Wandler


A bout of insomnia often leads to scrolling through Instagram. Last night, it lead to the discovery of the new bag line Wandler in a post from @lisa.aiken. Founder Elza Wandler and husband Joost Doeswijk are inspired by durable vintage materials they find around their home in Amsterdam and design Wandler bags to stand the test of time. I love the round shape with trapeze sides that can be worn as a handbag or a shoulder bag. If you love Celine but not the high tag, these bags are for you.
Hortensia smooth and textured-leather shoulder bag in cream and off-white smooth and textured leather with a taupe short strap and back pocket and black smooth leather shoulder strap.

Hortensia leather shoulder bag in brown leather.

Hortensia leather shoulder bag in black leather.

Hortensia leather shoulder bag in army green leather.

Miles leather shoulder bag in tan calf leather.

Lotta leather tote in white leather, black leather, and off-white textured-leather.

Source: http://ift.tt/1mSXkxt

Wandler


A bout of insomnia often leads to scrolling through Instagram. Last night, it lead to the discovery of the new bag line Wandler in a post from @lisa.aiken. Founder Elza Wandler and husband Joost Doeswijk are inspired by durable vintage materials they find around their home in Amsterdam and design Wandler bags to stand the test of time. I love the round shape with trapeze sides that can be worn as a handbag or a shoulder bag. If you love Celine but not the high tag, these bags are for you.
Hortensia smooth and textured-leather shoulder bag in cream and off-white smooth and textured leather with a taupe short strap and back pocket and black smooth leather shoulder strap.

Hortensia leather shoulder bag in brown leather.

Hortensia leather shoulder bag in black leather.

Hortensia leather shoulder bag in army green leather.

Miles leather shoulder bag in tan calf leather.

Lotta leather tote in white leather, black leather, and off-white textured-leather.

Source: http://ift.tt/1mSXkxt

Theatre review: Escape to Margaritaville

 

 

Wednesday night I was privileged to attend the press opening for the new Jimmy Buffett musical, “Escape to Margaritaville” at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago. It was a total hoot.

I’d been wondering how they were going to use Buffett’s existing songs in the story, and even more curious about new songs he’s written for the show.

I got totally sucked in. Of course, it’s mid-November in Chicago, when every day that it doesn’t snow we dance naked in the streets. A play set on an island where there’s one boat a week and you’re stuck with frosty rum drinks, sand, sun, and a lot of lovely scenery? Sign me up. I was a huge fan of Charlie’s Angels back in the day, because Hawaii.

There are three couples, which always tickles my romcom farce craving:

The resort owner, an older woman who turned her beachfront bar into a hotel because “people were sleeping here anyway, they might as well pay,” and her oldest regular barfly

An uptight soil scientist doing research on volcanic soil for her eco-friendly research project and the slacker who plays guitar and sings in the resort bar

A decidedly saftig bride-to-be, best friends with the soil scientist, enjoying a prolonged bachelorette party, and the resort bartender who reluctantly steals her heart

If air time means anything, the focus is supposed to be on the hot guitar slacker and the uptight soil scientist, but in my opinion the bride steals the show. Her fiance, by no means svelte himself, has the brass balls to order her wedding dress a size too small, “so that you’ll be motivated to be all you can be on our big day.” The bride goes quickly from starving herself on three ounces of carrot juice and twenty sunflower seeds every four hours to morning umbrella drinks and tropical pleasures. She also finds the bartender tempting. He’s just as slack as his guitar-playing buddy but draws the line at bedding the bride before her wedding to another. The bride is way too much fun to be engaged to that dope. We all cheered every time she went to the bad.

Anyway, plotty plot plot, silly numbers where the story is woven hilariously into the weirdest lines of classic Buffett lyrics, an active volcano and the forty-three zombie insurance salesmen who didn’t run fast enough last time it erupted, and a nicely diverse supporting cast and chorus. I especially love that the bride is not the only plus-size woman on the stage.

In fact, in its slack, umbrella-drink-holding way, Margaritaville is body-image-positive, feminist, and egalitarian in its relationship developments. For you romance readers, the romance values are adult-level, in spite of the Parrothead themes. All the character arcs have twists I didn’t see coming. (As well as a few I did. Spoiler alert: the bride is seduced, no surprise . . . but via cheeseburger.)

This is a “production” show, meaning, the world premiere of the musical. You only have until December 2 to see it on this run, after which it will close in Chicago and simmer awhile before you can see it in New York in mid-February. I predict a long and happy tour life for “Escape to Margaritaville” as well.

“Escape to Margaritaville”
Music and lyrics by Jimmy Buffett
Original story by Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley
Directed by Christopher Ashley
Oriental Theatre
24 W Randolph Street, Chicago IL
(312) 977-1700
Box office online

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NOT NOW NOT EVER by Lily Anderson

 

Lily Anderson first came to my attention with her debut book, The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You, a hilariously witty young adult novel about smart kids at a smart school that used as its substrate Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

So when the chance came along to read a preview copy of her second book, Not Now Not Ever, I grabbed it. What Shakespearean play would she riff off of this time?

Not Shakespeare, but one of my favorite plays of all time, The Importance Of Being Earnest–combined with summer camp for smart kids.

I loved Not Now Not Ever even more.

This romantic young adult novel features high school age kids the summer before senior year of high school. Elliott has sneakily signed up for a summer camp for smart nerds, given at a college that has a famous science fiction section.

Her mother expects her to stay with family tradition and go into the military; her step-mother, who loves Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and lawyer father are horrified at the idea and want her to stay close.

So she runs away . . . to summer camp for smart kids, and changes her name to Ever Lawrence. But she discovers to her horror that her incredibly annoying cousin Isaiah, who is not even sixteen, also got in. The two of them pretend to be twins, so that Isaiah won’t get booted out, their decision more of a truce, or mutual blackmail, than friendship.

The camp is run by college-age counselors, and it’s mostly based on mountains of trivia in a lot of subjects, but surprisingly enough, not math. There’s a reason for that, and a mystery, and a beautifully developed romance, and some very sharply realized emotional growing up, which often times smart kids don’t have to do, because they intimidate (or fog) everyone around them.

It’s funny, full of great characters; Anderson understands smart kids and their warts as well as their great qualities. The mystery gets solved, and Elliott has to make some hard decisions.

The terrific voice, the great pace, the heartfelt moments as well as the fun made me reach out when the opportunity came alone to interview the author for her book blog tour previous to the publication of the book in three days.

  1. What were your formative books as a kid reader?

My dad read me classics as bed time stories, so growing up I adored Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson and Roald Dahl. When I started reading things that weren’t by dead white guys, I fell in love with Sharon Creech, Gail Carson Levine, Gary Soto, Karen Cushman, Virginia Hamilton, and, duh, JK Rowling. I think that BLOOMABILITY by Sharon Creech might be the book that influenced my writing the most.

  1. What made you decide to riff off Shakespeare’s plays?

I love Shakespeare and I love his work, but retellings tend to stick to the most famous works—Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and maybe a Macbeth. My favorite Shakespeare play is Much Ado About Nothing and I couldn’t find a retelling of it, so I wrote one. Starting to write NOT NOW, NOT EVER was the same process.

I knew I wanted to use a play that I knew very well, but not one that had been done too many times, so I chose Oscar Wilde’s The Importance Of Being Earnest.

  1. Talk about your engagement with Shakespeare. How early did you discover his plays, and how have they shaped your writing?

Shakespeare has always been a part of my life. My dad had an illustrated Complete Works that I remember flipping through when I was really little, examining the pictures.

I bought a copy of Romeo And Juliet out of a Scholastic book order when I was in the fifth grade (I still own that copy). The following year, my youth theater put on a production of Comedy Of Errors where I was taught how to really dissect and appreciate Shakespearean text.

The reason why people find Shakespeare inaccessible is because it’s 400 year old pop culture. In order to relate to the common people, Shakespeare was referencing things they all knew as a shortcut to their emotions.

So, when I’m writing a book I might refer to the Doctor and Rose on the beach or Finn grabbing Rey’s hand the same way Shakespeare referred to characters from Greek mythology or Virgil or Homer.

Those were my questions. She was asked some more general questions that I will include here:

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character in NOT NOW, NOT EVER?

Definitely Elliot. She’s so different than me—she’s sporty where I’m slothy and brave where I’m scared and into Sci-Fi where I’m into romance novels and musicals. I loved being in her head for the year I was writing the book.

  1. What is your writing process? Are you a pantser? (That would be especially interesting given the literary conversation with the plays). Outliner?

I’m an outliner and my outlines get more serious with every book. With NOT NOW, I outlined a three act structure which was basically “Elliot runs away. Elliot is at camp. Camp is really hard.” If I were outlining the same story now, it would have a chapter by chapter breakdown with character beats.

  1. Please give the elevator pitch for Not Now, Not Ever.

Using The Importance Of Being Earnest as a guide, Elliot Gabaroche runs away from home to compete for a college scholarship.

  1. Without spoilers, what was your favorite scene to write?

Any scene that happens in the Mo-Lo library. As a librarian, I took particular joy in creating a giant fantastical library of my dreams (and putting some swoon inside).

  1. What do you most hope that readers take away from your novels (either or both)?

I want all my readers to take away a sense of happiness. NOT NOW, NOT EVER and its predecessor, THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU, are fluff. Hopefully well crafted, artisanal and organic fluff but fluff nonetheless.

NOT NOW is very much a story about choosing a path, but also realizing that the paths don’t close behind you. I want my readers to have hope for Elliot’s path and their own.

  1. What is next?

My next book, UNDEAD GIRL GANG, comes out from Penguin Razorbill on May 8, 2018! It’s Veronica Mars meets The Craft in the fat Wiccan Latina book I’ve always wanted to write.

  1. Do you have a dream cast for if there was ever a movie version of NOT NOW, NOT EVER?

In four or five years, I think that Marsai Martin (Diane from Blackish) and Finn Wolfhard (Mike from Stranger Things) would be a perfect Elliot and Brandon. Wendell Cheeseman, the professor in charge of Camp Onward, was written with Paul Scheer  (from my all-time favorite podcast, How Did This Get Made, and TV shows like Fresh Off The Boat and The League) in mind.

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The Rambling Writer Returns to Greece, Part 8: Rhodes Palace of the Grand Masters

Explore with me the fortress-within-a-fortress built by the Medieval Knights of St. John, and restored by the Italian Fascists in gaudy splendor.

NOTE: Since my 4-month backpacking trip around Greece too many years ago, I had been longing to return to this magical land of myth, history, and dramatic landscapes. I recently made a fabulous 3-week return trip there, to research additional settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT. My first post in the new series, on September 30, gave an overview of my rambles with my husband Thor from Athens to the islands of Rhodes, Santorini, and Naxos, and finally a pilgrimage to the ancient center of the world at Delphi.

As promised last time, we’ll take a closer look at the grand edifice of the Palace of the Grand Master, built by  Foulkes de Villaret, who was the first Grand Master when the Knights were expelled from Jerusalem along with the other Crusaders in the 14th century AD. The Knights of St. John, who had been tasked with guarding the Holy Sepulchre, were elite fighters who adhered to strict vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience (at least in their early years). After the failure of the Crusades, they negotiated with the Genoese pirate Vignolo de’ Vignoli to relocate to the island of Rhodos, where they built fortresses and established protection for the lucrative maritime trading ports. The island then experienced many years of prosperity before surrendering to a final Turkish siege. The Palace was intended as a final refuge for the Knights in case attackers breached the thick defensive walls of the port city. Cannon balls are still stacked and ready.

The Knights, recruited from the nobility of several European countries, had several headquarters, called Inns or Tongues, according to their native languages, along the Street of the Knights:

This is one Inn doorway:

The palace survived subsequent attacks and earthquakes until 1856, when an accidental explosion caused extensive damage. In the convoluted history of this region, the Italian Fascists came to control the island and restored the Palace in the 1930s to glorify Mussolini and King Victor Emmanuel III.

As I mentioned earlier, the restoration involved looting many beautiful Hellenic mosaics from the nearby island of Kos to include in the flooring, along with polished marble.

One famous mosaic is of Medusa, the mythical Gorgon with hair of snakes. Anyone who looked directly at her would turn to stone, which is why the hero Perseus gazed only at her reflection in his shield as he beheaded her.

The writer Lawrence Durrell, who was stationed in Rhodos by the British in the recovery years after World War II, was not a fan of the Italians’ taste in the palace reconstruction. In his memoir Reflections on a Marine Venus, he tours the edifice, which he calls the Castello:

“We pursued our way across the deserted market-place and entered the old walled town of the Crusaders, passing by the lovely and undamaged Gothic tower of St. Paul. At the spur of a gentle incline we turned into the famous Street of the Knights at the top of which lay the Castello–that monument to bad taste executed by the latest Italian governor. By now the hideous archness of the restoration work was becoming fully apparent…. We walked from room to garish room, from chapel to chapel, corridor to corridor; wherever you turned you were greeted with ugly statuary, tasteless hangings and tapestries, and the kind of marquetry work that suggested the lounges of passenger steamers.”

Here’s an example of the taste he was describing:

But, all in all, I enjoyed touring the rambling collection of grandiose chambers, especially for the wonderful mosaics, like this centaur with a rabbit:

And this scene of luxurious living from ancient times:

I enjoy the fanciful depictions of dolphins, sacred companions of Dionysos:

The Chamber of the Nine Muses features another late Hellenistic mosaic honoring the deities of the creative arts in Greek mythology:

Can you identify the Muses?

We had seen the original marble carving of The Laocoon in the Vatican in Rome. This amazing work was created by three Rhodian sculptors, and that heritage is celebrated with this reproduction housed in the Palace. It’s interesting that Laocoon’s two sons, also captured by the sea serpent, are represented by figures that look like mature men, only on a smaller scale:

The Palace commands beautiful views across the old city:

This view through one of the eastern windows captures the mixed heritage of this fusion of cultures, with a mosque and church shoulder to shoulder:

On the west side, the Palace overlooks the harbor and historic windwills:

The nearby lanes are less commercialized than other parts of the walled city, peaceful enough for an alley cat to enjoy a quiet nap:

The Knights established a large hospital near their quarters, now housing a lovely museum that we’ll visit in an upcoming blog post. Durrell wrote of the hospital:

“The physicians were bound by order to visit their patients not less than twice a day. Two surgeons were standing by under their orders to perform whatever operations were found necessary. A large store of herbs and drugs was maintained as part of the charges of the establishment, while the patients were fed upon all kinds of nourishing food. But dicing, chess, and the reading of chronicles, histories, romances or other light fiction of the kind was strictly forbidden.” Those Knights were, indeed, strict about their vows of purity, though apparently as they gained great wealth through control of shipping, they started to indulge in expensive clothing, horses, and furnishings. All came to an end when they finally had to surrender to a siege by the Turks in 1522. Once more, the island of Rhodos changed hands.

Don’t miss next week, when Thor and I visit the breath-taking Classical site of Lindos, perched high on the rocky eastern shore above the deep blue sea.

*****

You will now find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here every Saturday. Sara’s latest novel from Book View Cafe is available in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection.  It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?”  The novel has received the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction. Sara has recently returned from a research trip in Greece and is back at work on the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect. Sign up for her quarterly email newsletter at www.sarastamey.com

 

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Upcoming Oscar Worthy Films


The best thing about the end of the year, besides pumpkin pie and presents, are all the anticipated fall films that are about to be released. The best movies always come out around the holidays so they will be fresh in people’s minds when they consider films for Academy Awards nominations.

Not sure if remake of Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel, Murder on the Orient Express, will be up for an Oscar but it could win an award for the most accomplished movie stars in one film. Kenneth Branagh not only stars as the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, but directs Dame Judi Dench, Johnny Depp,  Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley in this classic who done it. Even if it’s not that good, we can at least marvel at how chic and civilized travel used to be in the 1930’s. It is in theaters now.

Actor Gary Oldman is almost unrecognizable as Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour. As the newly-appointed British Prime Minister, Churchill must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler or “fight on against incredible odds at the beginning of World War II.” Who knew we’d still be fighting Nazis in 2017 so this film seems quite appropriate for the current climate. Kristin Scott Thomas also plays Churchill’s wife. It will be released on November 22, 2017.


The film getting the most Oscar buzz right now is Call Me By Your Name. The “romantic coming-of-age drama” written by James Ivory, is based on the 2007 novel of the same name and was directed by Luca Guadagnino, who also directed I Am Love and A Bigger Splash. The film stars Armie Hammer as Oliver, an academic who comes to Italy to stay with a professor in Italy in the 1980’s and develops a passionate relationship develops between the professor’s son Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet, and Oliver as “they bond over their sexuality, their shared Jewish heritage, and the Italian landscape.” There’s a really great interview with Armie Hammer on Vulture that I highly recommend to learn more about the film and hear why he took the role. It opens in New York and Los Angeles on November 24, 2017.

Another timely film based on true events is The Post directed by Steven Spielberg. It stars Meryl Streep as Katherine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, The Washington Post. She and editor Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks, “race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents.” I sometimes think Meryl Streep over acts a bit in her comedic roles so I look forward to seeing her in this dramatic part. It will be released on December 22, 2017.

Molly’s Game starring Jessica Chastain is based on a true story of “Molly Bloom, a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by FBI agents wielding automatic weapons.” The film directed by Aaron Sorkin will be released on December 25, 2017.


The movie that I’m most excited to see is Phantom Thread written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It is a period drama film, set in London’s couture world in the 1950s, starring Daniel Day Lewis in what might be his last role. He plays “renowned dressmaker, Reynolds Woodcock, who is at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutantes and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, played by Vicky Krieps, who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love.” It will be released on December 25, 2017. 

Which film are you most excited to see this holiday season leading up to the Oscars?

Source: http://ift.tt/1mSXkxt

Upcoming Oscar Worthy Films


The best thing about the end of the year, besides pumpkin pie and presents, are all the anticipated fall films that are about to be released. The best movies always come out around the holidays so they will be fresh in people’s minds when they consider films for Academy Awards nominations.

Not sure if remake of Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel, Murder on the Orient Express, will be up for an Oscar but it could win an award for the most accomplished movie stars in one film. Kenneth Branagh not only stars as the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, but directs Dame Judi Dench, Johnny Depp,  Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley in this classic who done it. Even if it’s not that good, we can at least marvel at how chic and civilized travel used to be in the 1930’s. It is in theaters now.

Actor Gary Oldman is almost unrecognizable as Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour. As the newly-appointed British Prime Minister, Churchill must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler or “fight on against incredible odds at the beginning of World War II.” Who knew we’d still be fighting Nazis in 2017 so this film seems quite appropriate for the current climate. Kristin Scott Thomas also plays Churchill’s wife. It will be released on November 22, 2017.


The film getting the most Oscar buzz right now is Call Me By Your Name. The “romantic coming-of-age drama” written by James Ivory, is based on the 2007 novel of the same name and was directed by Luca Guadagnino, who also directed I Am Love and A Bigger Splash. The film stars Armie Hammer as Oliver, an academic who comes to Italy to stay with a professor in Italy in the 1980’s and develops a passionate relationship develops between the professor’s son Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet, and Oliver as “they bond over their sexuality, their shared Jewish heritage, and the Italian landscape.” There’s a really great interview with Armie Hammer on Vulture that I highly recommend to learn more about the film and hear why he took the role. It opens in New York and Los Angeles on November 24, 2017.

Another timely film based on true events is The Post directed by Steven Spielberg. It stars Meryl Streep as Katherine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, The Washington Post. She and editor Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks, “race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents.” I sometimes think Meryl Streep over acts a bit in her comedic roles so I look forward to seeing her in this dramatic part. It will be released on December 22, 2017.

Molly’s Game starring Jessica Chastain is based on a true story of “Molly Bloom, a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by FBI agents wielding automatic weapons.” The film directed by Aaron Sorkin will be released on December 25, 2017.


The movie that I’m most excited to see is Phantom Thread written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It is a period drama film, set in London’s couture world in the 1950s, starring Daniel Day Lewis in what might be his last role. He plays “renowned dressmaker, Reynolds Woodcock, who is at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutantes and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, played by Vicky Krieps, who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love.” It will be released on December 25, 2017. 

Which film are you most excited to see this holiday season leading up to the Oscars?

Source: http://ift.tt/1mSXkxt