Monday, 31 March 2008

What Tribe Are You?

Watching this week's Culture Show was really fun, mostly because I saw a report about Ari Versluis and Ellie Uyttenbroek on their mission to put everyone into fashion tribes. It was great to see them categorise people that they found on the street (they picked people they thought fitted nicely into a group and then asked them back to the studio later on so that they could snap them for the main photo).

I love fashion, so it got me wondering what fashion tribe I might be in. I'm a little bit weird really - bright colours don't frighten me and I don't mind standing out from the crowd. The crew filmed girls who wore skinny jeans with a t-shirt, desert scarf and with their hair pinned back (a common sight here) and "city girls" (i.e. women who wear suits and sky-high heels so obviously I wouldn't fit in there. I wish they'd seen me on the streets of London (even though I never go there) and asked me to come back to their studio! That would've been great. Other tribes featured included "nostalgics" (older people who still dress the same way as they did when they were in their 20s) and "America's next top models" (they are very fashion conscious and like to be on trend, also being very assured of their own beauty).

It was absolutely fascinating and I loved watching how they selected their models. I pose this question: what tribe do you think you belong to?

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Good Things Come in Threes

So, a while ago I was complaining that there wasn't really that much on TV. Well, okay I was watching an episode of the Sopranos a day so I didn't exactly have nothing. But not much.

So now I'm completely spoiled for choice. I've already written about US drama Mad Men, I'm nearly all the way through Ashes to Ashes (which is picking up the pace, but I wish Alex would stop screaming) and I've been watching Lost which is becoming completely unbelievable (when you think about how realistic it was in the first series, it makes you cringe sometimes. In a good way).

But there are now three more shows that have come to light. One is an old favourite. The other two are funny, quirky and dark in places. So first, my old friend. House is very intelligent, in a strange way. If you get bamboozled by some of the medical terms in the show, there's always a neat explanation (but every episode there's an unfortunate case of Lupus, or the patient will be cured when House has a brainwave and realises they have a genetic disease). But it's the tensions between House, his boss Cuddy and his best friend Wilson that are the best parts of the show. Without giving away much, the season opener with House's guitar going missing is a scream. I hope he doesn't get a new team (Foreman was sacked, and both Chase and Cameron resigned at the end of last season) because then it'll be extra fun watching Cuddy squirm at House's unorthodox methods.

Next, we have the fourth series of Boston Legal, and this is a show that I've only just started watching. I think everyone on this show has a mental problem or a beef with one of the other characters. It seems like the whole law firm is taken over by nut cases with strange pasts or secrets to hide. It makes for some very funny situations and cases though (take homophobic, sex-crazed Denny being arrested for solicitation in a courthouse toilet, for example). It's pretty far-fetched but somehow you feel endeared to the characters for their quirks and start loving the show as a result.

I've saved the best show until last. Dexter. A show about a serial killer working for the cops as a blood expert and taking care of people who've escaped the justice system in his spare time. This series is just so dark, but it's so funny as well. It does have serious moments, but they're usually followed by something humorous to lighten the mood. The thing is, all of the TV Critics here said that ITV were taking a massive gamble on showing it (here, it was originally aired on FX) but if there are enough people out there that think like me and like a lovely, juicy, dark, blackly comic serial that has a lovable murderer as its main character then it wasn't a gamble at all. I'll probably freak out if the Sky+ doesn't tape an episode. I'm hooked. I don't want the series to end!

So, I've gone from being TV deprived to being completely spoilt. And, with the new series of Desperate Housewives starting tomorrow, things are looking up!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Happy Easter

Have a very happy Easter, everyone! Promise not to eat too much chocolate/ easter eggs/ cake over the weekend (delete as applicable!)

Stay well and keep beautiful. I'll write again soon!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Rising From the Ashes

Oh, I feel bad about writing about this because this is such a cheesy TV programme. It's predecessor Life on Mars was less cliched and more believable, and you felt more endeared to the main character.

Still, Ashes to Ashes is an extreme guilty pleasure for me. For all of you living in America, the story goes like this: Alex Drake is a cop in London in the year 2007. She encounters a strange man while on the job who takes her hostage and shoots her. When she comes around, she's in 1981 and is part of a police force that includes the neanderthal Gene, the even more ape-like Ray, new-romantic Shaz and the cowardly Chris (all of whom, apart from Shaz, were in Life on Mars which was set in 1973). She fights crime with them and in-between solving the crimes and arresting the bad guys, she tries to figure out how to return to 2007 and save her parents, who coincidentally died in 1981.

Yes, it sounds weird. It is weird. But you can't help but laugh at some of the dodgy scenarios they end up in. But Alex is such a terrible character. She's weak, contrived, screams a lot and dresses like... well, like a bit of a tart really. Nothing like poor old Sam Tyler who everyone felt sorry for (his madness was at least believable and you felt sorry for him).

Well, I'll keep watching it anyway. The current series is nearly finished so I won't have to cringe much longer at Alex stomping around like the Queen of Sheba. Seriously, I only watch it for the crack between the others - and the REALLY bad driving!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

A Possibility...

I was reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and was struck by the fact that Heathcliff is described as being dark skinned and had very dark hair. I thought that it was odd that his "father" should pick him up on his travels (after all, if you feel sorry for one little stray boy, you'd have to feel sorry for them all). So, I asked someone else about it.

They said that they thought Heathcliff was his real son and that he brought him home as if he was from the streets in order to cover up any suspicions. And this made sense. It would give everyone a better reason to keep Cathy and Heathcliff apart because that would make them half brother and sister. It would also explain some of why they are attracted to each other. They must see something of themselves in each other, as they are both very wild and unconventional people (for the time anyway).

I just thought this was particularly interesting. I really like the book and was confused by how he seems completely different. This made me think a bit more about the story, and see beyond the words.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Sushi Sushi...

I am disappointed about not being able to eat sushi where I live. There is a distinct lack of sushi bars in my area - I have to travel for ages up north to a big city where I can get some raw fish. I thought sushi was supposed to be taking off? I had a bit of sushi in a restaurant once and it was really nice (I can't remember what it was though, and this restaurant doesn't sell the sushi anymore unfortunately). I read in magazines all the time about how sushi is great, you can eat it here, you can eat it there... but not where I am! There is one sushi bar in a city just down the road, but its really expensive because it's in a fancy department store! When I look up to it (it's on this balcony thing that overlooks the rest of the shopping centre) I only see businessmen eating there. I'm disappointed. I thought the world was supposed to be becoming more cosmopolitan. Instead, I'm stuck with a choice between McDonalds and Burger King (if I'm lucky, there'll be a coffee shop that itsn't packed out). I want a better choice! I want to eat healthily - we get nothing!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

More Intelligent Than Strange

Well, I've just finished watching Stranger Than Fiction for the first time and, for a film with Will Ferrell in it, it's great. Lovely and intelligent, with some nice moral issues (will he/won't he die etc.). To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to get too much enjoyment out of it - the thought of a film that has the same actor that brought us the horrors (in my own opinion) of Talledega Nights and the new, just weird looking Semi-Pro wasn't setting off any fireworks in my head. I was very surprised though. He actually gives a great performance. Well, Emma Thompson's is probably better - her portrayal of author Karen Eiffel is pretty intense in a strange way. I think that its title of being a comedy is a bit off the mark though. You might prefer to call it a "dramedy" as it doesn't have too many laugh-out-loud moments in it. It's more the type of humour that may put a little bit of a smile to your face. To me, though, that's great because I'm not the type of person who particularly likes slapstick or outright joke-telling. Quiet humour like this is perfect for me.

Oh and if anyone out there is a fan of the band Spoon, they feature heavily on the soundtrack.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Mad Ads

I really love US drama Mad Men. It's taken me by surprise really. It shouldn't do, since it's from the same people who brought us the wonderfully dark Sopranos but I really was genuinely drawn in by it - even if I was painfully tired!

Maybe it's the fact that there's a few stories going on at the same time and it doesn't portray the ad world as being as glamorous as it is thought to be - well, okay, they go to fancy bars and drink champagne but it's not all fun and games. It's a bit on the gritty side too, with characters needing help from psychiatrists, jealousy and misogynistic views in the office. Although it's not as tough as the Sopranos was to watch in some places, it's still brilliantly captivating.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Mmm... Brilliantly Beany....

Ooh, coffee... Part of cafe culture and every one of us will have probably had at least some variety of the beany stuff at least once in our lives.

There is something completely wonderful about coffee, isn't there? You can have it many different varieties, cold or hot, creamy, sugary, strong, milky, whipped to perfection, with sprinkles or cocoa, in a small, medium or large mug... well, let's just say you can have it just about any way you like it.

But let's not forget that there can be serious issues to our favourite caffeinated drink. Some coffee manufacturers are becoming fair-trade and therefore offering good deals to the people who work on plantations. We should probably try and buy fair-trade coffee whenever we can, as it tastes just as good but is also offering a fair and respectable deal to the people who grow and pick the beans for us.

On a lighter note, it has been found that coffee contains a good amount of antioxidants, which are substances rich in vital vitamins. It actually contains more antioxidants than say, tea or red wine, which in the past have also been proven to have high levels of the substances. So, why should we be bothered about this? Well, antioxidants help battle signs of ageing by keeping levels of oxidants, or "free radicals", in our body down. So while some people in the past have thought that drinking coffee can be bad for our skin, it has now been scientifically proven that the opposite is actually true! Well, in moderation....

All hail the mighty coffee bean!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Out of Bed, Still Half Asleep

I see pyjamas. Not my own in bed either. I see them on the streets, anywhere and everywhere. I see them in the shopping centre, on the high street, on the beach, at the park, in schools and in the local bakery.

But why?

Surely with the amount of fashions out there today and the advertising of clothes in magazines, on TV and on billboards, people would be able to get dressed in the morning? There is no doubt that sometimes getting dressed can be a general hassle. I know too well that selecting what to wear is often a mountainous task, after all, there's so much to think about: trousers or a skirt? Which shirt? What t-shirt? Should I go for long or short sleeves? Tights, leggings or bare? What colour? Will it suit my mood today? Oh, not to mention the fact that it often seems impossible to decide what shoes to wear (ah, the old dilemma. If only I didn't have about sixty thousand pairs of shoes...).

Still, it just looks lazy to wander around in PJs. It's not thirty degrees in the shade and it's rarely a day when pyjama wearing can be blamed on sponsorship for some charity fun run. Ironically, the girls who do decide that it's a good fashion choice to wear them also take the time to apply their makeup with the same vigor and precision that they would any day. Isn't is just a little bit hypocritical to have pride in your face but little in your body?

I think if you asked these girls (and they are girls - very rarely do I see anyone over the age of twenty wearing them) who their fashion role model was, they'd probably say someone like Kate Moss or Lily Allen. So Allen is, in my own opinion, a bit of a chav's role model but at least she hasn't gone around wearing her PJs with pride. As for Moss, she wouldn't be seen dead without some sort of outrageously pricey outfit and an oversized Balenciaga handbag.

PJ wearing won't catch on. It won't for several reasons (top of the pile is that it's simply, well, trashy). Most of these girls will probably have thousands of clothes to wear at home, and even putting on a pair of jeans and a T-Shirt would look better than trapsing around in nightwear. It's nightwear for a reason, dears. Let's keep it that way.

Besides, isn't it cold to wear them?