Friday, November 28, 2014

Schoolgirl Ally

I wasn't a schoolgirl growing up, but I desperately wished I were.  I envied the girls who got to wear pretty skirts and clothes.  I wanted to join them as they huddled and giggled.

My childhood has passed, but the opportunity to wear a schoolgirl outfit hasn't.  Without looking for one, I saw this cute plaid skirt for pennies at a thrift-store.  At the same time, I noticed some heels that add a little sass to the outfit.  For less than $10, I got to play out a lifelong dream.

Have you ever worn anything like this?



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy holiday everyone!  I hope you are enjoying the day.  Doing anything special?

Maura, a member of my family, is a vegetarian so, instead of turkey, she had her pet dragon cook up some fresh veggies.  With tamari and sesame oil.  Tasty!

Here they are...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Obscure Art: Television

I enjoy art. Sadly, most good art is obscure because the market for intelligent creativity is small. The ruck get pop culture which is rarely more than adequate. Discerning consumers have to search harder for superior artistic effort. Once found, however, good art provides deep sustenance.

In the next few posts, I'm going to tell you about some art I enjoy in the fields of television, film and music. I'll explain why I like the works. I'm not going to recommend them, however, because taste varies. You can decide to pursue them, or not.

We'll start with television. There's a show I recently discovered that, foolishly, I'd been avoiding. I ignored it despite rave reviews because I misunderstood its title and dislike its genre. But the show is extraordinary -- I'd say it's the best drama on television today. The acting is top-notch; the writing is engrossing; and the direction is appealing.

The show is "Hell On Wheels." I mistook the title for a bad metaphor when actually it's descriptive of the show's context. This term originated with the westward growth of the railroads in the middle of the 19th Century. The pioneering edge of railroad construction were mobile encampments known as Hell on Wheels, mostly for their Spartan conditions. 

The show examines what people would be like if modern social constraints were removed. How would we behave if there was no law, no punishment and no social deterrence? Free to be as kind or as cruel as our natures with ample opportunity to help or hurt? The show has characters whom you love or hate. You watch as they struggle in primitive conditions to survive, bond and prosper.

Despite its Western context, the show has strong female characters of various types. Personal relationships are as interesting as in any chick-flick. The show contains violence but it's integral to the plot and never gratuitous.

It doesn't hurt the show that its lead character is an actor who qualifies as a hunk (Anson Mount). Anson is handsome and from Tennessee. His character (Cullen Bohannan) is a Southerner who lost his family in the Civil War. Cullen is competent and filled with deeply-buried emotion.

The show just finished its fourth season on AMC (the basic-cable channel that brought you "Mad Men"). The fifth and final season will air next year. I've been catching up on it through DVD's from my local library.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


It was beautiful in New York today.  Sunny and 60-degrees.  As pleasant as Summer.

Taking advantage of the unseasonal warmth, I hopped on my motorcycle and rode into Brooklyn.  I visited Williamsburg, the new Capital of Cool, where I walked around and absorbed its pervasive hipness.  While there, I made pilgrimage to the best record-store in America (Rough Trade).  I picked up the musical oeuvre of "The Killer," Jerry Lee Lewis, who was known as "rock & roll's first great wild man." 

Jerry Lee Lewis's music, created at the time of my birth (1956-1964), includes numerous classics like "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On," "Great Balls of Fire," and "Breathless."  His songs were released as singles by Sun Records, a legendary recording studio in Memphis at which I had a mystical experience five years ago.

Here are some pics of my day.  What did you do today?



Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Holidays Have Arrived

I don't know how it happened, but Summer's over and Thanksgiving is next week.  I need to get my Christmas shopping done pronto.  I have to buy a box of gifts for my dad with enough time to ship them down to Florida.  One year I was late (by two days) and I'll never hear the end of that.  You'd thought I'd killed an elf...

This Fall flew by and now we're looking at Christmas decorations.  Are you ready?  When do you start your holiday shopping? 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Peek Backstage

Behind the scenes,  I don't look as pretty and polished as you see on the blog.  It takes hard work to create a pleasing appearance.

In my last Birchbox, I received Fango Purificante Purifying Mud Mask from Borghese.  I've never tried a mud mask before and was skeptical, but the product works nicely.  It feels good and really improves your skin.  You can feel the mask extract oil and bacteria from your pores.

Have you ever tried a mud mask?  What do you do backstage to become pretty?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fashion Tip

I have a tip for you.  A fun way to perk up any outfit that's easy and cheap.  It attracts attention, garners compliments and starts conversations.  What's better than that?!

The tip is -- wear seamed stockings!  Revive a vintage staple in a modern outfit.  You don't need to wear vintage clothes, although that's enjoyable; just add a pair of seamed stockings to your normal wardrobe.  They will stand out and get major applause from everyone who notices.  Here's one of my pairs, under a dress given to me by a friend.  (The full dress is shown below.)

Seamed stockings are historically interesting.  The first stockings were made of non-stretch material (originally silk) with a seam where the material is sewn together.  They were called "fully fashioned stockings."  There are a very small number of manufacturers making stockings in the original style today, but many modern reproductions are made using stretchy materials.  The modern versions add seams as decoration, not as the integral sewing junction of real fully fashioned stockings.

One big plus of seamed stockings is that they draw attention to and flatter your legs.  Here's how good my gams look in them...

I read a cool two-part article on nylons at and learned that nylons were invented in 1935.  They were immediately and hugely popular, so much so that there were actual riots when shoppers struggled to buy the limited pairs available.

During World War II, the material used to make them was diverted to the war effort and there was a corresponding shortage of stockings.  Being resourceful, women turned to pseudo-nylons and had stockings painted onto their legs.  Don't believe me?  Check this out...

While these delights may not be in many retail stores, they're easy to find online.  I've bought some from a store is called What Katie Did.  You'll find other suppliers with a quick search.

Would you ever try these?  Why not?

Friday, November 14, 2014


Transitioning is a process in which a person born one gender changes to the opposite sex.  Not all transsexuals make the transition and those who do handle it in different ways.  Sometimes people have surgery; sometimes they do not.  What marks the change is the individual's public presentation which announces to the world how they want to be identified.

Transitioning is not easy and is rarely pretty.  If a person transitions in adulthood, their body has already gone through major physical developments that are largely irreversible.  That means changing their gender-appearance is cosmetic and often unconvincing.  A term used for this is "passing" -- being able to pass in society as your chosen gender without detection.  Most transsexuals cannot pass and, for them, this dooms the process.  Nobody wants to be viewed as a freak.

It appears that a male celebrity known for his association with a family of hyper-popular women is about to transition.  In fact, it's manifest he has already started by having various well-known surgeries used in male-to-female transitions.

The celebrity is Bruce Jenner.  I recognize Bruce from my childhood.  In 1976, when I was starting college, Bruce won a gold medal at the Olympics in Montreal.  His sport was the decathlon.  Bruce was hugely celebrated for the win and, of course, was pictured on a Wheaties cereal box.  Wikipedia says he was a "national hero" and that rings true to my recollection.  Bruce had his picture taken with President Ford.

After Bruce's achievement at the Olympics, I stopped hearing about him.  A decade ago, Bruce became famous again when he married Kris Jenner and become a stepfather to the Kardashian girls (Kourtney, Kim and Khloe).  (He also has six children of his own.)  In 2007, the reality television show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, became a hit and put the spotlight back on Bruce.

I've never seen the show so I can't talk about Bruce's involvement.  I noticed, however, that he separated from Kris two years ago and filed for divorce in September.  Recently, he appears to be starting the transition to female identity.  He denies he's doing it, but the signs are there.  Tabloids are printing photos that show dramatic changes in his physical appearance.

Bruce's popularity will undoubtedly bring major attention to the subject of transitioning and being transgender.  I hope that attention is educational and not tawdry.

Do you know who Bruce Jenner is?  Do you have any questions about this subject?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Centuries from now, cultural historians will look back on our era.  With any luck, remnants of our time will include a snapshot of the Internet in 2014.  Among the findings historians will review is the content of my blog.

The scholars engaged in such pursuit will be called Ally-ologists.  Despite what you might expect, there will be serious debate among them on the social role and status of Ally.  Some will believe, and have evidence to support, that Ally was a prominent female fashion-blogger with many followers.  Others will assert the contrary -- that Ally was a washed-up, old male lawyer who didn't have the sense to keep his odd hobby private.

This post in particular is the subject of much debate among Ally-ologists.  Proponents of the former position contend that here Ally is appropriating the fashion of the young, an artistic maneuver celebrated for most of human history.  Advocates of the latter position say that Ally is merely deluded, unaware or unwilling to accept society's dictates on age-appropriate dress.

What's your opinion?




My Front Yard

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Life Experiences

Life has a wide range.  We can feel remarkable ecstacy and painful grief.  There are often stretches of crushing boredom, sometimes punctuated by moments of sheer terror.

I've lived a long time.  Probably longer than you.  I've had many experiences, both good and bad.  Here are some experiences I've had that I wouldn't want to have missed:

- Fallen hopelessly in love with a soulmate

- Dug a grave, in tears, for someone I loved

- Eaten bad food, healthy food and meals I cooked myself

- Been transported by music to a place of heavenly enchantment

- Struggled with something that makes me different from everyone else

- Accepted and learned to celebrate what makes me different from others

- Felt searing physical pain that was worse than I imagined possible

- Laid on a cold highway, unable to breathe, believing I was going to die

- Been enlightened by learning the cultural girders of social organization

- Made friends with people of all kinds

- Appreciated the intelligence and wisdom of others

- Fulfilled my parents' immigrant dream and made them proud

- Separated from my parents in search of my own destiny

- Found a path to my authentic self

- Cried at the funerals of loved ones who died too young

- Helped people in a variety of ways

- Savored the joys of being generous

- Been startled by unexpected surprises

- Flown through the air, suspended by two wheels

- Faced major challenges and overcome them

- Ridden a motorcycle at 140 mph

- Pulled out of a certain crash on a racetrack by sheer willpower

- Worked a dangerous job in a toxic factory with ex-cons

- Appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

- Learned how people from other backgrounds think and behave

- Felt the pinch of shapewear and the physical sensation of high heels

- Studied and started to understand the culture of femininity

- Acquired serious respect for women and increased it over time

- Worn a glamorous gown with matching long gloves

- Witnessed horrible acts by damaged people

- Learned the falsity of many common cultural beliefs

- Contemplated the fact of my own mortality

- Nurtured the ability to laugh at the absurdity of human behavior

- On a dare, ridden my motorcycle in a pink tutu and white high heels

- Committed myself to my true beliefs, regardless of where that takes me

Are there any life-experiences you are grateful to have had?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cold Weather Gear

Now that the weather is turning cold, most bikers put away their machines.  Not me.  I enjoy riding so much that I never store my bikes.  I ride year-round.

Winter in New York can get cold but if you dress right, it's bearable.  Saturday night I went out on my sportbike (Yamaha FZ-1) for three hours in the bracing cold.  It was 40-degrees but I was fine.

What helps is the right gear.  Like this shirt.  It's made of high-tech material that traps your body-heat.  Most times, we get cold not because of the external temperature but because we let our own heat dissipate.  Trapping it keeps you warm.

I also have five different pairs of riding gloves, of varying weight.  For hot weather when your hands sweat, my perforated gloves let air keep them cool.  For normal weather, I have regular leather.  For the cold, I have three pairs of increasing thickness and warmth.  The cold-weather gloves all have gauntlets which cover your wrist and prevent cold air from sneaking up your sleeves.  The tradeoff is their thickness, which keeps you warm, impairs your hands from moving easily.  My warmest gloves, for truly frigid temps, move as little as astronaut gloves.

How do you dress for cold weather?

Sunday, November 9, 2014


I spent the past few days writing a serious post.  A Summary Of My Life type of post.  I'll put it up in a day or two.

To lighten my mood, I created an outfit today.  It is playful.  The polar opposite of serious.  My motivation is simply to be girly and play around.  The outfit itself is a wacky mishmash but honestly the clothes are only an excuse to have some fun.  Please don't judge this as a fashion ensemble; it isn't.

I paired an out-of-season orange Summer dress with throwback sparkly leggings from the Eighties.  And if that isn't weird enough, I color-blocked orange and purple, accentuated by brightly-colored flats.

The best part of this is the gaiety it provides me.  A recreational high.  Pulling items from my closet, imagining them in various combinations, wondering what orange looks like next to purple, I squealed with delight.  I like the sheen and ruching of the leggings.  I'm enjoying that kind of thing.

Dressing up is a drug for me.  Sometimes intoxicating, always enjoyable.  I know my clothes scare the horses but they shouldn't be out of their stable in the first place...



Saturday, November 8, 2014


I have a history lesson for you but -- hey, wait! -- don't worry, it's fun.

I was born in 1957.  A picture was taken that year of a famous encounter.  You may or may not have seen the photo; it's worth telling you about in case you haven't.  Here's the picture...

In the photo, Sophia Loren is eyeing Jayne Mansfield.  In case you're too young to know who these women are, Sophia is an internationally-acclaimed actress.  She's still alive at age 80.  Back then, people thought she was gorgeous.  She won an Oscar for one of her roles.

At the time of the picture, Sophia was only 22 years old and had just arrived in the U.S. from Italy.  She was beginning her long career in Hollywood.

Jayne Mansfield was known as a "blonde bombshell" in the 1950's.  After succeeding on Broadway, she made movies in Hollywood.  The media referred to her as the "working man's [Marilyn] Monroe."  Sadly, Jayne died when she was only 34 in a car accident. 

If you know actress Mariska Hargitay from "Law & Order: SVU," you might be surprised to learn that Jayne Mansfield was her mother.

Sophia just published a memoir this week in which, for the first time, she talks about the encounter shown in the photo.  Referring to Jayne, Sophia says, "She sat down.  And now, she was barely …  Listen.  Look at the picture.  Where are my eyes?  I’m staring at her nipples because I am afraid they are about to come onto my plate.  I’m so frightened that everything in her dress is going to blow -- BOOM! -- and spill all over the table."

Have you ever seen this picture before?  What do you think of it?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Close Call

I went to a formal dinner tonight.  I was a key sponsor of an arts organization.

On the way home, I had a scare.  I was driving Gina and a deer suddenly flashed in front of me.  It was a huge buck.  He was literally as big as the front of my car.  I couldn't even see his head because it was above my windshield.  He came out of nowhere -- the first I saw him was when he was directly in front of me, less than two feet away.  I was going 40 mph with no chance to stop.

He slid past me a split-second before collision.  If we'd crashed, he would have been killed, my airbag would have deployed, and I'd have been shaken up.  And Gina would be unpleasantly damaged.

In the blink of an eye, life can change.  Dramatically.  I am so relieved not to have hit the deer.

Have you ever collided with an animal?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Birthday Gift

I've received several nice birthday gifts and I'm grateful for all of them. Thanks!

I always own at least two wristwatches -- one for work and one for off-duty fun.  As attractive as my work-watch is, I like having a second one that reminds me I'm not at work.  During my recent trip to Minnesota, that watch died.  It was bright yellow and made by Nixon.  I was sad to see it go, but it gave me many years of faithful (and colorful) service.

So... turning a negative into a positive, I decided to shop for a new off-duty watch.  Which was actually a very enjoyable process.  I considered many alternatives and liked looking at what's available.  I finally settled on something new and interesting.  A Movado watch made out of carbon fiber.

I've loved Movado watches for years.  I bought one three decades ago which I still have.  It is their classic Museum Watch which has a blank black dial adorned only with a small round dot.  The design of that dial has won many awards and is in museums.  The Movado company has been making watches for over a century.

For my birthday this year, I got an updated version of the watch.  It is made with carbon fiber which is super-light and super-strong.  A high-tech material often used in fast motorcycles, racing cars and airplanes for its superior abilities.  Many bikers put carbon fiber equipment on their motorcycles the way older bikers used to use chrome.  The material has cachet among the racing set.

Here's a picture of my new watch.  The watch actually looks better in person than it does in photos; because of the way light reflects off the dial, it has more contrast in person.

Do you wear watches?  What kind?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Birthday!

Today's my birthday!  Yay!
I'm getting old.  But I remain young at heart.  My wardrobe would look good on any of you.  We may grow old but we don't have to become old.
To celebrate, I had a small dinner-party Saturday night with Meghan and Megan, during which we talked about our mutual friend Megan.  It got a little confusing...

There have been periods in my life when I was less happy than I am now.  And there were periods when I acted older than I am now.  We're never too old to have fun and be happy.  That's my advice.

I hope you'll join me in celebrating my birthday!

Saturday, November 1, 2014