Saturday, March 30, 2013

April Fool's Joke

It surprises people to learn that I'm a prankster.  In person, I'm quiet and gentle, which lures some people into believing I'm harmless.  That's an inaccurate perception -- the inner me is full of mischief.

If you've been here a while, you know I play April Fool's jokes on the blog.  Like this one.  Or this one.  I'm proud of the cleverness of these jokes.

Every year, I pull an April Fool's joke in person on my wife Robin.  I always get her -- which pisses her off big-time.  She gets annoyed that she fell for my prank and vows, each year, "You won't get me next year!"  Which, naturally, I take as a challenge.

Because Robin expects a joke, she looks for it and is hard to fool.  It takes planning, effort and skill on my part to evade her anticipation and alerted attention.  This year, my plan was to prank her in a way that bypassed her conscious mind.  To startle her on a visceral level.

It worked!

There is a corner in our house where Robin stores her handbag and cellphone.  It's her most sacred part of the house.  She reads her e-mail there, re-charges her phone and keeps her valuables on the ledge.  Just above the ledge is a window to the outside.  What would be worse if an intruder invaded the house at that place?  Nothing.  That would be Robin's worst nightmare.

Also, you should know that Robin's eyesight is starting to decline.  She needs glasses but rarely wears them.  So I counted that factor in...

This afternoon, Robin entered the house and proceeded to her corner.  When she was about six feet away, she spotted a rabid squirrel climbing through the window and invading her space.  She shrieked!  And involuntarily jumped backward.  Her heart raced like a NASCAR engine.

Then, seconds later, she yelled, "Damn it!!"  She realized she'd been pranked and was angry at herself for allowing it to happen.  Then, of course, she turned to me and said, "You bastard!"  Followed by some salty language I'm choosing not to quote.

Here are photos of the squirrelly invader.  Have you ever played an April Fool's joke?  Or been the target of one?


Happy Easter and Passover!

I hope you're all enjoying the holiday and the arrival of Spring.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mother & Daughter

These pictures are a "conversation" between a mom and her teenage daughter.



Monday, March 25, 2013

Our Families

When we're little, our families are our world.  They envelope us and we live in their environment.  If they love us, we're fortunate.  If not, the experience scars us.

I was lucky to have two parents who devoted themselves to their boys.  My parents had limitations but they did their best.  I respect them for that.  My mother and father considered raising children to be very important and they sacrificed for my brother and me.  Their generosity was real.

I assumed the four of us would live forever.  Sadly, my mother died young (in 1990 at age 54) and my brother also died young (in 1991 at age 33).  Both had unexpected medical conditions (breast cancer and congenital heart defect).  Their deaths came without warning and, in the space of a year, my family was cut in half.  Those events sharply disturbed my view of the universe.  What seemed stable was suddenly uncertain.  The fragility of life became much too manifest to me.

I know from your blogs that some of you have loving families you enjoy seeing.  A few of you were unlucky and have families you've fled.  Either way, our families affect us deeply.

I know this is a personal subject so if you don't want to talk about it, that's fine.  But if you are open to discussion, how are relations with your parents and siblings?  Do you see them often?  Does your mother still tell you how to dress?  Does your brother tease you?  Are your parents proud of you?

Groovy, Man

I grew up in the Sixties.  Back then, pop culture created an endless series of fun expressions which young people used to distinguish themselves from the older generation.  The "generation gap" was real and, if you were young, you didn't "trust anyone over 30."

Looking back, many of these expressions were comical.  People mock Sixties slang and, while some of it was silly, it reflected the times.

The expression I heard most often growing up, which I admit saying myself, was "Right on, man!"  A sign of approval for anything from scoring some joints to getting a gig on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Back then, the line between the Establishment and cool youth was easy to see -- you just checked the length of someone's hair.  And looked for love beads, fringed jeans and tie-dyed t-shirts.

Here are some other expressions I remember:

"What's your bag, man?"
"Let it all hang out"
"That's so hip"/"That's so square"
"Give me some skin"
"Sock it to me"

What do young people say today?  YOLO?  The dog ate my tweet?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Were You A Tomboy?

On this blog, we talk about my struggle with gender, but I'm also interested in the flip-side -- difficulties young girls have with their assigned gender role.  Were any of you tomboys when you were young?  If so, what was your experience like?

A tomboy is defined as a girl who exhibits characteristics or behaviors typical of boys, such as wearing masculine clothing and playing boyish games.  The term is sometimes used positively but is often a criticism -- a girl's unfeminine behavior can be viewed as socially improper.

Girls who behave like boys are usually cut some slack whereas boys who act like girls are treated harshly.  Why is that?  Why are girls allowed to explore both spheres while boys are imprisoned in masculinity?

I'm curious about your thoughts, even if you weren't a tomboy.  Our social attitudes affect how we relate to others and everyone has an opinion on gender roles.  So please spill!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Relaxing Bath

My work is often stressful and I look for ways to relax.  I recently discovered that baths are very calming.  I light some candles, fill the tub up with warm water and descend into bliss.

I'd like to add some fragrance to the bath but have no idea how.  What are bath salts?  What is bath oil?  I looked in several drugstores but ended up confused.  Do you have any advice or recommendations?  All help is appreciated.

Do you take baths?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Creepy Creatures

My friend Jamie is a serious photography enthusiast.  She's introduced me to many opportunities for fun photography, like the Mermaid Parade and wildlife at local parks.  Last year, Jamie introduced me to a Reptile Expo at a nearby hotel.  We went again this weekend and here are my pictures.

How do you feel about reptiles?  Creepy or cool?






Saturday, March 16, 2013

We Be Giants

My friend Gracey is, like me, tall.  She jokes that she's a giant, which is the kind of humor I respect.  She even named her blog, Fashion For Giants.

Gracey is one of the sweetest women I know.  In addition to being fashionable, she looks for opportunities to help her friends.  Last month, I commented admiringly on Gracey's newest accessory -- which she calls a "lady-tie" -- and she set out on a quest to find one for me.  She did!

It arrived today.  It's uber-cute.  To showcase it properly, I looked for clothes and makeup that complement the nice colors in the tie.  What do you think?  Have you ever worn one of these?

Gracey has been wearing several lady-ties lately and they look terrific.  Visit her blog and see how pretty this accessory can be.  Mine is from Liz Claiborne Accessories.

Oh, and on the front of Gracey's business card for her blog, it reads, "Fee Fi Fo Fum."  I laughed out loud at that!



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Oops! My Slip Is Showing

I've been diving into vintage fashion this year.  It's my new hobby.  A big part of the vintage world is lingerie.  And for good reason.

Back in the old days, adult women wore slips and various undergarments that you youngsters wouldn't recognize.  Girdles, seamed stockings, etc.  Just watch an episode of "Mad Men" and your eyes will open at the multiple layers of clothing women wore.

Here is Scarlett Johansson wearing a full slip for her role in the recent stage production of "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof," a drama set in the past.

With the help of my mentor, Jessica, I recently sampled the delight of seamed stockings (properly known as "fully fashioned stockings.")  Now, after I fruitlessly searched for a pretty vintage slip, Jessica again comes to the rescue -- she graciously gave me a vintage half-slip which I'm wearing below.  (I'm also showcasing my new boots, which I got on discount, only $24.99 at Aerosoles.)

When slips were more common in the past, they were made with more variety and adornment.  The few slips I see in stores today are plain, undecorated and boring.  Jessica assures me that vintage examples have more aesthetic appeal and I see she's right.  This slip has extensive lace on its bottom, with more intricacy and appeal than the slim strip of machine-made lace now manufactured in China.

Do you ever wear slips?  Did your mother and female relatives?



Sunday, March 10, 2013

In The Kitchen

I found an apron!  With your help, I found one exactly my style.

I love to cook and spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  I've always wanted to wear an apron, not only for its practical use but because they're cute.  When my search came up empty, Jessica and others suggested Etsy so that's where I went.  A seller there offered one made here (for $28).  I snapped it up like a hungry person reaching for a cupcake.

What do you think?  Is it me??



Friday, March 8, 2013

At The Opera (Female)

To compete with the tuxedo, I needed to come up with something special.  To achieve that, I ventured deep into glamour.  Farther than I've ever gone before.

Here's my best effort.  What do you think??




Tuesday, March 5, 2013

At The Opera

My first event for Cara's challenge involved casual-wear; this second event requires formal-wear.  I wanted to try something completely different.

Believe it or not, I own a tuxedo.  A real one.  The cost of renting a tux is absurdly high so if you have occasion to wear a tux more than two or three times, it's cheaper just to buy one.  So I did.  In my forties, I was going to black-tie affairs often.

Both the male and female versions of this challenge took real effort. To do them justice, I'm going to devote separate posts to each.

I had fun doing the female outfit for this event.  The formality gave me an excuse to glam things up a bit more than usual.  More makeup, fancy long gloves, elegant pumps.

One of my favorite movies is "Moonstruck", which won Cher an Oscar for Best Actress.  It also stars Nicholas Cage and Olympia Dukakis.  There's an important scene in the film where Cher and Nicholas Cage go on a date to the opera and the majesty of the event overwhelms them.  I've been to operas at Lincoln Center in NYC and that reaction isn't an exaggeration.  You really are stunned by the dignity and history of the art-form.

Have you ever been to an opera?  What would you wear to one?




P.S., Yes, I know my tie is a little crooked.  When you photograph yourself, stuff like that happens.  I don't sweat it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Changing Standards

People mistakenly believe that whatever society dictates at the moment must have always been the rule.  But that's not true.  With standards of female beauty, what is considered attractive has changed dramatically over time.  Even short periods of time.

As recently as 1930-1950, women were urged not to be skinny.  Thin was not desirable.  Women of normal weight with curves were thought to be the most desirable.  You can see that in photos of early beauty pageants.  You can also see it in some amazing magazine ads that my friend Lorena found.  She gave them to me with a suggestion to post them, which I'm doing.

Look at these ads and tell us what you think.  Is skinny attractive?



Saturday, March 2, 2013

Gina's First Bath

I gave Ginalollabridgida her first bath today. 

A real bath, not one of those showers she gets at commercial car-washes.  I took a bucket of hot soapy water and lovingly washed her soft curves and prominent features.  I got all the gunk of Winter off her and now she's gleaming in the sun.

Have you ever washed a car by hand?  Doing this was common when I was young; people didn't want to pay for something you could do yourself.  Now, however, it seems everyone goes to the car-wash where they pay to have mechanical brushes do a half-assed job.

There's a hidden benefit to washing your baby by hand.  You get to know her.  As you scrub her front, her back and her sides, you become personally familiar with her shape, the arc of her curves and the different materials she's made of.  It's a real, direct experience.  Intimate, even.  Okay, maybe I spent too much time rubbing her headlamps...