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

Friday, August 16, 2013

Preen x Aldo AW13

Preen AW13 via ShowStudio

I haven't had any reason to think about the largely unremarkable high street shoe chain Aldo in years. It just isn't on my radar. Luckily Preen are though. [What this says about me, given that I'm unlikely to ever be able to afford Preen, is a story for another day...] Their AW13 collection is shaaaaarp. I love crazy avant garde fashion as much as the next gal but I would wear the shit out of 75% of this show. It is tough and interesting with a sprinkling of pretty. Realistically I will be wearing quite a lot of black this winter (and every other winter past, present and future) and Thornton and Bregazzi's clean lines, disintegrating leopard prints, Faberge floral grids and flashes of red perk that up nicely. I am feeling very drawn to reds at the moment...

Anyway, I'm not going to be able to buy any of the clothes but I may be able to buy the shoes! The runway shoes were developed with Aldo and will be on sale. Which is awesome. Like the collection they are bad ass - spike stilettos, pointed toes, minimal platforms. There is a buckle or two, an ankle strap here and there and a minimal colour palette of black, red, and concrete blue. They are hot. They are not messing around. I want them.

via R29

Chuck x

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


FKA Twigs - Water Me

This just blew my mind.

What a trip.

This is so visually striking. The styling is amazing. She's so weird-pretty (my favourite kind). The music is so woozy.

Other spacey female RnB:

SZA - Country

Phlo Finister - Hotel Miami

Interestingly, all of these girls have Tumblrs - twigstwigs, See.SZA.Run, phlolove. They are very lovely, consciously styled and aware of their images. Either they or the people around them are beautifully presenting/curating them. I'm not expressing an opinion on that (yet), just remarking on it. If I was a hackneyed journalist I might point out that three is a trend but I'm not so I shan't.

While I mull over all of this I shall enjoy the current new wave of trippy, zoned out ladey rnb. It is gooood.

Chuck x

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Success


Food trends can be daft and infuriating. Tim Hayward has an interesting piece in the latest Fire & Knives (NOOOO! It is going to cease to exist as a quarterly magazine and become an annual book! This is a tragedy!) on the bleed of High Concept cinema into food culture - our valuing of pitch over product. However, sometimes trends can be yummy. 

One of my loveliest friends lives near Rinkoff Bakery, an old school wholesale bakery who have introduced the New York 'cronut' to London, so we thought we would go and explore. Despite the trend food Rinkoff's is a professional working joint rather than a yuppie hangout so if you work standard hours and don't live next door it is Sunday morning or bust. 

A cronut, or crodough as Rinkoff call them, is a croissant-doughnut hybrid:

The Cro-dough brings out the best in the croissant and the doughnut.  Our Rinkoff's croissant pastry fried like a doughnut to give height and a layered effect.  We then fill the Cro-dough with 3 different flavours; custard, raspberry and fresh cream.  

Personally, I would say they were more like 30% doughnut, 30% yumyum, 15% croissant, 5% churros, 10% magic. They were crispy and doughy and flaky; fried but not greasy; coated in sugar and cinnamon. I would pass on the cream crough but the custard and raspberry were both excellent. They're also enormous - I still feel a bit queasy from heavy duty over indulgence. You win this one, food fashion...

Chuck x

Friday, August 9, 2013

Datter Industries

The latest Datter Industries lookbook has been out for a while but I love it and it hasn't got any less lovely so here you go. I bought my sister the tiny bird studs for her birthday and they were a difficult present to give away. So sweet. I am toying with the idea of getting myself a birthday/new job present but I probably shouldn't... Oh well.

Go Kaye!

Chuck x

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Holiday Reading

Now, aside from adventuring, eating, and sleeping, reading is one the key things I look for in a holiday. On this account, as on many others, Sri Lanka was a great success. It was dark every night by 6.30 and there is negative night life out there so we had lots of long, quiet evenings curled up with novels as well as maaaany hours on trains and buses.

I downloaded a bunch of internet stuffz to take with me but above are the paper books I read over the fortnight. I am a believer in paper books and they proved themselves repeatedly in SL - more water and bump proof than the electronic alternatives, unfazed by electricity outages, not a particular temptation for pickpockets. Yes, they dominated my backpack but, in my opinion, worth it.

  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz: Admittedly about 15-20% of this book went over my head. The text is saturated with Spanish slang, Dominican history and old school nerd culture, none of which I have much knowledge of. Somehow, despite this, the story of overweight, geektastic Oscar, his family and the curse that may or may not haunt them remained engaging which is pretty impressive. Diaz's writing is so vibrant and alive that you can't help but be drawn in to the world he creates. I feel like this was the most successfully modern novel I have read in a long time. Very interesting stuff. 
  • Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood: I love Atwood but I recently twigged that there is a sizable chunk of her back catalogue that I haven't read. Project time! Alias Grace is a chunky historical literary novel about Grace Marks, a real woman who was jailed in Toronto in 1843 aged 16 for double murder. Murderess? Mad woman? Slut? Innocent? Everyone around her has an opinion and strains to impose their interpretations of her character of her behaviour onto Grace. The reader finds them in a position to do the same thing but Grace herself gives no straight forward answers. Lots of juicy thoughts about perception and women and madness and agency. Solid Atwood fare.
  • The Night Circus - Erin Morganstern: I had a strong suspicion that this book was going to be frothy and dumb and I was proved correct. Don't get me wrong, I think frothy and dumb can be great when done right (there is a reason I bought this book after all) but this wasn't, for me. The plot is a fairly basic Romeo/Juliet sitch with bonus death match and magical circus which could be awesome but falls pretty flat due to poor execution. The whole thing is so contrived it is painful. Morganstern tries soooo hard to be kooky and arty and magical and maybe 12 yr old me would have thought the black/white/red colour scheme, unsubstantiated Shakespeare references and straining language were cool but 24 yr old me wants so much more... (Also, possibly that's being a bit harsh on 12 yr old me, she was a pretty cool kid, she might have called bullshit). That said, I did read the book in a single sitting on a longass train journey and I have read worse things but, meh, this so didn't deserve the hype it got when it came out. Young adults deserve better.
  • The Magic Toyshop - Angela Carter: Now here is a woman who understands how magic should be written. Carter gets magic - Carter creates magic from the mundane - Carter's magic sparkles and amazes. Morganstern wishes she could write magic with a fraction of the flare and wonder of Angela Carter. Although there is no explicit magic in The Magic Toyshop the slim volume is still more magical than ten Night Circuses. Hours after a surreal night time incident with a wedding dress, 15 yr old Melanie and her two younger siblings are left orphaned, they are sent to live with an unknown uncle and his family. Strange things happen. The end. Brief and slightly baffling but captivating in the way that Carter's work always is. If you are looking for a real trip The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman is one of the strangest pieces of fiction I've read in a long time.
  • They Shoot Horses, Don't They? - Horace McCoy: Speaking of surreal... This sparse novella recounts the events of a marathon dance competition in 1930s Hollywood. These were a real thing and the WEIRDEST (real life) thing I've come across in ages. Impoverished young people danced until they literally dropped for weeks and weeks in exchange for food, a roof over their head and the possibility of cash prize. This counted as entertainment then! Golden Age, my arse. Thank god for TV and internet and not being on the poverty line. TSHDT isn't necessarily the most satisfying yarn but at 128 pages it is totally worth it for a glimpse into a very bizarre corner of history. McCoy captures the poverty, desperation and malaise very powerfully.
  • Tell the Wolves I'm Home - Carol Rifka Brunt: Basically, this was the holiday of long book titles. I don't have a great deal to say about TTWIH - it was alright? Good: the story is set in the 80s and examines the impact of the AIDS epidemic on a 'normal American family'. We should tell stories about gay life and love (although those things aren't central here) and our initial reaction to the disease. The prejudice and hatred is painful to read but important to remember. Bad: the plot that weaves around these ideas isn't that interesting and the protagonist is intentionally uncharismatic which is all well and good but doesn't make for a particularly enjoyable read. The thing I feel most strongly about this book is actually the cover which I will talk about later - many feelings.
Anyway, this was going to be a quick post but it all got a bit out of hand. I still have a couple of books by my bedside but I would quite like some recommendations. Any favourites recently?

Chuck x

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Many Things



Thing the First:
I have just got back from a fortnight in Sri Lanka! I know, exciting. It was, unsurprisingly, amazing. It was a real adventure and exactly what I needed - a complete break from everyday life. This was the first time in two years that I've had more than three days off and dammmmn, it felt good. I'm not going to go on about how great it was because that would be cruel but if you have been/are thinking of going/want to know more do let me know.

Kandy-Ella train journey

For reference, we flew to Colombo and traveled straight to Galle Fort, a beautifully preserved colonial town on the south coast. N.B. When a guide book talks about local monsoon seasons they are not kidding! Next stop, the hill capital Kandy - Buddhist relics, botanical gardens, much notable and alarming wildlife. From there we got the very beautiful and remarkably slow train to Ella, a hill town where we hiked and paddled in waterfalls. Onward to the ancient Dambulla cave temples and the castle remains perched atop Sigiriya rock before heading back to Colombo via Kandy and the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage. A baby elephant pooed on its bro's face - possibly the highlight of my trip. It already feels a bit like it was all a dream...


Thing the Second:
I left my job! The day before we flew to Sri Lanka! Obviously this was pretty scary and I am going to miss the lovely people I worked with but I think it was the right choice. A) I got loads of cool presents and B)...

Galle sunset

Thing the Third:
I have a new job! I start tomorrow! (This is quite an exclamation mark heavy post - they're not usually my thing but I think the occasion calls for it.) Of course this is tied in with Thing the Second but it is a fairly major change of direction for me so I decided that it merited its own paragraph. Career wise, it should point me in the direction I think I want to go and although I'm a bit nervous I am also preeeeetty psyched. That's all I'm going to say for now but *fingers crossed*. 

Rawana Falls

Anyway, the reason I bring that up is that the new job will hopefully give me a bit more free time for writing/blogging/life and you should be seeing more of me around here. CM should start to look a bit less neglected and I will totally get back on top of things. I am flush with noble post-holiday resolutions!

All in all, EEK. 

Chuck x