Here’s Hoping: pinupgirlclothing.com

We all know how much I love Mode Merr and how the maiden voyage of their ultra sexy vamp dress is the only time I’ve seen Hot Latin Boy in a fit of Hot Latin Jealousy. So when I was invited to a Halloween party in DC with the theme of Undead Vintage, I popped over to Mode Merr.

Actually, before I realized Halloween was going to find me stateside alone, I was planning on wearing the Vamp Dress and being Natasha to HLB’s Boris.

I love the whole pinup girl shtick although it must be approached with fear and trembling because it can go costumey with a quickness and costumey, while fun, is never chic.

Unfortunately, Mode Merr didn’t have anything that rang my bell other than a perpetually sold-out sugar skull skirt with red pompom trim (c’mon Angela, do it for me!), so I did a little googling and found myself at pinupgirlclothing.com.

The first thing I noticed was PUG uses models of varying sizes and ethnicities to showcase their clothes, always a plus in my book.

I ordered three pieces:

Well, obviously.

I mean, what self-respecting Texas girl is going to deny herself a dress with yellow roses?

It couldn’t be more perfect if it came with a matching gun holster instead of a bolero. Oh, fun fact: you can sing all of Emily Dickinson’s poems to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas. Try it!

I’m especially excited about this dress as it reminds me of what Dolce & Gabbana did last year for their spring RTW, you know, with the eggplants and whatnot. Loved that collection.

Dolce & Gabbana eggplant dress. This was in either Vogue Espana or Vogue Mexico, I can’t remember because I had cholera then.

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Thin Privilege: Movement Without Comment

Okay thin people, help me out here. Is it possible for you to mention partaking in some sort of physical activity without someone mentioning how it’ll make you lose weight? I just want to know if people are universally demented or if it’s just special fat girl treatment.

Case in point:

Hot Latin Boy and I are both mad for the danzón, Cuba’s slow, sinuous answer to the Argentine tango. Although popularity has waned in its native Cuba, every week people gather in plazas or on corners all over Mexico to come together to gossip, flirt and dance the danzón.

We dance three nights a week. Excessive perhaps, but it keeps us off the streets and affords me the opportunity to dress in all white –white outfits are traditional for danzón– without resorting to the equally distasteful options of being a bride or a member of the klan.

And it’s not just fun, but SO fun.

First of all, my fellow dancers are a hoot. There’s Imperious Fruit-Themed Lady, Nose Hair Man, Disappointed Gay Guy, and Confused Teenage Orangutan, among others.

Imperious Fruit-Themed Lady with her cherry-printed skirts is my favorite, closely followed by Confused Teenage Orangutan whose feet are the size of tennis rackets and do not communicate in any meaningful way with the rest of his body. Nose Hair Man is the best dancer, while Disappointed Gay Guy fell hard and fast for HLB and shoots me death glares over his Vivien Leigh half-frames any time he gets the chance.

Although HLB and I generally dance together, we’re more popular separately.

This, of course, has everything to do with our overwhelming natural talent and nothing to do with HLB’s resident dreamboat status or that for a ballroom full of men who stand 5’5″ in their discreetly lifted Cuban heels, dancing with a woman who clocks in at six feet tall in champagne satin Capezios affords them five minutes of uninterrupted visual access to some serious USDA Grade A funbags without getting maced or divorced.

The ballroom is also beautiful, housed in a cultural center that was once a sprawling Spanish Colonial-style casino built in the late 1920’s, reputedly with Al Capone as bankroller-in-chief.

The only trouble, aside the occasional trodden-upon toe, comes when I talk about it to my fellow gringos.

“Oh that’s such good exercise, and what a great way to lose weight!”

And of course it has to be said with that extra-patronizing voice usually reserved for when someone’s two year-old makes poo poo in the big boy potty. It’s also universally followed by some riveting anecdote where someone’s sister’s cousin’s lobotomy surgeon lost seven hundred pounds doing freestyle Himalayan goat clogging.

Why? Because it can’t ever not be about weight.

It’s just so tremendously boorish, like hearing about a friend’s gastronomical tour of France in pornographic, butter-soaked detail and exclaiming “Wow! You must’ve had some really satisfying bowel movements!”

Yes, there are health benefits to dancing eight hours a week. For example, when I’m dancing I’m not out killing people who say stupid stuff, so that’s not bad. Plus good cardio is good cardio, and dancing –especially in heels– is great for your core, assuming your knees and ankles don’t protest. That’s not the point.

The point of dancing isn’t to lose weight, it’s to dance.

It’s to have fun, it’s to get dressed up and salvage a bit of elegance in a world that’s rapidly slouching towards Kardashian. It’s to twirl with men in linen pants and Panama hats who aren’t trying to bring back the hat, because for them, the hat never left. It’s to stare at a young woman’s enthusiastic sweaterpuppies without getting decked by your wife with a cast-iron tortilla press (although I have seen one particularly indiscreet gentleman of about sixty get cracked across the back of the head with a hand fan after staring too intently at the dance instructor’s admittedly magnificent backside.)

So tell me, straighties, does this happen to you, or can you just move without comment?

How It Should Be Done

(Illustration of sukkah viaHWPS, where you can learn a tidge more about Sukkot, if you so desire)

Well.

Mr. Twistie and I have been the social butterflies of late. Parties, concerts, more parties.

Yes, we went to another party yesterday.

You see, the lead guitarist in Mr. Twistie’s band held a party yesterday in honor of Sukkot and his own birthday. Yep, same day. Kind of cool.

There was vegetarian barbeque (Lead Guitarist and his lady are longtime vegetarians) and a bit of a potluck filled out with some family favorites and store bought party treats. They’d set up a sukkah in their backyard where most of us sat… and the musicians headed into the garage for a jam session. Did you know Hotel California sounds kind of awesome on a clarinet? I didn’t until yesterday.

But the coolest thing of all about this party? I hung out for hours with people of every size, age, race, creed, and dietary persuasion and do you know what I heard? Not. One. Word. of body shame or food policing.

People did say they really liked a particular dish here and there. There was a lot of praise for the couple’s fourteen year old son who baked his dad’s birthday cake from scratch… and rightly so. It was a delicious cake. There were a couple people who turned down a slice of said delicious cake saying they’d had high blood sugar readings that day. There were people, myself among them, who passed on the meat substitute burgers and hotdogs. But there was no pushing to find out why, nor was there anyone who made a fuss about having to go meat free for one, single meal. I did hear the hostess point out a dish that one guest might wish to avoid because of an allergy.

And that was that. People took what they wanted and left what they didn’t without comment from anyone. Most people looked well satisfied with their meals, and there was certainly plenty to go around.

This is how it should be done. The people throwing the party offer up enough to go around, according to their abilities and their beliefs. Where appropriate and welcome, others share what they have to share. Those who attend eat what they prefer and leave the rest behind without complaint. Those who find something particularly delicious say so. People don’t spend the entire party complaining about their own or anyone else’s bodies. Health issues (allergies, chronic ailments that affect diet) are recognized, but neither trumpeted to the skies nor belittled. Everyone is allowed to make their own choices for their own bodies, and nobody makes a big deal out of it.

Instead of making a big bad thing out of food, there were people making conversation about other topics, people making music… even one lovely lady making a fabulous crocheted purse. She and I had a delightful conversation about our various crafty pursuits as she worked.

I just thought in light of my recent posts about constant harping in otherwise festive situations, you should all get a chance to hear about the case where the ideal happened.

Horrors!

It’s that time of year again. The time when ghosts,goblins, and things that go bump in the night come to the fore and we cuddle up in front of our television, computer, and movie screens for a good scare or three.

When it comes to horror films, I like dread. Give me psychological terror rather than buckets of blood. I want the growing horror of the nameless thing lurking in the shadows, the suspense of waiting to see if it ever does suck someone right into perdition, leaving only some terribly disturbing clue behind.

There are a few slightly more graphic horror films I love. The Birds, for instance. Yes, there are a couple mildly (for today, not for when it was made) bloody scenes. But the parts that really freak me out of my socks are the scenes where we can see the birds gathering to attack, not the ones where they actually do it. I first saw that film when I was seven, and to this day the sight of a crow landing on a jungle gym or park bench is enough to make my stomach churn with dread.

Give me Rod Serling. Give me the work of Jacques Tourneur (particularly Cat People and I Walked With a Zombie). Give me The Sixth Sense. Pity about most of the rest of M. Night Shyamalan’s work… though I do really like Unbreakable. I love old-fashioned horror tales that rely on my brain to do most of the scary work for itself.

On the other end of the scale, I love movies that poke gentle fun at horror tropes. Every year I sit down at least once at this time of year to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas. And every year I sit down at least once to watch I Married a Witch with the late, great Veronica Lake. They make me laugh. They appeal to my romantic side, though neither is particularly sappy. And they’re a great antidote to the ones that make me jump at every funny noise or unexpected sight. I’m also fond of the (very) occasional foray into Just Plain Bad horror films, like those of Edward D. Wood, Jr. How can you beat Plan Nine From Outer Space for sheer cheeseball hilarious rotten horror movie making?

It’s also fun now and again to sit down with something that’s pretty darn cheesy now, but scared the bejabbers out of me when I was eight… like Them! That one had an amazing cast, but the last time I managed to take the giant nuclear ants seriously, well, I was several years away from my first kiss, back then. I still enjoy watching it.

What sort of horror movies do you like? Are you all about the slashers? Completely into the classics? Crazy about the Hitchcockian twist? Utterly in love with the sort of films that encourage hurling popcorn at the screen in scorn? A little each from multiple columns? Do you have a favorite obscure horror film to share with the class?

Read this!

Okay gang, this is a quickie because the electricity has been fickle around Plumcake Cottage for the past few days.

So, before the brown out returns, read this excellent article on how to spot shoddy craftsmanship, and how certain shortcuts save the manufacturer money by taking it out on you.

Isn’t Not Being Sick Enough?

Ahh, gluten, the latest bad boy of the dinner plate according to popular theory. There’s been a huge spike in the media sexiness of passing on wheat products. You can’t go anywhere without hearing the hype and seeing the products. You can’t go anywhere without someone having a hand-wringing session over it.

I’ve been around the block enough times at this point to know when a food issue is being blown out of proportion by now.

And no, it’s not that I think there’s no such thing as gluten sensitivity. If there’s a food out there, someone is allergic to it on some level. It’s more a case of stick around long enough, and some other food that a relatively small number of people have difficulty processing successfully will suddenly become the reason that ‘everyone’ is sick and become a media scare. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t make anyone at all sick. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware. We just shouldn’t panic so about it.

In fact, a friend of mine was recently put on a gluten free diet by her doctor because she showed specific symptoms that can indicate gluten sensitivity. This is what we call evidence based medical treatment, and I’m wholly in favor of that.

So a couple weeks into the new regimen, the scaly hand condition that nothing could solve… yeah, it’s going away after some five or six years. She’s got more energy and less digestive issues. In short, my friend really, truly is gluten sensitive and needed to do this for her health. It’s working.

The funny thing is, that doesn’t seem to be enough for some people. Just last night, my friend and I were out grooving to a local band (as it happens, the one Mr. Twistie and my friend’s brother are in) and a couple of her friends (as in: she knows them a lot better than I do, not as in they’re people I dislike) showed up to support the band and have a nosh at the cool neighborhood cafe the band was playing. My friend told her friends about going gluten free and how much better she was feeling.

All three more or less dismissed the ‘feeling better’ bit with a desultory ‘that’s nice’ kind of comment. Then they eagerly asked if it had any other benefits. As in: how much weight have you lost?

Seriously?

The end of a series of symptoms ranging from aesthetically annoying to seriously uncomfortable are going away in a matter of a couple weeks after years of suffering, and that’s not enough for you? It isn’t a good thing until she fits into smaller clothes?

And how sad is it that I didn’t know my friend was on a doctor-prescribed regimen for a specific problem until last night? Frankly, when I saw she had a book on living gluten free and was suddenly asking in restaurants what did and didn’t have wheat or barley in it, I was afraid to ask whether this was because of doctor’s orders or because she had decided this was going to finally be The Answer to her lifelong ‘weight problem’… just like low carb, low fat, sugar free, and dozens of other food trends have been The Answer as long as I’ve known her. For the record, not one has worked for her no matter how carefully she followed instructions.

This, my friends, is a perfect illustration of how screwed up our attitudes about food, and about health are at present. I assumed a medical intervention for a specific problem was probably another trendy diet, and all her other friends discount the specific good it is doing her because it’s not having the perceived good they expected.

We desperately need to get beyond weight as shorthand for health or illness. It’s bad for everyone.

You Asked For It: Twistie’s Baking Library

(Actual illustration of Twistie at actual size… only two hundred and fifty years ago and much smaller)

In response to my harrumph of last week on the response my week’s worth of baking delicious things for the annual block party, several of you (and you know who you are) begged for the recipes.

Darlings, I love you all like Plummy loves her granny pants, but I’m not typing out that many recipes. I made four fabulous treats, three of which required a minimum of two recipes to assemble. In fact, two of them took three each. That’s a lot of typing of other people’s copyrighted materials.

Instead, I’m going to reveal the sources of all the recipes, tell you where to get copies, and leave it to your own ingenuity and budgets to get them or not. I will further recommend that any of you who enjoy baking more than once in a very, very, very blue moon pick up at least one of these three volumes. Every one is brimful of clear recipes for delicious treats for all occasions.

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