Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blog from the Road III

Next to the huge statue of Louis Riel outside the Manitoba Legislature.
Who's seen Guy Maddin's "My Winnipeg"? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Fashion of Doctor Who


Next year Doctor Who will turn 50 and I'm really looking forward to seeing what the BBC has planned to celebrate it.
If you've never seen an episode of this cult classic, either the new version or the classic one, then you've truly missed seeing some great television.
What is it about tuning in every week to watch a daft old man fly around time and space in a magic box that has made it last for so long and to gain in popularity every year that it's been broadcast?
Well, it's more than just a children's show and it's more than a sci-fi show. Every week you can watch a brilliant adventure unfold before your eyes (or from behind the couch) as you watch the Doctor and his companions battle monsters and save the world. It's just good fun to watch, even when the budget only allowed to wobbly sets and aliens made out of tinfoil.
But I like to think that what has made Doctor Who last for fifty years is the Doctor's fashion sense. He is truly a unique style icon. Remember that every time the Doctor regenerates, he's never really himself until he has the time to select a new outfit that fits his new personality.



Ah yes, the befuddled and grumpy Edwardian grandfather look. The First Doctor wore plaid pants (almost all of the Doctors have worn plaid at least once) a frock coat and a string tie. He was also the first Doctor to experiment with hats, including a Stetson. Because Stetsons are cool. Perhaps because he was so young, this is the only Doctor who would regularly change his outfits in order to blend in the the local environment that the TARDIS had accidentally landed in. And this is not the last time that we will see the Doctor in an Edwardian style outfit, since it is ordinary enough to not seem too strange but unique enough to stand out in a crowd.



The Second Doctor's look can best be described as a cross between a hobo and a clown. Or Chaplin's Llittle Tramp character in space. He is the first Doctor to have bigger on the inside pockets to hold useful objects, like a yo-yo and his flute. He would also wear a giant fur coat, and you know how I love my fur coats. While outwardly childish and forgetful, the Second Doctor was really quite cunning and forceful.



I would like to describe the style of the clothes horse that was the Third Doctor as bitchin'. This is the rock 'n' roll Doctor. From his frilly shirts to his velvet suits and from his giant bowtie to his capes and fluffy hair, this is one cool cat! And let's not forget Bessie, his bright yellow car and his penchant for wearing fedoras. Plus, he's the only Doctor who would regularly change his outfit throughout a season. Watching a Third Doctor serial makes me scour the vintage shops even harder in my quest for the elusive perfect velvet suit.



The most recognizable of all the Doctors, Four is also the most worthy of the label "style icon". The Fourth Doctor was the most unique in terms of looking like you would imagine a weird alien Time Lord type of chap to look. From his long coats (I need a purple frock coat! Why can't I find one?) to his tweed trousers, vests and crumpled fedora, he's really got a stylish look going on there. Plus you can dress up like him everyday and never get bored of wondering around town in it and offering jelly babies to random strangers.
But really, the Fourth Doctor is all about the scarf.
Tom Baker's long scarf really said a lot about the Doctor. Weird, slightly ridiculous, outwardly showing little purpose, but you'd be lost if it suddenly disappeared.



The Fifth Doctor is my all-time favourite Doctor.
I love his cricket outfit, from the running shoes to the stripped pants to the celery in the lapel to the Edwardian frock coat. Seriously, what is it about the Doctor and his love of frock coats and why aren't they easier to find? At first glance, you might think that the Fifth Doctor would look ordinary walking down the street, but then you see the eccentric touch of the celery in the lapel and you think again.



Oh, poor number Six. The Eighties were really hard on you. Just look at the patchwork coat you've got on. On second thought, best not to look. It burns my eyes!
As to the Sixth Doctor's time in the TARDIS:
Just no.
That regeneration did not go well.



The Seventh Doctor definitely had the look of the alien showman going on. It's theatrical while still being academic. He also brought back the plaid pants and I love his straw hat and his habit of wearing two scarves at once and always carrying an umbrella.
You may have noticed that throughout the Eighties, the four different Doctors had the motif of wearing a question mark (or multiple question marks) somewhere on their costume. The question mark refers of course to the ultimate question that we've been asking about the Doctor since the show started fifty years ago and that is: Doctor who?



Poor Eight. You had such an awesome Victorian dandy look going on, but you only had one Americanized TV movie to show it off in. It's such a wonderful outfit and I wish we'd been able to see that velvet frock coat for a longer period of time. Hopefully, they'll include the Eighth Doctor in that multi-Doctor they are planning for next year so you'll have more time to shine.



The Ninth Doctor was the first Doctor to not look like the Doctor. He didn't even wear a tie! Just that leather jacket and non brightly coloured sweater. Boring! This is why when you're reviving a series, you do not hire a non-fan lead actor, especially one who doesn't understand why the Doctor has to look uniquely eccentric.
On the other hand, you could look at this as the shell-shocked Doctor. He has just survived the Time War and destroyed his own people in order to save the entire universe and time itself and he just doesn't want to associate himself with any of his past selves, since to do so would bring back too many painful memories.
Or you could just see him as the boring to look at Doctor.



From the modern suit to the Converse, the super long coat and the cheeky grin, the Tenth Doctor is the second most recognizable Doctor look. You could also wear it everyday and not get a second glance, except from people you recognize the super long coat reference.



If your high school science teacher were a tall and lanky young man, he'd look like that. At least the Eleventh Doctor is driving up sales of Harris Tweed by wearing a tweed jacket every week. And have you seen his stripped shirt cuffs? Awesome! Hopefully, his immense popularity will bring back the bowtie.
Bowties are cool!
Fezzes are cool!
Carrying a mop might never catch on though. Just saying.

Because you can find a fan video about also anything about Doctor Who, I found one about his fashion:

I think I'm going to have to write a post about some of the more stylish companions from the classic Doctor Who, not the ones from the new Doctor Who since they are a bit boring and interchangeable. Anyone of any favourite companion styles that they'd like to suggest?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Blog from the Road II

View from the Top of the World at the Centre of the Universe. Now at the Forks.
Let's see you non-Canadians figure that out.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blog from the Road

Trying on helmets at the War Museum in Ottawa.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Vintage Books {A Moveable Feast}


I decided to finally read Hemingway's memoirs of being a young writer in Paris in the Twenties after getting my DVD of Midnight in Paris recently. I'd been meaning to read it for a number of years, but I just kept putting it off because I've read a couple of his novels and I really don't like his writing style.
Hemingway wrote in simple sentences.
And this book is no exception.
Hemingway hated adjectives.
And descriptions.
He wrote to show you people, events and places. Not to tell you of them.
He was also very much a man's man.
However, I liked A Moveable Feast and you have to read it.
It's a fascinating memoir of how Hemingway was training himself to be a great writer by living in a small flat with his first wife and child, struggling to get by and yet still making himself write all day and every day in order to publish stories here and there.
You really get a taste of what Paris must have been like during the heyday of the Lost Generation of writers and artists that had gathered in Paris.
And there are also the stories he tells of the famous people that he was friends with. There are tales of him drinking with people like Ford Maddox Ford and Ezra Pound and borrowing books from Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare & Co. His and everyone else's hero-worship of James Joyce and a great chapter on how much Gertude Stein's lectures and advice meant to everyone. But the saddest story of them all are the chapters about his friendship with Scott Fitzgerald and how his drinking affected him, which is worth reading the entire book just to get to.
I wish that more Lost Generation writers had written memoirs about the Twenties in Paris. It was a truly a Golden Age and a unique period of creativity and a wonderful times to be alive and I'm sorry I missed it but I know that we must live in the present and visit the past through the texts that they left behind.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Daily Outfit

7 April 12

No, I don't just hang out in the cemetery randomly. Okay, I do sometimes. However, I've been slowly learning how to drive in the cemetery. It's great. There are hardly any people to not run over, no cars and there are roads and corners to go around in.

Cardigan: thrifted
Skirt: thrifted
Tights: Hue
Shoes: Bloch

I decided to follow Casey's tutorial and add a Cupid's Arrow to this plain black cardi and I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

Detail 7 April 12

In other news, I'm leaving tomorrow for my two week vacation.
I've decided to have an adventure. So, I'm going on the greatest journey that a Canadian can take in a lifetime.
Okay, maybe not the greatest.
I can't afford the greatest.
I'm going on the greatest Canadian journey that I can afford to take.
Let's go with that.
I've scheduled a couple of posts for when I'm gone and I'll have pictures when I get back.
Does anyone know if I can buy Remix vintage shoes in T.O.? Or maybe just a pair of saddle shoes?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Spy With My Little Eye


Given my affinity for the Sixties Spy-Fi genre, I have gotten a number of requests to write something about I Spy, which ran for three seasons from 1965-1968.
I only got into I Spy recently, since I tend to watch parodies and slightly surreal spy shows and movies like The Avengers and Derek Flint. But I really adore I Spy now that I've started watching it.
If I were to compare it to another spy-fi show, it would be Danger Man, in terms of it's realism. You wont find any gadgets in I Spy. The two characters rely on using their wits and intelligence to get them out of sticky situations. There's one episode were they break out of a locked room using some dry ice and saltpeter.

Here's a clip of Scott and Kelly breaking out of jail.


Now, why do I love this show?
Well, a couple of reasons.
The first is the relationship between Scott and Kelly. Bill Cosby plays Alexander Scott and Robert Culp plays Kelly Robinson, they work for the American Government as secret agents using the cover of being tennis bums to cover up their jet-setting ways. The focus of the show is really on their buddy relationship. Their hip banter back and forth is a bigger draw for watching this show than the espionage is. Kelly is the athletic playboy who's after the girl (most of the time) and lives by his wits. Whereas Scott is the working class Rhodes Scholar who speaks several languages and is more pragmatic. But these two different people complement each other it make their partnership work. It also helps that Culp and Cosby were actual friends and their amazing chemistry together is genuine. Kelly and Scott treated each other as brothers and you knew that by the end of the episode, no matter what they fought about or if anything tragic happened over the course of their assignment, they would end up together. Plus, they always worked together, which I like better than U.N.C.L.E., since Napoleon and Illya would spend most of every episode apart and you never really got to know their characters.

Here's a clip which sums up how much Scott and Kelly really cared for each other.

Now, why should you watch the show if you don't really like spy shows?
Well, for the reason why this makes the show almost entirely unique in the history of American television.
It's filmed on location.
Actual, exotic locations.
If Scott and Kelly are escaping the baddies by running across rooftops in Hong Kong, they are actually running across rooftops in Hong Kong.
If they're chasing someone on a Vespa in Rome, they are actually navigating Roman traffic.
You want to see Vegas back when it was cool in all it's neon glory?
Watch this show.
You want to see what Hong Kong looked like before the Chinese took it over and built skyscrapers?
Watch this show.
You want to see Venice with a slightly higher water level?
Watch this show.
You want to see San Francisco in the Sixties?
Watch this show, baby.
You want to see what everyday people wore and how cities looked on an ordinary day in the mid Sixties?
I know you do.
Screw Mad Men.
Watch I Spy.


I said earlier that this show is based on realism because of it's lack of gadgets. Well, it's much more than that. I said in my post on Danger Man that John Drake is more realistic than James Bond and it predated Bond on the screen. Well, I Spy is in direct contrast to the massively popular Sean Connery period. There are a number of references in it's pilot "So Long, Patrick Henry" (which was actually written by Robert Culp) to James Bond in order to highlight the direct contrast to James Bond. Bond is a fantasy, But Scott and Kelly are real. I Spy shows the tough, gritty world of being an agent. Yes, there is world travel and beautiful girls, but sometimes the girls are the enemy, or they die or they are just using Scott or Kelly. Plus Scott and Kelly know that they can't commit to a girl without giving their job and settling down. Their assignments are tough, dangerous and sometimes have no purpose. But they can't do anything about it because they knew what they were getting into and at the end of the day, they are like anyone else with a government job, but at least they have medical benefits and a pension. There aren't always happy endings in I Spy, but that's not to say that it's a strict dramatic show. There are episodes played purely for laughs (try watching "Will The Real Good Guys Please Stand Up") and there are some episodes that are really sad, but what makes the show great is it's combination of dramatic tension with the comedic banter and reactions of Scott and Kelly.

Here is an example of an action scene in Hong Kong. You can actually picture this happening to a real life spy team.


If I can just say a few words about the clothes.
Yes, the women were gorgeous Sixties fashions, but they also were what look like their own clothes.
But Scott and Kelly are really snappy dressers.
And they wear a lot of white jeans and repeat their clothes.
And they wear bright colours and a lot of knitwear for some reason.
So, there's a lot of fashion inspiration.
In terms of celebrity guest stars, there are some, but not as much as U.N.C.L.E.
But two notable ones are Anna Karina speaking in English in "A Gift From Alexander" and the fabulous Eartha Kitt playing a herion addicted singer in "The Loser", which was written by Robert Culp and is one of the best episodes of the series.

Now, you may have noticed something about the two stars of the show.
This is the first television show in history, maybe even in the entire Western history of performing itself, where a black man and a white man are shown as being not only co-stars, but as true equals. Yes, I Spy is a historically and culturally significant show in that regard, but I wasn't going to mention it, because it was never mentioned on the show. And that means that I Spy has aged well. It's also modest and admirable. Here they were, a groundbreaking show at the height of the civil rights movement and the two stars insisted not only on not making it a big deal, but on not mentioning it. They only wanted to entertain.

I Spy is available on DVD in Regions 1 and 4.