Plan Ahead

Journal CollageStretching my nail art legs a bit with this gilded floral manicure inspired by my 2018 journal.  I love brights over top of a solid black creme like this, particularly with the addition of a little golden glitz.

Journal nails

Since about grade 6, I’ve kept a journal or diary or a planner of some fashion to organize both my day and my thoughts.  Yet despite a proliferation of new journal “systems” – or perhaps in spite of them – I’ve never felt the need to compose my thoughts in anything more structured than a plain old notebook, or your basic yearly planner.  As long as it has space for me to scribble down inspired blogging thoughts, random song lyrics and at what time I’m supposed to pick up my mom so we can go to the movies, we good.

But if it can be gorgeous while it’s doing all those things, so much the better!  And this planner (from Orange Circle Studio) is beautiful, inside and out…but mainly out. 😉  I adore this vibrant succulent theme with its fine gold accents; it’s just a lovely book to have laying out and about.  Doesn’t look too shabby on my nails either.

Journal Up Close

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Clueless About Dieting

Clueless About Dieting

Or would that actually be Clueless ON Dieting?  Because this manicure represents Cher Horowitz’s confession to her best friend Dionne that stress has her indulging in a very heifer-like diet (as if!) of “two bowls of Special K, three pieces of turkey bacon, a handful of popcorn, five Peanut Butter M&Ms and, like, three pieces of licorice.”  Just missing the licorice, but then again, you can’t miss that which you don’t like in the first place, and I’ve never developed a taste for licorice.  I’m down with the rest of that stuff, though, just maybe not at the same time.  Maybe.  I don’t know, bacon and PB M&M popcorn cereal bars *could* be a thing, right?

Literary Inspiration: The Stand

The Stand Collage

A couple months back, I was going through a bit of a low phase, one nearly entirely of my own making.  Every day I’d get up and, in the course of going about my otherwise pretty enjoyable routine, I’d jump online and then just completely mire myself in whatever horrible news was emanating from around the globe, with a particular emphasis on the trainwreck that is American politics.  I may be Canadian, but the chaos and casual cruelty that seemingly permeate every aspect of today’s American governance have cast a noxious pall across the world; we are all feeling it.

So when it came time to tackle the tenth prompt in my friend’s reading challenge, one which called for a choice from a favourite author that you’ve not yet read, I’m not surprised I gravitated towards Stephen King; he is my favourite author, yet I’ve probably only read about a third of his novels.  I’m a bit more surprised that I chose an absolutely gigantic tome that’s more like three books in one; 823 abridged pages of very, very tiny text.  And I was going to say I was the most surprised at my choice, King’s seminal text, The Stand (my husband called it King’s bible, a very apt comparison) but it fits both tonally and in terms of subject matter. That’s just the head space I was in when I rolled up on the tenth challenge prompt – major end-of-times bleakness.

For those not familiar with The Stand, here’s how bleak we get: 99 percent of humanity dies horribly in a flu epidemic that ravages the globe in a little under a month.  The book literally kicks off with about 300 pages of mucus-filled respiratory deaths.  You come to know a handful of characters (inexplicably immune, all) and then watch through their eyes as society quickly breaks down, teeters on the brink and then completely plummets off the edge.  Spread out across the four corners of the United States, we follow these characters as they watch their loved ones suffer and die, and then we watch THEM suffer (and sometimes die) as they attempt to make their way to Nebraska and then on to Colorado, drawn there by prophetic dreams of an old woman who offers salvation or hope or death, or maybe all three.

The Stand book and nails

And that’s just the first 400 or so pages.  After that, we get into a major battle between Good and Evil, and then we meet Randall Flagg, the other Man in Black, the Walkin’ Dude, the devil.  I mean, I guess he’s the devil?  Or at the very least a close confidante.  I just know that Flagg as a symbol of ultimate evil didn’t land for me.  He’s petulant and whiny and kind of lazy; a being of such tremendous power should not be as preoccupied with appearances as he (sound like anyone else we know?)  As Buffy might say, “Ooh, The Taunter – striking fear in the heart of no one.”  But then again, with the exception of Under the Dome’s absolutely horrific Jim Rennie, very few of King’s baddies have left a mark with me.  I think I was expecting more from his marquis villain.

This jacket cover photo, however?  It’s EVERYTHING.  The hair, the suit, the smoke – oh, it’s perfection!

The Stand book jacket

It’s a small moment in an otherwise gigantic novel, but there’s a little bit early on in the book that strikes at the heart of what The Stand is ultimately all about.  In Nebraska, 108-year-old Abigail Freemantle is setting out for her neighbour’s, a two days’ walking trip.  Abby’s not paying a social visit to her neighbour, though – that would require a host or hostess to greet her, and everyone is dead.  Abigail instead travels to her neighbour’s in search of chicken; on her last visit before the flu took everyone she knew, Abby had spied a few in the backyard.  Moving infinitesimally slow (because she is 108-ancient-years-old) but drawing from a long lifetime of experience, Abigail dispatches two of the chickens.

Mother Abigail, a deeply religious woman with a strong, but ill-defined connection to God, falls into the realm of that tired old literary trope of the “magical negro.”  I’ll give King a bit of a pass because The Stand was written in 1978.  The times and sensibilities, they change.  But I’m not giving myself a pass, because I fell for that aggravatingly regressive trope hook, line and sinker.  When Abigail slaughters the chickens, I ignorantly wondered what sort of magical concoction she needed their blood and bones for.  Then when she is walking back home and she and her bag of chicken are set upon by bloodthirsty weasels sent by Randall Flagg, I wondered what sort of ritual could be so important that she’d put her life in danger in such a way.

But I was wrong.  Instead of some chicken-based hoodoo, Abigail had simply sensed that she was about to have a number of drop-in visitors (the pilgrims who had been dreaming of her just as much as she had been dreaming of them) and the chickens were so that she could have a hot, home-cooked meal waiting for them when they arrived.  There was nothing more to it than connection and kindness through food.  I thought it was such a charming little moment – simple, goodhearted humanity as set against seemingly insurmountable odds.

The Stand nails

A friend recently commented that she remembered The Stand as ending on a bittersweet, slightly melancholy note, and that’s true.  But there’s also an undercurrent of malice, a sense that the mistakes of the past are ones we’re powerless to prevent from happening once again.  I read a lot of fear in the ending.  But then again, it wouldn’t be a discussion of a Stephen King novel if you’re not debating the ending as being either sweet or completely horrifying.

This nail art aims to capture the snow-covered peaks of Colorado.  Without giving too much away, the mountains factor in heavily.  As does the twinkling night sky; in a world gone dark, it takes on a new, watchful meaning.  Ultimately, I’m glad I decided to finally pick this one up; neglecting The Stand was a major blank spot in my Kingsian education, and I enjoyed coming at it from a forensic perspective – you can almost see the partial or nearly fully fleshed out ideas of many of his stories to come.  The King bible, indeed, and an excellent read.

Death Note

Death Note Apple

This is most likely going to be a very unpopular sentiment, but I really liked the new Netflix version of Death Note.  And by that I mean I friggin’ LOVED it – it’s a total goof, just a fun, super slick-looking trifle of a thing filled with lots of neon lights, quirky characters and scenery-gnawing performances.  Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

First, a bit of a refresher for the fans, former fans and the blissfully unaware – Netflix’s new movie is an hour and a half-long adaptation of the beloved and long-running Japanese manga Death Note.  Both follow a teenage boy named Light (Turner in this new version, Yagami in the original) after he comes into possession of a mysterious notebook that holds the power of death.  Light first uses the book – and its author, a spiked, nine-foot-tall death god named Ryuk, voiced by Willem Dafoe – to settle a couple of personal scores, the untouchable mob boss who struck and killed his mother chief among them.  But then, sensing that there’s more to be done with this incredibly powerful object, Light takes the name Kira (“Light” in Celtic or Russian, “Killer” in Japanese) and begins settling the world’s scores, offing warlords and dictators and rapists and murderers by the hundreds, and all at an undetected distance.  Unsurprisingly, global authorities don’t have much of an issue with Light’s activities – the bad guys are either dying or turning themselves in, and Lord Kira has erased the world’s most-wanted list.  Who’s going to complain about that?

Well, less traditional law enforcement types, for one, including L, a sort of masked ninja samurai detective (played with a weird kind of bonkers energy in the Netflix version by Lakeith Stanfield) hot on Light’s tail.  In fact, here I am working out the kinks in my L Halloween costume.  I think it needs more hoodie.

Death Note

Anyways, I believe my (positive) opinion of Netflix’s Death Note is most likely an unpopular one because, like all movies (or TV shows, or books) based off a beloved, long-running series, Death Note comes with a lot of fan baggage.  And the complaints run the usual gamut, from whitewashing (undeniable when you take a Japanese property, set it in Seattle and then cast it with pretty well nothing but Caucasian actors) to a fundamental lack of respect for the source material (I understand the original is more of a hard boiled crime procedural than a neon-splashed teen horror lark.)

And while those might be valid complaints (I call bullshit on the total whitewashing of Death Note, however – two of the movie’s five major characters are Japanese and African American, respectively) I’m also of that generation that has watched virtually every movie, television show or book I love (or merely feel somewhat fondly towards) get turned into a hideous, rebooted bastardization of its original self.  And ultimately, for all the fuss, all the calls for boycotts, all the virtual vitriol, NONE OF IT MATTERS.  A new version of something – even one you loathe – cannot change, should not change, how you feel about that original thing.  Because it wasn’t made for you, the diehard fan, it was made in service of attracting a larger (and always younger) audience.  So are you upset that others have discovered your secret club?  Because you’d think you want more members.  Or are you just upset because the new version doesn’t rigidly conform to the story as you know it?  Because that’s called a creative dictatorship, and they’re generally frowned upon. 😉

Long story short, I think the Netflix version of Death Note is way dope; no complaints here, just nail art.  And a ripe Red Delicious for Ryuk.

Death Note Fingers

Saddle Up!

Saddle Up Fingers

Second week of school saddle shoes.  I think I also may be dating myself with my choice of back-to-school nail art – chalkboard nails last week and 1950s-style saddle shoes today. What’s next, a lacquered ode to typing class?

These nails were inspired by MY saddle shoes, silver studded Bass saddles that weigh about five pounds each. Wearing them around for just a couple of hours totally counts as leg day!  But they look super cute paired with retro swing dresses (obviously) and skinny jeans, too, AND they make for some pretty fantastic nail art – all ticks in the plus column. 🙂

Saddle Up Shoes Inside

Narwhal Nails

Narwahls

As Hurricane Irma batters the Gulf Coast and beyond, a dear blogger friend who lives in Florida is riding out the storm the only way she seems to know how – with a lot of optimism, hope and creativity.  These are traits she apparently passed on to her two daughters, who – stuck at home by order of closed schools and storm prep – are coming up with their own creative ways of passing the time, such as whipping up these adorable egg carton narwhals.  Their goobery, slightly blank expressions, noggins full of glitter and toothpick horns are the cutest things ever – puts my childhood egg carton caterpillars to shame!

Narwhals

So with thanks to Savanna and Scarlette for putting a big smile on my face (and for sharing this photo) I thought I’d (hopefully!) return the favour with these goofy narwhal nails, extra glittery. 🙂  Thinking of you and yours, Julie, and hoping for nothing but the best.

Literary Inspiration: Duma Key

Duma Key Main Collage

Or Pet Sematary II: The Golden Years: But not Maine this time; Florida.  ‘Twas too weighty a title, however, so Duma Key it was. 😉

So for those curious as to how I’m doing on my friend Julie’s reading challenge – terribly! I am doing terribly. I’m not even 10 books through the 24-strong list of challenge themes, and that’s in part because I keep picking gigantic tomes like this one, another 700-page Stephen King bruiser that takes you from Minnesota to Florida and back again, with stops at Insanity Isle and It’s Raining Frogs Junction in between.  I think Duma Key nicely satisfies the “Cover art that draws you in” test Julie laid down for the challenge – I particularly like the partially submerged, holographic lettering of King’s name.

Duma Key Cover Collage

The basics: Duma Key is about – and told from the perspective of – 50-something Edgar Freemantle, construction company president, formerly of Minnesota, now of Duma Key, Florida. There are a lot of “formerlies” in Edgar’s life at the beginning of the novel – former job, former marriage, former body, the latter down one right arm following a gruesome workplace accident.  But it’s not so much the physical afflictions – the amputated arm, the pulverized ribs – that trouble Edgar’s mind, it’s Edgar’s mind itself, which, damaged just as badly as his physical body, turns toward anger, confusion and random, violent outbursts in the wake of his terrible accident.  Most of the people in Edgar’s life stand by him during this upsetting time, but many do not.

After his wife leaves him, one of Edgar’s therapists asks him if he ever enjoyed any kind of creative outlet as a younger man.  Edgar replies that before he devoted his life to the construction company that made him a millionaire many times over, he liked to draw, had even once entertained the notion of going to art school. Agreeing that art is an important part of both physical and mental therapies, the doctor suggests Edgar take up drawing once again, and maybe seek out a major change in location while he’s at it.

And so Edgar moves to Duma Key, Florida, a rather runty, overgrown spit of land clinging desperately to the Gulf Coast, taking up residence at a gigantic, rose-hued house-on-stilts he affectionately dubs Big Pink. Inspired by the gorgeously lurid Gulf sunsets, Edgar begins to paint.  At night the creeping tide makes the shells that build up beneath the house clatter together, and they sound like bones.  Or voices.

Duma Key 1

And I won’t go any further than that, because to do so would ruin the Kingsian journey and that aggravatingly persistent – but still enjoyable – feeling that you, the reader, are being inexorably driven toward something you’re not entirely sure you want to discover. It actually reminded me very much of Pet Sematary in that way – another story of family, those we’re bound to by blood and those by choice, and the grim decisions we’re forced to make to preserve those bonds.  Also ghosts, the discovery of a late-in-life mentor type, middle-of-the-night visits from should-be-dead people, a sassy, prescient old person, and endless marches through claustrophobic underbrush.

Also a lot of Surrealism – of the artistic variety, although I think that’s a pretty apt descriptor for the entirety of Duma Key.  I definitely felt like my head had been messed with a trifle after I finished the book, a comfortably uncomfortable feeling that lets you know you’ve really discovered something special.  Very enjoyable, even if I “Whuuuuuuu?”‘d the ending hard.  Wouldn’t be a Stephen King novel if the final pages didn’t leave you deeply perplexed, I suppose.