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Things that Make the Manolo Laugh: Lessons in Acting

Lessons in Acting - Astonishment

Manolo says, the Manolo loves this 19th century work, described as the “Worst (and possibly funniest) book on acting ever written.

Lessons in Acting was first published in 1889 by Albert Webster Edgerly, under his customary pen-name, “Edmund Shaftesbury”. It’s an attempt to teach acting by someone hopelessly unqualified for the task. And it’s hilarious.

And indeed it is most hilarious…

RULE 31—Passionate kissing. This should never be hurried, unless many repetitions are given. The lover puts his arm (the arm nearest the lady), about her shoulders, obliquely down the back and under her arm a little higher than the waist. His other arm encircles her waist. Her hand (the one farthest from him) is about his neck. Her head falls back upon his shoulder, the face being upturned to his, and the mouth ready. If the love and passion are REAL, he does not kiss often, but long. He approaches her rosy lips with gentleness, yet firmness, and the kiss has no force of contact but pressure in its continuance. It is not necessary to practice this much.

And the illustrations are delightful.
Lessons in Acting - Flattery
More of these marvelously ridiculous lessons may be sampled at the website devoted to the book.

Happy Bloomsday!

Manolo quotes,

Her shoes were the newest thing in footwear (Edy Boardman prided herself that she was very petite but she never had a foot like Gerty MacDowell, a five, and never would ash, oak or elm) with patent toecaps and just one smart buckle at her higharched instep.

Bloomsday, we are informed, was June 16th, 1904, thus we wonder, what sort of shoes might our Gerty MacDowell have been wearing?

Shoes 1905

From 1905, these dainty, pumps give you the idea of what was the fancy fashion at that moment.

More work-a-day, from the same period, is this 1905 advertisement below for the Sorosis Safe Shoe.

Sorois Safe Shoes, 1905

Notice the patent toe cap.

Yet One More Reason to Love the Maestro…

He does not know who the Suri Cruise is!

As always, the Maestro Manolo Blahnik delights and amuses.

And, just in time for the Christmas, he has produced (with Camilla Morton) the seasonally appropriate fantasy picture book…Manolo Blahnik and the Tale of the Elves and the Shoemaker

Manolo Blahniks the Elves and the Shoemaker A Fashion Fairytale

Ayyyy! He does not know who is Suri Cruise AND he has the new book. That is not one, but two reasons to love the maestro!

Four New Books Suitable for the Gifting

Manolo says, the holidays, they are upon us like the hungry red-and-green colored lion! Quick, you must make it happy by purchasing gifts of merit!

Thus, here are four books published in the past year that are worth giving to the people about whom you care.

1.
The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden

The duchess of smart Mediterranean cooking books, Claudia Roden, is back with this worthy entry, The Food of Spain.

2.
The Sisters Brothers

It is no secret that the Manolo is intensely fond of the comic novel, and this book about the pair of sibling hired killers, The Sisters Brothers, is the best comic novel of the past year.

3.
The Founding Gardeners

For the gardening gnome in your life, what better gift than The Founding Gardeners: How the Revolutionary Generation Created an American Eden, where they were learn that Thomas Jefferson proclaimed the flowering acacia to be “the most delicious flowering shrub in the world.” (And who knew those things were even edible!)

Fashion

The Manolo loves this comprehensive book, FASHION: 150 Years of Couturiers, Designers, Labels by the Charlotte Seeling. It is encyclopedic without being dull and dry, and has pretty pictures by the score. This would be the perfect thing for the young person who has the deep interest in the fashion, but little knowledge of its history.

Gift Suggestions for the Cyber Monday

Manolo says, it is Monday and you are back at your desk frantically trying to find the gifts for your beloved ones. Yes, you had the big plans to go out on the Black Friday and fist-fight with the crowds to find things worthy of putting under the trees of Christmas, but then a) you decided that getting up at three in morning to go to the Wal-Mart was ridiculous, and b) in the mid-morning, as you were getting ready to leave, you heard on the radio that there was the 14-mile traffic jam on all the roads leading to the mall, which convinced you to stay at home, eating turkey sandwiches and reading the hospital-themed romance novels.

Happily, today is the Cyber Monday, when the machines do the shopping for us!

Or, perhaps not.

Sadly, until the scientific panjandrums perfect the robotic you, you will still have to do your own holiday shopping, although, thanks to the ancient and hallowed traditions of the Cyber Monday, you can do it on company time!

Allow the Manolo to suggest a few things that might make your life better:

For the hunky man in your life…

Victorinox Mahale Zip Cardigan

The Victorinox Mahale Zip Cardigan available in the three colors (charcoal, black, and navy) is the sort of practical cotton sweater that even the most manly of man would be happy to don.

For the country lady…

Eugenia Kim Asymmetrical Cloche Hat

There is something about this Eugenia Kim asymmetrical cloche. that makes the Manolo very happy. Perhaps it is because the Manolo has recently been thinking how jolly it would be to visit the year 1927.

For anyone else who wishes to visit the year 1927…

The Best of Wodehouse

The Manolo just purchased The Best of Wodehouse for himself. He did not technically need it, as he owns several other Wodehouse anthologies and individual volumes, but the Manolo was traveling, and the vicissitudes of that overwhelmed the Manolo’s sensitive constitution.

Hence…Wodehouse, specifically the single funniest work in the English language, Uncle Fred in the Springtime. The Manolo asks you, what better gift to give the person of delicate and antique sensibilities?

For everyone who does not wish to live in 1927….


Kindle DX

Paper is dead, long live the book!

Or, at the least, long live the The Kindle DX the e-reader of choice for the Manolo because it has the screen that is 50% larger than the regular Kindle, meaning the Manolo can enlarge the font to maximum size, thus allowing him to pretend that he does not need the reading glasses.

What the Manolo is…

Manolo says, it is Tuesday, time to see what the Manolo is reading…

We Had It So Good

What else would the Manolo be reading this week but We Had It So Good, the smashing new novel from his writerly friend, the Linda Grant?

Although the Manolo read this book the few months ago, he has returned to it this week, as it has finally been published in the United States.

We Had it So Good is nothing less than the biography of the whole generation of middle class peoples, telling the story of the Baby Boomers through the eyes of the Californian who settles in London and ages through the past forty years of tumult.

And yet, what the Manolo likes the best is that, even though the book is ambitious, it never forgets that it is about interesting individuals with individual and particular experiences. It is the entertaining story well told, and because of this it would be the good book for the intelligent book club, something that gives you much to consider and discuss, even as the story pulls you along.

So, you must read the We Had It So Good, it both very smart and very enjoyable.

Bronze Boots — My Descent into Sin

N.B. The Manolo’s friend Sarah (who has the new blog!) is back with yet another literary shoe moment which will edify and amuse.

The first shoes I remember wearing were Buster Browns. Every fall my mom would buy a brown pair for my brother, a red pair for my sister, and a blue pair for me. They looked, more or less, like this:

Buster Browns

(It was the early 70s. Toddler-aged boys could wear this kind of thing their fathers worrying about some bizarre danger to their toddler-aged machismo. Darth Maul sneakers hadn’t been invented yet. Darth Maul hadn’t been invented yet. STAR WARS hadn’t been invented yet. I digress.)

For very special occasions, like church and birthday parties, my sister and I had patent leather mary-janes, like these.

My Special Shoes

My Special Shoes

They had soles so slick that Mom had to put strips of electrical tape on the bottom to keep us from wiping out on our way into the Sunday school room. To keep them shiny and prevent them from cracking, we rubbed them with a thin coat of Vaseline every now and again.

You’ll note that the striking thing about these shoes is their complete and utter tediousness. I suppose they’re classically good-looking, but they did nothing to set my poetic little heart on fire with a deep and abiding passion for the cobbler’s art.

No. For that awakening it was necessary, as it always has been, for me to turn to the revelations contained in a good book.

The book, in this case, was Louisa May Alcott’s An Old Fashioned Girl. (I bet at least one of you is already nodding and smiling. I can’t be the only one.) And the scene is this one:

“There’s one thing you must have, and that is, bronze boots,” said Fan, impressively.

“Why must I, when I’ve got enough without?”

“Because it’s the fashion to have them, and you can’t be finished off properly without. I’m going to get a pair, and so must you.”

“Don’t they cost a great deal?”

“Eight or nine dollars, I believe. I have mine charged; but it don’t matter if you haven’t got the money. I can lend you some.”

“I’ve got ten dollars to do what I like with; but it’s meant to get some presents for the children.” And Polly took out her purse in an undecided way.

“You can make presents easy enough. Grandma knows all sorts of nice contrivances. They’ll do just as well; and then you can get your boots.”

“Well; I’ll look at them,” said Polly, following Fanny into the store, feeling rather rich and important to be shopping in this elegant manner.

“Aren’t they lovely? Your foot is perfectly divine in that boot, Polly. Get them for my party; you’ll dance like a fairy,” whispered Fan.

Polly surveyed the dainty, shining boot with the scalloped top, the jaunty heel, and the delicate toe, thought her foot did look very well in it, and after a little pause, said she would have them.

And the picture. Oh my dears, the picture! (Yes, I still have my childhood copy of this novel. And yes, I knew exactly where it was. And yes, I remembered the picture in every tiny detail. It’s my Proustian madeleine, all right?)

Louisa May Alcott's Bronze Boots

Look at those shoes! They beat Buster Browns and mary-janes without even trying. That scalloped top! The curved heel! The instant sophistication! Not to mention the enticing, and to my childhood mind, utterly mysterious descriptor of them as “bronze.” Were they just bronze in color? Were they shiny and metallic like Mom’s fancy dress up sandals? Did they have metal tips on the toes like my tap shoes? What could bronze boots possibly be—beyond beautiful, unattainable, and forbidden?

My desire knew no bounds. It still doesn’t. Looking at that picture again…who wouldn’t want those shoes?

I should, perhaps, be more cautious in my lust. Because there is something about that scene I had forgotten. Because (since An Old-Fashioned Girl is that particular kind of nineteenth-century fiction for girls that, as Alcott put it, “is not intended as a perfect model, but as a possible improvement upon the Girl of the Period”) our Polly learns a sorrowful lesson after buying her boots.

It was all very delightful till she got home, and was alone; then, on looking into her purse, she saw one dollar and the list of things she meant to get for mother and the children. How mean the dollar looked all alone! and how long the list grew when there was nothing to buy the articles.

“I can’t make skates for Ned, nor a desk for Will; and those are what they have set their hearts upon. Father’s book and mother’s collar are impossible now; and I’m a selfish thing to go and spend all my money for myself. How could I do it?” And Polly eyed the new boots reproachfully, as they stood in the first position as if ready for the party. “They are lovely; but I don’t believe they will feel good, for I shall be thinking about my lost presents all the time,” sighed Polly, pushing the enticing boots out of sight.

Bronze boots were clearly going to lead me immediately down the path of temptation, sin, and financial irresponsibility.

I was doomed.

Happily, I am all but impervious to moral instruction, as my detailed recollection of the boots and complete failure to recall their intended lesson clearly indicates. To this day, I am on the alert for bronze boots, in the hopes of dancing like a fairy and looking perfectly divine.

And I swear I shall keep buying more shoes until I find them.

Shoe Love: The Pop-Up Book!

Manolo says, the publishers of this new book, Shoe Love: In Pop-Up, were kind enough to send the Manolo the review copy, and all the Manolo can say is, Super Fantastic!

This is the perfect sort of the book to give to the person who loves the shoes and enjoys the whimsy, which is the very apt description of the Manolo and many of his internet friends. It is visually witty, enjoyably well-written, and reasonably priced, under $20, and so it would be the excellent little something-something to send to someone in need of the cheering up.

Shoe Love: In Pop-Up

Shoe Love: In Pop-Up... Super Fantastic!

Of the course, the shoe-based pop-up book would also be something one would enjoy having for oneself. Indeed, this book now occupies the prominent place on the coffee table of the Manolo.

The Shore Thing

And Thus Civilizations Fall

So Friggin Ladylike!

Manolo says, the Snooki, she is not just the cultured lady-thing who drinks her herbal tea with the pinkie finger extended, she is also now the published author person!

Snooki once told a reporter for the NY Times that she’d only read two books in her life, Dear John and Twilight. The orange wonder can add one more book to that list, because her new work of “fiction,” A Shore Thing, is out in stores today. […] The book is about a character named “Gia,” who is basically Snooki, and her cousin, who rent a “Seaside Heights beach house/dump” over the summer and try to get laid.

Ayyyy! It sounds like something by D.H. Lawrence!

Of the course, we must now look at the excerpt of this debut masterwork, The Shore Thing.

A hot guido was staring at her – in a nice way – from across the room.

Gia smiled at him. His back against the wall, he stood just off the dance floor, thumb in a belt loop. His chest muscles strained the fabric of his black tank top. It fit across a tummy that was hard and flat enough to cut salami on. No tattoos, which meant plenty of empty space on his arms to ink PROPERTY OF GIA. He started as if he could see through her dress, right down to the zebra-print bra and thong set underneath.

“I found him,” Gia said to Bella, draining her Slippery Nipple in one long suck…

The Manolo was right! It is exactly like D.H. Lawrence, only with less swarthy gamekeepers, and more swarthy guidos!

But wait, it gets better…

(more…)

Winter’s Tale

Snow in Central Park, December 27, 2010

Snow in Central Park, December 27, 2010


Manolo says, perhaps now would be the good time to re-read one of the Manolo’s favorite books, Winter’s Tale by the Mark Helprin…

“Winter then in its early and clear stages, was a purifying engine that ran unhindered over city and country, alerting the stars to sparkle violently and shower their silver light into the arms of bare upreaching trees. It was a mad and beautiful thing that scoured raw the souls of animals and man, driving them before it until they loved to run. And what it did to Northern forests can hardly be described, considering that it iced the branches of the sycamores on Chrystie Street and swept them back and forth until they rang like ranks of bells.”

Manolo’s Super Fantastic Gifts for the Ladies

Manolo says, please allow the Manolo to recommend the few appropriately super fantastic gifts for the womenfolk…

The Kindle

Last week, when the Manolo recommended the super fantastic gifts for the men, he suggested that the Amazon Kindle electronic reading machine, would be the most appropriate gift for gentleman. Subsequently, many of the Manolo’s lady friends said that this thing was something they also truly wanted to find under the tree.

So, if you are the gentleman who wishes to impress the lady of your acquaintance, present her with the Kindle filled with the collected works of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Danielle Steele.

Chloe Large Leather Messanger Bag

This large Chloé leather bag not only has the good clean lines for the large bag, making it suitable for the classy lady of style, and yet it is also hip enough to satisfy even the most demanding downtown girl.

Marc Jacobs Continental Chain Clutch

Here is the Marc by Marc Jacobs Foret Chain Continental Clutch, the perfect little something-something to go with your lady friend’s little black dressy-dress.

Michael Michael Kors Cashmere Cardigan

Everyone loves to get the cashmere, it is the fabric of love! Here is the Michael Kors Cashmere Cardigan that is simple, elegant, and somewhat reasonably priced, as such things go.

Memory of Kindness

The perfume from CB I Hate Perfume, the shop of Chris Brosius the most original, uncompromising, and iconoclastic of the scent designers. The Manolo is particularly fond of Memory of Kindness, described as “The shining green scent of tomato vines growing in the fresh earth of a country garden”.

Mahogany 4-Drawer Chocolate Box (60 pieces)

Chocolate! Fancy Chocolate from zChocolat delivered in the four-drawer mahogany box that will become lasting memory of the successfully delicious Christmas gift.

The Manolo Recommends 8 Gift Books for the 2010

Manolo says, it is the well known fact that the Manolo is the ardent reader, someone who takes great pleasure in the well-written words. And so, allow the Manolo to suggest to you the few books that you might consider giving as the gifts to the peoples on your List of Xmas.

1)
The Thoughtful Dresser

In April, when The Thoughtful Dresser by the Manolo’s friend Linda Grant was released in America, the Manolo said the following

Make no mistake, if, like the Manolo, you are the reasonably intelligent person who likes the clothes, and the shoes, and thinking about why people wear what they wear, you will adore this book.

And so, for the clothing-obsessed persons of some intellect on your shopping list, you could do no better than to present them with the copy of this marvelous little book.

2)
How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely

Perhaps the funniest book the Manolo has read in the past year is How I Became a Famous Novelist. It is ridiculous in the most incredibly delightful way, certain to make anyone who reads it giddy with pleasure.

3)
Financial Lives of the Poets

Johnathan Franzen’s Freedom is so 2007. If you want to read about the American life as it is lived in the year 2010, then you must read The Financial Lives of the Poets. Sure to be dated in late 2011, this is the remarkably jolly and well-written account of our current deplorable condition.

4)
Gunns Golden Rules

For the Manolo, as for thinking peoples everywhere, the best thing to come out of the Project Runway will forever be the Tim Gunn. His fashion advice has always been classically stodgy but sound, however, it is as the life and deportment coach where he truly shines. Thus, for the person in need of the little help, the Manolo suggests, Gunn’s Golden Rules.

5)
Seven Fires by Francis Mallmann

For the most atavistic of manly men chefs who harbor the openly poetic side, allow the Manolo to recommend the Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, from the hand of the magnificent Francis Mallmann.

6)
Cooking For Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food

And for the more cerebrally inclined and less poetic chefs of your acuaintance, you should perhaps consider the Cooking For Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food, as being the sort of gift book that will provide much entertainment.

7)
Fasihoning Fashion

With exactly the right amount of informative historical text and beautiful photos Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700 – 1915 would be the perfect thing to give to the would-be fashion designerish teen.

8)
Manolo Bhalnik Book: New Shoes

Finally, the new book of shoe pictures from the Maestro Manolo Blahnik…what more needs be said?

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