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Oh Sandy

I’m writing this on Monday afternoon. Hurricane Sandy is supposed to make landfall a bit north of us in a few hours and the leaves that had fallen prettily over the past week are now a matted wet carpet, beaten down by the constant rain. I suspect we’ll lose electricity tonight or tomorrow and I’m surprisingly fine with that. It’s not that cold, and historically my friend’s place doesn’t lose water or gas when the grid goes down.

When we lose electricity at Plumcake Cottage –which can happen during such traumatic weather events as a pelican landing on the roof– we lose everything. Never in my life did I expect to say “Sweetheart, go to the ocean and get a bucket of water. We need to be able to flush.” but there you have it. Tropical glamor: redefined.

Speaking of redefinition, I suppose now is as good a time as any to ask your opinion on Olivia Newton John’s career-defining character, Sandy Olsen in Surrender Your Identity To Garner Male Approval: The Musical, I mean Grease!

As you might be able to tell, I am not a fan. I mean I love Stockard Channing and pencil skirts as much if not more than the next girl, but even as a stupid teenager I remember being forced to sing Grease medleys and thinking “Is this a good idea? I really don’t think this is a good idea. Is this a good idea?” but I seemed to be the only one.

Okay, the wind is picking up and this copy of Kinky Boots isn’t going to watch itself. Stay safe, gang.


It’s that time of year again. The time when ghosts,goblins, and things that go bump in the night come to the fore and we cuddle up in front of our television, computer, and movie screens for a good scare or three.

When it comes to horror films, I like dread. Give me psychological terror rather than buckets of blood. I want the growing horror of the nameless thing lurking in the shadows, the suspense of waiting to see if it ever does suck someone right into perdition, leaving only some terribly disturbing clue behind.

There are a few slightly more graphic horror films I love. The Birds, for instance. Yes, there are a couple mildly (for today, not for when it was made) bloody scenes. But the parts that really freak me out of my socks are the scenes where we can see the birds gathering to attack, not the ones where they actually do it. I first saw that film when I was seven, and to this day the sight of a crow landing on a jungle gym or park bench is enough to make my stomach churn with dread.

Give me Rod Serling. Give me the work of Jacques Tourneur (particularly Cat People and I Walked With a Zombie). Give me The Sixth Sense. Pity about most of the rest of M. Night Shyamalan’s work… though I do really like Unbreakable. I love old-fashioned horror tales that rely on my brain to do most of the scary work for itself.

On the other end of the scale, I love movies that poke gentle fun at horror tropes. Every year I sit down at least once at this time of year to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas. And every year I sit down at least once to watch I Married a Witch with the late, great Veronica Lake. They make me laugh. They appeal to my romantic side, though neither is particularly sappy. And they’re a great antidote to the ones that make me jump at every funny noise or unexpected sight. I’m also fond of the (very) occasional foray into Just Plain Bad horror films, like those of Edward D. Wood, Jr. How can you beat Plan Nine From Outer Space for sheer cheeseball hilarious rotten horror movie making?

It’s also fun now and again to sit down with something that’s pretty darn cheesy now, but scared the bejabbers out of me when I was eight… like Them! That one had an amazing cast, but the last time I managed to take the giant nuclear ants seriously, well, I was several years away from my first kiss, back then. I still enjoy watching it.

What sort of horror movies do you like? Are you all about the slashers? Completely into the classics? Crazy about the Hitchcockian twist? Utterly in love with the sort of films that encourage hurling popcorn at the screen in scorn? A little each from multiple columns? Do you have a favorite obscure horror film to share with the class?

The Big Question: Greatest Role They Never Played?

The other day I was watching The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge. I love these films dearly, as I have since I saw them when they were first released. The costuming is spectacular, the scripts witty and engaging, the cast amazing, and the spirit of Dumas shines through both films.

The Three Musketeers was, I recall, the first time I saw Michael York, who has remained one of my favorite actors ever since. He was perfect for the passionate – albeit not terribly likely to think things through – D’Artagnan. With his ability to maintain equal amounts of wide-eyed innocence, terrier determination, and kid-in-a-candyshop love of all ladies at the same time, it remains one of his finer performances.

And yet I have firmly maintained for decades that the finest performance he might ever have given is one that, alas!, he never did.

You see, the instant I first read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, I saw Michael York in Wilde’s damned protagonist. As I read of Gray’s descent into hell, I knew that York would be the perfect person to carry both the innocent beauty of the outer shell and the fiendish, decadent cruelty of the man within.

Unfortunately, nobody ever cast him in the role. And, of course, Dorian Gray is a role that may only be played by a man in the first blush of youth. Michael York is still a brilliant actor and a handsome man… but the time has passed. We will never see his Dorian Gray. The world, I think, is a tiny sliver less wonderful for it.

Have you ever just known the perfect role for an actor who never wound up playing it? Who and what? Tell me all about it!

Red Letter Day for Red Shoes

Yesterday, as we all know, was the birthday of Saint Judy of Garland. Since this particular high holy day fell on a Sunday, we here at Manolo for the Big Girl are celebrating The Feast of Saint Garland (observed) today.

So…which pair of ruby slippers would YOU take over the rainbow?

Top Row from left to right

Simone from Marchez Vous

Kate Spade New York – Faylyn

Ribes 70 from Salvatore Ferragamo

Middle Row

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania + Melissa – Skyscraper II

Kate Spade’s New York Brit

Hush Puppies 1958 Collection – Basis


Bottom Row

Cole Haan Air – Juliana Pump 45

Blaise from Ara

Regent from Vivienne Westwood

What Miss Plumcake is…

Ah Tuesday, or as I like to call it “Oh-No-Is-That-the-Garbage-Truck-Quick-Where-Are-My-Pants-Is-This-a-Bad-Lemon-or-a-Good-Kiwi-Never-Mind-Let’s-GO!”

Yesterday I spent much of the day at the American Consulate waiting for Hot Latin Boy to renew his tourist visa.

As such, I spent four hours people watching and wondering what sort of decision-making process would start out “What should I wear to my very important potentially life-changing government interview” and arrive at “shredded thigh jeans, shooties ordered from the back of Modern Streetwalker and a hickey the size of Gorbachev’s port wine stain.”


Anyway, it’s been a while, but since it’s time to resurrect the featurette and see What Miss Plumcake is…


Twistie Recommends Movies

I love movies. You may already know that. In fact, I may have mentioned this fact before. And every once in a while, it’s fun to share with you all the gems I’ve found and enjoyed. So let’s do that today, shall we? Yes, yes we shall.

All of the films I’m going to recommend today are available through Netflix. I’ll also point out those you can get from Amazon.

Gunless stars Paul Gross as a wild west gunslinger who, on the run from a not very talented lynch mob and bounty hunter Callum Keith Rennie, finds himself in a tiny Canadian hamlet where nobody owns a pistol. The humor is very tongue-in-cheek, and a talented cast gives the wry script everything they’ve got. This is a film with few if any axes to grind, a slightly elastic take on history, and lots of heart. Turn off your mind and just enjoy it. Oh, and make sure you stick around for the credits. They’re liberally laced with outtakes that will leave you giggling.

In November of 1924, William Randolph Hearst’s yacht, the Oneida, set sail with a glittering cast of celebrities to celebrate the birthday of Thomas H. Ince, film producer. Before the weekend was over, Ince was dead. The official cause of death was a heart attack, but no autopsy was performed, nobody on the ship was interviewed by police, and Hollywood being Hollywood even then, rumors began flying. The most popular rumor of what had happened was that Hearst accidentally shot Ince mistaking him for Charlie Chaplin and believing Chaplin was having an affair with his (Hearst’s) mistress Marion Davies.


Inspiration/Realization: Something’s Gotta Give

Poor sweet Norma Jean died before completing the 1962 romcom Something’s Gotta Give, but not before leaving behind a few tantalizing test shots, like this wardrobe test featuring the radiant Miss M in a black and white bombshell dress.

The equally divine Miss Charles Busch admitted he had Marilyn’s dress in mind when he asked Michael Bottari and Ronald Case to design the famous black and white number for his smash satire Die, Mommie! Die! where he plays aging star Angela Arden whose career is as dead as her husband is about to be.

and now Coldwater Creek (I know, no I know, but I went through the whole catalog without coming down with early-onset menopause, maybe I’m just lucky) is offering a very pretty variation on the black and white floral theme.

This can easily be a four season dress. A pair of sweet heels and a clutch in sherbet colors makes it perfect for Spring. Little sandals for Summer, pumpkin skimmers (and maybe a thin ivy belt?) for Autumn and Winter is a no-brainer with screaming red stilettos and coordinating cardi.


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