29 October 2014

world wide wednesdays :: gypped

traditional romani wagon
it's likely that you've used the term "gypped" when you've felt cheated of something and i'll bet you didn't know when you were doing so that you were saying something that was derogatory and more than a little racist. most of us don't know that the word originates from the term "gypsy" and began as a way of referring to activities of theirs perceived as sly, underhanded or outright criminal. it's evidence of a long, dark history of mistrust and vilification between white europeans and the widespread minority group they call gypsies.

the term "gypsy" itself is a misnomer, given by people who believed these darker-skinned neighbours originated in egypt. in fact, linguistic and dna analysis has determined that they came from northern india, beginning their migration between 500 and 100a.d. and arriving in europe [specifically the balkans] as early as the twelfth century. the romani language [also the proper name for the people who speak it, although you'll hear rom, roma and local variants of the term used as well], which is spoken today by between five and six million people is related most closely to hindi, punjabi and bengali. generally, it is those located in eastern europe who have retained the language; the further north you go, the more romani have combined their original language with that of the country in which they've settled. [side note: most romani speak the language of their home countries as well as that of their ethnic group, however many further north don't know a pure form of the ethnic language at all. there are significant romani communities all over europe, however, as far north as finland and all the way west to portugal.]

flag of the romani people, adopted 1933
after leaving northern india and eventually finding themselves in europe, it's a fair guess that the first thing that went through the collective romani mind was "we've made a huge mistake". from their first interaction with the peoples of europe, things were at best coldly civil.   by 1385, less that sixty-five years after the first written account of european- romani contact, there are records of romani being traded as slaves. while some jurisdictions allowed the romani safe passage, this was often to facilitate them going somewhere else. from the early 15th to the early 16th century, many states expelled romani from their territory and several later instituted laws that they could be killed on site. and sadly, those who were killed might have been considered lucky. it was common in much of europe for romani to be branded, maimed [women would have their ears cut off to make them more easily identifiable in bohemia and moravia] and beaten. in 1545 the holy roman empire declared that killing a "gypsy" would not be considered a crime and the glut of bodies that resulted from the ensuing frenzy of murders caused so many civic problems that they had to step in and ask the people to at least stop drowning romani women and children. [side note: even the very first interaction with europeans had some inauspicious signs for the romani. the irish cleric symon semeonis, who decided to stroll from his home country to the holy land, was the first to record a meeting with the romani, on the island of crete in 1322. in his account, he referred to them as the "children of cain", meaning that they were descended from adam and eve's evil son who killed his good-guy brother abel.]

the history of romani persecution is absolutely horrific in both its practices and the length of time it has endured. notice that i'm using the present tense there? that's because there are still outbursts of xenophobia against the romani in modern europe. while you hear mention of the romani being targeted by the nazis for extermination, discussion of their modern persecution usually ends there. and even the extent of their persecution during the holocaust hasn't been sorted out: while original estimates put the number of romani killed during the holocaust at between 100,000 and 500,000, it has more recently been postulated that the number might be closer to 2,000,000. [note: one of the stories concocted by the catholic church to ensure that their flock stayed well and truly pissed at the romani was that they had been responsible for forging the nails that were used to crucify christ. this is patently ridiculous, because the romani weren't anywhere near the holy lands at that time, but why should the facts get in the way of some good old fashioned religious hatred? it seems that labeling insular, marginal communities within europe as complicit in the murder of christ was a successful strategy for bigots.]

map of present-day romani populations within europe
after the war, the romani who were left in eastern europe might not have been explicitly marked for death, but the new governments that emerged weren't a hell of a lot more sympathetic. many countries gathered up their romani populations, shipped them off to remote locations and told them to stay put, outlawing their traditional nomadic lifestyle. policies of forced integration continued unabated, as they had for hundreds of years. czechoslovakia distinguished itself by labeling romani as a "socially degraded stratum" and in 1973 introduced a program of forced and/ or coerced sterilization that continued until 1991. think about that for a moment: when we first heard nirvana's "smells like teen spirit", a developed european country was sterilizing women against their will. 

to this day, many romani face discrimination across europe and live in dire poverty. often, they have been left worse off than they were under communist rule, since they have lost the jobs that the government provided and no longer have access to free education. although at least no one is subjecting them to forced surgery anymore. as their status in europe has become more precarious, the romani have responded in much the same way that they always have, by moving to an area where their prospects seem better. when canada lifted its requirement that potential czech immigrants and refugees acquire a visa, in 1996, they received a shocking ten-fold increase in refugee claims, almost all of them from romani desperate to escape. canada blinked slowly and reacted by slamming the visa requirement back on in 1997. [side note: this was not the first case of romani fleeing europe for the west. there are significant communities in several areas of the united states.]

modern romani in lviv, ukraine
however the destination for most romani exiting eastern europe has been to western europe. the western european nations have reacted to this with a "didn't we kick you out a few hundred years ago?" kind of welcome. italy declared romani  a threat to national security after two romani men raped and killed and italian woman. they did not, however, declare italians a threat to national security when two romani children drowned within sight of several beach-goers. [and any country that elects silvio berlusconi is some sort of threat in my books.] the french press has sounded the alert that paris is being overrun by hordes of gypsy children pickpocketing tourists [as if the children were the problem and the victims]. both the french and italian governments have demolished the temporary encampments where many romani have been forced to take up residence as a subtle way of telling them to move along. police in naples gently encouraged a group of romani to abandon their camp by lobbing molotov cocktails at it. romani remain a popular target for politicians seeking to assign blame for rising crime rates and other urban problems, to say nothing of white supremacist movements. [side note: part of the perception that romani are criminals is based on a misunderstanding of similar-sounding terms. the child pickpockets who have shown up in droves in many european cities are thought to be controlled by members of a romani mafia. in fact, authorities believe that they are controlled by a branch of the romanian mafia, which is made up of romanians of different origins, including, but not exclusive to, romani.]

the situation of europe's romani should be a continental embarrassment and yet we seem to hear little of it. and when you do read press on the issue, much of it reinforces the dominant narrative that the romani are criminal by nature. aside from the characterization as an empire of thieves, much lurid press has been given to the romanian tradition of child marriage, without clarifying how widespread the custom actually is among modern romani groups. in societies that like to consider themselves progressive, hatred and distrust of the romani remain acceptable, even the norm. the group has truly been gypped.

november novelets :: what i'm doing tonight to assure i'm unprepared for nanowrimo

i need you to help me.

i go through this every year around this time.

every year, i start jotting down ideas for national novel writing month, or nanowrimo for those who need it translated for twitter. i think about what i could reasonably accomplish, about which ideas i could possibly flush out to novel length. then i think about whether or not i should just stick by my literary guns and try to write short stories, because i've had it with novel-dominance and attention spans are supposed to be getting shorter, so surely my structure of choice should be due for its moment in the sun.

at the same time, i also get wrapped up in coming up with some sort of fabulous halloween costume and work on that and then i get frustrated. [no word of a lie- i came up with my halloween costume as i typed that last phrase. that's how easy it is to distract me.] and i start taking long walks so i can photograph some of the halloween festooning my neighbourhood, which is great for ideas, but not so great for more detailed planning. then i wake up november 1st and realise that it's started and i'm supposed to be ready to batten down the hatches and work for a month, but that i'm in no way ready.

i try to tell myself at this point that i can still do it, i just need to spend the first few days planning, which i then fail to do, or if i do, i fail to come up with any workable idea and end up suffocating any ideas that show potential by being too attentive.

i've noticed that november 7th is generally f-day. f as in fail. it's the day i realise that i've used up a full week of the month allotted and that i have absolutely no ideas i want to pursue. i take about three days to bounce back, wherein i look up stories as to why nanowrimo is an awful idea, targeted towards the strictly amateur, take one last, great effort to come up with a brilliant idea for something and cook fattening things because you cannot cook and write at the same time without burning your house down, so i have a good excuse, come up with lots of blog ideas because blog posts count, dammit and go back through all the writing i have saved to see if i have something that i could resurrect/ finish so that i have some sense that i'm still kind of a writer, even if i suck at dedication.

by about the 10th, i've regained a little of my composure and have come to terms with the fact that no novel is forthcoming. that's usually around the time i start to think that i could just use the remainder of the month to do something short, because i'm primarily a short story writer and i don't need to be bound by nanowrimo rules, i could just do my own nashostowrihamo [national short story writing half month] and i wouldn't feel like i'd wasted my time entirely.

i don't really know what happens after that. i know what doesn't happen, which is the completion of any short stories. i actually don't know that i've ever completed a piece of writing in november and if i have, it was completely unintentional.

i think what happens is that i get kidnapped by aliens who return me around the 27th of the month with a slightly lobotomised expression and i blankly repeat "but every month should be writing month!"

so what say you, wise friends? nanowrimo yes or no? i'm working from home now, so i don't have the excuse that i have to be in an office or stuck in commuter hell, but my behaviour during other times when i've been at home hasn't exactly been exemplary. do i try once again to dedicate the month to writing, or do i just try to ignore it [this gets extremely tricky unless i just don't look at my social media feeds and if i'm going to stop doing that, i might as well spend the time writing...] and be content that i'll write on my own time? any tricks from those of you that have tried this in the past?

and i'm completely aware of the irony that i could have spent the time i used to write this blog post planning something to work on during november, so you totally don't have to point that out. but anything else you want to say is probably welcome.

27 October 2014

mental health mondays [rewind] :: enough to drive you crazy

those of you who don't follow canadian television [imma go out on a limb and say that's most of you] probably aren't familiar with the show "canada's worst driver". but i actually suspect that a significant minority of you are familiar with the show because the one post that i ever did about it gets views every single day. why? because of a two-time show "contestant" named angelina marcantognini. apparently a lot of you are really interested in knowing what became of her. i wish i could help you. i really have no idea what she's doing now, so you don't have to read this whole post to find that out. i just got inspired to write this post about her because of the questions that her case raised about access to mental health services in canada.

if you're curious, you might want to inquire on the show's facebook page. you might also want to check out the latest crop of behind-the-wheel beelzebubs that have signed in for rehab, as season 10 has just started tonight. [i'm pretty sure that the show's resident psycho-therapist is going to have her hands full.]

*

angelina in the blue dress, second from right
just because i have no patience for shows like "american idol", "the voice" or anything involving the karsahians doesn't mean that i'm entirely immune to the meretricious charms of reality television. i try to take a moment every day to hate myself for finding "duck dynasty" amusing, despite my fundamental disagreements with the robertson family on just about everything and my awareness of the artifice of the show itself. but one reality show that feels less guilty and more pleasure is "canada's worst driver", a distinctly canadian take on a show that's appeared in different national versions for over a decade, starting [as many reality shows do] in great britain.

the canadian version has actually had a longer run than any of the other "worst driver" series not because our drivers are that bad, but because the focus of the show is not an anti-celebration of the bad drivers, but on educating them on how to become good [or at least competent] drivers. which makes the whole process somewhat redemptive rather than just infuriating. relatively few of the drivers are the risible characters you would expect [and in fact, those that are truly unrepentant are summarily dealt with and removed from the show so as not to impede the others]. most of the candidates are perfectly aware of how terrible they are, if only because they have the record to prove it. many are inexperienced and/ or lack confidence. others are in denial without being bellicose and it is those people who tend to wind up with the end of season trophies.

although there is no shortage of mockery on the show, the candidates are also treated in what i would see as a uniquely canadian fashion: through the season, we get to know them, get to see their humanity, get to hear their side of the story. it becomes easy to sympathize at least a little with most of them, even if you wouldn't want them driving in your city.

this year, the show has done their "worst of the worst" series, inviting back the "champions" of previous seasons along with those selected by viewers as deserving of a repeat performance. of those, the person the host said he believed to be the most likely candidate for the title of "canada's worst driver ever" was eventually removed for mental health issues. in removing her from consideration, the show actually does a public service, highlighting a serious problem in the treatment of mental illness in canada.

FIND OUT WHAT, ALBEIT WITH SHOW SPOILERS, AFTER THE BREAK...

26 October 2014

making faces :: purple palettes' majesty

years ago, i was visiting a makeup counter with a friend of mine and as we looked at products, the sales associate commented "wow, you really like anything purple!" i admit to it. it's not like i'm obsessed and have to have everything around me purple, but when shown a rainbow of colours, my eye does naturally fall to the purple tones. [purple isn't part of the rainbow -ed.] [shut up, it's a metaphor. -kate]

nothing says "i'm well-adjusted" like PAHRPLE EVERYTHINGZ

so after trying and falling in love with guerlain's new and limited "les sables" palette, with it's gorgeous, buttery matte shades, i knew that i had to go back for the all-matte purple palette "les violines". after all, purple mattes are tough to find and a lot of those that  you do come across are overly powdery or stiff. i tried each of the shades from "les violines" on my hand and was properly convinced that this would not be the case here.

the four shades are what i'd call neutral to warm purples. technically, purple is considered a cool colour, but those that pull more red/ brown/ mauve have a tendency to look warm compared with very blue-based ones. two of the shades in "les violines" lean reddish, while the other two are pretty much right down the tonal middle. let's dive right in, shall we?

25 October 2014

the persistence of perversions

you didn't have to be canadian this week to know the biggest news story in the country. friends from the u.s. and the u.k. [as well as some from further away] expressed their shock and condolences when they heard that a shooter, a canadian man who converted in adulthood to islam, had murdered a young soldier in front of a war memorial in our capital city of ottawa. fewer of them realised that this was actually the second such incident in three days. another young man, also a late convert to islam who expressed anger at the canadian government's support for u.s. bombing campaigns in the middle east, targeting islamic state fighters. it's been a tough week here in a country that isn't exactly used to being the target of such vitriol.

it didn't take long to identify the assailants in either case as "self-radicalised" supporters if the radical islamic state group. the first, martin couture-rouleau, who ran down two soldiers, killing one, in st-jean-sur-richelieu, was already being watched by the government [and had had his passport revoked]. the second, michael zehaf-bibeau, had not advertised his radical views to the same extent, but it did not take long after his shooting rampage for evidence to emerge that he too had drunk the islamic state kool aid. already, at least one mosque has been defaced and the canadian prime minister is promising to allocate more funds and resources to the police and military in order to fight terrorism at home. the battle is on and it looks like it could become ugly. too bad it won't help solve the problem.

first of all, it ignores the fact that the rcmp and csis [the canadian security intelligence service, our version of mi6 or the c.i.a.] actually have a pretty good record when it comes to thwarting terrorist activity. in 2006, they broke up a fairly well-organised terrorist cell inspired by al-qaeda and arrested eighteen people before the group had a chance to act on any of their plans. in 2010, two ontario men were arrested and charged with facilitating terrorist activity. one was found guilty earlier this year, while the other opted to plead guilty to avoid a life sentence.] in 2013, they arrested two people who had planned to bomb a popular train route, again, before the plan could be executed. clearly, they underestimated the danger posed by two individuals this week, but this does not mean that they were incapable of responding; it means that they need to update their methods of tracking potential terror suspects to account for the increasing presence of "lone wolves" who believe they will die as religious heroes. in fact, unless they are able to adjust to new realities, i'm not convinced that throwing money at the problem will make much difference at all.

where the government is going wrong is by focusing their efforts on radical islam. while the two men who killed soldiers this week might have professed that their actions were inspired by their religion, it doesn't seem like this was their basic problem. martin couture rouleau was angry and depressed, according to one of his neigbours [linked article is in french], particularly over the loss of his business. other neighbours noted that this lead to a complete change in his personality, as if he'd become a different person. whereas some might have sought psychiatric help, couture-rouleau sought solace in a bastardized form of islam, something that allowed him to direct the anger that he felt and to act out the role of the martyr he already believed himself to be.

bibeau's case is even worse. he had struggled for years with mental illness and addiction. at one point, he claimed to have committed an armed robbery that never happened and later on tried to hold up a mcdonald's restaurant with a stick then waited for the police to arrive. he was addicted to crack and desperate to go to jail, where he felt that he had a chance to break his habit. sadder still, at the time, his faith was inspiring him to get clean and improve himself. however, as he got more frustrated with his peripatetic life, he was able to funnel his anger through his religion.

it seems clear that both of these men were suffering from mental illness and that both felt lost and powerless. it's not uncommon for people in such circumstances to turn to religion or any support system. unfortunately, the networks that they often find don't offer anything like the help they need, but rather allow them to displace blame for their situation and embrace ideologies that validate their feelings of rage, particularly against power structures.

there is no doubt that the islamic state group has reached out to muslims worldwide, encouraging them to act against western governments on their own territory while i.s. fights the war for the homeland. but without a receptive audience, those messages would be meaningless. we would be far better off addressing the domestic audience if we want to prevent more terrorist acts at home. after all, it's not like we've never seen this type of thing before.

in the 1990s, the public was suddenly confronted with domestic terrorism of a different sort when right wing "patriot" timothy mcveigh blew up the alfred p. murrah federal building in oklahoma. an decorated soldier, mcveigh had found life outside the military unexpectedly tough, moving from place to place and from one job to another, while growing increasingly hostile toward the government. [mcveigh had attempted to enter special forces training prior to leaving the military, but was rejected on the basis of his psychological exam.] he reportedly claimed that the government had inserted a microchip in him to track his movements and struggled with gambling addiction before finding himself welcome in the arms of a militia movement who shared his anti-government sentiments.

the oklahoma city bombing was actually one in a series of incidents involving such anti-government groups: in 1992, randy weaver and his family had a standoff with federal authorities that ended in three deaths; less than a year later, the branch davidian compound in waco texas was raided after a standoff of nearly two months with many of the same federal agencies [most notably the department of alcohol, tobacco and firearms, whose role in enforcing gun laws has often brought them into conflict with survivalist factions] and seventy-six members of the group died in a fire.

the primary motivation of these militias was political and not religious [although many of them identified with radical forms of christianity], but the similarities between them and islamic state are nonetheless compelling: both groups target governments as a way of stripping potential victims of their humanity; both reassure converts that they have struggled because the powers that be have stacked the odds against them and mean them harm; both espouse violence, which has a terrible appeal to people who feel powerless in their own lives, as it allows them to substitute their impotent passivity with action; and of course, they provide the sense of being part of something larger, something greater than oneself and the chance to be a hero.

by insisting that we clamp down solely on terrorist activity- either from islamic state or the militia movement- we are addressing the symptom but not the cause. the reason that the recruitment tactics have been successful is because there is such a pool of angry, frustrated people who feel like their lives are blighted and that they can do nothing to change this by acting "within the system". people who cannot find ways to work their way out of poverty, who cannot get help for mental illness and addiction, people who have served their country and returned only to feel betrayed by governments who had been happy to use them, young people who can see few prospects for their futures, these are all soft targets for extremists. as long as we continue asking "how can we stop these groups from recruiting?" instead of "why are so many people eager to join groups like this?" we will forever be playing what amounts to an extremely dangerous game of whack-a-mole, always focused on eradicating the radical flavour of the month.

i don't oppose spending more money to target terrorist groups in canada, as long as i'm reasonably convinced it would do some good. but if we're going to facilitate longer term change, our government needs to stop implementing policies that target the poor by reducing services available to them; they need to expand funding for mental health services and work with the provinces to ensure that there is minimal cost associated with using them; they need to create greater access to drug treatment centres and update drug laws so that addicts are treated for health problems and not branded as criminals; they need to abandon the idea that we are all better off taking a pittance in tax credits and fending for ourselves than we are acting as a civil society and considering that the raising the living standard of the entire group helps us all individually. in short, the government needs to do the opposite of what it has been doing on almost every front.

i see no evidence that this will happen. sadly, i suspect that if i'm still around and writing this blog in twenty years, i'll be able to pull this post and update it with information on whatever group has arisen to twist religion, national pride or something new and prey on the angry and disenfranchised. maybe by then, we'll have figured it out.

the image at the top of this post shows the burning of the waco compound of the branch davidians in april 1993. i'm not certain of the original source, but i found it in this article. the rest of the site is absolutely worth a look for those interested in politics, culture, cooking, humour and, well, a lot of the topics you find here on more like space.

23 October 2014

being julia : #tbt goes to the movies

i've been told i look good when i'm green.
like i said, i don't have that many older photos of myself and this one only dates to 2009, when we were filming conversion. still, i'd say that i look pretty different. well, chiefly my hair colour is different, but it does kind of affect the way you'd perceive me. at least that's what i think.

supposedly, a women with dark hair can expect to earn significantly more than a blonde over the course of their career, although i have to say that i'm still waiting to see how that unfolds.

it feels weird to see this sort of image of myself because i'm not paying attention to the camera, even though, i assure you, it was on my mind. working on "conversion" was the first time i'd tried to act since i was in primary school drama classes [where i wasn't especially favoured by any of the instructors] and while i was able to get caught up in the character [who, after all, wasn't so different than me], i don't think that i ever completely lost myself. there was always just so freaking much to do.

if you'd  like to see how all this worked out, you can stream or download conversion right here.

oh and fyi, never let it be said that i didn't suffer for creativity. i was so cold when we were filming this scene that the crew had to wrap me with blankets between takes to keep my teeth from chattering when the cameras were on.

22 October 2014

armchair centre back :: your call is important to us

well somebody's getting a penalty...
this weekend should have been a very happy one for dom and me, because for the first time in ages, the stars aligned and both of our premier league favourites had their games broadcast here. it's not always that easy to get epl coverage in canada, particular if you're a fan of a less "fashionable" team [hello, swansea] so a weekend where we could each see our team in action without having to wake up at seven and without having to fight over the remote because the games are happening simultaneously is an experience to be treasured.

or at least that's how it looked at first, before the officials got involved.

as it happens, the experience was kind of ruined for us because both of our teams got screwed by game officials making decisions that made less sense than i do before i have coffee in the morning. it's things like this that convince me that people who follow a sport, any sport, are really masochistic. you see something that you know is wrong, that everyone knows is wrong and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. because it's all about what the guy with absolute power says happened and in no way about the truth.

[although really, that might be good training for life. make your children watch professional sports, parents, because it will help guard against any feelings of optimism or autonomy they might be in danger of developing.]

first up, we got the arsenal game on saturday. dom is a big fan, having lived in north london, not far from the emirates stadium. of the teams that actually have a chance at winning things [see john oliver's brilliant explanation of this], they're definitely my favourite, because of dom primarily and also because of the exceptional man candy factor. now, to my mind, it's remarkable that arsenal can even field a team given the number of injuries they have, specifically the number of injuries they have to players who would normally be part of the starting line-up. [to watch the english premier league is to learn how many ways there are for a body to be painfully injured.]

arsenal were expected to win against hull, one of those teams that a lot of people outside their own city limits just ignore, but arsenal do have a tendency to make things "entertaining" by allowing lesser teams [and by "lesser" i mean "teams with less money"] to show them up. so it was exceptionally brutal that saturday's game ultimately hinged on a referee choosing to allow a goal whose scorer got into position by knocking down arsenal defender mathieu flamini [and possibly elbowing him in the throat].



and if you can spot the foul in that grainy internet video, it only stands to reason that the ref had a much clearer view...

we can say "what the fuck?!?" in as many languages as you can handle

the reason that sports have rules is so that the big guys don't just go smashing their way like cave trolls over everyone else [unlike in life].

people tend to dismiss arsenal fans' complaints of referee bias as so much butthurt, but when things like this happen, it should raise eyebrows. the game ended in a 2-2 draw, which isn't a total washout, but the botched call does make the difference between three points for a win and one for a tie. [note: this is not to imply that arsenal were at their best, or even their "walking wounded" best. most of the team seemed kind of demotivated and it was really just the jack and alexis show when it came to exciting performances. alexis sanchez didn't even lift his shirt a little bit when he scored a beautiful goal, which is just depressing. they still should have had the win.]

of course, on sunday, watching my beloved-but-unfashionable swansea, things got even worse.

one of the reasons that americans will tell you they don't like soccer is because that faking injury is such an ingrained part of the game. while my personal reaction is to suggest that any country that follows the kardashian family has no business criticising simulation in anything, i do understand the concept. it's supposed to be about physical/ mental competition, not getting a high school equivalency drama credit, so when one of these guys drops like they've been shot because another player breathed on them too hard, it's a little disappointing.



the most infuriating thing about that sort of move- and let's be clear, no one other than victor moses' manager is saying that that tumble was in any way legitimate- is that it triggers the most infuriating result in all of soccer: the penalty shot. i'll just state my opinion, for the record: i think that penalty shots are an abomination. you're asking a player who practices every day to kick a ball into what is essentially an empty net. keepers do occasionally stop them, but the odds are insanely in favour of the guy taking the shot. but the fact is that if you collapse in a heap inside an opponent's six yard box, chances are you'll be rewarded. [this is completely unlike hockey, where the penalty shot is a legitimate battle of brains and nerves, but ironically, penalty shots in hockey are almost never given.]

in this case, a+ drama student victor moses got his team rewarded with a victory: that penalty gave them a 2-1 win. and i actually think that a tie would have been a fair result. i don't think swansea deserved the win necessarily, because they just weren't on top of their game. some players [waves at ki sung-yueng and gylffi sigurdsson] did a great job. others [casts stink eye at wilfried bony who has been surprisingly awful so far this season] need to do some serious work.

i'm at least mollified that this case has gotten some serious media coverage, because swansea manager garry monk went off like a landmine, calling moses a cheat and saying that the decision to award a penalty was "a disgrace". that's a big deal. it's a tacit understanding in sport that no matter how terribly an official screws things up, you don't ever call them on it in public. that's partly politeness, but it's also partly because you just know that as soon as you open your mouth, you've basically taken your team into war with the people who set the rules. i fully expect that short of a swansea player literally being murdered on the pitch, garry monk will never see a call go his way again. [and even then, it'll probably just warrant a throw-in.] of course, if you listen to what monk had to say, he believed that his team were on the receiving end of a lot of questionable calls and he'd tried to contact the officials' union to have a word, but they'd not had the courtesy to call him back. i suspect that after this, he won't have to wait much longer for that call.

[it's also interesting to note that no less an authority than the bbc backed monk's opinions, if not his tactics. stoke city have apparently lodged an official complaint about commentator bias, all of which is just tossing fuel on the fire.]

and just in case there wasn't enough attention being paid to this, there were a handful of highly questionable penalties handed out today in the champions league:

here's cska moscow player seydou doumbia collapsing like a cheap deck chair, to earn his team a penalty and a draw with manchester city. [do you have any idea how hard it is to make me feel sympathy for manchester city???]

then there was an embarrassing dive from chelsea's branislav ivanovic [that link goes to a match recap, since all-powerful chelsea have apparently scrubbed the internet of any reference to a player of theirs being fallible] in their game against maribor. it's bad enough to do this when you're trying to salvage a point or three for your team. doing it when you're already up 4-0 is just the definition of cuntishness, assuming that was a real word that had a definition.[then again, that seems par for the course from the guy who thought he'd throw gas on the serbian- albanian fire last week.]

and finally the absolutely tragic case of jonathan silva. his team fought back from being down 3-1 and tied things up when he was penalized for a handball. [the fact that touching the ball with your hand results in a penalty shot is just one more reason why soccer should absolutely have dibs on the name football, but i digress.] it's bad enough to concede a penalty unfairly, but it really sucks when the referee tells you that you hit the ball with your hand when you actually and quite painfully deflected it with your face. 

one time, when i was up in arms about an employer's treatment of their workers, a peer gave me the advice "well you can't fight city hall". i consider that to be one of the worst lessons i've ever learned about the way in which the world works, both because it is so passive and defeatist and also because it's absolutely true. you can fight for lots of things, but once you start arguing with the people who set the rules and oversee their implementation, you've entered into a losing battle. even if you win, you're going to lose. in case you've ever wondered why soccer/ football fans feel the need to drink, it's really to numb the pain.

watching things like botched calls in soccer games should really serve as an education in the futility in fighting the powers that be. we all know that despite this apparent avalanche of errors, nothing will change; yet we still persist in the inexplicable optimism that change is possible.

never mind. we can always just sit back and wave our fists and scowl at our television screens and wait for that to make those officials seem all uncomfortable. 

21 October 2014

mental health mondays :: getting off

this is your brain off drugs
there's so much discussion about how psychiatric medication is over-prescribed, whereas non-pharmaceutical methods of treating depression and anxiety are neglected. it can be difficult to maneuver through the morass of information on who should be taking these medications and who shouldn't, plus there's conflicting information on how effective any of them are even if you do need them. the bottom line seems to be the same as it is with virtually everything in this field: brains are so unbelievably complicated that it's difficult to predict exactly what's going to happen with any individual until you try.

i do share the suspicion that a lot of doctors are a little too quick to prescribe pills when someone says they're suffering. i'd like to say that it's because people often wait to see a doctor until they're really suffering, so the doctor just wants to address the problem as quickly as possible, but given that antidepressants and anti-anxiolytics are slow to reach their full effect, that's not very likely. i do think that given how brief standard doctors' appointments are, many professionals just aren't getting the detail they need to properly evaluate each patient. drugs are way easier than figuring out other lifestyle factors that might be affecting mood and therefore remain a first line of treatment.

there are lots of problems with this approach, but one of them is that it can be extremely difficult to tell when you're ready to stop taking such medications, which begets there is a tendency to let people just continue right on taking them ad nauseum. after all, if the meds are working, how can you tell when the underlying condition is gone? after all, there is evidence that even serious mental disorders can pass over time even without treatment. a lifelong mental disorder is the anomaly.

so it stands to reason that at some point, it will be time to consider reducing and/ or discontinuing your medication[s]. before i get into this, i'd just like to point out again that i'm not a professional. i'm an interested amateur who reads a lot on the subject, but nothing i say should be taken as gospel. it's well-meaning advice.


19 October 2014

making faces :: two ways about it

source
this week in montreal we entered the season of the gloom, that point in autumn when it gets all blustery and there's rarely more than feeble light. although i'm easily depressed by rain and heavy clouds at virtually every other time of the year, i have to admit i don't mind it in the fall [as long as there are some breaks when i can take umbrella-less walks].

although it's tempting to just stay in bed under a blanket of cats, wearing pyjamas and not bothering to make myself presentable in any way, but i also get some enjoyment out of feeling like i'm preparing to face the world, even if i'm not exactly going to be making any television appearances. [i actually have, a few times, as a person on the street. i guess i make a particularly average looking citizen.] when i do go to steel myself to face the outside world in the face of the bluster, i've found that the decision on what to do goes one of two ways:

  1. flip the bird at the weather and opt to stand out
  2. work with the weather and do something that sort of reflects it

so i thought i'd share an example of each and let the world decide if one works better than the other, or if i'm just setting a bad example [multiple bad examples -ed.] for the rest of the world.

style one: shaking my fist at the wind

in keeping with my self-diagnosis as a bright season person in sci/art classification, it makes sense that i should try to keep with well-defined, somewhat bolder colour choices. although i'm not convinced that you have to change the tone of your palette to suit the seasons, i do find that brighter colours take an extra step forward in dull daytime light, so i do tend to wear the most shocking shades in the seasons when we're most flooded with light. but sometimes you just want something cheerier.

 


products used

the base ::
urban decay naked skin foundation "1.0"
dior star concealer "010"
mac paint pot "painterly"

the eyes ::
guerlain e/s palette "les noirs" [shimmery peachy white, frosted black, matte black, medium stone grey]
urban decay 24/7 e/l "smoke" [charcoal grey]
guerlain cils d'enfer mascara

the cheeks ::
yves st. laurent blush volupté #6 "passionée" [pink apricot]
rouge bunny rouge liquid highlight "sea of tranquility" [very light seashell pink with soft gold shimmer]

the lips ::
guerlain rouge g lipstick "genna" [juicy orange red]

typing this up made me realise that i haven't gotten around to reviewing that blush yet. bad blogger! bad! bad!

"genna" is definitely one of those shades that doesn't require a lot of adornment, which is why i decided to go with a high contrast but non-colourful look. rouge g being pretty much my favourite lipstick formula, it makes sense that this is my very favourite warm red shade. i love how cheery it looks. i love the fact that the formula is not just forgiving on lips, but makes them look plumper and smoother. [i did some damage to my upper lip earlier in the week and this is one of the few formulas i've been able to wear since.]

"les noirs" is, as you might expect, an exemplary smoky eye palette, but i also find it's one that can work to do a nice "framed" look. i've made minimal use of the heavier matte black, applying it in the outer angles and even then, blending the frosted black over it and into the crease. the satiny grey i applied with a fluffy brush on the inner lids and corners. i didn't want it to look severe, just shaped. the centre of the lids and the area along the brow is done with the highlight shade. because it's a little softer and more shimmery than a true white, the effect isn't sharp in that 1960s way, but more of an everyday take on that theme. these shadows blend like a dream, although the matte black is a bit prone to fading, so things looked softer at the end of the day.

style two: roll with it

it's the rouge bunny rouge palette again. i can't help it, it's just so easy to reach for... [how can any makeup be "difficult to reach for"? -ed.] on the other hand the blush i used here is one that just constantly seems to befuddle me. i feel like it should work, but it rarely does. i thought it was ok here, although the magic really comes courtesy of the ambient lighting powder.




products used

the base ::
same as above, actually

the eyes ::
rouge bunny rouge raw garden e/s palette "chronos"
mac e/s "dazzlelight" [softly shimmery neutral highlight]
urban decay 24/7 e/l "rockstar" [shimmery eggplant]
dior mono cream shadow "celeste" [icy lilac]
makeup forever extravagant mascara

the cheeks ::
mac powder blush "mocha" [medium ruddy plum]
hourglass ambient lighting powder "mood light" [ soft warm mauve]

the lips ::
mac lip pencil "life's a breeze" [yellow pink]*
chanel glossimer "murmure" [pinky peach]

i used three shades from the "chronos" palette here: the rosy taupe over most of the lids, with the warm champagne beige on the inner corners and the deep purple-grey on the outer angles. i didn't get a great night's sleep, so "celeste" is being used on my lower lids in this case to help hide some pretty serious eye baggage. [we talked about this.]

the lip pencil i used underneath was a limited edition one and i don't know of a great dupe for it. nars matte lipstick in bolero looks like it might be close, but more peach, less pink. and by the way, can anyone recommend a lip pencil that doesn't bleed but that doesn't feel like i'm punishing myself for something by applying it? i don't notice it so much with the gloss, but it's still a fairly uncomfortable procedure.

this is clearly a much "foggier" kind of look, but i find that the lip still gives enough brightness that i don't look too washed out. people who have softer colouring than i could probably do without the liner, since the gloss would probably add enough colour on its own. on me, it's lovely, but tends to look very sheer within about half an hour of application.

it is supposed to remain rainy and overcast for pretty much the next week here in montreal, which is probably enough time for me to get pretty sick of the soggy and start wishing for those crisp, cool october days i remember from my youth [and the week before last -ed.]. in the meantime, i'll undoubtedly come up with new and slightly odd ways of painting myself, but for now, these are the two edges of the pendulum's arc. [note: the pendulum tends to swing differently when i'm going out for the evening, because dark lips.]

p.s. :: i've gone back to urban decay's naked skin, which has become my fall-back foundation. i love it, but i was recently trying out a sample of yves st. laurent's new "fusion ink" formula and i feel like that raised the bar. ironically, i'd been wearing ysl "teint touche éclat" for a couple of months and while it's a beautiful product, it's too glowy for my combination skin, especially in the summer. it seems like i just can't win sometimes.

18 October 2014

that old black magic

in case you were wondering [they weren't -ed.] why world wide wednesdays happened on thursday this week, you can lay the blame solely on the sweet sounds of sweden, specifically those of the sadly defunct cold meat industry record label.

the show was part of a tour that continues to unfold from now until the 29th of the month and if there is any way you can find your way to one of the shows, i can't recommend it enough. seeing bands i've admired in the past has been an uneven experience for me. there were some shows that were so bad that they've made me question why i ever liked the act to begin with, while others have left me marveling at how old masters continue to possess a spark that's absent from so many younger acts. 

here's a little photo tour of my evening...
  


ok, so the first thing is that when we left to go to the show, we couldn't get to the metro because the street was on fire. it was hard to get a good shot because the air was so hazy that everything distorted, so this is just an impression of what it looked like. 

right here should be a picture of menace ruine, who stepped in at the dire last minute when one of the opening acts couldn't make it. very short, sweet set and caught me out, because i didn't get to take a picture. i just wanted to mention it, because performing is stressful for a band and opening a show with basically no notice whatsoever is pretty damn cool. 


lussuria, an artist about whom i knew little, but i did check out his latest release on hospital productions and am curious to hear more.


another lussuria. i played with the colours a bit to make it look more like it did in person than in the unprocessed photo above.


deutsch nepal, the only one of the artists who i'd seen before, was actually better than when i initially saw him in 2007, remaining resolutely difficult to define, unexpected and enchanting in the most magical sense of that world. one of the subtle pleasures of the evening was that the backing tapes that lina used were actual tapes. he kept popping cassettes out to provide the loops and background sounds required for each track. i'm not a fan of the whole resurgence of cassettes as recording medium, but this was great to watch.


it wasn't on purpose, but i kind of love how deutsch nepal's backing video bled onto the surrounding curtain. fyi to sala rosa: replace your goddamned screen. there are homeless people sleeping on things that would make a better projection surface.


 i got sort of fascinated by the big box of musical stickers.


i took a few steps back for raison d'être. [in the direction of the bar -ed.] although logic dictates that peter andersson is at least my age, i was kind of  shocked to see he could easily pass for my kid. the swedish health care system is even better than we've been told.



thank you, raison d'être, for providing the obligatory industrial show playing a piece of metal as instrument. 


a great power electronics set combines the visceral, physical impact of pure noise with the angry humanity of punk. brighter death now delivered on every possible measure. 


roger karmanik was joined on stage by lina [deutsch nepal] on bass. feel their shadowy menace.


i got this view a lot during the bdn set, when karmanik wasn't pacing, or barging into the audience, or doing unmentionable things with the microphone. if you're going to be in the front of the crowd, be prepared to become part of the show. i highly recommend it. he crouched about three inches from my face for much of "payday", my favourite bdn track ever. for a music fan, there is nothing that is going to compete with that experience.


the ending of the show [i don't want to spoil it for anyone who might be going] actually left me and others almost weepy. the bottom line? definitely the best show i've been to all year and probably on my top ten of all time. 

16 October 2014

world wide wednesdays :: the complexities of being caucasian

some really gorgeous caucasians in georgia
why do we insist on confusing things by using the same word to describe different things? is there some reason why we have to terrify people by assigning the word "lead" multiple meanings? is there not one other combination of letters that we could have used? [there are lots. umbry isn't in use, for instance and it looks like a perfectly adequate word.] so who decided to take the term "caucasian" which originally referred to the people living in the caucasus mountain region, and use it to refer to white/ beige people everywhere?

in truth, it was a guy named christoph meiners, a german philosopher of sorts who liked to come up with high-sounding arguments for some pretty racist things like "white people are the only pretty people" and "black people can't feel pain". people like that have no business screwing up words for the rest of us. [although it should be pointed out that he screwed it up only in german. the "rest of us" just followed his example like vaguely racist sheep. -ed.]

what's truly unfair is that properly caucasian people- the ones who come from the caucasus mountains- really don't need anything confusing their identity, because they already come from one of the most confusing areas on the planet. wedged between europe and asia, caucasian peoples are the inhabitants of a geographical area and a linguistic group and those things overlap, but are distinctly different entities.

linguistic map by jackson pollock
for reasons that aren't entirely clear, the caucasus have always been a region of staggering cultural and linguistic diversity. more than fifty ethnic groups speak almost forty distinct languages in an area about the same size as spain. and for reasons that aren't entirely clear, it seems to have more or less always been that way; herodotus marveled at its tremendous diversity in the fifth century bce. there are some reasonable-sounding theories, of course: the area is located on the fringes of a number of historical empires and thus may well have served as a haven for those fleeing invaders; the topography means that individual tribes and villages are easily isolated, so that even those who arrived speaking the same language would develop their own distinct dialect; it sits in proximity to a number of different ethnic groups and is accessible to all of them. the bottom line is that the caucasus has been an extraordinarily diverse place for as long as people have written about it.

the drawback  of being diverse is that the area has been rife with ethnic tensions through much of its history. and sadly, when there has been relative peace, it's been because the territory has been under the [often repressive] control of a foreign empire. most recently, that meant the russians and what little we hear about the caucasus region now tends to be tales of ongoing hostilities, insurrections and terrorism that has flared up to fill the vacuum left by the soviet disintegration.

the caucasus region is generally subdivided into northern and southern sectors. in the south, you have the former soviet republics of georgia, armenia and azerbaijan. in the north, you have a handful of republics, which are [for now] part of the post-soviet russian federation. republics within the russian federation are home to regional non-russian majorities have a greater level of autonomy than provinces. there are twenty-two republics all over russia and about a third of those are in the tiny caucasus region.

grozny, chechnya, 1996
the best known of the russian-based caucasian republics to most westerners is chechnya. an almost nightly fixture on news reports from the mid-nineties to the early part of this century, the chechen wars remained little understood in the western world and the western media, who seemed to show a reflexive mistrust both of the russians and the predominantly muslim chechens. [side note: because of the increasingly militant religious tone of the chechen separatist movement and the association of the boston marathon bombers with the neighbouring republic of dagestan, the media has created an impression that the caucasus region is largely islamic. but like all things in the caucasus, it's much more complicated than that. georgia and armenia are predominantly christian, while the republic of kalmykia in the northeast boasts the world's only buddhist government. muslim areas of the caucasus historically followed a more liberal branch of islam. fundamentalism in the region is more of a modern phenomenon, a result of and not a cause of the wars with russia.]

so who are the "real" caucasians then?

tblisi, georgia
well, if you want to be really specific, there's only one nation that could plausibly refer to itself as caucasian and that's georgia. how so? because georgia is the only nation in the world that is geographically and linguistically caucasian. the caucasian group contains about forty languages, but only about a dozen have actually been written down and only georgian was transcribed prior to the twentieth century. [side note: way prior. the current georgian alphabet is almost a thousand years old and prior to that, the there was an ecclesiastical script.] in fact, georgian is spoken by more people than the rest of the caucasian languages put together [about four million of the world's seven million caucasian speakers]. although armenia and azerbaijan are in the caucasus, but their languages are indo-european and turkic, respectively. almost all of the other caucasian languages are spoken in the russian north caucasus. so when you talk about real caucasians, you're talking about georgians. thank goodness the name "georgia" couldn't possibly be misunderstood. [side note: ironically for the racialist theories of meiners and others, georgian is not related to the indo-european languages that most white people speak. what's even stranger? georgian isn't actually related to other major caucasian languages, either. the caucasian linguistic family is actually two unrelated siblings adopted by the same geographical parent.]

caspian sea, azerbaijan
i can't imagine that this post has left you anything but confused. it's been confusing to write and unbelievably confusing to research. my brain is sweating as it tries to understand it all and i swear, we're just scratching the surface here. on the other hand, it's also possible to just sit back and marvel that such a splendidly complex area can even exist. indeed, the antithesis of western,  suburban, white-bread cultural hegemony would seem to be caucasians.


p.s.: whoops! i did have every intention of publishing this on wednesday, but i'm afraid that things didn't work out. but you already knew that.

p.p.s.: just because you don't hear about conflicts on cnn [who have recently converted to an all-ebola format] doesn't mean that the conflicts you've heard about previously have gone away. it's been years since we've heard about the conflict between armenia and azerbaijan over the border territory of ngorno-karabakh, but it's still a hot enough issue that in the qualifying tournament for the uefa euro cup, the armenian and azerbaijani teams had to be placed in separate groups to ensure that they could not end up playing each other. considering what teams who are willing to play each other have done, i can't even imagine what  would happen at such an encounter.

throw back to throw forward: a second attempt at #tbt

although i don't personally  have older photos of myself, other people apparently have them. someone posted this long ago on facebook and it's since disappeared from there, but not before i saved it so that i could remember that:

1. i used to have a truly ridiculous amount of hair;

2. even my young, normally black-clad self had an inkling that bright, zany patterns suited me. if this dress hadn't been accidentally welded  to a plastic bag and left with scorch marks [thanks to a car with an overheating muffler], i'd still be wearing it, i'm certain;

3. i've been dj kali for a very long time.

dj kali, the cyberhippie years
this particular image was taken at a noisy techno/ rave event i helped organise in 1994 and there i am, as kali, on the wheels of steel [with vinyl, biatches!].

of course, you don't have to travel back in time to see me dj. you could just turn up tomorrow night at cabaret playhouse for out of step, an evening of fun and spooky sounds with dj kali and mr. dna. think of it as a pre-halloween evening to get you in the mood, with the usual array of post-punk, new wave, no wave, cold wave, microwave, industrial, electro, flexi-pop, death rock, noisy, moody, edgy, groovy things to make you tap your feet and get all the way down.

if you're in the montreal area, i hope to see you there. the hair will be different, the dress will be different, the particular musical selections will be different, but the fun is eternal.

14 October 2014

boys behaving badly*

hey look! here's some footage of some hijinks at a euro 2016 qualifying match between albania and serbia:



in case you're not clear what you're seeing, that's a remote control drone launched by albanian fans [who were banned from attending the match due to concerns that they might do something to provoke the serbian team or their fans] with a flag showing a map of the disputed territory of kosovo emblazoned with an albanian double-headed eagle and the word "autochthonous" [meaning that the disputed territory belongs to its ethnic albanians, which is a possible subject for a future "world wide wednesdays"].

things kind of go from bad to worse when a serbian player brings down the drone and then some albanian players rushed up to liberate it.

and then things went from worse to really worse:



and then the english referee decided that things were getting just a little too interesting and called off the game.

serbian team captain, chelsea player and luis suarez biting victim branislav ivanovic helpfully told journalists afterwards that his manly teammates had been prepared to play, but that the albanians pussed out. [not verbatim, but close. his actual quote is included here.]

it's not like this is the first time this has happened. it's not even the first time that this has happened this week.

here's some footage of explosives being hurled at a game on friday between romania and hungary, who don't even have a territory dispute [although they did fight a war over transylvania and other territories from 1918-20]:



and here is some fun with flares and riot police from a game between bulgaria and croatia the same day:



and that's just this week, because apparently throwing explosive objects is what soccer fans do instead of singing "we will rock you".

i wonder that no european governments have thought to round up some of these ultra-fans and ship them off to fight islamic state. people crazed on soccer versus people crazed on religion looks like an entirely balanced equation in my book.

over here in north america, we like to think that we have a healthy relationship with violence. maybe not canada, so much, but we here in the west know how to bring the motherfucking violence. and believe me, canada does way more than our fair share of the sports-related violence. vancouver hockey fans rampaged through downtown after their stanley cup loss because it was there. and montreal... the hockey riot is kind of our thing.

but even here, where violence is as ubiquitous as fast food outlets, we generally abide by the belief that when we attend a sporting event, we'd like to not die. and i can't help but notice that that doesn't seem to apply for soccer fans. it seems like dying is just one of those things that can happen at a game, like catching an errant ball or losing your car keys [possibly lodged them in some guy's eyeball].

i'm a soccer fan. i'm enough of a fan that i'm actually paying a certain amount of attention to a qualification process for a final tournament that is going to take place in 2016. [it's nice to be able to cheer on wales and scotland for a while.] but at no point do i want to die because of this and i think that's a pretty healthy attitude. i'm always a little flummoxed that the continent that consistently accounts for at least half of the top ten countries on the u.n.'s human development index can also produce such vitriol over sports. i get that, when it comes to international competitions, sometimes a game isn't just a game, but i sort of cling to the belief that it should be something just a little bit enjoyable.

for now, i'll continue following the games and i'll continue to be happy that there's an ocean in between me and the pitches where they're happening. because i am really, really happy not to die for now.

*ok, the title. although i maintain that the instigators of a lot of these problems, the vast majority, are men, i don't mean to imply that hooliganism is an exclusively male activity. mea culpa.

13 October 2014

mental health mondays :: going through a crackhead phase?

addictions are a controversial area of mental health research, what with conflicts over whether an addiction is a mental disorder, a symptom of a disorder or both. [note: it can be both, the conflicts generally arise in determining which it is in each specific case.] but the discussions are about to get even more controversial, because there is evidence we might be giving addictions more credit than they deserve.

because of the degree to which an addict can damage themselves and the people around them, it's tempting to ignore some of the complexities of the disorder and to concentrate on getting addicts into treatment as soon as possible so that they recover as completely as possible. however, the results of a massive study in the united states have shown that the majority of people who meet the criteria to be considered addicts of a large variety of substances recover whether or not they're given treatment. that's a big, scary statement, but there's a lot of data behind it.

stranger still, it seems that some of the drugs associated with the greatest risk of addiction and damage, e.g. cocaine, are associated with higher rates of recovery [from the addiction itself- this doesn't cover any health problems that may have been exacerbated by the addiction] than drugs like nicotine and alcohol. in fact, nicotine addicts had the lowest rate of recovery of any addict group, but a substantial majority were able to break their addiction at some point.

there is a lot of information that needs to be analysed here, not least the fact that gender, race and socio-economic status seem to influence your odds on being able to shake the addiction bug or that those with co-morbid mental or mood disorders are less likely to recover , but the point is that our woefully inadequate understanding of what addiction is and how it works is more woefully inadequate than we realise. health journalist maia szalavitz thinks, for instance, that we should reject the model of addiction as a disease, which is by nature progressive unless treated/ cured and more like a developmental condition that may well pass with time if controlled. this absolutely flies in the face of the usual methodology [used by so-called 12 step programs like alcoholics/ narcotics anonymous], where someone is an addict for life whether they are in remission or not.

now let me be clear that no one is saying that you shouldn't treat addiction and that it will just get better with time. what's being said is that not all addictions require treatment and that rather than painting everyone with the same brush, health professionals should consider a lot of factors, such as the level of damage that's being done, the age of the addict and the substance that's being abused in order to come up with the best individualised plan.

this ultimately seems to be the truth behind much of the research on mental disorders: the more we study, the fewer general rules there seem to be.

12 October 2014

more like space greatest hits :: i'm thankful i don't have to eat it

it being canadian thanksgiving, i'm seeing a lot of my friends talking about the things for which they are grateful. my day started when lulu kicked my water glass off my night table, shattering it [the glass, not the table] just as the sky was showing the first hints of light. while doing clean-up, i managed to slice my thumb open right on that point where you can feel the pulse, so blood spurted for about three hours.

i'm thankful for band-aids.

but seeing everyone else be so grateful and gracious made me think that i should at least try to write something about feeling thankful. but doing a lot of typing is out of the question because of the cut on my thumb, as well as the unrelated [but also lulu-based] cut in the corner of my pinky finger. that's when i remembered a post i did about thanksgiving way back in the early days of the blog.

i am thankful for being able to recycle content.

when i went to check said post, i was delighted to discover the fact that the woman responsible for the original atrocity posted photos submitted by others of their own variations on her theme. you can check 'em out by clicking the link below.

i am thankful for links that still work.

i am thankful for people who do weird things to make the world a more wonderful place.

i am thankful that i have a place to post this stuff and that people like you read it. 

*


as if elizabeth hicock's scale model of san francisco cast in jello weren't enough, here's an appetizing (?) thanksgiving non-dinner made from, you guessed it, jello. personally, i find jello creepy at the best of times (i think it has to do with the way it moves... food should not jiggle), and it's a toss-up whether i find it more unnerving as a food-like substance or a sculptural medium.

courtesy of boing boing

11 October 2014

making faces :: how audacious!

greta, the original
i will start this post by congratulating myself on my relative restraint in the last month, because i cautiously chose to purchase just one of nars' new audacious lipsticks and try it out to test the wear and feel of the formula on my lips rather than doing what originally crossed my mind, which was run into the first store i encountered screaming "all! i want all!" score one for civility.

those who are interested in the beauty industry probably have at least as many details  on this launch as i do: nars has introduced a new lipstick formula in 40 shades [10 of which are exclusive to the nars web site and to barney's in the u.s./ holt renfrew in canada], all named after icons of the silver screen. the "audacious lipsticks" are very pigmented, creamy and opaque. having swatched most of them, i would say that there is a slight range in finishes from moderately glossy to nearly matte. some seem a little more translucent than others, but almost all of them are pretty heavily pigmented. the formula was very consistent- more so than i've seen among any collection of that size in pretty much any brand.

for any brand to launch a forty shade collection is a pretty incredible undertaking, but nars apparently decided it was go big or go home. given the sheer number of colours available, there will likely be options for anyone. that said, there is a preponderance of what i call "hothouse shades": deep vibrant berries, juicy orange-reds, brightened fuchsias. there are also a considerable number of deeper shades for fall, which of course sets my heart fluttering. the nude shades generally have a very sixties feel to them- they're bolder pastels rather than soft naturals for the most part. i like the fact that the collection seems to stake out new ground for the brand rather than duplicating the sort of shades that we see already in their permanent collection. [word has it that no lipsticks are being discontinued to make room for the new formula. while that might be true in the short run, i'd be surprised if we didn't see at least some culling of the semi-matte formula in the near future.]

i decided to start with "greta", named, of course, for greta garbo, possibly the most marveled-over beauty of the first half of the twentieth century. her smoldering gaze, perfectly arched brows and full lips dominated celebrity magazine covers for practically the entire 1930s. her legendary reticence only increased the fascination with her, all the more so when she rather suddenly retired from film at the age of thirty-six.

the lipstick named for her is described by nars as a "wild azalea", which seems like a very bold choice for a woman renowned for being mysterious, but at the same time, it does call to mind the exotic, the passionate [garbo was known especially for her roles in romantic films] and it's certainly the kind of colour that will imprint itself on your mind [and your skin].

i think "wild azalea" is an excellent description. it's a very bold reddened magenta- one of the aforementioned hothouse colours for certain. like most of the audacious lipsticks, it doesn't have shimmer or sheen, so it's a very straightforward kind of shade.

wild azaleas
greta, the lipstick

 the finish is very nearly matte- the closest to completely matte of any of the shades that i tried- and does apply very smoothly and evenly. you certainly don't need more than a single pass and i found that the colour lasted a few hours without fading noticeably. [others have reported that the glossier shades fade faster.] it does have a smoothing effect on the lips, although after a day's wear, it did start to make mine feel a touch dry. that's about par for the course with me and all mattes. i'd say that this was one of the better near-matte formulas in that regard. i never found nars regular semi-matte lipsticks especially drying, but this one did feel creamier. i didn't experience any feathering or bleeding with this shade. again, i think that some of the other shades in the range might be quite different, given that they seem a lot glossier. i guess i'll just have to buy more of them to find out...

there are a lot of these sorts of vibrant pinks around lately- i feel like hot pinks are having a moment- but this is a particularly nice example. mac "party parrot" is more orange/ coral. bite beauty "quince" is cooler, redder and darker. mac "catharina" is lighter, cooler and more muted. mac "fusion pink" is more orange/ coral and has shimmer that makes it appear lighter.

l to r :: mac party parrot, bite quince, greta, mac catharina, mac fusion pink

i'll be honest. while i've been restrained thus far, i am still having to hold myself back from rushing up to the first nars counter i come to and demanding all the lipsticks. i'm forcing myself to be picky because i feel like the straightforward nature of the colours makes it more likely that i have near matches in my considerable stash already. however, as a fan of strong lip shades, i find myself overwhelmed by the desire for the smooth finish and intense colour payoff that these offer. in truth, i already know which ones are coming home next, i'm just trying to pace myself.

here's the look i put together when i was trying "greta" out for the first time. clearly, this is the sort of lipstick that needs to take the front seat, so i kept things fairly simple otherwise.

 


products used

the base ::
hourglass mineral veil primer
ysl fusion ink foundation "10"
dior star concealer "001"
mac paint pot "painterly"

the eyes ::
guerlain e/s palette "les sables"
mac fluidline brow "deep dark brunette"[used on brows and as a liner]
ysl baby doll mascara

the cheeks ::
guerlain blush g [tropical coral pink]*
hourglass ambient lighting powder "diffused light" [yellowed white]

the lips ::
nars audacious l/s "greta" [wild azalea]

*suggested alternates :: les sables is limited but still available; blush g = benefit bella bamba [redder and deeper, more shimmer]

at $37cad, nars have staked their claim against the prestige brands of dior, chanel, yves st. laurent and guerlain. it's a bold move [perhaps that's why they're called "audacious?], but the formula is very strong and i'd say this is a gamble that's likely to pay off. thankfully for all our sanity, all forty of the audacious lipstick shades are permanent, even the ten that are available only in limited locations, so you can build you collection as slowly [or as quickly] as you like.

[strange coincidence i thought i'd share: a few years back, i thought i did a series of red lipstick posts called "the little red book". check out who i used as a lead-in photo for my only nars entry!]
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