Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Great Mother's Day Presents

Mother's Day is coming up soon, which means that many of us are desperately looking for fresh, fun, and not ridiculously expensive gift ideas for our moms (or our kids' moms). Here are some slightly offbeat and unusual gift ideas that might work for the mom you're shopping for!

Funny T-shirts

If Mom is the casual type, she'd love a T-shirt with a funny saying on it that suits her personality. Cafepress and Snorgtees are two great sites with all kinds of witty and whimsical shirts that will appeal to geeky moms, bookish moms, pun-loving moms, coffee and wine drinking moms, and every other kind of mom you can imagine. Most tees priced between $12 and $22 on both sites.

Pampering Gifts

Not all moms are "girly," but most moms do enjoy some kind of pampering, whether it's a massage, a mani-pedi, some fancy bubble bath or bath bombs (I love the ones from Lush, $5-$8 apiece), or even a box of her favorite expensive tea or gourmet cookies (a 1-pound tin of David's Cookies is $25). I love gift certificates combined with something tangible, so you could wrap a GC for a hot stone massage from a local spa with a beautiful painted stone for her garden or bookshelf (check out the pretty selection at Syndala Designs), or a GC from Teavana or Republic of Tea (single tins of tea run about $10-$15 at both sites; Teavana samplers start at $20 and RoT start at $7) with a few scones from a local bakery or a pretty mug, or a GC from her regular manicurist with a bottle of nail polish or a nice new diamond dust nail file.

Gardening Stuff

If your mom is more the outdoorsy type who likes puttering in her garden (or, like me, just sitting in the yard watching her garden grow), there are plenty of fun gardening tools and decorations that she might enjoy, like these:

This pretty little colored glass and copper hummingbird is attached to a stake that can be tucked in any corner of the garden to add a little color. $20 from UncommonGoods.

Put some ease in her knees with this cute padded gardening seat which can be flipped over to become a low kneeler or a small seat.  Available in purple or green. $40 from Gardeners.

If Mom prefers to be a little more personal, how about a set of family stepping stones? $30 for a large stone and $15 for small, from PersonalCreations.

Does Mom like watching birds better than flowers? This small bronze-colored birdbath will attract plenty of feathered friends to her yard without taking up too much space. $32 from Best Nest.

Family-themed Jewelry

If your mom is a jewelry-wearer (or even if she's not, she might change her mind for these), there are plenty of lovely pieces that acknowledge each of her children (and/or grandchildren) with an initial, name, or colored stone.

This sterling silver heart can be personalized with up to three birthstones (tell them the birth month and they'll tell you the birthstone). Available in several lengths. $30 from Eve's Addiction.

If Mom isn't a fan of colored stones, this understated silver necklace features up to three nested circles engraved with names. $50 from oNecklace.

This pretty stretch bracelet has up to six colored beads corresponding to family birthdays. $30 from Pearls by Laurel

Kitchen Gadgets

Some moms love to cook; others consider it a chore. If your mom is the former, she might love an unusual or really well-made kitchen gadget.

This clip-on spout makes draining water from pasta and vegetables, draining fat from ground beef and bacon, and pouring batter neat and easy. You can also use it to neatly pour paint or stain from a can if Mom is more at home in the workshop than in the kitchen. Not the same one, though, so you might want to get her two. At $10 from The Grommet, you can. 

I can never find the right size measuring spoon, so I love these adjustable measuring spoons - one for teaspoons and one for tablespoons. The seal is tight enough to use for both wet and dry ingredients. $10 for the pair from Pampered Chef.

This gadget might be a waste for some moms, but if yours has her own herb garden or cooks with fresh herbs a lot, this little herb stripper will get a lot of use! No more pulling off rosemary or thyme leaves one by one - just zip it through and the leaves fall right into the convenient measuring dish. $8 from Williams Sonoma.

Coffee Gifts

I was never much of a coffee drinker until I had children, and now I can't start the morning without a mug in my hand, so coffee and motherhood are inextricably linked for me.

This coffee sampler box includes a dozen 1.75-oz samples (each sample makes 6-8 cups) of various roasts and bean types. $25 from Coffee Beanery.

If Mom brews one cup at a time in her Keurig, this sampler pack of 30 flavored coffees will let her try plenty of different flavors. You can even create your own sampler by mixing and matching flavors, 4 K-cups at a time. $24 from Crazy Cups.

There's no need for a coaster with this cool "floating" mug, which comes complete with a notched cover to keep your coffee or tea hot with the spoon still in it. $17 from HomeZens.

Whatever it is that you choose to give your (or someone else's) mom for Mother's Day, sive it to her with a smile, a hug, and a heartfelt "I love you." Speaking as a mom myself, that's always the best gift of all!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Book Review: "My Life to Live" by Agnes Nixon

If you've heard of any American soap operas at all over the last fifty years, there's a pretty good chance you're familiar with Agnes Nixon's work. The creator and longtime head writer of the soaps "All My Children," "One Life to Live," and "Loving," and head writer of "Search for Tomorrow," "Guiding Light," and "Another World," this autobiography/memoir describes Nixon's career and life paths - and how the two influenced each other. 

Not surprisingly, given that the author won multiple Emmys and Writers' Guild of America awards for her writing, this book is a beautifully written and poignant story of a talented and determined woman forging a career in a male-dominated field, without sacrificing her femininity or her home life. Nixon begins her story in her tumultuous childhood; her mother and her often-absent father's rocky, on again-off again relationship doubtless inspired many of the passionate yet dysfunctional relationships depicted in her storylines through the years. Nixon narrates the difficulties of her life, not in a self-pitying way, but in a way that demonstrates her inspiration to depict interesting, sometimes tormented, emotionally moving relationships. Events and people as diverse as her beloved fiancee, who was killed in action during World War II; a tutor who introduced her to the drama of opera and Shakespeare; her father, who continuously made her promises that he never kept, alternately cajoling and threatening her; loved ones suffering from disease - all these found their way into her writing, whether as directly as a plotline of a character suffering from that same disease, or as subtly as an understanding of a character's egotistical, narcissistic personality. 

Nixon had to continually fight for her career. She was fired from various jobs; told that she couldn't address "sensitive" issues like cancer, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, drug addiction, and racial prejudice; threatened with lawsuits for collusion; even called an irresponsible and uncaring mother. But she persisted in following her dream, working long hours with no days off, continually fighting for and defending her choices and her work. And the result is that she became the first female writer inducted into the Soap Opera Hall of Fame, a legend in the world of television. Her legacy lives on in her influence on every soap opera currently on television. She was truly a visionary and a pioneer, and her story is as fascinating and intriguing as the scripts she penned for more than 40 years. 

I received this book for review from Blogging for Books. For more information about My Life to Live by Agnes Nixon, please see the Penguin Random House website.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

The Best of Jazz

Let me start with a disclaimer: I am not a jazz aficionado. I like some types of jazz; I loathe other types. So this list of great jazz tunes is not a comprehensive one, nor is it meant to be. But I have tried to mix up jazz styles and include a few that I'm not fond of, just in case you might be. The great thing about jazz is that it's like soup: there's such a huge variety of it that everyone can find a kind that they like.

However, since many jazz performers tend to stick with a particular style of jazz, it's often easier to find a band or a singer whose music you enjoy rather than picking out individual songs that you like - and in fact, one performer's style might be so different from another that you might love one's rendition of a particular song but hate the other's of the same song. So instead of listing great jazz songs, I'm going to list great jazz performers along with some particularly good examples of their work. If you listen to some of the samples and like them, please dig deeper into that artist's body of work, because you're likely to find lots of other songs you love just as much.

[Note: As I was writing this blog, I came across so much great early jazz that I have limited myself mainly to jazz greats of the 20s through the 60s in this entry. I may take a crack at more contemporary jazz performers in a future blog.]

Charlie "Yardbird" Parker - alto sax player and composer
Parker, more commonly known as "Yardbird" or simply "Bird," was a pioneer in bebop music. A saxophone virtuoso renowned for his incredibly fast tempos and brilliant technique, Bird began his career in the 1930s, working with such jazz greats as Earl Hines, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk. Bird loved classical music as well as jazz, and in 1949 recorded an album with a group of both jazz and chamber orchestra musicians called Charlie Parker with Strings. Miles Davis once said, "You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker." Parker was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1979.

Best-known songs: Yardbird Suite, Now's the Time
Other songs to try: All of Me, Autumn in New York, Just Friends

Miles Davis - trumpeter, composer, band leader
Davis performed with Charlie Parker in the 1940s, honing his style into the 1950s. Following a bout with heroin addiction, Davis came back to prominence following a performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955 and led a sextet and later a quintet into the 1960s, which included legendary saxophonist John Coltrane. His 1959 album Kind of Blue has been called the most popular jazz album ever recorded. Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

Best-known songs: So What, Bird of Paradise
Other songs to try: Blue in Green, I Fall in Love Too Easily, But Not for Me

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong - trumpeter, composer, and singer
Satchmo's career began in the 1920s, as he became known for shifting the focus from improvisation to solo playing. He often sang in his distinctive gravelly voice as well as playing trumpet, and he was a pioneer in scat singing, in which nonsense syllables are used instead of lyrics. His career lasted through the 1960s and continued to influence not only jazz but popular music as well. His recording of the song Hello, Dolly (recorded during out-of-town tryouts prior to the Broadway opening of the musical) influenced producer David Merrick to change the title of the show from Call on Dolly to Hello, Dolly!. Armstrong was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1978 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Armstrong was also the first jazz musician ever featured in the cover of Time magazine, in 1949.

Best-known songs: Hello, Dolly, What a Wonderful World, A Kiss to Build a Dream On
Other songs to try: La Vie en Rose, When You're Smiling, Cold, Cold Heart

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington - pianist, composer, and band leader
Ellington led a jazz orchestra from 1923 until his death in 1974. Best known for their appearances at Harlem's Cotton Club, Ellington's orchestra included many virtuoso performers, and Ellington often composed with the specific skills and style of a particular performer in mind. He wrote over 1,000 compositions, alone or with a collaborator. Although he was best known as a jazz pioneer, Ellington was a master of multiple genres, including big band, gospel, classical, and pop music. Among numerous other honors, Ellington was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1956, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971, the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1978, and the Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame in 2004.

Trademark songs: Take the 'A' Train, Mood Indigo
Other songs to try: In a Sentimental Mood, Sophisticated Lady, Melancholia, Freedom

John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie - trumpeter, singer, composer, and band leader
Instantly recognizable for both his bent-bell trumpet and his distinctive puffed-out cheeks, Gillespie taught and influenced many other well-known jazz trumpeters, including Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, Arturo Sandoval, and Chuck Mangione. From his first professional gig in 1935 until his death in 1993, Gillespie played with the likes of Cab Calloway (a collaboration that did not end well; a disagreement between the two escalated into a knife fight, resulting - not surprisingly - in Gillespie's dismissal from the band), Ella Fitzgerald, Earl Hines, and Charlie Parker. Gillespie also wrote music for band leaders including Woody Herman and Jimmy Dorsey. In 1953, Gillespie's trumpet was accidentally bent during a party, and he liked the sound so much he had a horn specially made with the bell at a 45-degree angle, which he used for the remainder of his career. Gillespie was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1960 and the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2002.

Best-known songs: On the Sunny Side of the StreetSalt Peanuts, Oop Bop Sh'Bam
Other songs to try: Umbrella Man (with Louis Armstrong), Unicorn, In Redondo

Dave Brubeck - pianist, composer, band leader
Brubeck and his quartet were known for a style referred to as "cool jazz," Brubeck's trademark was unusual time signatures, with his most well-known piece, Take Five, written in 5/4 time, and his popular Unsquare Dance in 7/4. However, he also composed orchestral and sacred choral music, as well as television soundtracks, the most famous being for the animated miniseries This is America, Charlie Brown. In 1951, Brubeck suffered a diving accident resulting in spinal cord and nerve damage, suffering from nerve pain in his hands throughout his career, which influenced his playing style away from the popular fast runs into a more chord-based style. Brubeck was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1954. Duke Ellington brought a copy of the magazine to Brubeck's hotel room to show him, and Brubeck, feeling that he had been unfairly favored over Ellington because he was white, could only say, "It should have been you." Brubeck was inducted into the Down Beat Hall of Fame in 1994.

Best-known songs: Take FiveBlue Rondo a la Turk, Unsquare Dance
Other songs to try:  Kathy's Waltz, Stardust, It's a Raggy Waltz

Ella Fitzgerald - singer
Dubbed "The First Lady of Song," Fitzgerald began her career as a teenager in Harlem, joining the Chick Webb orchestra in 1935, and taking over as the leader of the band upon Webb's death in 1939. She continued to perform and record with them until 1942, when she began a solo career, becoming well-known for her inventive scat singing. She also began to move away from be-bop, recording a series of eight "American Songbook" albums featuring the music of Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Rodgers and Hart, and Irving Berlin, among others. Fitzgerald was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1967.

Best-known songs: It Don't Mean a ThingSummertime, A Tisket, A Tasket
Other songs to try: How High the Moon, Cry Me a River, Blue Skies, Flying Home

Sarah Vaughan - singer
Nicknamed "The Divine One," Vaughan's career, much like that of Ella Fitzgerald's, began in Harlem as a teen, with amateur contests leading to a professional booking - in Vaughan's case, as the opening act for Fitzgerald herself. From 1943 to 1945, Vaughan sang with several big bands, then began pursuing a solo career. Her manager (and later husband) created a more glamorous style for her, changing her wardrobe and hairstyle, having her teeth capped to eliminate a noticeable gap between her front teeth, and encouraging her to perform commercial pop ballads, making her very popular as a live performer. Vaughan's career continued to be solid well into the 1980s, with her final studio recording in 1989 including, appropriately enough, a scat duet with Ella Fitzgerald. Two of Vaughan's recordings, the album Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown and the single If You Could See Me Now, were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Best-known songs: Lullaby of Birdland, Black Coffee, The Nearness of You
Other songs to try: The Man I Love, I Got Rhythm, Misty

Chet Baker - trumpeter, flugelhorn player, composer, and singer
Although a trumpet player, Baker is notable for his pairings with many well-known saxophonists, including Charlie Parker and Stan Getz. Baker's career was disrupted many times due to his heroin addiction, which led to stints in prison, deportation from several countries, and a violent attack which resulting in his losing several teeth and the inability to play his trumpet for several months before he was fitted for dentures. His striking good looks and cool demeanor led to a role in a Hollywood movie, but Baker opted to continue his music career instead of pursing further film work. Baker was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1989.

Best-known songs: My Funny Valentine, Time After Time
Other songs to try: Almost Blue, Every Time We Say Goodbye, But Not for Me

Billie "Lady Day" Holiday - singer and songwriter
Holiday, whose birth name was Eleanora Hagan, took her stage name from the actress Billie Dove and her (likely) birth father, Clarence Holiday, a musician. She sang in Harlem clubs as a young teen, making her recording debut at age 18 with Benny Goodman Holiday had a limited vocal range and no formal music education, but her vocal style and improvisational skills captivated audiences. Many of her recordings began jazz standards, and her life inspired several films and a Broadway play (Audra McDonald won the Tony Award for her portrayal of the singer). Holiday was posthumously awards a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987.

Best-known songs: God Bless the Child, Billie's Blues, Strange Fruit
Other songs to try: I'll Be Seeing You, Riffin' the Scotch, Blue Moon

William James "Count" Basie - pianist, organist, composer, and band leader
Basie began his performing career at age 16, improvising music for silent movies at his local cinema. This led to gigs at resorts and parties, and in 1935 Basie formed the Count Basie Orchestra, which he led for nearly 50 years. The orchestra performed in numerous styles, including bebop, big band, swing, even dabbling in R&B. Basie appeared on television and in movies, and many singers performed with the orchestra through the years, including such jazz luminaries as Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., and Billie Holiday. Basie was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1958 and the Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame in 2005, and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.

Best-known songs: One O'Clock Jump, And the Angels Sing, April in Paris
Other songs to try: In a Mellow Tone, Splanky, Shiny Stockings

Benny Goodman, clarinetist and band leader
Generally thought of as a swing musician, Goodman was also a leader in bringing bebop jazz into vogue. Goodman played in bands and as a session musician in Chicago and New York City, and in 1935 he became a band leader on the television program Let's Dance, and he and his band appeared in a number of movies from the last 1930s through the late 1940s. His 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall (which was actually intended as something of a publicity stunt) was called "the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history; jazz's 'coming out' party to the world of 'respectable' music" by critic Bruce Eder. Goodman was also one of the first band leaders to have a racially integrated orchestra, and was a prominent civil rights activist.

Best-known songs: Sing, Sing, Sing, Stompin' at the Savoy, Moonglow
Other songs to try: St. Louis Blues, Lady be Good, Let's Dance

Nina Simone - singer and pianist
Born Eunice Waymon, Simone took on "Nina Simone" as a stage name to disguise her identity from highly religious family members who disapproved of her playing in nightclubs. Hired as a pianist, Simone sang to her own accompaniment and was soon recognized primarily as a jazz singer, rather than a pianist. Her style was a mix of gospel, jazz, and classical (she had been trained at Juilliard), and suited her distinctively low, smoky voice. Her music often drew on her African heritage, and in the mid 1960s she began to be increasingly active in the civil rights movement, including a strong civil rights message in her music and spending more time speaking and protesting than performing and recording. Simone received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for her recording of I Loves You Porgy in 2000.

Trademark song: Feeling GoodI Loves You Porgy
Other songs to try: I Put a Spell on You, Lilac Wine

Thelonious Monk - pianist and composer
Monk began his career as a church organist before moving on to playing jazz piano in Manhattan nightclubs. His improvisational style was like no other, with abrupt pauses, dissonances, and melodic twists. He was known for jumping up from the keyboard and dancing for a few seconds before resuming playing during performances. John Coltrane commented that Monk loved to talk about music, and would spend hours explaining the answer to a question someone asked just to be sure they fully understood. Monk was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993, and in 2006 he was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for his contributions to the evolution of jazz music.

Best-known songs: 'Round Midnight, Straight, No Chaser,
Other songs to try: Don't Blame Me, Misterioso, Just You, Just Me

John "Trane" Coltrane - sax player and composer
Trane's jazz style was mostly be-bop, hard bop. and free jazz. After enlisting in the Navy, he was recruited into his base's swing band, but because it was an all-white group, he was treated as a guest artist to avoid trouble with his superior officers. After his discharge, he continued to both play and study jazz, working with such greats as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk.

Best-known songs: Blue TrainMy Favorite Things, In a Sentimental Mood
Other songs to try: Giant Steps, Central Park West, Alabama

If you can't find at least a few songs you like (or at least, can appreciate) from this list, than I find it hard to believe there's any kind of music that you like at all. But don't despair! I still have a whole list of more modern jazz artists who might just work for you (but I kind of doubt it).

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Famous Hat-Wearers

OK, since I seem to be on something of a "hat roll" here, today's post is some background on "famous" hats. You know how there are some famous people (or characters) who always seem to always be wearing a particular hat or type of hat? Let's look at how some of those people came to be associated with a particular hat, or how they set a trend for a particular style of hat.

The first character that comes to mind when I think of a trademark hat is, of course, Indiana Jones, as played by Harrison Ford.
Indy rarely appears without his battered fedora. As well as being a fun little in-joke as Indy occasionally retrieves his hat in some improbable manner, the hat served the practical purpose of shading Ford's face and making it easier to swap out a stunt man or other body double during the various action sequences. It also tied in to the old B-movies that inspired the film, as it was often used for a similar purpose there. The fedora worn by Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution's American History Museum.

Another famed fedora-wearer is Humphrey Bogart, who sported the hat in such films as Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Big Sleep, and Sabrina.
Bogart not only popularized the fedora for future generations, he taught men everywhere how to wear it properly: front of the brim tilted down, tipped at a rakish angle, shading the face just slightly. He knew how to take it off properly, too, by pinching the front of the crown, and he could coolly toss it onto a desk or hatrack without even looking. Bogart made hat protocol cool.

Similar to Bogey, John Wayne made a series of movies in which he wore a series of similar hats - in Wayne's case, cowboy hats.
Among the styles Wayne sported in his movies were Stetsons, Tom Mix, cattleman, pinched front, and open crown, although his personal favorite was said to be a silverbelly hat with a pinched-front, diamond-creased crown. Hatmaker Resistol, which provided some of Wayne's hats for his movies, still carries a line of seven hats inspired by the actor.

Jacqueline Kennedy brought not only the pillbox hat into prominence in the early 1960s, but also its designer, Halston.
Halston began his design career as a hat designer, gaining fame for designing Jacqueline Kennedy's pillbox hats, which were often beautifully coordinated with her suits, and moving on to become a clothing designer as hats began to fall out of fashion. Sadly, pillbox hats in particular fell in popularity following JFK's assassination, during which Jackie Kennedy was wearing her now famous pink suit and matching pillbox hat, and the nation associated the image of the hat with the tragic event.

One of the most famous hat-wearers in current history is not known for a particular style of hat so much as hats in general: Queen Elizabeth II.

From this beautiful cartwheel hat (above, top), worn in 1954, the year after her coronation, to the small half-hats she favored throughout the 50s and 60s, to turban styles in the 70s, to more traditionally-styled straw hats and wide-brimmed hats in the 80s (as seen above, center), to the taller, slightly flared-crowned hats she has favored since the 90s, such as the sunny yellow feather-trimmed kettle-brim hat seen directly above, Queen Elizabeth rarely appears in public without a fabulous hat. The Queen's current hat designer is Rachel Trevor-Morgan, who has been designing hats for Her Majesty since 2006, and who in 2014 was "granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment to her Majesty the Queen." Trevor-Morgan also designs hats for other members of the royal family. Interesting royal hat factoid: whenever a hat is part of the Queen's ensemble, her dressers provide a coordinating headscarf in case the hat gets wet or damaged in the rain. (It is England, after all.)

Another British leader who was quite fond of hats was Sir Winston Churchill, who sported many different styles over the years, but whose trademark hat was undoubtedly the homburg.
The main differences between Churchill's trademark homburg and a fedora are that the homburg lacks the "pinch" at the top front of the crown, and the stiff brim has a slightly upturned lip all the way around instead of a more gradual upturn at the back only. Churchill prided himself on being well-dressed, always wearing a well-tailored suit, often a pin-striped three-piece suit, and a nicely hand-tied bow tie. As well as the famous hat, he accessorized with a pocket watch fob and chain, elegant pocket squares, and often a small boutonniere. In addition to the homburg, Churchill was also known to sport a Cambridge (a type of top hat), a bowler, a Stetson cowboy hat, and occasionally the odd fireman's helmet or pith helmet. In the words of his son, Randolph, "My father never met a hat he didn't like."

One celebrity who is famous for a hat that she really only wore that one time is Mary Tyler Moore, who is well known for tossing her hat into the air during the opening credits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Although often referred to as a beret, Mary's iconic bright blue striped knitted hat is actually a tam, based on its fuller crown and the adorable little pom-pom at the top (see yesterday's blog entry for the definition of both hat styles). Although the opening sequence was slightly changed every season, they always ended with that same hat toss clip, freezing on Mary's beaming face with the hat in mid-air. Ever since Mary's exuberant toss, people have been recreating that moment on the streets of Minneapolis near the Nicollet Mall, where the original sequence was filmed. The bit has been parodied dozens, perhaps hundreds of times since, but one of the funniest was in the closing credits of the spinoff, Rhoda, in which Rhoda attempts to recreate the hat toss on the streets of New York City, but drops her hat.

Perhaps the creepiest trademark hat ever is the bowler (or derby, in American terms) worn by Malcolm McDowell as the sociopathic Alex DeLarge in the film A Clockwork Orange.
Who can forget this publicity shot of Alex peering up ominously from under the brim of the hat? The gentlemanly formality and genteel civility of the elegant hat, which formed part of the "uniform" of the ultra-violent teenage "droogs," created a chilling contrast to their cruel and inhuman behavior.

A much more light-hearted example of a strong contrast between the formality of a hat and the style of the famous wearer is the case of Harpo Marx.
The silent member of the Marx brothers, along with older brother Groucho and younger brother Chico, Harpo's trademark was his mop of blond curls topped by an elegant top hat worn at a rakish tilt. The remainder of his outfit was usually a rumpled trench coat with oversized pockets, a loud print shirt, and a necktie. This was appropriate for his clownish character, as circus clowns during that time period often paired oversized, mismatched clothes with formal hats, including top hats. Fun fact: the curly wig Harpo wore under the hat was actually pink (as shown in colored movie posters), but read as blonde on black and white film.

One of the most well-known literary characters to be associated with a specific (and somewhat unusual) type of hat is Sherlock Holmes and his deerstalker.

From Basil Rathbone to Jeremy Brett to Benedict Cumberbatch, nearly ever actor ever to portray Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr. being perhaps the most notable exception) has chosen to sport Holmes' iconic deerstalker at one point or another. Interestingly, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never described Holmes as wearing a deerstalker in any of his stories; however, in 1891, Sidney Paget illustrated one of Doyle's stories for The Strand Magazine and gave Holmes not only his deerstalker, but the Inverness cape, and that image has stuck with the Sherlock Holmes stories ever since.

Another notable hat-wearing character which has been played by multiple actors, is Dr. Who. Each incarnation wears a unique ensemble, but Matt Smith's Doctor is known for pairing his tweed jacket with a red bowtie and a distinctive fez.
The Eleventh Doctor does not actually wear a fez in every episode in which he appears. but he did sport one on three or four occasions, in one instance proclaiming happily, "I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool." A fez is a Moroccan headdress with a cylindrical shape and no brim, usually red and often with a black tassel at the top. It is named after the former capital city of Morocco, and was used as a symbol of learning and wisdom. It has been adopted by a number of modern fraternal organizations, most notably the Shriners and the Elks.

Other famous hat wearers:
Crocodile Dundee (film character played by actor Paul Hogan) - Australian cattleman hat (ornamented with crocodile teeth)

Pharrell Williams (singer/songwriter) - a style by designed Vivienne Westwood called "Buffalo Girls (Nostalgia of Mud)"

Slash (lead guitarist of Guns N' Roses) - top hat

Carmen Miranda (singer) - fruit-adorned turban

Abraham Lincoln (U.S. President) - stovepipe hat (top hat)

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