Friday, 10 July 2015

Goodbye Walter White

Admittedly rather late, I have just finished watching Breaking Bad and I am feeling bereft. Not only bereft of a brilliant, heart-stopping adventure, but of a character that I had earlier championed and lately despised. Vince Gilligan achieved his goal of turning, "Mr Chips into Scarface", the hero into the villain, yet still, when the finale played out, I did not feel ready to say goodbye but I knew it was inevitable.

Breaking Bad had kept me captivated from the start and it is hard to think of a more satisfying ending to a show. The Sopranos was apt, Six Feet Under was soppy, but Breaking Bad (for me anyway) performed an incredible feat that left me grieving, even feeling an understanding for a character I had reviled only shortly before. Walter White's quest had begun with the money and then seemingly been fuelled by power, however the last scene opened my eyes to the fact that this was actually about the achievement of perfection; the passion and the desire that we all carry to be elevated from the humdrum and achieve something extraordinary. After wistfully and nostalgically touching the now-familiar lab equipment (and how we viewers felt that tender sentiment too), Badfinger's Baby Blue played and Walter White's final expression was one of incongruous delight, a strange twinkle in his eye said, "Oh well. That was fun and now it's done." There was a curious satisfaction and wondrous awe in that ultimate gaze. Thomas Golubić, the show's music supervisor sums it up perfectly when talking about the choice of the song for that final scene,

"This is a love-affair story of Walt and his love of science, and this was his greatest product – his greatest triumph as a chemist. It wasn't about Walter White as a criminal or a murderer or an awful person. It was him ending on his own terms. It felt creatively right."

For me, it was perfect television but it leaves me wondering what on earth I will watch now. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Yeezus, Mind Your Head!

It's Glastonbury time again and much has been made of the usual rock bands being eschewed to make way for the current media-numpty, Kanye West. People got very riled that he was even invited to grace the festival with his much-entouraged presence, and the modest, wee fellow was even threatened with death. Thankfully, no such demise occurred (though many were made nervous by his budget-blowing, lighting rig hovering just about his bouncing skull) and the set passed off with just a minor interruption by stage invader, Lee Nelson, forcing Kanye to start again (presumably for the continuity of the DVD). In fairness, this was an ironic twist, as it is usually Kanye himself who does the interrupting, but to his credit, he seemed un-flapped. Unlike his clothing, which he undoubtably designed himself. 

The thing that impressed me most about the whole shebang was his unashamed and heavy use of samples. Yes, I realise that I may be stating the obvious for many Kanye fans, but to be honest I have never really listened to him properly, though I am obviously aware of his presence (and that of his large-bummed wife and her three thousand sisters) as I do not reside under a rock. It was less 'sampling' and more rapping over an entire record, much in the way the boys at school would do over Michael Jackson at the lunchtime disco.

This has to be a fairly shrewd move by the self-proclaimed genius, as presumably everyone who hears his music thinks something along the lines of, "Ooh, this is catchy and familiar. I like it. If only that bloke would stop talking over it...". Though, I do wonder just how much Kanye must pay in royalties. I have to say as a newbie to Kanye's music, I was underwhelmed by his vocal ability. He really does not have a pleasant voice (those boys at school could have really made it big) and the whole performance resembled a karaoke showoff. However, rather than being upset by this, in truth, I am rather inspired. This man has made an entire career and many millions on the strength of his own self-belief/delusion. He's a producer, rapper, designer, hip-hop star and media-numpty.  I think I may be rather won over by him after all.

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Rise of the Playground Bully

Another day, another meaningless opinion from the ubiquitous Katie Hopkins. She just can't stop re-churning her endless, hateful 'witticisms'. 

Mothers who take an interest in organic nutrition and recycling are 'all a bit knit your own yogurt'; Perez Hilton, Russell Brand and umpteen others are 'as welcome as thrush and just as irritating' (she does her own bit for recycling with this expression; she doesn't like someone and out this trots), overweight people are lazy, ginger people are ugly, on and on, like an unkind Chatty Cathy doll. And yes, by giving her attention, we (and that includes me) are pulling her string over and over again.

She declares that she sees everything 'in black and white' and that she is 'just saying what she thinks'. Surely, this is what kindergarten children do before they learn manners, empathy and understand the complexities of humanity? Is she that stunted in emotional intelligence and understanding? Is she oblivious to the subtleties of the human condition? What the heck happened to her?

She was recently taken to task during the television show Loose Women over some unkind comments she had made on her Twitter feed about Linda Nolan (who was then appearing on Celebrity Big Brother). When questioned why she so unkind, she answered that it was because she favoured Jim Davidson (another contestant) on that show. She was asked why she thought it was okay to criticise the breasts of a woman that had survived cancer and her defence was that, 'People say hard stuff about me all the time obviously, like I have a big nose' and 'I don't offer constructive criticism'. You don't say. When pushed further about why she had done this, she said, 'Well, my thousands of Twitter followers find me quite witty'. So that's it. She's some kind of malevolent class clown who thrives on the mean-spirited sniggers of others, not dissimilar to a playground bully. 

This is a woman who would seem to think she is a modern-day Oscar Wilde with cultured society hanging on her every delicately-crafted word. In fact, she is the slightly more articulate voice of thick-headed, blinkered, prejudiced and spineless UKIP friendly internet trolls. No wonder they have embraced her. And she has procured a job at The Sun newspaper. 

The trouble with seeing everything in black and white, is that there is no room for depth of understanding. It is the colour chart of the absolute, thus it can be the undoing of the hypocrite. Hopkins herself indulged in a little tirade about geographically named children, only to remember that she had named her own daughter India. Oops. But it's okay everyone, she didn't name her after the country!

Russell Brand (he of the thrush metaphor) has declared her to 'have the face she deserves, a squawking face of evil that wants to peck you to death with her opinions'. A fair description, I think.

Katie Hopkins makes me feel uncomfortable because of all of the above, but she also makes me feel very conflicted. She did after all, put me in the curious position of really, really rooting for Katie Price on Celebrity Big Brother. She also inspired me to write this entire post, despite feeling sure that if we all ignore her she might go away. Instead, we are all standing in front of the mirror at midnight, chanting her name and then gasping when her horrific apparition appears trumpeting yet another cruel (yet not terribly witty) criticism of something or someone.

Go away. Go away. Go away.

"Words are sort of like, um, my favourite things." Katie Hopkins 

Egregious hoyden.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Better Late Than Never?

Latecomers! How frustrating are this errant breed? I speak from both sides, as for years I was late for everything- school, work, parties, dinner- everything. I like to think I have grown out of this unfortunate habit now; indeed being late frustrates me even more than waiting for a latecomer. As least I was an equal opportunity in my lateness. I made no distinction between work and leisure!

Waiting has been described as the 'human condition'. The rather sexist Samuel Beckett illustrates this superbly in his play, 'Waiting for Godot' which has been described brilliantly by the Irish literary critic Vivian Mercier as a play which "has achieved a theoretical impossibility—a play in which nothing happens". Except waiting of course. Why Beckett thought women would not be able to portray waiting effectively is a conundrum.

Recently, I have been waiting for an habitually late friend whom I shall call Jim. Jim is always late by at least an hour, often two hours, sometimes even three. He arrives seemingly oblivious and always empty-handed -even at Christmas (though his impressively legendary tightness is another issue). I have waited for him for years, though bizarrely he is always punctual for work. The most frustrating thing about Jim is that I have never complained to him like I probably should have. I have always been keen to be a good hostess- to an almost pathological degree, though I must admit I am not nearly as cheery as I would be if he was punctual. Jim has become my own tardy karma. Now I understand how those who waited for me felt. Of course, sometimes we are unavoidably late. But every time? That's just rude, thoughtless and of course it's implying to people their time is worth nothing.

Will I invite Jim again? I don't know. Will I grow a pair of confidence balls and tell him how annoying this is? I hope so.

In the meantime, I apologise for all those I have kept waiting in the past. I am so very sorry. To latecomers, I implore you, don't be a Jim.

Lovely Lush

It's not often that I write about particular shops I love (and it should be noted I am completely non-affiliated) but I am breaking with tradition to write about Lush. You have probably heard of them, and have most likely tried one of their wonderful products at some point. Like many of you, I am a sucker for smellies and skin goop; I am especially interested in products that utilise the great properties of natural herbs and aromatherapy oils (subjects I am not too shabby on!). Lush makes an ever-expanding, freshly-made range of these goodies that have noticeable and truly measurable benefits. Best of all, they will happily provide a generous sample of almost everything in their store, so you can literally try before you buy. Special favourites include:

Helping Hands- a magnificent chamomile and linseed hand cream that heals so quickly I often call it Healing Hands by mistake. I even use a dab of this on my face during long plane journeys and it keeps skin fresh and prevents dehydrating.

Marilyn- a pre-shampoo conditioner for blondes that also works perfectly on my copper top. The linseed makes hair gleam.

Mask of Magnaminty- deep-cleansing face mask that leaves skin glowing and also smells like mint choc chip ice- cream!

Grease Lightning- a healing thyme treatment to shrink spots incredibly fast without turning the whole area into a flaky eyesore.

Imogen Rose- a rose perfume that smells just like fresh petals with a hint of grassy vetiver. No cheap, fake air freshener roses here!

Dream Cream- Heavenly lavender hand and body cream. I love to use this on my face at night if my skin feels dry or sensitive- a teeny dab works wonders. The oatmilk calms any blotches brilliantly. Plus, it is great on the area polite ladies call their décolletage!

Rock Star- a bright pink soap packed with Vanilla Absolute that smells exactly like those pink shrimp sweets you had as a kid, and just happens to make skin lovely and soft too.

Gorgeous- a stand-out moisturiser that transforms skin seemingly overnight into luscious creamy evenness- think classic movie star complexion (perhaps this one should be called Marilyn). I have to warn you that it is not cheap, but the kind Lush folks gave me a sample and now I'm hooked. This lovely light cream is filled with wonderful, but pricey ingredients like Neroli essential oil, which is why it is more costly than the other Lush moisturisers.

One of the really impressive things about Lush is their customer service. The staff are so friendly and knowledgeable. It is a rare thing these days to visit a large chain and feel you are getting the friendly, caring and intimate service that is usually associated with old-fashioned family businesses. This really sets Lush apart from its High Street competitors. Pop into one near you and get a sample of something. I bet you'll be back!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Which Direction?

Cute aren't they? But this post isn't really about the ubiquitous One Direction, rather about their hair, which they are sporting in an equally ubiquitous sweep to the side. Seriously, everyone from market traders to boy band members seems to be sporting the type of hair that would ordinarily arise from a person standing sideways in a wind tunnel. Of course, a similar type of hair style has been seen on Geography teachers, Donald Trump and Hitler but what marks this apart from the regular comb-over/ side-swept fringe (bangs) is that every other scalp-follicle's keratin strand is getting in on the action from one ear to the other.

I am no stranger myself to the changing fashions of tresses having sported many- including a bob, a bowl cut and a Blunt Betty (this last one was an invention of the salon I worked for. It never really set the world alight, though my hair came perilously close to combusting on occasion, due to the copious amounts of hairspray required to maintain Betty's Bluntness).

The thing that irks me about the current hair fashion is that it looks so darn uncomfortable and tricky to maintain. This should not really concern me as a bystander but the obsessive compulsive in me wants to scrape the sticky, gel-logged fringe back off every teenaged acne-splattered forehead and say, "See? Doesn't that feel better?". Yes, I realise this probably means that I am old and no longer down with the kids.

At least, One Direction seem to have coordinated their hair so it all goes in one direction. Appropriately. 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Tonight's the Night!

Well, something rather unexpected has happened and I am rather looking forward to tonight's Olympic opening ceremony. Never mind that we cocked it up atrociously on the official day one, a mere four hours into this much-planned event, by (ugh, this makes me cringe) showing the South Korean flag to represent the North Korean women's football team, I am keeping hopeful that Danny Boyle (Morrissey's long- lost something) will effectively pull it out of the bag.

I have already pondered the possibility of Trainspotting- influenced synchronised swimming in giant toilets and Olympic teams staggering on in the style of a faux zombie apocalypse, but on reflection this seems quite unlikely. I don't think Danny will be likely to use my idea of The Spice Girls hula-hooping Grace Jones style in the formation of the Olympic ring symbol and with the surprisingly smooth-faced Duran Duran lined up to perform, this too, would seem improbable.

With expectations high and the teasers looking unintentionally hilarious (glowing, bizarrely-winged, ultra-violet blokes intently cycling in a slowly looping circle) there is one hope fixed firmly in my mind: Please let this be less embarrassing than the Millennium Dome.