Maybe it’s because I was reading The Fifth Risk, Michael Lewis’s 2018 book about how the current administration in Washington is “government led by the uninterested,” as NPR put it, but my first response to the announcement last week of the Fifth City makeup brand was: What are the first, second, third, and fourth cities?
It could have been worse: They could have called it Fifth Place.
Women’s-wear retailer Anthropologie is launchinga new “inclusively sized” (women’s 16 to 26) collection today. The collection’s name is clear, simple, and elegant: APlus.
Anthropologie’s last foray into fashion sub-branding was the misbegotten BHLDN, which I wrote about in 2011. I am happy to report that APlus is a vast improvement: The capital A evokes the parent brand, and the “plus” in this context is positive rather than pejorative. My favorite label for this category remains Alexander McCall Smith’s “traditionally sized,” but APlus gets a high grade from me, too.
(For more on the use of “plus” in retail – you may be interested to know that at one time in U.S. history the category was called “stout” – see my 2015 post “Plus Is Equal.”)
When does a madeupical holiday become a genuine holiday? We can quibble over criteria, but a Hallmark home-page promotion is probably the smooch of validation.*
Like Chrismukkahand Festivus before it, Galentine’s Day was invented by television writers – in this case, Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, creators of “Parks and Recreation” Season 2, Episode 16, which originally aired on February 14, 2010. In the episode, our heroine, Leslie Knope – the world’s most upbeat and energetic civil servant – invites her mother and her women friends to breakfast on February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day. It’s “ladies celebrating ladies,” Leslie (Amy Poehler) burbles.
“Donald Trump is reinventing the kowtow for the Twitter age,” wrote David Rothkopf in a Los Angeles Times op-ed published November 3, just before Trump left for a 12-day, five-country Asia trip. Rothkopf cited Trump’s “fawning tweets” celebrating Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “extraordinary elevation” at the 19th Chinese Community Party Congress – an elevation that cemented Xi’s authoritarian rule – and Trump’s “over-the-top” boast “that he and Xi had the best ‘president-president’ relationship ever.”
The previous week, the Guardian (UK) had used the same verb in a headline about Trump’s China visit.
In both instances, the choice of kowtow was revealing and contextually appropriate: the English word derives directly from a Chinese term, k’o-t’ou, whose literal meaning is “knock the head” – a gesture of extreme subservience.
Kowtowing before officials in Guangzhou, China, pre-1889. Via Hong Kong Free Press; the headline on the story reads “It’s time to stop the shameful kowtowing to China – before it’s too late.”
Years ago, I named the world’s first “bidirectional” condom, so this story really spoke to me:
Diverse & Resilient, an LGBTQ organization in Milwaukee, decided to do something about the bland branding of free condoms. So it partnered with a local marekting agency, Cramer Krasselt, to create Naughty Bags, condoms designed by teens for teens. According to Adweek, the condoms are made “to be sex-positive, humorous, and cool” and feature “witty names like Pork Parka, Pelvic Poncho, Scuba Gear, Surge Protector and—our favorite—Papa Stopper.” Brilliant – in every sense.
TK holds your hand and explains ingredients from chickpeas to nooch so you'll feel confident knowing exactly what the f*ck you're cooking.
Nooch? It sounded vaguely salacious, which wouldn’t be out of keeping with the TK style guide. (Chapter titles in the new cookbook include “Freshen the Fuck Up” and “Hot Box.”) But it turns out that nooch isn’t nasty or brutish, it’s just short. For nutritional yeast.