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PostHeaderIcon Welcome to a Man's World

Welcome to a man’s world.

Social expectations still dictate men's behavior and their perception of fashion. Men are expected to be strong and in control, which sometimes doesn't go well with meticulously following each and every fashion trend. Also, men are definitely more limited in their choices. In most department stores, the space allocated for menswear is about 30 percent compared to 70 percent for women. Despite this imbalance, that doesn't mean men shouldn't care about how they look. Changes in menswear are not as easily visible, and although not at the rate as women's, men's fashions do move.

To me this season is very refreshing and lively. I want to share my observations to stir up some excitement among my male readers.


Go Slimmer & Trimmer. Pay attention to the fit. Pants with pleated fronts should go to the back of the closet. I hope that pleated front chinos never come back in style again. I don’t recall seeing anyone look good in these. Men also seem to use a "kangaroo" approach when they have extra room in their front pockets - they store stuff there: phones, business card holders and more. This creates bumps and messes up body proportions. When we talk about the slimmer fit, some might be worrying about the comfort. The good news is that advanced tailoring and natural stretch fabrics allow movement without any restrictions.


Reconsider White Denim. OK, so we're not in San Paulo, Brazil, a mecca for men in white pants. But California has many good reasons to have fun with white, too. When shopping for jeans, be patient: you might need to try 10 to 20 different pairs to find one that fits perfectly. You don't want to compromise comfort, nor the look. Be the first guy in white jeans on your street and observe the reaction of others. You will be noticed for sure, and might even become the trend setter for others.


Experiment With Plaid. It might seem very passe for some, but if you're open to experiment, you'll be quite surprised. Want to start small? Try ties, hats, fabric belts or shorts. Want to go bold? Go for shirts, suits, raincoats. Whatever you feel comfortable with. "When a plaid suit is done right: with subtle, shadowy patterns and a slim cut, it grabs the eye without screaming for attention. Below, actor John Slattery of Mad Men gets down to business in the best of them," says Will Welsh.


Dare To Wear.That Skinny Tie. Again, think Mad Men. Don't these guys look hot in those perfectly fitted suits with slim ties? Use ones in solid colors with shiny, better quality fabrics for the formal occasions and more playful prints for casual occasions.


Put A Hat On. Hats are unfairly underrated and don't get the attention they deserve. Baseball caps are popular under California's sun, but what about a newsboy cap or fedora? A huge variety of materials, prints, colors, and prices are available. Use lighter colors and fabrics for the spring and summer seasons. I don't have a perfect recipe for what shape fits, it depends on many factors. The simple advice here is to try different styles. You'll know when you find the right one.

"When it comes to our personal style, there are no set formulas to follow. No immutable laws to guide us. So make it fun. Experiment until you have your own 'eureka' moment."- from Nordstrom's catalog for men.

Next month we're talking shoes: how many are enough?

As a freelance wardrobe consultant, Diana Placiakiene, AICI, MBA, works with men and women who are looking to advance their professional and personal image. Most of her clients are professionals who want to take their business to the next level. In her practice Diana combines her business skills, understanding of human psychology, natural visual talents, and passion for fashion to help people have more ease, fun and success.

To contact Diana, send e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also find her though:
www.facebook.com/pages/ispeakstyle/170261188958; and


PostHeaderIcon 10 Questions with the Easter Bunny

We caught up with the Easter Bunny preparing for his annual holiday trip. He was gracious enough to take some time away from his busy schedule and consented to this exclusive interview with Allnewnoblues.com:

ANNB: So Mr. Bunny, you’ve been doing this for some time now. What’s the secret to your success?

EB: Well, you know, Steve, we started this out of my parent’s garage quite a few years ago. In the beginning it was just a chocolate egg here and there, maybe some jelly beans for those who bought our "upgraded" package. Even I’m surprised how big and international it went. We just work hard and try to give people what they want.

ANNB: Has the recession affected your business?

EB: Oh sure, of course it has. We’ve had to cut back in many ways. Baskets are smaller now, we put far less plastic grass in them. But, we have an obligation, and our customers are demanding. We’ve also gone organic with our eggs and try to use sustainable chocolate kisses.

ANNB: Can we expect anything new or innovative this season?

EB: I don’t want to give anything away, Steve, but we do have a new feature for 2010. We call it the "Obama Special". It’s a package that gives the middle class the same chocolate benefits as those making over $250,000 a year.

ANNB: You look good these days. How do you manage to keep in shape for this grueling marathon?

EB: We have a very short window to get everything out. My assistants and I plan and work hard to be ready each year. This past winter, I spent a lot of time working with a trainer. I’ve lost 20 pounds and am now the same weight I was in 1977. I also have this great doctor who does these …oh wait…. I’d better not go there. Can you strike that comment?

(In later discussions, EB agreed to allow us to keep this in)

ANNB: If you could do anything else, what would it be?

EB: Are you kidding me? I’d like to be the Tooth Fairy. That guy rakes in the money. It’s a little known fact that he gets a cut of the profits. And he works what, maybe 2-3 hours a night? What a cushy job.

ANNB: I understand that you and Santa Claus are good friends. What can you tell us about him?

EB: Clausy and I are buds, have been for years. He’s a great guy, but he does have a bit of a temper. You don’t want to get on his bad side. I’ve seen him lose it with those elf’s when they get into the liquor cabinet. When we aren’t working, he and I like to play a good game of online poker.

ANNB: I read in Us Magazine that you have quite a home. Did you work with a designer in the construction?

EB: Oh yeah, I have this guy who is amazing. He expanded our hutch and made the opening for the carrot drop more accessible. It’s now big enough for the whole family, we were getting a little crowded.

ANNB:You have a big family?

EB: Well, duh… I AM a rabbit.

ANNB: What can you tell our readers about yourself that they probably don’t know?

EB: I guess people would be surprised to find out that I’m Jewish.

ANNB: We really appreciate that you took the time to talk with us. Any thoughts you’d like to leave us with?

EB: Just this. It wouldn’t hurt you to leave me some milk and cookies like you do for Santa.---SEW

Happy Easter!


PostHeaderIcon Art Deco--Circa 2010

Miami Beach, Circa 1940sThis is the April installment of the Designer's Log by Danville designer Steve Wallace. Look for Wallace's column once a month, usually the first Thursday of the month and feel free to email him ideas.

Art Deco, one of the most iconic design styles of the twentieth century, is experiencing a major comeback. With its linear lines, sexy curves and elegance, this popular look is finding renewed popularity among young designers and aficionados of classic architecture. 

Art Deco was a popular international design movement from 1925 until the 1940s and influenced the decorative arts, architecture, interior design and industrial design. Started by the French La Societe des artistes decorateurs (translated from French to English as the society of great artists), it was an immediate hit and spread worldwide, especially to America.   

The movement was a reaction to the organic, earthly designs of Art Nouveau and the fussy uptight look of Victorian.  After World War I and the austerity of the war years, it took Europe by storm. Among the elite, Art Deco peaked in the late 1920’s, but remained a favorite in the United States through the Great Depression.  Interestingly, the term “Art Deco” was not coined until 1968 by Bevis Hillier in the book Art Deco of the ‘20s and ‘30s. Before that it was referred to by many names, mostly going by Industrial Modern

Best known Art Deco landmarks are the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building in New York as well as many buildings built in the 20’s along Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. 

Also very familiar are the neighborhoods developed in the style of Miami Beach, (above left) made famous in movies and television. Designated on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, the area of South Beach has been restored to original splendor right down to the colors of the hotels.

We also have some outstanding examples here in the Bay Area. The Paramount Theater in Oakland and the Orinda Theater in Orinda, to name a few. 

Next time you are driving from Oakland to Walnut Creek, check out the entrance façade on the original bore of the Caldecott Tunnel. 

For a more in depth look at Art Deco and its influence here in northern California, pick up “Art Deco –San Francisco, The Architecture of Timothy Pflueger” by Therese Poletti and Tom Paiva, available at SFMOMA.

It was visually stunning as can be seen in the timeless Hollywood films of Busby Berkeley, and others from the ‘30s and ‘40s.  The designs of movie set designer Cedric Gibbons brought the look to the public.  One of the most famous and recognizable Art Deco designs is the Oscar statuette, designed by Gibbons in 1928. 

Art Deco styling was opulent and lavish.  At the time the style was seen as glamorous and modern.  Its sweeping movement was perfect for trains, airplanes, ships and movie theaters.  Americans were living life big in the industrial years and everyone wanted to embrace it.  Still popular today are the posters and graphics showing the famous Twentieth Century train and the magnificent early cruise ships, Il de France and The Queen Mary.

Today many are seeing the style for its historical significance and working to save and restore buildings that remind us of this great time in architectural history.  One of the best in the Bay Area is the Art Deco Society of California.  They sponsor walking tours, special events, speakers and even dances. The organization works hard to bring this fabulous look to the public and educate on how to save landmark buildings. Their website is: www.artdecosociety.org.

With the resurgence of Art Deco in the 2010’s, designers are looking to the color palette of that era in today’s paints, with grays, pastels and metallics becoming the new trend in interior design.  At this month’s High Point Furniture Market, furniture buyers will see an array of styles with deco influences. This timeless style can bring a glamour and sophistication into your own space. So, pour a martini, order “Flying Down to Rio” from Netflix, but on your best bias cut dress or tuxedo and enjoy.

Steve Wallace lives in Danville.  An interior designer for more than 20 years, his work has been featured in Palm Springs Life and he is completing a book about design for publication soon. He writes a monthly entry for www.allnewsnoblues.com about design and style. Contact him at www.stevewallacedesign.com or call 925-915-1005.---SEW


PostHeaderIcon Fleming's is a Prime Place

We recently had the pleasure of dining at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Walnut Creek. It was a Thursday night and the restaurant and bar were busy, yet it didn’t seem crowded. We had not made a reservation, but our hostess was very friendly and accommodating. We were shown to a table with no delay.

The menu is a la carte and wide ranging with an assortment of off-the-menu specials. It wasn’t easy to make a selection from the extensive offerings. We decided on the Fleming’s Salad, which is similar to a Waldorf salad, accompanied by the lobster bisque, for starters. Our salads were tasty and the bisque delicious; but be warned, it can be a bit strong for some.

For the main course, we went with the ‘Main’ fillet and the sautéed scallops. Both were excellent, cooked just right and very flavorful. Steak and lobster (at left) is also an excellent option. We split a New York cheesecake for dessert.

The portions are just right. We were satisfied but not overly filled at the conclusion.

The service at Fleming’s is top rate. The servers give you just the right amount of attention without a feeling of being overwhelmed or ignored as is sometimes the case in other upscale places. They are well versed on the menu and excellent at suggesting wine pairings for your meal.

The ambience at the restaurant and in the adjacent bar is intimate with a soothing color palette and soft lighting. The dining room is often bustling with activity, so it’s not the place to go for a quiet supper. However the restaurant is perfect for a family dinner as well as a romantic getaway. You can also enjoy cocktails and a special menu in the bar.

Expect to spend in excess of $100 for two guests plus wine or cocktails. If you delight in being pampered and enjoy fine food and wine, it’s well worth it. Through March 29th, Flemings is offering a 3-course Prix Fixe menu for $39.95 per person. There will be an Easter brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 4.

Parking is convenient, with an entrance from the free parking garage. Valet parking is available. You can also enter from the street, but there are stairs or an elevator to the second floor dining room from that entrance

Fleming’s is located in downtown Walnut Creek at 1685 Mount Diablo Blvd.

Open Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m.. to 10 p.m.. Saturday from 5 p.m.. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 5 p.m.. to 9 p.m.

Reservations are not required but are advisable. (925) 287-0297
or check out www.flemingssteakhouse.com



PostHeaderIcon 10 Questions with working moms: hemorrhoids, lying, overpriced strollers, pooping, sex and more

Aimee Grove, 41, and Marcie Carson, 42, grew up in Danville and have been life-long friends. Both are working moms with small children. Last summer, they decided to write a book about their experiences juggling child rearing and working full time. They also launched a blog www.womoments.com to get the word out about their project. 

All News No Blues checked in with these two working moms and here is what we found:

1. ANNB: How did you come up with the idea for the blog?

AG:  The blog was really an extension of a book project (www.womobook.com) that seeks to poke fun at our absurdly chaotic lives … the life of any working mom, really. The book was Marcie’s idea – she called me and proposed the idea. We both agreed that even though there are a ton of mommy blogs and books about parenting, there were very few titles about working motherhood specifically, and absolutely none in the humorous, illustrated gift book category. The blog features “womoments,” funny material and observations about their lives. For example, on the first day of my son’s preschool, I came home and realized that I had purposely dressed up in my best Louboutin pumps and pencil skirt for the drop-off. I realized it was my lame attempt to “one-up” the stay-at-home-moms in Juicy sweats, who made me so jealous most of the time. Confessing that act of insecurity was a very cathartic post for me.

MC: Since both of us are marketers in our “day jobs,” we understand the power of social media to build a following for our voices. It has also allowed us to refine the WoMo brand — what works, what seems to be most relevant, what feels right. The book had a flirty, even sexy, quality to it from the beginning and we are going to play that up even more because it really seems to resonate on the blog.

2. ANNB: What seems to be the most popular type of postings among your readers?

AG: We get the most reaction from list posts:  “10 Signs You’ve Hit the Style Wall,” or “Things I’ve Lost/Gained Since Becoming a Working Mom,” or “What a Working Mom Does When No One’s Looking.” Maybe this is because they are the easiest for busy gals to digest.

MC: I also think women appreciate our brutal honesty. Aimee did a post and mentioned that she checked out the bottoms of other moms. It was such an obvious observation (come on, we all do it), but nobody ever admits it. The post generated tons of comments about that single sentence. Similarly, I just completed a post titled “Liar, Liar” about 15 lies I had told the prior week. One of the comments we got was, “THIS is the reason I like womoments.com. Fascinating posts.”

3. ANNB: Tell us a little about your backgrounds?

AG:  We’re both Danville girls and have actually known each other since third grade and then went to college together at UC Santa Barbara. Earlier in my career, I was a journalist, writing and editing for a variety of publications including Diablo, San Francisco, and VIA magazines. For the past nine years, I have worked in public relations and currently serve as vice president of  Consumer/Hospitality Practice for Allison & Partners in San Francisco.

MC: Immediately following UCSB, I dabbled in fashion and music, and finally graphic design. I started IE Design + Communications in 1995 with the hubby (two months after we got married, nine years after we met). We had our first baby seven years later, and another one four years after that.

4. ANNB: What makes you guys experts in this arena?

AG:  We would be the last people to ever call ourselves experts at being working moms – if anything both of us are constantly kvetching about how close we are to crying or losing our cookies. That said, I think we are both pretty damn good at getting other women to share their stories, highlighting the irony and craziness of the working mom’s life and writing about these experience to elicit a laugh. That comes from years spent as journalists, communicators and artists. 

MC: One of the very first things we say in the book is this: “Let us be perfectly frank: we are nobodies. Two run-of-the-mill girls hotfooting it through the rat race with heavy, overpriced strollers. But like we said, we get it. Every chaotic moment — and if we haven’t been there ourselves, we’ve talked to a mom who has.”

5. ANNB: What will set your book apart from the other parenting/working mom books out there?

AG: The biggest difference between our book and the other parenting and mommy titles  is first a sense of humor. The purpose of our book is to entertain and make people laugh. It’s not really a “guide to” anything. The vast majority of books related to working moms are fairly serious nonfiction tomes providing advice or discussing issues. Also, the style of our book is not long-form prose or a narrative. Instead, it will be short nuggets and nibbles – sidebars, pull quotes, anecdotes, lists, graphics, Cosmo-style quizzes. The kind of quick read you will pick up for a few minutes at a time, find an amusing tidbit and share that with a friend or your sister.

MC: The book design is also completely unique. That’s really where the idea started for me. I felt like when I was pregnant, there were a ton of funny books to help ease the pains of pregnancy. But now, when I needed a good laugh even more, I didn’t have time to read a book (not to mention there weren’t any genuinely funny titles available). I own a graphic design firm, so I started bouncing ideas off some of the girls in my office. We started with the visual approach — defining a working mom’s chaos in pictures — the copy came later.

6. ANNB: Parenting has changed so much in the last 30-40 years, why do you think parents "need" books and blogs and Web sites to be successful?

AG: The biggest need working moms have is for more time in a day. But next to that, they also need permission to laugh, and a little help to see the humor in their lives. Blogs and books with quick observations about life fulfill both of those needs – they are quick, easy and provide comic relief.

MC: I’m honestly not sure we need books, blogs and Web sites. In fact, there’s a lot of noise out there in the parenting category right now. I think the vast majority of working moms actually need a break — we simply don’t have the time to participate in all this “stuff.” It’s exhausting and overwhelming. So our intent was never to fill a “need”… unless, like Aimee said, that need was simply to laugh.

7. ANNB: Is there any topic that is off limits on your blog?

AG:  Not really, but I do think we both try pretty hard to avoid bashing stay-at-home moms or stumbling into the whole mommy wars idea. It just seems overplayed right now, and besides, there are very few “purists” these days –  women who work 40+ hours a week in an office with full-time childcare or those who stay at home full-time without working any kind of freelance gig on the side.

MC: Let’s see, I’ve posted about hemorrhoids, lying, sex, infidelity, pooping, addictions, lame ass loser moms, and even a few nontoxic stay-at-home-mom observations. I’d say nothing is off limits.

8. ANNB: Do you ever have trouble coming up with ideas for the blog?

AG:  Almost never – I have at least three ideas rattling around my brain right now. They always hit in the morning as I am schlepping to the San Francisco on BART at the crack of dawn while the rest of my family is at home snoozing, or when I call home and my kid refuses to say hello.

MC:  It’s a bit harder for me. I enjoy the writing, but it definitely doesn’t come as easily for me. I’m the visual one.

9. ANNB:
What do your husbands think of having their personal lives so exposed?

AG:  I would say they are super supportive. That said, I don’t think mine reads the blog unless I force it under his nose for editing, so I get away with a lot in there.

MC:  One of the first stories included in the book was about my husband (and it wasn’t complimentary). We were working on the book design for months using this awful story about him. Pages were posted all over my office with different versions of a dumfounded man covered in toilet paper and question marks. (Did I mention my husband and I work together?) One day, he comes into my office, “I’ve provided a lot of content for this book, haven’t I?” It was a bit of a realization for him, but I think he would agree that it was a good one. The entire process has actually been cathartic for us, so he’s been incredibly supportive.

10. ANNB:
How can we follow your progress and have you had any media exposure?

AG and MC: Follow us at allisonpr.com | twitter.com/allisonpr | facebook.com/allisonpr | youtube.com/apwest. Check out our clip on "View from the Bay": http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/video?id=7343927&section=view_from_the_bay&syndicate=syndicate--KB


PostHeaderIcon Six Stage Shows to See

The theater season is off and running this spring in the Bay Area. With the revival of great classics like Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma and the hilarious comedy of errors, Noises Off, to the drama, The Dairy of Anne Frank there is something for everyone and every budget.

Here are some of the highlights:

Noises Off
A Comedy by Michael Frayn
Produced by Center Repertory Company
Directed by Timothy Near

April 1 through May 1

Seven slamming doors, one breaking window, 10 trips up and down the stairs, 17 false entrances, 46 miscues, 22 double entendres, six regular entendres and a million laughs. This hysterical comedy will have you rolling in the aisles. Clever writing, spot on timing and some of the best lines ever seen on stage.

Center REPertory Compnay
1601 Civic Drive
Walnut Creek

Curtain times: Thursday through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets: $14.50 - $41



The Diary of Anne Frank
Produced by The Custom Made Theater Company

March 26 through May 1

Wendy Kesselman’s dynamic adaptation reveals an Anne overflowing with adolescent life, someone we can recognize as ourselves – defiant, passionate, curious and determined. These previously unpublished portions of the famous diary were released upon the death of Anne’s father, Otto. This updated version fearlessly addresses the realities of the Holocaust and a life in hiding.

Next Stage
1620 Gough Street
San Francisco

Thursday through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m.

Tickets: $10 - $28

Box office: 800-838-3006

by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein
Presented by Contra Costa Musical Theatre
Directed by Jennifer Perry
Musical Director: Karl Pister
Choreography by Renee De Weese

March 26 through April 25

The timeless ode to the Oklahoma Territory, "where the corn grows as high as an elephant’s eye". Even after 60 years, Oklahoma! is still considered the greatest American musical opera ever produced. Featuring the classic songs "People Will Think We’re In Love," "Surry With The Fringe On Top" and "Oh What a Beautiful Morning." A not-to-be missed presentation that the whole family will love.

Lesher Center for the Arts
1601 Civic Drive
Walnut Creek

Curtain time(s): Call for days and times

Tickets: $40 to $45
For info: 925-943-7469
For info: www.lesherartscenter.com

Concerning Strange Devices From the Distant West
Berkeley Repertory
Directed by Les Waters

Through April 11

A world premiere drama exploring the first cameras in Japan.  Written by Naomi Iizuka, this fascinating play shows how the lense captured geishas, monks and shrines and the way the camera was able to filter and obscure what was a distant land to us in the 1880’s.  Commissioned by the Berkeley Rep, this production is sexy, intriguing and haunting.  It has wowed critics who call it “dazzling”, “scintillating” and “tantalizing”.

Roda Theatre
2015 Addison Street

Tickets: $13.50 to $71
Call for curtain times: 510-647-2949
More info:  www.berkeleyrep.org

Man of La Mancha

Directed by Stewart Lyle
Musical Direction by Armando Fox
Choreography by Paula Wujek

Through April 3

Man of La Mancha is the  story of author Miguel de Cervantes’ alter ego Don Quixote who sees the world "not as it is, but as it should be.’’ The show's signature song "The Impossible Dream, "an anthem for anyone on a quest of their own, makes this story as powerful today as it was in Cervantes' time.

Altarena Playhouse
1409 High Street

Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
New-- Thursdays at 8 p.m. March 25 and April 1 only

Tickets: $22 general/$19 students and seniors
Phone: 510-523-1553

Lady Be Good

By George and Ira Gershwin
Produced by 42nd Street Moon
Directed by Chris Smith
Musical Direction by Dave Dobrusky
Choreography by Zack Thomas Wilde

March 31 through April 18

The first big success by the Gershwin brothers, this upbeat musical is infused with jazz and blues.  Originally starring Fred Astaire, the dynamic score features such classics as Fascinating Rhythm and Little Jazz Bird.  A special evening benefiting the Art Deco Society of California on April 15 includes a cocktail reception, dinner and tickets to this 1920’s smash.

Eureka Theatre
215 Jackson Street
San Francisco

Tickets: $38 to $44
Call for curtain times: 415-255-8207
For info: www.42ndstreetmoon.org



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