Thursday, December 30, 2010

Downton Abbey Costume Drama

I have just finished watching a new ITV Costume drama series, "Downton Abbey", that will be shown on PBS in 2011, written by Julian Fellows, scribe of "Gosford Park", one of my favorite films of all time. "Downton Abbey" concerns the aristocratic Crawley family in Northern England during the years 1912-1914, on the eve of The Great War. My internet sleuthing has allowed me to preview these episodes before they arrive here, and I can't wait for the second series to begin - next year! Filmed at the stunning Highclere Castle, The cast includes the usual suspects, Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter (Mr. Imelda Staunton), Phyllis Logan, Brendan Coyle (from "North & South") and a host of others you may recognize from other favorite dramas. The brilliant Brian Percival, who directed "North & South", another fine drama, helms 3 episodes. It will be captivating entertainment to warm the long winter months ahead.

Julian Fellows, an inspiration to late bloomers everywhere, won a first Oscar for "Gosford Park" at age 52. He seems to be making up for lost time (he was an actor for many years) by creating a cottage industry for himself writing about aristocratic England, with novels, screenplays and TV series. This new series is wonderfully penned and directed, and if you can't wait to see it, you can pre-order it at Amazon. I know I did! By the way, you must own a copy of "Gosford Park" on DVD; Fellowes provides what is possibly the best narrated commentary ever!

Check out The Enchanted Serenity of Period Films for a look at the costumes. This is a wonderful site - please bookmark it!

There is another fantastic website called Recycled Movie Costumes, where, helped by sharp-eyed costume-watching contributors, you can spot recycled period costumes from drama to drama. There are never enough rentable costumes available, even in the UK where 19th and early 20th century dramas are a major industry, and smaller budgets every year for the building of new frocks, so recycling has become an art unto itself. This link takes you to a page devoted to "Downton Abbey". I hope that you have some time to spend here - you'll need it, as it's fascinating.

Here's an article about recycled costumes at the Daily Mail that's a fun read.

Photos taken from "Enchanted Serenity of Period Films", from promotional material from ITV. DOWNTON ABBEY debuts on PBS on Sunday, January 9. Check the PBS website for scheduling in your area.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dad's Yahrzeit

Miss You Like Crazy, Dad. One year ago today on the Hebrew Calendar.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It's that time of year, dear ones, and I wish all of my readers and followers the merriest of Christmases! I hope that wherever you are, the spirit of the season reaches you, and maybe even some actual spirits - of the supernatural or alcoholic kind. I am settling in with Bailey's and some movie favorites, fireplace all aglow for the last Christmas at the Old Homestead.the On hand are The Bishop's Wife, George C. Scott and Alastair Sim A Christmas Carol, A Cranford Christmas, and a few others that I will probably not get to. Tomorrow I will be with good friends but am thinking of Dad and the many Christmas Eves that we spent together, often at the movies and then at home watching Midnight Mass on the telly from St. Patrick's Cathedral or the Vatican.
Here you were, last year, settling in, all cozy by the fire:

As I will be, this evening!

Christmas in NYC Pictures

Every year I take on the burdensome task of traipsing around in the cold and crowds just so I can take photos of the holiday store windows to post on Flickr and my blog.

No, really, I enjoy it. The city looks so lovely and as I am a fan of shine and sparkle, I always have a good time. I'm a little slow getting these pictures edited (hundreds, I tell you!), so they are just appearing HERE and I think a week or two later. After seeing "A Life In The Theater" with a friend on Broadway, we did the Saks-to-Bergdorf Goodman route up Fifth Avenue. The Bergdorf Windows are especially fine this year, and I hope to have those up and edited this evening. If you can't get to the city, at least you can check out the windows online - there are many more at Flickr, I'm sure.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Moon and I

Lunar Eclipse, 2 AM, Manhattan, New York City. An ordinary digital camera and the moon, almost 1/4 in shadow. Tried in vain to get onto NASA's site, and cannot find a live cam from my area. It's totally freezing out there, and the night doorman joined me with his own camera, taking pictures. He can go out and check the eclipse's progress, but I am off to bed. I'm looking forward to looking at MUCH better pictures in the morning!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NEW in the Shops

It's been quite cold here in New York City for December - in the low twenties, which is what I'd expect for January and February. As a result, I have been spending some more time indoors and have made a few new pieces for the season.

For those of you who enjoy listening to holiday music at this time of year, WQXR is streaming Christmas music 24/7 via your computer at this link.

To get to the music,look on the right at the blue box that says "What's On". There's a bright blue bar with the word "Special" on the far right. Click on that and then "Listen Now" and after a brief ad you will get to the music! I have enjoyed hearing choral favorites and carols, and of course the Nutcracker is played at least 10 times a day. I have been listening for a week or so, and vocally the rotation is heavily featuring Bryn Terfel, Kathleen Battle and Thomas Hampson. Very calming and seasonal.

Stay warm, everyone in a cold climate, and enjoy the season!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

15-20% off SALE in ALL Shops

I have so much STUFF in my shops, and will be adding even more, so I am putting a lot of older items on sale for the month of December. Check both shops at the links on the left; there are some good discounts on higher-priced pieces. I hope that you enjoy your browse and find some interesting things for friends, family, and of course, yourself!

You'll find the same items and prices at both Etsy and Artfire.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Halloween and Metropolitan Museum Jaunt

"Ancient Rome" (1757) painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini (Italian, Roman, 1691–1765)

I FINALLY got around to editing my photos of my brief trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Halloween (!) specifically to see the exhibit, "Italy Observed, Views and Souvenirs, 1706-1899". This exhibit continues through January 2, so go if you can. It's in the Robert Lehman Wing; Lehman collected "vedute", Italian tourist paintings and drawings, and the rest of the exhibit contains fans and other decorative items from other departments on the museum. I took a few pictures until a guard told me not to, and photographed other lovelies as I made my way around the museum, seen in this Flickr stream. You can see other pictures I have taken there as well.

When I bought my first "real" camera in 1979, a Canon AE-1, I was working at this museum in the various gift shops, before my "Grand Tour" later that year. I took a year off from college to work and figure out if I really wanted to go to design school or be a singer, and as I made my way around the huge place I decided to use the money I was earning to travel to some of the places I was looking at in paintings and drawings every day. I bought my camera and tested it out inside the museum, taking pictures galore of beautiful objects. Taking advantage of Black Friday, I bought my third Canon camera, having retired my 5 year old Canon Digital Elph at last. I still have the (heavy) AE-1, which needs a new shutter, if I choose to have it repaired. It took amazing pictures but it weighs a ton, and was the bane of any trip it went on, which was ALL of them, from 1979 until 2005. The new camera is heavier than the Elph, and I am testing it out. Anyway, these museum shots remind me of my youthful enthusiasm with my brand-new camera, which literally was attached to my hand for all of those years.