It turns out being in charge is waaaaay less fun than you might expect. For one thing, there's all this WORK to be done, which really gets in the way of setting things on fire and spreading outrageous rumors about the true depths of your own fondness for arugula. Every time I'm this close to instigating some catastrophe this website's dumb publishing demands get in the way. WAAAAHHH WAAAAHHHH, FEED ME CONTENT, it mewls. It's like this is my JOB or something.
Suffice to say I'll be relieved when Emily gets back. (You ARE coming back, aren't you, Emily?)
In the meantime, I have a Friday list for you! Illustrated with pictures I took in my teeny tiny balcony gardenfarm.
Vatika Hair Oil
I don’t even know how I found this stuff -- all I know is I came upon it during one of my many compulsive Amazon.com shopping sprees (damn you, Amazon Prime, making it easier to order basic everyday crap online that it is to go to the damn store) and I am freaking hooked. I’m no stranger to the practice of buying hair stuff at random in the hopes that it will work miracles on me, and usually I am disappointed.
Not this time! Vatika hair oil is mostly made of coconut oil, but with a few worthy additions. While I still love straight coconut oil for a hair treatment, I can’t use it as a styling product because it’s just too heavy for my fine hair -- but this Vatika stuff is nothing short of miraculous, doing all the lovely things I expect hair oil to do without my having to risk that near-invisible line between “just enough product” and “UGH TOO MUCH TOO MUCH.” If you use hair oil regularly, you know what I’m talking about here.
As a bonus, Vatika has a slightly medicinal herbal scent that I go nuts for, although I suspect folks who aren't into smelling like some weird sorcerer's creepy garden may disagree on this.
Also, I do hate to bring up something none of us likes to talk about but if you have any issues with dandruff, this magical fucking hair elixir will help with that too, but without killing your haircolor or destroying your curls a la sulfate-laden dandruff shampoos like Head & Shoulders.
A tip, though: because Vatika is mostly coconut oil, that means it’s solid at room temperature, which makes it tricky to get out of the bottle, to say the least. Because I’m occasionally an idiot I spent the first week I had this stuff trying to force it out of the bottle by sheer muscular strength. Then it occurred to me if I just put it on the floor of the shower before hopping in myself every morning, the hot water would warm it up to a properly liquid consistency. So now I do that instead and I feel WAY smarter for it.
The BBC version of Robin Hood
So I’ve been semi-seriously considering starting a regular column-thing in which I chronicle my continuing efforts to watch ALL the random UK historical dramas available streaming on Netflix, and to review them, in my bad-reviewer way. I WOULD do this, except I suspect this is one of those ideas I get where like ten people are REALLY EXCITED and nobody else cares. Let me know if I’m wrong about that.
In the meantime, however, I’m going to tell you about Robin Hood (available in its entirety on Netflix streaming), one of the silliest TV series ever to don a helmet and call itself fancy. Robin Hood is wildly campy, which I love, and rife with absurd anachronism, which I don’t love but am willing to stomach for the sake of the camp. Also, there are catchphrases, and none of them are funny.
In the world of Robin Hood, ladies run around in pants and corsets and nobody seems to mind -- half of Marian’s wardrobe could have come from Forever 21 -- and the mere application of a hood over one’s head is enough to render one’s face utterly unrecognizeable even to law enforcement who have arrested you approximately ten billion times and are constantly on the lookout to make yet another arrest so that you can subsequently escape from custody. Pull up the hood and POOF, you’re invisible!
That’s Robin Hood, by the way, played by one Jonas Armstrong, who is very cute and has ridiculous hipster hair. He also has a gang, all of whom are so familiar to the witless Nottingham Castle guards it brings new meaning to the concept of incompetence. The show’s concept of feminism is contained in Marian’s constant protestations that anytime anyone ask her to do something, “Is it because I’m a woman?” Complete the picture with a Bond-villain-like Sheriff of Nottingham who is incapable of just killing Robin Hood any of the myriad times he is captured and insists upon slowly lowering him into a pit of snakes (sharks with medieval laser beams attached to their heads would have worked too) over a series of hours, leaving him alone so he can escape.
And yet, I really enjoy this totally silly, relatively family-friendly series. It’s weirdly reassuring in its predictability. It’s non-challenging. For all the outrageous anachronism and camp, it’s amusingly and entertainingly acted. I just like it.
…. All right. ALL RIGHT. Also there is Richard Armitage in leather pants. I would watch Richard Armitage paint a beige room if he did so in leather pants. Don’t you dare judge me, I only have one actor crush in the world and this is IT. I am allowed to indulge.
Actual Ballet Flats
I didn’t invent this, I know. Most famously, Amy Winehouse was doing it ages ago. I had a pair of sort of cheater ballet flats by Bloch that I bought at Urban Outfitters probably five years back -- they were beautifully minimal with a grosgrain ribbon tie and in the most perfect shade of warm, non-sickly pink. They also had slightly sturdier soles than the standard ballet shoes, with a miniscule rubber bit at the heel -- not sturdy enough that they were noticeable, but just so that you could wear them all day and not feel every little crack in the sidewalk.
I still have these flats, but they’re much the worse for wear, and Bloch long since stopped making this particular model in favor of more shoe-like ballet flats. I know, because I have looked all over creation for them since and would have bought ten backup pairs if only I’d been able to find them. They are, truly, my ballet flat Holy Grail, and it’s kind of a bummer to have found them so early in my life as now I must go forward knowing I will never see their like again. Sniffle.
In my despair, I’ve given over to the Winehouse way and just ordered straight up Capezio ballet flats. I bought them with the idea that they wouldn’t hold up to wear outside the house much, so I’d just wear them indoors, or when running quick errands in the car. And upon the first few wears, I felt pretty justified in my assumption; one misstep into a puddle in the parking lot downstairs was enough to confirm that these are not shoes for inclement weather.
That said, I’ve been wearing them several times a week for the past two months and I’m shocked by how well they’ve held up. I did wind up wearing them to the store and on longer trips outside and I actually think they’re pretty marvelous, considering they were never meant to be abused in such a manner. Even the suede soles have since been beaten into submission and are now fairly water-resistant. Obviously if you have feet that require ANY amount of support at all these are not going to work for you, but if you're happiest barefoot then you might give them a shot.
The obvious plus here too is that they’re incredibly cheap, so even if they wear out in a few months, that’s still a pretty great price-to-wear ratio.
Shirley Jackson easily tops my favorite authors list, no contest. Even if she weren’t capable of such picturesque little plots and characterizations, her magnificent ability to craft a sentence would command my respect. I’ve recently gone back to the only short story collection published prior to her death -- there have been a couple posthumously -- which uses her best known work, “The Lottery,” (something you may have read in high school) as a centerpiece.
Unfortunately, what we have of her is limited by the fact that Jackson died of heart failure in 1965, at 48 years of age. Her works stand as little time capsules of the era, demonstrating the social expectations of the period even while turning a prescient critical eye on them. Tragically, much of her early work is now out of print, and I can’t fathom why as she is/was a brilliant writer on any subject.
A huge volume of what Jackson wrote is depressing, if not outright disturbing, which makes it nontraditional beach reading for this time of year, but I suppose that’s why I like it, and why I am pointing it your way. Because I am difficult and contrary. To you, dear reader, I recommend both the iconic “The Haunting of Hill House,” because it is terrifying in a way that few books are, and “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” a slim novel that will probably cause you to put it down and assess your own sanity at least once in the reading of it.
The Planet Earth
To end on a note of whimsy and beauty, please enjoy this gorgeous video of time-lapse footage of our planet, replete with lightning storms, city lights, and eerie green aurora, taken from the International Space Station. Have a lovely weekend, y’all.