Thursday Reads: A Little Hollywood Glamour before the Daily Horrors

This dress presages Madonna's lingerie outfits.

This dress presages Madonna’s lingerie outfits.

Good Morning!!

Last night I watched a little bit of The Girl Who Had Everything, starring Elizabeth Tayor–on TCM of course. I had never seen it before.

The movie was released in 1953 when Liz was only 21. She sure was gorgeous. You have to see some of the outfits she wore in that film, one of which is on the right.

From Wikipedia:

The Girl Who Had Everything (1953) is a feature film directed by Richard Thorpe and produced by Armande Deutsch for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film features William Powell in his last MGM feature and one of his last film roles before retirement.

The screenplay was written by Art Cohn, based upon a play by Willard Mack, which in turn was based on the novel A Free Soul by Adela Rogers St. Johns. The play and novel were also inspiration for an earlier film adaptation called A Free Soul (1931).

The plot:

Steve Latimer (William Powell) is a successful defense attorney who has tried to give his daughter Jean (Elizabeth Taylor) everything he can in life. She decides to leave her boyfriend, the amiable Vance Court (Gig Young), for Victor Ramondi (Fernando Lamas), a rakish and dangerous man with underworld connections whom Steve is representing. Steve tries to warn Jean away from Victor, but she accepts his proposal of marriage.

Trailer:

Now for some outfits.

girl who had everything

Liz girl

Liz girl2

I can see why JJ loves to watch TCM. Movie stars just aren’t as glamorous these days as in the 1950s.

In real life, Liz was the woman who had everything. After she died, her huge fashion and jewelry collections were auctioned off by Christie’s. From The Telegraph Nov. 19, 2011:

In my job as a fashion curator for Christie’s I have been lucky enough to see close at hand the private clothes of some of the 20th century’s most famous women.

For more information about the latest trend in fashion dresses, visit https://www.groupon.com/coupons/stores/shein.com

Now here was my latest rabbit-hole: a tiny black door framed in black granite, puncturing the windowless facade of an art-handling warehouse in Long Island, New York. I was Alice again, diving down to explore the possessions of another 20th-century icon: the soon-to-be-dispersed jewels, fashion and memorabilia of the last of the great Hollywood Golden Age superstars, Elizabeth Taylor.

Taylor in 1965 wearing the diamond tiara given to her by Mike Todd, her third husband. Photo: Rex

Taylor in 1965 wearing the diamond tiara given to her by Mike Todd, her third husband. Photo: Rex

What met my eyes was rack upon rack of Taylor’s clothes, stretching into the far distance. These racks were packed so tightly that hems, frills, collars and belts stuck out; her collection of clothes in bright orange, sequins, prints, sunflower-yellow, lace and feathers were hung in the order they had been unpacked from her house in Bel Air and her chalet in Gstaad. Handbags – more than 200 – emerged one by one from many crates….

As I went through the racks of clothes it became apparent that here was a vast haute couture and prêt-à-porter wardrobe spanning more than 50 years; Elizabeth must have been one of the greatest couture clients of all time. Once she had bought from the collections, she carefully kept these exquisitely made pieces in superb condition on the top floor of her house in Bel Air.

Here a series of rooms, formerly, I suppose, a guest suite, had become one vast dressing-room carpeted in her favourite lilac. All it lacked was the star on the door. In this eyrie, Taylor kept the clothes she had chosen, worn out in public and laid aside for another day. Her handbags were swathed in tissue paper or in specially made bags and stacked neatly by colour. So were her shoes and the more than 30 pairs of cowboy boots…

More gorgeous photos at the link.

Now back to real life and today’s news {sigh….}

Terrible news out of Austin, TX (Statesman.com):  Two dead after car crashes into SXSW crowd.

A driver attempting to evade a drunk driving stop hurtled past a barricade on Red River Street and plowed through dozens of SXSW revelers, killing two and injuring 23 in a horrific scene early Thursday morning, police said. The street, home to many popular clubs hosting South by Southwest music showcases, had been closed to motorists and was crowded with music fans waiting to get into the Mohawk nightclub.

According to police, the man, driving a small Toyota car, went the wrong way down Ninth Street after evading a stop at a gas station around 12:30 a.m., turned onto Red River and drove for more than two blocks, striking numerous pedestrians before hitting a scooter traveling on 11th Street, killing the man and woman on board. The driver then struck a taxi, injuring two, and crashed into a parked van, Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

The man then attempted to flee on foot before he was stunned with a Taser gun and detained by the police officer who originally tried to pull the man over at a gas station on the frontage road of Interstate 35.

Speaking to reporters on Red River Street, which was still littered with shoes, clothing and other debris from the incident, Acevedo vowed the man would face capital murder charges in the deaths of the two scooter riders and 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.

And in New York’s East Harlem, at least seven people are now confirmed dead after a gas explosion leveled two apartment buildings yesterday. WSJ:

At least seven people were killed and more than 60 were injured in an apparent natural-gas explosion that leveled two residential buildings and severely damaged a third Wednesday morning in Manhattan, officials said.

Police said early Thursday that a seventh person was found dead. This follows an adult male pulled from the rubble just after midnight, a woman found about 2:45 a.m. Thursday, and a man discovered about a half-hour later.

The 9:31 a.m. Wednesday blast rocked the East Harlem neighborhood, shattering windows, throwing neighbors from their beds and sending people fleeing down the block in a cloud of smoke and debris.

The century-old, five-story brick structures housed 15 apartments, a church and a piano store in a neighborhood favored by immigrants. The blast also caused significant damage to a neighboring four-story building. More than 100 residents were staying in a nearby American Red Cross shelter.

Emergency workers were searching for victims in parts of the rubble, but sections remained inaccessible because of a sinkhole created by a water-main break, likely caused by the explosion, city officials said.

The missing Malaysian Airlines jet mystery continues as “conflicting reports” sow confusion. From the LA Times:

BEIJING —  The mystery of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 deepened amid allegations that the airplane flew four hours more than originally thought and might have traveled more than one thousand miles away from where search and rescue teams are looking.

Citing U.S. national security sources, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that government personnel were pursuing the possibility that the plane was commandeered “with the intention of using it later for another purpose.’’ The newspaper also said that data transmitted by an onboard monitoring system toRolls-Royce Plc., the engine manufacturer, suggested that the plane flew for up to five hours in total after its takeoff from Kuala Lumpur at 12:21 a.m. Saturday morning.

Malaysian officials at a press conference Thursday denied the story and said the last engine data was transmitted at 1:07 a.m., about 20 minutes before the aircraft disappeared from civilian radar screens.

Nevertheless, the Malaysians said they had expanded the search and rescue operation into India and the surrounding waters, the Bay of Bengal, Andaman Sea and Arabian Sea. If in fact the Boeing 777 flew for five hours from Kuala Lumpur, it could have traveled 2,200 nautical miles, as far as the India-Pakistan border.

According to Reuters, there is “no evidence” that the plane continue flying for hours after it disappeared from radar. There had been reports of debris being sighted by Chinese radar, but that turned out to be false. According to BBC News, the photos of the reported debris had been “released by mistake.” Authorities are now investigating the pilots of the plane as well as all passengers and crew. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, they are “paying ‘special attention’ to [a] Chinese Uighur passenger.

Police investigating the backgrounds of all 239 people aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight are paying “special attention” to a 35 year-old Chinese Uighur man who undertook flight simulation training, according to a report in a leading Malay language newspaper in Kuala Lumpur.

The Uighurs Muslim ethnic minority group from the north-western Chinese province of Xinjiang have been battling for independence since they were brought under Chinese control in 1949, claiming they are oppressed by China’s authoritarian government and face religious restrictions and widespread discrimination.

Earlier this month the Uighurs, who make up 45 percent of the population of Xinjiang, were blamed for a violent attack at a Chinese train station.

At least 100 people have been killed in the past year in violent clashes between Uighurs and Chinese security forces.

A bizarre and humorous read . . .

Kevin Gosztola of Firedoglake inexplicably turned himself into a laughingstock yesterday when he left a bizarre threatening voicemail for James Kirchick of The Daily Beast. Kirchick had written an article last week about the on-air resignation of former RT (Russia Today) anchor Liz Wahl, and apparently Gosztola was outraged that anyone would criticized the official Kremlin propaganda network–perhaps because Glenn Greenwald has praised it and Julian Assange has frequently appeared on it. Here’s the latest from Kirchick: Defending Putin’s Propagandists.

Coming soon to a theater near you: A Filipina Drama Queen pairs up with a Subversive Gay Jew to embarrass the Russian government!

No, this isn’t the tagline for the summer’s laugh-a-minute buddy comedy. It’s how some online media outlets are describing last week’s on-air resignation of Liz Wahl, anchor for RT-America, the English-language propaganda channel funded entirely by the Russian government. Wahl cited the network’s blatantly propagandistic coverage of the crisis in Crimea, its “whitewashing Putin,” and her own family history as the descendant of Hungarian refugees fleeing Soviet oppression as reasons for her departing the network.

And now, the network’s defenders are coming out in droves—and not just from the dark, traditionally conspiratorial corners of the Internet.

Read more about it at the link. As for the Gosztola episode:

This afternoon, a gentleman identifying himself as Kevin Gosztola, who writes for the left-wing website FireDogLake, left a message on my cell phone. He claimed to be working on a project for First Look Media — the high-profile investigative journalism start-up that employs, among others, Glenn Greenwald.

The Daily Beast posted the audio of the voicemail, along with a transcript that I can resist posting:

“So you don’t deny that you encouraged Liz Wahl to resign. We are going to be publishing a story at First Look Media and I know that you’re going to be losing control of the narrative that you’ve managed to create around Liz Wahl’s resignation. We have multiple sources.

“It’s fairly obvious that you have orchestrated this as part of some Foreign Policy Initiative [the think tank where I work] agenda. And this is what we’re going to be putting out there. So your fun little charade, public stunt that you’ve been putting on which the media has completely eaten up here in the United States, is hopefully over

“If you have any comment and if you’d like to respond to me and prove that this is not how it is, you let me know. But otherwise we are ready to go. And, you know, you like to ‘fuck with the Russians’ and we’re going to respond to that and let people know where you’re coming from as you have worked with Liz Wahl to expose what you call a propaganda network.”

WTF?! It’s now bad form at FDL to “fuck with the Russians?” First Look’s editor denied that Gosztola works for them:

“Kevin [Gosztola] doesn’t work for First Look Media. He apparently spoke to Glenn [Greenwald] about the possibility of doing a story for [First Look], but Glenn hasn’t given him an assignment or a contract,” Eric Bates, executive editor of First Look Media, told The Daily Beast in an email. “Glenn let Kevin know that he shouldn’t be representing himself as acting on behalf of First Look.”

How embarrassing. This story was the talk of Twitter yesterday, and not just among the Snowden critics.

I’ll end there and turn the floor over to you. What stories have piqued your interest today?


Tuesday Reads: More Snow, Mystery Plane, Joe McGinniss, Ed Snowden, and Ukraine Crisis

A Snowy Harvard Square in 1969

A Snowy Harvard Square in 1969

Good Morning!!

I’ve had a scary couple of days. I woke up on Sunday morning to find my house very cold. I soon realized there was something wrong with my furnace. It was still running and there was hot air coming out of the vents, but it wasn’t pushing out enough heat to warm up the house. It turned out the blower motor had died so I called furnace installation davenport ia to diagnose the problem.

Why is it these things always seem to happen on a weekend or holiday? Luckily it hasn’t been terribly cold so I’ve managed to stay relatively comfortable by wearing lots of layers and using a portable electric heater. I was able to find someone to come and fix it yesterday. I got so relaxed that I overslept this morning, and so this post is going to be late.

In addition, health benefits of infrared heating impacts our mind and body. Increases your core body temperature, stimulating continuous blood flow from the heart in and around the body. The improvement of circulation enables an increased level of fresh oxygen and other nutrients to reach vital organs, removing carbon dioxide and other waste substances away from these organs, improving their functions helping to perform better and feel healthier.

So now I’m completely broke but warm, and I’m prepared for the upcoming snowstorm. Yes, the Weather Channel is predicting another one and has given it one of those annoying names. You can check out the predicted impact on your area in this summary article, Winter Storm Vulcan Forecast: Long Swath of Snow Across Rockies, Midwest, Northeast. I can only hope this one turns out to be a bust like the last one. Otherwise, I’ll be shoveling snow again on Friday.

The story of the missing Malaysion plane continues. Here are the latest reports:

missing-plane-graphic

Reuters (via Nipawin Journal): Malaysia military tracked missing plane to west coast: Source

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s military believes a jetliner missing for almost four days turned and flew hundreds of kilometres to the west after it last made contact with civilian air traffic control off the country’s east coast, a senior officer told Reuters on Tuesday.

In one of the most baffling mysteries in recent aviation history, a massive search operation for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER has so far found no trace of the aircraft or the 239 passengers and crew.

Malaysian authorities have previously said flight MH370 disappeared about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for the Chinese capital Beijing.

“It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait,” the senior military officer, who has been briefed on investigations, told Reuters.

That would appear to rule out sudden catastrophic mechanical failure, as it would mean the plane flew around 500 km (350 miles) at least after its last contact with air traffic control, although its transponder and other tracking systems were off.

A non-military source familiar with the investigations said the report was one of several theories and was being checked.

Authorities are pretty sure there was no terrorism involved. At least one of the men with stolen passports was an asylum-seeker from Iran.

CBS News: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 search widens; men carrying stolen passports ID’d as young Iranians

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — At least one of the two men traveling on a missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner was an Iranian asylum seeker, officials said Tuesday, as baffled authorities expanded their search for the Boeing 777 on the opposite side of the country from where it disappeared nearly four days ago with 239 people on board.

In the absence of any sign that the plane was in trouble before it vanished, speculation has ranged widely, including pilot error, plane malfunction, hijacking and terrorism, the last because two passengers were traveling on stolen passports. The terrorism theory weakened after Malaysian authorities determined that one of the two men was an Iranian asylum seeker.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said at a news conference Tuesday that the international police agency had identified two Iranian men, Pouri Nour Mohammadi, 18, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29. Noble said based on investigations carried out into the men to date, they were “probably not terrorists.” The chief of police in Kuala Lumpur said earlier in the day that Mohamadi was apparently trying to fly to Europe as an asylum seeker.

The plane took off from Kuala Lumpur, on the western coast of Malaysia, early Saturday en route to Beijing. It flew overland across Malaysia and crossed the eastern coast into the Gulf of Thailand at 35,000 feet. There it disappeared from radar screens. The airline says the pilots didn’t send any distress signals, suggesting a sudden and possibly catastrophic incident.

hotshot_selling-of-the-president-1968

I was surprised and saddened last night to learn that Joe McGinniss has died at 71 of complications from inoperable prostate cancer. McGinniss was only 26 when his first book The Selling of the President 1968 hit the bestseller lists. I bought the book and read it way back then. I couldn’t put it down. Same thing with his pathbreaking true crime book on the Jeffrey MacDonald case, Fatal Vision. From the AP obituary (via First Post World),  ‘Fatal Vision’ author Joe McGinniss passes away at 71.

McGinniss was a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1968 when an advertising man told him he was joining Hubert Humphrey’s presidential campaign. Intrigued that candidates had advertising teams, McGinniss was inspired to write a book and tried to get access to Humphrey. The Democrat turned him down, but, according to McGinniss, Nixon aide Leonard Garment allowed him in, one of the last times the ever-suspicious Nixon would permit a journalist so much time around him. Garment and other Nixon aides were apparently unaware, or unconcerned, that McGinniss’ heart was very much with the anti-war agitators the candidate so despised.

The Republican’s victory that fall capped a once-unthinkable comeback for the former vice president, who had declared six years earlier that he was through with politics. Having lost the 1960 election in part because of his pale, sweaty appearance during his first debate with John F. Kennedy and aware of his reputation as a partisan willing to play dirty, Nixon had restricted his public outings and presented himself as a new and more mature candidate.

McGinniss was far from the only writer to notice Nixon’s reinvention, but few offered such raw and unflattering details. “The Selling of the President” was a sneering rebuttal to Theodore H. White’s stately “Making of the President” campaign books. It revealed Nixon aides, including future Fox News chief Roger Ailes, disparaging vice presidential candidate Spiro Agnew, drafting memos on how to fix Nixon’s “cold” image and debating which black man — only one would be permitted — was right for participating in a televised panel discussion.

Historian David Greenberg wrote in “Nixon’s Shadow,” published in 2003, that McGinniss “sneaked in under the radar screen, presenting himself to Nixon’s men as such an insignificant fly on the wall that they never thought to swat him away.”

McGinnis was criticized for getting too close to Jeffrey McDonald and somehow betraying him, but I think McGinnis got it right. His contract stated that he would have full independence. He started out thinking McDonald could be innocent of the murders of his wife and two daughters, and he had an inside track on the defense; but in the end McGinnis concluded that MacDonald was guilty and wrote about his change of heart in the book.

Colette, Kimberly, and Kristin MacDonald

Colette, Kimberly, and Kristin MacDonald

From Reuters:

His 1983 book “Fatal Vision” became a classic of the true crime genre and was based on unlimited access he gained to former Green Beret Jeffrey MacDonald and his attorneys during MacDonald’s 1979 murder trial in the deaths of his pregnant wife and two young daughters in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

MacDonald, who at the time of the 1970 killings was an Army doctor, was found guilty and is serving three life sentences.

He has maintained the murders were committed by drug-crazed intruders. McGinniss had begun by expressing support for MacDonald but ended by concluding in his book that he was guilty of killing his family.

“I kept trying to find any reason I could to believe that he was not guilty,” McGinniss testified at a 2012 court hearing where MacDonald sought to be granted a new trial.

New Yorker magazine writer Janet Malcolm, in a 1989 article, accused McGinnis of displaying the underside of journalism by deceiving MacDonald with a show of support and then betraying his confidence, an argument McGinnis vehemently denied.

A terrific writer has left us far too soon.

Edward Snowden has been making more virtual appearances than a best-selling author on a publicity tour. Yesterday he was at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin Texas. I’m sure everyone here knows I’m not a fan of the pale and nerdy defector, so I’ll spare you my editorial comments and just give you a couple few links.

From Politico’s Josh Gerstein: Snowden Inc.

First, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden popped up in Hong Kong. Then, Russia. By Monday, the fugitive from justice, a man regularly accused of treason, was in Austin, Texas, hitting the nation’s hottest tech festival — via the Web, of course.

“They’re setting fire to the future of the Internet,” Snowden warned darkly, in jerky video relayed through a series of proxies from an undisclosed location in Russia. With an image of the U.S. Constitution projected behind him, he urged the tech-savvy SXSW attendees to ride to the rescue against rampant surveillance by the NSA and others. “The people who are in this room, now, you guys are all the firefighters, and we need you to help fight this,” he said, sounding every bit the geek as he described various encryption applications he believes should get wider use.

Snowden was painstaking in how he assembled a huge trove of top-secret documents while working as a tech contractor at an NSA facility in Hawaii. And he’s been equally deliberate in the way he and the team around him have crafted and cultivated his public image — controlling and carefully managing how he’s been perceived by the public in the months since he burst into the spotlight. It’s an endeavor that’s involved everything from coordinated efforts to beat back Obama administration attacks to the careful parceling out of tantalizing tidbits about his everyday life.

08082013_Leaking_Hot_Tub_DL

Snowden is campaigning for clemency; but frankly, I hope he ends up stuck in Russia for life. Ooops! Sorry, that’s my last nasty comment. A couple more links:

The Verge: Edward Snowden: ‘Would I do it again? Absolutely yes’

The Washington Post: ‘They’re setting fire to the future of the Internet’

I’ll wrap this up with some interesting articles on the crisis in Ukraine.

Putin biographer Masha Gessen at the LA Times, Is Vladimir Putin insane? Hardly. He is merely acting the way he always has, like a playground bully.

Politico, Bill Clinton no fan of ‘crazy’ moves on Ukraine

Financial Times, Ukraine is a test case for American power: If the Chinese leadership were ever to ‘do a Putin’, how could the US and allies react?

Robert Shrum at The Daily Beast, Obama’s All Eisenhower On Russia: Like Ike before him, Obama’s non-moves against Russia are the right moves.

Now what stories are you following today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday!