Sunday, 30 December 2012

So Book Club who's with me?

   I have decided to do a book club as part of doing things that I want to do to in the New Year. All are welcome to come and join if they want. I think I am going to post questions and thoughts on the last Friday of the month, and also pick another book probably with a discussion as to what people would like to pick.


   So since I have just got out Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and have read nothing but good things about it, I thought that would be January's book, it's also something that is really different to what I usually read so would be cool to see what it's like.

   I have really missed book clubs that I have been a part of, I love having a discussion of books in any capacity so I think it's going to be really cool. So hopefully it won't be me all on my lonesome on the 25th of January the last Friday talking about the book.

   Happy New Year in advance!

  

  

My Love of Recaps



   So I have been following the series Strictly Come Dancing for the past couple of months, and it finished not too long ago and really it's because of the recaps. The recaps that I loved were from the website xojane.co.uk. I think really because those recaps are from people familiar with the British culture and that they are really interested in what is going on in this show.

   So this is a show that is basically Dancing with the Stars UK. I have no idea which came first but this doesn't make me wince like The X Factor or Big Brother (although I did watch the first season of that show on Channel 4 and thought that it was interesting because they looked at it more like a psychology experiment then it quickly went to shit). This is a show that had people who were already famous in one context or another and chose to be on this show, and not to become famous (they already have a career or that is not the reason they are on to get the public to know who they are from Adam).

   So I don't object to the reason, unlike something like the X Factor or America's Got Talent. That isn't about talent as far as I can tell. It is about commerce, and who is going to sell the most tickets or get them the most amount of money. What makes me sad about that is that the public seems to really like this, despite not really caring about the fact that at least some of the contestants really want a long term career in music rather than some short burst as a money maker and then let go.

   Maybe it's my cynicism coming to fore, but that is what those shows represent to me. I am not really a big follower of music, but really who remembers the winners of these shows six or five years ago? It makes me sad for those who participate in it, because they are selling something that who knows what the cost will be? And really for what?

   This is the reason why I like Strictly it's not really trying to sell you anything other than seeing celebrities try and perform really hard dances well.

   This is not the only reason, mostly, now I have got moralistic rant out of the way, it is for the recaps. They are hilarious. The talk about the hosting (I am team Claudia Winkleman all the way, I love her and she really is good at her job on this. Presenting I have always thought in entertainment jobs can be very hard, she does it effortlessly. She's great, she is only on it once in comparison to the others who host the show, but boy am I glad that she's there in any capacity). The other two hosts one of which I really dislike and the other is a bit meh to me, so Ms Winkelman all the way. The recapers love her too.



   They talk about the judges, I really have no thoughts on this apart from the fact they seem need to be there to least add some professional eyes to the dancing. Darcy Bussell was added just this year, she's a former ballerina and was pretty cool to me. I really didn't know enough about the other judges or really care, but for the people doing the recaps I really liked what they had to say.

   The contestants were all trying to get the dancing down. I was surprised that were two Olympians on the show, but I guess they were offered enough money. Jerry Hall was on, bad dancer, really funny on the recaps (she was only in it for two or three weeks). I liked Dani Harmer and really didn't have much of an opinion about anyone else. Apart from Lisa who was awesome (knew she wouldn't win, but was really good and I thought performed well, and like she wanted to be there). 



   Still love Lisa and there she is in my favourite colour. I really like the sleeves of that dress as well.

   I have also found other places that do recaps, Television without Pity, as well as Vulture and TV.Com. Really I fell in love with xojane's and I love that website anyway so will follow any recaps that they do.

   Strictly I didn't really watch for the outcomes I watched it for the recaps which were funny as hell, and I loved them. So really thanks to xojane.co.uk, for making me love your super funny recaps, and also as an aside being not the only one who hates Bruce Forsyth. Really it has been almost 20 years and I still can't find it in myself to really think he has any talent. As a personal request to Strictly please, please, please replace him. Even if that doesn't happen, I will still follow the recaps, because you've got me now.      

  

  

Friday, 21 December 2012

Female Friendship

   I have recently been really obsessed with Pitch Perfect that hasn't come out yet but I really want to see it. Mostly because it's about women and importantly friendships between more than two women. I love Buffy but the female friendship on that show is really only between two women of Buffy and Willow. I like that show for a lot of reasons but I find that friendships between women and more than two are rare.


   I think that this post really comes from the fact that friends in life are really important and they are always different in the women that you have them with. Friendships have been really important to me, and I really wish that there were more examples of this.

   So I wanted to give a list of stuff that I love for the friendships shown, and no particular order they are:

   Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie. I love Crusie, I have read almost everything that she has written. I think to be really honest I have only not read all of her work is because I live in the UK and it does become hard to get imports. Anyway Bet Me is one of my favourites, and I have to say because there is friendships between at least four different female characters. They are all fully fleshed. I love Min, but I also love Diana she is wonderful, and the real betrayal at the end of the book is the breaking of a friend's trust. It really is well done.

   I love this book, and Crusie is my favourite writer so no wonder I like it so much, but it really does show different women being real friends.


   Whip It. The reason again that I like this film is about the women in it. I have not read the book but the film shows different women and I like the way it's framed around roller derby. Again friendship is really the core of why I like this film. I really liked the best friend character as well as Kirsten Wiig's character.

   Calendar Girls. I have liked this film since I saw it in the cinema. Again various friendships and really it's about women standing up and doing something daring. It has the great Helen Mirren and Julie Walters in it. I really liked Penelope Wilson in it too.

   I know that I have recommended Laura Lockington before but Capers in the Sauce is still one of my favourites. I love the Englishness of the setting and again for it's about the friendships. Both male and female in this case that I really like. The characters are fully realised and what I like about this book and the people in it is how non judgemental they are. It is a real joyess read. Of course nothing at all like my life but for me that is what makes it all the more amazing.

   The Dream Series by Nora Roberts. I think my favourite today would be Finding the Dream. It about three women and their bond of love keeps the series going. I also have great affection for the two small girls in the book, because they really likable and real at the same time.

   Going down the route of female family Trisha Ashley's Every Woman for Herself, centres around women but they are sisters. For me though it is a really good book. Caitlin the daughter if the love interest is also really good and bonds with heroine in a believable way for me.

   Steel Magnolias. I know that it's a cliche to say this probably but what fuels that film is the friendship between the four main women. I really liked the film and in particular Olympia Dukakis.

   A few honorable mentions, Moonlight and Valentino, Time off for Good Behaviour by Lani Diane Rich, Julia's Chocolates by Cathy Lamb (which I do love but has quite a lot of fat hating in it, but the friendships are really good), Friends, I think the earlier series reflect the bonds between female friends really well, I loved the episode where the guys are at a hockey game and girls have a sleep over, interestingly that episode centres around what people are doing with their life and work for the women. To finish The Rose Revived by Katie Fforde (I think my favourite has always been Living Dangerously) but this I really love too partly because they are really a band of three women bonded tightly within the book, and I took my writing name May from this book.     

    I also wanted to mention a few that are about women being friends but that I had a few problems with. Bridesmaids is about women and women importantly being funny. I love the shot of Kristen Wiig on the fence trying to get back to her car and I really laughed out loud at she and Rose Byrne trying to get the attention of the policeman.

     I had problems with it too though. I felt like the rift between her and Mara Rudolph felt quite contrived. I also had a problem with the way they showed the main character being poor. At the beginning of the film they don't want to pay for the exercise that costs 20 dollars. Yet when getting bridesmaids dresses she seems to be able to afford one the costs 300 dollars. I also felt like the tone of the film seemes a little off, especially in the scenes where something grotesque would happen. I just felt like that there wasn't enough in this film to really make me connect to the friends. Not that this isn't a funny film, but I had a disjointed reaction to it.

    I also wanted to mention Drop Dead Gorgeous. I would have put this on the list but there are three big problems with it for me. That one of the judges seems to want to have sex or at least molest the contestants is really uncomfortable to watch, and not in a good comedic way either. This makes me doubt what the film makers were trying to say. Kirsten Dunst is not a good tap dancer in this film, which pretty much scotches the whole premise of her being excellent at her talent, and that being the reason why the people who are head of the pageant want her to be blocked.

   And the most egregious problem is the way they handle the disabled character. I find most characters that are like this in films very rarely handled well, and even worse when in a comedy. I didn't understand whether the intention was to make me laugh at him (which is horrible), or to laugh at how other people treat him (which could have been interesting but also ill conceived if that was the case). I think really it was a shoe horned thing to get a character to do outlandish things. If that was the case then it is lazy and offensive film making.

   I wanted to mention this film though because the things it tries for and pulls off does make it interesting. Like the whole white trash culture and the way this is shot. I also thought it was interesting to show how the women interacted with each other. There is a former winner who is now anorexic which I thought was interesting to show (though could well be offensive to people with eating disorders). I don't know I have mixed feelings about this film, but it does do something interesting with female friendships. Also Alison Janney is in it who is awesome. So if only for her scenes it is worth seeing her in a comedic performance.  

   Something that shows women together is a film worth while watching. So I hope people continue to make them and see them.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Looks

   So I was recently walking home, for those who have already read the Facebook thread, you already know what happened. Suffice it to say that a drunk guy called me ugly twice. I am over it now, but it still stings when somebody shouts at you, whatever it is that they are shouting.

   Even more annoying or ironic, I can't decide which I had recently been on a reclaim the night march. This march which is all about women saying that it is our street as much as it is men's. Now there are issues here to be discussed about safety and rights. I have never shouted at someone in the street even people I knew, it is really about intimidation and priviledge.

   Men or I should say the people who have said shit to me in the street are men, and they assume that it is their right to be able to say whatever they like to me. It pisses me off, but even more it underlines the fact that a woman on her own is still yet more vulnerable.

   I should also say I have not put pictures of myself up here. But I am going to Betty up. I am not ashamed of how I look, but I don't advertise myself. I am not trying to get a compliment and physical compliments always make me feel slightly uncomfortable. See if he had called me stupid I know that isn't true, but atacking my physical appearance seems like a judgement I can't stop but think about. I am not angling to say that I am pretty, but you know what I am human and I have feelings. I look fine and I want to share that I am perfectly OK with how I look.


   That is me at a Birthday Party. I was going through a phase of trying not to look at cameras. I think it was taken quite a few years ago.


   That is me pointing at a lollypop on the coast, I remember laughing a lot when I was there with my best friend. I love that shirt.


    I was dressed up as Wonder Woman because we had a super hero party. I loved doing it. I also loved my head band.



   And finally me at my brother's house helping make chocolate roulard with his girlfriend(as seen on The Great British Bake Off). I love this picture becuase I look slightly crazy but because it captures the fun we had making it.

   I am there in many a picture, and I am great. Just stop shouting at me in the street, and I think I will be wonderful!

Making Your Own

   I recently made some brownies. I made them rather than shop bought them. It is probably cheaper to buy them actually, but I think making them myself actually in the long term makes them better tasting. Though that's true I think for most things. Making stuff by yourself I have to say I feel like I making stuff appear out of thin air. It is easy enough to follow a recipe but seeing the end product is pretty cool!

Rediscovery

   I have rediscovered several things over the past few weeks, and one of them has been singing. I mean singing in a full bodied and full on way. This has been partly because I am part of a choir now.

   Singing for me has been wrapped up in a of of stress. I used to run and be part of a small choir, this was accapella, which means not having a piano or accompaniment, just voices. I do like that kind of singing, but it came with a hell of a lot of stress from running it I have to say. I do not miss the stress of emails and really putting yourself out there to get people to join. I also will not miss all the other music societies looking down at us, or the headache of money and budgeting that was all really hard. I also remember a head of a music telling me that I should put aside a whole day a week to deal with the choir when I was in my last year of University and buried in work (screw him).

   There were some great side benefits though it does look good on my CV that I was president of something (we'll whisper that it was only because no one else would take the job on but I was head of it for two years). The other stuff that I loved was the actual singing, and really enjoyable for me crafts, posters and really playing with art. I did love that part of it.

   So now I am part of choir. It is much bigger (couldn't be hard to be we hard I think our biggest was twenty people and our smallest about 8). This choir I have to say is really great. I am also fully owning that I am a soprano, that is where my voice naturally is, so I like singing stuff that I fully like and feel comfortable with.


   The thing that I like about this is that we are all in the sound that we are making together. And it's been fun belting out sings while I do the washing up (at the moment I am learning Winter Wonderland).

   This rediscovery has also come from the fact that there are songs up on youtube from Pitch Perfect. The songs I feel are great. I am definitely going to see this in the cinema when it comes out here in the UK. I know that this is going to be predicable from the goth girl who isn't really one to the connection to the guy who finally makes her feel, but I love films that are primarily about women and this is definately one. And it is about a choir, an accapella one at that so count me in! I am already singing to the songs on youtube.

  

La Roux

   I like La Roux a lot and sort of for the same reasons that I like Adele. They are both really good, and more than that I personally like the music that they put out. La Roux though for me has a kind of electronic sound that I don't often like but with her I do.

   I also like them both for singing songs that really kind of go past all the feminine stuff. I think for me both artists are not sexualised in the way other female artists are, they kind of do more interesting things.

   La Roux in particular and her videos I like in particular In For The Kill, Bulletproof and I'm Not Your Toy. I like a lot of the stuff that she produces. I also want to put a quick shout out to the Mercury Awards, these are awards in the music industry I think in particular the UK, and I have to say they can be a bit poncey and pretentious but they do highlight music that I might not have otherwise have known at all. This is how I found out about Florence and The Machine as well as La Roux.


   Hats off to La Roux, who produces really interesting and for me really good music.