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Monday, December 31, 2007

Reanimate Me

This is how I feel most of the time over the past few days.

If I don't get over this cold very, very soon, drastic measures will be taken...

Please don't catch this cold. It's like something from a Stephen King novel. It just doesn't go away.

I do like the next photo, though. Even the Bride wore makeup! She is my kind of girl.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Slow Down, Girlfriend

It's felt wierd being out of the tango loop for most of December. It had been my plan to get a lot of practice in before Ney comes back in January and use this month's time to work on what he had been teaching me.

But then cold and flu season intervened and shot that plan all to hell.

Yesterday morning I was so excited to finally get back to dancing again: a private lesson with Shorey before she left for Providence and then my favorite milonga at La Pista, which I have missed for two straight weeks in a row.

By the time of my lesson with Shorey, I was dragging again. It's not being sick, it's just not having any energy--no matter what my good intentions are.

The lesson turned out better than I had expected. Instead of feeling like I am starting all over again, which is how I get sometimes when I haven't danced for a while (whether it's true or not), I was more relaxed and was able to pick up where I left off much easier than I expected.

Shorey was so inspiring and encouraging, and it made me realize how hard I am on myself about my dancing. I've really got to try to cut that out. We practiced small things, little back steps, little ochos, little adjustments in posture. Relaxing into the lead, into the music. She taught me this cool move that she learned from Felipe and by the end of the lesson, we were both getting such a kick out of doing it that I made her promise to lead me sometime at a milonga because I don't know if I'll ever be led to do that step by anyone else but her.

We walked down to the Powell Street station together after our lesson, talking about makeup and travel and holidays, and as I hugged her goodbye, I could not help but feeling so grateful that I had the energy to enjoy that hour, and that Shorey is such a giving teacher. It felt like such a gift.

The train ride was quiet and I got to sit and read my book all the way home. It also started to rain and I felt that tiredness creeping up over me again, so I decided not to push my luck. La Pista isn't going anywhere. I'll be ready for it soon. Hopefully next week.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

For My Friends in Oregon

Dear Ms. Wellspring and Ms. J:

I remember when I first came under the spell of the enigmatic Opal Whiteley, having read her diary in the book by Benjamin Hoff. I have been reading books about Opal ever since. Her story is magically mysterious and fascinating.

Opal lived in Cottage Grove, and she must have been one of Oregon's most famous native daughters during her young adulthood (if she really was not the long lost daughter of the French royal family).

Hope you both are enjoying your family time up north, and just thought you'd enjoy a little bit of Oregonian history, too, if you didn't already know about Miss Whiteley.



Monday, December 24, 2007

Charles Dickens Has My Christmas Bonus

And Mr. Crummles has my heart. *swoon*

This Sunday, I finally went to the Great Dickens Christmas Faire. It's one of those things that I've just never gotten around to, and I'm so glad I finally went.

Just like the Art Deco Society that produces the wonderful Gatsby Summer Afternoon, there are diehard enthusiasts of the age when the sun never set on the British Empire, who have transformed the warehouses of the Cow Palace in Daly City into makeshift streets of old London, complete with Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, magicians, street urchins, pirates, bobbies, the parade of Father Christmas, and the procession of Queen Victoria (this year portrayed by a very slim blond woman. She must have been a very early Victoria indeed.)

Mr. Fezziwig' s Warehouse hosts troupes of talented performers: the Siamsa Scottish Dancers, and the Bangers and Mash String Band. Watching the male dancers perform, I felt a pang of regret that kilts are not commonly worn. I think we ladies are definitely being deprived: men look great in skirts. When the performers were not on stage, the floor was available for a variety of waltzes, line dances and other historical dances that everyone could participate in.

Of course, at the end of the day for me, it will always about what there was to eat and who wore what. I can't help it; food and clothes will always be at the top of my list of interests. (The bangers were excellent and the shepherd's pie was good, too.) I dressed as best I could coming into it, considering that I don't own anything remotely Victorian-looking in my closet. But within an hour at most, I was completely transformed into a proper lady, thanks to my two new discoveries at the fair: the fairylike Petrushka and her handmade hats, and the helpful ladies of Dark Garden.

Those two shops are where a goodly portion of my Christmas bonus went, happily but unexpectedly.

I hadn't planned to buy anything except for food--until I saw the exquisite artisan lovelies of Petrushka's little booth. Petrushka is one of those ageless pixie-type people whose art and passion for lovely adornments are her life. The hat pictured, the "Balmoral," is a woolen beret that ties at the back, letting the ribbons fall down the back of the neck. The front is clustered with velvet ribbons and roses and a hand-etched brass medallion with a Celtic pattern. The giant purple cockade feather is frothy and arches delightfully over the entire hat. (I can't tell you how beautiful this hat really is in person. I also bought an equally stupendous green hat. I really need to get a proper camera...these pics do absolutely no justice at all to my fine hats!)

After leaving Petrushka's and feeling like the rest of my outfit did not pay proper tribute to my hat, I found Dark Garden. Dark Garden specializes in corsetry and Goth clothing, and I knew that they do a lot of custom sewing, but they had a perfectly lovely shop filled with gowns, suits, skirts, petticoats, gloves and pretty accessories. Before I knew it, I had found a wonderful satin suit, a deep plum with a black shimmer in the fabric. The jacket is double-breasted, with a velvet collar. The sleeves are full towards the wrist and the entire jacket is embroidered. The jacket flares from the waist with a peplum, and goes over a slimmer, calf length matching skirt. I was already wearing black boots, so the outfit was pretty perfect. I shoved my old clothes in a bag and went to the coat check to get rid of them for a while. (The picture at left is from a catalog, but that's the jacket in the same color as mine.)

After that, I could do no wrong. Men smiled at me. I curtseyed and they laughed. People came up to me to compliment me. Someone took my picture. Mostly, I think it was the hat.

But whatever it was, I got to have a proper waltz with the very handsome Mr. Crummles. Mind you, I don't know how to waltz. I know how to tango and that's really about it. I can do a rudimentary Charleston, Lindy Hop and some East Coast swing, none of which would be required at a Victorian ball, either.

I had been standing by and watching the couples waltz: ladies in their full-skirted ballgowns and the men in their cutaway coats and breeches. My mom, who was seated next to me, asked me if I had noticed the tall good-looking guy who had been dancing, and I had to admit that there were several so I didn't know who she meant. At that point, a man touched my elbow and asked politely if I would like to dance. I had to be honest with him and tell him I didn't know how to waltz, to avoid disappointing him. My outfit made me look like I fit in, but I didn't want to embarrass either of us. I told him that I can do Argentine tango, and he smiled and said if I can do that, then I can do anything. Yay. *smile*

So off we went onto the dance floor. He offered his arm, and I took it. It felt so very proper. He introduced himself to me as a Mr. Crummles (who happens to be a favorite character from Nicholas Nickleby, so that made me smile) and I was so flustered I didn't have time to invent a persona so I just gave him my real name.

The waltz was smooth and lovely sailing for me. The dance involved some turning about the partner and making a "window" with the arms to look at each other (if any of you know what I am talking about, please enlighten me). Mr. Crummles was very kind to softly speak the steps and I think I did just fine, considering. Of course at the end, I had to blurt out that I thought he was amazing and that was the only time he broke character. I told him I that owe him a tango someday. When I was escorted off the floor, my mom said that was the guy she was talking about. Lucky me. (Again, I think it's all about the hat.)

There is a Dicken's Ball in two weeks from Saturday. I have until then to improve my waltzing in case Mr. Crummles makes an appearance. And I'll be sure to wear my lucky hat again, just in case.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

For Ranman

For my hep cat tanguero buddy...have a swingin' Christmas!

Extra points if you know about the Man with the Bag (who isn't Santa).

Friday, December 21, 2007

Santa Baby

Dear Santa,

I really don't know what to ask you for (yet). It's been such a great and exciting year, all things considered. I think I pretty much have everything a girl could want.

I guess I'll just ask for more of the same: love, friendship, health, dancing, travel and maybe some more shoes from Remix.

If I think of anything else, do I still have a few more days to in get my request, or is there a cutoff date?

Thank you,


PS.: Santa, if I were you, I'd use the chimney in the front room. But you probably knew that already.


Tina and Alex already posted their favorite Christmas movie.

It just isn't Christmas for me unless I've watched my favorite double feature: Jean Shepard's charming A Christmas Story and the classic British film Scrooge (1951). Both films are presented in their entirety (but in sections) on youtube, thanks to some devoted fans. Scrooge can't be embedded but if you click on this link, you'll get to the first part and then you can take it from there.

Of course, I'd recommend you get the DVDs. And a box of kleenex for when you watch Scrooge. It's the best version of all of The Christmas Carol movies. Promise.

Here's a funny little coincidence: The Boy looks a lot like Ralphie, except he isn't blond. But he does have those exact same glasses and a big dimple. And he is always getting into trouble.


If I am not watching these movies, then I might be working on drinking my year's supply of egg nog while listening to Vince Guaraldi's jazzy classic Charlie Brown Christmas or David Sedaris' stupendously hilarious story of Crumpet the Elf in the epic Santaland Diaries.

(Small question: why isn't egg nog available all year round? I don't think that's right.)

Happy Happy Happy Holidays to all of you!


Computers and Armageddon

This has not been a good week for me and the computers, software and printers that I use for legitimate work purposes (i.e., not blogging). I could never be an IT person. I would have killed myself by now.

Of course these technological conflicts always happen at the worst possible time, usually centered around deadlines of some sort.

Which reminds me that it's time to watch one of my favorite Eddie Izzard clips again:

If you are an Eddie Izzard virgin, then I am very happy to have introduced you to him. If you like smart men who wear makeup, your life is now complete.

Eddie is the sexiest man in makeup on the planet. I cannot believe I have not blogged about him already. That's like me not writing about movies or chocolate.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Looking at the Bigger Picture

If you are like me (or not, hopefully): tired in general, not dancing, tired of runny noses and sneezing and holiday shopping madness...

I just wanted to look at a different bigger picture right now, to get out of my little tired world, and here is what I found. The Forehead of the Sky.

I like that.

Be sure to scroll to the right. The view's pretty f**king amazing from up here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Silly Cure Redux (Pour Mon Pauvre Garçon)

My Boy is sick!

Cher pauvre garçon:

Please drink lots of hot liquids, take lots of naps and watch this clip over and over again until you feel better. Harpo will help you until I get home.



Sunday, December 16, 2007


We went to see Kooza, Cirque de Soleil's newest show, last Friday.

Watching this performance was like seeing a dream come to life. The attention to detail--from the gorgeous costumes and makeup--to the live music, sets and lighting (thought of you, Ms. Red Shoes) enhances the already amazing performances and makes this a spectacle you don't want to end.

From CdS's website, here is a brief description of the show:

KOOZA tells the story of The Innocent, a melancholy loner in search of his place in the world.

KOOZA is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil: It combines two circus traditions – acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The show highlights the physical demands of human performance in all its splendor and fragility, presented in a colorful mélange that emphasizes bold slapstick humor.

The Innocent's journey brings him into contact with a panoply of comic characters such as the King, the Trickster, the Pickpocket, and the Obnoxious Tourist and his Bad Dog.

Between strength and fragility, laughter and smiles, turmoil and harmony, KOOZA explores themes of fear, identity, recognition and power. The show is set in an electrifying and exotic visual world full of surprises, thrills, chills, audacity and total involvement.

My favorite part of the show was the performance of the three amazing contortionists, a young trio known as the "Magic Pixies." Which describes them perfectly. These gorgeous creatures wear body suits richly colored in gold and red, and perform their astonishing act on a dais that rotates. They are like living, flowing sculptures. They reminded me of dainty cloisonné scorpions, pretty yet powerful and strong.

The first clip below gives you a partial view of their act with clear footage and sound.

The second clip, which doesn't have the same production values, does showcase their entire routine (it starts at 2:42).

Part of what is so amazing to me are the ages of these fantastic performers: 11, 15 and 16. The youngest, Natasha Patterson, is a local girl from just over the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.

The equally talented trapeze artist who performs before this trio is seventeen years old and speaks 5 or 6 languages. I think it's wonderful that some people are getting such an amazing jumpstart on life, and seem to be enjoying their talents and gaining a greater sense of the world, much more than most people ever will. In an age where many people yearn to be famous, but not necessarily talented, it's refreshing to see that for some young people, the love and dedication to what they do brings happiness and also recognition.

(Some tango-related topics in this vein include Danzarin's recent post, Johanna's post, and mine, the subjects of which also show that age is no barrier to talent.)

If you have an opportunity to see Kooza (the schedule is posted on the website link above), you should definitely do so. I think you'll be transported, fascinated and have a great time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


You were right, this was the best scene in the film:

Apparently, they only say f**k 281 times in the movie, and dude just a mere 160 times. Funny, it seemed like more.

I went from the Marx Brothers to Preston Sturges to the Coen Brothers in one night.

And the Gipsy Kings singing Hotel California--brilliant.

Better than vitamin C! I think I'm cured.

The Silly Cure for What Ails You

I've tried massive doses of Airborne and chicken soup to ward off the company flu bug, which has insinuated itself between me and two milongas and a private lesson with Shorey this week. Damn.

So it's germs winning over tangobaby, 3 to zero.

The healthy cure isn't really working so I've switched to something more enjoyable: takeout Chinese food and the Marx Brothers in one of my favorites, Horse Feathers.

I'm still trying to figure out what the hell a College Widow really is, though. All I know is that it seems like a great job: you get to dress up in negligees and hang around the house looking cute, and have men bring you breakfast in bed. Where do I sign up? Thelma Todd had it right (in the movie, unfortunately not in real life).

Guess I should get out of these sweatpants.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Staying Put

Well, now that I'm all fired up about makeup since my last post, think about how many times have you been invited to dance with a leader only to see his shoulder covered with foundation, lipstick or mascara? Yuck. Makes the embrace a little less inviting, doesn't it? And it's certainly not his fault, that's for sure. Poor guy.

Inevitably, smeared faces can be the result of a close embrace dance. I've thought of some products and ideas that will reduce the chances that your dance partner will need to throw his shirt in the trash when he gets home.

In general, here are the basic rules to prevent smudging and smearing on you and your partner:

  • Less is more.
  • Avoid cream and gel-based products, including eyeshadows and blushes. The odds of them creasing and smearing on warm, sweaty skin is pretty much 100%. I'd skip the gooey lipglosses, too, just because those are bound to end up somewhere other than your mouth.
  • The term "waterproof" is extremely subjective. It is a great marketing tool, however. I have yet to find a truly waterproof product (my litmus test is the crying bride). Don't see waterproof written on something and think you're home free.
  • Keep some q-tips in your little makeup kit in case you need to clean up a bit in the corners of your eyes.
  • I'll say it again: Less is more.

  1. If you're going to wear eyeshadow and you have a problem with it all running into the crease, use an primer for your eyelids. The best one I've ever used by far is the Laura Mercier Eye Basics. I like them because: a little goes a long way, they dry extremely matte but make a great base for holding shadow, and they are opaque so if you have dark or discolored eyelids, it will act as a concealer so you can use lighter eyeshadows that don't usually show up on you.
  2. Set any creme you wear (foundation, blush) with a light layer of translucent setting powder. Cremes, by nature, will break down on warm skin, so setting them with powder will make them last longer. And when I say translucent, I mean just that. If you need to blot your nose, using a powder with pigment in it will keep adding more color to your face as the night goes on. You just want to keep down the shine, not change the color of your skin.
  3. Use a foundation primer. You'll probably use less foundation with a primer, it will go on smoother, and hopefully will last longer. Personally, I like the Sue Devitt and NARS primers.
  4. Try not to use too much makeup on the sides of your face and your neck. Usually the area needing coverage is the T-zone. If you can get away with it, maybe all you need is concealer and powder. The Laura Mercier Secret Camoflauge is the bomb. But you might need to have the sales associate help you find your color and show you how to use it the right way. GET THE BRUSH. Once you get the hang of this product, you'll love it.
  5. I happen to LOVE the Vincent Longo Lip/Cheek stains. I don't use them as blush but as a pretty permanent lip color that you can top with a little chapstick or a teeny bit of gloss, they are awesome. I wear them all the time and the color really lasts. They tend to be bright but you can apply them sheerly for a bitten-lip look. Or, a cheap, classic and natural look for many is the famous $0.99 Wet 'n' Wild lip pencil in 666 (you little devil, you) with lip balm on top.
  6. I am a diehard fan of the Laura Mercier cake liner. Of all the eyeliners I've used, this one is the least likely to smudge. But you do need the brush and you do need to practice using it. I would not recommend a kohl pencil or any liner that has a creamy consistency. It just won't hold up.
  7. Get more mileage out of your lashes and use less product by curling your lashes before you pile on the mascara. I still think the Shu Uemura eyelash curler is the best on the market. Please don't skimp on this and get the cheapie drugstore brand. This is one instance where spending a little more makes a difference. Your lashes will thank you.
  8. And you know how I feel about the Shu Uemura fake lashes. I already went nuts about them here. And here.

This is just a short list of products I like, and you might have found some that you think work well for a night of dancing, so please share your knowledge with us. This isn't even close to a list of all the stuff I covet/hoard/lust for every day wear, evenings out, skin care, etc, but that all will have to wait for later.

Let me know if you have any questions! Let me know if you like makeup-ey posts. I would probably write them anyway, but it's nice to know if they're helpful to you. ;-)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Unmasking Beauty

Last week, I had another lesson after work. But this time, I was the teacher. I gave the lesson. A private makeup lesson in the not-so-private, but exquisitely decorated, cosmetics department of Neiman Marcus, one of my former haunts.

I haven't done a makeup lesson in a while, and it was such a fulfilling hour to be doing something I really love where I am not the student (i.e., tango). Sharing your expertise with someone, when you really know what you're talking about and your student is eager to learn, is a fantastic feeling.

I'm sure I must have mentioned this before, but I used to work as a professional makeup artist. I was lucky enough to learn from the best in the biz, the lady on the right, Laura Mercier. And also from some of her extremely talented disciples, who have gone on to have successful careers in their own right. I have a lot of fantastic tricks up my sleeve thanks to my teachers. Over the years, I've touched a lot of faces. It may sound silly, but I know I've also changed a lot of lives, in big and small ways, by being a makeup artist and showing women how to use cosmetics in a subtle, artistic way (and how to pull out all the stops if that's what they want). I've worked with brides, frumpy housewives, newly divorced women, rich ladies recovering from plastic surgery, cancer patients going through chemo, little old ladies, teenage girls, men, models, and actresses.

The other day, I was trying to explain to a male friend of mine about cosmetics, and why women get so excited about them. I was hoping that everything I said did not sound trite or something out of a 1950s treatise on How to Be a Lady. But I was having a hard time explaining why some (most?) women get a little ga-ga for makeup, myself included, when we're supposed to be educated and focused on so many other things than our appearance. I mean, how shallow can you get? I can have a serious discussion with you about string theory or scurvy, but the minute you ask me what my favorite lipgloss is, my eyes will light up in a feverish way.

We live in a time where our culture has done a lot to blur the distinction between male and female, I think in an attempt to let us all advance ourselves without gender being a discriminating factor, as much as humanly possible. Because of that, women today have many advantages now that our mothers and grandmothers did not have in their lifetimes, allowing us to have many more options regarding our careers, family life and other areas too numerous to mention. The flip side, I think, is that we have lost some (or a lot) of our femaleness as a result. Which is denying a large part of what makes us who we are, imho. And that always brings me back to the tango thing, but for right now this is still a makeup story.

I think women have an innate need to see beauty, whether it is something outside them, or something beautiful about themselves. It may just be a function of cultural conditioning, but if it is, then it still must have some basis in our genes or has been imprinted in us for centuries. Cosmetics fulfill a need that is hard to describe but humans have been using them for thousands of years.

Laura taught me to regard the face as a perfect canvas. To see and enhance the fine and beautiful qualities of the face that are there already. It's not about focusing on what's wrong with you, what you don't like about yourself, but about playing up the parts of you that you do like. I've learned to look at faces with an objective eye, in pieces instead of a whole, if I want to. I can quickly discern lovely features that are waiting to be unearthed, like I'm an archaeologist who's just found a shard of pottery that when cleaned and polished, will turn into a museum's treasure. I'll tell a woman: you have a beautiful brow shape, I love your cheekbones, look at how pretty your upper lip is, and she'll look at me with wonder and maybe a little puppy love in her eyes and say, Really? I never saw that before.

You show people themselves in a mirror after you've done their makeup, and sometimes they cry because you've just helped them look the way they always wanted to, so their inside dreams match the outside face that the world sees. It's like showing someone a face they never knew they had but one they always wanted. And it's real.

Hartelijk gefeliciteerd, Dutchbaby!

My dear dutchbaby,
I don't know who this little person is, but I thought she made a cute birthday card for you.
I hope your wooden shoes are filled with all kinds of goodies (maybe Loehmann's gift cards?). I hope your birthday is simply magical and the start of another wonderful year of love, adventures and happy surprises.
Happy happy happy birthday!

Friday, December 7, 2007

My Vintage Life

Last week, in addition to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, I went to the SF Art Deco Show.

The Concourse was filled with vendors from around the country selling incredible vintage furniture, art, accessories and clothing. The recorded music of San Francisco's Royal Society Jazz Orchestra added to the energy of the room.

The Boy remarked that both of us are nostalgic for an era we never lived in, and it's quite true. Everything from the 20s to the 40s: movies, fashion, books, architecture, cars (and for me especially, the makeup and hairstyles)--we can't get enough of it. It seems more natural for me to be attracted to the look of things from those years than the present time. I have always been that way. It's almost like remembering, sometimes wistfully.

And then I made a beeline for the vintage clothing sellers. The selection was so overwhelming that I didn't end up buying anything at all. I felt like I was in a museum, but better, because I could touch the velvets and silks, and try things on. I spent a great amount of time trying on hats. It was heaven.

It's amazing to see how some of these delicate dresses have survived over the years and are still truly beautiful. At 2pm, there was a fashion show, and it was tailor-made for me. The theme was the Evolution of Dance and Fashion. The presentation started with the late 1800s and the waltz. All of the gowns were authentic to each period being described and they were exquisite. The dresses, most of which had such imaginative designs and details and beautiful beading, were so flattering to the women's figures. They enhanced their femininity without being overly revealing.

The fashions became shorter and more free-flowing as the waltz evolved into the foxtrot, Charleston, etc., all the way up to the Mashed Potato, but my interest peaked at the tango, of course. I wished I could have been one of the models (she didn't know how to demonstrate the steps like I could have) but more likely it was that I wanted to wear one of the dresses.

The merging of dance and fashion and films swirled through my head that day, especially since I ended up at the Silent Film Festival that evening.

I wanted to share the following tango movie clip with you: Rudolph Valentino in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). (You may have already seen it on Tango Love and Other Devil's great post about tango in the movies, but I think it's worth watching again.) I find this clip in particular so compelling. I like the energy and look of this short dance so much more than anything you could see on Dancing with the Stars and its ilk, that other brand of tango made for popular consumption.

As La Tanguera notes wisely, the style of dancing cannot be compared to the mastery of tango dancers then or now. I like watching this clip and viewing it as if I am seeing it for the first time, when the movie was released in 1921. According to wikipedia: The film was a commercial and critical success and made Valentino a star, earning him the nickname "Tango Legs." (And ladies, check out the spurs on his boots. In those days, it was the man who wore the dangerous stilettos, no?)

Talk about a shot heard around the world. Valentino had millions of adoring fans, so I'm trying to imagine the impact that his tango dancing must have had on the world at large. I'm guessing that he must have played an instrumental role in bringing tango into the awareness of the modern masses which, in some way, connects to us today.


Picture this:

The room, walls painted in dark deep red and gold, walls hung with drapes, twinkly lights from the ceiling (great decorating job, Tom!)

DJing by Homer, with a wonderful mix of old favorites and new music that was intriguing and exciting to dance to.

Rain pounding down outside, some windows open so you could hear the droplets hitting the pavement and the cars making those swooshy rain sounds on the street. Hard rain sometimes, like Singing in the Rain kind of downpour. Standing by the open window to get a mist of rainwater on your face to cool off once in a while.

A new dress, kimono-style and silky, in brown, red, pink and cream. With a brown sash. Red shoes. Nude fishnets. Sicily perfume. Sparkly bracelet, curly hair and my favorite: long lashes!

Ms. Tango Hours and time for a little catch up, and some hugs. Ladies I don't know who smiled at me while I was dancing. I could feel their smiles on me.

TWO Tango Angels! Confidently lead volcadas. Subtle caricias.

Driving home in the pouring rain with the window open.

Listening to my favorite car tango:

Feeling so alive!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

For All the Snowed-In, Snowy Tango Angels

I thought this photo was so striking and tango-esque.

It reminded me of you, my favorite tangueras, battling the elements in colder climates, when all you want to do is go out and dance. Here it only rains.

The photographer calls this photo Saving Myself for Spring.

I'll repost with the link later. This artist's retro photos are amazing.

Stay warm and lovely. Will write more soon.



Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Between the Words

There are rare moments where love is captured for eternity. I got to see one of them last Saturday at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

The 8pm presentation of Flesh and the Devil, the starmaking melodrama with Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, was shown to a packed house. The 35mm print, on loan from the Library of Congress, was given to the library's archives after the film was restored in the mid-80s by Warner Brothers. According to the archivist who flew out from Washington DC for the festival and gave the audience an introduction to the film, this print had never been shown before.

Acclaimed musician Dennis James, who is widely known on the silent film circuit for his amazing performances on piano and organ, provided the film's accompaniment on the Castro Theatre's Wurlitzer organ. Having live music playing while you watch a film raises the viewing of that film to an event. It becomes a total experience.

I had tried to do my homework before seeing this film, so I already knew that it was the vehicle that made Greta Garbo a huge star. I also knew that this film began the real-life stormy love affair of the two stars. However, even if you did not know that Garbo and Gilbert were lovers offscreen, you would have figured it out very quickly upon seeing them together.

There was no artifice in their scenes together. The first scene where Gilbert sees Garbo as she gets off the train at the station--that look is one of a man completely besotted by love. It gives you the chills to peek into someone's heart like that.

Here is an illuminating quote about the film, from another blog I enjoy, The Crowd Roars:

John Gilbert's friend at the time, Adela St. Johns, said many years later of the actor's love for Garbo:

"It was an explosion. I've never seen two people so violently, excitedly in love. I mean when she walked through a door if he was in the room he went white and took a great, long breath and then walked toward her as though he were being yanked by a magnet or something." ...Director Clarence Brown said that when he would shoot a love scene with the two he would finish the filming and leave them alone. "It was embarrassing," he said, feeling like an intruder.

I wish more people were exposed to and had the chance to learn to enjoy these movies. The perception that they are irrelevant could not be more untrue. To quote The Boy: Silent movies are anything but silent. The way Garbo hands Gilbert the cigarette that she has been toying with in her lips...um, that cigarette is anything but a cigarette. She knows it, he knows it, and so do you. These movies are full of moments of extreme feeling and emotion because actors need more than dialogue to tell you their story.

What I love about these films are the nuances. The things that exist between the words. If you know what to look for and even if you don't.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Dramedy That Is the Office Holiday Party

I have had the dubious honor of helping to plan and organize our office's Holiday Party. We are on high-drama alert this week. The party is on Saturday night.
Our office--a very very upscale boutique interior design firm in San Francisco--try to use your imagination that the levels of this drama can get to. Hands down, the men here definitely outdrama the women. Even the women with PMS.
Our office is such a great candidate for a reality television program. You would love us. We would get fabulous ratings. And we would look extremely stylish while doing it.

I've never had a drink during the day, but I am considering it. I just took some Excedrin. Can you drink and take Excedrin at the same time?
I cannot wait until this is o-v-e-r.