Things to beguile the charmless (Part 4: final)

Sunday 4 December 2011, 12.00pm HKT

(Continued from Part 3)

Updated 2011/12/04 for corrected typos. (You’re fired. — Editor)

IT IS SAID that charming people need no ‘extraordinary assistance’ from the likes of charms.

But for those whose charm and luck tend to be variable and usually considerably less than 100% on a daily basis, charms provide that necessary and requisite illusion of assistance.

Disclaimer: I have no association with any of the firms mentioned, so it’s not some kind of sneaky commercial plug for them. So there.

* * *

The Naked Listener’s own lineup

Honestly, I’d love to show you a picture of my charm bracelet, but I haven’t been dealing with it for quite some years now and can’t remember where I stashed it.

(Well, actually, I think I do know, but might be a bit of a chore to get it out from the bottom drawer.)

What I have now

  1. an angel (for Los Angeles)
  2. a stylised exploding grenade (for my regiment)
  3. a silver heart with a Manx cross (can’t remember what for)
  4. a merlion (for my first-ever trip away: to Singapore)
  5. moneybag (for Hong Kong, my birthplace: see photo below)
  6. turtle (for my first pet)
  7. five Chilean skull beads (for printing work: hard to explain why)
  8. a jade rabbit (to represent my rabbit-like feet)
  9. a set of red, white and blue trollbeads

I promise to show you a picture when I get round to it.

My beloved moneybag charm, goldplated solid sterling silver, nearly a full inch (25mm) in length, representing the money and the goddamn bag of tricks of Hong Kong, where I was born.

This charm was easier to do a photoshoot on: it’s kept in a Grether’s Pastilles tin next to my seat.

(Wonderful, so every potential burglar round the world knows this too now.)

(via VfG Versandapotheke of Austria)

Funny thing, though, every person I know who owns a charm bracelet usually keep it in a Grether’s Pastille tin. There, another epic tip for potential burglars. *Groan*

♥ ♥ ♥

Looking for

(in alphabetical order)

BTW, carat (ct) is for diamonds and gems, but karat (kt) for gold. Don’t get this wrong, as many jewellers keep doing.

A brain, to represent my birdbrain mind.

(Above: US$79.95 from Pnut Jewelry.)

A cruiseliner, for the S.S. President Lincoln on which we sailed away from the USA in 1971. I still remember quizzing the ship’s chief medical officer whether he was able to see what I was thinking. Sailing right across the Pacific Ocean, the trip had been one of the happiest and saddest times of my life.

Above: Cruiseliner, 9kt solid gold, 1.6 g, 26×7mm, £82.42, from Inspirations in Gold.
Below: Galleon, 9kt solid gold, 2.7 g, 17×18mm, £122.54, from same.

Alternative? A galleon

The S.S. President Lincoln was built in 1961 for American President Lines and served in commercial trades for her entire service life before being turned over to the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) in 1979 and placed into the U.S. Navy’s Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF).

Under government ownership, she was renamed S.S. Lincoln and relocated to Suisun Bay in northern California where she sat for 31 years awaiting a call-up for service in case of national emergency.

She was towed to BAE Systems drydock around 2009 and a hull inspection found her hull below the waterline to be perilously unsound.

She was finally sold for scrapping and removed from the RRF in April 2011. The S.S. Lincoln was undocked from BAE Systems drydock on 5th May 2011 and hastily towed to Mare Island, about 23 miles (37 km) northeast of San Francisco, immediately drydocked and readied for scrapping.

>> What a complete goddamn waste of a brilliant ship. <<

An ear, to represent this blog.

(Picture unrelated | via)

A giraffe, to represent my birthyear. (Hey, I go by a different system. Just sayin’…)

Left: Giraffe, 9kt solid gold, 1.8 g, 18×15mm, £90.83, from Inspirations in Gold.
Right: Giraffe, sterling silver, 1.5 g, ¾×½in, US$19.95, from Africa 7 Hills Mall.

A goldfish (or koi), for Mum. Too hard to explain.

Fish in 9kt solid gold, 2.5 g, 25×11mm, £135.49. Silver version £14.21, from Inspirations in Gold.

The Ankh, the symbol of life, for my first love, which was archaeology/Egyptology, before biology, psychology, law and every damn thing got in the way. I’m game for anything ancient Egyptian.

Hieroglyphic Ankh charm/pendant, sterling silver, US$21.99, from The Mystic Corner.

A hamster or some sort of rodent. For my second pet.

An extremely rare, extremely collectable vintage sterling silver charm of a hamster in a wheel. Wheel turns and the silver gilt hamster moves around inside. Excellent vintage condition, 5.2 g, 19×17mm, £68, from True Vintage Jewellery UK.

Queen Nefertiti of ancient Egypt (according to the  3,300-year-old Nefertiti bust currently in the Neues Museum in Berlin) was the spitting image (exact likeness) of my maternal grandmother, daughter of the last penultimate Imperial Scholar to the Court of the Celestial Empire of China.

Nefertiti charm, sterling silver, satin and diamond cut with filigree crown, satin and slightly hollowed backside, 1.6 g, 17×18×2mm, US$28.95, from Africa 7 Hills Mall.

Nefertiti charm, double-sided, 9kt gold, 18×40mm, made in Italy, £89, from

♥ ♥ ♥

For places lived

For Brazil (sun), England (rose/teabag) and France (cockrell).

Sun, antiqued silver, 10mm, handmade by Beth Hemmila of Reno, Nevada, USA.
Tudor rose of York, sterling silver, US$22, via
Teabag, sterling silver, 4.2 g, 23×11mm, £14.50, from The Charm Works.
Cockrell, 9kt solid gold, 2.1 g, 16×11mm, £93, from Inspirations in Gold.

For Italy (boot/harlequin), Hawaii (surfboard) and Japan (torii 鳥居).

Riding boot, 10kt gold, 16mm, US$120 via Amazon.
Venetian harlequin mask, sterling silver, 22mm, US$25, from Amanda Jo.
Surfboard, sterling silver, 19mm, handmade in Indonesia, US$2.50, from India Silver.
Torii, enamelled silver, 19×12×1mm, from Treasure Island Jewelry.

For Germany (beerstein), Lebanon (tree/cypress tree) and Malaysia (tiger).

Beerstein, 9kt solid gold, 15×15mm, £176.14, from Inspirations in Gold.
Cypress tree, sterling silver, 1.7 g, 13×13mm, US$4.81, from Charm Factory.
Tree, sterling silver, handcrafted, 13×18mm, US$9.07, from Cathy Dailey.
Tiger, 9kt solid gold, 28×13mm, £221.56, from Inspirations in Gold.

And, of course, a streetcar named ‘Desire’ for San Francisco!

Streetcar, sterling silver, US$19.99, via eBay.

♥ ♥ ♥

For kicks

A flying bird for my onetime nickname (‘Birdie’). My nick is now just ‘Spanky Pants’ and not really funny.

The cow jumping over the moon is for my first nursery rhyme, I kid you not.

Flying bird, 9kt solid gold, 1.4 g, 22×22mm, £62.16, from Inspirations in Gold.
Cow jumps over the moon, 9kt solid gold, 13×10mm, £65.04, from same place.

The flying penis is, well, for the English phrase “I don’t give a flying f@#k!”

The stag is for the inescapable kick in the goolies after saying that.

Flying penis, 9kt solid gold, £168, from Inspirations in Gold.
Stag, 9kt solid gold, 3.4 g, 12×18mm, £164.07. From same place.

Hickory Dickory Dock is another favourite nursery rhyme of mine, though in early days I recited it as “Biggery Dickory Cock.”

The jaguar is for my first motorcar, a hand-me-down from Aunt Gracie.

Hickory Dickory Dock, 9kt solid gold, 1 g, 13×6mm, £38.
Jaguar, flat, 9kt solid gold, 1.4 g, 24×13mm, £65.41.
Both from Inspirations in Gold.

An oil lamp really describes my line of work to a tee — plenty of overnight shifts. Burning the midnight oil…

The plum is literally my name — Lee means ‘plum’ in Chinese.

And what a coincidence too — my name gets associated with overnight work symbols more times than not.

Oil lamp, 9kt solid gold, 22×12mm, £108.39.
Plum, 9kt solid gold, 13×6mm, £75.31.
Both from Inspirations in Gold.

The robin on a log is a play on a username I once had at work (‘roblog’).

The tortoise with top hat and cane is for that oddball tortoise that crawled out of nowhere and onto my front lawn one wintery morning in London. It stayed on the lawn for hours, so I took it in when snow started falling. It stayed with me for a whole winter and crawled back out to the nowhere it came from when warm weather set in.

Robin on a log, 9kt solid gold, 2 g, 13×14mm, £82.14.
Tortoise with top hat and cane, 9kt solid gold, 2 g, 17×12mm, £103.78.
Both from Inspirations in Gold.

♥ ♥ ♥

Yank my chain

Of course, I also want a replacement bracelet chain in sterling silver because mine broke. Naturally, I’m happy to settle for 9kt gold. All contributions gratefully accepted.

(Like hell anyone’s gonna buy anything for me…)

♥ ♥ ♥

Here’s a little story


Single Man lives in the suburbs and has two stunning lesbians
living next door.

Almost every night, Single Man could see
(and sometimes hear) the two birds
‘cooking their tacos’
through the bedroom window.

One fine day, Single Man perks up the courage
and says to one of the girls:

“I wanna watch.”

“You will,” says the lady, “you will for sure,”
with a twinkle in her bunny-blue eyes
and a suggestive smile on her rosy cheeks.

On the Single Man’s birthday a year later,
the lesbians gave him a Rolex.

Do you wanna watch or a Rolex?

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011. All image sources as indicated in text.

Things to beguile the charmless (Part 3)

Sunday 4 December 2011, 6.00am HKT

(Continued from Part 2)

WITH BARELY THREE WEEKS LEFT for the Christmas buying period (a.k.a. the pagan cash-elimination festival), getting just the bare mininum of charms is, well, frankly, bare and minimum. You might just have to offer up some sacrificial baring to make up for your threadbare offering.

Dingly-danglies to add to

The ‘rule’ is to add a charm to the bracelet with every passing of a significant event. The event doesn’t necessarily have to be related to your life. For instance, you can get a spaceship for having witnessed or lived through the 1969 moon landing. Decide for yourself what ‘significant’ means.

Basic protips

Pewter turtle charm, goldplated, US$1.59

4. WHERE TO BUY. Everywhere, basically. Cheap as well as expensive charms are sold everywhere in North America and Europe. In Asia, Westernised designs tend to be pricier and Oriental ones cheaper. For vintage charms, I haven’t figured out a pattern yet, but it seems the United Kingdom and the Eastern seaboard of the USA are good bets. This is probably because the fat and ageing British women dig charm bracelets, and that somehow gets carried over to fat and ageing American women. Women and cowgirls in the Southern states of the USA seem quite a bit taken to wearing charms too, so that’s another place to look.

5. CONVERSIONS. Earrings often get converted into dingly-danglies, and vice versa. If you can’t find a particular charm design, consider improvising a pair of earrings. Very often that works out much cheaper than buying a charm of your desired design.

6. FIRST PET. Always a winner with the girls. Most of us will have had some sort of miserable, misbegotten creature as a pet — starved and cold, unloved and forgotten like Patroclus — that ended up being killed and dismembered (or dismembered and then killed) during our childhood years. My first pet was a turtle (never starved, unloved, ‘liquidated’ or dismembered), so there.

7. SIGNATURE HOBBY. Actually, most of us have no hobbies (apart from watching Internet porn or bickering on chat forums). Some bikers might find a bicycle charm rather quaint and humorous, a good play on the word ‘biker.’ Try a club or a baseball bat if aggravated assault happens to be your pastime. Camwhoring doesn’t count.

8. FIRST-EVER TRIP AWAY. That is, away from your hometown or country. The birthplace advice (in Part 2) applies here also — be imaginative. My first-ever trip away was to Singapore, so it had to be a merlion, mainly because a durian charm is cannot be had for love nor money. Sorry, I can’t help you if your first trip was to Duluth, Wisconsin/Minnesota (pop. 86,265).

Peace sign charm, US$2.07

9. RELIGION. Oooh, danger. Also rather goes against the whole idea of charms (being essentially paganistic). A string of Catholic and Protestant crosses, Stars of David, Buddhist swastikas and Muslim crescent moons just don’t have the same cachet as — well — anything else. These charms unnerve airport security as well. Nothing against religion, but just sayin’, y’know.

10. CHARM FOR EVERY PLACE LIVED. Another winning formula. You decide on the time limit to qualify. I set mine at three months. See Part 4 later for my complete lineup.

11. JOBS. This could be hilarious. If you belong to the Heroic Generation (prewar-born) with one single lifetime job, it could be kind of dull and one-dimensional, but good for epic bragging. If you’ve been (or are) a porn star, consider getting the cunning linguist charm mentioned before in Part 1.

'Writers Block' - a vintage solid sterling silver typewriter charm with moving parts - perfect for bloggers like you and me

Advanced protips

Vintage silver garage charm with car, 4.2 g, 10x15mm, £25

12. PHYSICAL ENDOWMENT. Could be risqué, could be insulting, but definitely entertaining. If you’re born with rabbit-like feet (like The Naked Listener), slender and bony, try the opposite and get a chubby or clubby foot charm. If you’re talented (big breasts = ‘balcony’) or have assets (big bum = ‘garage’) or long legs (‘electric pylons’), you could try something more pornographic.

(Quality of life just improved knowing you’re into balconies, garages and electric pylons.)

13. GAMBLERS. For Americ*nts and Eurofags, the choice is obvious and one-dimensional: a pair of dices, playing cards, a roulette wheel, horses, dogs, a whistle (for rigging ball games), etc. For Far Easterners, get him or her a shark’s tooth (but not a shark’s fin), a mahjong tile or a moneybag. Don’t ever give a book charm to a gambler (it means to lose big time).

14. NATIONALITY. This isn’t so straightforward as it seems. What do you get for a multi-passport holder? What to get for an American who’s of (say) Irish-Swedish-Puerto Rican-Navajo extraction? Faced with a ‘multi’ (a ‘hapa’), at least you could settle on one choice out of many.

15. KICKS. What pleases you? What riles him or her? Is he easily fascinated by colour and motion (as do I)? Is she a grammarfag? Into nursery rhymes? Dig avoidance personality disorder? Charms for kicks can really test your imaginative talents to the hilt.

Here is a very rare silver charm dating from around the 1960s. This articulated charm is of a couple in a four-poster bed. Beneath the bed is a lever that can be used to sit the couple up and down. This is quite a large-sized charm, measuring about 17mm wide. From Antiques Avenue in the UK, priced £38 (US$59) plus 17.5% VAT.

16. TIN OPENER. A can opener in American English. Perfect for the lad who’s had his first virginal experience (the girl, not necessarily the boy himself). If she’s lost it, give her a tin opener too. Some people never get a tin opener, sad but true.

Are you an 'opened tin'? Miss Bibi sodacan liptop charm, silver, £115

The lemons (what to avoid)

17. NUMERAL 4, or anything in fours or two pairs. Applies to all Asians, because ‘4’ sounds like ‘death’ in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and many other seemingly fictitious Asian languages. It’s not superstition, not when you get ‘the finger’ in return.

This '4' is okay. Clover charm, US$23.28

18. NUMERAL 7. It might mean ‘seven heaven’ to Yanks and Eurinals, but ‘7’ signifies the obligatory postmortem vigil that nearly every Asian must go through after a death in the family. A ‘7-11’ charm is considered fothermucking bad taste to most Far Easterners.

19. NUMERAL 9. The most dangerous number in Western horoscope. Never mind, because you could always excuse it as meaning ‘blissful happiness’ (as in the 1946 phrase ‘up/floating on cloud nine’).

20. NUMERAL 13. Another tricky bastard. It’s lucky for some (like yours truly), but the plague for others. Jewish boys (and increasingly girls as well) on reaching age 13 go through bar mitzvah, but I don’t reckon they’ll take a ’13’ charm for that.

21. NUMERAL 14. Worse than ‘4’ and definitely a no-fly zone for all Asians. It sounds like ‘dead for sure’ or ‘dies for sure’ in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.

22. SCISSORS, KNIVES, SWORDS. Don’t. They mean severing of friendship or relationship. Some moronic Far Easterners (mostly Chinese) excuse it as meaning ‘sharp,’ which rhymes with lei (‘lucky’). It doesn’t mean what you think it means, you idiot.

23. SHOES. Don’t give to Chinese, especially newborns. It’ll be misinterpreted as a curse, consigning the baby to a ever-roving life of hardship. Try boots instead. Emperor Caligula (his name meant ‘boots’) was one fearsome and lucky dude, notwithstanding his cruelty and madness.

24. TURD, POOP. Self-explanatory.

25. CLOCKS. This is tricky. Srsly. Old-fashioned Chinese, Japanese and Koreans avoid giving gifts of timepieces or things of that shape. The Chinese phrase ‘soong joong’ (‘delivering clock’) rhymes with that for ‘funeral passage.’ The less superstitious among them are fine with clock-shaped charms, mainly because (a) they’re not actually timepieces and (b) charms are expensive. In any case, clock charms could be misinterpreted as ‘your time’s up, mate.’

What exactly are you trying to say?

N.B. You will have noticed that Asians (mostly Chinese) have lots of aversions and disinclinations. Which is why gift-giving in Chinese culture is so very important, mainly because it shows the massive effort of will and care that have to be taken in selecting gifts.

* * *

Continues on Part 4

The Naked Listener’s very own lineup of charms and barms

* * *

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: Turtle and peace sign charms via a2z charms ♦ ‘Writers Block’ typewriter charm via Adorn London ♦ Garage charm via True Vintage Jewellery UK ♦ Can top charm via Cure UK ♦ Clover charm via Cheap Charms ♦ Bed couple charm via Antiques Avenue ♦ Poop charm via Etsy.

Things to beguile the charmless (Part 2)

Sunday 4 December 2011, 12.01am HKT

(Continued from Part 1)

There are roughly 21 days to go before Christmas for you to blow your life savings on gifts for the ingrates and other assorted cattle in your overly extended family. One of the more fetching gifts to consider is a charm bracelet.

One for the boys

Charm bracelets aren’t just for women, you know. They’re okay for men too, though I wouldn’t go as far as to recommend the menfolk start wearing them at work. Kinda sends the wrong message in most cases, you know what I mean?

And if you happen to be a guy and a biker as well (of the motorcycle variety, like me), a charm bracelet just doesn’t seem to quite fit in with the image of a lean, mean and keen biker that you’re trying to project.

Protip: I reckon chopper bikers (such as yours truly) could get away with a charm bracelet — as long as:

  • it’s worn on the left wrist
  • the charms themselves are not too ‘dangly’
  • the charms are either few or all-out massive in numbers

Barebones dingly-dangly bracie

The bracelet

First off, the bracelet itself should be sterling (925) silver at the very least, or 9-karat gold for the well-heeled. (Your bank balance may vary considerably downwards after the purchase.)

FACT: Carat (ct: 1ct = 200 mg) is for diamonds and gems, and karat (kt) for gold. Don’t confuse the two, as many jewellers still make that mistake. You would’ve thought that of all people…

The 'Nicola' bracelet: solid 9K gold and sterling silver two-tone charms hard-soldered to a 9K gold curb bracelet: all charms either hinged with a hidden item inside (e.g. the rose with a bee inside: 10 o'clock position) or moveable (e.g. the Smithy with moving hammer striking the anvil: 6 o'clock position)

Protip: Avoid electroplated bracelets. They’re a waste of money. The plating rubs off like mad after only a few wearings, and then the base metal underneath causes unsightly black stains on the skin that’s really hard to clean off.

The charms

A barebones charm bracelet should have three dingly-danglies at a minimum.

Protip: Every charm ideally should have a story behind it. But it doesn’t matter if there’s no story.

Chinese wristcord with 12 Chinese astrological animals in hard jadeite each of ½ inch diameter

1. Astrological sign. Go by Western zodiac (e.g. Aquarius) or by Oriental animal sign (e.g. Rat for 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996 and 2008), whichever works best for you.

Sterling silver sailing junk charm, 14×18mm, 1.69 g, £4.18 (US$6.52)

2. Place of birth. Use your imagination a bit for this, although some places don’t exactly lend to the imagination. A cowboy hat for Texas is wee obvious, as is a junk for Hong Kong (where I was born). Much more interesting would be an adobe, which could mean anywhere from Arizona to Chile to Iran to Kyrgyzstan. If all else fails, go for the lowest common denominator: your national symbol or flag.

3. Weakness/strength. Everyone has something screwed up inside them. Word Nymph says in her article she has a crutch-shaped charm to represent brittle ankles. I’m having a hard time locating a brain-shaped charm for my birdbrain loopy mind. Call me if you have an ear charm for The Naked Listener.

Juicy Couture Christmas crutch charm, US$60

Those three are the absolute minimum. If you can’t manage those, forget charm bracelets.

Sterling and gilted silver blood-type charms, ½ inch diameter, US$3.99

Interestingly, when it comes to charm bracelets, the Japanese often include a blood-type charm. This is not because their country is in constant danger from earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, which would make sense in having such charms. It is because the Japanese believe in the insane theory that your blood says it all.

Read the dedicated post on the Japanese obsession with blood types.

* * *

Continues in Part 3

Protips for buying the right charm

* * *

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: ‘Nicola’ bracelet via Welded-Bliss ♦ Chinese wristcord via ♦ Junk charm via Charmmakers ♦ Blood-type charms via Legacies Heirlooms at eBay. Juicy Couture Christmas crutch charm via ebeyss.

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