Monthly Archives: February 2013

H&M Crashes Paris Fashion Week

February 27, 2013, 7:26 pm
H&M, fall 2013.
Benoit Tessier/ReutersH&M, fall 2013.

“Three days after crashing the Oscars red carpet by dressing Helen Hunt in a strapless gown, H&M, the Swedish fast fashion retailer, crashed Paris Fashion Week.

It has been eight years since H&M presented a runway show for its signature label, not counting its big promotions with Donatella Versace and Maison Martin Margiela, so executives at the company evidently decided it was time to pull out all the stops with an elaborate show on the grounds of the Musée Rodin. H&M’s previous show, by the way, was held in the Central Park Zoo. So it has come a long way.

It says a lot about the state of fashion shows, which are increasingly becoming entertainment vehicles designed for the public as opposed to events for industry insiders, that H&M chose Paris, the city of haute couture, for this one. Previous designers to have shown their collections in the gardens behind the museum include Dior, during the late John Galliano years, and Tom Ford before that, when he was at Yves Saint Laurent. And yet H&M’s production seemed even more over the top, and the audience appeared at least as wowed.

Guests entering the show Wednesday night walked along a candle-lit pathway to an enormous tent that had been decorated like a fantasy apartment, with more than 15 small rooms where editors were seated on couches, beds, marble slabs and at gilded wicker seats around a dining table. Each room was decorated in a different style, including a Moroccan lounge, an Art Deco sitting room, a marble bathroom and a kids’ bedroom with an outer space motif. Finding your assigned seat through the winding rooms was like walking through Ikea, only with better furniture.

I wound up next to the kitchen, or the faux kitchen anyway, with pictures of food on the wall behind a counter, where several Russian magazine editors were perched uncomfortably on stools. At the dining table, with silver place settings and empty crystal goblets, were the elites: Hamish Bowles of Vogue, the stylist Catherine Baba and Emmanuelle Alt of French Vogue, who was seated next to Emmanuelle Seigner, who was wearing a tiny black motorcycle jacket. Four male editors from W magazine were seated on a couch, which looked comfortable until a fifth man joined them and they all became knotted together. Ashley Olsen and Emma Roberts were hiding in one of the rooms.

The scene was so completely ridiculous that people openly wondered how much money was involved, and the numbers bouncing around quickly escalated from 1 million euros to 4 million euros. It was also curious that H&M showed a fall collection, when the retailer is known for adapting trends from the runways so quickly that you can often find hints of them in its stores before they get to the designer boutiques. These clothes may seem stale to anyone watching at home by the time they get to H&M.

Oh, you must be wondering by now about those clothes.

They were not bad, but the runway, frankly, seemed more of an afterthought to the setting. The collection, under the head designer Ann-Sofie Johansson, was largely black and white, with trendy items like an oversize black shearling vest, fuzzy mohair sweaters, passementerie-trimmed capes, a black velvet minidress worn with a cute belt with dangling fringe, and a sheer navy dress sprinkled with silver sequins, but not enough sequins to cover the undergarments beneath. That last look was worn by Cara Delevingne, who flirted with audience members as she made her way from room to room, to the delight of the photographers.

But the show did underscore H&M’s incredible speed at getting fashion trends to retail. In fact, some of the clothes looked like things we’ve seen at this Fashion Week. As a jacket went by covered in thousands of tiny feathers, you might have wondered, didn’t we just see those feathers at Dries Van Noten this afternoon?”


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by | February 28, 2013 · 7:12 pm

Nintendo Wii Helped Budding Surgeons Move To Head Of The Class


February 28, 2013 1:03 PM
Kid, you might just have a future as a surgeon.

Kid, you might just have a future as a surgeon.



“How’s this for a tough assignment?

A group of Italian researchers forced 21 surgical residents to play video games on a Nintendo Wii for an hour a day, five days a week, for four weeks. Whew!

Then the researchers had the residents perform a simulated keyhole surgery. They found that the gamers performed significantly better than another group of residents who didn’t undergo this grueling video game training.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Dr. Gregorio Patrizi, a professor at the University of Rome Medical School who worked on the study. “Research doesn’t need to be boring.”

Keyhole, or laparoscopic, surgery involves inserting tiny video cameras and instruments into your body so surgeons can operate without having to make a large incision. The approach reduces recovery times for patients, and the risk of infection goes down as well.

However, Patrizi said laparoscopy can be difficult for surgeons not used to staring at a video monitor during an operation. “You have to move in a three-dimensional space but you have a two-dimensional image on your screen,” he said.

That’s where the Wii comes in. Several earlier studies suggested that playing video games can boost laparoscopic skills, but those studies were largely based on surveys of surgeons’ prior video gaming habits. Patrizi’s study is one of the first randomized trials that had some surgeons undergo a structured game-playing routine and also maintained a separate control group.

Patrizi and his team had surgical residents play three Wii games — tennis, ping pong and one that involved shooting balloons from an aircraft. As the researchers write in their articlepublished online by PLOS ONE, they chose these games because they all required strong hand-eye coordination and three-dimensional visualization of a space.

Compared with the unlucky doctors in the control group, who didn’t have an excuse to play video games for five hours a week, the residents who played the Wii games showed significantly more improvement on a laparoscopy simulator.

Though it might seem like this study was designed by Nintendo as an advertisement for the Wii, Patrizi said the video game maker had nothing to do with it. He said his team received no outside funding to conduct the experiment and didn’t even notify Nintendo they were doing it.

In an email to Shots, a Nintendo spokeswoman said the company is “thrilled to hear” that the Wii might someday provide a benefit to medical science, even if that wasn’t what its designers had in mind. “Did we think that the Wii would improve the performance of surgeons?” she writes. “No.”

Patrizi said these results suggest that the Wii and other motion-sensing gaming consoles like Microsoft’s Kinect could be used to supplement surgical training at a very low cost, especially when compared with expensive laparoscopy simulators.

To Dr. Brant Oelschlager, chief of the University of Washington’s Center for Videoendoscopic Surgery, it makes sense that a video game would help a surgeon perform these procedures. “There’s probably a lot of overlap in that bit of learning,” he said. “Both are very unnatural environments to the novice.”

But that doesn’t mean hospitals should be putting Wii systems in the doctors lounge just yet. Oelschlager said video games would only be beneficial to inexperienced surgeons.

“I’m skeptical that at an advanced level that would help the surgeon become better,” Oelschlager said. “At some point, it starts to have diminishing returns and you have to gain the rest of your skills in a real patient.””

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by | February 28, 2013 · 7:09 pm

Humana Festival College Days

Humana Festival College Days

March 22-24, 2013

College Days weekend is a three-day immersion into the world-renowned Humana Festival of New American Plays. College students and faculty are invited to explore the Festival and connect with people at the forefront of the field.

College Days attendees:

-See astonishing world premiere plays
-Participate in career development workshop
-Meet Actors Theatre staff and Humana Festival creative teams
-Audition for Acting Apprentice Company
-Interview for Professional Internships
-Rub elbows with the best in the field!


Only $125 per package. Groups of 11 or more receive a FREE package valued at $125.

College Days packages include tickets to four productions, workshop participation, networking events and an opportunity to auditon for Actors Theatre’s Apprentice Company or interview for professional internships.

Contact Sarah Peters at 502-585-1210 or for details.

To view the full College Days schedule, click here!


Package A:
Friday, March 22
8 p.m. Gnit
11 p.m. Sleep Rock Thy Brain
Saturday, March 23
3 p.m. Cry Old Kingdom
7:30 p.m. Appropriate
Guru & Shore not included
Package B:
Friday, March 22
7:30 p.m. The Delling Shore
Saturday, March 23
2:30 p.m. Gnit
7:30 p.m. Appropriate
11 p.m. Sleep Rock Thy Brain
Cry & Guru not included

Package C:
Friday, March 22
8 p.m. Gnit
Saturday, March 23
12 p.m. O Guru Guru Guru, or why I don’t want to go to yoga class with you
3 p.m. Cry Old Kingdom
8 p.m. The Delling Shore
Appropriate & Sleep not included

Please stay tuned for updates and announcements!

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by | February 20, 2013 · 9:15 pm

Simple stretches to help your muscles and manage pain

Simple stretches to help your muscles and manage pain

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by | February 20, 2013 · 9:03 pm

Halve meat consumption, scientists urge rich world

Beef carcasses at a wholesale meat market in Paris

“Beef carcasses at a wholesale meat market in Paris. The quest for ever cheaper meat has ’caused a web of water and air pollution that is damaging human health’, a UN report says. Photograph: Francois Mori/AP

People in the rich world should become “demitarians” – eating half as much meat as usual, while stopping short of giving it up – in order to avoid severe environmental damage, scientists have urged, in the clearest picture yet of how farming practices are destroying the natural world.

They said the horsemeat scandal had uncovered the dark side of our lust for meat, which has fuelled a trade in undocumented livestock and mislabelled cheap ready meals. “There is a food chain risk,” said Prof Mark Sutton, who coined the term demitarian and is lead author of a UN Environment Programme (Unep) study published on Monday. “Now is a good time to talk to people about this.”

The quest for ever cheaper meat in the past few decades – most people even in rich countries ate significantly less meat one and two generations ago – has resulted in a massive expansion of intensively farmed livestock. This has diverted vast quantities of grain from human to animal consumption, requiring intensive use of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides and, according to the Unep report, “caused a web of water and air pollution that is damaging human health”. The run-off from these chemicals is creating dead zones in the seas, causing toxic algal blooms and killing fish, while some are threatening bees, amphibians and sensitive ecosystems. “The attention this meat scare has drawn [highlights] poor quality meat. It shows society must think about livestock and food choices much more, for the environment and health,” said Sutton.

The answer, Sutton said, was more vegetables on the plate, and less animal protein. “Eat meat, but less often – make it special,” he urged. “Portion size is key. Many portions are too big, more than you want to eat. Think about a change of culture that says, ‘I like the taste, but I don’t need so much of it.'”

By filling plates with vegetables as well as the meat, people will be better nourished. “Most people don’t notice,” he said, citing a recent UN event at which the chef used a third the amount of meat, more vegetables to make up for it, and more than 90% of guests were just as satisfied.

Sutton was speaking about the rich west, the US and Europe in particular. He wants the change in diet to be pioneered in Europe, as the US will be a tougher nut to crack. The UN scientists said people in poor countries should be allowed to increase their consumption of animal protein, which billions of people are lacking. But if that is so as not to cause environmental harm, the move to meat in the developing world must be balanced with a reduction in the amount consumed in developed countries.

Chicken and pork are likely to be the meats that cause less environmental damage in relative terms, though standards of welfare and the circumstances in which livestock are raised can make a big difference. “Chicken is one of the most efficient [meats] as it grows very quickly and you can collect the manure,” said Sutton. Meat production accounts for 80% of the nitrogen and phosphorus used in farming, according to the Unep report, entitled Our Nutrient World: The challenge to produce more food and energy with less pollution. These nutrients are produced at great expense globally, but most of them end up wasted through the animals’ manure. In some areas of the world, the nutrients are in short supply, resulting in lower crop yields.

Unep warned: “Unless action is taken, increases in pollution and per capita consumption of energy and animal products will exacerbate nutrient losses, pollution levels and land degradation, further threatening the quality of our water, air and soils, affecting climate and biodiversity.”

The report also set out a variety of measures by which farming could be made more environmentally friendly, from simple steps such as storing fertilisers more securely and using them more sparingly, and capturing greenhouse gas emissions from their production. Nitrogen use could be cut by 20m tonnes by 2020, saving £110bn a year. Reusing waste, such as manure, and treating sewage using modern methods would also save hundreds of billions.”

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by | February 20, 2013 · 9:01 pm

“When life is sweet…”

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by | February 20, 2013 · 3:28 pm

“Good wine…”

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by | February 19, 2013 · 12:01 am