in an effort to be generous of spirit Fred hires a publicist

We live surrounded by hints, lists, orders, directives - no, fiats - for improvement. Entire professions and fields of industry labor under the delusion that Somewhere in the universe there is a better-looking, calmer, more compassionate, fitter Me. Better Me has clear eyes, each endowed with long and curly lashes; a fine and even complexion with no visible pores; whiter teeth (but not Chiclets); good posture; shiny hair that bounces when Better Me rushes to the store on an errand for her grouchy elderly neighbor. Better Me always finds kind things to say about everything without sounding sappy, and can change the subject at awkward moments without being obvious (no, we're not really married, I just live there because there's room for the three of us, him, me and that and is it true you're being audited by a whole team of Special Agents? Yes, they're required to tell you. Um, seven years back, longer if they smell fraud....) Better Me never forgets a birthday but always knows when not to draw attention to it. Neither of us commits diabolical puns. Well, hardly ever.

Readers and friends know that most of the time I'm able to keep Better Me under control, the better to see the world through jaundice-colored specs. Did I mention that Better Me is prompt, keeps her shopping under control and returns library books when due? You can see why having someone like this around all the time gets old fast.

I had a visit from Better Me and her list-of-areas-yet-to-be-improved yesterday. Quite innocently a lovely reader drew my attention to an anatomical gaffe of truly grotesque proportions on the J.Crew website. I could feel my fangs growing and my palms twitching as I read and reread the item in question. Better Me, a master of the b%*%ier martial arts, tied my hands together with a simple black silk sash (Elie Tahari) and stuffed a cotton scarf (Epice) in my gaping mouth. I am happy to report that I am again at large, with working laptop.

Ready? Open another tab in your browser and go to the J.Crew website, item no. 49667, called a knife-pleat wrap skirt in silk taffeta. Read the detailed description. OK, let's go. First the fashion lesson, then the anatomy lesson. This is not a knife-pleat skirt. This is a skirt with pleats that are stitched down and released at or near the hip line. Knife pleats are pleats with a sharp edge (on each of them) all the way down. Speaking of all the way down, I think the skirt must be made of silk taffeta plus invisible fairy princess magic lacey fabric from the knee to the ankle, because even though the description claims that the skirt is ankle length, to my eyes it stops somewhere north of the shinbone. The only way this could be ankle-length is if the wearer spent her days on her knees in penance. Obviously the Copywriter From Space was at the outer limit of her orbit when she phoned this one in. It is she who should be doing penance. Should not catalog copy be written by one who has at least glanced at the item to be described?

Better Me thinks I should say something nice. Ooh, guess what? no ghastly puns. Now about that ankle/knee business. The knee is the bendy thing between the thigh and the shin/calf assembly. Its Latin name is Patella. The ankle is a complex of bony things, tendons and fasteners, collectively referred to as the Talus. Is this difficult?

Because I don't want this blog to focus solely on the Copywriter From Space and her employers, I'll ease up a little. I have a new project. I am writing an opera (or perhaps an operetta, don't know how serious the music will be) about the fashion business, as shown through a close look at catalog vending, a merry romp through a retail store, and some distant glimpses of off-shore manufacturing.

Although I have yet to commit one note to paper, nor to make one more of the improvements on Better Me's list, I've done what those I watch in the fashion business do when improvement is required. I've retained a publicist, to whom I now turn over the rest of this space:
World-famous (on her blog) wit, poet and observer of things past, contemporary and yet to be, wellfedfred has tackled that greatest of art forms: the opera. With her usual economy of style and spirit, she has decided not to waste precious pre-production time and money in learning to write music and compose. Rather the score will be shamelessly knocked off  inspired by the works of Rossini, Gilbert & Sullivan, Verdi, Friml, Beethoven and Mascagni, and others. The artist was once thought to have abandoned opera in favor of her unique versification style after an early work, The Diet, caused spectators to faint from hunger. Now, with From Merchant Prince To Pirate King (working title), cognoscenti expect that the rich potential of what was once a major American industry, when brought to the stage, will make a bundle for ole fred prove entertaining, enlightening and ultimately satisfying. We look forward to humming Don't Cry for Me, FashionistaThree Little Chicks from F.I.T., and I Am the Very Model of a Modern Prince of Merchandise.  Casting for female roles - She Who Must Be Adored (soprano), The Copywriter from Space (mezzo) and a crew of Acolytes, Sycophants and Trust Fund Babes (supernumeraries) - is taking place now. Audition dates for male roles will be posted later in the usual places.


  1. Hello:
    Whilst we are absolutely confident in the future success of your opera debut, might we suggest that to venture into films might be more lucrative. A remake of 'Babette's Feast' will surely pose no difficulties for the well travelled gourmands that you undoubtedly are and the offer of free food will, we are certain, bring in the required actors at a fraction of the cost of singers remotely in tune!!Just saying....

  2. Southern Belle Ph.D.September 1, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    Excellent post!!!!! I LOVE it! I suspect you are already an author of some sort but if not, you should be. Always so entertaining!

  3. Jane and Lance, tinkering with Babette's Feast? Heresy. Besides, I can't direct with my mouth full.

    Southern Belle Ph.D., thank you! (blushes, curtsies deeply)

  4. So funny! But I have to stand up for the poor copywriter, so many times garments change once they go into full production, I bet it was ankle length at first, I know two companies over here who have had to scrap and swallow the cost of three day catalogue shoots because of things like this, one had a whole page on red leather trousers which they then made in grey!

  5. Point well taken, Tabitha! On the other hand, someone much wiser than I said "If you do something once, people will call it an accident. If you do it twice, they call it a coincidence. But do it a third time and you've just proven a natural law." This type of thing happens regularly with the catalog in question, only I found this instance particularly provocative.

    Just looked up that quote, Grace Hopper said it. What a fabulous woman!

  6. Fabulous post. Where are the proofreaders of the world? What happened to them? Or have they all fallen asleep at the the fairy tale descriptions of apparel items?

  7. Great post!
    JulieStyles, it looks like the proofreaders are hanging out with the quality control team, probably in some place they are now 'obsessed' about...

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. JulieStyles and Cris, someone in the publicist's office must have leaked the news that it's possible that one of the CFR's big numbers, oops, arias, will be inspired bt a particular scene in La Somnabula. That's all I can say for now.

  10. D*n you autocorrect! It's La Somnambula!

  11. I LOL'd during this entire post. Well done! hehe

  12. Hi, LR, glad you enjoyed! I don't think the world is ready for Shopping: The Musical, but an opera with a basso profundo as Moby Factor, A Shark, might put us on the way.

  13. If you are doing the script/score, can I be an investor?? Likely to be a huge hit with your talent. Those of us Of A Certain Age know what knife pleats are, and you have correctly ID'ed these as un-knife like. The length issue, amusingly orthopedically illustrated by Yourself, well, this is just too funny. Thanks for the giggle!

  14. Hi, Lane, thanks! Way to early to get into production, I'm still trying to figure out if grand operas really have plots. If so, I will need one. I just learned a minute ago that most arias were composed based upon the limitations of the soprano's range. This is entirely reasonable to me since my life is lived based upon the limitations of my range, but you can see that I have a lot to learn about opera.

  15. Thanks for the laugh, WFF! This was too funny.

  16. Count me in for the ensemble - love a good warble myself.
    You've got me thinking about this fashion opera thing. How about something from Madame ButtonFly?

  17. Hi, Rose, glad you enjoyed!

    Hi, Trish, happy to see that the shopper's quest for the possibly flattering and possibly affordable is universal!
    When I get Un Bel Di out of my head, I'll move on to Madama Buttonfly (chortles wickedly), and thank you for that delightful suggestion.

  18. Where to start?! Brilliant post.

    Note to publicist: "World-famous" needs no modification.

    Love the casting. I assume - how does one say this - traditionally built sopranos need not audition? Although we've never seen the CFS so it's conceiveable she is not a 6' size 2.

    I'm off to eBay for the perfect opening-night gala ensemble. Passed on these last year, but MUST HAVE sequin harem pants as an ode to SWMBA. I have ample time to put together the rest before opening night?

  19. Hi, mommydearest! Remember this is OPERA. The important things are the score and the libretto and the sensation one gets from the interaction of Voice with those. The body is only there to support the voice and the character. Think Price, think Callas... I haven't costumed She Who Must Be Adored just yet, but I'm definitely giving her a Wagnerian helmet, decorated with Rhein-stones and ribbons by Lulu Frost. And a frosty vintage mug of Rheingold the dry beer. Prosit!

  20. RELIEVED to hear that. COULD NOT agree more. I was thinking of the *situation* at Covent Garden with the fabulous Deborah Voigt.

    May I suggest one of the Rhein-stones falls out in the wings? And might the ribbons be left unfinished? Art imitating life...

  21. Mommydearest - absolutely, there will be a trail of Rhein-stones and Rhein-sequins wherever she goes. She will glitter. Her sequined armor over pouffy Lederhosen and wooly tights will blind onlookers.


As Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, if you've got anything bad to say, sit next to me! No, really, please remember to be kind, and don't say anything fred's mother would not approve of (Diner's mom didn't approve of anything. Including fred.)
Wellfedfred and the Whining Diner reserve the right to edit or delete any comments submitted to this blog without notice if we find:
1. Comments deemed to be spam or questionable spam
2. Comments including profanity or objectionable language
3. Comments containing concepts that could be deemed offensive
4. Comments that attack a person individually
and since there's been a flood of spam lately, we're trying the Robot thing to see if we can block some spam...