No Resolution(s)

I’m not making proper resolutions this year, I’m just going to be kind to myself in 2019 and write. I’m going to write so much that my fingers fall off.

I really don’t like New Year at all but even I can’t deny there’s a certain tingly sensation associated with starting afresh. Autumn is my rebirth season as I’ve mentioned before but the new year does bring with it new diaries and fresh pages – and I can’t help but think this time might be different. Perhaps I will learn to speak Mandarin in 2019, you don’t know, it could happen. (It’s not going to happen).

Maybe I will stop shopping, save a load of money and sink it into a future business, maybe I’ll visit Japan and fall in love with it and stay there forever, swirling endlessly beneath the falling cherry blossoms.

Or maybe I’ll just read a lot and watch a lot of films like I did last year and be more than content. All I do know is that I am so happy to be hibernating for the rest of the year and well into February. In fact I don’t have any wild plans until Valentine’s day when my love and I go to London to hang out with Neneh Cherry (she’s totes going to want to after spotting me in the crowd at the Camden Roundhouse in a t-shirt with her face on it).

I’ve never needed to nest more. December burnt me out (can you relate, I think we all can), not just with all Christmas had to offer but I took a lot on at work too. It’s going well but I want to keep the momentum going so I’m giving myself space to focus on it. I can’t wait to get creative again either, to get back to the Collab and to the podcast with a fresh eye.

So no time for resolutions, just nice things. Fuck knows what 2019 will bring. Things are scary in this country at the moment, so much so that I almost can’t stand it. Burying my head in the sand can only take me so far – all we can do now is face the year head on and take it one day at a time. That’s as close as I’ll get to political talk on the blog, don’t worry.

Whatever you’re doing, whatever your resolutions may be or your goals, I support you. I hope 2019 brings you untold joy and minimal stress.

And thanks for reading ❤

Surviving Christmas

I wrote this post for a work blog but unfortunately it wasn’t published. So I thought I’d share it here instead, rather than waste it. I guess the sentiment stands, wherever I place it, right? 


❄️❄️❄️

Oh Christmas. A magical time for all, where everything twinkles and shines just that little bit brighter. Eggnog flows like water, chocolate waits tantalisingly to be devoured (usually for breakfast) and there is no pain anywhere.

If only.

Firstly, the festive season is s-t-r-e-s-s-f-u-l. Financially, socially, mentally – it can do a number on you in so many different ways, sometimes in ways you’ve never considered. I personally feel burnt out already just by the sheer amount of social engagements I’ve had (I know, boo hoo). Don’t get me started on the damage I’ve done with my debit card. So from the offset the magic can come at a price but we do it because it’s Christmas and we love our loved ones. Some of us adore this time of year and that’s cool too.

But Christmas can also be a challenging time for mental health and it’s important to acknowledge this. Every person has the right to take care of themselves during this period, even when they’re at home. If being with family isn’t the right thing for your wellbeing then that is fine, the modern set-up is often an extension of what we’ve always known and friends are the new family to many. As the clock ticks down to Santa’s visit, remember:

You don’t have to spend Christmas with your family

As above if this is a toxic place for you, you don’t have to do it.

If it all gets too much

Take yourself out of the situation. Absolutely nobody can give you grief for going to your room to read a book for an hour or having a hot bath in the middle of the afternoon. You know yourself better than anyone, so listen to your instincts.

Ask for help

I’m the worst when it comes to cooking the Christmas dinner. I do not know how to ask for help and end up sweaty and stressed in the kitchen, snapping at anyone who tries to intervene. Asking for help does not make you a failure; it just takes some of the pressure off. In fact, if you can write a list and make notes about who can do what, you’re laughing. Plus, if you cooked – it is against the law for you to wash up as well. Just saying.

Mind the booze

I’m not going to lecture anyone about their alcoholic intake but it is so tempting to turn to the buck’s fizz (or harder) to deal with Christmas Day. Alcohol is a depressant though and can leave you feeling low. Not to mention the Christmas morning/Boxing Day hangovers so sometimes it’s good to pace yourself.

Get some air

If you need to get out then get out! Nobody has ever regretted leaving the house for a spot of fresh air, let’s face it. Except maybe Dorothy Gale.

If it’s not perfect, tough

This is my new mantra, as I worry about presents, whether I’ve spend enough and that each gift is perfectly wrapped with a tartan bow. If everything is not just so then what’s the worst that can happen? The world will not implode. One year I forgot the stuffing and I’m still here to tell the tale, painful as it still is.

I am the gift and so are you

Your loved ones just want to be with you, I promise. For all the gifts and the going out, what really matters is the being together. And lots and lots of lovely cheese.

So from me to you, have a lovely Christmas and please take care of yourselves. 

Closed for Christmas

Dear Friends,

I’ve decided to take a break from blogging for the rest of December while I deal with some stuff (basically my own mental health).

I’m all good, I’ve just been having a bit of an adventure with my anxiety and overstretching myself socially, as usual.

So to combat these overwhelming feelings, Jill and I are breaking for Christmas on the Blog Collab and I’m going to probably keep it light (if I blog at all) between now and the new year. I just need to think about what I want to do and also have as much chill time as I can get.

This week is fucking mental again in terms of going out but next week I am winding down and nesting in the lead up to the big day. Fuck it. I’m going to read lots of books and take lots of baths. I want to be in PJs as much as possible. I am hanging up my false lashes for a month or two!

I will pop in I’m sure before Christmas but until then, things are going to be a little quiet over here.

I hope the festive season is being kind to you all. It can really do a number on you sometimes, financially, physically and mentally. Just remember you’re only human and can only do so much – and really the true spirit of Christmas is the cheese board, so as long as that’s taken care of, what else matters? JK of course. Christmas is what you make it. Just take care.

See you soon.

Sincerely yours, C xoxo

Behind Again

I’m still reviewing Halloween movies here firmly in December and that’s because I’ve been busy and lazy, a wonderful combination. So I’m going to have to squish some of my To Do list into one post, which I kind of hate but what can you do?

Here’s what I’ve been watching since the end of October:

Halloween

I waited for what feels like forever for this 40th anniversary sequel and… I can’t say I was disappointed. A lot of it doesn’t work, some of it spectacularly (looking at you fake Doctor Loomis/terrible podcasters) but all in all David Gordon Green‘s offering is a lot of fun and that’s what I wanted.

Jamie Lee is dope as the deeply affected, original Final Girl™ Laurie Strode. A lifetime of paranoia has made her into a reclusive survivalist and she is barely holding onto her family as a result. But what happens when all that preparation finally comes to fruition? Well, you’ll find out when Michael Myers busts out of the institution that has held him for the last four decades – and the whole thing is as gory and tense as you’d imagine. Plus, there’s something truly disconcerting about the humanisation of The Shape just before shit kicks off.

My Rating

4.5/5. Probably for nostalgia more than anything.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

In my opinion this movie suffers for not featuring enough Jack Black but IT’s Jeremy Ray Taylor does a fine job as a mini version of the man himself. If I’m honest, I don’t remember too much about the plot (I think because I saw The House with a Clock in its Walls right before it and they’ve sort of blended into one) but I did enjoy its childlike Halloween wonder.

The effects are very good – plenty of inventive monsters and sadistic gummy bears – the kids are fantastic and Slappy is a dollop of mischievous fun. I think I’ll always be here for the Goosebumps movies honestly, they’re charming. I’ll definitely be hitting this up with a re-watch as soon as possible.

My Rating

3.5/5. Witches be crazy.

The Hate U Give

Based on the YA novel by Angie Thomas which I have half read, THUG is a pretty solid adaptation, if a little heavy-handed in its delivery. Starring the ridiculously talented Amandla Stenberg as our main protagonist Starr and the ridiculously cool Regina Hall as Starr’s ferocious mother Lisa, this movie examines subject matter that is all too relevant. I enjoyed the ride and also cried like a baby throughout.

While I could never understand what Starr and her family and community have to deal with, I was pumping the air with triumph as Starr stood up for herself and her lost friends in the most dramatic, tense scenes imaginable. Not only does this movie look at the horror of racism and police brutality, it also hones in on the insidiousness of subconscious prejudice, particularly within Starr’s own friendship group. Russell Hornsby is fantastic too as Starr’s wise old ex-gang member father.

My Rating

4/5. Powerful stuff.

Slaughterhouse Rulez

Meh. This, sadly, was a steaming pile of nothingness and given the cast, I’m surprised. It’s just not that memorable, funny or endearing – and takes an age to get going. When it does there are a couple of okay moments but there’s not enough to make it worth the effort. Sorry, Nick Frost, I still love you.

My Rating

2.5/5. A real stinker.

Widows

My takeaway from this is that Viola Davis should be cast in every film from now on. Literally every single one. As freshly widowed Veronica, she is mesmerising – the perfect blend of vulnerability and strength – I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She is matched perfectly though by Elizabeth Debicki as Alice, who steals scenes left and right, even from the Queen herself.

I enjoyed this film very much, it follows the lives of a handful of women left devastated by the death of their husbands, a band of bank robbers. But as with most crime capers, there are twists at every turn and danger lurking in every shadow, not least the terrifying Manning Brothers, Jatemme and Jamal (played, respectively, by two of my favourite actors, Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry).

My Rating

4/5. Girl power at its finest.

***

What have you been watching?

An Evening with Aubrey Plaza 💜

This week we hosted movie night at our place and the title of choice was the long-awaited (by us), An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn. We had James and Gary over because the three of us went to a Q&A session with the film’s director Jim Hosking back when he released his first feature, The Greasy Strangler so it’s fast becoming a tradition of ours.

The film itself was wonderful and weird but my main takeaway is how bloody fit Aubrey Plaza is. So this is my tribute post to the woman herself (and of course the sublime style of her BLL character, Lulu Danger). 

My favourite AP moments to date:

Child’s Play (2019)

The CP franchise is one of my all-time favourite things and the original Chucky is my homeboy – so I’m in two minds about next year’s reboot. HOWEVER, it does feature Miss Plaza and also Brian Tyree Henry so I am going to remain open-minded. 

I haven’t seen too much by way of teaser images from the movie yet but what I have seen snatched from behind-the-scenes looks positive. AP plays a young mother who gives her son a cute doll for is birthday and absolutely nothing whatsoever goes wrong. Ever.

Ingrid Goes West (2017)

IGW is one of the bleakest movies I’ve seen in recent times wrapped in the perfect Instagram filter. AP is the titular Ingrid, a troubled woman with a tendency to stalk her prey relentlessly. When she stumbles across Insta famous Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), she is no exception. Ingrid moves to Cali to befriend her and will stop at nothing to get the girl. With consequences. 

Well, this might so far be Plaza’s best role as she unravels before our very eyes, a grieving messed up protagonist who makes you assess your own social behaviours and never really learns her lesson. I actually feel like watching this again today (and I probably will) but it is very far from a feel-good movie and not the Christmas classic I had envisioned for my afternoon of present wrapping. 

*Shrug*

Legion (2017-2019)

Don’t expect me to explain any of this show to anyone at any point because I don’t think I really understood it but Lenny Busker (Plaza) is my stand-out.

BFF of lead character David Haller (Dan Stevens), A LOT of shit goes down for her and I haven’t seen Season 2 yet so there’s a heap I still don’t know. All I know is that when AP is onscreen, I don’t really care about anyone else – and that’s a super power in itself. 

An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn (2018)

Lulu Danger is dead pan AF but underneath her stony exterior lies a woman on a mission. A mission to get back to her former lover, the mysterious Beverly Luff Linn (Craig Robinson). Teaming up with love-sick Colin (Jemaine Clement), Lulu runs away from her horrible husband Shane (Emile Hirsch) to track down and confront BLL, a man presumed dead years before. 

Lulu isn’t particularly pleasant to anybody but she rocks the dopest outfits and has a heart underneath it all. Will she end up with her former beau Beverly, return to her douche bag husband or start a new life with a new prospect? All that matters is Plaza tbh but the film is hilarious, treading a very fine line between oddball and hysterical. 

Cue the slideshow, bitches.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What are your favourite Plaza moments?

Citizen Ruth (Film) Review

Nothing ushers in the festive period like a film about a well-publicised (fictional) abortion tussle.

Although I should say, it’s my fault this one falls on what should be the beginning of Christmas Movie Month. Unfortunately, my social calendar stopped me from viewing and posting this film on time last week (boo hoo). Both Jill and I agreed we weren’t quite ready for Xmas though so who honestly cares?

*Spoilers*

Citizen Ruth (1996)

Ruth doesn’t lead what you would call the traditional life. In fact, if we’re being blunt, she lives quite a pitiful existence and has little to call her own. She’s addicted to any substance she can get her hands on, does not have a fixed address and has four children she never sees, split across three different homes. I’m not judging her at this point, these are just facts.

When she’s arrested for “illegal inhalation” for the nth time (who’s counting?), she hits an extra snag. She finds out she’s pregnant again and the judge, who’s had enough, decides she should be tried for “felony criminal endangerment of a fetus” – a much more serious charge that will carry substantial jail time. It is ironic then when he pulls her aside later and tells her he’ll be much more lenient on her if she gets rid of the problem instead.

Well, Ruth is on the same page but in clink she meets a band of “Baby Savers” who have been kicking up a stink outside some abortion clinics, and shit starts to get real. Taken under the wing of The Stoneys (Kurtwood Smith and Mary Kay Place), it soon becomes clear what their agenda is. They provide a comfortable home and board but at what cost, eh Ruth?

Things are nice and cosy for a while but Ruth soon finds their son’s modelling glue and well, you can guess the rest…

Good clean fun

So family friend Diane (Kurtz) steps in to help out with the care of Ruth (who has lapsed spectacularly more than once). She quickly reveals herself to be an undercover spy for the Pro-choice brigade, working the Baby Savers from the inside. Which is great, right? Well, nobody really comes off well in this movie, even the ones I naturally agree with.

Ruth finds herself swept away by Diane and her moon-serenading girlfriend Rachel (Kelly Preston) to a remote home in the woods, where they are protected by Harlan (M.C. Gainey) a sort of volunteer security guard. With both sides fighting hard to keep her onside, what the fuck is messed up Ruth supposed to do?

And when the cash offers start rolling in – first of all from the Baby Savers, then Harlan’s personal bank account to even the playing field – Ruth gets even more twisted. The woman has nothing and will take direction from the highest bidder, surely?

I guess the most immediate question is: Will Ruth go through with the termination or change her mind at the last minute?

I need this t-shirt. STAT.

I don’t really know what to feel and I really don’t know how to talk about what this film really means. I mean, it’s an abortion ‘comedy’ which is always going to be a hard one to carry off but I like it for that.

It speaks bluntly about women’s choices and the autonomy they should have over their own bodies – but it’s also a look at fanaticism and the dehumanisation of the subject when it comes to the war of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Both sides are very keen to tell Ruth what to do and aren’t really concerned with what she thinks or feels.

I’m gonna stay here. and I’m gonna have that abortion like I wanted. ‘Cause I’m a citizen and… and I got my rights to, um, PICK! ~ Ruth

I don’t like anybody in this movie, least of all Ruth who is frustrating in so many ways. She’s a mess and nobody is really offering her the help she needs, if she even wants it, which I don’t think she does. There isn’t one character anyway I feel the need to cheer for and that’s an odd feeling.

However, I really enjoy the fact that there is no redemption arc for Ruth. It would be forced and disingenuous for her to finally become a decent person at the end of all this. The movie’s climax is perfect and feels authentic, even if it is bleak AF.

Also, Laura Dern is The Queen.

3/5.

What does my love think of this one? Would she boycott it or let it make its own decisions in life? Find out here.

A Beginner’s Guide to Confidence

Confidence is key, that’s what so many women’s magazines/style gurus/celebrities tell us and sure, there’s something in the rhetoric. However, is there really a way to become confident if it doesn’t come naturally? I must say I don’t really know what I’m talking about, there’s no secret recipe but I can tell you how I got here, by way of a thousand tears, some self-realisation and a whole lot of tying jumpers around my waist to hide my enormous junk.

People compliment me on my confidence all the time which is nice to hear but means one thing as far as I’m concerned: “You are so confident, despite everything”. I’m not being needlessly cruel to myself but let’s face it, I don’t look like a model, do I? I’m short, round, ginger and over 40 – I might not change a thing about the way I look but I definitely do not fit the ‘ideal’. So where the heck do I get off not giving a fuck?

Take up space, wear what you want and never, ever apologise for being here

The thing is, I do give a fuck and I also don’t. I’ve learnt the hardest lesson of my life now and that’s that I deserve to be here, even in my capacity as a fat middle-aged woman. I’m allowed to love myself with ferocity, I’m allowed to demand respect and I’m definitely allowed to wear fitted jumpsuits and enjoy the fuck out of fashion. How I got here was via a lot of reading, following fat activists and feminists on Twitter and slowly allowing myself to heal from a lifetime of bullshit from every corner. Diet culture, fashion magazines, adverts on the TV – they sell us one beauty ideal and although I know things are changing, they are changing slowly.

A few years ago something in me clicked into place and I no longer felt the need to beat myself up. I started to wear the clothing I wanted to and I started to relish myself. Obviously there are days when the confidence fails or I have a melt-down because I can’t find the thing I want to wear (hello work’s Christmas do last Friday!) but you’re damn right I’m as confident as I can be. I’ve earned the right.

What are your thoughts?

Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

When I was much younger and Christmas tree buying time came around in the Martin household, I was always very extra.

I would insist on choosing the ugliest, loneliest looking tree in the lot and we would inevitably end up with two – the pretty one that got to shine bright in the front room and my sad, usually balding tree positioned optimistically in the hallway so it would be the first thing anyone would see when they walked through the front door.

I’d bundle those underdog trees in as much love (and Star Wars figures) as my childish heart could conjure, and that was my own personal festive tradition. My family tolerated this probably because they didn’t have the energy to argue (and they loved me) – and I’m grateful to have had the chance to express myself from such a young age.

When I think about this ritual now, it could be a metaphor for a lot of my human relationships. I always made a bee line for the people I perceived needed something the most, whether it was true or not (invariably it was). I would come home with strays all through childhood (friends from less harmonious homes, actual stray cats and dogs) and as I matured, I did the same with men.

Damaged, needy men were my speciality and my inner rescue radar would pick them up with ease. This as you can imagine led to a lot of heartache on my part as I learned the hard way that you can’t fix people. Especially when they don’t want to be fixed.

I’m not entirely sure what made me think I had the qualifications to mend anyone anyway. All I know is that I’ve spent way too much of my lifetime attracted to broken people and one day – hallelujah! – I was able to stop.

It started when I left a six year relationship, which I now recognise to have been highly psychologically abusive. Then I cut out my first significant and totally toxic friendship. It was like losing a limb for a while and then, it felt INCREDIBLE.

For the first time I came to realise that we don’t have to put up with the things that hurt us. We have choices and ever since I discovered this, every time I get a whiff of another one of my strays, I catch myself.

I’m all for being there for others and I’m not saying all needy people are toxic, many of them are just like my trees. They need water, a comfortable pot and a shit load of tinsel – and they’ll start to thrive again. It’s just that I’m not responsible for anyone but myself and I have no business thinking I am.

I’ll always be attracted to the ugliest dogs in the street and Christmas trees that have seen better days but I don’t have to save anybody anymore.

I never did.

Girl Gang: Christmas Edition

Inspired as always by my girl, it’s your festive edition of the Girl Gang series. Obviously.

Barb, Black Christmas (1974)

Oh, why don’t you go find a wall socket and stick your tongue in it. That’ll give you a charge.

I have a real soft spot for the festive sub genre of Christmas horror movies and Black Christmas is no exception. While it offers up a traditional slasher narrative, it is also very sad. I also love it for the progressive tackling of its abortion story line and its delivery of super messed up characters, particularly Barb (played by the late, great Margot Kidder).

By rights I suppose Jess (Olivia Hussey) should be the standout for this gang, given her position as the level-headed Final Girl but Barb pips her to the post and I’ll tell you why. Sure, she’d be quite the challenge as an actual friend, her drinking is very damaging but the girl needs help damn it. She’s sassy, she’s mean (but funny) and she’s also quick-witted AF (particularly when snarking out an obscene telephone caller).

Every GG need a blunt and dynamic member and Barb’s our girl, though maybe someone needs to have a word with her about getting kids drunk. I hate that Barb isn’t the sole survivor of Billy and his murderous tendencies but if you’re going to go out, why not take death by crystal unicorn? ICONIC.

Let’s be honest that Den Mother, Mrs Mac (Marian Waldman) totally has an open-ended invite to join this group too – what a dame. You can read my review of Black Christmas here.

Bridget Jones, Bridget Jone’s Diary (2001)

Wait a minute… nice boys don’t kiss like that.

Inviting Bridge to the party seems like a pretty obvious move and I’m not sorry. BJ is a sweary hot mess who makes poor decisions and messes up a lot but she also takes risks and isn’t afraid to make a tit of herself. I can honestly say that there is nothing more appealing to me than a person who can embrace their goofy side (my friend Heather is a shining example of this).

Bridge is somewhat normal and when I’m hanging out with girls I want to feel comfortable and never judged about my own dubious choices. BJ would never shame me and she’d be down for whatever, ride or die to the end. I think she’s inspirational too in so many ways, while she’s fucking up she does also learn and eventually realises her worth isn’t dependent on validation from Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant).

If we were friends though I would have to have a very stern chat with her about her constant diet talk and calorie counting – do it on your own watch, Miss Jones for the love of God.

Iris, The Holiday (2006)

I’m looking for corny in my life.

Oh, Iris, let me count the ways in which I love you.

The Holiday, I would say is on par with Love Actually in terms of quality but that’s not to say I don’t fucking adore it. But, while Cameron Diaz skips through snowy fields with Jude Law, I’m always dying to get back to Iris (Kate Winslet) in the city of Angels.

Iris is a perpetual romantic with her heart set on the ultimate bad boy (Rufus Sewell) – been there, done that. The thing is, she’s just about done with his games and her apartment swap is the first step in a long journey to getting the fuck over it. Step in Jack Black and arguably the much more important leading man, Arthur (Eli Wallach).

Iris is a good, kind woman and she’s a laugh. She’s into movies and she’s into banter and I want to have a drink with her in a bar so bad – and then I want to go home and watch old videos with her into the early hours and laugh about all the rat bastards that have ever broken our hearts.

Selina Kyle, Batman Returns (1992)

Honey, I’m home. Oh, I forgot. I’m not married.

Sure, lonely but lovely Miss Kyle becomes one of Gotham’s greatest villains/heroes of all time following a terrible ‘accident’ at the hands of her boss Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) – but even before that she was an interesting person and I want Selina on my team.

While she’s portrayed as a bit of a door mat, I don’t see her that way. Selina’s ambitious and damn good at her job. While the men around her only see her as a lowly secretary, the woman holds everything together (familiar?). Our girl is gorgeous and sweet – and what’s more, nothing can keep her down. Not even death and certainly not Batman or Shreck – or the pervy Penguin.

Selina evolves from self-deprecating loser to mischievous minx to the sassiest adversary Gotham’s dark knight has ever seen and the arc is beautiful. PLUS, I want her apartment and her entire wardrobe SO BAD. SUE ME.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Selina Kyle: so good she deserves her own slideshow…

Who’s in your gang?

Merry #blogmas 🎄: Introduction

Happy December the 1st! Although I’m not Christmas’ biggest fan, I’ve decided to force myself into the festive spirit anyway.

Last night we had our first work do (we have two, customer services and the corporate event) – it was fun and I managed to leave by midnight, relatively unscathed. This morning I’m watching Netflix Christmas movies and tomorrow I’m actually going to put up the tree. Who am I?!

Anyway, happy first day of #blogmas. I’m not sure I’ll be able to smash out a post for every day of the month but I’m going to damn well try.

So, it’s going to get a whole lot more Christmassy around these parts, sue me. I might not be fully ready but I’m going to embrace it anyway.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Right? 🎄🎄🎄