The Ladies Podcast – It’s All About Love

The Ladies Podcast is back with a brand new episode! This month, we’re taking on love – with a twist. We’re sharing a few of the things that we love to hate – favorite ranting topics – or hate to love – the guilty pleasures.

Smalerie discusses the musical version of The Phantom of the Opera and its less than stellar sequel.

Cartoon Sara dishes on the much loathed episode of the original Star Trek that she can’t help but enjoy.

Check out our previous episodes on our Podcast page.

Advertisements

40 things I learned by 40

If you have been reading along you know that we have been focusing on love this month….not necessarily romantic love, but rather those things you might be a little embarrassed to love, and well, love filtered through the eyes of some dinosaurs. This month I am going to tackle what is probably the most difficult type of love. Loving yourself.

Two of the ladies hit big birthdays this year, and hitting a big birthday can trigger a desire for introspection. You’ve made it this far, so what did you learn? What would you tell 20-year-old you? This, plus, have any of you seen this Vogue list? Frankly, I barely got through the thing. It’s astounding in its lack of relevance and practicality. But it did inspire me to , as our Honorary Lady Gary says, turn inward, and take a look back at what I did right, what I did wrong, and what stuff makes me realize that yeah, maybe I’m doing all right.

Your mileage to this list will vary, you might think it’s terrible, or just as irrelevant, but I hope it inspires you to make a list of your own so you can take stock of what you learned, how you have grown, and what a long way you’ve come baby.

Tiny Doom’s 40 things I learned by 40

  1. Don’t listen to your High School Guidance Counselor
  2. It’s ok not to want kids
  3. You are just as valid if you are a mother of pets, plants, other humans, dragons, or nothing
  4. Be reliable
  5. Be capable
  6. Be open to compromise
  7. It’s never a good idea to idolize someone, everyone is human
  8. Know what colors look good on you and wear those
  9. If you want a tattoo, get a tattoo
  10. Do your research
  11. It’s ok to be a little weird at work so long as you can back it up with #’s 4 and 5
  12. Friendships drift and that’s ok
  13. Pay your bills on time
  14. You can adapt to almost anything so don’t be so afraid of change
  15. Put stuff in your Amazon shopping cart and then give it 24 hours before you hit buy
  16. Look forward, not back
  17. Avoid self-help books
  18. When it comes to skin care most expensive stuff isn’t always the best stuff
  19. It’s ok to drink most of your liquid in tea form
  20. Eat your vegetables
  21. Scarves really do keep you warm
  22. Take care of your feet! I cannot stress this enough
  23. You don’t have to smile when someone tells you to
  24. Always act like you are supposed to be there-it’s ok to fake it
  25. Watch all the crap movies and TV you want
  26. Say no
  27. Red lipstick
  28. It’s not bullshit that doing nice things for other people can make you feel better
  29. Bring your lunch to work as much as you can
  30. Make a family that’s not related to you by blood
  31. Mittens are better than gloves
  32. Just do the thing, you’ll feel better when it’s done
  33. Walk there when you can
  34. There is a certain joy in day drinking (as long as you don’t make it a habit)
  35. Don’t be afraid of new technology
  36. Always keep your own bank account no matter how in love you are
  37. Try to travel if you can
  38. Learn to make things-food, socks, plans
  39. If people make you feel bad about yourself, don’t hang out with them
  40. Never turn down a piece of pie

Ok, if anyone else feels like taking on a list, I would love to see it.

Advice for the Lovelorn – Raptor Style

Happy Valentine’s Day, Ladies fans! In honor of the holiday, we’re bringing you a very special Fashion Raptors column. You see, our friend and Honorary Lady Gary had this blog years ago where he talked about some of his collectibles. His great passion is for Bobby Orr paraphernalia, but he’s no slouch at comic collection, either. A subset of that collection is romance comics – those treasured tales of the 60s and 70’s. Part of these books involved advice columns – the mostly teen, mostly girl readers could write in and lay out their romantic and other dilemmas for the book’s agony aunt to solve. Gary shared a few of these, and we thought that, beyond the historical interest, there was an opportunity here for the Fashion Raptors to weigh in with their own take on the questions. So here it is, the Fashion Raptors’ advice to the lovelorn, next to the originals. Enjoy!

Continue reading

True Lady Confessions: I Love Musicals, Even the “Bad” Stuff

Quick Note: Hey everyone! We ladies so enjoyed working together on our themed posts last month that we decided to choose a theme for this month as well. We’re taking a cue from Valentine’s Day and writing about love in all its splendid and sordid forms.

fredgene2a

I suppose we should get into the Way-Back Machine this month to talk about where my corny romantic soul really discovered love for the first time – musicals.

In fear of aging myself, I can tell you that I remember when my father came home with a VCR for the first time. In his hands, two videos: Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and the MGM classic musical Singin’ in the Rain. And now, over 30 years later, these remain two of my favorite movies. And you guessed it, they’re both musicals.

It isn’t surprising that a young Smalerie would lose her mind over a Disney movie – especially one that’s so darn pretty to look at. What is slightly more uncommon was that I would also become OBSESSED with musicals. I would watch whichever ones I could get my hands on, spending way too much time during my teen years trying to explain the difference between Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire’s dance styles, and begging my parents to gift me with Show of the Month Club tickets. Back in those days, my taste wasn’t as discerning as it is now and I’ve lost my taste for most Rogers and Hammerstein, but that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t still swell when a character spontaneously breaks into song.

I often find it hard to explain to people why my love for this genre is so ingrained in my system. I think it has to do with how music is linked to our emotions. Things that can be hard to express in just words can now be done with music, movement or dance, and words.  Feelings (good and bad) are exaggerated and heightened in a way that can often feel so much more genuine that we expect. Almost as if music helps distill them to their very essence. Sure, some musicals are simple and can feel trite or silly, but others can capture a culture or moment in time. Look, not every musical out there is any good, but if you’re open to perhaps making a new discovery, I’d be happy to point you in a toe-tapping kinda direction.

3 Musicals for People Who Might Not Like Musicals:

Little Shop of Horrors – I feel as if this musical is practically perfect in every way. It’s funny, dark, and filled with catchy tunes and clever lyrics. There’s also a lot to see in this show whether you just stick to the movie or see it live just because you want to see how they pull off the plant. This show is the reason why I loved Alan Menken and Howard Ashman before they left for the fluorescent lights of Disney. And I will always love Little Shop, original disaster ending or happy Hollywood one.
See also: Avenue Q, Bat Boy: The Musical, The Book of Mormon


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (TV Series)
– A masterclass on the human condition, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is hilarious but often almost painful to watch due to its accuracy on how people treat others and themselves. I think what makes this show work is that it can often be easier to sing about your issues than actually confront them. Songs are used as internal monologues, highlight particular emotional arcs in the story, and can just be so honest and funny. People who don’t like musicals might enjoy watching this show just for how clever it is.
See also: Garfunkel and Oates (TV Show), Heathers: The Musical

 

Hedwig and the Angry Inch – A great rock show that’s funny, heartfelt, and heartbreaking. The film version is great, but this is one of those shows that I would love to see live at some point. The main character talks directly to the audience and in the right venue, that’s a great opportunity for the performance to feel personal and intimate. I can’t remember how I even heard about Hedwig originally, but I do remember being so charmed by the music.
See also: Tommy, Phantom of the Paradise, Rocky Horror (Picture) Show

 

When Less is More: A Tale of Two Bats

batcomp1

The animated and live action Flying Graysons. Copyright Warner Bros.

Author’s note: A version of this post originally appeared on my old site, The Ink and Pixel Club.

Comparing two works based on the same source material can lead to interesting discoveries.  Seeing how the same story is handled can reveal the differences in the filmmakers and their approaches to their craft.  If can highlight the strengths and weaknesses of different media.  Or, as with the two works we’re going to look at today, it can reveal a much broader concept, like the positive side of limitations.

Batman is an ideal subject for this kind of comparison.  DC’s dark knight has been repeatedly reinterpreted for different media, different audiences, and different times.  Yet in nearly every new version, a few key elements remain the same, keeping the result recognizably Batman.  The part of the Batman mythos that we’ll be examining today is the death of the Graysons, a key moment in the origin of Batman’s sidekick, Robin.

Continue reading

Beat the Winter Blues: Get Crafty

If you’ve been reading along you will have seen both Smalerie, and The Red Menace give their tips for beating the winter blues; coping mechanisms are so important y’all! Now it’s my turn. Those who know me IRL know that my crafting obsession almost borders on manic. If it’s crafty, I want to try it. Yarn, glue, paper, wood, beads, it’s all my jam. For me crafting can really hits my goal oriented brain center, plus then you have a cool thing to show for your work. That sense of accomplishment can be critical when you are cooped up inside feeling like you may never get outside again.

Because the general realm of crafting is so vast and wide there are thousands of options, and price points. You don’t need to drop a mint at Michael’s or some other craft store to take on projects. One of my favorite things to do is to comb thrift stores or dig around though what I already have and then re-purpose it into something better.

Someday this will be a mitten.

Knitting-
Ah, my old standby. When I was little, my grandmother tried to teach me to knit. It’s didn’t go well. But I picked it up again in college and things really clicked. Knitting has a relatively low start-up cost, especially if you can get your hands on some used needles and sale yarn (it’s always on sale). Knitting has also become much more popular so chances are you know someone who knits and can teach you, otherwise, YouTube. I’ve learned many new stitches and refreshed myself on some basics via the internet. All you need to know is the basic knit stitch and you can make a scarf. I personally find the repetitive action of knitting soothing and a bit meditative, maybe you will find it the same.

 


Gluing things to things-
Oh yeah! This is probably my favorite type of craft because it’s the broadest and I think most fun. Get yourself some good glue (I like e-6000), some found objects and go to town! Cover old containers with buttons or rhinestones, decorate a lampshade, make magnets…below are two of my favorite gluing projects. I wanted a 3 tier plate for a Downton Abbey themed tea party I was hosting, however I did not want to spend the money on one. Take one trip to a thrift store, plus one thing of glue, et voila, a 3 tiered plate that cost less than $7! The “bug” is the result of a broken clock I bought at a yard sale, dismantled, and then spent a very focused afternoon turning the pieces into some sort of sculpture. Again, super affordable and very rewarding!

 

Paper crafts-
I can’t draw, at all. But I can cut, glue, arrange, and stamp. Plus, making your own cards is much more fun and flexible than ones you get at the drugstore. If you’ve ever even walked past a Paper Source you can see how vast and varied the things you can do with paper are. I also think paper crafting lends itself to being social and sharing supplies really well….(prepare for shameless plug), and that’s why we are hosting a Collage Card Workshop at Comicazi on February 10.

If paper crafts are something you are interested in join us at our Collage Card event! We bring the supplies, you bring the creativity.

General craft resources-
Ready to dive into the sea of crafting? There are tons of resources out there but here are 2 of my favorites.

Craftster– The Old Dame of craft resources! I think every craft possible exists here. From knitting, to food, to soap, to cross stitch this bulletin board community give tutorials, help, discussion and general encouragement about crafts.

Possibility of falling down a craft based rabbit hole for the rest of the winter: HIGH

Pinterest– If you aren’t quite sure of the project you want to tackle, go to Pinterest and search “crafts”. You will get an amazing array of option, all visually lovely. So yeah, there are lots of pictures of possible crafts on Pinterest, but the directions and links are not always super reliable (see Pinterest Fails). I like to cruise the pics for ideas but then maybe head to another resource for a second opinion on reliable directions.
Pinterest is a particular danger zone because it doesn’t just have crafts…it has everything! You could start looking at it at the start of the next snow storm and not come up for air till the plows are done.

Possibility of not emerging until the hibernating bears do too: HIGH

Beat the Winter Blues: Theme Party Edition

Last week, Smalerie mentioned that we’d be doing a series on how to stick it to Old Man Winter and actually get some enjoyment out of a season that, here in New England anyway, can be best summed up as “grey.” Sometimes the outdoors is a frozen wasteland, other times it’s warm but muddy, but no matter the temperature and precipitation, winter can just seem a bit ho-hum. Once the holidays are over, there’s just a lot of staying indoors, dreaming of warmer, drier days. BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. The depths of winter are scientifically* proven to be the best time for a theme party. Plus, planning a party fits in well with several of Smalerie’s blues-busting tips, including starting a project and having accountability. And hey, if you host, you don’t need to actually leave the house!

We’ve had a few posts on this subject before, but here are a few we haven’t yet shared that you might consider specifically for shaking the winter doldrums.

Stalingrad, 1942

Granted, this particular theme appeals to a slightly morbid sense of humor – unsurprising, given that my husband, Mr. Menace, was responsible for dreaming it up. When the snow is thick on the ground and the air is frigid, what can be better than a reenactment of the Soviets surrounding the Germans at Stalingrad?

We were fortunate to have this party hosted at the home of our dear friends, who have a spectacular fire pit in their backyard, which allowed us to create a hard-core bonfire. If you are not so lucky, even a small fire pit will add the right amount of flare and sell the idea that you are huddling for warmth on the front. (We were also aided by the fact that this party took place in the February 2015 – winter where the Boston area saw about 8 feet of snow pile up on itself in rapid succession, followed by a deep freeze. Authentic!)

Cheap fur hats from the party store are also a must. Here the goal is less about authenticity, and more about a sense of fun and staying warm.

The Red Menace and Tiny Doom stayed in the warmth, mostly.

As for the most important part of any theme party, the food, this is your chance to put out an assortment of hard meats, cheese, and vodka, and call it good. At our hosts’ request, I also made piroshki, which are Russian buns filled with meat and onions.

Tasty meat and onion buns.

Meat, cheese, vodka, and hats – a recipe for pulling anyone out of a slump.

Vikings

The Red Menace and Tiny Doom as Glamour Vikings.

The very next winter, our friends with the fire pit hosted another vaguely historically themed party – a Viking raid! This was a ton of fun to figure out costuming for – and a great excuse to break out the fur and cape from my Red Sonja costume from a Halloween party long past.

To host a good Viking party, consider offering mead, more of that wonderful meat and cheese, and an assortment of dried fish, if you’re feeling fancy. Horned helmets are not historically accurate, but if you change the theme a tad, you can host a 19th-century Romanticist opera revival party and the helmets are totally on brand.

Giants

The giant seeks her chicken.

Our latest party was a long time coming, and one of my favorites to date. For years, Tiny Doom has dreamed of hosting a “giant” party. The concept was that everything at the party would actually be extremely tiny – thus allowing the party participants to feel like giants. (Tiny Doom is, as her name suggests, pretty small herself, so getting to be big is a novelty.) For years, we discussed this party – what food we would serve, the tiny plates we could use, the props that we’d have – and we kept not hosting the actual party. Finally, after nearly half a decade, I decided to make it the theme of my annual New Year’s Eve gathering. 2017 was a pretty tough year all around, so I thought we could all use an excuse to feel bigger.

Tiny Doom devours a whole baked potato in one bite!

This party was heavily centered around two things – the food, and the table-scape. What’s great about this theme is that many appetizers are already small, bite-sized versions of regular food. You just have to make sure to play up that similarity – so cocktail weenies aren’t served in sauce, they’re lovingly encased in tiny buns. Sliders are regular burgers, a Cornish game hen is a whole roasted chicken, and so on.

The Burger Patrol serves the giants.

Mr. Menace helped with the decor by getting two different sizes of figures – 1/6 scale GI Joes and 1/16 scale Star Wars figures – and strategically placing them around the food. The result was a sort of Lilliput-England-Brobdingnag vibe with the Star Wars guys as Lilliputians, the Joes as the humans, and us as the Brobdingnagians. It was pretty darn magical, and shockingly simple to pull off.

Guarding the forest of pie.

Ultimately, that simplicity makes this a perfect winter project – you don’t need to dress up or get too fussy with the decor to create a good time for your friends and help snap everyone out of a funk. After all, everyone needs to feel big sometimes.

These cakes were beautiful but less edible than one might want.

Finally, it’s important to note that while we did this party on New Year’s Eve, it works on any random winter night equally well. How about you all – any other whimsical ways to punch Old Man Winter in the face?

*The science is extremely limited.

Beating the Winter Blues: LOC-style

Wow, just wow. No matter how tough we New Englanders are, our insane winters always find a way to surprise and challenge us. This winter has already proven to be no exception. So, the question on my mind is: Is there a way to actually enjoy the winter as opposed to just surviving it?

In the interest of sharing more than just my methods, I reached out to my fellow ladies to get some of their ways of beating the winter blues. They should be following up during their weeks.

Disclaimer: I feel that it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t take a moment to acknowledge that both depression and seasonal depression are very real things. The methods we discuss here are meant to be fun and might be helpful to some, but are by no means designed to replace a doctor’s or therapist’s guidance.

Continue reading

Movies and Books to Look Forward to in 2018

The new year has arrived, bringing with it the usual vows of self-improvement, opportunity for fresh starts, and hope that the coming twelve months will be better than the previous. It’s a traditional time for optimism.

Unfortunately, New Year’s Day 2018 doesn’t find me full of anticipation for the new year. Aside from the bigger problems of the world that haven’t disappeared with the 2017 calendars, my husband and I are both sick. We’re also still recovering from the emotional drain of the holidays. And temperatures aren’t venturing above 30 degrees. Don’t get me wrong; my life is good and I’m still grateful for what I do have.

Still, it can be tough to find enthusiasm for the new year when I’m more inclined to curl up in a blanket with my dogs to stay warm. However, I’d like to feel that sense of a fresh start and anticipating the new. So I am focusing on something I am definitely looking forward to in 2018. I’ve asked the other Ladies what they are looking forward to as well so click through to find out what we can’t wait for. Continue reading

Reign is Better Than You Think

Hey all! Hope you all survived the rollercoaster of the holidays. After making it through this past week you deserve some time to veg out. Perhaps a hardcore binge watching session is in order and you are looking for something you don’t have to work to hard on?  In that case, might I suggest Reign…and before you think I am still hitting the holiday punch, hear me out.

It’s good to be the Queen. Copyright CW

It’s well documented that I love a costumed drama. And yeah, that what’s Reign is. It’s oh-so-loosely based on the life of Mary Queen of Scots, her ladies in waiting, Catherine de Medici, and Elizabeth I. It’s also a CW show so it’s about as historically accurate as a Baz Luhrmann movie, or A Knights Tale (and yes, I like that movie). It’s fan fiction of the time, or what you day-dream the Elizabethan period is like. Clean, glamorous, everyone has good teeth and hair, and clearly there is indoor plumbing hidden somewhere. Additionally, there is some good old-fashioned CW drama, including but not limited to sexy Nostradamus, castle ghosts, and weird but network TV safe sex stuff.

But underneath all that gloss and manufactured drama, what Reign does really well is present a compelling cast of women, whose characters are in powerful positions. The relationships among these women are complex, but largely center around friendship and support rather than competition. How refreshing! Politics and social mores supply enough external pressure on these women and it’s nice to see a show that realizes that. They may be Queens, or other royalty but that doesn’t exempt them from the need for strategic marriages, and other political alliances. These plays for power make them vulnerable enough. Having friendships and allies is key in a society that has given women power via a monarchy, but still hopes they will merely be figureheads or puppets.

Making the best of it. Copyright CW

Over the 4 seasons of this show we watch the relationships among the women shift in the way friendships do as life changes. And when someone falls from power, Reign manages to work in some modern sensibilities so these women rarely become victims….or at least are not victims for long. Also, the women stay the center of the story. While there are always men in each story line, it’s the women who remain the protagonists. They are who drive the narrative, unlike some other recent shows that promised me a female driven western…I’m looking at you Godless, but that’s another post.  Characters, especially Mary, Catherine and Elizabeth are fully formed with strengths and weaknesses. They aren’t perfect, not by a long shot, sometimes their passions drive them, other times we watch them wrestle with and ultimately make difficult decisions for the good of country. As the show goes into later seasons it’s these characterizations that seem to drive the show more than the love triangles of earlier seasons. and hence, for me, it’s the later seasons that are more interesting, more mature. 

So if you are looking for something to entertain you while you dig out from the holidays, maybe try bingeing Reign, in the very least you’ll get some great fashion idea for the next cosplay ball you attend.