Monday, 30 August 2010

Times are a-changin'.

Ok, this is my own version of new years resolutions - difference is that it's not the calender new year, but new academic year. I go by that, since I've been at school for such a long bloody time of my life. When people say 'next year', I think of it as an academic year, Sept/Oct - June/July + summer. Including holidays, of course.
So yeah. This is what I'm going to do or try to do this year:

  • √  Get a part time job/volunteer work at a school 
  • Get as close to a first I can
  • Finish 75+% of my dissertation by week 2 of Lent term
  • Find and apply for post-graduate work schemes for the 2011/12 academic year, instead of or in case I don't get a PGCE or SCITT course straight away.
  • √  Apply for the Teach First scheme, even if it is for secondary schools and I'd be stuck doing English (I enjoyed it, and I could still do it, so why not?) if I get nowhere with the above as well.   - I applied, I got rejected. I'm not business-personlike enough.

 Social/Personal Improvement wise:

  • Meet lots of new people; I do anyway with the history society, but I guess I mean people in my year, as well. Talk to people more and maybe go out more than I did this past year, and force myself to talk to people and such.
  • √  Lose the weight I gained. Ok, it's not a lot, but I rather hate it and it's making wearing certain otherwise perfectly good items of clothing a bit of a chore.   - just have to keep it down now.
  • Tone those bits I'm unhappy with
  • Stick to some ''beauty'' regime for longer than a few weeks. Even if it's just doing star jumps every morning.
  • Gain yet more confidence
  • Expand my hobbies. Ok, I won't be able to play my instruments at uni, but I could maybe check out the choir again, or work more with my photography, or try out other crafty things. 
  • Be more organised than I already am, but in a less anal sort of way. Obsessiveness leads to carelessness, I've found, and I guess if I can just remember to carry a personal organiser around, it wouldn't be an issue in the first place. As social sec of the hist soc, it's perfectly reasonable to fork out £5 for a nice one. 
  • √  Take the plunge more often to try organising things and meet-ups. Even if it's horrible to be told people are busy, or they don't really fancy doing that stuff, it's ok to ask in the first place.  
  • Expand my cookery repertoire. 
  • Get a damn swimming costume. I dislike bikinis and tankinis have fitting issues, so if I want to swim, I'd better find myself a swimming costume. A plain one will do.

I'm sure many more will be added to that list as I go... I'll try to remember to do a check list of it in a year's time.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

30 Years of Bad Religion and still going strong

O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, doors open at 7pm, 23rd August 2010.

At about 6.40, after a fairly stress-filled coach and tube ride to the theatre, I, my brother and my best friend were queuing outside, waiting for the doors to open. We weren't too far from the front of the queue, but because of the road accident between Stratford and Bow, my brother and I weren't able to start the queue.

When Jay Bentley, the bassist, walked past the queue, unnoticed by many, my best friend started squeeing and turned to us exclaiming he thought that was he.

We finally got in, took in the clothes on sale in the hall, and went up to get front row seats on the level 1 balcony, just above the later moshing crowd.

The support band came on at 8 - the original band had been cancelled, so this felt rather impromptu. Two saxophonists that were rarely heard over the drums, yelling vocalist, two tone guitar and bassist. Of the lot, it seemed the bassist was the only one with talent - the saxophones were in tune with each other, but jarred with what was supposed to be heavy rock ska.

Finally, Bad Religion, headed by Bentley and Graffin came on to the stage to cheering, and they opened the set with 'Do What You Want'.

From there on, they played a selection from across their 30 years of album-making, with 'Generator' (Best friend's favourite), 'New Dark Ages', 'Sinister Rouge', with a few from No Control, How Could Hell Be Any Worse? and even two from Grey Race.

They ended with 'Sorrow', the entire audience singing/yelling along. The hall was vibrating with noise and energy - the most lack lustre moment being when the ''we want more'' chants of the audience died out relatively quickly, since they knew that they'd come back on in a minute.

Greg Graffin, the lead singer, is pretty well known by his utter lack of imagination when walking the stage in a circle, his hand motions and attempt to perform the songs without just standing there motionless - something that would be even worse. But I thought last night he was brilliant and even enjoyed it. They were clearly loving performing for us, and he played with the band rather than sang with them, in some ways conducting them (though they weren't watching him) and in others using great facial expressions and pointing at the audience.

Of course the playing was flawless and the only difference I could note at the time to any of the usual ways of playing a song was perhaps the key of Dearly Beloved, not that that made any difference to the fact that we were singing along, or to how great a song it is.
They mostly played music, but once or twice, Greg talked to the crowd, first to celebrate 30 years, then to say how much he enjoyed playing here and how close to the fans he could be, and once to try to dedicate Germs of Perfection to 'our dear friend Hooker', which upon research was most likely the botonist and friend of Charles Darwin, Joseph Dalton Hooker.

Crowd surfing was dealt with by the security at the front of the stage, all glowering sternly at the crowd and manhandling any that got above himself (and other people) back to the side of the standing area. Was quite fun to watch, really. =P

The variety of people in the crowd was surprising, too: you had the bald middle aged men in their old black shirts; their older-but-clearly-a-punk-listening girlfriend/wives; younger punks with spectacular mohawks and jackets; girls with dyed hair; girls with natural hair and even pretty mainstream clothing, looking as though they'd come from a shopping mall more than they'd come specially for a gig. My brother had judged me, it felt, when he saw me in my black strap top, relatively pale blue jeans and only my best friend's punk belt indicating where I was going. He was in his Cambridge Rock Festival shirt and black jeans, and looked pretty normal,  but I guess he felt I should at least try harder. But in the end it was quite clear I could have gone in a pretty pink dress and ballet slippers and whilst there might be some surprise, it wouldn't have been noticed for long.

Definitely one of the best performances I'll ever see.

Played (in not this order):
21st Century Digital Boy, Along the Way, American Jesus, The Answer, Atomic Garden, Before You Die, Dearly Beloved, Do What You Want, Flat Earth Society, F*** Armageddon... this is Hell., Generator, Germs of Perfection, I Want to Conquer the World, Infected, Los Angeles is Burning, New Dark Ages, No Control, Punk Rock Song, Recipe for Hate, Requiem for Dissent, Sanity, Sinister Rouge, Sorrow, Suffer, A Walk, We're Only Gonna Die

 How Bad Religion came into my life

About three years ago, I started dating this boy who was absolutely nuts about them - in fact, he even said that I shouldn't hate him if he offered to do Greg any sexual favours. 
He always has his music on in his room, and on the bus, so it was inevitable that I'd start to recognise individual songs or bands in his punk repertoire.
One song in particular I really liked was the live performance recording of Cease at the Silver Wings Club, played on the piano. After that, too, I used a website called RadioBlog to listen to other songs by Bad Religion, and got to know quite a few of the ''softer'' songs - 'Punk Rock Song', 'Drunk Sincerity', 'Sinister Rouge', and a few others. Really surprised him when I was humming 'Drunk Sincerity' in a corridor at college, but I think it pleased him.
I listened to it at his house, and when I bought him a special ed copy of New Maps of Hell on release, we watched the dvd, and I pinched quite a few of the songs off him. The acoustic versions in particular I loved (though now I listen to the original versions more often).

In fact, that's how I also discovered some Ska, when he began to listen to Reel Big Fish, and the like.
Unfortunately for him, I don't like Rancid so much, and I think Anti-Flag is only so so depending on the song, and I only really listen to the album Wolves in Wolves Clothing by NOFX.

So off of Sam I acquired the full discography of Bad Religion, and with it an affection and admiration for their music. I won't lie, I'm not a punk mosher, and I probably look at its musicality and lyrics a bit more than he ever did (well, the musicality, yes, since I did GCSE Music and play instruments myself) but Bad Religion will be one of the bands that keeps us together and in touch. Which is quite special to me. 
Apart from that, I think they totally rock. =P

Friday, 20 August 2010

Plotting (100th post!)

So my second dissertation proposal ''showed promise'' but was still ''too big''.
So now I have to decide to either:
  1. Write about transvestite saints as a group
  2. One female saint from each category I'd outlined (Pious Housewife, transvestite monk and desert solitary)
  3. Mary of Egypt's life and how the versions over millennia have changed in emphasis and meaning.
 All of which could be potentially interesting or potentially stale. \o/

I've also got to plot my trips to London. On Monday, I've the coach journeys sorted, I just need to work out when and where to meet my friend, and which tube line to get back and stuff. Should print off a map or write out what I'm doing.
I also want to get planning the big trip to London with my friends - so far we seem to be going on the 9th Sept, but that's subject to change based on money and work timetables. >.<
I guess I just like to know what I'm doing.
I've also been attempting to plan various trips for the History Society.

I've been looking for new clothes, and have some on order, and I'm going shopping again in town soon for stuff I would rather try on instead of ordering online.
I'm getting a new look with my new wardrobe - this isn't just a ''season'' clear out. Half my everyday clothes are actually 2 or 3 years old and are starting to look it. Must remember to get some basic tshirts and things, as well as the nicer stuff.

And I've ordered some cross stitch patterns - three for my friends, since one or two in particular would definitely squee over the cuteness that these are. I hope to have them done by Christmas, at the latest.

*Sigh* Getting a new look and spending money  I'm not spending on trains and coaches to Bournemouth this year and expanding my hobbies is all very well, but it's still only a temporary distraction.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

'Golden Girls' - an article by Mariella Frostrup

My hair is naturally blonde - it's not as platinum as Marilyn Monroe's, and never will be. Boris Johnson is the only naturally platinum blonde over the age of 10 I've ever known - most blondes go darker as they get older. However that hasn't stopped me getting into minor rants at people that see me as ''that blonde'', as though it's my only asset (and one that comes with a stereotype) - and one that people assume I've dyed. Just look at eyebrows people. If they match the roots, then chances are that's a natural blonde you're talking to. [Or someone that can afford a proper dye specialist rather than the bottle jobs in the kitchen sink]

Did you hear the one about the blonde actress with an IQ of 165 who was fluent in five languages? Mariella Frostrup didn't think so

I turned blonde at the age of 16 when the untimely death of my father left me with two white chunks of hair on either side of my parting virtually overnight. It was either buy a badger costume, audition for a job in Cats, make a lifetime commitment to punk rock or invest in some peroxide.
      If I'd known then what my shade of choice suggested to the world I might have thought twice. Being blonde means never saying you don't understand unless you want to be predictable. Being blonde means always trying to tell the blonde joke first. "How do you make a blonde's eyes light up? Shine a torch in her ear."
"What do you call a brunette between two blondes? An interpreter." Black, brown, even redheads become scientists, politicians, business leaders.
      Few women may be born blonde but that hasn't stopped it becoming a noun, any supplementary information being merely a cluster of adjectives. In blonde world whether you're a brain surgeon, a lap dancer or an oligarch's wife, it's all the same. Bright-blonde bimbo, blonde-shopaholic. Blonde is the description; anything else merely informs us of the variety. Pinch me if I'm living in the 21st century.
       Part-time foreign correspondent Adrian Gill once penned a fabulously fatuous piece entitled The Burka Blondes, revealing his difficulties in spotting the difference between a list of women that included Baby Spice, myself and Hillary Clinton. Identifying the Sunnis from the Shias in Baghdad on one of his whistle-stop forays into danger zones must pose enormous challenges with those skills.
Jayne Mansfield
       Lifting the veil of prejudice clearly continues to be a struggle. I once counted four lengthy articles in as many months identifying blonde women on TV with names that ended in the first vowel. Not exactly the of question Jayne Mansfield with her five languages and IQ of 163 would have struggled with, but that's not what we remember her for now is it?
      Indulge me for a moment by similarly categorising men on our screens... let's say brunettes with the initial, J, for example. Wouldn't Jeremy Paxman, Jonathan Ross, John Humphreys and John Cusack make strange bedfellows? The only group of men I've seen similarly lumped together and tarred with the same brush are the England football team.
      Venturing behind the scenes into the real lives of some of Hollywood's most iconic blondes on Blonde on Blonde [Monday-Wednesday 10.00pm Radio 2] is a salutary experience. It reveals that female stereotyping has changed little in the last seven decades. Beneath the make-up and beyond the studio publicist's spin a sorrier bunch of women you couldn't stumble across. From small towns across America these girls flocked to the hub of Hollywood hungry for fame and its more tangible rewards. With names like Vera Jane Palmer (Jayne Mansfield) and Jean Mildred Francis (Lana Turner) they allowed themselves to be reinvented, renamed and, most importantly, recoloured. Like so much else in their lives their most celebrated asset, their platinum locks, were fake.
     Perhaps it was the shadow of that deception, one of the many to qualify as screen sirens, that saw so many of their dreams end in tragedy - their lives defined by their appeal to bad men, frustrated ambitions and an inability to get the world to see them as they saw themselves. The fatal burden of image of identity is writ large in the tortured tales of the likes of Lana Turner, Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe.
Peggy Lee, Jayne Mansfield and
 Lana Turne were re-coloured for
     These iconic figures may be relegated to recent history but in retelling their stories there are echoes of the challenges still faced by women who wind up feeling their highlights have over-shadowed their lives. These screen goddesses of yore are the living embodiment of what the term ''blonde'' was once synonymous with: a potent sexual siren with an eye for the guys and a laissez-faire attitude to morality.
      Thankfully, with women like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, swinging her blonde bob across the world stage, Lady Gaga marrying volcanic bras with global-diva domination and Meryl Streep proving you can win an Oscar and quote Proust without being locked up for your own protection, the term ''blonde'' is losing its peculiar mystique - though Boris Johnson is clearly fighting the good fight to keep the dream alive.
     When Dolly Parton responded to the accusation that she was a dumb blonde by saying "Ah don't care 'cos aa'am not dumb and aa'm not blonde,'' she let slip a trade secret. Our roots are often only skin deep and, despite assumptions to the contrary, proven side effects don't include brain impairment!

Taken from The Radio Times magazine issue released 16th August 2010.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Spider-man can be a useless sod sometimes.

Ok, this dream was one of those where you see everything from the first person, even if you know you're not actually Spider-man, or some small girl, or the girl's mother, or her father.

Yeah, Spidey, why doesn't
anything work?
Anyway, we were running through this warehouse, into a series of small outhouses that had been real houses but converted for whatever evil organisation this was. We came to a dead end, and whilst spidey tried, he couldn't produce anything useful out of his veins, or at the very least stick to the ceiling, and so he gave up and just tried to move the stacked tea cups, hiding a bell, attached to a long line of string, which would trigger an alarm. He failed. He dropped three cups and the bell rang, and as we started to scrabble away at the piled furniture, the mob or whatever was after us arrived. They dragged the father of the girl away, and the mother and daughter, and spider-man, went back to wherever they were being forced to work. Seemed like factory work.

Then I (this time it was indeed me) was trying to work out a way of getting as many people free as possible. It was all girls in my division, and a lot of them couldn't run that fast. Not that I'm all that fit these days, either.
Now this time, the place we were working was a lot like my house... actually, it was my house, just without the people living in it. We battered some woman over the head, and I let some out of the back door, and some out of the side door, whilst going to the garage with another 3 or 4 people, to grab some shoes and to get out the front. We had a meeting place, it was just a case of getting there. We were to sneak round to the windowless side of the garage, go up the drift way, past all the hedging and through the neighbours' gardens, where dogs weren't allowed to follow. But we were seen, and whilst I delayed the reaction a little by setting the garage door (which is electric) to close, we were soon being pursued. The others got away ok, but this one set of twin girls from my primary school were having trouble and I was trying to run whilst pulling them along.

Eventually we made it to the ditch, I got them across and made them run ahead into the garden next door, to escape through hedges and thick trees and stuff. It was very Penny-in-the-swamp in The Rescuers, just minus the damn alligators.
I don't know whether I got away, cause I woke up after feeling incredibly stiff from unused adrenaline. But if I didn't, I think I'd have been 'done away with' like that guy at the start of the dream, or treated like Ginger from Chicken Run

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Finished Business

Bothered Fox
So 11 years ago, my mum embroidered pictures for my gran. She finished one of a fox being bothered by a bee.
She got ill though. Ended up dying of kidney cancer, and she never finished this ''Sophie Squirrel'' for my gran's birthday. Some of the stitching is quite weak, and you can tell she really tried.

Just before Christmas, my grandmother suggested I finish what she'd started, after we found the box with her sewing stuff in the box. So I took up the challenge. I'll admit it's taken a lot longer than it should have done - I did some at uni, but it wasn't top of my priorities. I finished the white of a sleeve, or did some of the apron.

This summer I finished the white completely, and started to do all the outlining and details - tail, outline of the whole thing, eye, apron details, shoe details, the blue stripes on the sleeves. I had to get my grandmother to remind me what a backstitch was, though, since I'd forgotten from when I was about 10. But today I've finished it, after putting real effort into it the past week or so.

It's not been framed yet, and I might yet iron it once more, to see if I can get the decade-old fold creases out, but this is it.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Dream Diary 2

I was in the bar at uni, and it was bustling with loads of people as I desperately tried to make sure that everything was arranged properly - the ''bunting'', flowers, tables, food on tables, people that should be there etc. I was wearing my black dress with the insane amount of glitter on. Finally, Kate came in, dressed in a long red prom dress, looking rather gorgeous. She introduced me to the baby she was carrying, who was about 3 months, and couldn't quite sit up properly. I had no baby seat. I had to make sure he wouldn't fall off the small wooden chair by the table, as I noted how like his hair was to Linus from the Charlie Brown and Snoopy show (picture to the left). He kept smiling at me, and he was in a cute pair of baby dungarees, with little booties and a soft top. He felt like a baby should, but his hair was distinctly yellow. Poor thing. And I think I might have asked if someone who was sitting down would take him on his lap.

I talked to Kate and she thanked me for sorting everything and checked that I had a different outfit for tomorrow, and I had my hist soc exec shirt - which I did. I can't describe the second outfit, but it was suitable for the wedding; more so than what I was wearing.

I went for a picture of Charlie Brown,
 to keep in with the Linus thing
I was standing by the wall, when this guy I know but for embarrassment reasons won't name (really dunno why I dreamed this bit at all; not that fond of the guy) came and talked to me, and asked if there was anything he could do, and complimented me on all the effort I'd gone to. I thanked him, and went to kiss him on the cheek in greeting, but ended up giving him a smacker on the lips, leaving lipstick there. [I don't wear lipstick] He looked embarrassed, and I apologised, but he said 'no, don't worry about it', and then leaned in to kiss me again, but properly. It was nice.
Then I had to go, taking my bag of spare clothes with me, to check into the room I was renting, which looked a lot like the one I'm in at the moment.

Next thing I knew I had to go upstairs, to change, and found that my legs weren't as clean-shaven as I'd thought, and looked as though I'd not shaven in about 3 days, so I hunted around my drawers for a pair of nude tights, only to find an old pair that I don't particularly like, and pulling those on, and strapping myself into my black shoes, which actually don't go with anything other than black tights, but I guess they looked nicer in the dream.

I went outside, to join in with the posh wedding party dancing and stuff, and then I woke up.

The wedding, as far as I know, hadn't actually taken place, just that the party came first. =s And I have no idea who the groom was supposed to be. Ah well. I hope Kate's happy, and that the Linus baby wasn't killed or mislaid when I randomly left him behind.

Friday, 13 August 2010


Someone recently asked me if I'd considered doing "vlogging" (Video Blogging). I replied honestly: never really thought about it as something I'd want to do.

My brother does, sort of. The odd comment, or message, piano-playing or something he had to do for media or school (these can be very good). [shameless plug for him:] Unfortunately he's removed his best work, The Life Of Jim, cause of file size and such.

My grandmother also does videos, but they're not vlogs, they're wildlife videos and the like.

I've been watching Nerimon's latest videos (ok, they're going back to about April, but that's cause I don't visit Youtube even monthly, and the emails I relied on have stopped being sent).
It seems like a lot of fun. I like to think I'd come up with stuff as interesting, but if I'm honest, I'd probably be camera shy after a while. I also don't like the tone of my voice, so that's another reason not to.

Going by this, I probably do better writing about things than talking about things. Maybe one day. My brother did once ask if I'd do some with him, but I shyly declined. I dunno what it is, I feel bashful with video cameras around, whereas normally I'm not really that bashful.

Ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strain).

I've got an idea of where my dissertation should be going, if I did some reading now. So that's good.

I've almost finished the embroidering my mother started over a decade ago.

The Boyfriend and I are currently in a state of ''not''. That is to say, we had a less than thoroughly pleasant conversation, and now we're just friends, but with lingeringness on each side. It sucks, but I'm sticking to my guns this time. If we still have lingeringness in May or June, it might well be different and we get to do that wonderful beginning romancing all over again. If not, at least we're still friends. And we always will be.
Maybe I'm still in a state of shock, or it's the fact that we can still talk to each other whenever we like, but I'm feeling quite strange about it all. I'm sad, but at the same time it feels as though maybe it's just a stupid conversation and nothing's really changed.

I've switched to Google Chrome. Whether temporarily or not, I'm a bit dubious. I hate how everything has shifted left, and not been rescaled to adjust to the massive space left from not having a bookmarks bar down the side. But I do love the Manga Reader app.

I met some people from before uni. I'd not spoken to them in nearly two and a half years. I'll be honest, there was a lot of bad feeling on my part. I'd never felt so betrayed and alone and such after certain happenings with them, but I'd decided that if I saw one of them in particular, I'd speak to her. The others all seem to have grown up and improved at uni, as well. And I might well meet up with them all, or one or two individually, again before I go back to Ooop Norf. (Up North for you illiterates)

So that's all my catchy-up stuff out of the way. I felt as though I couldn't really write about stuff because I just had that massive not so nice patch. Technically it's only been a week since the third paragraph happened.

I'm no longer seeing Sonic Boom Six tomorrow (shame, actually) but I am still going to Bad Religion with him and The Brother on the 23rd.
Couldda seen SBS on the 11th in town, but then I'd had not met people and I'd have had nobody to go with, since my brother is underage for the premises, and anyway I didn't know when they were here.

And I'm going to a friend's wedding on the 28th, so that'll be nice. ^_^

I'll try to be more interesting again, so that the two proper followers I have don't feel as though that was a wasted calorie spent on clicking the follow button.

Oh, and check out this adorable piece of adorableness. Suck it, Chrome. (click for enlargementness)

Sunday, 1 August 2010

My mind may be a box, but I can't help but feel as though it's slowly stagnating 
and certain cares of my life are becoming more and more pointless.