Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bow Knows Prose

Top: Merona, Target
Skirt: Modcloth
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Xhilaration, Target
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: The Tote Trove

 Cheery Cherry Bow Barrettes

Dress: Kohl's
Scarf (halter tie): Wet Seal
Shoes: a.n.a, JCPenney
Bag: Candie's, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Michaels

Fish Friends Bow Barrettes

 Dainty Doughnut Bow Barrettes

Dress: JCPenney
Jacket: Material Girl, Macy's
Shoes: Chinese Laundry, DSW
Bag: Nordstrom
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: The Tote Trove

There's no good reason to reference a 1980s pop icon and super athlete in the title of this post.  Just like there's no good reason to feature cherries when they've been replaced by apples, or to post beach pics when the wind is howling cartoon-style outside my window.  Except that it's catchy and quirky and neatly ties up the otherwise disparate elements of bow barrettes and celebrity fiction at work here this week.  

When I first heard about B.J. Novak's One More Thing, I, like most other people with a TV, thought, oh, Ryan from "The Office" wrote a book.  The fact that it was not a biography but a collection of short stories was intriguing.  And also kind of fitting.  After all, Novak not only starred in but wrote for "The Office."  Also, there was that episode in which a fedora-sporting Ryan wrote and recited some pretentious poetry.  Not that B.J. is Ryan, or that B. J. is pretentious.  Still, there are parallels.  But we'll get there.

The stark, spare style of the book's cover proclaims that it means business (unlike the cover of fellow "Office" writing alum Mindy Kaling's book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns, which was, by Mindy's own admission, "mostly pink"*), setting the stage for the unabashedly literary satire that smirks within.  Most of the selections are vignettes about life with a zingy punchline, some in flash fiction format at a single sentence.  Novak explores the kind of paradoxically casual yet take-on-the-world reflections that have been espoused by angry young men since the first four-letter word was etched on a cave wall.  Reading his book is like eating a bag of Sour Patch Kids -- tangy at first, but once you get passed the outside, kind of sweet.  With wry wit and a hint of cynicism, Novak delves into the usual hot-button issues of the economy, education, social networking, romance, and what happens when we die, adding his own funky twist.  Some protagonists are faceless everymen, whereas others are celebrities we know and love (or, in some cases, at least love to hate).  Because Novak isn't afraid to "go there," a trait he exploited to dramatic proportions as his Dunder Mifflin alter ego.  (I like to think that his writerly voice is one that both mocks and appreciates someone like Ryan, the latter albeit ironically.)  He makes you laugh and he makes you think, and his oddball stories are all over the map.  Some are punctuated with English class-style discussion questions, such as "Do you think Johnny Depp should have driven his motorcycle off the mountain highway to his death?  Why or why not?" (169); indeed, there are eight discussion questions, lighthearted yet probing, at the end of the book.  Still, there's a unifying thread woven amid the crazy, and that's (not to get all Declaration of Independence on you) the importance of freedom.  Many of the stories, however circuitously and irreverently, highlight the struggle of retaining one's own autonomy in an oh-so-often homogenizing world.

On that note, I'll leave you with this.  What would Neil Patrick Harris, John Grisham, and Justin Bieber have to say about their starring roles in these stories?  Extra credit: What do you think Michelle Pfeiffer thinks of Vance Joy's shout-out to her in his song "Riptide" and of Bruno Mars's same in "Uptown Funk", and are the two at all related?


*If you are not a regular reader and therefore unaccustomed to my Mindy references, then please see the above link to confirm that I say this not with criticism but with love.  As much as it pains me to point out my own attempt at humor, I'd rather be accused of subpar literary prowess than of being, to put it plainly, a meanie. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hanging with Mr. Cooper: A Labor of Doves

Dress: JCPenney
Cardigan: Gifted
Shoes: a.n.a., JCPenney
Bag: Nine West, Boscov's
Belt: Marshalls
Sunglasses: Relic, Kohl's

 Cake Break Necklace

Dress: Ruby Rox, JCPenney
Shoes: Chinese Laundry, DSW
Bag: Princess Vera, Kohl's
Sunglasses: JCPenney

Tee: Macy's
Tank: Worthington, JCPenney
Skirt: Stoosh, Macy's
Shoes: Christian Siriano for Payless
Bag: Glamour Damaged, Etsy
Belt: Izod, Marshalls
Sunglasses: Mudd, Kohl's

Yikes Yellow Stripes Necklace

Dress: Modcloth
Shoes: Penny Loves Kenny, DSW
Bag: Princess Vera, Kohl's
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Mudd, Kohl's

The husband and I were taking a walk last Saturday night, killing time until our crab cakes were ready, when some guy driving by in an SUV yelled, "I just saw Bradley Cooper in _______ (insert name of local supermarket chain)!"  Which was, of course, far better than most things yelled out of car windows.  The husband and I looked at each other.  I'm ashamed to admit that we considered making a beeline for said supermarket.  Never mind that I'd been there just hours before.  I was caught up in the excitement of it all, imagining what I would say.  I could ask him about the highly anticipated, yet still-unseen-by-me "Wet Hot American Summer" Netflix series hijinks.  Also, how he felt about Keegan-Michael Key wearing that Silver Linings Playbook-style trash bag on USA's "Playing House."  (The husband, ever the envelope pusher, wanted to bring up his villainous turn in Wedding Crashers.)  Yet as I mentioned, we were waiting for crab cakes.  We walked on.

But that didn't mean we stopped talking about it.  I had a hard time picturing Bradley trolling the aisles of our little store.  Not just because he'd been nominated for three Oscars.  But because of the cottage cheese-soft cucumbers and eat-at-your-own-risk chicken.  Most of the time I couldn't believe I shopped there let alone this (albeit affable) A-lister.  Heck knows that if I had a handler, I'd send him in for the cheese wheels and fruit snacks.  I guess that's where Bradley and I differ.

Still, it was refreshing that he was out and about in Brigantine sans posse.  Turns out he was here visiting his mom who, according to The Press of Atlantic City, has a house on the island (which makes sense, as she hails from Philly).  I thought it was nice that he was hanging with his mom and going about his business normally (celebrities, they're just like us!), so much so that I debated whether or not I should even write this. After all, it's not as if I saw him, otherwise engaged as I was with fried shellfish.

But a celebrity siting is a celebrity siting, even if experienced secondhand.  And this stretch of beach is as good a spot as any.

Ah, Brigantine.  In the summer it's crowded, in the winter it's isolated, and, from a renter's perspective, it's always just a little unreal, as transient as the strict Memorial Day-to-Labor Day operating hours of the corner Rita's.  But it's also magical, a seedling city in a quaint, small-town (sea)shell.  Sweet and savory treats are just a short walk away, and you never know who you'll run into.

The more I think about it, I'm glad I let Mr. Cooper sniff his chicken in peace.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Power of Flowers and Then Some

 Fancy Footwork Necklace

Top: Wet Seal
Skirt: H&M
Cardigan: Merona, Target
Shoes: Chinese Laundry, DSW
Bag: Bueno, Marshalls
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's
Sunglasses: JCPenney

 Fabulous Felt Spider Barrette

Fabulous Felt Lily Pad Barrette

Tee: Merona, Target
Skirt: Xhilaration, Target
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Xhilaration, Target
Sunglasses: Michaels

Tee: So, Kohl's
Camisole: So, Kohl's
Skirt: Material Girl, Macy's
Cardigan: Delia's
Shoes: Qupid, Alloy
Bag: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Sunglasses: JCPenney

Skirt (a dress!): JCPenney
Tank: Hollister, Marshalls
Bra top: Macy's
Shoes: Chinese Laundry, DSW
Bag: Xhilaration, Target
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's

Back in grade school, when they taught the five kingdoms (which have since then, Google tells me, burgeoned into six; never take a sick day, do you, science?), my favorite was always the plant kingdom.  Oh sure, I might have claimed that it was the Protista kingdom in an earlier post, but that was probably just to set the stage for an ode to JELL-O or to hawk the Fabulous Felt Mad Scientist Necklace, which featured an amoeba.  Those unicellular splotches may have inspired a funky fashion statement or two, but it's stamens and pistils that bring out the big glamour guns -- or should I say Tim Gunns? (no, it seems clear to me now that I shouldn't).  After all, we plant flowers, we bring people flowers, and perhaps most prolifically, we splash flowers all over our clothes in an infinite and ever-dizzying array of nature artfully distorted.  Also, when's the last time you brought a sick pal an amoeba?

So, it wasn't as surprising as it might have been when I broke my no gardening streak.  That's right, I started a garden.  Sort of.  If filling boxes and pots with annuals counts (which I suspect it does not, at least not with the bulb and pruning set).  That having been said, I had nothing to do with the specimens in flower photos 1, 2, and 4, all of which were planted by some more ambitious previous tenant.  Still, my marigolds, hibiscuses, and petunias transformed my porch into a mini rain forest (well, okay, into a porch in Florida instead of one in New Jersey).  True, a few dried up.  But most are still thriving, albeit a little more untamed and sun-bleached than they were back in May.  But then, that's most of us by Labor Day weekend.

Thankfully, felt flowers require a lot less maintenance than live ones (you didn't think I'd wrap this up without sneaking the crafty angle in there somewhere, now did you?).  Ever crisp and colorful, they forge on through the fall and winter, cozily entrenched in beds of life-sustaining, once-gelatinous glue.  The same goes for the factory-fashioned pastel pumps, luxe lightning bolt, and cameo queen that grace the remainder of this post's pieces (in terms of heartiness, that is, not glue.  It's not always about you, glue.).

Those, by the way, are the "then some."