Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Caption Contest!

So what? It's all the rage in Paris these days!
Winner: D. Burns!

(Sorry Hilary, you captioned the wrong photo!)

It looks like we'll have enough comments to keep this going- so don't forget to play!
In other news, my ankle hurts quite a lot and the forecasters have no idea what's going on.
That having been said: on to next week's captionable photograph!


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Percy Jackson and the Review Thief!

I saw Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief today! But as I'm not allowed to see the movie until I've finished the book (my own rule for my brother turned on my head) and I've not finished the book (due to being out of work for a week and a half), I haven't seen the movie yet. So now we have a Time Paradox (no, not the Artemis Fowl kind, for anyone out there joining in on the Juv Fiction thread).

Both the Book and Movie reviews will be posted as soon as I break out of said Paradox.

Stay tuned.


As a follow up to Western women's romanticized interpretation of Eastern clothing, I bring you late nineteenth and early twentieth century China! Also, the cat is staring at the Fairies again.

A Chinese woman in a romanticized pose for a post card- notice her tiny pointed toes, clothing clearly made of expensive silky material, her sumptuous surroundings- all hinting at a life of luxurious lounging in the land of spice

Older Chinese women, again, notice the delicate pointed "lotus" feed- indicative of wealth and beauty. I understand how there could be an appeal for smaller feet, but ankles ending in pointed toes? Yuck.

Just in case you weren't sure where the ideas for Queen Amidala's costumes came from. Sadly, I don't have a name recorded for her.

1870 Chinese girls
I can't quite make out the girl on the right's feet, but the girl on the left is definitely bound- and so painfully tiny!
I like this photograph quite a lot.

1860 Chinese Woman

1910 Children in San Francisco's China Town by Arnold Genthe
Still binding feet- even in American Chinese societies

1870 Chinese Girls

1905 Gorgeous Dresses!

1880 Mandarin Family
*No Bound Feet!*

1900s Probably a performer - love the headdress

And finally, just what those beautifully tiny pointed toes look like at the end of the day:

Monday, 22 February 2010

Beauty on Ice

Early in the winter of 1990 I caught the Chicken Pox. Out of school for a week, I had nothing better to do than sit around and scratch. So my mom mummified me in wet sheets (to sooth the itching) wrapped me in a blanket (to keep me warm) and plopped me on the sofa in front of Olympic Figure Skating. I decided then that I was going to be an ice skater when I grew up. You might have guessed how far that dream went. (Hint- I've been ice skating exactly one time :( I have never, however, fallen down.) And so began my love of figure skating, and I watched it whenever I could. I even have a few specials taped that I still watch occasionally.

I don't know if I'm older and so the magic is gone, or I look with a more critical eye, but many of the figure skaters this year just didn't seem to be very exciting. Johnny Weir excepted- let's move on. The men were pretty amazing. And I'm glad that Lysacek won the gold. Moving to Pairs, I'm glad the Chinese couple won the gold as well. Back to them in a moment. The pairs were great this year - and somehow the more falls you had the higher you scored...? But as much as I LOVE watching them, I kept finding my mind wandering off. The groups were technically good, but not terribly interesting. Even Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo's Free Skate left me bored (I thought that the Silver medalists had a much better Free Skate. It was the very first Pairs short program, skated by Shen and Zhao, that was what I was expecting out of pairs.

Set to Queen's Who Want's To Live Forever, it was a Perfectly Beautiful program, and because of that program, I think that they deserved to win. The way they skated that brought to mind the couple, also (eventually) a husband and wife, who are arguably the best pairs skaters in the history of the sport: Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov.

That isn't their best performance, but it's one of my favorites. Here is their Junior World Championship program from 1984:

Yes, she's so tiny! The pair was often referred to as a One and a Half, rather than a Pair- which is one of the reasons that they could do some of the amazing stunts that they did- she was little and he was strong enough to toss her through the air- in almost every video somebody comments about how high into the air he throws her. Another reason that their skating was so compelling, other than the fact that they were both incredible skaters right from the beginning, was their love story. Watch skaters today and you will see two people skating on the ice at the same time. Gordeeva and Grinkov skated with each other and hardly took their eyes off of each other during their later performances (something that can be seen a bit in Shen and Zhao's short program). If you start at the beginning of the list (from the site I'll provide below), you can see a marked difference in their skating once they become a couple.

(sorry about the intro bit)

Anyway, I'll stop gushing and let you enjoy the show. Here you'll find a fairly complete list of their competition videos. I highly recommend watching Scheherazade (1991)- it's a pretty bad quality video, but well worth it. (You should also check out the Melancholy Man program)


Shen and Zhao's 2010 Olympic Short Program

Friday, 19 February 2010

Turning Japanese?

Don't forget to check out the newest caption contest! Winner will be posted on Wednesday! (it's a few posts down- go check it out!)

What's this? A Theme? An honest to goodness THEME around here? Woah... This weeks theme is Orientalism. In my travels as an obsessive picture collector, I sporadically come across women from the 1890s on wearing 'Geisha Fashion.' They are fairly uncommon and are purposefully posed photos- not everyday clothing. But if you look at the artwork from the late 19th century (namely the Pre-Raphaelites) and the new Modern Dance's offspring- dance based on images found in ancient Egyptian and Indian artwork, you'll see a definite interest in All Things Eastern and it's Mysterious Beauty.

This, from what I can tell comes in three main forms- first, the afforementioned Geisha Fashion, or Japanese kimonos. Second, clothing modeled after that worn by Chinese women (although notably WITHOUT the foot binding). Thirdly, the idea of central Asia, where women wear long flowing skirts, shirts that bare their midriffs, long decorated veils and lots of golden bangles and reclines on a pile of cushions. (This last I have only ever seen as either part of modern dance or more risque images of women decked out as 'belly dancers' or 'slave girls.' (most of which will never make their way here, due to my endeavors to keep this pg rated.)

1913 Frances Smith in Oriental Costume by Louise Halsey

1913 Japanesque by Alfonse Van Besten

1873 Tea Merchant (On Duty), Xie Kitchin, by Charles Dodgson

Lorina and Alice Liddell, by Charles Dodgson

1892 Beth Michener and Emilie L. Truesdell, Walla Walla
(I'm not certain if Walla Walla designates a place
or a personal title for the photograph)

1907 "Geisha Fashion"

1908 "Geisha Fashion"

1908 "Geisha Fashion"

1905 Yes, even children were occasionally dressed up like little 'Harem Girls'

1913 Ruth St. Denis in her production of Bakwali
(Ruth will eventually get her own post,
and I'll tell you aaaaaaaall about her then)

Thursday, 18 February 2010

More Black History Month

As President's Day (and my lack of internet for a while) has botched any room for a theme this week (again) we'll come back to our monthly theme! Enjoy!

ALSO: don't forget to check out this week's caption contest! (two posts down) :-D

1935 Three African American sharecropper's children-
one playing the harmonica and the other two listening-sitting on porch,
Fuquay Springs, North Carolina, September 17

1860s Algeria

1900 A Plantation worker's family

Frederick Douglas
Former slave, noted orator and abolitionist
(If you went to my high school, you read his book at least once)

1915 WWI Prisoner of War Camp, Munster, Moroccan Man

"A Chocolate Drop"

1921 Newsie

1939 Hattie McDaniel with Vivian Leigh
Possibly the first African American woman to sing on radio (1915)
The Daughter of a freed slave
Has 2 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (one for radio, the other for film)
The first of 4 African American actresses to win Academy Awards- unfortunately, her Oscar was lost during the race riots at Howard University and never recovered
"Why should I complain about making $700 a week playing a maid? If I didn't, I'd be making $7 a week being one."

1968 Black Panther Angela Davis at an Oakland Rally for Huey Newton

1940s Ruth Miller working at the El Segundo Plant
of the Douglas Aircraft Company

Crispin and the Phenomenal Review

Go read this book. Right now. Yes, you. Run along.

Ok, now that you've read it, you'll be able to agree with everything I'm about to say about it! :-D Crispin and the Cross of Lead by Avi (Who IS this Avi guy?) is BRILLIANT. Ok, so I'm a Medievalist and the book is set in Medieval England- there, we've gotten my bias out of the way. But being a Medievalist and a stickler (ask my sister) for historically accurate details, this book is absolute tops. Avi goes into much more detail of surroundings and circumstances than Tracy Barrett did in Anna of Byzantium. Anna could have been set in any fancy city and castle my imagination could come up with. Crispin was very firmly set in a crumbling church with a large, colorful, bearded juggling man in the corner, or a close, dank, smelly inn, and the jagged, crowded and damp back streets of a medieval English city.

The story was brilliant as well as the writing. After the death of his mother, Asta's Son (as he is known), a serf, flees into the woods in sadness. Upon his return, he sees the Steward's men (the actual lord of the town has not been present since before his birth) pull down his house, and is told that night after sneaking into the church to see the priest, that he has been declared a Wolf''s Head (Wanted, no longer human, and therefore may be killed and brought in by any person to collect the money) under the pretense that he broke into the manor house and stole a good deal of money. The priest tells him to meet him the next day when he will tell Asta's Son what his name is, and about the cross of lead that the boy now carries that his mother (hint- it has words on it, written by Asta herself). Unfortunately, Asta's son is lead into a trap and in fleeing, comes across the dead body of the Priest (the murder is added onto this alleged theivery).

Crispin- as he learns his name is, runs away, in hopes of finding a city (as the priest said) that he can disappear into long enough to a) survive b) earn the freedom of the city (become a free citizen of the city, no longer beholden to his village lord). In an abandoned city, destroyed in the 1348 outbreak of the Plague (this being set about 12ish years later), he meets Bear- an enormouse bearded juggler who, learning the boy is a Wolf's Head, makes Crispin swear allegiance to him as his new master and takes up his protection and his education in music and juggling. By the way, Bear is also a spy looking for social reform (you know, those people who were featured in the London Riot in 1381).

Anyway, they travel from town to town, earning money and avoiding the Steward, who for some reason is putting a LOT of effort into finding and killing Crispin. Have you figured out why yet? They eventually end up in a large city where people keep recognizing Crispin, and it all eventually comes to a head- but I won't tell you why!

If you love the middle ages, or just like a good medieval story, or want to get away from fantasy for a little while (no magic here!), READ THIS BOOK. Great for girls and boys. Especially boys who still like to play at being knights!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Caption Contest!


Winner: Woodland Walker

THANK YOU! To everyone who commented, making this a (hopefully) permanent new feature here! (The hopefully is because if numbers of comments take a permanently downward turn, I will pull the plug)

Read more for this week's picture!


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Late President's Day

Haha. Get it? Anyway, my internet was down all of yesterday, hence the lack of appropriately themed post. So we'll do it today! Also, yay for the Chinese figure skating pairs who snatched up both the gold and silver medals last night. I have to say that I was much more impressed by the short programs than the free skates- many of the free skate programs were really rather uninteresting and failed to hold my attention (and I LOVE figure skating). Also, I'm very glad that the couple that won the gold won the gold, and their short program was Perfect. But for the free skate I really thought that the silver medalists did a much much better job. Anyway, kudos to everyone. Hopefully I'll get to see the men's short program tonight!

Also- just came up with an idea for a possibly disgusting mixture of teas: Strawberry Green tea and some form of Mint (I have Peppermint and Liquorice Mint to play around with). I'll play around and report on the results later this week! :-D

And now: Happy Birthday, Mr. President. Or something like that.

1865 President Abraham Lincoln- one of the frontmen for President's Day

President Franklin Pierce
(Apparently played by Tommy Lee Jones....)

Ulysses S. Grant

1900 President William McKinley

President Theodore Roosevelt

1929 Herbert and Mrs. Hoover

1920 Governor James M. Cox of Ohio and Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York,
arriving at the White House for conference with the President

1927 Henry Ford

John and Jackie Kennedy

Sunday, 14 February 2010

For this was on seynt Volantynys day

Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

I really don't like Valentine's Day. But this gorgeous bouquet of roses right next to me is prompting me to make a gooey mushy post. So here it is.

From a copy of The Romance of Alexander

1969 Sidewalk Cafe in Paris by Henri Cartier-Bresson


1950 The Kiss by Robert Doisneau



The Gables

1950 Bouquet of Daffodils by Robert Doisneau


1932 Evelyn and Allen Reynolds in the Mountains (one of a beautiful series)