Monday, March 28, 2005

Nicholas on the hunt for chocolate on Easter afternoon. (He caught on quickly) Posted by Hello

Happy Easter!

We celebrated Easter in fine style Sunday. The boys and their friends collected copious amounts of chocolate hidden in the garden. We watched Oxford prevail (Hooray!) against Cambridge in the annual Boat Race. We enjoyed a fine Sunday lunch of rocket salad, leg of lamb, roast potatoes and parsnips, green beans with gorgonzola and yummy yummy chocolate cake (made by Kirstin). Oh, and the adults imbibed a fair amount of alcohol. In fact, the ratio was one bottle to one drinking adult. Result! Happy Easter everyone.

Andrew and Ella proudly display their treasures at the conclusion of this year's Easter Egg Hunt. Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 26, 2005

20 Miles! Whee!!!

I celebrated Easter Eve by going for a 20-mile run. Despite my best intentions of leaving by 7 a.m. (or 7:30 a.m. at the VERY latest), I didn't get out the door until 9:30 a.m. I was waylaid by needing to know how my university fared in the NCAA basketball tournament (they lost by ONE LOUSY POINT), eating some breakfast, wanting to read some of the newspaper, and then, when I was really working for a Gold Medal in procrastination, helping unpack our Easter grocery delivery.

Finally, I was on my way. It was a beautiful morning-- perfect, really. Sunny but not too hot (just 9C degrees/50F). I am extremely picky when it comes to the weather when I do these long runs. I know that. I think my acceptable range is about 2 degrees Celsius in either direction. I hate being too hot after getting sunstroke when pregnant with Andrew. I hate getting too cold after getting frostbite one winter evening in the Pittsburgh International Airport parking lot. But I digress.

I followed the marathon route from my designated start (the Blue, for those in the know), rather than the start I had been using since January (the Red). I continued along but thought I had missed Ha-Ha Road. Yes, sports fans, there really is a road called the Ha-Ha Road on the London Marathon route. All I could keep thinking about was Nelson from "The Simpsons" saying, "Ha Ha!" (For the Simpsons fans among you, check out their official website at It's hilarious). I continued on, thinking I had taken a wrong turn, but when I checked the map upon my return, I went exactly the right way. I got off the marathon route just after mile four, then ran along the river until my lovely family (Mom, Dad, Tim, Andrew, and Nicholas, who tried to steal Postman Pat's Jess cat) met up with me for a water break at the Cutty Sark (mile 10).

Then came the tough part, the second half. I crossed the river to the Isle of Dogs to pick up the marathon route again. After last week's monumental effort in the heat, I was feeling really good. I kept seeing other people practicing out on the course-- the giveaway is the water bottle and the tired look they (usually) have on their face. On my way back down West Ferry Road (about mile 17 for me), I gave directions to another couple also out on the course. I thought for sure they would pass me as I am so slow it's absurd, but they didn't! Hooray for me!

I am tired, but very happy. Even better, it took me less time to do 20 miles this week than it did to do the 19 I did last week in the terrible heat (only just, but still). Now bring on to the Easter chocolate and booze!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Learning to be a Good Loser

Andrew's school had an Easter Bonnet Parade on Tuesday. (Oh, yes, I know that I haven't filed this post on time. Be sure to include the oversight in my annual review.) The rules clearly stated that the hat should be made by the child with minimal adult intervention.

Andrew was really excited about the competition and enthusiastically jumped into the project. I came up with the basic structure for the hat, but the rest of the creation was entirely his. We spent Monday afternoon hitting the shops in Greenwich looking for materials. We went to Pickwick Papers, where they helpfully gave us the wallpaper scraps, the stationery store for the poster board and Stars and Stripes stickers (difficult to see in the picture), and some other stores too, where we didn't find anything of use.

Once home, Andrew got to work. He cut out the most Easter-like things from the wallpaper scraps and pasted them down to the posterboard. Once we were finished, we rolled it up to make it into the hat (the trickiest bit). Andrew was thrilled with the result. He kept saying, "This one is the best! It's going to win for sure!" Silently, I agreed with him, but I hadn't seen the competition yet.

Rain prevented Andrew from wearing the hat on his walk to school, but he attracted a great deal of attention making his way over to the competition. "Wow! Look at that!", "That's bigger than Marge Simpson's hair!", "That hat makes him taller than the Juniors!", were some of things that people said. He looked great.

To make a long story short-- and you already know what happened, given the title of today's post-- Andrew didn't win. He didn't even take third place. Oh, was he sad. Nothing can be more crushing than the disappointment of a 5-year-old. He tried to be brave, but he started to cry. Frankly, given all the work he did I wanted to cry. But I kept telling him it was great and it didn't matter that he didn't win.

It's an important, but tough, lesson to learn: Not everyone can be a winner.

Although I wasn't able to get the entire hat into the picture, you can still get a sense of how big it is. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Best Thing About Training

Training for the marathon has been quite a challenge, but there is one significant perk: I can eat whatever I want and still lose weight! It's fantastic. Some of the treats that I'm sure have helped me go that extra mille: numerous pieces of chocolate cake, bulging bowls of pasta and all the bagels I want. If I'm hungry, I eat. I find after I do the really long runs (like the 19 miles on Saturday) I'm especially hungry for two days afterward.

Carbohydrates, particularly, are my friend because it is the fuel that keeps me going. People following the Atkins diet would have a really hard time training for the marathon, I think, because the carbs are key to your success. As I love carbs (pasta especially), that directive suits me just fine.

People keep telling me how great I look and asking how much weight I've lost. I have no idea how much weight has gone-- we don't own a scale-- but I do know that I've dropped four sizes at the Gap. I should add, though, that I STILL couldn't find a pair of jeans that fit there, now that they discontinued the style I've been wearing for the past 10 years. That was a total bummer, let me tell you. For the time being I'm going to have to keep wearing the pair that I can take off without having to undo the top button.

For those who'd like to try to follow my weight-loss regime, I tell them, "It's easy. All you have to do is run hundreds of miles and you too can look like this."

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Another 19 miles in the bank

My friend Liz, who is also running the marathon, said once that long runs are like making a deposit in the bank. Every time you go out on a long run, you make a bigger deposit, and on race day, you withdraw all those miles you had in the account to make it across the finish line. The analogy, which was created by Liz's partner Patrick, kept me going today because I know I'm going to need as large a savings account as possible and today's deposit was a really difficult one to make.

It was hot in London. (Yes, I'm back to the weather. I'm going to apply for a job at next.) I know it's hard to believe, but it's true. Women were walking around in flip flops and sundresses. When I left the house at 11 a.m., it was 15 degrees (that's in European Celcius). By the time I returned, it was 22!! (For all of my American fans, 15 degrees is roughly 60 Farenheit and 22 is 74).

Now in normal circumstances, I'd be loving such weather and I wouldn't think it was so terribly hot. But as I had to run 19 miles in it, I just wasn't happy. I ran out of all of my Lucozade when I was only on mile 9, forcing me to make an unscheduled stop to buy more water. By mile 16, I gave some serious thought to using my last £2 to grab the train home. But I persevered, thinking about how important these long runs are and how every mile counts. So the 19-mile deposit got made.

I finally returned to Greenwich, 19 miles richer in my marathon bank account. The village was full of people out enjoying the beautiful weather (I could appreciate it now, as my run was finished). While I waited to cross the street, three blokes were sitting in the front seat of their van waiting at the red light. The one closest to me gives me a long look and says, "You look knackered, love!"

[And honestly, it really is very unusual for strangers to talk to you in London. I must give out some sort of vibe that makes people talk to me.]

"That's because I just ran 19 miles," I said.

"You should have taken the bus!" he said.

Advice I will be able to take in one month's time, when my marathon bank account will be empty, but the hard-earned deposits will have been put to good use.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Nova Wins!

Villanova wins in the first round of the NCAA Tournament! I want to run out and celebrate in the Quad with thousands of my fellow students!! Oh, wait, that was 17 years ago. Now I'll just have to make do with a very quiet, "Yeah!" so I don't wake the 5 year old and nearly 2 year old sleeping in the other room.

Now, for my British fans, an explanation. The NCAA Tournament, known colloquially as "March Madness," is ostensibly a basketball tournament. But if we're going to be honest here, it's really a good excuse for a fantastic kegger [party] in your dorm room if your school made it in, or if you're past your prime, a good excuse to engage in some small-time betting in your office pool [guessing who will win].

If I were in the U.S., I'd be glued to the television watching the action. But as I'm living thousands of miles away and they don't cover the NCAA even on Sky Sports Extra (featuring the most marginal of sporting contests), I had to make do with the Internet. Thanks to the good people at CBS Sportsline I got to follow the game in a 21st century sort of way, as they site featured automatic updates with a one-line explanation of the last play. So I got to breathlessly read every move 'Nova made (For the love of God, why did they miss so many free throws at the end??) and keep my fingers crossed they would make it into the next round.

They did. Hooray!! They didn't blow it. Hooray!! Now, I must quickly get to bed as I need to rest up for my 19-mile run tomorrow.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy St. Patrick's Day

There's two big reasons why today is a big day in the Stapleton household. First. it is St. Patrick's Day, which in the Stapleton family, is a Holy Day of Obligation. Not to go to church, mind you, but to have as much fun as possible on the 17th of March. St. Patrick was incredibly important to my grandfather, who was both a Patrick and Irish, so a double whammy there. He looked forward to the holiday so much that he had a green shamrock that counted down the days until the next St. Patrick's Day. When I stayed with him in Florida, it was my Very Important Job to move the numbers every day.

Now, when I was at Villanova and we were (usually) in the midst of NCAA March Madness, having as much fun as possible on St. Patrick's Day usually meant drinking green beer early in the morning and continuing on until... well, I feel there's no need to go into specifics, as my mother reads this online journal and I don't want to horrify her... but to my friends and comrades who knew me then I say, "Cheers" and "Slainte!"

As Tim continues to work in the Axis of Evil, it was left to the boys and me to celebrate the day. We did so by making a Chocolate Guinness Cake. Now anyone who has ever cooked with children will know that cooking together isn't really in the same league of fun as making your teeth green from the green beer, but the end result was fantastic, which we all thoroughly enjoyed.

The second reason why today is such a big day here is that it is now exactly a month until the London Marathon. Following my success with the 18-mile run on Sunday, I'm feeling pretty good about getting around. I now know that I will be slow, but as Tim likes to say, "Slow and steady wins the race." My goal is still to beat Oprah's marathon time of 4 hours, 29 minutes, but while I am cautiously optimistic that I'll be able to beat it, I'm just not sure.

Finally, in other news, Villanova plays in the first round of the NCAA Tournament tomorrow, its first appearance since 1999. In the spirit of St. Patrick and my Grandpa Stapleton-- all that is good, fun and noble-- I say, "Go Nova!"

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Spring is in the Air

Yes, sports fans, I'm back to talking about the weather. I might as well be living in a senior citizens' community in Florida. But today is an absolutely gorgeous day: sunny (that's a novelty for London) and warm, with a whiff of spring in the air. It's such a relief, actually, because I thought spring would never arrive. When I was running over the weekend, I was having a difficult time imagining running in shorts and a T-shirt on April 17, but today that seems more likely.

It's that wonderful first day of spring. Not officially, obviously, since that's on Monday. But it's that special day every year when you find yourself inappropriately dressed for the changing seasons. For me, that usually meant that I was still wearing my winter coat, a heavy sweater and a turtleneck, which made me want to strip in the middle of Chicago on my walk home to the train.

But today, I was prepared, as I had gone out on my morning run and already knew it was wonderful outside. So I have embraced spring by wearing a sprightly pink spring skirt (all of my black clothes feel SO overlooked), a yellow T-shirt and a light-blue cardigan. Even a friend said, "Look at that nice spring outfit you have on." No coat! No tights! I'll be freezing by tonight, but who cares? Spring is on its way!

P.S. For those grossed out by the picture of the salt-encrusted hat from Sunday (you know who you are), I apologize.

Monday, March 14, 2005

A special kind of tie-dye: the white bits on the hat (which I hope you can see) is the result of the copious amounts of salty sweat drying on my hat. Lovely! Needless to say, I'll be washing it today. Posted by Hello

I Totally Rock!

Yes, yes, British friends, I know that's a completely American thing to say. If I were British, I would say something along the lines of, "I put forth a nice effort today." The reason for my outlandish pride? I ran 18 miles yesterday-- the longest I've ever run-- and did it in just over three hours.

After last week's disappointing effort, I was beginning to fear that I might not be able to do the marathon after all. Twenty-six miles is a LONG way, after all. But now that I've done 18, I'm fairly certain that I'll be able to do it. The run was hard work, but felt good in an odd way. I spent the first 15 minutes of the run trying to figure out where to put my two foil bottles of Lucozade (American fans: that's British Gatorade). First I tried both front pockets, then I tried putting two in my back pocket, then I tried one in the back and one in the front. Nothing worked, and I really hate carrying things (except for my iPod, which is small and perfectly formed). Finally, I put one in my front pocket, my iPod in the other front pocket and I carried one bottle. That seemed to work best.

OK-- you in the back-- are you still awake after the description of my Lucozade problem? Anyway, I did the first four and a bit miles of the marathon course, ran around the infamous Millennium Dome, then through the Greenwich footpath under the Thames, joined the marathon course again to run around Canary Wharf, then back home to Greenwich. Whee!

Waiting for the lift at the pedestrian tunnel on the way back, now nearly done with my run, a bloke looked my tired, stinky, sweaty body up and down and asked, "Did you just run up the stairs or something?"

"No," I said. "But I just ran 18 miles! Thanks for asking!!"

"I did that twice yesterday," he joked.

Needless to say, I was VERY sweaty and VERY stinky by the time I got home. I didn't realize how sweaty I was, though, until I saw my hat this morning (see picture). All that salty sweat also made it stiff as a board.

I am also very pleased to report that after limping around like a 80-year-old retiree last night, I am able to walk just fine with no soreness today. Whee! Are you sensing the euphoria in this house? What will I be like the day after the race??

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Fine Dining in the Axis of Evil

Tim (For our new readers joining us, welcome! Tim is my husband) left Friday night for a business trip. Ordinarily, this event would not merit mentioning, but he happens to be going to Iran.

That's right, sports fans, straight into the heart of the Axis of Evil. But surprisingly, as an American, he can still travel there. While the State Department restricts trips into Cuba, presumably because they're not fans of cigar smoking, Americans can freely travel in and out of Iran. As a child of the '80s, all I can keep thinking about is the hostage crisis at the embassy and how we kept a daily count of the number of days it had been going on in my fifth grade class.

The State Department's web site is very comforting when I check it for information. It tells me, "Tensions generated by the current situation in Iraq have increased the potential threat to U.S. citizens and interests abroad posed by those who oppose U.S. policy." I told Tim before he left that if anybody asked, he should tell him he's Canadian and say "a-boot." He'll be there covering the OPEC meeting until Friday night.

Andrew, however, is happily oblivious to all of this. He wrote an e-mail to his dad earlier today. He wrote:
Hi Dad.
I hope you have a great trip. I bet there are good restaurants.
Love, Andrew

What is the eating out situation in Iran? I will report back next week.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Happy Red Nose Day

Here in the United Kingdom, it is Red Nose Day. For my American readers, this is an annual charity event sponsored by the BBC to raise money in Africa. As with many things, the event is much more exciting and fun if you have children.

At Andrew's school, all children were encouraged to do something crazy with their hair (see picture-- thanks for the red hairspray, Gaynor!) and wear their clothes backwards. Man, was Andrew excited. He ran all the way to school. OK, to be honest, we ran all the way to school because we were incredibly late owing to The Hair, but he was still very excited.

All week in school they've been talking about why the money is necessary and where it will be going. It obviously had an impact on our favorite five year old. "Some children don't have books or pencils or shoes," Andrew told me. "It's very, very, very sad. We're going to raise money so they can go to school."

So for those of you in a charitable mood, click on the link to the right so you can send a girl to school in Africa! And you won't have to color your hair red to do it, unless, of course, you feel like it.

Andrew celebrates Red Nose Day. His jacket and shirt are on backwards because all of his clothes had to be on "back to front." Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Neighborhood Support

Once the word is out that you're running a marathon, it becomes a hot topic of conversation. This morning, for example, by 11 a.m. six different people asked me how my training was going. It's really good for me that so many people care, because it helps keep me motivated to stick with the training.

One of the other mums didn't realize I was going to run the marathon. "You're just going to do a little bit of it, right?" she asked.

"Oh, no, I'm doing the whole thing," I said.

"Wow. Quality," she said (I'm guessing that's a good thing. I've never heard that term used before and I don't know her well enough to ask).

All this support will be terrific on the day itself, too, since the course starts in Greenwich, loops around and then goes through Greenwich again at mile six. I'm hoping there will be lots of people I know cheering me on that day. I'll feel like a sports star, and all the other runners around me will be so impressed that I know so many people!

Of course, at mile six, I'll be fresh as a daisy. It's when I'll be hallucinating around mile 24 that it would be incredibly helpful to see a friendly face.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

My friend Ellie

I never was one to be all that in tune with my body. Honestly, my toenails would nearly be curling over the tops of my toes before I noticed they needed to be cut. But all of this running has changed that.

My friend Ellie, who also happens to be My Most Excellent Pilates Teacher, is always reminding me, "You have to listen to your body." She has a quiet authority about her that makes you want to do what she says-- maybe that's why she's such a good teacher. I have been trying to do precisely that because I really want to avoid having an injury, particularly this late in the game. Ellie is also an avid runner, so she knows what she's talking about.

I had a truly horrible run on Sunday (Happy Mothering Sunday to me, huh?). If my body could have talked that day it wouls have screamed, "PLEASE! TAKE ME HOME!" I had some sort of stomach virus, my knees were in revolt and my achillies heel was turning into My Achillies Heel. Consequently, I did a short run of only 11 miles. I am truly living in some sort of alternative reality when I describe 11 miles as short and use the adjective "only." So I took a nice, long, hot bath and tried to think positive thoughts. I think Ellie would have approved.

Apparently, my actions worked because I've had two most fabulous runs yesterday and today. I did a quick six miles yesterday and felt great. Nicholas and I did sprints today and I actually did some gift shopping on the way home. So things are looking good. I'm starting to think that I might actually make myself proud on April 17.

Monday, March 07, 2005

If you notice, I am tightly holding Nicholas' hand so he won't dive into the cake. He still got a bit of icing after this picture was taken. Posted by Hello

Happy Mothering Sunday

Here in England, we celebrated Mother's Day, or "Mothering Sunday" as it is officially known. British websites (including the BBC) say that Mothering Sunday has absolutely nothing to do with, nor does it closely resemble the U.S.' Mother's Day, but I disagree.

In the U.K., though, the date is different every year because it falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The tradition evolved from giving workers-- usually women domestic servants-- the day off in Lent so they could go back to visit their mothers and families. They would return to their "Mother Church" and a family reunion would follow. These days, it's a very good reason for hard-working mothers to get to sleep late and eat chocolate cake, which is exactly what I did.
(see picture)

As an American living in Britain, though, it creates the annual question of when to send our own mothers a card. Do we send it now, and seem hopelessly early and out of date? Or do we send it in May, for American Mother's Day, when chances are good that we will forget completely, since there are no Mother's Day signs to remind us. This year we are taking our chances and sending our warm greetings in May. Hopefully, we'll remember.

I am suffering a serious case of Training Fatigue (i.e. sick of running, have various ailments that make any run unpleasant, can't face another day of lacing up my running shoes). I took the morning off to see the Caravaggio exhibit at the National Gallery. The pictures were amazing, and I'm not really one to fall for the seriously religious stuff.

Caravaggio lived the life of a rock star. Seriously! (Who knew, right?) This exhibit looks at his final years, when he was banished from Rome after killing a man in a duel. He went on the run-- painting beautiful pictures along the way-- and was made a knight in Malta. Just as things started to look up for him, he was involved in bar fight in Naples, and got slashed and stabbed beyond recognition in the face. He survived the stabbing, and then learned that he might be pardoned by the pope, so he headed back north via ship. However, he disembarked, got thrown in jail, and the boat-- with all his belongings and pictures on board-- left without him. ("Wait! Wait! My pictures!!") He then tried to chase after it, only to suffer heat exhaustion and die. You can't make this stuff up, can you?

It was a wonderful way to spend a morning, especially because I went with my friend Kirstin, who, like me, Loves All Things Italian.

If you'd like to read more about the exhibit, go to

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Baby Buggy Marathon

I hate to sound like a broken record by constantly moaning about the weather, but you would too if you had to run in it. (If Nicholas, my personal trainer, could talk I could only imagine what he would say about it). It was snowing again this morning as we headed off to school. Andrew loves it, he was skipping all the way there while exclaiming, "I love this weather!" He also stopped occasionally to taste some snowflakes.

As I type this at 2:30 p.m., however, you'd never know this morning was a winter wonderland, since all the snow has melted away. So no sledding today, either.

I find when I do go out when the weather is atrocious, that you attract a special sort of attention, paricularly when you've got such a notable personal trainer as I do. The other morning, when it was raining/snowing/windy, we were running along the Thames when I heard someone behind me. The path was narrow, so the bloke bicycling behind me had to coast along until the path got wider. Luckily, I was doing sprints, so he didn't know how slow I REALLY am.

When he passed me, he asked, "Are you training for the baby buggy marathon or something?"

(And to my American friends, let me know how incredibly UNUSUAL it is for a British person to talk to a stranger).

I replied, "Well, I am training for the London marathon!"

He looked back and said, "Really? Blimey!"

As he biked away, I said, "And you thought you were being funny!"

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Oscar Night!

Just to prove that this online journal won't be just about running, today I will be directing my attention to Sunday's Oscars.

Oh, how I love the Oscars. Those who doubt my devotion to this awards show should know that (a) I signed up for the £40-pound-per-month Sky Movies package to watch just the show and (b) After a long Sunday (more on that later), I still woke up at 1:30 a.m. just so I could watch them live. Of course, I might not have done (b) had I known that there would be a rebroadcast on Monday at a more civilized time of 9 p.m.

Sunday had been a big day at our house. It was Tim's 37th Birthday and we were having a small wine tasting party with some friends in the afternoon. I booked the date back in late November, so we've been looking forward to this for months. Unfortunately for me, just an hour before we were meant to leave for the party, Nicholas tripped and literally cracked his head open (as my Mom was fond of saying), so I had to take him to the Emergency Room (or A&E [for Accident and Emergency], as they say here). I endured a four-hour wait and had to listen to the woman with the Big Scary Tattoo on her back describe all of the times her offspring have cracked their heads open. It sounded as though they she got to go to the A&E a lot. By the time the doctor had a look at him, she seemed to think that he didn't need glue to fix the gash after all, as a scab had already formed (that's what happens when you have to wait three-and-a-half hours to see a doctor). But uncharacteristically for me, I made a Very Small Scene and the doctor glued it after all. But she also managed to glue her rubber glove to Nicholas' forehead too. He didn't cry until she had to tug the glove off his head. I would have been inclined to leave the glove on, but one-year-olds can be cruel and they made have mocked him at our next playgroup.

By the time we got out of the hospital, I had missed the party. Needless to say, when I got home I was in dire need of a glass of wine. Or 12. But I still got up at 1:30 to watch the Oscars. By the time I was able to drag myself out of bed, it was closer to 1:45 a.m., so I started watching just as Morgan Freeman won. I do like Morgan Freeman. He's one of the rare actors who is good in everything, even flimsy mystery movies starring Ashley Judd. But I wanted Clive Owen to win. I'm not too proud to say I have a thing for Clive Owen. I saw him in person when we saw "The Producers" in the West End in December, and I'm here to tell you that he's lovelier in person than he is on screen. And he smells nice too. Not that I'm a creepy fan or anything, I just happened to be walking behind him as we all exited the show, and I happened to be in his jetstream. But Clive lost. Bummer. As five-year-old Andrew would say, "Better luck next time."

I spent the rest of the show trying to get a good view of the dresses, which was difficult to do, since I missed the opening parade of attendees. I liked Cate Blanchett's dress very much, even if she did have to suffer the indignity of handing out an Oscar in the back of the auditorium. I'm a big believer in keeping the ceremony as short as possible, but that just seemed silly. Later on, I also really liked Charlize Theron's dress. But that was about it. Hilary Swank? Yuck, yuck, yuck. It had an amazing back, but she obviously was counting on winning, because you weren't going to see that if Sean Penn had called out Annette Benning's name instead. Gwyneth Paltrow? How is it possible that she could find a dress that makes her look fat? The color made her look like one big mess of paleness. It should be noted that's she's never been a great one for picking out Oscar dresses (though I did like the pink Ralph Lauren she wore the year she won, even if no one else did). Maybe she needs a new stylist.

For the life of me, I don't understand why Beyonce sang three of the five songs nominated for Best Song. Were all the other available female singers at a party and Beyonce wasn't invited? She wasn't at all convincing singing the French choir song (again, no one else was available??), I don't understand why the actress from Phantom of the Opera didn't sing that song and by the third song I was so disgusted that she was singing again I didn't pay any attention. If I wanted to watch the Beyonce show, I'd tune into MTV. And she didn't even redeem herself with her sartorial choices. Of the three dresses she wore, I liked none of them.

The one bit I loved was Julia Roberts presenting. Julia, as the whole world knows, gave birth to twins in November. When she appeared at the ceremony on Sunday she actually LOOKED like she gave birth to twins in November, God Bless Her. Her chest was huge-- laden with milk presumably-- and she looked positively hippy. I speak for every mother who ever looked at a post-baby picture of herself and thought, "God, I look fat," and say to Julia, "Respect!"

Until next year, when the Oscars will be broadcast in March again, owing to the Winter Olympics.