Hay There!

Hay There 1

This polish, a China Glaze Halloween release of a few years’ back by the name of Rest in Pieces, always reminds me of straw or hay or dried cornstalks; very appropriate for this time of year.

This manicure in particular – Rest in Pieces here over Essie’s cafe au lait creme, Cocktails & Coconuts – reminds me of one of my favourite episodes of Trading Spaces.  Show of hands if you remember Trading Spaces.  I used to watch it every day in university, sometimes multiple times a day if TLC was running a marathon.  I seriously hated 95 percent of everything the designers did, and I lived for Hilde ruining someone’s mudroom by turning it into a circus-themed wine grotto.

Hay There 2

One of my favourite episodes, though, was the time Hilde and two stunned-into-silence neighbours redecorated a lesbian couple’s livingroom as the inside of an unfinished barn, complete with chicken coop mesh, rough-hewn, terra cotta-hued parging (missed opportunity here to go with a salmon-coloured base polish, darn it!) and random, only-partially-embedded hunks of straw.  Yes, actual straw!  That these two women had three children under five seemed to have completely slipped Hilde’s mind – or rather, she didn’t seem to give a crap that this was a totally inappropriate space for anyone to inhabit, let alone a rambunctious trio of curious young kids.  I remember the neighbours tasked with “bettering” their space were absolutely mortified, had in fact begged Hilde not to move ahead with some of her more asinine ideas (the straw), but the designer clearly had other plans.

I also remember that of the two ladies, one was politely horrified, her eyes wide and surprised and vaguely terrified as she glanced around at the ruin of her livingroom.  And the other was just flat out PISSED.  Livid, actually, and I didn’t blame her one iota – her livingroom had undergone a radical hatchet job.  Then, as if to underscore her furious point, one of the kids ambled over to the scratchy, pointy, dangerous wall and picked off a small handful of straw.  Ha!  Except not ha, because I felt terrible for that family, AND their neighbours, whose relationship was surely damaged by this entire reality TV incident.  Hilde remained oblivious to the end.

Hay There 3

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Slime Rancher!

Slime Rancher 1

A blogger friend and I recently fell down a comment section hole with regards to the post-apocalyptic, pre-apocalyptic and intra-apocalyptic literature we’ve both been gravitating towards the last number of years, concluding at the end that we were just bloody tired of it all – tired of the dire and tired of the bleak.  It can’t all be zombies and geo-political crises and environmental disaster all the time, or at least it shouldn’t be.  Not if you’d like to stay reasonably sane in today’s geo-political atmosphere.

And that’s precisely what makes Slime Rancher, a sweet, colourful, gentle little game, so very, very special and unlike anything else on the games market today – it’s adorably innocent, and completely unconcerned with anything other than being cute and making its players contentedly happy.  And that’s the kind of media philosophy I think we could all stand to pay a bit more attention to these days – the simple pleasures of a thing designed just to bring you joy.  What a novel idea!

The Slime sitch plays out thusly: You are Beatrix LeBeau, first person Slime farmer on a planet far, far away.  As Beatrix, you explore the area around your ranch, collecting resources and rounding up free range Slimes, which are round, squashy, bouncy little balls of mischievous glee.  The Slime on my thumb here is a Pink Slime, the most common of the Slimes.  Slimes come in all shapes (Tabby Slimes!) and sizes (Giant Golden Gordos!) and need quite a bit of managing – each type has a structured diet, and some even come with musical preferences (Rock Slimes are, quite unsurprisingly, total metalheads.)  Slimes require fencing and feeding and all manner of other tending, and it’s all rather expensive.  And so financial consideration is provided by Plorts, little diamond-shaped trinkets the Slimes spit out (or at least I hope it’s spit!) which act as a kind of currency ’round the ranch.

Slime Rancher 2

My favourite thing about the game, besides tending my large pen of grey striped Tabby Slimes, is just heading out into the nighttime desert to stand beneath the gently twinkling night sky as a cluster of Pink Slimes bounce daffily about, emitting goofy “Woo hoo!” noises with every sproing and brroing (something I tried to capture with this manicure.)  With the gentle, cheerful music tinkling about merrily in the background, it’s more relaxing than staring at a computer screen should ever possibly be.  It’s just a ton of fun, with no shooting, no killing and no misery.  Armed with a kind of vacuum canister gun, you, Beatrix, suck up any Slimes that catch your eye and then deposit them safely back on your ranch.  And that’s the extent of the “weaponry,” delightfully enough.  And the worse you can do to the lone bad guys of the game, Tarr Slimes – giant black blobs shot through with rainbow veins who hypnotize other Slimes and subsume them – is suck them up with your vacuum gun and then shoot them out over the sea.  Even then, if it’s between the hours of sundown and sunup, the Tarr Slimes’ prime huntin’ hours, they’ll just come back, no harm, no foul.  It’s seriously such a gentle, sweet little game – I actually fear for it on the playground; the other video games will surely pick on its gentle naivete, won’t they?

Slime Rancher 3

Anyhow, if you’d like to check out a game that won’t have you contemplating either the end of times OR throwing your controller across the room in maximum difficulty frustration, I’d implore you to check out Slime Rancher.  It’s currently available on Steam for $21.99 Canadian, and it’s a real sweetheart – well worth the very reasonable price, and a ton of fun, woo hoo!

Polkadotaroo!

Dots 1

Like most Ontario kids who were born in the 1970s and came of (childhood) age in the 1980s, I watched A LOT of The Polka Dot Door.  A production of TV Ontario (holy crap, when’s the last time you saw that name?) The Polka Dot Door was a children’s television show for the seven and under crowd that featured host-led songs and skits and play-acting, and this nutso recurring character by the name of the Polkaroo.  The conceit of the Polkaroo was that the male half of the girl-boy hosting duo would step out for a moment to perform some mundane errand – nip on down to the store for more apples, take out the trash, replace the broken round window in the actual polka dotted door.  Anything to get that guy out of there (toward the end of the show’s run, I remember thinking they had run out of things he just had to do right that very minute, because they were just, like, “Oh, him?  Um, he’s in the can!”)  Anyhow, a few moments after the male host stepped out the door, the Polkaroo magically appeared.  And the Polkaroo was pure nightmare fuel – weird, saggy, baggy plushie body, garish colours, inability to say anything other than “Polkaroo!”  I think he was supposed to be a polka dotted kangaroo, but I just thought he was tacky.

And also CLEARLY the dude half of the hosting team, because after the Polkaroo had blundered about for a bit, knocking things over, pissing off the female host and then learning an invaluable lesson about teamwork, he’d clear out and the male host would sweep back in, all “WhadidImiss?” and the music would hit this “wah-wahhhhhh” cue and the female host would look on in indulgent exasperation.

I really liked The Polka Dot Door – it was one of the better early childhood morality and socialization nudgers of the time – but the Polkaroo never sat well with me, I think because I knew I was being talked down to.  And just because it came with a little wink didn’t lessen the sting of feeling like adults were having one over on me.  Kids – they don’t like to be made to feel like dummies any more than you do!

Anyhow, these polka dotted nails, in a range of Fall-perfect holos, got me thinking about The Polka Dot Door, so that’s how we wound up with this post that has nothing to do with the manicure at hand (and on my hand.)  That a good enough tangent for ya?!  Tangentialicious!  And Polkaroo!

Dots 2

Leafly

Leafly Fingers

Here’s a pretty, autumn-appropriate polish to add a bit of subtle sparkle to your seasonal soirees, ILNP’s chromatic flakie, The Road to Awe (as in “Oooo!” not “Awww!”)  Despite being released two or three years ago, this polish is still available on ILNP’s site, a testament to its beauty and popularity – it’s just a gorgeous polish.  And a fantastic pick for the Fall, too, with its colour-shifting chromatic flakies in a range of plummy purples, bronzey oranges and leafy yellows (here over a basic black creme, always the best base on which to show off any of these kind of chromatic polishes; classic bedfellows, if you will.)  I also love the smattering of hyacinth blue flakes – they’re the perfect hit of neon to liven up The Road to Awe’s crunchy, glittery “leaves.”  Perfect and perfectly pretty.

Leafly Bottle 2

Hammy Thanksgiving

ham-jubilee-bottle

Happy Thanksgiving, Canadian friends!  As has become my holiday tradition, here is a festive manicure featuring my favourite – and most successful – homemade polish, Hawaiian Ham (so named after those alarming, 1950s-style ham casseroles topped with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries.)  I made up a bottle for some American friends recently, substituting the yellow, pineapple-y glitter for a red-tinged bronze, and renamed this shade Canadian Bacon. 😉

But speaking of rings on the Thanksgiving dinner table, here’s a fun, older mani of mine in which I honoured that most Canadian of festive foodstuffs, the uncut – very important, that – ringed log of cranberry sauce.  Just shoot it straight out of the can and onto a fussy little garnish dish!  The polish I used here was KB Shimmer’s Leaf of Faith; I think it looks like extra chunky cranberry jelly.  Hope you all have a delicious one!

Canned Cranberry Sauce, with Rings!

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

Literary Inspiration: The New Hunger

Warm Bodies Collage

First off, reading challenge assessment time.  Grade received: Total crap!  Because I’ve read just 10 books out of a possible 24.  And I can only lay so much blame at the feet of Stephen King, whose gigantic tomes I’ve already read in service of two of the challenge themes.  Reading for pleasure (instead of panic, ie. whatever horrifying news is coming out of American politics this hour) is just not an activity I gravitate towards any more.  I wish I knew why that need to read has departed – I was a voracious reader when I was a kid – but hopefully it will return.

Until then, there are infinitely worse ways to pass the hours than in the broken but healing, dying but not yet dead world of Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies.  And so for the ninth challenge prompt – a story that takes you to another place and time, real or imagined – I chose The New Hunger, a prequel novella from Marion set in the Warm Bodies universe.

If you’ve only seen the 2013 Warm Bodies movie, you can be forgiven for assuming that The New Hunger is a trifle of a book.  I liked the film – correction: I like Nicholas Hoult, will watch him in virtually anything, although I recommend the sexy-as-hell Equals – but there really wasn’t very much there.  It was an enjoyable watch, but a tepid shadow of 2010’s fiery novel (which I see that Wikipedia has sorted into both the post-apocalyptic and gothic fiction tags, neat.)  But the movie – quite apart from some major changes to the story – failed to capture the beleaguered optimism of the novel, distilling R and Julie’s passionate, revolutionary call-to-arms down to a simple Romeo and Juliet story, with zombies.  I adored the book; it’s one of the best things I’ve read in decades, but the film adaptation did it, and the deeply layered Warm Bodies universe, no terrific favours.  Isaac Marion is a fantastic writer – his prose is tidy and to-the-point, peppered with heartbreakingly poignant observations about war, politics, geo-political turmoil, man’s inhumanity to man, life, death and all those other terrifically lightweight subjects.  Warm Bodies, the novel, deserved more.

So a trifle it is not, and neither is The New Hunger, a 2013 prequel novella set in the four or five years before R, Julie, Nora and M make their last stand in Stadium City.  I actually read this book when it was first released via e-reader in 2013.  Scared the crap out of me; the last 10 or so pages left me breathless, wide-eyed, shocked.  As always, I can’t say more than that without spoiling this excellent, taut little examination of the downfall (and subsequent resurrection) of man, but the book links our four main characters years before they ever meet face to face – R, newly awoken as a reluctant zombie desperately clinging to the last vestiges of rational thought; Julie, 12-years-old, living out of her parents’ armored truck and dreaming of the kind of stable childhood she was never allowed to enjoy; M dying alone in the bathroom of the Space Needle; and finally Nora, 16-years-old, on a trek across the flooded port of Seattle in search of food, shelter and safety.

The New Hunger Cover

The bulk of The New Hunger concerns itself with Nora’s story, which ends in a place no less bleak than its beginning.  After years of global crises, nuclear war, destructive political posturing and rising sea levels (sound frighteningly familiar?) humanity has reached its breaking point.  Then, as the final flaming cherry on the end-of-times sundae, the dead rise up to drag the few remaining down.  In the midst of all this – abandoned cities, deserted safe zones, looters and cultists and much, much worse – Nora and her little brother, Addison, have been dumped in a Seattle suburb by their junkie parents.  Nora wakes one morning to find that they’ve simply left, taking all the food and weapons with them.  Nora tries to tell herself that they probably committed that final atrocious act out of some concern that two kids left alone with a gun are bound to hurt or kill themselves with that gun, but she knows better – her parents didn’t give a shit, cared more about their final score than they ever did about their own children.  It’s heartbreaking.

And real.  Maybe a bit too real given some of the realities of today.  I said before that this book genuinely scared the crap out of me.  It did back in 2013, and it continues to frighten me today, albeit for different reasons beyond “ooh, zombies, scary.”  It’s all hitting just a little bit too close to home.  Truly, absent the living dead, Marion’s template of the downfall of humanity seems to be one we’re following note for note these days.  Takes a bit of joy out of post-apocalyptic literature, that.

But you get your kicks where you can, and for me, that always means accompanying nail art, here my approximation of the flooded, fog-shrouded Seattle skyline Nora and Addison cross on their path to what just has to be something better.  Something I think we could all work towards – something better.

Seattle Silhouette