Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wicked, wicked ways

I've been racking my brain, trying to figure out what I'd write today. It's almost Thanksgiving, so I feel as though I should post about something Thanksgiving-y. I kept waffling on that, however, because I don't really have any Thanksgiving-related ties to any classic movies, so I couldn't even think of what to write with that in mind. I humored different possibilities but I've decided to write about something not Thanksgiving-y at all.

A friend of mine, Kate Gabrielle (fabulous artist, knowledgable blogger, and pin-maker extraordinaire), wrote a think piece last year called "When your fave is problematic." It was a wonderful post about whether it's possible to separate the art from the artist when you like the art but the artist is not a particularly great person. Her thoughts on the subject mirrored mine exactly and I think of that blog post frequently.

The piece becomes even more relevant today, in light of Weinstein and the seeming droves of celebrities who, it turns out, are not actually terrific people after all. It's such a tricky moral dilemma. Like Kate wrote in her own post, I find myself reacting differently to each situation. I find it easy to dislike Adolphe Menjou after reading his conservative political views in Myrna Loy's autobiography. But I still struggle to dislike Errol Flynn, who I know was a bad person. And Gary Cooper, who was a friendly witness in the HUAC trials. I can easily write off Woody Allen as a creep - I don't like his movies anyway so there's nothing lost there. But, hearing John Lasseter is taking a leave of absence amidst reports of bad behavior stirs conflicting feelings in me.

As bad as this conundrum is in regards to current celebrities, I feel even worse about it when it comes to classic movie celebrities that I love. I have a picture of Errol Flynn pinned up at my desk at work (alongside Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Myrna Loy, William Powell, and Audrey Hepburn). I looked at the other day and felt a rush of conflicting emotion - should I even like him anymore?

One of my good friends hates Clark Gable after reading an article about his rape of Loretta Young. The story definitely tints my view of him as a person - but I still enjoy It Happened One Night. I was angry when I read that Casey Affleck won an Oscar, despite the allegations against him. He may be a talented actor, but is it right to give him accolades? I have a harder time forgiving actors in contemporary movies; I don't have as much sentimental attachment to them or their roles. But the people I grew up watching, the movies that comfort me after a rough day, the scenes that I love so much that quoting them has become part of my identity - that is harder to sift through. I feel as though I need to have a consistent mindset about it - I should write off Errol Flynn with the same ease with which I write off Woody Allen. But I still love The Adventures of Robin Hood. Is that wrong?

I don't actually have an answer to this conundrum. It's something I've been working through in my head for a while now. I can't think of a better way to wrap this up than Kate did, so here is her final thought on the matter. And definitely go read her article because it's a very good discussion on the topic:

Ideally I would love to experience a moment of clarity on this topic, but for the time being I remain thoroughly ethically confused. I guess at the very least, the fact that my enjoyment of movies created by morally questionable people bothers me is a sign that my conscience is still somewhat intact. The knot may never become untied, but at least there's a glimmer of hope that it could loosen.

Read more: Silents and Talkies: When your fave is problematic 

What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you find this to be a moral dilemma as well? (Also, I changed the settings on the comments, so hopefully they'll start posting again. I am sorry about that!)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What a way to break up a cold!

Yesterday, I posted an outfit inspired by Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie.

I started a pinterest board ages ago called Movie Outfits to Recreate and this was one of the first ones on it. I adore Laura Petrie and pretty much everything she wears is perfect to me. I know I'm not alone in wanting to recreate outfits from movies and shows - but it always felt like something I might do someday. Sewing intimidates me considerably. I've started so many projects that are as yet unfinished. I was pretty nervous about embarking on a new project - what if I didn't complete it? What if I messed it up? What if, in this one outfit, I proved that I don't have the ability to make my own clothes? Okay, so that's a lot of pressure to put on one shirt but that's how my mind works.

Anyway, I showed my mom my Pinterest board to get her input on which would be the easiest outfit to do. She saw this picture and pointed at the screen and said, "that one. Do that one. You can make that."

I wasn't sure. I mean, it had sleeves. But my mom insisted I could do it. So we started brainstorming. We discussed fabric first. I loved the way the top fit Mary Tyler Moore nicely but had a nice boxy cut at the bottom. My mom decided that double knit was the best option because it would fit over my head without needing a button or a zipper, would be nicely fit at the top like I'd want, but wouldn't drape at the bottom. Then, we looked for a pattern. We knew on the outset that there wouldn't be a pattern exactly like that shirt but my mom is brilliant when it comes to adjusting patterns so I trusted her instincts. She found one that was specifically designed to be modified. I went to Joann's when I had coupons and they had sales and bought the fabric, the pattern, and the thread.

The pattern turned out to be even better than we had anticipated. It came with the usual pattern pieces but also came with gridded pattern paper so you could make adjustments. My mom added the triangles to the top and bottom of the shirt and she made sure the side was shaped the way I needed it. With a pattern in hand, the rest was up to me.

Like I said, I've struggled with completing projects. I've had so many "1 hour" sewing projects that take me weeks or months to complete. So when my mom said I could finish this in an afternoon, I was skeptical. But, I invited a friend to come over for a crafting afternoon, determined to knock it out as my mom predicted.

I still get pretty confused about how selvage comes into play with cutting but my mom guided me (via phone - sketch below) to get the cut right. The dreaded sleeves stressed me out considerably but my friend, Ashley, encouraged me through that process.

And, just as my mom said, I finished it in one afternoon!!

The edges were a little unpolished so my mom helped me finish the edging. But in one weekend, I had an outfit that was totally wearable and totally cute!

I even had a coworker tell me she loved my trendy top! Success!

Monday, November 20, 2017

I'm just a housewife...

Style Sunday! Er...Monday!

Today, dear friends, I'm channeling one of my favorite characters ever, Laura Petrie, played by Mary Tyler Moore. I discussed yesterday how Mary Tyler Moore's fashion choices were bold and ahead of her time. Well, today, I'm taking a page out of her book and wearing an outfit inspired by her.

And that top? Made by me!! I will discuss how I made it tomorrow.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Rob, you know what I wish you'd do? Something!

So, I'm going to do it again. I'm going to change things up from my original plan.

You, dear readers, who probably barely remember the plan I set up when I first started this Month of Blogging are probably wondering why I keep doing this or mentioning it. But, I'm a person who really likes rules and boundaries and I have a really hard time breaking rules - even my own. So any time I change things up from what I said I was going to do, I feel guilty.

But, I'm going to do it anyway.

According to my original plan, today's post would be about style. But I'm going to do that tomorrow instead. Why? Because I have a whole idea of how I want to do my hair and possibly a little makeup. Also, I made part of what I'm wearing tomorrow so I want the ensemble to be complete and this evening was spent in polishing that hand-made piece. This is, in fact, what I truly had in mind when I thought of the whole Style Sunday thing: I'd pick out an outfit from a movie or show or photo shoot and recreate it. So, I really want it to be perfect.

Anyway, this week launches the next theme in this month's blog-a-thon: The Dick van Dyke Show. Okay, okay. It's not a movie. But it's from the 1960's and, well, it's a fantastic show. So I'm going to devote some time to it. It's my favorite TV show so I'll probably be devoting a lot of time to it in the future.

It's such a great show. Mary Tyler Moore is both a fashion icon and a feminist icon. The writing on the show was surprisingly progressive for its time. Plus, you've got to love Dick van Dyke.

I have all sorts of topics I'd love to discuss about the show. But for this blog post, I'll stick to talking about the pants. Oh, the infamous pants. When the show was originally aired, most TV housewives wore dresses and pearls for everything. When Mary Tyler Moore was cast in the role of Laura Petrie, she changed that by wearing her own cigarette pants. Not only wearing them, she insisted on wearing them. She fought for the right to wear pants on screen. At the time, the producers were afraid it would be inappropriate for her to be wearing pants. She argued that no one thought of her as indecent when she wore them out to the grocery store in real life. In the end, they compromised and she was allowed to wear pants in one scene per episode. As an avid pant-wearer myself, I feel like I have a lot to be grateful for Mary Tyler Moore.

There's an episode in the show called "Give Me Your Walls" where Rob Petrie (Dick van Dyke) says to Laura, "just remember, honey, that I wear the pants in the family." Then, they both look down at her pants and he adds, "I mean that I wear the decision-making pants in the family."

This would be a frustrating line in any show other than the Dick van Dyke Show. It's totally a father-knows-best, the man is the head of the household kind of gender role rubbish that pervaded television (and still tends to rear its ugly head now). But, in the Dick Van Dyke Show, I can laugh because I know that this sort of line always comes around to be proven wrong. Every time Rob Petrie tries to exert some sort of masculine superiority, he always winds up eating humble pie, or at the very least, come to terms with the fact that he's often wrong. I'll probably wax eloquent on their relationship another time but Rob and Laura, throughout the show, are partners and share everything. So any time Rob challenges that, the episode explores how wrong he is. For 1960's television, it's pretty incredible.

Anyway, here's to Laura Petrie and Mary Tyler Moore and breaking barriers through fashion choices.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A woman unhappily in love? She forgets to turn on the oven!

So, I plan to make souffles. I had planned to make them yesterday, but it seemed silly to make two and be alone to eat it. Then, I had planned to make them today when my friend came over. But, I spent the whole time crafting (which was the purpose of her visit) and ran out of time to make them before she left. And then dinner took a while because I had an outrageous headache and I waffled back and forth over what to eat. And, finally, it was 8 o'clock at night and I still hadn't even started the souffles and I had run out of the energy to make them. I still plan to make souffles because it is too good an opportunity when discussing Sabrina. I will make a mini post when I do.

In the meantime, here is the recipe I plan to use. It looks delicious and I will let you all know how it turns out! Click the photo to get to the recipe.

Also, here is the scene that inspires this recipe choice:

Friday, November 17, 2017

I shall be the most sophisticated woman at the Glen Cove Station.

So, here's the thing. Friday would normally be my day to post a recipe of some sort (Foodie Friday and all that). But, my recipe for this week is a dessert for two. And I just can't justify making two desserts for just me. Not because I don't deserve it but because I probably wouldn't want to eat both. So, I'm waiting until tomorrow when my friend is coming to visit and I can make the dessert for two for the two of us.

In the meantime, enjoy some pictures of Audrey Hepburn!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

I could have sworn you took in more territory than that

Today's Spotlight on a... scene. I'm going to post about one of my favorite scenes in Sabrina (1954): the scene when Sabrina arrives from Paris.

It's a wonderful scene because we (and David) finally get to see Sabrina as she really is, a witty, beautiful, sexy, confident, classy woman. She's no longer the shy, lovelorn girl she used to be. I love the character's growth and how Sabrina coming into her own is what makes her so irresistible.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Where's Waldo (Way Back Wednesday)

So, one of the reasons I decided to go with a Way Back Wednesday theme is I was telling Kat about how there are several blog posts that I've written and am quite proud of. And how I kind of wish I could bring them back as part of the discussion, so she suggested this.

The post I'm going to talk about today is one I may likely bring up a few times. It's one of my favorite classic movie experiences ever.

Seven years ago, I made a list of favorite male dancers. #10, I wrote, was this background dancer that I had watched for years and had finally discovered the name of: Bert May. He's seriously in everything, from The Thin Man Comes Home to Hello, Dolly! to The Music Man and Mary Poppins. He's incredible. And you can tell he was sensational because they kept giving him dancing solos.

Here are a few songs with him:

So, I wrote this whole blog post about how wonderful he was. First, his niece commented, which was incredible. Then, he commented. Bert May commented on my blog! And he wrote a super sweet, gracious comment:

When I was shown the Postings associated with my name, I was pleasantly surprised. Glowing words from loving relatives and close friends might be expected; but the heartwarming, kind comments by movie super-sleuths like you who masterfully tracked me down was overwhelming. Sally - I shall wear the number Fifteen as a Badge Of Honor and with Pride. Nowadays however, like Waldo, I am happy to remain in the "background" and out of the spotlight.

I'd love to meet him and do an interview some day. I'm so intrigued. Were the dancers under contract like the other movie stars were? Who were the best choreographers, movie stars, directors to work with? Does he watch his movies now? So many questions. In the meantime, I'll revel in the amazing fact that someone I admire reached out to me and said hello.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I want candy

This week's craft post is not inspired by a classic movie... but it is inspired by a movie so I'm going to go with it.

My dear friend, Ashley, threw a Marie Antoinette themed party a little over a week ago. A few months prior, she and I were watching Marie Antoinette (2006) and we both fell in love with the minimal styling of playing cards from the time period. I've seen this kind of card before in Jane Austen adaptations like Mansfield Park. Ashley and I looked at each other and we agreed that we should definitely include those cards at the party.

I had this idea in my head that the cards, like Ashley's upcoming party, should all be in pastels. So, I bought a packet of pastel markers and Kat showed me where I could buy blank playing cards on Amazon.

I looked up other playing cards to see how the suits are lined up for each number.

For the royals, I googled Rococo art and found some lovely sketches of ladies and gentleman. I edited each picture to have a little reflection of the image at the bottom. Then I printed each one and modpodged them onto the cards.

End result? Fabulous.

Source: The Tillmans


Monday, November 13, 2017

You young people are so old-fashioned!

Movie review this week: Sabrina (1954). I had to rematch this one in order to review it. When I said that this was Audrey week, I probably should have clarified: it's more like Sabrina week. Her films really do deserve individual attention.

I actually saw the remake of Sabrina before I saw the original. And with pretty much any movie that involves a remake, I tend to spend the whole movie comparing the two. I like the original but I grew up watching the remake, so I actually almost like it better. But that's for another day.

Things I don't love about the original Sabrina:

  • The  part where Sabrina attempts to commit suicide - this part bothers me. I think it's supposed to be funny and I know it's supposed to give us an idea of how very much she loves David and kind of how dramatic she is. And it does set up for the fact that she's not at all bothered about being pursued by David when he's engaged - after all, if she was ready to die over him, what's a little thing like an engagement? But this scene is so early in the movie that it starts me off being a little frustrated with her. I have friends who have struggled with depression, so the scene being a bit of a gag annoys me.
  • I have a hard time with Humphrey Bogart in the romantic role. The character of Linus Larabee is a tricky one because it's the older brother who has a tough exterior that gets kind of cracked by the sweet and genuine Sabrina. So, he's already a pretty unappealing character due to the fact that he's a bit of a jerk for most of the film. Humphrey Bogart is so much older than Audrey Hepburn and he looks much older than she is, so I struggle with seeing his appeal as a romantic interest.

Things I do love about the original:

  • Audrey Hepburn - because of course, she was flawless.
  • William Holden - sooooo charming and soooo dreamy
  • All of her clothes - pretty much everything she wears in this movie is incredible. And some of them are things that us mortals couldn't pull off nearly as well. I mean, people can pull off anything they like - but Audrey could wear a button down shirt tucked in to the side and it looked chic and natural; anyone else tries that it and it's like "oh that's an interesting look. Did you mean to do that?"
  • The cooking school scenes - they're very funny and very memorable
  • The fact that Linus asks Fairchild about how Sabrina is doing in Paris - okay so Linus isn't my favorite romantic character in a movie. But I do love that in this version, he actually asks after Sabrina and the audience understands early on that he knows who she is, remembers her, and vaguely wants her to be happy. It sets up nicely for them falling in love. It doesn't entirely redeem Linus to me but it helps.
  • The other domestics - they're pretty much my favorite characters in both versions but I do love them in this one too.
  • The chemistry between Audrey Hepburn and William Holden. I've read that they had some real-life chemistry and I love how that carries over on the screen.

Ultimately? I do like this movie a lot. It's not my favorite romantic comedy but it is a really good, solid movie, with a fantastic cast and director. I saw it on one of the TCM cruises and got to hear a historian give a brief discussion on it and he said that the movie was originally supposed to be made in the 1930's but, due to the war and whatnot, got pushed back until it was eventually dusted off in the 1950's. And he explained that if it had been released in the 1930's, it would have been a vastly different movie because the country's view on wealth was different then. The movie has a bit of a jaded feel in terms with how it deals with the wealthy Larabee family and he explained that that was a product of its time. I love that about this movie; the context of it all kind of fascinates me.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

I could have sworn I knew every pretty girl on the North Shore

This week is all things Audrey!

I will probably have multiple Audrey Hepburn-inspired weeks or months in the future. Let's be real; she's a fashion icon. I think the fun thing about wearing outfits inspired by Audrey Hepburn is they're not terribly flashy or wild-looking. She's so timeless in her fashion. You can wear a nice, quarter-length black shirt and black pants and ballet flats and you're pretty much set! 

Who are some of your fashion inspirations?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

I'll bet she's the fastest thing on the road.

So for Saturday Picture Show today, I'm going to post one more time about Come September. I'm not going to lie: it's one of my favorite movies so there's a very good chance that this theme will come up again. However, luckily, there are so many wonderful movies to talk about, I think I'll be able to fill plenty of space between Come September weeks.

Friday, November 10, 2017

He seems more like the champagne type to me.

I struggled for a while on what to cook for this week. As you have probably noticed, I'm trying to theme each week to a certain movie. The reason is that eventually, after this month, I can theme the blog to a certain movie or two each month. And then I'll have recipes and crafts and outfits for that particular movie. It's a little harder doing it each week but, again, this is kind of a test run. So, it's ok.

I kept gravitating toward champagne because there are several scenes that involve it. There's one where Rock Hudson's character prepares a bottle for when Gina Lollobrigida comes to his room and there's the morning after when he realizes she never came to his room and he spent the evening alone. The bottle cork winds up creating a plot twist that makes it even harder for Rock Hudson to spend alone time with Gina Lollobrigida. So, it seemed appropriate.

So, I discussed with my friend Kat what I should make and when I told her that I was debating doing something with champagne for my recipe for the Come September week, she suggested I make Champagne Cupcakes. Which is brilliant! But the thing is, my roommates don't really eat baked goods unless I stand there and hand it to them, so I can't count on them to eat them. And my office has been particularly health-conscious so I can't do the normal of thing of leaving them in the break room. And I know I'm not going to eat an entire batch of Champagne Cupcakes. So, it was a really clever idea but I wasn't entirely sold. And I kept looking on Pinterest until I found this recipe: Creamy Champagne Chicken. It's delicious and I highly recommend trying it out. I made mine with carrots and corn and mashed potatoes.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

He never comes 'til September!

So, today I'd like to do a Spotlight on a song... again. This one is a theme song and - you may notice the theme here - it's the theme song for the movie I've been talking about all week: Come September (1961). The tune was written by Bobby Darin and it plays over the opening credits of the movie.

I don't have anything deep or philosophical or analytical to say about the song. Just that I love it. A couple of months ago, I played it practically on repeat; I couldn't get enough of it! I don't know why. I wish I did. I tried to find a Pandora station for it so I could get some similar music but I couldn't find any. I downloaded some Mancini tunes to try and fill up a playlist but Mancini's music is... I don't know... a little darker in tone than this piece?

Here it is and I do hope you enjoy it! And if you know of any other songs, artists, albums, playlists, or Pandora stations that have this kind of vibe, please let me know!! 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

And you wouldn't happen to have a wife under the counter there?

It's time for Way Back Wednesday!

So, the other night (and by "the other night," I mean a good several months ago), I did something that I hadn't done in a long time and was well overdue for - I went to see a classic movie on the big screen.

That's not to suggest that I haven't done that often; I have. But it's been at least six months, if not a year or so, since I saw a classic movie in a theater. One of the local playhouses has movie nights during the summer and holidays. They have this nice, big screen they bring down over the stage and they sell $5 bags of popcorn. One of my good friends told me a couple of months ago that the theater was playing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and I immediately put it in my calendar and saved the date. I invited another friend who I knew loved the movie too and we made a little night out of it. We went and got cocktails and dinner and then to the movie.

Like I said, I'm pretty pleased with the number of classic movies I've seen in theaters. I know I'm not breaking any records or anything - but I would never have guessed at the opportunities I've gotten. I've even seen Seven Brides on a big screen before - I got to see it on the TCM Classic Cruise when they invited Jane Powell. It was amazing. Jane Powell did this great interview with Robert Osborne and talked about the quilts that were used to make the costumes and the painted sets. And Robert Osborne told her she was the lynchpin that held the whole movie together. I even got to meet Jane Powell the day I saw the movie on the cruise! She was at the pool deck and I told her that I thought she was amazing. She was incredibly kind and shook my hand. I only regret not asking to take a picture with her - but when I circled back around to do it, she had gotten lunch and I didn't want to interrupt that.

Anyways... this was a different experience than that one. Obviously, there was no interview right beforehand. But, the audience who went to see the movie on the cruise was a bunch of dedicated movie buffs. They had paid over $1,000 to be there. Most of the people in that theater had seen it before. And on the TCM Cruises there was this habit of the cruisers to go to an interview and then slip out before the movie started in order to catch the next interview. It's kind of ridiculous in a way, when you think about it, but that's what a lot of people do. I did that for movies I didn't care to watch but I was curious about the interviews beforehand.

It may sound strange but this viewing of the movie was even better (not counting the interview at the beginning of the first viewing, of course). The theater was no cruise ship theater. It's an adorable theater but only boasts a few hundred seats. Those seats were filled. I think there were probably less than ten or twenty seats left. And the audience was one of the best theater audiences I have ever sat among. I suspect about half of them had either never seen the movie or were watching it for the first time a long time. Because the laughter was so genuine and so loud.

When I see a movie a million times, I laugh at the jokes, I laugh in anticipation of the jokes... but this audience made me laugh at jokes I'd forgotten were there. It was almost like watching it for the first time. When Caleb takes the cake from Adam and tells Ruth that he'll follow her "to the ends of the earth," I laughed the hardest at that line than I ever have. The jokes sometimes become so familiar, that you forget they're even there (at least some of them). And if, like me, you've been watching movies since before you really understood them, watching them as an adult is an entirely different experience as line after line and scene after scene finally make sense or have new meaning.

I have watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers countless times and shown it to tons of friends. But even old favorites can surprise me.