The Cocktail Bar

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Music Playing: Sweet Sue's All-Blonde Band with Day by Day

Dateline: Thursday, September 18th, 1952

For Angelina

I have a new sister and her name is Angelina. I do not know her very well, not yet, I do not even know if she is blonde or brunette but I hope the former because I am rather short of blonde sisters at the mome. We write little Elektrapost notes to one another on an erratic basis in the course of some pretty regular work we must conduct together. Nothing mysterious, but if you ask me what, I will say that its none of anyones business except ours. I am quite sorry to have to say so, but that is really the case.

So dont get me confused! I was not talking about our work, which is, as I believe I have told you at least once already, none of your business, but about Angelina. Golliwogs, pettes can be so frightfully nosy around here! So anyway Angelina told me she has been rather sad lately but now feels somewhat better.

Whenever I am sad I drink a quart of warm milk, jump in the bathtub and listen to some sweet music on my Victrola, which stands in my bedroom right next to the bathroom in a mahogany cabinet. No, my bathroom is not in a mahogany cabinet you sillies, its the Victrola, of course, in the cabinet.

One needs sweet music because a girl is rather likely to catch more chickens with honey than with vinegar before they hatch, if you catch my drift, so I told Angelina to get a shiny of Miss Vera Lynn singing some popular Kadorie wartime songs about sweethearts who are apart because of the war but I forgot to tell her about the milk. Or the bathtub.

Well I am sure Angelina can find plenty of milk and bathtubs where she lives, but I am not so sure about the music, so I am sending her this Vera Lynn song right now to make her feel a bit more hopeful even when she is not taking a bath. Or drinking warm milk.

There'll Come Another Day

Your dearest memories all remind you
That sorrow never comes to stay
And when the shadows fall behind you
There'll come another day

A day to bring you joy and laughter
For when the night has passed away
You'll find the sunshine follows after
There'll come another day

And then together, in sunny weather
We'll wander hand in hand
Shadows will vanish, true love will banish
All life's misunderstanding

The world will glow with golden glory
Soon we'll forget the skies were grey
And like a lovely fairy story
There'll come another day.

[Long instrumental, with lots of strings]

And then together, in sunny weather
We'll wander hand in hand
Shadows will vanish, true love will banish
All life's misunderstanding

The world will glow with golden glory
Soon we'll forget the skies were grey
And like a lovely fairy story
There'll come another day.

ARIADNE


More Advice For Shy Brunettes

Hello, darlings, Elizabeth Ruth here again. I have been away on adventures again, in the Amazonian wilderness, but I am beginning to long for the linen and mahogany of Arcadia. Dancing with masks and drums stirs the primal fires (dance, Shiva, dance!) but a minuet is like iced lemonade.

And you'll never guess! On the way home we passed through a corner of Trent in the middle of nowhere! and there was a little shop with real nylons, with seams and everything, and only a dollar a pair! I bought all they had in my size! But alas, I am so tall, they barely come over my knees. But look, aren't they pretty?

Candice Amadea, since you have revealed your nickname, I will tell you that my littlest neice, who cannot manage the whole of my name, calls me Lizzie Ruth, except she pronounces the Ruth "Root". Just between brunettes, you may call me Lizzie Ruth, but don't let the blondes hear... Yes, Candie dear, I expect Emmeline may have something to do with your shyness, but that was then and this is now, and you are a scintillating, elegant, brave and brilliant brunette, and you do not need any strategems or cute little conversational gambits. Don't forget that many blondes love the strong, silent type. Relax; make eye contact. Say what you're thinking. Don't be afraid to let her see that you're shy - after all, there's no point coming on like Joan Crawford if you can't sustain it, and anyway shyness can be very endearing. Let's see - do you see that lovely young blonde over there, in the pale blue dress trimmed with satin roses? Would you like to speak with her? Good, what do you think of when you look at her? Well, that's a good point, I never saw any rose of that colour either. So, there you go. Compliment her on the pretty dress, make your comment about blue roses. Make sure you listen to whatever she says in response, and respond to it: if she looks embarrassed and says her mother picked it out, look compassionate; if she comes back with something witty (or even just intended to be witty) don't be so nervous that you forget to laugh or at least smile. Then introduce yourself properly, and ask her name - very respectfully, bearing in mind that you're asking for a favour in doing so. By that time something else may have come up that you can talk about. Candida is right, you know, the real trick is to listen and respond with interest. If you really can't think of anything else to say, just tell her it's been a pleasure making her acquaintance, and leave gracefully. If she's even remotely interested, she'll find a way to speak to you later. Now go! Walk tall and move slowly, and no one will ever guess that you're scared (well, it works for me!) Wait, here's a kiss for good luck!

ELIZABETH RUTH


Hostess Gowns

Well, a hefty snifter of brandy and half a scented Turkish ciggie at bedtime put yesterday's cares behind me almost at once, (with the effect of a cudgel), so, having slept a dreamless sleep I awoke today refreshed, more determined than ever that Miss Shearer's photo session would come off smoothly. There were apologies all round as soon as Miss Shearer arrived at the studio; Adrienne, the costume designer, had redone the offending hostess gown overnight (at the cost of her own sleep), but it was well worth her efforts, as one can see from the self-satisfied smile, or should I say trademark smirk, on Miss Shearer's face.

This lovely velvet-topped two-piece hostess ensemble has shirred sleeves and a long central panel down the skirt front, which, while not detracting from the face or the upraised, petal-like collar, slims the body, particularly the (ahem!) thighs and hips. Riptide is a charming romantic comedy which you must see when it is released in December. Can't tell you more about it, pettes: against studio policy, you know!

Oh, dear, here I am talking all about hostess gowns without saying what they are! Well, they are towards the formal end of the lounge wear spectrum, negligees and formal bathrobes at the informal end. The latter may be worn in boudoir and bedroom, whereas the former may be worn in boudoir and dining room or salon, that is, they are formal enough for conventional teas or dinners, yet relaxed and informal enough to conduct that particular blonde guest (or two) upstairs to the boudoir after other guests have left for the evening. But they may be worn only in one's own hestia, that is the inviolable rule -- they cannot properly be worn beyond its bounds under any circumstances, with this sole exception: if one has been asked to act as hostess in another's behalf, in case of illness or incapacity.

Hostess gowns are, in the main, soft and flowing and extraordinarily comfortable to wear. Look at this fine example worn by Miss Claire Trevor. It is of ultra fine transparent coral velvet with chocolate satin-back crepe undersleeves which cross in back and tie in front leaving floor-length sash-ends. A pin encrusted with sapphires and garnets holds the neck drape in place and is matched by a long bracelet on the left wrist.

To complete my little photo essay on hostess gowns, let me show you one in action. Here is Miss Gail Patrick descending her staircase en route to salon, wearing a magnificent, pleated hostess gown in a classic Roman motif. The gown, of baby blue crepe, is bordered in white, its capelet fastened with a silver brooch covered with amethysts, bracelet to match. I am sorry the limits of Elektraspace do not allow one to see how the elegant fluted banister echoes the pleats, which seem to radiate from the brooch.

Tomorrow I shall turn to what we in Trentish Hollywood call epic glamour, that is, costumes designed for lavish musicals and extravagant period pieces. As you shall see, some of these costumes are elaborate in the extreme and cost thousands of dollars to make. Until then, this is your Trentish Hollywood fashion expert signing off again for the evening.

ANITA, PARAMOUNT STUDIOS ARCHIVIST FROM TRENT


Dateline:Wednesday, September 17th, 1952

Blueberries and Mushrooms

[Ed. Note: This afternoon's post brought another lemon-grass scroll complete with suede envelope attached, this one containing two lovely photos. The scroll bore a North Amazonian Imperial Postmark.]

Guess what, dearest friends in the Cocktail Bar? Just yesterday the dashing Novarian trader, who calls herself Cassiopeia, suddenly returned to my village for a consignment of tundra rose honeycombs. She had them packed into her strange and wonderful boat, which came right up onto the shore by itself and obediently followed her to the storehouse where the honeycombs are kept! This I saw with my own eyes or I would never have believed it!

As the weather was fine and Cassiopeia in no great hurry to depart, after her consignment was stowed and her magical boat tied up at the pier she sought me out near the chapel where I had gone for afternoon devotions. As I stammered and blushed and looked down at the ground, she told me she was sorry for having pinched me and suddenly disappearing. She promised never to use me so ill again, and to mollify what still smouldered of my indignation and embarrassment, presented me with a full bolt of Novarian cloth, gossamer-platinum she called it. (I later learned that she had traded only five such bolts for her entire consignment of honeycombs!)

Of course, I refused the gift, as I hardly knew this stranger, and the circumstances of our first meeting had not been, shall I say, less than auspicious. But the offer was made -- and repeated so many times -- with such evident goodwill and the tall trader's looks so plainly bespoke an honest friendliness and desire to make amends (I did steal a look at her face, once or twice, I admit, though my eyes came to rest chiefly on the shining bolt of cloth), with not the slightest hint that any obligation would ever accrue from the offer's acceptance, that I finally acceded to her entreaties and lifted the bolt from her hands, my heart beating wildly. At that moment I confess I desired the wonderful fabric more than anything in the world, and had the Evil One been standing right there with the power to give it me I might have been in danger of selling my immortal soul for it! But, in this case, all I had to do was say "Yes," and my soul remained in my keeping. Of my heart, however ... well, more of that later.

This fabric is soft, filmy and strong; it glows like burnished silver; its weave is so fine one can discern neither warp nor woof, yet one's breath passes through it as easily as through linen, the principal trade-cloth we buy from other traders from time to time. Cassiopeia also gave me a set of twenty shiny metal needles, a metal thimble and a dozen spools of gleaming gossamer-platinum thread, all neatly set in to a sleek sliver-blue metal case with invisible latch and hinges, so that, closed, it resembled nothing more than an over-sized, seamless new bar of trade-soap, only far finer and shinier.

Never had I held in my arms such riches in trade-goods! I ran home in a daze, not really knowing what to tell my mothers. So I did what every good girl does: I told them the truth, pinch and all! Blonde mummie had to try hard to keep from laughing, while brunette mummie scowled a bit, muttering something about saucy, hen-sure young Novarian brunette traders, and my sisters tittered in a corner.

My little blonde sisters Ingalik'aa, Okvik'aa and I had planned to travel upriver next day to pick blueberries and mushrooms, a three-day journey on foot (we carry the rolled-up boat-skin and featherweight baleen boat frame of our smallest skiff, broken down, on our backs in large quivers, then assemble the boat when we are done and drift home). But Cassiopeia, having overheard our plans as we talked at the pier while she was loading her boat, and eager to see a bit of the north high country in the company of three local (and blonde) guides, came to our house after dinner to suggest we all go up and back in one day in her magical boat, which she calls a gyrocraft. Even fully loaded with honeycombs, there would be room enough for a dozen girls, she said, and as there would be only four of us, the trip would be quick. So, after introducing Cassiopeia to our mothers in the proper fashion, parental permission was requested and granted, (not without the usual admonitions and extraction of various promises), and we set off early next morning, just before dawn, provisioned with empty hampers and baskets and a picnic luncheon wrapped in cool river grass.

Dear friends, I cannot tell you how exciting was the journey in Cassiopeia's magical boat! After we had clambered on board, Cassiopeia spoke to it in a soft voice for several seconds, then we immediately glided away from the pier and shot up the river, against the relentless current, a thing unheard of! And so quickly, too, following every bend and curve, but always over the main channel. I say "over" because the gyrocraft, which Cassiopeia calls Hermia, is not never really in the water, but just an inch or two above the surface, so there was really no need to follow a channel of any sort, but Cassiopeia said Hermia likes to do things properly and so always seeks and follows the channel when running rivers.

Within less than two hours we were already in the high country, where the river has dangerous rapids, but Hermia passed over them without any difficulty whatever and we were at our picking grounds just as the sun crept over the high eastern ridgeline to warm us. Cassiopeia had brought her silver image-making box with her and made many miniature images, which she referred to as "'lumes," and of which she gave us the finest.

Here is an image of the high valley where the mushrooms and berries grow. It is already brushed with autumn's rich colors, though the month is still August. The yellow foliage you see in the foreground is dwarf arctic birch, the red, bearberry; neither is taller than a handsbreadsth or two. One cannot see them clearly in this image, but the ground is covered with arctic blueberry bushes, no higher than one's thumb, but so laden with berries that one's knees are promptly stained purple as one picks. We left Ingalik'aa and Okvik'aa to pick berries, and I took Cassiopeia to the high slopes to hunt mushrooms.

Mountain mushrooms are a n important staple in our diet. Eaten fresh, sauteed in light seal oil with wild chives, they are a feast, and dried they may be used all the rest of the year as a garnish in stews or mixed in with steamed tundra-rice or in auk egg omelettes. Mushrooms sprout overnight just after a rain, and must be gathered quickly, as flies lay their eggs in them soon after they sprout, so within only a day they are no longer good to eat. It had rained the previous night, so we were able to gather a hundred pounds of prime mushrooms in three or four hours, which we packed carefully into several willowroot hampers and carried down to the boat. Here is an image of me holding three perfect baby mushrooms, moss strands still clinging to their stems. Then we joined Ingalik'aa and Okvik'aa and picked blueberries until all twenty of our stacking willowroot baskets were filled.

After a luncheon of dried salmon strips, willow-apples and blueberries, we packed everything into Hermia's capacious holds and were whisked back downriver to the village, arriving before sunset, in time to enjoy a sumptuous dinner with sauteed mushrooms as the first course and fresh blueberries mixed with whipped heavy seal oil as the pudding. The main dish was roast wild goose with a cranberry, currant and saxifrage stuffing. Cassiopeia said that the berries and whipped oil tasted quite a bit like something she called "ice cream."

The following morning Cassiopeia departed, laden with gifts of dried mushrooms and berry preserves. She will not be back again until next summer's solstice when the salmon runs start. I confess there was a bitter pang in my breast and a lump in my throat as she said her good-byes; I felt myself wishing she could stay longer, or would return sooner. As she stooped low to pass under our lintel, she paused, turned round and came back to me. Bending down gracefully, she planted a chaste kiss on my forehead, in full view of my mothers and sisters, then, without a word, turned again and went quickly out , not once looking back.

I ran to the window just in time to see her dab at her eyes before she rounded the corner and was gone. I felt a sudden urge to run out after her and beg her to take me with her to Novaria, but instead I bolted to my little room, threw myself face down on my bed and sobbed myself to sleep; Cassiopeia's kiss still burned on my forehead when I awoke at supper-time feeling ravenously hungry.

KWETHALYN, AMAZONIAN BLONDE OF THE NORTH


Magical Amazonia

Hello Darlings,

What a lot of talk about such strange worlds and magical peoples. I have always loved the thought of Amazonia, though I have never lived there. These days, I am reading a book in installments about a slave girl who comes from Amazonia. It is simply fascinating! Do any of you pettes know any Amazonian songs? I have adored the simple nobility of the few I have heard. Maybe somepette will sing one for us. My favorite is the one about the blonde thanking all of the brave brunette warriors for their protection as they surround her and keep her safe from the enemy.

I would love to visit Amazonia, yet I am not sure if I would like to live there. But isn't it swell how we can have a choice about where to live in Aristasia? Magical and solemn Amazonia, stern and upright Arcadia, Jinky Vintesse, Elegant Trent, Dignified Kadoria, and Homey Quirinelle, my own home sweet home. I guess, too, there is Daring Infraquirinelle, but I always forget that little island, which seems to me to be only a place to visit when a girl wants to show off her legs in a short skirt. Actually, though, now that I think of it, I doI know one pette who calls the crazy island her home. She is an Infra girl through and through. Quite an unusual kind of pette to come across, though, don't you think?

Nice to stop by for a Champaigne Cocktail and a chat with you girls again. So many new faces since my last visit. Isn't that peachy? And so many familiar ones too. Miss Fox, so nice to see pictures of your lovely home. I will have to bring some photoshots in of my Trentish bungalow. I can hardly believe I have been here a year already. It grows more and more sweet and more and more racinated every day. Bye for now, pettes, and I promise not to be such a stranger in the future!

Love Always,

MISS BARBARA


Lounge Wear for Big Girls

Now that we have all seen what the small fry in Trent are wearing these days in the boudoir, let us next direct our attention to the Big Girls. First, do you all know what a boudoir really is? Do you suppose it has riskay overtones, or that it appertains somehow to the demi monde? Then you suppose incorrectly, my dears, as any up-to-date dictionary defines "boudoir" as "a room, sometimes connected to her bedroom, where a lady may retire to be alone, or to receive intimate friends," (or to sulk, if she likes, according to the literal French meaning). Consequently, being in one's boudoir requires a separate wardrobe, one not quite appropriate for the salon or drawing room, nor yet for the bedroom either, and hence the existence of a distinct fashion genre known as lounge wear, which spans the spectrum from hostess gowns, through negligees and elaborate slips, to formal bath robes. (Lounging pajamas, too, but, as they are bifurcs, we shall omit them.)

Allow me to begin at the very apogee of the genre with the crown jewel of lounge wear, this stunning silver-beaded negligee worn here by Miss Jean Harlow in Dinner at Eight, currently showing in Eastern Trent. Loosely draped and fastened by a single plump, round button at the waist, it is a snap for Miss Harlow to toss it over her night gown and be perfectly turned out for an assignation in her boudoir the moment her maid tells her a Certain Guest has arrived. The twenty-two inch spectacular cuffs are of ostrich fronds.

Glamorous lounging attire often relies on oriental motifs, as these are suited to the exotic atmosphere most hostesses seek to create in their boudoirs, eschewing the more formal conventionalities of, say, the club or the bridge table. Here is Loretta Young as she appears in Shanghai (a Paramount picture!) wearing an elegant two-piece Chinese lounging gown richly embroidered with arcane oriental designs. It is of heavy, pale jade-colored silk; the long coat may be removed on warm evenings -- or whenever Miss Young feels warm for any reason -- to reveal the bodice of her long sleeveless underdress.

Similarly oriental in design though far more dramatic is Miss Greta Garbo's somewhat severe hostess gown as worn in her recent film, Painted Veil, where she plays a terribly unhappy woman wracked in a love triangle during a cholera epidemic in China (that's the plot, really, cross my heart!) The turban, of course, is now the rage in Trent. The gown itself, also in two pieces, with a floor-length underdress, is of heavy white unbleached muslin, cinched at the waisted by a closely-pleated broad belt drawn through an ornate belt loop and closed with a richly jeweled buckle.

Oh, I could go on and on, and I promise I shall, but I confess to being exhausted by my day's work: we had a grueling session shooting publicity stills of Miss Norma Shearer for her new release, Riptide, and, not to tell too many tales out of class, Miss Shearer is not always the most endearing of stars: she is somewhat, um, heavy of hip, you see, and so most particular about just how a gown hangs and how the lighting will reveal her. Two quite senior lighting blondes and a brunette draper dissolved in tears before the session had gone on for an hour, and after four hours Miss Shearer herself dissolved in tears (an unlikely spectacle, but true), and all shooting had to be stopped because her eyelids became too bloated. So everyone went home on edge, though writing for you pettes has finally restored a bit of my equilibrium.

Tomorrow I shall try to show you more boudoir attire, but for now, good-night!

ANITA, PARAMOUNT STUDIOS ARCHIVIST FROM TRENT


Dateline:Monday, September 15th, 1952

Back Again

Hello again, everyone. My, it's nice to be back, and I see that the old place has changed not at all!

Hello, Candice Amadea. I see that you are struggling with the perennial problem of the Shy Brunette. The best advice that I can offer is that when you wish to strike up a conversation with a blonde, to try to forget about yourself and be interested in her. You do not need to talk a great deal; you will be much more popular, and find your shyness less of a problem, if you concentrate on being a brunette who listens. If a blonde should strike your fancy, after asking the usual questions, ask if her if she has any hobbies, or about her work, or what if she has any special ambitions, or even what dream she would like to fulfill if she was able to do so. Once the two of you are chatting away on these type of subjects, with a little bit of luck you will be enjoying yourself and then you won't feel so shy and are less likely to suffer the agonies of silence. It may be worth a try, anyway!

CANDIDA


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