Hannibal Missouri – A Ghost Town?

It’s not a ghost town yet but it’s getting there. I spent a day in Hannibal, Missouri. I’m a high school English teacher and just couldn’t pass up the chance to visit the home of the American author, Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. Mid-July I expected the streets of Hannibal to be teeming with sightseers anxious to catch a glimpse of the spot on the Mississippi River where Twain’s hero Huck Finn set sail on his raft . I thought folks would be lined up in droves to tour the Clemens homestead and visit the caves where Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn had so many adventures. But on a steamy summer afternoon I browsed in solitary pleasure through shops replete with Twain novels, biographies and souvenirs. A Japanese tourist and a father and son from England were the only other people visiting Becky Thatcher’s cottage with me. A boy and girl dressed up like Tom Sawyer and his girlfriend Becky looked bored as they waited for tourists to show up and pay $7 to have their picture taken with the famous literary couple. Horse drawn carriages toured the city carting only a few passengers each. I attended an excellent one-man show put on by actor Richard Garey. Standing on a stage crammed with Twain memorabilia, Garey did a lively and educational re-creation of one of Twain’s lectures and story telling presentations. Mark Twain traveled across the United States entertaining crowds of people in the late 1800’s Unfortunately only eight of us were in attendance at the show Garey staged in Hannibal on a July night.

Don’t get me wrong. Hannibal, Missouri is charming. It’s just that the whole place appears to be a little ‘down on its luck.’ We stopped at two bed and breakfast establishments that looked lovely and appealing in the brochures we’d picked up. The doors were locked, the paint peeling and the yards overgrown. The high school English teacher who supplemented his income by running the book store at the Mark Twain museum had plenty of time to ‘talk shop’ with me since I was his only customer. We wanted to try a local Hannibal restaurant for supper, but by seven o’clock many were closed, and others I have to admit looked just a little on the seedy side. We finally settled on Lula Belles, a former bordello turned now into a respectable eatery. It was founded by an enterprising madam from Chicago at the turn of the century. The food was hardly gourmet, but the portions were plentiful and the service friendly. You couldn’t help remembering however that it used to be a centre for gambling and prostitution and was frequently raided by the police. Did the ‘ladies of the evening’ who made their living there a hundred years ago still haunt the place one wondered?

Literary tourism appears to be flourishing. People are flocking to the sites mentioned in the popular book the Da Vinci Code. The Prince Edward Island tourist industry thrives on the Anne of Green Gables books authored by Lucy Maud Montgomery. So what’s the problem in Hannibal, Missouri, the setting for Twain’s novels? I checked some traveler review web sites which mentioned several reasons for Hannibal’s decline including lack of advertising, limited hours of operation and an almost cynical attitude amongst residents about their famous home town author.

I enjoyed Hannibal, Missouri and was glad I had visited. Hopefully the town will be able to make the necessary changes to attract more tourists. Otherwise it might become a place inhabited only by the ghosts of Mark Twain and the interesting cast of characters he created in his memorable novels.

Cosplay in Japanese Culture

Cosplay is not limited to dressing up in costumes from popular TV shows. Cosplay is also seen in traditional Japanese culture and fashion.

Coming of age ceremonies have been held in Japan since at least AD 714, when a young prince got new clothes and a hairstyle to mark their passage into adulthood. The official holiday was first established in 1948, to be held each year on 15 January. In 2000, as a result of the successful system, the Monday on which the Day Of Coming of Age was celebrated on was changed to the second Monday in January.

Many women celebrate this day with the use of Furisode (a kimono with long sleeves that hang) and zori sandals. Since most are unable to put on a kimono by themselves due to the complexities involved in dressing in one, many choose to visit a beauty salon to dress and have their hair done. A complete set of formal clothing is quite expensive, so it is usually taken from a relative or rented rather than bought for the occasion. Men sometimes wear traditional costumes (for example a dark kimono with hakama), but in modern times many men wear formal western clothes, like a suit and a tie, more often than a traditional dress.

The latest street fashion among Japanese women is the smokey eye look. It is a sultry and sexy look that is easy to achieve and which creates stunning results. The smokey eye look has been called the little black dress of make up as it is always stylish. Smokey eyes are perfect anywhere and anytime because the make up needed is not overdone and adds a little bit of mystery and allure to a woman’s look. The smokey eye make up is also useful for vampire Cosplay.

Fantasy and science fiction characters have became very popular Cosplay costumes. Characters from the Star Wars, Star Trek and the Harry Potter series are some of the most popular non-manga characters to be featured in Cosplay events. Anime cartoons such as Naruto, Bleach and Final Fantasy as well as video and computer games are also popular characters to be made into Cosplay costumes. Akatsuki And Organization XIII costumes as well as the ever popular ShinRa were the most common costumes at conventions. Outside of conventions, the most popular Cosplay costumes are school girl outfits and maid uniforms.

Comic books, graphic novels and fantasy movies are also a source of inspiration for Cosplayers.

Fashion Adventures In A Girl’s Life With Anna Sui

It takes a lot of hard work and determination to reach the Top of the fashion business, and Anna Sui has certainly succeeded. Time Magazine included her in the list of five most important fashion gurus of this decade. She was born in Detroit in 1955 and moved to New York City after High School. She enrolled at the prestigious Parsons School of Design and went on to work as a stylist for the fashion photographer, Steven Meisel.

After designing clothes as a young woman, inspired by the models in magazines, Anna Sui found her own style. She developed her designing business throughout the 1980s and was ready to put on her first runway show in 1991. The models included Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista. Anna launched her own clothing line the following year and opened the first of her boutiques in New York City. Eventually she would have boutiques in Tokyo, Osaka, Hollywood and Los Angeles. She has continued to be particularly popular in Japan, and has designed the costumes for an anime (Japanese style animation), Television series.

The collection is sold in over thirty countries, and commands premium price tags as befits a top designer Label. The range of dresses, tops and skirts etc. has a modern feel about it, and Anna Sui says she was inspired by the rock chic look. There are also accessories for sale such as bags and belts. Her status Is sealed by the endorsement of an impressive list of Celebrities including Madonna, Christina Ricci, Cher, Courtney Love and Patricia Arquette. James Iha of the Smashing Pumpkins is also a fan.

In 1997, the footwear collection was launched. Shoes, boots and sandals are available as casual day wear and for formal, evening occasions. There are several different materials used, including silk, shearling, suede, patent leather, velvet, and snake and lizard skin. The Anna Sui Fragrance, aftershave and cosmetics line came out two Years later. The fragrance bottles are particularly Creative, and include a butterfly shape and a model Head design. Toiletries include Eau De Toilette Spray, Body Cream, and Bath and Shower Gel.

All of the collection is available to order online, and there are sales items posted on the web site. Anna Sui continues to bring out her collections, drawing from different inspirational ideas each time, and the shows are always well received. She is always open about the source of her ideas, and still keeps an eye on what’s in the magazines, mixing that with some typical looks from the past.