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Saturday 29 April 2017

Love-hate photos. What is perfection anyway?

I think, if only I could only get that one perfect photo, I'd never have to take another one. The same goes for thrifting and the perfect outfit. Hahaha, there's as much chance of that happening as me becoming a bikini-clad camel jockey in Qatar. Complicating matters is that my "Stunning!" today often turns into "Vile!" tomorrow, and vice versa.

Photos are static and I am not, so the wild swings are normal-ish. In the end, even knowing the impossible odds of nailing perfection, the pursuit keeps me going; I'll never give up. The alternative is ghastly! Maybe I should buy a bikini just in case. Heh.

These look like mug shots. Yes, they border on criminal, but sometimes I like that.

Below are photos you haven't seen, that were loathed or loved or simply bumped in favour of shots I thought I liked more. Unlike most of my photos, I was lucky to have these taken by friends.

Shelley took this first specimen during a hilarious shoot together when she visited Vancouver last May. I look like a creature. That's why I love it now; that's why I didn't before

Here, I've cropped the original, pumped the levels, and added sharpening to make the photo pop. One of the shots I took of Shelley ended up with well over a million views(!) on the blog "Warning: Curves Ahead," under the title, "24 Things Women over 30 Should Wear (whatever the f*ck they want)," here. Cool, right? 

Creature from the Plasma Lagoon. Hungry for flies. Silk blouse from Thorne Garnet.

Then in January, I needed some high-res photos for a magazine PDQ!! A magazine?!! Freak-out time - especially since about a year's worth of my photos were zapped in the Big Crash of 2015 (hard drive). I grabbed the Bat Phone: "Sandra, HEEEELP!!" Luckily, she was able to step in as my photographer. I stuffed a few outfits into garbage bags and we hit the streets running, just like old times when we style parkoured Snakes and Ladders-style around town.

We got this photo at the Four Seasons Hotel, which we love for its elegant decor, napping potential, fine restrooms, and fantastic bar/restaurant Yew, where we often decamp for debriefing like true professionals. The trouble is the relatively dim lighting, which requires photographic CPR. (FYI, I never alter my face, body or clothing.)

Too much posing! I am all tuckered out. Do you think there's room to stretch out on the couch?

I'll call this next photo, "Woman in Fabric." It's almost exactly as it was taken, no farking, and it's loooovely. So why don't I love it? Sheesh, who wants relaxed and happy when you're wearing an Avengers uniform?! If I switched this jumpsuit for jeans, would you even notice? Entirely unacceptable.

The groove factor of a vintage, low-slung belted, siren-red one-piece demands a life of danger, evil headquarters in volcanoes, smudged lipstick on snifters, hovercrafts, the gait of a prowling panther, maybe a pink one. Do you see any of that here? Nunh. This is a bit better.

My face says: Let's go have a picnic in a meadow. My head says: Stop, hand over the secret formula! 

I love this next one: "Next Season's Hottest 'It' Bags." Hahaha. The loud clash of the suit with the garbage bags and the monster truck on my formal farked tux shirt led to this low-watt lightbulb moment. Would the magazine like it? Hahaha. But it fit well in our don't-give-a-feck plan.

Taking photos of grand architecture like this - Sandra did a stellar job of framing - is almost impossible with a tripod on a fairly busy block when you need space between the camera and subject. Sandra, on the other hand, expertly dodged and ducked passersby. And her feedback helped immeasurably; all day we exchanged very productive dialogue: "Hahaha." "Hahaha."

The season's hottest "it" bags put those cheesy expanding handbag infomercials to shame. 

Another Four Seasons photo, farked within an inch of its life - "We have a pulse!" My upcycled outfit is somewhat hectic and the colours/patterns in this setting are a settling la-ti-da complement. In terms of photo farking, I chose a relatively flat effect to enhance the abstraction. If we had proper lighting, I could have achieved this look with less finagling and grain. But I like it like this - would the magazine? Yes, VOGOFF would love it.

Another one that wasn't a contender. But check out those golden arches!

Below, testing the camera settings. This is another magnificent downtown doorway, the Marine Building, with me standing in the way. See all the little marine creatures in the decorative metalwork? Clearly, we started the day off on the right foot. We also switched camera duties once in a while so Sandra could build up her photo stash too. Her Instagram is here.

On my way to fire up another meeting of the Executive Boreds 

And I can't close without including a photo of Sandra. I love this photo and I love what she was wearing too: a kilty skirt thing, inside-out tux jacket, and designer over-the-knee boots. She scouted out this pedestal as a location. So perfect. Dressing the part of a high-fashion art photographer, she was treated as one by everyone who crossed our path.

Ironically, in the end the magazine didn't even choose any of our mad dash-about day photos. !!! They (Marie Claire Brazil) went with one of my old tripod ones, here, which by chance I still had in high-res, squirreled away on cloud storage, safe from the Big Crash.

It's funny but the Crash was really no big deal - who thinks they'll ever need their old blog photos again, right? Gaaaa! But I try now to take original photos in higher res and back up everything regularly for these just-in-case, freak-out situations, although a mad dash-about is always worth a good debriefing afterwards. Hiccup.

I'll link something here up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style and her famous "Visible Monday," and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb and her #iwillwearwhatilike linkup. She's still basking in (and recovering from) her big win. Excellent!!

Our spring has half-sprung. Kind of. I hope you are all 
doing what you do best and loving it!!! xoxo

Saturday 22 April 2017

Monochrome with quirk, and ACTION!

The sun was blazing at 14C (57.2F) when I prepared to go for my inspiration walk. So what did I wear to celebrate? An austere black and white outfit. Hahaha!! Plus thick black tights and brown lace-up booties. I must be damaged - although I quite liked this.

Me: "Good morning, Madam. I'm applying for either of your posted positions: unsmiling high-fashion snob or strict matron of all sorts. I excel at the stupefaction pose and thrashings with gluten-free wet noodles." 

Vintage designer Pancaldi & B silk skirt, made in Italy.
I had to restitch the hem before I went out. It took forever!

Are you alarmed by this dour presentation? At least I've unwittingly maintained a semblance of quirk by mitten-clipping my collar into an erect position and carrying my favourite toolbox handbag, a gift from my partner O. We have the ideal relationship - he takes the tool; I take the case.
[Edit: A mitten clip is a band of elastic the size of a bandaid with a suspender (braces) clip at each end, one to clip to the mitten, one to the coat sleeve, although I use them for many applications. See here. Mine are a bit different.]
I've had strangers ask me if I carry poker chips in there. Or a gun. Well, the only chips you'd find would be BBQ or Sriracha, although I'd have to crush the bag to fit it in the case. I sometimes crushed chips as a child reasoning that it would prolong the chip-eating experience. It did - although it made for particularly crunchy sleeping bags during camp-outs with girlfriends in the backyard. Chips were special - seldom allowed in my home - and each crumb had to count.

I've done no gun-packing with this case (illegal in Canada), but I have elastics in there, which in the hands of O are pretty lethal for flies and mosquitoes when he employs his rapid-fire shooting technique. I have witnessed the carnage first-hand.

There's no question that I'd rather project the image of a gambler or hit woman than a fashion elite or humourless matron. I don't think I've ever met a hit man, although if I had I think the key would be not to know it. I saw a bloody gangster type once in Emergency, surrounded by police, waiting to have the tazer barb removed from his chest. He kept flirting with me, yelling, "Hey, blondie." I still wouldn't have answered if he yelled, "Hey, greylie." It was a surreal experience.

And the vintage graphic, double-breasted coat above really elevated the look too. It was a gift from my Fairy Thrift Sister Su. She's amazing. The coat is amazing!! Always my thanks fly out to her when I wear this. The lining is silky bright red.

A closeup of the toolbox handbag. What's inside? Let's have a look: my red journal/sketch book, reading glasses, special ceramic-tip roller-ball pen, change purse, face mask, three tissue packs, bandaids and crumpled wrappers, a whack-ton of safety pins (I've been looking for those!), a wood coffee stir stick that O sketched on, and old receipts. There are elastics in there too.

In other news...

I've made another video, an introduction to my YouTube channel, BagandaBeret. With 40(!) videos now I figured it was time for some tiny effort, so I created a header image and About section (there's a new fact in there about me). Now, in theory, new visitors and non-subscribers will see this video as the channel welcome.

People say video is the future. I'm not convinced with regards to bloggers, but I feel ready if it is.


This assemblage of clips conveys the Bag and a Beret flavour, not BBQ - maybe Fully Dressed with a touch of Dill Pickle? I welcome all new subscribers of course! (Fully Dressed and Dill Pickle are chip flavours) [Edit: I just changed the video to make it shorter.]
I love making videos and asking friends to join in. In the one I did with Shelley, she came up with the choreography, heh; another was based on a blog post by Suzanne, and another on a story idea she had. Everyone involved chips in with good ideas, acting, and/or filming: Sue, Sheila, L, Vancouver many of you, and I tease out something coherent in the end, or try to. Of course it all started with Sandra of Standard Deviations and our style parkouring around the city some years ago.

Probably what I like most is producing, directing, and editing, if it can be called that at this stage. I'm comfortable "acting" when it's a friend or Dick (my tripod) behind the lens, but the greatest challenge is setting up and filming scenes on the fly, in public, ultra-quick, almost like guerrilla film-making, and then marrying them with my vision of how the finished piece should look/feel. It's raw and real, like VOGOFF magazine, a reaction to the highly-slick, highly-funded, highly-controlled, highly-manipulative advertising shoved in our faces every day. I'm grateful to have friends who help me play in this medium. Thank you!

Now I'm exhausted. Did you notice my hair? Slightly pouffed up on top with sculpted bangs and wisps on the side. I like it. And my almost-black Poe lipstick.

That's all for this week.

Naturally I'll link up to party-gal Patti at Visible Monday on her blog Not Dead Yet Style and Catherine at #iwillwearwhatilike on her blog Not Dressed as Lamb. And congrats to Catherine for her big UK Blogger of the Year Award. Three cheers for over-40 bloggers!

Have you ever made videos? Moving images with sound have opened up new realms of creative expression - I sense an immediate connection with the grassroots enthusiasm that comes from bloggers, especially women over 40. Do you believe that videos are the future? Thoughts?

PS. I didn't get a callback to the audition, as expected, but I'm raring to go to another audition next year. Hahaha!! Thank you all for your best wishes on that though.

Saturday 15 April 2017

Quick, put Hollywood on speed dial!

Remember when a casting agency invited me to audition for a high-falutin' TV commercial last spring? For a luxury Volvo SUV? Scared witless, I went. I was supposed to channel a rich, sophisticated mother-of-the-bride, think pensive Tilda Swinton without the edge. Instead, I squeaked. I did. Like an excited Chihuahua. Don't ask me how it happened.

When it was my turn to "drive" the SUV, I see-sawed the toy plastic steering wheel back and forth the way a toddler pretends to drive, somehow misinterpreting the words "Hamptons" and "wedding" as "Twister Part 2" where I'm driving through a house blowing across the road. Read more about it HERE.


I was given a round of applause as I exited the audition room. Good riddance? Or thanks for the entertainment. Hahaha! Whatever it was, I'm sure my ego's nine lives are into negative numbers now.

I emailed the casting agency to apologize for squeaking, and in their reply they insisted how, no, you were great - a nice line, well delivered, it's their job. I expected never to hear from them again. (By the way, that finished ad is HERE. If only I could have seen it before my audition I know I would have done better. My lost part is near the end of the clip.)

Well, the casting agency called again yesterday. !!! (last Monday)

For an audition today (Tuesday). Bwahahaha!! Almost a year since the last audition. Quick, speed-dial Hollywood!

And guess what? I went.



And guess what? I didn't SUCK!!!! Okay, well, maybe a little, but not NEARLY as bad as I did the first time. It helped that this ad had a David Lynch vibe, more up my alley, although that's not supposed to matter, right? I spent the evening before springing my lines loudly and suddenly upon my unwary partner O. Poor man.


I was told to dress as myself, although the agency also referenced "fashionista," "Wintour," and "expert" in her guidance. I cocooned myself in colour and elevated my spirits with Miu Miu heels and hair so towering I swear I was picking up satellite signals. And while I walk whenever I can, I drove to this audition, and in doing so experienced the unusual yet pleasing sensation of my hair brushing lightly on the roof of my car.


Upon arrival I did my best to blend in. "Oh yes, hey, just another actor here. Totally, totally profesh. That's me." But I was certain that at any moment everyone would stand up in unison and point, and with huge gaping mouths make creepy loud rasping sounds like in that movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the 1978 version with Donald Sutherland - so good (HERE). They didn't.

At my first audition, the holding room was deathly quiet and lined with tight rows of impossibly handsome young men in suits. As I clicked past them in my dress and heels, I felt like the mother come to tend her children in the 1960 movie Village of the Damned (clip HERE). (All these horror movie references. Hahaha!) The group this time at least included a few chatty men and women of all ages, and kids. Naturally, a touch of chaos always takes the edge off.


I can't tell you the details of the ad of course, except to say it was for a food item, and filming will take place over several days in Toronto. I didn't buy an imaginary Beverly Hills mansion online beforehand either; I learned from before that flipping fake real estate is a no-win situation. And while I'm certain I won't get a call-back, I tell you, I feel great! I threw my hat back in the ring, I clambered back onto my high horse, I tried tried again. I'm sure there's a profound LIFE LESSON here, a sacral spiritual yoga mind stretch. Ow!


Afterwards, it was clearly time for a self-reward. I still had time on my parking meter and remembered with happy alarm that there was a thrift shop in the neighbourhood. Oblivious to the cold, pelting rain and high winds, I stumble-floated my way there. And...JACKPOT! My usual food rewards, like cheesecake, hot buttered rolls, chocolate and/or cookies, often just end up on my hips, but the "Buy 4 blouses, get one free!" deal really hit my sweet spot. So much for my closet shake-down. Gaaaa!!!

And what did I wear? Outfit 4, the Mozart jacket. It looks better on than it does on the dummy. The items in Outfit 2 with the floral jacket are three of the five self-reward items I bought at the thrift shop - the tie was a gift.

A strange week in the best way. I suppose I'll link something up with Patti and Catherine at Visible Monday (Not Dead Yet Style blog) and #iwillwearwhatilike (Not Dressed as Lamb blog). I'll also link up to Catherine's #SaturdayShareLinkUp.

Have you given yourself any self-rewards lately. If not, get on it!!! Hahaha.

And a little postscript: THIS is what I'm listening to to take me off this screwed up planet for a while. To relaaaaax, to dream. I took that photo today, Friday.

Saturday 8 April 2017

Space bag showdown

Oh yes, everything looks fine, doesn't it - a sunshine-golden top, a lurex dress under that. "Gee-willikers, what a wonderful day, tra-la-la!" But HA! Look closer. What's that partial second "me" on the left side of the frame? This is what happens when you enter the Space Bag Zone, SBZ; Greenwich Mean Time meets Mel's Mean Times, when the mere mention of  Marie Kondo's The Life-changing Magic of Cleaning Up makes me want to gargle with Windex, wear plain dresses hand-sewn by the Dalai Lama - and drink the vegan blue Kool-Aid. 

Frolicking in the alley in the Space Bag Zone (SBZ) a day ago

Switching to SBZ always triggers my seasonal closet affective reorder, where I pod-up my winter duds to make way for the spring-summers. The clothes shown below await sorting and possible transition on E Deck, while the transport ship and crew (that would be me) go through final checks.
  • Vacuum cleaner with mega extension hose-power and reloadable hepa cartridge? Check. 
  • Backup plastic cocoons (aka Ziplock Space Bags - unpaid non-endorsement of love-hate product that has averted global takeovers by my closet)? Check. 
  • Smelling salts? No fecking way. Get real.
  • Chocolate? Check. 
  • Hip flask? Check. 

I told O that if I weren't back in 24-hours to call Scully and Mulder (from the show X-Files). There was no telling what would conspire in the space pod colony deep in the cold, silent bowels of my building.

I descended, wheeling my cute vacuum cleaner defensively in front of me ready to "TAKE THEM OUT!!" When I reached the vault, with a steady hand and steely gaze, I unbolted the door and FLUNG IT OPEN!

!!! !!! !!!

From their plastic-cocooned darkness, my clothing blinked, then leered. Somehow during incubation they had sparked into consciousness! "IT'S ALIVE!!!" is what Gene Wilder screamed in Young Frankenstein. I screamed, "I'M GONNA NEED A BIGGER HOSE!" Suddenly, I felt like I was falling, falling...wearing a fabulous vintage maxi. Yeeeeah!

Those are parts of two of my many huge paintings

Toxic alien vapours quickly dulled all thought, motivation, and action. I'd have to be sure the government doesn't get its hands on this. Think of the chaos! But wait, maybe it already has. That would explain so much! I can see now that the symptoms of toxic alien vapours have been exhibited on my blog before. Don't be alarmed.

Somehow, I don't know how, maybe by drawing strength from a lifetime of make-or-break thrifting, hours later I resurfaced, dazed but still standing. It's a fog what really happened. I just knew from the forensic analysis of chocolate spatter on my face and arms and the empty flask that there had been some nasty business.

Gasping, I told O not to worry, that I was back with my body/mind stats as normal as ever. He rolled his eyes and went back to what he was doing. His stoicism is truly remarkable.

These spanglers on Z Deck tried to escape. Sorry, sorry, Paillette, no one, NO ONE escapes on my watch! I'm still not done down there. Not by far. But I am prepared to fight another day.

Fitting the Space Bag Zone theme, I have decided to share this video.

O scratch-built this robot several years ago based on a beloved Japanese robot in the '60s, Thunderboy, which was licensed from an American model robot called Robot Commando. I made the video - it's one of the very first ones I ever did - but O did the flying saucer. Heh.

And below, something I wore a few days ago - after all, this is also a style blog. Heh. As all of you know well, I am not perfect: "do I look like a frickin' role model?" I wore this black maxi tank dress over a black turtleneck. That's my silky skirt on top of it all. On my feet I wore combat boots. And there's my magic loupe, a gift made by O.

That's all. Whew. This week has been just about me - no meetups, no events, nothing else - although I did update my street style blog, Culture Serf, after running into an incredibly talented sewing friend at the fabric store, Dressew. 

I'll link up to Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for her Visible Monday and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for her linkup, #iwillwearwhatilike. Maybe I'll see you there.

Got any battles stories you'd care to share? Do you do the seasonal wardrobe switcheroo? What aids do you use to get through it?

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