Friday, September 23, 2011

Hark, A Vagrant!

I've got an upcoming addition to my blog, Witty Wednesdays- a weekly comic. Today, I'd like to talk about one of the many people who inspired me to finally go through with my idea.

Kate Beaton is a Canadian cartoonist who publishes a weekly webcomic called "Hark! A Vagrant".

Beaton majored in history and that has clearly been highly influential in her cartoon ventures.

Starting off on her Livejournal in 2007, Beaton now has her own website, has won several awards, and is currently in the middle of publishing her second book, "Hark! A Vagrant".

Both she and her comics have been featured in such publications as Wired, MacLeans, and The New Yorker.

Her almost-too-smart-for-the-internet sense of humor might actually cause you to look some stuff up, which I think is laudable for anything published free on the web.

Basically, her comics are fantastic and I've very rarely laughed so hard on the internet. Check out her site and her books!

Hark! A VagrantNever Learn Anything From History,a Collection of Comics

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

100 Years of Style

In honor of its inauguration today, last week the new Westfield Stratford Shopping Center in London released this video. I'm not sure exactly what it has to do with the new mall - which was built as part of the build-up to the 2012 Olympics - but it sure is cute! Thanks to reader Laura M. for passing this on to us! Just a bit sad that they skipped over the fifties almost entirely...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Music Mondays - Beyoncé and Bettie Page

Some of you may remember my previous article on Beyoncé's "Why Don't You Love Me?". Well, further discoveries have warranted a revisit to this mid-century wonderland.

Just to refresh your memory:

On another of my many YouTube train-of-thought binges, I stumbled onto footage from a 1950 Burlesque film called "Teaserama":

Now doesn't that seem oddly familiar? How about this?

Turns out Beyoncé was heavily inspired by Bettie Page and the Pin-up Girl in this video - not just in her dances but also in her clothes.


The maid costume may also have been partially inspired by this outfit:

But mostly that last one is just fun, isn't it?

Short but sweet.

The Notorious Bettie PageWhy Don't You Love MeBettie Page: Varietease/Teaserama

Friday, September 9, 2011

Buena Vista Street

It was exactly one year ago that work began on Buena Vista Street, the newest addition to Disney's Califonia Adventure. The plan is convert the nondescript Walt Disney Plaza into a recreation of Los Angeles when Disney himself arrived there in 1923. Here's a 3D rendering of what the finished themed entrance will look like:

This is the latest in a series of changes to the park; making up a $1.1 Billion renovation of the park, with minor changes to Golden Coast and Hollywood Pictures Backlot (now Hollywoodland), a total re-haul of Paradise Pier and Walt Disney Plaza (soon to be Buena Vista Street), and even an entirely new area for the theme park: Cars Land, based on Radiator Springs and the entire cast of Pixar's "Cars". These changes come just in time for the park's tenth anniversary and are set to be completed just after the celebrations in 2012.

Satellite image of the original entrance and the new entrance blueprint.

Disney California Adventure had been expected to be a huge success; Disney executives fully expected to have to turn away visitors but were sorely disappointed by attendance in the first months and years after the park's opening. This major renovation is a direct result of California Adventure's struggles to keep up with it's next-door neighbor, Disneyland.

An in-progress photo with the intact Golden Gate in the background.
Paradise Pier has already completed its transformation into an early 20th century boardwalk, as opposed to the disjointed, pier theme park it originally was. Complaints arose when the park opened that this section of the park, in particular, seemed cheap, cookie-cutter, and like something you could find in any other 'ordinary' theme park. Although many of the changes were cosmetic, the addition of two new rides (Toy Story Midway Madness and a dark ride based on The Little Mermaid) and the unprecedented "World of Color" hydrotechnic experience have ultimately made the renovation worthwhile so far.

Part of the World of Color show
The Buena Vista Street project is not quite as ambitious, without any planned rides save a vintage-style trolley that will take guests from the entrance directly to the foot of the Tower of Terror. Both the miniature Golden Gate Bridge and the California Zephyr train are being replaced with more in-theme decor. In what was once 'Sunshine Plaza' - the hub from which guests could enter all the different lands - a replica of the Carthay Circle Theatre (where Snow White premiered in 1937) is in the works. It looks like Oswald the Lucky Rabbit might even get a nod with his own gas station in the main square (Who's Oswald? Find out next Friday). The new art-deco entrance gates were completed this past July, and most of the renovations should be ready sometime this fall.

Artist's Rendering of the Central Plaza with the Carthay Circle Theatre
Cars Land will feature several new rides, including one based on Test Track in Epcot. Construction of this and the other lands can be seen on Google Maps.

Concept Rendering for Radiator Springs
Ultimately these changes should serve as a pick-me-up to the down-on-its-luck California Adventure. Seems like the 1.1 Billion are being put to good use - Disney is directly addressing many of the complaints made by guests: a lack of attractions, poor theme cohesion, and a general absence of the 'Disney touch'.

A maquette for the statue of Disney to be placed in Buena Vista Street
I have yet to visit either of the Anaheim parks, but these additions make the idea all the more tempting.

Reckard, E. Scott "The Most Jam-Packed Theme Park on Earth?" LA Times, Jan. 14 2001

MacDonald, Brady "Disney California Adventure Extreme Makeover to Transform Entrance" LA Times, Dec. 21 2010

MacDonald, Brady "Review: Disappointing Goofy's Sky School Coaster Marks End of Paradise Pier Makeover at Disney California Adventure" LA Times, Jun. 28 2011

Cress, Robby "Early Homes and Studios of Walt Disney" Dear Old Hollywood, Oct. 6 2010
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Music Mondays - Freddie for a Day UNWRITTEN

Today marks what would have been Freddie Mercury's sixty-fifth birthday had his life not been tragically cut short by AIDS twenty years ago. His was a stellar career spanning two decades (both with Queen and on his own) and about four octaves. His death in 1991 sparked huge surge in publicity for the disease - second only to the death of Rock Hudson, I would say - as well as a huge storm of controversy regarding his private life.

Mercury with partner Jim Hutton, who died last year.

The surviving members of Queen founded the Mercury Phoenix Trust [MPT], which has raised over 15 million dollars to in the fight against HIV/AIDS since its inception in 1992. Among many other fundraising projects, they organize "Freddie for a Day" [FFAD]. The project was born last year when Liz Swanton - London banker and web editor to MPT - decided to dress as Freddie Mercury for 24 hours and asked friends, family, and co-workers to sponsor her. Read her entire story here.

Liz Swanton, the original Freddie for a Day in 2010

Well, MPT thought it was a brilliant idea and decided to pick up the event and advertise it world-wide. The FFAD website has costumes, accessories, and other merchandise for sale - proceeds going to the MPT, of course. This first official FFAD also comes just in time for the production of the Freddie Mercury biopic, which will star Sacha Baron Cohen as Queen's lead singer.

In honor of Mercury's birthday, here are some of his songs:

I'm only sad that I learned about this too late to participate, and so instead I decided to advertise their cause and maybe get some of you readers to do it with me next year! Perhaps, instead, we can chip in by buying some of their fabulous merchandise here - like this delightful mug:


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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Just a Fun Labor Day Weekend Activity

Dear Female Readers, I require your assistance with a project for a school - I'll be designing a collection based in part on your answers to this 10-question survey I've developed. Please e-mail your answers to Your help is greatly appreciated, and your privacy guaranteed. I'll post the project once it's finished, too! For Demographics, please state your full date of birth: 1-What is your favorite outfit and why? 2-Which is your favorite clothing store and why? 3-If money weren’t an issue, where would you shop and why? 4-If money weren’t an issue, would you consider buying designer clothing? Why or why not? 5-Please arrange these in order from most to least important: a) Comfort: How does it feel? Can you move comfortably? b) Fit: Does the outfit flatter you? c) Practicality: How often will I wear it? Can I use it for more than one kind of occasion? d) Style: Do you like the looks of the garment in general? e) Quality: What sort of fabric is it made from? Is the garment well-constructed? Will it last? In the above list, is there something missing that you consider when you shop? 6-Aside from price, what is your biggest frustration when shopping? 7-What are some specific things you look for when shopping that aren’t available in the marketplace? 8-What celebrities (if any) or other people do you look up to in terms of personal style? 9-Which clothing brands or stores do you feel cater directly to you? Why? 10-Do you feel like you are well-represented in the Fashion Industry? Why or why not? Thanks ever so,

Friday, September 2, 2011

Folio Friday - "Bals"

This past year saw the (probably inevitable) demise of Borders. Don't this is some tirade about the slow rattling death of printed media, I just wanted to reaffirm my belief in actual books and, through this new segments, share with you some books I either own and adore or am looking forward to getting sometime soon (finances permitting). Why do I always feel the need to create titles that feature Annoying Alliteration? I just think it's fun, so deal.

I spotted this on Fashion School Daily, the daily blog for students and faculty in AAU Fashion Department. I must say I'm drooling at the possibilities...

"From the twilight of the Romanov dynasty through the les annees folles of Art Deco Paris to the jet-set seventies, Bals explores the nine most exceptional private costume parties of the twentieth century."
-from the Assouline website

Though this title wouldn't have been my first choice (that's 'balls' in French, not a typo), I definitely want this book. I absolutely covet large picture-reference books. They are my favorite source of inspiration. There's something about turning the pages and feeling the weight of the book in your lap that makes the pictures seem even more special - not to mention the fact that resolution is almost never a problem! Here's a sneak peek of what to expect inside:

"Since the guests were asked to arrive in gondolas rather than in motor launches, the scenes outside as well as inside the palace... gave the impression of a Canaletto come to life." -Cecil Beaton, describing the scene at Don Carlos de Beistegui's 1951 ball in Venice's Palazzo Labia.

Basically, it looks like it will be a huge drool-fest for anyone who loves historical costumes as much as I do and would be a brilliant addition to any real-life library. Normally I would put a link to this product on the Amazon website since I've decided to whore myself out to them just a little (thus my lack of a tirade on the death of Borders), but this is actually a product that Amazon doesn't carry! So, instead click here to visit the Assouline website and purchase this beautiful book.

Farewell on this First Folio Friday,

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