About Bruce

Well!  How do you like THAT!  Reality TV has gotten me again.  But THIS time the underdog character, the sort of unhip, laughable, ponytailed side-character… the unimportant one if you will, has COMPLETELY STOLEN THE SHOW!

At least for me.

The Kardashians, God love ’em, have built this huge multi-media empire on the most frivolous and transient subjects:  fashion, beauty, club appearances, flying around the world, and like, hair extensions.  (Don’t get me wrong, I love ALL those Hot Topics and they ALL have their place in life, but the Ks take on things is so wispy thin and insubstantial as to just be, like, well… it doesn’t take up ANY space in your brain.)

So this whole time, apparently all 8 years that this show has been on the air, the emotional tone has been self-absorbed, glib, occasionally vulgar, and very, very insular.  Most of the scenes are filmed in one of their huge houses in So California, and involves their latest marital or professional escapades, and they all seem to live in just their own little worlds of wealth, access, and entitlement.  And the whole MACHINE runs on moving through things FAST… they will have a meltdown-y melodramatic moment about something and then, as they like to say repeatedly “It’s, like, SOOO time to move on.”

Now a storyline has emerged that, like, nobody saw coming.  One that is so big, so freakin important that they have had to have TWO special episodes and a Diane Sawyer interview just to cope with!  The patriarch of this entrepreneurial clan, the out-of-step but likeable Dad, will soon be living publicly as a WOMAN!!!!

Now I am old enough to remember Bruce Jenner on the Wheaties box.  Arguably, one of THE top male athletes of our time.  OLYMPIC athlete in all those intense and uber-masculine events.  (I mean discus throwing??  Who even DOES that?)  He is so familiar in THAT arena that this news really throws you back.

And the fascinating thing to watch is the juxtaposition of this Superficial Franchise Operation dealing with such a… well, let’s be honest, WTF kind of situation.  Because they’ve had to show, like, REAL EMOTION.  And tolerance.  Not to mention delicacy!

All the Kardashian/Jenner kids obviously adore Bruce, and he gets so tickled and excited when talking about his future… letting his hair grow, painting his nails, putting on cute clothes… he is SWEET and SINCERE and GOOFY and… well…it is like, SO MOVING!  This man that we all thought we knew… we had a category for him:  All-American Olympic Hero… he has been living with a huge and painful secret his WHOLE LIFE… and now, at the age of 65, he has the courage to change everything about himself… well I just thought to myself:

“Huh!  So the REAL story of the Kardashians has been going on between-the-lines and off-camera this whole freakin time!”

Wow.  Good luck Bruce… we’ll try to Keep Up…

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“At the Intersection of ‘Yes Ma’am’ and ‘Dude’ “

I admit it: I live in a bit of a fantasy world. Don’t worry, there is no real break with reality, I just prefer to think that life is like a colorful, interesting movie with a great soundtrack. Honestly, why would you choose otherwise when regular life is so mundane, frustrating, and just so darn…LIFE-Y?

Anyone who tries to get my head out of the clouds, and wants me to be more “realistic” (ugh!) is doomed to failure. But have no fear: LIFE does a pretty good job of bringing me right back down to earth, where I land with a *PLUNK*.

This is what happened when my intrepid husband and I stayed at the seemingly fabulous Thunderbird Inn in Savannah. This is a bona fide retro motor lodge built in 1964, 2-story, drive-up style. You can’t miss this place: it has the MOST stunning neon sign:

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and the exterior has an authentic mid-60s color scheme:

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The outside is so well done, they have added little touches like retro bicycles, and the whole thing looks just untouched by time. Really cool.

Well mister, I took one look at that place and the Movie Music just swelled in my head… Dean Martin “Everybody Loves Somebody” and The Shangri-Las… how wonderful it would be to stay there!

So when we found ourselves with two events in Savannah on consecutive days, my husband suggested we stay there, for fun. I was so excited, and promptly exclaimed that we would have to take our dinner to-go in the room in order to spend as much time as possible in that groovy setting.

At check-in we were “upgraded” to a King Suite. Sweet! When we got to the door of our room, there was a sign saying that the bed had the Magic Fingers Feature. Fantastic! As visions of ambiance danced in my head we opened the door, entered the room, and *PLUNK*! I was yanked flat out of my movie soundtrack and I thudded down to earth.

Let’s just say… the ultra-cool, retro vibe of the exterior did not extend into the room! It was an ugly, plain, not-very-stylish hotel room. In really the lower levels of hotel rooms I have ever stayed in in my life. Furnishings? Bland. Walls? Bare. Color scheme? Beige. It was such a letdown. And the King Suite designation? Seemed to be because there was a large fold-out couch uncomfortably shoved between the bed and door.

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And the Magic Fingers? We never did get that to work.

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Disappointing, to say the least. After we went OUT to dinner (definitely not taking it to our room) I kept my husband out walking the streets, here and there, to avoid actually hanging out in this room. But when we returned, I had to acknowledge that the room was actually quite clean, the A/C unit worked well, and the bed was super-comfortable.

That night I slept ridiculously well, because the bed WAS so comfortable, and I woke feeling refreshed. We headed towards the lobby to get coffee, and this is what we saw:

Weinermobile

Weinermobile!

Oh joy!!! Cue the soundtrack! The movie continues!

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The Antiques Road Show Axe Murderer

“Do you like our street?” asked the man blithely crossing one of those confusing, cars-going-every-direction Savannah intersections.  “That’s MY house.” he added with a big grin.  “Would you like to come in and see it?  It is the oldest building on this street.”

My husband and I exchanged a glance, and followed the man up the steps.  He was so cheerful, with a completely matter-of-fact hospitality, that it would have seemed terribly rude to decline.  And that is how we met Mr. Duke Beauregard Turner of Savannah.

Here’s the house:

Savannah Staircase

I’m thinking, like you do in such instances, “What if he’s an axe murderer?!”  My husband’s kinda fake-y smile indicated he was thinking the same thing.  We had been doing our usual Savannah sight-seeing:  walking the streets, poking into the odd little shops, and yes, gawking at the quaint historic architecture.  This was a particularly charming house, with a “Built in 1850” bronze plaque by the front door.

Savannah Rowhouse

So Mr. Turner gave us a tour.  He talked about the history of the house (originally built for a prominent wealthy merchant) and pointed out some of the more significant features.  And it was, in fact, quite intriguing to see how folks might live in such a museum-quality environment.  He was not boastful in any way, perhaps just “house-proud” as they say in the South, and with a genuine desire to share his enthusiasm that was quite infectious.

However, the biggest “wow” was not the house itself, but the antiques that furnished it.  Mr. Turner and his wife have amassed some really cool treasures, if you like that kind of thing, which my husband and I do, being regular viewers of The Antiques Road Show.  The thing about really old stuff is that it all has such fascinating stories attached to it…that’s what we really like.

So when he asked us if we wanted to go upstairs to see some “really unusual and interesting things”, I pushed aside my “DEFINITELY AXE MURDERER!” thoughts, smiled and said, “Sure!”.

The architecture upstairs was even more personal and charming, with some pieces like a large oval gold-leaf-framed mirror with a fierce, wings-spread eagle across the top that looked so Revolutionary War I swear it could’ve come from Betsy Ross’s place.

But the piece de resistance, the Big Kahuna if you will, was over the fireplace.  It was a large, framed, torn and tattered, slightly charred, but completely colorful and intact CIVIL WAR CONFEDERATE FLAG.  (!)  Now I don’t know about you, but big ole Confederate flags kinda make me a little uneasy.  I guess I get confused: true and important artifact, clearly on the wrong side of history, what would my New York friends say, etc.

This particular flag was the real deal and given to Mr. Turner’s family after the death of his great-grandfather on the battlefield.  Approximately 2 1/2′ square, it dominated the room.  Written boldly on the flag itself was a list of important battles this particular Confederate Army Company had been engaged in, such as Bull Run, Antietam, and several other very significant campaigns.  Mr. Turner explained that someone from his regiment had taken special care to be sure this memorial flag got to his ancestor’s surviving family.

And that’s what it was:  a memorial and a tribute to his great-grandfather’s service.  It is quite moving to look at in that context, which is the privacy of Mr. Turner’s home.

As we left the company of this delightful, pleasant man in one piece (no axes, antique or otherwise) I was appreciative that Mr. Turner had certainly made our day, and while he was genuine and unfazed, I still found myself wondering:

Is it politically incorrect to display Confederate Army memorabilia??

Mr. Turner in his living room

Mr. Turner in his living room

Normcore

I really wish I hadn’t read that article.

It really effed me up, and now I can’t stop worrying about my clothes.  Am I too normal?  Do I have style?  And what about my husband??  He is either so on the cutting-edge of fashion trends that it is not apparent to the naked eye, or he is hopelessly out of step.

“Normcore” is a term that emerged from the deepest recesses of Hippest hip hip super-hip Brooklyn.  (There is no way we can keep up with these people!)  It is a trend amongst these uber-hipsters wherein they have taken to wearing Super-Normal Clothes.  (Egads!)  Like jeans, Coors Light t-shirts, and real, non-ironic baseball caps.  Also, Gap cargo shorts and white sneakers.  Basically dressing like an uncool dad or 80s suburban soccer mom, with Jerry Seinfeld being the ultimate aspirational look.  Got it?

This is considered a fashion statement.  Well, actually, it is an ANTI-fashion fashion trend…supposedly these tiresome creatures are “dropping the pretense” of their intensely alternative lifestyles and throwing themselves into the mainstream.  (Please remember, this is a population that previously was all about pretty extreme eyewear and facial hair, i.e. “Martin Van Buren mutton chops”).  The next thing you know they’ll be joining country clubs, eating Cobb Salads, and taking up GOLF!

Now I’m having an existential crisis just looking in my closet.  What is a girl to wear??  I find myself kind of OBSERVING my wardrobe, and really overthinking what used to be “normal” clothing choices.  Like:  “Are these Gap jeans a super-mega-hip item?  Or just Gap jeans?”

They’ve sent me right down the Fashion Rabbit Hole….

So I guess I am turning in my Vogue Magazine subscription, and tearing up my Fashion Week membership card, because I can now do all my shopping for the latest looks at Walmart!  Or Dick’s Sporting Goods.

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Puck It

So I was at a hockey game the other day, and….(wait…. let me back up a minute:  I married a Canadian.  Got it?  And I was told that watching hockey is practically a Marital Responsibility with these people.)  Anyway, there I was at this hockey game and I realized:  I.  Don’t.  Get.  It.

I do vaguely understand the premise, and of course heartily endorse all the protective gear, but the macho posturing?  Not so much.  These fans, like, BANG on the glass partition when a player from the opposing team is in front of them and loudly YELL sort of violent, provocative things.  Also they LOVE any fighting on the ice and the entire arena goes NUTS when one is even threatened.  Egads!

Kinda meathead-y, frankly.

Now my husband is NOT a meathead, in fact he is a lovely and sensitive man.  I think we can transcend the culture of our birth, but only so far.  And we have to really really want to.  And in this instance?  Canadians don’t want to!

So I did what any bored, vaguely appalled sports fan would do:  I played with my husband’s new Windows 8 smartphone.  I posted things on FB, checked out the features, and gave his camera a try:

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A Happy Canadian

   Some Meatheads in Action

Some Meatheads in Action

As I scanned the building for shots of the crowd, I was struck by something.  (A thought, I mean…not a flying puck.)  It just so happened to be “Frozen Day” at the game that day, as in the Uber-Successful Disney animated film of “Let it Go” fame.  So there were TONS of little sparkly blue-frocked girls!  They were everywhere!  And they were dancing and twirling and jumping up and down and trying to get on camera on the big screen.  There was even a Prettiest Princess contest:

DSCF2075The juxtaposition of the 2 realities was so ironic:  on the one hand you have an aggressive game with pretty intense fans, and on the other this sweet, cute ultra-girly fan club.  (“Frozen” has a tender theme of sisterhood, and some have said, an underlying pro-gay message. (!) )

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Never mind the Canadians!  Doesn’t Contemporary American Culture just take the cake?

NEW “Frequent Feature”: Secondhand Rose

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I am a fan of good consignment stores, vintage clothing stores, and certain thrift stores as well, and Hilton Head has the BEST second-hand stores I have ever seen.  For a few reasons:

  • Folks move here in droves from places like Ohio and New Jersey and they feel they need to REFRESH their LOOK cuz here on The Island we have an entirely different vibe.  (Sometimes I think they think they only need shorts and flip-flops to survive here…and maybe they do!)
  • Many people move here for the last chapters of their life, and there may be some down-sizing going on as they, um, move through, like, the last few passages.  :-/
  • Some CRAZY people have TWO houses, and they try to split their time, and go back and forth seasonally, but it never really is THAT clearly defined, and so they end up with just too damn many CLOTHES!  (i.e. Marsha Harris!)….(my mum.)

In any case, their…..whatever….is my gain.  And could be yours too!  In a few of these stores you have to dig, but in most of them the clothes are exceptionally displayed and arranged.  Sometimes the prices may seem a bit high for secondhand stuff, but in any case it is MUCH less than regular retail.  And it can be a much more unique and creative shopping experience!

Every so often I will showcase outfits that I have put together from these stores to hopefully inform and inspire you about the fun and Fashion Possibilities here on HHI.

Everything in the photo is from local consignment stores.  Isn’t it cute?  Here’s the 411:

Dress: Wool blend; J Crew; $24.99………Sacks Consignment, 1012 Wm Hilton Pkwy

Hat: Wool/polyester; 5/48; $15…………..Chella D, South Island Square, 841 Wm Hilton Pkwy

Charm Bracelet: Silver/gold accents; Brighton; $35………..Stock Exchange, 1401 Main St

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Unbroken

Ugh!  My sister-in-law said “Well THAT was certainly the FEEL-GOOD movie of the Holiday Season!”  (She is a Brit, and quick with the dry humorous observations.)

The fact is, the real-life hero of the movie Unbroken, Louis Zamperini, led a truly extraordinary life.  It’s a shame that it became a mediocre movie.  And a grinding, unrelenting one as well.  Don’t go see it if you are hoping to experience the full arc of his exceptional story, or even to learn exactly HOW he overcame his traumatizing experiences and had a book written about him.

The film is marketed as a inspirational-albeit-tough story.  But it is l-o-o-n-g on the Tough and short on the Inspirational.  And that is a big mistake because it ends up being emotionally unsatisfying.

You know what I think happened?  Angelina Jolie, the director, wanted to focus on the parts that really resonated with her.  You know, certain BIG EVENTS, the suffering and unspeakably cruel stuff.  I get it.  You get it.  We all get it.  But a good director is a STORYTELLER, and never forgets that this is a MOVIE, and that we really don’t need to be hit over the head, and anyway she’s not very good.  (Please see Oliver Stone or Martin Scorsese, who are better.)

Unbroken is broken….and doesn’t work.

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