Diamonds

Welcome to the Posts Named After Pop Songs series, in which I take something very tenuously linked to my life from the lyrics and run with it.

Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy
You and I, you and I , we’re like diamonds in the sky
You’re a shooting star I see, a vision of ecstasy
When you hold me, I’m alive
We’re like diamonds in the sky

I often think about that first line: “I choose to be happy”. I mean, I’m usually thinking about Rihanna as standard but that line has always resonated with me. Is it that easy then? Do we simply choose and then become it?

I think there might be something in this theory and it’s got me thinking. About whether I am a truly happy person, what makes me happy – and how much power I have within me just to be as happy as a clam (or a pig in shit, depending on how sophisticated I’m feeling). It’s a broad topic to be sure.

I think I’m happy generally but, like most people, I do let the small things rob me of joy sometimes. For instance I’m very irritable today not because of my hormones but because my work headphones kept getting tangled in my chair. This is something that could be easily fixed and yet, mixed with the Monday blues, I’ve been fuming.

I could and should just say to hell with annoyance, today is the best day of my life – and get the fuck on with it. That’s a choice. Because I’ve chosen not to do this, the day’s got worse and worse. The only good news is that I can have icecream for dinner and nobody will dare tell me off.

But there’s something there, isn’t there? I used to be a very depressed individual and ten years ago I wouldn’t have framed myself as a happy individual. I have been in dark and lonely places feeling as though I had nothing good to show for my life and nothing to look forward to. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done to get out of that and let a little sunshine in.

At a point in my life I could take no more of my own misery shit. It was time to sink or swim and thankfully my mediocre doggy paddle just about got me to land.

Life is in colour now and I love it. I have friends, an amazing family and I get to come home to the best person on the planet. I’m privileged in many ways and I can’t deny that. There are lots of reasons to smile and more reasons to be positive than to let tangled headphones fuck with my chi. So maybe I will drop the attitude and leave myself open. Sure, not everyday can be a skip through the posies but I can take a vow to at least try.

Maybe against all odds and in the face of the things I can’t control, I will stand up and say “Not today, Satan. Rihanna chooses happiness and so do I.”

His Highness the crown prince Dalai Lama agrees:

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. ~ Dalai Lama XIV

What do you think?

Rocketman

A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John‘s breakthrough years.

Taron EgertonJamie BellRichard Madden

I would happily of swerved this biopic had my friend Helen not been so excited about it. Her anticipation rubbed off on me, what can I say? I’m delighted that she changed my mind.

Kingsman hottie Egerton plays Elton in this tribute to one of our greatest treasures, king of the banger, Mr John. Which is no mean feat when your subject matter is still alive and will be watching your portrayal for themselves. Luckily, his performance is spot on (but more on that in a bit) – and his voice, well it’s really something. Who knew?

We begin where most good stories do, at the start. Elton, born Reginald ‘Reggie’ Dwight to a cold mother (Bryce Dallas Howard) and disengaged father (Steven Mackintosh), is an ordinary boy. Until he sits down one day at the family piano and duplicates a piece of music note for note. Grandma Ivy (Gemma Jones) encourages his parents to get him piano lessons and the rest is history. Except of course there’s way more to it than that.

Our boy attends the Royal Academy of music and discovers Elvis, which whets his appetites for all things rock n’s roll. Worst Dad of all time Stanley meanwhile finally leaves Reg and his mum – and starts a new more palatable family.

Reggie’s life changes forever when he supports a band on tour and gets the inspiration he needs to pursue a solo career. He approaches Dick James (Stephen Graham) and gains representation with James’ assistant, Ray (Charlie Rowe). Despite James’ initial negativity towards Reggie (now Elton John), Ray takes a chance on the young upstart and inadvertently sets him on the path towards his greatest ally, amateur songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell).

When Bernie and Elton meet magic happens – and they’re soon on their way to superstardom. Bernie supports Elton in every aspect of his life – and Elton boasts that they have never had a cross word.

Elton eventually meets and falls in love with music producer John Reid (Madden), who makes an even bigger star of him and encourages him to live a little larger. Which he does very well indeed, leading him to massive issues with drug, booze and shopping addiction.

Throw into the mix a crumbling personal life – John turns out to be a total scumbag – a still disinterested father (despite all the success) – and cruel words from his mother when he finally comes out to her – and Elton is on the road to self-destruction.

Will he ever be loved properly? Will he forgive the emotional crimes of his parents and save himself before its too late?

Rocketman is stunning with top notch costuming, as you’d expect. Every aspect of the movie looks good and I loved the performances. I cried a lot – particularly when Egerton sang Your Song and Tiny Dancer – his voice is powerful as hell.

While I loved his performance I have to be honest and say, I never once saw him as Elton. He’s just too damn attractive. That’s not to say I wasn’t engaged – I really enjoyed it. It just feels like a tribute performance to the man himself, rather than an uncanny reimagining (as with Rami Malek and Bohemian Rhapsody).

As for the surreal elements of the storytelling, I don’t think it could suit the main character more. It’s magical. And no, I haven’t been able to stop humming Rocketman since I left the theater last week.

Film details:

Rocketman
Year: 2019
Director: Dexter Fletcher
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10
My Rating: 4/5

What are you watching?

Juices

Every so often (very often) I become a master procrastinator. I may have a list of 78 things that simply must be done RIGHT NOW but there I am gazing at my navel and wondering who would play me in the cinematic biopic of my life (Philip Seymour Hoffman is no longer with us so I guess… Bette Midler?).

I’m in a creative rut just now and it does not feel good. I am all for being engaged with something that gets those creative juices flowing – whatever it is. For me it’s writing, watching movies (and talking about them) – and reading.

I’m reading a very heavy book at the moment about the Charlie Manson murders and while it is fascinating, it’s also very courtroom-heavy. Who knew when it was written by chief-prosecutor for the trial, Vincent Bugliosi? It’s great and right up my street as a true crime obsessive – however it’s getting me down too. All that murder and mind-control will do that to you.

As a result I have recognised areas in which I can make small changes to pep myself up again and get that creativity back in my life. Which I’ll share now because I need to beef this post up somehow.

Here are a few of my favourite things to do to try and ditch the blues:

Walk This Way

I haven’t actually started this yet because I’ve had a lot of late nights this week and no way am I walking home alone at night in this cold – but now that it’s lighter in the evenings and relatively bright, there’s no excuse not to get stomping from A to B. Or is it Z? I guess it depends how much you have to do.

Exercise is always name-dropped in relation to well-being and the proof is in the pudding. Nothing feels better than getting those lungs pumping and that fresh air in through your nostrils. You don’t have to be bench pressing 120 kgs to be getting the benefits. To accomplish this (which admittedly after a hard days work I’m not always up for), I add another well-being favourite to the mix.

Podcasts

Yes I like a lot of dark stuff, namely horror movies and true crime – but there are other podcasts I listen to sometimes about relationships, books, body image, mental health… to be honest by now there must be a podcast for every topic imaginable (something I must research one of these days).

Slapping on a new episode and leaving the flat on a dry day has wonderful benefits, both physical and mental – plus you get to learn interesting and obscure information you never even knew you needed to know. It’s like college on the move.

Graffiti

This is something that really makes me appreciate life. When I walk around Brighton I’m naturally drawn into the secret corners of the city. If I’m going anywhere by foot you can bet I got there via a maze of unloved alleyways and side streets.

Brighton has amazing street art and graffiti, you just have to keep your eyes open for it. I wish I had even a quarter of the talent these artists have. There’s quite a famous saying that goes something like “Those who can’t, take pictures of it and share it on Instagram.”

Just Say No

This is probably the hardest item of the well-being list to keep to because even though I’m a hermit-at-heart, I also suffer from FOMO. But saying no is important sometimes.

Honestly, I’ve only learnt how to do this quite recently in the grand scheme of my life – and it’s empowering AF. “Do you want to come to a BBQ this week with all my work friends?” ~ No thank you very much! See? So satisfying.

I Think We’re Alone Now

This is so fricking important, I can’t emphasise it enough. If I don’t get sufficient time alone during the week, I turn into Godzilla, fiery breath and all. I just can’t be around people all day every day and yes this can be a challenge when you live with someone. Luckily, my husband understands (and doesn’t want to be around me just as much) so we make it work.

I also take myself on dates from time to time, mostly to the cinema but anywhere I feel like going. It’s the best – and I get to eat all the sweets without judgement.

Nailing It

Self-care in the form of pampering is probably the most recognised form of well-being – and there’s a reason for that. It’s good to take some time out and make yourself feel good – be it a posh bubble bath (with lashings of Mister Matey) or a full body tissue massage – and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

My Thing is getting my nails done so I feel extra fancy. Luckily my place honours the above point and completely ignores me beyond asking me what shape and colour I want. I LOVE IT. No chit chat – and I’m in and out with new claws within 45 minutes. I love looking at my horrible fingers with coffin shaped talons stuck to the ends- I feel like I’ve really earned them.

Kiss

Not actual snogging (which is fine) but the song Kiss by Prince. There’s a law about not wiggling your butt when this song comes on and it carries a heavy sentence, so it’s best just not to risk it.

See also: Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot, Hey Ya by Outkast.

What do you do to get yourself out of a slump?

(This is a post I wrote for my work blog but I thought I’d share it here too).

Fall Anthems

I’m a lazy toad at the best of times but there is one physical activity that is totally my jam and that’s walking in the Autumn.

It harks back to my time living alone in Vancouver, a very introspective period of my life. While I was doing my ‘single life’ navel gazing, there were a couple of tunes that just kept popping up as I stomped about getting shit done.

I’m a creature of habit really, so if a song makes my rotation, it very rarely gets booted off again. So I’m basically listening to these songs still, my Fall anthems. In no particular order:

  • Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
  • Everywhere – Bran Van 3000
  • Army of Me – Bjork
  • Be The One – The Ting Tings
  • Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Cheap & Cheerful – The Kills
  • Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry
  • Rhiannon – Stevie Nicks
  • Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry

I don’t think these songs need any introduction, I just love them, and feel strong and motivated when I listen them. I actually might go out for a little wander around the park in a bit, those fallen leaves aren’t going to crunch themselves underfoot.

You can have a cheeky listen to my Autumn Jams here:

What are your favourites?

Breathe

tim-goedhart-334149

Here we are, back to work, back to reality.

The diet chat is rife, people are returning to the gyms with their tails between their legs and boy don’t we know it. The mince pies have been cleared away and we’re having hearty porridge for our breakfasts instead of a handful of Quality Street.

I hate all the self-flagellation that comes after all the joy so I’m not partaking in it. I won’t be going to the gym tonight or any time soon because I can’t afford it and also I don’t want to. I can’t think of anything worse than sweating my nuts off in between a hundred other people who’d rather be on the sofa finishing the new series of Black Mirror. So I’ll be on the sofa finishing the new series of Black Mirror thanks, in a blanket with my tea.

January is generally the most miserable month of all and I’m going to inject as many little moments of happiness into it as I can, even if I am as poor as a church mouse. Even if all that is is an hour reading a book I’m into or having a pickle. Life’s too short and my only resolution is to be MORE so bring it 2018. I want more!

On another note, I’ve been spending more time than is healthy watching 2017 highlight videos on social media. All those wonderful perfectly composed images from the past year fill me with an instant gratification but when I think back on my own year, which was filled with some really dark moments (and obviously it was worse for my husband), I’m just thankful I made it at all.

Not to bring the mood down because we’re all about positivity here but I’m amazed I didn’t run away or bury myself in the garden at times. We suffered a great loss as a family, which was awful but has brought us closer together and I’m grateful for that. I feel as though I held on to a lot of the trauma of what happened though and then I moved from my comfy (but deeply unfulfilling) job into the worst one I’ve ever had (yes worse than the turkey plucking) – and I nearly lost it.

Some good did come of this though as the anxiety I’ve been trying to freeze out for years refused to be ignored any longer and I had to do something about it. I also learned that some people are just horrible and nothing you can do or say can change that. A hard lesson has been to understand that that’s on them and not me.

And even though I’m not sure my current role is a forever, it is fun and I’ve made some great friends – so for now I’m just going to enjoy it and see where it takes me. Despite myself I’m excited for what the year has in store, slightly wary but overall hopeful – and everyday, I’m just going to try to remember to breathe.

How are you guys settling into the New Year?

40 Songs

40 songs from the soundtrack of my life.

King of Wishful Thinking – Go West // Hometown Glory – Adele
Ironic – Alanis Morisette // Stronger Than Me – Amy Winehouse
Shine – Years & Years // Glory Box – Portishead
You’re So Cool – Hans Zimmer // Little Bird – Annie Lennox
Let Me Be Your Fantasy – Baby D // Heaven is a Place on Earth – Belinda Carlisle

Before-Frank-Charles-Moriarty-81
Miss you, Gurl

Formation – Beyoncé // Rebel Girl – Bikini Kill
Triumph of a Heart – Björk // Deceptacon – Le Tigre
There’s More to Life Than This – Björk // Big Time Sensuality – Björk
Joga – Björk // Lucky – Britney Spears
I Want it That Way – Backstreet Boys // Good Vibrations – Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch

fd75ae7795b2a79398496270553f8fa0--grumpy-cat-dance

Same

Lovely Day – Lou Reed // Hurt – Johnny Cash
Rock the Casbah – The Clash // Last Nite – The Strokes
Close to Me – The Cure // Just Can’t Get Enough – Depeche Mode
Strange Love – Depeche Mode // There is a Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths
The Light – Common // Thriller – Michael Jackson

Untitled design (10)
Express Yourself – Madonna // Hotline Bling – Drake
Dilemma – Nelly & Kelly Rowland // Creep – TLC
Crazy – Aerosmith // November Rain – Guns N Roses
Insomnia – Faithless // You Got The Love – Florence & the Machine
Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry // Dreaming – Blondie

Untitled design (9)

Forever inspo

40 Songs playlist here.

Weekly Digest #6

The things I’m digging this week.

*Contains mild spoilers for Insecure & Game of Thrones, if you’re not up to date*

tom-2-h_2017

Tom of Finland (2017)

IMDB Synopsis:

Award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski brings to screen the life and work of one of the most influential and celebrated figures of twentieth century gay culture.

This film is wonderful. Life-affirming, moving, inspiring and it’s done in such a tasteful way given its rather hardcore subject matter (not that that’s a requirement for me, obvs). It definitely has an art-house sheen to it but Karukowski sculpts his back story in such a way that you really become attached to the central protagonist, the titular Tom of Finland (played flawlessly, I thought, by Pekka Strang).

Support across the board is strong too, highlights for me being Tom’s sister, Kaija (Jessica Grabowsky) and Alijoki, Tom’s former Captain and friend (Taisto Oksanen).

If you can, try and catch this one, it’s lovely.

00-lede-girls-trip

Girls Trip (2017)

IMDB Synopsis:

When four lifelong friends travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.

Well this film was a blast from start to finish, genuinely. I took myself to a late night showing last Wednesday and the tiny theatre they showed it in was packed. Every one of us was cackling with glee.

As well as being hilarious, this movie is touching in all the right places and invests you heavily in the female friendships. It’s also very sharp on white privilege. One of my favourite scenes is the one in which Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) calls up her agent Elizabeth (Kate Walsh) on her use of African-American vernacular. She then says, of black event, Essence: “You’re a guest here, act accordingly.”

The whole cast is amazing, including Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and stealer of almost every scene, Tiffany Haddish. I can’t wait to see it again.

bc4789fd911b5c940a5f27d9cca5eb4429c656438cb7b9f9f3982c4c332e1ea20ffa099d36abe229ab5174f27bb50a3f

Insecure, Season 2

I’ve talked about how much I love Insecure before so you can imagine my joy that Issa Rae is currently back with Season 2.

Issa Dee is back in the dating game whilst struggling with her heartbreak over losing boyfriend Lawrence, after she cheated on him. Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji), her best friend and confidante is on hand to offer advice on how to ‘ho’ while also dealing with her own issues, namely the pay gap at work.

It’s really smart, funny comedy and I love both Issa and Molly. Support is solid in Lawrence (Jay Ellis), his new fuck buddy Tasha (Dominique Perry) and the brilliantly loud Kelli (Natasha Rothwell).

Special shout out to Issa’s white colleague Frieda (Lisa Joyce) as she tries to get her head around the black Principals’s open racism towards his Hispanic students – and Issa’s subsequent argument that they should let it go and focus on all the good they’ve achieved.

TormundHound

The Hound & Tormund, Game of Thrones

A selfish entry but it’s my blog so what? A special tribute to the Bromance developing between the mighty Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) and my man, The Hound (Rory McCann) as they take on the White Walkers and fight on the side of the King of the North.

Sure, the season finale is tonight (at the time of typing this) so it may be nipped in the bud before it ever gets going but for now it’s beautiful and pure. Two warriors on the same side, quietly admiring one another’s immense skillz. It has also gifted us this amazing video.

If loving these two brutes is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Right?

 

What are you digging this week?

Day 12: You Don’t Own Me

Isn’t empowering to think that you are yours and nobody else’s?

No boss, no partner, no friend or family member owns you. Remember that.

You are yours. I am mine.

Ps. I love this song. I loved the original but I like this version too.

PPs. This is a scheduled post. If all has gone to plan I am lounging in my pit nursing a very large post-Work’s Christmas Do hangover with a Pot Noodle (Chicken & Mushroom) beside the bed. Or… maybe I will remember to place painkillers and water strategically and avoid the whole hangover hub-bub (maybe I prefer that one)

Frank (Film) Review

frank-movie-poster-michael-fassbender

Never judge a film by its poster

I’m sick as a parrot, snotting and coughing all over the place and to top it all off, I royally fucked up my pancakes. It’s generally been a very mediocre Shrove Tuesday (and regular Tuesday) in the life of this Voluptuous Mind.

Except.

Except I think I might have just found my new favourite film of all time, on Netflix, just there for the plucking.

Frank (2014)

Synopsis: Jon is a wannabe musician, writing his own songs, with varying degrees of success, around his day job. By chance one day he finds himself playing keyboards with eccentric pop band, the Soronprfbs.

Verdict: Oh my gosh. I avoided this film at first because I didn’t know what to expect. I have to admit to not being that musical and although I do love music (90’s hip hop/The Smiths), I’m just not that into music biopics or the like.

This is something along those lines and in my mind I thought it would be boring and more than a little wank. I stand corrected as it’s neither of those things. In fact, it’s pretty close to perfect in terms of story (if a little flimsy), characterisation and dialogue. Mixing genuinely funny moments with poignant scenes, it gives you the feels where you don’t expect to have them.

The titular Frank, in particular, is an enigma far beyond his mask. Wearing a papier mâché head at all times (even to sleep), he carries a certificate that permits him to keep it on, even in the face of authority. He has a phenomenal singing voice while the rest of the band have varied and unique musical talent. Somehow it kind of sort of works.

Frank-Movie-PosterFrank is bolstered by his not very warm girlfriend, Clara, who takes an instant dislike to Jon, telling him early on to ‘go home’. The band have traveled to Ireland to record their first album and none of them seem that fussed about Jon, only Frank wants him around.

But Jon is convinced that he has the potential to access the far corners of his mind creatively. Will he be able to do that with a little help from his new friend? As the bond between the two of them grows, so too does Clara’s hatred for Jon.

Jon’s social networking skills, meanwhile, start to build up a small but strong following for the band, promising them an audience they never knew they wanted. Frank believes that Clara doesn’t want people to like them, but following a genuine tragedy within the group, she agrees to the band travelling to perform at the South by Southwest festival in Texas. This is not a sign that Clara is softening though, as she threatens to stab Jon if he ‘fucks up America’.

I’ll let you watch for yourself to learn the rest but I do highly recommend this film, which was inspired by the book, Frank by John Ronson (about 70’s Comedian and musician, Frank Sidebottom).

I will just sign off by saying that I love Maggie Gyllenhaal always and this performance is no exception. There’s a scene in which Jon calls Clara a really bad name (spoiler alert: it starts with a ‘C’ and ends in ‘unt’) and I thought to myself, yes that’s exactly what this character is (oh my but what a fabulous one).

Fassbender too plays his part well. Who knew that one man could elicit such genuine emotion whilst wearing an expressionless helmet/mask? He has an inimitable charisma that makes people follow him and somehow too, believe in his vision. There’s an element of something else there too that makes you want to protect him.

Finally, Domhnall Gleeson is just a little gem. His comic timing is wonderful and he puts me in mind of a young Murray Hewitt in Flight of the Conchords. I can’t wait to see him in more, especially Ex Machina.

Rating: I give this charming and genuinely heartwarming flick a not at all shabby 4.5 out of 5. And I’m tempted to pop the missing 0.5 on top anyway for taking my mind off just how shit I feel.

That’s me for tonight, I’m heading to bed now. Nighty Night.

Images via Google.