Posted in December 2012

ExpliKate: Feels like you’ve read this somewhere before…

By Kate Hakala

You head to a bar one night in an area that’s completely foreign to you, in a state you’ve never visited. As you walk in, you decide to get a martini and order from the barkeep. Then you turn around and notice, standing in the corner, a drag queen in a pink leotard holding a fiddle. Suddenly, you get a shiver done your spine, as this all seems overwhelmingly familiar. Too familiar. Unless this is one of those rare jet-setting drag queen troubadours, there’s no way this could have happened before. But you swear it has. You, my friend, have a major case of déjà vu.

What is déjà vu? Hint: It’s not just your favorite Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young album. Déjà vu is essentially an experience where there is an unexplainable sense of recognition, but with no real pretext or awareness for this genuine yet indescribable feeling. The term was first coined by French psychic Émile Boirac and literally means “already seen.”  Since it was first talked about in the 1800s, neurobiologists have worked hard to contend with this ephemeral topic; there seems to be over fifty theories floating around about the cause of déjà vu.  It’s not just a phenomenon for Frenchies. What makes déjà vu such a spooky, unsettling occurrence is that it can’t be verified or observed objectively, but it still remains a common and almost universally reported experience.

Don’t fret. There are some things about déjà vu that we do know for certain. About 70% of the population has reported experiencing it at least once, but in many cases multiple times in their life.

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Trivia: Revolutionary War heroine, Mammy Kate

Mammy KateBy Kate E. Stephenson

The longer I write this column, the more powerful I feel. For me, the name Kate has become synonymous with courageous—and this installment takes it to a Revolutionary level.

The year was 1779 when a woman affectionately called Mammy Kate rescued Stephen Heard, the governor of colonial Georgia, from a headless future. On February 14th, Gov. Heard—along with 22 other patriots—were captured by the Loyalist Tories during the Battle of Kettle Creek. Transferred to Fort Cornwallis in Augusta, Georgia (some 50 miles away) he was imprisoned, pending public hanging for his treason against the British Crown.

Enter Mammy Kate, an unlikely heroine in this crusade.

Towering over 6 feet tall and reported to be as strong as she was fearless, Mammy Kate was legally considered Heard’s property, Mammy Kate was an enslaved servant in his household. We know little of her background; the records seem to indicate that she was of pure African blood and by her own testimony the daughter of a king. Her actions during the aftermath of the Battle of Kettle Creek show her to have been a shrewd and valiant warrior worthy of such noble status.

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The Week in Kate: Katie Couric’s holiday sweater, Kate Moss’ newest pic

Katie Couric holiday sweater

By Kate Torgovnick

As per usual, it looks like the Kates, Katies, Catherines, and Katys of the world have been mighty busy this week. Here, your weekly roundup of name-specific news.

  • Katie Couric wins the award for Best Holiday Sweater. [Daily Mail]
  • Kate Middleton and Prince William bucked royal tradition and attended Christmas services at St. Marks Church in Englefield with Middleton’s family. [ABC News]
  • Middleton, naturally, makes her Christmas cards by hand. Or at least, used to? [Huffington Post]
  • Middleton’s nose has apparently become the most-requested celebrity body part at plastic surgery clinics in the UK. [The Sun]
  • A detailed explanation of why Katherine Heigl does not appear in “This is 40,” the sort-of sequel to “Knocked Up.” [Hollywood Reporter]
  • In this interview, Heigl calls adopting second daughter Adalaide “serendipitous.” Apparently, she thought the process would take years, but got a surprise call from her lawyer just four weeks after filing paperwork. [Yahoo Movies]
  • Maybe being a bikini model is actually harder than it sounds. Kate Upton stripped down for a photo shoot in Antarctica, with the thermometer creeping to minus 35 degrees Celcius. [Mirror]
  • Looks like Katie Holmes had to work the day after Christmas, too. Here she is on her way into the Music Box Theater for a post-Christmas performance of “Dead Accounts.” [Celebrity Gossip]
  • Holmes told David Letterman all about blanking on her lines during a performance of the show. [Us Weekly]
  • Tom Cruise appears to be moving on after his divorce from Holmes. He was reportedly seen dirty dancing with Cynthia Jorge, a Queens native who slipped the actor her number while he was dining at the Lower East Side restaurant where she works. [NY Daily News]
  • Meanwhile, spies say that Holmes was flirting with a mystery man at a party who then walked her home. Her rep, however, says that this was her gay best friend. [NY Daily News]
  • A great Q&A with super-producer Kathleen Kennedy, who is hoping for an Oscar for “Lincoln.” []
  • John Mayer reportedly spent the holidays with Katy Perry and her family. He even let Perry snap a photo of him in a Santa suit. [Huffington Post]
  • Sadly, sources say that Mayer may still be keeping things going with a friend with benefits. [Perez Hilton]
  • Perry says it would be beyond her wildest dreams to be nominated for an Oscar for her song “Wide Awake.” She tells USA Today, “When I was growing up and working on music, it was always a dream to win a Grammy, but Oscar was so far out of my dream sphere.”
  • Meanwhile, Kate Hudson shares that her family’s holiday traditions include making snowmen and hot chocolate in Aspen, Colorado. [Us Weekly]
  • She was seen exiting an Aspen grocery store doing an impressive bag-balancing job. [Perez Hilton]

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Kate Winslet marries Ned Rocknroll! So will she become Kate Rocknroll?

Kate Winslet marries Ned Rocknroll

Stop the presses! Kate Winslet is once again a married woman.

According to the Daily Mail, Winslet tied the knot with boyfriend Ned Rocknroll in a secret service in New York earlier this month. The ceremony was so hush-hush that her parents reportedly had no idea it was happening—apparently the only people to witness the nuptials were Winslet’s children and a handful of friends. Including one Leonardo DiCaprio, who gave Winslet away in the wedding ceremony.

This is Winslet’s third marriage. She said “I do” to Jim Threapleton in 1998. They had a daughter together—Mia—but divorced in 2001. In 2003, Winslet married director Sam Mendes, also in a secret ceremony. Sadly, the pair separated in 2010. They also had one child together, Joe.

Not too, too much is known about Ned Rocknroll. He is the nephew of Richard Branson, and works for his latest venture — Virgin Galactic, which will (maybe soon?) offer flights to space. Born Abel Smith, Rocknroll had just separated from wife Eliza Cowdray when he met Winslet, possibly on the Necker Island trip in which Winslet saved Branson’s mother from a house fire.

Winslet’s spokesperson has confirmed that Winslet is a married woman, and that she and Rocknroll have been engaged since the summer. We wish these two a very happy life together and are secretly hoping that she decides to take his last name. Even if it lacks some hyphens.

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My CompliKAITed Life: Working at Christmas Time


Sometimes I wonder about our country’s state of mind and attitude towards work. The US of A is a great country and a free country, but I think we have a really twisted way of looking at work. Sure, the whole “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” idea is fantastic, and there are a lot of people who are living proof that it’s possible. Still, what’s wrong with taking a break every once in awhile?

I say this because it’s December 26th and I’m at work. I was also at work on December 24th. In fact, last week I was pulling 9 hour days, waiting almost 7 hours for my lunch break, and then I worked half a day on Saturday the 22nd too. It totally sucks. I’ve sort of been telling myself, “I’m young. This is the time to work overtime, work holidays, etc. because I don’t have a husband or a family. I’ll take time off when I’m older.” However, I’m not even sure that taking time off work will be acceptable when I’m older.

This year Walmarts and McDonalds encouraged their stores to stay open on Christmas day. The sanctity of holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving as absolutely unquestionable days off for pretty much everyone (unless you work in a hospital, healthcare, emergency response) is gone. When Black Friday now starts at 7pm on Thanksgiving Day, I think it’s time for our country to take a look at our priorities.

I spent 2011 living in Costa Rica, and one of the major things I noticed about that country is how often they stop and celebrate. They have WAY more national holidays than we do, and they really know how to throw a party. There are parades and fireworks and little festivals constantly throughout the year. The week leading up to Easter is called “Semana Santa”, Holy Week, and everyone goes to the beach and parties. Literally, EVERYONE. The public bus system in San Jose, the capital city, didn’t even run that week. Costa Rica is a third world country (even if they’d like to pretend that they aren’t), but there’s a reason they are one of the top 10 countries on the world’s “Happiness Index”.  They don’t live to work—they work to live.

I know that, right now, I’m just an entry-level secretary. I’m on the bottom of the totem pole, and I’ve used up pretty much all of my 10 alotted vacation days this year. Working more or less nonstop is the status quo for the working world now. I’m just wondering if it’s a healthy mindset to have.

I’m just feeling really burned out right now.

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Adventures in Greening: The night before Christmas


By Catherine Moran

In honor of reusing and recycling, I hereby give you my poor (and severely annotated) adaptation of the famous poem. Please have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday, all!

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the land
No one was buying anything, not even a tree stand.
The gifts were wrapped, the plastics few,
Keeping in mind: “Give nothing new.”
The gingerbread men were ready to eat:
Cleverly decorated hands, heads, and feet.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In the hope that reusable items soon would be there.
The composting had been done,
The recycling taken out,
A Merry Christmas to be had by all, no doubt.
When all has been done, and more has been said,
Merry Christmas, greenies,
And let the spirit of the season go to your head!

Adventures in Greening is a column running on every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter @folowbredcrumbs, or check out her excellent book blog.

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Kate Winslet’s stunning red dress from ‘Titanic’ sells for $330,000


The dress may be gone, but your heart will go on, right? At a recent Hollywood auction, actress Kate Winslet‘s stunning black-and-red beaded dress sold for a whopping $330,000. The dress is featured in some of the most memorable scenes in Titanic, like the moment when star-crossed lovers Jack and Rose first meet. The dress, which was designed by costumer Deborah L Scott, supposedly took more than 1,000 hours to sew.

Other high-grossing auction items included Orlando Bloom’s “Legolas Bow” from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and an X-Wing model from the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope.

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Dear Kate: Am I supposed to buy a holiday gift for my boss?

Dear-Kate-column-identityBy Katharine Luckinbill

Dear Kate,

With the holidays upon us I am getting all of my Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa gifts checked off and bought for my friends and family – but what about my boss at work? Am I supposed to even get my boss a gift, and if so – what do you get your boss?

Needing some Holiday Help,



Dear In Need of Holiday Help Holly,

Surprisingly enough, the general consensus is that you should not buy your boss a present for the holidays. For two major reasons:

  1. You do not want to appear as if you are trying to “buy” your way into their good graces
  2. You should only buy presents for people who are below you in title to say thanks for their hard work and help. Buying a gift for your supervisor can be viewed as inappropriate.


Check out this informational article from The Washington Post about holiday work etiquette.

However, if you are particularly close with your boss, or you feel like he or she has gone out of their way to be a great supervisor this year, then I would say something small and heartfelt would be okay.

Check out this article from Forbes for some ideas.

If a purchased present isn’t really in the wallet cards this year, try baking some cookies or some kind of sweet festive treat.

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Kate’s Dates: The Worst Gifts Ever


By Kate Richlin-Zack

Tis the season. And in case you were wondering what to buy for me — and I know you were — rest assured I’m not as difficult to shop for as you might think. There are lots of things I’d love to find under my tree or next to my menorah this year. For example. you can’t go wrong with diamonds, a trip to the Cayman Islands, and/or a Mercedes with a big red bow, although you might have trouble fitting some of those things down the chimney. Ok, but in all honesty, great gifts are not necessarily big ticket items. One of the best gifts I ever got was hand knit by one of my favorite people and it always makes me smile. What can I say, I’m a sucker for sentimental value.

There are however a few gifts that should be avoided and I doubt I’m the only girl who feels this way. So listen up, fellas. Here are a few suggestions when it comes to gift giving this year.

Do not, under any circumstances, make this mistake. It doesn’t matter if you’ve only been dating for a short time. You should still exchange gifts. I don’t want to hear, “I can’t afford something nice.” That’s a bunch of malarkey and you  know it. I’m not expecting you to drop a ton of cash. Get creative! Remember how much your mom loved those macaroni necklaces you made when you were five? I’m certainly not suggesting you fashion some jewelry out of pasta but a mix CD of your favorite songs that remind you of her or a framed picture of the two of you (not a framed pic of yourself — that’s obnoxious) that she can show off on her desk at work are well within your budgetary limits.

Seriously? Luggage? Unless it’s on her wish list, there is nothing thoughtful or romantic about luggage. I got this as a gift once and promptly exchanged it for a sexy pair of boots I couldn’t otherwise afford shortly after I dumped the guy. The only exception to the No Luggage rule is if there are plane tickets to some exotic location tucked away in the carry-on.

Ugly jewelry
If you’re going to spend the money, at least try to figure out if it’s something she will actually like. One time, I got a bracelet that oddly resembled a handcuff. Appropriate, since the guy who gave it to me was rather controlling — but beyond that, not only was it completely not my style, it was also hideous. Take a look in her jewelry box. In my case, it’s a massive jewelry cabinet — we’re well beyond the box thanks to Lia Sophia parties and various moments that could only be remedied with retail therapy … you should see my shoe closet. If you’re still unsure about what she likes even after rummaging through her shiny baubles, take her shopping.

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Kathleen’s Kitchen: Chocolate friendship cookies

By Kathleen Neafsey

These cookies are popularly known as Crinkle Cookies; I like to call them my Friendship Cookies.  A few years ago when my dad passed away, my friend Debbie left a tin of these on my doorstep the very next morning.  She knew that there would be a steady stream of people in and out of the house and endless cups of coffee over the next few days so she provided us with something sweet while we shared our memories.  My family raved over them, and she was kind enough to share the recipe with us.  My daughter’s friends actually request these instead of birthday or Christmas gifts from her; and they always find their way onto the trays of cookies that I make at Christmas, so what better time to share the recipe with you?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups (12 oz. package) Semi-sweet chocolate chips – I made the cookies once using milk chocolate chips and they were actually too sweet.  I haven’t tried using dark chocolate chips, but they may provide a nice balance of sweetness.
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose  flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar

Normally, in a cookie recipe I would say preheat your oven to 350 degrees but since this dough is refrigerated for about 20 minutes before you start working with it, you can wait till you put it in the fridge to turn on the oven.

Here we go!

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Kate Moss mistakes beach for the jungle. Or maybe thinks she’s a cheetah?


Kate Moss is very into leopard print on the beach. And she is also apparently very committed to the cause of finding the strangest beach ensemble ever. Last week, she amazed us by combining and neon yellow top and striped bathing suit bottoms with a leopard print belt. But over the weekend, she confused us even more with this retro leopard print bikini — possibly not coordinating — with a floral jacket. Why is she choosing these options for the beach? And what’s up the eyeliner? How does it sat on in the waves?

So, so many questions.

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ExpliKate: I don’t know why I am crying

By Kate Hakala

Do you remember laying flat on your bed, eyes gushing like Old Faithful, unsightly snot dripping down way too close to your open mouth? This is you after your dog died. This is you after a break up. This is you after failing to assemble an Ikea chair.

This image comes frighteningly close to what I was doing this week. My best friend and roommate moved to another state and an onslaught of huge life changes came my way. While making like weeping roadkill, Kate Bush’s song, “Suspended in Gaffa” came through my head. “I don’t know why I’m crying,” Kate croons.

“Wait, I don’t know why I’m crying,” I thought to myself.

So, I did my homework.

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