Happy Nolan Day!

So here’s the story. I was watching last week’s episode of Revenge (you know, the one where Nolan was caught kissing your friendly neighbourhood hustler Tyler Barrol), when I noticed this:

Oh yeah. Your man is wearing a bowtie. Usually I’m not sure how to feel about guys who wear bowties to anything other than a formal do, but he nails it, and like everything else he wears, it’s just so…him! And also, in true Nolan Ross style, it matches the purple stripes on his shirt (which are a lovely shade of purple, I might add) but the different coloured jacket sort of tones everything down nicely. All this (along with that quite frankly fantastic self-satisfied smile) makes the whole outfit playful while still keeping it smart.

His bowtie brings all the boys to the yard

I hope to see him adorned in more bowties in the future.

By the way, did anyone else really want to see Tyler ever-so-slowly undo that thing while looking dead straight into Nolan’s eyes when they were in the poolhouse in last week’s episode? No? Just me then… *backs away*

Don’t forget folks, Revenge Season 1 Episode 10 (‘Loyalty’) is on tonight at 9pm on E4. It’s gonna be a good’un.

Hannah

P.S. Shout out to @thatmissdeen for copping dem screencaps!

Keeping It Smart Casual: Variations On A Suit

DTSFT is all about men in suits. We can’t get enough of them. A man in a good suit is a joy to behold, one of life’s many wonders…heck, it’s an art form. Like my esteemed colleague Helen so rightfully wrote, it’s nice to see when a guy has made an effort in what they wear: they make a lasting impression.

But what about when they don’t necessarily step out suited and booted? What if they’re just headed to a premiere or a red carpet event and not the Emmys or the BAFTAs? In short: what are the best ways to dress down when it’s not compulsory to dress up?

So I’ve found some of the most interesting ways that some of our fave guys have kept it smart cash (pronounced ‘cazj’, which is short for casual – an actual dictionary term, by the way…………………….okay, so it’s not, but I thought it was cool):

Lose the tie

So simple, yet so effective.  Not wearing a tie can instantly dress down a suit, but keeps it looking smart – and fresh to death boiiii. Check my man Jeremy Renner:

‘Cool as hell’ sunglasses are optional

 Lose the shirt

Woah, woah, woah! That’s not what I meant! Sorry Dmitry, that’s a nice nipple, but I meant replacing your shirt with something else. Like a T-shirt. I think that T-shirts have a risk of making the whole outfit look far too casual, but if you wear it with a smart jacket and trousers, it can look spot on. Right, Chris Hemsworth?

Why, Thor, your Midgardian garments look most on point

Add a waistcoat

Instant smart cash. And they look so cute too. And going back to what was said before about actually making an effort: they take the time to actually put it on and button it up. Think about it – that’s hot! There’s something quite ‘old school gentleman’ about them too, and who doesn’t love an old school gentleman? Someone who opens doors for you and offers you a drink, who gives you the cigarette that you smoke and helps you with your coat…treat her like a ladaaaayyyyy…

Sorry, getting ahead of myself there. But you catch my drift.

Got dat waistcoat steez on lock

Wear a cardigan/jumper

I don’t think this is done often, but it should be. Jumpers and cardigans are so cute and just finishes off an outfit, and they’re also extremely comfortable. And if they’re worn in a colour other than black, then that’s even better. For proof, I present to you Exhibits A and B:

Why, Heimdall, your Midgardian garments look most on point

DTSFT. ‘Nuff said.

Hannah

Superhero Saturday: Thor

Superhero Saturday is aimed at having some relevance to the past week (if it can) so I was having a little trouble this week. But then, Danny Boyle helpfully put Kenneth Branagh into the Olympic Opening Ceremony (did you see it? It was brilliant) and then suddenly Thor became the obvious choice.

There was too much excitement when he appeared.

So. Thor. Based on Norse mythology but a bit of research (thank you wikipedia) unearthed some very interesting things about THAT Thor. (Please also bear in mind that I haven’t read any of the comics so my Thor knowledge revolves around the films. This shouldn’t be the case but…it is.) Thor is married to golden-haired goddess Sif (definitely not Jaimie Alexander), he has a mistress called Járnsaxa (don’t ask me how to pronounce that – I don’t know in the slightest) and is RED haired and RED bearded. So far, this isn’t the Thor I know.

The first comic book appearance of Thor in 1962.

Moving onto the comic book Thor (again, thanks wikipedia) and you start to see the Chris Hemsworth Thor we (here at DTSFT) know and love. Thor’s beginnings are not exactly the same as in the film but are very similar and for storytelling purposes are probably better. Thor is banished to earth but, in the comics, this is in the human guise of Dr Donald Blake (Jane’s ex from the film – nice referencing, hey?) with no memory of Asgard until he finds Mjolnir. He has a double life as Thor and Donald Blake, falls in love with Jane Foster (a nurse…) but still spends much of his time fighting Loki. Brothers. What are you gonna do?

That’s Thor. God. Son of Odin. Adopted brother of Loki, the God of Mischief. Played by Chris Hemsworth. Bring on November 2013 and Thor: The Dark World.

[Thor: The Dark World updates: bit of internet research has led to the discovery that, yes filming is taking place in August in London, some will be taking place in Bourne Woods in Surrey (where sections of Captain America: The First Avenger were filmed and isn’t that too far from where we live…), underground tunnels will be used and here’s an article about casting. It’s less funny if I write it.]

S x

‘Into the Woods’

Into the Woods is a musical by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and James Lapine (book), first performed in 1986. The musical takes a new look at fairytales by combining various characters and creating a new world for them. Brief synopsis: a baker and his wife are desperate for a child but are told by the witch, who lives next door, that she has places a curse on the house that can only be reversed if they retrieve “the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slippers as pure as gold”. See? Getting the links? As a concept it’s very interesting, but you may be wondering why I’m writing about it.

Well, on Monday I am off to Manchester for two weeks for the rehearsals and production of Into the Woods by The Company at the Lowry Theatre in Salford. It seems an appropriate time for Into the Woods with the current fairytale obsession – Once Upon a Time, Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and Jack the Giant Killer (both out next year). There is also news that Rob Marshall has signed on to make a film adaptation for Disney, scripted by Lapine with additional songs by Sondheim.

Mainly I wanted to write a post to 1) explain my (assumed) absence due to non-stop days (we assume…) and 2) encourage people to go to the theatre (but especially Into the Woodsbooking still open). Generally speaking, a trip to the theatre can be expensive so I sympathise but I would recommend making the effort to see certain shows. Noises Off, One Man, Two Guv’nors and Matilda (to name a few) are all on at the West End and are great. The Book of Mormon is coming to London next year and I am stupidly excited. And a number of shows tour the country now so it’s not all about London. I love films, I love going to the cinema, but there are some times when you just need to experience a show. THAT’S 3D. Without light loss or uncomfortable plastic glasses. No-one will ever see the same performance as you – not even the person sitting next to you. No two performances are the same, It lives for that single second. And then it’s gone. It is a completely personal experience. There is so much talent out there and much of it is overlooked for an easy night at the cinema or in front on the tv. Don’t limit yourself. Do it all!

(But mostly come to see Into the Woods.)

S x

Why My Kindle Will Never Stop Me Buying Books…

Like many people, I debated for a long time about getting a kindle. I’m an old fashioned gal and I like holding a book. I love old books. I love the beautiful new releases. I love when there’s a story behind the books that you own. But I hate getting them damaged. What this means for me is that I generally have three types of books: hardcover books that I read at home, paperback books that I can read in bed (cos I find hardcover books too heavy) and slightly worn books/books I probably won’t keep that I can take in bags to read on trains, planes, automobiles. So while this shows that I have obsessive compulsive tendencies with books it doesn’t necessarily connect to buying a kindle.

My one convincing factor was holidays. Now I’m not a big holiday person. It’s not that I hate them I just can’t afford to frequently go gallivanting. I’m poor. But I read a lot on holiday. And I hate using my luggage allowance on books. It’s frustrating. I want to pack more shoes and clothes. So a kindle is perfect for that. It’s also great for reading by the pool. I don’t like the moisture making my books wobbly. That was my problem with reading books in Florida. I refused to take my Scott Pilgrim’s out of the villa. The air conditioning was bad enough for the books let alone the Florida heat. And also, as the kindle adverts constantly tell us, there isn’t glare with a kindle. This is true. I’ve tested it.

Going on holiday maybe once every few years is a really stupid reason to buy a kindle but, thinking about reading books on trains makes more sense for me. I like having a book in my bag just in case. But books are heavy. They differ in size. And then your reading choice becomes less about the book and more about the weight, size and (if you’re me) the condition the book is in and whether a few more bumps will notice.

Another brilliant thing about the kindle is that no-one can see what you’re reading. This is an underrated pleasure. You might occasionally want people to know what you’re reading so you can feel smug about it. Yes, I am reading The Beautiful and the Damned (this is true, hand on heart) while you sit across from me reading Jackie Collins but you will sadly never know. But then, I can always swap to The Hunger Games and you could be imagining that I’m reading Great Expectations. You lose the smugness of reading a ‘classic’ but you can hide the embarrassment of being a grown woman reading Harry Potter.

On the other hand, I collect books. I collect Agatha Christie’s. I’ve just started collecting P.G. Wodehouse’s. I’ll pick up the occasional Dorothy L. Sayers. I’m trying to find various editions of The Great Gatsby. Mostly this involves going into charity shops or second hand bookshops. It’s a lovely feeling. Being surrounded by books and their history. I regret giving away the first copy of The Great Gatsby that I read. It belonged to the daughter of one of my Dad’s colleagues and was full of little notes. The notes weren’t just about the book. Some were gossipy notes written to friends. And I’ll bet the teacher thought they were just making lots of notes about Daisy’s motivations. It’s this history that you can’t get with a kindle.

So this all sounds like I’m arguing my way out of getting a kindle, but I still like having it. I’m going away for two weeks soon to work as a costume supervisor on a show (but more about that…sometime) and I can’t survive for two weeks without a book. Especially as I’ve got a stupidly long train journey. With a kindle, I can have a few different books on there. If I’m feeling tired or bogged down reading, say, Jane Eyre, then I can swap to How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. (Which I’ve just finished and thoroughly enjoyed and has given me many feminist thoughts to ponder. Read it. As a woman or a man I urge you to read it.) Swapping between physical books on a train when you’ve got an annoyingly large suitcase full of costumes to deal with as well…bit more difficult. And if I decide I want a new book, I just need an internet connection and there’s no added weight. Kindle’s are a bit weird to read with in bed but you get used to it and they’re still not as unwieldy as a hardback book. (I’m sure that’s the reason it took me months to get through Agatha Christie’s Autobiography. It’s a massive book. I mostly read in bed. This is not conducive.)

But, back to my title point: my kindle will never stop me from buying books. There seems to be some kind of war going on between kindles and books but I firmly believe that books will survive. Can you get a signed first edition of an ebook? Can authors do ebook signings? Will there be ebook readings? Books are regularly being re-released with different covers. Although this, to me, is akin to an artist re-releasing an album after 3 months with two new songs on it (yes, Michael Buble I’m looking at you in particular, stop re-relasing albums for Christmas, Easter, Mothering Sunday, whenever, just stop); for certain books and certain covers I’ll oblige. Atonement. I’ve got the Waterstones’ hardback edition, the paperback film release that my Dad bought me when I said I wanted to read it (before seeing the film obviously) and a hardback edition because I needed it for my dissertation. (That’s the official reason. I just like the hardback with the original cover.) So that’s Atonement. The Great Gatsby. I currently only have a Collins Classics paperback edition and the new Art Deco cover hardback release, but I’m looking for more. For your favourite books, if you’re a collector (hoarder) like me, you’ll do it. Sidenote: have you seen the Fitzgerald editions they’ve released? They are BEAUTIFUL.

And something else that I only discovered last Christmas via a present from my Dad: a reading spa. Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights is an independent book shop in Bath. They offer various book related gifts for people including the reading spa. What is a reading spa you ask? Well, at Mr. B’s the reading spa includes a one-to-one talk with one of their book sellers about your book preferences and from this they will find books for you – new books you’ve never heard of, books that you might not have considered, books to widen your reading experience. All this comes with tea, coffee and cake, a book voucher, a Mr. B’s mug complete with hot chocolate and “spa” goodies and, overall, a wonderful day. The shop is beautiful and you are free to browse and are not made to feel like an inconvenience at all. I came out with eleven books I think and I’m now looking for more by various authors and I noted down a number of books that I just couldn’t get. Some of these books I will probably choose to get on my kindle but I never would have discovered them had it not been for Mr. B’s. As long as shops like this exist, struggle though they may against the bigger chain bookshops and internet prices, reading will always be enjoyable. I can’t see this experience being offered with a kindle.

Reading is a wonderful way of entering another world. Currently books are being viewed as film making material (and this has been the case since the first films were made) but this still encourages reading. Whether that be in book form or on a kindle. If anything comes out of reading this long and rambling post I hope it is that you continue to enjoy reading and visit Mr. B’s in Bath!

S x

Lapelaholism/Why I Love… Columbo

I recently wrote a post about how to survive bed-rest without going completely insane.  In that post I extolled the virtues of shutting down your computer and doing something productive or technology-free; what I didn’t mention was how much I used my laptop to watch cartoons, TV shows and films.  It’s almost embarrassing, if I’m honest, and only ‘almost’ because I suffer from a severe lack of self-awareness.  I’ve got an external hard-drive full of goodies (and that’s not a euphemism) to keep me entertained, but I’m going to reveal my favourite non-cartoon thing to watch.

Columbo

When I was growing up, there were loads of programmes my parents watched that I didn’t fully understand, things like Frasier and Have I Got News for You – shows full of humour that I didn’t get but I would sit and watch with them anyway.  One thing I used to watch with my family was Columbo, and to this day I am still totally in awe of how brilliant this show was; its unique twist on the crime thriller genre was that the viewer knows from the start who the culprit is, and we get to witness how this crumpled, seemingly befuddled detective works it out.  It’s such a simple concept, but it is magnificently executed, as we get to watch the culprit squirm as Lieutenant Columbo gets closer to the truth.

The first episode of Columbo was broadcast in 1968, as two pilot episodes were produced and aired before it was picked up for a full series, and in total there are 69 episodes of this classic show.  As I’m writing this all I can think about is how goddamn watchable this show is, even now.  Sure, the costumes are somewhat dated, as is the music and in fact many of the actors who have participated in the show have since passed away.  In fact several actors – Patrick McGoohan, Robert Culp, and Jack Cassidy to name just 3 – have appeared in the show more than once, which says something about the popularity of the show, not just for its audience but for the cast too.  There have also been some fantastic cameos from stars-in-the-making, before they hit the big time.  Check out the cameo in this funny scene from “Bye Bye Sky High IQ”:

Columbo’s mind was no doubt the driving force behind his detective skills, but a big part of his success can be put down to his unassuming appearance.  The cigar and trench coat combo was his signature look, and in fact Peter Falk used his own coat as part of the costume, which was normally worn over a suit; this look, which was first seen in the pilot episode “Prescription: Murder” and would feature in all the episodes, often had an effect on Columbo’s main suspects.  They would see his dishevelled appearance and underestimate his competence, more often than not considering themselves to be infinitely smarter than him.  Often, he would wax lyrical about his ignorance to the profession or expertise of his main suspect, sometimes going so far as flattering them and pandering to their egos.  This would lead to Columbo using their own ego against them at times, by revealing his theory to them but with one of the parts wrong, so that the culprit would then say how it was really done and ultimately confess.  On one occasion, Columbo’s never-seen wife buys him a new coat (Now You See Me) – the police officers fail to recognise him at first, and the stiffness of this new trench coat hinders his detecting skills, resulting in him taking it off in order to read the crime scene more accurately, saying “I gotta take off this coat, I can’t think in this coat!”.  The way he later deadpans that he thought he had lost it when his assistant on the case finds it in the police department’s lost and found box is hilarious, and a classic example of Peter Falk’s acting prowess.

Falk also came up with the little traits that we have come to love about Columbo – running his hand through his already somewhat scruffy hair, fumbling around for his pen and paper, stalling with chit-chat and the humbling arm gestures.  And then there’s the two things that he’s always getting chastised for by his subjects; many times Columbo is told to stub out his cigar, that it’s a filthy habit and shows he has no manners when lighting up in a strangers home.  Then there is the most famous aspect of the character, the one that sets his suspects on edge and leads them to realise they may have underestimated him.  His “just one more thing” line happens at least once with every case, allowing him to catch the suspect off-guard and reveal to them that he knows a little more than they think he does.

Sophia’s posts often feature some great and well-written thoughts on style, which is something I am very very bad at (meet me, you’ll see what I mean).  My previously ‘Lapelaholism’ post was centred around the old-fashioned notion of men wearing suits, which doesn’t necessarily have to signify an attraction to the subject.  Columbo’s style warrants the Lapelaholism tag purely because I believe that his outfit is iconic.  The other day I was watching a classic episode (Identity Crisis) and as Columbo enters in his first scene of that show I was struck by the image – even his silhouette was instantly recognisable.  I would really love this as a poster.

I think the reason that I enjoy Columbo so much even now is that there are no ‘shock tactics’, which is what seems to drive a lot of television shows and films these days – it’s purely driven by the story and the mystery.  The popularity of the recent BBC adaptation of ‘Sherlock’ can be assigned to (no, not the B-Batch… well not JUST the B-Btach) the quality of the writing and the story.  When I watch some sitcoms and dramas these days, I suspect that the writers think audiences are getting dumber, but we’re not – we still appreciate a well-written story, and by tapping the well of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s smartly constructed mysteries and bringing them up to date, the team behind Sherlock engage their viewers as we watch the detective unravel the mystery with his logic skills.  Columbo does that too, except we know the killer and are rooting for Columbo to get there, knowing full well that he will.

This was easily Peter Falk’s most iconic role, although I would also rate his genius performance in ‘Murder by Death’.  I was genuinely upset when I heard of his deteriorating health and dementia – his condition reached a point where he eventually could not remember the character of Columbo, let alone playing him.  Falk sadly passed away on 23rd June 2011 and is sorely missed by his legion of fans.  His website is still open, where you can see artwork done by the man himself – I would recommend visiting it, it is well worth a look.  Imagine leaving a legacy like that, having played such a fantastic character and creating a role that would live on forever due to the genius of both the writing and the performance.  Magnificent.

Oh, uh, one more thing… Here’s my list of top 10 Columbo episodes, in no particular order.

Lady in Waiting

The crime doesn’t quite go according to plan in this episode, which helps lead Columbo to the the truth.  Star turn from the late Leslie Nielsen, before he became well known for his performances in spoof films.

Dagger of the Mind 

Columbo comes to London!

The Most Dangerous Match

The ending of this chess-centred episode appeals to me very much, perhaps down to the sound design of it; noises from machines and the characters raising their voices heighten the tension in the scene through to a thunderous climax.  Brilliant stuff.

Any Old Port in A Storm

I love stories where people do terrible things in desperation because they feel there is no alternative. In this clip Columbo astounds his main suspect with his impressive knowledge of wine.

Double Exposure 

Columbo catches the killer with an ingenious trick, turning the tables on the culprit who unexpectedly leads Columbo to the truth

Troubled Waters 

I love this episode because it sticks to the closed-room type of mystery.  Set on a yacht while Columbo is meant to be on holiday with his wife, he is called on to help solve the murder of a cabaret singer.

The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case

A classic example of the killer underestimating Columbo’s intelligence.  This is the scene where the culprit reveals how the murder was done, so major spoiler alert!

How to Dial a Murder

I LOVE the method in this murder, and how Columbo comes to work it out.  Watch the video to see pure brilliance!

Murder, Smoke and Shadows

I think Fisher Stevens is a hugely underrated actor and his performance in this episode as the egotistical, cocky young film director is brilliant. This clip sees him take Columbo up on a crane with him during filming, which has an undesirable effect on the lieutenant…

Columbo Cries Wolf 

An unusual episode in that there is no murder at the beginning, and Columbo is strung along by a fashion photographer to chase false leads.  But it doesn’t end well…