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. ūüėČ

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.

#TahaniTime

#TahaniTime

Anybody else out there watching The Good Place?  Very funny (and sweet, and enlightening, and thought-provoking) half-hour sitcom starring Kristen Bell as Eleanor, a woman who, upon her completely ignoble death Рflattened by a boner pill truck while bending down to retrieve an errant bottle of Lonely Gal Margarita Mix that had rolled out of her shopping cart Рis sent to The Good Place, a heaven-ish type neighbourhood filled with nothing but pleasant people, pleasant surroundings and pleasant, pleasant pleasantness, instead of The Bad Place, where she most likely belongs.  Because Eleanor in life was kind of a dick, although her time in The Good Place really begins to bring her around.

Anyhow, tangent there, because this manicure has nothing to do with Eleanor, but rather Eleanor’s gorgeous glamazon of a next door neighbour, British socialite and It Girl Tahani Al-Jamil (played by actress Jameela Jamil, who I’ve never seen in anything before, and I simply don’t know how, because she’s just fantastic.)

Tahani actually begins The Good Place as Eleanor’s nemesis, a smothering and seemingly insincere neighbour who makes everybody’s business her business and name-drops more often than she blinks. ¬†But Tahani’s also deeply insecure, and all the mentions in the world – that time she brokered a peace accord between her friend Kanye, her good friend Taylor and her¬†best friend Beyonce, the year she spent as Baz Luhrmann’s muse, the $60¬†billion she raised for charity – can’t compensate for a lifetime of emotional cruelty from her cold socialite parents. ¬†But lord, does Tahani try. ¬†Tries Eleanor’s patience, for one, although it quickly becomes clear that Tahani is the real deal – a genuinely good (if occasionally insufferable) person who lives – and lived – to help others. ¬†And hey, if she could snog Ryan Gosling at the Met Ball while she was doing that – twice – then so much the better! ¬†It’s hard to stay mad at that, and by the end of the first season (second season coming soon!) Tahani and Eleanor consider themselves friends.

One of my favourite things about Tahani, though, is her gigantic, enviable wardrobe of flouncy and floral – girlfriend wears an honest to goodness Belle dress to a first-night gathering in The Good Place, hosted by her, of course, because ain’t no party like a Tahani Al-Jamil party! ¬†She’s quite the fashion plate (although she laments that her modelling career was so regrettably short-lived; seems her bosom was simply too ample for couture, the poor dear.)

These nails depict one of the many, many, many floral dresses Tahani wears on her adventures about The Good Place, a dusky blue number she pairs with a floppy, wide-brimmed hat, afternoon gloves and a picnic basket (stuffed with morale-boosting maple butter scones she passes out to the other residents following a bit of neighbourhood strife.)

Anyhow, big recommendation on The Good Place. ¬†It also stars Ted Danson, and another group of fabulous unknowns – William Jackson Harper, D’Arcy Carden and Manny Jacinto among them, and they’re all freaking hilarious (particularly D’Arcy Carden, who plays Janet, a Siri/Alexa-like informational assistant in The Good Place.) ¬†Trust me, just watch it – it’s great. ūüôā

Limeade Love

Limeade Angled

As with all things in life – but especially friggin’ pain-in-my-arse water marble manis – practice makes perfect, so when my blogging friend Five Zero suggested – nay, demanded? – limeade nails to go along with yesterday’s frozen pink lemonade manicure, I happily snapped-to, this time with the addition of a couple of sweet Fimo fruits. ¬†Next do we have any calls for orangeade, maybe a little Orange Julius action? ¬†Or how about a strawberry daiquiri water marble? ¬†I’ll call it the Frozen Drinks of Summer Series (*immediately goes off to begin making a list of every possible type of fruit and/or rum-infused cocktail. ¬†I could be gone a while.*)

Limeade Front

Frozen Pink Lemonade

Frozen Pink Lemonade Straight

Adventures in water marbling have once again produced a pretty – if ill-defined – animal that started out life as a nod to the mighty banana split and instead wound up as slushy frozen lemonade. ¬†I suppose that’s what happens when you forget the brown “chocolate sauce” polish. ¬†Also when you water marble as terribly as I do; it always seems like every nail is just doing its own thang, heedless to my pleas for nail art consistency. Although I guess screwing up every water marble mani I’ve ever done is its own type of consistency, so at least there’s that!

Frozen Pink Lemonade Angled

Literary Inspiration: Heart-Shaped Box

Heart-Shaped Box Collage

You’re a child of the 1990s if you can’t read that title without thinking about Nirvana, but here at least I’m talking about the novel Heart-Shaped Box, a ghost story penned by author Joe Hill. ¬†Hill is actually the nom de plume¬†adopted by Joseph Hillstrom King, son of Stephen. ¬†You probably have heard of him; think he’s written at least one or two things over the years. ūüėČ

Heart-Shaped Box satisfies the “found fortune” requirement of my friend Julie’s reading challenge; I plucked this dog-eared paperback off the shelf of my building’s community “library” (AKA The Dumping Grounds of Grisham, Connelly, Steele, Grafton and Patterson.) That another person in my building, where the average age is about 75, read this rough-and-tumble, punk rock story about an aging rocker fleeing the ghosts of his past is nothing short of amazing to me – I thought all literature in this place began and ended with well-worn copies of Judith Krantz’s Scruples flopping open to the raunchily vanilla sex scenes.

Right, so the deets. ¬†Wealthy, semi-retired, not-quite-washed-up goth rocker Judas Coyne purchases a haunted suit off an online auction site as a lark. ¬†And a lark is all it is; Judas doesn’t actually buy into the goth trappings of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle that has made him a household name. ¬†But something about owning a vintage, possibly ghost-inhabited suit speaks to both the darker AND lighter parts of his soul, and he happily places a bid.

When the suit shows up, neatly folded in a black, heart-shaped candy box, but reeking of the grave and stuck through with sharp, invisible sewing pins (one of which badly pricks his girlfriend’s thumb) the bloom is off the rose. ¬†Judas orders the suit from his sight, but as these things go, bad things never stay down for long, do they? ¬†And the suit is a very bad thing, indeed, as was its previous owner, a sadistic hypnotist who blames Judas for driving his step-daughter – one of the rocker’s many ex-paramours – to suicide.

Heart-Shaped Box Fingers

What follows is a hybrid of the “haunted” novel – ¬†haunted house, haunted road, haunted past, haunted soul¬†– as Judas, his lady Georgia and their two dogs, Angus and Bon, hit the road in a desperate attempt to shake the vengeful ghost nipping at their heels (and hands; Heart-Shaped Box is nothing if not a story preoccupied with brutal, disfiguring hand injuries. ¬†It’s really one of the odder literary quirks I’ve ever encountered.)

To that end, while reading this book, I tried very hard not to fall into the trap of comparing Hill’s work to that of his father’s – it’s an unfair comparison, and one I’ve no doubt he’s been subject to his entire life. ¬†But I’m incredibly familiar with his father’s literary quirks¬†(the graciously grumpy old-timer delivering reams of folksy dialogue, the prescient 12-year-old as a stand-in for the author’s younger self, an aggravating tendency to telegraph major character deaths hundreds of pages in advance) and for the most part, Hill avoids them. His writing is smoother than dear old dad’s, for one thing, the story paying out in an easy, lyrical, constantly-moving fashion. His characters are also more surefooted than his father’s – in King’s novels, when the going gets tough, the tough go insane. ¬†But in Heart-Shaped Box, when confronted with the things that go bump in the night, Hill’s characters just accept it – “Turns out ghosts are real. ¬†Now what are we going to do about it?” It’s refreshingly proactive.

But those rough bits of literary grit are what make King’s novels so beloved in the first place – the perfect imperfectness of the truly weird and wonderful. ¬†Hill deals in a similar sort of marketplace, but it’s a tidy, sanitized one as compared to his father’s junk store of the mind. ¬†Which makes for a really well-written story that clips along like a house on fire, but also lacks any real permanence – once I return Heart-Shaped Box to the solarium library, I probably won’t ever seek it out again.

This tie-in manicure hits all of Heart-Shaped Box’s broader themes – blood, leather and rock ‘n’ roll (especially the leather, here Nails Inc.’s Leather Effect in Noho, a cool textured polish.)

Heart-Shaped Box Collage Bottle

Summer Swatches

Summer Polish Collage

The craft stores may already have their Halloween decor on clearance, but I think there’s still lots of time left on this summer thing. ¬†And for once, I can’t say that’s a bad thing – unlike previous years, I haven’t had a terrible problem with the heat. ¬†And while I’d say that a major contributing factor has been the wetter-than-usual (and therefore cooler-than-usual) summer we have been “enjoying” in eastern Ontario this year, I think the lack of profuse sweating may actually be due to my rather profound weight loss – about 50 pounds since the end of February! ¬†Also probably the hour-long swims I enjoy four or five times a week – a crack of dawn swim in my building’s indoor pool seems to bring my core temperature down to something approaching normal for the remainder of the humid day. ¬†Totally awesome side benefit to this weight loss business; I highly recommend.

I also recommend this collection of sweet summer polishes that will see you through the final sultry days of the season in polished perfection. ¬†Drawing from a wide array of indie vendors – Polish Me Silly, KB Shimmer and Painted Polish among them – there’s a nod to every great and vibrant thing about the summer, from gorgeous oceanic hues to drippy cherry popsicles.

WatermelonSquidding Me

First up we have Whimsical Idea by Pam’s Wacky Watermelon (here over Pure Ice’s lime green, Wild Thing) and Different Dimension’s You’ve Gotta Be Squidding Me. ¬†I’ve used Wacky Watermelon in a few different manicures over the years, but Squidding Me is one I rarely pull out of my box of magic nail tricks. ¬†And I really have no idea why, because it’s a gorgeous one – smooth jelly finish, and that flamingo pink hue shot through with purple shimmer? ¬†Lush and vibrant, yet tremendously flattering, even for us pale, pale lasses (although I’ve no doubt it would look stupendous-er on those with darker skin tones. ¬†Which is literally everyone else in the world.)

Lost MarblesSprinkle On

Taking a nod from the boardwalk, we have the two lacquers I always think of as my “bubblegum ice cream” polishes, Polish Me Silly’s pink I Lost My Marbles and Dollish Polish’s custardy yellow Get Your Sprinkle On! Get Your Sprinkle On! has always been a favourite – I think it looks like french vanilla ice cream topped with rainbow jimmies.

Whispering WavesMermaid

You’ve Gotta Be Squidding Me makes another appearance in this manicure as a fun, flamingo-hued base on which to layer another Whimsy, this time turquoise glitter Mermaid, alongside A England’s lush aqua holo, Whispering Waves. ¬†This mani makes me smile – it’s very South Beach. ¬†Somewhere in Sarasota there’s a granny rocking a velour tracksuit in these exact colours. ūüėČ

Jello ShotChasing Rainbows

The white polish in this manicure, Painted Polish’s Chasing Rainbows, reminds me of colourful shells washing up on a white sand beach, while the pink polish, ILNP’s Jello Shot, reminds me of melted cherry popsicles. Also its namesake, the deadly, deadly jello shot (*shuddering in remembrance of hangovers past.*)

Citrus SmoothieBelle of the Mall

Finally, we have another manicure featuring a favourite polish, KB Shimmer’s coral pink glitter, Belle of the Mall, and Candy Lacquer’s Citrus Smoothie (once again over Pure Ice’s Wild Thing), a mad mix of citrus-hued glitters that remind me of sweet fruit salad. ¬†Belle of the Mall is such a great polish; awesome consistency and the coolest Hawaiian Punch hue. ¬†It’s summer in a bottle, just like all of these polishes!)

DIY Jack and Sally

Jack and Sally Bottle Collage

I thought rather suddenly to myself late last night, “I think I’ll make some nail polish.” That’s a thing people do, right, just randomly decide to make their own nail polish at 11 p.m. on a Friday? ¬†I hope so, because that’s certainly what *I* was doing at that late hour, and it seemed pretty normal to me!

And here are the results of my midnight hour machinations, two Nightmare Before Christmas-inspired glitter bombs in the colours of skeleton and ragdoll paramours Jack and Sally.

Of the two, Sally is the far more successful polish in terms of stability and ease of application – these photos show two brushed/dabbed-on coats, and I didn’t have to fish about for the larger heart-shaped glitters one bit. Plus I think the glitter mix in Sally – inspired by her patchwork dress, asphyxiated-looking countenance and poker straight red hair – is just perfection, an unusual combination of bronze, turquoise, rose, purple, red and black hexes dotted with tiny satin hearts. ¬†I layered this lovely new creation here over Enchanted Polish’s mystery lacquer for July 2015, a dusty grey-blue holo that looks like Sally’s…skin? ¬†Does she have skin or fabric? ¬†Hmm, best not linger on that question too long!

Sally Fingers 1

And then there was the¬†vernis terrible, Jack, an infuriatingly unsuccessful venture into the less-is-more approach to do-it-yourself nail polish. ¬†I think the inspiration for this guy is pretty clear – Jack’s black and white pinstripes, with a smattering of the Christmas bric-a-brac whose secrets Jack longs to crack. ¬†You’d just never know that hidden amid the depths of that simple black and white glitter polish is actually quite a lot of bric-a-brac – glittery snowflakes, colourful baubles, candy canes, snowmen and even a few good sized Christmas trees. ¬†The lightweight black and white glitter – made up of a mix of two identically-sized satin matte glitters – simultaneously covers up AND provides little to no support for the larger shapes, which sank to the bottom resolutely, and there they be. ¬†I had to embark on a major fishing expedition to snag these very few glitters. ¬†There was also far, far too much base in this polish – it rained down onto my work area in huge, glittery blobs, even after I had repeatedly wiped off the brush on the rim of the bottle. Jack is languishing at the bottom of my garbage can right now, so annoyed was I with his insolence. ūüėČ ¬†Here I layered Jack over another Enchanted mystery lacquer, this time May 2017, a dark and stormy blue that looks like the skies above both Christmas and Halloween Towns.

Jack Fingers 1