They’re Coming to Get You, Barbara

Cemetery Gates 1

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. 😉

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Little Bones

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Bitty little femurs in Glam Polish lacquers named after a couple of goth girls who surely know their bones, purple Lydia (Deetz, of Beetlejuice fame) and blue Wednesday (Addams, of the Addams Family.)

Little Bones Collage

There Can Be Only One

There Can Be 1

Jack-o-Lantern face, that is!  Growing up, my pumpkin dictator mother decreed that there could only be one expression carved into the side of a ripe Halloween pumpkin – triangle eyes, half-moon mouth, the end!  It’s a classic for a reason, to be sure.  All the same, she was (jokingly) aghast the year I came along and added two pointy fangs to the half-moon mouth; what the hey was this kid doing messing with tradition anyways?!  I attempt to be a glass-half-full kind of person, so I’m going to say I was just respecting tradition.  In fact, I respect it so much – well, just take a peek at last year’s tiny Jack-o-Lantern.

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Weegie is a non-conformist, and she thinks my later work has grown repetitive.  How rude!  Also, says the cat in the lobster costume!  And yes, that is a 16-year-old torbi dressed as a crustacean, sitting beside a lit Jack-o-Lantern on my diningroom table; what of it? 😉

These happy Jack-o-Lantern nails are for my mom, both the classic, proscribed expression and avec fangs, just to mix things up and drive my mom a teeny bit bonkers.  Happy Halloween!

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FrankenDots

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Because the colours I used in this manicure are quite Frankenstein-y, no?  Also because the topcoat I used (name withheld to protect the cruddy) dragged most of the polish off the dots, giving these nails a very undone sort of look.  It really doesn’t help that by adding the matte topcoat (name also withheld to protect the likewise cruddy) it caused the polish at the very edges of my nails to pucker.  Or maybe it does help – I’m sure Frankenstein’s skin was not unblemished.  Now there was a man in desperate need of a rejuvenating skin mask.

Anyhow, happy early Halloween!  Let’s celebrate with these nails, because they’re kind of a (pretty) nightmare.

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Literary Inspiration: Christine

Christine Collage

I’m a huge Stephen King fan (Pet Sematary is my favourite novel, although I think I like his shorts best) but I haven’t read many of his earliest works – Carrie, Cujo, Firestarter, and until very recently, Christine.  Never been much of a car person, so I think I was a little frightened off by the subject matter.

But continuing to play along with my friends’ reading challenge, and with the theme of a library find or a gifted book calling out to me (indeed, Christine is a book I gifted to myself out of my condo’s library!) I thought it was time to pull Christine out of the garage and really see what she could do out on the open road.

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Without giving too much away regarding the plot of this 35-year-old novel, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t strictly geared towards gearheads.  The events of the novel actually surround 17-year-old Arnie Cunningham.  Arnie’s smart, bright and funny, a hard worker and a great student, but he’s also tragically unpopular and run over roughshod by every single person in his life – his teachers, his overbearing mother and father, even his everydude best friend, Dennis.  That all changes the day he meets Christine, a rundown hunk of Plymouth junk rusting to death on a nasty old man’s lawn.  Arnie HAS to have her, won’t actually listen to a word of Dennis’s reasonable counsel regarding her poor condition, her vile, greedy owner or the total shit fit his parents are sure to have if he attempts to bring her home.  But bring her home he does, wildly overpaying for the red and white, 1958 Fury that will come to tear his tidy suburban life – as well as a good number of people! – to bits.

Thirty-five-year-old spoilers or no, we all know by now what Christine does – she’s the murder car!  I think it’s one of those terms that just might be part of the pop culture lexicon by now.  Even the back of the book jacket hammers home the elegantly horrific nightmare fuel that “Christine is no lady.  She is Stephen King’s ultimate, blackly evil vehicle of horror.”

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But Christine is about so much more than a homicidal car.  I think it’s really a story about growing up, whether you’re an unpopular 17-year-old dork, that dork’s parents or the wretched old bastard who sold the dork a murder car.  It’s a quest for independence, a love story, a tale of obsession.  I liked it, even if I think King whiffed the ending.  Good to know that literary quirk of his started early. 😉

If you’ve been following along with this Literary Inspiration series, you know I like to do a manicure to accompany whatever book I’ve recently finished reading.  Here I was inspired by Petunia, a hot pink sanitation truck (her name is spelled out in giant gothic letters across her potbellied side) who gives Christine a run for her money.  That’ll do, Petunia. 🙂

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Poison Apple Cauldron

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I got this nifty refillable popcorn bucket at the Magic Kingdom some weeks back, and like my Gaston ears, it was one of those things that people would just shout their appreciation for from distances both great and small (nearly wrote that as “smell,” which is quite apt, as that Disney popcorn scent – real and/or enhanced – is utterly intoxicating.)  One morning a woman with an incredible Scottish accent demanded to know where I got my “fabu-losh buh-KIT” and I decided right then and there that whatever it cost ($15 filled with popcorn, with unlimited $2 refills) it was worth it just to hear her awesome pronunciation of “bucket.” 🙂  There’s also a small battery inside that powers cool burbling light effects in the lid, like you’re brewing up some wonderously witchy creation and not just 1,800 calories in snack food.

Poison Apple Cauldron Me

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This fun new parkin’ accessory was calling out for a bit of matching nail art, so I obliged.  I think the skull on my thumb is terrible and I had a real mis-fire with some topcoat that smudged up quite a bit more than usual, but overall, I like the Nickelodeon-type sludgy slime.  Like the popcorn that goes into the bucket most of all, but simply carrying the thing around, and wearing it on my nails, is pretty fun, too.

Poison Apple Cauldron Collage

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Literary Inspiration: The Night Circus

The Night Circus Collage 1

Have you ever fallen in love with a book?  Just found yourself utterly entranced by the world it creates?  I think this happens all the time, can actually remember my father some 20 years ago telling me, in rapturous tones reminiscent of a little girl divulging her first crush, about this book series he had just started reading about a boy wizard at a magical boarding school.  My mom is going through something similar at the moment with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe books; when she talks about them, I can see that she’s been positively enchanted.  As was I the first time I read my favourite book, Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides.  I remember reading that blisteringly tragic final paragraph and then just sitting back in my chair, a melancholy smile playing at the edges of my lips, as I contemplated that weird ache in my chest that felt as though it was caught somewhere between heartbreak and hope.

Which is precisely how I felt when I finished Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, an elegantly languid tale of love, loss and the beauty of the unexplained as set against a mysterious after-hours circus.  This was the most beautiful book I think I’ve ever read, and it actually hurt a bit when the gorgeous tale of les Cirques du Reves and its creators, performers and devoted Reveurs drew to a close.  At the risk of sounding like a book jacket blurb, I would absolutely run away to join this circus.

On the subject of the story itself, a tale of two magicians whose chess game-like maneuvers play out over decades, sweeping the circus and its inhabitants into their increasingly dangerous orbit, I’m somewhat neutral.  It’s a love story, and a deeply satisfying one at that, but for me, this novel is all about the elegant, gothic carnival Morgenstern creates with her Night Circus.  This is an all black and white world, stark light-and-dark simplicity against which to highlight the incredible magical feats showcased within.  The only colours you’ll find in les Cirques du Reves are the blood red accessories the circus’s travelling fandom wear as a kind of identification, and on opening night, the rainbow-tipped flames in the hulking courtyard cauldron.

If a book could be said to be set designed, then this one has been, to within an inch of its life, and I adore it – I love the more is more is more approach!  It’s truly the most evocative novel I think I’ve ever read – I could picture every painted checkerboard floor, every striped canvas tent, every sumptuous midnight dinner menu, every impossibly beautiful feat of the unexplained.  And all the credit in the world to Morgenstern for this; she certainly has that Rowlingian flair for world-building.  That The Night Circus is her debut novel (the theme in my friends’ reading challenge for which I chose this book in the first place) is incredible; she’s a very gifted writer.  And not for nothing, because I’m exactly the kind of person who notices these kinds of things, but this was a beautifully edited book.  I can’t tell you how irked I get when I’m pulled out of a great story by some sloppy little editing error.  I get so peevish about it, I’ll actually grab a highlighter and aggressively circle it!  It’s a real delight to see someone (or someones) take the time and care to get it right the first time.

Because I’ve tasked myself with doing a manicure for each book I read for my friends’ reading challenge, I had to come up with one for The Night Circus.  But I couldn’t possibly have limited myself to just one design, not with so much great inspiration right there on the page…so I did five.  Actually six, but the sixth was whonkus and not quite what I had intended, so five it is!  Here I’ve done manicures inspired by Herr Thiessen’s dreamy courtyard clock, the entrance tunnel of stars, the spiral and checkerboard patterns painted on the ground and – my favourite – Celia’s wishing tree.

The Clock

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The Entrance

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The Grounds

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The Wishing Tree

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And then for good measure, because one does want a hint of colour, even in the midst of a black-and-white circus, I created a design inspired by the wrought iron cauldron in the centre of the courtyard.  The cauldron, a centrepiece of the circus in more ways than one, typically burns with stark white flames, but on the circus’s opening night, archers lit the flames with arrows tipped in a rainbow’s worth of rich colours.

The Cauldron

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Gosh, I loved this book; it was so pretty.  Big recommendation if you like a sweeping, slow burn of a love story and uncommonly evocative settings.  This one may require another read-through, and soon. 🙂