Friday, October 31, 2008

The "Scrooge" of Halloween

I had the most fabulous night catching up with my friend Judy tonight. We hadn't seen each other in a while, and had lots to catch up on. When I was rushing home to get ready to meet Judy I passed this sign on a neighbour's front gate, and had to go back and do a double and triple take. WTF?

Is There A "Scrooge" of Halloween?

[Clickety click to embiggen it and read the patronising fine print.]

Just as I raced into the house to grab my camera and record this piece of cray-zay Judy arrived and I had to show it to her too. I'm glad I had an objective witness to confirm I wasn't imagining it.

Someone call the Fun Police! There are urchins on the streets!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gut Reaction

Well, after briefly mentioning KFC yesterday a certain wise sage said "...KFC? Have some respect for yourself." Yes, ho ho, well. So, with the sheepishness of someone who knows they deserve an I told you so I have to admit, I've been sick ever since. Yup. You don't need the details, but it began with an emergency exit from a mode of public transport and ended with me lying within a short dash of the bathroom for most of today. (With laptop and knitting of course.)

Michael, sweetpea, from this point forward every piece of advice you give I will follow to the letter.

I haven't eaten much all day, but I did just wander around to the local corner shop to buy a loaf of bread. My local deli is run by a young Vietnamese family, who have a couple of kids, and for the first time ever neither of the parents were behind the counter. Instead this gorgeous little face was peering over the counter. Yup their son who must be all of about 7 greeted me and with all the seriousness of a kid being very grown up, scanned my order, repeated back to me what I was buying, told me how much it was and then carefully checked the money I handed over. If I hadn't been plotzing so badly from all the cuteness I would have realised that I probably just got the best customer service I've had in ages.

Muriel Was Voted "The Girl Least Likely To"

And you know, she was completely fine with that.

[Pic via Shorpy.]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cancels Noise, But Does It Cancel Homophobia?

Here's an ad for a noise cancelling bluetooth earpiece device, that was banned in the US.

Now, fair warning if you're watching this at work, the ad involves a bit of hot guy-on-guy action.

Apparently only the two actors involved and the camera crew knew how the story would pan out, and the rugby team extras are a real rugby team. Check out the reactions on the guys faces. (Oh and one of the guys, the one with the tatts, I recognised as a reasonably famous gay porn star.) I don't think it's a particularly good ad, and the Surprise Gay! thing is somewhat amusing on one level, but a bit... well, homophobic.

Maybe I'm being humourless about this, what do you think?


“Life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning”

~ Virginia Woolf

As much as I love colour, sometimes it's light that really takes my breath away.

5 Things About Wednesday 29th October: Bingetastic Wednesday Edition

  • Hump day! Hump-diddly-ump day! Rejoice.
  • It's only just after 11am on a miserable wet day here, and one of the guys from the warehouse just said "I'm going on a KFC run, do you want anything?". I think the volume and enthusiasm with which I responded "Shit yeah!" could be heard in the farthest reaches of the warehouse.
  • And yes, I'll regret it as soon as I've eaten it. Nothing makes me judge myself harsher than submitting to a KFC binge. Welcome to the eye of the shamestorm.
  • I realised last night that I'm watching less commercial tv, and more clips of shows I can't get on tv on youtube. Currently obsessed with "Top Design" (Nathan has to win. Eddie needs to get over himself and the fact that he WORKS FOR MARTHA STEWART. And Preston needs to get under my sheets.), and John-Paul and Craig's romance on the English soap "Hollyoaks".
  • If it weren't for the fact that they've disabled the sound on our work pcs (on account of the NO FUN policy) I'd probably be watching them right now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sometimes It's Best Just To Do Nothing

I'm not normally one for rash behaviour. At least I like to think that, but in reality if I turn the objective magnifying lens on myself I have been known to make plenty of last minute and unplanned decisions. Jobs quit. Relationships ended.

I nearly made another rash decision in the past few days, and almost ended my relationship with this blog. It's kind of odd because over the 4 and a half years I've been blogging I haven't had a patch like that. I've taken short breaks, and I've had times when posting was quite tough, but I haven't come so close to packing it in. In truth I would miss it too much, and everyone that stops by here and reads and engages with me through the comments. The weird thing is I've actually enjoyed the posts I've been putting up over the past week or so, but somehow the experience has been unsatisfying.

Maybe I've just fallen victim to a malaise that seems to be affecting some of my blogging buddies? Posting frequency and comments seem to be down on heaps of blogs that I normally read. I'm still considering taking a short break, but it would be just a bit of time away to refresh, rethink, recharge. This blog is kind of organic, sometimes it's incredibly personal and other times (as maybe is the case of late) it becomes a cabinet or curiousities, and a collection of... stuff. The one constant though is that I've enjoyed the doing, the sharing.

Anyway, a couple of sweet comments put a smile on my face. I was watching a tv show about adoption reunions and I had a BIG cry (seriously, I cry at the drop of a hat, but happy stories can make me blub like a baby!). A bit of release, a bit of perspective, and I'm glad in hindsight that I didn't decide to pack it in.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Arkala suspected that the Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name was doing a bit of whispering amongst the Troop.

[Pic via Shorpy.]

Monday, October 27, 2008

They Made Ice Skating A Sport!

You know who loves the gays? Mecky Stecky does!

And consequently, we love her back.

(This has been cropping up all over so indulge me if you've seen it already, but really it's too cute not to post... and if you haven't, enjoy!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Precious Purple

Some colours are like magnets. They draw your eye to them, red is one of those colours for example. Purple is a magnetic colour for me and it always draws my eye in.

Precious Purple

I'm especially drawn to dark, rich purples. One of my favourite shirts is a purple so dark it's almost black. I can appreciate the beauty of lavender and pale purples though. I especially love the combination of sage-y grey greens, leaf greens and lavender in the picture above. The little tiny touch of yellow in the flower centre that gives a punch.

Precious Purple

I manipulated this pic to up the contrast and give it some drama, but I didn't really alter the colour much. I tend not to play around with my pics that much generally, because I like to capture what I see as naturally as posible, but I like the end result of this one. The high contrast gives a sort of solarised effect that I kind of dig. We all need a bit of drama now and then.

I suspect that if I went through all my photos I would find and a very high percentage of purple flowers and objects. Magnets are there to attract, after all.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

It's A Fact Worth Stating

I could never be your woman. Just so you know.

"Your Woman" by White Town, 1997.

(Oh and really, some songs just should be left well alone. Yikes.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Quick Question

Where the frig is everyone? Is the internet no longer 'it'?


Halloween Inspiration

I have an invite to a Halloween party next weekend, and I'm a little stumped for inspiration. I don't want to do anything too predictable this year, so I'm looking for something a little unexpected, a little multi-layered. Some concepts currently under review:

Chorus understudy of the all-eunuch revue "Frock The Casbah: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Harem.""...

"Me Tarzan, me Jane also."...

"Tinselman II: Knights In White Satin"

Maybe this look that says "Honey, I am more than a little familiar with Milky Bars."

Or perhaps I could rope in a few friends and do this "Girls Gone Wild!: Tupperware Party Edition"...

So many choices!

Monkey Puzzle

I scored a free ticket to the first night of the new Aussie film Monkey Puzzle last night, thanks to our favourite media insider Mr James O'Brien. The weather was pretty bad last night, cold, wet and blowing a gale as I wandered up Oxford St. I had stopped by the Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park on the way to the cinema, and there was the sad sight of row after row of food vendors primed for business, and about a dozen sodden and beddraggled customers. Eleven, plus me. There was a point as I made my way up Oxford St that I thought I could be snuggled up on the sofa with the laptop and a hot chocolate right now. But I pressed on.

I quite enjoyed the film. The story centres around a group of 5 people who go on a bushwalk through the stunning but dangerous terrain of the Blue Mountains, outside of Sydney, in search of The Wollemi Pine. (You can actually go down the shops and buy one now, which would have saved them a lot of bother, frankly.) What they were searching for I gather was the original discovered specimens.

So, things go wrong. People are annoying. There's some shouting, some kissing, and some inexplicable business about a secret relationship. Some spliff smoking, and a tag along drug dealer. Honestly, young people.

The film is beautifully shot, in what looks like very close and difficult circumstances most of the times. The film really is visually stunning. Mostly because of this:

The Blue Mountains, New South Wales.

And this:

Ryan Johnson aka "Dylan". Hot dish coming through!

I agree with Margaret & David though, the secret relationship storyline doesn't really make sense, one of the more interesting characters exits stage left too early, and quite a bit of the dialogue deson't really seem to hang together. Plus, given that I am generally a fan of redheads I have to say that watching Toni's character go through her (annoying) paces made the expression needs a smack like a redheaded step-child skim through my forebrain more than once.

I give it 2 1/2 stars.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Reading

A few weeks ago, and before the British Pound and the Aussie Dollar began their freefall slide into disagreement, I bought a couple of novels from the UK website The Book Depository. One because it was much cheaper than I could buy locally, and other because I had looked for it for ages here in Sydney and never been able to find it. It wasn't until I started thinking about blogging this that I realised the other thing they have in common is that they are both largely set in the 1930s (the second of which was actually written in 1933, and then revised in 1936).

First up, "A Perfect Waiter" by Alain Claude Sulzer. I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about this book, which is a good thing really. It was certainly thought provoking and surprising. The novel jumps backwards and forwards between the 1960s and the 1930s, when the arrival of a couple of letters opens old wounds still present from a love affair 30 years previous. Erneste is a waiter at a Swiss lakeside resort in 1935, when the arrival of 19 year old Jakob awakens his desire.

The era is meticulously evoked, including the unsettled atmosphere as wealthy Jewish refugees pass through the resort on their way from Germany, fleeing the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. Sulzer writes in a pared down and restrained manner, which captures the buttoned down viewpoint of closeted Erneste. Except for when his gaze falls upon Jakob. There are many themes, love, loss and betrayal for starters, but also how and why people grasp, or fail to grasp, opportunities. I think that the way Sulzer deals with the small and big betrayals, with both opportunism and it's inverse inaction, are really interesting and have parrallels in the setting and the timing of the novel.

Neil Bartlett's review is extensive and well considered, and there was a second (briefer) review in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Secondly, I just started the 1933 novel "Lost Horizon" by James Hilton yesterday. Probably too early to review it, but I'm so pleased to have it after being such a fan of the original 1930s film for many years. (We don't speak of the 1970s musical remake. Liv Ulman singing? It has to be seen to be believed. Actually, even then you may not believe it.)

Like any book from which a favourite film hath sprung, there is always that disconnect where the book and the film vary. Some of the characters are different in the novel, and the framing device that set-ups the story was ditched in the film. Having said that, I'm enjoying it very much so far and its differences make it more interesting in a way. It likewise deals with a world on the edge of war and the effects of the Depression. Its themes of hope and the search for a safe refuge against struggle are probably somewhat apropos for our recent times, but then they are big grand themes that will always be part of the human psyche.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Top Design" Here I Come!

[This blog entry should come with a Time Suck! warning, because OMG once you start playing with Polyvore you are not going to want to stop.]

Polyvore is a website that let's you sign in and create a profile, much like Flickr, and create storyboard collages. You can add elements by choosing from the menus of existing items (put in "ikea" for example and almost everything in the catalogue pops up), seach for things like "vase" but only in orange, or you can use the clipper tool to clip items you see elsewhere and add them to the items database. Each element in the story board becomes a link that takes you back to the source, such as the Ikea catalogue.

Oh. My. God. Lots of it is fashion orientated, but there is also heaps of interior design elements on there. I signed up and made my fantasy mid-century inspired dining room (above) in less than an hour of fooling around. Sweet.

[Updated: Remember what I said about it being a time suck? I should have heeded my own warning. I just had to made another set... just one more...]

[Discovered via How About Orange.]

Doona Day

Frankly, I'd really rather be home and under the doona*. It's cold and rainy here today, half the office is either sick, away on business trips, or just not here due to lack of interest. I have a mountain of work to do and I'm not actively doing much of it. The blogsphere seems pretty quiet today, and despite that I'm tempted to fill the rest of my day cruising the internet. You know, that kind of day.

* Duvet, continental quilt or comforter, which by another name would be as sweet.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

5 Things About Customer Correspondence: Pushing The Limits Of My Patience & Composure Edition

  • Here's the thing. If you are going to complain about something, say an invoice I sent you for example, would you bother to actually read it? Just give it a half-assed cursory glance? (Show of hands please.)
  • Would you pepper your email with sentences whose grammatical anarchy is such that like a zen koan, or some deep Zoroastrian text, each reading implies a different meaning? Requiring a Rosetta Stone or haruspicy to translate, perhaps?
  • Although, and to be fair, I must say that it was clear that some of it was apparently questions, as thoughtfully indicated by the string of between 4 and 6 question marks.
  • Likewise the carefully constructed strings of exlamation marks!!!!!!, some too numerous to count, which I choose to read as enthusiasm.
  • Would you then freely admit, after 5 emails, when quizzed over the phone, that you probably should have 'read it first'?


Monday, October 20, 2008

To Australia Via Suez Canal!

I was searching online for vintage posters the other day, when I discovered that the National Library of Australia has a fantastic online exhibition of Aussie travel posters from 1930 - 1950 called Follow The Sun. The works were commissioned by the newly created Australian National Tourism Association to encourage domestic tourism, but also to present an image of Australia to the world. The posters are easily on par with the designs that were being created by shipping lines, railways and tourism boards of other countries, and many of them combine an Aussie aesthetic with deco era sophistication.

Sydney Harbour without the highrises, or traffic snarls over the bridge! Rudey nudies advertising The British Empire Games!

The exhibition is nicely designed, with an interface that lets you browse by destination, iconography, style or artist. Fab! I've spent ages browsing through the posters and enjoying the variety of styles and snippets of info about the artists.

Having grown up in Adelaide these posters are kind of amusing to me, because the 'destinations' are now just a shortish ride by modern motor car from the city. Although they are both worth a visit!

After a bit of digging I discovered that the exhibition was actually mounted between November 1999 and February 2000. So I think it's great that they've kept it online as a resource. There's an exhaustive list of past exhibitions going back to the early 90s, many of which are links to online versions of the exhibitions. (Or you can skip straight to the online exhibitions page.)

I wouldn't mind hopping on a trans continental train and heading West right now! (The West has many handsome charms.) And if the journey could involve a cabin, a cocktail car, dressing for dinner and liveried cabin attendants...

I've foolishly never really thought of The National Library as great resources for visual arts, but it obviously is. It makes me think I should start searching the online library sites of other countries as well, not just art galleries! Meanwhile I have some (imaginary) trips to plan.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Dress-Ups Box: Part The Second

Last Sunday I posted the first installment of photos of some of the historical re-enactment costumes I have made over the years, in the entry Dress-Ups Box: Part The First. Part the first is logically followed by part the second, and here it is. Ta da!

I made these two different Viking tunics for a 2 day Viking themed event a number of years ago. Quite a large part of the event was an outdoor tourney, and the weather was pretty cool, so I wanted something with light layers that would still be warm. So I opted for a pair of braies (trousers), a linen undertunic, and two different over tunics to wear on the 2 days. When I was involved in the historical re-creation group "The Society For Creative Anachronism" I always wore full Elizabethan, so when I rocked up in Viking it it certainly amused everyone.

Best of all it was fun to research and make something different. The thing I was most proud of was the shoes, which sadly went mouldy after years in storage and I chucked out a few years back. They were natural vegetable tanned leather, and authentic reproductions of a pair of bog find shoes complete with long laces that crisscrossed up the legs. I'm pleased with the embroidery on the tunics too, and although I made up the motifs they are based on designs from other Viking era finds, and the techniques I used were documented.

Embroidered Viking Tunic, Under Tunic & Braies

Natural Linen Coloured Viking Tunic Embroidery

I based these bird motifs on the design of some Viking cloisonne jewellery that was uncovered from a grave find.

Embroidered Viking Tunic, Under Tunic & Braies

Blue Viking Tunic Embroidery

Embroidered Viking Tunic, Under Tunic, Braies & Cloak

There was a wonderful wool mill in South Australia which created woven blankets from recycled and end of run wool, and I bought one of these slightly rustic blankets in burgundy red to wear as a cloak. I had a great handmade cloak pin too, which has somehow disappeared over the years (probably to return next time I move house).


After a short dalliance in Viking, back to my more familiar stomping ground. I made this Elizabethan suit to wear as a more 'every day' set for outdoor events, and when we went away to Rowany Festival, a week long camping event. This may not look 'every day' to you, but it's made out of more robust fabrics than the silk suits I made, with less elaborate decoration, and the style of breeches called "Venetians" rather than the elaborate paned "slops".

Elizabethan Doublet, Venetians & Ruff

I usually wore this with a fairly simple white shirt and the ruff shown here, or with the 'falling collar' shirt that I showed with the green silk suit in my previous blog entry.

Elizabethan Doublet & Ventians

This suit was cooler and easier to care for than some of my other suits, so I wore it quite a bit back in the day. It's actually made of two different but coordinating upholstery fabrics, with metallic gold braid applied.

Sleeve Detail

The sleeves are slashed along their length and held closed with buttons, to show glimpses of the white shirt underneath.

Tie In Sleeve Detail

The tie in sleeves meant that I could take the sleeves off and wear this over another suit in cold weather. Elizabethan men often wore a second sleeveless jerkin over a doublet underneath. Sometimes I would actually tie in a different set of contrasting sleeves to give the same look, but without the double layers, Let's face it, it doesn't get as cold in Oz as it did in Elizabethan England.

So, here endeth the second installment! This is fun playing show & tell.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sydney Life

I had a fabulous afternoon this afternoon with young master O'Brien. He'd booked us in to take part in the curated walk of the "Sydney Life" photographic competition exhibition, part of the Art & About public arts festival that is on around Sydney at the moment.

The entries in the competition have been printed as a series of 22 huge outdoor canvasses, and mounted between the beautiful giant fig trees of Hyde Park. A wonderful setting for a public exhibition, particularly on a beautiful summery day. The curator spoke about each picture, and the photographer, and a number of the photographers were on hand to discuss their works. Fantastic! It was quite inspiring and really made me consider putting an entry in next year. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that.

The Setting (And The Cute Extra That Walked Into Frame):

The Setting (And The Cute Extra That Walked Into Frame)
The lovely avenue of old figs (some sadly to be replaced because of disease), and the cutie patootie in the pink tee with the hot pecs. Both of which make for a nice photo.

The Lighting:

The Lighting
The giant Chinese lanterns have been added recently, for the night noodle markets currently being put on in the park Mon-Fri evenings.

The Subjects, The Photographer, The Curator & The Other Photographer:

The Subjects, The Photographer, The Curator & The Other Photographer
One of the most striking photos in the exhibition was a birth photo, taken about 15 seconds after birth. The subjects (left) and the photographer (centre) were on hand to talk about the picture.

The Documentary Film Maker:

The Documentary Film Maker
This cute bearish guy was shooting footage for a documentary, as I heard him explaining to one of the photographers while arranging to shoot an interview.

The Happy Accident:

The Happy Accident
I love the way the elements in the picture, the wires and the foliage, and the elements in the setting are echoed in each other. And Centrepoint Tower is the third landmark that instantly marks a photo as a Sydney photo (aside from that bridge and that opera house).

The Audience:

The Audience
Quite a crowd gathered by the end of the walk, as well as 4 or 5 of the photographers who participated by talking about their photos.

Afterwards James and I grabbed a bite to eat, walked around the city for a while, sat in the park and chatted, visited another gallery exhibition by a gay artist held in a decrepit public lavatory (true!), dodged a brass band (also true!), and then found ourselves having a couple of afternoon beers at Sydney's Leading Bisexual Bar (the Gaslight)... at least, that's its reputation. (I'm not sure we spotted any real live bisexuals. But, who can tell?)

Sydney Life, indeed. I love it here.

[Check out the great post James has written about this afternoon!]

It's The Futuuuuuuuure!

I remember when I was a kid that the year 2000 was like shorthand for the future! Jetpacks. Aerial cars. Teleportation. Moon bases and trips to Mars. Many things are really, really different. Communication and media are very different than I imagined as a kid, when I was growing up without mobile phones, the internet, iPods, even VCRs/DVDs when I was quite young.

Clothes have changed, but they haven't changed so much really. Trends come and go, what's considered good taste or socially acceptable changes, and maybe some of the technical aspects are really different (high tech or sustainable fabrics, for example).

1930s Futuristic Fashion Predictions

Somehow I can't believe how we failed to miss the opportunity to dress in utilitarian jumpsuits with gadget belts though. Or togas. How are you supposed to know it's the future if there aren't shorty short togas? Or bubble helmets?

1960s Futurist Fashion from Courreges, Cardin, Paco Rabanne etc

They tried to show us the way in the 60s. To put us on the path to silver jumpsuits, to aluminium chainmail and goggles as daywear, but somehow we never kept the momentum going. Sad really, 'cause I could use a gadget belt every now and then.

We probably should have listened to Sylvia Anderson...

Sylvia Anderson interviewed on UK tv show "Tomorrow Today", 1970.

Friday, October 17, 2008

TGIF: The Most Recent In A Long Line Of TGIFs

Over the life of this blog I've written a bunch of TGIF entries. Dozens, maybe! Let's face it, if this blog is about four and a half years old (ish) then that's well over 200+ Fridays, and almost every Friday my first though on waking is Thank God. (Or, whomever. Thank The Universe It's Friday! doesn't roll really.)

Anyhoo, Fridays are for rambling too. And wearing jeans to work, except I do that every day. Slacking. Oops, sort of do degrees of that every day too. Um, well, Fridays are for an attitudinal shift, there's a bigger degree of seriousness to the slacking. A committment to it.

It's been a weird week. I have been so incredibly busy, everyone at work has been, but thankfully we haven't been as stressed as in previous weeks. It was a big bills and short pay week for me, thanks to last week's public holiday Monday, so poverty is my mode du jour. (Ex-finacial markets employees looking for budget living tips, email me, I can write reams on How To Survive On $20 a Day.)

Consequently it's been a quiet week socially, and is likely to be this weekend too. That's ok, staying home and doing housework (ie: procrastinating, reading the internet in my underwear, and possibly doing some self-pleasuring) is free! Actually I have do have a couple of budget friendly catch-ups and events with friends planned for the weekend, so it won't be all 'doing housework.

[Updated: It's 5:20 pm. The day is done, I'm home and it's still light out, bright and sunny in fact, and I've got Robyn cranked on iTunes. Turns out the day isn't so bad after all.]

Guessing Game

If you saw a neatly dressed man with a mustache, a dog and his hand on another man's leg... what would you think?

[Pic via Shorpy]

Dogs Defying Gravity!

Via freakgirl:

Upside Down Dogs! These nearly made me LOLPIMP.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Do Butterflies Even Have Balls?

When I was a kid, I loved this song. Loved it! As a small child I saved up my pocket money to buy my first ever single, which was a Eurovision Song Contest winner*, no less. So I was somewhat of a child savant in the musical taste arena.

"Butterfly Ball" by Roger Glover and Ronnie James Dio

I always remembered the clip as being really cute, but there was something about the song itself that I really liked even before I saw the clip. I didn't realise it was based on an existing kid's book though. In hindsight it makes sense, and the animation was clearly a tie in with the book.
"The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast is a concept album and subsequent live rock opera appearing in 1974 and 1975 respectively, based on the children's book of the same title."

Does anything say 1970s more than the term rock opera?! (Ok, maybe flares.)

* Sandie Shaw, "Puppet On A String"

Project Planning

Every time I'm nearing the end of a knitting project, I start thinking about what I want to do next. Right now, I want to do him.

I mean, what he's wearing. The hat, the socks. Except I'd wear mine with pants, or at least some undies...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chase Those Ponies!

I'm channel surfing at home and just came across a tv show about people with sleep disorders, and they are showing people doing bizarre things in sleep clinics, talking, chasing phantom ponies around the room etc, in their sleep. OMG. It just makes me want to try and get the footage from MY sleep clinic visits. Youtube here I come! (Actually, probably just drooling, kicking my legs and snoring like a bastard.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures Of Prince Achmed)

I hadn't heard of the film "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" until I stumbled across a link and a couple of stills on a blog earlier tonight. The film is the oldest surviving (and possibly the first) animated feature, made in in 1926 by German animator Lotte Reiniger.

The film was shot in a stunning silhouette style that makes me think of Balinese shadow puppets, in black and white (of course) that was then hand tinted. The original German print ran at 81 minutes as the film was run at 18 frames per second, but ran at 65 to 66 minutes everywhere else when shown at the more standard 24 frames per second.

According to imdb:
Lotte Reiniger cut figures out of black cardboard with a pair of scissors, and joined movable parts with thread in order to animate them. In the years 1923-1926, about 250,000 frame-by-frame stills were made and 96,000 were used in the film. Her husband, Carl Koch, was responsible for the photography in all her films until his death in 1963.

OMG, can you imagine? 250,000 set-ups. Cutting all those stunning silhouettes? My mind, it boggles. The stylish end result is a bit like an Erte drawing come to life.

There's a DVD available through Milestone Films, which I think is going to have to make its way onto my wish list once the AUS/US comparison stops tanking. There was a 4 minute sample on youtube, but it has been taken down due to a copyright claim by Milestone Films. However, in the meantime there are some 1 or 2 minute snippets still available when you search The Adventures of Prince Achmed in Google video. There is also a comprehensive site with lots of background links at Le Palais des dessins anim├ęs [in English].

I love finding out that there are people in this world mad or inspired (or both) enough to spend their labours making something wonderful. Then, now, and I see no reason why not, in the future. Fantastic. Now all I have to do is see a full copy of the film!

[Found originally via a blog entry at 2 or 3 things I know.]

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cunning Disguise

Members of the Young Communists League infiltrate a Royal weekend party at Balmoral...

...unaware their disguise hasn't been entirely convincing.

[Pic via Shorpy.]

5 Things About Monday, 13th October: Sock Garters & Tingle Lips Edition

  • Ack, busy. Work can be a deeply hateful thing at times. Although, and non-hatefully, it has meant that today has flown by.
  • Is it wrong that I am seriously considering knitting an authentic men's woollen swimsuit (the all-in-one shorts and tanktop type) from a pattern published in 1920? (Once the slog of Christmas knitting is done, that is.) I would never wear it, I just want to make it for the sake of, well, researching it and the process of making it. Is that weird? Oh, and the gauge is 32 stitches over 10cm (4 inches) which means both fine yarn and slim needles, and that my friends = forever.
  • I'm on a bit of a vintage clothing obsessive phase at the moment, I found myself scanning through ebay sites that have authentic starched collars and sock garters for sale. Not that I bought any, because a) that stuff's mad expensive, b) none of it was my size, c) really, what do I need it for? and e) I'm tempted to just make it myself anyhoo.
  • Oh, heads-up. Try Googling things like 'sock garters' and be prepared for some seriously NSFW action.
  • I had a nom nom Thai salad for lunch, and it was so hot my lips were burning for like an hour afterwards. I am so tough! Fiery Thai chillies, no problemo. ::whimper::

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Dress-Ups Box: Part The First

Over the life of this blog I've made mention that I sew and make costumes a number of times. I decided it was time to document the costume works I have made over the years. Then I figured if I'm taking pics of them, I might as well do some sharing with you guys! So here is the first part of a loose kind of series where I'll post pics from the dress-ups box.

Curiously, even though I'm proud of all these pieces I feel kind of shy sharing them because... well... it's still dressing up you know? You either get that it's fun to play dress-ups every now and then, or you think it's the last refuge of the truly weird (in reality it's about a 90%/10% split).

I used to play with a historical re-creation group called "The Society For Creative Anachronism", and lots of the costumes I have made were made in the context of participating in the SCA. Many people scoff at the whole re-enacter scenario, sometimes with reason, but for me it was a positive experience. I was actually drawn to re-enacting through the creative side. The events, although often really good fun, were never the main drawcard for me, and in fact once going to events started to become onerous I dropped out. Costuming, embroidery, painting 'illuminations' for calligraphy, making other artifacts, and especially the research aspect of it all, were the original lure.

Dressing The Past 2

My SCA 'persona' was a late Elizabethan era Italian, and I made this olive green and black silk suit fairly on in playing with the SCA. It was the first heavily researched outfit I made, and I put lots of effort into getting the shapes and basic construction right.

Dressing The Past 2

It's fairly lightweight silk, fully interlined and lined, and tailored so as to be more like clothing than a smoke and mirrors 'good from a distance' theatrical costume. The 2 piece curved sleeves tie into the doublet at the armhole, an authentic technique that was probably designed so that replacement or maybe even contrasting sleeves could be worn. The paned trunk hose (or 'slops') tie into the bottom of the doublet also, keeping the pants up and stopping the doublet from riding up.

Dressing The Past 2

I used to mostly wear this suit with a fairly simple shirt and a white neck ruff. Ruffs are quite uncomfortable to wear, so I made this 'falling band' or 'falling collar' style shirt to wear some of the time. It's made of fine linen, with cotton lace at the collar and cuffs and fine ties at the cuffs to hold the turnback cuffs in place.

Dressing The Past 2

So that's costume #1 described and shown. Phew, not so bad. No cringing or sliding into a 47 paragraph dissertation on Elizabethan era men's clothing (I could do it you know, in fact I've taught classes on it).


So, on to costume #2.

Dressing The Past 1

In 2005 two friends of mine held a Trafalgar Dinner to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar, complete with authentic period food and drink. It was a fantastic night and I blogged the event here.

This suit was based on an English military uniform of the era I found in a book, and made in a lightweight navy coloured wool. I scrimped a bit on construction because it was only designed to be worn for the one night, so it isn't lined and some of the details (like the button holes) were done a bit rushed. Every time I look at it I think they could do with being oversewn by hand to make them look more period. (But then, that's me.)

Dressing The Past 1

The shape is authentic, and I drafted the pattern after pouring over engravings and any garment research I could find from the period. My kind of fun. It's a little shapeless on the stand because I was a bit fatter back then (and if I wasn't, I would have been after the basquillion courses we had for dinner).

Dressing The Past 1

I did however spend an absolutely insane amount of time doing a miniscule hand rolled and sewn edge on the metres and metres of linen used to make the long narrow stock (tie) for the shirt. Hi, I'm insane, nice to meet you.

Dressing The Past 1

The breeches were fun to make, figuring out how to fit pants is hard at the best of times (hello, have you seen the crotches on Project Runway?) and figuring the drop front was extra fun. The end result is a good fit, and quite flattering. How do I put this gently? These sorts of breeches, when worn correctly (ie: without tightly binding modern underwear) really do wonders for your man parts. Seriously. Check out the crotches on any Beau Brummel/Jane Austeny era drama where the costumes are really authentic. Guessing who dresses to the left (or right) is a no-brainer.

Even I'm surprised I went there, but really one of the fascinating things about the history of clothing is what it says about societies. The 19th century was archly conservative and yet men wore breeches that enhanced and flaunted their manhood, and for a brief period women even wore damp gauze dresses that made them look almost naked. It was inappropriate for Elizabethan men to be seen outside the bedroom in their shirtsleeves, but lavish codpieces were ok.

The past is a foreign country, and researching this stuff is a bit like getting a temporary visa.