Tag Archives: Stunts

Lunch Break Creative: Tourist Edition

11 Jun

Working in an office environment can be stimulating and challenging: the day flies by when solving expense report mysteries like a corporate Nancy Drew. Sometimes though, I feel a tad stifled and in need of a little creative stimulation.  In my last post, I shared my personal mission statement, “live to create and serve” and resolved that I would find ways to incorporate creativity into my working life.

What could be more inspiring than a visit to the New York Public Library’s Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Gallery?

The current exhibition is Shelley’s Ghost:  The Afterlife of a Poet which focuses on writer Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) and his second wife Mary, best known as the author of Frankenstein. The gallery is tiny, perhaps 200 square feet, making it the perfect size to tackle in less than 20 minutes.  Particularly enjoyable were Shelly’s notebooks, a necklace made of P.B. and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s hair, and a copy of “A Cat in Distress,” Percy Shelly’s earliest known poem.

The thoughtful design of the exhibition was another highlight, evoking a creepy, gothic feeling.

In addition to the ephemera locked behind the cases, are small takeaway note cards with various quotes from Shelley.

One card reads:

MUSIC when soft voices die,

Vibrates in the memory –

ODOURS, when sweet violtes sicken,

Live within the sense they quicken.

Shelly’s Ghost:  The Afterlife of a Poet
Now through Sunday, June 24, 2012
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Gallery
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
Cost:  Free

After enjoying the exhibition, I took some time to lollygag through Bryant Park, located directly behind the library on Sixth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets.

Bryant Park boasts many wonders, one being an outdoor Reading Room with various books to borrow while sitting in the park.

Near the Reading Room, Istumbled upon a discussion of Jen Lancaster’s new book, Jeneration X hosted by In Her Shoes author Jennifer Weiner.

I thought, wait a second – there must be more events where this one came from!  And as soon as the thought popped into my head, a copy of the Bryant Park spring guide manifested before my eyes.  I snatched the precious pamphlet from the bored, teenaged attendant and realized that there is an author’s discussion every Wednesday at 12:30!  The series is titled, “Word for Word Author” and its purpose (according to the guide) is for “Bestselling authors [to] share tricks of the trade, answer questions, and sign copies of their latest books.” There is a similar program for poetry on Tuesdays at dusk (of course the poets have to be dramatic about it and have their program at sundown). On select Tuesdays at 12:30, the Reading Room hosts a book club of favorite Oxford University Press classics.  If you sign up early enough, a free copy of the book club selection can be yours.

Folks, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are also writer’s workshops, nonfiction discussions, and classic movie groups; and those are just the literary activities.  Other Bryant Park events include Yoga, Tai Chi, fencing, birding, juggling, beginner and intermediate language classes, and (be still my heart) knitting lessons. Not to be missed are both the world-famous HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival, beginning on June 18th and my personal favorite, Broadway in Bryant Park, beginning on July 12th.  Did I mention that every single event is free?

Who could have known that so many engaging activities are waiting for us just outside the doors of our climate controlled, sterile offices?  Let’s try something inspiring and new.  Let’s get lunch break creative.


Thrift Store Review – Housing Works Warehouse

13 Sep

Church Lady Gretchen and I attended the “world-famous” (though I’d never heard of it) Housing Works Warehouse sale this past Saturday.  In the deepest industrial depths of Long Island City, Housing Works keeps a warehouse full of second-hand merchandise and will sell you, for $25, a brown paper bag to fill.  You could end up with Theory dresses, dirty bandanas, pillows, or vintage winter coats.  I’ve seen some crowds in my time but nothing like this!

There were pools of discarded clothes to wade through, and mobs of people ready to snatch items right out of your hands!  I saw some really great stuff: a pair of JCrew wool pants with tags, fantastic winter coats, scarves, and blouses; but for every one nice thing there were 500 terrible things!  I’m okay with this.  In fact, I excel at finding the needle in the haystack and of course: making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Another challenge is that there were only two mirrors in the place, rendering it impossible to take a good look at one’s self. Its important to bring along a companion that you trust!

Most of the treasures I brought home aren’t wearable as they stand.  I was on the hunt for raw materials to use in my sewing as well as fun vintage goodies.  Here is what I bought:

Looks like a mess, right?

1. Silk polka-dot dress (may end up being repurposed because it looks a little like a clown)

2. Striped men’s shirt (tag reads: Fraternity Prep 100% cotton)

3. Mid-century house dress

4. Plain bed sheet (to be used in sewing)

5. Men’s 70’s silk shirt (fabulous print – to be used in sewing)

6. Contemporary yellow sweater

7. Silk scarf

8. Red polka-dot shirt

9. Melbourne kitchen towel

10. Silk scarf part two

11. 70’s plaid teacher vest

12. Blue batik skirt

13. Mid-century black hat box

My favorite item is of course number 13.  I think the whole stunt was worth that!  I’ve already cleaned it up a bit and can’t wait to fill it with goodies – maybe my scarf collection could live there!

Below are the warehouse rules as listed on the Housing Works Web site:

This is a not your everyday shopping experience so its important to realize there are a few rules.

  1. Clothing is sold by the bag only; No individual sales
  2. Shoppers may line up beginning at 9am outside the building
  3. Strollers are not allowed-this may not be the best environment for children
  4. No horseplay, leave it at the ranch!
  5. Public restrooms are not available
  6. No loitering
Housing Works Warehouse 
4849 35th St., Long Island City, NY 11101
Saturdays Only 
(crowd begins forming as early as 9 am)

Stunt of the Year: Pin-Up Class

26 Aug


A new term has slipped into my everyday speech: “stunt.” A few months ago church lady partner-in-crime, Gretchen and I were visiting a second-hand store in her neighborhood and stumbled upon Let’s Have a Good Time: Parties, Games, and Stunts by Olive Cameron, copyright 1938.  This book is chock full of homespun activities, party ideas, church games, and nonsense. The following is from the preface:

A “good time” now and then is relished by all normal men.

Play activity develops the children, gives vent to the adolescents’ excess “pep,” and restores the nerves of over-worked adults.

Properly conducted play contributes to every phase of life.

This book is sent forth in the hope that it may promote in some small way the kind of “good time” which builds people physically, intellectually and spiritually.

A “stunt” in my mind is a “good time” that builds you up in some way—just nice, clean confidence building fun! It can be as elaborate as a trip to Canada for a conference on handicrafts, or as simple as making a special jell-o salad for somebody you love! Usually its a new activity that requires some preparation and planning but it doesn’t have to be.

On Sunday, a few of us stunt-loving dames participated in a long-awaited pin-up class with world-famous burlesque beauty Bettina May.  I’m here to testify that it was without a doubt the top-notch best stunt of the decade!  Honestly, I wish every day was pin-up class day!  Bettina May is one of the loveliest gals I’ve met in ages!  She puts her students at ease with a combination of charm, sweetness, and a clever wit. How can you not love a gal who advertises for one of her classes with the claim, “Come learn all the tricks grandma used to snag grandpa with easy fabulous hairdos that last all night!”?

Miss Robin as a Real Pin-Up!

Class began with a make-up tutorial in which Bettina walked us through the classic pin-up face: rosy cheeks, a strong red lip, lined lids, and fake eyelashes.  I’d consider myself advanced when it comes to make-up, since I spent so many years doing my own theatrical make-up for shows, even still there were plenty of new tips for my beauty arsenal!

Next, Bettina taught us how to set our hair using the ancient and now nearly forgotten wet-to-dry method consisting of a combination of wire and sponge rollers, setting spray, a head scarf, several hours of waiting (usually done while sleeping), and a wink and a prayer. Bettina’s claim: she virtually hasn’t had a bad hair day in years. Fascinating stuff.  She also introduced us to pin-up styling techniques including the famous victory roll.

After donning our dresses, Bettina gave the group a quick lesson in pin-up posing and shot each of us in our own private photo session!  Church lady Gretchen and I of course had to bring props.  What’s better than canned produce?  We also had a Swedish hymnal at the ready that *sigh* wasn’t used. I also sewed a sweet little apron.

Oh Golly!

The apron was easy to construct, consisting of three major pieces, a heart-shaped bodice with lace trimming, waistband, and gathered skirt.

Apron Pieces

I used a pattern from Tipnut as a reference point, while adding some little flourishes of my own.

Wishing you many enjoyable stunts this weekend!