What Miss Plumcake Is…

Hello young lovers! How’s every little thing? Me? Oh I’m just peachy. Except I decided to do a Heavy Eye on Saturday night and I’m still excavating that stuff off my face. The downside of having eyelash extension is you really want to be careful using anything oil-based, so now when I want to do a super smoky evening-look eye it turns into a three day removal process wherein I’m full on the first day, and the next day I’m sort of Saraghina from 8 1/2 and on the third day I’m totally channeling Anna Magnani in the Rose Tattoo (how fabulous was she? SO fabulous. More importantly how hot was Burt Lancaster?)

Anyhoodle, it’s Tuesday so it’s time to find out What Miss Plumcake is…

What Miss Plumcake is...

You’ll notice I’m a little Scot-centric this week as we are coming up on the celebration of Robert Burns’ birthday, January 25th. If you’ve never been to a Burns Night, you simply MUST. No Scottish blood required –although be prepared to be asked if you’ve got any Scottish in you and when you answer no, be asked “would you like to?”– There’s singing and poetry (usually) and bagpipes and haggis (always, although they usually have vegetarian haggis which is revolting and contrary to the ways of the Lord) and everyone has a big time with the Address to a Haggis,  The Immortal Memory, The Toast to the Lassies and –my personal favorite– The Response to the Laddies.

Dress code varies, but please don’t just wear random plaid. Ladies: if you have a clan, wear a sash in your clan’s dress tartan. Gents: Bonnie Prince Charlies are ideal. But even if you don’t have a drop of the Northern blood, don’t worry just show up and have a ball.

Reading: Robert Burns, the Complete Works No house should be without.

Watching: Black Books. Surprisingly, since I’m the United Nations of failed relationships, I’ve never dated a misanthropic drunken Irish bookseller but if I did, I’d like to date this one. Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey and that girl who played Dr Todd from Green Wing (Tamisin Grieg) had me laughing harder than that time my neighbor’s jack russell pulled out a “chew toy” labeled “Swedish Erotica”

Hearing: Lyrics of Gold: Songs of Robert Burns by Ed Miller. Ed Miller is a pink-faced fount of Scottish folk tunes and apparently a Really Big Deal as far as these things go, traveling all over the world to spread the Scottish word.  I’ve known Ed socially for a few years now and while the man can’t iron a shirt to save his  life (pull it together Ed!)  his albums are still very much worth having.

Smelling: Serge Lutens Bois et Musc. An exceedingly lovely light cedar with just a hint of musk, Bois et Musc isn’t the big honking juice Christopher Sheldrake usually releases for Serge Lutens. It wears very close to the skin. Bois et Musc is one of the non-exports so as with all Lutens bell jars you’ll have to pick it up at Les Salons du Palais Royal Shisheido in Paris, although you can occasionally find one on the secondary market. Decants are available at The Perfumed Court and while I don’t love it as much as the coniferous incense bomb that is Filles en Aiguilles, I couldn’t say no when a bell jar graciously found its way into my personal collection.

Loving:Early Greek Philosophy ed. Jonathan Barnes. Drop a cherry in me and call me old fashioned, but I think to be a Cultured Woman of The World you’ve got to be up on your philosophers (pictured here: my Pre-Socratic Greek Boyfriend, Pythagoras) and Barnes’ edition of selected writings of the Early Greeks is totally accessible.  I know I’m an old stick in the mud, but so much of what’s being written these days is just junk. There’s nothing wrong with an improving book, and getting back into the habit of thinking critically and logically. Now you kids put down those Pink Books and get offa my lawn!

Hating: The OTK Boot trend. Has anyone seen this employed in real life where it actually works and the woman doesn’t look like a hooker or a serious fashion victim? Because I haven’t.  I want to, but I haven’t. Also, the women who can afford to drop $2000 on a pair of over the knee boots, at least in Austin, tend to be Women of a Certain Age and I am afraid OTK boots are a young woman’s game.  As I said, I want to be wrong, but I’m not sure I am. If you’ve seen a tastefully executed OTK boot IN REAL LIFE on a non-model or celebrity personage, please submit photographic evidence. I’m dying to see it.

Wanting: Robert Burns stamps. Wah! Stupid American stamps with their stupid CROPS OF NORTH AMERICA which don’t even feature TOBACCO because it’s not like THAT crop was important to  America or anything.  Sir Walter Raleigh should slap the post office across the face for that. Why can’t we have awesome stamps like this? I’m not a philatelist (well, I tried it once in college, but I was drunk) but I shall not rest until I browbeat someone into sending me one of these wee beasties.

Buying: Tartan sash in your clan’s dress. If you know your clan’s tartan, why not buy a sash? They’re usually lightweight wool 10″ wide by 90″ long and serve beautifully as a long muffler-type scarf. Of course on Burns Nights or other times where you want your ancestral pride to show you can wear it in the traditional way but they’re awfully handy to have. Don’t know your tartan? Look it up here
I’m a MacDuff of the Fife line myself and sleep soundly at night knowing no matter how bad my press is, it’ll never be as bad as the clan matriarch, Queen Gruach or “Lady Macbeth” as the kids call her these days.

18 Responses to “What Miss Plumcake Is…”

  1. Alexis January 19, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    I love Burns Night! You just reminded me I need to look up where there’s one in my city. Last one I went to was at the Edinburgh Castle pub in San Francisco. Loads of fun, especially for a caledoniphile like me.

  2. Becs January 19, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

    I can’t believe I majored in English and yet didn’t know that I have the same birthday as Robert Burns! Now I’m researching local events too :)

  3. Lisa January 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    Pythagoras is my boyfriend, not yours.

  4. La Petite Acadienne January 19, 2010 at 9:58 pm #

    Don’t forget that you’ll also need to know the answer when someone asks you if you know what’s worn under a Scotsman’s kilt.

  5. Toby Wollin January 19, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    My mom used to do a Burns Night Supper for anyone who laid a claim (and many who did not) in our little town. And she was a McDiarmid and finding that particular tartan was wicked difficult to locate.

  6. Plumcake January 20, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    La Petite: “Nothing. Everything’s in FINE WORKING ORDER!”

  7. megaera January 20, 2010 at 5:55 am #

    Obviously Pythagoras is a golden meanie, two and three-timing us!

  8. Caitrin Stewart January 20, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    No mention of whisky? Also essential for a good Burns night!
    If you don’t know what your family tartan is you can search for it on http://www.scotweb.co.uk – we have every tartan ever recorded.

    There are also lots of tartans that aren’t affiliated with particular surnames, these can be worn by anyone. Or you could even design your own and create a new family tradition!

  9. Plumcake January 20, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Caitrin, whisky goes without saying! We toasted with a lovely Talisker last week, but I think we’ll do The Macallan for his proper birthday.

  10. Plumcake January 20, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    HA Megaera, I see what you did there!

  11. Kai Jones January 20, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    There’s even an official Jewish tartan: http://www.jewishtartan.com/

  12. KESW January 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    A tartan etiquette question for you, if you know the answer — my husband and I are both of Scottish descent, so is it more appropriate for me to try to find my family’s tartan, or to wear his? I have to look up this Burns night… and break out my Dougie MacLean cds…

  13. Sara Darling January 20, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    Sadly, no photographic evidence but I honestly do feel I’ve seen the over the knee boot thing done well/tastefully…. the big thing was that it was worn with a skinny jean not a skirt/dress, had a modest/chunky heel, and with a tailored/reasonably demure top.

  14. Plumcake January 20, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    You’d wear your husband’s tartan over the right shoulder, like this:
    traditional clan
    If you want to wear your own family’s tartan, you’d wear your sash across and tied in a bow, like this:
    maiden clan

    Honestly though, most people won’t know or care, just don’t wear your sash over your left shoulder unless you’re a Highland Dancer –granted permission to “go left” by HRH Queen Elizabeth II– a chieftain’s wife or a chieftainess in your own right (which, let’s face it, if you were you’d know how to wear a sash already).

  15. Geogrrl January 20, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    The scottish side of our family is Finlayson. They’re such a small clan that they don’t have their own tartan and have to make do with that of the Farquharson Clan.

  16. Lisa January 21, 2010 at 3:29 am #

    megaera is my new hero for best word play ever.

    I have nothing of interest on what I am doing/loving/wanting. This week people vote on my tenure which is nerve-wracking. I wore Shalimar to bed last night. I am working a paper with two levels of optimization which probably isn’t even interesting to Pythagoras (which is maybe why he took up with that Plumcake).

    I don’t think they OTK boot thing is a good. Even young women look like pirates. Argh. First we were gladiators, now we are pirates.

    I’m wanting these: http://www.saksfifthavenue.com/main/ProductDetail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524446214910&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=282574492710673&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395222441&bmUID=1264058952249&ev19=1:33

  17. MJ January 22, 2010 at 11:40 am #

    I will fight you for Bernard Black.

  18. jeannemarie January 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    Hmm… I thought I saw that Michelle Obama had ordered such boots from France. But I haven’t seen a picture of her in them. Bet she’d look great, though!

    and Lisa – good luck!!