Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hideous Facial Disfigurements

PeaceBang was on her way to dreamland but she got an EMERGENCY e-mail from a beautiful, talented and faithful reader about a BUMPY EYEBROW situation, and she had to write to her reader and then to post immediately!

PeaceBang is going to let you all in on a little secret: she is afflicted with a skin condition that flares up at the most inopportune moments. Christmas Eve, say, or when she's going to host a brunch for her Ex and his brand new, skinny and gorgeous wife.

This skin flare up is nothing more exotic than the same virus that gives most people cold sores around their mouth, only PeaceBang gets the blisters on either side of her NOSE, which is where the virus took up residence many, many years ago and re-afflicts her once every few months. The dermatologist thinks that repeated sunburning of that part of the skin over many years may have made it more susceptible to blistering, or maybe PeaceBang just plain made that up.

Anyway, out of her personal experience with Hideous Facial Disfigurement,* PeaceBang offers you,

How To Remain Poised and Polished Even When Hideously Facially Disfigured:

1. At the first signs of bumps and redness, ice. ICE, ICE, BABY. Ice is a winner. It's free, it's effective, it's nature's great remedy. Ice is your go-to first step for any inflammation.

2. Do not obsess about your hideous facial disfigurment. The truth is, no one really notices it very much.

3. Keep your hands very clean and keep them away from your face. Wash and make up your mug in the morning and LEAVE IT ALONE. The Hideous Facial Disfigurement that no one can really see will be totally invisible in a few days. Stop fussing with it and let it heal. Above all, no squeezing, poking, rubbing, itching or using masques on irritated skin. You'll just make matters worse.

4. Keep out of the sun, and if you have something even remotely contagious, use your own towels and don't kiss anyone or share food or utensils. Cold sores are contagious, dumplings. Watch pillow cases, too.

5. Aloe vera gel is a good topical ointment for lots of bumpy and irritated skin conditions. Abreve is also pretty good for cold sores, but they do just need to run their course and Hideously Disfigure you for a few days.

6. If you are male, there's no reason you can't experiment with a cover-stick the same color as your skin and keep it on hand for Hideous Disfigurements. Do NOT apply cover-sticks directly to skin: rub some on the back of your clean hand and use your finger to dab, dab, dab it directly on top of the Hideous Disfigurement. A small make-up brush is an excellent tool for this. Just be sure to wash it in gentle shampoo when you're done, rinse well and let air dry.

7. If you're a woman, do your face make-up as you usually do, then dab, dab, dab a lighter concealer (PeaceBang uses an excellent green correcting product by Eucerin when she's having an allergic reaction to something and is turning blotchy pink) over the Affliction.

8. Keep your make-up and brushes and hands clean. Whenever possible, buy products that do not require you to dip your little paws into them but are dispensed in some more hygenic manner, such as through a pump or squeeze bottle.

9. If your skin is prone to blotchy weirdness, invest in a pair of huge, glamorous sunglasses. Be very careful trying new products -- sometimes a reaction can occur over a few hours, or even the next day. Be gentle and slow if you have sensitive skin.

10. Remember that Jesus loved the lepers and he loves you, too even with your Hideous Facial Disfigurement.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Pink Over Sixty

Pink Over Sixty
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I'm not sure what's going on during this photo -- which I borrowed from the gals over at, with thanks -- but I have two serious fashion problems here that could too easily be committed by holiday-happy clergy or other professionals:

1. Attack of the froofy sleeves, and
2. Offensive misuse of the color pink.

SWEEThearts, it's mid-November! That pink would be SO much better in spring or summer (but maybe they're in L.A.?).

On the other hand, Oprah looks dyn-o-mite. Don't like the lip color, but how 'bout that outfit? She is, however, over-accessorized with the gold bangles. No need for those when your garments are so ornamental.

Remember, less is more. And when it comes to sleeves, only your Geneva gown should be sportin' flappers like those.


Guest Column: Skin Advice For The Menfolk

My exquisite and darling people,I offer you a guest column authored by Plip Plop the Chevre from the great country of Canada. He writes to you, gentlemen, as a man who also has skin.

A Guest Column By Plip Plop The Chevre

Cleanse every morning and night. There are lots of products out there for men now. Check your local drug store. Creamy liquid cleansers work the best without drying your skin. I like L’Oreal Men Expert “anti-dullness face wash.” Soap is generally a bad idea, especially if you shower or wash with a deodorant or antibacterial soap. But even some of those “facial bars” will dry out your skin.

Tone every morning and night. This is not just for girls. You will need cotton balls or pads. I use Neutrogena alcohol-free toner. Anthony Logistics for Men also has an alcohol-free one. Only use the ones labelled “astringent” if you have acne or really oily skin. After washing, wipe your face down with this stuff and then moisturize. You may want to tone during the day especially if you have oily skin and begin to “shine” by mid-afternoon. If you wear a robe or vestments for worship, this may be especially true, and you’ll want to remove excess oil.

Moisturize twice a day. Try to find a moisturizer with SPF 15, sunscreen that will block out those harmful damaging rays. There are lots of good ones out there for men nowadays, so shop around. Some of my favourites are Biotherm Homme and L’Oreal Men Expert and The Body Shop (thankfully, none of the men’s products at the Body Shop smell like tropical fruit). Neutrogena and Nivea also have excellent men’s skin care products. What you need will depend on your skin type and age. If you have oily skin, you might want to moisturize only once a day, after showering. Figure out whether you have dry, normal, oily, or sensitive skin and look for skin care products accordingly.

I’m not convinced that those special eye-area ones are so special, but ask PeaceBang about that. They promise to reduce wrinkles and expression lines and puffiness, but do they really? I suggest one of those cool eye-masks you keep in your fridge and strap on to your face. Reduces puffiness and bloodshot eyes all at once.

Shave properly. Use a SHARP razor in the direction of your beard’s growth (NOT against the grain) after a warm shower. You want to avoid ingrown hairs and weird bumps. If you’re shaving without showering, dampen a washcloth with hot water and set that on your jowls for a few minutes. Shave after cleansing and toning but before moisturizing. If you are of African ancestry, you may be especially prone to bumps and ingrown hairs. Try to select products with an aloe vera base, which acts as a natural antibacterial.

Most shave gels and creams seem the same to me. The thick luscious ones do the same thing as the cheap ones from the drugstore, namely, lubricate your skin, though they are supposed to do that better. Again, lathering up with soap is a bad idea, so if you’re all environmental and use a bar and brush, try to use some of the creamier ones or The Body Shop’s excellent shaving cream you can use with a brush (L’Occitane has a creamier, more expensive one). These generally last longer than the canned ones you send to the landfill when you’re done, mostly because some of the product stays in the brush.

Don’t use alcohol-based aftershaves. They will dry out your face. I use Cade after shave balm from L’Occitane, especially during the winter months. This stuff is expensive, but worth it. They have a more scented one called, of all things, L’Occitan. These both have shea butter as a key ingredient. Another good one is L’Oreal Men Expert anti-dryness after shave balm.

If you insist on having facial hair, you must trim it AT LEAST once a week. Invest in a pair of clippers or a beard trimmer. Your moustaches must never grow over your upper lip. Your beard must never crawl up your face or down your neck like some grotesque David Cronenberg spider monster. This means using a razor above and below the beard. You must be vigilant about food never getting stuck in there.

Also, make sure your eyebrow hairs are tame and presentable. If you will not make friends with a pair of tweezers because you’re just too damn butch, then make sure that your barber trims your eyebrows as well as the hair around and in your ears. Don’t be embarrassed. Ask him to do it. It’s his job.

Exfoliate once a week. Exfoliation removes the layer of dead skin from the surface of your face. Some of those apricot-pit ones are like sandpaper and will leave your face raw. But most of the girly ones don’t even scrub enough to make a difference. I suggest L’Oreal Men Expert “power buff” (like “powder puff,” but masculine!) anti-roughness exfoliator. [Peacebang here: Be careful with exfoliants if you have ruddy skin! Yes, you should exfoliate, but scrubbing with a "butch" product is not necessarily the best idea for all male skins. Shop around carefully and keep receipts. You can return products if they're all wrong for you. Or visit a specialty store like the Body Shop and ask for advice].

For those blackheads embedded in the huge pores on the nose, PeaceBang suggested I use a clay mask and I must concur. I use Noxema Continuous Clean deep cleansing mask with bentonite clay. Look for any with a clay base. Anthony Logistics for Men has a “deep pore cleansing” one that’s pretty good.

Try to keep the sun off your face. If you are a white person and need to have that tanned look, get a tan that comes in a bottle. Neutrogena has some good ones for the face, in different shades. The Body Shop has one called “Fake It,” but make sure you get the one for the face, which is less oily than the body one.

Two final words of advice: make sure you are drinking enough water, eight to ten 12 oz glasses a day. This will help keep your skin clear. And if you are a smoker, quit smoking.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tie One On!

There's a neat site called The Tie Bar for really nice-looking, super inexpensive ties.
Check it out, menfolk and tie fans:
I didn't look at any category but "traditional," but I'm sure their other categories feature some good options.

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MM-mmm, Those Microfiber Blazers Look GOOD

Jos. A. Banks is having a sale!!

Run, run! These are more than half off, and they have that soft sued-y feel that's snappy but not corporate:

jos a banks

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Ho Ho Ho, I Swear!!

holiday top
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

Fasten your seatbelts, everyone -- 'cause ready or not, we're skidding into the holidays!

Let PeaceBang help you avoid some common holiday season pitfalls.

The holidays are about thanking God for abundance, for celebrating the birth of Christ, the return of the Sun, the light that would not go out, the affirmation of community values, and... did I forget one?
Oh yes, the permission to drink champagne and make-out with a good looking stranger at midnight. Praise the Lord!!

Seriously, though, this is one time of year that we must really stand apart and model a more sane, sober presence, health, groundedness, peacefulness and good will. Lots of folks are going to get terribly depressed trying to meet all the expectations of the holidays: how are they going to feel coming to you if you're wearing a huge blinking Santa tie and plush reindeer ears in a show of seasonal jollity? The answer is, they're probably not. Who wants to sit in a chair and confide their spiritual pain to someone with huge Christmas tree decorations dangling from her earlobes?

We're talked about the horrible cutesie holiday-themed wear you shouldn't get anywhere near. Let's talk about other holiday pitfalls, fashion and other-wise:

(1) Dress like you always do, only better.

Just because it's the holidays doesn't mean you can appear at parties sporting monster cleavage or super-vampy footwear. PeaceBang is all in favor of cleavage and vampy footwear, but not at congregational gatherings. Stick to beautiful, tailored items: a velvet blazer with a nice pair of trousers or a skirt for Rev. Suzy, a lovely red sweater and tie for Pastor Biff. Winter white can be beautiful and suggest purity at a very cluttered time of year: check it out.

Ladies, no glittery hose or really short skirts. Think understated elegance. On the other hand, do spruce up. That shapeless, long, tan corduroy skirt is not party wear, not even with a snowman sweater (which you should give away immediately).

Men, unless you're tending the bar at a party or passing out appetizers, there should be nothing like this:

christmas elf

(2) They're At a Party, You're Making a Pastoral Call

Women, your best bet for the holidays may be simply to add a beautiful, snazzy shell under your favorite dark suit. Throw on a huge decorative pin, a pair of heels, a nice bright lipstick (nothing pink or coral) and you're good to go. You can wear it all season to everything: people understand that you're in constant attendance at events throughout the holidays. Don't feel you have to have a new dress for each occasion. A suit says much better than a dress, "I'm here at this party but this is still a professional appearance for me, so don't keep refilling my glass."

(3) Don't Skid Out

Speaking of which, drunkeness is ugly, sweet pertaters. Don't use the holidays as permission to get drunk (or even dangerously tipsy) with any church-related persons. Stick with the unspiked eggnog and prepare to smile tolerantly at the humiliating antics that may be going on around you. You're lucky to have been invited. Be gracious, keep conversations short (you surely don't want to collect boozy confessions, do you?), and leave as early as you can get away with. Then go drink spiked eggnog with your personal friends. All you want. Just make they're prepared to have you spend the night.

(4) Keep Your Diet To Yourself

Think twice before telling people that you do not want sweet treats as a gift. Remember what Jesus said about parading your virtue around in public. PeaceBang once asked her congregation not to contribute to the amplification of her waistline around the holidays, but they just kept doing it. What PeaceBang learned is that people love to give yummy gifts, and the only gracious response is to thank them for it, and either eat it or share it. That plate of cookies can go right over to your spiritual director's office with a fresh bow on it, and that's what I call a win-win situation!

(5) Stick With Your Best Basics, And Visit Your Dry Cleaner Often

You're going to be on the run from just about now through January. Get everything cleaned and pressed and organize your closet today, before it all really hits. Line up your snow boots, shine up a pair of nice shoes and take them to the office so you don't have to preach in duck boots, and stock up on clean hankies. You do not want to be sewing buttons on the morning of Christmas Eve services -- do it all now. Check your socks and pantyhose supply, and make sure the lint roller is handy. Put a roll of breath mints in your bag, your car and your desk, and take your vestments to the cleaners.

This is not the season to agonize about accessories. You don't have time. Try on a few outfits, make sure they fit and are presentable, and rotate them.


Gents: Be Careful With the Bangs!

SisterBang just forwarded me some photos of our adorable baby nephews who are cuter than ever, except for their incredibly dorky haircuts which make them look like two tiny Franciscan monks. I wrote to my sis, "Good God! Who does their hair, Thich Nhat Hanh?"

Granted, they're only one year old and three, but that overly-short, chopped bangs thing can happen at any age, so fellas, let's be careful out there.
I went to a lecture not long ago given by a handsome guy who had a serious bowl-cut with bangs, and I just have to say it gave him a very strange look, as though he was an adult man body walking around with a sixth grade head.

But while we're on the subject,
Can I ask about ears?

Why are men getting their hair cut in big wide circles around their EARS?
What is that about?

I love men's ears. I support men's ears and the men who have them. Up with ears, I say. The thing is, clean-cutting around the ear is weird and disconcerting. I think, "Why am I seeing pink skin here? Are you having surgery? Are you scheduled for a morning lobotomy or something? Should I be concerned?"

So let it be said that PeaceBang is a fan of the subtle side burn and a little bit of hair around the ears.

While we're on the subject of clean cutting, fellas, I'm seeing FOOD IN BEARDS at collegial gatherings. I am seeing UNTRIMMED GOATEES. I am seeing SIDES OF 'STACHES THAT DRIP INTO MOUTHS.

And you know what PeaceBang has to say about that. Gentlemen, start your Norelco trimmers!

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Dolce & Gabbana & Over-Sharing

Men, D&G makes a kind of yummy eau de toilette for men, but it's a little bit sweet and perfumey for most of you, I'm guessing.

For my money, you can't get sexier than Gucci Pour Homme. I BEGGED the last man I dated to wear it, but he refused. This caused a really serious fight because I figured if *I* was willing to wear precariously high heels for him, he could jolly well smell delicious for me. My old high school boyfriend Rob wears Gucci Pour Homme and it makes me have to try very hard not to crawl all over him -- something he finds extremely entertaining because he's now very gay -- and he got me a sample.
All I wanted to do was spritz some on my b.f., was that SO WRONG?!!? I ASK YOU?

Well, that was years ago and he was a first-class [unmentionable Yiddish term] in the first place, but I DIGRESS.

Boys, do at least consider fragrance in your life. And if you haven't updated for twenty years, now's the time. You should definitely not be wearing Polo any more, or Grey Flannel* and you shouldn't be smelling like Old Spice if you're under 65, and that goes for Aramis, too.

Don't wear things that smell like fruit. That's just silly. If you want to smell like fruit just rub a ripe banana behind your ear.

PeaceBang happens to think that men's cologne, when worn subtly enough that a person can only definitely smell it if they're very close to you, is terrific. It's just that little bit of grooming detail that separates the thrown-together dudes from the more carefully put-together dudes. It's a very personal thing, I know, but I have to put my vote in for smelling yumby whether you're a guy or a gal or beyond gender.

* There's nothing inherently wrong with Grey Flannel except that it reminds me of an icky man I dated in Chicago who I STILL think stole my CD of the Original Cast Recoding of "Pippin." He also wore tight acrylic sweaters with no shirt underneath and sort of pointy gray leather dance-type shoes, so the Grey Flannel was just one fashion crime among many.

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Snazzy Little Theologians

kicky oxfords
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

Are you going to the AAR meeting in a few weeks? (That's the American Academy of Religion for you unchurchy types)

If so, don't get these shoes from Payless, 'cause L'il Flava bought them and she doesn't want any imitators. If she sees you in these shoes you will have to have a DANCE-OFF to see who is the theologian most worthy to rock the kicky oxfords. And I'm sorry, but you'd lose.

Next year, invite PeaceBang to do a lecture, how 'bout? AAR organizers, are you listening?


Payless Has Hot Boots, Who Knew?

hot boots
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
Hot boots, no?

Fake, though, so your feet will sweat. But for under $25 from the Payless web site, amigas, no problem!

Muy caliente!


Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Unstructured Jacket, Triumphant

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
You know why this TOTALLY works for this fabulous, vibrant babe of a lay minister?

Because she has the vavoom, the charisma, the huge hair and the huge smile to balance all that fabric. As an African-American woman, she has an ethnic connection to this look. She and that jacket BELONG together. Wouldn't you just want to come up to her and plop yourself down next to her and confide every deep, dark secret of your heart to her? So would I. The thing is, she works for Sacred Places, whose mission is to "promote the stewardship and active community use of America's older religious properties," so she's not that kind of minister. Still, though, that jacket inspires confidence!


Too many female clerics don the flowy, unstructured jacket and they just don't have the Endora Majesty (a term I just coined, and feel free to use it!) to move elegantly and commandingly through the world in such garments. On them, it just looks like they're too heavy to wear an actual structured outfit, and that they lack the confidence or know-how to dress professionally.

Could this be you? Have you been stuck in the Mother Earth Flowy Look for too long, relying on huge cotton garments to say to the world, "I am a Deeply Spiritual Woman?" If so, PeaceBang has hard news for you, so let's hold hands and hear it: Big, loose clothes do not communicate "spiritual" so much as they communicate "big, loose clothes." Try on a jacket and a pair of trousers, and see how it changes your outlook and challenges your assumptions about how to project the appropriate image.

Let me know how it goes!!


Ankle Boots

There is a huge fashion trend right now about wearing ankle boots with skirts.

If you have miles-long legs and can get away with this, please send in photographic evidence. PeaceBang is totally incredulous. She believes that even the models wearing this look in the magazines have been photoshopped to add an extra foot to their already-long legs. And frankly, PeaceBang *still* doesn't think this is a professionally appropriate style.

For those of us with average legs, and with an extra pound or two on them: AVOID ANKLE BOOTS WITH KNEE-LENGTH SKIRTS AT ALL COSTS. Boots with knee-length skirts should smoothly cover the calf. If there are a few inches of flesh showing between boot and skirt, that flesh should not be bulging out of the boot top.

Ankle boots with pants are just dandy.