Level 42 + The Next Year’s Bucket List

Here I am, 42 years old and honestly, how did I get here? Yeah yeah, the natural passing of time, but really, HOW? I don’t feel this old (maybe in the knees and hips), I still feel like a young adult at best, no matter how much life experience I rack up.

One of my friends asked me the other day if I like being older and honestly, that was probably the first time I stopped to think about my answer. I do like it. I feel content. I’m more secure in my relationships than I’ve ever been but also in myself. I feel like that life experience mentioned above has molded me into a pretty sound person.

Sure, there are things I want to change and that will probably always be the way but I am ridiculously blessed and I know it. With all that in mind I thought I’d set myself some Level 42 goals because it’s good to always be always aiming for something, however small. I plan to grow my hair, concentrate on Wicca and spell casting – visit a couple of places – but I also have some additional plans.

In no particular order:

Cut down on spending

Recently I totted up how many times I’d ordered from ASOS this year (so far) and I’m too embarrassed to share the figure. I’ve been leaning on shopping for way too long as an emotional top up and it is no longer something I want in my life.

80% of the time I return the order anyway and that almost makes it worse. All that wasted time and energy returning packages. I could be reading!

So, no more… waste. No more fast fashion – more of a sensible attitude towards my finances. Like a proper 40 something.

Draw more

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I want to draw and colour more, it makes me happy. I’m under no illusion about my talents but that’s not the point. Being bad at something and doing it anyway is freeing.

Guess who got a Hobbycraft voucher to spend on materials for her birthday?

Learn burlesque

In the new year I’m going to look for a burlesque class. I’m sick of hating on my body so I’m going to start celebrating it instead. That simple.

I’m not looking to be the next (fat) Dita Von Teese but I’ve been inspired by a gorgeous plus size dancer on Instagram and let me tell you, she makes it look hottttt.

To quote Penny in Dirty Dancing:

“God wouldn’t have given you maracas if he didn’t want you to shake ’em…”

This point will hopefully play into the next one.

Make more time for boning

I want to start making more time for sex. With a full-time job and a busy social life, it’s easy to put it off most nights. It’s not fair and I don’t want to put it in second place anymore.

My husband is fine and I want to jump him – but we do need to make time and take our time. I’ll be making more effort from now on, and if that means putting on more Marvin Gaye and practicing my new burlesque moves then bring it.

Sign up for Astrology and Tarot courses

These are my next courses and I’m really excited about them. I’ve loved my Wicca diplomas so much and I think of astrology and tarot as an extension of those.

I don’t know where any of my new knowledge will lead me, I’m just open to magic and that’s enough for now.

Buy a home

This is definitely the biggest goal on the list and the scariest – and maybe this isn’t something you’re supposed to talk about openly – but we’ve been offered some help in this area and hopefully next year will be the year we move forward. This is one of the main reasons I want to be more sensible with any spare cash we have – I can’t honestly borrow money or take on something so committed while still being a thoughtless shopper. It’s just not the one.

I hope this happens for us, I’m sure it will but I’m under no illusion – when we buy we won’t be able to buy in central Brighton and leaving it is massive. It will be worth it though.


So these are the goals I plan to stick to in my next year on Earth – I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Until then…

Bring it on, Level 42!

Brittany Runs a Marathon, or: Feeling Good As Hell

This week we review a film that I’ve seen twice now and honestly really love. Spoiler alert – I’m going to be doing minimal snarking about this one because actually it’s quite lovely. And Jillian Bell is a knock out who should lead more films. Just sayin’.

Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)

A young woman decides to make positive changes in her life by training for the New York City Marathon.

Director: Paul Downs Colaizzo
Stars: Jillian Bell

*Spoilers*

Brittany is not in the best place. She’s a greeter on the door of a Broadway show and lives with her narcissistic social-media loving BFF Gretchen (Alice Lee). The pair party hard, and B abuses Adderall, drinks heavily and makes poor personal choices. She lacks focus in her own words and when she visits the doctor, to get her hands on her own Adderall prescription, he tells her her BMI is too high and he’s worried about her blood pressure. Off the back of this visit to the GP, B is tasked with losing around 55lbs, which she cracks is “the weight of a Siberian husky.”

NOTE: This film is definitely triggering. There is a lot of focus on diet and losing weight to become a better, more successful person.

“You want me to pull a medium-sized working dog off of my body.” ~ Brittany

When she tries to join a gym, she realises how expensive it is and decides to try running outdoors because it’s free. After her first attempt she breaks down in tears and receives a visit from her neighbour Catherine (Michaela Watkins), nicknamed Moneybags Martha by B and Gretchen.

Despite Catherine’s attempt to bond, the visit doesn’t go well and B resents being pitied by her neighbour who, in her eyes, has a much easier life than she does. Nevertheless, when Catherine mentions a running group she’s part of, B reluctantly shows up.

At running club, B becomes (kind of but not really) friends with Catherine and also makes an ally in Seth (Micah Stock) who, like B, isn’t a natural athlete and is only really running to make his son and husband proud. After a successful 5k, the trio make a pact to train for and then run the New York City marathon together the following November. As she gets better at running and the pounds start to drop off, B finds a second job, starts dating and meets fellow dog/house-sitter Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), who curates her dating profile for her.

B also finds herself drifting apart from Gretchen who doesn’t really support the changes she’s been making. In fact she is continually belittling our girl and trivialising her new interests. When Brittany declines a night in on the booze and ice cream, Gretchen lashes out at her telling her she’ll always be a fat girl.

Jern and Brittany start banging – and things are pretty good – until B doesn’t get a place in the marathon and has to raise the money herself. When Catherine presents her with a cheque for a place on the starting line, Brittany freaks out and rejects the offer as ‘charity’, something she just can’t abide.

She starts avoiding Catherine and Seth so can’t even turn to them when she puts on weight and suffers a stress fracture from pushing herself too hard trying to shift it. Her doc tells her she definitely won’t be able to run in the marathon or do anything too physical for at least six weeks.

This throws her into a panic as she laments returning to her fat self. As she grows increasingly distant from her new friends and her fuck-buddy-or-is-he-more Jern, Brittany gets fired and retreats to her sister’s home in Philadelphia to lick her wounds.

At a birthday party for Demetrius (Lil Rel Howery), her sister’s husband and the man who pretty much raised her, Brittany behaves abysmally towards a fat woman and her thin boyfriend. Full of regret in the morning, Demetrius gives her what for, making her see that she needs to learn to let people help her – and to stop blaming all her problems on her weight.

Can Brittany learn this valuable lesson and sort it out once and for all? I think, with a little help from the people who care about her, she just might…

Again, Jillian Bell is brilliant – and makes Brittany very real and likeable. Even when she’s being a brat and a bitch, you can understand her pain.

My favourite part is the bit in which the large woman Brit’s been mean to gets in touch and explains that she understands where she’s coming from – but has made the choice to be happy. It made me cry. I also shed a few for Brittany as she finally gets to live her dream and is encouraged not to give up by her cheering squad.

I really like this film and it does try to be sensitive about fat and body positivity in some ways, it’s just a shame that Brittany follows the typical weight loss journey to finally realise her potential. It would have been nice if she’d run the marathon as the bigger version of herself or bucked the notion that being thin makes her worthy.

There’s a lot to unpack from this one based on the fat issue but I still liked it.

4/5

What does my favourite Jillian think of this one? Would she shame it for having love handles or encourage it to the finish line? Find out here.

Last Christmas

Me: “I’m not going to review as many films anymore…”
Also Me:

Last Christmas (2019)

Nothing seems to go right for young Kate, a frustrated Londoner who works as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. But things soon take a turn for the better when she meets Tom — a handsome charmer who seems too good to be true. As the city transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, Tom and Kate’s growing attraction turns into the best gift of all — a Yuletide romance.

Director: Paul Feig
Stars: Emma Thompson, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Yeoh

*Minor spoilers*

It’s funny how much we can forgive in the name of Christmas spirit, huh? This Paul Feig Christmas movie is enjoyable for a second but it definitely doesn’t hit the notes of The Holiday. It’s no Love Actually – it’s not even The Family Stone.

Maybe my hopes for it were a little too high. All I know is that both the central characters were annoying twits. I haven’t always been wowed by Emilia Clarke but I do enjoy watching her and she was as gorgeous as ever as self-destructive Kate. Her eyebrows do the most of the acting work though, they’re here, there and everywhere.

Golding’s Tom is 2D as they come and I don’t understand why I’m supposed to give a shit about such a condescending character. Stop telling everyone to “look up” you boring prick – let them live. None of this is a good sign when you’re expected to invest in their burgeoning ‘love’ story.

Thankfully, the supporting acts are the movie’s saving grace (and London by night, obvs). Some of the characters we meet down at the homeless shelter are priceless, including Kate’s fellow volunteers and her father Ivan (Boris Isakovic) is a laugh riot. The true stand-out for me though is Santa, Kate’s Christmas-loving boss (Michelle Yeoh), that woman lights up the screen more than all those Christmas lights combined. Thompson delivers as per but considering she also has writing credits, why is this so bland?

I guessed the hidden premise half way through which is very unusual for me. It’s so damn literal! And honestly, there’s not much to the rest of the movie. Somewhere in this mess is a message about Brexit and being there for our fellow man in unity, rather than pushing everyone away and I liked that. Especially at Christmas.

I also like the idea of a messed up individual putting their life back together, one brick at a time, with or without a terrible illness to motivate them. It’s just a shame that Kate (or Katarina) is more fun when she’s being a thoughtless little tramp.

Judge for yourselves, I guess. Maybe I’m just dead inside. (I know I’m not though because despite everything I still did a teeny cry every time a George Michael song came on.)

2.5/5

What are you watching?

What I’m Listening To: Podcasts #3

I love me a podcast as you know. I love making them and I love listening to them.

Say It Five Times podcast has been quiet for a while now. In fact, we have decided to stop doing it for now and probably forever. Not for any reason other than I had too much on at the time and I started to not enjoy it, which was the opposite of its purpose.

On reflection, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted either so I very much hope to be looking into refining and picking it up again in the New Year. Right now I’m thinking this will be with a fresh new name, outlook and mission statement. I’ll go into this in way more detail when I know more but for now watch this space, ‘cos I’ll be back and so will at least one of my co-hosts – and yes, we will still be more or less horror themed.

Eek!

In the meantime, here’s a little run down of what I’m listening to on my travels to and from work.

The Black Tapes

The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both. Do you believe?

There’s something really likeable about host Alex Reagan and honestly, this podcast has brought me a lot of joy over the last couple of weeks. It is seriously spooky and there have been times I’ve been listening in the dark and then really wished I wasn’t.

Currently focused on the “black tapes” of paranormal investigator Dr. Richard Strand, which contain supposedly unsolved supernatural (or not) phenomena – and the personal life of the enigmatic man himself, whose wife went missing under mysterious circumstances – it’s seriously addictive.

You can learn more about the fictional series here.

Homecoming

Homecoming centres on a caseworker at an experimental facility, her ambitious supervisor, and a soldier eager to re-join civilian life — presented in an enigmatic collage of telephone calls, therapy sessions, and overheard conversations.

I accidentally stumbled across this one and stayed for Catherine Keener’s wonderfully familiar voice. I’m only one episode or so in so far but it’s a compelling story.

Heidi Bergman is a full-time waitress who has returned home to care for her mother whose health is failing. She used to be a caseworker for Homecoming though, a program designed to help soldiers who have returned from tour re-acclimatise back into their former lives. When she is approached at her new place of work, it all kicks off again – or so I’m expecting. Other voice talent includes Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer – and this six part radio series has also since been made into an Prime Original TV show starring Julia Roberts.

You can learn more about the fictional series here.

The Losers’ Club

The Losers’ Club is a weekly podcast for Constant Readers of Stephen King to dig deep into his oeuvre and the myriad TV, film, print, and stage adaptations of his work.

Gee, I wonder what this one has to offer me, a horror geek and Stephen King obsessive (but not purist)? LOL.

Again I haven’t listened to all the episodes but the ones I have I have thoroughly enjoyed. The most recent episode for me was an examination of Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep and was very detailed. Although my recent review was mostly positive, having had time to let the dust settle and listen to a couple of other opinions, I agree with a lot of what the hosts here say about what does and doesn’t work well.

So I Got to Thinking

A hilarious new podcast from bestselling author and journalist Juno Dawson and the editor of QX Magazine Dylan B Jones. Each week, the friends (and sexperts) rewatch the classic HBO sitcom Sex and the City and then attempt to answer Carrie Bradshaw’s soul-searching, and occasionally ridiculous, questions for the modern day.

Juno Dawson lives in Brighton and I really want to meet her. I love that this podcast re-examines beloved episodes of SATC from the start, pondering the earnest questions Miss Bradshaw herself is considering in each. With questions such as “Can woman have sex like men?” and “Is there a war between Singles and Couples?”, do they stand up in 2019?

Well the answer so far is sort of yes and kind of no, exactly as you’d expect. The episodes are really fun to revisit, particularly as an avid SATC fan and in the hands of these two brilliant hosts, it’s one of my current favourites. The good news is that there are tonnes of episodes still to be explored so this should go on for a long time. I also really appreciate the LGBT lens in which the hosts examine certain scenarios given their own life experiences.

No Sleep Podcast

The No Sleep Podcast is an anthology horror fiction podcast. WARNING: This is a horror fiction podcast. It is intended for mature adults, not the faint of heart. Join us at your own risk…

One of the things I love to do the most but have had to stop as my nightmares got a bit too much is to read No Sleep stories on Reddit. This is the audio version of doing just that and I am treading very lightly for the aforementioned reason.

There are too many episodes to go through by name but there’s bound to be something that taps into your personal fears and keeps you awake at night, why not give it a go?

There’s a helpful guide to getting started with No Sleep here.


And in addition to the five new blogs mentioned above, I am still finding time to slot in the regulars. I can’t let those slip for every new young buck that comes into view.

Also listening to: My Dad Wrote a PornoThe Guilty FeministCriminalHow Did This Get Made?The Evolution of Horror

What are your favourite podcasts?

Earthquake Bird

Earthquake Bird (2019)

An enigmatic translator with a dark past is brought in for questioning after an ex-pat friend, who came between her and her photographer boyfriend, ends up missing and presumed dead.

Director: Wash Westmoreland
Stars:  Alicia VikanderKiki SukezaneKenichi Masuda

*Spoilers*

This is a film that should have been so much better. The premise is actually pretty fantastic and I was well up for an ex-pat in Japan murder mystery – unfortunately it does fall a little flat. I don’t think it’s really anyone’s fault – the central performances are fine – the set pieces are lovely and Japan continues to be utterly beautiful.

The landscapes here seem a little more subdued than they usually appear on film. Sure we get some neon lit karaoke bars but for the most part the backgrounds are low key and functional, the apartments no frills. I think you could probably say the same about the characters.

We centre around translator Lucy Fly (Vikander) who begins a relationship with local photographer Teiji (Naoki Kobayashi). Things are fine enough until Lucy starts to show signs of suspicion, breaking into Teiji’s apartment and going through his things. When she finds a file of photographs of his old girlfriend, she torments herself with questions about their relationship.

These feelings of jealousy are exacerbated further when she meets Lily (Riley Keough), a young American woman. When she is persuaded to help Lily find an apartment, the trio grow closer and Lucy is not amused to note that her new friend and boyfriend appear to be attracted to each other. When she shows her jealous side, Teiji encourages it because she is his “girlfriend, after all”.

Lucy is should be said is rather a buttoned up person and at times, and as we learn, an unreliable narrator. That means that the whole sorry tale as it unravels might not even be the truth and we never really know whether we can trust her version of events. The story is unpacked across two timelines, the ‘present’ (e.g. Lucy being interrogated by police who have found the remains of a woman who may or may not be Lily) – and flashback, in which we are party to the development of this awkward love triangle.

The main question is: is Lily dead and did Lucy do it? 

This does go on quite a big longer than necessary but there are some nice moments. I enjoy the concept of blame and responsibility – and as I mentioned, I really love how late 80’ Japan looks. There’s also a very shocking scene involving a freshly waxed staircase that I can’t get out of my head – so this is probably memorable for the wrong reasons.

3/5

What are you watching?

The Forbidden

As she prepared to leave the sun went in, and the bands of light faded. She glanced over her shoulder at the boarded windows, and saw for the first time that one four-word slogan had been sprayed on the wall beneath them. “Sweets to the sweet” it read.

I’m currently reading Christine but as I mentioned before, it’s quite the sizeable tome and hasn’t been the quickest read. I felt like taking a quick break from Uncle Stephen for a moment to read this short by his horror contemporary, Clive Barker. In fact, the anthology that houses this story – Books of Blood: Volumes 4-6 – features a cover blurb from the man himself: “Clive Barker is so good I am almost literally tongue-tied.”

Cute, huh?

The Forbidden in case you weren’t aware, is the story that inspired (and was adapted into) my favourite horror movie of all time, Candyman (1992).  So no prizes for guessing why I wanted to read it. The novella is based in England rather than the Chicago of the film which really intrigued me – and tells tale of Helen, a post-grad student doing her thesis on urban graffiti. When she visits the rundown Spector Street Estate to take some photographs for her project, she learns about a horrible murder and becomes just a little bit too involved in the sinister goings on.

Her weary body understood. Her nerves, tired of jangling, understood. The sweetness he offered was life withoutliving: was to be dead, but remembered everywhere; immortal in gossip and graffiti.”Be my victim,” he said.”No…” she murmured.

*Spoilers*

I loved it. The Candyman of the story is every bit as seductive as my boo Tony Todd but he’s terrifying in such a visceral way. The way he’s described is so different and heinous, yet there’s still something appealing about him, like giving into the death he’s offering would be the sweetest relief and delicious to boot.

Some of the names are the same as in the movie (Trevor, Anne-Marie, Bernadette) – even patronising shit-bag Purcell makes an appearance – and I loved his little segment but they are quite different characters. Trevor is still a cheating bastard but this time Helen turns a blind eye, claiming not to give a single shit when he disappears for two nights straight. The setting is very similar, even if the locations are not, right down to the rotten public toilet in which an  alleged attack is made on a young man with learning disabilities.

The crime surrounding Anne-Marie and her son is far more sinister and graphic however and I find the realism of the estate much creepier than I do Cabrini Green. Maybe it’s just how normal and mundane Anne-Marie’s life seems, how can such horror live side by side her tiny maisonette, while she makes tea for Helen and moans about the council?

A must-read for any horror fan and I’m quite keen to read the rest of the stories now. Barker writes beautiful prose that sure as hell suits the elegance of the Candyman. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

 

Book details:

The Forbidden (from Books of Blood: Volumes 4-6)
Publisher: Sphere (1 Feb. 1988)
ISBN-10: 0751512257
ISBN-13: 978-0751512250
Borrowed

What are you reading?

Dolemite is My Name

Alas this wasn’t our first choice but it turns out the UK is trailing behind the US when it comes to some new releases and so here we are. It’s plain rude, frankly but I’m not dwelling on it – The Nightingale will have its time.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by this bio of real-life visionary Rudy Ray Moore which boasts a wicked cast and had me to the very end of it’s hefty run time.

Dolemite is My Name (2019)

Eddie Murphy portrays real-life legend Rudy Ray Moore, a comedy and rap pioneer who proved naysayers wrong when his hilarious, obscene, kung-fu fighting alter ego, Dolemite, became a 1970s Blaxploitation phenomenon.

Director: Craig Brewer
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps

*Spoilers*

Los Angeles, 1970s and Rudy Ray Moore (Murphy) is a record store employee and struggling recording artist/stand-up comedian. He begs the store’s in-house DJ (Snoop Dogg) to play his records which he refuses to do, favouring instead the dulcet tones of Marvin Gaye. One day a homeless man comes to the store and starts ranting in rhyme, one of his proclamations features someone called ‘Dolemite’.

Rudy gets the idea to create an onstage persona, inspired by this exchange – he dresses as a pimp with a cane and takes to the stage with a crude set he’s written called The Signifying Monkey. The club crowd loves it and people finally start to take notice of Rudy and his unique brand of talent. This leads him to approach his aunt for the $250 he needs to record a comedy record – called Eat Out More Often – which he’s forced to sell out of the back of his car when he refuses to clean up his act for the one producer who shows an interest.

The album, of course, proves very popular within the black community and a record company picks it up, promising to market it in stores. On his ensuing national tour, Rudy meets the amazing Lady Reed (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) who joins his act. While visiting another city on tour, Rudy and his friends decide to go to the cinema to let off some steam. Eager for something to laugh at, they settle on Billy Wilder’s The Front Page. Unfortunately, none of them find it remotely amusing or relateable, while the mostly white audience think it’s a scream – and it is here that Rudy decides they’re going to make their own movie.

Despite zero movie making experience and multiple funding knock backs, Rudy manages to convince his label to finance the movie using an advance on the royalties from his latest album. He plans to star as central character Dolemite himself. The movie, also called Dolemite, is a kung-fu Blaxploitation movie. With the help of reluctant playwright Jerry Jones (Key) and even less enthusiastic Rosemary’s Baby actor D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes), Rudy rounds out his creative team. He also brings in a crew of college students to shoot the movie and takes over an abandoned hotel with no running water or electricity.

To say they’ve got their work cut out is an understatement and Dolemite is My Name centers around their efforts to get the film made and then distributed. It’s a pet project of such determination that you just can’t help being caught up in it. I rooted for the whole crew from the get go. The film is reminiscent in subject matter (kind of) to The Disaster Artist and the sheer single-mindedness of Rudy is not unlike that of real-life Tommy Wiseau.

I’m not always Eddie Murphy’s biggest fan to be honest but I did very much enjoy him in this role. He seems more at home in more adult roles and it’s refreshing to have him playing just the one character, rather than every character. I have massive love for Keegan-Michael Key and Craig Robinson (who I find crazy attractive). It was also nice to see Tituss Burgess again, Titus Andromedon is everything to me. The film has real heart and the real-life Rudy must have been an incredible man.

I enjoy movies about underdogs that come out on top in the end – and this is a shining example of that sub-genre. It’s also fascinating to learn more about a man and a film I never would have ordinarily. Being a middle-aged white woman and all. Perhaps one day Jill and I will find and review Dolemite on these very blogs. It has an all-female kung-fu army after all, what’s not to love?

4/5

What does my own superstar think of Dolemite? Would she shoot a chaotic love scene with it or refuse to fund it any longer? Find out here.

B•F•R•W•W – The New Digest

The things I am currently digging in five easy categories – Bingeing (TV), Feeling, Reading, Watching (Films), Writing.

Bingeing

There’s a lot going on TV wise this Autumn/Winter but the most exciting is Pose Season 2 which has already succeeded in making me sob like a baby five minutes into the first episode. I’m trying not to smash the whole series in a day but it’s very moreish.

This season is centered around Madonna’s Vogue record, inspired by the NY ballrooms – House ma Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) is convinced this will bring the community mainstream acceptance while Pray Tell (Billy Porter) has seen it all before. Both are dealing with the HIV epidemic and fighting for their human rights – while Elektra (Dominique Jackson) is enjoying the spoils of her new (so far secret) career and Angel (Indya Moore ) is taking the fashion industry by storm. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend this amazing show – it is everything.

Obviously I’m all over Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK as well. Team Divina all the way.

Also watching: WatchmenSwamp ThingThe Young OffendersCreepshow

Feeling

I’ve decided not to fight Christmas this year – so I’m feeling festive. I didn’t get it at all last year so honestly fuck it, why not ride the wave with everyone else? My manager has already put up her tree and I’ve so far watched more Christmassy flicks than I care to admit – I’m saving Love Actually (2003) and The Holiday (2006), don’t worry. I’m thinking of making my own Christmas cards too – which is frankly obscene.

It’s also my birthday in just over a week and I wasn’t going to do anything but got talked into at least having an intimate dinner so there’s that to look forward to. There are six of us and I’m going to put on a new dress and false lashes – and enjoy the excellent company. I know I’m loved and completely blessed – and I am forever grateful for my loved ones.

Reading

Yes I’m reading more Stephen King – it’s the perfect time of the year for spooky and Christine is a wonderful story. My horror soulmate Matt is reading it at the same time and the regular check-ins with each other are the best bit. I will admit to finding this slow going though. It’s not Christine’s fault – I love it when I dip in – I think it’s honestly because the book’s so physically heavy, and it’s harder to read in the tub (my prime reading place).

I promise to review it when I’m done.

Also reading: My Favorite Thing is MonstersBuffy (Comics)

Watching

I’ve just re-watched Nerve (2016) on Amazon Prime, which was a lot better than I remembered – and I bloody love Emma Roberts. I’ve filled you in on Doctor Sleep which was v. good and of course, my shameful Christmas consumption.

My next cinema visit is to see Last Christmas with Helen on Tuesday – which I feel will be the final ingredient needed to get me feeling appropriately festive. I’m pretty sure I’ll be ruining my make-up for Emilia Clarke and I’m cool with it. Crying is cathartic, yo.

Also watching: Before I Wake (2016) • Gerald’s Game (2017) – I’m very much having a Mike Flanagan revival.

Writing

I wrote this, didn’t I? That’s about it on the writing front, unless you count the assessments I’ve done for my advanced Wicca course which is so fun. I’m loving it. I’ve submitted my first four assessments and come out with a 97% pass rate so far. I’m considering doing Astrology and Tarot next.

What are you up to?

Kindness

It’s so easy to laugh
It’s so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind ~ I Know It’s Over, The Smiths

It was World Kindness Day a few days ago – I know this because my colouring app told me and gave me a couple of bonus pictures to celebrate. Which was very nice but it also got me thinking about true kindness. Is it possible to be kind all the time? Is there a certain level of kindness you have to hit before you qualify as a proper kind person? And what about kindness to yourself?

You see? It’s a lot to think about and I don’t really know where I’m going with any of this. It’s just sometimes I find myself wondering, when I’m promoting kindness to others (via the medium of meme) – and walking around with the lyrics from the song quoted above tattooed on my arm – whether I even qualify.

I think generally, most of us are decent at the core but all of us could stand to be kinder. Even if all that means is keeping an eye out for the dude you sit next to at work, or asking a crying stranger if they need anything.

I wonder all the time whether I’m a decent person, sometimes I truly believe I’m not. Kindness is something I aim for every day but there are always obstacles that derail my intention. Like someone being a know-it-all brings out my decidedly unkind side.

I recently made a new friend who it turns out might not be my cup of tea after all – and I know my pulling away has been confusing and possibly hurtful for them. I haven’t been horrible but I feel really guilty about the situation, like maybe I need to make more effort – except I’m not sure I have it in me mentally to just ignore my instincts.

What I don’t understand is how easily we’ll think about others and ignore our own needs. Being kind to ourselves counts. And all this is just a delicate balancing act.

I say be kind wherever possible and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t manage it 24/7, you’re not a Stepford Wife. As long as you’re not going out of your way to be a mean bitch and you’re not hurting anybody, you’re doing okay. As with most things, intent is key. We can all strive to be good people and for the most part, I think we are.

Keep an eye out for those around you, do a good deed every now and again just for the hell of it – it is honestly way more satisfying to put good out into the world than bad.

So happy belated World Kindness Day.

How’s it going?

Doctor Sleep

I’m introducing mini reviews to the blog for the films I really enjoy and first up is this really rather decent adaptation of Mr King’s novel of the same name.

 

Doctor Sleep (2019)

Years following the events of “The Shining,” a now-adult Dan Torrance must protect a young girl with similar powers from a cult known as The True Knot, who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.

In the hands of Hill House‘s Mike Flanagan I knew this wouldn’t be rubbish but I was surprised by how much I liked it. The book (which admittedly I might read again) was quite meh and I could barely remember most of it. So I was happy to have it brought back to me by one of my favourite horror directors and a pretty solid cast.

It must be said that Rebecca Ferguson‘s Rose the Hat is the stand out of the piece, bringing real evil to the character while still encouraging you to kind of root for her. I mean, the Baseball Boy scenes are horrifying and testament to the fact she ain’t messing around – but there’s real love between The True Knot who are just like a genuine family. Plus, I like Rose a lot more than I like Danny and Abra. LOL.

Obviously the revisit to The Overlook is the money shot and the director’s respectful attention to detail is really something. We revisit beloved characters from The Shining, both central and sideline – and it is magical.

Flanagan is definitely not Kubrick and he’s not trying to be. His own signature style really suits this story and I’m all over his take on the hotel.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this movie since I saw it yesterday and I don’t really have many negatives. I didn’t warm to Abra much and Dan Torrance was fine but I really enjoyed spending time with The True Knot. The fantasy elements are sublime too – the segment in which Rose the Hat goes searching for Abra in her mind is breathtaking and very effective.

Colour me impressed.

4.5/5

What have you been watching?