30 March 2011

Red Scarf

Walking down Fifth Avenue the other weekend, I came upon the Richard Morris Hunt Memorial that is across the street from the Frick Collection. Wrapped around Hunt's neck was a red scarf, perhaps placed there by an anonymous fan to ward off the cold weather that we seem unable to shake.

Hunt was an important 19th century architect who helped shape the look of New York City, including the creation of the Great Hall at the Met. He also designed the Breakers in Newport, RI, my favourite of the Newport mansions. I like to think he'd appreciate this addition to his memorial—a bit of colour to make the design pop.

Photo by Michele.

29 March 2011

The Importance of Being Earnest

Attending a Broadway production is always fun, even if the show turns out to be mediocre. But when the show is outstanding and you spend a good part of two hours laughing as I did the other night at a revival of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, it's a complete treat.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a satirical comedy that takes aim at marriage and the social tenants of Victorian England. The story involves characters who maintain fictitious relatives and friends (Bunbury) in order to escape social duties, women who love only men named Ernest, and a mystery about a baby left in a handbag at a train station. In short, it's a deliciously enjoyable play, and this latest revival does not disappoint.

Jessie Austrian, David Furr, and Brian Bedford.

The sets are beautiful and the performances, along with the accents, strong (I particularly liked David Furr as Jack Worthing). Yet the show belongs to Brian Bedford who, in addition to directing the production, portrays the indomitable Lady Bracknell, one of the great comedic characters in theatre. Bedford dominates the stage from the moment he first appears in the doorway of Algernon's drawing room. With a voice that could command an army, Lady Bracknell lectures and bullies those around her in the guise of upholding society's mores while refusing to acknowledge her own hypocrisy. When she learns of Jack's origin during a grilling on his potential as a son-in-law (one of the best scenes in the play) her utterance of the single word "handbag" speaks volumes about her and society.

 movements, from wrinkling his nose as if there's a bad smell to smiling coyly at Cecily, along with his delivery are spot on. Lady Bracknell has some of the best lines in the play, and Bedford recites them with gusto. In response to Algernon's news of his friend Bunbury's latest illness, "Well, I must say, Algernon, that I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or die." And the classic "To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness." Indeed. 

The Importance of Being Earnest plays at the American Airlines Theatre through July 3. If you get the chance to attend a Broadway show, make this the one. Lady Bracknell would approve.

Photos by Joan Marcus.

27 March 2011

I'm Back

Louise Brooks

I am writing this quick post on my new laptop, which is fast and fabulous. I brought it home today after emptying out my bank account at the local Apple store. I'm still transferring files and downloading programs but I'm back online, which is the important thing.

It's been a busy month, and I can't believe how many things have happened. I have loads of tales to share with you my dear readers so I promise to start posting as soon as I can. Stay tuned.

22 March 2011


Marilyn Monroe. Photo: Otto L. Bettmann.

Today is Mrs. Parker's birthday. I shall be celebrating by drinking copious amounts of champagne while fervently shaving off numbers from my driver's license (I'm kidding. No, not really). Anyway, the blog has been a bit silent of late due to the recent passing of my laptop. Birthday present to myself is the purchasing of a new computer this weekend so look for more tales coming soon from this madcap heiress. In the meantime, back to the bubbly.

07 March 2011

Keep Calm

These are the words I keep telling myself as I wait to see if my darling little laptop that has seen me through many moves and adventures for the last five years is going to make it. It stopped cold yesterday, and I am hoping (fingers crossed) that the geniuses at TekServe (no not the misnamed ones at the Apple Store) can bring it back to life. Until then, I won't really be able to post much.

And by the way, the poster above, I love it. I have one hanging in my office that I ordered directly from Barter Books in the UK (the store that discovered it) before it went viral so to speak. Doesn't matter how popular it is; I still love it. And so to all those naysayers who like to moan about them (people on Apartment Therapy, I'm talking about you) I say stop it. If you don't like the poster, don't buy one. If you do, go for it. Doesn't matter how popular it is, the message is still great.

03 March 2011

Blonde Bombshell

Before Madonna, before Marilyn Monroe, there was Jean Harlow—the original blonde bombshell. One of the most popular actresses of the 1930s, Harlow's blonde hair and skin-tight gowns made her an iconic image of the silver screen. Today would have been her 100th birthday.

The Baby, as she was nicknamed, was tiny (just 5' 2) and had luminous skin, a perfect figure (she didn't like to wear underwear because it created lines), and that hair. Harlow's platinum blonde hair changed the lives of women. Seriously. Before her, dyed hair was equated with prostitutes. Harlow's screen appearances had thousands of women rushing to the salon to mimic their favourite actress' blonde tresses and suddenly being a bottle blonde was acceptable.

Harlow began her career in Hal Roach shorts and co-starred with Laurel and Hardy in a few of their films while learning to be a good actress. There is no question that the camera loved her but her delivery was stiff often laughable. Harlow herself said, "I was not a born actress. No one knows it better than I. If I had any latent talent, I have had to work hard, listen carefully, do things over and over and then over again in order to bring it out." But as she continued to vamp it up on screen she got better and soon she began to exhibit great comic timing. Her big break came with Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels (1930). She would go on to star in some of the best films of the 1930s—Dinner at Eight, Bombshell, Red Dust, Libeled Lady. Her co-stars included Wallace Beery, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, William Powell, and Clark Gable (she and Gable made six films together and were great friends off screen).

Harlow was an animal lover and filled her home with dogs and other furry pets. She was beloved by everyone she worked with and was known for helping crew members out financially. She was also smart. Harlow could memorize her lines with just one reading of a script. She was known to always have a book with her on set and even wrote a novel, Today is Tonight, which wasn't published until 1965.

Her cheery disposition helped to mask the sadness in her personal life. She was married three times; her second husband, Paul Bern, committed suicide just two months after their wedding. Her great love, William Powell, refused to marry her. She supported her domineering stage mother who attempted to control all aspects of her daughter's life and a step-father who lost huge amounts of Harlow's income on ill-conceived investments.

Harlow was in the midst of making her sixth film with Gable, Saratoga, when she complained of not feeling well. A few weeks later, on June 7, 1937, she died from uremic poisoning. Most likely a bout of scarlet fever as a teen had damaged her kidneys and in the 1930s there was no cure for kidney failure. MGM writer Harry Ruskin said, "The day 'the baby' died there wasn't one sound in the commissary for three hours—not one goddamn sound." Harlow was just 26.

So Happy Birthday Jean Harlow. You will always be one of my favourite blondes.

If you'd like to see some of her films, Harlow is TCM's star of the month. And to learn more about her, check out David Stenn's excellent biography Bombshell.

02 March 2011

Chocolate Oasis

During my Boston days one of my favourite cafes was Burdick's in Harvard Square. If you got there early enough, you might be able to snag one of their few tables. There, sitting under the long mirror with a large cup of coffee, you could almost pretend that you were in Paris. So imagine my delight when I discovered that a Burdick's had opened here in New York. With warm wood and mirrors and cherry blossoms in the center of the room, the New York Burdick's is just as welcoming as the Cambridge one. And it's at least twice the size!

Burdick's began in Walpole, NH and is known for its amazing handmade chocolates, most notably their chocolate mice. These delightful little creatures come in dark, milk, and white chocolate and make wonderful little gifts (penguins also make an appearance in the store as well as wee ghosts at Halloween). I'm not a big hot chocolate drinker but I know people who swear that Burdick's has the best.

On this visit, I indulged in a coffee and slice of lemon and chocolate cake. Absolutely delicious. Unlike so many cafes in the city, Burdick's has no blaring music and people seem to inherently know to speak with low voices. In short, it's a great place to escape from the noise of the city. And an excuse to have some chocolate (that is, if you need an excuse).

Photos by Michele.

01 March 2011

March Comes In

"March is the month of expectation,
The things we do not know."—Emily Dickinson

March is a special month. Its arrival means that winter is drawing to a close and spring is near. It is the month in which we celebrate women and St. Patrick. March also means lovely yellow daffodils in bloom, rain instead of snow (fingers crossed), and my birthday. A very good month indeed. 

Image from the New York Public Library.


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