31 August 2014

five years

it's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood...
one of the really fun things about shooting conversion was the fact that we got to make our beloved city of montreal a sort of omnipresent background character in the film. we selected locations that showed the montreal we know and love- full of hot lighting, gaudy street painting and decrepit but picturesque byways. one thing that i did not think of at the time, however, was that we were actually recording bits of montreal history. however, all cities are in a constant state of flux and while the best known areas tend to remain in place, those that really show off the glory of urban grit tend to be swept aside by the giant backhand of progress.

i'm not saying that to argue against progress. during one of our longest shoots, our lead actor paul ash ended up with a hypodermic needle embedded in his boot courtesy of one of the montreal areas less frequented by tourists. some of our background shots were taken in areas where i didn't even feel comfortable leaving the car unattended. at the same time, there is always something lost when a city "progresses". i'm not just talking about the dangers of gentrification, either, but rather the unique character, art and history that is paved over to make something cleaner, more modern and possibly better.

i was reminded of this today when i heard about the closing of the notre dame de grâce institution, d.a.d.'s bagels. d.a.d.'s doesn't make a direct appearance in the film, however, during long nights shooting in the neighbourhood, we were constantly taking advantage of their cheap and delicious food, both the eponymous bagels and their delicious homemade indian food. since they were open at all hours, they were a godsend to a team of guerilla filmmakers working through the late summer nights.

:-(
sadly, d.a.d.'s, a family-owned enterprise with a devout following, has been forced to close [today] because their landlord refused to renew their lease. instead, the space has been let to d.a.d.'s next door neighbour, dollarama, who are willing to pay top dollar to secure the adjacent property for an expansion. and so a local business once again falls to a larger corporation [albeit one with montreal roots, although none of their products are manufactured here] and both the city and the neighbourhood lose something distinctive [seriously, where are you going to get your jewish and indian cravings satisfied now without going to two separate locations?] in favour of something streamlined, something which is the same no matter where you encounter it.

notre dame de grâce is a great neighbourhood. there is a distinctive community feel to the place, reflected in many small, unique businesses. it probably has the most vibrant mix of cultures of anywhere in the city and is among the most densely populated. it is also remarkable for its lush, verdant streets [see photo of a typical street above], something which is not particularly common in montreal. it has sections that are quite posh and others that are rough, but all of them seem to coexist fairly easily. but ndg is also a neighbourhood in transition. a mammoth hospital being constructed in its southern extremity has resulted in a building boom and its shabbier side is being clearcut in order to make room for the usual mix of modern office space and shiny new condos for young professionals.

so i thought i would take give you a look at a couple of the locations where we shot and what's become of them since.

28 August 2014

making faces :: made for me [or you]

all makeup aficionados go through this: there's one colour [or several] that you want, but you just can't quite find. this is how most of us end up with seventeen colours that look close enough to each other: they aren't exactly what we're looking for, nor can we achieve that exact shade by mixing what we have. it's a frivolous but frustrating cross to bear.

luckily, if you're looking for a lipstick, bite beauty can help you out. you can travel to their one of a kind lip lab, where they will work with you to come up with the exact shade you want and will mix it up right before your eyes. of course, if you can't get to the lip lab in new york city, you might be able to get a version of the experience with the bite mobile lip lab, which is currently touring sephora locations in north america. it passed through the downtown flagship store this past weekend and, of course, i took full advantage.

the experience begins with a consultation where you can look at the different shades available. these are mixed especially for these events, so they aren't a match to any available bite products. the base colours are generally quite saturated and there are a lot of options, especially in the berry-pink-red range. [it's possible i was just paying closer attention to those, since they piqued my interest.] you can choose one of the colours as is, or try a combination. my consultant jackie helped me get the right mix to achieve the shade that i wanted. i came prepared with a pretty good idea of what i wanted, but they'll also take the time to go through what sort of shade you might be looking for. jackie helped me applying different mixes until we had the right one- a combination of two shades. [to go off on a tangent for a moment, i have to mention that jackie was an absolutely textbook true winter in sci/art terms and completely owned her colours. i wish i'd gotten more photos of her, because she really was a great example of how great you can look in shades that are best-suited to you.]

the adventure starts here
you then choose from one of three finishes- matte, luminous [satin] or sheer- and a scent. they had about a half a dozen scents to choose from and i went with violet. there was also a delicious vanilla that smelled a lot like crème brulée, but i was afraid that if i took that, i'd just eat the lipstick. [which, incidentally, i could have done. bite uses food grade ingredients that are 80% organic. but then i wouldn't have had a lipstick when i got home. just pink teeth and a lot of explaining to do.]

do not nom!
a sampling of scents
jackie noted my mixture and then handed me off to the lovely lady standing behind what looked like a counter full of macarons, but which is actually a counter full of "colour cakes" alongside translucent "cakes" [i'm sorry, it's what they looked like] for finish. she mixes the cakes in proper ratio, adds the scented oil and pours the resulting slurry into a metal mold. i was surprised at how little time it takes to set- maybe five minutes, which passes pretty quickly when you have pleasant ladies who know everything about lipstick to talk to. interesting detail i picked up: everything at bite is made by hand, right down to the application of the labels. because of the success they've enjoyed at sephora [the brand's exclusive retailer], they are in the process of moving to a larger facility.

checking the specifications.
the resultant lipstick was as nice as everything i've come to expect from bite. the formula for the custom made lipsticks is closer to the deconstructed rose products than the regular luminous creme. my shade, which is, as you'll see, fairly bright, lasted about four hours [one layer applied directly from the tube] before starting to fade, which is on the long side for me. it was incredibly comfortable and slightly moisturizing. [bite lipsticks are the only ones i've ever tried which actually seem to hydrate my lips. some do a good job of keeping them soft if they start out that way, but after wearing bite lipsticks, i find my lips feel slightly better.] i experienced no feathering at all and the shade faded to a very visible stain. applying first with a lip brush and then using a layer over top straight from the tube makes the colour pretty much like a beautiful piece of armour. it extends the wear time and mitigates the fading.

almost ready!
it seems strange to talk about a colour that was custom made for me, but if you have the opportunity to visit the bite mobile lab and think you'd like this exact colour yourself, i do have the recipe and would be happy to pass it on. [i believe that the premixed colours they use in the mobile lab are always the same.]

i wanted something with elements of pink, purple and red in more or less that order, cooler in tone and a little bit more muted than really bold fuchsias like mac show orchid and lighter than something like guerlain gladys. i've named the lipstick "flora mundi", which is sort of a personal reference, but i really wanted to give it a name more interesting than "kate's personal lipstick". here it is, in all its glory:

"flora mundi" made just for me
if you want to try something similar, i thought i'd provide some comparison swatches for you. nars "funny face" is similar in terms of the base colour, but has a blue sheen that makes them look different, especially in the light. bite beauty "crimson" is darker and redder. guerlain "gladys" is darker, redder and slightly shimmery. mac "catharina" [l.e. but returning for this holiday season, apparently] is redder, warmer.

l to r :: bite crimson [l.e.], guerlain gladys, flora mundi, nars funny face, mac catharina [l.e.]
closer look :: flora mundi, nars funny face
and finally, here is the lipstick adorning my allergy plagued face. there was seriously nothing that would fix those puffy eyes for most of the week, so it's good that i had a bright lipstick to distract from them.




products used:

the base ::
vichy bb cream "light"
ysl teint touche éclat foundation "b10"
nars radiant creamy concealer "vanilla"
mac paint pot "painterly"
mac prep and prime finishing powder "translucent"

eyes ::
mac e/s "unbasic white" [dirty white]*
mac e/s "seedy pearl" [grey-tinged light pink]
mac e/s "copperplate" [warm matte grey]
mac e/s "print" [deep iron grey]
stila sparkle liner "starry" [gunmetal grey with multicolour shimmer]

cheeks ::
dior creme blush "pareo" [bright magenta]*

lips ::
bite beauty creme lipstick "flora mundi" [bright cool berry pink]

*suggested alternates :: unbasic white = mac crystal avalanche [more of a pure white, without the grey tinge]; pareo = nars desire

the lip lab experience is a lot of fun and takes less time than you might think. any beauty lover who has the opportunity should avail themselves. the cost was approximately $35cad plus taxes, which means it's about $7 more than a regular bite lipstick, but still cheaper than prestige brands like chanel and yves st. laurent. so that price gets you a great lipstick and a fun experience.

26 August 2014

mental health mondays :: belated and brief

i feel like the last week has left me inundated with mhm material, but i haven't had a lot of chances to do any quality research, so i'm going to have to leave this short and sweet, with something that i'd intended to write about, but had my intentions changed as the story continued to unfold. 

as some of you may be aware, henry rollins penned a column about robin williams and about suicide in general recently. it got a lot of reaction, some of it positive, but a lot of it negative. very negative. although i rarely feel compelled to leave comments on pieces i read online [because comment threads are usually where the last vestiges of our humanity are butchered and their carcasses hung in the window], i did leave my own comment on this one. it's buried in there somewhere, but this is what i said: 


I think that your intentions are probably good here, but sir: you just don't get it. What's worse is that you're using your public platform to repeat one of the ancient tropes about mental illness that actually stops people from getting treatment- that people with mental disorders are in control of what's happening to them. People who are clinically depressed don't choose suicide the way that you choose an item on a menu at a restaurant. They are compelled to suicide the way that your body compels you to eat. It's not a matter of "feeling your pain", it's a matter of understanding that people who are severely depressed don't see the world in the same way you do. It's like going through your life convinced the sky is purple and not understanding why people keep insisting it's blue. 
It's all well and good that you've seen depressed people and sympathized with them and maybe you want to help, but what you're doing is damaging and if you'd paused to read up on the issue, the way you do on so many other issues, you might have realized that giving into your gut on a subject with which you're only anecdotally familiar was the wrong way to go. I've read things that you've written and seen you do spoken word performances several times. You're better than this specious, easy-bake logic. Act like it.

it was disappointing for me to see that someone who is so logical about a lot of things get thrown back to an unwise state of relying on gut feelings rather than knowledge on the subject, which is what we're dealing with here. fortunately, my disappointment was short-lived, because rollins published this statement on his website, wherein he basically cops to all the problems that i [among many others] had found with his original piece. [note: when i say he responded to the issues i had, i do not mean that he responded to me directly. he didn't, of course. i simply mean that his apology incorporated points that addressed my concerns.]

the best thing about this is that it speaks to the possibility that people- smart people- can realise what is wrong with their reasoning about depression and mental illness. feeling sorry and realising that you have reason to be sorry is a big first step. admitting that you don't understand as well as you thought is a big step. once you've made those, when you've realised [as i have about many things] that you really don't understand the mechanics of something, then you're in the ideal place to find out more about it. no one ever learned anything by staying convinced that they already know best. 

good on rollins for seeing and admitting his mistake. it's a relief to once again be able to see him as leading, rather than following. 

24 August 2014

like a unicorn pooping rainbows of pure happy

for once, i am starting the week on a positive note.


also known as:

omgifinishedwritingsomethingforthefirsttimeinmonthsandi'msogoddamnedhappyicanbarelystaystill!!!

yeah, i wrote something. *struts mentally*

i mean, obviously, having a blog, i write things all the time. i even [sometimes unwisely] publish them. but recently, i'd been fretting because i'd been unable to just start a fictional piece and work through it until i felt it was complete. [meaning a piece of fiction writing. the things that i started weren't fictional, although since they weren't ever getting finished, they might as well have been.]

what's worse, i found that the few things i had managed to complete showed a rather frightening trend.


i was trying to deal with the concept that i might actually be destined for a life of writing fortune cookies, but instead, i decided to just sit down and try to get myself in the correct frame of mind.


doing this involved basically ignoring everything that was going on around me, strapping on a pair of headphones, putting on something that most people would find objectionable and opening a document into which i could vent my frustration and fears.

lo and behold, within a few minutes, i came up with an idea that i wanted to try. at first, it was just another passing thought that i believed might yield one more piece of micro-fiction and push me further along my path to fortune cookie super-stardom. but as it turned out, it blossomed into something that appears to be a draft of an actual, honest-to-god short story, almost four thousand words in length, which might not seem like a lot to some people, but short stories are my thing because novels are really hard and so i'm plenty happy with having written a thing that doesn't fit on a postcard.

truth be told, i hadn't realised just how afraid of losing my ability to write [fiction] i was until after i'd finished this piece. reflecting on it, it occurred to me that i'd had no idea how to reignite my relationship with the muse and this had been causing me a lot of background stress that i hadn't acknowledged. the immediate result, though, was that i wanted to stand up and punch the air, because doing something that you think you've lost the ability to do makes you feel like a god in your own home.


now that i've broken through the wall, i know that i can finish something with a plot and structure and all that. so i've moved onto worrying about my ability to write anything that can't be completed in a single sitting. because something must always be worried about.

but don't follow my example all the way. take pride in something you've done this week. take huge, emphatic, out-of-proportion pride. and know that you too can vanquish your demons, no matter how much they seem to have insinuated themselves into your life.

21 August 2014

making faces :: tripling down

part of me wishes that i'd just been all piggy and grabbed all the hourglass ambient lighting blushes the day they came out, however i take great pains to ensure that that part of me is never allowed near the credit cards.

as a result, i'm reviewing these as i get them, at a measured pace, although i have to say that every new one that i bring home is just making me eager for more. most recently [which i have to admit wasn't all that recently now], i brought home "diffused heat", which is a supposed to be a combination of a warm poppy red with the "diffused light" ambient lighting powder.

some of you might recall that "diffused light" was my favourite of the ambient lighting powders. there is something about it's sainty white, warmed by just a hint of cheery yellow that makes my heart flutter and, more to the point, makes my complexion nearly perfect. it was a deliberate choice on my part to hold off on "diffused heat", because i didn't see any way that it could live up to the glory of its predecessor.

and it doesn't completely, but that isn't to say that i don't love it, more just an indication of how glorious the original is.

HOW NICE IS IT? CONTINUE READING...

17 August 2014

making faces :: purple please!

after i'd written my initial review of armani's new eyes to kill pressed powder eye shadows, i found out that some, but not all, of the shades supposed to be unavailable in north america have actually been made available in north america. most importantly, one of the futuristic purple shades that i so coveted, "moon jelly" [#21] was on the list. my initial experience with the formula was mixed, i really couldn't resist the idea of a proud purple made by armani, so needless to say, i succumbed to the urge to give this one a new home.

i'm happy that i did give the formula another chance, because "moon jelly" was a somewhat more positive experience for me than "écailles". of course, it swatches beautifully, but it also applies really nicely and true to the colour you'd expect both from the pan and the swatches. it's less sparkly and more shimmery than "écailles" and while there is some sheerness to the base, that seems to make it easier to blend with other colours. i've tried it with a few brushes and was always able to build the colour up to be opaque with very little effort.

the one area where the formula still slumps a little for me is with longevity. i found that the colour lost its distinctive sheen fairly quickly and faded a lot within the first three to four hours. after that, it "stabilized" and hung on for the rest of the day with no further change, which is pretty much what i experienced with "écailles". what you're left with at the end of the day is a very stripped down version of what you started with. it's a definite drawback, especially with a shade like "moon jelly" that you're buying because it's vibrant and crazy and fun.

16 August 2014

what's the racket?

it's been a [very long] while since i posted anything to do with music on here. many moons ago, i used to occasionally do reviews and write about shows and other things. a little more recently, i've posted some playlists, something i keep meaning to do again, but it's on a long list of things i'm planning on doing again.

while music has always been a driving force in my life, i've become less and less adept at speaking about it. years ago, i probably spent at least fifty percent of my conversational time talking about it. it wasn't so much that music was my life [although it had an inordinately large influence], but talking about music was my life. i worked in radio. i talked about music on air. my friends were mostly other radio people, or they were in bands, or both. so we talked about music. i consumed catalogues from overseas music labels like teenaged boys consume porn.

i still have lots of thoughts about music and still have conversations with friends about it in quite some depth. but i'm no longer hip to what the kids are listening to these days [i have to make a concerted effort to find new things to tickle my ear-holes] and i've always believed that to speak meaningfully on a regular basis about any form of modern music, you need to be pretty conversant in both the present and past of your subject.

quite honestly, being even conversant in any genre of music in the age of internet proliferation seems like a full time job. but maybe it always was, it's just that it's no longer my full-time job. there's no arguing, though, that it is just possible to access way more music than at any point in history. i'm still uncertain as to whether the net result of that is a good or bad thing.

hm. in my effort to not writing about music, i seem to have written a nice blurb about not writing about music. i'm sure that proves something, although i'm not sure what.

here are a few things that i've been enjoying/ getting to know recently.



no, not the german army. this is a rather obscure, hard to define outfit who liken themselves to cabaret voltaire, nocturnal emissions, dark day and even zoviet france. i can kind of see what they mean, but they seem to have their own interesting thing going on. like a lot of newer bands, they've released a metric arseload of material in a surprisingly short period of time.



i must have had alberich recommended to me a half dozen times either by humans or by clever bots [see my previous post] thinking they'd guessed my musical taste. when i noticed that he's playing here in montreal shortly, i figured it was worth finding out if these people/ bots were right. turns out, they were. something about his sound reminds me of dive, but different eras of dive kind of smooshed together. there's also clearly comparisons to spk that could be made. i do like the fact that he often incorporates very melodic, pretty elements alongside the overdriven rhythms.



it may feel like you've heard everything that there is to thump, but this ladies do cook a mean groove. excellent walking music when you're in a hurry, or just feel like pushing people.



not new, but something i've been rediscovering, thanks to a conversation about the trilogy with a facebook friend recently. perfect music to listen to alone in the dark. these were always winter albums for me, but i can be flexible...

that's all for now. the image at the top of the post is from a buzzfeed quiz that, as you can see, is terrifyingly accurate [except that i never did get into belle and sebastian]. you can take it for yourself here.

13 August 2014

slave to the algorithm?

as you might have guessed, i spend a lot of time on social media. i don't know if i'd qualify as a full-blown addict [that would be a topic for a future mental health mondays], but i do end up "wasting" a lot of minutes [hours, let's be honest -ed.] hopping from one digital lilypad to another, reading news stories and opinion pieces, doing quizzes that people have warned me compromises my online privacy, engaging in discussions from thoughtful to silly with others and of course, letting people know that i appreciate something they've tossed into the social ether by clicking "like" or "favourite".

i am aware that during that time, clever little bots are collecting, storing and eventually analysing my information in order to figure out how to get me to buy things, or go to an advertiser's site, or enroll in a program that will allow an advertiser direct access to me. unlike a lot of people, i'm not especially put off by this. using major social media is free, but it's far from free to operate. even if these companies were just breaking even, they'd need to generate revenue to pay for their equipment, offices and personnel. as someone who works in marketing, advertising is not inherently offensive to me; i have a professional interest in seeing what companies are doing to attract customers so that i can sense what might work for others.

of course, i'm also a consumer [and a damn good one]. so there is always the possibility that i could see something in an advertisement that i actually want to buy. how crazy is that? i know lots of people who assiduously guard their information out of fear that it will be used to target them for advertising and i understand that- to a certain extent. no one wants to get on spam mail lists, or get phone calls at home and even the idea that your personal information is being given out to third parties you don't know is fairly high on the creepy scale. but if we're talking about a platform where i willingly submit my information using that in order to figure out which of their advertisers have products that might be interesting to me, i fail to see the problem. i'm seeing the ads anyway, so why shouldn't they be tailored to my interests? i have sat through more than enough advertising for stuff about which i couldn't care less, with the result that my time and the advertisers' money has been wasted. that deal works for no one. so if, while i'm browsing the internet, i see ads for sephora instead of car insurance, that doesn't strike me as a problem. but i do have one problem

with all of the information they have about me, how can these sites go so bloody wrong in guessing what i'd be interested in?

11 August 2014

mental health mondays :: anyone, anywhere, anytime

since you're on the internet, i'm assuming that you already know that comedian  actor consummate performer robin williams died earlier today, apparently from suicide. the reaction has ranged from shocked to astonished, with people who knew him personally or through his work trying to process the idea of someone who made a career out of being packed with highly unstable explosive life could die by his own hand.

it is always sad to lose an artist of any sort whose work has touched you, given you something you could connect to your own life. as it happens, williams did that for me on several occasions and he became one of many people i never met whose presence on earth made my life a little better. from what i've seen among my friends and acquaintances, i'm guessing that was a pretty common sentiment.

the fact that this appears to have been the result of a mental illness makes it that much sadder to me, because it further emphasizes how poorly understood even the most common mental disorders are. we're shocked to hear of robin williams' suicide because we can't imagine what reason he had to want to end his life, which points to a fundamental mistake in our thoughts about depression: we're still assuming that depressed people are depressed for a specific reason.

there were a couple of red flags in his past: robin williams had struggled for years with addiction, which is so frequently comorbid with mental disorders that it can be difficult to tell which is the primary condition and which is the symptom; and he had had open heart surgery, which is known to trigger depression. but in the end, someone as successful, financially secure and popular as robin williams seemed to have nothing that would drive him to suicide.

people do, of course, become depressed and commit suicide because of specific events or circumstances, in the same way that people have heart attacks because they are under tremendous stress, or because they've followed an extremely unhealthy diet for too long. but in the same way that heart attacks can strike seemingly out of nowhere, depression can just appear and start to dismantle the mind from the inside. it's called a disorder for a reason. things aren't working the way that they should. you can be anyone- a wealthy person [with racial and gender privilege], with adoring fans, a loving family, success in your calling, a beautiful home, but just as none of that is a guarantee you won't have a heart attack, none of it means you can't be pulled down by depression.

more importantly, it means that we can't continue to think of mental disorders like depression as if they were different than any other kind of ailment. because if they can take down someone like robin williams, who seemed to be in the very best position to fight them, imagine what they can do to the rest of us.

[p.s. :: amidst the outpouring of sentiment, many people have shared their personal favourites from williams' oeuvre. dead poets' society certainly struck a chord with me in my teens and i have always felt that mrs. doubtfire is the best family-oriented film on the subject of divorce ever made, but more recently, i've really come to love his work with writer/ director bobcat goldthwait, in particular world's greatest dad.]

10 August 2014

making faces :: the immortal appetite

when baudelaire wrote of our "immortal appetite for beauty", he was actually making a comment about how humanity seeks to find something beautiful even in the darkest and most miserable times, in a rather desperate and probably naïve attempt to reassure themselves of the good in the world. but whenever i think of that quote, i am reminded only of my lipstick drawer, because never has an appetite for beauty been so immortal. seriously, at the rate i finish these, i'm going to be buried with a quite a lot of them. it'll make for a colourful cremation, though.

in particular, i want to assure all of you that i'm perfectly aware that if i never bought another red lipstick again, i would still have to sprout several extra heads in order to have any hope of running through my current stash. but i just can't help it. the pretty just overwhelms me. there are far worse things i could be doing and believe me, if i'm denied my lipstick outlet, i'd be doing them.

my "justification" for my latest purchase was that i had yet to try givenchy's le rouge formula, which was launched to rave reviews last year. and that like a whole year ago. i seriously don't think i've heard a single negative comment about the new lipsticks, other than some sad references to the fact that they are quite pricey. [they're actually around the same price as yves st. laurent rouge pur couture lipsticks, armani's rouge d'armani, all chanel lipsticks, guerlain's rouge automatique and the new rouge dior formula. they're cheaper than guerlain's rouge g or tom ford's lipsticks. so a lot depends on your perspective.]

the reason why i held myself back for this long was that a lot of the shades, while pretty enough, seemed kind of undistinguished to me. there seemed to be a lot of other shades like them [including ones from mac, nars and urban decay which are cheaper]. i'm not 100% certain that's true, but givenchy are available exclusively at sephora [both are owned by parent company lvmh] and the lighting around the givenchy display at my local sephora is terrible. it's really an ongoing problem at a lot of makeup counters, something i am finding ever more frustrating.

recently, however, givenchy released some new shades that looked a little more unique to my eye, enough so that i ordered them online, having only seen shots on beauty blogs. and so my first foray into le rouge [not, i should note, my first givenchy lipstick] became "rouge égerie", one more in a long line of reds to find its way into my home.

09 August 2014

i'm super, thanks for asking

earlier today, i posted [re-posted] a piece on my facebook page called "17 things that women without children are tired of hearing". i was surprised at how popular this became, even with people i know who do have children, because apparently the parents who i know [a pretty incredible lot] are perfectly aware that not everyone is cut out to be a parent. more specifically, they know i'm not cut out to be a parent.

one friend [himself a loving and involved dad] pointed out that men aren't subjected to the same sort of cross-examination. a man who doesn't want kids just doesn't want kids. but a woman who doesn't want kids is somehow an affront to nature. another friend who is perfectly comfortable with her choice shared that she has been subject to some pretty rude questions, which basically boil down to the assertion that a woman who doesn't want children must have something wrong with her. she must be bad or deficient in some way because that's what women are there for. think about the gross implications of that for a moment.

another friend of mine [male] reported getting the same condescending speech that all non-breeders have faced at some point in our lives: you think you won't like it until it happens. that's the logic the date rapist uses! but what truly irks me about that approach is the implication: you'll never know how good or bad a parent you can be unless you have a kid. do they apply that logic to any other area of their life?

there are lots of things i know, without trying, that i would be terrible at. parenting is one of them. building a mars rover was the example i posted on facebook. diffusing a bombs would be another. no one as high strung as i am has any business being the person deciding which wire to cut. i have an aunt who's trekked on foot through the wilds of pakistan and india and advocated for women's rights there. i don't have that in me and that doesn't mean i'm not in awe of the skills it takes to do such things. it's just that i know those things aren't my forte. and i know that child-rearing isn't my forte.

but for some reason, people are just unwilling to accept my informed opinion on the children thing. they accept without any evidence that i'm an inappropriate nasa scientist, an incredibly poor choice for bomb squad captain and the person most likely to die in a convoy crossing the narrow passage from india to pakistan. why should parenting be so different?

and i should add that my family, knowing me as they do, are completely understanding about my desire to never, ever bring more of me into the world.

the most common thing that i have to face from those who just won't take no for an answer is that women naturally have maternal instincts, as if somehow those instincts are going to go all haywire and start shooting lasers or shooting acid out my eyes or generally doing something that's going to make my life [and the lives of everyone around me] into a horror movie.

i'm perplexed by this, because the people who say this to me generally know me. and yet they seriously seem to think that a. i'm unaware that biology has given me some measure of maternal instinct; and b. that that maternal instinct must be repressed if i don't have a human baby.

it's like they've never even met me.

if i were to raise a child, we'd probably be looking at the next "silence of the lambs" "buffalo bill", dancing around to colin newman and bad new wave, cultivating an unhealthy interest in fashion and physical beauty, and undoubtedly holding some screaming victim in a dark pit in the basement. as i pointed out today, anything i make would have a pretty good chance of becoming a serial killer. anything. i have to think about those serial killer odds every time i make a grilled cheese sandwich.

i do have children. five of them. i've had a psychiatrist listen to me talk about them and observe, with some shock since she's one of those "women need to have babies" types, that my way of relating to my cats is exactly the same as how a "normal" mother relates to children. which has always been my point.

i know i'm not cut out to raise a little human. but i have a wonderful, happy, loving relationship with my little furbabies. i am thrilled when i make them happy. i fuss over them when they seem sad or lethargic. my heart beats faster when i see them. shoveling their leavings is no big deal to me because it's just part of having them and the good parts so outweigh a little bit of smelliness.

that doesn't make me deficient. it makes me a good decision-maker. so please stop asking why i haven't had children. i have, in my way. and since i didn't make them, there's a fighting chance they won't be killing any of you any time soon.

happy international cat day from a woman who knows her place.

07 August 2014

making faces :: ysl's sahara style

as you may have heard, yves st. laurent has recently revamped their collection of 5-shadow palettes with a new formula and colours. there are eleven permanent palettes, plus a limited one for summer and another limited one [imminent or just arrived, depending on where you live] with the fall collection. it didn't take me long to get my grubby little hands on one of them, either, and the only reason i've delayed in posting this review is because i wanted to give myself the chance to really play around with the shades, to see what i could do with them. after all, if they're sticking around, there's no great rush.

the design of the palettes themselves- the interior- is inspired by st. laurent's famous "mondrian dress", created in 1965 and based on the french designer's interpretations of the dutch painter's work. mondrian, an important part of the de stijl movement, believed in the reduction of art to its elements- straight, clean lines and primary colours. st. laurent likewise became famous for refined, elegant styles in fashion. that's a lot to distill into the presentation of an eye shadow palette, but nonetheless, there is something visually striking and pleasing about the layout of the five colours. it's nice to see some imagination going into the details, because, when you're talking about a prestige brand like ysl, details are important.

each palette is laid out the same way: in the upper left corner, there is a base colour; in the upper right corner is the highlight shade; the two lower corners are the "colour" shades, intended for use on the lid or as accents; finally, the centre colour is supposed to be the crease or liner colour. the extent to which this works varies a little from palette to palette and, of course, will depend on personal preference. there is a great variety in terms of the colours available from soft neutrals to vivid shades and I was drooling over almost all of them at first glance.

affordable by art standards
however, i have learned that it is important to proceed with caution and decided to try a basic one that i was likely to use a lot in order to evaluate the formula. this is that evaluation.

the palette i picked up was #4 "saharienne", a collection of softer neutrals that lean perhaps a little cool compared with most other neutral collections. i'd really say it was balanced between cool and warm, but when you look at it next to #2 "fauves", the latter is much warmer.

the first thing that struck me about the new formula was how incredibly silky it was. it really does remind me of a feather-light diaphanous silk scarf brushing against my skin. i've really never felt anything like it. the pigmentation is medium at first swipe, but builds easily if you want something more opaque. whatever level of coverage you choose, the lasting power is great. i mention that in particular, because it's rare to find a shadow that can be applied semi-sheerly and still look the same after seven or eight hours. in any configuration [and i've tried several, as you'll soon find out], there was precious little difference between the way my eyes looked at the outset and the way they looked when i finally removed the day from my face.

the colours have enough powdery slip that they're easy to blend, but you'll want to do so delicately as they are also easy to over-blend. [also, as you might have guessed from the palette picture above, they kick up a fair amount of dust when touched with a brush.] they're very forgiving if you have to build up the intensity and never looked cakey to me.

so how do the individual colours stand up? glad you asked.

04 August 2014

mental health mondays :: lest we forget

in case you've missed it, today is the 100th anniversary of england's declaring war on germany, beginning the terrifying chapter in our history now known as "world war one". they didn't call it that for some time, of course. it was known as "the great war", most likely because many people were hopeful that there was no way that such a wholesale slaughter would ever be repeated. we all know that didn't quite work out.

i've always been fascinated with the great war, far more so than world war two, because its consequences were so far-reaching: probably more than any other event in the twentieth century. in fact, the second world war was really a consequence of the first; you don't get hitler without kaiser wilhelm ii.

another consequence of the first world war was the advent of the first man-made psychiatric disorder. at the time, they called it "shell shock", because doctors guessed that the strange group of symptoms were a result of prolonged exposure to explosives on the front. [this was after they acknowledged that there was a problem and that tens of thousands of soldiers weren't just cowards trying to avoid going back out there to fight for king and country.]

footage of shell shock victims is still around, although it isn't as widely viewed as it should be. in an age when we are used to thinking about mental disorders as invisible, it's difficult to comprehend how completely shattered these young men were.





you can read the bbc commentary about the condition here.

and from the canadian war museum here.

with all due respect to george carlin [who famously opined that stronger language commanded attention- see the first two minutes of the linked video in particular], the men who came home so profoundly disordered did not receive the treatment they needed. the videos above betray how quickly hospitals tried to "heal" patients during the war, in the hopes that they could be deployed once again. pretty savage.

as if that weren't bad enough, the war itself has become a sort of cultural repressed memory, particularly in north america. everyone knows about the second world war, but even our understanding of that is handicapped by the fact that we refuse to seriously study the first. perhaps it's because, despite the abhorrent violence that came with ww2, it makes a better story. it has a clear-cut villain, which creates clear-cut heroes who fight him. what's better, the good guys won. it's still a war, but it's one that we can feel good about. not so with world war one.

there are to this day battles that trace their roots to the great war, there are still soldiers returning with shell-shock [soldiers who are still not getting the treatment they need], there are still civilians whose lives and homes are destroyed because of the first world war and none of that will get any better until we are honest with ourselves about what happened a hundred years ago. time for us to seek some historical therapy.

the image at the top of this post is an art installation done as part of the british centenary, nearly 900,000 poppies surrounding the tower of london. read more about it here.

03 August 2014

everything is a critic

i have to say that i've been very good the last week about paying attention to writing projects and trying to organise them in such a way that they seem manageable, which makes me feel like there is a purpose to me continuing to write and to live in general. after forcing myself to inspect everything that i had in my writing folder and making discoveries like at least one of the fictional posts i've made on this blog is nowhere to be found in my personal files [where did it come from? where did it go?], i've finally managed to make some plans as to what i want to do with them. some of them.

reading some of these things has been surprisingly difficult, because it has reinforced all those high school girl voices in my head; the ones who look at me strangely and mutter that i'm hopeless, because man, a lot of what i've written really sucks. that isn't a surprise, except that some of the stuff that sucks the most is stuff that i'd previously thought was pretty good. how long exactly does a piece of writing have to marinate before you're able to judge if it's worth bottling and selling or if you just need to flush it down the creative toilet?

amidst my state of confusion, as i was making edits to what i felt could be saved and making notes about that which might just have to be laid to rest, its organs harvested for other, healthier projects, i looked up to see this as i was saving a file:


could that be bitchier? it's like this inanimate object is telling me that what i'm doing is too awful to consider saving. because i don't have enough problems with insecurity and crippling self-doubt without the hardware getting in on the act.

i mean, when i say a piece of writing is weak, or needs work, that's one thing, but where the hell does something that isn't even programmed to appreciate art and beauty and craftsmanship get off with a flat "hell no you ain't savin that on me, biatch"? oh yeah? what's you're favourite book then? 01101010110001? yeah, that was totally a nobel prize winner there. a real coup for jake the freelance code writer.

this continues for a while and then i realise that i'm arguing with my computer, which can't even respond, unlike my phone, who can at least talk to me and who doesn't judge my writing, or at least my notes about writing, which is all she gets to see. [incidentally, you need to ask siri to open the pod bay doors. it's apparently the computer equivalent of blackface.]

anyway, i did manage to persuade the computer to accept the file, with the promise that i would go back and edit it.

this is my life now, arguing with the technology. and losing.
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