Anyone who has been keeping up with the fashion trends of late will have noticed the resurgence of the 70’s vibe.

Personally, I’m thrilled. I adore the wide leg jeans, billowy blouses, wedges, and turbans gracing the pages of the fashions mags. I’m whole-heartedly jumping on the bandwagon. Which is sort of rare, because I generally stick to the old axiom of, “Regardless of trend, if it doesn’t work for you, don’t wear it!” But that sort of adage really applies to things like cut-outs, jeggings, and platforms.

For something like an era though, it’s not fixated on a few pieces, colors, or shapes. Rather, it was a style. Loose and casual, free-flowing and formless were the order of things. This I embrace. I can do without the cords and afros, brilliant oranges and polyester abominations that also came with the decade.

Of course, it’s not a complete throwback. Colors are different, fits are different, and everything has been altered just so.

With my stature, I could never dream of doing an authentic high-waist pant. It would swallow me. So instead, I buy a regular rise, tuck in my shirts, add a double belt and voila! The look.

Picture courtesy of InStyle.com.

The turban is also exciting. A cross between the head wraps of the seventies and the cleaning lady tie-up of the forties, its cute, unique, and does quite a good job of keeping all those annoying strands away.

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Vanessa Hudgens sports the turban in the latest issue of InStyle.

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Pictures from thestylistsite.com

If you’re interested in buying a turban, Red Velvet has some divine velvet ones. The store also carries vintage seventies clothing. Just get me some wooden wedges and I’m good.

OTTERMEI

Occasionally I will set myself a goal to work towards. If I have something to look forward to, it makes working a bit easier to swallow. It’s not always effective, but I think that’s my own fault. I rarely set myself a good reward. However, that changed when I was shopping yesterday. I ran into Fossil, and my friend who works there insisted I try on their new romper. Now, let me get something straight here. I have always hated rompers. I have thought them silly, unflattering pieces with no purpose. And then I tried this on. And fell in love. It sounds ridiculous, I admit, but it’s the truth.

So now, with that, I am going to reward myself with this romper when I finish a couple of projects. Firstly, my mother has two huge boxes full of pictures that need to be organized. And then there are the two kitchen pantry cupboards. Why is it that pantries get so cluttered? Whatever the reason, I am going to attack those shelves with all my organization skills. And then look at them in victory wearing my new romper…

OTTERMEI

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Although my main goal was the harajuku perfume, I did find some other things I needed as well. Fortunately, there’s a Hobby Lobby right by the mall, so I was able to pick up my things in a dash before heading there. Above you see the perfume, a grid notebook for blog ideas, a couple of watercolor sketchbooks and a new ink pen for drawing. As nearly everything was on sale, I count the trip a success.

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I don’t know where I first saw these darlings. I think it was in a magazine, but ever since I did, I’ve desperately wanted to own one. And now I do. I found it for half off at the local Perfumia, and was quite in an ecstasy over the little doll. Smells nice too, which is, I suppose, the most important thing.

And these are the shoes I went shopping in. My own beloved yellow oxfords.

OTTERMEI//

Spring has come at last, with verdure ‘springing’ forth in every direction, tantalizing the eyes and increasing the infectious desire to plant.

I always feel it is really spring when I buy my first plant. For this season, I chose a potted fuchsia. I know I had said previously I would be buying herbs, but my dear mother beat me to the punch and planted plenty, so there’s no need. And besides, a fuchsia is ever so colorful. I fondly remember touring the local Arboretum and seeing double fuchsias hanging in baskets everywhere. They certainly liven the place up. Mine has only a few blooms, but plenty of buds, so soon it will be covered in hot pink frills.

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My mother’s green thumb has been creating all kinds of havoc lately. She’s expanded her own garden to about twice its size, by adding various beds here and there, and taken over my neglected rose bed to boot. About three months ago, I think, or even earlier, she planted a bunch of bulbs on the outskirts of her enclosed garden space. They’ve bloomed in proliferation and are quite beautiful.

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And elsewhere, spring is evident. From the Rose of Sharon by the pool…

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…just putting out it’s first green shoots, to the Carolina Jessamine about to burst forth in fragrant yellow glory…

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My cat, Emma, is certainly enjoying the weather. Being both an indoor and outdoor feline, she is constantly in a quandary about whether she really does want to be outside or inside. It’s quite a nuisance. Her voice, clarion and obnoxious, can wake the dead.

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Spring has never been my favorite season, for I generally prefer Fall or Winter, but I can still get excited about its onset. There’s just something thrilling about the first leaves a tree puts out.

OTTERMEI//

 

Daffodils

William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

What on earth (or deep space) is it about zombies that keep us so enthralled? Is it their chic clothing, torn and tattered just so? Their seemingly magnanimous good-will towards all mankind, that they keep their arms forever stretched out, as if just seeking a comforting hug? Their sonorous screeches?

Ask a movie fanatic and the answer might be mixed up with the desire to be scared bejeeberless. Something I still don’t understand. But that’s beside the point. Zombies really began their heyday when George Romero made his 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead. But it seems that the rage didn’t really take hold until his second film a decade later, Dawn of the Dead. A cute rehash of the former title. Or perhaps he was just being lazy.

Notice the humorous ‘They Won’t Stay Dead!’ How frustrating. Also worth note, none of these zombies appear decayed. I suppose this was more due to the lack of computerized graphic editing.

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of soundtrackcollector.com.

In Romero’s film, the zombies are created by a space probe blowing up in the atmosphere.[1] Nowadays however, most zombies are created by some kind of plague or virus. You can’t turn around in a theater without seeing something along the lines of 28 Days Later, Resident Evil (Numbers and subtitles vary), Quarantine, Day of the Dead, etc.

We even have a few comedic parodies of zombie movies. Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead being the most well-known. Notice the header? A bit different than Romero’s catchy one-liner.

 

 

 

 

(Shaun of the Dead poster. Gotta love Simon Pegg.) Courtesy of impawards.com.

A lot of the zombie craze these days revolves around either gory bloodshed or comedy. I recently bought a book, Dr. Dale’s Zombie Dictionary: The A-Z Guide to Staying ALIVE. A definite recommended read for anyone worried about surviving during the impending apocalypse. I have fears of my own, living in a pretty built-up area, and not having a house very suitable for repelling the undead. But this book will soon equip even the most weak-kneed citizen with tools to prevent themselves falling into their clutches. Included in the book are answers to such useful questions like:

“How can a sheep help defend me against the undead?”

“What will the response of the women’s institute be to an attack?”

“What’s the most useful style of dance to know in the event of the apocalypse?”

It even comes with a 30-day money back guarantee in the event you die during the apocalypse.

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of amazon.co.uk

But wait, you’re all saying, what about the rise of zombies in games? Of course I haven’t forgotten about this enormous aspect of zombie culture. I was saving it for later. Calm down geeks.

The first zombie game, released in 1984, was rather unoriginally titled Zombie Zombie. It’s adorable 8-bit styling and garish colors remind one of everything that was great in retro video games.

It even had a disclaimer by designer Sandy White. “Due to strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this game in no way endorses a belief in the occult.” [2] Wow. I’d like to see anyone bother putting that on a game today.

 

 

(I love the ‘Paint’ program type graphics. I think Sandy’s three year old daughter drew this for her.) Courtesy of gamesradar.com

After this, zombie games ranged from Zombies Ate My Neighbors (1993), various renditions of Resident Evil (1996-), Dead Rising (2006), Left 4 Dead (2008), and others, of which there are too many to list. Zombies also make guest appearances in such games as Wolfenstein 3D, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Call of Duty: World at War.

I looked at the top ten games from several sites, and was surprised that zombie games ranked either far down or not at all. Resident Evil was 9th according to gamerankings.com, and 7th according to the Gamer’s Edition of Guinness World Records. Half-Life 2 did make it to 5th in “Game Informer Magazine,” but most of the top game awards go to Zelda, various Mario games, Call of Duty, Halo, and Grand Theft Auto.

Of course, most of these polls are taken in flux, when the novelty of the game might sway the masses for a while before equalizing.

My own personal memories of zombie games come from watching my elder brother play. Never interested in playing them myself, save for a little Kirby now and then, I loved watching an expert muck around killing things. For anyone who’s ever played Half-Life 2, Ravenholm should ring a bell. That level introduced me to fast zombies, as I recall. Creepy things.

And here we see the intrepid Gordon, with his ever-present, trusty crowbar. I have a special fondness for this game. The storyline really appealed to me, and the little nuggets of scientific experimentation thrilled me. Also on my list of favorites is Portal. [3] I even have a ringtone. I love cake.

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of tutorialpark.com

For any avid gamers who aren’t satisfied with my admittedly brief recount of zombie games, check out the footnotes. Not that you need them. If you really are an avid gamer you should be able to tell me everything about zombies anyway. Because you have, of course, fought them all, right?

OTTERMEI//


[1] http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/29/oreilly-godzilla-science-technology-breakthroughs-zombies.html

[2] http://www.gamepro.com/article/features/216706/a-history-of-zombies-in-video-games/

[3] There might even be a whole post dedicated to this game. If I’m still alive after this, that is…

Yellow is a color. Every yahoo knows that. More specifically, it is;

The hue of that portion of the visible spectrum lying between orange and green, evoked in the human observer by radiant energy with wavelengths of approximately 570 to 590 nanometers; any of a group of colors of a hue resembling that of ripe lemons and varying in lightness and saturation; one of the subtractive primaries; one of the psychological primary hues.[1]

It may also be used in the negative sense as an insinuation of cowardice. I had a struggle in figuring out the etymology of this term. It seems to have been in existence since medieval times, when traitors’ doors were daubed with Yellow paint and heretics were made to wear Yellow clothing. Apparently it had something to do with the four physical humours of the body that kept everything in check. When one of these four (blood, phlegm, black bile and Yellow bile) went out of whack, you became ill or fractious. Yellow bile was associated with irascibility, peevishness, etc, and the steps from that to jealously, inconstancy and cowardice wasn’t a far leap.[2]

This is rather interesting. Today, we tend to associate Yellow with happiness, the sun, warmth and cheerfulness. Rarely do we hear people being labeled as ‘Yellow.’ That might also have something to do with the racist connotations.

So aside from the paradox of association, Yellow has been used in various ways in literature.

In Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s masterful piece, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” she describes in detail the mental degeneration of a woman surrounded by some hideous wall adornment.

The work itself is startlingly blunt in what it seeks to illustrate. Gilman, who suffered from mental disorders, or ‘nervousness,’ as it was labeled, was prescribed the ‘rest cure’. It’s a simple name and a simple treatment. The patient is allowed to do no work, have little company, and in general sit around and do nothing for a very long time. Enough to drive any sane person mad, and this is just what Gilman is trying to convey in her story. Gilman lived during rather oppressive times for women, and the story is heralded by feminists everywhere. Now I don’t care tuppence about any political ramifications, but I do enjoy the intricate processes that derange the human mind.

In the story (and I urge you all to read it for yourselves), the women, suffering from nerves and possibly hallucinations, is prescribed the rest cure and made to stay in an old nursery. The interesting thing about this nursery is the wallpaper. It’s Yellow, and she speaks of the, “recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down.”[3] Very insidious is this paper.

I wrote an essay on this once, relating the wallpaper to a Panoptic prison system. I won’t go in to all that here, but if the story intrigues you, look it up.

Eventually, the woman becomes obsessed with the paper, and the imagined woman she sees in it. It overwhelms her with its presence. “ …the paper stained everything it touched, that she had found yellow smooches on all my clothes…”

Rather a horrid, unpleasant description of Yellow here. One may argue that the color is irrelevant in the story; it might as easily have been green or blue. But I disagree. I think Gilman chose Yellow very specifically.

But Yellow doesn’t always have negative connotations. As I mentioned previously, most of us think of sunny things when we think of Yellow. It’s becoming one of my favorite colors. I’m sure any observant reader will have noticed many of my pictures contain me in a Yellow cardigan. Mostly accidental, actually, but it is one of my favorite articles of clothing.

Sadly, I don’t have room to address every one of Yellow’s aspects. I could talk about mustard, and Yellow journalism, and ‘yello?’ as a common greeting. But I just can’t, and I’m sure no one really wants to know that much anyway. Trivial knowledge is only so useful in a world where no one plays Trivial Pursuit anymore.

So I will close with this song, a happier rendition of this intrepid color.

Yellow

(Released by Coldplay in June 2000 in their first album. It’s really the song that shot them to the top of the charts and made them so well-known, especially here in the states.)

Lyrics[4]:

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah they were all yellow,

I came along
I wrote a song for you
And all the things you do
And it was called yellow

So then I took my turn
Oh all the things I’ve done
And it was all yellow

Your skin
Oh yeah your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
D’you know you know I love you so
You know I love you so

I swam across
I jumped across for you
Oh all the things you do
Cause you were all yellow

I drew a line
I drew a line for you
Oh what a thing to do
And it was all yellow…

OTTERMEI//

 

NB – I went back and found all the occasions where I wrote ‘yellow,’ and looked at the word for so long it started to seem foreign. Anyone ever do that? Say or read a word too much, until it seems just jibberish? I wonder why that is…I might do a post on this…

 

 


 

It was Sunday. A cool, breezy day in February, one filled with puffy clouds and birdsong. But not where we were. There, the only noises were the whoosh of cars on pavement and the claxon squeals of the occasional fire truck. It was getting late in the afternoon, and the sun was falling slowly down the blue canvas of sky. Surrounded by concrete and strollers inside the establishment, I sat awaiting my friend. While people-watching is generally a very enjoyable pastime of mine, that day it was so crowded my optic orbs could not focus, and kept leaping from wild hairdo to wilder pants and back again. It was sheer visual overload. So I stared at the plants mostly; a crazy mix of cacti and succulents, orchids and lilies.

At last my friend arrived, and we commenced the arduous process of navigating the throngs of people. Our main stop was Anthropologie. A decadent display of creative decorations and vibrant patterned clothes kept us circling dizzily through the store, until at last, we had to leave. It didn’t help that there too, it was a mass of shoppers. Elbows a-flying, the Sunday shopper is by far the most dangerous.

But make it out we did, and proceeded to have absolutely no clue as to what to do next. So, being the madly imaginative people we were, we decided to just wander around and see what stores caught our fancy.

I distinctly remember going in to Barney’s. The store just looked rich, and being young, impressionable and insecure, we decided to up our status by walking on sacred ground. There really was very little merchandise. I’ve seen more quantity in half the space, but that’s the whole idea. Too much square footage per article equals luxury. It was very quiet, with hardly any music; only the soft murmurs of the sales associates marred the calm. The furniture was exquisite, the architecture unique, the clothes…downright odd. One wonders who buys such stuff. Really.

After making our way out, it was again a tough decision on where to go next. Fortunately, or something like fortune anyway, we saw the Gucci store below us. My friend pointed out a very large man inside, mentioning that he looked like a guard. I don’t think I was paying attention.

After taking much longer than necessary to find the escalators, we headed down to the gilded front of Gucci and peered inside. It looked shiny, dark, and smelly to me.

We decided to brave it regardless of first impressions. As we made to go in, a man cut in front of us. I swear he was someone famous. He looked like a rapper, had total swag, was wearing sunglasses, and was dressed down to the nines. And…even more impressive, he hugged the security guard like an old friend and broo-hawed with all the workers. You must be famous to know the Gucci workers and the guard.

A little awestruck, we followed. We did not, however, hug the security guard. Rather, we almost ran for our life. Although perfectly mannered and polite, the seven-foot, black-suited dead ringer for Morpheus exuded the air of, “touch anything and you die.”

We walked hurriedly through the store, which turned out to be shiny, dark, and smelly. Also highly lacking in anything we would want to buy. Not that I was overly disappointed. The price range isn’t exactly suited for a college student. As we left, we scurried away from the piercing glare of the guard and his ominous last words, “Thanks ladies. Ya’ll have a nice day.”

It was a narrow escape, and we both breathed a mutual sigh of relief as we put distance between us and those shiny gold bars. Somehow, I don’t think Gucci will be high on our list of places to visit often.

OTTER