Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Parents Celebrating with Friends

My parents, Louis and Doralice, are on the far right. That's my father whose eyes are closed. My uncle Earl is the second person from the left.

Happy New Year's Eve

Note: This is a Cabinet Card, not a Tintype.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Who Killed Mother?


Monday, December 28, 2009

Penny Severely Wrinkled Her Skirt

A pleat (older plait) is a type of fold formed by doubling fabric back upon itself and securing it in place. It is commonly used in clothing and upholstery to gather a wide piece of fabric to a narrower circumference.

Pleats are categorized as pressed, that is, ironed or otherwise heat-set into a sharp crease, or unpressed, falling in soft rounded folds. Pleats may also be partially sewn flat and allowed to fall open below.

Small pleats sewn in place down their entire length are called tucks.

Accordion pleats are the most basic form of pleat, consisting of a series of permanent folds of equal width in alternating opposite directions. When pressed flat in one direction, accordion pleats become knife pleats. Accordion pleats are rarely used in dressmaking, but are used to make folding fans.

Box pleats are knife pleats back-to-back, and have a tendency to spring out from the waistline. They have the same 3:1 ratio as knife pleats, and may also be stacked to form stacked box pleats. These stacked box pleats create more fullness and have a 5:1 ratio. They also create a bulkier seam. Inverted box pleats have the "box" on the inside rather than the outside.

Cartridge pleats are used to gather a large amount of fabric into a small waistband or armscye without adding bulk to the seam. This type of pleating also allows the fabric of the skirt or sleeve to spring out from the seam. During the 15th and 16th centuries, this form of pleating was popular in the garments of men and women.

Fabric is evenly gathered using two or more lengths of basting stitches, and the top of each pleat is whipstitched onto the waistband or armscye. Cartridge pleating was resurrected in the 1840s to attached the increasingly full bell-shaped skirts to the fashionable narrow waist.

Fluted pleats or flutings are very small, rounded or pressed pleats used as trimmings. The name comes from their resemblance to a pan flute.

Fortuny pleats are crisp pleats set in silk fabrics by designer Mariano Fortuny in the early 20th century, using a secret pleat-setting process which is still not understood.

Honeycomb pleats are narrow, rolled pleats used as a foundation for smocking.

Knife pleats are used for basic gathering purposes, and form a smooth line rather than springing away from the seam they have been gathered to. The pleats have a 3:1 ratio–three inches of fabric will create one inch of finished pleat. Knife pleats can be recognized by the way that they overlap in the seam.

Organ pleats are parallel rows of softly rounded pleats resembling the pipes of a pipe organ. Carl Köhler suggests that these are made by inserting one or more gores into a panel of fabric.

Plissé pleats are narrow pleats set by gathering fabric with stitches, wetting the fabric, and "setting" the pleats by allowing the wet fabric to dry under weight or tension. Linen chemises or smocks pleated with this technique have been found in the 10th century Viking graves in Birka.

Rolled pleats create tubular pleats which run the length of the fabric from top to bottom. A piece of the fabric to be pleated is pinched and then rolled until it is flat against the rest of the fabric, forming a tube. A variation on the rolled pleat is the stacked pleat, which is rolled similarly and requires at least five inches of fabric per finished pleat. Both types of pleating create a bulky seam.

Watteau pleats are one or two box pleats found at the back neckline of 18th century gowns and some late 19th century tea gowns in imitation of these. The term is not contemporary, but is used by costume historians in reference to these styles as portrayed in the paintings of Antoine Watteau.

Clothing features pleats for practical reasons (to provide freedom of movement to the wearer) as well as for purely stylistic reasons.

Modern Usage

Shirts, blouses, jackets

Shirts and blouses typically have pleats on the back to provide freedom of movement and on the arm where the sleeve tapers to meet the cuff. The standard men's shirt has a box pleat in the center of the back just below the shoulder or alternately one simple pleat on each side of the back.

Jackets designed for active outdoor wear frequently have pleats (usually inverted box pleats) to allow for freedom of movement. Norfolk jackets have double-ended inverted box pleats at the chest and back.

Skirts and kilts

Skirts, dresses and kilts can include pleats of various sorts to add fullness from the waist or hips, or at the hem, to allow freedom of movement or achieve design effects.

One or more kick pleats may be set near the hem of a straight skirt to allow the wearer to walk comfortably while preserving the narrow style line.

Modern kilts may be made with either box pleats or knife pleats, and can be pleated to the stripe or pleated to the sett.


Pleats just below the waistband on the front of the garment are typical of many styles of formal and casual trousers including suit trousers and khakis. There may be one, two, three, or no pleats, which may face either direction. When the pleats open towards the pockets they are called reverse pleats (typical of khakis and corduroy trousers) and when they open toward the zipper, they are known as forward pleats.

Utilitarian or very casual styles such as jeans and cargo pants are flat-front (without pleats at the waistband) but may have bellows pockets.


A bellows pocket is patch pocket with an inset box pleat to allow the pocket to expand when filled. Bellows pockets are typical of cargo pants, safari jackets, and other utilitarian garments.

-- wiki

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merricat and Constance Are Alone in the Castle Now

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a 1962 novel by author Shirley Jackson. In 1966 the novel was adapted into a play by Hugh Wheeler. This article deals only with the novel, which differs in many respects from the theatrical production.

Plot summary

"The people in the village have always hated us."

The novel, narrated in first-person by eighteen-year-old Mary Katherine "Merricat" Blackwood, tells the story of the Blackwood family. A careful reading of the opening paragraphs reveals that the majority of this novel is a flashback.

As the main portion of the story opens, Merricat, her elder sister Constance, and their ailing uncle Julian live in isolation from the nearby village. Constance has not left the house in six years, seeing only a select few family friends. Uncle Julian, slightly demented and confined to a wheelchair, obsessively writes and re-writes notes for an autobiography, while Constance cares for him. Through Uncle Julian's ramblings the reader begins to understand what has happened to the remainder of the Blackwood family: six years ago, both the Blackwood parents, an aunt (Julian's wife), and a younger brother were killed -- poisoned with arsenic, mixed into the family sugar and sprinkled onto blackberries at dinner. Julian, though poisoned, survived; Merricat, having been sent to bed without dinner as a punishment for an unspecified misdeed, avoided the arsenic, and Constance, also unscathed, was arrested for and eventually acquitted of the crime. The people of the village openly believe that Constance has gotten away with murder (her first action on learning of the family's illnesses was to scrub the sugar bowl), and the family is ostracized, leading Constance to become something of an agoraphobe. Despite this, the three Blackwoods have grown accustomed to their isolation, and lead a quiet, happy existence. Merricat is the family's sole contact with the outside world, walking into the village twice a week and carrying home groceries and library books, often followed by groups of the village children, who taunt her with a singsong chant:

Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?
Oh no, said Merricat, you'll poison me.
Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?
Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!

Merricat is a strange young woman, deeply protective of her sister, prone to daydreaming and a fierce believer in sympathetic magic. As the major action unfolds, Merricat begins to feel that a dangerous change is approaching; her response is to reassure herself of the various magical safeguards she has placed around their home, including a box of silver dollars buried near the creek and a book nailed to a tree. After discovering that the book has fallen down, Merricat becomes convinced that danger is imminent. Before she can warn Constance, a long-absent cousin, Charles, appears for a visit.

It is immediately apparent to the reader that Cousin Charles is pursuing the Blackwood fortune, which is locked in a safe in the house. Charles quickly befriends the vulnerable Constance. Merricat perceives Charles as a demon, and tries various magical means to exorcise him from their lives. Tension grows as Charles is increasingly rude to Merricat and impatient of Julian's foibles, ignoring or dismissing the old man rather than treating him with the gentle courtesy Constance has always shown. In an angry outburst between Charles and Julian, the level of the old man's dementia is revealed when he claims he has only one living niece: Mary Katherine, he believes, "died in an orphanage, of neglect" during Constance's trial.

In the course of her efforts to drive Charles away, Merricat breaks things and fills his bed with dirt and dead leaves. When Charles insists she be punished, Merricat demands, "Punish me?... You mean, send me to bed without my dinner?" She flees to an abandoned summerhouse on the property and loses herself in a fantasy in which all her deceased family members obey her every whim. She returns for dinner, but when Constance sends her upstairs to wash her hands, Merricat pushes Charles' still-lit pipe into a wastebasket filled with newspapers. The pipe sets fire to the family home, destroying much of the upper portion of the house. The villagers arrive to put out the fire, but, in a wave of long-repressed hatred for the Blackwoods, break into the remaining rooms and destroy them, chanting their children's "Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?" rhyme. In the course of the fire, Julian dies of what is implied to be a heart attack, and Charles demonstrates his true colors (as the villagers riot and destroy the house, he says only, "Listen, will a couple of you guys help me with this safe?"). Merricat and Constance flee for safety into the woods. Constance confesses for the first time that she always knew Merricat poisoned the family; Merricat readily admits to the deed, saying that she put the poison in the sugar bowl because she knew Constance would not take sugar.

Upon returning to their ruined home, Constance and Merricat proceed to salvage what is left of their belongings, close off those rooms too damaged to use, and start their lives anew in the little space left to them: hardly more than the kitchen and cellar. The house, now without a roof, resembles a castle "turreted and open to the sky". Merricat tells Constance they are now living "on the moon". The villagers, awakening at last to a sense of guilt, begin to treat the two sisters as mysterious creatures to be placated with offerings of food left on their doorstep. The story ends with Merricat observing, "Oh, Constance...we are so happy."

Major themes

The novel, which has been described by Jackson's biographer as "a paean to agoraphobia," is alleged to have been based largely on the author's own agoraphobia and nervous conditions. Jackson freely admitted that the two young women in the story were liberally fictionalised versions of her own daughters. Written in deceptively simple language, by an entirely unreliable narrator, the novel is disturbing in its implications that the two heroines may choose to live forever in the remaining three rooms of their home, since they cannot conceive any other mode of life than that which has come about. The genuine affection of the Blackwoods' relationship, as well as most of Julian's rambling exposition (which appears to be a gentle dig at Jackson's husband's rambling lectures), is charming and quirkily amusing. Merricat has been labelled by many critics as the boldest and best of Jackson's female characters.


In March 2002, Book magazine named Mary Katherine Blackwood the seventy-first "best character in fiction since 1900."

-- wiki

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve at Soleil Westwood

Christmas Eve at Soleil Westwood

Okay, so the original plan was to go to El Coyote for Christmas Eve, but we learned they closed early. So, after discarding Miceli's and Ca Brea for the same reasons, we made the decision to pick up Diane's buddy in west hollywood and go to Musso & Frank for christmas eve. We made reservations.

(I jokingly suggested Jan's Coffee Shop as only a last resort.)

Christmas Eve at Soleil Westwood
Christmas Eve at Soleil Westwood

Okay, so that was settled, but earlier in the day, my wifey was taking her mother and niece to see MARY POPPINS at a matinee downtown, so we really didn't know if she'd be too exhausted to go to Hollywood after that. So, after the show ended, Diane called me on her way home and woke me from my christmas eve afternoon nap.

Brian's Plate - Christmas Eve at Soleil Westwood
Diane's Plate - Christmas Eve at Soleil Westwood

She was cool with going to Musso's, but would double check with her buddy. She advised me to hit the showers and I did. I shaved, washed, and put on new underwear. But after all that, Diane's buddy cancelled, so we decided to stay local and went to my new favorite Westwood restaurant SOLEIL. The Chef is French Canadian, so we toasted my mother and her family.

Christmas Eve at Soleil Westwood

We shared a warm spinach salad with a great bottle of dry chardonnay new to their wine list. At long last Diane had the pumpkin ravioli she's lusted after, but hadn't yet ordered, and she added shrimps to the dish for the protein factor. (The myth about Jewish girls not liking shellfish = forgetaboutit. She also adores scallops. I make shrimps and scallops ritually every year for her on New Year's Eve. ) I had the duck with scalloped potatoes. We're becoming regulars here and we have had the same delightful european waiter on each occasion. No poutine this time.

Edward Has Been Punished For Not Believing in Santa Claus

Cabinet Card

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tilly is Reading Swinburne

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909) was an English poet, controversial in his own day. He invented the roundel form, wrote some novels, and contributed to the famous Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.


Swinburne was born at 7 Chester Street, Grosvenor Place, London, on 5 April 1837. He was the eldest of six children born to Captain (later Admiral) Charles Henry Swinburne and Lady Jane Henrietta, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Ashburnham. He grew up at East Dene in Bonchurch on the Isle of Wight and attended Eton college 1849-53, where he first started writing poetry, and then Balliol College, Oxford 1856-60 with a brief hiatus when he was rusticated from the university in 1859, returning in May 1860.

He spent summer holidays at Capheaton Hall in Northumberland, the house of his grandfather, Sir John Swinburne (1762-1860) who had a famous library and was President of the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle upon Tyne. Swinburne considered Northumberland to be his native county, an emotion memorably reflected in poems like the intensely patriotic 'Northumberland', 'Grace Darling' and others. He enjoyed riding his pony across the moors (he was a daring horseman) 'through honeyed leagues of the northland border'. He never called it the Scottish border.

Swinburne caricatured by 'Ape' In Vanity Fair in 1874In the years 1857-60, Swinburne became one of Lady Pauline Trevelyan's intellectual circle at Wallington Hall and after his grandfather's death in 1860, would stay with William Bell Scott in Newcastle. In December 1862, Swinburne accompanied Bell Scott and his guests, probably including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, on a trip to Tynemouth. Scott writes in his memoirs that as they walked by the sea, Swinburne declaimed the as yet unpublished 'Hymn to Proserpine' and 'Laus Veneris' in his strange intonation, while the waves 'were running the whole length of the long level sands towards Cullercoats and sounding like far-off acclamations'.

At university Swinburne associated with the Pre-Raphaelites and counted among his best friends Dante Gabriel Rossetti. After leaving college he lived in London and started an active writing career, where Rossetti was delighted with his 'little Northumbrian friend', a reference to Swinburne's diminutive height - he was just over five feet tall.

His poetic works include: Atalanta in Calydon (1865), Poems and Ballads I (1866), Songs before Sunrise (1871), Poems and Ballads II, (1878) Tristram of Lyonesse (1882), Poems and Ballads III (1889), and the novel Lesbia Brandon (published posthumously).

Poems and Ballads I caused a sensation when it was first published , especially the poems written in homage of Sappho of Lesbos such as "Anactoria" and "Sapphics": Moxon and Co. transferred their publication rights to John Camden Hotten. Other poems in this volume such as "The Leper," "Laus Veneris," and "St Dorothy" evoke a Victorian fascination with the Middle Ages, and are explicitly mediaeval in style, tone and construction. Also featured in this volume are "Hymn to Proserpine", "The Triumph of Time" and "Dolores (Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs)".

Swinburne devised the poetic form Roundel, a variation of the French Rondeau form, and some were included in A Century of Roundels dedicated to Christina Rossetti. Swinburne wrote to Edward Burne-Jones in 1883: "I have got a tiny new book of songs or songlets, in one form and all manner of metres ... just coming out, of which Miss Rossetti has accepted the dedication. I hope you and Georgie [his wife Georgiana, one of the MacDonald sisters] will find something to like among a hundred poems of nine lines each, twenty-four of which are about babies or small children". Opinions of these poems vary between those who find them captivating and brilliant, to those who find them merely clever and contrived. One of them, A Baby's Death, was set to music by the English composer Sir Edward Elgar as the song Roundel: The little eyes that never knew Light.

Swinburne was an alcoholic and algolagniac, and a highly excitable character. His health suffered as a result, and in 1879 at the age of 42 he had a mental and physical breakdown and was taken into care by his friend Theodore Watts, who looked after him for the rest of his life at 11 Putney Hill, Putney SW15. Thereafter he lost his youthful rebelliousness and developed into a figure of social respectability. He died in South West London, on 10 April 1909 at the age of 72 and was buried at St. Boniface Church, Bonchurch on the Isle of Wight.


Swinburne is considered a decadent poet, although he perhaps professed to more vice than he actually indulged in, a fact which Oscar Wilde famously and acerbically commented upon, stating that Swinburne was "a braggart in matters of vice, who had done everything he could to convince his fellow citizens of his homosexuality and bestiality without being in the slightest degree a homosexual or a bestializer."

His mastery of vocabulary, rhyme and metre is impressive, although he has also been criticized for his florid style and word choices that only fit the rhyme scheme rather than contributing to the meaning of the piece. He is the virtual star of the third volume of George Saintsbury's famous History of English Prosody, and A. E. Housman, a more measured and even somewhat hostile critic, devoted paragraphs of praise to his rhyming ability.

Painting by William Bell ScottSwinburne's work was once quite popular among undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge, though today it has gone out of fashion. This is at least somewhat contextual, as it tends to mirror the popular and academic consensus regarding his work, although his Poems and Ballads, First Series and his Atalanta in Calydon have never been out of critical favor.

It was Swinburne's misfortune that the two works, published when he was nearly 30, soon established him as England's premier poet, the successor to Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning. This was a position he held in the popular mind until his death, but sophisticated critics like A. E. Housman felt, rightly or wrongly, that the job of being one of England's very greatest poets was beyond him.

After the first Poems and Ballads, Swinburne's later poetry is devoted more to philosophy and politics (notably, in favour of the unification of Italy, particularly in the volume Songs before Sunrise). He does not stop writing love poetry entirely (including his great epic-length poem, Tristram of Lyonesse), but the content is much less shocking. His versification, and especially his rhyming technique, remain in top form to the end.

T. S. Eliot read Swinburne's essays on the Shakespearean and Jonsonian dramatists in The Contemporaries of Shakespeare and The Age of Shakespeare and Swinburne's books on Shakespeare and Jonson. Writing on Swinburne in 'The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism', Eliot found that as a poet writing notes on poets, he had mastered his material, writing "'he is more reliable to them than Hazlitt, Coleridge, or Lamb: and his perception of relative values is almost always correct." However, Eliot disliked Swinburne's prose. About this he wrote "the tumultuous outcry of adjectives, the headstrong rush of undisciplined sentences, are the index to the impatience and perhaps laziness of a disorderly mind."

-- wiki

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The REAL Scarlett O'Hara ?

Scarlett O'Hara (full name Katherine Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler) is the protagonist in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone with the Wind and in the later film of the same name. She also is the main character in the 1970 musical Scarlett and the 1991 book Scarlett, a sequel to Gone with the Wind that was written by Alexandra Ripley and adapted for a television mini-series in 1994. During early drafts of the original novel, Mitchell referred to her heroine as "Pansy," and did not decide on the name "Scarlett" until just before the novel went to print.

Character development

Scarlett O'Hara is not beautiful in a conventional sense, as indicated by Margaret Mitchell's opening line, but a charming Southern belle who grows up on the Clayton County, Georgia, plantation Tara in the years before the American Civil War. Scarlett is described as being sixteen years old at the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, which would put her approximate birth date in early 1845/late 1844. She is the oldest of three daughters. Her two younger sisters are the lazy and whiny Susan Elinor ("Suellen") and the gentle and kind Caroline Irene ("Carreen"). Her mother also gave birth to three younger sons, who were all named Gerald Jr. and died as infants.

Selfish, shrewd and vain, Scarlett inherits the strong will of her Irish father Gerald O'Hara, but also desires to please her well-bred, gentle French American mother Ellen Robillard, from a good and well respected Savannah, Georgia, family.

Scarlett believes she's in love with Ashley Wilkes, her aristocratic neighbor, but when his engagement to his cousin, the meek and mild-mannered Melanie Hamilton, is announced, she marries Melanie's brother, Charles Hamilton, out of spite. Her new husband goes to train with Wade Hampton's Legion but dies within two months of measles, and never sees battle. The war progresses and near the end of the war the Yankee army, led by the infamous General Sherman, makes its way to Georgia. Scarlett's mother dies of typhoid fever, and her sisters are gravely ill. The Yankee army burns the family's store of cotton, steals the food and livestock, but spares the family home. Scarlett flees nearby Atlanta where she had been living with Melanie, her sister-in-law, and Melanie's aunt during the war ahead of the invading Yankee army, expecting to arrive at Tara to be cared for by her parents. Instead she finds the home and lands damaged, and the family barely surviving.

In the face of hardship, the spoiled Scarlett uncharacteristically shoulders the troubles of her family and friends, and eventually the not-so-grieving widow marries her sister's beau, Frank Kennedy, in order to get funds to pay the taxes on and save her family's beloved home. Her practical nature leads to a willingness to step on anyone who doesn't have her family's best interests at heart, including her own sister. Over the course of the story Scarlett sheds all her illusions — except her "love" for Ashley. The war's upheaval of Scarlett's life and the transforming choices she makes can be seen as a metaphor for the challenges life commonly presents to women, to face or deny; Scarlett's story particularly resonated with a 1936 readership which had just gone through a similar upheaval — the Great Depression.

One of the most richly developed female characters of the time on film and in literature, she repeatedly challenges the prescribed women's roles of her time. As a result, she becomes very disliked by the people of Atlanta, Georgia. Scarlett's ongoing internal conflict between her feelings for the Southern gentleman Ashley and her attraction to the sardonic, opportunistic Rhett Butler—who becomes her third husband—embodies the general position of The South in the Civil War era.


Part of Scarlett's enduring charm for women is her proto-feminism and strength, though recent critics have pointed out that many events in the novel are degrading to women. There is Rhett's "ravishing" of Scarlett (which quickly becomes consensual, and after which Scarlett is shown to have enjoyed herself immensely); Scarlett's apparent need of a man to be happy (whether it's Ashley Wilkes or Rhett Butler), and Melanie's sweet but submissive character (who is much adored by everyone).

However, there have been many defenses for this. First of all, Melanie is not offensive to women, she is simply a more traditional character - she has determination equal to Scarlett's (see the scene at Tara when Melanie praised Scarlett after the latter killed a Northern soldier who wanted to loot the house, and Melanie's repeated defense of Scarlett against the ladies of Atlanta and even against her own beloved husband Ashley. Rhett Butler recognizes and respects the courage and strength in Melanie, to Scarlett's puzzled annoyance). And again, Scarlett is an individual character, and her need for a man should not be interpreted as universal. (Indeed, her three marriages obviously have ulterior motives, whether these motives are to upset and startle those around her, such as the Hamilton marriage, or for financial security and betterment, for which Scarlett married both Kennedy and Butler.)

Scarlett is by far the most developed character in Gone with the Wind. She stands out because she is strong and saves her family but is incredibly selfish and petty at the same time. She challenges nineteenth-century society's gender roles repeatedly, running a store and two lumber mills at one point. Scarlett is in some ways the least stereotypically feminine of women (in other ways the most), and the more traditional Melanie Wilkes is in many ways her foil. But Scarlett survives the war, the birth of children, and even a miscarriage. Melanie, on the other hand, struggles with fragile health and a shy nature. Without Melanie Wilkes, Scarlett might simply be seen as harsh and "over the top," but beside Melanie, Scarlett presents a fresher, deeper female characterization; she lives a complicated life during a difficult period of history.

Some of Scarlett's lines from Gone with the Wind, like "Fiddle-dee-dee!," "Tomorrow is another day," "Great balls of fire!" and "I'll never be hungry again!", have become modern catchphrases.

Similarities between Scarlett and the actress who played her (Vivien Leigh) are striking:

Both had strong career ambitions, and wanted little to do with motherhood. Both swore they would never again have a child.

Scarlett's father was Irish, and her mother was French. Leigh's mother was Irish and father was French.

Both Scarlett and Leigh were famed for their appearance, their unusual eyes and petite body proportions.

Both were reputed to be "difficult" in relationships.

Both Scarlett and Leigh were Roman Catholic.

Historical sources for the character

While Margaret Mitchell used to say that her Gone with The Wind characters were not based on real people, modern researchers have found similarities to some of the people in Mitchell's own life as well as individuals she heard of. Rhett Butler is thought to be based on Mitchell's first husband, Red Upshaw, who reportedly raped her during their brief marriage. Scarlett's upbringing resembled that of Mitchell's maternal grandmother, Annie Fitzgerald Stephens (1845-1934), who was raised on a plantation in Clayton County, Georgia (where the fictional Tara was placed), and whose father was an Irish immigrant. Another source for Scarlett might have been Martha Bulloch Roosevelt, the mother of US president Theodore Roosevelt. Martha grew up in a beautiful southern mansion, Bulloch Hall, in Roswell, just north of Atlanta, Georgia. Her physical appearance, beauty, grace and intelligence were well known to Mitchell and the personality similarities (the positive ones) between Martha, who was also called Mittie, and Scarlett were striking. Some say that some of Scarlett's plotting and scheming aspects might have been drawn from Martha Bulloch Roosevelt's beautiful and vivacious, independently wealthy and grandparent-spoiled, rebellious and attention-seeking granddaughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

-- wiki

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nelly Has Just Been Cast in THE MIKADO

The Mikado or, The Town of Titipu is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaborations. It opened on March 14, 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, which was the second longest run for any work of musical theatre and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. Before the end of 1885, it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera. The Mikado remains the most frequently performed Savoy Opera, and it is especially popular with amateur and school productions. The work has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history.

Setting the opera in Japan, an exotic locale far away from Britain, allowed Gilbert to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese. Gilbert used foreign or fictional locales in several operas, including The Mikado, Princess Ida, The Gondoliers, Utopia, Limited and The Grand Duke, to soften the impact of his pointed satire of British institutions.

-- wiki

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Niece Santa Izzy

My Niece Santa Izzy
My Niece Santa Izzy - Naughty
My Niece Santa Izzy - Nice

This is my beloved niece IZZY. Not a bad looking Santa for a Jewish kid from Beverly Glen Canyon.

Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song

There was a time when I thought Adam Sandler was too obnoxious even for me. Like most bad first impressions, I soon found a kinship with the brief object of my contempt. Now I love the guy. He's shown his range and his intelligence. We'll see if he becomes another Chaplin, Groucho, or Jerry Lewis. My guess: he could be all three. We'll see.

BTWFAMCF (by the way for all my christian friends), as of Sunset, Hanukkah is fini for this year. So, for all you proper WASPS, you can officially change your standard daily greeting or response to your Jewish friends and acquaintances from "Happy Hanukkah" to the simple and polite "Happy Holidays." Personally, I think it is okay to say both. But do what you want. Follow my recommendations only if you need the instruction. Don't worry. The rules of etiquette shall be preserved. Rome will not fall.

Somebody had to post this video. It might as well be from the goy in the family.

Adam Richard Sandler (born September 9, 1966) is an American actor, comedian, musician, screenwriter and film producer. He is the founder of Happy Madison Productions, a film production company that also developed the television series Rules of Engagement.

After becoming a Saturday Night Live cast member, he went on to star in several Hollywood feature films that grossed over US$100 million at the box office. He is best known for his comedic roles, such as in the films Billy Madison (1995), Big Daddy (1999), and Mr. Deeds (2002), though he has ventured into more dramatic territory.

Early life

Adam Sandler was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Judy, a nursery school teacher, and Stanley Sandler, an electrical engineer. Sandler is Jewish. When he was five, his family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he attended Manchester Central High School. He found he was a natural comic, and nurtured his talent while at New York University by performing regularly in clubs and on campuses. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1988.

Later in his career, he would often draw on his earliest memories for material for his comedy and movies. The song "Lunchlady Land" is dedicated to Emalee, the lunchlady at Hayden Dining Hall at New York University. In the movie Click, Sandler goes to Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire, where he went to summer camp.

Acting career

In the mid to late 1980s, Sandler played Theo Huxtable's friend, Smitty, on The Cosby Show (1987–1988). He was a performer for the MTV game show Remote Control, on which he made appearances as the characters "Trivia Delinquent" or "Stud Boy". Early in his career, Sandler performed in comedy clubs, taking the stage at his brother's urging when he was only 17. He was discovered by comedian Dennis Miller, who caught Sandler's act in Los Angeles. Miller recommended him to Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels. Sandler was hired as a writer for SNL in 1990 and became a featured player the following year, making a name for himself by performing amusing original songs on the show, including "The Chanukah Song". He left the show in 1995 to focus on his film career.

Sandler's first starring role was in 1989, in the film Going Overboard. In 1995, he starred in Billy Madison, in which he plays a grown, though uneducated, man repeating grades 1–12 to earn back his father's respect, along with the right to inherit his father's multi-million-dollar hotel empire. In At The Movies, Siskel and Ebert gave the film a very bad review, and said of Sandler "...Not an attractive screen presence, he might have a career as a villain or a fall guy or the butt of a joke, but as the protagonist his problem is he creates the fingernails on the blackboard" with Siskel adding " don't have a good motivation for the character's behavior". He followed this film with other financially successful comedies such as Bulletproof (1996), Happy Gilmore (1996) and The Wedding Singer (1998). He was initially cast in the bachelor-party-themed comedy/thriller Very Bad Things (1998), but had to back out due to his involvement in The Waterboy (1998), one of his first hits.

Although his earlier films did not receive critical praise, his more recent films, beginning with Punch-Drunk Love (2002), have received almost uniformly positive reviews. Some critics concluded that Sandler possessed considerably more acting ability that they believed had been previously wasted on poorly written scripts and characters with no development. Sandler has moved outside the genre of slapstick comedy to take on more serious parts such as the aforementioned Punch-Drunk Love (for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe), Spanglish (2004) and Reign Over Me (2007). He played a loving father figure in Big Daddy (1999). During filming, he met Jacqueline Samantha Titone—his future wife and mother of his daughter—who was cast as the waitress from The Blarney Stone Bar.

The handprints of Adam Sandler in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.At one point, Sandler was considered for the part that went to Jamie Foxx in Collateral (2004). He also was one of the finalists along with Jim Carrey and Johnny Depp for the role of Willy Wonka in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). He returned to more dramatic fare with Mike Binder's Reign Over Me (2007), a drama about a man who loses his entire family in 9/11 and rekindles a friendship with his old college roommate (played by Don Cheadle). He starred in the film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007) alongside Kevin James, as a New York City fireman pretending to be gay to keep up an insurance scam so that his best friend's children can have benefits. Sandler headlined You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008), a comedy about a Mossad agent who fakes his own death and moves to the United States to become a hair stylist. The film was written by Sandler, The 40-Year-Old Virgin writer-director Judd Apatow (who was an old roommate of Sandler's when both were starting out), and Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog creator Robert Smigel, and was directed by Happy Gilmore director Dennis Dugan.

"Like Will Ferrell, Sandler has layers of tenderness under layers of irony under layers of tenderness—plus a floating anger like Jupiter’s great red spot," wrote David Edelstein of New York magazine in a review of You Don't Mess with the Zohan. "Some performers become stars because we can read them instantly, others—like Sandler—because we never tire of trying to get a fix on them."

Sandler recently starred in Bedtime Stories (2008), a fantasy film directed by Bringing Down the House director Adam Shankman, about a stressed hotel maintenance worker whose bedtime stories he reads to his niece and nephew begin to come true. This marked Sandler's first family film and first film under the Walt Disney banner. Keri Russell and English comedian Russell Brand co-starred.

In 2009, Sandler starred in Judd Apatow's third directorial feature Funny People. He played a very successful stand up comedian who finds out he has a terminal illness and he takes a young inexperienced comic, played by Seth Rogen, under his wing. Other co-stars included Eric Bana and Apatow's wife, Leslie Mann. The film contained more dramatic elements than Apatow's previous efforts. Filming began in October 2008 and finished in January 2009. The film was released on July 31, 2009. At one point, Sandler was in talks to star in Quentin Tarantino's World War II film Inglourious Basterds, which he confirmed, but he did not appear in it due to a scheduling conflict with Funny People.

Sandler's next film will be Grown Ups, where he will be teaming up with Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and David Spade (all of whom have worked with Sandler before but not all in the same film) for a film about five best friends from high school who reunite 30 years later on the 4th of July weekend. Other costars include Salma Hayek (playing Sandler's wife), Maria Bello (playing James' wife), and fellow SNL alumni Maya Rudolph (playing Rock's wife), Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, and Norm Macdonald. Sandler and Dickie Roberts scribe Fred Wolf wrote the script and Dennis Dugan directed the film. Filming took place over the summer and it is set to be released on June 25, 2010. Sandler will also provide the voice of a capuchin monkey in Kevin James' Zookeeper.

Happy Madison Productions

Sandler formed his film production company, Happy Madison Productions, in 1999, first producing fellow SNL alumnus Rob Schneider's film, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. Happy Madison has produced all of Sandler's subsequent films to date with the exceptions Punch Drunk Love and Spanglish. Reign Over Me and Funny People were produced by Happy Madison but under the subsidiary label "Madison 23".

Sandler is known for consistently working with a core group of friends and associates through Happy Madison, frequently casting fellow SNL performers in various roles in his films. Sandler and Happy Madison produced SNL contemporary Rob Schneider's vehicles Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999), The Animal (2001), The Hot Chick (2002), and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005), and The Benchwarmers (2006), with Sandler making cameo appearances in the middle three. Meanwhile, Schneider has appeared in cameo roles in Sandler films The Waterboy, Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, Click, The Longest Yard, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and Bedtime Stories. Schneider had larger roles in Sandler films Big Daddy, 50 First Dates, Eight Crazy Nights, You Don't Mess with the Zohan, and the upcoming Grown Ups.

Happy Madison produced David Spade's Joe Dirt, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, and The Benchwarmers, which also featured Rob Schneider. Spade additionally made a cameo appearance in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and has a prominent supporting role in Grown Ups. Sandler cameoed as a special audience member in an episode of The Showbiz Show with David Spade. SNL contemporary Kevin Nealon has appeared in nine Happy Madison productions or Sandler films, including Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, Little Nicky, Joe Dirt, Eight Crazy Nights, Anger Management, Grandma's Boy, You Don't Mess with the Zohan and the Dana Carvey vehicle, The Master of Disguise.

Happy Madison also produced Paul Blart: Mall Cop, the first starring vehicle for Kevin James. James had costarred with Sandler in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and made a cameo appearance in You Don't Mess with the Zohan. Happy Madison will also produce James' next starring vehicle Zookeeper after he finishes filming on Grown Ups.

He appeared as the featured guest on the final episode of John McEnroe's eponymous CNBC talk show, airing in late 2004. McEnroe appeared as himself in three of Sandler's films (Mr. Deeds, Anger Management, and You Don't Mess with the Zohan).

Anna Faris, who appeared in The Hot Chick, became the first female actor to headline a production for Happy Madison with The House Bunny and will headline another film for Happy Madison in the near future.

Others who frequently appear in Sandler films include Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Jon Lovitz, Clint Howard, Norm MacDonald, Nick Swardson, and longtime Sandler pals Allen Covert, Peter Dante, and Jonathan Loughran.

In June 2007, it was announced that Happy Madison had made a preemptive acquisition for Mitch Albom's screenwriting debut.

In June 2008, it was announced that Sandler will be executive producer for a horror thriller titled The Shortcut under a nascent genre label for Happy Madison called "Scary Madison".

In October 2009, it was announced that Sandler and Happy Madison will produce the Richard Pryor biopic Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? for Sony, the company's first major dramatic production. The film was written by Bill Condon, who is set to direct, and Pryor will be played by Marlon Wayans, who is replacing Eddie Murphy.

Personal life

On June 22, 2003, Sandler married actress Jacqueline Samantha Titone, and they are the parents of two daughters, Sadie Madison Sandler, born May 6, 2006, at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, and Sunny Madeline Sandler, born November 2, 2008. Sandler lives with his family in Los Angeles, although he also has a home in New York.

In 2007, Sandler made a $1 million dollar donation to the Boys and Girls Club in his hometown, Manchester, New Hampshire. He also donated $2100 to Republican Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign the same year.

-- wiki

Lacy Purses Her Lips to Look More Like Julia Roberts

Friday, December 18, 2009

Are These the Women Who Brought Us Prohibition?

Lucy, Greta, and Mrs. Henrietta Standish

A temperance movement is a social movement against the use of alcoholic beverages. Temperance movements may criticize excessive alcohol use, promote complete abstinence, or pressure the government to enact anti-alcohol legislation.

As the American Revolution approached, economic change and urbanization were accompanied by increasing poverty, ordinances were relaxed and alcohol problems increased dramatically. Apparently influenced by Dr. Benjamin Rush's widely discussed belief, about 200 farmers in a Connecticut community formed a temperance association in 1789. Similar associations were formed in Virginia in 1800 and New York State in 1808. Within the next decade, other temperance organizations were formed in eight states, some being state-wide organizations.

The future looked bright for the young movement, which advocated temperance or levelness rather than abstinence. But many of the leaders overestimated their strength; they expanded their activities and took positions on observance of the Sabbath, and other moral issues. They became involved in political in-fighting and by the early 1820s their movement stalled.

But some leaders persevered in pressing their cause forward. Americans such as Lyman Beecher, who was a Connecticut minister, had started to lecture his fellow citizens against all use of liquor in 1825. The American Temperance Society was formed in 1826 and benefited from a renewed interest in religion and morality. Within 12 years it claimed more than 8,000 local groups and over 1,500,000 members. By 1839, 18 temperance journals were being published. Simultaneously, many Protestant churches were beginning to promote temperance.

In 1880 the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) established a Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction in Schools and Colleges, with Mary Hunt as National Superintendent. She believed that voters "must first be convinced that alcohol and kindred narcotics are by nature outlaws, before they will outlaw them. Elizabeth D. Gelok was one of the women that taught Scientific Temperance Instruction at the Schools and Colleges for the students. She was also a member of the WCTU along with Mary Hunt. She was one of the most well-known a Scientific Temperance Instruction teachers Elizabeth decided to use legislation to coerce the moral suasion of students, who would be the next generation of voters. This gave birth to the idea of the compulsory Scientific Temperance Instruction Movement.

By the turn of the century, Mary Hunt’s efforts along with Elizabeth's and the other teacher's proved to be highly successful. Virtually every state, the District of Columbia, and all United States possessions had strong legislation mandating that all students receive anti-alcohol education. Furthermore, the implementation of this legislation was closely monitored down to the classroom level by legions of determined and vigilant WCTU members throughout the nation.

Temperance writers viewed the WCTU's program of compulsory temperance education as a major factor leading to the establishment of National Prohibition with passage of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Other knowledgeable observers, including the U.S. Commissioner of Education, agreed.

Because of the correlation between drinking and domestic violence—many drunken husbands abused family members—the temperance movement existed alongside various women's rights and other movements, including the Progressive movement, and often the same activists were involved in all of the above. Many notable voices of the time, ranging from Lucy Webb Hayes to Susan B. Anthony, were active in the movement. In Canada, Nellie McClung was a longstanding advocate of temperance. As with most social movements, there was a gamut of activists running from violent (Carrie Nation) to mild (Neal S. Dow).

For decades prohibition was seen by temperance movement zealots and their followers as the almost magical solution to the nation's poverty, crime, violence, and other ills. On the eve of prohibition the invitation to a church celebration in New York said "Let the church bells ring and let there be great rejoicing, for an enemy has been overthrown and victory crowns the forces of righteousness." Jubilant with victory, some in the WCTU announced that, having brought Prohibition to the United States, it would now go forth to bring the blessing of enforced abstinence to the rest of the world.

Temperance organizations of the United States played an essential role in bringing about ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution establishing national prohibition of alcohol.

In the history of the United States, Prohibition, also known as The Noble Experiment, is the period from 1919 to 1933, during which the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption were banned nationally as mandated in the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Under substantial pressure from the temperance movement, the United States Senate proposed the Eighteenth Amendment on December 18, 1917. Having been approved by 36 states, the 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and effected on January 16, 1920. Some state legislatures had already enacted statewide prohibition prior to the ratification of the 18th Amendment.

The "Volstead Act", the popular name for the National Prohibition Act, passed through Congress over President Woodrow Wilson's veto on October 28, 1919 and established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor. Though the Volstead Act prohibited the sale of alcohol, it did little to enforce the law. The illegal production and distribution of liquor, or bootlegging, became rampant, and the national government did not have the means or desire to enforce every border, lake, river, and speakeasy in America. By 1925, in New York City alone, there were anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs.

Prohibition became increasingly unpopular during the Great Depression, especially in large cities. On March 23, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison Act, allowing the manufacture and sale of certain kinds of alcoholic beverages.

On December 5, 1933, the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment.

Carry A. Nation (November 25, 1846 – June 9, 1911) was a member of the temperance movement—which opposed alcohol in pre-Prohibition America—particularly noted for promoting her viewpoint through vandalism. On many occasions, Nation would enter an alcohol-serving establishment and attack the bar with a hatchet. She has been the topic of numerous books, articles and even a 1966 opera by Douglas Moore, first performed at the University of Kansas.

Nation was a large woman nearly 6 feet (180 cm) tall and weighing 175 pounds (80 kg). She described herself as "a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn't like," and claimed a divine ordination to promote temperance by smashing up bars.

The spelling of her first name is ambiguous and both Carrie and Carry are considered correct. Official records say Carrie, which Nation used most of her life, but Carry was used by her father in the family Bible. Upon beginning her campaign against liquor in the early 20th century, she adopted the name Carry A. Nation mainly for its value as a slogan, and had it registered as a trademark in the state of Kansas.

-- wiki

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bernadette Likes to Cheat at Faro

Faro, Pharaoh, Farobank, is a late 17th century French gambling card game descendant of Basset, and belongs to the Lansquenet and Monte Bank family of games, in that it is played between a banker and several players winning or losing according to the cards turned up matching those already exposed or not.

Although not a direct relative of Poker, Faro was played by the masses alongside its other popular counterpart, due to its fast action, easy-to-learn rules, and better odds than most games of chance. The game of Faro is played with only one deck of cards and allows for any number of players, usually referred to as "punters."

With its name shortened to Faro, it soon spread to the America in the 19th century to become the most widespread and popularly favored gambling game in America. Also called "Bucking the Tiger", which comes from early card backs that featured a drawing of a Bengal Tiger, it was played in almost every gambling hall in the Old West from 1825 to 1915.

Faro's detractors regarded it as a dangerous scam that destroyed families and reduced men to poverty, because of rampant rigging of the dealing box, so that many sporting-house began to supply companies gaffed dealing boxes specially designed so that the bankers could cheat on the players. Cheating then became so prevalent that editions of Hoyle’s Rules of Games book began their Faro section warning readers that a single honest faro bank could not be found in the United States. While the game became scarce after World War II, it continued to be played at a few Las Vegas and Reno casinos through 1985.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Today's post begins a series of tintypes on display. The tintype tends to be dark, so I brightened these up in Photoshop in order to be able to see more detail. Of course, these would look best with a black background.

Tintype, also melainotype and ferrotype, is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a sheet of iron metal that is blackened by painting, laquering or enamelling and is used as a support for a collodion photographic emulsion.

Photographers usually worked outside at fairs, carnivals etc. and as the support of the tintype (there is no actual tin used) is resilient and does not need drying, instant photographs can be produced only a few minutes after taking the photograph.

An ambrotype uses the same process and methods on a sheet of glass that is mounted in a case with a black backing so the underexposed negative image appears as a positive. Tintypes did not need mounting in a case and were not as delicate as photographs that used glass for the support.

Technical details

The process was identical to the wet plate process, where collodion is employed to produce a photographic emulsion where silver halide crystals (silver bromide, silver chloride and silver iodide) are suspended in the collodion, and are chemically reduced to crystals of metallic silver that vary in density according to the original light values of the original image.

When a photographic negative image on film or plate is very underexposed, it appears as a positive when viewed against a dark background. This is the basis of the process: a very underexposed image is produced on a collodion photographic emulsion on a dark metal backing; thus viewed the image appears as a positive. The fact that an underexposed image is required means that the effective film speed is increased and shorter exposures can be used, which is a great advantage in portraiture.


The process was first described by Adolphe-Alexandre Martin in France in 1853, and patented in the United States on February 19, 1856 by Hamilton Smith, professor at Kenyon College, in Ohio. William Kloen also patented the process in the United Kingdom in the same year. It was first called melainotype, and then ferrotype (by a rival manufacturer of the iron plates used); finally came the name tintype. All three names describe both the process and the resulting photograph.


The ambrotype was the first wet-plate collodion process, invented by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851 and introduced in the United States by James Ambrose Cutting in 1854.

Success of the tintype

While the ambrotype remained very popular in the rest of the world, the tintype process had superseded the ambrotype in the United States by the end of the Civil War. It became the most common photographic process until the introduction of modern, gelatin-based processes and the invention of the reloadable amateur camera by the Kodak company. Ferrotypes had waned in popularity by the end of the 19th century, although a few makers were still around as late as the 1950s and the images are still made as novelties at some European carnivals.

Advantages of the tintype

The tintype was a minor improvement to the ambrotype, replacing the glass plate of the original process with a thin piece of black-enameled, or japanned, iron (hence ferro). The new materials reduced costs considerably; and the image, in gelatin-silver emulsion on the varnished surface, has proven to be very durable. Like that of the ambrotype, the tintype's image is technically negative; but, because of the black background, it appears as a positive. Since the tintype 'film' was the same as the final print, most tintype images appear reversed (left to right) from reality. Some cameras were fitted with mirrors or a 45-degree prism to reverse (and thus correct) the image, while some photographers would photograph the reversed tintype to produce a properly oriented image.

Tintypes are simple and fast to prepare, compared to other early photographic techniques. A photographer could prepare, expose, develop, and varnish a tintype plate in a few minutes, quickly having it ready for a customer. Earlier tintypes were often cased, as were daguerreotypes and ambrotypes; but uncased images in paper sleeves and for albums were popular from the beginning.


Ferrotyping is a finishing treatment applied to glossy photographic paper to bring out its reflective properties. Newly developed, still-wet photographic prints and enlargements that have been made on glossy paper are Squeegeed onto a polished metal plate called a ferrotyping plate. When these are later peeled off the plate, they retain a highly reflective gloss.

-- wiki

Maureen Waits For Her Husband To Hang the Drapes


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Exhausted Naudia Baked a Pan of Shortbread

Shortbread is a type of biscuit (cookie) which is traditionally made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts oatmeal flour. The use of plain white (wheat) flour is common today, and other ingredients like ground rice or cornflour are sometimes added to alter the texture.

Shortbread is so named because of its crumbly texture (from an old meaning of the word short). The cause of this texture is its high fat content, provided by the butter. The short or crumbly texture is a result of the fact that the fat inhibits the formation of long protein (gluten) strands. The related word "shortening" refers to any fat that may be added to produce a short (crumbly) texture.

Shortbread is not to be confused with shortcake, which is similar to shortbread but can be made using vegetable fat instead of butter and always uses a chemical leavening agent such as baking powder, which gives it a different texture.

Shortbread biscuits are often associated with normal egg-based biscuits, but they hold their shape under pressure, making them ideal for packed meals.

Shortbread is baked at a low temperature to avoid browning. When cooked, it is nearly white, or a light golden brown. They may be sprinkled with more sugar while cooling. It may even be crumbly before cooled, but will become firmer after cooling.

Shortbread is traditionally formed into one of three shapes: one large circle, which is divided into segments as soon as it is taken out of the oven ("Petticoat Tails," named from the French 'petits cotés,' a pointed biscuit eaten with wine); individual round biscuits ("Shortbread Rounds"); or a thick (¾" or 2 cm) oblong slab cut into "fingers."

The stiff dough retains its shape well during cooking. The biscuits are often patterned, usually with the tines of a fork before cooking or with a springerle-type cookie mold. Shortbread is also sometimes shaped in hearts and other shapes for special occasions.

Shortbread is generally associated with and originated in Scotland, but due to its popularity it is also made in the remainder of the United Kingdom, and other countries like Denmark, Ireland and Sweden. In the latter a popular recipe of it is called "Drömmar", literally meaning "dreams" in English. The Scottish version is the best-known, and Walkers Shortbread Ltd is Scotland's largest food exporter.

Shortbread was chosen as the United Kingdom's representative for Café Europe during the 2006 Austrian Presidency of the European Union.

Scottish chef John Quigley, of Glasgow's Red Onion, describes shortbread as "the jewel in the crown" of Scottish baking.

-- wiki

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Natalie Plays A Mean Game of Gin Rummy

Gin rummy (or Gin for short) is a simple and popular two-player card game created by Elwood T. Baker and his son, C. Graham Baker, in 1909. Gin, which evolved from 18th-century Whiskey Poker (according to John Scarne), was created with the intention of being faster than standard rummy, but not as spontaneous as knock rummy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rhonda Can't Wait to Get Back to Work at the Shirtwaist Factory

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was one of the largest industrial disasters in the history of the city of New York, causing the death of 146 garment workers who either died from the fire or jumped to their deaths. It was the worst workplace disaster in New York City until September 11, 2001. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, which fought for better and safer working conditions for sweatshop workers in that industry. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was located inside the Asch Building, now known as the Brown Building of Science. It has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and a New York City landmark.

-- wiki

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Prudence Liked Debussy Before Debussy Was Cool

"How about a little Debussy for my Pussy?"

-- From the 1971 play FATHER'S DAY by Oliver Hailey

Achille-Claude Debussy (August 22, 1862 – March 25, 1918) was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions. Debussy is not only among the most important of all French composers but also a central figure in European music at the turn of the twentieth century.

His music is noted for its sensory component and how it is not often formed around one key or pitch. Often Debussy's work reflected the activities or turbulence in his own life. His music virtually defines the transition from late-Romantic music to twentieth century modernist music. In French literary circles, the style of this period was known as symbolism, a movement that directly inspired Debussy both as a composer and as an active cultural participant.

Debussy had a wide range of influences, including the great Russian composers of his time. The most prominent influences on Debussy were Tchaikovsky, Balakirev, Rimsy-Korsakov, Borodin and Musorgsky. It can be inferred that from the Russians “Debussy acquired his taste for ancient and oriental modes and for vivid colorations, and a certain disdain for academic rules.” Specifically, Musorgsky’s opera Boris Godunov directly influenced one of Debssy’s most famous works, Pelléas et Mélisande. In addition to the Russian composers, one of Debussy’s biggest influences was Richard Wagner. According to Pierre Louys, Debussy “did not see ‘what anyone can do beyond Tristan.” After Debussy’s Wagner phase, he started to become immensely interested in non-western music. He was drawn to unorthodox approaches to composition that non-western music utilized. Specifically, he was drawn to a Javanese Gamelan, which was a musical ensemble from the island of Java that played an array of unique instrumentation. He first heard the gamelan at the 1889 Paris Exposition. Debussy was not as interested in directly citing his non-western influence in his music, but instead used his non-western influence to shape his unique musical style in more of a general way.

Debussy was just as influenced, if not more influenced by other art forms than he was by music. He took a strong interest in literature and visual art and used these mediums to help shape his unique musical style. Debussy was heavily influenced by the French symbolist movement, which was an art movement in 1885 that influenced art forms such as poetry, visual art, and theatre. He shared the movement’s interest in the esoteric and indefinite and rejection of naturalism and realism.

Specifically, “the development of free verse in poetry and the disappearance of the subject or model in painting influenced Debussy to think about issues of musical form.” Debussy became personally acquainted with writers and painters of the movement and based his own works off of those of the symbolists. One of Debussy’s main influences was the famous poet Mallerme, who “held the idea of a ‘musicalization’ of poetry.” In other words, Mallerme drew strong connections between music and his poetry. Debussy wrote Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, which was directly influenced by Mallerme’s poem “Afternoon of a Faun.” Like the symbolists in respect to their own art forms, Debussy aimed to reject common techniques and approaches to composition and attempted to evoke more of a sensorial experience for the listener with his works. Since his time at the Paris Conservatoire, Debussy believed he had much more to learn from artists than from musicians who were primarily interested in their musical careers.

Claude Debussy died of rectal cancer in Paris on March 25, 1918, in the midst of the aerial and artillery bombardment of the city during the Spring Offensive of World War I. At this time, the military situation in France was desperate, and circumstances did not permit his being paid the honour of a public funeral or ceremonious graveside orations. The funeral procession made its way through deserted streets to Père Lachaise cemetery as shells from the German guns ripped into his beloved city. It was just eight months before France would celebrate victory. His body was reinterred shortly afterwards in the small Cimetière de Passy sequestered behind the Trocadéro; his wife and daughter are buried with him. French culture has ever since celebrated Debussy as one of its most distinguished representatives.

-- wiki

BTW, yours truly performed in FATHER'S DAY at Cal-State University Fullerton in 1976.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Westwood Girls Walking

"How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm?"
(After They've Seen Paree)

Words by Sam M. Lewis, 1885-1959
and Joe Young, 1889-1939
Music by Walter Donaldson, 1891-1947

Published 1919, Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co., Music Publishing,
Strand Theatre Bldg., Broadway at 47th St., New York.

Verse 1:
“Reuben, Reuben, I’ve been thinking,”
Said his wifey dear;
“Now that all is peaceful and calm,
The boys will soon be back on the farm;”
Mister Reuben, started wink-ing,
And slowly rubbed his chin;
He pulled his chair up close to mother,
And he asked her with a grin:

CHORUS [sung twice after each verse]
How ’ya gonna keep ’em, down on the farm,
After they’ve seen Pa-ree?
How ’ya gonna keep ’em away from Broad-way;
Jazzin’ a-’round’,
And paintin’ the town?
How ’ya gonna keep ’em away from harm?
That’s a mistery;
They’ll never want to see a rake or plow,
And who the deuce can parleyvous a cow?
How ’ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm,
After they’ve seen Paree?

Verse 2:
“Reuben, Reuben, You’re mistaken,”
Said his wifey dear;
“Once a farmer, always a jay,
And farmers always stick to the hay;”
“Mother Reuben, I’m not fakin’,
Tho’ you may think it strange;
But wine and women play the mischief,
With a boy who’s loose with change:”

Photographed on 11/17/09 in Westwood Village, Los Angeles, California. The music is public domain from the Library of Congress.