Friday, August 31, 2012

Five Favourite Friday Fings

Clockwise from top left:

William Morris Tampons made me laugh. Who doesn't enjoy a nice history of art joke? They are the gloriously silly creation of illustrator Rosa Middleton, a 2012 UWE graduate. It is probably a bad idea to stick dyed things up but then bleached things aren't great either so maybe an art deco tampon isn't such a bad idea. Via Jess' new tumblr, neonpeg.

You should read I Wish My Mother Had Aborted Me. Everyone should. Especially pro-lifers. Lynn Beisner sensitively explains the difference between “the best choice for both my mother and I would have been abortion” and “I wish I had never been born.” Although she is in a good place now, she acknowledges that given her and her mother's history of abuse, poverty and emotional trauma, an abortion would have been the best option for both of them. She scuppers those self-important people who tell stories of how their mothers nearly aborted them and isn't it a miracle for humanity that they didn't. Very moving.

The design and imagery for Diana Orving's AW12 collection is so harmonious and beautiful. I wouldn't necessarily wear the dresses, they aren't very me, but they photograph beautifully. So elegant and vaguely Grecian. Via the consistently lovely Vamoose.

Roxane Gay's joyous post on Step Up 4, Yes, Step Up Revolution is a Quest Movie, made me snarf with laughter. She too loves (genuinely and not ironically) a dance movie and she is very very funny. A new favourite internet writer. Her film posts are uniformly hilarious.

Speaking of which, the Amazon UK customer reviews of Bic's new line of biros 'For Her' are excellent. The virtual air is thick with sarcasm and absurdity and rightfully so. I mean, really. Gender marketed (i.e. pink and purple and squidgy and sparkly) biros?? What is the world coming too. Hopefully Bic are deeply embarrassed. 

Chuck x

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sea Cow

I love manatees. I love this photo. Little girl and enormous manatee gaze at each other curiously. The manatee seems so old and wise and human. I'm not surprised that they're tied up in folklore with mermaids. And I love Snooty. He is the oldest manatee living in captivity - he is 64. 64! He was born in 1948...

I would love to meet a manatee one day, preferably in the wild. Need to start thinking about planning a fantasy trip to the Caribbean sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Amazon basin or West Africa. Easy.

Chuck x

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Brunch

Brunch is awesome. It's like breakfast but you can have multiple courses and invite people over. I recently road-tested a birthday present - the Clinton St Baking Company Cookbook. According to the lovely friend who bought it for me and who knows these things, this NY cafe and bakery does the best breakfast in the world. The book is certainly mouth-watering. I tried the American pancakes which were reliably good and their signature buttermilk biscuits which were delicious. They took five minutes to make and fifteen minutes to bake and they formed an exciting new base for crispy, streaky bacon and fried eggs. As a Brit, I don't have a history with American biscuits and I still don't really understand the difference between a biscuit and a scone but I did enjoy these a lot. They were quick and fluffy and butter soaked into them excellently - they're a super easy alternative to making your own bread for breakfast.

We didn't have every single brunch trimming but we had a lot. It was goooood.

  • Fresh, hot biscuits, bacon and eggs
  • American pancakes with maple syrup
  • Coffee with frothy milk, pots of tea, orange juice

Chuck x

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On Love

I have Susan Sontag's diaries As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh sitting on my bookshelf. This beautiful illustration of quotes from the book by Wendy MacNaughton for BrainPickings is getting me all excited about reading it. I am on a bit of a Sontag hit at the moment - I finally got round to reading her excellent essay on Camp and On Photography, which I read last year, is a book that I can't shake off. Next up, Regarding the Pain of Others. I wish this illustration was available as a print but I don't think it is so we will just have enjoy it in it's internet-y loveliness.

Chuck x

Sunday, August 19, 2012


A while back I did a Hair post detailing all the hair care products I owned, which I'd used and which I'd loved, what I had thought about them all etc. Now I am giving Body a go and the results are pretty different. While Hair highlighted my slightly alarming hoarder tendencies, Body is positively minimal. I don't care substantially more about my hair than my body so I don't understand why I have approx 700 products for the former versus 4 for the latter, but there you go. I actually have pretty easy-going hair but very dry, quite sensitive skin so if anything my body needs more attention, although I am admittedly lazy when it comes to both. I suspect (know) there are quite a lot of half finished bottles of moisturiser at home home but somehow they haven't migrated to London. I use the below four products regularly and I probably only use four of my hair care products regularly (Pantene/John Frieda Root Awakening Shampoo + Conditioner, dry shampoo, hair oil, Aussie 3 Minute Miracle, if you're interested...) so maybe it all balances out. 

Anyway, this is what I'm using and enjoying on my boday, because I know you are all on the edge of your seats....

  • It's Raining Men Honey-rich Shower Gel - I don't really buy myself products from Lush because a) they're not cheap, b) I have no interest in bath bombs and c) the shops make me feel nauseous at fifty feet. I know that a select group of zealots think that Lush shops are the best thing that has ever happened to the high street but the smell is always so overwhelming that it makes me feel faint. I held my breath to dive in and buy my henna when I was still using it because it is a great product and there aren't many easily available alternative sources for henna but it would have been a much less harrowing experience if they had turned their odour settings down from 11 to, say, 3... Anyway, despite all that, I won this shower gel in a blog giveaway ages ago and I really like it. It is quite strongly scented but in small quantities, in the otherwise unscented haven of my bathroom it is pleasant rather than sick-making. It is honey and 'exotic flowers' - rosehip, lotus flower and tiger lily infusion, sweet wild orange oil and bergamot oil among ingredients. I think it kind of smells like Starburst but less sugary and more honeyey. Despite the scent, I find that it doesn't aggravate my skin (admittedly I don't use it daily, maybe only a couple of times a week) so thumbs up. I might even get it again if I online delivery is reasonable. Yumz.
  • Vaseline Cocoa Butter Vitalising Gel Body Oil - Man, this stuff should come with a warning. It is a knockout moisturiser but it is quite high maintenance. It is very sticky and you will slide off yourself/furniture and leave grease trails all over your clothes/bedding for at least two hours after application. It is kind of gross but, if you are prepared to risk the inconvenience and slather yourself in it when still damp from a shower, you will feel the effect for days. Possibly the only moisturiser I've ever used when you still feel moisturised days later. Other downsides - highly scented but not in a pleasant way like the shower  gel. This has a very sweet cocoa butter smell that stays with you almost as long as the moisturising effect. Great if you like cocoa butter but I've gone off it in the last few years and it irritates me when moisturisers interfere with my perfume. Also, I bought this as a body oil and it isn't one - take note.
  • Jergens Daily Toning Body Moisturiser (win here) - Jergens recently relaunched and they sent me a moisturiser to try out. There is a whole range including Daily Moisture, Soothing Aloe and Original Beauty Lotion so it made me laugh when I unwrapped my tube of Skin Firming. A subtle hint perhaps? I do need to Tone & Tighten... Apparently, 'this moisturiser tightens skin, increasing its elasticity, and reduces the appearance of cellulite - making skin firmer-looking and more beautiful.' I am a big ol' cynic and I don't believe that any moisturiser is going to tone me but I suppose I am firmer, in as much as any decent moisturiser will firm your skin. It is an easy, everyday moisturiser and absorbs quickly although I find that it leaves my skin a bit tacky. I don't think my skin adores it but I haven't had any reactions against it and I'm better moisturised than I've been in a while. The scent is unobtrusive, just kind of clean and moisturisery. I remember reading an article years ago about how French women like their perfumes to smell like bodies and sex and American women like their perfumes to smell like laundry and clean - this is probably one for the Americans. All in all, a decent affordable moisturiser. I have nearly finished the tube (which is quite an achievement for me) and I might well try one of their other moisturisers next.
  • Aveeno Bath and Shower Oil with Colloidal Oatmeal - This is still a fairly new purchase but I like it. It was bought after a third failed attempt to find Oilatum in my local Boots as a treatment bath oil. I like to have a wallowy bath at weekends and I wanted to something to help my skin out. It's been a bit sore and itchy (tmi?) recently and I wanted something soothing and Aveeno products are specially formulated for dry and irritated skin. It smells like a cross between those oatmeal bag handwarmer things that you put in the microwave and babies, which is nice, it makes my bath water all smooth and slippery without just floating on the surface. Don't know yet whether it will make any substantial difference to my skin but it is pleasant to use so that is good.
Does anyone else suffer from dry/sore skin? Do you have anything you'd recommend? Also, am I missing some vital part of the body care routine? What are your essentials?

Chuck x

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Sunday Book: The Family Fang - Kevin Wilson

I haven't done many book posts in the last year. I find it hard to write a short post about a book - I normally have a lot to say and I end up writing mini essays. That is great but it is also time consuming and time hasn't really been on my side. That isn't to say that I haven't been reading but rather that I haven't got round to talking about any of those books here. I am going to break my silent streak to write about the latest book I have read because it was interesting and fun and newer, younger authors don't always get the marketing budget they deserve.

 Having said that, I originally heard about Kevin Wilson's first novel The Family Fang on a Guardian Books podcast and, post Googling, I see that he has been reviewed by some of the big news outlets so he hasn't exactly been neglected either. Oh well, I don't remember seeing much promotion and maybe you haven't heard of the book and every little helps. The book is the story of Annie and Buster Fang, Child A and B of acclaimed/notorious performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang, and their attempts to escape their parents' influence. Both are in their late twenties and struggling to find their way as artists in their own right, acting and writing respectively, and as adults. The book cuts between the contemporary and vivid descriptions of various agonising pieces of Fang 'art'.

Advance copy from the Bloomsbury Oxfam Books where I worked last year - Top Tip for exciting affordable new fiction.

I am probably a particularly unsympathetic interpreter of the Fangs' work because I disagree with many of their fundamental premises about art and because I don't have a lot of time for performance art. Never say never and everyone is entitled to their own opinions and I hardly qualify as a great artist/thinker/critic and all that but I have yet to see a piece of performance art that I am convinced by. That aside, I think it would be hard to argue that Caleb and Camille's treatment of their children doesn't amount to some form of child abuse. Their mission is to create chaos, to invade shared spaces and disrupt the social norm. Chaos is beautiful and over and over again they put their children at the centre of this chaos in the name of art. Sometimes Annie and Buster are willing, if not happy, participants in this chaos, as when aged nine and six (or thereabouts) they are put in front of a shopping mall crowd to play violent rock music as loudly and badly as they can to raise money for their fictional dying dog and to try and prompt a negative, angry reaction from the public. Sometimes the chaos is forced upon them, as when they go out to a very smart restaurant and are told that a 'happening' will occur but not what it will be and Buster gets so nervous that he throws up all over the table and that is the 'happening'.

Although Annie and Buster manage to leave home and start their own lives they bear the scars of their parents' psychological torment. They struggle to distinguish between reality and art/fiction/fantasy, they cannot trust people and they are constantly tense, waiting for disaster. They are both burning out and end up back in the family home. Shortly after their return their parents are brutally murdered. Or are they? Annie and Buster refuse to believe that their apparent death is anything more than their latest work, another 'happening', and they set out to try and find them.

This might all sound like a bit of a downer but it is actually very funny. There is an excellent bit near the beginning where Buster gets shot in the face - it's dark humour as well as laugh out loud funny... If you are interested in theories of art there is plenty to think about but it is a pretty snappy book and I got through it quickly. Nearing the end I was concerned about how Wilson was going to finish the book (bad endings are the bane of my reading life - I get far too affected and irritated by them) but I can reassure you that it is just right. I feel I should emphasise the humour again. This is funny, tender, compulsive contemporary fiction and you should give it a go.

Thumbs up.

Chuck x

P.S. Clearly a fail on the quick, easy post front. Oops.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Some Clothes I've Worn

Clockwise from top left:
Silk shirt - Topshop (ebay) / Belt - Uniqlo / Skirt - Zara / Brogues - Asos
Cashmere cardigan - Land's End / T-shirt - UO / Pencil skirt - Topshop / Converses
Dress - Vero Moda (ebay)
Cashmere cardigan - Land's End / T-shirt - Whistles / Belt - vintage / Trousers - COS / Converses

Wow, it has been over four months since I last did one of these. Time, as they say, flies. Some things never change though - my mirror is as grubby as ever. I have resigned myself to the fact that I don't have the energy or the interest required to keep it gleaming and finger print free. I am very busy and important and I have other vital matters to attend to like reading magazines and lolling around luxuriantly.

This post is a work-wear special. Imagine all of these with proper heels. Journalistic integrity might require the full outfit but my smart shoes live in a pile under my desk so it ain't happening. The new(ish) job has quite a strict, traditional office-y dress code. All very conservative - button down shirts, knee length skirts, suits etc. I like to push against this... Since I don't leave the office or meet clients I could happily work in my pyjamas but apparently it's not the done thing.

How do you jazz up your work wear? Also, where do you find attractive, affordable formal work clothes? I'm always in need of good recommendations because my personal taste skews drastically towards the casual (obviously).

Chuck x

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ebay Alert

Calling all UK6 ladies in the house - Hermione de Paula currently 99p on eBay. The listing has another week to go so obv (I assume) the price will go up but I had to share. There's no way I can squish myself into a size 6 but maybe you can. I heart Hermione de Paula. And eBay. It is the best thing.

Chuck x

Thursday, August 2, 2012

3 videos

Iggy cracks me up. I like some of her stuff, I dislike some of her stuff; I'm not a fan girl but she makes me laugh and I am glad she is doing her mad Australian lady rap thang. Her new video is awesome - she makes an excellent Southern pageant mom (American spelling necessary here). Alex 2tone directed the video and he/she did a top job. Hilarious.

I can't remember whose blog I originally saw this on but their comment was spot on - this video is almost too Dalston Kingsland to be real. There are so many hipster cliches going down that I suspect it may be supposed to be ironic? Who knows. I'm not sure what I feel about this Grimes/Kreayshawn/Tragik/Blood Diamonds (bizarre mixture) collab. I kind of maybe hate it but also I can't stop listening to it? Definitely worth watching to see Grimes doing something a bit different.

So I am a little (an awful lot) behind on this one. This Janelle Monae video came out over two years ago and somehow I have only just watched it. I am now in love with her. She is so adorable and interesting and talented. The voice! The dancing! The suits! I've seen shots of her in her tuxedos in passing before and been unmoved by them but then you see her in action and she looks so great. I want a tuxedo and some saddle shoes and a beautiful white shirt. I'm going to do a proper post on her at some point. In the meantime, this song is crazy crazy catchy.

Chuck x