Friday, July 31, 2015

Month in Review: July 2015

Adventurous Outfits

Adventurous Plans
Our summer's big trip was seeing the Big Apple for the first time, and this month I've really enjoyed getting to share our impressions of New York with you. You could also find out what three sailors thought of New York, New York with this month's film flick review. Or with this stationery wishlist. But even if you weren't able to get away this month, there were still many things to try in July, right from the Why Don't You... list!  For example, you could buy the book from this month's Dogeared Page. Fellow blogger Marlen of Message on a Napkin wrote the poetry book, Ugly People, Beautiful Hearts. 

Truthfully, after our exciting travels, things have been pretty quiet at home, partly because we like it that way and partly because an accident meant The Boy's arm was in a splint much of the month (before you ask; he's fine). What has July been like for you?

Adventurous Finds
Could it be a rare photo of Vincent Van Gogh? 

Wyoming made the news for being "Long on Pride, but Short on People"

Most people's mother tongue falls into one of these 23 languages (out of the thousands of languages there are)

A fascinating look at 100 years of beauty from all around the world

How Broadway hit On the Town made it from ballet to the Great White Way (Plus, a current On the Town star's adorkable vlog!)

Also New York related: what could a "subway symphony" sound like?

Croquet is going extinct, I guess? Here's one reason why and what the Brits are doing about it.

Animation caricature-izes the human form, but what if animated heroines had more realistic features? 

"An end to email shame" Do you need this?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child- Sosososososo curious about this!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Stationery Wishlist: New York, New York (It's a Helluva Town!)


1. New York Journals | 2. Chrysler Building Bookmark | 3. King Kong Bookend | 4. Manhattan Art Print | 5. New York Card | 6. New York Public Library Lion Paper Weight | 7. New Yorker Postcards | 8. New York Public Library Pencils

1. New York Journals- These notebooks keep the glitz and glamour of New York alive. 
 2. Chrysler Building Bookmark- In the play Annie, the orphanage's cranky keeper always insists they need to clean until "these floors shine like the top of Chrysler Building." Having not seen the Chrysler Building, I can see why that was a tall order! 

 3. King Kong Bookend- One of New York's tallest residents took an iconic trip up the Empire State. Just hope your trip doesn't have the same amount of screaming that his did. If it might be awhile before you climb to the top of that tall tower, have this bookend to tide you over. 

4. Manhattan Art Print- Done in the fun 1950s style reminiscent of the children's classic This is New York. 

 5. New York Card - Skyscrapers, yellow taxis and charm. Everything New York in one image. Use this card to say hi to the people back home! 

6. New York Public Library Lion Paper Weight- Two lions guard one of the largest library's in the world, and now a (smaller) one can guard your desk! 

 7. New Yorker Postcards - The New Yorker is known for its iconic covers. I picked up several of these to send to people while we were traveling. 

8. New York Public Library Pencils- These pencils are colorful, cheerful and even have a great quote about books and learning- two of everyone's favorite things, right?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What I Wore: Seeing Art Where Ever We Go

Stripes and Green Skirt Stripes and Green Skirt
Stripes and Green Skirt

What I Wore: Skirt (Chicwish), Shirt (Popbasic; Similar Here), Shoes (Old Navy), Bracelet (Popbasic)

I wore this outfit for a very special occasion- in fact, it was the whole reason I brought the skirt! I was going to see "The Woman in Gold," or, more accurately, "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I." It is a stunning piece of art by Gustav Klimt that has sometimes been referred to as the Viennese Mona Lisa or the Mona Lisa of Austria, and has been the subject of several books, documentaries and even a recent Hollywood film about its confiscation from its original Jewish owners in WWII, its return after drawn out court cases, and its subsequent, controversial sale to the Neue Galarie. But we didn't venture here because of any film! 

I'd never argue that the  Neue Galerie is a quintessential, must-see stop for anyone in New York. It was on the top of my own personal list because I've really loved the work produced by the Viennese Sessionist ever since visiting Vienna several years ago, and this was a chance to see one of Klimt's greatest masterpieces. In fact, in many ways, the morning we spent there was like leaving New York, leaving the States and transplanting oneself into Austria. The day was cloudy, and the attached cafe on the ground floor of the museum, while exactly like any of the hundreds that dot Vienna's cafe culture, was hardly crowded when we went for brunch before the gallery opened. We took our time over coffee, tea and an apple strudel (dessert for breakfast?! I was on holiday, though! The Boy had two eggs in a glass), with our fellow diners' conversations of art movements occasionally drifting over to our table. A large amount of the conversation for the day was in German, actually, so the gallery must be a popular destination for a certain group. It is not a big place, but was certainly busy! On the second floor, was the star painting, along with an exhibit entitled "Vienna 1900," which featured other Sessionists' artwork and design, including a lot of furniture and silverware etc. that was produced by Sessionists and an interesting section examining the clothing popular among many of the portrait sitters called "reform dresses." If you are at all interested in fashion or fashion history, you should look up these gowns! The last floor contained a rather less inspired exhibit on the connections between German expressionism and it's Russian counter-part. Truthfully, the Galerie is a bit like visiting a museum for one painting, but she is breath-taking, even more so in person, so I felt it worth it. 

We wandered a bit through the upper section of Central Park, though was rainy, and my green skirt seemed to fit in there just as well as against all of Klimt's golden tones. We made our way a few blocks to the Guggenheim Museum. Truthfully, the building's unique design, courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright, was the real draw, just as much as as any artwork inside, but it is worth seeing. 

It may seem by now that all we did was visit art museums in New York City; there are a lot of them (we didn't even scratch the surface, really!), but we alternated "indoor days" with "outdoor days" as much as possible and... I am my father's daughter I suppose. Growing up we went to museums, especially art museums, when on trips, as my father, a photography teacher, thought that was important to be exposed to. On a recent trip with college, we went to an art museum and she had remarked that, while she enjoyed the visit, it wasn't something she'd usually have thought to go to. On the other hand, her family spent most trips visiting at least one historic site (if not many!) because her husband was a military history buff. What type of things are just "givens" things you naturally are drawn to seeing on trips? Sports events? Historic sites? Shops? I'd love to know! 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Film Flick: On the Town

"What can happen to you in one day?" asked a dockworker of a trio of sailors with a 24 hour pass in New York ("New York, New York- Its a Wonderful Town!"). In their minds? Anything! And it turns out, that's not far from what the day really holds as they see the sights, have adventures and maybe- just maybe- find love in the City that Never Sleeps.

This 1949 film, On the Town, is a fascinating look at creative evolution as a story changes and grows from medium to medium. A new ballet classic, Fancy Free,  with a score by Leonard Bernstein about three sailors on leave is critically acclaimed in 1944, and that same year, work to turn it into a Broadway play is undertaken, with Betty Green and Adolph Green writing the book (both ultimately costar as one of sailors and his gal). Amazingly, all three of these creatives were only in their twenties, and the smash hit it made on Broadway, as one of the first musicals that used song and dance to further the plot rather than stop the show, would be just the one of all their many professional accomplishments. As successful plays were wont to do at the time, it caught the eye of Hollywood. The head of MGM was reluctant to buy the rights though, citing that it was "smutty, " an opinion possibly formed due to the fact that it was an interracial cast and had interracial couples on stage! However, Metro Golden Mayer did ultimately purchase the rights, and the film was produced under the Arthur Freed Unit.

As it did when going from ballet to Broadway, On the Town underwent some major transformations went it became a film. Sadly, most of the music was replaced after being deemed too "operatic," though the now-iconic song "New York, New York" and handful of others were kept. This caused Bernstein to wash his hands of it, though Comden and Green rewrote the book for the film (making several plot changes which may or may not upset fans of the musical) and the duo would go on to work multiple times with the Freed Unit, including for Singin' in the Rain.

The film brought together Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Mushin as the three sailor out On the Town. Kelly, along with Stanley Donen, would also direct. Though both agreed it was hard to share the job, they would pair again together to direct Singin' in the Rain too! Vera Ellen (she of the incredibly slender waist!) would match Kelly in both tap and ballet shoes as his romantic partner for the film.  Ann Shirley and comedian Betty Garrett rounded out the cast as the other ladies- an anthropologist interested in "Modern Man" and a romantically aggressive cab driver.

Sailors Gabey, Chip and Ozzie are small town boys ready for a day of big city adventure- seeing the sites and picking up dates. Which they do, largely thanks to Betty Garrett's character Hildy taking a shine to Frank Sinatra's Chip. She plays tour guide and fails to take in her cab on time. But when Gabey falls for a girl in a poster on the subway, they all set out to find "Miss Turnstiles for June." They run into another girl (Ann Shirley)- and a dinosaur- in a museum, and while they rate a big Navy E with the lady, the museum staff is not so pleased.  The trouble they cause keeps mounting, even as it seemed Gabey's getting closer to True Love- but with only twenty-four hours to be On the Town, can things resolve happily for Our Boys in the Navy?

One of the reasons the story translated so successfully to film was that it was partially filmed in New York- the first musical to go on location . Ann Shirley later credited her own pleas with Studio Head  Mayer, arguing that it should be filmed on location because she "had never seen New York." In retrospect though, it seems impossible to have done it any other way. The sailors dance along many of the most famous sites, giving it a sense of realism that probably appealed to an audience filled with many who had just gotten back from active duty only some years previous. Even today though, in a time when several sky scrapers top the once-towering Empire State,  its timeless appeal is largely due to the films obvious love of New York. With Gene Kelley and Frank Sinatra as your guides, you too will love being On the Town. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

What I Wore: To the Museum of Modern Art

MoMA Outfit
MoMA Outfit
MoMA Outfit

What I Wore: Black Sweater (ASOS), Silk Shirt (Popbasic Similar Here), Shorts (Similar Here), Shoes (Old Navy), Gold Necklace (Similar Here)

If you look closely, this outfit is really just this outfit with a sweater over it, but then again, one item can make a big difference in an outfit. And why a sweater you ask, when I was complaining online about the unbearable combination of heat and humidity (seriously no idea how people cope with that, as my hair  here clearly indicates)? That was to combat the Aggressive Air Conditioning, capitals totally warranted.  Anyway, this is what I wore to the Museum of Modern Art (The MoMA), which I think rather suited the place, or at least suited the sculptures featured here by Henri Matisse. As the name implies, the museum houses Modern Art (roughly art 1860s-the 1960s or 70s; more recent art is called contemporary art or post-modern art), but also has some more contemporary installations as well. 

Truthfully, this visit was a bit of a bust. It is a fantastically active and ambitious museum, but I got a migraine pretty early on, and a lot of contemporary art exhibits featured sound, flashing lights, and strong smells- all things that can set off or worsen such headaches. One exhibit was purely about the history of recorded sound, which would have been fascinating, and the MoMA considers film an art, so it has a huge collection. Honestly though, I don't always "get" contemporary art, and I like to think I enjoy a lot of more surreal artistic pieces. I think this is because a lot of contemporary art, especially the mixed media/performance pieces,  are often aimed at making you think more than being concerned with aesthetics, and you have to have a lot of background to get things. And some were pretty cool- an ancient Chinese war boat with thousands of arrows stuck to it and floating in the room invoked a sense of place and mythic storytelling, for example, or large zoetropes projecting images onto a wall, or a mural to tell about racial tensions were moving.  But sometimes a giant white screen is a giant white screen.  I did however, greatly enjoy all the Modern Art, particularly an exhibit on Grete Stern and some of her surreal photography, and the wing on modern art paintings from the post-impressionist through to post-WWII. The paintings were all organized by chronology and art movement; I've never seen so many  of Picasso's in one place, and it was particularly interesting to see the artistic development of Cubism. One of my favorite pieces though is the one shown above, a painting by Henri Matisse called "The Piano Lesson." 

Because my headache was getting to be too much, we bailed and had our first High Tea at a delightful Alice in Wonderland themed tea place. Nothing like tea and art! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What I Wore: To Central Park

Orange Skirt
Orange Skirt
Orange Skirt

What I Wore: Orange Skirt (Pin Up Girl Clothing), Tank Top (Popbasic; Similar Here), Shoes (Old Navy), Purse (Similar Here)

Now that we're back in the Wilds of Wyoming, neighbors have been asking what was our favorite part of New York City? Well, we loved all of it, but Central Park would probably have to be our answer. It might be funny to say that; we have nature a plenty out here, after all, but truth to tell, Central Park isn't... I mean, it has plants and birds, but it isn't really natural nature. How strange to think a born and bred New Yorker is surrounded by everything manmade- even the nature, and that fact makes it a very different experience than the trees etc. etc. we see at home. Everything in Central Park is designed to delight, to be easy and enchanting- and it  most certainly succeeded in that.  Everything felt aimed to relax and be enjoyed, from the music played to the Beaux-Arts design of the fountains and bridges, to the lush greenery that soothed and shaded. 

We laid aside a day to explore but were actually in and out of it several times, as the park lay betwixt many of our destinations and metro stops. However, we were so glad to have the time to really explore. We took a walk through their charming zoo to see the penguins and sea lions- and were as thrilled as the strongly-represented 5-and-under-crowd we shared the place with (If a five year old will like it, chances are I will too. What can I say? We're Young at Heart!) Generously, the woman in front of us in line had a coupon for five free zoo tickets, and only three people in her party, so she paid for us! (A lovely act of kindness, so we made sure to Pass It On). In fact, most of our time was spent in the end of the park near the zoo. Above, you can see the back of one of the buildings in the park- a dairy, perhaps? We also paid homage to the Alice in Wonderland statue (little kids and the not-so-little seemed to use it for a jungle gym). The highlight of the day was boating because we are romantic dorks like that, and The Boy- who loves drones- was convinced to try sailing one of the toy boats on a boating pond. 

This was actually the skirts second New York outing; I'd worn in on our first- and hottest, it turned out- day when we took a walking tour (NYC Walking Tour. I'd rec them). It proved a bit hot for that (any clothing seemed too hot), so I'd initially been nervous about wearing it out again, but it proved a perfect summer time compliment- especially judging by the compliments I got on it too.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dogeared Page: Ugly People Beautiful Hearts

I remember when I walked into the kitchen and caught you, barefoot, drying the dishes, and dancing to something that sounded more like static than song on the radio. And you dress whispered around your ankles, your hair fell messy and free over your eyes. You sang off key and happily with the man on the other side of the frequency. And then you turned around and caught me in the doorframe, watching you. 

That breathless way you laughed, like all that delight just tripped over itself in its rush to get out. That rosy color your cheeks took.

God, its been years and that sound still lives in my head.

- "Why We Live in Kitchens" from Ugly People Beautiful Hearts by Marlen Komar

Friday, July 10, 2015

What I Wore: To the Met


What I Wore: Skirt (Chicwish), T-Shirt (Old Navy; Similar Here), Shoes (Loly in the Sky; Similar Here), Bracelet (Popbasic; Similar Here)

How can one travel to New York City and not go to the storied Metropolitan Art Museum? And since I knew I'd want to be dressed up to see the art, this green skirt came along for the trip! It travelled surprisingly well and didn't really wrinkle. The t-shirt kept things daytime-casual and also served to describe how I felt drinking in all the art.

We travelled back in time to Ancient Egypt (I teach an Ancient Egypt unit), and the crowning touch to that was in seeing an entire Ancient Egyptian temple that had been gifted to the Met! They literally built the room around the temple. We also got to see Claude Monet's Bridge over a Pond of Lilies. I had several picture books about Claude Monet growing up, and it like  simultaneously seeing a childhood memory and like viewing the image for the first time. Which, I suppose was exactly what it was on both counts, as I'd never seen the original painting before. It was not quite the numinous experience that seeing the lily pond panels in Musee L'Orangerie was, but I kept being drawn back to this painting, looking at it, taking it in, and then moving onto the adjacent room, only to return again.

Of course, as a style blogger, I was also excited to see what Anna Wintour had curated for the Costume Institute with the exhibit "China Through the Looking Glass." It was one of the last exhibits we found, so I was rushing about to try and see it all, but it was a fascinating examination of how designers are inspired by their ideas of China/the Orient, while recognizing that what they create may not represent the real place. It balanced creativity without ever seeming appropriating anything, and even featured Chinese designer and how their work is influenced or inspired by the Western myth of the orient as well.

After the museum closed, we sat next to the fountain by the Museum steps then made our way leisurely through Central Park to our Metro station. Though we spent a whole day in the park, we also found ourself in and out of it on many days as well. But more on that lovely place next time....

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

New York in Instagram

We made it to the Big Apple this summer, trying to take in the town many have tried to capture in film and books over the decades and the real, beating heart of a home to millions. Who knows if we succeed, but it was sure fun trying. If you follow my Instagram account, some of these might seem familiar to you, but this was New York through the eye of my (cellphone) camera. Below are some our top tips for The City that Never Sleeps.
NewYork5Collage NewYork8 Collage
1New York Passes- so worth it. I know most people don't like to do "touristy" things and no one likes crowds, but the pass allowed you to bypass lines on many of the must-see attractions. This was good for about 80 sites or tours. There is a City Pass, but that is only good for 8 sites, which, clearly, is not the same thing.

2) See New York from above, at least once. Thanks to the Pass, we visited both the Empire State and Top of the Rock. If you can only do one, do Top of the Rock. The employees were all so knowledgable and helpful. They had pre-timed tickets to cut down on waiting in line and a ton of art (you could take a tour of the buildings just for the art!). Plus, from Top of the Rock you can see the Empire State, which lights up in different colors. We saw it in rainbow to celebrate the Supreme Court decision about gay marriage and in patriotic red, white and blue.

3) We saw four shows, three of which were Broadway musicals. We'd pre-booked Book of Mormon, knowing it was the most popular show in town and a must-see for The Boy who loves South Park. We got tickets for the two other shows (in our case, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, and On the Town) with really great orchestra seats for a great price by looking at the app Today Tix. 

4) New York is known for the Great White Way, and we'll never have the chance to see such shows out where we live, so we decided to take a advantage and see a a ton, but it is good to remember there are lots of performances of all kinds in New York besides plays. We bought tickets to see the American Ballet Company perform Swan Lake and- wow. Not only a stellar performance, but the whole thing from the building (chandeliers that moved and TWO Marc Chagall murals) to the people (all dressed to the nines) to the performers themselves were part of the experience. So, look up what is happening and maybe think of trying an Opera, a concert, a ballet or other performance too.
NewYork6 Collage NewYork7Collage
5) There are so many museums in New York and I'm sure all are worth going to. We limited it to four, but to avoid getting burned out on museums, also made a decision to alternate days where the main activities were indoor or outdoor. 

6) Use the subway. Fast. Cheap. And Google will help you get there if you're unsure. Actually, Google Maps will also help get you there (They will also tell you what is open and when).

7) Time Square has a ton of people. Its great they've turned the area around from the mess its portrayed as in Midnight Cowboy, but it is very family oriented and a lot of chain stores. New York has many cool neighborhoods. Go check out some of the others for shopping, or try getting of Manhattan to another borough, but- research first. Most of you will agree the cool, funky, small business is fun to shop, but we noticed that A) these cool shops are all over. There may be one on a block and the rest are dry cleaners, lawyers offices and restaurants. So, once again, google can be your friend in finding out what people think is worthy checking out. Pinterest or Yelp can be too, but we ran into the issue that if an article was more than a month or two old at least one of the recommended stores or eateries were out of business. So- Google it.

8) If you want to go up in the crown of the Statue of Liberty, you'd better be booking way in advance. But it is still worth seeing even if you just are outside it.
9) The New York Public Library has free tours and audio tours. It is gorgeous and right next to the enchanting Bryant Park (that's where the cute carousel was. I mean, we saw carousels in every park, but that was the cutest).

10) Go boating in Central Park. 

11) You'll be hearing more about the art museums later, but Yes, the Met is worth going to. Ask someone who works there though, rather than use the map, as exhibits may not be only where they say. Also, the Guggenheim is very worth going to; the MoMA is too, but in both cases be prepared for very experimental art. Always take a sweater to a museum, even on the hottest days, as they air condition you within an inch of your life and always get the free audio guide. 

12) We took a walking tour through Real New York Tours and loved it. We've found we really enjoy taking a walking tour within the first few days of visiting a place because it gives you a sense of direction/placement of sites. This tour was funny and well-paced, allowing you to see a lot.
NewYork4Collage NewYork2Collage

The TL;DR version? We had a great time in New York. Seriously though, if you plan to go, hope this advice helps!
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