Thursday, 28 July 2011

Can you separate the art from the artist?

Is it ok to like art produced by someone whose views and beliefs are incompatible with your own?

Following the tragedy in Norway last Friday, the metal community apparently waited with baited breath (this may be a slight exaggeration) to hear what Varg Vikernes of Burzum, death metal's most infamous man (he burnt down churches and murdered his bandmate), had to say about it. Given that the guy has a well documented history of extreme right wing views, no-one should have been surprised at his reaction.

However, it has sparked a bit of debate about whether or not the man should be boycotted or not. Metalsucks says boycott, it is almost impossible to separate out the music from the man. That Devil Music thinks that is a bit too far, on the basis that other bands have been supported, despite their at times abhorrent view points, and that we should separate the music from the man.

So can you separate the music from the person?

Clearly some people will be able to. And as a liberal, I don't believe in banning viewpoints, I believe in freedom of speech no matter how awful or abhorrent that speech may be. But I think it is entirely justified to boycott goods and services because of the view points of the provider. There are places I will not spend the money I earn in because of their political viewpoints or dealings. Music for me is no real exception.

For me, two of the biggest things in my life are politics and music. I like it even more when the two things are combined. Bands such as NOFX, System of a Down, Rage Against The Machine etc appeal to me in part because of the political influence in their music. Like them or not, their political stances are not dangerous or calling on the world to rise up against a certain race or religion. And that is the crucial difference and the reason that I think Metalsucks have got it right.

Let's be clear about one thing: Metalsucks are calling for a boycott, not a ban. There is a massive difference. Bans prevent people from broadcasting their views, but a boycott removes their audience whilst not removing their freedom of speech.

Musicians of all genres are role models for society. The position of influence they hold should not be underestimated. If record sales for artists like Vikernes remain healthy, then it gives the impression that the views he holds are legitimate. Which they may be to some people but to the vast majority of the peace loving world, they aren't.

There are many other cases where this question has arisen. The recent arrest and legal wrangles of Roman Polanski for the rape of a minor some 30 years ago is just one example. I struggled with that one, as I think Polanski makes incredible films, but how can you begin to justify his actions? By chance the other example I had in mind is actually connected to Polanski - Charles Manson. His paintings and artworks are quite collectable in some circles, but can you ever separate his art from the crimes he committed? Would you be happy buying one of his paintings knowing that the price is in part inflated because of his notoriety?

I think there are certain things that cannot be brushed under the carpet or overcome by the perceived talent of the individual in question. Ultimately though, that decision rests with us, as consumers and it is something that we have to reconcile ourselves.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

I hate waiting

Right now I feel like I am waiting for so many things, and if I am guilty of one bad personality trait, it is that I lack patience.

At this very moment I am waiting in for a courier who needs to pick something up from our house. Why can't couriers be more specific about the times that they are able to do pick ups? Still, I am working (it is lunchtime in case you were wondering) so all is not lost!

I'm also starting to get impatient about the big life change. I've gone from not really thinking about it to not being able to stop thinking about it. I want to start our new life and construct that dream home! Maybe we'll win the lottery at the weekend and then it can be a reality faster!

I can't wait for my summer holiday. The Beard and I are heading down to my home, in amazing Cornwall. We're staying at my childhood home, with my parents, for a whole 10 days. I cannot wait! The plan is to do plenty of touristy things, so I can show the Beard the places I've loved all my life. We will of course be taking the camera with us, and hopefully the weather will be nice enough to go to the beach and go swimming. Right now I'm looking out of the window and the sky is a beautiful blue... The beach is really appealing right now!

I need to learn patience. I've been trying for most of my life and I swear I get worse as I get older! Still, I have no choice but to be patient for some things. And I can keep counting down the days until my holiday, and hope that makes me feel better!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Related to my rant about metal fans the other week

Now this is a post that makes sense!! I sometimes feel like I am a 'bad' metal fan, or I can't be a 'proper' metal fan if I don't like the bands that are considered cool. This post from the lovely Steff of Steffmetal is a refreshing reminder that we are all individuals and we all should just get on with our lives as we see fit, not worrying about labels and expectations.

I like what I like and I am who I am.

Running a mile for XT

I'm not sure I have mentioned it on here, but I have started going to the gym again. Mostly in a bid to stay fit and feel better about myself - I don't appear to be losing weight but I am toning up!

Yesterday one of my online buddies and fellow blogger/all round awesome person Nic asked us all if we would take part in the XT Memorial Mile, in memory of her beloved dog XT who passed away suddenly two years ago.

So yesterday, when I went to the gym, I dedicated the first mile of my normal 2.5 mile session on the X-Trainer (see what I did there?!) to XT, completing it in 12 minutes. My music of choice was Scar Symmetry's Dark Matter Dimensions, which is one of my favourite work out albums because the pace is excellent for a well paced session on the X Trainer which pushes me to do a bit better every time.

Check out all the other people who have been running a mile for XT (and other dearly departed pets)!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Fantasising about furniture: Sofa Beds

I love decorating. I have a huge hard on for colour charts, fabric swatches and the like. Even living in the strict conditions of rented accommodation here in the UK hasn't dampened my enthusiasm for redesigning and reworking my living space.

So the thought of moving somewhere new, without all the things I have at the moment, being able to start from scratch is... well it has got me panting like an excitable puppy!

I am a MASSIVE fan of Ikea. And not just because of The Beard (he's Swedish). I've been an Ikea fan since long before I met him. Although since meeting him and trying to learn a bit of the lingo, I have started reading Ikea's design blog Livet Hemma (which means Life at Home) in an attempt to improve my Swedish skills. But that also gives me inspiration, because love them or loathe them, I think Ikea have a nice line in design inspiration to suit everyone. And you don't need to be able to speak Swedish to marvel at the pretty pictures.

Of course Ikea is not for everyone, and it isn't the be all and end all for me either! My ideal home would be a mix of contemporary Scandinavian design and vintage/reclaimed pieces. Furniture for me should be comfortable, practical, ingenious (a must when storage is at a premium) and sleek. I'm more about the bits you display on the furniture rather than a grandiose piece that dominates a room.

That in mind, I am eyeing up sofa beds on Ikea's website. We're going to need a sofa bed as we are likely to be living in a smaller property, and well it is time we had one, rather than giving guests the option of the airbed on the floor or the sofa! I think when it comes to buying our new furniture, we will spend most money on our bed and the sofa bed, because they are the places we spend the most time!!

So these sofa beds from Ikea have caught my eye.... I am really loving the red ones - I have this mental image of our apartment having white walls throughout, the living room have sleek white or black furniture, with this amazing RED sofa in the middle of it all. But a black or dark grey one is a possibility too. The great thing about sofas with removable covers is that it isn't a massive expense to change the colour if you decide you want something different!!

Ikea Ektorp HÃ¥vet 3 seater sofa bed
I like the cosy feel of this sofa, I can see the cat being very happy on it! 

Ikea Karlstad 3 seat sofa bed with storage

I like the high back and seemingly deep seats of this one. It does look a bit clinical, but it looks roomy.

Ikea Kivik 3 seat sofa bed
This one has really low arms, which is really attractive, since I spend a lot of time lying on the sofa rather than sitting on it. The arms double up as cunning storage space for duvets and spare pillows. 

Obviously this is just the tip of the sofa bed iceberg, and who knows what we'll find when we get where we're going, but this is the starting point, and it keeps me distracted from all the chaos that is going on around me at times. Sofas will have to be tested to see whether they meet our strict criteria. Doesn't stop me dreaming though!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Sharon den Adel's new tour make up!

Within Temptation posted this video showing lead singer Sharon den Adel and her friend and make up artist brainstorming looks and ideas for their first show this year on August 12th. The looks will carry forward into their tour later this year, which I am taking my best mate to (so very very excited!!).

(make sure you haven't hidden video notations as there are subtitles within this video)

Three things:

1. Sharon den Adel is gorgeous even without make up!
2. I love the looks they add to their mood board - I'm much more about the eyes with my make up than the lips (even though I own a LOT of lipsticks) so I'm going to love this!
3. I love hearing people chatter away in their native languages :)


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Out with the old, in with the new....

 Changes are afoot chez moi. Or should that be mit mir? Anway. It's a bit difficult to talk about it properly, due to internet related paranoia and the like. At the moment there are too many things that need to be sorted before we can make some big announcement, at least on such a public forum as my blog!

Needless to say, it will mean a big new start for the Beard and I, and we're both really, really excited about it! We have had some weighty discussions about our future and this new start is really important for the both of us, and for our relationship.

So let me tell you a little about our history. The Beard and I have been together for nearly 4 years now. We've been living together for almost 3. We live in the house that I have lived in for 8 years. I shared this house, first with my ex husband for 4 years, then when he moved out, with a flatmate for a year. The the Beard moved in. It wasn't the ideal solution - that would have been to get a new place for our new life. Unfortunately the rental market wasn't that great at the time, and having a furry companion (the cat, not the Beard) makes life even harder. Add to that our really quite reasonable rent for the size and layout of our place. So we don't have a garden, but we do have parking, and good sized rooms.

So, for me, for both of us, a new start in a new place is exciting, because it will be completely new. Apart from our TV, but that is ours anyway! I'd been clinging on to our bed frame, because it is awesome, and very me, and Ikea don't make it anymore, but.... well. I bought it when I was still married. This new life should be about the Beard and me, and shouldn't have the ghosts of a life gone by hanging around. So I will say goodbye to my beautiful bed. There will be another one waiting for us where we end up, I'm sure of it. And it will be even more beautiful because it will be ours. 

I intend to start a series about the changes we have planned, when there comes a time when I can talk about it openly, without having to worry about who might see it and connect the dots. But for now, have a slightly oblique visual clue...

Monday, 11 July 2011

That's me in the corner...

I've lost my writing mojo, which for me is a bit like losing my religion. Ever since I was little writing and words have been really important to me. I devoured books as a child, reading under the covers after lights out, trying to finish that chapter before I went to sleep so I could dream about the characters and what happened next. I'm sure my passion for reading contributed to my short sightedness (actually a study published in 2008 did make a link between the two).

I started this blog as a way of finally having an outlet for my writing - I don't really care if it is any good or not, I enjoy writing and wanted to flex my muscles in a sort of anonymous environment. I've been feeling more confident about it lately, more like I'd started to find my feet.

Until 3 weeks ago that is. I'd been really busy and all of a sudden I had essay deadlines staring me in the face. I needed to read, and read is what I did. I read almost all the reading I was supposed to do in 6 weeks for 2 modules, in the space of 10 days. Some of it I enjoyed reading, like the study material on war and intervention. The rest I didn't. Institutional development theory is not something that interests me. Even worse, I think it has killed my brain.

I keep reading other blog posts on feminism, body image, random thoughts, wonderful things, that I want to be able to reflect on and write about. But no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to find the words.

I will persevere, and one of the blogs I read is doing a series on the mechanics of writing which I hope will bring my mojo back. I am determined to get myself back in the groove! I have a couple of books on my to read list that might inspire me to write more. Studying and having a life is difficult - I will read these books because I think it is important to read for pleasure as well as reading for my studies, but the guilt is awful. The guilt that I should be trying to understand ethnicity and conflict, or the relationships between institutions.

I also feel guilty when I write posts about frivolous things like clothes or make up, because I feel that I should be writing something deeply profound and life changing, or I should be writing something that in someway enhances my academic study.

The other concern that is always in the back of my mind is just how I can make the things I want to write about relate to being different, to standing out, to making my way in this world in a way that doesn't follow form or convention. Its a tough order and quite frankly I think I put too much pressure on myself.

Someone just tell me to lighten up?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

This week I have bought...

Well, in the last 10 days anyway!

Chanel UV Essentiel SPF50/PA+++ - I needed some more SPF for under make up and Loveaudrey had recommended this to me a while back. It isn't the cheapest in the world, but it sinks in really quickly, and does not affect make up.

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in 58 Royallieu - I saw this on The Beauty Look Book and loved it so I bought it on an impulse. I am absolutely in love with this shade!

Illamasqua Skin Base in #4 - I know I said that the #3 shade was really good but I think it might be a little too pale for me at the moment as I have a hint of summer colour, and the acne I have suffered from for the last 9 years has left my skin somewhat pigmented and it is more difficult to even out my skin tone with a single shade. Thankfully the Skin Base is designed to be mixed easily, so even if #4 is too dark alone, I will be able to tailor make my shade. I'll do a swatch comparison when it arrives.

Weleda Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion - my staple cleanser for the mornings.

EcoTools Powder Brush - I've been after a large soft powder brush (I have a large long handled Kabuki but it is a bit stiff for general powder use I find) and this felt soft enough for my needs. The slightly flat fan shape adds to the overall brilliance of this brush. As the name suggests all EcoTools brushes are environmentally friendly and I have to say these are the softest synthetic bristles I have ever felt!

Jergens Naturals Aloe Soothing Body Moisturiser with Cucumber - I was a bit annoyed after buying this to discover on reading the ingredients that it contains Paraffinum Liquidium when it claims to be 94% natural, but I guess it very much depends on your definition of natural... Anyway, I shall use it for a while and see what happens, because it is always difficult to tell from ingredients lists what the % of the product a single ingredient is - the paraffinum liquidium is quite far down the list so hopefully it is just a small amount.

What have you bought this week?

Thursday, 7 July 2011

New Series! Awesome films and why they are awesome!

Starting with my absolute favourite: Highlander.

Starring: Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, Roxanne Hart
Anyone else? Hugh Quarshie!
Directed by: Russell Mulcahy
Written by: Gregory Widen

What is it about? The film follows the fortunes and life of Connor Macleod of the Clan Macleod after he discovers he is immortal. He has to learn how to fight and live with his 'gift'. Which is where Sean Connery steps in. As an Egyptian with a Scottish accent. All this is in preparation for the final fight, because..... THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

Why is this film so awesome? Basically, this film is cheesy as hell. But I defy you to loathe it once you've seen it. It has sword fighting, car chases, 1980s New York cops, flashback sequences,an AWESOME soundtrack (written entirely by Queen, and includes some imaginative uses of now classic refrains) and Christopher Lambert.
It utilises the classic hero's journey method of storytelling, albeit in a non linear format. There is conflict, and resolution, love and hate. There are amazing wide shots of incredible scenery, some of the cheesiest 80s smooth music you will ever hear Freddie Mercury sing (but somehow it is still oh so classy) and the obligatory 1980s sex scene.

Being an avid Queen fan this film was always going to be a must see for me. I love it so much I own 2 copies of it! It is now available on Blu Ray, remastered for the HD generation and although due to the film's age the difference is somewhat negligable, the Blu Ray version is the Directors cut which is well worth watching for the extra scenes. And it is quite pretty in HD.

They don't make films like this anymore. I don't really want to mention the sequels and spin offs, except to say: don't go there. The sequels get progressively worse, and whilst the TV series started out in a passable fashion, it lost the plot eventually. There is a cartoon, and an anime version. I have seen the cartoon version, which only really makes sense if you've seen the second film, but have yet to see the anime version.

Apparently, as is the trend in Hollywood these days, there are plans afoot to 'reboot' Highlander. I think the less I say about that idea, the better.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

REVIEW: Illamasqua Eyeshadows in Intense and Stalk

Today I decided to try out my new Illamasqua eyeshadows. There are no full face shots of me because I don't feel like smiling after receiving my worst academic grade EVER. So make do with a close up of my handy work instead. Proper swatch pictures at the bottom! 

The Blurb
Bring a room to its knees without saying a word. Each of these glorious colours makes a statement that is as individual as you are. Highly pigmented, these long-lasting colours ensure all-night intensity. Experiment and be bold.
The colours are definitely highly pigmented, one of the reasons I chose to pick up some eyeshadows. I have to admit I am not a fan of matt eye colours, which these 2 colours are, but the level of pigment in the swatch I did in store persuaded me to give these a go. 

Application: Using my trusty Pixiwoo taught application technique of 'pushing' the colour onto my eyelid with a MAC 239 brush, these colours went on really well. There was no fall out from the Stalk application and only a miniscule amount from the Intense application, I think largely due to where I was placing it in my crease line. The colours blended easily with a MAC 217 brush, although they did become a little more muted once they had been blended, but this is something I sort of expect with matt shadows and I applied to a 'dry' base, rather than a sticky one. I applied them dry, but I suspect a wet application would yield even more intense colouration.

Colour: Intense is described as a rich teal blue with a matt finish, and Stalk is described as a rich teal green with a matt finish. I chose these 2 colours because they work well together, but are the sort of colours I'd normally go for. 
Stalk is similar in colour to MAC's Gulf Stream, a LE eyeshadow from a couple of summers ago. It is one of my favourite colours I have from MAC, and this is similar but different. The green is more green I think. 
Intense is similar to what I imagine MAC's Plummage to be like (a colour I don't own because I am always disappointed when I swatch it!). The depth of blue is gorgeous and it is a proper deep teal blue. Despite its matt finish, this almost has a two tone quality to it. 

Longevity: I have had no creasing so far, and I've had the shadows on for 5 hours so far. I don't normally get creasing with shadows to be honest, so I would expect this from such a high end (and pricey) brand. Under my eye has lasted well too, with no visible fall out or shift. 

Price/Where to buy: £15.50 each, available from, Illamasqua counters and

Final verdict: I need to experiment more with these I think, but I am pleased with the finish and longevity. I love the colours and the pigmentation level is great - even though they became more muted after blending the colours are still bright and intense. 
L-R: MAC Prussian, Illamasqua Intense, Illamasqua Stalk, MAC Gulf Stream

Stalk (L) and Intense (R)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

A delicious jumble of thoughts

BBQ'd lamb neck fillet with North African spice mix

successful shopping resulting in a full fridge and freezer

 Being Human (especially Mitchell - mmmmm)

Pineapple juice lollies (one of your 5 a day)

A load of review posts to complete

Seeing the hit counter go up on my blog

Absolut Watkins vodka - almond coffee with a hint of chilli, delicious with cola

Sunny sunny weather!

Sewing frustration when something doesn't quite work

My wonderful man

REVIEW: Illamasqua Skin Base

I've had a bit of a scout around the interwebs and can't seem to find many reviews of this product.

I appear to be hopping on a band wagon early for a change, something that has surprised me given the level of hype in the blogosphere about this product.

This stuff is AMA-ZING.

I'm still working through the best way to apply etc, but that is because my skin doesn't like anything on first try and is being especially difficult in the humid weather we're experiencing here at the moment. But, that is my skin and not the product.

For the record, I have on the dry side pale skin which is acne prone. I have large pores on my cheeks near my nose. I don't really suffer from dark circles.

The Blurb: Illamasqua's Skin Base has been touted as the first UK version of an Asian Beauty Balm. Illamasqua claim to have studied the ingredients of these coveted potions and made one themselves, omitting only the SPF (to give people the opportunity to avoid SPF white out in photos) and the skin lightening ingredients (which are frankly a scary thing to be putting on your face). The effect is touted as 'the ultimate Skin Realism' all set to rival HD foundations from the likes of MUFE and co.

Application: When I was colour matched, Felix used a longish haired brush, similar to a MAC224 but with a fatter head. When I put it on on Monday, I used my trusty Ruby and Millie foundation brush. Which I didn't think worked that well. Today I decided to try my MAC 130, the foundation brush I never use... It appears this brush works really well. The conclusion I draw from this is that this base requires something a bit more fluffy than a regular foundation brush.
It goes on smoothly and starts sinking in fairly quickly. You need a small squeeze (about the size of a pea) to do your whole face and that is it.

Coverage: Medium to full but buildable (or sheerable if you mixed it with moisturiser). The pea sized blob did my face wonderfully, with no need to add extra. Even though it is a foundation, its concealing properties are fab and I only have the need for the tiniest smidgen of concealer where my spots and scars are at their worst.

Colour: There are 18 shades for this foundation, which should mean that there is one to suit everyone, or thereabouts. The shades can be mixed to create a custom colour if necessary. My colour match was Shade 3, which is yellow toned and pale - somewhat of a turn up for the books after I've been using NW15 for a little while! But I've never been convinced by the colours of either NC15 or NW15 in MAC's Studio Sculpt for a while, and I find the colour thing in MAC so confusing!! This was easy, we started out at 2, went to 5 and then just jumped down until we found the right one. I think I could get away with Shade 4 as well, but I preferred the look of Shade 3.
L-R: MAC Studio Sculpt NC15, Illamasqua Skin Base SB3, MAC Studio Sculpt NW15

Longevity: Today I have put this foundation through its biggest test - 8 hours of events in the blazing hot sunshine. I am pleased to report that the Skin Base looked as amazing when I got home as I did when I left the house. I can also report that this stuff is light as air. I cannot feel it on.

Price/Where to buy: £25 for 30ml, available from, Illamasqua counters and

All in all, I am so so happy that I have found this product. It is 100% the best foundation I have ever used. Natural, wearable colour that is light and long lasting. No cakiness at all. Just glowy, wonderful looking skin.

Here is me at the end of the night:

Foundation set with MAC Select Sheer Pressed Powder and finished with MAC Prep & Prime Translucent Finishing Powder and Fix+.


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