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Paris Blues: Cinquante Nuances de Bleu

Babs Sprague, Fashion Show at my hometown Friendship International Airport dedication, Baltimore (BWI), 1950, Photo by Edward Nolan, Baltimore Sun (Image: T. Brack's archives)

Babs Sprague, Fashion Show at my hometown Friendship International Airport dedication, Baltimore (BWI), 1950, Photo by Edward Nolan, Baltimore Sun (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

The Calais-Mediterranée Express (a.k.a., “Le Train Bleu”)

The Calais-Mediterranée Express (a.k.a., “Le Train Bleu”)

By Theadora Brack

It’s summertime and the boasting is Skid-Dat-De-Dat easy, breezy. That’s right. This week, I’ve got good news to share, along with a classic French cocktail recipe—perfect for your outdoor shindigs and shenanigans. It’s another win-grin-sin, I do declare.

Here’s the squeal: France Today magazine has made me their Paris columnist, and I’m head over heels about it. Based in the U.K., this gorgeous rag has been around since 1985. Making no bones about it: I am over-the-super-lune thrilled to be part of their team!

So, in celebration of the nouveau gig and Woody Allen’s brand-spanking-new “Magic in the Moonlight” flick, let’s flock on down to the Côte d’Azure.

Isn’t it romantic?

Following in the frisky footsteps of the Lost Generation, I’m preparing for the jaunt with some smooth time travel and Detective-Poirot-worthy sleuthing, accessorized with some appropriate styling. Of course!

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought, I summon up remembrance of past silky frocks bought!

In the meantime

Let me introduce you to my new favorite summertime party drink: “Le Train Bleu” cocktail.

Named after the Calais-Mediterranée Express (a.k.a., “Le Train Bleu”), the French luxury express train was a popular à la mode of travel with the sun worshipping flush and famous as they fast tracked it from Gare de Lyon in Paris to the Cote d’Azure.

Le Train Bleu Restaurant, Gare de Lyon, Paris

Le Train Bleu Restaurant, Gare de Lyon, Paris (Image: T. Brack)

Do the Loco-motion

Outfitted with sleek dark blue sleeping cars (hence the name), “Le Train Bleu” operated from 1886 to 2003. During the 1980s, the trains were replaced by the high-speed TGVs, which cut the length of the journey from Paris to Nice from 20 hours down to five. I guess time indeed does fly when you’re having fun!

Le Train Bleu cocktail recipe

Getting back on track: Let’s prepare for our sentimental journey: While you trap two Champagne glasses, I’ll crank up the ice machine and my portable record player. For kicks, spinning Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, prepare for lift-off! Dear one, hold me fast.

Here’s our shopping list:

Natural decorating sugar in periwinkle blue
One ounce Cognac
Two ounces fresh pineapple juice
Three ounces Champagne or sparkling wine

Once these have been rounded up: First, rim your glass with natural decorating sugar. Then, in an ice filled tumbler: Pour one ounce Cognac and two ounces pineapple juice. Shake well and strain into the glass. Top with three ounces bubbly. Decorate the rim with fresh chunks of pineapple or orange slices.

Chill and serve. And then repeat. It’s just that easy!

Clipping from Sidney Poitier’s character, Eddie Cook, in Martin Ritt’s 1961 “Paris Blues” movie, “I like to walk and I like the way you walk. And Paris is the city to walk in!”

I agree. Now let’s take our own moody-bluesy nighttime stroll around Paris.

Santé!

(Trekking to Paris? Don’t miss the Gare de Lyon’s Le Train Bleu restaurant. After getting a little work done, it will reopen on September 12, 2014. For menu recommendations, visit Kim’s 24/7 in France site. Trust me. She knows. Dig train adventures?  I hear you, James Bond wannabes! Fast track it on over to Monsieur Tin Man’s fabulous Yellow Brick Road.)

Le Train Bleu Cocktail with Napoleon’s favorite camp staple: Courvoisier (Image: T. Brack)

Martin Ritt’s 1961 “Paris Blues” movie (Image: MoviePosterDB)

Le Train Bleu Restaurant, Gare de Lyon, Paris

In the afterglow of day: Le Train Bleu Restaurant, Gare de Lyon, Paris

JEAN-CLAUDE DEHIX’S MARIONETTES AT PRINTEMPS, Paris (Image: T. Brack)

Le Train Bleu Restaurant, Gare de Lyon, Paris (Image: T. Brack)

Twilight Time: La Diva, Pigalle, Paris (Image: T. Brack)

STARS OF THE SEA, Bastille, PARIS (Image: T. Brack)

L'Heure Bleue, Marais, Paris

Heavenly shades of night are falling: L’Heure Bleue in the Marais, Paris (Image: T. Brack)

I can see your halo, Porte de Vanves Flea Market, Paris (Image: T. Brack)

Moonglow: Flawless in the Marais, Paris, Art by Frank Duval (a.k.a., FKDL)

Wedding Day Blues: Zélia’s Sur la Terre Comme au Ciel, Montmartre, Paris (Image: T. Brack)

Grand Magasin PRINTEMPS ON BOULEVARD HAUSSMANN, Paris (Image: T. Brack)

One-ring Cirque d’hiver Bouglione, Paris (Carol Reed’s 1956 “Trapeze” was shot here!) Image: T. Brack

We Keep our rendezvous beneath the blueEyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, Marais, Paris (Image: T. Brack)

BRACK Paris Blues 100

 

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123 thoughts on “Paris Blues: Cinquante Nuances de Bleu

  1. Congratulations!!! That’s great news!!

    Do you know if Le Train Bleu is back to business after their summer renovation? I went there last summer and was very pleased with the food, service and of course the deco (wrote a post about the restaurant). I had been a bit skeptical (was afraid it will be too touristic) but no, a lovely dinner we had.

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      • We were four, and for the mains my bro had salmon and the rest of us had some kind of chicken with foie gras if I remember correctly. Can I share my post here, it has all the info…?

        My bro and his gf had baba au rhum and it always amuses tourists when the waiter leaves the bottle on the table 😉 The next morning I was happy that I had ordered a different dessert!

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      • YES. YES. YES. Please share a link with us, Miia!
        ~Theadora
        (And as you know, I’m a fan of YOUR travel site. Pearlspotting. Fabulous name. Gorgeous photography, always!)

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      • Thanks for your kind words 🙂

        Le Train Bleu: exquisite and elegant: http://pearlspotting.com/2013/09/12/le-train-bleu-exquisite-and-elegant/

        Have you tried the restaurant? I am looking forward to returning to Le Train Bleu after its reopening. I know they auctioned a lot of old furniture so I wonder what it will look like… actually maybe I will walk by today to see the latest developments!

        Have a great long weekend. The sun is out –at least for a while!

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      • Thanks for the link, Miia. I’ll check it out this weekend. I have been to Le train Bleu several times. Gare de Lyon is one of my favorite train stations in Paris. Sadly, because of the tricky lighting, I’ve never been able to get a decent interior shot. YES. Paris is always cha-cha-changing. Scaffolding abound! I also need to check in on the Ritz re-do. Would “Hem” approve?!
        Cheers!
        ~T.

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      • Too many historic places have been under renovation. Isn’t Crillon too? At one point in my life I spent quite a lot of time at the Hemingway bar… Should return for the fun memories 😉

        Have a lovely Saturday evening!

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    • Well, thank you, F.M.! Based in the U.K. with an international audience, handsome magazine: matte cover, heavyweight paper, and generous use of white space. Clean. It’s easy on the eyes. (And it also has a great smell.)
      Again, thanks for kind words!
      ~T.

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    • Thank you! I’m pretty darn giddy about the new post. I’m still dancing. I’m still pinching myself! My first story was about Marie Antoinette and the Opéra House. Say, I’m also still thinking about your beautiful singing ravens. I do love how you mesh art with the words.
      Brilliant!
      ~Theadora

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    • Dear Happy Face! Your words always make me feel happy. You do have a gift. Thanks for your insider beauty tips and encouragement. Happy weekend to you, doll!:-) ~T.

      Like

  2. Your news is not only wonderful, it is also well deserved! The heartiest of congratulations to you! And I can’t wait to try that cocktail. “Feeling blue” has taken on new meaning for me.

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    • Merci, Tammy! It’s great to “see “ and read you again. And YES. The “Blue Train” cocktail is pretty darn tasty and photogenic, too. Orange juice and sparkling white wine also work well with the Cognac. The “research” was much fun! ~T.

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    • AH. Doublewhirler! I do you love both. I don’t say this enough: Your photography rocks. New York. The “Sunset Boulevard” shot is such a marvelous beauty. The lighting is incredible. And of course, I loved the nod to Fitzgerald!
      ~T.
      (It was a fun post to create. I’m now seeing blue everywhere.)

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  3. Congrats! Your post has the feel of most of the scenes in Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo. Saw it last week, crazy 🙂

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    • Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo. YES. YES. The surreal film has been on my to-view list. Based on Boris Vian’s 1947 “Froth on the Daydream,” it’s very trippy-looking. I’d also like to read the book. I love both Audrey Tatou and Romain Duris. So thanks for the swell words and the push to see the flick!

      And speaking of the fabulous Romain Duris, have you seen Cédric Klapisch’s 1996 When the Cat’s Away (Chacun cherche son chat)? Shot in Bastille, it’s wonderful, wonderful. It’s about a cat. It’s about a changing neighborhood.

      ~Theadora

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    • Thank you, Gavin! I agree. It’s pretty fabulous. The press pic was taken at Baltimore’s Friendship International Airport (BWI) on June 29, 1950. The fashion show was part of the airport’s dedication. The caption read: Babs Sprague, in swim suit with bag and coat.” I tried to find Babs without luck! (And by the way, Monsieur Noir, I’m a big time fan of your black and white photography. Stunners!)

      ~Theadora

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  4. I shall return with more witty comments at a later date, but wanted to grab your hands and run into the street in order to do the happy dance. I am so proud and elated for your most noteworthy accomplishment!!! Theadora, this is simply marvelous. Oh Ring-a-Ding Ding for sure!!

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    • AH, Monsieur Tin Man! Thank you for the happy, snappy dance! Pleased as punch. I am so grateful to have both you and Virginia in my world. Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration and big giggles and strolls around the world (with bubbly, of course!). YES. I am still having fun thanks to your enthusiasm. It’s contagious. Big, big hugs! ~Theadora

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  5. Mademoiselle Brack! This is simply wonderful and not all surprising news!! I knew it was only a matter of time before you were scooped up for you talent. I will drink a Le Train Bleu in your honor down here in Sydney…where it is winter. Salut!

    Like

    • Thank you, Mademoiselle Wolf! Let me know what think of the cocktail. It really is one smooth operator! (My name is Napoleon and I approve of this message.) Enjoy the weekend! Hey, I loved your nod to the Grounds of Alexandria. The place looks amazing. A pet-able pig named Kevin Bacon?! Funny. He’s super cute!
      ~Theadora

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    • So you’ve been to Le Train Bleu? Any recommendations? And I agree. It’s a fabulous place for time travel. Open since 1901, the Belle Époque still flaunts the razzle-dazzle! ~T.

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  6. Nice theme…if you want to develop prints with a blue tint…soak in Selenium…nice effect ….just make sure you wear gloves!! Selenium can leave blue octopus-sucker-like circles on your arms and hands for months if your not careful.

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    • Blue octopus-sucker-like circles on the arms?! Good. Golly. Now that’s a spa-worthy beauty treatment. Or a fancy dress statement piece! ~T. (As always, thanks for the thoughtful words and tip. Perhaps I’ll give it a shot. Have you tried it recently?)

      Like

  7. Oh, bright, sparkly Theadora! The modern girl whose heart beats to the same rhythm of all that is beautiful and stylish from the past!I am totally, totally over the moon too about your news! It is just the best news EVER! You deserve it so very much and we are all so lucky that you share so much of your magic with us on your blog when your little star is so clearly rising.
    CONGRATULATIONS! x

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    • Thank you, sparkly Karen! Your photographs and words always inspire ME. Such beauties. Especially the close-ups, always! With stunning backgrounds, to boot. I love your eye and how you capture the world. It’s true. Again, positive energy is so darn contagious. And that’s what you give everyone. Merci!! T.

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  8. Congratulations Theadora and huge accomplishment!! Loved the train ride today and toasting cocktail – here’s clinking the glasses to you my dear!

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    • Thank you, Mary! I’m so happy you were aboard with us on Le Train Blue. I thoroughly enjoyed digging up the old cocktail recipe, and shopping for ingredients. The rimming of the glass with the decorative sugar is tricky. Pretty results, though. I loved the color: periwinkle blue. At my next dinner party, I think I’ll accessorize the retro-rocking cocktails with a little ruby red. It’s all about the process AND the presentation!
      Enjoy the weekend!
      ~Theadora

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      • Hi Theadora, over here in TX we rim the glasses with salt for margarita’s, rimming the outside with a bit of water and then holding the glass we set it down into the salt to rim the outside – other people will sprinkle the outside with a salt shaker. Your decorative sugar looked very pretty, so it was definitely worth while – magazine worthy! Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend ~

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  9. Fantastic, Miss T! And I love your photos, though now I am bleu with anxious envy to get myself hither back to old Parigi! A toast–with cognac of course–to your new gig!

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    • Thanks for YOUR fantastic words, Martino. YES. You do need to get yourself hither back to old Parigi! (Dear cinema buff, Napoleon’s favorite Courvoisier made a few cameos in the recent James Bond “Skyfall” film. More interesting icebreakers for the féte, I always say. “Shaken, not stirred,” I always say.)
      Santé!
      T.

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    • Thanks, Ms. M.!!You do have a way with words. I dig the drum roll. YES. I’m very happy about the new gig. The magazine covers: culture, travel, food, wine, retail, fashion, and art. History, too!
      Have a lovely weekend,
      T.
      (I’ll send you more trip tips.)

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    • Merci, Ana! I think you’d really enjoy Zelia’s shop on rue d’Orsel in Abbesses-Montmartre. Cinderella and Marie Antoinette would have felt very much at home here. YES. Zelia is fierce. The tiny shop has a fairytale vibe.
      Cherubs abound! There are a few other funky, independent designers along rue d’Orsel. It’s always great fun to see them working at their sewing machines.
      Repeating myself: It’s all about the process!
      ~Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zelia’s shop sounds incredible! I’m putting it on my must-visit list for the next time I’m there, and I’ll be sure to prowl around the shops of rue d’Orsel. Nothing beats a good treasure hunt!

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  10. I like your style of Love of Paris. You’ve dived deep in Paris Life and and bring all your readers to the interesting and historic places of the city. All of your journeys are knowledgeable, informative and educated. Thank you for your guidance.

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    • Ah, Alexander. Thank you for such thoughtful words. I do love Paris, along with the research. I’m now digging up tidbits about “Le Train Blue” –the ballet! Premiering during the 1929 during the Summer Olympic games, it celebrated sports like golf, tennis, and gymnastics. Picasso, Cocteau, Satie, and Chanel worked on the project. What a dream team. So stay tuned!

      And again, thanks for making my week. My month.
      ~Theadora

      (Have I missed any of your recent adventures?)

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      • Theadora, you did not miss a lot. Unfortunately, because the shortage of time I missed a lot of my own adventures. A lot of pictures and thoughts are “dusted” on the shelf, if I can say like that. I am writing not as often as I would like.
        I am looking forward to read and see your future researches of Paris!

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    • Well, hello there! Thanks for your sweet words. This week, I thoroughly enjoy creating a “recipe” post. Photographing the bubbles and sugar was tricky, tricky. It took time to get the one shot. Oh, la la.
      Say, your food shots are always gorgeous. Have you photographed cocktails? Any tips?
      Have a lovely weekend,
      ~T.

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  11. Congratulations, I hope this leads to bigger and bigger successes for you. I love reading your blog, and I imagine now you will have a whole new set of British followers who love your writing!

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    • Bonjour, Karen! Say, when you were recently in Paris, did you score any treasures in the shops? If I’ve asked you this before, please forgive me. It’s been a long week.
      Have you posted any more photographs?
      ~Theadora
      (As always, thanks for your kind words and positive energy!!)

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    • Thanks, Richard! It was a fun post to create while watching “Paris Blues.” Over and again and again! Have you seen the movie? Fabulous soundtrack with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington! Plus, it was shot on location in Paris. The city always looks shines in black and white. (Very much like the folks in YOUR city portraits!)
      ~T.

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      • No, I haven’t, but I will now – I shall scour the net for a copy on DVD – when was it made? (Thanks for the compliment! How lovely.)

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      • Well, it’s true, Richard! Paris Blues opened in September 1961.

        Here are a few of the cast members:
        Paul Newman as Ram Bowen
        Joanne Woodward as Lillian Corning
        Sidney Poitier as Eddie Cook
        Louis Armstrong as Wild Man Moore
        Diahann Carroll as Connie Lampson

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    • The feeling is mutual, Julie! And speaking of “Fabulous Vintage with an Attitude,” don’t you just love “Babs” Sprague’s sporty sunglasses and seashore garb? Apparently the fashion show was the big highlight of the airport dedication! (Even with the presidential cameo!)

      Have a creative weekend,
      ~T.

      Like

  12. Well, well, well…..a well deserved appointment indeed! I have read – nay devoured – your article on the Opera. Such happy memories! The Bastille Opera doesn’t hit the spot – give me the original bling, excess and glitter every time.

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    • Well, well, well, indeed! As always, thanks for your kind words, Mary! AH. So you checked-out the story about the Opéra? It first appeared in the magazine’s June-July issue, and then again on their website. You’d love the rag. Historical tidbits abound!

      The Opéra Garnier IS one of my favorite spots on the planet. What did you see there? Did you take photographs? Did you create a report from the “field,” er, balcony? Please forgive me if I’ve asked you these questions before. (I loved your shots of Versailles.)

      Enjoy your Sunday!
      ~T.

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      • I am ashamed to say I have never seen a performance there – something I must remedy – but have done the wonderful tour as you described – without the Audrey touches…I don’t have her grace and elegance! When I lived in Paris I had no notion of blogging – how I now regret that I didn’t keep a record of the wonderful (and not so wonderful!) experiences I had. Thanks for the compliment on the Versailles gig…surely one to remember. By the way I love France Today. It was also the title of a very dreary book on France that I ploughed through miserably when studying the language and country. Perhaps some of it stuck – I always had a love of Paris!

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  13. The flying monkeys flew over head – dropping notes. Theadora is celebrating! T has bubbly on ice! Haven’t you heard the news? Get out of the bean field. Theadora has fabulous news. Our wonderful word wizard has scored the perfect job. The telegraph wires crackled with excitement as Monsieur Tin Man and she of The Ruby Slippers read the news. Breathless with joy with this marvelous news they each raised a glass in the direction of Paris. Congratulations dear Theadora!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Merci, Virginia!! Dear gourmet, gardening and word wizard, your beautiful passages always make me a teary. What joy! What fun we’ve had since the spring of 2012! Time does race like the flying monkeys above. Ah, that is when I met you and Monsieur Tin Man. And that is when my creative world changed to color from black and white. Thanks for sharing your zest for life! ~Theadora (And your photographs and essays rock. Like mini-movies, I always say!)

      Like

      • 2012 was a life time ago. You, Tinny and myself have known each other for ever. Who would have thought two of the triumvirate would meet in such a glorious way. It is only a matter of time when the third will do the same. Then our technicolor life will be complete. We are so proud of our Theadora.

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    • AH! As always, thanks for your enthusiasm, kind words, and positive. And wit! Say, your apron post was sassy and fabulous, too. I also loved the red apron. Oh, la la!!
      ~T.

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  14. I’m late, I’m late for a very important congratulations; just too much traveling to get here sooner!! CONGRATULATIONS! There. I made up for it by shouting. 🙂 Love the post, of course, as well.

    janet

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  15. Congratulations…France Today magazine could not have selected a better person (you) to share with its readers life in Paris. While I will not be having the Le Train Bleu cocktail, I will hoist a Brooklyn Beer to your success.

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    • AH. A Brooklyn Beer from the Brooklyn Brewery? Nice choice, Thom. Have you ever toured the brewery? It’s located in Manhattan? ~T. (As always, thanks for your kind words!)

      Like

    • Merci, Mélanie! I’m also an admirer of the color blue. After working on the post, I’m now seeing it everywhere. In all shades! Enjoy the weekend! ~Theadora

      Like

  16. The 1950’s Edward Nolan photo is simply fabulous. I’m not a portrait or fashion photographer and I’ve never really walked through the door of a “studio” but I do love looking at wonderful images like this one. It’s so upbeat! Great! I love the use of an image within an image to help to create symmetry and that Babs is looking out not inwards. I’ve tried a similar “breaking the rules” technique with semi-wild “models” but the results were somewhat different 😉 Thanks for sharing this image and your favourite sometime party drink. Mine would be espresso 🙂 Cheers, K.

    Like

    • Your landscapes. Stunners, every wild one of them. The lighting is exquisite, always. The “Shield” and the “Star View Hotel” are favorites. Let’s not forget the deer. How long did it take you to get the shot? I do love how you capture the world. Thanks for the inspiration, Kevin.

      (I also enjoyed your take on Edward Nolan’s portrait of Babs Sprague. Yes, the cardboard gal adds to the shot. Nolan worked for the Baltimore Sun for years. Another interesting eye. :))

      Enjoy the weekend and the espresso!
      ~Theadora

      Like

      • Hello Theadora, my day has been quite hectic but reading your lovely comment has certainly made it. Thank you very much. I took the image with the deer some years back. It took several hours under a hot summer sun to crawl towards the deer, pushing and hiding behind my tripod with camera mounted and ready to go until close enough to get the shot. I remember the experience vividly, I remember what felt like every creepy crawly in the UK scurrying and scampering over me and I remember having bumps on bites and bites on bumps. Most of all I remember how magnificent the deer herd looked close up. Thank you for taking me back to that oddly wonderful day. I think I’ll line the espresso cups up this weekend and wish you a joyous one. Cheers, K 🙂

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      • Hello Theadora, my day has been hectic but your lovely comment has made it. Thank you very much. The image of the deer was shot some years back. It took several hours under a hot summer sun crawling towards the deer, pushing and hiding behind my tripod and camera. I remember it vividly, I remember feeling like every creepy crawly in the UK was scurrying and scampering over me and I remember having bumps on bites and bites on bumps. Most of all, I remember how magnificent and gentle the deer herd looked close up. Thank you for taking me back to that oddly wonderful day. I think I’ll line the espresso cups up this weekend and wish you have a joyous one. Cheers, K 🙂

        Like

  17. So happy for you Theadora!! Your posts are always so well researched, full of fascinating, helpful bits of information, and over reaching themes– And you know how to go off the beaten track and make people (me included) long to see that part of Paris– I can see why they’d be excited to have you be their Paris writer–producer of excellent articles. So much ahead for you!…

    Liked by 1 person

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