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Showing posts from March, 2011

Exhibit News- The Power of Nazi Propaganda

(Photo courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
I was driving past the Holocaust Museum in D.C. today and I noticed that they have an exhibit up called "State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda". I keep meaning to visit the Holocaust Museum, but every time I consider it I seem to shy away on the basis that it just never feels like the right time to experience the sensation of being kicked in the gut, the irrational guilt, and likelihood that I'll cry in front of complete strangers. It's not a place that was built to inspire laughter or good feelings.

It is however the kind of place to go if you've ever wondered, as I have, how on earth it was that one man, or one political party, could convince so many people to carry out a ghastly plan of annihilation towards so many of their neighbors, countrymen, and fellow human beings. How does a failed painter get seemingly normal citizens to put children into gas chambers? It just seems impossible, …

Singing in the Rain- remixed

I was watching AFI's list of greatest films the other night, and in the category of musicals they mentioned the classic Merrily We Roll Along. The most famous scene from the movie is the Singing in the Rain number, which has been parodied in various ways over the years, most particularly in advertisements like the following:-




Dulce et Decorum Est- Grand Duchesses of Russia

I am getting married in July and while I bought something off the rack close to what I wanted, I am making several changes to it to make it more my own. The finished gown will be partially inspired by the court gowns of Russia in the early 20th century, like the one above worn by Empress Alexandra.
Some of the best examples of this type of gown come from the portraits and photographs of the Grand Duchesses of Russia, of which there were many. This picture of Olga Nicolevna is a good example of the general silhouette, complete with sash and hanging sleeves.

In this photo of Victoria Mellita the sleeves are even more prominent and she stands swathed in an enormous train of what looks like heavy satin with some extensive embroidery. My gown has a much softer, organic embroidery with beading on it's overlay, and the train is comparatively short.

Here is Grand Duchess Olga, daughter of Nicolas II and Alexandra, looking simultaneously like a lady and a child in 1910 when she would have be…

Film-making in the 1920's

As I've mentioned before, I work in theatre, and sometimes that extends to film and television. Occasionally I meet or hear of someone who believes that a job in the arts is full of fun and ease, after all it's just pretending, right? The truth, of course, is that there are some long hours, extreme conditions, and unexpected requirements involved, so you have to be prepared for anything.
In 1919 actress Lillian Gish (pictured above), began filming Way Down East with director D.W. Griffith. The movie was later hailed as "the greatest ever made", and featured scenes shot on an actual ice flow in blizzard conditions. Below is Ms. Gish's own account of what it took to shoot those moments.

"Mr. Griffith intended to shoot all the exterior scenes outdoors, including the blizzard. He wouldn't be satisfied with the fake fury of a studio storm.

For the climax of the movie, where Anna was to be driven out into the blizzard, stumble onto the river's ice, and fa…

In Their Words- Aristotle

“We live in deeds, not years: In thoughts not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.” - Aristotle

Downton Abbey

I have become thoroughly enthralled with a new series, Downton Abbey, set in April 1912-August 1914. It centers around the family and household of the Earl of Grantham, who is married to an American heiress with whom he has three daughters. When his cousins and male heirs die aboard the ill-fated Titanic, it sets the stage for some interesting complications, especially for his eldest daughter, Mary, and the new heir, Matthew.

The family is troublesome enough, with an uneasy alliance between his mother, the dowager Countess (played by the formidable Maggie Smith), and his wife whose fortune has been subsumed by the estate in such a way as to make it impossible for her to separate it from the inheiritance of Grantham itself. On top of this are the three feuding sisters; Mary, Edith and Sybil, with their differing personalities and politics, a middle-class heir and his strident mother, and an ever-revolving score of visitors and possible suitors.

This would be enough to retain interest …

Hand Fans- How to Find Them

I'm an avid collector of fans, and anyone who has spent time online trying to find good antique fans, or even good approximations of antique styles, knows that they can be difficult to come by. For instance, you might find a lovely painted fan, but often they have lace at the top or a hanging loop, so they can't be accurate for 18th century reproductions. Or the angle that the fan opens is very wide, and not useful for 17th century reproductions.

How to find good fans? I'm going to let you in on a secret. After spending hours trolling e-bay for likely specimens, I stumbled upon a site called Collector's Weekly which has a section specifically for hand fans, and what the site does is automatically search and compile all of the e-bay listings with their current prices, watchers, and end dates. They also have lots of other collectibles, if your interests lie in another direction.

Now that I've shared my little secret, don't go sniping all of the good auction item…

Film Review- Nightwatching

My, but I am tardy in posting! Forgive me, dear readers, it is a combination of several shows going up at once, my wedding preparations, and having to move within a month that has me so preoccupied.

Back to business...

I caught an interesting movie last night called Nightwatching. In sort of the same vein as Girl With a Pearl Earring, it follows Rembrandt as he paints his famous portrait "The Night watch", more accurately known as The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch.
The film suggests that Rembrandt found out about a plot between the members of the militia he was convinced to paint, and inserted various clues as to the crime, as well as the dirty little secrets of each member, into the painting itself. This leads those involved to work against Rembrandt in such a way that it brings about his personal and professional ruin.

Naturally the movie involves a lot of conjecture into the personal lives of the artist and his associates, their personalities, s…