28 February 2014

my sci/art project

teach me your magic!
some of you may remember that last year, i embarked on a study of seasonal colour analysis. not having a whole lot else to work with, i used myself as my model. then i used dom. i found it easier to look at dom's colours objectively, because i'm actually capable of being somewhat objective about the way he looks. doing this for yourself is hard, which is why you're not supposed to. someone who's gone through training and knows what to look for is supposed to do it. this whole exercise feels like i just optimistically started trying to fix a small leak and now i realise i've torn out all the plumbing. i can't just leave it like that.

at different times, i've thought i might be at least half of the available twelve sci/art seasons and, truth be told, i'm probably more confused than i was going in, but i think i'm confused in the right direction. what the hell does that mean? it means that rather than making assumptions about what colours i can and can't wear, i've actually looked at how different colours appear against my skin. and what i've discovered is that it makes a massive difference. wearing the 'right' colours makes me look more awake, makes my skin look more even, makes my eyes look brighter. more terrifying, i found that the colours i'd been choosing for myself were largely... wrong.

my attempts thus far have focused on trying to take seasonal colour palettes and use them on my face, or on my body to see how they looked. today, thanks to a rush of energy and freezing temperatures outside, i decided to approach things another way. i gathered up as many differently colour garments, pillowcases, towels, anything as i could find and took photos of me draped in all of them. not at once. one at a time. because i figure that if i can't figure out which palette works best for me, maybe i can figure out which individual colours do and i can see what the resulting palette looks like.

it's probably a good thing that you may not have met me when i get going on a project. i understand that i can be a little bit scary.

but one hour of searching, three hundred and seven photos, an hour and a half of selecting one photos per garment, an hour of choosing favourites, half and hour of dom choosing favourites and two hours of cleaning up have yielded... a bunch of photos and a blog post.

A MUCH LONGER BLOG POST...

26 February 2014

culinating :: the healthy trap

i'm enamoured of dishes that contain everything you need in one nice little package. the advantages are obvious. you get to cook one thing. you get to dirty one pot. you only have to put it in one container afterwards. everybody wins, especially you.

there's a lot of debate over what comprises a healthy meal, because every time you get a chart to tell you what percentage of your plate should be taken up by what ingredients [there are dozens], you find out that the choice was influenced by one or many interest groups who want to promote their particular products. the meat and dairy industry are well-known for having voices to which governments will listen, but don't think it stops there. grain and wheat have their advocates. so do fruits and vegetables. in fact, there are groups lobbying for their place on the government's healthy plate diagram all the time. that's not to say that the information isn't correct, but if it is, that might be a happy accident.

furthermore, our knowledge of what foods are good is in a constant state of flux. in my lifetime, eggs have gone from being a healthy staple to a cholesterol-laden enemy to a relatively benign source of protein when taken in moderation. complicating things still further is the fact that ingredients aren't in themselves good or bad, but frequently both. we can all benefit from adding omega-3 fatty acids to our diet and the best-known source of those is dark-fleshed fish. however, those fish also contain contaminants from the water they live in, like mercury, which is extremely unhealthy. and if they're processed to remove them, it diminishes their effectiveness. oh, and it takes hundreds of kilograms of fish to make a single litre of omega-3 rich oil.

food is hard.

which is why i like to have a few standby dishes that hit all the main buttons and are flexible enough to allow for personal tastes. which is what i made the other night.

it's a sort of a tex-mex inspired dish, adapted from the best 125 meatless main dishes, also known as my favourite cookbook ever. of course, in this case, i added fish, which kind of goes against the principle, but sometimes you just have to break the rules. i'm such a rebel.

the basis of the dish is black beans. goddam i love black beans. they're rich in flavour, but also rich in lots of good stuff that you need. they're a dual powerhouse of fibre and protein, meaning they work as both a carbohydrate and a meat-substitute in a meal. they help your metabolism, fill you up without fattening you up, they fight free radicals, which makes them like you're own little army of good and they even bind to bile molecules to flush them from your system [in the correct way- your body needs bile] and stop them from becoming cholesterol.

black beans are so incredibly awesome that brazil has given them their own damned tier on the national food pyramid. also, brazil has a remarkably active black bean farmers' lobby.

i'm lazy, so i personally opt for canned black beans, but if you have the time, feel free to start with the dried ones and soak them overnight. use a bit of the soaking water in the dish and save the rest for later. it makes an awesome soup base.

GET THE REST OF THE STORY AFTER THE BREAK...

24 February 2014

making faces :: spring's wood nymphs abound

i do this every year. we get a few days of nice-ish weather in february and i get all "we made it! it's over! spring has arrived!" and then i feel like it's a personal affront when the next week [which would be this week], temperatures dive once more and it's back to six layers of clothing if you want to make it to the corner alive. this condition has actually gotten worse since i've started following makeup collections, because spring's colours arrive on shelves in early february. dudes, do you even canada?

the fact is that we're likely to have a healthy coating of snow and ice until late march assuming that we're lucky. yes, there are parts of the country that are welcoming crocuses, but they're stuck at one end and most of us don't consider them fully canadian anyway. [ok, before my vancouver friends burn me at the stake, that's a joke. i joke. put down the pitchforks already.]

nonetheless, it is fun to wallow in whatever hints of spring we get.

we've already taken a peek at what dior and chanel have on offer this year, so this time, we'll be looking at products from two other major players: guerlain and armani. what strikes me as odd is how well these two collections seem to go together. both have elements with what i'd characterise as very icy tones, shades that are woodsy and still trapped beneath a layer of ice. the kind of colours i associate with being outside on those first unfrozen days when we're teased with the knowledge that yes, it will get warmer eventually, before we were plummeted back into the reality of our sub-arctic location.

guerlain's sprnig offering features bright lips, somewhat similar to what chanel has, cheery blushes in a new formula and, the sleeper hit, an eye shadow quad called "les tendres" that's quite unlike anything they've done before. as far as i'm aware, all item are limited. i snagged the palette, because i was enchanted by its combination of natural and frosty tones. it's an unexpected union, but one that really does put me in mind of early spring.

the first shade is an icy pink with a slight peach tone. it's not exclusively cool, more like the kind of pink that you'd see in very early blossoms, just the faintest bit of pigment. it's quite frosty, in all senses, but buffs out to a much nicer finish if you want something a little less dazzling.

les tendres #1
guerlain has a few highlighters along this line, especially those in the "les noirs" and "les bois de rose" palettes, but this one is a little warmer than either of those. [you'll have to forgive me for not including comparisons, but the light has been so feeble in these parts lately that i consider myself fortunate to have even gotten swatch photos that don't look like grey pools.] you can see some similar colours here.

21 February 2014

the style fyle :: berserker

i did say that i was going to post more clothing-related material, since my initial post on the subject was one of the most viewed from 2013. i feel like i need to own up to the fact that i'm typing this while wearing a tank top, cotton shirt and yoga pants, none of which are particularly fashionable, so we all have our off days.

most of the time, though, i like to think that i have my own peculiar style.

in both senses
one of the things that i think marks my sartorial idiosyncrasies [aside from loving the word "sartorial"] is a passionate desire to search out local designers in the areas where i live. i've done a lot of that in montreal and toronto, not so much among the high end/ haute couture designers [although i'm aware of them, i can't afford their wares], but among those who are just doing something different and unique. so i thought that i'd take a moment to introduce you to one of them.

a favourite of mine when i was living in toronto was a shop on queen street called peach berserk. they are the unofficial empire of silk-screening, with an ever-changing arsenal of patterns that range from newspaper clippings to original drawings to giant portraits of edie sedgewick. i've plucked a few choice morsels from their racks over the years, but if you don't find anything you want, they also do custom work and conduct workshops for you to do your own silkscreening. [you can order custom pieces in a set range of styles from their web site, linked above, but if you're able to get to toronto, it is absolutely worth checking out their store, where you can find even more styles and nab some sale items at great prices.]

their work is very distinctive, which means that it's recognizable, so it's not the sort of thing that you can wear every day without looking like a mannequin, but it's definitely the sort of thing that you might want to pull out when you want to make a statement. they're not the sort of pieces that will go unnoticed. likewise, if you're personal style tends towards the more understated or minimalist, these are probably the sort of garments that are going to look awkward. there is absolutely nothing understated about these happy, splashy items.

FIND SOME HAPPY SPLASHY AFTER THE BREAK...

20 February 2014

sometimes literature teaches us about the virgin mary in the bathtub

cleanliness is next to godliness
tonight i finally made a point of going out to a poetry and prose reading. i get invited to these things fairly often, but i never end up going because i'm usually beat by the end of the day and feeling much to grumpy to deal with people other than dom, who has end-of-days kate inflicted on him on a regular basis. however, since i'm no longer office-bound, i figured that i have no excuse and, more importantly, i think it would make me a better writer to have contact with other people who have been doing this longer or more successfully than i have.

the reading that i attended is one of a series held at the yellow door, which is sort of an underground [literally and figuratively] montreal institution. readings are held there once a month or so and feature poets, prose writers and musicians performing for friends and curious strangers. tonight's reading was mostly poetry, although there was some prose and just a hint of music, along with what could more accurately be termed "spoken word" pieces- i.e., writing created to be read out loud, before an audience, rather than read on the page.

and indeed, the evening was educational for me. and shaming. the shaming was almost immediate, because the first woman who read opened by talking about how she'd been making a point of trying to write one poem every morning, since that's when she feels at her most creative. cue the heavy cloak of fail descending upon me. i think about writing every day, but i sure as hell don't do it. i can't even write blog posts every day and, as you might have noticed, those aren't exactly polished. so thank you for the reminder: if i'm going to be serious about this writing thing, i need to put more serious time into it.

one thing that also occurred to me as the evening drew to a close is that i may in fact be intolerably morbid, brooding, paranoid and generally dark. most of the people reading this evening made reference to beautiful, positive, life-affirming things that broke through pain and monotony of their lives and inspired them. there was a decided paucity of corpses and angst [which is what i think i'm going to call my next short story anthology, now that i think about it]. by comparison, most of my writing [see links to the various poetry and prose entries at the top of this page] is more about the things that will eventually grind you up or grind you down and bury you in a pile of your own meaninglessness. ok, it's possible i've written happier things, just not very many of them.

but most interesting to me was something i discovered after i had crawled out from under the stone of shame but before i realised that i'm remarkably off-putting. author alice peterson read a story from her anthology all the voices cry and by way of introduction, talked about her efforts to find a claw-footed bathtub for her home in rural quebec. when she asked the locals, she was told that she could find them everywhere, in disused lawns and gardens, because the damn things grow like weeds. that's a hard thing for someone who doesn't come from a rural or religious background to grasp, but indeed, the wilds of quebec are evidently in bloom with claw-footed bathtubs sprouting from the ground.

you see, many families want to build a shrine to the virgin mary, but need to do this on the cheap. so rather than order from their trusty "shrines-r-us", people take a d.i.y. attitude and construct a shrine out of whatever they happen to have laying around. like their bathtub. this raises a lot of questions for me. i mean, it seems like a lot of work to dig a hole to stand a bathtub in. plus, don't most families need their tubs? [on second thought, maybe i don't want to know the answer to that second question.] and what happens if you move? do the shrines come with the house? or is everyone responsible for digging up and transporting their own tub-shrine? isn't it a little bit sinful to show the virgin mary in the bathtub? or at least intruding on her privacy? shouldn't she at least get a shower curtain or something?

i opted not to interrupt the reading, but you'd better believe that as soon as i got home, i rushed to google "quebec bathtub shrines". i really wanted photographs, but i also got a link to a wikipedia entry for "bathtub madonna", which i believe was the b-side of "lady madonna", now that i think of it.

and i found out that this is by no means limited to quebec. in fact, putting the virgin in an upended tub in your backyard is a thing in a lot of areas traditionally inhabited by poor catholics in north america. they're a well-enough known icon of white trash ingenuity in the united states that john waters has made fun of them, ironically in one of the few films of his i haven't seen. [nor would i have believed it was a real thing if i had seen it, because, let's face it, waters isn't known for his gritty realism.]

perhaps these shrines are built to recall the humble origins of jesus, but i suspect that they're simply testimony to the power of god and religion in the lives of people living in an inhospitable region for hundreds of years. you'd kind of want to believe that you had god on your side. personally, i'd just like to float the idea that if the choice is between building a shrine and having a bathtub, maybe the almighty would be cool with you not building a monument to the girl he deflowered and knocked up.

but let this be a lesson to you all: reading is important. books are important. you can learn things about yourself and about the world from every literary experience you have. also, when you come to quebec, you might be able to find a free range bathtub to take home with you.

17 February 2014

mental health mondays [revisited] :: what we aren't talking about is killing us

i was going to do an olympic-themed post on sport psychologists, which apparently almost every single olympian must have, or else their brains will be crushed by the pressure to perform at the games. i actually heard about this when i saw a piece on one canadian athlete at the current winter games, a medal winner who, a colleague said with evident shock had actually never had his own sports psychologist. this was considered shocking in the world of sport, although the only thing shocking to me is that we consider it good to send young men and women into a forum where it's pretty much assumed that they're going to need psychological help. i think we all need to calm down a little. 

unfortunately, as interesting as the subject is, i didn't do the requisite background research i thought that it needed. i meant to do it last week. i meant to do it this week. i'm a bad, bad blogger. [what's worse, i don't even have particularly good reasons for not having done this. it's not like i've accomplished all that much in the meantime.]

so today, i was faced with a choice:

1. publish a mental health mondays post which basically consisted of me saying "these athletes are involved with something a side effect of which is psychological damage, so much so that it requires it's own specific type of psychologist? wtf is with that???" in various ways for several paragraphs. or;

2. go back to the archives and find something that has a little more detail.

i choose to do the latter, because it always bugs me when i skimp on mhm [and also when i skip them, which i did last week]. also, when i first published this post in 2011, an observant friend pointed out that i omitted to mention another unsettling fact about suicide: male suicides far outnumber female ones.

IT'S HIDING AFTER THE BREAK

15 February 2014

making faces :: wherein i meet my vampy lip match

if you've read through the beauty posts on this blog, you'll likely have gleaned that i have a bit of a thing for dark, dramatic lips. yes, i adore my reds and berries, but i am forever in search of the ultimate dark lipstick. i've already done a post on what i consider to be some of the "classics of the genre" and i stand by those. but recently, i met up with something that may in fact be the end of the proverbial road when it comes to the vampy lip. it may simply be impossible for things to get more intense without moving into purely black territory.

le metier de beaute lipstick in "bali" is truly an awesome thing to contend with. i've talked before about how the perfect vampy lipsticks are a combination of red, purple and brown held in balance and while "bali" has these elements, what's truly impressive about it is how intensely, powerfully dark it is, while not looking black. it's a rich, deep, blackened red with definite hints of purple and a warmth that comes from brown tones, but what you're likely to notice is that it's dark.

bali
in all my life, i don't think i've ever seen a lipstick this dark before. that's saying something, because i'm the girl who always reaches for the darkest colour in any range. tom ford "black orchid" came close, but it's still just a hair brighter [plus, of course, it's browner and, sadly, discontinued]. even le metier's own deep red-purple vamp "kona" is noticeably lighter.

14 February 2014

making faces :: a valentine's look with ellis faas [and friends]

ok, first of all, i'm sorry about my expression in these pictures. i know i look like someone who's just been sentenced to jail time, but, really, i was in a good mood. for me at least. if my mood gets too good i can be dangerous, so it's better to keep a cap on things.

second, i decided to go ahead and post this without doing a complete review of the brand new product i'm featuring, because i did think that it fit with the overall theme of the day, although i was actually wearing it yesterday. i'll be posting a review of this and more from ellis faas in the very near future.

the new thing is, of course, one of ellis' new "hot lips" lipsticks. these new, creamy, satin-matte shades get away from the brand's emphasis on "human colours" [i.e., colours found already in the human body]. at least, i think it gets away from that. or dutch people look significantly different than i'd been led to believe.

each of the shades is very saturated and most are extremely bright [there are a couple of more muted colours hidden in there somewhere]. i personally opted for shade 304, "bright fuchsia". as you can see just after the break, it lives up to its name.

13 February 2014

poetry corner :: those people are not your friends

this is a first whack at something. it sort of tumbled out of me while i was relaxing and having coffee the other morning and enjoying the fact that i hadn't had horrifying nightmares, which marks an exceptional night for me. as in "the exception to the rule". if anyone knows how to stop ongoing nightmares by the way, i'd be super-appreciative and so would dom and my neighbours and random people passing by my building late at night.

on the other hand, it is kind of a product of some of those nightmares, as well as some of the waking-life stress i've had lately that has probably caused them. let's hear it for night terrors, the great cesspool of creative output! hurrah!

the name i've given it is tentative. it's obviously just the first line of the poem, which is kind of the sucker's way of naming things. if all poets were so slack, we'd have "for god's sake hold your tongue" instead of "the canonization" by john donne, which makes you think differently about the whole thing. not that i'm comparing myself to john donne, because i am nowhere near that good a poet and, more importantly to me, i am not dead.

the poem below betrays my interest in tarot, which has been part of my life since i was in my mid-teens. [a long time ago, ok, can we just leave it at that?] i've always wanted to write something that borrowed from the structure and the iconography of the entire tarot, but haven't quite managed to push myself into doing it... yet. that's what the rest of my life is for, right?

anyway, this is a poem. i hope you enjoy it.

*

Those people are not your friends
Raw animals still thinking of their survival
never seeing their own domestication,
that breeding out of will and wildness
a reduction to a confused shape
reaching desperately for other shapes
to block the movement of the earth,
to stop that hellish rotation
that brings just change and death,
many deaths.

This is your card, the death's head
in ultimate triumph.
Why do you fear the harvest?
The scythe is in all our futures,
we cannot control when or where it falls.
We can husband the new seeds.
The soil does not cry for what is wasted;
it was never worth sowing.

A trillion stars and you had to end up here
in a rock fertile with predators
embedded in shells that look like you
a little;
that sound like you
from time to time.

A reading is not a destination,
but reveals the machinery
you pretend does not exist.
What you have to do is not written.
What you have to do is anything
Everyone told you and none of it was right.

Do you love that trick he does,
the magician whom the crowd applauds?
His assistants bar him in his cell
and breathless we imagine how he affects
the great escape.
But in truth there is no magic,
the locks  themselves are tricks
and he chooses when to throw them open.
We could all do it
but we so want to believe in more.

So long to all that then
and goodbye to you all,
I gather up my pack and put my foot to the road.
There is no more I can do-
The story is in the cards-
The movement, inexorable, will continue
and none of us makes it out.
This space is for rejoicing
but suffer if it suits you best.

Goodbye, I say and not adieu;
good night and then good morning.
Do not rise on my account.
Stay as you are, or don't
Think on what I've said
or let it slide from memory.
Nothing that has happened here matters anymore.

12 February 2014

i would like to not talk about my bum

i mostly just tune out advertising when i watch television. although i'm sure it makes some impression, i mostly perceive as background noise. i'm sure i couldn't tell you what products most of the ads were for, because it's all a jumble of cars, insurance, travel sites and stuff that you need because you have children. for me to remember an ad takes something pretty special.

a couple of years ago, for instance, fed ex had an absolutely adorable ad with animated singing frogs and scenes from a happy forest that talked about the company's efforts to reduce emissions and their carbon footprint. aw. that was cute.

more recently, however, i've been haunted by the spectre of a perky blonde woman with a british accent demanding to talk about my bum. i don't know her and i don't know why my posterior should be of such interest to her, or what she's getting paid to be forever tagged as the woman who's obsessed with ass-chat, but one thing has become clear: she is evil and must be stopped.

ok, maybe she isn't evil, i've never even met her. i'm a little uncomfortable with her predilections, but i try not to judge. [note: i can't help it. if you go around demanding to talk to people about their wazoo, i am judging you. i'm sorry.] but whatever she is, she is flogging a product whose sole purpose is to destroy the planet and everything on it.

you might think that i'm exaggerating when i say that cottonelle wet wipes spell the end of civilisation as we know it, but stay with me.

first of all, these new "flushable" wet wipes are the antithesis of everything that environmentalists have been telling us for the last half century. in order to use them, you are supposed to wipe the area with regular toilet paper, follow with a wet wipe and then wipe with toilet paper again. a one-step, one-product process becomes triple the work and triple the garbage goes down the toilet. congratulations, you are now truly wiping your ass with your own future. forests are being destroyed, chemicals are being leached into the soil, all so that we can walk around secure in the knowledge that our buttholes are minty fresh.

second of all, the entire point of this campaign seems to be to layer shame on top of already extant shame about the filthiness of our own bodies. because clearly, if some chipper lady needs to talk to you about the state of the arsehole, it's clear that there's a problem. wipe all you want, shower twice a day. the fact is that your back passage is less than pristine and this complete stranger can tell without so much as sticking her nose in your pants.

history teaches us many lessons and among them is that people do horrible, disgusting things to each other when they feel they have things to be ashamed of. how long do you think it's going to be before some powerful organisation foists the anal inquisition on all of us? bleach enemas! sell-fumigating underpants! this is the future, people and it may be clean, but it's still ugly.

i for one, will be abstaining from this terrifying new trend and attending to my back passage the old-fashioned way. well, the toilet paper way at least. anything more old-fashioned than that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

here, watch the fed ex ad. it's adorable.

09 February 2014

making faces :: daytime dramatic

not me
it's not fair. when i was younger, i went out at night a fair amount. i could have worn whatever craziness i wanted on my face, but i generally didn't because i had less makeup and even more because i had absolutely no idea what i was doing. it was a very long time before i realised that you could put eye liner on your upper lids. i'm not talking as a teenager, i'm talking about when i was in my mid-twenties. mid-to-late. and the first few times i attempted it i just sort of smeared a circle around my eye, which didn't make me too confident about trying it out a lot.

now, i've picked up a few tips and can do more interesting things with makeup brushes, but i don't have a lot of occasions to use them, because i just don't feel the impetus to go out as much as i once did. i'm not a complete homebody [yet] but it does take a fair amount of pressure to convince me that i'd be better off heading out at night than sitting at home with a book, a film and/ or a nice glass of wine.

WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO?

08 February 2014

this is only the beginning...

it's been a while since i've shared a piece of writing, probably because it's been a while since i've really worked on a piece of writing. i'm aiming to correct that problem and in the interests of moving forward, i thought i might share the beginning of a piece i've started working on. it's actually inspired by a series of dreams, but it takes the form of a crime story, something i've never attempted before. and to keep it fairly compelling, i find that i've adjusted my style to be a little more accessible than it has been at other times.

feel free to give me feedback on this, the opening section of my latest project. more to come? i don't know if i'll be posting this one on the blog or not. regardless, it's something that i want to see through to its conclusion, which i already know. i just have to work my way through.

warning :: even in this brief segment, there is some adult language and content.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED...


making faces :: viva viva glam!

in the last few years, i've gone from being a mac super-fangirl to being a mac skeptic. their increasingly sub-par collections and their deliberately restricted stock on limited items have made the experience of buying from them frustrating to say the least. but i have to salute them for their continued dedication to the cause of eliminating aids and promoting education and safety to control its spread. every year, mac introduces new products- generally a lipstick and a lip gloss- with a celebrity spokesperson to raise money for the campaign and every penny that's raised goes towards the cause.

the shades have ranged from the nearly universal to the borderline wacky- last year's second collaboration with rapper nicki minaj was a white-based lavender that looked beautiful in the tube, but was extraordinarily difficult for most complexions to pull off without calling a lot of attention. [hey, sometimes that's what you want.] my personal favourite has always been "viva glam v", a light neutral pink with gold shimmer that's just a perfect everyday shade.

the first six iterations of viva glam lipstick are part of the mac permanent collections. all the ones done since have been produced for a year, then discontinued forever. all of those bear the name of the spokesperson associated with them, including minaj, cyndi lauper, lady gaga, rupaul [who was also the original campaign model] and now rihanna.

for those of you who missed it, rihanna has already collaborated with mac on several collections that bore her name last year. those collections were popular, exceedingly so, but also raised a lot of ill will among mac fans because of low stock availability, "waiting rooms" for online purchases and sometimes questionable quality. this time, however, there are no such problems. the lipstick and gloss are and will be available, with stores expected to carry stock until next february.

SEE SWATCHES AND A LOOK AFTER THE BREAK...

06 February 2014

and that's why people don't talk to us very much

scene :: dom and me in our living room, each occupying a sofa and being occupied by at least one cat. dom gets up [annoying the cat] and places blu-ray in blu-ray disc player, because dvd's are so 2002, although to be honest, i had to stop myself from typing "video", which i think is now considered an archaic term, like mickel or hende. [shut up, spellcheck, they are so english words because middle english totally counts.]

me :: are you putting in a movie? [as opposed to "are you sliding a ham and cheese sandwich into the blu-ray player to see what happens"? -ed.]

dom :: yes, i thought we could watch casino.

author's note- we'd been talking about doing this for a long time, because we've been re-watching seasons of the original csi, which is the only csi you need to be bothered with and it definitely owes a debt to casino in its portrayal of las vegas. i'd never actually seen it and dom had never seen csi, so we thought of it as a sort of cultural exchange. insofar as las vegas can be seen as "culture".

dom :: you'll love the look of the film. it was shot by the guy who shot jfk.

me :: oh he's amazing!

it's sort of understood between us that he was referring to robert richardson, who was the cinematographer/ director of photography for the oliver stone film jfk, but it did occur to me afterward that people overhearing us, assuming there had been people in our apartment to overhear us at the time, where they had no business being, so they pretty much deserve anything they get, might have been a little confused by the exchange.

we have conversations like this in public all the time, using our own private mental shorthand. i think it's a healthy sign for a couple. plus, it's an excellent way of making sure that we get a section of seats to ourselves on the metro.

and casino is a very good film, as long as you don't mind lots of gangster violence and occasional joe pesci sex scenes. but you probably knew that since it came out twenty years ago and i think i was the only person in north america at least who hadn't seen it.

robert richardson also shot george harrison, but you don't hear as much about that one.

05 February 2014

making faces :: i am curious, yellow

last year, when i started looking into colour analysis, particularly sci/art seasonal colour analysis, i believed that it would probably tell me that i was best suited to a softer, understated palette. my natural colouring [if i can remember my natural hair properly and if it hasn't changed too much in the ten years or so since i had a good look at it] seemed soft and dusty, my eyes were pale... it just made a kind of sense that something more subdued would be a perfect match. as it turns out, while i haven't made a categorical decision about what makes me look best, it seems like the exact opposite is the truth. my complexion benefits from having saturated, strong colours around it. my lifelong attraction to pucci-style prints and shocking shades of magenta and lime green was i was nonetheless convinced i couldn't pull off may actually have been a subconscious realisation of the truth of my inherent colouring.

i was also shocked to discover that my lifelong assertion that i was cooler toned- based on the paleness of my complexion and eyes- was at best questionable. while it's true that i'm decidedly not entirely warm-toned, i can pull off some warmer colours as well or better than many cool ones. i always knew that blue worked on me, because i wore it reasonably often [when i wasn't remaining true to my goth-girl roots and wearing black] and would get compliments on how i looked, not just on what i was wearing. however, in the last year, i've purposely tried to purchase colours that i think might work, but that fall outside of the sort of things i have chosen over the last twenty or so years. [that's not to say that i've worn the same sort of clothing for that long, my taste has definitely evolved, however, it has generally stayed predominantly dark and muted, with some occasional forays into splashy patterns when i was feeling especially daring. what i was trying to accomplish this year was expanding my colour range from statement pieces to more flexible, everyday ones, which have always been predominantly black for me.]

03 February 2014

mental health mondays :: aftershocks

although i read up a lot on mental health issues, i have to admit that one that i've studied very little is post-traumatic stress disorder, or ptsd. there's no particular reason for the avoidance, although i suppose it's partially because the term is quite self-explanatory. it falls within the anxiety spectrum and is the result of an event that caused a fear of imminent death or harm to oneself or others. but i thought that i would write something on it this week after a preliminary investigation turned up an absolutely horrifying statistic from the canadian mental health association: ptsd is believed to affect 1 in 10 people and is one of the most common forms of mental disorder.

i beg your pardon cmha???

perhaps i'm the only person to think this way, but that ratio seems unacceptably high. how many of you know ten people? statistically, it is likely that at least one of them have suffered from ptsd at some point in their lives. that's not just a matter of having gone through an acutely stressful event, that means the person has experienced something so stressful that it has changed how their brain processes information, which is pretty scary if you think about it.

although the condition may have been noticed as far back as shakespeare's time, it was really only with the "total wars" of the twentieth century that doctors became aware of the effects of stressors [the name given to traumatic trigger events] on the human brain. after world war one, many soldiers started to return home with profound mental problems, even if they had no evident physical injuries. in fact, it is largely because of wars that we understand anything about post-traumatic stress disorder at all is because of wars. much of the research that psychiatrists rely on even today was conducted on vietnam veterans in the 1970s.

since then, of course, it's been discovered that ptsd is not unique to those who have been through wars. it can be caused by rape or other violent assaults. it can be caused by witnessing violence. it can be caused by early childhood events, although there is a separate category for ptsd resulting from events that occur before the age of six.

02 February 2014

making faces :: groundhog day

in honour of the day that recalcitrant rodents are supposed to predict the weather, i thought i'd try something a little hopeful, something indicative of my hope that we are not due for another six weeks of winter weather. i'll admit that this is improbable, given the fact that this is eastern canada and having winter until mid-march is something we should just expect, but you can't blame a girl for trying out her optimism...

although many people like to avoid them, i've always enjoyed a positive relationship with shades of pink around the eyes. in fact, pinks or anything with a lot of red pigment that can be worn around the eyes are a comparatively recent development. maybe people just need a chance to get used to them and in twenty years, when i've finally become the eccentric old lady that i'm meant to be, they'll be more accepted. there's no arguing that, done wrong, they can create the impression that you have some kind of unfortunate condition, but i usually get around this by making sure i have a nice barrier of black liner in between the pink and my eyeballs. [that sounds wrong, but i can't be bothered to fix it.]

i didn't want to go too dramatic, since this was actually something that i was wearing to a brunch with friends, but i thought that pinks and corals were nicely reminiscent of spring flowers. i used a combination of brands to get the final look, which is something i've been trying to do more lately. it's too tempting to just reach for a palette and run, when the fun of this sort of thing is generally in the colour math; this + this = something i haven't really tried too often.

01 February 2014

well lit :: when a book is trying to tell you something

thought i'd share another of my experiences with books...

many years ago, i made a decision to read my way through the works of f. scott fitzgerald, more or less in one extended run. i'm not sure why it occurred to me to do this, other than the fact that fitzgerald just doesn't have that many books, so it wasn't like trying to read through the entire oeuvre of stephen king. also, fitzgerald tended to write shorter novels, which meant it was pretty quick gratification. a couple of good reading sessions and you were almost done.

i was going to go in order, but ended up mixing things around and the last one on the list was tender is the night. i can't remember anything else about the order, but i know that one was last because, just short of my goal, i had a rather traumatic break-up and put the book down while i paused to lick my wounds. afterward, of course, i was a little hesitant to pick the book up again because it was covered in break-up germs.

several years later, i decided to face my fear and go back to accomplish my goal, rather than continue to allow myself to avoid the book out of superstition. after all, it was hardly the book's fault that my life had taken a turn for the worse at page 131. the book was innocent! besides, if i didn't do something i'd forever know the shame of having reading almost all the books of f. scott fitzgerald and having failed with the goal line in sight.

about two thirds of the way through the book, my boyfriend at the time and i broke up.

so it actually appeared to be the book's doing after all. f. scott fitzgerald was trying to ruin my life from beyond the grave.

once again, i put the book down and occupied my brains with other, lighter things. like things besides a book about the decline and destruction of a jazz age marriage.

the story has a happy ending [mine, not tender, which is kind of a downer] in that i did finish the book on the third try. i picked it up again a couple of years later. when i was single. because you can never be too careful when dead authors want to ruin your life.
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