Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Favorite Things Roundup

1. Oscar Favorites

The best part of the Oscars for me is the fashion. I find the handing out of awards to be extremely arbitrary, but the choice of what dress to wear is very deliberate. There were not any dresses this year that absolutely blew me away, but still, there were a few I liked. Sarah Jessica Parker's dress was one I liked, primarily for the color, the beading and the belting. It looked to me like a fairy princess dress I might have wanted to pull out from my dress-up trunk as a child, and that was just plain fun to me. Marisa Tomei's dress also caught my eye--those pleats were incredible, especially on the train. I could have done without the one-shoulder, though. The rest of the dress was already playing with assymetrical lines, and for me, the lone shoulder strap pushed that balance over the edge. I was pleasantly surprised by Miley Cyrus' dress as well. I loved the scallopped petals on the skirt and the belt, and it was a very appropriate choice for a young lady (unlike last year, she's too young for red). It wasn't too sexy or flashy, nor was it frumpy, just...classy.

2. Chocolate

I've always had a sweet tooth, but for some reason it has been especially active this month. In my mind, there is no better to start and end the day than with something sweet. Everybody knows chocolate is sexy, and perfect for pinups. My favorite kind of chocolate is white, but I succumb to the marketing gods at Marie Belle and will eat any kind of chocolate if it's packaged like this.

3. Kerastase products

Going to the salon to get my hair done is one of my favorite things, and one of the reasons I love it so much is for how my hair feels and looks afterward. They use Kerastase products almost exclusively, and with good reason. Their mousse is light and effective, their hair spray holds all day but is touchable, and their shine serum leaves your hair silky but not greasy. My only issue with Kerastase is that they are not at all economical. But if you want something special, Kerastase is what ought to be in your bag of tricks for perfect pinup hair.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not So Peachy in Georgia

I was sitting on the couch this morning, undoing my pin curls, when a disturbing piece of news came up on CNN: State lawmakers in Georgia are protesting the teaching of queer theory and other courses in sexuality at George State University. (Here's the clip that CNN showed today.) The whole thing started when state Representative Calvin Hill asked his constituents to review courses being taught at public universities, in an effort to cut courses due to a tight budget.  When some constituents came to him saying the university taught classes in oral sex, male prostitution and queer theory, Hill denounced queer theory and GSU professors had to defend their work before the state's House Higher Education Committee.  His counterpart, state Representative Charlice Byrd, also belittled the teaching of courses in sexuality.

I'm a firm believer that professors and their methods should never be ignored; when administrators turn a blind eye to a poor teacher, the students suffer.  And I understand that because the university is publicly funded, perhaps legislators felt that they should also be included in this review process. However, I wonder about how often math teachers are reviewed by the state of Georgia, or perhaps they leave that to the people who have been hired to head the math department.  I see this as a double-standard, and it irritates me, but what really made me furious was the questioning of sex-related courses in higher education.

As one of the professors says in the clip, the definition of sex has been in flux ever since Monicagate.  As is also mentioned, examining the role of homosexuals in literature is no less worthy a subject than examining the role of heterosexual men in literature. Now, referring to yourself in an expert guide as an expert on male prostitution may not be the best way to market yourself as a serious academic, but I do happen to think there is value in gaining a better understanding of why people sell themselves for sex and its effect on our culture.  And Hill saying that queer theory is not a worthwhile area of study? Congratulations on slamming the work of (at minimum) hundreds of academics, sociologists, psychologists, authors and artists.
I know I may be biased here, as someone who has gone deeply into debt for my education and who prides it above all else. Some day, my looks will go, my body will sag, but nobody can take away what I learned in my twenty years of formal schooling.  When I hear someone say a subject is not worthy of study, or claim that it is a universal waste of time, what I really hear is someone who is afraid to learn.  Rep. Hill and Rep. Byrd would do better to open their minds and speak with the professors and students who take these courses, and to educate themselves on what comes of these studies, before they decide whether or not it is worth taxpayer money.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day has never been a particularly big deal for me, perhaps because I didn't usually have a date. Now that I do have a constant date, though, it still isn't that big a deal, and we have never made a big deal of it. I think Valentine's Day is a reason for people to spend time together and celebrate love--which is not something most people take time to really cherish. It's easy to take partners for granted.

However, this year we decided to go out to dinner. In years past we've cooked a nice dinner at home, but a few months back we discovered a tasty, creative restaurant in the neighborhood and were looking for an excuse to return to it. Valentine's Day seemed like a good one, plus my man leaves today for a business trip.

Unfortunately, the restaurant was a disappointment. Whereas before, my man and I had dined on foods we never would have tried, and sauces made with ingredients we would never have thought to combine, the Valentine's Day menu was just dull. For the entrees, they offered a standard fish dish, a roast chicken dish, and a steak. There was no option for dessert either, so you either took what they had or nothing at all.

Still, the evening was far from a bust. We made each other Valentine's day cards, me using my sewing skills, and he using his drawing skills. The conversation over a disappointing meal was lovely as always, and undisturbed by the cares of dining at home--there were no loud neighbors, no animals pestering us for attention, and no dishes to do at the end. And after dinner we of course had great sex. All in all, it was a wonderful evening. Expectations for a special night can be high, but as long as you have one key ingredient--a pair of people deeply in love--you really can't go wrong.

Friday, February 6, 2009

My bed of nails

I am hopelessly devoted to S., my manicurist, because of her amazing talent and charm. She's the best, and everyone in my neighborhood knows it, as is evident by the women who will wait for hours to see her, refusing to see any other manicurist at her salon who happens to be available. For a long time, I was afraid of nail extensions because I didn't want deal with them breaking, chipping, splitting--I refused to be someone who lived in constant fear of whining about broken nails. But with S., I have suffered a broken nail only once over the course of three years, and we're talking three years of typing, bulb-planting, cooking, baking, dishwashing, knitting, cleaning, sewing and general clumsiness. So, it's been with surprise that over the past few weeks my nails seem to be having a hard time staying put.

I saw S. this week, and immediately I knew something was wrong. As she was preparing to do the fill, she brought my hands up close to her face and said, "Oh, that's not good." Worse words could have come only from my tattoo artist. She explained that I had a weak nail bed. What? Me, a weak nail bed?

She went on to explain that over time, the chemicals in acrylic nails can weaken the natural nail upon which the acrylic nails are set, making them thin as paper. When that happens, the acrylic has a harder time adhering to the nail, and the nail cannot support the weight of the acrylic, which is relatively heavy. Every time water gets around my nails, like when I wash my hands, the water gets in the space between the acrylic and the actual nail where the nail can't hold on to the acrylic. That little bit of water takes its own sweet time to dry, meanwhile effectively rotting my nail. There doesn't appear to be any infection or anything like that, but the nail ceases to be anything more substantial than a Kleenex.

No part of that sounds sexy to me, so I asked her what I should do. S. told me that most of the white girls she works with have this problem with acrylic, and in fact I am her only white client who has managed to have long acrylic nails for such a long time. Her other white clients use a silk wrap, which is much lighter, though more time-consuming to apply and slightly less durable. She says my nails are still not so weak that I have to resort exclusively to the silk wrap route, but that keeping the nails shorter will do a lot to help ease the weight and pressure of the acrylic on my natural nail.

I tell this as a tale of caution. Long nails are beautiful, but long and unkempt nails are not; you have to find the middle ground that's right for you. Be careful not to go overboard, because you can't keep it up forever. My man is not happy at all that my talons are trimmed, but as I tell him almost every day, he's just been spoiled for the last few years.

Me too.
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Pinup Tales by Kitty du Vert is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.