Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Butterfly Kitty-Cat

British Vogue December 2013
The advertisement is for VERTU, handmade in England. It took several looks in different magazines before I realized that the head of the butterfly dress was of a cat. And what a cute puss it is. I have several imaginings of what the stylist or photographer may have had intended for the meaning of this photograph.  Instantly to mind are the idea of the beauty of the butterfly being captured and pinned for display in a Victorian house a century ago. Of course, the woman would not have a bare arm or shoulders; rather, it would be for the admired to imagine the silk of her skin as it lie under her satin and corset.

But the puss face? No, I won't go there ... not tonight. I'll revel in the glory of nature and the beauty of color. It is enough.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I am blessed to have a wonderful family who likes to spend time together just ... being. During dinner, after grace, we realized that we are lucky bunch to be all together. My brother-in-law brought up, of all things, Marge Simpson. He said that he watched an episode of the Simpsons where Marge said that if 'your family is together every decision you have made was correct.' Truer words were never said ... for our family, certainly. After dinner, my niece asked to see my laptop so that she could write a few words on this Christmas night. Here it is ... including the nod to Marge. Merry Christmas!

                                                                That Christmas night
That cold breeze in my face in the morning when I wake up and realize what day it was running to see what was under that tree before I looked there was a note bye the cookies we left out and it wasn’t pretty writing but I could read it wide and clearly and it said:

            It was a good night you must have been very tired.
                                                                                    Love Santa xo

Then I finally looked up and saw all the presents my mom came in the room and said, go back to bed it is 4:00 am in the morning so I sleep silently for two hours straight and my big brother Hector was out side the door getting cozy by the fire but after about 2 minutes.   Everyone was awake but my sister said don’t touch the presents you woke me up with your noise! I got many gifts but I realized that if your family is together every decision you have made was correct.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Zosia Mamet

Elle December 2013

Two, two, two trends in one ... scouse brows and a painterly blouse.

Mamet's eyebrows are spectacular. They captured me as soon as I turned the page ... two centepieds of lushness brushed across her brow.  They are so big and so meticulously groomed. Mine feel an equal to them ... of course, my are blond and so not quiet so on my face as hers. And the shirt she wears below is one of my favorites of the fall fashion season that I've written about on these pages previously.

I'm excited for Girls to come back on in January. I don't have HBO, won't get it, but I think that I can find it. It's been too long since the second season ended. I'm jones-ing for some Adam and to find out what the girls are up too. I have nothing in common with any of the four, but somehow, however, it is that Lena Durnham sees girls in her own particularly quirky way and gets it.

I wish that I could say that I remember something of the interview of Zosia. I don't. I wonder what that says about her? Apparently, she's just a familiar face in a great spread that caught my eye ... who cares what she has to say, right? She is like 20. I don't know if that is even the point of this.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Let Me Roll It

Father and daughter ripping through one of my favorite Paul McCartney and Wings' songs. My brother sent this YouTube video to me, and I didn't believe that this man and daughter were kin, nor did I know what the heck either of them are. I did a quick search to find that he is Ralph Covert, a former member of the the Chicago-based band,The Bad Examples; and more recently, he is making his living singing children's songs. I can see in him the children's entertainer's delivery as he sings. This is no kid's song though, and I hope that for their sake, they get more than 502 hits cause they are pretty rockin'. And what about that guitar player ... wow. Did I say, wow?!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Katy Perry

I was finishing up the Christmas tree and didn't think to change the TV channel as the iHeart Radio extravaganza featuring Katy Perry came on, and I have to say, I got sucked in.

I am not a "Katy-kitten" or whatever it is that her fans are called, but I did see her movie whenever that was in the recent past because my niece loves Katy. And I will admit, I shed a few tears during the telling of her story and watching the rigorous schedule that she keeps on tour.

Her new album, 'Prism,' is meant to be a departure from her blue-hair'd cotton candy self. She's ... grown-up. And her album, as she explained to Mario Lopez, is a very personal one. She went to a dark place, but she's found the light. She's empowered. And running on full strength. Oh, everything out of her mouth was cotton candy... big fluffy pink sticky sweet sugary cotton candy. At first, I was sucked in because I'm Miss Gullible, but then I got to thinking ... is she for real? Can you really walk away from an exhausting world tour, learn that you're husband is divorcing you via text, and be Katy Perry then go inside and find ... the light of a prism. The eye of the tiger. The best of everything tied up in big fluffy pink sticky sweet sugary cotton candy?

I've been on and off thinking of this all day. I need to find the prism of light. And I've looked. Really hard. Really not. And some days, the light is there. Others, no. I don't think that I could go on to TV and say that it was dark and now it is light. Sometimes, it's gray.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

jake bugg

I've been listening to the new Jake Bugg record for a couple of days now, and it is really a great album. Is it the best album ever? Of course not. But for a 19 year old who looks like a razor hasn't even touched a cheek yet, he has more heart than most. "What Doesn't Kill You" and "Slumville Sunrise" are driving anthems. My brother insists that if he had been around back in the day, he could've been a Stone, but I think that he's more Clash than anything. The songs pulse through me to grab all of the garbage that's been collected for the day and rids me of it. Everything's alright.

And then there's the ballads. I expected to wince, and wonder at the decision to have him go there. But he surprised me. He reigns in that big howl of his to deliver tenderness. He doesn't lose all of the broad accent, but it softens. It isn't trite or trivial or ... let me think of another 't' word ... timid. There's a reckless abandon, yes, but I think Jake knows what he's doing and the songs are very direct, which shows that he may not have the years, but he has the soul. In one such ballad, "Song About Love," Jake sings, "Is that what you wanted?/Songs about love/Is that what you hoped you would find/Well it's burning inside/But a song about love's not enough." 

How many 19 year olds get that? Apparently, our Jake does.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

stevie nicks

UK Elle September 2013
Isn't Stevie the coolest? She is who I wanted to copy when I was 12 or 13. I had this idea of her before I even knew who she was ... some kind of cool California hippie rocker.

At that same time, I was working babysitting jobs, and I saved all of my earnings for something special. I would carry the cash around as if any second the 'what' was right in front of me to buy. My brother ran high school track, and my mom would drive us around to all of the meets that he ran. I didn't mind. I liked to watch the boys run, jump, and throw. But sometimes the meets ran for the whole day, and even the cutest team couldn't hold my attention for that many hours. Once, I saw a mall nearby, so I asked for permission to go check it out. Across the parking lot may just be the place to spend.

The first store that I ran across was The Limited. It was new to me and as soon as I hit the floor, I knew that I was going to find a treasure. I wanted to buy blouses that would make me feel like a hippie rock star. I wanted butterfly sleeves. Maybe some embroidery. Or pearled buttons.  The first rack that I went to I found my desire. It was a dusty shade of lavender with hints of periwinkle blue and mauvy pink. I think. More than the color, I remember that it was a gauzy sort of floaty cotton. I tried it on and felt like Stevie. I about wore that shirt out for the number of times that I wore it. I didn't care, it was an identity for me.

I went to a Fleetwood Mac concert a couple of months ago. Stevie is a little older and a little stiff, but she is still a butterfly, and her voice brings a depth to the songs that she wrote when she was younger that might not have been there before. Curious, I googled her to see what became of her and the time when I first knew her to now. Hers is a complicated tale riddled with drugs and addiction, men, and a sort of outsider-ness. I don't envy and wouldn't want my magic gauze shirt to lead me to addiction, but the outsider-ness ... sure.

You know what? I'm just going to stop. That's what Stevie is ... never too much, only a taste of who she is ... except for in her music. There, she is. What else matters. That's how a cool California hippie rocker rolls.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Finding Time

Oprah Magazine November 2013
I've said before that my Oprah Magazine subscription rides on Martha Beck's column of no-nonsense, straight to the gut advice. And in this month's edition, it is no different.

I was particularly taken by the paragraph to the left:

We are time-starved people, obsessed with fitting huge achievements into our few years. In the process, we often fill our buckets with things that don't matter or work. But when we give up on trying to change what can't be change, and simply embrace what we love, a miracle occurs. We notice that the moment to be happy has already arrive. It's here, now.

Every day, I sit with a friend at work for lunch. Lately, he has been talking about this idea of time and how it will be the ruin of mankind as it becomes the all-consuming problem of how we don't have enough of the stuff (time), so we race around, busying ourselves in occupation to overfill it in order to think ourselves successful. That may not be exactly what he is talking about, but that's what I've taken away from it. And since I have pretty busy days that end with still things to do on the list, I've paused to consider this. And then Martha weighs in on it.

One thing about what she speaks to is this obsession with accomplishing big things. To that, I say this ... as I reflect on it, the things that I feel most accomplished in are those that are small. I love to write up a little list of this and that and do it. It is usually full of things that have no particular importance or priority, but I know that once I check off each item, I will feel accomplished. I'm looking at such a list right now ... and I've completed all but one item. Pretty good. Will that last item get a check? Perhaps, but I won't lose any sleep if it doesn't because I got most of it done.

The other thing that I've found helpful in this need to feel that my time has been well spent, is to consider what I've accomplished and look for a trend. OK, I did this a few years ago, and it's in line with what I did over the summer ... let's hook those together and make a direction. I have all sorts of circles of connections so that when something new comes my way, I think ... will it fit into what I've already accomplished to make it richer, more layered, or is it wholly unconnected with what I have enjoyed doing and so pass on it. I'm not saying that a new circle can't be born. It can, but usually it happens after several smaller occasions of activities have taken place, and I am able to identify a new trend in what I enjoy doing.

I do think that time is important to mark. I have not worn a wrist watch for I can't even remember how long. And in not wearing one, I feel that I have a better sense of time. Do I ask for the time sometimes? Yes. But when I ask for the time, I usually need an exact minute for a bus or a deadline when my 15 minute give or take won't do. But other things mark time as well. Rituals and tradition are good for this. I'm lucky to have a family that has built a lot of tradition into its yearly life. It's this month, so this will be happening. Having this, clears up a lot of time. I don't have to plan for it. And I know what the deal is, so I'm able to enjoy it. I can be present in it.

The younger ones in my family like to say, 'this is on my bucket list.' They picked it up from the movies, and most find it endearing that they make this list. I'm not so sure about that. For one, they're kids, and kids get to enjoy no-time more than ever again in their lives. Didn't summer feel like FOREVER when you were a kid. What about the wait for Santa? Unfathomably long. They don't need to write bucket lists. They can just fill their buckets with the copious amounts of time that youth and minimal levels of responsibility that are given to their age.

Martha, I'm with you. I'm all for being present, and taking the time to recognize this and that I'm pretty satisfied with a list that's mostly checked off.


Haper's Bazaar  November 2013

Madonna needs a muzzle. And this one is perfect. I thought that it was the same as what Alexander McQueen is showing this fall, but the attribution is to Idriss Guelai Atelier. It is exciting to see Madge on the cover of a magazine again ... it's been a while. But I think that she would have been better off having agreed to a photograph only editorial because she really doesn't have much to say. And her voice comes off stale and detracts from the visceral that we know that she can deliver.

She begins: Truth or dare? That is a catchphrase that is often associated with me. I made a documentary film with this title, and it has stuck with me.

Certainly, I am not in her day to day life, but I really wouldn't think that is the thing that comes to mind over and over again. But the article in her pen goes on to move across this theme that apparently she feels has defined her life: daring. Now I will give it to her that she has been that, but I think that she stretches the point a bit, how very Madonna, and it's told in an uninteresting way. Case in point: And all the homeless people on the street. This wasn't anything I prepare for in Rochester, Michigan. Trying to be a professional dancer, paying rent by posing nude for art classes, staring at people staring at me naked. Daring them to  think of me as anything but a form they were trying to capture with their pencils and charcoal. I was defiant.

No, you're trite Madge.  She has captivated audiences ... the world ... before them all. And wasn't it she who raked in $600 million last year from her latest tour. She's the woman. But there is no mystery in her as she's more that happy to give it up in her musings with a revolving door of affectation. Put a muzzle on it. Madonna, you don't ever have to say a thing ... and that would be so much more provocative.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Broken English

What does any girl need on a dull day? A french man, a trip to France, and, did I say, a french man? Oh, who am I kidding. It wasn't a dull day, it was three. In a row. I've always overlooked this film in the line of titles. I didn't like something about that title, but I was cold, and lonely, and needed a film-powder, mixed in water, and bubble soothing. I took another look at the description and realized that Parker Posey starred in it. And I love Parker Posey. From the first frame of the film, I was in. Where do I begin? I think that as a woman, of a certain age, who lives in a city, with a perspective that doesn't quite fit into the 'norm,' it can easily become out-of-focus. On some days, it's a hum. Everything is in its place and the cells of the human existence are in sync. And then other days, we roll to the flat side of the tire. I don't imagine that this is different for everyone, whichever path that they've taken in their lives. But for those off the convention, it's harder to go through the exercise of checks. Great job. Check. Husband, wife, significant other. Check. Children. Check. Busy days of required attention. Check.  And in the first frame that is Posey's character looking herself in the mirror, I see it. She wonders, how do I fit into this. Or do I even need to care. Sip of wine. Blow out the candles. Out of the door she goes where she'll face a room of required attention, and mother who wonders if she didn't let a good one go.

And then a french man comes into her life. She doesn't even believe it when it happens. And I suppose that I wouldn't either. It takes a step out of bounds to discover that maybe she's found something that she's been looking for ... and afraid to find it. I have watched this movie three times, and I imagine that I will watch it another ... dozen. There's a lesson in it for me. If a french man suddenly pops into my life, I need to pay attention to it, and believe that I deserve for it to happen. 

I do need to watch a few more times as I don't think that I quite have the hang of it just yet. Case in point: I was in Target the other day after work, and I was mucha fucha-ing about the day. My head was down, and I was in a wave that wasn't good for me. I pushed my cart around the corner, and a good looking man and his friend were approaching me. The one pulled on a beautiful smile, looked me in the eye, and said, 'hello.' I guess that I sort of grunted back. I felt like a dinosaur with every pimple that I've ever had reappearing for another show. He shrugged, and I pushed on. About an aisle down, I thought, well jeez. Maybe the french man comes in the form of a nice guy saying hi at Target, and I just blew it by letting everything that was congested in my head show itself in a half-hearted grunt.

I look at myself in the mirror and examine too closely. I just gotta go to Paris as our girl does in the movie and ... be. Even at the end of be, I'll be the better for it for having made a move. And it might just be the exact moment when the french man finds me. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

TMI Valentino

Harper's Bazaar September 2013
Valentino. You would do better to keep your uber-lifestyle to yourself, and not list a day out for readers of magazines. It's not only arrogant, though I know it is probably not entirely your decision as Bazaar highlights someone's day in each issue, but it also is not very interesting.

Of course, anymore, everyone wants their lives to be documented and on display for all to see. I don't really understand the attraction of it. How is: 10:30 A.M. I really love to sleep late. Now that I am working much less, I prefer to stay up at night, reading or watching TV ... interesting? Does it give us any idea of what makes Valentino, one of the world's more beloved designers, creates? Or what inspires him? Do we even need to know what is behind the process? Do we have to know, for another instance, that at 7 P.M.: After the the TV news it's time to change for dinner. I put on something more casual if I am by myself, a sweater from Malo and pants from Brunello Cucinelli or a knit shirt, and comfortable slippers from Jimmy Choo or Belgian shoes.

It's just silly. And no, I don't want to see an Instagram of it either. Let the work speak for itself. Your private life should be just that ... private. Especially one that is as mundane as my own as an hourly report.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Karl Lagerfeld and His Cloud

Harper's Bazaar September 2013
Dutch artist and cloud conjurer Berndnaut Smilde created clouds for this editorial that features Karl Lagerfeld, among others.

Lagerfeld chose the Grand Palais in Paris where he has shown his collections since 2005. The photograph is really spectacular as is the formation of the cloud. Lagerfeld says of the cloud: I love the old saying and the idea that clouds have a silver lining. I would love it to be true. A cloudy day can be inspiring, because just blue can be tired and boring in the end. Clouds are the most beautiful installations of ever-changing abstract modern art in movement.

I agree. Though a cold blue winter sky is welcome, skies are so much more interesting to meditate on. I particularly love driving toward work to see the wall of clouds that form over the lake that my city is situated on. Maybe not a wall, but more like a shelf. The sky immediately above me could be all blue, or dark as we head toward winter, and out in the distance, a mile a way, is a cloud-full sky. Just the other day as storms roared in during the day, they as soon dissipated. And when the storm crawled out over the lake, it left the skyline with a cloud cap that was remarkable to see in its stormy drama.

Naturally, if I were to have been the one chosen to be photographed, Mr. Smilde would have to conjure his cloud over my head. It is my mother who reminds me that if she were to needlepoint a portrait of her children, all four of us, that she would have to include the little black clouds that follow us each. I would, in my portrait, look up and smile knowing that it was there, my good friend that isn't all bad ... just mindful of what we, as Irish people particularly I believe, understand to be the equilibrium that must be maintained between happiness and sorrow in order to live profoundly.

Lagerfeld, naturally, has no storm cloud, rather his is a nice fluffy one that is saved for days where they are useful only in that they are decorative. It's an accessory. Mine, I imagine, is more of a statement piece. A fine cashmere or twill that is enduring and never out-of-season.

Monday, October 14, 2013

John Waters and the Sack Dress

Harper's Bazaar September 2014
Several celebrities were asked to write about "The Dress That Changed My Life,"  in Harper's Bazaar and most were ... so silly that I didn't read to the end of their musings. Except for this one ... the one man asked to the party: John Waters.

His inspiration: the sack dress. 1957 Balenciaga. What I love most about the remembrance is that it isn't that Waters wanted to wear the dress as some might suppose; rather, he adored it because it gave him the courage to exercise his own fashion sensibility. As he said, "as a preteen I didn't want to wear a sack dress myself; I just wanted to be friends with a woman who did. She'd be smart, sophisticated, witty, and brave, and together we'd bond over this haute hoot." The sack dress, apparently, was an affront to men. Songs were sung, surveys were taken, as the sack was ridiculed. In an AP survey, one young man said, "I'd strangle my girl if she ever bought one of those things. Worse, I'd ask for my ring back."

It all sort of sounds like it's come straight from a John Water's film. Could it be that one dress would be the inspiration for a lifetime of pushing the envelope, embracing and exploding stereotypes, and celebrating groups often themselves ridiculed. Waters put a sack dress on Divine in all his movies. It is a symbol of what made 'adults angry.' And that reaction is exactly the point of it all ... in a sack.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Miley who? Rhinna's new video is the HOT video. Dang gurl. That's about all that I can say. Well, and that it doesn't creep me out the way that Miley's tongue does.

Interestingly, as I submit this explicit video to my blog, while my mother was in the hospital recently, I tried to blog, and was DENIED ACCESS to it. Apparently it is pornographic. Really? Well, I'm trying to give the description of my blog according to the UIC hospital system its due by posting Rhinna's Pour It Up.

Dang gurl.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Painterly Impression

Bazaar September 2013
Vogue isn't the only one showing painterly gowns on their editorial pages. This multi-media seeming faux kimono is in this month's Bazaar. The dress is by Mary Katrantzou. I don't think that I've ever heard of her ... but she created quite a statement with this dress. I love trees, and particularly ones that are unleaved. I like to consider the life that lives in the dormantcy of a winter tree. A quiet power. I would like to have seen this look without the rainbow. It isn't true. On cold winter days, the sky is cold with blue, and I've never seen a rainbow in a snowstorm.

The skirt is puzzling. Is the graphic really on the dress? The boat on a steamed river looks like photo shopped play. No word is mentioned that the skirt isn't that  ... I look at the background for clues, but it as well seems fabricated. A beautiful pattern has been generated with what seems like a real wintry, forested scene, but a pattern has been added. At first, I thought that the color came from frozen berries, or dead leaves that never fell. But instead, I think, a pointillist wash was made to create what could be, in my estimation, a textile on in and of itself. I would like to see what a gown with that as its 'scene' would look like.

Bazaar September 2013
Another look on the pages is the one right. I was immediately drawn to it, not for the coat by Valentino, although it's lovely. It looks almost Delft. The evergreens are amazing in the background too, but ... this summer while I was at the University of Iowa, I walked across campus to check it out. One of the buildings that I ran across was the art building. Its structure drew me to it. And I found this:

Universityof Iowa's Art School
I don't know how long I stood and was enraptured by the figure on the pier looking out over the water. And this model reminds of the same. She's nearly as still, the sculpture is nearly as alive. When I saw it in Iowa, I immediately thought of the lovely water gardens that I visited in Japan. And here, on the pages of Bazaar, the same moment, for me, is captured. While in Japan, the weather rivaled that of a midwestern bake, and it was hard for me to imagine that it is ever cold or snowy there, or in Japan for that matter. But this picture gives me a sense of it. And whether hot or cold, the same holds true for the figure on the pier looking out over the water.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

vogue's september cinderella

From the pages of the September Vouge ... you may very well have a subscription or buy off of the rack, but I thought that I would share the images that I found exquisite in the "Cinderella Story" editorial.

This first dress is a statement, si? This is a Dolce and Gabbana creation shown in a Venetian palace. Several designers are showing painterly work this season, and I rather enjoy it. The headpiece is phenomenal and reminds me of Spain, not Venice. Perhaps, it is a tribute to Carnivale, but even the pose looks flamenco. I would love to see the model move into the next step to face a partner for a impassioned pas de deux. You don't suppose that she has a tap shoe under the folds of her dress? For the size of it, there is no telling what is hidden there.

Here is another head piece created by Dolce and Gabbana. I have been known to feature a beautiful creation such as this in this blog before. I know that this cannot be made of fresh flowers, but can you imagine how lovely it would smell if it were? If you notice, the cape worn with it is also stunning. I love the rich, saturated pink and the bold flower. Nothing is demure here, yet it is delicate and feminine. Wearing it, I would imagine, would afford one a floral, not rose, colored view. What would the world look like, I wonder.

The description of this creation by Karl Lagerfeld on the left does not adequately describe it in my opinion. It's titled 'Pixie Dust,' and says the dress is "magicked up a fairy-light play of translucence and layering on modern, metropolitan dropped-waist dresses with a hinge of Art Deco allure .... as if the tiny hands of Tinker Bell and company had rushed to the aid of les petites mains.'

In my view, I think that 'les petites mains' fashioned a PUNK rock couture dress. It may be how they've styled the model with the dark hair and lip, and shiny black boot, but if it were still 1985, and I was still dancin' at the Smart Bar or Neo, this is what I would want to wear. I am tempted to say that perhaps the white and black need a reverse ... my punk was always pretty dark, but the white now seems very forward. It is a modern white wedding dress. Billy Idol would look even better leathered up next to this creation.

The dress on the right of the first punk look is also Karl Lagerfeld. Dare I say that it is also punk, not fairy tale ... well, unless of course your idea of a fairy tale is punk. I think that Cyndi Lauper is out on tour now, and this seems the perfect dress for her. Come on Vogue ... when does Lagerfeld ever do Cinderella? Of course one has to include his work as it is always noteworthy, but it would have been better to start off by saying that we do not have a Cinderella here. It could be a fairy tale as we know those to be dark, and so punk.

To the left, this is a lovely, almost Audrey Hepburn-esque confection by Dior. The white is so pure. So delicate. And the ribbons control the purity so that it doesn't become too meringued, too floaty. Of course, it is styled beautifully. The gloves are perfect.

I do wonder, however, if the strap around the derriere could ever really translate to a gown that every woman could wear. Of course, couture is not for all. It is a vision ... a statement. And this certainly makes that.

And this is the one for me. Giorgio Armani: not a designer that I normally move toward. At first look, I thought that this was Chanel. Why wouldn't I? The pearls. And I think that they are what drew me to the dress. I love a pearl. Reminds me of my grandmother and hers.

The color of this dress I really like too. A sort of blush, like a whisper. The flowers  remind me of Queen's Anne Lace. As a child, knocking along the roads near to my grandfather's cottage, I couldn't collect enough of the spidery, delicate wild flowers. This embraces all of that dream ... the wild is the overuse of the pearls. Why stop with one strand? Why not bathe in their iridescent delight. And the delicateness of the frothy fabric is a contrast even though they are nearly the same color.

As I said, I'm not as familiar with Armani, but for this ... I will look a little closer as this dress is divine.

douglas booth

Tatler August 2013
Look closely and you will see the face of an angel ... nah, it's Pip! Was it last year that the BBC did a new adaptation of Great Expectations? Yes,  and it was an excellent remake starring young Douglas Booth, pictured here, and Gillian Anderson of the XFiles. I hadn't, when I saw it, thought to call him 'pretty,' but as I recall, he was a rather dashing figure as the man with great expectations.

I love the story. The idea that love, or double crossing for that matter, can can drive one to madness. Miss Havisham is a romantic character ... frozen in her moment of devastation. I think that is what happens to many of us mere mortals, who freeze in not the best moment of our lives, but our worst. I'm sure there is a psychology to that somewhere, but being Irish, it is the little black cloud that seems most ... known.

There has been another adaptation of Great Expectations recently. One that stars Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes, released in 2012. Now, Gillian Anderson was excellent as Miss Havisham. She was tortured, haunted, and strongly manipulative. But Helena ... wow. She would be, in my estimation, a very scary Havisham. A cross between Bellatrix, of Harry Potter, and any other of her oddly formed characters. Or better yet: Lucy Honeychurch of Room with a View.  She may be a very Victorian whack-job. But I haven't been able to get my hands on that version. It's available, but the DVD is an English one, and it carries a warning that it may not play on players outside the UK? I don't know anything about that, but it is on my list.

Now young Booth is "Around Town" as he is starring a new version of Romeo and Juliet. I wasn't aware that one was needed, but he does seem very Romeo. I think it's in the lips, which are 'bee stung,' and the heavy brow that has a life of its own. I'm not as enamored with R&J as much as Great Expectations. Star crossed lovers? A feud? A mean mom who will make Juliet marry that old Paris? I think that there are plenty enough versions of it. It just isn't as interesting as the psychological play that goes on in the Havisham household. Psychological torture is always so much more interesting than physical. And Pip and Estella fall in love. Theirs is not a fleeting whim; rather, theirs is more than adolescent fantasy ... it's a bond that I don't envy, but it is enduring nonetheless.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lorde's Royals

I have heard this song twice ... and am entranced by it. I almost didn't want to look it up to know who was singing. I didn't want the buzz killed. And here she is, a 16 year old from New Zealand: Ella Yelich-O'Connor, a.k.a. Lorde. Quel surprise! Check her out: http://lorde.co.nz/

The record, Royals, according to Billboard Magazine, has beaten Alanis Morrisette's record for being top Alternative song by a woman. Morrisette's run lasted 5 weeks for You Oughta Know. And she should know that this girl's song kicks that song's butt.

I've got to keep on this one. I'd like to see her knock out the wreck that sings Wrecking Ball, if you know what I mean.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Adam n' Ireland

Vogue September 2013
I've said before that I have a crush on Adam Driver, Adam of Girls. Vogue was right to feature him in a shoot in Ireland. He seems to be as rugged, windswept, and salty enough to be in the landscape that I escape to in my mind in slow minutes of the day.

I have now watched Girls Season One and Two at least twice. I didn't watch it initially, though I had read about it. I don't have HBO in my cable package, and wouldn't think to sign on to catch a hot series that I've read about. Television isn't that important to me to go looking for, paying for, it. But my kind sister had me over ... the one who has HBO, and as I've said before, we did a marathon of Girls, and I've been running along side in any way I can without ever committing to HBO.

Vogue September 2013
Adam Driver is not cute. I'm not so sure that one would characterize him as handsome either, but the character that he portrays is hot, white hot. So hot that he isn't red anymore. He's the smoldering white ash that is quiet, but that could burn the whole place down given time. He does that to me. And I find that when I watch him, I wonder where is he for me. Silly, really. But a girl can dream.

In the show, Adam is kinesthetic. He's not flopping around: his movements are controlled, but he is a force. Annie Leibovitz has him doing manly things, physical things in the shoot, which captures that of him. My favorite episode is of course the season two finale when he races through the streets of NYC shirt-less to be with Hannah in her meltdown. Her's is a real need, and Adam is able to push all aside, including the fact that they are longer together, to hold her up. That strength, though obviously fictional, is what the stuff is that I would want in any man. Leibovitz took many beautiful pictures, but I chose these to highlight as it shows his movement, his strength.

And lest I get too corny on my character crush, I did choose the photo with the goat 'cause I know a goat in Ireland. On one of my trips there, I was with my brother and sister. We drove all around the island for a couple of weeks going to where ever the wind blew us. It was a wonderful trip. At one point we were winding up a rocky road the side of a mountain in a dense fog. We could hardly see the road in front that lie ahead. Having no sense of direction, we decided to turn round and head back down. At a crossing, we ran into a herd that circled the car. We stopped, got out, and decided to take some pictures. I got back into the car, and one of the goats decided to climb through the open window and come on in. It was doing a really good job of trying to climb over me to get in the car. I didn't know what to do and started yelling to my brother, "Bill, the goat is coming in the car!" He yelled back, "Shoo it, shoo it." And of course being a girl, I just sort of spurtered and found that I couldn't do any shooing. So Bill crawled in from the other side, leaned over, and pushed the goat out of the car.

It's raining out my window now. And nearly Autumn. I dream of Ireland and its landscape. Wouldn't I like to be there now on a craggy knoll, peat fire burning, a dram, and an Adam.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

alexander mcQueen

Vogue September 2013
Stunning. Fashion. Fierceness. I imagine that when I dress in the morning anymore that I am armoring up to face the day. And I do need armor at the workplace, lord knows.

Vogue September 2013
Sarah Burton, McQueen's  chief designer, mixes light/dark, hard/soft, masculine/feminine sublimely. The belt indicates chastity, but the precise pattern of the lace and metal, along with the contraption that holds the bustier in place, indicates aggression. Instead of pattern play, control is played.

In this next look, any innocence is hidden with the medieval knight in full-on riot gear. I suppose, we are at war on many levels in our world, whether job crisis, world politics, or credit crunch ... we've something to fight. Burton would have us suited up beautifully for it.

Of course, looking at these, I wonder how it will translate for those that would afford the luxury of wearing McQueen. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, likes to wear a McQueen, how will this tame to abide the rules of monarchy. I wonder. I would love to see her step out on William's arm with the look to the left. Can you imagine? She would be channeling what I suppose would be the spirit of Elizabeth, the virgin queen. This is certainly a get-up that I imagine her wearing to ward off the wolves. And Catherine has to ward some of those off certainly.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Finally, Cary Grant

Google Image
I've been working through the 'most' romantic movies as reported by Vanity Fair a couple of months back; and finally, one that I've never seen, was actually romantic: Holiday. Made in 1938, it stars Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

The Vanity Fair article as I recall did not have a by-line, but by the content of the list, I figured it was a man because so many of the movies were set against the backdrop of war. Not that I didn't enjoy the films, but I don't think that I would classify a few of them as being romantic. But put Cary Grant in a film, and his being in it makes for romance.

The premise was predictable, naturally. Boy meets girl out of town. Girl is rich. Boy is a dreamer. They set to marry as he's not a flake, and father consents. Aha! But the girl is really only daddy's little rich girl, and he really does want only to chase out his George Bailey dreams, so he ditches her. And flies off with the free spirit that is her SISTER! Lord, help the sister who comes between ... but the first doesn't really care if he isn't interested in daddy's money.

Of course what makes this romantic is the play between Grant and Hepburn. It isn't just that she finds him dreamy, but I'm convinced that Hepburn saw what was the real deal of the character that Grant portrayed. They sizzled. And it was hard to take my eyes off of one to look at the other. And even harder to pull away from the second back to the first. 

Oh, what fun! What does love have to do with it? Everything. And that is romantic.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hide Out Block Party

Maybe if I didn't spend any free time  that I have hanging out, I would have more time to write! But how could I resist the great outdoors, a cold beer, and great music on a Saturday afternoon into evening! I haven't been to the Hide Out's Block Party since I met my brother Glen Hansard (just a joke! And if you've been keeping up, you know that story already), and what do you know ... this time 'round, I met my sister! I'm kidding of course, but it's funny that first I met him, and then I met one of the singer's from the wonderfully entertaining Chicago band: Girl Group, and we three could all be kin. The Girl Group is a riot. What musical girl wouldn't want to be a part of this band. They have it all: talent, fun, and great hair. I can't play an instrument, or sing, but I could be a go-go dancer, and they pack their own.

One of Girl Group's 'people' worked the crowd during the show with snazzy postcards and buttons. I took a postcard and a button. After their set, one of the singers came through and stopped for a chat. I thought of the postcard, and asked her to sign it for me. That's what I love about small music festivals ... the musicians are so accessible. And the stage is so close! She was, and I'm sorry to say that I didn't get her name, was delighted to indulge me. I told her that I would frame it and hang it on my wall of ... let's just say other stuff of its kind. No one had a pen, so her 'assisstant' went running to look for one. We got to talking in the meantime, and when I mentioned the woman that I saw who had peacock colored eyebrows, she said, 'that's the girl who does our hair.' Before every performance, all of the girls get their hair and make-up done. I asked her if she used a bump-it (my students love the bump-it), and she said no. Apparently, it is all them. The pen arrived, and I got my autograph. The picture taken here is on the band's Facebook page. I don't subscribe to that particular social media, but a friend was good enough to send it along. It was exciting. I think that I handled it pretty well. Certainly better than if, for instance, I ran into Bono and asked him for an autograph! This was definitely a win-win. I got to be a fan, a role that I was born to play, and she got her first autograph!

never quite in the light
What a lark! And then ... Young the Giant. I had to put my serious face on for this group. The sun had set by the time that he hit the stage. The spot light rarely, if at all really, touched him, yet he was luminescent. Sometimes, I don't know if it's the night or the way the moon is positioned in the sky or that it was meant to be, but when I saw Sameer Ghadia hit the stage, I was ... lost. If I allow myself too many words, I may waste them on pure cane. So I will resist. And say that for a day that I didn't think that I would get too late into out in the world, he pulled me up and set me down. His voice could sing to me always, and his power reminds me of, dare I say his name twice in one writing without revealing the one that I really love, Bono. I'm still trying to process ... him. Yeah, I can get like this. When I was a  kid, it was David Cassidy that I couldn't get enough. And from him to others, I've always found a voice, a look, that I can get hooked up in. Doesn't everyone? Or is it just me? If it is, that's fine. Four people away from the energy that he emanates from the stage is just fine by me.

Enough said.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Seamus Heaney

google image
I was talking to mom today about the passing of poet Seamus Heaney. She asked, 'is he Irish?.' I told her that all of the great poets are Irish, to which she replied, 'yes, I suppose, it is the melancholy that is in them.'

Yes, the melancholy. I know something of that myself with the wee bit of Irish that I am. I first was introduced to Heaney in graduate school. I took an Irish Studies course, and Heaney was on heavy rotation for the poetry section of it. I knew him as I read his work. I understood it to the very core of who I am, and I understood the language that he spoke beyond the metaphor, beyond the intended meaning of the poem.

Each year, when I teach high school students through a unit of the Holocaust and genocide, I always pull out Heaney's Punishment. Elie Wiesel implores us to bear witness. That silence is approval. But in Heaney's poem, the speaker understands the very human possibility that 'I almost love you/ but would have cast, I know, / the stones of silence.' Why do we cast these stones of silence, I ask my students? Working in a community riddled with crime, and the disturbing 'no trick rule' that is employed, we can answer this. Wiesel has us singing with the angels, where Heaney has us rolling 'round in the muck with what is all of humanity.

A few years back, Heaney lectured at the Art Institute. The tickets were $50 ... rock star prices. I would have paid anything to see him, but it sold out quicker that I could dial the number. Fortunately, he came back 'round. In Poetry magazine's 100th anniversary year, an evening of Seamus Heaney was offered to the public at no charge. I made the call and was able to reserve two tickets. I was so excited. And happy to share the evening with a friend, also a poet. But it wasn't meant to be. I had only the thought of poetry on my mind, and his was colored by what he thought was another motive. In neither the time, nor place, he decided to break my heart.

I very nearly left and went home. But I knew that if I sat in a dimly lit auditorium and soaked in some of what Heaney had to offer, I would follow through with what my intention was to be for the evening. I arrived early, and so was seated close to the stage. Slightly hunched over and shuffling a little toward the podium, tears fell like a veil over my face. I may as well have been in church for the silence and the hum of a group of people who had gathered to listen to the word, or shall I say words.

Those moments when I heard Heaney recite his poetry, and sing his little ditties between, I felt a soul that held me divinely. All things happen for a reason. I was meant to see him that night. The other  man... his soul was meant to be exposed to me. His is not nearly as knowing, and his words never as dear.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

pretty as a picture (for dog lover's only)

Oprah Magazine September 2013
My hostess for my stay in Los Angelos last spring said to me and my traveling companion as she toured us through the house: I know the dogs won't bother you Carol. Huh? How did she get the idea that I like dogs? I only ever owned a cat in my adult life, and I have been quite enthusiastic in that ownership ... but dogs?

I like dogs when they are across the street. I say to myself when I see a cute dog, or a big dog, or a dog with a cute guy as an owner: oh, that's a nice puppy. Yes, I call all dogs, puppies. Someone corrected me last week on the street that their dog was not a puppy. Okay. I call them all that.

When I was four, I was attacked by a giant dog. That's all I have to say. When I recall the attack now, I"m thinking that it probably wasn't a really big dog as I was four. And it probably didn't attack me as it more likely came up to sniff me. So the attack may be an exaggeration, but for a four year old, a dog the same size as I was and a sniff ... well, you can see how I might have been a little, shall I say, put off by the beasts.

And with that sniffing ... I can't hate a dog for doing it because I am sort of a human sniffer. My sniffer doesn't always work due to allergies and whatnot, but when I can sniff, I like to do it. I sniff flowers. Light scented candles. Spray perfume. And I'm even good with the not so flowery or spiced scents. It's all good. So I actually, you could say, have something in common with the dogs.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed having my friend's dog up in my grill. They were little dogs. I think that they are more ... manageable. And I loved playing the tug o' war game with them. I am competative, and I did score how many times I could wrassle the chew toy away from the dog. And I gloated: oh puppy, it's me 3, you 2.

I have decided that in my retirement when I live in a little cottage at the edge of the wood with a lake view and a typewriter at the ready, I will welcome a puppy into my home. And when I saw this article (honestly, I didn't read it ... I think that the pictures said it all) in Oprah, I caught that the dog featured was giving me a knowing look. Yeah, he/she is thinking, it was only a matter of time before the puppies caught your attention. Sly dog.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

cinema aphrodiso

Vanity Fair tricked me into buying the August issue with a beautiful picture of Diana, Princess of Wales, by Mario Testino on the cover. Oh, the article shredded no new light on the Diana's life. The article was a regurgitation of what's already out there. I'm a sucker and the guy doing the cover did his job right, I suppose.

In the magazine, I did find this article that I thought was sort of interesting: Cinema Aprodiso, a list of 25 romantic English language films from the thirties until now. I've decided that I have to view through this list, though many I've already seen:
Vanity Fair August 2013

The Age of Innocence: this movie is more beautiful every time that I see it. The sets are lush and decadent, and I would argue that anything Daniel Day Lewis acts in is something to see. It is so hard to take your eyes off of him in a picture. And when he unbuttons Countess Olenska's (Michelle Pfeiffer) glove to kiss her wrist ... swoon. Martin Scorsese did indeed make a wonderfully romantic movie.

Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight: I have been a fan of these movies starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphie for years, though I haven't seen Before Midnight, the third movie in the continuation of the documented lives of Celine and Jesse. I resisting the first movie, but when I read a review of the second, I realized that I might be missing out on something. And I was. They are 'talky' movies. And they are intimate. And seem so real. In the second film, when Celine and Jesse have run into each other after nine years, she invites him in for a cup of tea and seductively says to him as she dances to Ertha Kitt playing on the record player: you are going to miss your plane. I would say the same thing.

Brokeback Mountain: this movie broke my heart. It, the movie,  is because so many have hate in their heart. What is more romantic than crossing the line and breaking through prejudice. Sadly for Jack, he took the hit. How Ennis will live with it is beyond me.

The English Patient: I saw this first in theaters on a big screen, and that was the way to see this sublimely visual story that is in fact one of the most romantic movies that I have ever seen. It is tortured, passionate, painful, and worth crossing a desert to find. This film is as much about the ravages of war as it is love, but a war from the past for some is a romantic notion as it is the end of what has become the good old days. And those never stay forever in real time, but are rose colored settled in the past.

Ghost: Really? Patrick Swayze, for me, is such, as a good friend of mine would say, a cheeseball. And I can't take him seriously. Or Demi Moore for that matter.

Love Affair/ An Affair to Remember: Here's another film(s) that I've seen, but haven't registered. Of course the contemporary remake in my estimation is Sleepless in Seattle with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It's a cute enough movie. It's a blend of the aforementioned long ago films along with the other films that Nora Ephron wrote like You've Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally. All romantic-ish.

Love Story: ah, just watched this film again in February. I may have even watched it on Valentine's Day. Boy oh boy was Ryan O'Neal good lookin'. I remember watching a movie when I was a kid called Sunshine. The song for the movie, naturally, was John Denver's song of the same name. It starred Cliff de Young who was also real good lookin'. Essentially, it is the same story. Couple meet, fall in love, wife discovers that she has terminal cancer, she dies, he's sad. Pick your setting: preppy northeast or hippy west coast. Ali McGraw ... I don't get it. She was sort of stiff, and I didn't see any chemistry between she and O'Neal. I'll go with John Denver as it's a lovely song that is played with the credits.

The Way We Were: Hello gorgeous. Now this is a romantic movie. I will give you that I am prejudiced as Barbra Streisand is someone that I absolutely adore. And Robert Redford? oooff. What any-girl doesn't secretly want to be with the big man on campus? The beauty of it is that the characters love each other in spite of their differences. Of course the same is what drives them apart, but not until they've found each other for a time. I never tire of watching this movie of Hubbel and Kkkk-Katie.

I had this idea that I would write through all of movies that is on their list. And I've Netflix'd those that I haven't (interestingly, the first two arrived and I had seen them already). But their list is ... well, theirs. Too few of the movies on the list I would even call romantic at all. I suppose to each his own, and perhaps what I should do is write about the list that I would make. I will save that for another time though as a red envelope came in the mail, and I have a movie to watch.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

tilda swinton

UK Vogue August 2013
Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel designer and photographer, captures the light in Tilda Swinton's eyes iluminescently in the Chanel advertisements that are leading in to the fall season. She is bewitching.

Once I was able to pull  away from the the white queen, I see that the backdrop of  the shoot are tapestries. And that brought to mind the Tapisserie de Bayeux (11th Century) that I had the opportunity to view on a trip to France a few years back. The tapestry is actually not quite that as it is, according the official web site, a linen canvas that is embroidered. It celebrates the conquest by England by William the Conqueror after the Battle of Hastings. Though housed in France, the work is thought to have been done in England.

UK Vogue August 2013
What I remember most of the visit to the tapestries are the rooms that it is housed in. Dark, cool, and quiet, they were a respite from a busy touring day. And the notion of all of the work that was needed to complete the 230 foot long story board, is something to meditate on in the quiet of the room. Obviously, having been made ten centuries ago, the work has been on a odyssey of its own from hand to hand. It's really rather remarkable that so much of it is still in tact today and on display.

Tilda Swinton is not posing in front of the Tapisserie de Bayeux, but the notion that the contemporary needle work is posed in front of the ancient is wonderful to imagine. Lagerfeld's early fall collection is Scottish inspired. And in he cold, drafty Laird's castles in Scotland, I have seen many tapestries there. The fabrics used in the collection are hearty and luxe and will withstand the test of time I would wager. And so it would seem, Tilda comes into the light and is strong enough to stand the range of time, not unlike her character in the film Orlando, based on the novel by Virginia Woolfe. First man, then woman, Orlando lives through centuries of life before she tires of it. The novel is written as a magical realism, and I think that Lagerfeld is doing the same here with this beautiful collection of clothing, history, and photographs.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

minister island

Minister Island
The ocean. And land mass. I visited this island: Minister Island near to St. Andrews by the Sea in New Brunswick, Canada this summer. But I didn't get on a boat. Or swim ... quite a distance in freezing North Atlantic water. But how did I get there?

In a few hour's time after taking the picture, when the tide lowered, a path appeared and as the pamphlet described, I was able to drive across the ocean's floor.

the path is revealed at low tide
According to the information in a local tourist pamphlet, the island has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years. First by the Passamaquoddy people and then Loyalists to the Crown. The island gets its name from the Rev. Samuel Andrews who built a stone house on the island in 1790. Later, Sir William van Horne, an American from Joliet, IL who moved to Canada to build the Canadian Pacific Railroad, built a summer home on the island.

The cottage, or in my estimation ... house, was not noteworthy and has seen better days, but the island itself is really rather spectacular. Sir van Horne had extensive plantings, farms, and livestock on the island. It was a true cottage industry. He and his family spent most summers on the island. And when back in town, fresh butter, milk, and vegetables were sent from the island. As an amateur painter, he had the beauty of the environs as inspiration certainly.

the bath house and studio
A small walk from the house leads to an outer building that Sir van Horne used as a studio. It looks out over the sea, and a winding staircase inside, then out, takes one at low tide to a lovely rocky shore that he preserved as as intertidal coastline. Stone, cut out of the beach, was used in the home, quite spectacularly as a fire place in one of the rooms. The cut in the beach made for a unique salt water swimming pool for the family.

the barn
The Van Horne's had two children and it is the daughter who took control of the estate when her father passed. She did not marry, so when she died, her brother's child took over at the helm. I suppose the idea that the island is only accessible for some of the time wasn't as appealing to all. The house has fallen through several owners since, and is now in now membership-owned. I had a chat with the docent who gave us a tour of the house, and she explained that they have had a hard time of it. They can't get tourists on the island. And events are tricky as the tide controls the passage to it. Now the house is in such a state that whoever were to take it on would have quite a project. Like she said, 'it cost a million dollars to build, and it will take a billion to restore.'

I wondered at this point. I understand preserving the past, but are the efforts worthwhile when no one is very interested in it. How many estates or buildings should be saved. As I've said, the cottage/house for me was unremarkable. But the island was magnificent. I wasn't able to go on any of the walking trails given the time, but I would have like to have spent more time there. I think that they should level the house ... save the stone work and fireplaces. And then build cottages for vacationers. Some may not like the idea of being 'stranded' on an island, but I rather think it romantic. It would be a wonderful place to visit and stay. What could be more relaxing than a hike through the forest, the views of the sea, some rock hunting, and dinner next to a fire. It would by idyllic. I would beg the tide to come so that I could stay.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

come on, let's go

my niece
I spent a lot of time on this bike path at the beginning of this summer. A lot of the route is recovered prairie. One day, we grabbed the camera and took pictures of all of the seemingly fragile flowers that litter the green landscape in their wispy whites and pinks and purples.

While riding, we would stop for a drink of water as it was pretty hot and the miles would make us thirsty. I love talking to my niece ... she's always got something on her mind. Not longer after this picture was taken, we took to wondering if fairies live in the prairie. She was certain as, 'the world is a mystery.' Yes, it is indeed. And why not believe that another, transcendental world exists parallel to our own. And for that I wrote this for my little prairie fairy:

                                                      The Prairie

We stopped our bikes on the path
to document the prairie,
the sun at midday colors
wild flowers in golden light
and clusters of white trumpets
sit pretty like china cups
waiting for afternoon tea.

In wisdom that comes with nine,
she turns to me and believes,
as her eye that wanders left
surveys Queen Anne’s parasols
that lace over smaller blooms,
there could be fairies living here,
the world is a mystery.

Kicking off to pedal on,
I set to thinking about
my mortality compared  
to the mysteries of life
that explode over prairies
in waves of black eyed susans
and velvety bumble bees.

I reach out to meet each year
holding my face to the sun
knowing I won’t populate
this landscape for ever long,
but with grace, this life will root
me solidly in cycles
like nature’s bloom and beauty.