July Favorites (Beauty and Otherwise)

We’re almost a week into August, but do you really care? I don’t.

1. MAC Candy Yum-Yum

I’ve had this lipstick for two years and I’m still not sure if it flatters me. How is that possible? I don’t even know. I can never predict how I’ll feel about it when I put it on: sometimes I’m surprised at how well it suits my coloring, and sometimes I feel so clownish that I have to wipe it off immediately. But every time I start thinking about getting rid of it, I fall in love with it all over again. Candy Yum-Yum has one of the most comfortable yet long-lasting matte formulas I’ve ever tried, and the stain left when it wears off is almost prettier than the lipstick itself.

I surprised myself by reaching for Candy Yum-Yum more often than usual last month. The heat and humidity had reached unbearable levels, and there were very few products that I could trust not to melt off my face during my ten-minute walk to campus. I took to wearing just mascara, highlighter, and a bold matte lipstick. My lips can strip the neon from almost any color, but CYY manages to maintain its glow when I’m wearing it:

I suspect that super-bright lip colors like Candy Yum-Yum will look dated in a couple of years, given the recent popularity of ’90s-inspired browns. And though I’d like to say I don’t care about trends, I do like feeling fashionable, if not wear-all-the-crop-tops trendy. Right now, we seem to be in a transitional period in which no lipstick color looks truly outré so long as it comes in a matte or semi-matte formula, but the tide seems to be shifting toward deep neutral shades like the one I’ll review in my next post (omg foreshadowing). I want to enjoy Candy Yum-Yum while it’s still acceptable in polite societyor, at least, polite enough for the likes of me.

2. Maybelline Bad to the Bronze and theBalm Silly

Bad to the Bronze is the only eyeshadow I own that can withstand the suffocating dampness of an East Coast summer. End of story.

I’ve had it for over two years now, and though it’s a bit drier than it used to be, it still applies and blends smoothly. And once it’s on, it’s going nowhere. I wore it for an entire 90-degree day followed by a run outside, and it still looked like this when I came back from running (apologies for sweaty post-workout photo, but there’s no other way to prove my point):

I often wear Bad to the Bronze as a lid wash with no embellishment, but when I want a bit more emphasis on my eyes, I use Silly, a warmish dark brown with copper glitter from theBalm’s Nude ‘tude palette. Silly is not a perfect shadow: it’s dry and powdery, and the glitter seems to vanish after application. The thing is, I don’t really care. Should I care? Meh. Silly will be part of this palette whether I like it or not, so I might as well make the effort to appreciate it.

Left, Bad to the Bronze; right, Silly:

By the way, I’d never wear Bad to the Bronze or Silly with Candy Yum-Yum. According to my neurotic unwritten makeup rules, fuchsia lipstick is suited to a bare or cool-toned eye only.

3. Kate Spade Square Stud Earrings

Since I can’t find this particular pair of earrings on the website, I’m not sure how to refer to the color. Holographic? Cyborgian?

At Nordstrom last summer, I came across a pair of smaller rectangular Kate Spade earrings in this color (colorway? how does one refer to it?), but didn’t buy them because I don’t like buying things on a whim. Shortly thereafter (but too late to go back to the Nordstrom in question), I regretted that decision. I looked for the earrings online, couldn’t find them, and felt bummed about it for an entire year, until I wandered into the Kate Spade store and saw these. They contain so many colors that they match almost everything I wear (I say, as if navy isn’t the most colorful my shirts get), and they look especially great with, you guessed it, Candy Yum-Yum.

4. Riddley Walker

Like everyone else, I’ve consumed a lot of post-apocalyptic films and novels in the last few years. Only a few situations can cause the total collapse of society and only a few situations can emerge from that collapse, and I like to see how writers constructor don’t constructoriginal narratives from such a small selection of tropes and scenarios. (See also the Dystopian YA Novel twitter: “My tunic is stained and torn. I have never been this far from the Colony before.”)

Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker was published in 1979, long before the current vogue for post-apocalyptic fiction. The novel takes place in South East England two millennia after a nuclear war. British society around the town of Cambry (formerly Canterbury) consists of a loose confederation of scavenger tribes ruled by men from “the Ram,” a strip of land across the river. Ram-approved religious mythology and political propaganda are disseminated through Punch-and-Judy-style puppet shows. Twelve-year-old Riddley Walker’s father is the community “connexion man,” whose job it is to interpret the puppet shows for the audience. After his father dies while helping delegates from the Ram unearth a decayed pre-apocalyptic machine, Riddley stumbles upon a plot to recover the lost art of nuclear fission. It sounds weird, and it is weird, but somehow it works. It works especially well if you’re prepared for a novel written entirely in a pseudo-Chaucerian dialect:

Raining agen it wer nex morning. Theres rains and rains. This 1 wer coming down in a way as
took the hart and hoap out of you ther wer a kynd of brilyants in the grey it wer too hard it wer
too else it made you feal like all the tracks in the worl wer out paths nor not a 1 to bring you
back. Wel of coarse they are but it dont all ways feal that way.

Novels in dialect can turn precious, and Riddley Walker certainly has its precious moments. It’s also very much of its time: you can tell that a novel was written in 1970s England when it portrays a world recovering slowly from nuclear war, plague, and total social and linguistic collapse, and the characters still somehow have tea and marijuana. But the book is well worth reading, especially if you enjoyed the post-apocalyptic parts of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and want to see where that dialect came from.

By the way, I’m always open to recommendations for post-apocalyptic novels. I finished Station Eleven earlier this year (imperfect but very enjoyable), and I’m thinking about reading Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy next. But, you know, “trilogy” is such a daunting word.

5. Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971

My mom was eager to see this exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art during our visit to New York. She still blames Yoko Ono for breaking up the Beatles, and I think she wanted to do the museum version of hate-reading or hate-followinggathering material to reinforce her 45-year-long grudge. But she came away impressed despite herself, and so did I (not despite myself). I knew almost nothing of Ono’s art before I saw the MoMA exhibit, and I was surprised at how verbal it was. Many of the pieces were more like poems: I especially enjoyed Grapefruit, a collection of bizarre instructions for the creation of art objects or installations. Some of the instructions were impossible to carry out…

…while others were all too easy.

The exhibit runs through Sep. 7, and I’d highly recommend seeing it if you happen to be in New York.

I’ve managed to amass three new lipsticks and two new nail polishes in the last two weeks, so expect some reviews soon. For now, it’s time for me to construct a “sleeping piece” of my own. Maybe you could write a few blog posts for me while I’m asleep? And finish my dissertation chapter on John Donne? Great, thanks.

22 thoughts on “July Favorites (Beauty and Otherwise)

  1. I love those earrings. They are somehow garish and subdued at the same time (color vs. size/shape). I used to be all about the big, statement jewelry, but lately I'm going for smaller, subtler things. Does that mean I'm getting old, or am I unconsciously following trends?And if it helps at all, each of the MaddAddam books stands pretty well on its own, so if you go as long as years, even, between reading them, as I did, they still make their own sense and are good reads. (And the final book the weakest – still worth reading, but if you don't get to it for a while . . . eh.)


  2. Cyborgian FTW!I actually wore Candy Yum Yum yesterday and had a super-similar thought process. Like, \”Awe, man, it's so cool! But does it even look good on me?\” I love those neon colors, but sometimes I think they make me look like an idiot.


  3. Seconding that the MaddAddam books are perfectly enjoyable independently, would HIGHLY recommend Oryx and Crake especially if you like books that are beautifully written and extremely unnerving. The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne Valente is also exceptional, though it is a collection of stories rather than a novel. I have totally forsaken eyeshadow for the time being because I can't wear it without a primer, and blending eyeshadow in my non-air conditioned house when I could be in my air conditioned office is never appealing. I'm excited for your upcoming reviews! Lord knows what I need most is more lipstick.


  4. I really enjoyed the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. The first book is a pretty good stand alone novel, and doesn't really require the rest of the novels to finish up its plot. So you can try it out and see if you enjoy the novel and then read the rest if it intrigues you. It is more apocalypse in progress then post apocalypse, but the first and third have a very post-apocalypse feel to them.


  5. Oh and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. It's also the start of a series, but it's the only one I've read so far (I'm kind of hording Octavia Butler because once I finish her works, I'll never read one again for the first time, if that makes sense), but it was awesome. And depressing, because it's one of the most believable post-apocalypse stories I've read.


  6. I've somehow never heard of Riddley Walker and will have to ask the husband if he knows about it – we lived in Canterbury for years and he loves (some) post-apocalyptic stuff so it might be worth him checking out. He would definitely second the recommendation for the Southern Reach trilogy. I have no clue and never read anything that could be vaguely described as sci-fi. Sleeping Piece I sounds like my kind of art.


  7. I've never worn much big statement jewelry (or much jewelry in general), but I like what I do wear to have some character. Is smaller jewelry more trendy now? I guess there are those super-thin rings meant to be worn high on the fingers, or are those so 2014?And that's good to know about Atwood! I've almost bought Oryx and Crake at least three times now.


  8. Yeah, me too. I think you just have to be in the right mood to wear those colors (or to let them wear you). Some days Candy Yum-Yum makes me feel happy and cheerful, and other days I feel horribly self-conscious.


  9. THOSE EARRINGS. I NEED.Actually, I've come to the conclusion that larger studs look bad when you have multiple holes in your ear, so they would look bad on me, but that colour! That change! The fact that I have 150 pairs of earrings became irrelevant.I'm a huge fan of Margaret Atwood's work, so I think you should read the MaddAddam trilogy. They all stand alone fairly well, so if you don't want to commit to a trilogy, you can just pick one and that will work just as well. I tend to prefer The Year of the Flood, but Oryx and Crake is really good and I think a favourite more than the other two.


  10. I've heard good things about Catherynne Valente, though this is the first I've heard of that collection! I'll check it out. And beautifully written, extremely unnerving books are my favorite kind.It's rare that I have the patience to blend together more than two eyeshadows even when the weather is cooperating. And yet, somehow, I keep buying eyeshadow.


  11. I'm a huge fan of cloud atlas! Both the book and the movie, which I thought were wildly different characters. Although my favourite was still the Victorian era stuff. And your cool toned eye with cool toned lipstick thing is totally valid: I also need to match the tones of my make up very precisely. I balked when Christine from temptalia once said it would be cool to match a warm eye with a really cool lip.


  12. I envy your ability to pull of Candy Yum Yum with casual flair. It's super complementary to your skin tone! I dream about wearing this and Pink Pigeon but they give me intense clown face.I second Melani's rec on Parable of the Sower if you haven't read it. It was so vividly real that I nearly threw up a couple of times. (How's that for a review? Ha!)


  13. I read the first few pages of the Southern Reach trilogy at a bookstore the other day and really enjoyed it! Unfortunately, that particular edition was all three books in one (heavy!) volume; I'm going to try and find the first book on its own.I've never read anything by Octavia Butler, but I've been meaning to for a while. I've been meaning to read about 50 books for a while; it's amazing how that happens.


  14. I think Riddley Walker would be even more interesting if you were familiar with the geography of the area. I've never been to that part of England myself. I never read sci-fi until about three years ago, and now I rarely read a novel that doesn't have some sci-fi elements. I'm not sure quite how that change happened.


  15. I've actually been considering getting another hole in at least one ear, but what you said about large studs gives me pause, since I rarely wear other kinds of earrings! You should give these a try if you can find them, though. I adore them. I think I'm hesitating so much before beginning the trilogy because I've never finished a Margaret Atwood book, and I don't want one (or three) more to add to my pile of failures. But after so many positive reviews, I think Oryx and Crake or Year of the Flood will have to be my next read.


  16. I love both the book and the movie, too, and I agree that they were very different. The book is quite pessimistic about human nature and our desire for power over others, while the movie seemed to end on a more positive note. The post-apocalyptic parts weren't my favorites either: I really liked the sections set in the 1930s and in futuristic Seoul.I don't mind wearing some cool-toned lipsticks with warm-toned eye makeup: I love purple lips with gold or bronze eyes, for instance. But there's something about fuchsia that makes me cringe at the idea of wearing it with anything but gray or black or *maybe* navy eyeshadow or liner.


  17. The thing is, I chose a flattering picture of Candy Yum Yum! There were definitely others in which I looked more clownish or more pink or whatever. I think the highlighter helped in evening out my skin tone. Oh wow, I'm not sure I can deal with a book that made you throw up! D: Good to know; I'll make sure not to read it when I'm feeling especially emotionally fragile.


  18. If it helps, Oryx and Crake seems to be the Atwood book that even non-Atwood lovers tend to enjoy. My old roommate hated Margaret Atwood's writing (it was the one point we could not agree on, literature-wise) and she liked Oryx and Crake.I'm not really familiar with the availability of Kate Spade here – there's not many department stores in the city, so I'd have to do some digging. Perhaps a weekend adventure on my horizons!


  19. I didn't actually throw up, and maybe reading the disturbing parts in the subway wasn't a good idea… but I can't handle rape visuals. Butler doesn't get too graphic but it's a messed up world that she wrote. The only other time I felt physically sick to the same degree was in the theatre watching Julie Taymor's version of Titus Andronicus.


  20. Oh, I see now that you said you \”nearly threw up\”! Sorry; I swear my reading comprehension declines with every year I stay in grad school. I don't do well with rape visuals, either. The second book in Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy has an extremely long and vivid rape scene that is, in my opinion, totally gratuitous. I didn't love the trilogy before I read that scene, but I think that was the point where my indifference turned to active dislike. (And yet I still hate-read the third book, because…I don't know why.)


  21. I wouldn't say I dislike Atwood; in fact, I've enjoyed the bits of her books that I've read. It's just that I always lose interest for some reason. But I'll give Oryx and Crake a try; I'm going to a used bookstore this afternoon, so I'll see if they have it.


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