ask kidchamp, round V {vegan feet, fire-eating, and men in dresses; previous installment here}

are there vegan shoes (dress shoes in particular) that don't feel like your feet are steaming in their own personal sauna?

A: if you ever become interested in womenswear (see below), i strongly recommend stella mccartney; she's been turning out some of the most user-friendly (in terms of both comfort and one's ability to roll into a high-stakes fashion situation) vegan accessories in town for years, and they turn up on ebay in good shape at reasonable prices. in the interim, keep your eyes peeled for olsenhaus, a brand that patrols the non-PVC (PVC is environmentally brutal and uncompromising re: perspiration, as you probably know) shadowlands between ultra-haute vegan stuff and, like, hemp slip-ons. for men, i like the time travelers, which are a handsome coated cotton. for myself, i have and love a pair of sandals from a few seasons ago, and i'm eyeing the babylon ballet flats, which are made of microfiber derived from recycled television screens and have soles made of recycled rubber and sawdust. (olsenhaus shoes are often steeply discounted online.) give the novacas men's collection a look, as well; the vegan internets have long spoken highly of their boots in re: foot angst.

what was a time you responded inappropriately to a serious question?

A: at some point late in the magical year i worked in public relations, my coworkers and i gathered around a conference-room table to eat chopped salads and exchange seasonal pleasantries and mildly-revealing personal information. someone asked everyone else to describe what they would be doing with their lives if they hadn't gone into PR, and i said that i quite liked the idea of being a pyrotechnician. we all studied our salads.

have you ever thrown your cats a party? top five ever mag freebies? most and least pricey fashiony purchases of all time?

A: i have never thrown my cats a party, though i have probably thrown a party with the secondary or tertiary goal of debuting a cat. a coworker of mine recently lost a dog and threw a party for her surviving dog because she didn't want him to feel alone, which broke my heart and doubled my respect for her.

my top five ever magazine-editor freebies are a complicated vacuum, a mysterious black wool sample dress that was never produced for the market, a massive iittala aalto vase, a bottle of decennial's bois bourbon eau de toilette, and a bottle of 18-year-old highland park (honorable mention goes to 5,321 scented candles, 763 blankets, and a bunch of workout gear that makes me look like an eastern european ice dancer).

my least pricey fashiony purchase of all time is probably a pair of gold spike earrings i found online for $3 a few years ago; my priciest, in turn, is the navy blue wool chloƩ coat i bought at a consignment store two weeks ago. it makes me feel like a tolstoy heroine and cost far less than it might have, but i still needed lisa to sherpa me through the decision via text. (lisa, i salute you.)

or are these to be general? ie, how do i make coffee that isn't terrible?, what is the training for fire-eating?, etc

A: i like all questions. as a former surly coffee pro (i miss you sometimes, facial piercing), i am of the belief that if one is unable or unwilling to purchase a straight-up coffeehouse-caliber espresso machine—the elephantine, horrifically expensive kind that would kill you if it fell on you—one should skip amateur espresso drinks and focus on a kick-ass cup of pressed coffee. per the folks at roasting plant, our local devastatingly-high-quality coffee place, a french press maximizes the contact between your beans and your hot water. simple, no? they are also not a pain in the ass to clean, which makes them far more attractive to me than more intricate coffee gadgets. if you insist on making complicated stuff like mochas, mix your chocolate and your milk together before you steam them, as my first coffee-boss taught me.

the training for fire-eating is amateur fire-eating, of course. you'll need sambuca (romana is fairly easy to find), a champagne flute, and a book of matches. pour a shot of sambuca into the flute, swirl it around to kick up some fumes, and light the surface with a match; douse the flame immediately by putting your hand flat across the top of the flute (the vacuum you create will make the flute stick). have an assistant stand by with a book of matches, pour the sambuca into your mouth, tilt your head back, and have said assistant light it with a match; let the resultant flame frighten your friends and neighbors for a second, then close your mouth to put it out, wait a second to be sure, and swallow. (you can do the lighting yourself, but i wouldn't recommend that unless you're especially experienced, especially foolhardy, or both.) my point is that eating fire is extinguishing fire, really (the first rule of fire-eating is, predictably, never, ever breathe in, which is why the flaming sambuca is good practice; the second is don't eat fire when it's windy). the main two extinguishes are closing your mouth around the fire to deprive it of oxygen and blowing quickly outward with a puff (preferable if your torch is too hot to touch with your mouth). the third is that you should be very careful when making a torch, of course; DIY at your own risk (torch components can be found among fire equipment from a juggling store; personally i am quite taken with the wicked fire fans, which are, alas, inedible). the internet will try to tell you that fire-eating necessitates a tiny top hat, but that's between you and your supervising deity of choice, i think.

Late Entry: Contra past comments, has any sex-related art ever... ahem... seduced you into a notable state of appreciation?

A: i'm both a little unclear on what you're asking and fairly sure the answer would be no regardless? that said, i still remember where i was when i saw brad pitt's all-minidress rolling stone feature circa fight club, and sweet christ. for legends-of-the-fall-brad-pitt fans it was dylan going electric; for me it was, well, dylan going electric.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 after unsuccessfully haggling with the (kind of mean) consignment store folks for my coat, i took it home and discovered a pair of fur-trimmed gloves that had been wrapped with it by mistake. what should i have done with them?
02 do you think my coworker's dog felt better?
03 where and when did you have the best cup of coffee of your life?
04 have you ever eaten fire? would you?
05 what do you think of brad pitt in a dress?


LL said...

oh! my questions made it to the column! i feel so honored. and, incredibly impressed at your knowledge of fire-eating (and also frightened off, which isn't a bad thing).

1. i'm conflicted on the fur glove question, less because i don't wear fur and more because they probably weren't supposed to be part of the deal. a number of years ago i bought something (can't remember!) in a hasty trip to a southern california mall practically enroute to SNA - and discovered a lovely pair of Marc Jacobs sunglasses in the bottom of the bag. there wasn't time to return them - but i've never felt quite right wearing them. because i'm a fashion hoarder, i still have them, so i'll be monitoring these comments for advice.

lauren said...

i think this means you should get a fire fan.

LL said...

yes, that would definitely be less frightening than the eating business. still, i should probably wait until after the wedding photos are taken. i'd like to have eyebrows for posterity.

esb said...

01 is this a trick question?
02 no
03 oooooo this is a good question. i think it's a toss-up btwn the au lait at lamill and the au lait at my house (when we get it right) (which, for the record, is made in a stainless bialetti and a le creuset saucepan).
04 no
05 HOT

Rob said...

01 give them to someone who wears fur
02 yes
03 unknown
04 negative. i'd consider it
05 not in an empire waist, please.
06 have you ridden the 6 around the city hall loop station

Rachel said...

01. Well, you don't wear fur, so your options are limited. You could a) return them condescendingly b) have a bonfire. Full disclosure - D gave me a vintage fur trimmed carpet coat as a gift when we were 15 (we both thought it was fake fur, largely based on the very low price of the gorgeous coat but it turns out it wasn't) and I can't bear to throw it out. So I feel I'm on slippery moral ground here. (ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?!)

02. Depends. Was it a party with other dogs? I think that would be more effective in that situation.

03. I guess the fact that I'm blanking means I'm not a coffee expert. Best tea was from the Indian Embassy in London, during a vaguely educational outing from which I remember nothing except for the tea.

04. No. No.

05. Open to it.

lauren said...

@esb re: 01 not a trick question!

@rob re: 06 no, but it's on my latest 101 in 1001 list. perhaps it can be combined with skydiving?

@rachel re: 01 joe gave me a bone china mug for christmas this year. i...have not settled on a strategy yet. you couldn't get rid of me if you tried, man.

re: 02, yes, it was a party with other dogs.

re: 03, has the window in my life in which i would have been invited to an embassy closed? hmm.

LPC said...

01 Sell them on eBay and donate the proceeds to animal charity of choice.
02 Depends on whether the food at the party was good.
03 Coffee gives me migraines, I do remember it tasted pretty good at the summer camp in France where I worked as a counselor in 1975.
04 Metaphoric fire, yes.
05 As long as it's baby Brad Pitt, c. Thelma and Louise, I'm a fan

Extra Credit: I salute you in return for back pleats - I see them now in all kinds of cool places.

furiousmuse said...

01 i would have returned the gloves. i don't feel comfortable with keeping things that i didn't rightfully purchase
02 i imagine that the dog enjoyed the distraction. however, deep down, i believe that the dog needs something more long term.
03 i'm pretty sure that the best cup of coffee i had was in paris, which was possibly in 2006. locally, i'm a fan of augie's in redlands and portola coffee lab in costa mesa.
04 i have not eaten fire. and given my propensity for laughing/sneezing at inopportune times and snorting rice or salad up my nose/sinuses, i will never attempt fire eating.
05 he's ok. i'm not a pitt fan.

lauren said...

@sjp i really, really wanted to donate the gloves to a charity, but i have the same issue; i returned them the next day. i was hoping the mean clerk would be there when i did; alas.

Rachel said...

Wait, does bone china actually have real bones involved?! Why had I never considered this before? What did I think it meant?

lauren said...

@Rachel yeah, the "bone" is a component (bone ash used in the slurry to make the clay), not a description of, say, the color; apparently the finer and more translucent the piece, the more bone ash it contains (generally somewhere between 25 and 50 percent). in antique bone china it's a slaughterhouse byproduct, usually; supposedly some newer factories use synthetics instead, but it's not always clear which is which. i haven't yet figured out if my mug is made of actual bone.

lauren said...

@Rachel actually, it seems that most producers still use real bone. oh, mug.

Anonymous said...

MDF said...

01 Kantian high-five, I guess? Oughtn’t they to have been destroyed? 02 Your coworker indubitably felt better about her dog. 03 During my current lapse after years of abstinence, I’d say any cup I’m holding is literally the best- not in a stupid way, but like in a Rousseauian a-Great-Dane-knocked-me-free-from-Time’s-persecution sort of way. 04 You’d have to be pretty hangry… 05. Kalifornia. 0? Your affable prude persona is a favorite. My brain thought that if something smutty impressed you then it must be eminently impressive and I’d likely want to know about it. Evidently this doesn’t exist.

furiousmuse said...

oh! i hadn't thought about donating them...i think that would've been somewhat honorable. still, those feelings of "revenge" rarely stay with me for long (though i'll confess to a new breed of "road rage" born from watching someone take the parking spot closest to the apartment as i'm approaching to park my car--there's a bit of a blind corner and i never see them coming).

lauren said...

@MDF i'm serious, that brad pitt spread was game-changing. i considered mentioning the scene in hackers when jonny lee miller's character dreamed of hooking up with angelina jolie's, but that's two brangelina mentions in one post, and those are the only instances in which i find either of them desirable. (JLM, you can still call me, though elementary is execrable.) also, they're regulars at my art store and plastic-animal emporium, and that's just awkward.