Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Buyers Remorse/Rachel Comey dress for sale

At the Rachel Comey ss today, I bought a Medium Traders dress from SS 09--pink with a floral pattern. Having brought it home I realize that it isn't me--I can't wear wrap dresses even though this is not a conventional wrap dress. I will post pictures soon (once I've set up my new laptop), but if anybody is interested, it was $100 and I'll part with it for what I paid and throw in free shipping.

Here's an image of the dress from another website--mine is essentially identical.

I will report on the Rachel Comey sample sale later---it was a disappointment--but in the meantime I'm setting up my new MacBook Pro that I got today!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Heat Wave

It's been unbelievably hot for the last few days, causing me to retreat to the bedroom (the only room with ac and the only one without internet access), so I've not been so good at updating the blog. According to Evan, it's already 90 again, although predictions are that the heat will break today and we'll have a few nice days to start July.

I can't believe the year is nearly half over, and with it, the summer. I'm making strides on book #2 but at this point, I'm mainly reading--and (perhaps thankfully), finding that most of the ancilliary texts are not that helpful or stimulating. Still, my pile of reading is diminishing nicely, signs that I'm getting closer to writing this chapter.

Tomorrow is the Rachel Comey sale. While there are a couple of dresses I'd like to snag, the price points seem ridiculously high (over $200 for dresses that are quite simple and lack much in the way of detail). I think this has to reflect the close of other lines (Lyell, Mayle), the factors that make it tough to run a small business in this climate (smaller margins and higher costs) and the ability to charge more simply because the competition doesn't appear to be there. That said, if you can get a comparable dress on sale in Barneys for less than $150, why spend $100 more at the RC sample sale? Bear in mind that some of these items are already on sale elsewhere online for less (like Domohoka--although their refusal to carry anything above size 6 is short sighted in my opinion)--and others will likely be reduced further, especially given the poor economy and what appears to be relatively plentiful stock in stores right now. I'm going to browse and check sizes but there is no way I will pay over $200 for a RC dress at a sample sale when I have other things I want to buy--like the new Macbook Pro I hope to get this week.

Friday, June 25, 2010


It's my birthday today and I've spent the day wondering what to do, how to mark the day. But somehow the day got away from me--I spoke to my parents for an hour, Evan's sister, her husband and children ad then another friend for thirty minutes, received and replied to several emails and birthday texts, spent an hour IMing with my brother and then it was 4 p.m. By that time, I couldn't make it to the Natural History Museum or MoMA, so it looks like dinner with friends and maybe bowling will be the way I mark the day. I did get some work done, but overall, I fear I just relaxed, listened to four hours of Ricky Gervais (happy birthday to him), Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington and probably wasted the day! But the expectation for birthdays may be too high for any of us to sustain after the age of 10 or so. So maybe this was the best way to spend the day.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Leo dress arrived

I just received my Vain and Vapid Leo dress in the mail this morning--it is a perfect fit, beautifully made and is as lovely as in the pictures. I'm certainly going to try to get another dress from Julie this summer. In the meantime, I'm very happy wearing my Leo--which came in time for the 90 degree heat. It has four pretty engraved metal buttons at the front and the cotton is light and airy but not see-through. I'll post photos later. It looks great with my No. 6 clogs and I can see it working really well with opaque tights in the fall.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Vain and Vapid shop update

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my success in ordering a Vain and Vapid Leo dress. Julie, the designer/dressmaker, has been really great about getting my measurements so the dress should fit me perfectly. She's also having another update tomorrow at noon at her big cartel shop, starting at noon tomorrow. If you are looking for something great and want to support a small artisan, I highly recommend her work.

Here's what she'll have available tomorrow--she makes it for you so you specify the size. She's making two of each dresses and one skirt for now. There should be another update next week.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Yesterday morning, my Liberty of London for Target cotton nightie finally arrived. Despite my frustrations with the (low) quality of these collaborations, their poor distribution and the bizarre decision to make most of the Liberty collection in synthetic fabrics, I have to admit I'm really pleased with this nightie. The cotton is reasonably good, the prints are lovely and it fits just right.

This will be a nice complement to my Anthro cotton nighties as the evenings get warmer. I saw a girl wearing one as a dress in Jackson Heights--which I wouldn't recommend as it (a) looks like a nightie and (b) is really not thick enough to wear outside. For $17.99 this is a steal, runs true to size (I got a M) and it is still available online.

Other than that, I've been working and stressing out about the FSA and a grant form that I have to get cosigned by Monday at 11 am or I don't get paid for a research project--and I'm not sure I can find the principle investigator by then. This wasn't a case of me procrastinating--but the university not contacting me until yesterday at 4 p.m. It's funny how minor stressors can wake you up at 5 am.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Work and Play

I'm trying to balance the two right now, athough I think the former will start to dominate by next week. Today, I met Caroline for lunch at Lovely Day cafe on Elizabeth Street, which was aptly named, before we visited both INAs (and Caroline found a fabulous Mayle dress from SS 2007--the brown and white gingham frock with spaghetti straps as well as a great Marc Jacobs collection shirt). Then we hit the NYU computer store as we're both looking to get new Macs. From there, I went to the library, checked out 14 books and continued planning this first sample chapter. After reading a few chapters from said books, I realize I may need to scale back some of my ambitions as nobody seems to try to cover as much as I do in just one chapter. Then I went to yoga and watched some terrible (and fun) TV--including Toddlers and Tiaras. All in all, a good day. Tomorrow I have to start my FSA so I can get my reimbursement. I hate doing these things but I've put it off long enough as it's due in 2 weeks. Otherwise I forfeit the best part of $1,000 which I can use for most of that new MacBook Pro.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Research Project

So now it's back to the drawing board. With the book finally in the mail, I've started on book #2. I have a draft proposal written and over the course of the day, I've been adding thoughts, amending ideas and annotating directions to pursue as I work on compiling a bibliography, ordering materials on Inter-Library Loan (including issues of Mademoiselle from the 50s and 60s and old copies of Photoplay and Modern Screen), and planning/drafting my sample chapter. I've decided to work on the one on female group protagonists, partly because I have two conference papers on the subject and also because I feel it links to other chapters--as my friend Noah so aptly put it, it also has to act a preview of coming attractions--and isn't too theoretical or abstract. I've also done some archival research in the UK that I can put to good use here. Tonight I have to list my shows and films, think about the popular fiction with which these engage and narrow down a time period (or two) that justifies special attention. I'm thinking the 60s-70s and 90s-200os (Sex and the City is important, as are the Spice Girls and Mean Girls) but the 1930s has much to offfer, not least Gold Diggers of 1933/35/37 and The Women. Perhaps the best strategy is to start general and then narrow down to these two eras, mindful that I cannot be comprehensive.

I'm also well aware now of the perils of over-researching. No book can be perfect, nobody can cover everything but I can give my unique take on the topic with as much clarity, evidence and insight as possible. Starting with a realization of what I cannot realistically cover is perhaps the wisest possible approach--and one that will help me deliver this book within the next two years.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Are you having a laugh?

I certainly am--as are Evan and my dear friend, Alyssa. We're enjoying parceling out various Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington podcasts, XFM radio broadcasts, books, reruns of Extras, youtube videos, etc. Last night, we came home from bowling with my friend Nelson (it was his birthday and it seems to be the in-thing to do for birthdays these days), and I checked the fabulous pilkipedia only to discover that Ricky, Steve and Karl had just released another podcast--A Guide to the World Cup. It actually has next to nothing to do with it--kidney transplants, Steve's desire for a date and other ephemera pop up instead. But it was a nice gift from the Gods of comedy to fill out a pretty good week. If you want a good laugh, it can be downloaded from here.

In the meantime, this clip from Extras is keeping me endlessly entertained. I think I might have to download this ringtone to my English phone that I bought from the Carphone Warehouse.

Exciting Discovery in New Zealand

One of my research areas is American film from the 1910s (as in the now finished book). Despite being one of the most prolific areas of film production at a time when moviegoing was at, or near, its all time peak, this is an era of major losses--barely 10% of films survive from this period (I'm not sure of the exact statistic--it could be lower). Preservation didn't exist, nobody thought that films that were so ubiquitous would vanish forever within a few decades, and so silver reclamation from old prints, along with carelessness, deliberate destruction (on-screen fires were often fueled by films themselves) and nitrate fires took a substantial toll. After all, films shot before 1930 are mainly on a nitrate base that is chemically a close relation to nitroglycerine--in other words, highly unstable and prone to explode (drop a film, it may burn--or nothing at all may happen). It also happens to be of a far higher resolution than the safety stocks that replaced it--and the even lower grade, far cheaper stocks used today. If you are ever lucky enough to see nitrate, it is stunningly beautiful--capturing light and detail like nothing else. I've seen films from 1906 that looked fresher and newer than any recent release.

Like any other historical survivors, the remaining films from the teens don't represent what was popular, acclaimed or desirable. Great films survive, but major titles are missing. Some stars, directors and studios are well represented--obvious examples include Mary Pickford, D.W. Griffith and Biograph while others like Theda Bara, Colin Campbell, Selig and Fox have seen large parts of their output vanish. Notoriously, only Bara's first film from the teens exists, along with a a few scraps and a little later work, a victim in part of the Fox studio fire and even MoMA's carelessness in the 1960s which saw the last known print of her version of Cleopatra vanish. Whether you are a historian, cinephile, fan or film buff, these losses obviously distort history. They are particularly frustrating for me as many films I've written about or want to write about don't exist. While this doesn't preclude me doing the work, it does mean that it misses an obvious and important dimension. It's also upsetting on an emotional level to engage with material in every way and not be able to see what it ultimately looked like. I'm very interested in Selig's work but mainly in their features (they were a pioneer in the form, but the myth that has surrounded the studio ignores this entirely). The ones that most appeal to me are their exotica and animal pictures--features like The Garden of Allah and serials like The Adventures of Kathlyn. These no longer exist, although a reel of The Carpet from Bagdad survives as it was discovered on the wreck of the Lusitania. I'd also love to see more Dorothy Gish comedies but her work is lost while the films of her less popular sister, Lillian, have survived and overshadowed her work. I could list other titles, stars, directors, genres, studios but my point is pretty obvious.

So it was good to read about the discovery of a trove of such films in New Zealand earlier this week. Obviously, the discovery had happened some time earlier and followed a somewhat familiar narrative. About 20 years ago, a trove of films was discovered in a former swimming pool in Canada, many preserved by permafrost like conditions. As the town was remote and at the end of the distribution line, they didn't send prints back to exchanges, just buried them (and likely disposed of others in less kindly ways). Many of these films were not lost titles but some were. The New Zealand finds were in their archive because this was also the end of the line. While some Selig westerns were in the NZ collection, the most valued discovery was a hitherto lost John Ford melodrama from 1926, Upstream. As you can see from this image--and those on Dave Kehr's blog--it looks like a beautiful fim (and I'm so pleased it isn't a western!).

Finds like these keep alive the hopes of many fans/scholars of silent cinema--even as it is clear that such notoriously desired titles like the original cut of Greed, the first Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, London After Dark, Bara's Cleopatra, The Battle Cry of Peace, Neptune's Daughter and A Daughter of the Gods (the final four are on my personal list) will likely never reappear. Stil, finds occur: the recent discovery of the original print of Metropolis (by one of my former students, no less) in an archive in Argentina, the discovery of the original cut of Baby Face at the Library of Congress, and the appearance of Audrey Munson's nudist allegory, Purity in France (I believe) are all hopeful. Metropolis is still playing at the Film Forum (and will likely soon be on dvd which is where I'll watch it as it isn't a personal favorite), I own Baby Face as it's on the TCM box set, Forbidden Hollywood, with the release cut. Hopefully, I'l be able to see Purity one day (it's currently not available to anybody) as I've written about it and would love to publish the paper after I see it--likely that won't happen.

So, here are some snippets from one of the Selig finds from NZ. I can't find any way to embed this but it's worth a brief look.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I usually don't find anything on Gilt Group but today was Jeffrey Monteiro day and I had a little splurge. I actually opened the page early to see the sneak preview and refreshed until the sale started. Although it seemed slow going at first, I managed to miss out on the size 10 coral Wona dress--I thought I had it in my cart but maybe it never existed. I got the 8--JM sizing can vary a lot (I've got 6s that fit fineand 8s are usually big on me but some of the items I've tried on have been a lot smaller). I also got the Banda in 10, although I probably should have gone for the 8. As both dresses have sold out no (the Wona is still available in blue), it's pretty moot. Hopefully both fit perfectly--I think the Banda would be fine if it is a little roomy.

The sale ends tomorrow and there are still some lovely items left. I'd get a couple more dresses but I am on a budget. If there is a real life JM sample sale, I'd certainly try to get another couple of pieces.

So, here they are. I should have them by next week and I'll try to post some pictures of how they look in real life. They are my two of my three favorite dresses from the SS 10 lookbook so I'm pleased to have got them.


I don't usually resort to all caps but this is a moment to shout it out. I just finished printing up the final version of my book. Tomorrow I'm going to write the cover letter and mail all 436 pages out to the University of California Press. Hopefully they'll still want it--but I'm pretty certain that this is as polished, detailed and coherent as it could be. I'm actually kind of distant from some of it, too close to other chapters, but I actually think it may be quite good. Now I hope that the readers like it and I don't have to do too much in the way of another major rewrite (the last one was massive--two brand new chapters added, the other five completely redone).

Monday, I start work on the sample chapter for book #2--this one is on Femininity in Popular Film and Television. I have the proposal already written, although I think I will want to retool it in places, a publisher who is interested (Rutgers University Press) and just have to decide which chapter to write as the sample chapter--that's a decision for Friday.

I also bought an unlimited yoga card today--as many classes as I can go to in the next two months. I'm trying for 3, maybe 4, a month. For $200 plus tax I think that's a pretty good deal.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Vain and Vapid

I've been a fan of Vain and Vapid's simple, almost 1960s-New Wave/schoolgirl silhouettes for some time, but always missed out on getting dresses. The last update was no different--I was watching Sex and the City 2 with Ben, Brynn and Vanessa when the shop was updated and the dress I wanted had sold out.

Today was a little different. I was home when the shop was updated. And I was able to score the dress I wanted, which reminds me a little of Mayle or Lewis. It's cotton, it covers my shoulders and is nice and roomy so it will protect me from sunburn. It's pale gray with a white stripes so it will keep me cool and not get as dirty as a plain self-colored dress. Added to that, it was just $118 plus postage--and it went to an individual, running her own small local business.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


During this beautiful, if a little too humid, day, I stayed inside and worked. I can see the end of the book now (two troublesome chapters notwithstanding) and hope it will be done before my friend Jenny comes for the weekend. I thought I might finish tonight but I did something more strenous and requiring more courage--I went to yoga.

A summer or two ago, I bought a yoga dvd and tried it for myself. I tied myself in knots, realized the limitations of my body and discovered it was really hard but seemed like it would be physically and emotionaly rewarding. My friend Shari is a yoga teacher and recommended I take a class. But I couldn't find one in Brooklyn and slowly my dvd gathered dust (it really was too difficult for a beginner). I recently discovered a yoga studio exists just a block from my apt. Classes are a mere $15, but I was scared of walking into a place where I knew nobody and possibly being so much worse than anybody else that I couldn't keep up.

Even though I was near finishing the corrections on a chapter, I decided to go--I can type those corrections in later but can't go to yoga at 10 p.m. So I went and I'm really glad I did--sure I couldn't do everything and I nearly fell over with some poses, but other people weren't perfect either, and I feel so good inside and out. I'm going to try doing this twice a week.

Last Summer

I did many things in Summer 2009--taught summer school, went home for three weeks, moved apartments and did some writing. One thing I didn't manage to do was finish the book, which is something I hope to accomplish this week. For some odd reason, sitting here and looking at treetops against a sunny sky makes me feel homesick and want to be back in England (a land of gardens, even in London). So here are a few images of summer at home from last year. From top to bottom, the North Norfolk Coast (including Evan and my parents), woodlands, my brother's house, Evan, Evan, me and a carved squirrel, London and a truly terrible picture of Sarah and me.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


As some of you know, my cat Peeps likes to get dressed up. It's one of the things we share. Her brother Blue hates it, but yesterday I was able to get a bow around his neck and capture this picture. He likes to sit on printers, by the way.

No. 6 clogs

Like Jennifer's, my clogs are a little more stiff than the pair I tried on in the No. 6 store. But I know they'll give, and the variation in size has a lot to do with the organic leathers and the different response from each dye (last tip from Alyssa who knows how to make shoes). They are pretty, reasonably comfortable (this will improve no doubt as I break them in) and I'm happy to have them. Here's a picture: