Category Archives: Beauty and Fashion

To be discontinued

It’s getting more and more difficult to find the simple things I need in life; so many have been discontinued. I’m not sure the difference between a plot and a ploy, but it feels like one of the two has been waged against me.

It seems ridiculous, but I just went on eBay to buy barrettes. Simple barrettes, at one time the simplest ones they made. I used to buy them at the grocery store in batches because I lose them. I was down to one, and I lost it last weekend. And now I’m lost without it.

I know it sounds stupid. It’s a hair notion, not a lifeline. Still, I use one every day and only one kind meets my hair control needs, the Goody Stay Tight 3-inch Tortoise Barrette. It’s made of only two simple pieces:  one bent strip of metal and a three-inch-long faux tortoise-shell cover. That’s it. No springs, no hinges, no teeth. And no clip, claw or Scrunchie will do.

I bought my last pack in 1997. When I was down to three, I began shopping for more. Stores had stopped carrying them. As with my treasured SweeTarts, I took to making special trips, even looking in stores out of town. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you.

The same thing has happened with our china pattern, our bed linens, my lipstick shade, my wallet, the travel size of my fragrance and the whisk I use to make salad dressing. Hamburger Hamlet even had the nerve to discontinue the Special Mayonnaise they put on my favorite sandwich.

I will now wait patiently for eight barrettes to come in the mail; that’s all the seller had in her possession. We’ll see how long they last before I go must back on the hunt.

Maybe I should try the Smithsonian.

So what is the difference between a plot and a ploy? Is there one against you too?

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Bucklebury bride

A few days ago, one of my favorite sources of online commentary, Fake AP Stylebook, posted this: “About 176,938 reporters are covering the Royal Wedding, or three for every person actually interested in the story.”

I certainly don’t propose to precipitate on the procession of the Prince and Princess. They deserve a jolly nuptial.

But for Pete’s sake, these past weeks, I couldn’t escape the coverage. I switched from one news channel to the next, seeking something else. One would hardly know there was anything else going on in the world. Perhaps this is the reason – our fellow planet dwellers have been looking for a fanciful distraction and the news outlets were only too happy to deliver.

The fact that American network anchors are in London to cover the festivities has me a bit puzzled. It’s as if the whole world were in an imperial trance.

I tried to come up with a unique angle from which to write about it, but it’s all been done. The weird and tacky commemorative souvenirs. The event as perceived by the male species. How British police have deployed a special team of security forces for the “mentally unhinged and the royal-obsessed.” The repeated use of the word “commoner” to describe the bride. Even how much fun the name of her home town is to say: Bucklebury.

I don’t recall that the 1981 affair received this much ink and air time. Then again, I didn’t have a television. I was attending university in Spain. We had no TV in our dorm rooms, but we had a whopper of a movie theatre in the basement, where we watched weekly episodes of Dallas dubbed into Spanish (¿Quién tiró J.R.?). And the Royal Wedding.

It was truly a thrill, being a young woman of 21 (even then I was older than the Princess), watching the procession on the big screen, without having to have gotten up at 4:00 a.m., with fellow students from countries around the world, including Texas.

It must have made quite an impression because just four years later, I walked down the aisle of an Anglican church, carrying calla lilies and English roses, wearing the second poofiest dress you’ve ever seen, pulling a really long train behind me. And I married a prince.

Now that proceedings are underway, I’m a bit more excited, but I must be off to work. I’ll be watching the reruns tonight at a small gathering of my college chums. Don’t expect a review to appear here tomorrow because everything that can be said will have by then.

Cheerio!

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Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Family and Friends, Movies, Television and Radio, News, Travel

Night terror

Do you know those tests the sleep specialists show on television to demonstrate what happens to drivers when they’re sleep deprived? Poor judgment, slower response time, even hallucinations come into play when a human does not get sufficient sleep.

This morning, I am tipping orange cones all over the place.

Yesterday I flew to California, worked until almost midnight and went to bed after being up for 23 hours. Then I woke up three hours later, still in the West but with my rhythms in the East.

For the last two hours I’ve tried everything that usually works for me—reading, getting up and walking around, even having an informercial playing softly in the background. The latter usually works like a charm. Not this time. But I can tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the P90X fitness program and something about the anti-aging magic of melon extract that keeps Cindy Crawford’s and Valerie Bertinelli’s faces frozen in time.

Looking back over this, I’ve counted more than a dozen typos and, I hope, corrected all of them. I’ll check back again after this afternoon’s nap.

Aside from sleep aids—which aren’t an option when you’re an hour and a half away from the alarm going off–what works for you when you’re wide awake, yet more tired than you’ve ever been, at 3:00 a.m.?  Other than blog–I’ve tried that.

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Equal time for the man

Who knew, as we fêted Barbie on her 52nd birthday, that Ken’s 50th was the same day? Poor guy, always in the shadow of the diva.

In 1961, when Mattel decided that Barbie should not be alone and needed a companion, it created Ken.

Ken, you've come a long way, Baby.

I learned that Ken turned 50 when I opened Sunday’s Parade magazine, which arrives at my house on Saturday. So watch for it tomorrow and open it to Page 5, where you’ll see half a dozen Ken hair styles from the early sixties, when his hair was painted on, to the modern metrosexual do of 2010. For a sneak preview, visit Parade for a click down Memory Lane.

It should come as no surprise that, just as Barbie has eluded the texture of middle age, so has her younger man. While his coif and togs have changed with the times, he’s still as smooth as ever. Would that we all be composed of soft vinyl rather than mottled human flesh. In 50 years, Ken sprouted nary a hair from the neck down and remains as hairless as ever, even on his back and the insides of his ears and nose.

The end of the brief article asks, “Who knows what the next 50 years will bring?”

Anyone?

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Lookin’ good, sister

On March 9, 1959, the first Barbie doll was introduced, which makes the ol’ gal 52. I too was launched in 1959, later in the year, which makes us the same age.

Over the decades, Barbie’s clothing, hairstyles, accessories and cars have been updated with the times. The only thing about Barbie that hasn’t been updated is, well, Barbie. Granted, Barbie’s waist has been widened in more recent versions of the doll, but that’s about her only visible sign of middle age.

Barbie Turns 52

But for a modest abdominal spread, she’s still the same taut little thing she was 52 years ago. One might say she’s Mattel’s very own Dorian Gray.

If we’re the same age, where are her spider veins, bunions and silver roots? She’s obviously taken good care of herself, but she’s only human. Hasn’t she had kids? She might do more Jazzercise than the average doll, but still, where are the ripples around her c-section scar, or are they hidden under her little Barbie Spanx?

Isn’t it about time Mattel introduced Quinquagenarian Barbie, wearing tiny progressive lenses,  just to give today’s little girls a realistic image of life as it happens? With modern technology, I bet they could tint her face with a bright red glow that flashes on and off throughout the day. Battery-operated fan not included.

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The skinny on pants

Ladies and gentlemen, have you bought your skimmers yet?

For the uninitiated, as I was until yesterday, skimmers are the new pants length. Translation:  too short.

Ladies, skimmers are the spring sequel to jeggings. They’re much longer than last decade’s Capris and slightly longer than last year’s crops, but awkwardly shorter than full length pants.

Gentlemen, a fashion expert on one of the morning news programs did say recently that even men would be wearing the new length this season. I can’t wait to see how you adapt to this.

This early in the season, the new styles look utterly ridiculous. I bought three pairs.

For the benefit of readers who haven’t yet ventured into stores for their spring fashions, I thought it might be helpful to provide a little overview of this year’s pants scene, or at least my observations anyway, so you can approach the stores with a reasonable expectation.

First, the lingo. GAP is pushing something called the Broken-in Skimmer. This means intentionally wrinkled and too short. The first thing I did when I got mine home was iron the dickens out of them.

The pants-centric GAP is also featuring the Skinny Cargo, the Skinny Camo and the Skinny Twill, as well as the Pure Body Foldover Drawstring Pant and the Tapered Boyfriend Pant. (For an early Nymph musing on the boyfriend craze and other fashion nonsense, see Fashion Nonsense.)

J. Crew is pushing us to show off our ankles as well, with the Cammy Pant, the Day-tripper Pant, the Pipette Cargo Pant, the Canteen Pant, the Bistro Pant, the Café Capri and my favorite, the Broken-in Boyfriend Pant. I trust this means last year’s boyfriend is now fully broken in; translation: wrinkled.

Now allow me to desensitize you to a frightening fashion comeback, just so you aren’t visibly shocked when you walk in the store. As I feared would one day happen, Mom pants are back. Remember these?

Well, they’re alive and well at H&M, complete with the nine-inch zipper, ample front pleats and elastic waist, ready to be given a good home on your backside. What’s next, the perm?

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Beauty and Fashion, Movies, Television and Radio

The award goes to…

Last night’s Academy Awards  can be summed up in one word: “amazing.”

I’m not talking about the production or the fashions or the performances. I’m talking about the word I’m voting most overused.

Heard on the red carpet:

“This is an amazing night.”
“You have an amazing figure.”
“We’re going to have an amazing time.”
“It’s great to be in the company of these amazing actors.”
“Just look at all these amazing people.”
“You look amazing.”
“Your earrings are amazing.”

I’ve noticed this adjective with an appropriately limited definition has gone epidemic (so has “viral;” that’s why I say “epidemic.”). But if there were any doubt, all anyone would have to do to confirm the diagnosis is watch the Oscars.

The awards program itself was sprinkled with “amazing.” Admittedly, I’d find just being in the Kodak Theatre on such an occasion amazing. So I’ll cut some slack to those who say it feels amazing to be up on that stage to receive a statue.

My point is, let’s save “amazing” for the truly amazing, as we’ve talked about doing with other overused adjectives. Not for earrings.

This morning’s online headlines illustrate this point.

“Jennifer Hudson is amazing in orange at the Oscars”
Oscars: Amazing gowns offer red-carpet options”
Oscars Best Dressed! Check out the Amazing Academy Awards (this one also notes how amazing Celine Dion looks post-twins.)

I even found a recipe for “Amazing Academy Award-winning Appetizers.” How amazing can a pig in a blanket be, unless perhaps it involves a live pig?

Even the JCPenney commercials played along last night: “We make it affordable; you make it amazing.”

Amazing.

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Beauty and Fashion, Marketing/Advertising/PR, Movies, Television and Radio, Rants and Raves

Card shark

What’s your shopping obsession?

After shoes and accessories, I’d have to say my greatest shopping pleasure is picking out greeting cards. I’ve spent upwards of $60 at a whack at places where they offer good cards. I buy hundreds every year.

What are good cards? I lean toward humor, so I go for the cards that have me laughing out loud right there at the rack. I’ve been a spectacle at the airport news stand, where they often carry my favorite line of cards, Avanti.

I think the reason so many people no longer send greeting cards is that they’re under the impression it takes a separate trip to the card store for each acknowledgement.

In fact, like the airport gift shops, the best cards can be found at places where we already are. I often buy cards at FedEx Kinko’s, where I browse the racks while waiting for a print job. If you like cards and live near where I do, Bertram’s Inkwell at White Flint Mall and Knowles Apothecary in Kensington will hook you up.

When I’m traveling and have a little time, I seek out the local card shops. I found Boulder, Colorado, to be a greeting card Mecca, and Gidget’s Gadgets in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, can’t be beat.

I wish I could be like my friend Sheree, who makes her own cards, or my friend Jeuli, who had her own line in stores some years ago, or my friend Carla, who wrote for Hallmark’s humor lines. I just don’t have that kind of talent.

I am good, though, at buying and sending. And I have a kind of a system for managing my habit.

I buy all year long because, after all, I enjoy the hunt. Most cards remind me of friends and family members, so I select cards with specific people in mind, rather than just stocking up. Even if you’ve just had a birthday or anniversary, chances are I’ve already bought your next year’s card, affixed a Post-it with your name on it, made a note on my calendar a week before your occasion that there’s a card for you in my pile and then put it in the pile.

I do stock up on things like graduation cards, so that I’m ready when those announcements starting rolling in, and I keep other cards on hand just in case.

Recently, my pile became so unruly that I extended the system. I now have a box with purchased, assigned cards sorted by occasion, sitting by my stock of notecards and personalized stationery. If you stepped into my office, you might mistake it for the Hallmark store.

When people see my various “systems,” they often tell me I have too much time on my hands. Perhaps that’s because I’m so organized.

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Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Family and Friends, Holidays, Travel

Blind luck

Today’s topic is, as the young people might say, kinda random.

It might seem that it comes out of nowhere, but there have been a couple of occasions this week that stirred me to give thought—and thanks—to something I often take for granted.

First, it was while I was editing a brochure on eyeglasses that it struck me how utterly dependent I am on something so small, yet so brilliantly invented. Then a casual conversation with someone whose eyes are as bad as mine brought it home.

I started wearing glasses in sixth grade. There wasn’t a fashion accessory much cooler in 1971 than octagonal, wire-rimmed frames. Now I can’t find the alarm clock in the morning without my beloved specs.  

I always wondered what it would be like to lose them. How would I survive? One day I had the chance to find out and, although it was 10 years ago, the memory still conjures panic.

My husband, son and I were on vacation in Aruba. The first day, I slipped on some jagged rocks, tearing up my whole right side. I was so covered with bruises and open cuts and was so sore that I could barely walk.

The second day, we took an all-day boat excursion around the island. The Jolly Pirate turned out to be an overcrowded party boat offering all the rum punch you could drink and some guided snorkeling, neither of which appealed to me. I had tried snorkeling only once – on our honeymoon, an island vacation that, in addition to a bad snorkeling experience, brought me intestinal flu, bronchitis and severe sun poisoning.

In Aruba I decided to give snorkeling another try. The boat had made several stops during which I had stayed aboard. The last stop, at the deepest point in the cruise, was the site of the featured attraction—an old shipwreck. The guide gave me some special goggles that fit tightly over my glasses so I could see under water. I lasted about five minutes, decided I still hated snorkeling and swam back toward the boat. As I was climbing the ladder, I pulled off the goggles and away went my one and only pair of glasses, flung far into the deep blue sea.

Immediately, my husband and son and a few people who were around to witness my mistake swam around to search for the glasses, but found nothing.

I sat there, on the edge of the boat, blind, disoriented and by then a little seasick, facing eight more days in Aruba. I didn’t have a spare pair, or a written prescription. I didn’t even have prescription sunglasses; all I had were clip-on shades with nothing to clip them to.

Bruised, blind and crying, I could not imagine how I’d get by another minute, let alone a week. We’d have to go home.

Someone brought my plight to the attention of the guides, who had helped themselves amply to the all-you-can-drink cheap rum over the course of many hours in the hot sun. I dismissed the idea as futile. Just then, the jolliest and seemingly most rum-soaked pirate guide took a swan dive off the side of the boat. He stayed under water a good long time, without a snorkel, and came to the surface with my glasses.

I was without my sight for only about half an hour, but it was almost as if I could see my whole life pass before my eyes. Or, in this case, not.

The morals of this tale: Travel with a spare pair and a copy of your prescription, don’t prejudge a jolly pirate and give thanks for the things in your life that give you sight.

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Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas, Sports and Recreation, Travel

Say your kidding

It’s encouraging to hear people talking about the Wet Seal store selling a tunic t-shirt with the lettering: “If your single, so am I.” The giant spelling gaffe has been highlighted in the news. This is good. After all, public awareness is the first step.

I can’t tell you how many intelligent adults I know who contract “you are” as “your.” Once again, this isn’t something they teach in college. Anyone who passed fourth grade should know this.

If you’re (you are, contracted) planning to purchase the Wet Seal shirt, I have two more pieces of merchandise to add to your (possessive pronoun) collection.

My parents and I have traded gag gifts for years; the tackier the better. The best ones are personalized with someone else’s name. Or have a spelling error.

One year for Mother’s Day, I gave my mother a hand-painted ceramic plate I found at the dollar store. She was gracious enough to have kept it all these years, and she submitted a photo for this post.

This reminded me of a conundrum my mother once had. She had bought a blouse at Chico’s that had all sorts of inspirational phrases and positive affirmations printed among various designs. When she got it home, she noticed one of the sayings was “Your beautiful.” She agonized over whether or not to keep it.

Yesterday, after she sent me the photo of the Mother’s Day plate, I asked if she could also snap a photo of the Chico’s blouse. She replied, “I don’t still have the blouse. I returned it because of grammatical issues.”

The apple doesn’t fall from the tree.

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Beauty and Fashion, Family and Friends