It’s been a long time since my standing Sunday night appointment with The Simpsons, but man, back in the day, I had a real Simpsons problem. In university when I lived at home with my parents, I’d hog the remote and make them watch two episodes over the dinner hour. They always laughed, but after the fourth time hearing “Yes, Lisa, a magical animal” (my Dad’s favourite, and frequently uttered, quote) they started feeling a bit of Simpsons fatigue. I watched a bunch of season 4 episodes this afternoon for the first time in ages, and they were absolutely hilarious – must add more Simpsons to my life, starting with these nails!
No, you’re not imagining things – this really is the second time I’ve done this exact design in as many days.
Perfectionist types, no matter the creative medium they dabble in, may be familiar with that nagging feeling to DO BETTER that accompanies perceived mis-steps, like crappy nail art that you really wish you hadn’t published to your blog before embarking on a serious do-over. Because the first Simpsons manicure that I did just two days ago has been DRIVING ME BANANAS, and I’ve been plotting its re-boot ever since I hit the “Publish” button. So when a bit of poor weather-related downtime presented itself this weekend, I decided to do precisely that, and I’m so much happier with the results! Behold, Flaming Moe’s 2.0!
So what was driving me so first world nail polish bonkers about my first attempt? For starters, and probably most vexing of all, I painted the first version quite late at night and took my photos in my insufficiently lit bathroom. Every other manicure I’ve done for the Oh Mon Dieu Nail Art Challenge – indeed, every manicure I’ve done for months, period – has had its photos taken outdoors, which when it comes to nail art photography at least is very nearly always preferable to an artificial light source. Painting my nails in the dim evening light also presented its own set of problems, namely that I didn’t notice any until it was far too late to do anything about them, because I couldn’t clearly see my own work. And to that end, I found the gradient I attempted (which was supposed to look like a multi-layered Flaming Moe) muddy, washed out and ill defined.
I also didn’t care for the way I went about the lettering in “Flaming Moe’s” the first time around. For Moe’s V. 1.0, I painted on the yellow lettering and then outlined each letter in orange, which went about as well as you can imagine. Things got quite messy and I basically wound up painting over the yellow lettering with the orange and then filling it back in with the yellow. Very counter-intuitive and a big waste of time and materials.
So for Version 2.0, I went with a completely different approach, starting with a lighter, simpler gradient in basic creme polishes and ending with the easier lettering technique I eventually adopted during my first go-round. MUCH better, and proof positive that with nail art – and so, so many other things in life – you really can learn from your mistakes, even if it’s a couple of days later. 🙂
I’m a theme park nerd and Simpsons fan more or less in equal measure, and I’ve always taken great delight in the episodes where the Simpsons clan go to an amusement park, lampooning the genuinely magical, but ultimately financially-driven, nature of the Disneys and Universals of our world. I think the episode where the Simpsons fight off a roving band of murderous, off-program animatronics at Itchy & Scratchy Land might be my favourite theme park-inspired episode, but I also love – as do so many; it’s a classic for a reason – the 13th episode of season 4 in which Marge’s sister Selma takes the Simpsons kids to Duff Gardens, a Magic Kingdom-esque amusement park run by the Duff Beer Corporation. There’s all the usual Disney-type tropes at work here – endless parades, beleaguered costumed characters and “It’s a Duff World,” an “It’s a Small World” parody whose toxic waters bear hallucinogenic properties – although they also bring Sea World into the mix with the introduction of the Beerquarium, a suds-filled aquatic habitat filled with, apparently, “The World’s Happiest Fish!” Except they really don’t look so happy, listlessly circling the tank belching, groaning and trying not to vomit.
Anyhow, when day 14 of the Oh Mon Dieu Nail Art Challenge called for the theme of fish, I decided to do a Simpsons-inspired manicure featuring the drunken fish of Duff Garden’s Beerquarium (although later in the episode a character references something called a Fermentarium, which has to be the same thing, right? I move to change the name to Fermentarium on the grounds that it’s much funnier.)
I did these nails using the very-appropriate-in-these-circumstances pond manicure technique, this time encasing the inebriated fish in multiple layers of an amber-hued jelly polish, Nfu Oh’s JS39, instead of Duff Beer. Not really sure which one might be less toxic.
Hello friends, and welcome back after what I hope were an enjoyable few days paying tribute to the holiday gods. I, of course, prayed a bit too hard to the god of heartburn, a totally predictable outcome when your mother’s Christmas morning breakfast table looks like this:
I took a bit of a hiatus from both blogging and nail art over the holidays, and now that I’m getting back into the polished swing of things, I’ve found that without the built-in theming of a major holiday like Christmas, Hanukkah or Festivus to prod me along, I’m rather bereft of inspiration and ideas that don’t involve candy canes, elves or gingerbread.
And so when I’m stuck like this, I invariably turn to a favourite movie or TV show to help loosen the mental gears, in this case (and quite a few others) The Simpsons. I’m not sure I’d even consider it one of my top 10s, but the classic Mr. Plow episode from the show’s fourth season won out because it contains one of my favourite moments between Homer and Marge when Homer, after giving up the glory, danger and ultimate burden of manning Springfield’s sole commercial snowplow, dons his jacket for Marge with naught by his tighty whities beneath and struts around their bedroom purring the Mr. Plow jingle from his late night, public access advertisement. I really do love it when Homer and Marge get their freak on, because it’s invariably adorable and/or hilarious, and it’s nice to see a long-standing married couple on television who still have the hots for each other, even (especially?) if they’re animated.
And yes, those are underpants on my thumb. Hey, don’t look at me! Take it up with Marge; she’s the one who seems to find them so charming.
Day 18’s theme in the Oh Mon Dieu nail art challenge (almost wrote that as “Oh Mon Die”) was the almighty dotticure, a ridiculous made-up word to describe a manicure in which dots are the prevailing nail art technique. Thanks to a plethora of fun dotting tools on the market, dot-based designs prevail, to say nothing of their user-friendliness for nail art pros and noobs alike.
For this challenge prompt, I decided to try my hand at a pixelated, comic strip-type design, complete with speech bubble superhero grunts that I freely admit to cribbing from a favourite episode of The Simpsons. In “Radioactive Man” (season 7, episode 2) Springfield is chosen to host the filming of the new big budget Radioactive Man movie. Wackiness naturally ensues (“My eyes! Ze goggles do nothing!”), with the production seemingly only caring that the movie be nothing like the goofy Radioactive Man movies of the ’60s. Two seconds later there’s a flashback to one of those goofy movies, with our hero bravely beating in faces (Boy Scouts, actually; how’s that for our radioactive good guy?!) while Batman-esque fight dialogue (“Bam!”, “Pow!” and the like) flashes across the screen. Except instead of the usual assortment of “Blam!”s and “Kapow!”s you typically see when the hero is kicking ass and taking names – and I’m starting to snicker as I type this – it’s all “Bif!” and “Newt!” and one particularly awesome and elongated “POOOOOOOOO!” *wipes eyes* Damn, that’s funny. And so I painted it on my nails. Newt!
For people of my generation (old, like the dinosaurs, only with better taste in music and indoor heating) there is no greater cultural touchstone than The Simpsons. Many of my friends adopt Simpsonese as a sort of short-hand to express everyday sentiments (when something strikes me as an incongruous mess, I’ll yelp, “Nuts and gum, together at last!” and my husband is fond of quoting Gordie, the 10-year-old in kindergarden who explains to Bart, “They think I’m slow ’cause I’m from Canada, eh?”) In many ways, even at their most absurd, the Simpsons seem more real than actual real people, and while I can’t say I’ve followed the show all that closely over the past decade, that yellow-skinned bunch of 2D freaks will always hold a special place in my heart.
These nails draw inspiration from “The Devil and Homer Simpson,” a short from the Treehouse of Horror IV episode in which Homer, feeling bereft of donut, announces that he’d sell his very soul for one of the sweet, round pastries, which the Devil Flanders, who shows up amidst much fire and brimstone, is more than willing to accommodate. But the Devil Flanders, much like regular, annoying Flanders, is a Chatty Cathy, and lets slip that should Homer not finish the donut, he can’t claim his soul. So Homer, being the jerk he so often is, taunts the devil for a bit and then takes the single remaining donut bite home, where he carefully puts it on a plate in the fridge surrounded by such helpful Post-Its as “Daddy’s soul donut; don’t touch!” But OF COURSE he touches, and yadda yadda yadda, his soul belongs to Marge. AS IT SHOULD, because that woman is a saint.
Here I tried to capture the dichotomy between the light and dark nature of the donut as a comment on the circularity of our lives. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to paint horns and a halo on a pair of donuts? Who knows. And even though he’s a tad blurry, I’m super proud of my Devil Flanders. Painting branded characters and actually having them turn out looking like those characters is not something I’m particularly good at, so the fact that he looks a bit like Flanders (albeit with pointed horns) is highly encouraging.
Some nail mail arrived today in the form of a very promising looking bundle of neon glitter toppers and thermal polishes from Polish Me Silly. Amongst all the bright was this fun pick, Minty Madness, a mint green-to-white thermal colour changer dotted with matte neon glitter. Minty Madness reminds me a lot of another Polish Me Silly pick, I Lost My Marbles, in that they both look a bit like bubblegum ice cream (or in this case, pistachio-bubblegum, which sounds horrendous. It also reminds me of a fantastic visual gag from The Simpsons where Homer strides into his kitchen and declares to Lisa, who is lamenting her lack of power as an eight-year-old girl, that as part of the coveted 18 to 49 white male demographic, everyone listens to his ideas, upon which he promptly pulls a can out of the cupboard bearing a label for “Nuts and Gum, Together at Last!” and starts chowing down. Slays me every time.)
But back to the nail polish! Here I’ve shown Minty Madness in its cool, mint green state and then 10 or so minutes later in its warm, eggshell white state. As always with thermal polishes, I have no doubt that the natural gradient-like effect they tend to produce would be much more prominent on nails longer than mine, but I like the either/or effect just as well – changing things up is but a hand-wash away.
So Homer’s looking a bit dodgy, and it’s surprisingly difficult to execute the two hairs that sprout off the top of his noggin, but here’s my run at everyone’s favourite yellow-skinned, four-fingered cartoon family, the Simpsons.