Dagger & Dill: Winter Issue

January 15, 2015 § 4 Comments

I decided to do it again.

If you like upscale lifestyle magazines that fetishize antiques, quirky artisanal goods, and lavishly casual entertaining (no judgment here — I subscribe to several), then Dagger & Dill is for you:

daggerdillwinter Don’t miss:

  • A party starring pickles, pickles, and more pickles
  • Easy-to-follow recipes for jarred snow cocktails
  • Ideas for living with pine cones
  • Must-have items for every stylish home and individual
  • Much more
  • Well, maybe just a little more

It’s the lifestyle guide for anyone whose lifestyle really needs guiding.

What Is “Balance” Anyway?

January 9, 2015 § 6 Comments

Balance. Not my forte. (See also: “coordination” and “grace”)

Truth: I live in fear of being pulled over at a DUI checkpoint, because even if I’m stone-cold sober at noon on a Monday, if you draw a straight line on the ground, I can’t follow it perfectly. I broke my arm once trying to walk and carry a load of laundry at the same time. Another time, I broke my ankle while trying to walk down a sidewalk and tell a joke. Most recently, I was wearing my backpack “briefcase” in an airport, and the straps both spontaneously broke, and instead of wobbling a bit when my bag fell off my back, I fell all the way over. Like, on my face. On the airport floor. There is not enough Purell in the world, I tell you.

Anyway. Author Susie Schnall writes fiction about people who have a lot to balance, and in the process of writing her books, she interviews people who live the types of situations she writes about. I was delighted to answer her questions and thank her for including me in the conversation:

balance

By the way, the type of “balance” she’s talking about here is the kind involving career, creativity, and parenting. So that’s what this interview focuses on. But obviously “balance” is an issue that comes up for any multi-dimensional human being, whether you’re balancing work/family, cats/dogs, normal life/spy life, desire to have friends/desire to hole up in a cave and eat cheese 24 hours a day, whatever. We only get one life, and we have to make choices as to how we spend the hours in it; but maybe if we help each other out, we can all have a shot at doing more of the stuff we care about.

So — check it out if you like. Thanks! [Go there now  –>]

* * *

This Week’s Actual Forecast

January 8, 2015 § 18 Comments

Does the world need another weather graphic this week? No. But let’s have one anyway.

forecastmlp

 

Stay warm out there.

How to Be a Ladyperson at the Holidays: 10 Important Tips

December 8, 2014 § 277 Comments

Straight from the ad pages of your favorite magazines, here’s your guide to being a girl in December. Take notes.

* * *

1. Stay cozy. Wear a baby.

wear a baby

If you play your cards right, your sensitive, goateed dad/boyfriend/professor will reward you with a pair of socks made out of his extra sweater sleeves.

 * * *

2. Flaunt your complexity.

Embrace all your many dimensions. Think: "I'm an heiress and an Italian professor at this upscale tropical funeral."

Show off all your many dimensions at once. When planning outfits for your holiday soirées, think: “I’m an heiress and an Italian professor at this upscale tropical funeral.”

* * *

3. Represent feminine softness in a hard masculine world.

coach

All around you are skyscrapers made of bricks and iron and glass and ouchy things. They’re all pointy and hard. But not you. You’re a soft pink flower in a gentle haze of light. Everything around you is blooming, because you breathed springtime into winter. You’re a superfresh candypants sugarblossom.

 * * *

4. If you’re truly hot, you won’t get cold.

bebe2

You’re outside. It’s winter. There’s snow falling around you. But also? You don’t feel cold. Whatever you do, don’t hide your light under a bushel by putting a coat over your party outfit. Just drag it along behind you in the snow and use the oil on your legs to fuel warm thoughts. Tell yourself the sequins on your dress are tiny hot-plates. Imagine fire. Visualize volcanoes.

* * *

5. Sit like this while waiting for the valet at the end of a holiday party.

What? Oh. Yes, that's my silver Ford Fiesta. Pull it 'round, will you?

What? Oh. Yes, that’s my silver Ford Fiesta. Pull it ’round, will you, Jeeves?

* * *

6. If you insist on being serious, you must be 100% serious at all times.

Here's how serious works: If you are serious, you can't have hair -- so slick it back. Also, no makeup. Only a black smock, white handbag. No colors. No jewelry. Earrings are not serious. Your expression should imply that if someone had to rescue humanity by spitting out some poisonous venom on the alien invaders right this very goddamn minute, you're the woman for the job. Because women and jobs and poison are SERIOUS.

Tired of all that frivolity? Here’s your alternative: If you are serious, you can’t have hair — so slick it back. Also, no makeup. Only a black smock, white handbag. No colors. No jewelry. Earrings are not serious. No smiling. Your expression should imply that you’re as serious as a heart attack. Now look what you’ve done. You’re so serious you’ve given everyone a heart attack. Ready to be jolly again?

* * *

7. Live every moment like a dream sequence.

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angel cats of christmas

they're everywhere

In Cartier's "Winter Tale" ad series, kittens who live in the sky (leopards? panthers? I don't know, I get the wild cats all mixed up) sneak up on gift-wrapped jewelry items. It's cute because the cats are babies, but it's sad because if they're in the clouds, I guess they're dead? So, dead baby cats. But lots of diamonds. The point is, ladies, if you're a majestic angel-kitten, heavenly trinkets are yours for the stalking. So be a wild, sexy, dead, luxurious cat-baby.

In Cartier’s “Winter Tale” ad series, kittens who live in the sky (leopards? panthers? I don’t know, I get the wild cats all mixed up) sneak up on gift-wrapped luxury items. It’s cute because the cats are babies, but it’s sad because if they’re in the clouds, I guess they’re dead? So, dead baby cats. But lots of diamonds. The point is, ladies, if you’re a majestic angel-kitten, heavenly trinkets are yours for the stalking. So be a wild, sexy, dead, luxurious cat-baby.

* * *

8. Do a sports thing. That’s funny.

Topless, smirking handbag-boxing ladies with boy haircuts are making a statement. Are you making a statement? Be bold. Have short hair and do something sportsy while also wearing your purse as a bra. This shit is crazy, and so are you.

Topless, smirking handbag-boxing ladies with boy haircuts make a statement. Are you making a statement? Be bold. Have short hair and do something sportsy while also wearing your purse as a bra. This shit is crazy, and so are you.

* * *

9. Wear makeup, like a deviant.

perversion mascara

You know what those fringy things are at the edges of your eyelids? Eyelashes. You know what it means if you put dark stuff on them? You’re a total perv. Slap some red on your lips too, and it means you’re the Lady Mayor of Kinktown, USA. Go ahead, wear a little foundation, you dirty, filthy, nasty thing, and when you show up to your office party wearing all this… this… cosmetic substance… on your face, we’ll know exactly what memo you’re sending. Tie me up, tie me 5% down like this quarter’s earnings, know what I mean?

 * * *

10. Ignore the voice of reason.

Ahh,  the warm, snuggly comfort of over-the-knee suede boots and a chunky cashmere turtleneck. But no pants. Never pants. This look is as adorable as it is impractical. But you want this impossible dream, don't you? You do, because a world where you can wear the tall slouchy boots and the big fuzzy sweater and nary a stitch to cover your ass is a world where practicalities mean nothing and there are no limits. Get what you want, and ignore the rules. Take only desserts from the buffet of life. Let the losers wear britches.

Ahh, the warm, snuggly comfort of over-the-knee suede boots and a chunky cashmere turtleneck on a brisk winter day. But no pants. Never pants. This look is as adorable as it is impractical. And you want this impossible dream, don’t you? You do, because a world where you can wear the tall slouchy boots and the big fuzzy sweater and nary a stitch to cover your ass is a world where practicalities mean nothing and there are no limits. When you ignore the rules, you get what you want. Take only desserts from the buffet of life, girl. Leave the vegetables to the losers.

Pants are for suckers. Merry Christmas.

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(Past fashion ad life-guides are here, here, here, and well, there are a bunch.)

A Nightmare Dressed Like a Daydream

December 1, 2014 § 12 Comments

That Taylor Swift video is fabulous/awful/crazy/delightful on so many levels.

If you’re looking for a line to lip-sync in deadpan seriousness at the driver of the car next to you, you really can’t do better than “’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.” Unless, of course, you were to embellish it just a tad.

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream dressed like a rainbow dressed like Hello Kitty dressed like a tree dressed like Oprah

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream in costume as Robin Hood with a Santa suit on top of that

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream with a fake face I can pull off to reveal I’m actually Tom Cruise

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream wearing the perfume of a memory in a wig I borrowed from the future

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream speaking the language of an assassin in the accent of a candy striper with the inflection of a bunny rabbit

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream eating the nightmare’s dinner with the daydream’s fork

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream, and I didn’t even ask the daydream if I could borrow this outfit, so she’s totally gonna kill me, lol

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream, standing at your front door but actually hiding in your mailbox while driving your van and sliding down your chimney

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream stuffed into a duck inside a chicken inside a turkey

’cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream, with a bold red lip and a light dusting of translucent powder on my cheekbones, because the holidays are my time to shine!

(I’m actually a daydream dressed like a nightgown.)

* * *

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 8.38.50 PMThanks to Lora Stevenson and the gang at the “Salon” in Nashville for reaching out to say hello. I enjoyed answering these questions. 

 

 

 

* * *

xmasstuffIf you’re a cyber-Monday kind of person:

Head over to The Random Penguins shop. There’s lots of new penguins-with-people-problems loot there (iPhone 6 covers, throw pillows, cocktail napkins, coffee mugs, shirts, kitchen and household stuff, and even NAIL ART, speaking of which, if you post a pic of yourself on Instagram wearing any of this stuff, tag @therandompenguins, because I’d love to regram it).

Anyway. Zazzle is always having some kind of sale, so stock up if you like.

Cereal, The Podcast

November 19, 2014 § 8 Comments

The first 12 times someone asked me, “Are you listening to the Serial podcast yet?” I thought they were saying, “Are you listening to the cereal podcast yet?” and I thought, well, THAT sounds boring. I don’t know why I’d listen to that.

So I tried making a cereal version.

Yep. It is as boring as I imagined.

(PS – If you do listen to Serial and you’re hooked, don’t miss this spot-on parody version, which keeps coming out with new and wonderful episodes.)

Halloween, Penguin Style

October 31, 2014 § 16 Comments

Well, this is just so fun I can barely stand it.

Have you heard about the Halloween party they throw at Penguin headquarters in New York? It is so epic, so awesome, so legen(wait-for-it)dary that everyone in the company receives a safety memo beforehand reminding them of rules like, “Please, no fire.” Each department goes all out to create the best theme, including decorations, costumes, food, and booze. One year, someone built a full-scale, old-timey saloon in the copy room. They go NUTS. (Watch the hashtag #PenguinHalloween on Instagram and Twitter for an idea of the shenanigans.)

Well, much to my delight, Perigee (my imprint) and Tarcher (the imprint down the hall) teamed up to turn their section of the building into a Penguins with People Problems wonderland — snow and all. (Snacks include Swedish fish and fish crackers, obvs. Can’t wait to see what drink they’re serving.) I created little custom penguin portraits of the staff, showing off their quirky people-problems. Like this one, of Kevin.
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I also made a little fake book trailer with a spooky theme, just for fun. I figured they could play it on their computer monitors or something during the party. What happened next was just icing on the Halloween-themed cake: They shared the goofy little video, and it got picked up by Shelf Awareness (an online trade mag for publishing people and voracious reader-types), and today it’s the BOOK TRAILER OF THE DAY. Holy candycorns, penguins. Here’s the video:
spooky penguins
The enthusiasm and support for this little book that hasn’t even been born yet just blows my mind. I LOVE YOU, Perigee and Penguin Random House (and Tarcher, too!).

 

I got 99 people problems, but a penguin publisher ain’t one. Thank you.

 

PS: Gotta run go get into my literary-themed costume for work today. I’ll update this post later today with photos from the Halloween party at Penguin.
UPDATE! Photos…
#penguinhalloween

I mean, they said they were going to bring my book to life, but this…

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 10.22.07 AM

…is amazing.

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#authorproblems

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#editorialproblems

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#bookproblems

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I mean, LOOK at this. (PS: If you look closely, you can see the book cover to the left of the little igloo entrance.)

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I LOVE THESE PEOPLE.

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