Succulents, Not Succulent

Succulents 2

Well, trust me to take this floral manicure, which I did in service of the theme of succulents for a nail art challenge I’m doing on Instagram, and turn it into a discussion on Brooklyn 9-9.  Actually, I suspect I could turn just about any subject into a commentary on one of my favourite TV shows, I think about it just that often!

Anyhow, there’s this character named Charles Boyle, who’s played by Joe Lo Truglio, who you may remember as the creepy/skeezy/gross guy from any number of Judd Apatow movies (thinking of his character in Superbad here.)  I was definitely not a fan before seeing his work in Brooklyn 9-9, but as beige pants-loving, foodie cop Charles Boyle, he’s an utter delight.  No one loves fermenting mason jars of unidentifiable foodstuffs in their desk drawers more than Charles. 🙂

But Charles’s taste in food runs quite contrary to his ultra beige, Mervins-clad demeanor – Charles likes it weird, Charles likes it gross, and Charles probably likes it best if he kills it himself (he once fought off a rampaging turkey that had penned the squad into a bathroom with naught but a handily repurposed straightening iron.)  He also likes to discuss his foodie pursuits in THE most repulsive manner possible, always using the most descriptively disgusting language he can find – words like “moist” and “mouthfeel” and in one particularly nasty bit, the phrase “Oh, lucky you, you got the toenail!”  Long story short, don’t ask Charles Boyle to bring anything to the potluck, because it’ll definitely be offal.  Or worse.  And with its toenails still on!

At one point, another character submitted a list of words Charles was forbidden from uttering, and “succulent” was right at the top.  I get it, it conjures up the same sort of images in my mind as when I hear the word “moist” (which is apparently one of the most reviled words in the English language, didya know?)  To my mind, it suggests lush, almost juicy dampness.  Which, when I see it all written out like that, IS rather disgusting!

So it’s a real shame that succulents, the plant, have gotten swept up in the wellspring of negativity towards their name, because they’re so, so beautiful – such charming little plants with their heathered rainbow hues.  So I put them on my nails.  Hey, beats the heck out of trying to recreate one of Charles’s culinary nightmares!  You’re welcome. 😉

Succulents 1

Marbleize Me, Michael!

Marbelize Me 1

Heh, that’s a line from the second best character* on my favourite TV show, The Good Place.  Janet, played by D’Arcy Carden, is an “informational assistant” – basically an Alexa that can walk and talk and learn to throw shade.  Janet’s natural state is to walk around as a hot brunette (in inexplicably stodgy 1960s secretary wear) but when the goings get dicey (and are they never not dicey on The Good Place?) she can be “marbleized” – shrunk down into a easily hideable glass marble, simply by inserting the end of a paperclip in the tiny port behind her ear, and booping the end of her nose.  Wow, is The Good Place ever a weird show.

Anyhow, none of that has anything to do with these nails – was just bandying about some ideas for the title of this post and thought, “Huh, these look like marble.  Let’s Play Marbles?  Ugh, no, that’s crap.  Venus de Marble?  Seriously?  Gawd, go home, you’re drunk, that’s terrible.  *GASP!!!MARBLEIZE ME, MICHAEL!!!”  Yup, sometimes it really is just that scattered.  Also, I need to re-watch last season of The Good Place before the fourth – and final – season starts this fall.

Oh-kay, getting back to these nails!  They were insanely easy.  Like, embarrassingly easy.  And they only took about 20 minutes, including dry time.  Maybe I ought to create a tutorial?  But the hows for now?  I dipped a small, wide-edged detail brush into three polishes – here a dark brown, a lighter brown and a pale pink – and gently zigzagged it down my nails, already painted in a simple white creme, to create the veiny look of marble.  I repeated that process wherever there was space, trying to keep things loose and not too “done.”  Annnnnnnnd that was pretty much it.  Oh!  I also added just a tiny bit of glittery gold detailing, just to really highlight those little “fissures.”  Also, too many quotation marks in this post. 😉

*The best character is clearly Jason Mendoza of Jacksonville, Florida.  BORTLES!!!

Marbelize Me 2

Stranger Manis: Steve and Robin

Scoops Collage 1

Hey look, it’s everybody’s favourite new pairing of the Stranger Things Universe, co-workers and co-conspirators Steve and Robin!  These two were an utter delight this season, whether it was slangin’ ice cream or busting Russian skulls, and I hope we see more of their adventures next season (with or without the other half of the Scoops Troop, who will be getting their own manis soon so we can round off this unlikely quartet.)

All of the nautical stripes on Steve and Robin’s Scoops Ahoy uniforms were a righteous pain in the butt to paint – Streak City.  But their ice cream parlour duds – particularly those best feature-destroying sailor hats – are the cutest things ever, and I HAD to give them the manicured treatment.

Scoops Collage 2

So I think season 3 proves that Steve Harrington is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the BEST THING EVER, right?  So fantastic, I’ve actually stopped referring to him as Steve’s Hair or the Guy Who Runs Steve’s Hair, and now simply call him Steve.  You know it’s love when I stop making jokes. 😉  Except…it shames me to no end to note that it was only a couple of weeks ago that I finally put it together that Steve’s last name is Harrington, as in a TON of HAIR.  How did I not put that together before now?  Steve’s evolved into such a great character, although I’ll always have a soft spot for douchey season 1 Steve – he really reminded me of a boy I was quite spun for in high school.

Steve 1

And Robin is such an amazing new addition to the cast!  She’s smart and funny and thoughtful and brave, and she’s played with so much charm by Maya Hawke, who is Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman’s daughter, and wow, does she ever sound like her mom, and now that I’ve told you this little bit of trivia, it’s all you’ll ever hear.  Close your eyes and you can almost hear Robin describing the finer plot points of cancelled-after-the-pilot TV series, Fox Force Five (“Fox, because we were a bunch of foxes, Force, because we were a force to be reckoned with, and Five, because there were one, two, three, four, five of us,” and yes, that was a Pulp Fiction reference.  I’m very old.)

Robin 1

As I mentioned in my last Stranger Manis post, I have a lot more nail art coming that has been inspired by season 3, which itself is an endless font of incredible set design and neon-tinged ’80s nostalgia.  It seems practically tailor made for this kind of fan art, so I’ll be happy to oblige. 😉

Stranger Manis: Scoops Ahoy!

Scoops Ahoy 1

AHOY, FRIENDS!  Please join me today as we set sail on an ocean of flavour.  My name is Sandra and I’ll be your captain on this delicious journey.  Can I interest you in a USS Butterscotch?

Actually, I am quite interested in a USS Butterscotch, and thanks to a fun collaboration between Baskin-Robbins (31 Flavors for you American peeps) and Netflix, I could pop on down the road and have one (you know, once the store opens in, oh, six or so hours.  Little early for ice cream right now.)  I have tried the Upside Down sundae, though.  Mr. Finger Candy and I shared one some weeks back, before the third season of Stranger Things had even dropped, and it was delicious, but as deadly as its namesake.  One little inverted cup of pecan-studded chocolate ice cream (the nuts, whipped cream and cherry were on the bottom, with the caramel sauce and ice cream layered on top of that; cute) nearly did us both in.  I can’t imagine the pain I’d be in if I actually set sail aboard Scoops Ahoy’s signature dish, the USS Butterscotch.

050

I really love that Stranger Things is now enough of a part of the cultural lexicon that these kind of cross-promotional collaborations are downright commonplace – Stranger Things is EVERYWHERE this month.  I won’t complain (okay, I’ll only moderately complain about the awkward – and frequent – New Coke mentions in the third season.  They were shoehorned in all over the place, and a huge, climactic action sequence comes to a literal screeching halt while one character expounds on the goodness of New Coke.  It’s pretty painful.)

Stranger Sundaes Collage

But overall, I’m just totally in love with Stranger Things season 3, particularly the Scoops Troop and the nautical-themed ice cream parlour that serves as their place of employment and base of Russian spy-busting operations.  MANY more Stranger manis to come, please stay tuned.

Scoops Ahoy 2

Arizona Shrimp Horny

Arizona Shrimp Horny 1

That’s a line from one of my favourite TV shows, The Good Place, about Kristen Bell’s character, self-described Arizona trashbag Eleanor Shellstrop, a woman who REALLY loves her shrimp.  And maybe even in the biblical sense, according to dimwitted friend Jason Mendoza, an act I would really not put beyond her – Eleanor’s a delightful pervert who’s constantly, improbably horny for everyone and everything, and I’m sure that includes her beloved shrampies.

But all this talk of shrimp, in service of this manicure I did after getting the “Arizona shrimp horny” line stuck in my head for days, made me realize that there are a lot of references to shrimp in my favourite movies and TV shows, and they all make me laugh uproariously.  Brooklyn 99’s Jake is dismayed when he discovers that cruise ship latrines empty into the ocean – “But that’s where my shrimp live!”  Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Anya loves to talk up the all-shrimp (or no-shrimp) worlds that populate other dimensions.  The Birdcage’s Agador (Agador Spartacus?) protests when another character whisks away the seafood chowder he’s prepared, calling after them in a singsongy Puerto Rican accent, “But you forgot da tshrimps!”  Raising Hope’s Jimmy horrifies his family after returning home from his grocery store job reeking of disemboweled decapods (“Oh my god, what is that smell?!”  “The poop of 50,000 shrimps.”)  And let’s not forget about The Muppets’ Pepe the Prawn, who always seems to be on the unfortunate end of one of Miss Piggy’s schemes to make Kermit jealous (I laugh for days at the bit in the movie with Jason Segal and Amy Adams where Kermit walks in on Piggy and Pepe, in costume, practicing the lift from the end of Dirty Dancing.  He’s in a tiny little leather jacket, and desperately trying to fend off Piggy’s without-warning attempts at launching herself up and over him while “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” warbles in the background.  Mr. Finger Candy and I practically giggled ourselves into fits contemplating this wee shrimp version of Johnny Castle (we’ve dubbed him Prawny Castle, because how could we not?)

Turns out there’s a lot of references to shrimp in my favourite pop culture, and now here the little buggers are adorning my nails.  Think I might have as big a problem as Eleanor? 😉

Arizona Shrimp Horny 2

The Umbrella Academy

Umbrella Academy 1

LOVED IT – zero surprise there.  As a one-time disciple of the Church of My Chemical Romance, I’m required to love anything that comes from the mind of Gerard Way, MCR’s enigmatic front man and co-writer of The Umbrella Academy comics from which this charmingly weird Netflix series was derived.  (As a huge aside, yes, before twenty one pilots there was My Chemical Romance – and before both of them, and still, always, there is Green Day – and oh my, did I have it bad for their whole goth dork theatre geek screamo thing.  I joke about the Church of MCR, but I had the next best thing to a bona fide religious experience at one of their shows, one of those top 10 moments of my life sort of deals.)

So I was probably predisposed to love The Umbrella Academy, which is a beautifully filmed and acted distillation of MCR’s entire musical catalog, vibe and aesthetic.  You’ve really got it all here, from repeated references to the hardships of war, to the prep school uniforms worn by the kids of the Umbrella Academy, to the Victorian-by-way-of-the-1950s office wear sported by the employees of the Commission.  There’s also Wes Anderson-level awkward family dynamics, an opening montage scored to the Phantom of the Opera (dope), a lot of commentary on the ethics of medicating children, multiple dance scenes, and a caffeine-jonesing 58-year-old man in a 13-year-old’s body who’s in love with a mannequin torso named Dolores.  Oh! also a robot nanny and a monkey butler.  For real.

If I didn’t lose you with Dolores, Grace or Pogo up there, there’s really so, so much to recommend this gorgeous show; don’t let its on-paper weirdness freak you out, if only so you don’t sidestep the ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE soundtrack, which features lots of Gerard Way tunes, of course (covers of Happy Together and Hazy Shade of Winter), rock classics of the 60s, 70s and 80s (see above re: the Turtles and Simon and Garfunkel songs, as well as appearances from the Kinks, the Doors, Heart, Nina Simone, Queen and the freakin’ Bay City Rollers!) and two brutal fight scenes scored to They Might be Giant’s Istanbul (not Constantinople) and Lesley Gore’s Sunshine and Lollipops.  It’s also filmed in Toronto, and boy, does it look it – I can pick out specific intersections, one right down the street from a friend’s old apartment.

Umbrella Academy Collage

Here’s the basic setup for the show: In 1986 46 women the world over, none of whom were pregnant when the day began, give birth.  An eccentric billionaire by the name of Reginald Hargreeves comes along and buys – let’s not mince words – seven of the children, all of whom bear superpowers ranging from incredible strength, to teleportation, to the ability to speak to the dead.  Assigning each child a number, but no actual names, Hargreeves begins to mold the kids into a crime-fighting unit by the name of The Umbrella Academy.  But Hargreeves is a distant, exacting and cruel father figure, and Nos. 1 to 7 – eventually christened Luther, Diego, Allison, Klaus, Five, Ben and Vanya by their robot “mother” – all bear a not-so-healthy resentment towards the miserable old bastard, though the siblings all care deeply – if not awkwardly – for one another.

One day, many, many years after the children have fled the nest and scattered to any corner of the globe not occupied by their father (one went as far as the moon, for pity’s sake) the old man kicks it, and this weird, fractured family reunites to finally put their demons to rest.  Except time travelling assassins and one-eyed bandits and the apocalypse.  As you do.

It’s awesome, please watch it.  Really, get thee to Netflix post haste, friends.  And I hope you like this manicure as well, inspired by The Umbrella Academy’s graphics, and the umbrella tattoo each member of the Academy has inked on their inner wrists.

Umbrella Academy 3

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

Vampirina Collage 1

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.

Vampirina 3

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. 🙂

104

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!

103

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. 😉

Vampirina Collage 2