Sunday, October 23, 2016

Ladies in Waiting: 27 Tresses

Yep, they're multiplying!  There are 27 of them this week, and they're waiting for something already -- and it's not James Marsden as Prince Charming in journalist's clothing.  No, they're waiting for eyes -- or, more accurately, sunglasses, which I chose on account of them being more mysterious than poorly cut pupils (for even I have my limits with felt).

Subconsciously, I think that my faces may have been inspired by Iris.  Ah, yes, Iris Apfel, that marvelously mod nonagenarian lighting up INC ads beneath the sassily scrawled, "How many 95-year-old cover girls do you know?"at your nearest Macy's.  Tiny and birdlike, she rocks bold patterns and piles of costume jewelry that only serve to enhance her frail frame.  Best of all, her Macy's merch is distinguished by a tag in her cartoon likeness, her signature glasses, red lips, and huge gumball necklace ratcheting up her 1960s appeal.  Needless to say, I was over the moon when I found this cream and maroon hinge-style bangle, which originally retailed for $34.50, on the $7.99 table at Macy's One Day Sale.  I promptly marched it to the register, where I cashed in my Plenti points to bring the total down to a mere $5.15.  The only fly in the ointment of my afternoon was when the sales clerk stuck one of those infernal return stickers on Iris's forehead!  I'd been even more excited about the tag than the bracelet and was planning to make a pendant out of it.  Thankfully, the husband applied a bit of Goo Gone (or some equivalent), restoring Iris to her gorgeous glory.  Stay tuned for her Tote Trove debut!

Anyway, to compensate for my blind-as-a-bat hatted beauties, I made a quick bit of something that can see . . . well, as far as the eye.

Top: Macy's
Skirt: Hollister, Marshalls
Shoes: Not Rated, DSW
Bag: Old Navy
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

The smiling little wooden beads in this Hello Dolly Necklace are actually doll heads, the type, I imagine, that crafters of another kind use to anchor Christmas ornaments and crocheted dresses.  Still, to me they're no frills and folksy, speaking of simpler times, of prize box treasures and humanized corn husks (or rather, cornhusk dolls, which don't sound as wonderfully weird -- or alliterative).  They don't even need makeup (makeup in the craft world being glue), unlike my highfalutin, high maintenance divas impatiently awaiting their custom eyewear.

Nevertheless, Hello Dolly does require a little attention.  For example, before wearing, it's important to turn her heads just so so that her smiles face forward.  Otherwise, she'll turn on you, keeping watch through the eyes in the backs of her heads.

That got creepy fast.  Quick, cue the Jack Johnson.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Chris This: Hats Off to Columbus and a British Baby

Whenever the second Monday in October rolls around, I can't help but hum this little ditty (I've crossed out most of it because it's the last four lines that really stick with me.):

"One day, I took with me on the subway.
My tall silk hat, my tall silk hat.
I put it down upon the seat beside me,
My tall silk hat, my tall silk hat.
A big, fat lady came and sat upon it,
My tall silk hat, my tall silk hat.
A big, fat lady came and sat upon it,
My tall silk hat, my tall silk hat.
Christopher Columbus, now what do you think of that?
A big, fat lady sat upon my hat,
My hat she broke and that's no joke,
My hat she broke and that's no joke,
Christopher Columbus, now what do you think of that?"

Columbus's hat is a mighty big part of his old-world getup.  Sure, the hat in the song is a high silk one and not Chris's soft, brimless headgear of choice.  If anything, these song lyrics designate Columbus as, not a hero, but some sort of creepy anachronistic observer (given the whole subway bit).  Still, the association between the explorer and his most recognizable accessory is undeniable, and I wanted to do something fun to commemorate that.  My first thought was to hunt up some of those mini straw hats and make barrettes, but I couldn't find any (a situation created, no doubt, by a run on make and take scarecrow projects).  So, I came up with these hat-topped lovely ladies.  If it's not clear, then they're a work in progress, their red lips, hat bands, and decorative flowers (I'm still on the fence about eyes) still floating around in the lime Jell-O that is my imagination.  They're a little too big to be barrettes but are just the right size for strong statement brooches.  I can see them popping against colorful lapels, scarves, and sweaters, their feisty flip hairdos an homage to mod style (minis being much more intriguing than dusty old robes, or whatever it was they wore back in 1492).  Because what better way to greet a stranger -- or communicate an eagerness to, ahem, explore uncharted territory -- than with a fabulous felt likeness of some unknown lady smiling over your shoulder?

Speaking of hats, many a fine one was featured in Bridget Jones's Baby.  I know, I know.  It's poor form to review a British movie in what's meant to be a post about an American holiday, but then I did once wear a Union Jack ring on the Fourth of July, so clearly I'm without boundaries.  Anyhoo, I enjoyed this third cinematic installment of the Bridget Jones saga (and not just because of the hats, which, to be accurate, didn't even make their appearance until the very end).  Slightly more sophisticated (she's a news producer now!) but still charmingly goofy, Bridget (Renee Zellweger) wins our hearts on a new stakes-raising level.  Divorced from her beloved Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), she's returned to her sad sack spinster status, although to be fair, she is now a svelte spinster.  Well, at least until she gets pregnant.  That's right.  Rom com's real girl has ensnared herself in her stickiest snafu yet, i.e. single motherhood with two possible fathers -- stern but sweet ex Mark (Colin Firth) and ready-for-anything mogul Jack (Patrick Dempsey).  Yes, it's silly and contrived and a huge departure from Mad About the Boy, the novel upon which it's based.  In that book, Mark has died, leaving Bridget to raise their two children alone while, sigh, once again scouring London for love.  It's a good book, but I can see how a movie version would be a bit of a downer.  You know, more Sundance-indie than lunch-out-with-the-girls.  So, I'm glad that Bridget Jones's Baby stuck to the script to do what rom coms do best -- which is to say, give you exactly what you want.

I started this post with a song, so I might as well end it with one, too.  And in honor of Bridget and milliners everywhere, I'm going with Amy Grant's 1990s B-side gem, (what else?) "Hats" (mercifully, chorus only):

"One day I'm a mother
One day I'm a lover
What am I supposed to do?
Workin' for a living
All because I'm driven
To be the very best for you."

So that's that, Mr. Columbus.  After all these years, you're still more than a mattress sale.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Getup and Go: Comic Book Costume Look

Rita Rainbow Necklace

Tee: J. C. Penney's
Skirt: Ellen Tracy, J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Nordstrom
Jacket: Gap outlet
Sunglasses: Brigantine beach shop

 Ribbon Rose Rainbow Necklace

Tunic: Bongo, Sears
Tee: Merona, Target
Skirt: Bongo, Sears
Shoes: a.n.a., J. C. Penney's
Bag: Nahui Ollin
Sunglasses: Kohl's

Wonder Bread Woman Bow Barrette

Tee: J. C. Penney's
Skirt: Decree, J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Not Rated, Journeys
Bag: Nine West, Marshalls
Sunglasses: So, Kohl's

Marvel looks marvy for fifty.  Yep, that's half a century, or, time being money, one Ulysses S. Grant.  For, it was back in 1966 that the comic book giant launched "The Marvel Super Heroes" cartoon, a fun fact that I learned while checking out Kohl's limited edition line of Captain America-themed  clothing, even if I wasn't intrigued enough to take anything home.  No, no demure shield prints, sedate insignia, or Peter Pan collars for me, such style (under)statements being better left to the likes of DC's much-martyred Aquaman.  It was good old graphic novel-ty tees from J. C. Penney's or nothing.  Well, those and the banana-print tunic in outfit number two.  Because even superheroes need their potassium.  

Now, I'm no comic book queen.  But I've always been drawn to Marvel movies because they're about characters facing, not only external antagonists, but the challenge of their own inner demons, making them vulnerable and universally human.  I guess it's this appeal that keeps the remakes coming . . . and the Avengers avenging.  Since 2003, there have been three Bruce Banners: Eric Bana, Ed Norton, Mark Ruffalo . . . and, just because it's so dang funny, Lou Ferrigno as his un-Hulk (but equally angry) self in I Love You, Man.  That said, my Spidey senses suggested that Spider-Man was not an Avenger  -- misinformation exposed by a Google search confirming that he became one in May's Captain America: Civil War.  So much for depending on the intuitive powers of an arachnid.  His spirit animal's shortcomings aside, Spider-Man remains my favorite (un)caped crusader -- something that Debbie (Leslie Mann) of Knocked Up and I have in common.  (Sort of.)  Remember when she picks a fight with Pete (Paul Rudd) about spending too much time away from home, and he says that he went to the movies to see Spider-Man and that she wouldn't have liked it, and she wails, "I like Spider-Man!"?  In that vein, Rudd, in addition to being in I Love You, Man, is also -- oh, the connections -- the title character in Marvel's Ant-Man.  Although not exactly tee shirt-worthy, his Scott Lang is, as an ice cream scooping-work-release-program-minimum-wager, on the receiving end of one of comic book films' funniest one liners, namely: "Baskin Robbins always finds out."

So, it was with a hulkin' dose of Norse force that I set out, in my small way, to pay tribute, fighting my own design demons (and not a few rolls of wire gone wild) to make some stuff worthy of the superhuman (i.e. forever young) aesthetic.  Which is to say as bright and plastic and timeless as a mint-in-box action figure.  The Marvel look is striking yet simple, with its crayon box colors and clean cartoon graphics and flair for making everything from denim to dresses seem modern.  No tee (or DVD) collection is complete without it.      

On an unrelated note, I finally finished wearing all of my spring and summer clothes.  It took me six months, but I wore that wardrobe like never before in a Lollapalooza of layers and pattern-mixing abandon.  Which means that I'm now down to the tedious business of washing it all and somehow stuffing it, clown-car-style, back into my closet.

I guess that's my super power.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Carnival Meats and (Un) Savory Treats: Food Fight or Flight on the Midway

Dress: Modcloth
Blouse: Kohl's
Shoes: Charles Albert, Alloy
Bag: Xhilaration, Target
Sunglasses: Michaels

Tee: Marshalls
Shorts: ELLE, Kohl's
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's

Dress: Modcloth
Top: XOXO, Macy's
Belt: Marshalls
Shoes: Not Rated, DSW
Bag: Etsy, Eleven Peacocks
Sunglasses: Kohl's

Tee: Merona, Target
Shorts: ELLE, Kohl's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Candie's, Kohl's

Ah, the carnival.  That bastion of horror and glamour catered by corn dogs and deep-fried everything.  I was inspired by its strange, seedy splendor when I made this week's stuff, buoyed up by some leftover summer snack wagon (for this was no hallowed hipster food truck) photos.  My favorites are the two bags, castoffs from my closet that I prettied up with paint and rhinestones.  The Carnival Candy one reminds me of the Gravitron because its rows of rhinestones look like the Grav's lights against the stark white of that flying saucer-like vessel.  (Not that I'd ever ride such a beast, the Tilt-a-Whirl being far more my speed.)  To really seal in those carnival juices, this bag and its pastel twin also each sport an explosion of -- Flash Charms!  Yes, it's Flash Charms, Flash Charms, and more Flash Charms, now enough to open a shop up on Ebay.  But enough about that; time to get to the meat of the matter.

Last week, I referenced the classic and dignified novels of Agatha Christie.  This week . . . I'm going to talk about Sausage Party.  An animated raunch-fest from the minds of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, it's about what happens when anthropomorphic supermarket items discover their fate when someone buys them -- which is to say, that instead of going to paradise as they've been told, they get eaten.  As premises go, it's kind of a jarring one, so much so that I was thankful not to be chomping on popcorn or Junior Mints at the time.  Luckily, the voice-over cast is entertaining and helps to take the edge off.  It includes Jonah Hill, James Franco, Micheal Cera, Bill Hader, Danny McBride, Craig Robertson, Paul Rudd, and . . . Ed Norton?  What's he doing slumming it here?  Apparently, playing the Hulk back in 2008 was his gateway drug to more lowbrow fare.  Also puzzling, Selma Hayek.

No, this ain't no Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, a title, incidentally, I find much more offensive than Sausage Party, what with its balls of sauce-covered meat falling out of the sky and ruining everyone's outfits.  This one's not for the kiddies, a message my local theater sought to drive home with hand-written signs just in case the movie poster of a hot dog grinning under the words "a hero will rise" didn't send the message.  That having been said, there's a good, old-fashioned boy-meets-girl story sandwiched somewhere deep in here.  Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig reprise their roles as star-crossed lovers in yet another bizarre what's-the-meaning-of-life-anyway movie (I refer, of course, to Paul, which was headlined by an extraterrestrial instead of foul-mouthed food).  Rogen is Frank, the aforementioned hot dog, and Wiig is Brenda -- what else? -- a hot dog bun.  Now, this movie is weird.  Like, weirder than Vanilla Sky weird, and that starred Tom Cruise.  For one thing, it employs a strange juxtaposition of cute and grotesque imagery.  Like Garbage Pail kids or Inside Out Boy from "PeeWee's Playhouse" -- only X-rated.  Also, you know how we all sometimes wonder if aliens will take over the world and eat us?  Well, this is like that, only with cartoons and cursing.  

As ever, a high point for me was Michael Cera.  (Sorry Paul Rudd, but your mean geek grocery store cashier just didn't do it for me.)  Ever the self-deprecating beta in a crowd of crude alphas, he plays Barry, the runty and misshapen hot dog who -- spoiler alert -- not only defies death, but gets the girl -- or, in this case, the smushed hot dog bun.  

Gross-outs and nihilistic worldview aside, it cannot be denied that Sausage Party asks some of life's most probing questions: What happens when we die?  Is anarchy ever the answer?  Will my Twinkies ever talk to me?  And, of course, is Sausage Party a trenchant social satire or just the by-product of a hallucinogenic spree?  

The movie plays at answering this by sending Frank and friends through a magic portal at the end, making us think, wait, maybe there is something out there after all.  Then, before we can start reading too much into it, Frank cheerfully reminds us, hey, it's just a cartoon!

I've heard they say the same about SpongeBob.      

Monday, September 19, 2016

Charm Farm Harvest: Falling for Flash Charms (Again) and Playing the Scotland Yard Card

Top: Lily White, Target
Pants:Xhilaration,  Target
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Xhilaration, Target
Belt: B Fabulous
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

Top: So, Kohl's
Skirt: Candie's, Kohl's
Shoes: Chinese Laundry, DSW
Bag: Xhilaration, Target
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

Top: Decree, J. C. Penney's
Skirt: Xhilaration, Target
Shoes: Charles Albert, Alloy
Bag: Nine West, Ross
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's

Top: Merona, Kohl's
Skirt: Xhilaration, Kohl's
Shoes: Guess, DSW
Bag: Gifted
Sunglasses: Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk

I'd like to begin this post by saying that the original was very different.  I had one lone necklace, and I called it Far East Eats instead of Far East Feast.  The post itself was called Dress to Impress on the Orient Express, Only This Time Without the Murder.  It went like this:

Hercule Poirot used his little gray cells to see cases in black and white to catch the killers -- but even he never saw spots like these (see exhibit A, outfit #1).  Unless they were spots of tea, of course, which works for both England and China, and, don't you know it, is served in china, too. (Cue over-zealous laugh track).

Then, somewhat inelegantly:

Oh, Agatha (Christie).  It's hard to believe that your name was once the height of sophistication and glamour, along with those of your besties Gertrude and Mildred.  I mean, Mildred has the word "dread" right in it.  (Laugh track gets a little weaker).

And, finally:

Whether it's mu shu, pu pu, or even just those tasty if enigmatic fortune cookies (because "Good luck!" isn't an optimistic prediction, but rather something you say to your cat sitter when you leave her with your near-rabid Fluffy), chances are, there's at least one morsel of Chinese takeout that tickles your taste buds.  (Laugh track burps and squeaks out "excuse me" before petering out altogether).

Needless to say, these aren't the sharpest of hooks.  And not just because, as the husband pointed out, naming that necklace Far East Eats made it sound like Mr. Panda was part of the entree (a sad commentary, especially as his flip side sweetly entreats us all to "Be Kind").  Thankfully, I opted to make three other thematic charmers, requiring me to expand my storytelling scope.  Now we've got nature (bumblebees, birds, bugs, and butterflies!), travel to exotic lands (which may or may not include Asia but probably does given that I used the same aesthetically eastern chain charm in the center), and make-out-worthy makeup (love to love you, love potion #9).  Talk about a crop of cute chaos!  Because these necklaces aren't just made up of Flash Charms.  Oh no, siree bob.  This time I got real fancy, adding metal, enamel, and rhinestone-encrusted charms to the mix before embellishing the Flash Charms with rhinestones and a few cabs and crystals.  The result is a (sometimes) tangled mass of magical madness, an eclectic elegy (no, that's a poem about death; murder mysteries get off my mind!), er, ode to the 1980s and all that's good and pure about excess.

That said, our pal Poirot was a natty, not to mention ostentatious, dresser.  Who may (hey, one never knows) be interested in and covetous of what the Trove has on tap.  

Take heart, dear Hercule; I'll make you a hatband.