29 October 2012

What Would Sarah Wear?

One of the things I enjoyed most about writing my novel "Sarah & Gerald" was the research into 1920s fashions. I already knew a lot about those fashions having written about them several times for various newspapers; however, it's a different story when writing about real(ish) people who wore real clothes decades before I was even born.

Early on, my research took me to Los Angeles and the 2012 exhibition of costumes from Academy Award-nominated films (including the 1920s-set "The Artist"). I wrote about that exhibition here.

Matt and I recently took in a marvelous fashion exhibition called "Modern Spirit: Fashion of the 1920s" at the Phoenix Art Museum. It features more than 40 ensembles and accessories by more than a dozen iconic fashion designers including Gabrielle Chanel (pictured, top), Jean Patou (center) and Madeleine Vionnet (bottom). While it was neat seeing the fashions up close, it was even neater knowing that these are the very outfits that would have been worn by my characters. On several occasions I pointed out something to Matt and said "I describe a dress just like this for Sarah in one scene." It was an eerie occurrence of life imitating art.

The Phoenix Art Museum has a very long tradition of interest in fashion, with a collection that was founded in 1966. It comprises more than 5,000 objects of American and European clothing and accessories dating from the late 17th century to the present. I strongly urge you to check out this exceptional exhibition if you live in the Phoenix Metro area, or plan on being in town before the exhibition closes in February 2013. You can find out more about the exhibition at the Museum's website.  

All photographs by Ken Howie. Copyright and courtesy of The Phoenix Art Museum.

24 October 2012

15 October 2012

"Sarah & Gerald" Cover Wins Award

I'm very happy to let you know Matt's cover design for my book "Sarah & Gerald" a novel of Paris in the 1920s, won this month's e-book cover design award for fiction! How cool is that? You can read more about the awards and other winners here.

12 October 2012

10 October 2012

Icky Origins

Of course, no really good music has come out since the war -- World War Two, that is. With the exception of Gloria Estefan and a few keen dance pieces of the 1990s, the world of music has been nothing but a vast wasteland.

Before the war, there was a kind of dance music called "swing" that bred a style of dancing called "the jitterbug" danced by people who spoke a language known as "jive." Jive contained words like "cat," "licks," "on the cob" (as in corny) and the really great word "icky" which referred to sentimental music -- the kind that was preferred by the parents of jitterbuggers.

If you ever wanted to learn this obscure language, you can get a good start listening to this very rare circa-1933 excerpt of a radio program called "Inside Story" that attempted, in this episode, to help its audience understand just what their children were saying and doing.

So, all you hep cats and gators get ready to learn some jive!

05 October 2012


It's migration time in America for birds that fly south for the winter. Arizona seems to be along the migration route for many birds -- including starlings and Canada geese (shown). This morning while Matt and I were playing tennis, we were greeted with two flyovers of Canada geese. We always hear them, but rarely see them flying close by. It was really neat!

01 October 2012

I Wonder....

Did the male dog that played the female Lassie have gender identity issues?