A Merry Vintage Christmas! Old Christmas Pictures from the 1920s.

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retrobooks

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Snowmen, mistletoe (smoochie smoochie anyone??), Christmas commercials (it’s not Christmas until Coca-Cola declares it), Christmas trees, Christmas food, Christmas presents, Christmas crafts, Christmas plates, Christmas napkins, Christmas sweaters, Christmas lights, Christmas FRENZY!!!

Because retailers are on their period every holiday. And consumer’s hormones get off the charts.

grinch

That’s me in a past life.

I’m not a Christmas person, as you can tell already, since I believe it has turned into more like an emporium of consumerism and forcing you to have dinner with relatives you secretly hate and they hate you back, plus why should I be forced to have dinner with people I see once a year anyway??

is_it_bad_i_think_this_about_some_of_my_own_family

Anyone else can relate?

Is it because we’re in 2015 though? What if people in the 1920s had a different idea of how Christmas should be? Family dinners surely haven’t changed a lot since then, but what about everything else? Let’s have a look!

boy staring christmas window store

A boy staring a window store. The joy of getting a bicycle for Christmas or a choo choo train!

christmas window store

A beautifully and simply decorated storefront. And look at the prices for electric trains!!

1920sLionel50setR, huge train set

Wow, what a huge train those kids got there! A Lionel train set from a company that has been around for more than 115 years.

1921, family

An unidentified family in 1921.

christmas 1920, washington d.c.

Christmas in Washington D.C., 1920.

christmas 1921 James J. Davis family

The James J. Davis family in 1921.

1924boyerectorR, 1,000 toys in one

Founded captioned as “1,000 toys in one”, circa 1924.

Dickey family, 1923, Washington D.C.

The Dickey family, 1923 in Washington D.C.

macy's new york 1924

macy's new york 1925. According to the caption...

Macy’s New York, 1925.

Dorsey family, 1922

The Dorsey family, 1922. Lucky kid with so many presents!

George Barkhausen family, early 1920s.

Early 1920s, the George Barkhausen family. Never seen such a well-crafted and meticulous decoration before! Very impressive.

Volunteers of America, 1925.

Volunteers of America, 1925. Looks like a fun party, huh?

get the boy sth he wants!

Sport Mart, 1923 in Washington D.C. What the boys wanted? Bicycles! What they want now? PlayStations!!! (There is nothing wrong with that, it’s just a small proof of how times change…)

oldsdealer1921, chimney christmas

How cool is to wake up and find out that Santa gave you a car for X-mas?? 😀 A smartly decorated window of an old car dealership in 1921.

christmas in toledo, 1924

Christmas in Toledo, 1924. I want that dollhouse!!

These beautiful pictures derive from Ted’s Althof archive, which was made public in 2012. You can see more of his fantastic collection in CardBoard Christmas, where I found the pictures.

How do you feel about Christmas? Do you believe it has turned into more like buying than giving? Do you feel people in the 20s had better, simpler holidays than ours? Leave me a comment 🙂

A very Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones and may the New Year begin on a prosperous note for all of us! ♥

A Walk in Old Athens: Then and Now

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πλακα

A painting depicting Plaka neighborhood in Athens by Greek artist George Savvakis (1922-2004).

Athens is one of the world’s oldest cities, with thousands of years of history, politics and culture. There are times when I love my city, mostly because there are still places in Athens that emit this nostalgic feeling, that have retained the old glamor of a city that used to flourish. Now I feel like the city – and maybe the whole country itself – has surrendered to the economic crisis, so whenever I walk in the center I feel a sense of depression, abandonment and despair, especially when I see homeless or refugee people starving, looking for a lending hand.

And this feeling becomes more intense whenever I see old pictures of Athens – where we used to be and where we are now. Even though the pictures derive from interwar period – between first and second World War – there is still something in them making me feel nostalgic about old Athens.

Another painting from George Savvakis portraying old Athens.

Another painting from George Savvakis portraying old Athens.

Some of the pictures we are about to see, come from Fred Boissonnas, a Swiss photographer that captured many places around Greece during the period 1903-1930. I can feel his love and admiration for Greece just by looking at his pictures.

Swiss photographer Fred Boissonnas.

Swiss photographer Fred Boissonnas.

Sheep Under Acropolis, 1903. Picture from Boissonnas.

Sheep under Acropolis, 1903. Picture from Boissonnas.

Nowadays there are no sheep :-D but a lot of green surrounds this beautiful ancient citadel.

Nowadays there are no sheep 😀 but a lot of green surrounds this beautiful ancient citadel.


Athinas Str, a central street in the heart of Athens, 1920. Picture from Boissonnas.

Athinas Str., a central street in the heart of Athens, 1920. Picture from Boissonnas.

Now, instead of carriages and somewhat low traffic, Athinas Str. is one of the busiest roads!

Now, instead of carriages and somewhat low traffic, Athinas Str. is one of the busiest roads!


Ermou Str., another central street in 1920, as captured by Boissonnas.

Ermou Str., another central street in 1920, as captured by Boissonnas. Look at the beautiful, retro hats ladies were wearing back then!

Even earlier, in 1912, at Ermou Str, with ladies wearing fancy clothes too!

Even earlier, in 1912, at Ermou Str., with ladies wearing fancy clothes too!

And some artistic snapshot of the same street...

And some artistic snapshot of the same street…

A usual day at Ermou in 2015. How things change...

A usual day at Ermou in 2015. How things change…

When it's not busy however, it's nice to take a walk there since Ermou is the commercial heart of Athens with many shops of any kind.

When it’s not busy however, it’s nice to take a walk there since Ermou is the commercial heart of Athens with many shops of any kind.


Hotel Grande Bretagne is an icon in Athens and one of the most expensive hotels in Greece. It started operating in 1878.

Hotel Grande Bretagne is an icon in Athens and one of the most expensive hotels in Greece. It started operating in 1878.

A different aspect of the hotel.

A different aspect of the hotel.

Wow! Now it has turned into a giant! A super duper luxurious giant that is...

Wow! Now it has turned into a giant! A super duper luxurious giant that is…


The National Library is another iconic building in the city.

The National Library is another iconic building in the city…

...and thankfully one of the few places it has maintained this nostalgia I talked about before.

…and thankfully one of the few places that has maintained this nostalgia I talked about before.


Omonia Square ages ago! Full of palm trees, flowers and there used to be a fountain if I'm not mistaken...

Omonia Square ages ago! Full of palm trees, flowers and there used to be a fountain if I’m not mistaken…

Such a beautiful square, isn't it?

Such a beautiful square, isn’t it?

Now there are only bricks in this erstwhile beautiful square...

Actually, wasn’t it? Now there are only bricks in this erstwhile beautiful place and of course the state in too broke to renovate it.


Panepistimiou Str., also another very central road in Athens.

Panepistimiou Str., also another very central road in Athens.

Don't let this picture fool you! Panepistimiou Str. is always as busy as Ermou Str.!!

Don’t let this picture fool you! Panepistimiou Str. is always as busy as Ermou Str.!!


Plaka, a historical neighborhood in Athens, 1920. Photo by Boissonnas.

Plaka, a historical neighborhood in Athens, 1920. Photo by Boissonnas.

I love Plaka. I adore this place! It's the only one retaining this old, traditional Athens, this nostalgia for Athens in the 20th century. Whenever I walk in Plaka, I feel like I'm in a different period. A natural time-machine!!!

I love Plaka. I adore this place! It’s the only one retaining this old, traditional Athens, this nostalgia for Athens in the 20th century. Whenever I walk in Plaka, I feel like I’m in a different period. A natural time-machine!!!

It feels like you are walking in an island, like Santorini! My dream is to get a house there (you hear that, Santa Claus??).

It feels like you are walking in an island, like Santorini! My dream is to get a house there (you hear that, Santa Claus??).

No, that's not a painting! It's a road in Plaka :-D Remember in Mary Poppins, when the children jump in the world of paintings? Well, something like that, only you can walk right there instead of jumping!

No, that’s not a painting! It’s a road in Plaka 😀 Remember in Mary Poppins when the children jump in the world of paintings? Well, something like that, only you can walk right in there instead of jumping!

Perfect place for walking at night too! So romantic and pretty!!!!

Perfect place for walking at night too! So romantic and pretty, full of snugness!!!!


In Panepistimiou Str. we meet another iconic building, the Rex Theatre. It started operating around 1938 and was immensely big: Rex included a theatre, two cinemas, bars, concert halls and other entertainment rooms.

In Panepistimiou Str. we meet another iconic building, the Rex Theatre. It started operating around 1938 and was immensely big: Rex included a theater, two cinemas, bars, concert halls and other entertainment rooms.

The old sign is still retained, but not its services. Now it works as a stage for plays organized by the National Theater of Greece.

The old sign is still retained, but not its services. Now it works as a stage for plays organized by the National Theater of Greece.


Hello Stadiou Str.! You are so old and pretty! I like you! Also a central street, close to Panepistimiou Str.

Hello Stadiou Str.! You are so old and pretty! I like you! Also a central street, close to Panepistimiou Str.

It's definitely not that quiet. Everything seems more pretty when not busy. Sorry Stadiou Str., I don't like you anymore :-( I love Plaka though!!! Did I say that already?? :-D

It’s definitely not that quiet. Everything seems more pretty when not busy. Sorry Stadiou Str., I don’t like you anymore 😦 I love Plaka though!!! Did I say that already?? 😀


Aah, Thissio, another historical neighborhood in Athens, close to Plaka, 1920. How much it has changed I wonder...

Aah, Thissio, another historical neighborhood in Athens, close to Plaka, 1920. Photo by Boissonnas. How much it has changed I wonder…

Not that much, thank God! Like Plaka, Thissio also keeps old Athens somewhere in the ruins or in the neoclassical architecture that defines most residences there.

Not that much, thank God! Like Plaka, Thissio also keeps old Athens somewhere in the ruins or in the neoclassical architecture that defines most residences there.


Do you have any places in your area that have preserved this history of your country? Are there any areas you feel nostalgic about and why? Leave me a comment 🙂

Love Letters of Great Men

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love letters

Today was best day ever. I came back from my local bookstore holding one of the most romantic collections I have ever had. It fascinates me to read old love letters, especially when written from prominent personalities having left their own chapter in history, whether because of their leadership skills in war conditions like Napoleon Bonaparte, their witty writing and contribution in literature like Oscar Wilde or their momentous influence in music such as Beethoven.

One can meet a different side of these important personalities in the collection Letters of Great Men, which includes love letters of persons such as Napoleon, Beethoven, Horatio Nelson, Oscar Wilde, John Keats and Lord Byron and many more to their love interest.

Edited by Ursula Doyle and published by Macmillan in 2008.

Edited by Ursula Doyle and published by Macmillan in 2008.

But it isn’t only about becoming familiar with the sentimental side of these men, thus getting to know them better, but also observing how they express their love in this old-fashioned way not everyone uses anymore. I mean, we have emails, text messaging and any other technological mean which, like the editor of the book Ursula Doyle says, are death to romance. A letter is always more personal, you see the handwriting and it’s like you smell the fragrance of the other person. A letter has an identity.

love-letter-design

I’m halfway the book already, reading it with streams of tears flowing from my eyes, not only for this romance I feel like I will never meet because I live in a different period, but also because some of the letters are overflown with love, making my in-love heart melting. You see, I love my Sweetest Spring – the Prince of my heart – so much, that when I read these letters, I feel like it’s me writing them for him ❤

Oh, love! We all have a poet inside us waiting to come out when we fall in love!

The Fisherman and the Syren (1856–1858) by Frederic Leighton.

The Fisherman and the Syren (1856–1858) by Frederic Leighton.

Due to copyrighting purposes, I will share with you three small love letters of the book, because I think I’ll be in trouble if I share them all! But if you like them so much, you can find this one-of-a-kind nostalgic book here.


King Henry VIII

(1491-1547)

king henry viii

King Henry VIII first met with Anne Boleyn in 1526, while he was still married to Katherine of Aragon, his first wife. Henry VIII became obsessed with Anne and was determined to marry her, even when Anne refused to become his mistress. After several years of continuous struggling and turmoil, they were married in January 1533 and Anne gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth I. Unfortunately, their story didn’t have a happy ending, as Anne was charged with infidelity with several men, including her own brother ! As a result, she was decapitated in the Tower of London.

Here is a letter to her, full of words that made my heart melt. I mean, SIGH.

to anne boleyn


Lord Byron

(1788-1824)

lord byron

Lord Byron, my romantic hero and one of my poet crushes, had many affairs, including married Lady Caroline Lamb and also married Countess Guiccioli. Lord Byron met with Contessa Guiccioli in Venice at the home of Countess Albrizzi in 1819. Teresa had married three days earlier Count Guiccioli.

THIS sentence: But I more than love you and cannot cease to love you. Just how I feel for my Sweetest Spring ❤

to countess guiccioli


Honoré de Balzac

(1799-1850)

honore-de-balzac

One of the most influential writers in history, Balzac’s life was a chaos. He studied law but eventually devoted his life to literature, living in a Parisian garret almost starving and making ends meet by writing sensational novels. La Comedie Humaine is considered his masterpiece work, a multi-volume collection of novels that illustrate how French society was in the period of July Monarchy (1815–1848) and Restoration (1814-1830). Balzac is also considered the father of realism in literature.

Balzac started exchanging letters with also married Countess Ewelina Hanska. Their correspondence went on for 17 years and after the death of her husband, Ewelina and Balzac travelled together around Europe. They were married in March 15, 1850 and Balzac died the same year in August 19.

It reminds me of the song If it Takes Forever, I Will Wait For You, because true love endures, hopes and awaits, never demands or expects anything in return…

to countess ewelina


Do you feel like romance is gone nowadays with all this technology around us? Do you miss the old-fashioned ways of communication? Do you write love letters to your loved one? Leave me a comment 🙂

Five Small Love Poems {Dickinson, Bridges, Georgia Johnson, Cummings and Neruda}

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During the years I have been part of this world, there is one thing that hasn’t changed in my life: sleeping with my teddy bears and a book of poetry in my hug. Poetry for me isn’t just a ritual, a habit or what I like to do in my free time. It’s a way of life, a life philosophy, the life itself, my oxygen, the blood that runs through my veins, what keeps me alive in this crude world. It’s a rainbow in the storm of life, like Lord Byron says.

Vintage letter concept

What fires my imagination and interests me more is love poetry. I love reading love poems of authors who have written golden chapters in the history of literature. I love observing the use of verbs, nouns, adjectives, the creation of places, events, situations and characters and how the incorporation of nature are all embedded in poems. Sometimes I feel like I am becoming one with a poem like, while I’m reading my heart beats the same way the author’s heart was beating while he/she was writing this poem.

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) writing.

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) writing.

It’s so hard to discern favorite poems and poets, but I will share with you today just a few poems around the 20th century which make me feel this feeling of completion.


Emily Dickinson

(1830-1886)

emily dickinson

An introvert like me, Emily defied the traditional poetry norms and experimented with new ways of expression. Although she was considered unconventional for her period, the poet spent her years in reclusion with few exceptions. She wrote nearly 1,800 poems, with my favorite ones being A Bird Came Down the Walk – it was in one poetry collection my mom gave me for my birthday in my teens and I instantly fell in love with it! (Mayakovsky was in there too!!) – How far is it to Heaven?, A Light Exists in Spring – it reminds me of the Prince of my heart, who I also call him❤Sweetest Spring❤!! And…

If You Were Coming in the Fall (1860), because she describes perfectly this yearning to see your loved one and I feel like that too sometimes, when I have to stay apart from my Sweetest Spring…

If you were coming in the fall,

I’d brush the summer by

With half a smile and half a spurn,

As housewives do a fly.

Persuasion by Leonard Campbell (1914).

Persuasion by Leonard Campbell (1914).

If I could see you in a year,

I’d wind the months in balls,

And put them each in separate drawers,

Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,

I’d count them on my hand,

Subtracting till my fingers dropped

Into Van Diemen’s land.

If certain, when this life was out,

That yours and mine should be,

I’d toss it yonder like a rind,

And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length

Of time’s uncertain wing,

It goads me, like the goblin bee,

That will not state its sting.


Robert Bridges

(1844-1930)

robert-bridges

Robert, who was not a very famous poet for his time, keeps the old English language in his poems, so it was hard for me to examine him further. I had a lot of hard time reading Shakespeare in his original form too, so I need to go back again and again and with the help of the internet to understand the meaning as well as the importance of these poems. His major work is considered The Testament of Beauty (1929) for which he rose to prominence after his death.

Nonetheless, My Delight And Thy Delight (1890) was relatively easier to understand and, although not par excellence a love poet in my opinion, this is my favorite Bridges love poem:

My delight and thy delight

Walking, like two angels white,

In the gardens of the night:

My desire and thy desire

Twinning to a tongue of fire,

Magic by Lajos Gulacsy (1907).

Magic by Lajos Gulacsy (1907).

Leaping live, and laughing higher;

Thro’ the everlasting strife

In the mystery of life.

Love, from whom the world begun,

Hath the secret of the sun.

Love can tell and love alone,

Whence the million stars are strewn,

Why each atom knows its own,

How, in spite of woe and death,

Gay is life, and sweet is breath:

This he taught us, this we knew,

Happy in his science true,

Hand in hand as we stood

‘Neath the shadows of the wood,

Heart to heart as we lay

In the dawning of the day.


Georgia Douglas Johnson

(1880-1966)

georgia-douglas-johnson

Georgia was one of the best (and earliest) African-American woman poet of her time. I discovered her somewhere as a reference while I was reading an article about Maya Angelou, another great poet. I identified a big part of myself in The Heart of a Woman (1918) which Georgia dedicated to her husband who criticized her as a writer. Don’t you ladies feel like that sometimes??

I Want You to Die While You Love Me (1922), a short and powerful love poem everyone wishes to happen for their other half… (But sometimes life has other plans…)

I want to die while you love me,

While yet you hold me fair,

While laughter lies upon my lips

And lights are in my hair.

I want to die while you love me,

Embracing Couple, Emil Bisttram (1931).

Embracing Couple, Emil Bisttram (1931).

And bear to that still bed,

Your kisses turbulent, unspent

To warm me when I’m dead.

I want to die while you love me

Oh, who would care to live

Till love has nothing more to ask

And nothing more to give!

I want to die while you love me

And never, never see

The glory of this perfect day

Grow dim or cease to be.


E.E. Cummings

(1894-1962)

ee-cummings

One of the greatest poets of the 20th century, if I had to save one thing from a fire, that would be Cumming’s books (and the rest of my library of course!!). He translates love into poetry in a manner I cannot even explain with words. Like, love finds its ideal form in Cumming’s poems. Among notable modernists, like Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, Cummings writes about the miracle of being alive, love, springtime even contemplates topics of “low quality” like gangsters and prostitutes. Which love poem shall I choose? I Carry Your Heart With Me? Love Is More Thicket Than Forget? I Have Found What You Are Like? Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond? And the rest of his 2,900 poem titles I will break WordPress if I write them all?? 😀

Well, here is I Love You Much (Most Beautiful Darling), because I can’t really choose one, since I love ALL poems by Cummings and they all speak to my heart ❤

i love you much(most beautiful darling)

more than anyone on the earth and i 

In The Zenith by Maximilian Pirner.

In The Zenith by Maximilian Pirner.

like you better than everything in the sky

-sunlight and singing welcome your coming 

although winter may be everywhere

with such a silence and such a darkness

noone can quite begin to guess

(except my life)the true time of year-

and if what calls itself a world should have

the luck to hear such singing(or glimpse such

sunlight as will leap higher than high

through gayer than gayest someone’s heart at your each

nearness)everyone certainly would(my

most beautiful darling)believe in nothing but love.


Pablo Neruda

(1904-1973)

neruda

Along with Federico García Lorca, he is my most beloved Latin American poet. He is very passionate when it comes reading his poems and even the act of making love is treated to its majesty; with respect, love making is an act of spiritual unity and not only physical, sensual pleasure. Ultimate love is sealed when doing this very act. I feel like in his poems, the woman is adored in all her beauty. Pablo’s collection Twenty Poems and a Song of Despair {Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada} (1924) demonstrates true love. Gabriel García Márquez said about Pablo in the book The Fragrance of Guava (1983) that “(Neruda) is the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.”

The Infinite One (La Infinita) is more than glorious:

Do you see these hands? They have measured

Earth, they have separated mineral

from mineral, cereal from cereal,

They have made war and made peace,

They have conquered the distances

Of all seas and all rivers 

And still,

When they roam

Over you, little one,

you grain of corn, lark,

In Bed: The Kiss by Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (1892).

In Bed: The Kiss by Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (1892).

They are incapable of containing you,

They embrace until exhaustion

The twin doves

That rest or fly upon your breast,

They travel the distance of your legs,

Curl up in the light of your waist.

To me you are a treasure, greater

And more costly than the sea and its clusters

And you are white and blue and vast

As Earth at Harvest Time.

In this area,

From your feet to your forehead,

I want to spend life,

Wandering, always wandering.


SIGH. If only I had this talent too, to turn into words such powerful emotions, which I often find impossible to describe and each word seems very little to the actual meaning I want to convey.

Any favorite poems of any period? Or love poems? Do you often feel this integration to a poem when you read it? Which poems make you feel completed? Leave me a comment 🙂

Legendary Composers of the 20th Century

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The 20th century was marked with many dramatic political, economic and social events. There was the Economic Depression (1929), World War I (1914-1918) and II (1939-1945), the Holocaust (1941-1945), the Russian Revolution (1917) and the rise of Stalin, etc.

I talked with my uncle yesterday about this nostalgia blog and apparently he doesn’t like sighing for old periods, especially the 20th century. “What is it to remember?” he said. “The wars? The millions massacres of innocent people? Slavery? Or maybe poverty?”

Old-New-York-Photo

It is undeniable that when we look back, there is this tendency to highlight the detrimental events of a situation and say ‘we’re better the way we are now’. But there was some beauty in it, as there is in every period we’re experiencing – even if at times is hard to find it. There will be a point where next generations will sigh for 2015, because there is something in it that won’t be found again in the future.

Definitely artists have left most of this beauty in the chapters of history and contributed to what is considered good quality art nowadays. In Music, there are some legendary figures who have left an indelible mark and they are one of the reasons worth to look back again and again!

Dmitry Shostakovich

(1906-1975)

shostakovich

I like calling him The God, but that is a bit unfair because there were other composers equally as massive as Shostakovich. I just like him very much I guess!! Influenced by Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Paul Hindemith and Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich’s style mixed trends of post-Romanticism and neo-classical. We can see this unique style in his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (1934). His orchestrated work includes symphonies, with the Symphony No. 1 (1924–25) rising to prominence, concertos, ballets, operas even scores for films.

Whenever I daydream, I usually have his music as a soundtrack to my stories. Especially whenever I dream I’m in a Victorian-style ballroom with my loved one dancing, Waltz No. 2 is the perfect song:

Duke Ellington

(1899-1974)

Utan bildtext. Anm. Pianon Leenden

My mom brought back from the States two albums from Duke, The Far East Suite (1967) and one with live performances. I discovered him around my early teens, shuffling my mom’s CDs and making fun of her music taste, but Duke was not someone to make fun of. He was like, RESPECT! Although his presence is considered essential in the history of jazz, Duke referred to his genre as American music, rather than jazz. He composed thousands of songs for movies and stage plays, received a Grammy Award for his Lifetime Achievement and a Pulitzer Prize for his contribution in music after his death in 1999.

It Don’t Mean A Thing (1931), Take the “A” Train (1930), Mood Indigo (1930), I Let a Song Out of My Heart (1930) and Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me (1930) are my most favorites, but because I’m in a mood for something not heard a lot of times before, here is The Single Petal of a Rose (released to the general public in 1976).

George Gershwin

(1898-1937)

gershwin

Another mastermind of the 20th century, George composed the score of many films such as Shall We Dance (1937) and A Damsel in Distress (1937), stage plays and Broadway musicals like Funny Face (1927), Rosalie (1928) and Let ‘Em Eat Cake (1933). His most famous compositions are Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and An American In Paris (1928). He also received a Pulitzer Price award after his death in 1998 for his contribution to American Music. Like Quincy Jones said “Gershwin took jazz off the streets, dressed her up and took her to the concert hall”.

I first heard his Rhapsody In Blue – with minor alternations of course to match the mood of the story – in one of the segments of Disney’s Fantasia 2000 and it was love at first sight. Ralph Grierson plays the piano. I couldn’t find a decent copy of the video, so here is a link where you can enjoy!

Philip Glass

(1937)

Glass-Photo

Another genius of this century, Philip is among the composers who developed minimal music along with Terry Riley, Steve Reich and La Monte Young. His numerous works include a variety of symphonies, concertos, soundtracks and theatre music. Since I am mainly familiar of his works in films, I discern Kundun (1997) – a film about Dalai Lama with brilliant music, directed by Martin Scorcese – The Qatsi trilogy directed by Godfrey Reggio {Koyaanisqatsi (1982), Powaqqatsi (1988) and Naqoyqatsi (2002)}, The Hours (2002) and The Truman Show (1998) for which Glass collaborated with another composer, Burkhard Dallwitz and both winning a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.

Philip’s work in Kundun always gives me the goosebumps:

Igor Stravinsky

(1882-1971)

83 year-old Russian composer and conductor Igor Stravinsky (1882 - 1971) conducts the New Philharmonic Orchestra during a concert of his work at the Royal Festival Hall, London, England, 1965.

83 year-old Russian composer and conductor Igor Stravinsky conducts the New Philharmonic Orchestra during a concert of his work at the Royal Festival Hall, London, England, 1965.

Another influential personality with respected compositions, Igor created the music of three ballets for which he earned worldwide recognition: The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913). Other works include operas like The Nightingale (1914) and Oedipus rex (1927), symphonies {Symphony in C (1940), Symphony in Three Movements (1945)}, concertos, etc. He also received two Grammys in 1962: one for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Stravinsky: Movements for Piano and Orchestra and Album of the Year for his conducts The Rite of Spring and Petrushka.

I first heard Rite of Spring in Fantasia (1940). It’s breathtaking how they blend this song around the formation and early days of the world! Similar to Gershwin, I wasn’t able to find a good link, so watch it here.

Benny Goodman

(1909-1986)

goodman

One of my favorite jazz singers!!! The King of Swing co-operated with giants like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, along with his band he performed in films like Stage Door Canteen (1943) and A Song Is Born (1948) and, of course, brought about swing. Writer Donald Clarke in his book The Rise and Fall of Popular Music (1995) stated about Benny that “it is clear in retrospect that the Swing Era had been waiting to happen, but it was Goodman and his band that touched it off”.

I can’t get enough of Sing, Sing, Sing (1937)!!!!!

Glenn Miller

(1904-1944)

glenn-miller

Glenn goes always side by side with Benny. Like, whenever I talk about Glenn, the next person I talk about is Benny. And vice versa. His music is one of the few tints we can remember from WWII (you hear that uncle??). Glenn and his band met with big success and songs like In The Mood (1939), Moonlight Serenade (1939) and Pennsylvania 6-5000 (1940) were number 1 in music charts. His plane disappeared in December 15, 1944 while on his way to France. His body was never found.

But, like every deceased composer, he continues to live through his music.

For the end, I give you some Stardust (1943) in your hands for good luck and wish you a lovely week ❤

(The song was originally composed in 1927 by Hoagy Carmichael, but Glenn’s cover is amazing, isn’t it?)

Any favorite composers of the 20th century? Who you consider an influential figure in music and why? Leave me a comment 🙂

Golden Melodies: Favorite Dancing Scenes from Musical Films

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Ginger-Rogers-and-Fred-Astaire-ginger-rogers

I remember years ago a television program on ERT3 – a state broadcasting channel – entitled Golden Melodies (Chrises Melodies in Greek) and hosted by Lefteris Kogalidis, a devoted music journalist. Each show included a collection of the most famous dancing and singing scenes from old musical films, mainly from 20s till 50s. It was my grandpa’s favorite show and mine too. I tried frantically to find just one episode but there’s nothing out there, not even a small segment.

I am so happy though that, thanks to the Internet, I can visit and re-visit my favorite dancing scenes from old musicals I loved with all my heart and that make my nostalgic nerves go crazy! 😀

The Gay Divorcee

(1934)

poster-the-gay-divorcee-ginger-rogers-fred-astaire-1934

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are the greatest dancing couple ever – at least in my opinion. When they dance, I feel like they dance in the stars and I dance right there with them! I liked all their 10 films they made together and in particular The Gay Divorcee, Top Hat (1935) and Swing Time (1936).

Night and Day song is just imprinted in my mind from the movie The Gay Divorcee, but also I really like Frank Sinatra’s cover on this beautiful song written by Cole Porter.

The movie was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Fred and Ginger are in a balcony overlooking a beach. Freds’ singing and dancing with Ginger make this night even more magical:

Top Hat

(1935)

Top hat - poster - 1935

Top Hat is my most favorite and I believe the first Astaire film I’ve ever watched. It is considered to be their most successful film and it was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, Dance Direction and Original Song for Cheek to Cheek, written by Irvin Berlin.

I cry my eyes out every time I hear this song. Is it the melody? The way Fred is looking at Ginger while they dance? Or maybe Fred’s voice that makes me close my eyes and daydream of me and my loved one dancing cheek to cheek in a garden filled with climbing rosebushes and lighting lanterns dispersed around it? Sigh…

Roberta

(1935)

Roberta_1935_movie_poster

Roberta also received an Academy Award for Best Original Song, Lovely to Look At. It was remade in 1952 starring Kathryn Grayson and Red Skelton, but who can replace Fred and Ginger??

Under the rhythm I’ll Be Hard to Handle song, the couple delivers their most iconic tap dancing:

Swing Time

(1936)

Swing time - 1936

The Library of Congress characterized this film as culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. All Time classic and favorite song The Way You Look Tonight won the Oscar for Best Original Song. Other noticeable scenes are Never Gonna Dance and A Fine Romance. However,

Waltz in Swing Time is my most beloved dancing scene, due to the couple’s diligent moves and great choreography.

 Follow The Fleet

(1936)

Poster - Follow the Fleet-1936

Follow the Fleet is the fifth film of Fred and Ginger and one that was a box office success, generating more than $2 million. Let’s Face the Music and Dance is a breathtaking scene, filmed in long take – an uninterrupted camera shot – lasting about 3 minutes!

Shall We Dance

(1937)

kinopoisk.ru

The film blends some ballet, classic dance with jazz and I must say the result is just wonderful. All thanks to composer George Gershwin, who also made Rhapsody in Blue (1924), and used to blend the classic with modern, jazz tunes.

Let’s Call the Whole Thing Of is the funniest scene in my opinion and the lyrics just genius, written by Gershwins’ brother, Ira!!

Royal Wedding

(1951)

royal-wedding-1951

This film was the first color movie I ever saw with Fred! Ginger did not star with him, since their last film was The Barkleys of Broadway in 1949. Probably the most iconic dancing scene is the ceiling one where Fred sings You’re The World to Me and literally dances on the ceiling and walls of his room!

ceiling dance - astaire

But my favorite sequence is I left my Hat in Haiti, which I also remember seeing in one of the episodes of Golden Melodies show. *wiggles hips*

Singing In The Rain

(1952)

Poster - Singin' in the Rain_1952

There isn’t a more classical musical film than this! Everyone knows about it, even the ones who are not interested in this genre. It also has some nostalgia for the 20s, as the protagonists are chronologically located in the transitional period from silent films to talkies.

Yes, I liked Gene Kelly’s Singing In The Rain scene but Donald O’Connor’s talent in Make ‘Em Laugh is super awesome:

I also discern two other incredible dancing moments with O’Connor. The one in Call Me Madam (1953) in the comic balloon scene, where the actor sings What Chance have I with Love? (same here Donald):

And in I love Melvin (1953), where Donald dances with roller skates in Life Has its Ups and Downs. Not sure if he was the first one, other than Fred and Ginger in Shall We Dance, to ever dance on roller skates in a film…

…but Gene Kelly attempted successfully the same thing two years later in It’s Always Fair Weather.

Young At Heart

(1954)

young-at-heart-(1954)

There aren’t any dancing acts, at least as far as I remember, but the songs are all so heart-warming in this film. I liked You, My Love scene where Frank sings with Doris Day, another great actress from old Hollywood.

My Love is ever You, My Love

Now and Forever, You My Love

A Star Is Born

(1954)

poster-a-star-is-born-1954

I couldn’t leave Judy Garland out of this post. This is my favorite Garland film and also another one that Library of Congress addresses as aesthetically significant. Her performance in The Man That Got Away is simply mesmerizing, I keep watching the clip without blinking my eyes:

This fantastic song was also nominated for an Academy Award.

Χαμένα Όνειρα {Chamena Onira ~ Lost Dreams}

(1961)

Lost Dreams (1961)

This isn’t a musical film, but it’s my favorite one of the old Greek cinema. It stars two of the greatest actors, Dimitris Papamichael and Antigoni Valakou. The story is very dramatic but also very real. Two young friends start working together, making dreams and plans about the future, but in the end nothing works out for them and they decide to settle in a marriage together, since what they have left is each other, although there is only “friendship love” between them.

This is the last scene of the film, showing the two of them dancing melancholically under the rhythm of a nostalgic song called The Waltz of Lost Dreams composed by famous Greek composer and musician Manos Hatzidakis.

 The Artist

(2011)

the-artist-poster_2011

Surprise! Here is a film made in 2011 but it’s absolutely filled with nostalgia. The Artist is my favorite film ever, I love the acting, the music, the cinematography, the costumes, the everything! Michel Hazanavicius’s idea to make a silent film in this modern period was risky but also very intelligent. The movie is also caught in the transition of silent to sound in films, like in Singing In The Rain and sound is incorporated very carefully in it.

Peppy’s and George’s last dance is MAGNIFIQUE and (spoiler alert!) we hear sound for the very first time – the melody of their breathing. (George’s nightmare doesn’t count because it was a dream and not real time!!) It was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won 5 – Best Motion Picture of the Year, Actor in a Leading Role, Best Directing, Best Costume Design and Music.

Rumor has it that in the definition of magical, the dictionary has a picture of them 😉

PS: Many tears were shed during the making of this post !

Women Illustrators of the 20th Century {Jessie Smith, Beatrix Potter and Tasha Tudor}

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While I was searching for a textbook yesterday for one of my college courses, I stumbled upon an old fairy tale book of classic Hans Christian Andersen tales. What I loved the most about this book, other than the fantastic stories of Andersen, were the illustrations that captured the feeling of these stories as well as the period they were written. It was like seeing the mental picture Andersen had in mind while he was writing these tails, considering that his Fairy Tales Told for Children. First Collection. were published between 1835-1837. The illustrations were made by Michael Fiodorov:

Published by Patakis Publications in 1991 (this book is as old as me!) and translated in Greek by Aggeliki Ksida, this book can now be found at old bookstores or e-shops that sell one hit wonder books. I also found out that Italian and Portuguese editions also exist.

Greatest Tales of the World – Tales by Anderen, published by Patakis Publications in 1991 (this book is as old as me!) and translated in Greek by Aggeliki Ksida, this book can now be found at old bookstores or e-shops that sell one hit wonder books. I also found out that Italian and Portuguese editions also exist.

My favorite drawing from the book!

My favorite drawing from the book! “I want 100 kisses from the Princess!”, The Pig Boy.

Thumbelina. My second favorite illustration!

Thumbelina. My second favorite illustration!

I tried to find out more about the illustrator, Michael Fiodorov, but the only thing I could discover was his list of works in Goodreads.

Nevertheless, Fiodorov’s work inspired me to search more about children book illustrators and I selectively chose three women artists whose designs imprint this sentimentality of the old years I’m looking for. By the way, the artists just happened to be women, I chose three old children’s books and they, in turn, re-directed me to the wonderful worlds of these illustrators we are about to examine.

Jessie Willcox Smith

(1863-1935)

Jessie_Willcox_Smith,_photograph

It was this little picture that helped me discover Smith. While I was reading about the history of children’s books illustration, this little girl reminded of me. And along with this click, not only the image came out but also the entire imaginary world of Jessie Willcox Smith:

This poster was created in 1919 for the purposes of the first Children Book Week event, right after the end of World War I, according to Rockwell Center {http://www.rockwell-center.org/essays-illustration/jessie-willcox-smith-and-the-first-childrens-book-week-poster/}

This poster was created in 1919 for the purposes of the first Children Book Week event, right after the end of World War I, according to Rockwell Center.

Fellow friend Marco here, I am a Child, has even more illustrative collections! You can also find his posts on Smith.

Smith is considered to be one of the greatest illustrators for children’s books. During her lifespan, she also designed magazine covers – she painted hundreds of covers for Good housekeeping Magazine, worked for Scribner’s Magazine, Ladies Home Journal and others and sketched advertisements for companies like Kodak and Ivory Soap.

Some heart-melting covers of Good Housekeeping magazine illustrated by Smith:

Good Housekeeping - June 1926 - Willcox SmithGood Housekeeping - August 1930 - Willcox SmithGood Housekeeping - June 1925 - Willcox SmithGood Housekeeping - April - Willcox Smith

GoodHousekeeping 1925-September-SmithGoodHousekeeping1927-10

And some examples of her advertising work:

Advertisement for Ivory Soap

Advertisement for Ivory Soap.

Ad for Kodak.

Ad for Kodak.

Smith never had children of her own.  However, she managed to capture evidently this sensitivity and carelessness that characterize young age as well as the love of a parent towards a child.

A Mother's Day. It's the little things that express love...

A Mother’s Day.
It’s the little things that express love…

A Rainy Day. (1908)

A Rainy Day, 1908.

Auntie-Jessie-Willcox-Smith

Auntie.

Her works can be found today in prominent museums and galleries, like The New York Public Library, Delaware Art Museum and Library of Congress.

Beatrix Potter

(1866—1943)

beatrix potter

 

Helen Beatrix Potter was an English author and illustrator, mainly drawing her love for animals and nature. She was raised isolated from other children having little interaction with her parents and, as a result, she started drawing in order to cope with her loneliness. Potter started her professional career by creating greeting cards for Hildesheimer & Faulkner publications. At the same time, she was exchanging picture letters with the children of one of the former governesses who educated her, Annie Carter Moore. Carter’s eldest son, Noel, had scarlet fever and Potter, in order to help him feel better, came up with a little tale:

letter to noel

“Eastwood | Dunkeld | Sep 4th 93 | My dear Noel, I don’t know what to write to you, so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits whose names were – Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter. They lived with their mother in a sand bank under the root of a big fir tree…” Thanks to Letters of Note for their transcription.

Thus, The Tale of Peter Rabbit was born, one of the best children’s book of all time, that has sold over 40 million copies and it has been translated in 36 languages.

Published in 1902.

Published in 1902.

the tale of peter rabbit

the-world-of-peter-rabbit

Some pictures from Peter Rabbit.

Some pictures from Peter Rabbit.

The success of the book spawned a series of tales, written and illustrated by Potter. These are also known as The 23 tales of Beatrix Potter.

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. (1904)

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, 1904.

The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan. (1905)

The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan, 1905.

The Story of Miss Moppet, 1906.

The Story of Miss Moppet, 1906.

Her Tales were adapted in the 1971 ballet film The Tales of Beatrix Potter, featuring dancers from the Royal Ballet of London as well as her life was made into a feature film with Renée Zellweger portraying Miss Potter.

Tasha Tudor

(1915-2008)

tasha tudor

Tasha Tudor was a beloved American illustrator and writer. She authored and designed the images of many books, like Pumpkin Moonshine (1938), Edgar Allan Crow (1953), A Time to Keep (1977) and Corgiville Fair (1971) plus illustrated famous Andersen’s tales, The Secret Garden authored by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1962) and stories from Mother Goose for which she received the Caldecott Medal – an award granted to the best American picture books. Tudor’s work also includes New England nostalgic scenes, primarily shown on the Christmas cards she made:

Seems like it was drawn somewhere in the 20s or 30s, but it is actually from 1973!

Seems like it was drawn somewhere in the 20s or 30s, but it is actually from 1973!

tashatudor - christmas

Becky’s Christmas, 1961. Thank you Orange Marmalade (http://orangemarmaladebooks.com/tag/beckys-christmas/) for this info!

Becky’s Christmas, 1961. Thank you Orange Marmalade for this info!

Pumpkin Moonshine was Tudor's first story.

Pumpkin Moonshine was Tudor’s first story.

From A Time to Keep.

From A Time to Keep.

From Corgiville Fair.

From Corgiville Fair.

Tudor’s love pictures, though, are my favorite ♥

valentine card

Smoochie, smoochie :-*

Smoochie smoochie(っ◔◡◔)っ❤

From The Springs of Joy, 1979. Sigh...

From The Springs of Joy, 1979. Sigh…

... even more sigh.

… even more sigh.

Do you have any favorite illustrators? Or any childhood fairytale books that you loved the pictures? Leave me a comment 🙂

Around the World of my Childhood Cartoons in Two Parts – Part II (60s – early 90s)  

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The old thirties and forties cartoons weren’t broadcast for long. Very few Greek channels brought newer series mainly made in Europe. I was in fourth grade and it was kind of a letdown, because the emotional singing and sentimental representation of love, friendship and other concepts was gone. Clearly, each cartoon reflects the period it was made and the sixties was a revolutionary era bringing changes in society, politics, and music.

Some of the animations were trying to teach important life lessons, like sharing and fighting for a greater cause. Others were just pure entertainment and kind of odd to watch.

Like Nu, Pogodi! {Ну погоди! – Well, Just you Wait!} a Soviet/Russian cartoon broadcast from 1969 to 2006. The series, created by Felix Kandel, Arkadi Khait and Aleksandr Kurlyandsky reminds a Tom and Jerry fighting. The wolf – Volk – is the villain who tries to catch the hare – Zayats – who at a first glance seems like a girl but he is actually a boy. Rarely no one talks in the show except from Volk, who usually says “Nu, pogodi!” whenever his plans to trap Zayats don’t go well.

nu-pogodi-5

The show received negative criticism of setting the bad example for children. For instance, Volk’s character is frequently depicted smoking and drinking, he breaks the law, he is a vandal and a bully – in other words, a hooligan. Zayats has also been criticized for being a boy depicted with feminine traits, like his long eyelashes and rosy cheeks. Nevertheless, the show is still valued greatly in Russia and other European countries.

I had a lot of fun watching it, although at times it was weird, and no, I didn’t end up a vandal, smoker or drinker! I love the music in the opening credits. So 60s right??

Two other USSR films have also remained in my memory. It took me so long to find these gems but here they are!!

meshok-yablok-a-bag-of-apples

 A Bag Full of Apples {Мешок яблок – Meshok yablok} (1974), which I was searching for yeeeaaars, teaches the art of giving, even if at times you have very little to give. The goodness you have done will return to you, even if you are in a moment of need. The short was directed by Vitold Bordzilovsky.

wild-swans-1962

The Wild Swans {Дикие лебеди – Dikiye lebedi} (1962), based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, definitely brought me back a lot of memories from Disney’s Silly Symphonies, mainly due to the animation style. It was a very good Soviet film and too bad I can’t recall other similar films being broadcast at that time. The film was directed by couple Mikhail Tsekhanovsky and Vera Tsekhanovskaya.

Probably the ones that were broadcast the most here in Greece came from Poland. Bolek and Lolek {Bolka i Lolka, 1962-1986}, created by Władysław Nehrebecki and Reksio (1967-1990), created by Lechosław Marszałek, were all time favorites not only here in Greece, but also in other European countries.

Reksio had had guest appearances in Bolka i Lolka.

Reksio, the doggy, had had guest appearances in Bolka i Lolka.

Both Bolek and Lolek and Reksio have their own monuments in Bielsko-Biała, Poland:

Bolek_and_Lolek_monument_

reksio-monumentBolek and Lolek, also known as Bennie and Lennie or Jym and Jam in English, follows the silly adventures of two brothers. The success of the series generated educational and feature films, games, toys, postcards, coloring books, etc. Themes like friendship, solidarity and travelling are often portrayed.

Reksio was not that famous as Bolek and Lolek, but I liked it more because I’m a dog lover and animal characters were always more appealing to me than human characters. Reksio also had a somewhat educated character, but it was mostly involved with the doggy going on adventures with other animals as his friends. Here is an adventure of my lovely pal:

Up to this point you may think, “Polish and Russian cartoons were great, but whatever happened to the American ones?” Well, for some reason I can’t remember any broadcast except for one, which was very briefly on TV. The rest were dubbed, so I couldn’t know their country of origin.

In elementary school, Batfink was a great way to practice my English and also kept me good company in the afternoons. I believe it was the only one not dubbed in Greek, so maybe that’s the reason they cut it.

batfink

Batfink, the superhero bat with the wings of steel, aired 100 episodes on the American TV in 1966. Created by Hal Seeger, Batfink tries to protect the city from the villain Hugo A-Go-Go, always accompanied by his sidekick Karate. Pretty much it was like a Batman and The Green Hornet spoof, since both Batman and Batfink started airing at the same time (1966). For example, Batfink has a Battillac opposed to Batman’s Batmobile and Karate’s utility sleeve mocks Batman’s utility belt.

Surely funny to watch:

The last and the most dramatic cartoon series of my childhood is The Animals of Farthing Wood, which was originally aired from 1993 to 1995 and distributed by the European Broadcasting Union. It started as a book first published in 1979, authored by Colin Dann and much later it was adapted into a television series.

the-animals-of-farthing-wood

It was kind of shocking to watch because it had more drama than comedy. Actually no comedy at all and, to be honest, it kind of traumatized me a bit. Maybe I wasn’t able to grasp the essence and the significance of the show, however I can clearly see now how the series wasn’t traumatizing, but merely reflected reality and passed a great message about the importance of nature and the devastating act of humans upon it.

The show follows the Farthing Wood animals and their attempt to find a home, the White Deer Park, after humans destroyed their forest in order to build houses. As the adventures gradually culminate, some characters die which made my heart ache. Up then, I’ve never experienced a cartoon character dying and never coming back, so I was always waiting for them to return at some point! They never did… 😥

Now why would you do that to kid??

Now why would you do that to a kid??

You can feel the feels at the very first start of the video:

Do you remember any classic cartoons from other countries?

Do you feel modern cartoons carry important messages for children nowadays?

And which ones you prefer? Leave me a comment and your own bouquet of childhood cartoons! 🙂

Missed the first part? Even older recollections here.

Digging for Treasure at an Old Bookstore in Athens

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old bookstore sign

Old books is my crack.

And there isn’t a better place to find nostalgia than an old bookstore. Surrounded by hundreds of years of history, sciences, arts and culture, an old bookstore is a window to a different time. The smell, the faded yellowish color, the touch of an old page, the half-damaged book that now finds comfort at a bookseller’s shelf, show the journey the book has been through throughout the years, carrying its own history inside it, eventually reaching you. How cool is that? Even if the book was published somewhere in 1930 or 1940, ultimately you find it or it finds you.

love-vintage books'

Mr. George Zoukas has built an empire of such treasure in the heart of Athens. In his little office, a paradise for bookworms awaits. I had one of the greatest afternoons in my life exploring his fantastic library and I’m gonna give you not only a glimpse of his collection, but also a small piece of Greek, American and international literature.

zoukas-library

There are more than 8,000 books in Mr. George’s collection.

zoukas-library 2

Mr. George has found inventive ways to catalog his books. His categories include: Psychology/Sociology of love, Philosophy of love, Terrorism and Literature, Music and Literature, Political Philosophy, Books made into Films, Russian/Soviet Prose, Studies in Greek, American and International Literature even Erotic Literature 😉 The Greek economic crisis has pushed him to include some books of his own personal library as well, considering that local and independent bookstores face a lot of challenges in the market.

Let the scavenger hunt begin!!!

Art Review, issue 106-107, published in 1963 in the period October-November. Art Review was a monthly literary magazine issued in Athens from 1954 – 1967. It was discontinued after the enforcement of Greek junta/dictatorship in 1967.

Found in Art Review, my favorite poem of Russian/Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, A Cloud in Trousers. I remember I first read this poem back in my teens!!

Found in Art Review, my favorite poem of Russian/Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, A Cloud in Trousers. I remember I first read this poem back in my teens!! This translation is attributed in 1915 by two well-known Greek authors, Yiannis Ritsos and Aris Alexandrou.

Another Greek literary magazine, Nea Estia, published in October 1964. At the cover Domenikos Theotokopoulos - El Greco, one of the most famous, charismatic and respected Greek artists.

Another Greek literary magazine, Nea Estia, published in October 1964. At the cover Domenikos Theotokopoulos – El Greco, one of the most famous, charismatic and respected Greek artists.

Nea Estia celebrating 150n

Here Nea Estia celebrates the 150th anniversary of Lord Byron’s death. The poem She Walks in Beauty caught my eye, one I had read during my last years in high school, but I’ve never had the chance to dig dipper into it and find the background of this masterpiece poem – in my opinion. Lord Byron wrote this poem in 1814 about Robert Wilmot’s wife, Mrs. Anne Beatrix Wilmot. Note here that Robert Wilmot was also his cousin. Stunned by her beauty, the poet wrote this poem the next day to praise her exquisiteness. He perfectly captured this divinity just by reading the first lines:

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies

By the way, speaking of poems that express beauty, it just came to my mind another poem that reflects this theme – beauty but mainly from nature’s perspective – written much earlier in 1805. William Wordsworth’s (what a great last name for a poet, right??) The Solitary Reaperwhich is considered one of his greatest works.

One of the books deriving from Mr. George’s personal records, entitled “Worldwide Anthology”, published in 1940. It includes rare names and references to the most well-known foreign authors at that time. Below, a chapter dedicated to Olindo Guerrini, also known by one of his pseudonyms Lorenzo Stecchetti. The title of this chapter is so artistic! It’s the little things that make a book special. Even the design/images on a book, set the appropriate atmosphere for the reader for a full time travelling experience.

One of the books deriving from Mr. George’s personal records, entitled Worldwide Anthology, published in 1940. It includes rare names and references to the most well-known foreign authors at that time. Below, a chapter dedicated to Olindo Guerrini, also known by one of his pseudonyms Lorenzo Stecchetti. The title of this chapter, below, is so artistic! It’s the little things that make a book special. Even the design/images on a book, set the appropriate atmosphere for the reader for a full time travelling experience.

from worldwide anthology-stecchetti

I would give my life to get my hands on this gem. This book is so old, the publication date is written in roman numerals! Published in 1897 – 76 years after John Keat’s death - this book is a bouquet of the poet’s greatest works. It includes his Odes (Ode to a Nightingale, Ode to Autumn, Ode to Melancholy, etc), sonnets (like O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell, glory and loveliness have passed away) and miscellaneous poems (in a drear-nighted December, La belle dame sans merci), decorated with fantastic illustrations that really give you this full experience I talked about before. Feel free to see for yourself [https://archive.org/stream/poemsbyjohnkeats00keat#page/n9/mode/2up]. {nostalgia level: over 9,000!!}

I would give my life to get my hands on this gem. This book is so old, the publication date is written in roman numerals! Published in 1897 – 76 years after John Keat’s death – this book is a bouquet of the poet’s greatest works. It includes his Odes (Ode to a Nightingale, Ode to Autumn, Ode to Melancholy, etc), sonnets like O Solitude! if I Must with Thee Dwell and Glory and Loveliness have passed away and miscellaneous poems (In a Drear-Nighted December, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, etc), decorated with fantastic illustrations that really give you this full experience I talked about before. Feel free to see for yourself.

john keats - la belle dame sans merci

Nostalgia Level: over 9,000!!

Published in 1946, this book introduced me to some authors I’ve never heard before, like Aldous Huxley and Edgar Lee Masters.

Contemporary American and English Poets, published in 1946, including literary works translated by Dimitris Stavrou. This book introduced me to some authors I’ve never heard before, like Aldous Huxley and Edgar Lee Masters.

Huxley's Song of Poplars moved me.

Huxley’s Song of Poplars moved me.

Lee Master's The Unkown was a also a new discovery for me, not only in terms of his work but also himself as poet.

Lee Master’s The Unknown was a also a new discovery for me, not only in terms of his work but also himself as a poet.

Oh my, so many poetry books, my list is endless! Published in 1926, this book also pays tribute to Lord Byron, Percy Sysshe Shelley, Keats and Wordsworth. But what makes it even more special, is that it has a date written by its previous owner:

Oh my, so many poetry books, my list is endless! English Anthology, edited by Glafkos Alithersispublished in 1926, also pays tribute to Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Keats and Wordsworth. But what makes it even more special, is that it has a date written by its previous owner:

August 30, 1948. I cannot imagine the journey of this book. The places it traveled to reach me! <3

August 30, 1948. I cannot imagine the journey of this book. The places it traveled to reach me! ♥

 I couldn’t leave Walter Whitman’s Leaves of Grass out of this post. The book was originally published 1855, but I couldn’t find a date for this Greek edition. It should be somewhere in the 1950s. The poet, during his lifetime, spent a lot of time editing and re-writing this work. His poetry collection include Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking and I Sing the Body Electric. Latest editions, like this one, include the elegy When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd, which Whitman wrote for President Abraham Lincoln.

I couldn’t leave Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass out of this post. The book was originally published 1855, but I couldn’t find a date for this Greek edition. It should be somewhere in the 1950s, translated by Nikos Proestopoulos. The poet, during his lifetime, spent a lot of time editing and re-writing this work. His poetry collection in Leaves of Grass include Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking and I Sing the Body Electric. Latest editions, like this one, include the elegy When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, which Whitman wrote for the death of President Abraham Lincoln.

A newer edition I found of a poetry collection by Edgar Allan Poe, “Poems Written in Youth”. Spirits of the Dead, A Dream, Imitation and other works as well as biographical elements are embedded in this diligent edition. Although published in 2015, the look of this book emits a nostalgic feeling.

A newer edition I found of a poetry collection by Edgar Allan Poe, Poems Written in Youth. Spirits of the Dead, A Dream, Imitation and other works as well as biographical elements are embedded in this diligent edition. George Varthalitis provides translation and additional commentary. Although published in 2015, the look of this book emits a nostalgic feeling…

...like in this sketch I found in the book, for example.

…like in this sketch I found in it, for example. I love how newest editions of old poems maintain this inveteracy that characterize these old poems.

Cathay, consists of Chinese poetry by Ezra Pound, a leading figure of modernist poetry. This edition published in 1979 with a bold cover of the author’s self-portrait. I also came across…

Cathay, consists of Chinese poetry by Ezra Pound, a leading figure of modernist poetry. This edition was published in 1979 and translated by Zisimos Loretzatos, with a bold cover of the author’s self-portrait. I also came across…

HUGH SELWYN MAUBERLEY – one of Pound’s worth mentioning poem, which is considered to be a turning point in his career. [http://modernism.research.yale.edu/wiki/index.php/Hugh_Selwyn_Mauberley]. It consists of the English version along with the translated one on the side.

Hugh Selwyn Mauberley one of Pound’s worth mentioning poem, which is considered to be a turning point in his career. This Greek edition (1980), translated by Loukas Anninos, consists of the English version along with the translated one on the side.

And so, so many others, I wish I could have stayed longer in this paradise:

Can I please live there forever??

Can I please live there forever??

I left with The Cantos by Ezra Pound in my hug, a great gift to keep me warm in this unusual cold that has struck Athens. I wish I had more time to discover more gems, but as Mr. George says “Even if you had a thousand lifetimes, you still wouldn’t have enough time to read them”, let alone just explore them.

Do you enjoy reading old books? Are there any unique old book editions you have come across that you value? Or that you search? Any old bookstores around your area that make you go wow? Leave me a comment 🙂

Discover Mr. George Zouka’s library here (site in Greek): https://vivlioanihneftis.wordpress.com

Email: zookout@windowslive.com

Mobile: +30 693-9613081

If you are in Athens, pass by to say hi! You’ll be astonished!

Around the World of my Childhood Cartoons in Two Parts – Part I (30s-40s)

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I am a 90s kid, but I didn’t grow up watching these awesome cartoons of the 90s. In fact, Greek TV back in ‘95 to ‘98 didn’t even have a proper kids channel. I remember for a brief period of time we had satellite television so I was able to watch cartoons like Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Dexter’s Lab and The Angry Beavers.

When our subscription ended we never renewed it, so I lost my Saturday morning cartoons. It was then when my grandpa brought home a Disney video tape that contained some episodes of Disney’s Silly Symphonies. I was introduced to a totally different world of cartoons, one completely different to what I used to watch on satellite TV and one I surely loved the most.

Silly_Symphony_poster_1935

There were flowers talking and dancing under the rhythm of a classical song, a Princess singing her love to her Prince charming, couples dancing on the Moon and wishing upon Stars, animals being funny or falling in love. All these reflected the sentimentality of these eras and made my grandpa melt with nostalgia, as he watched sometimes tearfully these loving scenes unfolding before his eyes.

Approximately 18 years later, it is now my turn to melt with nostalgia as I re-watch this wonderful world of cartoons and sharing with you some of my favorite series and films of the 30s and 40s.

Disney’s Silly Symphonies and Paramount’s Color Classics

       Silly Symphonies comprise 75 episodes in total, ranging from 1929 to 1939. Walt Disney used the Symphonies to improve the art of animation, like storytelling and characters, which would eventually lead to the production of the Disney’s Animated Classics – the first one being Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937.

"The Skeleton Dance" (1929), was the first Silly Symphony.

The Skeleton Dance (1929), was the first Silly Symphony.

In the Symphonies, Disney brings toys to life (Midnight in a Toy Shop, 1930), gives breath to old fairy tales and myths, like Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling (1931) and the Goddess of Spring (1934) – influenced by the myth of Persephone – finds a home to Three Orphaned Kittens (1935), imagines a baby’s dream (Lullaby Land, 1933) and introduces Donald Duck in The Wise Little Hen (1934).

Flowers and Trees was the first colorful Symphony.

Donald Duck’s first appearance.

Some of the Symphonies included a clear message. Like in Elmer Elephant (1936), where poor Elmer is being made fun of because of his trunk. In the end (Spoiler Alert!), this “distinctive” characteristic of his is what saves Tillie Tiger from a fire that breaks out at her home. And makes Elmer a hero!

Lullaby Land is my second favorite after Elmer! Prepare for ultimate coochy coo cuteness!

The most important rival of Disney that time was Max Fleischer. Fleischer is considered to be a pioneer in the world of animation. Not only he invented Rotoscoping, a technique that allows one to alter manually a video or film footage one frame at a time, but also brought characters like Popeye, Betty Boop and Superman to the movie screen. He was also the first one to add synchronized sound to a cartoon, My Old Kentucky home (1926). It is often mistakenly attributed that Disney’s Steamboat Willie was the first sound cartoon, however Steamboat Willie was released two years later in 1928.

Fleischer on the left, creating a looping animation.

Fleischer on the left, creating a looping animation.

His Color Classics, distributed by Paramount Pictures, contain 36 shorts from 1934 to 1941. Some film historians, to my disappointment, consider his Classics to be knock-offs to Disney’s Symphonies, as I read on DVD verdict. Re-watching some of his cartoon nowadays, I do believe that Fleischer’s work is heart-warming but also surreal, although – to be honest – when I was younger I wasn’t able to tell the difference between a Paramount or a Disney cartoon.

Fleischer with American actress Max Questel, who provided the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, Popeye's love interest. In the middle: Betty Boop and Bimbo the Dog.

Fleischer with American actress Max Questel, who provided the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, Popeye’s love interest.
In the middle: Betty Boop and Bimbo the dog.

Betty Boop as Poor Cinderella (1934), in “her only theatrical color appearance” according to IMDB.

Somewhere in Dreamland (1936) may resemble Disney’s Lullaby Land, as both episodes take place in Dreamland, but Fleischer’s differentiates in another way as you’ll see. It’s also interesting to observe how the two artists visualize the land of Dreams:

Dancing on the Moon (1935). ♥ All time favorite ♥ {Warning: this song will be stuck in your head for a week!!}

Speaking of Paramount Pictures, the first feature-length animated film I ever saw was Gulliver’s Travels (1939), which was produced by Fleischer and directed by his brother, Dave. Yes, I remember, because the duration was a surprising thing for an 8-year-old who was used to 10 minute shorts. So I was like “Will this go on forever??”.

GULLIVERS_TRAVELS poster

I liked the film that much, next day my grandpa brought home Jonathan Swift’s novel to which the film is generally based on.  Here is my favorite scene, I go Niagara Falls every time {starts at 10:25}:

Do you miss this sentimentality that seems to be faded away in contemporary cartoons? How do you feel about modern cartoons in relation with the old ones, considering factors like the type of music, the depiction of love and friendship as well as the sensitivity of the old cartoons? Leave me a comment 🙂

Part II coming soon with European cartoons from the 50s to early 90s!