy? I especially love it when the rain is nearly torrential. I love standing in the kitchen with a hot cup of coffee and watching the sheets of rain rain down on the street out front. The drops bounce up from the impact to meet the drops falling down with equal velocity providing endless fascination for me.

There are people, I’m sure, who view the coming rain as something to dread. When the sun ducks behind the gray clouds, the mood also changes. It becomes gloomy, cause for sadness and impending doom. I felt like this sometimes when I lived on the east coast simply because it rained a lot. I think my mother still feels a touch of the gloom when it rains for extended periods of time. And I can see her point. The brightness of sunshine brings more than vitamin D. It also brings a brightness to the mood. As the sun shines, the doom and gloom retreat until the rain rains down again.

Conversely, rain can be about cleansing and rebirth. A washing away of the doom and gloom that’s settled around us. The rain appears, first in the form of clouds, a promise of what’s to come, namely clarity and renewal. This is how I see rain, though philosophically I can see how it can also be construed as dark and stormy. I’ve spent many an hour jammed with thousands of my fellow drivers on rain-drenched freeways that aren’t moving; I know doom and gloom. I’ve seen it’s mean-spirited face.

But when rain arrives and I’m home, even in the darkness of it, I allow my spirit to soar. And so I wait. It’s coming. I can feel it.

Maybe it’s just arthritis.

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Hats on the belfry

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, June 21, 2011 10:56 PM

Like about 75 percent of the women in this country, I color my hair. I started when I worked at Sebastian International, the hair care company, because I could. I didn’t need to; I wanted to. I experimented with very light brown/nearly blonde, with lighter brown highlights in my very dark natural color, even with an auburn kind of red. The upkeep was miserable because of the aforementioned very dark base color. When I hit 40, I started to notice some grays sneaking in and around and through my dark tresses. There were only a couple so I didn’t much care, but once they became a little more prevalent, the hair coloring ritual practiced between me and Tammy, my hairdresser, became more necessary. Every 5 weeks.

I live in the desert and the sun is brutal during the summer months. Hair that’s been colored takes a beating. The lovely shine that’s present when hair is first processed diminishes to nothing. My deep, rich shade lightens up and becomes dull, faded, brassy, if a brunette can be brassy. I don’t usually do anything to halt this irritation because I’m going to get my hair colored in a few weeks anyway.

I thought about wearing a hat, specifically when I walk during the middle of the day when the sun is high and hot. And yesterday, I put on a black baseball hat that was too heavy and too dark. My husband took one look at me and asked why I was wearing a winter hat. Winter hat?

I’m not talking about snow hats like Russian Ushankas with ear flaps that fold down, or Peruvian Chullos, also with ear flaps but made of wool, or a Balaclava, a kind of ski mask, stocking cap that’s pulled over the entire head and has only eye holes. I’m talking about summer hats to keep the sun out, the kinds of hats people on safari might wear but that I would probably look a little stupid in traversing across Lindero Canyon.

Hats for men first made an appearance in the 6th century BC in the tombs of the Thebans and progressed slowly through the Greeks and Romans as so many things in history did. Women wore veils, kerchiefs, hoods, caps and wimples. Structured hats didn’t happen until the late 16th century when hat makers, known as milliners first appeared. Their finest quality hats included bonnets with lace, trimmings and accessories to complete an outfit. The British still excel in this kind of hat.

All I wanted was a hat that would protect my hair. There are over 80 different types of hats available in the world, ranging from the ascot to the Santa hat to the Zucchetto, a skullcap worn by clerics. I looked everywhere and couldn’t seem to come up with a summer hat. I could, however, find something called a sun hat. These offer sun protection because of brim size, the shape of the brim and the materials from which the hat is constructed. Brim size is the biggest contributor to a sun hat and should be 3 to 5 inches. This blocks UV rays. Material like straw, raffia and cotton are the lightest in weight and thus the coolest under the sun. Some of these materials are actually rated with a UV protection factor of 50, meaning the material will block 98 percent of the UVA and UVB rays reigning down. Flap hats can also work because the flaps extend to protect the skin.

Summer hats, according to my husband, breathe. The fabric is light, and full of holes, like mesh. But that means sun gets through which means my hair isn’t protected. I think I like sun hats better.

I donned a straw cowboy hat today, with a wide, curled brim. It didn’t have holes so no sun got through, but the brim was wide enough to keep the sun from hitting even the hair that hangs down my neck, thus protecting my color. Tammy will be happy.

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A tale as old as time

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, March 29, 2011 7:52 PM

I'm a big fan of animation. It has become so amazing over the years, nearly rivaling live-action. 

Twenty years ago, an animated film became the first ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for best picture. It didn't win, and didn't really deserve to (The Silence of the Lambs won; it deserved it big time), but still... the movie was astonishing, appealing to children and adults. The story was an old one, as old as time, but the telling of this tale was fresh and moving. From the beginning's nearly real stained glass sequence to the end and its revelation, it holds your interest and makes you care, proving that animation wasn't just for cartoons anymore.

The detail, the movement, the seeming camera angles in this one scene are simply stunning.

I'm tired tonight, and not feeling terribly writerly, so I'm celebrating the dance of Beauty and the Beast because it always makes me shiver and smile.


The movie took over four years to produce with more than 600 full-time animators, artists and technicians who hand-painted over 226,000 individual cells, and created more than one million drawings and 1,300 backgrounds. The dance in the ballroom was the first to use a computer-generated background that was both animated and fully dimensional. The background was moving and the animators animated to it, giving it those sweeping camera moves, perspectives and theatrical lighting. It still takes my breath away. 

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