Sunday, 29 January 2012

Birthdays

          The reason why I was thinking about Birthdays this week was that mine was on Thursday. I had a nice time on my own. I was thinking about the pressure that we put on events. I think we all know half the reason that Christmas and New Year can be such nightmares is the pressure we put on others and ourselves to have a good time. This applies to Birthdays too.




         I don't know why it is really. I can remember some great parties for other occasions (I remember a great party we had on the theme of superheroes because I had a hankering to dress like Wonder Woman, and a great party where I cooked a roast for everyone). These were not special occasions particularly but I remember having a good time. I remember a lot of Christmases and New Years being hard. 

          I don't like the fact that we all have it in our heads that we have to do something special for it all the time. Yes, the positive spin on it is that you are celebrating you (on your Birthday in any case), but if you are not in the mood for that then it falls to you to make sure that everyone has a good time with you. Then there is that dreaded experience of feeling responsible for other people having a good time. In my experience a lot of the time that just adds to things not being good.

          I felt in all honesty a bit sad and a little bit weird. This isn't because of my Birthday in particular, there is a lot of other stuff going on in my life that has made me feel like that. Putting a happy face for other people just breeds resentment. My new philosophy? Screw special occasions, whatever you feel you can feel, embrace it. You can feel down at Christmas or New Year, or indeed your Birthday. 

          There were a couple of things that made feel better, I made sure that I didn't have to go out and get any food or have to run errand. I made my own cake, so I could make what I wanted (lemon and sour cream that is almost gone and tasted great). I made it the day before, I didn't get to bed till 1 because i was really bad at managing my time, but I made sure it got cooked and baked ready for my birthday. I made pancakes, they were delicious. I knitted the majority of the day, listened to podcasts and read quite a bit.

          These were all things that I wanted to do, that all made me feel special for me. I got some great presents as well. For me though the greatest gift was being alone and the pressure being off. I got to see my sister as well on the weekend. So all in all a good Birthday, and getting to do the stuff I wanted.

          It only some once a year so I say feel what you feel and remember that this is the one day that it really is about you.

9 to 5

           I was recently watching 9 to 5 and I had forgotten how well to me it holds up. I like that Lily Tomlin is in this flexing her comedic muscles. I like Jane Fonda in this and also shows how funny she can be. I actually really like Dolly Parton in who sings the title song.




          This is a film that has three women pulling together through circumstances with a horrible boss thrown in. It is a little dated, but I still laugh out loud at then handling dead corpse and the coffee cup jokes. I also like how it shows that the women make really big changes at the company making it better.

          It's a great film, so that's my recommendation this week.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Muisc We Feel

          Music, ahh music, it is a thing that can plunge us to the very depths of darkness or lift us up to where nothing can touch us. Listening to something over and over can bring immense joy or make us cry uncontrollably. I remember listening over and over to Peter Gabriel over a particularly bad time in my life and just crying on my bed. It seemed to speak to me, to really tell me what was going on in my life at the time.

           It almost seems overly teenage to have that strong a reaction, I don't think it is. We all feel whether we want to admit it or not. Listening to something can really give us solace. I want show some songs that have been important.

           So first up, Setting Sun by Howling Bells. Something about the way it starts just means something. Nobody helps themselves but themselves can't you tell? I love that lyric, but the lyric that I felt so amazing about was: I'll find a quiet path somewhere alone where the shadows won't laugh. I love that sentiment, it is poetry to me that idea. A beautiful song (it's on youtube to look up). It has an amazing voice as well on the vocals.

           Teardrop by Massive Attack. This has a hypnotic quality that I can't stop loving. I am not usually a fan of electric stuff but this song pulled me in to the beat as soon as it started. The lyrics have not hooked me, but the feeling behind them has, and it's a long song. Beautifully done and really mesmerising.

           Glory Box by Portishead. First of all what an amazing introduction to a song. And the vocals are amazing. The lyrics are stunning. Leave it to the other girls to play, I love that. Give me a reason to love you, give me a reason to be a woman. I love that sentiment of soulfulness. It just grabs your attention from the first bar, an amazing song by an amazing band.

           I know that I have already recommended Blue Flower by Mazzy Star and this same song but I love it. I love the guitar and most of all her voice. Was it all in vain? Super star in your own private movie, I wanted just a minor part, but I'm no fool I know you're cool, I never really wanted your heart. Just amazing lyrics as well as the performance. I like that it's ambiguous as what the song is really about.

           Two Gallants, Steady Rollin'. To late for you to save me. If I remain then I'm to blame. Just really awesome. The more I search you know the less I've found, I love the lyric. I love the heartfelt loneliness to me that comes through in the lyrics and the performance.

           The Raincoats, and No Side to Fall In. I love the upbeat nature of this song. The Raincoats are an awesome all female band that I love. I also really enjoy that it's a short song that has a lot of orchestral stuff in it. I also like the layering of the voices.

           The Slits, I heard it Through the Grapevine. I don't usually like covers unless they do something different and this is different. I love the female vocals and the ska overtones of the song. I also like the overall anger in the song that seems really sharp in this version.

           I want to add something a little different. Elvis Presley, Blue Moon. I love how eerie it is. His voice really resonates with the longing. His voice is also seductive in this version. I like that there is almost a wishing of something in the way he delivers the performance.

           I want to finish by recommending some ska, which is the stuff that I love to listen to day in and out. I love the song He Wants Me Back by the Dance Hall Crashers. I love that this is a song about rejecting the man that threw you over. I also like that there is so much going on in terms of the instruments they use. There are two female voices in this song, the lyrics are really good, I don't need no apologises I've got the world to see, just great. I love how catchy the song is. Let Your Yeah be Yeah by the Pioneers. I don't know whether this is positive for all the reasons that I want it to be. I love the way it uses ska as a medium. I like it a lot, see for yourself about the lyrics, but it's awesome sound. The Whisper 54 46 Is My Number by Toots and The Mytals. These I really like for the sound and really good ska records for me.

          This is all music that I have loved, and I hope that everyone has music that makes them as happy as these make me.

Harry Potter: the audio books.

          The first Harry Potter audio book that I listened to was the first in the series. It is narrated by Stephen Fry and he does a fantastic job at it. He does the voice of Snape really well and Hermione. The story of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is really an introduction to the books and the world. I wanted to recommend the audio books because they are riveting and I think audio books a real skill that actors have. It's a really good book narrated by a someone who has a great talent.



          He has narrated all of the books and I would recommend listening to them (I think my favourite apart from the first one is the third, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).

The Stringing Out Theme

           I have been really obsessed with Drop Dead Diva this past week (one of the reasons I haven't blogged in two weeks). I want to talk about this show the good and the bad.

           I want to first talk bout how TV shows develop romances. There is something that bugs me about them, it took me a while to figure it out but I think I have finally found my grievance. The romance conflict is always quite big in Ally McBeal he's married and he's the love of her life at least in the pilot, Grey's Anatomy has the same conflict. in Buffy the Vampire Slayer he's a vampire in both cases of the love interest and she's the chosen one out to kill them, in Leverage he's a confused alcoholic a justice seeker and she's a natural born liar. In Lois and Clark, he's supernatural and she isn't, in The West Wing Josh is Josh and Donna works for him. These are all pretty powerful barriers in some cases the supernatural comes into the conflict. I think out of all of them Buffy is the only one that really understands how to do romantic conflict well.

           Now this is the reason that I have a beef with romance as shown on TV, the stringing it out of the conflict with the audience and the characters. It leads to characters being violated by stuff they would never do. Ally McBeal is for all it's faults I think is a good show, but for the love of God stop with the will they or won't they? And the thing that really bugged me was that they gave him a brain tumour, and I assume it was because it was easier to resolve the romantic interest by him being dead as then that means Ally can stop yearning for him. To which I would say why isn't his wife pissed off? I would be, my husband seems not to able to let go of a woman who can't make up her mind.

           Grey's Anatomy seems to me be the king of stinging along the audience. Meredith and Derek are introduced in season 1, and they eventually get their act together in season 5. Really? I mean REALLY? Over 5 seasons they have this weird trumped up conflict. To my mind which proves that getting a couple together yes dissolves the tension of will they or won't they? But it does not however, mean that they will be happy. It does not mean happiness for the couple ever after. I think it's far more interesting to see how a couple will work and if they can resolve conflicts. Bones is also an offender in this and they lost me as a viewer, as they kept dancing around whether these two people would ever get together and make it work. I lost interest around half way through season 5.

           So this leads me to Drop Dead Diva, and I love it. I mean I really have become obsessed by it. Partly because it is the first heroine that I have really identified with. I love how they dress her, and she is a wonderful actor playing the characer of Jane and Deb combined. The premise is that after Deb dies (a slender, pretty blonde model) she presses a button that gets her back to earth, but as Jane a heavy lawyer. Deb is the person that dresses Jane. She has awesome clothes (there is a blue dress that shows off her cleavage that I really hunger for), and knows what sorts of shoes she likes that goes with the body she now has now. I am being very girly in what I like. I also like the law side of the show, it gives us a way of seeing how great the sides of the character gel. And Brooke Elliot is brilliant in the lead, down to how she physically acts.




           The conflict of her working with the fiance is played out well. There is always the question of whether or not she should tell Grayson (the fiance) that she is Deb. This may or may not have come to fruition in season 3. Now there is a lot of stuff that has come between the lovers. Jane has never told Grayson that she likes him romantically (there has been Kim as well as another person who was it seemed fated to marry him). This just seems a little contrived. All these women road blocks to prevent the lovers being together. It seems to me that they don't want to face the question of what the lovers will be like together. I get it, it's one of the main conflicts of the show.

           I wonder how much this has to do with the fact that the show believes as well as Jane herself that he won't desire her. But is that not great conflict? See them as a couple, maybe if Grayson tried to make her change her pysical self, he does not love her forever. Sadly end of conflict and end of stinging it out, but it does create good drama (though this puts Grayson as rather superficial, but I think a lot of us are when we first meet someone). Or if Grayson suddenly treats her as dumb, or Deb realises that she has put this guy on a pedestal and he can never measure to the guy she remembers. All these make good conflict with the couple together. Testing relationships makes a good relationship, yes I love romance novels with courtship, but many romances including Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas with them married, it's the idea that even though together there is still story there it be had.

            So please TV writers stop making weird obstacles to lovers (I'm looking at you Grey's Anatomy), and realise that though it's difficult to know when to cut the tension, tension for the sake of tension is not going to get you viewers, it will in fact make you lose them. It does not aid story either it just makes it stale.

           Drop Dead Diva will have to make a very big dramatic mistake to lose me. There are parts that I dislike, ambition in women being shown to be a fault, as well as the what seems hackneyed premise of the other woman being pregnant, the ideas still of physical beauty being adhered to.

           It also seems to promote this idea that women never want to be alone nor do men it seems. A woman alone ,is that really all that scary? I like the idea of a woman being independent. Life though not strictly shows this idea, Danni is beautiful as well as hooks up with men, but I don't think that she needs a man in her life, unlike someone like Ally McBeal. I like Danni a lot and she's a strong character. Drop Dead Diva will still have to do a lot to make me hate it, the musical numbers alone are worth watching it for, my favourite has to me Would I Lie To You? Just because she has an amazing voice in it as well as an awesome dress. But we'll see if the romance conflict is still strung out it might well lose me, let's hope it doesn't reduce itself to him being dead. Though maybe it would be good conflict.

The Beatles

           I have always liked the Beatles and I think I always will. I kind of special relationship to Rubber Soul and Help, as those were the albums that I listened to over and over as I didn't get a stereo till I was 12. So I had the record player and the radio until then. I love Elinor Rigby as well as Yesterday. I like the upbeat songs of them as well but those I really liked.    


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Looking Forward

          I was thinking about what to write today, it's a new year and it's a pleasant Sunday. I don't know what to write today, it's a been a hard last year, but I'm looking forward to the new year. There is something to be said for that adage in Anne of Green Gables that tomorrow is a new day, a fresh day with no mistakes in it.

          I wonder if that is always a hope that I cherish that a fresh day is something that I can have. Isn't it really fear? Fear of making mistakes that make things happen less. The regrets I have, are far more for the things that I didn't do. I didn't write that story, paint that picture, explore, holiday more, and create more things. Mistakes happen but it really is only in hindsight that we see the mistake as it is. I was so scared when I was younger of doing the right thing.

          The right thing, isn't that such a beguiling concept? The older I get the more I think that it was far more to do with making others happy. So really that is what I want, to make myself happy, to try things and see how I get on with the idea of trying. I want to make myself the priority and see where that leads me. i also want far more chocolate in the world. I also want to do, doing makes things a lot easier and things happen.

          I want, that is a sentiment that almost feels greedy. It isn't, it's about being selfish for all the right reasons. I want to read more romances and do the things that make me happy, they are becoming more and more frequent. Making mistakes is how I learn. I can eventually learn to accept them.

          I am conscious that this this post is way too Operay for words, I don't care I love writing. I am sure I'll find a lot of things to write about but I love this blog and I am going to continue doing it as long as I can!

        

Simon and Garfunkel

          I have always loved Simon and Garfunkle and in particular the album Bridge over Troubled Water. I love the song Cecilla and Why Don't You Write Me. The sings are so great and have another album by them but for me this is the one I really love.