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Friday, July 30, 2010

Kinderwhore - not as original as one might think

So, for most people, the word kinderwhore brings to mind images of Courtney Love and Kat Bjelland wearing torn, dirty baby doll dresses and thick smeared red lipstick with messy, peroxide-blonde hair. Bad little girls up to no good.

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People might think that Both Love and Bjelland have fought about who came up with the disengenuous combo of clumsy make-up with children's clothing, Love even going as far as to allegedly say that she got it from Christina Amphlett on the cover of the Divinyls 1982 album, Desperate.

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Erm, yeah. Totally.

But I'd like to introduce you to the granny and grand dame of Kinderwhore.

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Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? She is the result of a dirty battle between mutton and lamb with a crooked referee. Baby Jane is duplicitous, nasty, childish, impetuous and a terrible singer. More than a coincidence that Hole and Babes in Toyland chose to adopt this image?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Vintage: Or, 'Are You Kidding Me?'

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Pic: Lorna Dollery

I don't usually put my columns up verbatim, as the people who subscribe to my blog may not be readers of The Cork Independent (but I do link shamelessly).  This week however...

Let me explain.  Last Sunday I went carbooting with Lorna from LolaDee and sold a few items.  One item, a dress (to my immediate right in the pic above, hanging off the car boot) that Lorna had bought brand new in Italy was being scrutinised by a few ladies, who introduced themselves as owning a vintage shop.  I offered to show them my few vintage bits, they politely declined, bought the dress and tootled along on their way.

A few days later, Lorna saw their shopfront and noticed that these ladies were now selling her distinctly non-vintage dress, falsely advertising it as being vintage.  The column below is about the difference between thrift and vintage - maybe those ladies should take note.

The ability for humans to delude themselves is a wondrous thing; especially if shopping is involved and extra-super especially if second hand clothing is your vice. We disguise second-hand clothing, cloaking them with deceptive phrases like, 'thrift', 'gently used' or even, horror of horrors, 'vintage'. This humble writer knows her stuff when it comes to second-hand. Stripes have been earned, chops have been developed, cliches have been bandied without a sliver of shame that best illustrate just how much I know.


Here in Ireland, the Celtic Tiger was the wave on which the resurgent vintage phenomenon was borne and with it came a similar philosophy to its feline forefather - that of charging through the nose for inferior products just because the vendor could. There are many excellent handbooks on the subject of vintage, but since you, the reader, has picked up this great paper totally gratis, I'll give you a cod-version of second hand shopping for nada; the savvy woman's guide to second hand.



Second-hand is an umbrella term for several different types, all different but easily mistaken for one or the other of the following.


1) Gently worn clothing. You know that time you went into Brown Thomas and bought that leather trench that was sooo amazing even though it fit funny in the shoulders just because the sales were on? How amazing was that jacket? The answer is not very, because you took it home, realised that you looked like a less self-assured Shaft and buried it deep in your closet along with the Crocs, ill-fitting treggings and regrettable one-night stands, then dug it out and sold it at the local car boot. Voila, gently worn clothing. As a rule, gently worn clothing should be sold at about a third of its original price. Anything lower is a distinct bargain.


2) Thrift. The phrase 'one man's meat is another man's poison' has never been more relevant here than perhaps at a blowfish sushi convention. Thrift is usually the average stock of the very average charity shop. It is one or a combination of the following; well-worn, less than twenty years old, mass-produced and badly tailored, stained, flawed or ripped in some way. It can also be unusual or unexpected in the best possible way. Scoring a great bargain from a charity shop results in a high and a misplaced short term sense of achievement that the average Big Brother winner would be at odds to replicate. If you're a dab hand with a sewing machine, then thrift may be for you. I've seen cosmetic makeovers on oversized, psychedelic print kaftans that would put the average Swan contestant to shame.


3) Vintage. There's lots of thrift items that aspires to be vintage the way some people vie to join members-only clubs. However, if vintage was a club, there would be a very long waiting list. At least twenty years, to be specific. Vintage clothing should be in a good condition, wearable, fashionably relevant and relatively rare.Because of these factors, good vintage can be expensive. Your cheap vintage buy usually means that someone got very lucky, and that someone probably isn't you. One man's meat may be another man's poison, but there's no disputing the power of the fillet steak - maybe that's why it's so expensive.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Anna Piaggi's Fashion Algebra

If you follow my blog you'll have an inkling of the horrible technology problems that I'm having, so it'll be no surprise that I've turned back to books.

See, books won't suddenly shut and refuse to open again. You won't turn a page of a book and find it covered in error messages. Books can still be read even if you're not near a wireless hotspot. And if you have a problem with a book, the answer usually doesn't involve calling a hotline where the rep on the phone snidely informs you that you're chained to a contract even if the provider no longer covers you *shakes fist for the millionth time this week*

'Hem. Excuse me. That was a bit of an over elaborate lead-up to showing you a few scans from a recent acquisition; a copy of the now out-of-print Anna Piaggi's Fashion Algebra, published by Thames and Hudson in the 90's and made of of the most notable of Piaggi's D.Ps for Italian Vogue up to that point.

The introduction and subsequent chapter title pages have words that are led around the pages or arranged like poems, and are short and sharp.


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This is the Chapter 12; Characters title page. All the title pages are in monochrome to really contrast from the multicoloured, multi-medium D.P's within.


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Multicoloured Pantone goodness

A very green season with all the shades of a colour chart, from Veronese Green to cinnabar.  To the list of classic greens are added those that are techno-botanical:  the new artificial greens - like the acrylic green of Gianni Versace (left) and the metallic verdigris of hair at Yohji Yamamoto (right, bottom).  The crocodile bags by Anna Molinari are also green (far left).  And there are greens mixed with blue by Missoni.  February 1996, no 546.

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A spread about the beguiling nature of the Gibson Girl.  Ah, to be that clean-cut and have picnics and ride penny-farthing bicycles (I presume that this is all that a Gibson Girl did).  The little text blurb reads:

The return of the old-fashioned picnic, with all the style of Le Dejuneur sur  l'herbe:  wicker hampers from Milan, by Lorenzi and by Eve; tableclothsby Ken Scott; thermos flasks from Hermes.  Even the new bags in fabric and in straw (Jean-Paul Gaultier) have that picnic look.  August 1994, No 528.


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Tweedy ladies taking tea and discussing the local news in suits by John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Yohji Yamamoto.  Then there's the puritan style of Vivienne Westwood or - for hanging out the washing - the colourful escapism of Clements Ribeiro... November 1997, no 567

This book is fairly expensive (I got a great deal because I bought one without a dustcover) but is well-worth trying to source a copy.  I can't remember the last time I pored over a book like this and tried to take i every image.  It's almost impossible to absorb everything, so everytime I come back to it, I find something new and totally wonderful.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Strictly Irrelevant - The Linkage Edition

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The internet in my flat is still broken and Photobucket is still pouting at me and refusing to play nice, so here's a short and sweet links post on reading, watching, eating and inspiration material that I'd like to share.

I never, ever use the word 'amazeballs', but here's a recipe for some pretty amazeballs, rainbow-y doughnuts (The Dainty Squid)

Ever though it's, errrr, late July at this point, people are still getting very excited about A/W and all the expensive camel capes that we'll be buying.  Since I'm a cheap young wan, I'll be following bloggers tips on how to get next season's look without spending any money.  At all.  (Fug Girls at The Cut Blog and Disneyrollergirl).

Absolutely endless inspiration in the TFS forum thread for Fashion in Film Movie Stills (TFS)

Anna Dello Russo is apparently going to release a perfume.  But this mini manga novel about her life has nothing to do with that.  (annadellorusso)

Blatant plug alert.  Hem...  You can read this weeks Licentiate column for the Cork Independent here!

My new source of fascination - North Korean synchronised gymnastics a la that new Faithless video.  Pardon the bad quality, but the things these kids do is, frankly, amazeballs (Did it again...).




Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Halston goodness

I've had the technology week from hell and am currrently tapping away on a tinny keyboard in a slightly dodgy web cafe down the road from my apartment and my Photobucket WILL NOT WORK, hence the slightly dodge collage with repeated images below.

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This shoot for the August issue of US Vogue, shot by Raymond Meier, is shot in American working girl's New York, where everyone strides around with impossible glosssy blow-outs, probably smelling of Charlie (the perfume, not Chaplin). This also got me thinking about the Halston woman, for if the above shoot is the 70's upwardly mobile New Yorker by day, then Halston must surely be what they're wearing by night.

Because I'm a sucker for hidden extras, here's an episode in a series that Andy Warhol did on fashion, aptly titled Andy Warhol's Fashion, that is concerned with Roy Halston the man, and Halston the clothing line. This was shot in 1979, so you can really get a feel for what the older Halston clothing represented (for me it's this dissolute and debauched and so divorced from the vagaries of real life that everything but the more terrible details of Roy Halstons life and death carry a silvery, distinctly glittery sheen). No Halston Heritage, no SJP. Enjoy!











EDIT: After a bit of a trawl on the TFS forums, I found a link to an article about the great and the good recollection of Roy Halston, who may be the first officially fierce/faboosh man (said a la Tyra Banks).  You can read it here.

One TFS user scanned in an old article about Halston from People magazine and it's too good not to share here.

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One or two of the scans are a bit cut off, but if you want to see them in their entirelty, you can pop along to the forum post here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Official-ish announcement

Those of you who follow this column may notice that last week's column was not published.  That is because I have been offered a welcome change of direction and am now writing a fashion and style column for the Cork Independent.

To my followers, thanks for following.  I don't think that there will be any further updates on this blog and I may delete it once I gather all the columns into a portfolio.  A blog is nothing if not immediate and this is no longer immediate.

Thanks so much for your support.  If you wish to keep supporting, just unfollow this blog and perhaps follow my blog proper here.  Thanks a million.

Hello Lovers

I've been baiting friends of mine recently, telling them that I had exciting news to be revealed today.  Most of them jumped the gun and assumed that I was pregnant.  Thanks pals.

As exciting as conception is, my news is strictly local and is really more about the gestation of an idea rather than a living thing.  So, in the spirit of sharing, I'd like to introduce you to my new baby, which you can see here.

The Cork Independent, which is the city's most widely read paper (but don't quote me on that) recently offered me a new column in conjuction with my blog, which I was only to happy to take.  Now I get to ramble on about fashion and personal style as opposed to rambling about the recession.  I'll be sad to let the old column go, but eternally happy that The Cork Independent has taken a chance and let me spout on about style.

To read my first Licentiate column, click on the first link above.  Below is the first paragraph for a taster.

Disclaimer;  If you're not from Cork you might not get the local references.  But if you don't get the jokes, that's just poor writing on my part.

Everyone has a Rebecca in their friend armory. Rebeccas are great. Rebeccas are the kind of girl that have long glossy blonde hair, are masters of the mysterious art of smoky eyeshadow, pass their clothes on to you because they never wear the same dress twice and are regular frequenters of that nightclub in town... You know the one. The one that rhymes with 'banana'.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why I Blog

I just returned from a holiday with my family on the Amalfi coast, which was amazing, and suffered a bout of (not so amazing) food poisoning. That, and the kind of existential crisis that can only happen when your plane home is flying through the kind of severe turbulence that makes an otherwise sturdy machine seem about as fortified as an empty can of Pepsi.

The first patch of turbulence was scary.  The second was fucking terrifying.

So, as the plane rolled around in patches of grey cloud, I alternated between praying (no atheists in foxholes and all that...) and coming to terms with the fact that I have NO direction whatsoever career-wise.  This is unfortunate, because I have wanted to be a journalist since seeing April O'Neal prancing around and being generally inept in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a wee one.



Now though, it's a slightly different story.  I've worked in a staff capacity and as a freelancer for some papers and magazines and I love doing it, despite the lack of pizza, light bondage-esque kidnappings and anthropomorphic sidekicks.  Aside from that, I've got a few (writing) projects that I tool away on from the sidelines.  A bit of fiction, a bit of research, some scripts, none of which has yet seen the light of day (and might never, I'm not kidding myself that I'm the modern Renaissance woman of writing).  But I'm not a Journalist journalist, or broadly speaking, I don't earn enough money doing it and I don't have a formal media qualification.  You could forgo the qualification for work experience, but in the current economic climate and given the geography, even internships are beyond hard to get*

I have a finger in a lot of pies, but (apart from the journalism), it's largely half-arsed, or filled with ideas that might never, ever come to fruition.  I'm a dilettante, a total amateur who hopes one day to have just one finger wedged firmly into one pie**.

Thing is, I'm now constantly second-guessing myself.  Do I really want to be a journalist, or do I want to write something else?  And if I did, what if I was terrible at it and ended up going back to bartending (which is fun, but not something I'd spend my life doing)?

Alright.  Rant terminated.

I've veered off point slightly.  Whoops.  To recap, all that stuff I've complained about above, the lack of direction, the indecision, the fear for the future.  That's the first reason I like blogging.

Why I Blog


  1. None of that stuff matters when I blog.  It has little or no consequence or impact on my future.  I don't need a masters degree to blog.  I don't need to have previous experience.  All I need is a bit of enthusiasm and a Photobucket account.  Which is nice.
  2. I get to meet all kinds of nice bloggers and read comments from people who agree with me or have something to add or refine.  Blogging really encourages community feeling and a discourse between people with mutual hobbies and interests, and I really, really appreciate everyone who takes the time to follow my blog or leave a comment.
  3. Blogs are immediate.  My Google reader is a bit like the ticker on Sky Sports, except with shoes and bags instead of Raoul Moat.
  4. Even though blogging involves a lot of writing, it's still nothing like journalism.  Good journalism is based on getting your point across in the quickest, most entertaining way possible.  Blogging, not so much.  I can ramble on and talk about whatever I want, which is great.  I can even throw in the odd spelling mistake. 
  5. I get to share what I love and find out what other people love too.  I'm like a creepy fashion voyeur.
  6. Reading other people's blogs and blogging helps me to draw inspiration, to really think about personal style, or what style means to me.  Even though I'll only do outfit posts very rarely, blogging does help me to dress a little bit better

So here's the science bit.  If you've gotten through this incoherent ramble without chewing on some tinfoil for light relief and you feel like commenting, let me know why you blog and what you like about it.  I'd really love to know (creepy fashion voyeur lurking in again).



*Sorry if I sound bitter but I've just had a particularly crushing experience with an internship (or lack thereof).
**If you're thinking what I think you're thinking, then you're a total smut merchant.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wanted: Simpsons Vintage



If you've read this blog before you'll know that I have a deep uncompromising love for The Simpsons, namely the first handful of seasons.  So deep is this love that I'm going to do a post on Simpsons and clothing, so switch off now if you find this boring...

I was just about old enough to remember the 'Ban The Bart' campaigns in 1990.  I also remember my granny was scandalised when she found out that my parents had bought both myself and my sister Simpsons t-shirts.  Mine was blue and had a picture of Bart saying "Don't have a cow, man".  Sigh.  Where did it all go wrong?

Right now I'd give my boyfriend's left nut for an old-school Simpsons sweater or tee (sorry Al) but they must have all been burned on an elementary school principal pyre because finding one of these, in a good condition and in a condition to fit a woman without looking like a tent is as rare as hens teeth (a comparison I never really got.  Do hens have teeth?).

These items are mostly from the early 90's and so are teetering on the edge of vintage.  I think that once the 20 year mark has passed for these items, they'll magically become ironic, then cool, then passé again in the hipster fashion wheel of fortune.

Here are some of my picks.

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Available here , here and here .


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

War Heroes = Wowsa

I'm not the biggest fan of posting up long chunks of magazine editorials (although I love looking at other peoples blog post on fashion editorials...) but I think that this one, from this months Dazed and Confused, is one of the better concepts for a menswear shoot that incorporates the military trend with some fairly hard-hitting and witty statements.

I am however a really big fan of the notion that, in life, there's a very thin line between comedy and tragedy, so thin that sometimes the two bleed into each other and that there's no place that we can see this better than in war.  Three generations of my family have served in the armed forces and, judging from the stories I've been told, it's a theory that might carry an iota of truth.

Wool as blood, the limbs and faces of childish dolls as masks and scars, severe corseting and reining in and vomiting out the trimmings or military costume.  The poses are stiff, full on or three quarters profile, like an actual military portrait. While it's a bit risky to run in a mainstream magazine, it's the risks that make life (and editorials) interesting.  If you like what you see, go buy a copy of Dazed and peruse the rest of the editorial *blatant magazine pushing alert*
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Photos from TFS
Photos - Richard Burbridge
Styling - Robbie Spencer

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nan's Legacy Pt II

This isn't strictly jewellery, but...

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I love these badges. I've chosen to keep these ones for myself. My gran was a past president of the Soroptimists, which is a worldwide volunteer association of businesswoman. They also organise competitions. It seems a little antiquated now, but schools still take part in their speechwriting and public speaking competitions.

One year I somehow managed to win the county final of the public speaking competition and progressed onto the regional final, which I didn't place in. I would have liked to have won, but wasn't too bothered (I was told later by a judge that they 'weren't looking for funny'). If I was, then the following anecdote would have made me very mad indeed.

We're driving back from the regional. I'm in the front with my father. My gran is in the back. My Dad pats me on the shoulder and sympathises.

"Well, it looks like you won't be going to the final this year".

A voice pipes up from the back.

"I will! I was invited."

Right. Thanks Nan. Thanks a bunch.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Nan's Legacy Pt I

A few months ago, my nan passed away.  She was old and pretty sick, but we weren't really expecting it to happen.  We certainly didn't expect what kind of impact it would have on my family. 

Together, my aunts and my cousin sifted through her things and came up with a box of her trinkets and junk jewellery that she had collected from all over the world over the past fifty years or so.  I say 'junk' but it's not the kind of typical 'Nan' jewellery, the kind of necklaces that are made of plastic beads, globbed together, paint peeling off the spheres, twine turning brown and brittle as paper or, if your family is Catholic like mine, a tangled rats nest of rosary beads from different pilgrimage points around the country. 

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Until today, it was left in a box that I keep beside my bed near a stack of books, a packet of Nurofen and a shotglass that I bought in Egypt that is now full of buttons.  It comes down to me to pass some of these on to my sisters and keep some for myself.

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Left - rhinestone necklace c late 50's/early 60's.  Right - Christian Dior costume pendant c 1970's


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Left - Necklace and bracelet set (half the opals have fallen out of their mounts, but it looks nice that way).  Right - One of a set of enamelled clip-on earrings
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Right - Amber bug brooch, Left - Andre Piaso watch with interchangeable faces

Friday, July 2, 2010

Weinerdog: Welcome To The Dollhouse

There are some films with iconic style that you want to emulate, and then there are some films where the clothing just makes you want to cry.

One of these films (for me at least) is Todd Solondz's film Welcome To The Dollhouse, which is about nerdy Dawn Wiener and her trials and tribulations as she navigates the perils of being the biggest loser in middle school.

It sounds like a cliche, but this is a Todd Solondz film. There is no happy ending. Dawn doesn't fall down a well, or discover the redemptive power of being herself, or uncover pirate gold in a hidden cavern under the school. It's bleak and black, and like most bleak and black moments in life, is almost too unbearably funny to handle. If you ever, ever had a tough time in school, watch this film, re-evaluate just how shitty it really was and possibly thank your lucky stars that all you got was Ribena poured into your schoolbag and not rape threats.

The clothes in this film really serve to highlight just what a terrible time Dawn has. Her tees, earrings and backpacks are plastered with fluorescent yellow smiley faces and her many jumpsuits are floral-patterned and cloyingly cute.  She wears pink and trainers and ankle socks and all the kids in school hate her because she has no social skills whatsoever and gets good grades (sniff sniff violins etc).

Dawn is backed into a toliet cubicle and told to shit (nice) with the door open.  The ties on her frilled floral dress and her childish figure inside it makes us see that she's just a pre-adolescent, which makes the command even more shocking.  Her aggressor's name is Lolita, nice aside, eh?

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There are no words for this outfit.  This is possibly Dawn's first crack at dressing like an adult, or at least like the kids versions of adults that float around her school.

Poor Dawn's problem is that she's still a little girl being herself in a world of little girls who were becoming sexualised and going into adolescence.  The other girls at her school wear cheerleader outfits, lipstick, shorts, tights and crop tops while Dawn stays staid in her cotton sprigged little-girl-lost suits.  She has a clubhouse while all the other kids in her grade are going to pool parties.

Weirdly enough, some of this stuff is not too far off the faux-naif look that a lot of adult women sport and a million miles away from the frankly disturbing outfits I see on some girls in the city whenever a teenage club night rolls around.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Not So Wonderwoman

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This is the new Wonderwoman.  While most people in the States are wondering why she's no longer wearing an American flag, others are wondering about the feminist implications of the addition of trousers and tough leather jacket.  Is she joining the X-Men?  Is she in Twilight or something?  No?  Well, ok then.  This can't be for ease of movement.  I realise the Wonderwoman is only two dimensional but even she must find it hard to run in PVC.

Here's my two cents:  If Wonderwoman was such a feminist figurehead then why are her tits three times the normal size now she's covering up? 

Bring back the shorts I say.

The Waiting Game

I started writing this column almost a year ago, when the country was in elevated throes of recession mania. It may have only been a matter of months, a year even, but the gleam of novelty on the word 'recessionista' has now faded to a rusty patina that would cast worried glances on the faces of even the most impassive Cash 4 Gold franchise owners. The word 'recession' has gone the way of your unwanted, broken gold.


It needs to be conveniently melted down - out of sight, out of mind (which is fine if it concerns said gold, but not so fine if you're the captain of The Titanic steering towards an inconspicuous-looking lump of ice).


We're being told from all angles that the recession is over. The main statistic to support this supposed fact is the marked slowdown of job losses. Less people are losing their jobs; therefore the country is in a state of recovery. QED? I think not.

Even the least observant child can tell you that the following is a load of old copswallop: The ball is red. A fire engine is red. Therefore a ball is also a fire engine. Right? Wrong. Can we see what's wrong with this chain of thought?

Some people have said it, but it bears saying again - does anyone think that the reason that there are less job losses is because there are no more jobs to lose? Just because the economy has stopped shrinking doesn't mean that it is automatically growing again, nor does it mean that it will grow to the extent that it did during the boom years.

Here's a personal anecdote. Recently I sent out thirty-five CVs to different places over the city. So far I haven't heard a word from anyone with the exception of one lonely rejection text (a text! I ask you...). Tomorrow will be my third day in a row at the dole office handing in sundry forms and rattling at hatch windows like Bubbles reunited with LaToya Jackson.

Today I was directed to an interview room. I was stopped from going in by an angry Slovakian woman. "What do you think you're doing?", she said. "I've been waiting here for two hours!" The office had only been open for an hour and a half at this point, but her face was like Popeye's the split second after a nice can of spinach, so I kept mute and let her go ahead.
I've been waiting for nearly a year. I suppose I can wait a bit longer.