A Bold Bluff

My interpretation of this week’s SIA painting, “A Bold Bluff” by C.M. Coolidge, is pretty self-explanatory. I chose my sweater and my jacket for their textures and colors to mimic the colors and textures of the dogs’ furs, and my jeans and my scarf are to mimic the colors of the table, the walls and the drapes (even though my jeans are more purple-red than maroon.) Simple.

I did try to get my dogs to pose with me, but they were being less than cooperative. Isn’t that always the way? They’re constantly photobombing me whenever I try to get a “clean” shot, but the moment I want them in the photos with me, they suddenly become camera-shy. Well, not actually camera-shy, because one of them was really mugging for the camera. Like so:

Her poker face needs some work

Guess she just didn’t want to compete with me for the spotlight.

Don’t forget to check back on Wednesday for the full round-up of other outfits!

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Millennial Pink

Does anybody have tips on how to clean light-colored suede shoes? I love these sneakers, but they get so dingy so fast. They used to be pink, but now they’re faded to a dirty beige (trust me, it takes some Photoshop skills to get them to look presentable in the photos.) Suede cleaner is not readily available here, so I have tried every home remedy from baking soda and vinegar to rubbing alcohol, but nothing seems to work. Which is a shame, because I would love to wear these shoes more often.


Book Reviews: December 2017 – January 2018

I actually didn’t read any new books in January, I just reread Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (and rewatched the mini series) and The Ladies of Grace Adieu (by the same author), so here are the books I read in December:

Words on the Move by John McWhorter:

I’m always interested in linguistics and entymology, but there are so many books on the subject that I don’t know where to start. My friend Debbi actually recommended another book by John McWhorter (The Power of Babel), but I haven’t been able to find it, so I read this one instead. It’s about the development of English and basically why you shouldn’t make fun of people for saying “irregardless”, because a lot of words started out very different from what they are now. It looks into meanings, pronunciations, compound words, and grammar, to show how English have changed over the course of history. It’s very interesting, but I would still judge people who say “could care less” and “hold down the fort” though. 4/5

The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr:

This is the second book in the series that starts with The Alienist (which was just adapted into a mini-series with Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning), which revolves around a psychiatrist, Dr. Kreizler, and his friends – a reporter, a female private detective, and two police officers with some newfangled ideas about criminology – as they investigate crimes in fin de siècle New York. This one sees them investigating a kidnapping, which them to confront a dangerous and manipulative woman. I quite enjoyed the first one, but this, unfortunately, isn’t nearly as good. The crimes are not as horrifying as the serial murders in The Alienist (despite every attempt to sensationalize it), the antagonist is not as fascinating, and the pacing is very slow. The last 100 pages or so are OK, but the first 600 just drags. Plus, the writing has a tendency to replace “that” with “what” (as in, “It’s the cake what I want” instead of “It’s the cake that I want”) because the narrator is supposed to be working-class, which gets really annoying. 2/5

The Circle by Dave Eggers:

I’ve heard a few people saying that they decided to cut down on their online presence after reading this techno thriller, so I decided to give it a go. Well, after reading it, I have to say I don’t see what the big deal is. The story, which revolves around a young woman getting a job at a powerful tech company called The Circle and getting swept up in its plan for world domination, is supposed to be a cautionary tale about our dependence on technology and social media, but I just don’t buy it. For one thing, this company is so obviously sinister that I can’t believe people would be OK with any of its inventions. You would expect it to brainwash people gradually by convincing them of the small things first, right? Not here. In one of the early scenes, the company announces its plan to install tiny, undetectable cameras around the world and everybody just cheers like it’s the best thing in the world. WTF?

Two, the main character is a complete doormat. In stories like this, either she would start out a skeptic and end up getting brainwashed by the company, or she starts out as a believer and end up realizing the darker side of the company. But nope. She starts out thinking The Circle is the best and at the end (spoiler) still thinks it is the best. She doesn’t go through any changes, so the entire story is rendered pointless.

Now I know why the movie adaptation flopped so terribly despite a solid cast. It’s not their fault. The story just sucks. Do yourself a favor and just watch Black Mirror instead. 1/5

Anyway, that’s me. If you want to see more book reviews, check out my friend Mike’s blog.


SIA Inspiration: C.M. Coolidge

Erin was supposed to host this week’s SIA, but because of our schedules (she is busy next week and I’m busy the week I’m supposed to host), we’ve decided to switch places. For my pick, I wanted something featuring a dog, because the Lunar New Year is coming up and it’s the Year of the Dog. After some searching, I decided to pick the famously kitschy “A Bold Bluff” by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge:

This is one painting in a series collectively known as “Dogs Playing Poker” (though not all of them feature dogs playing poker), commissioned to advertise cigars. They’re often dismissed as kitsch art, but I find them so cute and delightful (my favorite is this one, its follow-up “Waterloo“, and “A Friend In Need“). You can see the entire series here and learn more about it here.

Anyway, there are a lot of colors and details here – red, green, brown, the texture of the dogs’ furs, the patterns of the cards, etc. So interpret them however you want, just remember to send me your photo by next Tuesday, February 6. Bonus point if you have a dog in the photo with you! I will see if I can make my dogs cooperate…


Menswear

It is unofficial Fun Socks Week here on 14 Shades of Grey (or is it official? I make the rules around here, don’t I?) Since I already posted two outfits with colorful/patterned socks, I decided to close out the week with another similar outfit. I’m a big fan of the “formal suit + fun socks” look on guys, so I thought I’d try it for myself. The result was… okay. I like each piece, but the proportion is all wrong. That’s why I opened the post with the photo with my dog, even though it’s technically an outtake – it hides how long the blazer is and how short my pants are. Plus I just like the photo 🙂


All About The Socks

I wasn’t feeling very sartorically creative these days, what with the busy schedule, the dreary weather, and an impromptu shopping ban (I wasn’t planning on having a shopping ban, I just haven’t gone shopping in so long), so here is a very basic outfit. I tried to jazz it up with a pair of colorful socks but I’m not sure it worked. My legs are too short to be broken up into three different sections like that. It looks a bit try-hard, doesn’t it?


Creative Colloquy

The first SIA inspiration of the year – the cover of the Pacific Northwest literary compilation Creative Colloquy, by tattoo artist Bismark Pinera – is a bit of a challenge for me. There are a lot of colors and graphic elements that I can’t faithfully recreate using what I have in my closet, so eventually, I just pulled out the most colorful pieces and put them together in a way that can represent the painting as best as I could. I’m not entirely happy with it – for one thing, my outfit is too dark compared to the painting – but I guess I’m just being a perfectionist.

Don’t forget to check Jen’s blog on Wednesday to see how everybody interprets this super cool painting!