Glam (Polish) Snowflakes

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Here’s another one for the pretty ‘n’ glittery mani files, this time a semi-successful pastel snowflake design atop a holographic gradient using a Glam Polish lacquer that always reminds me of round, glittery Christmas ornaments.  Actually, save the base polish (lakur’s beautiful purple-grey Opal) and the bright turquoise creme on my index and pinkie fingers (A England’s Whispering Waves) I used three Glam Polish colours here, glittery, ornament-y You’re Entirely BONKERS, dusky pink Hey Mama and sea foam Ladies Choice.

Glam Snowflakes Collage

I’m not sure how successful I was with the design on my two middle fingers – it looks more like coral or some sort of hanging flower than a snowflake.  I suppose that’s a function of the colours I chose here – there really aren’t that many pink and blue snowflakes out there.  And if there are…well, that probably can’t be good. 😉

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Sweet and Simple

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I got a bit screed-y in my last post, and while I stand behind the sentiments expressed therein (TL;DR – Canada Post sucks) I don’t care to continue lingering in that frame of mind.  Since my kitty passed away not quite two weeks ago, I’ve been mired in a sea of fretful unhappiness, and I desperately need a break from the heartbreak.  I don’t need to make it worse by freaking out about the mundane and expected (that Canada Post sucks.)

So that’s what led to this simple manicure, my first attempt at any sort of nail art-ing in about a month’s time – I just needed to get out of my own riled-up mind for a second or two.  Here I used nothing more complicated than the polish brushes themselves to swipe on first one stripe of KB Shimmer’s Blush Money and then one stripe of KB’s glittery Turning Pointe over a sheer nude base.  Pretty in a monochromatic sort of way and not too difficult, ideal for my first foray back into some more arty, less teary and rage-inducing, endeavors.

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Literary Inspiration: Too Big to Fail

Too Big Collage

So this manicure isn’t exactly subtle, but then again, neither was the wholesale grifting and complete abdication of fiduciary duty by the wankers of Wall Street and the ghouls of government that led to the 2008 collapse of the American financial system, the narrative retelling of which, Too Big to Fail by Aaron Ross Sorkin, is the inspiration for these nails.

Some months on, I’ve no idea why I chose this book to satisfy the theme of historical fiction in my friends’ reading challenge.  A decade removed from the events that shook the financial industry to its core (without un-mooring it, heavens no, because see above re: the title) it can now fairly be classified as a historical work, and the structure of the book (a fleshed-out retelling of the ultimately fruitless attempts by the best and, um, brightest of the industry to circumvent a financial atom bomb, culled from thousands of hours of journalistic work and reassembled into a spritely narrative) satisfies the fictional aspect, although the entire thing is still appallingly, maddeningly rooted in real life baddies doing bad things and being richly rewarded for it.  It was an incredibly frustrating read.

But also a GREAT read.  Presented as a sort of in-the-moment recounting of the events that immediately preceded the $700 billion bailout of the financial system by the American taxpayers, Sorkin introduces the key players and the massive web of conflicts of interest that should have disqualified every single one of them from participating in the PATRIOTIC RESCUE OF THE AMERICAN FINANCIAL SYSTEM, let alone give them a seat at the table where they were allowed to drive actual legislation and policy.  It was, after all, their greed, their wanton disregard for the rules and their disdainful, near-criminal immorality that led in large part – the largest part – to the collapse and subsequent bailout of the system.

After gathering the cast of fools (the description of these men – they’re nearly all men, 35 to 65 years of age – reads like WASP Mad Libs: Raised in (Vermont/New York City/Washington/Connecticut), educated at (Harvard/Yale), handed a cushy internship straight out of college by (grandfather/father/uncle/other male mentor), CEO within five years (of some big banking concern, doesn’t really matter which one, lining those three letters up behind the Esquires in their name is really all they care about), divorce within 10, lather, rinse, repeat with a new company, a new wife) Sorkin attempts to lay out the labyrinthine, grossly leveraged financial system as it existed in the mid-aughts.

It’s here that Sorkin really shows his work, breaking free from the buzzwords, jargon and purposefully obfuscating technical terms to expose a deeply flawed, virtually incomprehensible system that even the major players were loathe to understand.  Sorkin doesn’t concern himself too much with apportioning blame for the state of the industry pre-bailout; nobody knew what they were talking about, everyone quite willingly kept themselves in the dark, and no one was willing to comprehend of a future in which they weren’t making billions of golden parachute’d dollars hand over fist.  By the end of the book I had a slightly better understanding of the situation, but I’m still utterly clueless as to how things got to a state where the only reasonable course correction was to funnel a trillion dollars of taxpayer funds into the financial system to save those businesses (just a handful of ultra powerful banks, lenders and brokerage houses) deemed worthy.

The bulk of the book deals with the final frantic week leading up to the bailout in which the mettle of these titans of financial industry is put to the test when the feds summon them all to non-optional emergency meetings to save themselves SAVE THE AMERICAN FINANCIAL SYSTEM.  That this doesn’t go the way the government had hoped is hardly surprising – with virtually no oversight to the process (an actual directive from the secretary treasurer, himself a former executive of Goldman Sachs, was to gather all of the major players in one room and simply tell them to “just fix it”) the financial types just broke off into little groups to advocate for their own best interests, civic duties be damned.  Also because they had no effin’ clue what they were doing.

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Sorkin does a rather incredible job at not explicitly highlighting the many and varied shortcomings of the people involved in this process.  He actually doesn’t need to – the craven ghouls haunting this tale are quite visible, and Sorkin exposes them for what they are, no hyperbole necessary.  I did chuckle a few times at his flattering descriptions of these men – “a hale and hearty 65; boyish good looks that belied his 50 years; a penis the length and width of a fire log” (joking about that last one.)  It’s actually a very smart journalistic gambit – you’re a better bee for using honey rather than the stinger, and it can’t hurt to sweeten up your sources a bit, especially when they’re as fragile as these ones.

Which was my real, genuine aggravation with this entire situation – that “fixing” the entire global economy had been handed to a lot of weak, ludicrously privileged, upwardly failing asshats I wouldn’t trust to deposit my paycheque.  These were (and are – mergers may have changed the legal names of these businesses, but the players are the same) dim, shallow, crassly selfish people whose only real talent was smoke and mirrors.  I took a lot of schadenfreude-laced joy in the many passages of self-important CEOs being denied audience with other self-important CEOs, phone calls between self-impressed jerkoffs apparently being the REAL currency that powered the American financial system in the late 2000s.

So a frustrating read, no doubt, but frustration born entirely out of the situation Sorkin is writing about, as opposed to the writing itself.  Too Big to Fail is a wonderful book, ambitious in scope, but still limited to a recitation of the facts, and just the horrible facts.  It should be mandatory reading for anyone still curious about the events surrounding the bailout.  That goes double for the actual subject matters themselves; if ever there was a lot that needed educating. 😦

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Sunset Snowflakes

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I think this could be a refrain sung right ’round the world these days, but here in the Ottawa Valley, we have been experiencing some very odd weather as of late.  Way early snow (we always get it, but it rarely sticks this fast), sub-sub-freezing temps and mini blizzards alongside the winter’s setting sun.  So inspired was I by this latter event (pretty for the grand total of about 30 seconds before the endless frozen precipitation obliterated the sunset’s gorgeous pastel hues) I did some nails!  Anything to cheer m’self up weather-wise, ’cause it’s only November, and we Canadians in this for the long haul. :/

Sunset Snowflakes Collage

Disney Girl Challenge: Woah-o-oh, Vampirina!

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Well, would you look at that – actual nail art on this nail art blog!  However, owing to the fact that my brain now seems to be permanently stuck in Disney auto-pilot mode, you know there’s gots to be some House of the Mouse in here somewhere.

This is Vampirina.  She may be blue, with pointy teeth, but she’s just like you!  Or she’s like the three to six-year-olds who are her target television audience, where she has a cute namesake show about her family’s spooky adventures in Pennsylvania.  It’s a Disney Junior production, though fairly new, which means the kids haven’t quite lost their wee minds over Vampirina and her friends as much as they have over, say, Doc McStuffins or those weirdo PJ Masks critters.  Give it time; I feel like this one is going to be big.

I’m a good 35 years off Vampirina’s targeted age range, but I just find it utterly adorable.  Vampirina Hauntley’s a spooktacular little baby goth, and she’s the kind of thoughtful, self-possessed and totally normal kid anyone would be delighted to call their own.  That she’s a blue-skinned, pointy-toothed vampire from a strange country filled with unfamiliar customs is a metaphor for anybody who may think of themselves as an “other,” although the show doesn’t whap you over the head with its message of acceptance and friendship and understanding.  Or maybe it does and I’ve just been brainwashed after staring into Vampirina’s unmoving purple eyes for too long (my one complaint with the show – the animation is flat, although the rich colours and design of the show are straight out of a Tim Burton movie.)  It’s a terror-ifically delightful and non-irritating children’s show with a kind heart, a great message and a colourful gothic look, and I love it for it, child(-at-heart) or no.  Also, James Van Der Beek voices Vee’s father, Boris, Lauren Graham her mother, Oxana, and Wanda Sykes Vampirina’s 473-year-old gargoyle best friend, Gregoria.  It’s so insanely charming.

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I nearly gave myself a case of the battys when we walked out of a ride on a recent trip to Hollywood Studios and Vampirina was right across the street holding a character meet-and-greet!  We jumped into line and didn’t feel the least bit weird about the fact that we were the only adults around. 🙂

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And oh my gosh, she was SO cute!  On the show, Vampirina plays guitar in a band with her human friends Poppy and Bridget.  The Ghoul Girls thrash out in Vampirina’s stone tower bedroom, and Vampirina’s all about those rawk fingers.  She actually got so excited here after we asked about her band that she nearly stuck her devil horns straight up Mr. Finger Candy’s nose!

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Is there something wrong with us that we’ll stand in line to meet real life plushie representations of fictional animated characters?  Yeah, probably!  But it’s a lot like Vampirina unlocking her inner ghoul – it feels good, so we’re doing it.  Family motto of the last 365 days, actually.  So glad we got to meet this cutie – one day it will probably pay off in cool-loser Aunt Sandra stories for some delighted six-year-olds. 😉

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They’re Coming to Get You, Barbara

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Call this updated Night of the Living Dead-esque manicure the inevitable sequel to a design I always thought I could do a little bit better.  I’m sure George A. Romero thought likewise when he attempted Dawn of the Dead.  Ooh, sick zombie burn!

But real talk?  Wonkus hand position aside, I actually prefer the original design; it’s clearer than this muddled black-and-white cemetery, and the tiny details are more delicately rendered.  Here, take a peek!

Not entirely unfortunate, right?  Like I said, slightly sideways hand position aside (it took a long, long time to nail down a position that both felt and looked good) I think this 2013 manicure is far superior to the one I did today.  What’s old is new again!  Or maybe I’m just regressing?  Hard to tend to my nail artabilities when I’m running off to Disney every 20 seconds (slight exaggeration, but only slight – we’re leaving for our anniversary trip in two days!  So 172,800 seconds.)  Anyhow, perhaps I’ll have to update the update of the original, just to put these black-and-white zombie things six feet under where they properly belong once and for all. 😉