Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You'll Come Visit Me, Won't You?

Here goes {deep breathe...}: this will be my last post here at Nothing Elegant. I know this might seem as though it is coming out of nowhere, but it is something I have been thinking over for the past few weeks. I have loved this blog so much-- it has given me much more than I ever imagined. It has given me new friends, a keener eye, a place for creativity and expression, and a stronger voice. But, as my dissertation looms, I feel as though I need to focus my attention more strategically. This blog has allowed me to explore and open up about all of my varying and divergent interests, but now I feel the need for something a bit more specialized. That is why I am starting a new website: The Fin de Siecle, devoted to late Victorian art, literature, and culture. I have a feeling that most of my readers here at Nothing Elegant will like the new site (I hope!). And I truly hope you will stop by, check it out, and visit often. I also have a new Facebook page and Twitter page for the site -- come visit me there, too!

I want to thank all my readers and fellow bloggers who have encouraged me, inspired me, and made me feel like part of a vibrant, intelligent, creative community (you know who you are!). I truly hope you will follow me on my new venture....

::Check me out here now! Tell me what you think. (And I will still be checking the comments here from time-to-time, too!).


New Dress...New Blog?

My dear, long-lost readers!! I'm certain by now you imagine I have been buried alive under a tumbling mountain of books. In fact, I just needed a bit of time off to think about life, writing, blogging, etc. I hope you won't be completely disappointed if I tell you that there are going to be some big changes...involving the start of a new blog and the end of this one. But, you must stay tuned until my next post for all of the details -- ha, the suspense!

Just to give you a hint: my next blog won't be as "personal" as this blog has been...and it won't be as fashion/shopping related as this one (ok, there will still be fashion...I can't completely give it up!) So, I kind of wanted to leave off on a personal (and fashion-related) note by posting this series of photos that my sweet boyfriend took of me at the park today...showing off the new summer dress I got from Eshakti.

It has been such a fun, wonderful ride my dears! I think my new favorite dress is sort of symbolic of a new start -- I truly hope you will continue on this journey with me.

::OK, over the two year span of this blog, I rarely did product reviews, but this is one I'm thrilled to publicly swoon over -- seriously, Eshakti is my new favorite place to shop!! If you haven't visited their site, you must check it out. The prices are reasonable, the dresses and skirts are so cute, and they make the clothes to order...which means they take your measurements and make the clothes to fit you! Genius. I also love the fact that their dresses are stylish and slightly vintage-inspired, without being overly trendy. And they have caftans for poolside lounging!! Glamorous, darlings.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Artist: Charlotte Mann

I'd love to take up residence in a cheeky trompe l'oeil house decorated by artist Charlotte Mann. Mann specializes in life-size drawings, and her favorite place to draw is right where out mothers told us not to -- the walls! She creates charming living spaces complete with scenic window views, cheerful knick-knacks, framed pictures, floral curtains...even wallpaper. Living in one of her spaces would almost be as amazing as living in this video...almost.
::If you could have Mann design a space for you, what would you have her draw on your walls??

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Penhaligon's: The Anthology Collection.

What's the one thing yours-truly likes more than high-heeled shoes, vintage dresses, AND red lipstick? Yep, perfume! One of my first jobs was as a salesgirl at a perfume shop at the mall. We didn't exactly have a lot of business, so most of my time was spent sitting around spritzing perfume on every area of available skin, mixing scents, and trying to figure out fragrance lingo {head notes, heart notes...I still haven't got it all straight}. These days, I still find it very difficult to walk by a department store perfume counter or pass by Sephora without wanting to try/buy something new. What I wouldn't give to pay a visit to London's lovely Penhaligon's perfumery! Their new re-released line of scents from the Anthology Collection features six scents from 1927 to 1976. I love the idea of wearing something that evokes a bit of nostalgia for a particular period. I also really love the fact that three of scents are from the year I was born {I can't believe I'm giving away my age}: the 1976 Night Scented Stock and the Gardenia sound amazing. Must have been a lush year !

::What are your favorite scents?? Have you tried anything from Penhaligon's?

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Magic of the Black Mirror and Other Optical Devices

{A Claude Glass, or Black Mirror}
My love for antique optical devices started with my discovery of the Stanhope, and it has snow-balled into a mini obsession. The Victorians certainly found clever ways to fulfill their need for visual stimulation with a plethora of odd optical toys and fascinating illusionary devices. The names of the devices alone are enough to make me giddy with intrigue. For example, doesn't the Black Mirror sound like something straight from Grimm's Fairy Tales? Despite its sinister-sounding nickname, the Black Mirror {also called a Claude Glass} was a small pocket-sized mirror used by landscape artists in the 1700's and 1800's. The slightly convex mirror had a dark surface, and when held up, it would abstract the scenery reflected in the surroundings. The image would have a soft, slightly painterly quality, which the painter could then use as inspiration for his work.

:The Camera Obscura {aside from being the name of one of my favorite bands} is an optical device that projects the image of its surroundings onto a screen using a hole. The earliest know account of a camera obscura being used was from 5th century BC. They became popular devices during the 19th century when they were installed at tourist destinations and seaside resorts -- a precursor to movie theaters!

:Like the Black Mirror, the Camera Lucida was used as a drawing aid by artists. It creates an optical superimposed image of the subject being viewed on the surface the artist draws upon. A bit like cheating, no?

:The Magic Lantern was a very popular form of entertainment in the Victorian period. Magic lantern shows were the combination of projected images, live narration, and live music. Some lanterns had up to three lenses, which allowed for the creation of various special effects. I'm certain I would be totally mesmerized by this even today!

:The Phantasmagoria was probably as terrifying as it sounds...particularly to unsuspecting old ladies! This was also called "Pepper's Ghost Effect" and it was often used in theater productions during the 1800's. Victorians were notoriously obsessed with death and the supernatural, so clever theater managers began using a modified magic lantern to incorporate images of ghosts and skeletons into their productions. The projectors were mobile, so the operator could create the illusion that the ghost was moving around the stage.

:The Zoopraxiscope was an invention by the photographic genius Eadward Muybridge. The zoopraxiscope projected images from rotating glass disks in rapid succession to give the impression of motion -- an early precursor to film!

::If you find these objects as fascinating as I do, you really must treat yourself to a visit to The Richard Balzer Collection to see an amazing collection of optical devices in action / And how about this fascinating tidbit: In 2001, artist David Hockney's book Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters argued that great artists of the past, such as Ingres, Van Eyck, and Caravaggio did not work freehand, but were guided by optical devices {via}. Shocking!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Book Crush: Persephone Press

I have a new book crush {do you get book crushes?}. Persephone Press is a London-based press that specializes in neglected and relatively unknown female prose and fiction writers from the 19th and 20th centuries. Their selection of titles is like a treasure chest of forgotten literary jewels. And each book is like a little piece of art work unto itself. The jackets are all the same from the outside -- a lovely understated gray, with classic cream labels. But, the interior of each title features a design that evokes the time and place of the words inside: Victorian, Art Nouveau, modern, etc. I want to read every single book in their catalog, from beginning to end...you know, in all my spare time...*wink*

::Check out their lovely online shop here. They provide a brief biography for each of their fascinating authors, as well!

Monday, March 22, 2010

"What are we supposed to do now? Everything is still night!"

Everyone seems to have a solution for fending off nightmares. When I posed the dilemma to a group of friends, I recieved so many varied responses -- some funny, some fascinating. Here are just a few I gathered:
  • Drink warm milk.
  • Or...cut dairy from your diet completely.
  • Take a sleep aid, like Ambien or Lunesta.
  • Put a dream-catcher by your bed.
  • Keep a dream journal, and write down the dream as soon as you wake.
  • Abolish guilt {perhaps nightmares are a product of guilt?}.
  • Play relaxing music or a funny movie in the background.
  • Keep a glass of half-full water on your nightstand -- an old wive's tale.
  • Learn to wake yourself while dreaming, or train yourself to lucid dream.
  • Be grateful that your dreams, rather than your life, are nightmarish!

I personaly like Nietzsche's bit of snarky wisdom on what to do when you wake up after a nightmare: "You ingrates! You should go to sleep again and dream better!"

::The images above are from the Coma pool on Flickr. Also check out Coma Magazine, to see more work from these amazing surrealist photographers...who seem to have a bit of experience with nightmares.

An Ode to Frida's Eyebrows

One of Frida Kahlo's most striking features was -- without a doubt -- her full and fearless eyebrows. It always bothers me when I hear people say: "Oh, she would have been pretty if she had done something about those brows." What??? No way. Her eyebrows were a part of unique beauty, and honestly, I've been feeling a little jealous of her thick mane of of eye-hair lately. Alright, I would never have the confidence to pull off a full-on monobrow {nor does my hair even grow between my eyes}, but I could really use a little oomph in the eyebrow area these days. During my many years of plucking, waxing, and torturous string treatments, I never once stopped to consider the fact that one day thick brows would be back in fashion...and that all that hair pulling would eventually make them stop growing. I don't care about any of these new-fangled eyelash growth treatments, I want something that will make my eyebrows come back!

::Where do you stand on the eyebrow issue? Is anyone having this dilemma?? What I wouldn't give to have this America's Next Top Model contestant's brows! Oh well, Here is a bit of Frida to make you smile...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Blogger Manifesto Project: Manifesto #3

My name is Ana. Tara has asked for my manifesto. There are so many ideas and things I'm obsessed with; so many declarations I could have made. But here is the one that made it - the one that is most important to me. A manifesto on time. Care to spend a few minutes of yours with it?

Time is perception. It flies, it grinds, in very long work meetings it feels like it has suspended itself completely, trapping you like a fly in amber.

Time is always measured. Seconds, hours, days, months, and years. It is a framework for our lives in which our language is even divided into past, present and future tenses. When you are stranded without a means of telling time, it makes you feel uncomfortable and uneasy. It can even amount to torture. The measurement of time anchors you to your life.

Time can obsess people. The anticipation of it, the keeping of it, the passing of it. Some plan their time out very carefully with calendars, alarm clocks, lists and five year plans. Others resolutely turn their backs on this and drift on by, declaring they have no mission and no ambition, that they are just content to see what comes. Both both approaches spring from the same source - the realisation that we do not have much time (therefore we need to plan it or as such we need to enjoy it while it lasts).

And isn't that the rub? That no matter what we think of time, no matter what we believe, we all know that time will only ever leave us behind.

And if we substitute the word "love" for "life", Yehuda Amichai still speaks true: Love is finished again, like a profitable citrus season or like an archeological dig that turned up from deep inside the earth turbulent things that wanted to be forgotten. Love is finished again. When a tall building is torn down and the debris cleared away, you stand there on the square empty lot, saying: What a small space that building stood on with all its many floors and people. (extract from Love is Finished Again by Yehuda Amichai )

Click on each picture for its source. For more, visit the Looking Into The Past Flickr Group and Elliot Malkin's Home Movie Reconstructions.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The List: 5 Things to Get This Slimy Jellyfish Off My Head

{image by Zhou Fan}

Folks, I'm in a hardcore rut {otherwise known as a funk} right now. I think this dilemma is fairly normal for people who read and write for a living. Does this ever happen to you? I start feeling guilty for not reading or writing the "right" things {i.e. for my dissertation}, so I just stop doing anything -- I feel guilty for not doing what I'm supposed to do, so I just stop doing all the things I like. What a bad idea! It's a bit like having a big jellyfish sitting atop your head and sucking all of the motivation out. Slurp! I think I need to change up my routine and try some new things for inspiration. One cannot go around bound by a sea creature. Here are a few rut-fighting activities I'm going to try:

1. Costume movie night! After watching the Oscar's, I decided I needed to see every film nominated in the costume category. I am going to try and watch all of them over the next several weeks...and maybe write some reviews here? The nominees are: The Young Victoria, Coco avant Chanel, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Bright Star, Nine...and I'll add A Single Man for good measure.

2. Eat at a new restaurant. There is a new Indian restaurant {Kolam} here I've been meaning to try.

3. Go on a hike. If you know me, this might sound a little...out-of-character. But, seriously the weather is so lovely, and I'm just dying to wander through the woods. OK, so maybe it will be less of a hike and more of a stroll.

4. Go to free yoga. The Yoga Room here in Tulsa has free yoga every Monday. Ask me why haven't gone. I have no idea!

5. Write my F*cking dissertation prospectus! There, I said it. We all know this is the real reason I'm in a rut. My boyfriend compared my dilemma to the Clash's "Guns of Brixton" lyrics: "How you gonna come?/ With your hands on your head / Or on the trigger of your gun?" In other words: I need to decide if I'm going to come out fighting or just give up. The fighting option sounds much more exciting {and yes, my boyfriend makes strange, wonderful music analogies}.

Readers, please share, what do you do to get out of a rut??