Sunday, June 27, 2010


People-watching by the fountains.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

PW Review

The House of Discarded Dreams
Ekaterina Sedia, Prime, $14.95 paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-60701-228-3

Lyrical writing and rich imagination compensate for loose plotting in this quirky, joyous fantasy. College student Vimbai moves to a house on the New Jersey shore to escape her bickering parents. Her housemates are a bit unusual: Maya is being followed by a pack of mystical animals, and Felix has a black hole sitting on his head. As the house drifts out to sea, Vimbai's grandmother's ghost starts doing housework and giving advice. Felix draws a "Psychic Energy Baby" out of the phone lines, and the house expands to include forests and lakes. Vimbai's biggest concern is whether missing classes will affect her application to grad school. Somehow, the overall effect is dreamily compelling rather than farcical, as Sedia (The Secret History of Moscow) shows how competing natural and supernatural worldviews can enrich each other. (Aug.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tsaritsino Fountains

Watch these fountains in action:

Friday, June 04, 2010

And speaking of personal style...

Isabella Blow was a perfect embodiment of the individual and fun, and I wish more celebrities and models and regular people would adopt such extreme and interesting fashion sensibilities.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Personal style bloggers

I love personal style blogs, generally. Lately, however, I was a tad bored by most of them. Some of it are the issues Johanna N pointed out: most of style bloggers are young, thin and white, so there's a certain feeling that their style is not appropriate for... well, most people. Additionally, much of it seems terribly homogenized: over and over, we see the bloggers enumerating Forever 21, Target, Zara, H&M, Topshop and other fast fashion chains. These are of course problematic on an ethical level (exportation of labor overseas, sweatshops, environmental degradation, social justice etc etc); that goes without saying. But mostly they are terribly homogeneous. All these bloggers look the same, and even perfectly respectable designers are starting to churn out the same youthful, homogenized look – tanktops, leggings, destroyed jeans... I believe this madness started as some interpretation of a 'model off duty' look, but it now went terribly wrong.

Another devastating influence was perpetrated by What Not To Wear – which I do like, don't get me wrong,but some style bloggers look just like the mannequins on that show. Perfectly put together, but bland. And yes, I know, people have jobs to go to and they have to look presentable, and some of us teach and it's a good idea to not look too crazy while dozens of bright eyes stare at you for an hour. Believe me, I know. And yet!

Also, I watched The Royal Tenenbaums the other night; while I'm lukewarm about the movie itself, I just love the costuming choices. And it left me longing for more people dressing so interestingly – and the style bloggers, to whom people might look for inspiration, are lacking that.

So anyway. I still enjoy Suzie Bubble and Tavi of Style Rookie. It of course helps that both of these blogs reach beyond the basic 'what I wore today' of personal style norm – they comment on fashion, street and conceptual, as well as on other things besides fashion. Tavi is very young, but her takedown of the Terry Richardson thing is nothing short of masterful and amazing. For both, there are other issues – for example, while both of these bloggers dress amazingly, are unique and feature quite a bit of vintage, much of their outfits are prohibitively priced designer stuff, which is no doubt awesome but not attainable for most. (Although I would advocate buying few things of higher quality rather than a gazillion things at Forever 21. Paying more for an item has a therapeutic effect of forcing one to ask, "Do I really need this?" If you're cheap, however, there's always ebay, Etsy and vintage stores.)

So in that sea of predictable and unattainable, I still love the Wardrobe Remix. Sure, many outfits there are of the aforementioned Zara-H&M-F21 variety, with some Gap and Old Navy tossed in; but so many are creative, vintage or upcycled, and put together in utterly imaginative ways. So many posters are not white, thin, young – there's a portly dude with a penchant for kicky skirts, for example, and quite a few women in their fifties and above. And most of these outfits are joyful, you know? People who are pleased to take pictures of themselves even if they're just wearing jeans and t-shirts. It's unstudied and amusing – a perfect antidote to the label-conscious and quite serious (although yes, very beautiful) The Sartorialist and Garance Dore. The latter two are sophisticated while Wardrobe Remix is decidedly NOT. And I love it for that, and even if it's ninety degrees outside, it makes me want to break out my vintage mink-collared brocade jacket and take a picture of myself next to some boxes and a disinterested cat. Smiling rather than frowning at the camera with haute superiority.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

House of Discarded Dreams has a cover!

And a new blurb!

The House of Discarded Dreams is a moody feast of the fantastic, dreamy, surreal, all rendered in visually poetic prose that reminded me of Hayao Miyazaki films. Oh, and that guy with the crazy hair was awesome! Terrific stuff. Just the right fusion of thematic depth and unbridled creativity that I’m always looking for, but rarely find.

- David Anthony Durham, author of the Acacia Series

Now, the cover: