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Once in a Blue Moon, the Stars Aligned & I am Writing Again…

Vaporatto Stop Venice Divina Marchesa PosterThe past few months have been filled with a plethora of projects, opportunity, traveling and some pretty fantastic events and adventures, but I’ve been glad to see to the start of the summer, with her incremental slowdown and the chance to finally take up some of my favorite activities again – including blogging.

Along with participating in Gala Darling’s #RadicalSelfLoveJuly Instagram Challenge and sharing a few current projects, I’ll try to catch up a little some on former promised posts and this is what you can expect to see covered in the next few weeks:

  • New to Camping Q&A and list of essential camping kit from two experienced Boy Scout Leaders, an overlander & Land Rover enthusiast and a former Army Ranger!
  • Photos and recollections from my trip to Venice – whittling down my shots to a reasonable number for posting!
  • A guide to America’s Coolest Small Town, Beaufort North Carolina and its (recently verified) infamous pirate history!
  • Catching up on some the reading I had a chance to tackle in the early spring – I’ll pass on some truly great recommendations from their well-read sources!
  • A few of my favorite blogs and authors – I must share the wealth!
  • Nearly a year later, what my experiences with the Blogcademy and B School have given me.
  • Ukelele fever with local lessons and meetup groups in the DC Metro Area, as well as coming concerts and events.
  • A new stilt-walking project and revisiting how amazing, challenging and rewarding it can be to do something ENTIRELY outside of your usual wheelhouse.
  • And a fabulous guest post from a talented classic movie enthusiast, tanguera, opera singer, cook and generally multifaceted Renaissance woman Lisette Atiyeh, as she looks at an early examination of the introvert/extrovert dichotomy with Bette Davis in A Stolen Life.

Fingers-crossed, I’ll be posting again this week and next – could this month’s Blue Moon  and Venus/Jupiter star alliance (aka the Star of Bethlehem) appearing for the first time in 2,000 years influence me to better blogging reliability? Absolutely. 😉


Best Blog Ever???: Messy Nessy Chic, Elvis and The Secret Tiki

Coconut Club Parrot DrinkWhen blogging, sometimes it seems like every topic ever imagined has already been covered in depth, thrice over, and I wonder if there is anything else I can really add that’s new and helpful.

So looking at Messy Nessy Chic never fails to both intimidate and inspire as adventuratrix extraordinaire Vanessa covers an incredible spectrum of topics, including the intense (vintage films of female judo experts!), the obscure (the cult of Swiss Elvis rebels!), the beautiful (floating basket homes of Iraq), the historic (oddly charming anti-suffragette posters), the hilarious (eye-searing Pucci stewardess uniforms of the 60s) and the just plain amazing (largest cave in the world has its own ecosystem).

Coconut Club Dinner - Messy Nessy ChicCoconut Club Parrot Drink

Vagabond's House

I immediately open every link listed in each edition of her Things I Found on the Internet Today series – which has become my immediate go-to for absolutely pitch-perfect curation.

Today’s Nessy article, The Underground Traveling Tiki Bar, set my heart a flutter with a feature on The Coconut Club, a covert pop-up dinning club operating in the Los Angeles area with this eminently estimable mission:

At The Coconut Club, we provide a luxurious escape into a forgotten world where everything may not be exactly as remembered, but stays true to the very essence of Tiki, paying homage to the glory of yesterday while sailing forward to a blazing, sun-drenched future of power and pleasure. We’re constantly dreaming up new ways to bring our patrons into this world, and hopefully, after an evening with us, their minds will expand and they will come to understand that the Revelation of Tiki is a living thing, a passion handed down through the ages that twists and turns and evolves into ever increasing new shapes, sights, sounds, tastes, and sensations.

The path to Tiki Paradise isn’t a single road–it’s a flowing river of molten magma, with a multitude of fiery tributaries all blazing their own distinctive and unique paths to exotic delights. Join us on this epic adventure and together we will rediscover and return Tiki to its rightful place.

Perfection. I mean, who doesn’t adore a secret tiki party (certainly not Elvis!)???

Coconut Club Cocktails - Messy Nessy ChicCoconut Club MC - Messy Nessy ChicCoconut Club Totem - Messy Nessy Chic

NOIR: Or What Better for a Snow Day Than 5 Mysteries to Read Through the Night?

Cover to Area X Trilogy Vandermeer

On a snow day, what could be better than curling up with a beverage of your choice (wine, cocoa, hot tea, beer, coffee, hot cider), a blanket and a book to fall deeply into until the last page?

We’ve had a cultural crush on Gone Girl and The Girl Who series, but here are 5 more mysteries to keep your brain engaged until the wee hours of the morning…

Tana French - Into the Woods cover1. Tana French

With five phenomenal books all her own, I could have easily made a list of only Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. Eerie, but not easily solved, French’s books feature a unique narrator for each mystery. Responsible for many a 3 or 4am bedtime, I sped through the first four and I’m waiting to savor her much lauded new novel, The Secret Place on the next snow day I know March has in store for us.

If you’re just starting out, begin with Into the Woods, French’s first novel and the introduction to the characters her readers have come to know so well. Skip this series entirely if you need Dickensonian endings with every loose end tied up in a bow…but dive in head-first if you love compelling but unreliable narrators with distinct voices.

Robert Gailbraith Novels2. Robert Galbraith

So we all know this is the vaguely incognito J.K. Rowlings’ new project, but if you love language, dialogue and symbolism, as well as lovable characters, snap up this series but start with the first mystery, The Cuckoo’s Calling. The Silk Worm is similarly addictive, but reads so much better if you know the characters and their earlier adventures. BBC is filming both novels as miniseries, so now if the perfect time to read the adventures of Cormoran Strike before you can no longer disentangle them from the tv series.

Night Film Marisha Pessl

3. Marisha Pessl

The Night Film stood in my top spot for anticipated new novels for years, until its release in 2013. Special Topics in Calamity Physics remains a favorite, but this mystery lived up to all my expectations and more. Just know that when you crack open the first page, you won’t be letting go until the very end. Plan your weekend accordingly.

Area X Trilogy Vandermeer

4. Jeff Vandermeer

I really did not expect to find this series occupying as much of my mind as it did – a perfect mix of The X-files, Lovecraft, Lost and Margaret Atwood, I dreamed about Area X more than once and highly anticipate finally reading the last section of this trilogy. If you like some science with your mystery and don’t mind lengthy description and scenes that crawl under your skin delicately and just won’t leave, Vandermeer’s Area X trilogy is the one for you.

Broken Monsters Lauren Beukes5. Lauren Beukes

And now the dark horse of the pack! With so much critical appreciation for Beukes’ The Shining Girls, I avoided her novels for no real reason other than general persnickety-ness on my part. I finally gave in and downloaded Broken Monsters after some glowing reviews highlighting the female relationships in this novel and I am so happy I did. Tonight, I fully anticipate keeping a light on until the darkest hours, unable to turn away from this one.

What novels keep your eyelids open until the small hours? Please share here – I’m always looking for something new to try!


Blogger Muse: The Blonde at the Film & Sullivan’s Travels Re-Released

Sullivan's Travels Joel McCrea & Veronica Lake Hobos

Sullivan's Travels Joel McCrea & Veronica Lake HobosCriterion recently announced the April release of a gorgeous high-definition digital restoration of the legendary and much beloved (by me!) film Sullivan’s Travels. The Cohen brothers and I are in perfect agreement that Preston Sturges is a genius and Sullivan’s Travels is pretty much the best film ever and they’ve spent their careers trying to convince viewers to watch the Preston Sturges oeuvre by paying tribute to his pitch-perfect characters,dialogue and stories with their films. And I’ve already gone into detail about my love of mischievous and ethereal Veronica Lake.

But I can’t speak my love for the incomparable  director and a film that could never be improved upon as well as Cameron on her wonderful blog, A Blonde at the Film.

Her ode to Sullivan’s Travels has everything I could say and so much more – Cameron provides a detailed history of the making of the film, filled with warm personal notes from Joel McCrea’s unpublished biography (!!!).

I was lucky enough to come across her blog through a cinemaphile friend and I’m happy to share it here – with clean design, a depth of film history and an eye for detail and delight, The Blonde at the Film is the rare treat that appeals to both the new classic cinema fan and the hardened auteur, plenty for anyone to explore and enjoy.

The Blonde at the Film Blog

Halloween: Let the Horror Begin with a Bucket of Blood!

A Bucket Of Blood -VHS-fronta bucket of blood cat Bucket of Blood Spanish Poster

Things are about to get serious – only a mere two weeks until the big day! Let’s kick things off in earnest with the full film of Roger Corman‘s Bucket of Blood. What better way to celebrate the coming weekend than a Beatnik Busboy murderer who just wants to be appreciated for his art? Two snaps straight up, daddy-o!

If you have a chance, check out HorrorVintage’s other full-length films – I know I have my eye on Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory for later…

Deliciously Dark – Kind Hearts & Coronets and Ealing Studios


Oh man. Did you say you’ve never seen any of the Ealing Studios comedies with Alec Guinness? I envy you the joy you are about to experience.

I know most everyone loves the Cohen Brothers – and rightly so, they are artists of great skill in their own right – but when I watch their films I mainly admire how proudly they wear their influences on their collectives sleeve, particularly Preston Sturges and Ealing Studios chief among them.

And since we are looking at the dark and macabre this month, let’s start with the absolutely jaw-droppingly great Kind Hearts and Coronets, a deeply and deliciously dry pitch-black comedy, exemplifying Ealing at its best.

The plot concerns an undesired, discarded minor noble who kills his way through his family tree, all played by the young Alec Guinness (including the Lady Agatha!), to inherit the dukedom of the Descoyne family.

But really, this film serves as a vehicle for a young Alec Guinness to play eight separate roles, each funnier than the last. The script is as sharp-edged and bon-mot-filled as an Oscar Wilde play and the direction is as precisely perfect as any film student could ever dream to see.

Kind-Hearts-&-Coronets-Alec-Store Kind-Hearts-&-Coronets-CoupleSo, here are a few more critics, directors and actors raving about how much they adore Kind Hearts & Coronets in case you need any more convincing. Absolutely well-worth watching, whether you’re feeling your most murderous or you just want some high level snark. You can catch the whole film on Turner Classic Movies or borrow the Criterion version from Netflix.

Obscura-ditty: Rockin Bones- Spooky Vintage Rockabilly Playlist


Plenty to catch up on today and I thought I’d pass some of the best pieces of my playlist onto you – a great mix of classic kooky rockabilly songs from my beloved Rhino Records Rockin Bones Box Set and a few extras to round out the list. I think this one just gets better the longer you listen…

Skeleton Rockabilly Couple Illustration, Artist Kippery

Comment with your favorite Halloween songs – I need some more inspiration!

Monsters – Your Fears Personified & ProblemGlyphs.Org

Bride of Frankenstein Problem Glyph org

With Halloween this month, our culture and media is saturated with monsters – vampire soap operas, zombie thrillers, serial killer detectives, Cthulhu environmental parables – the list goes on.

Our fascination with monsters lasts increasingly throughout the year and something like The Walking Dead almost feels like a throwback to monster films of old with its genuinely terrifying unstoppable forces, since the majority of our books and films look to understand and humanize monsters.

A few months back, Refinery29 featured the work of Eliza Gauger, who in her online interactive project Problem Glyphs creates glyphs and sigils of power for individuals who submit a source of fear or shame to her. Her work is beautiful, but the reader-submitted stories are fascinating, sad and lovely as well.


Eliza seeks to create symbols to help overcome, accept and find power both from and over the fear and shame – and she often uses symbols of monsters from legend and myth to do so. I love the idea of personifying our fears and internalizing them through empowerment, but I’m also intrigued by her monsters and the monsters all around me this month.

What are your monsters? Have you made friends with them? Can you? Perhaps Eliza can  help…



problem-glyph-org-diana problem-glyph-org-knight problem-glyph-org-horses problem-glyph-org-echoproblem-glyph-org-sea-creatureproblem-glyph-org-bear

I Married a Witch with Veronica Lake

Veronica Lake in I Married a WitchMovie I Married a Witch Veronica Lake Cauldron

I can’t think of a better way to continue this series of posts than draw some attention to the ridiculously charming, totally family-friendly film, I Married a Witch.

The always stunning Veronica Lake stars as Jennifer, a centuries-old witch who curses the descendents of her Puritan accuser, Jonathan Wooley (Frederick March as several generations of Wooley men), to be forever unlucky in love. Trapped in a bottle with her father to escape their execution, Jennifer is released in the 20th century and immediately seeks out the current male Wooley heir to enact her revenge.

Movie I Married a Witch Couple

Of course, not all goes to her plan – Jennifer develops a crush on the stodgy Wallace Wooley and instead attempts to help him win a seat in political office, using all the skills at her disposal, including the help of her father (Robert Warwick).

Hijinks ensue in the best mid-century screwball comedy fashion, but it’s really director RenĂ© Clair’s misty fairytale atmosphere and sly humor that lift  I Married a Witch beyond being simply a fun film. Clair, the director of Le Million and Le Voyage Imaginaire, with the help of the brilliant Preston Sturges created this 1942 classic that inspired the Bewtiched television show and thus the magic twitching noses still running on TBS today.

You can watch the full movie below or on Hulu, catch it this month on Turner Classic Movies or request the Blu-Ray Criterion Collection version through Netflix.

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