Thursday, January 31, 2013

Good News, Bad News

First the bad news: my computer died.  It caught a virus and passed away quietly in its sleep.  The memorial service was yesterday.

Fortunately I have most of my data backed up, although I did lose a few months of photos.  Oh well... that is life in the modern age.

I zipped out last night and picked up a new laptop -- for $300.  When did they become so cheap?!  I remember when laptops were introduced, they cost $2,500-3,000.  Now you grab one for ten percent of that.  How can they make powerful computers so inexpensive?

More bad news -- I didn't realize but my new computer runs Windows 8.  Don't let the name fool you -- it's not like any earlier Windows program.  Everything is different, nothing is the same and there are no instructions.  Very, very confusing.  Steep learning curve.  Again, life in the modern age.  We didn't have this problem back when I was young -- you just grabbed a new pencil and sharpened it.

Good news -- I'm going to visit a blogger-friend for the first time.  Her identity is a surprise but here's a clue -- I'm travelling to Philadelphia to see her.  How many bloggers do you know in Philly?  There's a prize for the first person who guesses correctly.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What I See

I'm a visual person and "see" things as much with my mind as my eyes.  I relish visual images that are different or arresting.  Often, it is subtle aspects of an image that appeal to me, like the patina an object gets from age or natural patterns of wear on a wall.

On the other hand, I know what most blog-readers like to view -- and the number of comments here drops like a rock when I indulge myself with pictures that interest me but few others.  On the third hand (you have one of those, don't you?), it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to...  You would cry too if it happened to you.  (Name that tune!)

Here are some photographs I took recently that I decided not to post 'cause I didn't think anyone would want to see them but, this morning,  I changed my mind (proving I really am a girl).  I'm posting them because *I* want to enjoy them.  Call me self-indulgent, call me selfish, just don't call me late to dinner.





Monday, January 28, 2013

High Heels On Men

Most of us assume that clothes have always had the same social meaning, but that's not accurate.  Over time, the significance of clothing has changed, sometimes radically.  Several bloggers have noted that a century ago, pink was universally considered a boy's color.  Now it's reserved exclusively for girls (and becomes a scandal when a boy wears it).

My friend Gracey just tweeted a link to a BBC news article which describes how high heels used to be a status symbol for MEN.  For centuries, high heels served a purpose for male horse-riders: it secured their foot in the riding-harness.  Later, in the 17th century, high heels became popular among men in Europe as a way to show how rich and connected they were.  The impracticality of the shoe emphasized their social position -- it said they were above having to work in the fields.  Shown below is a picture of Louis XIV wearing high heels (and stockings).

It wasn't until the 19th century that women started wearing high heels.  The shoes eventually acquired erotic associations which have been well-analyzed.  Now, high heels are so common among women that those who don't like the shoes feel a need to make excuses for why they avoid them.

How do you feel about high heels?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vintage Goodies

I've learned there is nothing better than good friends.  Not only do they support you emotionally, they introduce you to wonderful things.

Recently, for example, a lovely blogger-friend sent me nail-polish in a color I'd never choose for myself.  I didn't think it suited me.  But, bored with my normal hues, I tried it on -- and every day since then, I've been beeming with a huge smile.  I love it!  So pretty and so energizing.  My friend opened the door to a sunny emotional landscape.

A similar thing happened yesterday.  My friend Jessica is not only a lover of vintage lingerie, she's a collector and connoisseur of such finery.  After chatting with me for days about my enthusiasm for stockings, Jessica generously decided to share some of her vintage pieces with me.  They just arrived.  You can see them in the pictures below.

My first memory of wanting to be female is about stockings.  I was three years old and I saw a pair of my mother's pantyhose lying on a bed.  I touched them and felt instant joy.  I wanted to put them on and be a girl.  Later, when I was 8 years old, I acquired my own pair of pantyhose and kept them buried in a coffee-can in our backyard; I retrieved them when I was left alone and played with them in secret.  I wrote a paean to pantyhose on my blog a year ago.

My new interest in vintage fashion merges nicely with my old passion for stockings.  Jessica sent me a pair of authentic "Fully Fashioned Stockings" which, as I've noted before, were the first type made.  Their material doesn't stretch, so sizing is important.  The seams running down the back are not decorative; they function as a place to join the material in their manufacture.

Do vintage clothing and lingerie interest you?

Have your friends turned you on to anything else fun lately?


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cultural Coincidences

I love spotting an actor in a movie and realizing I know them from somewhere but having to rack my brain to figure out where.  Ultimately, I remember and it's fun to solve the puzzle.

Today, I watched one of Alfred Hitchcock's best films, "Strangers On A Train."  It's a murder-mystery about two men who meet on a train and concoct a plan to kill people in each other's lives.  If you haven't seen it, you should.  The film is suspenseful, gripping and artistically accomplished.

One of the main actors (Kasey Rogers) is a young woman who refuses to grant her husband a divorce, so the other train-stranger murders her.  Kasey looked familiar and I realized how -- years later, she appeared in the TV show "Bewitched" as Louise Tate.  Another of the actors (Leo G. Carroll) is instantly recognizable as the Chief in my favorite TV show of all time, "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."  Finally, a third actor in the movie (Farley Granger) had bit parts in several TV shows, including the hilarious "Get Smart."

There are two more actors in the film with stories to tell.  The most amusing character in the movie is played by Patricia Hitchcock who, as you probably guessed, is Alfred's daughter.   She gives a great comic performance.

The lead actor in the movie is a charming young man named Robert Walker.  He was only 32 years old when the movie was made.  Tragically, Walker died the same year.  He was distraught that the love of his life had fallen for a powerful Hollywood producer (David O. Selznick) and, after drinking too much, he acted erratic.  A doctor gave him a sedative to calm him down, but he had an allergic reaction to it and died.  At age 32.  At the start of a promising career as an A-list Hollywood actor.  How tragic.

Do you ever spot actors in movies you recognize from elsewhere?  If you do and can't figure out where, the best place to learn that information is the most useful entertainment website, the Internet Movie Database.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How To Keep Warm

Use color!  So many people believe Winter is dull and dreary.  The remedy for that is color.  Bright, energizing color.

I practice what I preach.  Today, I wore a purple sweater-dress, pink leggings and black booties.  Warm clothes and yet fun.

Do you wear bright colors in Winter?




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

If I Were A Boy...

There's a meme going around among female bloggers, imagining what life would be like if they were boys.  The bloggers mention things that guys do which they envy, like peeing standing up and not worrying about gaining weight.  They also say they'd be nicer to women than most guys are, projecting an awareness of women's struggles into male brains.

I first saw my friend Bailey do this and then visited other blogs I haven't seen before (like this and this).

What do you think life would be like for you if you were a boy?  What would you enjoy about it?  What would you miss?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Summing Up

I've done many things in my life that I'm proud of.  Believe it or not, this humble blog is the one I take most pride in.  It is the truest thing I've ever done.  My blog is the most authentic expression of my self.  In the context of my life, that is a Herculean accomplishment.

As a child, I was dutiful for parents who centered their lives on childrearing.  As a student, I worked hard, got good grades, was admitted to a prestigious college, got into a top-tier law school and graduated with honors.  As a young attorney, I learned my craft, endured years of financial exploitation, escaped predatory partners, started my own practice and built a profitable business enterprise.

In my twenties, I saved a girl's life.  I rescued her from certain suicide, nurtured her and helped her build a happy life which she still enjoys today.  I take pride in these things.

Flying above these achievements, however, is this blog.  Part art-project, part autobiography, my blog records, displays and celebrates my inner soul.  It shows who I am.  Given the opprobrium of our society toward gender transgression, that's no small thing.  From my earliest memory, I was told forcefully and repeatedly that I can't be the person I am.  I was told I had to conceal my nature.  I believed, with profound sadness, that suppression would be my lifelong fate.  Fortunately, it is not.

We reach a stage in life when we realize it's do or die.  Literally.  We face mortality when our family and friends start dying.  The prospect of a terminal point prompts us to examine what we're doing and ask if that's all there is.

My mother died.  My brother died.  Close friends have passed away.  I know, with the weight of a boulder on my chest, that I will die.  I almost did once, lying on a cold roadway with a collapsed lung, broken ribs and no ability to breathe.  I came very close to the end.  Such an experience leaves a scar on your psyche.

Three years ago, I decided to confront convention.  Reject social restrictions.  Be the person I am.  I started blogging and showing the world what I've always wanted for myself.

Sounds great, right?  But there's always back-pressure.  Lacking experience in female fashion, my early attempts at dressing up were bad.  Pathetically inept.  The first three times I tried on makeup I cried.  I couldn't do it.  I had no skill and no mentors to help me.

But, as the girl whose life I saved once said about me, I'm dogged.  It is my best trait.  I perservere.  I keep at my goals relentlessly, ignoring pain, forgetting disappointment.  I forge ahead with sheer will.  Damn it, I thought, I'll learn how to appear credible in female form if it takes forever.

I slowly improved.  I'm at a point now where I'm not embarrassed by my appearance.  I won't win any beauty contests but measuring progress from where I began, I'm satisfied.  You may not realize it but transforming a body with no curves into the semblance of a woman's shape takes effort.  Most women can just toss on clothes to look female; I have to do more than that.

My blog shows this journey.  Openly available to anyone, my blog reveals my inner self in all its oddity and honesty.  You may visit many blogs, but how many do you visit like mine?  There's a reason for that.

Are you proud of your blog?  What do you think it does for you?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

It's A Guy Thing

Every year, there's a big motorcycle exhibition at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York.  I go, both to see new bikes and to run into friends.  I always bump into a dozen people I know.  Here are some pictures of the show. 

Afterward, the tough guys I was with wanted to do some drinking before returning home to their wives, so we headed to a gritty working-class bar.  We drank beers, talked about motorcycles, drank more beers and talked about sports.  Then we roughly slapped each other on the back and staggered home.  At no point did we talk about relationships, feelings or clothes.  It was a guys' day and that's what guys do.  :-).


Friday, January 18, 2013

Fifties Fashion

I've always adored fashion from the 1950's.  It was my mother's generation.  Growing up, I saw glimpses of the period's styles on adult women.  The Fifties were a time when femininity was celebrated and incorporated into beautiful designs.

So of course it makes sense for my first foray into vintage to focus on this time period.  Candidly, I'm more attracted to the styles of the time than to actual old clothes.  It's hard to find real clothing from sixty years ago, especially sized for a giant, so I'm using new pieces with retro elements of the period's style.

What do you think?  Have I captured a sense of the Fifties?


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy Birthday, Megan!

Megan is one of my best friends.  She's so sweet.  And today is her birthday!  Megan's holding a virtual birthday party over on her blog, so go visit and wish her a happy birthday.

Megan invited us to dress and submit a photo for her party.  I did.  It is one from this set, which I've held off on showing until now.  The outfit contains a high-low dress that, because I'm so tall, I needed to layer over a skirt.  I like the graphic black-white scheme with a pop of color.  What do you think?


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fun In Philly

I like urban adventures.  There's something dramatic and exciting about walking the streets of a city on a Saturday night.

Last night, we made an impromptu trip to Philadelphia.  Had a terrific time.  What motivated me to go were some Magic Socks I picked up earlier in the week.  I had been killing time in Nordstrom Rack, waiting for my takeout dinner from next door, when I spied these rare and colorful socks in the Men's department.  The socks make me want to walk and walk and walk...

Here's a picture of the colorful Ben Franklin Bridge which leads into the city.

We visited two of the hottest places there.  Informed by rave reviews in The New York Times, I ate a phenomenal dinner at a Sichuan Chinese restaurant.  This is not your father's Chinese restaurant -- the food was authentic, spicy and fun.  Each dish is rated 1 to 10 for degree of spiciness, with 10 being the hottest.  I ordered the only dish having a 10-rating and loved it.  Very flavorful and hot right up to my tolerance-level.

Afterward we waited in line to get into the hippest place in town -- an underground cocktail lounge.  It's where the cool kids hang out.  I knew the place was hip when I saw a girl next to me wearing a fascinator.  The crowd ranged in age from 28 to 30.  I was the only old guy there.  Fortunately nobody called me "Pops."

After cocktails, there is nothing better -- or worse -- than a few slices of pizza.  We paid a visit to The Famous King of Pizza whose domain is not as regal as you might expect.  But the pie was fine.  Your probably familiar with the phenomenon of one's standards plummeting after a night of drinking.  I left the waitress a big tip (130%) which made her smile.  Ya gotta spread the love...

I had a great evening.  The only thing that would have improved it is if I could have worn heels and a sparkly dress.  Such is life.  :-)

Do you like cities?  Which are your favorites?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Great Photos

I admire good photography.  Some of the entries in this year's National Geographic competition are extraordinary.  Look at these beauties and tell me if any appeal to you.


Friday, January 11, 2013


Some people say it's taboo to talk openly about money.  But I'm willing to ride a motorcycle wearing a tutu, so you know my attitude toward "rules."  :-)

I had an interesting, visceral experience last night that served as a catalyst for some reflection about society.  Let me share my thoughts with you and invite you to toss yours in the ring.

What's your attitude toward wealth?

I was raised in a lower middle-class immigrant family which instilled a sense of frugality in me.  I shop in thrift-stores, look for bargains and rarely spend extravagantly.  I balance this natural tendency, however, with small flights of luxury that I savor for their rarity.  For example, I've sucked down a tiny tin of $400 caviar and I wear $200 cufflinks made from a real MLB game-played baseball.

When I've been working too hard (as recently), I grant myself an indulgence.  I find such rewards to be therapeutic.  Especially if they are on someone else's dime.

For Christmas, a client gave me a $100 gift-card to a fancy sushi restaurant.  I like the place and went there last night.  The card barely covered my meal for one.  In fairness, the food was extraordinary.

The restaurant is in the most expensive shopping center in our region.  Called the Americana, the shopping center has such tony stores as Tiffany & Co., Dior, Hermes, Cartier, Prada, Fendi and Armani.  Before dining, I walked around and browsed.  I saw a dress for $8,500 and a scarf for $1,200.  The jewelry was in the five- and six-figure range.

I wondered who pays such high prices.  Neither I nor anyone I know.  Then I remembered a woman here whose rich husband gives her a clothing allowance of $25,000 per month.  Per MONTH.  Seriously.  She shops at the Americana regularly.  Where else can you burn through that much money on a regular basis?  Old Navy?

So I was travelling in the land of the wealthy.  It was an odd sensation, like visiting an exotic country.  Suddenly, walking through the parking lot, I stopped dead in my tracks.  I saw a creature I'd never thought I'd see in person.  One I knew existed but was stunned to confront in the flesh.  One of these...

This automotive sculpture is a Ferrari.  It costs more than my house.  No kidding.

I was so surprised I couldn't move.  I felt like I'd met a unicorn.  The Ferrari looks fast standing still.  It possesses a quality of high performance that is palpable.

Staring at the car for ten minutes, I wondered who owns such an extravagance.  Of course it isn't their regular car; it's the vehicle they take to the Americana to be seen by their rich friends.  If you want to impress people, pull up in a half-million dollar racing car.

The lives of the rich really are different from ours.  How do you feel about that?