The Smallest One Was Madeline

One of my all time favorite children’s books was “Madeline.” Have you read it? I’m assuming it’s so well known I don’t need to explain the premise to you, but just in case: the story focuses on a young girls boarding school in Paris, and a plucky, precocious girl named Madeline. It’s a testament to how frequently we read it growing up that I can recite the opening from memory to this day.

In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. In two straight lines they broke their bread and brushed their teeth and went to bed. They smiled at the good and frowned at the bad and sometimes they were very sad. They left the house at half past nine in two straight lines in rain or shine — the smallest one was Madeline.

The book was written by Ludwig Bemelmans, an Austrian born writer and illustrator who is said to have named the title character after his wife, Madeleine Freund. He wrote 50 books, seven of which are the beloved Madeline series. Only six were published in his lifetime; the seventh was found after his death and published more than 30 years posthumously.

The illustrations in “Madeline” are just as charming as the story itself. I remember having a VHS tape of the original story, which used the same illustrations as in the book. I wonder where it wound up.

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Only Bemelmans could have made having your appendix out something to envy as a child. It was quite the event, and Madeline got lots of presents and wore cute pajamas and had the teeniest little scar.

He also illustrated 16 New Yorker covers. I would love a copy of the first one with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

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In 1953 he bought a small bistro on the Île de la Cité and painted murals on the interior walls. He sold it a few years later, and the murals were lost when the building was converted to a cabaret. The only other public mural work Bemelmans made was at the bar at the Carlyle Hotel in New York (at the now aptly named Bemelmans Bar) for which he negotiated a year’s worth of accommodations in exchange for his artwork. He painted whimsical scenes from Central Park, including a familiar face:

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Bemelmans died at the too-young age of 64. His grandson, John Bemelmans-Marciano, has continued the “Madeline” series with five new titles; Madeline has even visited the White House. I can’t wait to read these stories to my own child, one day.

Books Books Books

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If my mother is any indication, retirement means you get a new full-time job of sending your daughter funny images through Facebook messenger. I get adorable monkey videos, ecards mostly making fun of my math skills, and gems like the one above. If that is not the single most apropos thing ever, I don’t know what is.  The need to buy every book in Barnes & Noble is sometimes too great to handle, though I usually find  a way to manage and generally buy at least one a week. My “to read” pile is getting out of hand. Especially since I renewed my Vanity Fair subscription and am making a concerted effort to read it cover to cover, on top of the Sunday New York Times that generally takes me a week to finish (and I only read the good sections).

Paranoia

SO. Remember that time I stalked met Gary Oldman? Wait, side-note: no, I will never ever stop talking about meeting Gary Oldman because it was the most ridiculous and amazing thing that I’ve ever orchestrated has ever happened to me and I will pimp that ish until the day I die. Do you want to see the picture of us together? Thought you’d never ask!

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Omfg his bow-tie. I just wanna love you, Gary Oldman!

Moving on.

He was in town filming a movie with Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss, and Miley Cyrus’s on-again-off-again fiancé. That movie, titled “Paranoia,” officially has a trailer. Let’s watch, shall we?

There are lots of things to talk about. One, he has a British accent in the movie, but it’s a more affected version of his normal British accent. It’s like an American playing a southerner, only classier and more fabulous because it’s Gary Oldman being more British. Second, I watched the trailer approximately 30 times today alone and every time I tell myself I’m going to pay attention to the plot and I invariably end up drooling over Gary Oldman instead. But from what I can gather it’s like “Air Force One” only instead of the Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman playing the President and a Russian terrorist, respectively, they’re playing rival business tycoons using Miley Cyrus Guy as bait? And Sawyer from “Lost” is in it, and there are a lot of shots of Philly in the trailer, as well. So basically I have no idea what’s happening other than GARY OLDMAN IS FANTASTIC. I’m not going to bother seeing it in the theater when it comes out, though….

…..Just kidding, of course I’m going to!

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Want more Gary Oldman eye candy? Check out previous posts here (my personal favorite is Gary Oldman in Paris) or my Pinterest board.

500th Post

No, it’s not this one. It actually occurred last week, and you’d think for so auspicious a milestone I’d have kept my eyes peeled. Not the case, and I didn’t even realize I’d hit 500 posts until this weekend. I’d always figured I’d make a bigger stink about my 500th post, that there would be fanfare and a humongous sense of accomplishment. And then I missed it entirely. I’ve been blogging for over two years now, and blogging every day for the past 18 months. I guess I sort of forgot about milestones and was just going with it.

Are you curious to know which post marked the big 5-0-0? It is ridiculously fitting.

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VOILA.

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A post about the New Kids on the Block. I have never been more proud.

I’m also insanely grateful to all of you who hang around here everyday, who read and comment and don’t judge me for being obsessed with things such as macarons, Gary Oldman, or Paris. Or, of course, the NKOTB. Here’s to the next 500. Yikes.

Exclamation Marks

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This was perhaps the single most hilarious sentence I’ve read in years (with the exception of a passage from Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” on libeling someone in your story: “And the best advice I can give you is to give im a teenie little penis so he will be less likely to come forth.”) and if this doesn’t pique your interest in reading a book about punctuation, I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends. Yesterday, I had the urge to use an exclamation mark in a scene I was working on, but realized that if the dialogue was good enough and the writing was good enough, I didn’t need to. I shouldn’t have to sound a large foghorn to let the reader know a character yelled something. “In here!” vs. “In here,” he called. Though that last bit goes against another writing tip I try to live by.

File “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” under “Books I Adored.”

Yesterday

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Father’s Day has proven to be a pretty difficult day for me the past seven (seven? shit, man) years. It’s more manageable than, say, my dad’s birthday, or even the anniversary of the day he passed away. And sometimes I feel guilty for not being more sad, but that’s stupid; I know he wouldn’t have wanted me to feel sad or guilty. Yesterday was actually a pretty good day: I spent the day on a high from the New Kids on the Block concert I went to on Saturday night (more on that tomorrow) and laughing about all the times my dad and I drove around listening and belting along to the New Kids Greatest Hits, eight years after they had broken up. My dad did great back-up vocals for “The Right Stuff” in case you were curious. He was good at a lot of things, not least of which was putting up with and even sharing my totally un-ironic obsession with NKOTB (though he stopped short of letting me stalk them out during our annual summer trips to Boston, rude.). I miss him every single day, to the point where some days it smothers me and I feel like I’ll never be able to dig myself out of the absolute bleakness of the fact that at some point I will have lived more years without him than with him. And that’s a reality I’m not okay with yet. But there was also a time when I thought I would literally die from grief, and the only upside to the distance that’s inserted itself between me and his death is that it gets microscopically easier every year.

So yesterday wasn’t terrible. I wrote another 1,500 words of my book. Fitz had a play-date and didn’t make a total idiot out of himself or end up in time-out too much. I cleaned my bathtub. And yeah, I listened to a lot of New Kids. I lived. That’s the best way I know to honor my daddy. Miss you, daddy-o.

Mile 112

Remember last week when I posed the question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”? How’s this for an answer: Benjamin Hall gave up his day job as an architect and moved to the middle of nowhere Washington to create furniture that “questioned our typical conventions of what these pieces should look like and answered unmet needs to possess pieces that not only inspire the user, but encourage their own reflection and exploration.” I eat rice krispie treats for dinner, this guy is challenging furniture conventions. Note to self: readjust your priorities. Hall says, “I got tired of dreaming of furniture I could afford so instead I started building and experimenting with designs I desired.” Mile112 was born.

He worked out of an isolated cabin (the nearest mile marker read “112”, hence the name) and relied on solar-powered tools to build his first pieces. Now based in Phoenix, Hall makes each piece built to order, with many of his items made with “zero waste.” I love how visually simple yet striking they are, as well as the sleek, industrial feel of all of them. My favorite might be the Bunky Day-to-Night stool. He makes desks, tables, chairs, wine holders, and even a toilet paper holder. Be still my tiny, industrial-loving heart.

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This post was not sponsored in any way, I just felt like sharing.

Plumed on Fab.

My dear friend Christine is an absolute gem: kind, sweet, funny, a brilliant interior decorator, and immensely talented. So talented, in fact, that the folks at Fab.com took notice.

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If you haven’t already familiarized yourself with Christine’s incredible needlepoint pillows, what are you waiting for?? The Fab.com sale runs until June 15th, and you can always buy through her new online shop. Go go go!