Fall Anthems

I’m a lazy toad at the best of times but there is one physical activity that is totally my jam and that’s walking in the Autumn.

It harks back to my time living alone in Vancouver, a very introspective period of my life. While I was doing my ‘single life’ navel gazing, there were a couple of tunes that just kept popping up as I stomped about getting shit done.

I’m a creature of habit really, so if a song makes my rotation, it very rarely gets booted off again. So I’m basically listening to these songs still, my Fall anthems. In no particular order:

  • Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
  • Everywhere – Bran Van 3000
  • Army of Me – Bjork
  • Be The One – The Ting Tings
  • Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Cheap & Cheerful – The Kills
  • Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry
  • Rhiannon – Stevie Nicks
  • Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry

I don’t think these songs need any introduction, I just love them, and feel strong and motivated when I listen them. I actually might go out for a little wander around the park in a bit, those fallen leaves aren’t going to crunch themselves underfoot.

You can have a cheeky listen to my Autumn Jams here:

What are your favourites?

Breathe

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Here we are, back to work, back to reality.

The diet chat is rife, people are returning to the gyms with their tails between their legs and boy don’t we know it. The mince pies have been cleared away and we’re having hearty porridge for our breakfasts instead of a handful of Quality Street.

I hate all the self-flagellation that comes after all the joy so I’m not partaking in it. I won’t be going to the gym tonight or any time soon because I can’t afford it and also I don’t want to. I can’t think of anything worse than sweating my nuts off in between a hundred other people who’d rather be on the sofa finishing the new series of Black Mirror. So I’ll be on the sofa finishing the new series of Black Mirror thanks, in a blanket with my tea.

January is generally the most miserable month of all and I’m going to inject as many little moments of happiness into it as I can, even if I am as poor as a church mouse. Even if all that is is an hour reading a book I’m into or having a pickle. Life’s too short and my only resolution is to be MORE so bring it 2018. I want more!

On another note, I’ve been spending more time than is healthy watching 2017 highlight videos on social media. All those wonderful perfectly composed images from the past year fill me with an instant gratification but when I think back on my own year, which was filled with some really dark moments (and obviously it was worse for my husband), I’m just thankful I made it at all.

Not to bring the mood down because we’re all about positivity here but I’m amazed I didn’t run away or bury myself in the garden at times. We suffered a great loss as a family, which was awful but has brought us closer together and I’m grateful for that. I feel as though I held on to a lot of the trauma of what happened though and then I moved from my comfy (but deeply unfulfilling) job into the worst one I’ve ever had (yes worse than the turkey plucking) – and I nearly lost it.

Some good did come of this though as the anxiety I’ve been trying to freeze out for years refused to be ignored any longer and I had to do something about it. I also learned that some people are just horrible and nothing you can do or say can change that. A hard lesson has been to understand that that’s on them and not me.

And even though I’m not sure my current role is a forever, it is fun and I’ve made some great friends – so for now I’m just going to enjoy it and see where it takes me. Despite myself I’m excited for what the year has in store, slightly wary but overall hopeful – and everyday, I’m just going to try to remember to breathe.

How are you guys settling into the New Year?

40 Songs

40 songs from the soundtrack of my life.

King of Wishful Thinking – Go West // Hometown Glory – Adele
Ironic – Alanis Morisette // Stronger Than Me – Amy Winehouse
Shine – Years & Years // Glory Box – Portishead
You’re So Cool – Hans Zimmer // Little Bird – Annie Lennox
Let Me Be Your Fantasy – Baby D // Heaven is a Place on Earth – Belinda Carlisle

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Miss you, Gurl

Formation – Beyoncé // Rebel Girl – Bikini Kill
Triumph of a Heart – Björk // Deceptacon – Le Tigre
There’s More to Life Than This – Björk // Big Time Sensuality – Björk
Joga – Björk // Lucky – Britney Spears
I Want it That Way – Backstreet Boys // Good Vibrations – Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch

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Same

Lovely Day – Lou Reed // Hurt – Johnny Cash
Rock the Casbah – The Clash // Last Nite – The Strokes
Close to Me – The Cure // Just Can’t Get Enough – Depeche Mode
Strange Love – Depeche Mode // There is a Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths
The Light – Common // Thriller – Michael Jackson

Untitled design (10)
Express Yourself – Madonna // Hotline Bling – Drake
Dilemma – Nelly & Kelly Rowland // Creep – TLC
Crazy – Aerosmith // November Rain – Guns N Roses
Insomnia – Faithless // You Got The Love – Florence & the Machine
Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry // Dreaming – Blondie

Untitled design (9)
Forever inspo

40 Songs playlist here.

Weekly Digest #6

The things I’m digging this week.

*Contains mild spoilers for Insecure & Game of Thrones, if you’re not up to date*

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Tom of Finland (2017)

IMDB Synopsis:

Award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski brings to screen the life and work of one of the most influential and celebrated figures of twentieth century gay culture.

This film is wonderful. Life-affirming, moving, inspiring and it’s done in such a tasteful way given its rather hardcore subject matter (not that that’s a requirement for me, obvs). It definitely has an art-house sheen to it but Karukowski sculpts his back story in such a way that you really become attached to the central protagonist, the titular Tom of Finland (played flawlessly, I thought, by Pekka Strang).

Support across the board is strong too, highlights for me being Tom’s sister, Kaija (Jessica Grabowsky) and Alijoki, Tom’s former Captain and friend (Taisto Oksanen).

If you can, try and catch this one, it’s lovely.

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Girls Trip (2017)

IMDB Synopsis:

When four lifelong friends travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.

Well this film was a blast from start to finish, genuinely. I took myself to a late night showing last Wednesday and the tiny theatre they showed it in was packed. Every one of us was cackling with glee.

As well as being hilarious, this movie is touching in all the right places and invests you heavily in the female friendships. It’s also very sharp on white privilege. One of my favourite scenes is the one in which Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) calls up her agent Elizabeth (Kate Walsh) on her use of African-American vernacular. She then says, of black event, Essence: “You’re a guest here, act accordingly.”

The whole cast is amazing, including Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and stealer of almost every scene, Tiffany Haddish. I can’t wait to see it again.

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Insecure, Season 2

I’ve talked about how much I love Insecure before so you can imagine my joy that Issa Rae is currently back with Season 2.

Issa Dee is back in the dating game whilst struggling with her heartbreak over losing boyfriend Lawrence, after she cheated on him. Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji), her best friend and confidante is on hand to offer advice on how to ‘ho’ while also dealing with her own issues, namely the pay gap at work.

It’s really smart, funny comedy and I love both Issa and Molly. Support is solid in Lawrence (Jay Ellis), his new fuck buddy Tasha (Dominique Perry) and the brilliantly loud Kelli (Natasha Rothwell).

Special shout out to Issa’s white colleague Frieda (Lisa Joyce) as she tries to get her head around the black Principals’s open racism towards his Hispanic students – and Issa’s subsequent argument that they should let it go and focus on all the good they’ve achieved.

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The Hound & Tormund, Game of Thrones

A selfish entry but it’s my blog so what? A special tribute to the Bromance developing between the mighty Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) and my man, The Hound (Rory McCann) as they take on the White Walkers and fight on the side of the King of the North.

Sure, the season finale is tonight (at the time of typing this) so it may be nipped in the bud before it ever gets going but for now it’s beautiful and pure. Two warriors on the same side, quietly admiring one another’s immense skillz. It has also gifted us this amazing video.

If loving these two brutes is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Right?

 

What are you digging this week?

Day 12: You Don’t Own Me

Isn’t empowering to think that you are yours and nobody else’s?

No boss, no partner, no friend or family member owns you. Remember that.

You are yours. I am mine.

Ps. I love this song. I loved the original but I like this version too.

PPs. This is a scheduled post. If all has gone to plan I am lounging in my pit nursing a very large post-Work’s Christmas Do hangover with a Pot Noodle (Chicken & Mushroom) beside the bed. Or… maybe I will remember to place painkillers and water strategically and avoid the whole hangover hub-bub (maybe I prefer that one)

Frank (Film) Review

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Never judge a film by its poster

I’m sick as a parrot, snotting and coughing all over the place and to top it all off, I royally fucked up my pancakes. It’s generally been a very mediocre Shrove Tuesday (and regular Tuesday) in the life of this Voluptuous Mind.

Except.

Except I think I might have just found my new favourite film of all time, on Netflix, just there for the plucking.

Frank (2014)

Synopsis: Jon is a wannabe musician, writing his own songs, with varying degrees of success, around his day job. By chance one day he finds himself playing keyboards with eccentric pop band, the Soronprfbs.

Verdict: Oh my gosh. I avoided this film at first because I didn’t know what to expect. I have to admit to not being that musical and although I do love music (90’s hip hop/The Smiths), I’m just not that into music biopics or the like.

This is something along those lines and in my mind I thought it would be boring and more than a little wank. I stand corrected as it’s neither of those things. In fact, it’s pretty close to perfect in terms of story (if a little flimsy), characterisation and dialogue. Mixing genuinely funny moments with poignant scenes, it gives you the feels where you don’t expect to have them.

The titular Frank, in particular, is an enigma far beyond his mask. Wearing a papier mâché head at all times (even to sleep), he carries a certificate that permits him to keep it on, even in the face of authority. He has a phenomenal singing voice while the rest of the band have varied and unique musical talent. Somehow it kind of sort of works.

Frank-Movie-PosterFrank is bolstered by his not very warm girlfriend, Clara, who takes an instant dislike to Jon, telling him early on to ‘go home’. The band have traveled to Ireland to record their first album and none of them seem that fussed about Jon, only Frank wants him around.

But Jon is convinced that he has the potential to access the far corners of his mind creatively. Will he be able to do that with a little help from his new friend? As the bond between the two of them grows, so too does Clara’s hatred for Jon.

Jon’s social networking skills, meanwhile, start to build up a small but strong following for the band, promising them an audience they never knew they wanted. Frank believes that Clara doesn’t want people to like them, but following a genuine tragedy within the group, she agrees to the band travelling to perform at the South by Southwest festival in Texas. This is not a sign that Clara is softening though, as she threatens to stab Jon if he ‘fucks up America’.

I’ll let you watch for yourself to learn the rest but I do highly recommend this film, which was inspired by the book, Frank by John Ronson (about 70’s Comedian and musician, Frank Sidebottom).

I will just sign off by saying that I love Maggie Gyllenhaal always and this performance is no exception. There’s a scene in which Jon calls Clara a really bad name (spoiler alert: it starts with a ‘C’ and ends in ‘unt’) and I thought to myself, yes that’s exactly what this character is (oh my but what a fabulous one).

Fassbender too plays his part well. Who knew that one man could elicit such genuine emotion whilst wearing an expressionless helmet/mask? He has an inimitable charisma that makes people follow him and somehow too, believe in his vision. There’s an element of something else there too that makes you want to protect him.

Finally, Domhnall Gleeson is just a little gem. His comic timing is wonderful and he puts me in mind of a young Murray Hewitt in Flight of the Conchords. I can’t wait to see him in more, especially Ex Machina.

Rating: I give this charming and genuinely heartwarming flick a not at all shabby 4.5 out of 5. And I’m tempted to pop the missing 0.5 on top anyway for taking my mind off just how shit I feel.

That’s me for tonight, I’m heading to bed now. Nighty Night.

Images via Google.

Proud Pleasures Part 1: In Praise of Miss Swift

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I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, I believe in Proud Pleasures.

If I like something, even if it’s just a Shaggy record from 1998, why not admit it? I don’t care what the cool kids think. When all is said and done, I know who I am and who I am has horrific taste in music and LOVES pop.

Candy striped, sickly sweet pop music that gives you toothache.

Which leads me effortlessly into my love for Taylor Swift. I know she’s in the press a lot, that everyone loves her for her autobiographical songs and her full skirts. I like these things about her too but if I’m honest, I’m mainly in it for the Muzak. That girl can make a damn good tune.

Music is not my first love (film is) and although I do of course listen to and enjoy it, I’ve never really got into the Indie albums my friends love. I don’t know the latest bands or who’s the best performer at a live gig. I’ve never been a festival goer and I don’t spend my money on concerts.

Maybe I am musically stunted, I know there is a whole aural universe out there just kicking it’s heels waiting for me, yet I’m stuck here on Planet Pop – and I’m okay with that.

So Taylor, I like you. I really like you. Red was fantastic with strong songs in I Knew You Were Trouble and We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and 1989 – 1989 is a perfect slice of steaming hot pop pie! Not a foot wrong as far as I’m concerned.

(Vintage looking Polaroids included with the physical CD? Genius!)

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I love you more than PSLs

I’m in love with Welcome to New York, Blank Space, All You Had to Do Was Stay, Bad Blood and Shake It Off, it’s hard to pick favourites on an album, as my friend Lightle says, full of tens.

As for my personal feelings about Tay, she seems okay. Nice enough. I assume the saccharine girl persona is just that, and that there is probably more to her than we know but she’s obviously self-aware and I like that. Anyone who can poke fun at themselves is A-OK by me.

So, in closing, I want to hark back to my favourite T. Swift era: the Dawn of the Woolly Hat and Jake Gyllenhaal in Coffee Shops Swifty. I wish he had never pissed her off and that they had stayed together. Sure, we wouldn’t have WANEGBT but we would have Jaylor Swyllenhaal!

I’ll get my coat now.

Incidentally, this is the first in a series of regular posts I am going to call Proud Pleasures.

Update: AND How You Get The Girl and New Romantics. So good. So so good!

Pretty Eccentric

The Queen of Kooks
The Queen of Kooks

“My name Isobel,
Married to myself.
My love Isobel,
Living by herself”
~ Isobel by Bjork

There’s nothing I find more appealing that genuine eccentricity. The elderly woman who used to ride around my hometown on a shiny yellow bicycle, for instance. Or the Madam who used to bowl down St James Street in a fur hat and then got her own column in a local publication.

My mother. My fabulously theatrical mother. Who would probably wave me away with a “Oh, Darling, not me!” if I said that to her.

That’s the thing with eccentrics; they rarely know that they are. Sure, there will be a little awareness but the true kook doesn’t stop to consider other people’s perception of them and their behaviours. And that is where the wannabe falls down.

One cannot simply decide one day to become an eccentric. One is; or isn’t. It’s a rare gift, a bundle of idiosyncrasies and then some. An aura. And you can spot the genuine article a mile off. Trust me, you can.

There are different levels of eccentric, of course. Eccentricity is in some respects subjective. One man’s kooky could very well be another man’s ‘unique’ X Factor contestant but the real and true, I’m pretty sure just are, and nobody can argue with it.

Nothing but love for this dress
Nothing but love for this dress

Look at Bjork. You cannot forge a person like that from nothing, it is born. It is so delightfully nuts, so original, so poetic – it just is or, as we have established, isn’t.

When I was growing up I one day read a story, true or not, about young Bjork being told off for not getting ready for school. After much cajoling, legend has it that she got up, dragging her duvet behind her, cut a hole in the top, placed it over her head like a giant poncho and went to school as normal.

Hero. I think of that often and don’t care if it’s true or not. It’s just typical Bjork.

What I love about this woman is that everything she does has a ‘fuck it’ edge. Have you ever really read her lyrics? Bonkers. Seen her on a red carpet at a ‘serious’ conventional event? Swan dress. (I implore you to have a look at this for yet more evidence. It’s my happy place).

She may be a serious and fiercely talented individual but she makes it all look like fun and that is why I will always love her.

Incidentally, did anyone recently read the article about the woman who married herself after hearing the lyric (above) in Bjork’s Isobel? How I love that idea and what it represents.

An eccentric move if ever there was one!

NB: Sometimes it’s a shame my OBF and I aren’t talking anymore. She’d so totally get this.

The Only (Riot) Grrrl In The World

robyn2Ever notice how the best songs are the heartbreak anthems? Sometimes not even anthems, some are weepy little poems that still have the power to cut you like a switch blade (hey there Joni).

Even though I hung up my angst a long time ago (does one ever?) and am not currently nursing a sore heart, I still love the fist pumping, imagine myself standing on tables, shouting at all the pigs that ever let me down psalms the best.

As I shuffle reluctantly to work every morning, my iPod bruising my ear canal ever so slightly, I always have to make the final push with a great song in my head, that extra protection against the day ahead.

Now I write all this with the best of intentions but my musical catalog contains an awful lot of Janet Jackson so it’s usually something like What Have You Done For Me Lately? off Control that gets me fighting.

JJ notwithstanding, it’s funny how some lyrics just jump out and elbow you in the ribs, isn’t it? They have the ability to drag you back through time to the exact moment you found yourself standing hesitantly outside a coffee shop after a blazing row with a boy you’d only been seeing for a few Summer months.

You remember your carefully chosen words, and how carelessly he batted them away like fruit flies. You remember how black his eyes became in rage, the chocolate-brown evaporating from them completely, making him look demonic. How you had known right there that this was it, that no matter how lovely his skin felt or how pumped you were that he chose to spent these hazy twilight hours walking around the city with you, it was done.

You recall the tears that you thought would never end, your best friend’s hand on your back and the thought, even in that moment, that you were crying not for this, but for everything bad that had ever happened to every person in the world.

Most of all you remember that it was over because you decided it was; that you weren’t going to take shit any more.

That’s what a heart-break tune will do and it doesn’t matter if you’ve moved on, if you’re happy now. It doesn’t matter if you rarely think of them; those fuckers built you up to be the fabulous person you are today and tribute must be paid, even if it’s angry.

Especially if it’s angry.

So what’s my go to angry anthem? You’ll not be surprised to learn there’s some utter toot in here: Since You’ve Been Gone, Blow Me (One Last Kiss), Dancing On My Own, Raspberry Swirl. Sinead O’Connor’s You Cause As Much Sorrow. Mr Brightside. Harpoon.

Army of Me.

All my loves.

Special mention to Joni’s Case of You which saw me through a wonderful break up (I loved it). Less punch facey sure but just as powerful. (I’m listened to Joni as I tie up the ribbon on this post with a flourish, because she’s the one).

It is true that every girl has a fighter inside, a riot grrrl or a punk, whoever she wants it to be. She may be a soft touch like me, most of the time, but given the right theme tune, that fighter will awaken to stomp the shit out of her memories, free to fight another day.

So what’s your angsty/angry/fighter theme?