Sunday, December 15, 2013

Friday Sound

SKEETWOOD MAC. Fleetwood Mac mashed up with hip hop. Rhiannon & Rihanna. 2 Chainz vs. The Chain! Q: Could there be anything better in the world? A: No, no there couldn't. This series by The Melker Project has been around for a while but it is still amazing and I love it. Also, no one in my real life gets it. When I meet the person who fully appreciates the wondrous, hilarious musical perfection that is this series I will have met my soul mate.

Cool lady.

Beyoncé! More qualified people than me have spent the weekend slaving over their think pieces, I'm sure we'll see them hit the webz in the next week, but phwoar? That's my initial critical opinion for you. Bey is looking good. The styling on ***Flawless in particular is amazing (as is Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche's monologue of course). Joan, Jourdann and Chanel on Yoncé - three of the biggest black models working right now and Beyoncé holds her own. Grillz! I want some. I have never been interested in the power ballads so a big chunk of the album is inevitably lost on me but there are some great party hits. I've been singing Grown Woman all weekend. [N.B. Links are to Tumblr where the full length videos have been proliferating since Friday.]

I don't really have anything to say about the way that Beyoncé has released this album - she has always been a master of self-publicising and the secret aspect doesn't really interest me. The 17 videos slightly depresses me though maybe? Is it hopelessly passé and outmoded to wish that music was slightly more about music and slightly less about image? I understand that pop music specifically has always been image conscious and Beyoncé & co. have always traded on their images but this seems like the climax of the current Bey/Gaga/Rihanna trend of music as spectacle/visual and I'm basically over it. (If I was ever under it). The music feels almost beside the point here because we have 17 videos of Beyoncé's beautiful perfect face and her beautiful perfect body and great clothes and make up and so very much writhing to shove into our eyeballs. Maybe that is what we want? Beyoncé is nothing if not savvy and she's probably just catering to consumer demand but can't we demand more of her than her arse?

Which brings me onto my second issue with the whole circus - SEX. She is the biggest pop star in the world (I think that is fair to say? 1D & Bieber et al. can get back to me in ten years once they've proved their staying power), surely she doesn't have to be quite so reliant on soft core (and less soft core) porn? Why is it all so explicit? [Man, all of this is making me sound like a grumpy old man.] Pop is a youth genre and so so many of her fans must be teenagers and young girls and she makes a big show of being an icon and a strong woman and a pseudo earth mother figure to her fans and yet she is so aggressively naked and sexualised in so many of these videos. Let's talk about Partition. I hate that eleven year olds are watching their icon literally behind bars, basically naked and gyrating for a male gaze.

[Aside no.1 re Partition - why is everyone wearing those diamante bras? They look amazingly uncomfortable.] [Aside no.2 re Partition - He 'Monica Lewinsky-ed all on (her) gown'?? That doesn't make sense - if anything he 'Bill Clinton-ed all on her gown'. Monica Lewinsky didn't jizz on her own dress. I could read into this Freudian slip (?) almost forever - there are essays on women and sex to be extrapolated from this single line.]

I know that Beyoncé isn't at the front of the pack when it comes to unbelievably overt sexuality in pop music (hey there RiRi, Pour It Up was certainly something) but she must have one of the youngest audiences and she casts herself as a wholesome figure and feminist icon in a way that Rihanna never does. It just feels so hypocritical to me, hypocritcal and crotch-tastic. Beyoncé/The Visual Album is exciting and beautiful and I am going to dance happily to a bunch of the tracks on it but it also exacerbates my issues with Beyoncé, her image and self presentation, best summarised by AHP months ago.

Anyway, rant over. Thoughts and feelings, yes; coherence, no. What are your opinions on Beyoncé? Everyone has opinions. That's why this whole stunt worked.

Chuck x

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Writing Update

I'm back! Kind of. For now... Anyway, I have reasonable justification for my absence - I have been being productive. *SHOCK*

1) The latest issue of Oh Comely (Issue #18 - how did that happen?) is out and I have a piece in it about my complicated relationship with meat. The photo is obviously and hilariously not me - I would never condone naked knife work. It isn't safe or hygienic in the kitchen and I don't even want to think about any other context. The issue theme is bacon and I haven't had a chance to properly read through the magazine but it looks as delightful as ever. I have some mega train journeying scheduled this weekend and I'm stocking up on high quality reading material. More on that later.

2) I weeeen, I weeeeen! I took my first ever shot at NaNoWriMo and I totally did it. 30 days, 50,000 words, 1 exhausted me. 311,409 people took part this year and 41,940 finished it which makes me one of the 13% left standing so I'm feeling pretty good. Admittedly, most of the time it felt like hell and it devoured my November but it was a very interesting experience and I'm glad I did it. I can't vouch for the quality of what I have written because a) I felt strung out most of the time and b) I haven't re-read a single word of it yet and it could be completely unhinged ramblings for all I know but I feel like I've learned a lot.

I strongly suspect that NaNo lessons are ones that can only be learned by doing but on the off chance that you are one of the lucky few who can learn from others mistakes and because I am smug and drunk on my own success, here are some of the things that I learned:
  • The more you write the easier it is to write more: The various WriMo mentors and helpers and whathaveyou spend the first week alternately telling you to pace yourself, this is a marathon not a sprint, don't use up all your writing energy in the beginning, and to capitalise on your initial burst of speed and get out as many words as possible before the big slump in weeks 2-3. I found the opposite to be true - I wrote considerably less in the first week than any subsequent week and even struggled to meet the minimum target (1,667 words/day). It took trial and error to get up to that kind of speed and volume but I found that the more I wrote the more easily words flowed. In some ways it is harder to write 800 words a day than double that.
  • Strict deadlines are awful until they're deeply satisfying: When you're on the wrong side of your word count you feel awful and everything is impossible and you just want it to stop but if you can get past it you feel like a god and every additional sentence is a gift. Also, if you are a person who never feels like they're doing enough (hello!) it's really nice to have an officially sanctioned stopping point.
  • Routine is everything: Obviously this is a super personal one because I know there are plenty of WriMo-ers who write 1-2k in the week and then sprinted through 8k at the weekends but I cannot do this. My words will fill the time I have so give me four hours to write 2,000 words and I will do it but give me eight hours and I will also write 2,000 words much more slowly. This says bad things about me and procrastination but a steady amount of pressure and a regular daily process works for me.
  • Find your limits and work with them: I cannot write more than 500 words an hour, I just can't, I am not a fast writer. NaNo are big on scary 'word sprints' where everyone gets on Twitter and writes 600 words in 15 minutes - I 100% can't do that. But now I know my limit I know how much time I need to find and clear for myself.
  • The impossible isn't but you can't have everything: I didn't really believe at the beginning of November that it was possible to write 50k on top of a full time job but I thought I'd give it a shot because even if I only came away with 10k that still would have been a win for me. However, it turns out that it can be done! No excuses, it is possible. Nearly 42,000 people say so. BUT you (or, at least, I) only get two out of the three - i) a job, ii) 50k, iii) a social life and/or hobbies. There are only so many hours in the day and something has to give. This blog bit the dust and I've barely seen any of my friends in the last month.
  • Hangovers are the worst: This is true generally but they are also the most massive drain on productivity. Drink with moderation, friends. For now, at least.
I think those are the main ones? I don't know. I'm not yet in a position to judge the long term effects on the quality of my written words or the discipline of my writing practices but I'm happy and I feel like I've achieved something tangible. I also think that there are many interesting and some critical things to say about NaNoWriMo as a cultural phenomenon but that is a story for another day.

Also, guess what? It turns out it is nearly Christmas! I'm psyched.

How've you been?

Chuck x 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Article Reading Group

Murakami's Monster, by Jason Schmidt for Harper's Bazaar Dec14

The Skin of Anxiety - Kevin Barry: The internet, writing, attention spans. All by Kevin Barry who I am long overdue reading. One of my friend is a big fan and keeps recommending him to me and his online presence is very persuasive. This is excellent.

Deconstructing: HAIM, Lorde, And The Monogenre - Chris DeVille: "Just as much as the music, Pure Heroine‘s lyrics suggest Lorde grew up without genre filters, same as HAIM. Sure, she casually mentions listening to a Broken Social Scene song on repeat, but how would she so deftly critique the excesses of pop and rap if she hadn’t regularly immersed herself in such music too? She is, in other words, your average millennial casually kicking out music for her fellow millennials, an obsessive consumer of pop culture whose art can’t help but be multifaceted for that very reason. She’s not just a demographic slice, she’s the whole damn pie chart."

Tavi Gevinson: Child prodigy? Complete boss.

Ramen ramen ramen. Feed the ramen fetish within - the Serious Eats Guide to Ramen Styles. This is 7000 words on ramen. Either that sounds like heaven to you or it doesn't. I'm in the former camp. I know a lot more about ramen now. Mmm... ramen.

Chuck x

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Sound 00s Special

No comment really needed on these.

Chuck x

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Sound

Man, Kendra's BlkWiccan playlist is flipping great. So many excellent songs. Plus, the cover is gorgeous. It would be unbecoming to admit how many times I have listened to this in the last ten days.


Not new but I can't stop listening to it. Also, Lauren is excellent.


Chuck x

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Girls on Film

I had a successful run of lady-friendly viewing last weekend. It wasn't a conscious decision but it was delightful - it was exciting and relaxing and refreshing. This wasn't perfect or representative or explicitly feminist TV but it was a pleasure to watch well imagined female characters, meaningful female friendships and plots for ladeyz that in absolutely no way revolved around romantic entanglements. All of these aced the Bechdel test.

VB forced me to sit down and watch this three-part mini-series from April and I am so glad she did. It is three hours (of occasionally terrifying) bliss. Ladies solve crime with maths and wear great coats! The story sees four colleagues from Bletchley Park struggling to readjust to the drudgery of post-war women's lives while an unknown figure abducts and murders girls around London. Susan (played by Anna Maxwell Martin who is a joy to watch in almost everything and will always be my Lyra), now a suburban housewife, sees a pattern (maths!puzzles!codes!) in the killings and tries to inform the police but, when they are unresponsive (women), is forced to reconvene the old gang.

These are brilliant, individually defined women working together and using their brains to help society and other women. That shouldn't feel special but it does. Most of the characters don't wear make up and their (wonderful) costumes are muted and often a little frumpy but the colour palette is beautiful and that is appropriate for a 1950's Britain that was still enduring rations and recovering from the massive destruction physical and psychological (both of which are touched on) of World War Two. Susan is complicated and not always sympathetic (great) and sometimes the whole thing gets a touch daft but this is an ITV series, what do you expect? I can't hear enough about the women at Bletchley and, all in all, this was fab. Excitingly, another series has been commissioned, although I can't find a release date. Hurrah!

I have been waiting to see Bachelorette for nearly eighteen months. I saw the trailer and the hype months before it came out in the US last autumn and then watched with growing disappointment as it failed to come to the UK. Eventually it to the cinemas here in August and I saw posters and everything but it wasn't screening at any of my local cinemas. Finally it arrived via Lovefilm. Movie industry, this is why you aren't making any money (partially) - I would have paid up for my extortionately priced cinema ticket to see this but you didn't let me do that! Ridiculous. Also, it's worth noting, that there might be some weird edits to the UK DVD - the stripper scene on all of the posters wasn't even in the copy I watched.

Anyway, I loved this. My judgement may be slightly warped by the sizeable amount of sherry, wine and cider (we are eclectic drinkers, bite me) that was consumed prior to and during the film and by the horrible reviews I read afterwards but I really really enjoyed this at the time of watching. I understand and accept some of the criticism: the tone is inconsistent and the ending seems to undermine some of the unflinching points that have been made earlier in the film, the moments of sentimentality seem a bit phony and Kirsten Dunst doesn't get the opportunity she deserves to be funny. Also, Rebel Wilson is tragically underused which approximately zero of the reviewers drew attention to which just shows you how much they know... 

*Minor spoilers ahead*

However, I really felt that a lot of the sniping about the film was coming from (male) critics who didn't think that young women should be rude and crude and mean and unfinished. Yes, the bridesmaids in this film (Lizzie Caplan, Kirsten Dunst and Isla Fisher to Rebel Wilson's bride) are horrible people but so are the target viewers a lot of the time. Kiki is glorious as an uptight ex-bulimic who is trying so destructively hard to be perfect and have the magazine template life. Lizzie (good lord, she's beautiful, those eyes!) is a coked up slacker who doesn't have any of her shit together and who still hasn't got over a teenage abortion; Isla is a ditsy party girl who peaked in high school and is riding a downward spiral of unwitting cruelty, booze and drugs and empty sex. They are all weighed down by their separate failures. And these girls are vile and gross and cruel but they also felt familiar and real. 

This film doesn't have the warm-hearted narrative of Bridesmaids, which it is inevitably compared to, but it feels truthful, at least to me. Also, it made me laugh and laugh and squeal in horror and look at myself. Admittedly, I probably have to watch this again sober but that seems pretty good to me.

Speaking of Bridesmaids (it is hard to avoid when talking about women/films/comedy at the mo - Paul Feig also directed The Heat), I love Melissa McCarthy. She just seems so cool. I want to hang out with her and her tiny husband (who makes a fleeting appearance in The Heat). It is nice to see her cast hear as more than just 'fat woman' here. I mean, she always brings more to a role than that but she is very evidently present in The Heat because she is funny. She is rude and brash and aggressive and bad ass before 'non-standard shaped' in this film. She and Sandra Bullock make a beautiful antagonistic comic pair; Bullock is an uptight, obedient FBI perfectionist with no people skills, McCarthy is a rough and ready, rule breaking, street walking cop. Blah blah blah, the plot here is kind of irrelevant, buddy cops, drug bust, guns, not bothered, but the leads's chemistry is palpable. The narrative isn't especially sharp and sometimes the whole thing veers too heavily into the ridiculous and the difficulties of being a woman in law enforcement are mentioned only in the briefest of asides but this is dumb entertainment. No one is trying to be smart or political, they're just trying to make you laugh and Bullock/McCarthy as a pair did that for me. In six months time I will have forgotten absolutely everything about this film except their friendship and, great, FEMALE FRIENDSHIP ON SCREEN. Bring it all. Also, unrelated, the soundtrack is flippin' excellent - Angel Haze, Azaelia Banks, Santigold, the Isley Brothers, Bill Withers...

Anyway, that was a bit of a ramble. Also, apologies for the aggressive overuse of brackets - apparently I felt very bracket-y today. I reckon all of these are worth your time but they are definitely ordered by importance - track down The Bletchley Circle and enjoy with my blessing. More girls on film please. Plus, any recommendations for lady viewing?

In a brief housekeeping note, I don't think I'm going to be on the blog much in November. Hopefully I'll be checking in but it's probably going to go pretty quiet over here. I will be around and about though so do comment here or email or what have you and I will see you soon.

Chuck x

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cake Marvelous Cake

It has been an unnaturally long time since I last baked. Between life being busy and doing some proper, interesting savoury cooking it has kind of fallen by the wayside. I made a super quick celebratory GBBO finale cake last week though and it felt goooood. There is something so soothing about baking - I need to make the time for it.

  1. The recipe calls for 'unsuphured molasses (not blackstrap)' but I had no idea what this was and didn't have time to Google it before hitting the shops so I just bought and used Lyle's Black Treacle. Having done a quick web hunt I am even less confident of what molasses actually means in the context of American recipes - it seems to cover everything from golden syrup to tar. Looking at the colour of Joy's cake I suspect she used something less hellishly dark than black treacle but golden syrup would definitely have been too light... Luckily my result tasted great even if it wasn't quite as the recipe intended, the black treacle made it taste powerful and grown up. That being said, do not try eating black treacle out of the tin, it is very overwhelming.
  2. I don't know whether it was the black treacle or the vegetable oil (which generally freaks me out in cakes but which did work here) but this was a lovely dense, fudgey cake. Obviously it shouldn't, technically, have sunk in the middle but now it is heart-shaped!
  3. More pomegranate seeds are always the answer. They make everything delicious.
  4. As if more proof was needed (it wasn't), own brand cream cheese does not do the job - too thin, too grainy. You really can only cook with Philly or better.
  5. I used half quantities to fill a loaf tin.
Also, in other news, I have started a new ice cream blog: Repeat Scoop! Because a) I don't have enough on my plate and b) ice cream is the greatest thing. I'm only going to be updating it sporadically but it is going to be 100% ice cream.

Chuck x

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Sound

I have a long-standing affection for M.I.A. I bought and loved Arurlar as a sixteen year old and have followed her ever since but I found /\/\ /\ Y /\ patchy at best and Bad Girls is just a bit dull. Y.A.L.A though, the third track to drop from her upcoming Matangi, makes me feel hopeful.
[N.B. I will shortly be taking an Atlantic/Agents of SHIELD stance on Maya's aggressive over use of the full stop. My little finger hurts.]

Sooooo good. Listen to his interview with Jesse Thorn.

This Fleetwood Mac cover cd is a thing of intermittent glory. Not all of the songs are perfect but I'm very much of the all-Fleetwood-Mac-all-of-the-time school of thought where almost any Fleetwood Mac is happiness. Plus, Haim. What a bonus. The Kills cover of Dreams is excellent too.

Chuck x

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


SHAKE from Variable on Vimeo.

So this wasn't what I meant to post today but I couldn't resist. Puppies, ya know.

Carli Davidson took high-speed photographs of dogs shaking themselves and made them into a book that I very much want. Variable helped to make a video montage of these photos. Together they made me very happy.

Just look at all that beautiful, balletic drool!

via Colossal.

Chuck x

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Sound

And we're back on track.

James Blake. Chance the Rapper. TOGETHER. That this collaboration even exists makes me blissfully happy.

Poliça's new album, Shulamith, really is named after Shulamith Firestone which is delightful news. They're dropping tracks on their Soundcloud and their 6music live performance is charming.

Best. Ever. Quite literally everything about R. Kelly makes me snigger. He was the sound of year 9 discos and Phoenix are magnifique and together they make my brain explode with joy. Listen to this and just try not to grin. They pulled it off YouTube but the internet never forgets. My mind is telling me no but my body, my body is telling me yeeeeeeeeeess.

Chuck x

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Personal Style

So I find it difficult to talk about my 'personal style' without sounding like a noob. It's just so Women's Magazine - 'How to Dress to Suit Your Body Type', 'Autumn's Best Colours for Blondes', '5 Ballet Shoes Every Girl Should Own'. I don't identify with the articles or the clothes they feature. I have only very limited interest in wearing cuts and colours that flatter me, I would rather wear cuts and colours I love. Obviously I'm not wholly devoid of vanity and I will be steering clear of crop tops, anything double-breasted and most shades of yellow probably forever but my clothing purchases are driven more by what I love than what suits me.

Fortunately/unfortunately my tastes, in fashion as in most things, are pretty broad. My wardrobe is stunningly inconsistent - 1950s print dresses snuggle up with modern cuts in neon colours, I'm developing a collection of silk shirts but these jostle with fluffy leopard print, Breton stripes and plaid, I have five pairs of trainers and five pairs of impractical heels and not much in between, there are a handful of (relatively) garish print t-shirts and piles of beloved second hand cashmere. Not many of my clothes go with other clothes. Which is fine, it's fun and a truthful depiction of my brain, but in the last couple of months/seasons I have been craving something more coherent.

I had dinner with a friend recently and on meeting her at the station I realised that she had become the women she's going to be in fifteen years time. Not that she looked or dressed like a forty year old but that she looked like the woman she was becoming. I don't know when this happened but I started noticing it in the people around me - lots of them are beginning to settle into their personal styles, the looks and sartorial ideas that they're going to live with for the foreseeable future. Some are chic, some are fashionable, some are comfortable and relaxed in a casual adult way. It's fascinating. I don't feel like I'm there yet. My clothes are all over the place and I always look scruffy and often a bit bonkers. I mean, I guess those could be my adjectives but I doubt they'd be anyone's conscious choice.

In response to all of this I have been trying to think more rationally about what I wear/buy. I have been paying closer attention to what I like and trying to interrogate my tastes - attempting to pin down my 'personal style'. A lot of this involves Tumblr and blogs and saving down images that connect with me and seeing what they have in common. There is some real life browsing as well but I am also really enjoying Polyvore at the moment. It's a place where I can put together outfits and see what clicks. What items and looks do I keep coming back to? What are the differences between outfits that I make and like and outfits I make and want to wear every day? I am never going to be a capsule wardrobe kind of gal but what pieces are central to my concepts of dressing and do I already own them? Basically, what reliably works for me?

Apparently mostly it is trainers...

Clothes #7 - Weekend #3

White t shirt, £45 / A.P.C. flight jacket / Jigsaw mini skirt / Leather bag / BCBGeneration bracelet, £20 / Solid Colors Slip-On, Little Boys, £22

Clothes #23 - Weekend #12

STELLA McCARTNEY long sleeve sweater, £465 / Lingerie bra, £60 / New Balance shoes, £34 / Tom Ford sunglasses

Clothes #2 - Smart Casual

Rachel Comey shirts blouse, £195 / Marc by Marc Jacobs high rise black jeans / Whistles brown cross body purse, £160 / Cateye glasses, £25 / Nike Air Vortex LTR

Clothes #24 - Weekend #13

Wood Wood purple cardigan, £120 / Topshop pencil skirt, £45 / NIKE footwear, £115 / Pierre Hardy handbag, £130 / Madewell retro clear glasses, £34

Clothes #17 - Smart Casual #6

Whistles navy sweatshirt hoody / Zara black golf skirt, £31 / Zara short boots, £63 / Saddle bag / Tom Ford sunglasses / Madewell hair accessory, £6.59

I also clearly need more sunglasses. Burgundy and grey are my best things. Focus on fewer but more important accessories. All of this is big news obviously.

So what do you think? About Polyvore, about personal style as a concept, about your own personal style? It is a superficially vapid topic that I find totally engrossing. Share.

Chuck x

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Friday Sound

Dammit, I ruined my run. I should have known I'd be good for nothing after going out for dinner...

Cool lady.

Robyn is my spirit animal. Everything is better with Robyn in it.

Hello October.

Tennis are back! What a sunny American treat.

Chuck x

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Coat Conclusion

A-posin' and a-poutin' in my lovely new Cos coat

Reader, I bought the coat. It is a thing of great beauty and loveliness. I have been desperately, sweatily wearing it daily despite London not really being cold enough for coats yet. Ordering it online was an excellent decision because it turns out it looks amazing with pretty much everything I own. Everything goes with burgundy. Especially burgundy. The above monotone outfit was supposed to be a joke but I maybe love it? The perfect, quiet Cos detailing doesn't really come through in my crappy pictures but let me assure you it is delightful. I feel very sophisticated in my new grown up coat. I love it - it was a great choice. Thank you for the encouragement!

Chuck x

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Article Reading Group

'Goodbye,' Sherlock fan-art by Alice

I went to add something to this post this morning and realised it was probably about time I pressed publish. I tend to just merrily and sporadically add things to this list as I go and it could become a monster if I'm not careful. It's pretty chunktastic as it is. As usual this reading group is only moderately up to date/topical but it is a particularly good selection of reading material, if I do say so myself. Some amazing things.

Transformation and Transcendence: The Power of Female Friendship - Emily Rapp: I am strongly of the belief that your best friend can be your person. "Here's the truth: friendship's between women are often the deepest and most profound love stories, but they are often discussed as if they are ancillary, 'bonus' relationships to the truly important ones. Women's friendships outlast jobs, parents, husbands, boyfriends, lovers and sometimes children."

Dangers of Traveling While Female - Tara Isabella Burton: "To be a Patrick Leigh Fermor, a Colin Thubron, a Norman Douglas or Paul Theroux, requires always saying yes. To not-get-raped, according to every lesson I – and so many other women – have been taught, so often requires saying no." I feel this very personally, it is so true and familiar. I would have liked to see a little less 'be happy with what you've got' and a little more analysis of cause and effect but still a great piece. I have forwarded this on to a couple of men.

Rape Joke, A Poem - Patricia Lockwood: There's nothing I can add to this.

107 Ironclad Rules for Writers Who Want to Be Better at Writing - Tom McAllister: Made me snort unattractively. Very funny. I want to read/write this book.
20. Always know what size shoes your characters wear. The soul is in the shoes.
23. Everyone moves clockwise. Counterclockwise is for anarchists
25. For every adverb you use, do five push-ups.
28. Just assume everyone has a weird fetish they’d like to keep secret.
49. If you’re stuck, introduce a blimp. Blimps expedite plot.
54. Present tense is for junkies and teenagers.
64. Your character may not be a caterer. There are more caterers in movies and novels than there have been throughout the history of the world.
65. See what you can do with SONAR.

Teju Cole's satire of the Washington Post article 9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask 
via Tumblr

The Intellectual Situation, the Editors at n+1: I have mixed feelings towards n+1 but Jonathan Franzen hated on this particular piece in his latest rage attack in the Guardian and, if I have learnt anything, it is that stuff J-Franz hates is generally worth a look. This is a delightful and slightly deranged ramble through the pasts, presents and futures of established literary magazines. It ponders the relationship between print and online media and although it sometimes seems to have a rather tenuous grasp of logic it is funny and worth reading. "Women, we mean the internet, are putting men, we mean magazine editors, out of work. The internet, we mean women, never pays for its content — or for their drinks! The only dignified solution for publications like the Atlantic is to die, alone and unread, in the ghost town of the printed word. But the Atlantic has chosen the survivalist alternative: abandoning the old settlement for the domestic, we mean digital, realm, where it gives women what they want and, even more than what they want, what they fear."

So read anything good recently? Any article recommendations? Let me know. I want to read the stuff.

Chuck x

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Sound

Two for two on my new 'regular feature'. Check me out...

Charlie Wilson KILLING IT on Jools Holland. Kanye isn't bad either.

She's so pretty and there's something delightfully Black Keys about this. Ace album.

Also, important announcement, you still have a couple of day's to catch NPR's streaming of Haim's Days are Gone.

Chuck x

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Words on Clothes

Things I want: slouchy, casual, cool word jumpers. 'Slogan jumpers' sounds all wrong for this new breed.

Things that my body shape will make baaaaad: slouchy, casual, cool word jumpers. Admittedly my body conspires against many such garments. Damn bosoms.

But they're so natty... Sad maths. Will just have to admire these from afar.

Chuck x

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Sound

I'm introducing a new 'regular' 'feature' here. Getting a bit air quote heavy there because a) I suck at regularity and b) what do I think this is? A magazine? Anyway, I'm going to try and do Music Fridays because they were a big thing at my last job and I want to keep them going. Also, I really love music - listening to it, singing along tunelessly to it, talking about it. In a dream world these posts would inspire great conversations and amazing new recommendations. In reality music posts seem to regularly crash and burn on here but it's my party and I'll play top toons if I want to.


Ray Charles. No comment needed.

I can't stop listening this. I may have a problem.

Why did no one tell me the original line up of the Sugababes were back together with a Dev Hynes produced track?? This is important news to eleven year old me.

Chuck x

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Tale of Two Coats

It's like Dickens but with less Victorian melodrama and more mid-range Scandinavian design. So not all that much like Dickens really. As most people suggested on my last coats post, COS is rich in coats. I had a chance to pop in the other day and these two caught my eye. COS has lots of egg/bubble coats with aggressively rounded shoulders at the moment which are all very nice on the hanger or in a lookbook but, unfortunately, make me look almost totally round which is close enough to the truth for me to eagerly avoid them. These two have enough shape while still having enough room for plenty of additional jumpers. Which is good because they are basically glorified cardigans. These are not thick, heavy coats but they are fairly warm and I like to layer and I am persuading myself that you don't actually want/need a very heavy coat in London? The sleeves push up nicely and the lack of collars is a pleasant change from previous coats I have owned - I feel like they might work well with enthusiastic scarf wearing (one of my top hobbies - you don't even want to know how long it took me to track this down - tumblr, y u so unsearchable??). They're slightly different shapes but they have a lot in common. The big question is colour - green or burgundy...? In store I was 50/50 but now I'm erring towards burgundy. I like green but I love burgundy (I like my Sketchers but I love my Prada backpack - n.b. chocolate raisins may be making me a bit manic). But I already own quite a lot of burgundy so would I be able to wear my new coat with my existing clothes? But I probably couldn't wear a green coat with my existing burgundy either...

I don't know I don't know. I'm thinking about going back to buy one of these tomorrow but I'm super indecisive. What do you think? Advise me/make my choices? Please?

Chuck x

P.S. I maybe promise to be less mad in the future.

Monday, September 16, 2013


On Food Sharing:

There is food sharing that I am good at - sharing my table, sharing a meal with my nearest and dearest. I love having friends over for dinner. I love cooking for people. If you come round to mine I will feel like I've failed if you don't leave with your jeans unbuttoned.

There is also food sharing that I'm bad at - sharing the food on my plate (THOSE ARE MY CHIPS also those chips on your plate, those are my chips too, all the chips are my chips) and sharing my cooking on my blog. I would fail as a food blogger because I am too busy with the cooking and eating to take beautiful pictures. My food is beautiful and I want to spread the love and the experience and the recipes but it is always long gone by the time I think of my camera.

This is a pity but it probably isn't going to change because I can't imagine ever prioritising future mementos over current experience (the future over the present - check me out, so carpe diem). So, instead of beautiful Kinfolk style pictures of our shared repast, here is my menu:

Sherry, Prosecco, rich red wine

Parma ham, salami al finocchio, burrata caprese stacks

Arancini!! (I used the Polpo recipe which is for a zucchini risotto stuffed with mozzarella)

The melanzane alla parmigiana of dreams, frisée salad

Walnut & honey semifreddo (also Polpo)

You guys, I made arancini! It was so exciting. There are things about the recipe I would tweak (the risotto was slightly under-seasoned to my taste and I think it could take more flavour generally, also, the polenta gives a nice crunch but it doesn't really colour up when you fry it so I think I'll mix in some panko/breadcrumbs next time. Plus, I doubled his mozzarella quantities and it was perfect, less would have been stingy) but it worked and made recognisable and delicious arancini. I'm definitely going to use it again and have a play around with some different flavours and combinations. The mozzerella was all stretchy and the risotto was all unctuous and they were all finger burning and hot out of the oil and awesome... Good times.

A note on the Polpo cookbook, it is very beautiful but the recipes don't necessarily jump out at you next to the bright and glossy maelstrom of internet choice. This is the first time I've done more than wistfully flick through it. Clearly I'm an idiot because it really is hard to beat brilliant Italian food. Also, the recipes are WEIRD. I spent most of my time in the kitchen looking dubiously at various mixtures and thinking it had all gone horribly wrong only for everything to come together at the last minute. Note to self: you know less than professional chefs and restaurateurs. Sad fact. That said, the quantities are a bit whack - both recipes made considerably more than the instructions suggested. I will never ever complain about too much food though + all my friends are greedy. Just, don't be tempted to double anything!

Chuck x

Friday, September 13, 2013

Coat Conundrum

I don't know why everyone complains about buying jeans. The perfect pair may be elusive but it isn't that difficult to buy a pair of serviceable jeans. NOT SO COATS. All I want is a warm, dry, single-breasted coat. It needs to be on the darker end of the colour spectrum to hide the London dirt and I would rather it didn't make me look wider than I am tall. Why is that so hard? I know that an attractive, warm, waterproof coat is an impossible dream but you'd have thought that two out of three would be do-able... Well, no luck yet but I'm nothing if not stubborn.

Clockwise from top left: Simone Rocha / Jigsaw / Zara / Topshop / M&S / Oasis

What there is an abundance of at the moment is pink coats. The shops are awash with them at every price point. And they are delightful! I have been having daydreams about that Zara number. Sadly though I would destroy these bad boys. I am far too grubby for pale colours. It would be awful - can you imagine one of these with a backpack? It would get messy.

This multitude serves as an excellent reminder of the enduring beauty and influence of Raf Simons's final collection for Jil Sander. It is perfect and eighteen months later it is everywhere. Let us sit back and remember it fondly... *le sigh* Also, any and all coat recommendations HIGHLY APPRECIATED. Let's make this happen. I am crowd sourcing this bitch.

Chuck x

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bags within Bags

Confession: I truly love 'what's in my bag' posts. I find them equal parts gripping and hilarious. I mean, obviously they're ridiculous but, when done properly, I also think they can offer a real insight into the bag carrier. I'm not going to say that I don't enjoy the clutch bag/lipstick/credit card/iphone minimalist fashion ideals but my favourite posts are the more realistic ones. I want to see what is actually in your bag - the ephemera that makes up your daily existence. It tells a story and indulges the hideously nosy part of my personality. I have actually done one of these before but it was eighteen months ago and maybe I've changed and, if not, my bag at least has changed...

So, within my Herschel backpack, as of today, resides:

  • Many pieces of paper: two To Lists, my Young Persons railcard receipt, dead theatre tickets (Edward II - interesting, slightly traumatic production), business cards, about thirty barely used loyalty cards, so many receipts.
  • Foreign currency: Some dollars I will at some point change to sterling and some Sri Lankan rupees that I can't change. Bonus - British loose change.
  • Hand cream: I am so dry. All the moisture, please. Caudalie, stocking present, very delicious.
  • Le Petit Prince notebook: Nearly finished and looking very scruffy.
  • The same crap phone: Because crap phones never break, only nice ones. Them's the rules. Btw, please don't buy this particular model. I love Nokia but this is a piece of shit. It barely works and has barely worked since day one.
  • Moleskine diary: Since clearly I can't keep track of my social life on my phone. Also, if I don't write things down they don't happen.
  • Many pens, plus one Sharpie: What if one ran out? Must have back ups. I may be a pen hoarder. Your pens are not safe around me.
  • Longchamp handbag: Bags within bags! Sometimes a backpack is too much and you want to check it but keep your essentials on your person - bring out the small bag. It also makes important things easier to find in the black hole of my backpack. Purloined from my mother ten years ago and much loved.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art map: I only went to New York eight months ago, it is totally reasonable that I'm still carrying this.
  • Grubby old wallet, Oyster card, work pass, keys.
  • Misc badge from a wedding.
  • Marc Jacobs mirror, Lancome eyeliner, Rosebud salve, Mac lip gloss/balm in unidentifiable colour.
  • Four lipsticks (Nars, YSL, Rimmel, Revlon): Because that is a legitimate number of lipsticks to keep on your person. To be fair, that includes a dark red, a bright red, a pink red and an orange red. I am your go to gal in a lipstick emergency. Those happen all the time of course.
  • Nails Inc. basecoat, Essie Mojito Madness: For doing my nails on the go. This is the perfect green btw.
  • Clarityn, tampons, a chip fork, chewing gum: Sure. Spot the odd one out.
  • Two books (The Known World, The Omnivore's Dilemma): The Known World looks at black slave ownership in the American South and is wonderful and difficult and very interestingly written. The Omnivore's Dilemma is, unsurprisingly, non-fiction about food and eating and I've only just started it but I have been meaning to read it for years and I've heard many good things. Will try and get round to doing a review of both when I have finished them. I always like to have a fiction book on the go so when I read non-fiction that means two books. Also, I'm always very concerned about running out of reading material when I am out of the house. That is a terrifying thought. I'm just going to lay this out there - I don't understand people who don't carry reading material of some description about with them. How? What? I'm baffled.
  • Bling earrings (H&M): Probably taken off during a night off and dropped into the recesses of my bag.
  • WESC x RZA headphones: These were a leaving present from my last job and I love them so much. They are my first foray into properly expensive headphones and it is going to be really hard to go back when they inevitably die. They're comfy, the sound is amazing, the block out all the awful people on the tube...
  • iPod classic, iPod shuffle, spare headphones: My fear of running out of music doesn't run quite as deep as my fear of running out of books but it is still very much present. My proper iPod is just about dead (the battery life is maybe two hours, there is a black line across the screen, you have to hold the headphone connection to get sound out of both ears) but the iPod shuffle (another gift) isn't quite enough. It was great on holiday but 2GB is not enough storage long term. I want to listen to whole albums and podcasts and to be able to choose what I listen to. Still, good as a back up/if you just want some misc sound-tracking.
  • Disposable camera: No explanation necessary.
  • Many packets of paracetamol/ibuprofen: I rarely take painkillers but what if I was to need them??
  • Real glasses (London Retro), sunglasses (Rayban XL Wayfarers for my big face).
Also generally found in my bag: my Dopper waterbottle which looks much less swish than the website would imply but I love nonetheless, some kind of jumper/scarf, my iPad and/or a magazine because WHAT IF I RUN OUT OF READING MATERIAL!?

Rarely found in my bag, to my general irritation: kirby grips (where are they when you need them?), nail files (ditto), an umbrella because I compulsively lose them.

What we have learnt today: I am very neurotic and clearly have some kind of hoarding problem. Possibly the glorious weight distribution of a backpack indulges this too much. Also, you can never have enough reading material. Ever. Ever ever.

So what is in your bag? Are you this weird? Can you carry the minimum instead of the maximum? How do you do that? Will you show me pictures? Fair warning: if I meet you in real life I will probably rummage through your handbag without asking permission. I appreciate that this is a very unattractive habit but I do it almost unconsciously and it is super fun. That's probably not an excuse...

Chuck x

Friday, September 6, 2013


Photographer: Misha Taylor
Model: Anais Pouliot
Stylist: Stefanie Miano
Hair: Kazuko Kitaoka
Makeup: Akiko Sakamoto

I don't tend to post many editorials here because, you know, other sites can do that infinitely better and what do I have to add besides 'oooooh'? But sometimes I just really want to go 'ooooh'. I mean look at this. Ooooh! I am a little bit (a lot) in love with Anais at the moment and this is an especially lovely shoot. Her face. The idiosyncratic beauty of it all. I think you need that slight strangeness to elevate prettiness into something incandescent. Great brows, gorgeous photographs, dark brooding mood. Perfection. I basically want to lick it.

That is all.

Chuck x

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

On My Face

  • Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser: I know some people don't like the rosemary and eucalyptus but I love how this cleanser smells and my skin loves cleansing balms. All water based and foaming cleansers leave my skin feeling painful and tight and I never feel like cream/milk cleansers actually get my face clean. 
  • L'Oréal Skin Perfection Purifying Micellar Solution: I like to take my makeup off before I cleanse because a) my foundation trashes flannels/muslin clothes, b) I want to clean my skin as well as remove my makeup and I have yet to find a single step that successfully does both. This is just as good as Bioderma Crealine and less than a third of the price (currently on offer at Boots, £3.33).
  • Avène Hydrance Optimale Riche: This is relatively new to me but I'm enjoying the gentle and light but nourishing moisturising cream first thing in the morning. It is pleasant and unobtrusive and it doesn't seem to be upsetting my sensitive skin.
  • Botanics Organic Facial Oil: I have just finished a bottle of this and I'm considering re-buying it. That is a big deal for me since I've normally got my eye open for newer, better skincare. I'm not under any impression that this is the best facial oil on the market but it smells great and is pleasant to use and the price is unbeatable (£9.99!). This is too oily for me to use for day but my skin slurps it up in the evening and I think facial oils generally help with my skin texture.
Things I have my eye on: Emma Hardie's Cleansing Balm (I will be buying this when I finish my Liz Earle), Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Booster, an exfoliating toner (maybe the Clarins one?), a rich moisturising/repairing oil or serum for night time (any ideas? I'm hearing lots of good things about Origins at the moment).

I am very interested in skincare, mostly cos I've got crappy skin. I have the worst case scenario of horribly dry skin and nasty spots. It sucks. I spent a lot of my adolescence using aggressive, drying acne products that did nothing for me except make my entire face flake off. I've since come to the conclusion that topical treatments have little or no effect on my spots, antibiotics don't work and aren't good for you and I'm unwilling to inflict Roaccutane on myself. My best case scenario is to keep my skin otherwise healthy and well moisturised and then just rock my mad foundation and concealer skills on a suitably prepared base. That is an uphill battle though since my skin is so dry and sensitive. I have yet to find any products that completely, successfully moisturise my skin but I am trying...

I could talk/read about skincare all day. I love expert and user recommendations. Do you have any favourite products, processes or sources? Caroline Hirons is obviously amazing but who else? What should I buy next? What is going to change my skin/life? (I'm all about research but I'm also totally a sucker for hope!).

Chuck x

Monday, August 26, 2013

Recent Eats

Pulled Pork / Daal and Warm Tomato Salad (JO)
Lamb Kofte, Greek Salad and Chilli & Mint Couscous (JO) / THE BEST MELANZANE PARMIGIANA EVER EVER

Honey & Co., 25a Warren St

Falafel, hummus, pickled carrots, labneh, paprika corn on the cob, spicy tomato salad, fig and goats' cheese with pistachio and eucalyptus honey, lamb and plum salad, melting lamb shawarma scooped onto warm pitta bread and loaded with pomegranate seeds and cabbage slaw... *drool* HIGHLY recommended. (And you can book! Shock London bonus.)

Chuck x

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Article Reading Group

How things have changed since my last Reading Group post... Well, they've changed a bit anyway and that is pretty cool. This is a mishmash of stuff really and some of it is quite old but that doesn't mean it isn't good and this blog, even in its glory days, has never been about topicality. I was about to hate on topicality and our obsessive focus on the new at the cost of the interesting/quiet/beautiful but then that seemed flippant. There are plenty of great things about topicality and fast news but for now let us slow down and ponder some old news...
  • HackYourFuture: Hack the Word - James Bridle: I can't even remember all that much about this one apart from 'it was interesting' and 'that is a great quote I saved down'. Fan fiction, the internet, writing - so many of my favourite things to read/think about. "Fan fiction is the first native literary form of the network. It has existed for a long time, before the internet, but it finds its best home there, out with the domains of copyright and fixed authorship rigorously enforced elsewhere. It seems native to the network because it embodies the network's inherent disposition towards hacking and world-building, overlapping fictions which take from anywhere to generate new stories." As a related aside, Morgan's fandom autobiography is cute and will hopefully be the start of an excellent ff series on The Toast.
  • In Defense of Cheerleading - Anne Helen Petersen: Really, The Toast are doing a great job. By far my favourite new website in a looooong time - so much thoughtful, funny, female lead content. Amazing original writing. Just what you would expect from Nicole and Mallory but still, THUMBS UP. [And screw you, Bustle.] I love AHP in all her guises and her latest on cheerleading as a negotiated pleasure and her own experiences with the sport (sport?) is predictably great. "There are things I regret about high school — not dating the guy who was clearly my match; actually (sorta) dating the guy who chewed tobacco. Being so moralistic, not eating avocados, not being nice to my mom. But cheerleading has never, and will never, be one of them."
  • I was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl - Laurie Penney: Laurie Penney is cool, MPDG isn't, people can pigeon hole themselves but we are capable of change. This is a good article but mostly, "fiction creates real life". I couldn't agree more. "Manic Pixies, like other female archetypes, crop up in real life partly because fiction creates real life, particularly for those of us who grow up immersed in it."
  • Are Gods Boring?: Wanting More from Yeezus - Emma Carmichael and Kiese Laymon: I read sooooo many responses to Yeezus when it came out - this is my favourite. I don't know how I feel yet about Emma taking over from Edith at the Hairpin but girl knows her hip hop. She and Jia are posting some excellent music. Excellenter than Yeezus which, I agree, should have been so much more. "In "I'm In It," in which Ye talks about a woman in language that verges on assault over a beat that has a woman "oh-ing" (presumably in pleasure?), he raps, "Black girl sipping white wine/Put my fist in her like the civil rights sign." Similes deserve better. Women deserve better. Kanye, I think, is better."
  • The Ideal English Major - Mark Edmundson: SELF VALIDATION. Also, Why Stories Are Important. (See above.) Admittedly this does get a bit bombastic but good points are made and wonderful writers are quoted. "The English major reads because, as rich as the one life he has may be, one life is not enough. He reads not to see the world through the eyes of other people but effectively to become other people. [...] The experience of merging minds and hearts with Proust or James or Austen makes you see that there is more to the world than you had ever imagined. You see that life is bigger, sweeter, more tragic and intense—more alive with meaning than you had thought."
  • No Country For Old Miley: Cormac McCarthy Describes the Video for “We Can’t Stop” - Celeste Ballard: When I first read this I just thought it was wryly funny but it has really stayed with me. It makes me want to read more McCarthy, it makes me want to interrogate youth in America, it makes me want to see beyond the surface. Surprisingly comic and beautiful. "Miley’s wide lined eyes stare down the barrel as she drags a mongoose stuffed and mounted, and holds a tiny deer wearing huge gold-rimmed glasses. Adulthood circles her like two vultures in the desert sky, eyeing the innocence that is already waning. They will pull the rest piece by piece from her abundant exposed flesh pouring out from under a t-shirt that both says dope and is indeed dope. Somewhere a girl with a dream and a cardigan is hung upside down from a tree. This is the west."
How about you? Any article recommendations or good new websites? I want to read it all. Like Pokemon, you know, but more bookish.

Chuck x