Brain Holiday


After Campanile closing, shingles and the usual drumbeat of life I happily jumped on a plane to a friends’ baby shower in NYC.  First off, at my age, not a lot of babies showers anymore, but also I think sharing milestones are important.  We lose each other so easily if we didn’t go to weddings and showers we would only exist through Facebook.

drinking hot coco in cold New York

I needed a break from being so absorbed in my husband’s world, be it his work life or issues with one of his adult kids.   I’m building walls and boundaries.  I’m setting limits.  I’m trying to detach.  I don’t want to get shingles again.

Being a step parent feels like being the District of Columbia, I pay taxes, but I don’t get a vote.  Or like when I sat through our schools bone crushingly dull Board of Directors meeting, raised my hand to ask a question and was told that what I was asking was off the agenda .  In a chunk of my home life I’m Puerto Rico.


Okay, so when I can’t get away for a few days, or afford therapy, how can I get a little R and R and detachment?  Good old fashion movies. It’s my favorite thing about flying (but lordy, bring some good headphones, I forgot mine this trip and my ears were bleeding from me jamming the cheapies in my drums).  So I’m always about 6 to 12 months behind in movie reviews, but just in case you are like me and never get out, here are my reviews of movies people have already seen:

“Ted”  Mark Whalberg and the dirty teddy bear.  Snort laugh funny.  Woke up the Hispanic guy next to me on the plane slapping my knee to this one.  Love Mark Whalberg, always have. Besides his good looks, he makes himself vulnerable and is great at deadpan.

People like Us“, not a good title, but engaging story of a relationship between long lost half siblings. Liked this a lot.  Elizabeth Banks can do anything.  Comedy, drama.  She is fantastic.  Michelle Pfeiffer in her first role as Jessica Lange, or JL like role.  Great job.  The Darling Chris Pine.  Has Channing Tatum been keeping him from me?  Bradley Cooper might have to share me.  I haven’t decided yet, but Cougar Brogdon might have a new interest.  Anyway, good story. HOWEVER  my one beef is one that is common with American films NO one can finish a conversation when they are in conflict.  A few heated lines, walk out of room.  Time passes.  They see each other again.  Heated lines, walk out of room, rinse, repeats.  In real life no one would drive around LA that much.  “I’m finishing this topic up BEFORE I get in my car AGAIN”   For the last 40 minutes of the film I had to put my left hand up by my eye as the older Asian gentleman in the window seat was making rhythmic motions on his quad. Everywhere, boundary issues.

I changed my seat for “What to Expect when you are Expecting”  I almost didn’t slide my card for this one.  I was pretty sure I would hate it.  I enjoyed it for the most part.  Yes, a few scenes where I had to turn away like for the reocurring “dad’s club”.  Too cute for the room.  However, lots of funny comedy bits throughout and my girl Elizabeth Banks being very funny. A bit more “Bridesmaid” than I had ‘expected’.  I thought J Lo did a good job.

where has this guy been? yum

I think the turn off for me with this film was the poster.  Where it looked like all the stars where in one place with their fake bellys.  I thought it was going to be more “Steele Magnolias” and it was more “Love American Style.”  I loved that show. Chace Crawford (who also had the fight, walk away, fight, walk away syndrome here) is a tad young  for me, but pretty cute.  I think Chris Pine has been keeping him from me.

Speaking of 6 months ago…  I finally got to watch some of HBO’s “Girls”. I moved back to the seat by the guy, who I had now figured out was Korean, and had ceased massaging his thigh.  It’s not a show I want on with my daughter in the room.  I was interested, jealous impressed that Lena Dunham got it made at 27.  They are vapid and annoying like many of the critics say, but so were the dudes in ‘Entourage’.  It did make me really happy that I wasn’t a single 20 something making poor choices with men (anymore). I’d rather be a crabby, married 40 something. I did think that Nepotism poster was fun-ny. Allison Williams looks so much like her dad I expected her to read the news.

How did I see a BRAND new movie? I’s not even out yet. Oh, well  I was invited to a free screening by a friend.  I saw “Promise Land”.  Written and starring Matt Damon ( love) and John Kr… something, the guy from “The Office”.   Directed by Gus Van Sant.  Right before we went in my friend “Sid” ( I call her that because she is on a Siddartha like quest) said “It’s about fracking”.

Oh, frack I said.  I could see the preachy liberal message coming around the bend.  First 30 minutes I was pleasantly surprised.  Then the great Hal Hollbrooke rose as the conscious of his community with the townspeople silently standing up with him in a high school gym and I nudged Sid, “Here we go..” She nodded.

Then it calmed down, mostly, to good acting, good story, good dialogue, pretty pictures.  But, right at then end, there it was.  The kind of ending that NEVER happens in real life and is devoid of moral ambiguity.  I love moral ambiguity.  That is life.

Afterward, the stars were interviewed  ( with director Van Sant) and they were both so charming and funny I vowed to try to remember the name of the guy who is married to Emily Blunt.   I’d like to see a movie of that guy and Matt Damon just hanging out.

I was there and so was Matt Damon.

When I got home the kids were asleep and my dear chef fixed up some leftovers for me and we settled down to watch “Cowboys and Aliens”.  Plus: Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.  Done, right there, I’m in.  Also, I love Westerns and Mark could watch Independence Day 24/7 so we were pleased.  However, a lot of the film was dark and the dialogue was hard to catch. I almost put it on captioned at one point, but then it became a big alien shootout– fine with me– and  lines weren’t that important.

Ah, what 8 month old film will I watch next!  And suggestions? Nothing with rape or torture.


Perpetual Fashion Critique

Look, here’s the first event we have gotten dolled up for together in a long, long time. The Poop (what a great name) had a pithy little posting about taking fashion critique shows and turning them on moms and dads. Since I do host a show where we rip on celeb fashion, I so relate. Yes, I too am often in my mommy track suit, but when it’s time to dress up, sharpen the fangs.

Daphne and Mark in NYC

I recently realized what an occupational hazard I have with this. I can’t turn off the Fashion Team brain. I am also in Star Magazine every week doing the jokes for Worst of the Week, so it’s like I can’t turn ever turn it off. Yes, I can be snarky, but I love when someone looks great.

My husband Mark Peel’s restaurant, Campanile, was recently nominated for Best Restaurant in the country for the James Beard Awards (the Oscars of dining). He lost to Gramercy Tavern, though he did win it in 2001.

Mark was fine with losing this year, and I was fine because it brought us to New York and allowed me to get dressed up with my husband. He spends five nights a week in chef’s white while I toil in my track suit, so good times. At these food events, Mark has plenty of old friends and such that he wants to talk with.  I want the free wine and food that goes with it. So I have learned to bring my best gay friend Michael with me. He is the perfect date. Mark likes him too, since then I am not saying, “Can we leave?”

Michael is fab and works in fashion so needless to say, we had a constant fashion critique going. Food people are not the toniest types, so there were some errors. Flips-flops at black tie event at the Lincoln Center, really? Two women thought that was okay. Then there are the re-used prom dresses. And, I’m sorry, but the bubble skirts need to stop.

But this year, people looked a lot better than when I went to the Beard awards in 2004, when I swear I saw nail art. There are also those who don’t have the figure of a model or the budget of one, but clearly made an effort, so good for them. By the way, Kim Cattrall co-hosted the event with Bobby Flay, and she looks great and committed like a pro to all the banal banter she was forced to say.

Now, there were about three women who we really thought looked great. And we made a point of rushing over to them and telling them, which always makes someone feel good. The last lady we championed ended up being the wife of the chef of Quince, a restaurant in San Francisco that I have heard nothing but good things about and wanna go to when I have my 36 hours of child free time in SF in August.

At midnight as the security guards were yelling, “Go home, this event is over,” to us and the other stragglers (I mentioned there was free food and drinks, right?), a sweet young man came up to me and said, “I noticed your dress earlier and I wanted to tell you how much I love it.” That made my night. He was a cooking student who was volunteering, and when I told him about Mark, he got so excited. He had written a paper about him, so I introduced them. And it proved we aren’t the only ones sizing up everybody’s fashion.

Even Fun Makes Me Tired

Here is Vivien in a dress that hasn’t been worn since the ’60s, as we were walking to dinner in Chelsea last Friday night. My brother-in-law Mark’s sister was in some kiddie beauty pageants and would get dresses as prizes. One dress was presented to her by none other than the girl who played Buffy on “Family Affair.”

Vivien in NYC

When I go to NYC, I always love it. The excitement, the energy… to a point. I have about 6 or 8 friends I really like to see out there, so even trying to see a few of them takes up some time and it’s stimulating catching up. Plus, I am often doing press for whatever TV show I’m on at the time–which is fun. This trip, most of my press calls were for Cool Mom. Also, I usually do a 48-hour child-free trip… yeah, I’m free and not gone so long I feel guilty.

This trip, I had 36 hours solo and then Mark and Vivien arrived. By the third night, I started to slow down. Mark went bar hopping with friends as Vivien and I met up with a friend at a nice restaurant, walking distance from where we were staying. (Sidebar: instead of a crazy-expensive hotel room we were lucky to be in a two bedroom apartment in Chelsea of friends who were out of town. The best.)

As we walked to dinner, Vivien said, “Mommy,” pointing to the sidewalk, “This is dirty.” I’m sure she was wondering, “When is the clean-up time?”

Um, that was Giuliani, I guess, and he only got so much done. I still saw not one but two gentlemen brazenly peeing on the street. And mind you, not homeless guys with shopping carts, but people who probably had an option.

Sadly, I figured out why I am still dragging even now that we have been back home for a bit. 1) I’m not a spring chicken and 2) I have to exercise. It does help my energy level. But if I don’t do it before 9 am, forget it. I like the recreational exercise of being home, not that constant walking-in-shoes-that-hurt NYC thing. It makes me so tired.

Hanging with Clifford The Big Red Dog!

Remember when you were in elementary school and you got to order your Scholastic books? Well, they are so much more than those sweet little anticipated books in your first-grade hands. They have a big, rad store in SoHo. Who knew?

Daphne at the Scholastic store in Soho

Next time you are in NYC, forget the tourists traps and go there. The beautiful, modern building is probably courtesy of Harry Potter, since they had a piece of that which has accounted for about 50% of their revenue. But, of great interest to me is their part in Clifford the Big Red Dog. They have a coin-operated Clifford. Which sadly wasn’t working. But it’s a big, beautiful, child-friendly book store.

Vivien and Mark reading at Scholastic

I had a meeting upstairs while Mark and Viv scampered downstairs. Nice to do something for Vivien before I dragged her to a few stores to shop. But I ended buying more stuff for her, per usual. It was an honor to wear a tag with Clifford on it. But that Chloe, she is such a pushy little dog.