Friday, 30 December 2011

Shoes

          I have always hated high heels and I think I always will unless they come like this:


           Just because I like the bows and the shape of the shoe in general.

         But I think it would really require this pair to make me wear them out:

          I think though we tend to forget that we do all need shoes. It takes a special skill to make shoes and to make them into things that we wear. I love practical shoes like these as a selection:





           Shoe makers I salute you all for making great footwear that we wear. Big shout out to those who make our lives all the more comfortable.

          I want to add that from January onwards the recommendation of the week will come after the main post not before, I think it'll make it easier for everyone to find the posts. Anyway Happy New Year! See you in January.

Books and more books

          I wanted to share some books that I've read in the year some that I've really liked and some that I've not liked so much.

                 

         So to being North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I was in two minds about whether I actually liked the book but I think overall it was good once you remove the expectation that it's a romance it's not. My sister was the person who pointed out that this is a novel about the English experience in the 1800s, and Gaskell's view point is stamped over this book. it is a interesting read and I would say keep an eye out for all the death, it almost rivals Wuthering Heights in the death toll, but overall a really interesting to read.



          Eragon by Christophe Paolini I could not even finish. I think the thing that I couldn't get past was how predictable it was and how the tale of the quest had been done by far more interesting means.



           Which leads me to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I loved this book. Everything about it was really good. I know that everyone has raved about it, but it turns out for good reason. A real departure for me to like a book that is all about violence but it hooked me with the protagonist Katniss. She is strong and resilient, and for me a very strong feminist girl character. I tend to hate movie or TV adaptations of books. I hope the upcoming movie will be good but I loved the book so much that I highly doubt that I will like it as much.  



           The End of Mr Y, by Scarlet Thomas. I liked how it begins but then it completely failed for me. I just couldn't get past my instinctive dislike for the main character and her for me fake poverty. The End of Mr yY, is a book within a book and the book within is supposed to be cursed. I wasn't hooked. If I don't the voice of the author for me things are lost.





         I wanted to recommend both Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen together. Sarah Addison Allen is an author whose voice is amazing for me. The books, both of them mentioned have amazing characters and the magic in them is so thoughtfully done that I am now avid for more books from her. I think The Sugar Queen is probably a nose in front for my favourite as the lead character is beautifully painted as well as the town and the people who live in it.



         The Three Weismann's of Westport by Cathleen Schine I did really like. I loved that this is an adaptation without being a slave to the original. I liked the characters of Annie and Maranda in particular as well as the mother Betty and the humour in this book really carried it.



          I want to finish this by talking about Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. I love this book. I love the humour, characters and the setting. I love the voice. I love how the book is set out. I love the cover. I even love the type. What shines in this book for me is Agnes herself and Shane (the hitman of the title). A protagonist (in this case I think both of them are) that really hooks you from the start that is amazing. This book is amazing, please read it wherever you are.

         So I hope that 2012 means more reading for all!

         

Friday, 23 December 2011

The Pipettes

          I have their first album, We Are the Pipettes, and I love all their songs. One thing that I really love about their songs not just the fact that they are really good songs, is that it follows a female voice, and a female point of view. I think for me the music is honest and for me powerful. 

            Oh and since it the holiday season this is why this post is on a Friday and there will be another next Friday but after the New Year it will be back to Sundays. Hope everyone has an awesome time!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                        

Resolutions

          This isn't a post about resolutions for the new year, this is a post saluting those who kept their resolutions for the whole year. My first proper resolution was made at the beginning of the year, this one I really meant (not to talk to or have contact with one person), and I kept it all year!
          I was thinking about resolutions about how we all have good intentions at the beginning after all it's a fresh start, but I think the real test is to see if you still kept it in December. I like to have positive (I know that not having contact with someone seems negative but the effect was really positive and made me feel empowered) things that will make you feel good in the long run. So I think having had a successful resolution I will make a few more in the new year that I will feel like I want to keep when it is winter again.  

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

          I wanted to recommend a specific Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, I feel that the version that people love the most is the version they were first introduced to and for me its this one...


          I am just happy looking at that picture. I love that jokes can now have visual representations, I think my favourite is the effect of a drink is like being hit with a brick and a lemon. Then you see the representation of that joke. To me the voice of the guide belongs to this series, Arthur Dent to me is that guy in the robe. There is also something so British about the whole thing that makes me laugh. I haven't seen it for a while but it does hold up.
           Again I think the version that you are wedded to is the one you were first introduced to, so to me this is the one that defines it and keeps on being funny and really good every time.
         

Masturbation: A love Story

          So masturbation. I love doing it, it kind of seems naughty just to admit that. I wonder why? Is it that the media barrages us with the idea that sex is heterosexual with the emphasis that it has to involve two people? Maybe the real cause of this kind of seedy reputation is that we define sex so rigidly. That sex with yourself is somehow a default option, a thing that we do when we can’t get anyone. Or is it a threat? That women and men can have an orgasm without anyone else means that a penis in a vagina is under threat.
          Well sex without anyone for me is freeing. There is no one to please but yourself. Not to say that I have not had moments where I was frustrated at myself for not getting there, or just not feeling in the mood. When I am in the mood, however, there is no one else that I am concerned with and the thoughts that I have are not governed by anyone else. You know what makes you turned on, you know how to touch yourself. I know what fantasies get me there faster what I like when I touch whatever it is that I am touching. It also means for me that you can take as little or as long as I like.
          That is not to say that there are not advantages to having sex with someone else. They can surprise you, or do something that you didn’t know you liked. There is the other person being able to please you and that is hot, whatever sex they happen to be. Masturbation also precludes kissing, one of my favourite sex related things to do. It’s so wonderful, the feeling it gives. Experiences of mutual pleasure are awesome.
          I think though that masturbation really makes you better at mutual pleasure, and also really has nothing to do with whether or not you want another person in bed with you. It means that you know how to come on your own, there is incredible power in that and it also makes you independent on the idea that you have to rely on other people to get you to come.
          I also think that masturbation for me is the realm of fantasy. It gives you the freedom to create whatever you want. No one is going to condemn you for whatever it is that you fantasise about. We all masturbate and what goes on in your head is private.
          I don’t think people should be threatened by that idea that it goes against heterosexual sex, because there are plenty of people doing that. It not as if that needs to be proved. I wonder if the idea of independence from the pleasure we get is threatening. Of course that idea is threatening to patriarchy, but it shouldn’t be. Happiness is not a threat. Women owning their pleasure should be a huge turn on. They are getting what they need for themselves, respecting that is a huge turn on for me at least.
          In the end masturbation is about practise. It takes a long time to know your body and importantly your own head. There is a reason that people say the most sexy part of the body is the mind. That goes for self pleasure too. You can create whatever fantasy you want, go to all the weird and odd places you have. There is no reason for there to be a stigma about it. To quote Woody Allen: You shouldn’t dismiss masturbation, it’s sex with someone you love.
          That is why it’s a love story, it’s a love story with only you at the centre. That’s amazing and awesome. Masturbation as a word isn’t that great I confess but self pleasure to me encompasses what I am doing more fully. I am giving myself pleasure and feels fucking great!              

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Whip It: Soundtrack

          The soundtrack to this film is amazing. In particular I love Jolene by Dolly Parton and Dead Sound by The Ravonettes. It's a great soundtrack with a lot of female lead vocals which I am always in favour of, I can't recommend it enough. 

The Question

The Question

          You know the question that people have asked me since the age of 14? It’s not what do you want to be when you grow up? It’s not which Superhero do you identify with most? (If anyone wants to know it’s Wonder Woman minus the weird sexualisation). It’s not even what’s your favourite colour? The answer is in two parts but mostly the question has been do you want to have kids? Running a close second has been are you doing to get married?
          I have had no desire to have children I am now 27 and haven’t changed my mind since I was first asked that question at 14. I also want to add that for women who actively want children are just as great and equal to me in their desire to procreate, if that is their choice then I say go for it.  
          A person’s role, however, in life is not to propagate the species. Many women do not have a choice in that question, they are forced by law or society to have children. They were given zero thought into whether or not they wanted to get pregnant and have kids. I feel truly sad and angry that this takes place.
          There is always a risk in sex (that might lead to pregnancy) of that actually happening. There is that gamble that sex with men can lead to me becoming pregnant. That is a huge risk to take for me, as I have said I have never wanted to become pregnant, but having a sex drive does mean that I wanted to sleep with people.
          I often feel in discussions about sex, pregnancy and abortion that contraception is the ugly step child to all this. It is both people’s responsibility to make a decision about something that will affect both of you. Becoming a parent is for life, that is a thing that never changes.
          In a passage in Eat, Pray Love the comparison is like having a tattoo on your face. You better be damn sure before you do it. Also the fact that the woman’s body is of discussion when talking about pregnancy makes my head explode. Patriarchy should leave women’s body and women’s decisions to WOMEN. I would also say that in the discussion of easy women and oh no high teenage pregnancy, what about high rates of teenage fathers? Is that the message? Get as many women pregnant, have as much unprotected sex as you like, because the blame for this is going to fall squarely on the women. There still seems to be this for me completely mystifying attitude towards the responsibility of children and parents, being completely one sides towards women.
          It makes me so mad when talking about child care, it seems to be the domain of solely women. What makes me laugh about that, when did the definition of woman become engraved with a chisel that by the way by virtue of your sex you are the better parent? More than that you are abnormal or somehow not a woman if you choose not to rear your kids. All that shitty talk about maternal instincts and depriving your kids of your nurture. Insert cough here, what about the fucking fathers? Going out to work is that not depriving your kids of your nurture as well? And when was it decided that going out to work as a mother was somehow bad and wrong whereas being a father and working, well that was fine. So fucked up.
          Going back to contraception. It’s important first to know how this shit works, and it’s your health that we are talking about. First my own sex education was my parents explaining what sex was, and at 6 my thoughts were ew, people do that? My parents felt if you were old enough to ask, you were old enough to know. But I felt grateful for the knowledge because my curiosity was appeased, and had no interest in engaging in that till to be honest at about the age of 19.
          My school education was odd at best. Basically it was if you touch someone you will get gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, or genital warts and have to go to the clinic and explain. First that isn’t true, and second do not scare people into thinking that you can’t prevent this. Condoms, the pill, the diaphragm and IUD are all forms of birth control that we need to be discussed. I also think kids need to know that bodies are not to be scared of and knowledge is sexy and informative. Knowing where the clit is and where the prostate is, this is all good information to have.
         
          I have had no desire to have kids. I used to be really strident about it, but I then to get people off my back said that I would say never say never. Thinking about this I decided a long time ago that I would not want to be mother, surely the worse thing to do for all involved is to be a parent to someone we did not actively want. Literature is bursting to the seams of parents who are not great people let alone good parents.
          Its something that’s impossible to live up to, being the mother or the father. No one tells you how to do it, how to make the really hard decisions and what’s normal for one kid may be completely wrong for another. I suppose fear is a big part of not wanting to be a parent. For me the other root of this is I know myself well enough that I am selfish. I want time to myself to work out how to grow and do all the things I have wanted to do. I do not want to be responsible for another person the weight of that is immense.
          My other funny answer to this has been it would take immaculate conception to get me pregnant at this time and I think God would definitely be picking the wrong gal for that mission (for starters I am not religious in any way, have no absolutely no desire to a mother figure let alone to everyone, and I also lost my virgin status a while back).
          I want also to say to mothers and fathers who get it right and make the choice they made because they love their kids, you do something that’s incredibly hard. You have so many obstacles and hardships and that you can get through it is incredible. I don’t know how you do it, and it’s an experience that other people who are parents can relate to completely I’m guessing but I salute you all.  

         The question of the desire of children, this is a serious question, I do not think we should be asking girls this question let alone repeatedly, but I do struggle with it and the ideas behind it. I have often thought maybe I’m not a woman as I don’t have maternal instincts. I have thought often about what the definition of woman is, and somehow this parenthood debate has been tangled up in it.

         
          I don’t know anymore what woman is or what man is, but I do know that even though I carry the necessary equipment to carry a child this does not define me, nor does my decision to not have children define me as being less. More than that I can be confident in my decision as I know that my decision is the right one for me.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Pens

          I know it seems a strange thing to recommend and I have specific tastes in pens (for those interested I don't like ball points but prefer soft tips), but they are essential things. When I make lists or have to put something in my diary, or make a note of something, or fill in a form I use pen. Pencils are good but pens are better. I like all sorts but we all use them and I think they deserve to be recommended, from the bic to the fountain pen.



          Pens I salute you all.

A Short Post

          OK so I've now put up 3 posts including this one. and will try and keep my promise of posting every week to myself. I wanted to very briefly talk about choice. A small word but a big concept for me.

        I have been thinking about the extent to which we all have choice. Whether what we all do is action or reaction and the choices involved are limited. It's a beguling concept that we can have the freedom to choose something or not. I don't know if this is another word for blame in a way laying it on you, that this is the situation that you find yourself in because you choose it. The more I think about it, I think it comes down to decisions. You choose the type of milk you buy, the film you watch on the weekend. The bigger things, however, the relationships we belong in, the work we do, the people we depend on those for me are murkier in the land of choice.

          Again it's beguling state to be in, that we all can choose our destiny that we can take responsibility for the failure and the success of what we seem our lives to be. 

          I am still thinking about it, I am leaning more and more that the choices we makes are not entirely goverened by what we want but what we can do. That we have accept that sometimes we are not the only person we have to consider, after all no one is an island alone. That the responsbility is not ours alone, that for me makes me feel freer, in that we all have to live in a world of what is and what we can do. I am still thinking about the concept. 

Abba

          I really like Abba their songs are very much pop. I like pop a lot and it's done well. I love the weird costumes and their exact rhymes. Their songs are still listened to and their are a great band. I like Mama Mia, S.O.S., Take a Chance on Me, and Super Trooper but all their songs have something to recommend them. A great band.

Bits that I love

          So I have a habit of watching just bits of films, and i wanted to share some favourites of mine. I know that film buffs are probably shrieking with horror, but I love watching my favourite bits, many a time I have been up till 1 in the morning (one of the joys of living alone) laughing. So here we go:


Mooonstruck: for the scene at the end I just crack up. I love the line about the red dress. Cher sparkles in this as Loretta one of my favourite films of all time.

Catch and Release: 'It's Marakesh Mystery.' still makes me smile.

The Railway Children: if only for the iconic scene in the mist, it still makes me cry.

Howl's Moving Castle: the visuals alone are worth watching it. I love the scene where they have to travel up the steps and where Sophie cleans the castle. Gorgeous through and through.

The Proposal: I know for many the end is really annoying but i really love it. Especially the scene where Margaret gives a list in bed, a really touching connection between the characters. It also has Betty White in it so I'm in.

The Lady Vanishes: visually great. I love the romance between the leads combined with menace.

Made in Dagenham: I really like that this is film about equal pay and focuses on the female characters. Sally Hawkins is wonderful. I like the small moments where Rita and Lisa talk.

Singin' in the Rain: so good. I love the weird stuff in it, like there is a fashion show in the middle of it for no reason. The Broadway number with Cid Cerise. She is an amazing dancer. The songs I love in it, and actually funny.

This Film is Not Yet Rated: a great documentary about the rating system in America. I liked that it talks about the sexual references and the violence in films. It really is an interesting take on what is really going on with the rating system.

Hairspray: I think the remake I like a lot, as well as the original. Just for the fact that Tracey is heavy heroine. I love the songs and the dancing. Also Christoper Walken is in it. Win.

Cry Baby: a very young Johnny Depp in a great John Waters film. The beginning is great and the songs and the clothes and just how inventive John Waters is as a director makes it an interesting film. I think my favourite scene is the one in the prison where the women are singing to the men.

The Goonies: 'Andie you Gooooooonie!' Love it. It's a film that I watched as a kid so it has that nostalgia. Hence...

The Mighty Ducks: I know it's about ice hockey and more than that it's Emilio Estevez coaching a run down children's team. It's a film that I sill watch and it has the great Joss Ackland in it who elevates anything he's in.

Stranger than Fiction: Something about this film makes it something I watch every Christmas. I love the leads in particular Maggie Gylenhall. I love the scene where she joins in to the lyrics where he is playing the guitar. I love the scene where he gives her flours. So beautiful.

The Station Agent: just great. I love the leads. It's a quiet film but for me Peter Dinklage stands out as a great actor and in this he shines.

Robin Hood: Ahh Disney you for better or worse have a lot to do with the stuff that i watched as a child. As much as I don't like the company this film for me really reminds me of rainy days watching it. I love that all the animals are represented. A great film about a story that has been told again and again. The thing that makes me love it all the more now is that fact that Peter Ustinov voices the villain wonderfully. It is film that makes me happy.

Stick It: Forget the rather corny message the gymnastics in this are amazing, I love the beam routine by Wei Wei.

The 39 Steps: Ahh Hitchcock you genius. He is one of my favourite directors for his aesthetic. This is a film that for me is about the core relationship between the hero and the heroine. In particular I love the scene where they are in bed handcuffed, the connection between the two and the performance of both actors makes it wonderful to watch.

Death at a Funeral: i love it so much. Alan Tudick is great as is the rest of the cast. Matthew Macfadyen, Rupert Graves, Andy Nyman, Daisy Donovan and Kris Marshall and all wonderful. I love the end speech Matthew Macfadyen's character gives and it is a really funny film.    
         
          So these are films that I watch and they are great in bits as well as the whole.

Buttons



          Almost no words needed. I love crafts and buttons are so versatile. Just looking at that hoard makes my mouth water. I love that they come in all shapes, colours and sizes, and they are so cheap to get for stuff that you can make. Buttons equals awesome in my book.

Missing

          I've not been posting for the past 3 weeks, so I'm really annoyed at myself, as I promised myself to blog every week. This is a project that I set out to do for me. I wanted to post about anything and everything. The thing that I set out for myself was that no topic that I wanted to write about was out of bounds. If I wanted to talk about sex, abortion, equal pay, films, books, hair cuts or The Muppets then that was what I was going to talk about. The best thing for me in writing this is the freedom it gives me, no one was going to censure me. 

          Then as I thought about it more, maybe I was the one censuring me, by not talking about myself as I wanted to. Writing about me is not going to turn people off. I want to talk about me too. I wander if there is a voice inside saying to myself that it's selfish to talk about me, that people want to read about stuff I am commenting on. Then I had a weird realisation, it's going against what I originally set out to do. This is for me, the person I want to speak to is...me. If I want to talk about me then I shall without thinking about what other people want to read. The spirit to which this was intended was to write because I like to write, it's one of the few things that I have that I want to do, and a lot of the distractions that I have fade because this is something I love to do.

          I am a perfectionist it's one the reasons I rarely do any art any more. It doesn't some out how I thought it was going to. That however you have to get over if you want to do any art at all, it does not have to match what is on your head. A lot of the art that I still keep was from stuff I did when I was 16, I had been doing art pretty much for 2 years for 5 days a week. I still remember that I would be late to history every Friday because I was in art doing it in my lunchtime, I was wanting to get my work done, but I love doing something that gave me so much pleasure. I was always the last person running across the concrete open plan and covered in paint. The thing that makes me like the stuff is yes i like it it, but it comes down to the fact that I practised, and that is what makes anyone good at something partly is enthusiasm and practise.

          I don't think you can judge what is good if you have not done it for nearly a decade. What makes me better is practising what I want day in and day out. And getting rid of your inner critic. Or of there is not way of doing that accepting that it takes time, and to be patient.

          This does not mean that in conclusion that I am not frustrated at myself, but it does make me understand. And I will keep trying to do art, and keep my promise that I will write this blog and the stuff will be for me, even when I slip up.