Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Obscure Art: Television

I enjoy art. Sadly, most good art is obscure because the market for intelligent creativity is small. The ruck get pop culture which is rarely more than adequate. Discerning consumers have to search harder for superior artistic effort. Once found, however, good art provides deep sustenance.

In the next few posts, I'm going to tell you about some art I enjoy in the fields of television, film and music. I'll explain why I like the works. I'm not going to recommend them, however, because taste varies. You can decide to pursue them, or not.

We'll start with television. There's a show I recently discovered that, foolishly, I'd been avoiding. I ignored it despite rave reviews because I misunderstood its title and dislike its genre. But the show is extraordinary -- I'd say it's the best drama on television today. The acting is top-notch; the writing is engrossing; and the direction is appealing.

The show is "Hell On Wheels." I mistook the title for a bad metaphor when actually it's descriptive of the show's context. This term originated with the westward growth of the railroads in the middle of the 19th Century. The pioneering edge of railroad construction were mobile encampments known as Hell on Wheels, mostly for their Spartan conditions. 

The show examines what people would be like if modern social constraints were removed. How would we behave if there was no law, no punishment and no social deterrence? Free to be as kind or as cruel as our natures with ample opportunity to help or hurt? The show has characters whom you love or hate. You watch as they struggle in primitive conditions to survive, bond and prosper.

Despite its Western context, the show has strong female characters of various types. Personal relationships are as interesting as in any chick-flick. The show contains violence but it's integral to the plot and never gratuitous.

It doesn't hurt the show that its lead character is an actor who qualifies as a hunk (Anson Mount). Anson is handsome and from Tennessee. His character (Cullen Bohannan) is a Southerner who lost his family in the Civil War. Cullen is competent and filled with deeply-buried emotion.

The show just finished its fourth season on AMC (the basic-cable channel that brought you "Mad Men"). The fifth and final season will air next year. I've been catching up on it through DVD's from my local library.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


It was beautiful in New York today.  Sunny and 60-degrees.  As pleasant as Summer.

Taking advantage of the unseasonal warmth, I hopped on my motorcycle and rode into Brooklyn.  I visited Williamsburg, the new Capital of Cool, where I walked around and absorbed its pervasive hipness.  While there, I made pilgrimage to the best record-store in America (Rough Trade).  I picked up the musical oeuvre of "The Killer," Jerry Lee Lewis, who was known as "rock & roll's first great wild man." 

Jerry Lee Lewis's music, created at the time of my birth (1956-1964), includes numerous classics like "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On," "Great Balls of Fire," and "Breathless."  His songs were released as singles by Sun Records, a legendary recording studio in Memphis at which I had a mystical experience five years ago.

Here are some pics of my day.  What did you do today?



Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Holidays Have Arrived

I don't know how it happened, but Summer's over and Thanksgiving is next week.  I need to get my Christmas shopping done pronto.  I have to buy a box of gifts for my dad with enough time to ship them down to Florida.  One year I was late (by two days) and I'll never hear the end of that.  You'd thought I'd killed an elf...

This Fall flew by and now we're looking at Christmas decorations.  Are you ready?  When do you start your holiday shopping? 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Peek Backstage

Behind the scenes,  I don't look as pretty and polished as you see on the blog.  It takes hard work to create a pleasing appearance.

In my last Birchbox, I received Fango Purificante Purifying Mud Mask from Borghese.  I've never tried a mud mask before and was skeptical, but the product works nicely.  It feels good and really improves your skin.  You can feel the mask extract oil and bacteria from your pores.

Have you ever tried a mud mask?  What do you do backstage to become pretty?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fashion Tip

I have a tip for you.  A fun way to perk up any outfit that's easy and cheap.  It attracts attention, garners compliments and starts conversations.  What's better than that?!

The tip is -- wear seamed stockings!  Revive a vintage staple in a modern outfit.  You don't need to wear vintage clothes, although that's enjoyable; just add a pair of seamed stockings to your normal wardrobe.  They will stand out and get major applause from everyone who notices.  Here's one of my pairs, under a dress given to me by a friend.  (The full dress is shown below.)

Seamed stockings are historically interesting.  The first stockings were made of non-stretch material (originally silk) with a seam where the material is sewn together.  They were called "fully fashioned stockings."  There are a very small number of manufacturers making stockings in the original style today, but many modern reproductions are made using stretchy materials.  The modern versions add seams as decoration, not as the integral sewing junction of real fully fashioned stockings.

One big plus of seamed stockings is that they draw attention to and flatter your legs.  Here's how good my gams look in them...

I read a cool two-part article on nylons at and learned that nylons were invented in 1935.  They were immediately and hugely popular, so much so that there were actual riots when shoppers struggled to buy the limited pairs available.

During World War II, the material used to make them was diverted to the war effort and there was a corresponding shortage of stockings.  Being resourceful, women turned to pseudo-nylons and had stockings painted onto their legs.  Don't believe me?  Check this out...

While these delights may not be in many retail stores, they're easy to find online.  I've bought some from a store is called What Katie Did.  You'll find other suppliers with a quick search.

Would you ever try these?  Why not?

Friday, November 14, 2014


Transitioning is a process in which a person born one gender changes to the opposite sex.  Not all transsexuals make the transition and those who do handle it in different ways.  Sometimes people have surgery; sometimes they do not.  What marks the change is the individual's public presentation which announces to the world how they want to be identified.

Transitioning is not easy and is rarely pretty.  If a person transitions in adulthood, their body has already gone through major physical developments that are largely irreversible.  That means changing their gender-appearance is cosmetic and often unconvincing.  A term used for this is "passing" -- being able to pass in society as your chosen gender without detection.  Most transsexuals cannot pass and, for them, this dooms the process.  Nobody wants to be viewed as a freak.

It appears that a male celebrity known for his association with a family of hyper-popular women is about to transition.  In fact, it's manifest he has already started by having various well-known surgeries used in male-to-female transitions.

The celebrity is Bruce Jenner.  I recognize Bruce from my childhood.  In 1976, when I was starting college, Bruce won a gold medal at the Olympics in Montreal.  His sport was the decathlon.  Bruce was hugely celebrated for the win and, of course, was pictured on a Wheaties cereal box.  Wikipedia says he was a "national hero" and that rings true to my recollection.  Bruce had his picture taken with President Ford.

After Bruce's achievement at the Olympics, I stopped hearing about him.  A decade ago, Bruce became famous again when he married Kris Jenner and become a stepfather to the Kardashian girls (Kourtney, Kim and Khloe).  (He also has six children of his own.)  In 2007, the reality television show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, became a hit and put the spotlight back on Bruce.

I've never seen the show so I can't talk about Bruce's involvement.  I noticed, however, that he separated from Kris two years ago and filed for divorce in September.  Recently, he appears to be starting the transition to female identity.  He denies he's doing it, but the signs are there.  Tabloids are printing photos that show dramatic changes in his physical appearance.

Bruce's popularity will undoubtedly bring major attention to the subject of transitioning and being transgender.  I hope that attention is educational and not tawdry.

Do you know who Bruce Jenner is?  Do you have any questions about this subject?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Centuries from now, cultural historians will look back on our era.  With any luck, remnants of our time will include a snapshot of the Internet in 2014.  Among the findings historians will review is the content of my blog.

The scholars engaged in such pursuit will be called Ally-ologists.  Despite what you might expect, there will be serious debate among them on the social role and status of Ally.  Some will believe, and have evidence to support, that Ally was a prominent female fashion-blogger with many followers.  Others will assert the contrary -- that Ally was a washed-up, old male lawyer who didn't have the sense to keep his odd hobby private.

This post in particular is the subject of much debate among Ally-ologists.  Proponents of the former position contend that here Ally is appropriating the fashion of the young, an artistic maneuver celebrated for most of human history.  Advocates of the latter position say that Ally is merely deluded, unaware or unwilling to accept society's dictates on age-appropriate dress.

What's your opinion?