Hippity Hoppity - dressing your inner rabbit in springtime classics

J. Rabbit models the latest in mixed media dressing!
Here we see everyone's favorite rabbit crush showing mixed media dressing 
with all of this season's coveted trends, 
and last season's and the one two whatever   previous seasons'
nerd glasses, sequins, shaggy sweater, brocade pencil skirt, skinny belt. 
Note absence of tights - bare legs are still with us!
And while the skirt lacks pockets, a glimpse at the back view 
shows us that a large random vertical buttonhole can be put to good use 
for those fashionistas who like to accessorize with a fluffy tail.
Hey, it wouldn't be a fashion shoot without a random bird!

and of course, glasses, messy hair, distracted eyes, a pouty expression and
a pop of red....

the little creatures are MARKDOWNS!
they began their decorative careers as
overpriced Christmas ornaments at
and came home with me in March....

I have more rabbits in different trendy outfits,
the one in the capri pants is a hoot,
so we may be seeing more fashionable rabbits.
I also got a handful of dressed-up mice.
That is, mice wearing awful bridesmaid dresses.

activities and events, originals and inspirations

So what have we been up to besides eating and shopping? Here are some notes, and in putting this post together, I realized that lately I've been thinking a lot about originals and adaptations.

In our not-so-distant bleary past we actually paid to see a stage adaptation of Moby Dick. We were in London and couldn't get tickets to whatever it was that we had first thought of seeing. Based on print reviews and our own bad judgment, we had expected the play to be a blend of the lightest elements of St Trinian's and certain favorite Monty Python episodes. Not. The plot was that a girls' boarding school had fallen on hard times and was about to close, and could be saved only by the efforts of a plucky English teacher who had written a dramatization of Moby Dick, which would be produced in the school swimming pool to raise money. With me so far?

The play was not as lively as it sounds. There were some good moments, owing largely to the girls in bright blue tanksuits who, together with a bolt of blue fabric, played the Great and Cruel Ocean. Two girls held the ends of the bolt and made it undulate. Others just undulated. Still others were the crests of waves, that is, they crouched behind the Ocean and raised and lowered white cardboard cut-outs of wave crests. The whale was played by a schoolgirl who held a cut-out of its head on a stick, and her friend who held a cutout of the tail on another stick. They stood behind the Ocean and raised and lowered their sticks as the plot required. Still another girl was armed with a very large watergun and played the whale's occasional spout.

We didn't last very long and in a lovely moment of domestic harmony agreed that the waste of time and money was both our faults. "I never thought I'd say this," Himself grumbled, "but the book was better."

Oh, did I mention it was a musical? I'm told it's recently become a cult item, which shows you that it does take a certain willful suspension of judgement to become part of a cult.

As for Practical Magic, that delicate fable of the commonplace and mysterious set in a working-class development on Long Island - the part with the storefront newsstands, strip malls and traffic jams, not the part with costly glass houses on beachfront property - well, if you'd ever lived or visited in the area, you'd recognize the development, the roads, the cul-de-sacs. I was excited when the story was Sold to Hollywood, and couldn't wait to see the movie.

I went by myself. Himself had stayed home to watch a game. The audience was predominantly female. There were a lot of games on that weekend.

The movie relocated the story to Nantucket. Instead of dreary "little" jobs, the two sisters ran a cute Magicke, soap and scented candles shoppe on a prime location in Nantucket. Instead of living in an ordinary ranch house in a development, they lived in a large and beautifully restored Victorian house with a widow's walk. Nobody stayed for the credits, which is a mortal sin in these parts. No, there was a well-bred rush to leave, and a swelling murmur of "The book was so much better, they ruined the book, can you sue if you're just a reader, I would, the book was better, they ruined the book..."

Now don't misunderstand me, I know thousands of people loved the movie, lusted after the house, wanted the great hair of the stars... On its own terms it's not a bad movie. It's just not the entrancing book I loved.

On the other hand, at least they didn't make a musical of it.

So we were a little nervous about some inspirations and adaptations on offer in New York this winter. A Gentleman's Guide To Murder, which recently opened on Broadway, is based on Kind Hearts and Coronets. Who could ever, ever outdo Alec Guinness and that gang of eccentric relatives? Actually the movie with Sir Alec is, in turn, based on a novel by Roy Horniman.

Well, I haven't enjoyed myself at a play so much in years! I laughed so much I ached. Everything was perfect, the casting, the costumes, the sets, the acting... If you're in New York and you have the chance to see only one thing, this is the one.
The script sticks pretty close to the movie we love so well, both in language and in characterization. Not sure about the novel, until I saw this play I couldn't imagine wanting to abandon Sir Alec for the printed page. Now there's room in my heart for the movie and the play. Warning: the play has songs. But guess what: they advance the plot, they're not just endless set pieces repeating a theme. So no further spoilers, go see the show.

Also this past winter, we both read Act One, Moss Hart's autobiography. The book was originally published in 1959, and was reissued to coincide with the appearance of the play. It's funny, it's sad, it's well written (no surprise), and it stops with the opening of the author's very first Broadway play. I gather that further volumes were contemplated, but none appeared.
Anyway, we were eager to see the play based on the book, so many of the scenes - for instance, shy and self-conscious young Moss laboring away as a dancing and social director at a mountain resort - seemed made for the stage.

On the other hand, the very rich texture that gave life to the characters, for example, Moss' father who was so ground down by poverty that he hardly spoke, saving all his energy for job-hunting and suffering, didn't seem susceptible of staging. The set was everything Cameron Mackintosh dreamed of building, a hodgepodge of stairs, doors, shelves that variously became the family's tiny apartment, a producer's office, a fur factory, a crowded street... The script itself, in the words of George S. Kaufman, Hart's writing partner and friend, "needed work." When we saw the play, it was still in previews, so I'm sure there have been changes and revisions. I thought the acting was first-rate, and this was definitely worth seeing.

All The Way depicts the first year of Lyndon Johnson's presidency, and Bryan Cranston plays the ambitious and driven president at full throttle. LBJ is depicted as Machiavellian, idealistic, lovable and despicable, and committed to his ambitions. All of those are probably accurate. All the other characters - Hubert Humphrey, J.Edgar Hoover, Martin Luther King, Ladybird Johnson - are secondary to that. The play was worth seeing, although I wouldn't call this a fun evening. And it was seriously shorter than the Robert Caro biographies - Himself has read all three volumes and is anxiously awaiting publication of the fourth. I, on the other hand, found the excessive detail suffocating. In any event, we are assuming that the fourth volume will be the last.

Further on the topic of originals and, um, adaptations, here is the sequinned and embroidered jacket that, against all odds and against the strong opposition of the J.Crew Customer Service, I finally reduced to possession:
And here is an embroidered, less elaborate version that last week was in the window of Alice & Olivia's Madison Avenue store, not 150 feet from the J.Crew Collection Store:
It must be in the air.

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, everyone!

odds and ends, mostly odd

(not our deck - you figured that out already)
Here we are, out at Flintstone Manor, three summers ago we killed the entire summer having our deck refinished. Naturally the weatherproofing treatment which, according to its literature, could be applied with startlingly minimal preparation, began to peel off almost immediately. Now, Himself arises, looks out the back, starts cussing and grumbling. I could think of better ways to start the day. Like a cup of hot coffee with real cream, taken in silence. Of course we have contacted the owner of the home maintenance company. The first time we called, he came over in less than 10 minutes, gasped in horror, and promised that workers would arrive the very next day. They did not. Ever. Deck situation went downhill from there. Owner has formed a new company with a slightly different name. It would have been cheaper and more durable to have John Derian découpage it with $20 bills.

On a more cheerful note, the sun was here all day Sunday!

It's enough to make me believe that we will have a summer!

And here's a collection of things that go with my Hydrangea Pencil Skirt - I was racking my brain and refusing to wear it with a gray teeshirt or a jumped-up sweatshirt. I feel better having come up with a few choices, even though that pink cashmere sweater is sufficiently bright to make an Easter egg out of me should I choose to actually wear it. I'm getting close enough to oval without encouraging the impression, so maybe that match is a non-starter.  However, to my happy surprise, the electric plaid silk blouse has a line of color in the pattern that is actually Hydrangea and has a nice dressy look with the skirt. This is where I should point out that I did not buy the electric plaid skirt, it was a disaster - if memory serves, it was a heavy quilted mess. Happy with the blouse, though.
The one that works best is in the upper right corner - the bluish blob is exactly the Hydrangea color, perhaps a touch faded, so not obvious but nice.

Let's see, what else is new? Well, my sister signed up for eHarmony.com, filled out the questionnaire, paid her initial fee, and waited. She has a very whimsical and creative turn of mind, so without ever having seen the questionnaire, I'm betting that at least some of her responses were, um, original.
note color-coordination with Hydrangea skirt, above
What makes me so sure? After 3 months without a match, they sent back her money without being asked.

Lastly, a report on the St Paddy's Day event we attended. It was unlike any other St Pat's event in New York or Boston, guar-an-TEED.  Next year, back to pipes, local (and other) pols, old guys who can lower a few, and some thought given to those who served, those who defend, those who protect, and widows and orphans.

In hindsight,  perhaps the reason I felt like a relic was my shoes - those adorable Kate Spade dark  green suede sandals? I tried them on right before the event and they were perfect. Perfect!

Well, readers dear, they grew. The expansion began as we got into a taxi. By the time I had wobbled from the elevator to the bar - which was suspiciously uncrowded and more suspiciously didn't have Jameson's - the shoes had become loose. The totter from the bar to the table was more than they could take - only my capacity to exercise my Iron Will kept them near my feet.  The shoes had cost some money, too, so I was afraid to have more than one glass of wine. No way to celebrate!

When I feel better about the shoes, I'll take them to a fancy shoemaker and see if there's a way to stuff them. Sigh. Of all the pointless places to get thinner - the sides of the feet!

Oh, another random note - I like silk tees under jackets and sweaters and have gotten a lot of use out of mine. Last week another caught my eye, but not for a good reason.

At first glance, I thought this was a test shot that accidentally got onto the website. It looked like the model was just practicing holding still and the hot pink outlines over the chest were leftover tailor's chalk. No, it seems the marks are deliberate:

a ray of sunshine and 11 random facts about Moi

 The magnificent Tabitha of Bourbon and Pearls has nominated me for the Sunshine Award! I'm astounded that someone of previously good judgment can even think of me in connection with sunshine since I've been so grumpy lately, but I'll take all the good cheer that's on offer. Ta, Tabs.

(the ME shirt)
The nominee is asked to list eleven random facts about her/himself. Here goes. Hope they're random enough.

1. I was born with blonde hair, which turned mouse-brown by the time I was in 8th grade, and since then has been every shade of brown that Clairol manufactured (I liked Medium Ash Brown the best but it wasn't always in stock), and also mahogany red, strawberry red, mouse again but with blonde streaks or blonde highlights or blonde balayage, grayish white but only for a short time because it was really ugly - and is now a non-ugly chocolate brown, thanks to a genius colorist.

2.  I don't wear anything with a visible logo.

3.  I hold on to clothes far longer than a sane person should. I've learned not to flinch when someone admires my "great vintage find."

4.  Even though I dislike the idea of disposable clothing, I find it hard to resist a bargain. Then I moan when the thing falls apart, pills, gets holes - well, you know. Then I dispose of the offending item. Then I repeat the cycle.

5.  Parts of my body believe that we're still in puberty. Or is there such a thing as physical nostalgia?

6.  I was stalked when I was in high school, but the expression "stalker" didn't exist then and he was known as "that poor boy who has such a terrible crush on you." It was creepy and embarrassing. For purposes of this post, I have googled him, and it looks like he grew up, got married, served our country with distinction, continued to work for the government, and died. His widow was a girl I knew in junior high, who really disliked me. His obituary read like she wrote it - it described her as "the love of his life." Who does that? Well, for both of their sakes, I hope it was true.

7.  Actually, the last few times that the name of an old school or work acquaintance popped into my head, I googled them and each time I learned that the person had died recently. So now when I wonder whatever became of someone, I do not, repeat, not google them.

8.  Every time I cut my own hair I regret it. Bangs especially.

9.  My ability to keep my weight stable has diminished with age, to the point where I actually consulted a doctor to see if I was coming down with some dreadful disease where the first symptom is that your favorite outfits have gotten tight and your feet hurt. "No," said he, "you need to eat less and get out in the fresh air and sunshine more." I found this response dispiriting.

10.  Our family is very multi-cultural, it's impossible to avoid stereotypes. They're sitting right next to you. And many are grumbling. Hence my sort-of-regular holiday post.

11.  I was stranded in France after 9/11. Even after airports began to reopen to US airlines, the non-US airline on which we had cheap tickets went into bankruptcy and we were unable to change the tickets. Nor could we buy new ones, because our credit cards and bank accounts had been frozen - while we were on the road, without our knowledge we'd been the subject of identity theft. Fortunately we were known at a few restaurants and found a kind hotel, so we had food and shelter, and anyone who says Parisians are rude or unsympathetic will get a big argument from me.

And now I pass the Sunshine Award to 11 other blogs:

Southern Hemisphere friends, Clothing Fixations and Adelaide Villa (this is a twofer)

and everybody loves Wendy and Dani .


accessorize with pitchforks and torches

The Grand Budapest Hotel is an amusing movie, a marvelously goofy send-up of a pretentious hotel of a certain age. As you probably know by now, the story takes place not in Budapest, but in a fictitious country, perched on forbidding mountains, amidst scenery reminiscent of the shrubbery around Dracula's castle. The fictitious country is called Zubrowka, which happens to be the name of a Polish vodka that is flavored with Polish buffalo grass. I'm told the flavor is crisp, pleasant and herbal, but it's unlikely that I'll find out personally. You see, Polish buffalo grass contains traces of coumarin, a blood thinner, and so the FDA won't permit it to be sold in the US. Faux Zubrowka is available, but it doesn't appeal.

Dracula's Castle is now, of course, a theme resort, and little boys beg to spend a night or two there to listen to recorded sounds of clanking chains, squeaking doors, hooting owls and assorted eerie moans and groans. As is usually the case when travelling in Eastern Europe, getting there is more than half the adventure.

For those whe enjoyed the movie (either the one about the hotel or the one about the vampires -- or both) and want to see more of Eastern Europe - A Theme Park of Colorful Peasants and Faded Aristocrats, but are working on a constricted budget, may I recommend the J.Crew website, where make-believe peasant gear abounds. Especially make-believe Transylvanian peasant gear.

For example, compare this blouse

to the blouses in these regional costumes from Transylvania

                       and these J.Crew jackets

with this peasant's Sunday best:

Below, left, black and white embroidery from Transylvania, 
and right, the same as interpreted by St. Laurent and Gaultier.

So now we know what to wear to the movies, or to the pastry shop!

Actually, I kind of predicted the reverse of this about-to-be-trendlet in this post, where I suggested that J.Crew was poised to dress vampires, who, since they live forever and apparently are becoming interested in fashion, are a great market. They just keep changing clothes. I suggested sportswear, as a change from what's available in the many ethnic enclaves of Transylvania. And look: instead of sporty preppy vampire wear, we have peasant-directed ordinary human wear.

In fact, there's a lot of worrying going on in the many small countries that share a border with Ukraine. Some worried US residents have cancelled summer vacations in their home countries, out of concern that - well, out of concern. "The Bear never takes just one bite," one acquaintance told me.

dressing for an evening of sentiment and tradition with a chance of defiance

For the first time in a few years, we're attending a St Patrick's Day event.

I'm told that some of my elderly Irish relatives refused to march on St Pat's until all Ireland was free. Other, more contemporary friends and colleagues, refuse to march until all Irish are welcome.

I've also heard that the Celts invented stubbornness. Could be.

My naive and sheltered generation celebrated St Pat's with acts of defiance - for the time, that is. The green streaks in our hair, the green freckles and shamrocks painted on our faces, and the very vivid green outfits down to the socks would probably not even be noticed on any Casual Friday, but we were daring the teachers to make remarks, itching to provoke dispute. One teacher of English was notorious for showing up in an orange tie. While he was grimacing at the high-spirited leprechauns-for-a-day, his windshield was being painted green in the teachers' parking lot. Ah, tradition.

Just about every little town out East has a St Paddy's Day parade, they are staggered, I mean the dates are staggered, so that all the pipe bands and fire departments can participate in as many parades as possible. The parade in a town not far from Flintstone Manor is small, neighborly, serious and charming, and that is why I committed an act of genteel violence a few years ago. A couple we knew slightly were standing next to us and apparently hadn't expected a parade when they came downtown and were annoyed. "Disgraceful," she said, "just look at them, reeling drunk like that so early in the morning."

"That's the Brownie troop," I replied.

"Well, you know what I mean."

I knew what she meant all right.  Somehow my coffee accidentally slipped from my clenched fist and spilled onto her shoes. Oops.

Well, really, who wears shoes with high heels and red soles at the beach?

Anyway, the impending event has engraved invitations, and "cocktail attire" is specified, so I'm guessing there won't be a reading of the Speech at the Grave of O'Donovan Rossa nor of the last words of Robert Emmet.

To this respectable gathering, therefore, I am wearing a lace dress. Green, of course. And green suede KS sandals (eBay), weather permitting, and some gold jewelry. Considering a torque - assuming it works with the neckline.

And my greeny-hazel eyes will be festooned with Armani's green-black mascara, which I like to think makes me look mysterious and soulful, at least in the mirror of my mind. This mascara was a limited edition product last spring, and when I saw how it looked on, I went back to the store and bought another 3 tubes. Given how rarely I go out in full warpaint, this may be a lifetime supply.

Decided that my emerald satin Invitation Clutch would be overkill,  playing with the idea of the tweed clutch with studs (above), and have also decided not to put green polish on my toes. The next step would be trying those green streaks and freckles again.

Oh, and when Himself opens his closet door to hunt up a tie, surprise! he'll find a cute navy number with green shamrocks sprinkled all over it. Which he will be wearing

Update: here's a shot of a torque that's very close to mine:

the wild Wild West

set the tone for the family farewell dinner. There was a learned discussion of Victorian fiction. Fortunately noone went into a decline.

I thought the family had picked a theme restaurant but state law requires that sign wherever alcohol is served.

Our next trip will be to New Orleans, where alcohol can be found without guideposts.