Thursday, 21 June 2012

How to make friends and influence people on the internet

Image from xkcd

It probably won't surprise you that I'm a member of a fair few internet communities and have been for years. Some of the ones I've been a member of have come and gone, others are still in existence. I have made some amazing friends through these communities and I have had a good number of wonderful debates, learnt some interesting and sometimes important things, and generally had a good time.

Sometimes though, the internet turns ugly. So here is my straight up guide to making your way through forum life.

1.  Tone is everything.
93% of our language is made up of behavioural cues. So, only 7% of what we say is about the actual words we write/speak/hear. Which makes natural conversations on a forum really difficult, because you can't hear the tone of the other person's voice. You rely on other markers to make the distinction between angry and happy, positive and negative, like smileys and the use of punctuation.

2. Disagreement is not bullying.
I have seen so many threads where a few people have disagreed with the original poster, who has then come back and cried that they are being bullied or jumped on. Actual bullying, be it on the internet or elsewhere, is very serious and must be treated as such. However, someone voicing their difference in opinion does not constitute bullying (unless they are known for repeatedly and deliberately voicing differing opinions in a forceful manner). Healthy debate is a flow of ideas, a give and take of opinions. Facts and figures should really be used as far as possible, or at the very least a rational explanation of the opinion.

3. Multiple replies are more helpful than a handful.
In a medium to large community, there are bound to be many people who share an opinion, or some knowledge. Once one person has posted that on a thread, does that mean that no one else should post their thoughts on that subject if they are the same as a previous posters? Absolutely not. Sometimes too many cooks spoil the broth, but I am firmly of the belief that the more experiences on a topic you get, the better informed you are to make a decision.

4. Consistency is really important.
Nothing shows up a troll, or a PITA more than inconsistency. It is ok to change your mind, everyone is entitled to do that, but consistency of approach is always welcome.

5. When you ask for opinions, be prepared for the answers you don't want to hear.
So many of the threads that I've seen go downhill are the ones where the original poster has asked a question, either for help or an opinion, then doesn't get the answers that they wanted to hear. They usually then feel jumped on/bullied/ganged up on (delete as appropriate) and then of course all the posters who didn't agree with the original poster have to explain themselves, whilst the people who agreed with them don't. Fair? Not much.

6. Be prepared to defend your opinion well, especially if it goes against the grain.
Following on from number 5, always be prepared to defend your opinion against the tirade of the masses. I've been there so many times and it is so frustrating sometimes. But perseverance and a good knowledge of your subject and reasoning will see you through. And remember point number 4!!

7. The fastest way to annoy people is to be passive aggressive.
No one likes a passive aggressive comment. We're all guilty of making them at times (I hold my hands up and say that when I do it, it is very deliberate), but like many things, they are ok when used sparingly, but if you constantly post in that manner, then people will get really really annoyed.

8. Hugshunni has its place.
The real world is a shit, horrible place at times. It really is. And sometimes you want to just go online and seek a bit of reassurance from your online pals. And asking for hugs is totally ok. Its what we're all there for right? But there is a time and a place for the hugs hunni brigade, and if someone is looking for support and practical reassurance, that isn't it.

9. There will always be a woe-is-me brigade.
Every forum has one. There will be a bunch of people who stick together through shared 'problems' and if anyone dares suggest any other course of action than the one they are on, they will be accused of bullying or having a go (see point 2.). They may all have similar health conditions, or family situations. They may even try to out do each other on the woe levels... and then of course the scariest ones are the ones with Munchhausen's by Internet.

10. No matter what happens, someone is always wrong.
Take comfort in that fact. And that there is nothing you can do about, no matter how hard you try. When you've mastered that, go get a nice cold beer, a bowl of popcorn and watch the drama unfold.

Of course all these points can be forgotten by even the most rational and logical person, and that is ok. We all have days where we get a little heated, or upset, because ultimately how we interact on the internet will vary dependent on our mood. But by remembering some of the points here, you can hopefully make sure the good days outweigh the bad!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

How do you choose your make up?

BritishBeautyBlogger posted about a new range of make up from Lush that is based on emotional ties to colour yesterday. The basic premise is that customers will be able to pick products based on the colours they are drawn to. You can read BBB's post here.

I can't see it appealing to me to be honest - its an interesting concept and everything, but my emotional state in the morning is usually the last thing I use to consciously choose my make up for the day, although I accept that certain emotional states may subconsciously draw a person to different colour ranges.

But it did get me thinking about how I decide what colours to wear from my vast make up collection.


This is probably the biggest deciding factor for me in the choice of colours and styles. What someone is wearing makes a huge statement about the kind of person they want others to think that they are. So it is only natural that you'd want your make up to back up that statement somehow. For example, if I am wearing a buckled skirt, with a lacy top and my leather jacket, I might want to wear something simple but quite dark on my eyes, like MAC's Paint Pot in Blackground. If I'm wearing something like my checked seersucker dress, then I might choose something more 40s/50s style, so neutral eyes, flicky eyeliner and red lips. Also, whether or not I am wearing my glasses changes the way I wear make up (mainly because fiddly eye make up becomes very difficult when you can't see....)

I tend to emphasise my lips more when wearing glasses.

Darker make up to go with a darker outfit


This is also important to me when choosing my make up - as much as I want to convey an image, I have to make sure that the image is appropriate for the occasion or event I am going to. So whilst I might adopt some kind of corporate goth outfit for work, I am unlikely to make up my face in an equally gothy manner for the office. There is a balance to be struck between outfit and occasion, and it can be a fine line to tread. Of course your facial features will effect this as well - some eye shapes can carry off darker colours better than others, whilst some lip shapes have to be careful how they wear lipstick (like me for example, I have a full bottom lip that makes lipstick really obvious, so as much as I like a dark pouty lip, it never feels appropriate for the office).

Green lops and pink eyebrows are never a good work look, unless you work in a Haunted House!

Formal party appropriate make up

Halloween only.....


Now I think in many circumstances colour might be at the top of a list of decision making factors, especially where outfit is concerned but given that the majority of my wardrobe is made up of neutral colours this doesn't have much bearing on my choices.
However, even with this neutral basis for my make up, that doesn't mean that all my makeup is either neutral or dark. Far from it, I love colourful make up, especially turquoise! I also like to pick out different elements of an outfit to accentuate in my make up.


This is quite important to me when deciding what make up to wear. How can you create texture in make up you may wonder? Well really it is a case of mixing finishes and playing with the light a bit. I prefer satiny textures, but I have a selection of frosts, mattes and glosses to help create depth to my face. Different eyeshadows reflect the light differently - some even looking slightly wet to the eye, such as MAC's Naked and Sweet Sienna pigments. Matte eyeshadows can be used really effectively to frame the eyes, adding depth to the socket and an illusion of something quite different. Good examples of this can be seen in Illamasqua collections.


As a final thought, how my make up will wear across the course of a day or evening also factors into my decision making. I have some gorgeous cream eyeshadows but they don't last very long on me, so I won't wear them if I need the effect to continue on over the course of an evening or day, unless I am particularly after the settled in look that I get from them after a few hours.
There is simply no point in creating the perfect look for yourself if it is going to disappear hours before your night ends!

So, as you can see, quite a few things contribute to my decision making about my make up. Emotions aren't overtly one of them, but I guess my state of mind would influence some of these factors.

How do you choose what make up to wear?

Monday, 18 June 2012

Nova Rock 2012: Sunday shenanigans

Apologies for the delay in posting the final day of Nova Rock, I fell mysteriously ill over the weekend (I still feel like I've been kicked in the guts by a donkey).

Anyway, Sunday's weather was a bit mixed - blazing hot sunshine one minute, then clouds and spots of rain the next. This contributed to my getting sunburnt, I seriously wasn't out for more than 10 minutes in the sun without protection. Thankfully it was more of a 'caught the sun' type burn than proper sunburn.

After breakfast, showering, beer and hanging out, we went to see the Mad Caddies. 

I love the Mad Caddies, some fun and bouncy punk is good for the soul on a Sunday afternoon!

Time after their set for a quick trip to fill up on beer then back to the arena.

Corey Taylor

We very nearly missed the beginning of Corey Taylor's set, in fact he came on stage and started just as we we going into the arena. This was not because we got the timing wrong, but because the time was changed and wasn't communicated. Not a good point for the festival!

Luckily we managed to get a good spot to watch him play. I will never get tired of listening to this guy sing. He started off with a couple of StoneSour tracks, "Bother", "Zzyxz. Rd." and "Through Glass", followed by an accoustic version of Slipknot's "Spit It Out". He also performed a track from the forthcoming Stone Sour double album House of Gold and Bones, and then a bunch of his favourite songs, including "Spongebob Squarepants"!

A definite highlight of my weekend, I am hopeful that StoneSour will tour in the next few months :) 

After a bit more hanging around back at base camp alpha, it was time to head back to the arena again.


If I'm honest, I was a bit bored by Nightwish. I have never been a particular fan - I had no love for the combination of the heavy guitars and Tarja's voice, and now they have a new singer, Annette, I thought that they might be more appealing. And while I think that her voice fits in with the rest of the band better, I can't say I'm any more excited by them!

They did have an awesome set though, and one of the guys looked like he was playing the organ from POTC Dead Man's Chest!

There were some pyrotechnics, but they seemed a bit random and shoved in for the hell of it. I was really disappointed, I was expecting so much from them. I don't know whether a small stage would suit them better, or whether it is just because I've not been a particular fan before that they didn't blow me away.

Still, one to tick off the list eh?

Finally, the moment we'd all been waiting for.... well, not me actually....


I've managed to avoid seeing Metallica a few times now. I figured that maybe I should stop ignoring them and just watch their show, just to tick them off some list of bands that I should and have seen live.

I'm glad I had beer, is all I can say. I don't care how much you love Metallica, their presence on stage is arrogant and presumptive. They seem to be just going through the motions, which are very good motions, but they don't seem to have the kind of passion for their fans that you see in other bands. And you feel really sorry for the guys that aren't James Hetfield or Lars Ulrich. They just don't really get a look in.

So, we watched their set, trying not to fall asleep the whole way through, and headed back to the tent as soon as they finished the last bar of "Enter Sandman" (which incidentally is the only Metallica song I really like). I've seen them live now, I never ever have to do that again!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Nova Rock 2012: Saturday calling

Following the storm on Friday night, Saturday dawned somewhat cloudier and duller than the previous day. I for one was glad of the respite from the sun and protective cream! I could only hope that the rain of the previous evening had dampened down the epic dust as well! But at least if there was no need for sunscreen there would be nothing for it to stick to!

After negotiating breakfast, an early morning gin and tonic and then a blissfully warm shower, we decided a nap was in order prior to the first band we had in mind to see. This did mean that we heard Puddle of Mudd from our tent, and we waited around to hear them play "Blurry" and "She Fucking Hates Me". 

After a spot of lunch (more BBQd sausages!), it was time to go and see Opeth.


Unfortunately the weather quickly started taking a turn for the worse at this point, so my
 photos weren't plentiful or that good on account of the rain. Opeth were in good form, starting out with some of their more proggy, jazzy stuff (which I kinda liked), then throwing in a cover of a Rainbow track and a few other bits and bobs before returning to the stuff they are best known for. Which is proggy Swedish death metal. They have managed to successfully carve out a niche for themselves, which personally I love.

Their songs were punctuated by lead singer  Mikael Åkerfeldt's dry sense of humour, including proclaiming that they are the Gods of Weather and they could make the rain stop, but instead they would play a metal song, and marvelling at how dare people go 'bungy' jumping instead of watching their show.

We left slightly before the end of the show because the heavens opened and we didn't have our waterproofs on, so we legged it back to the tent to stay dry.

Another short wait, which involved more beer, and it was time for...

Cypress Hill

Another band we were determined to see; they played at Rock Im Park in 2010 but we missed them because i was queueing for the shower. So I was determined that we would see them this time round, as The Beard is quite a fan.

What can I say? Classic hip hop, plenty of crowd participation and the rain sort of held off so we could enjoy it :) They are a talented bunch of blokes, and in the middle of the gig had an amazing percussion beat down. It is always good to be in the midst of a bouncing crowd!!

Time afterwards for a quick trip to refill the beer jugs and then....

Billy Talent

I've seen Billy Talent a few times now, on a variety of stages and I never get tired of them. I think they get a better reception in mainland Europe than they do in the UK - maybe UK audiences are too jaded and cynical to appreciate the subtly political lyrics and protest exuberance of the band from Canada. Maybe Sum 41 and Avril Lavigne killed the UK's enthusiasm for musical exports from its colonial brethren.

Regardless, I really like Billy Talent. I like the lead singers oddly screechy voice, even if it does give me a sore throat trying to sing along. The crowd at Nova Rock, many of whom were probably waiting in a good spot for the headliners, also seemed to embrace the bouncy protest/emo punk that they perform. As ever it was a spot on performance, with loads of energy and a mix of tracks from their three already released albums, and a couple of tracks off the new one, which is due out in a couple of months.

They finished up their set with the classic crowd pleaser "Red Flag" which fitted perfectly as a lead in to... 

Die Toten Hosen

One of Germany's finest bands, an artist singing in the native language is always going to be a big draw. I first heard of Die Toten Hosen back when I started German lessons at school. We had a trainee teacher from Germany come in and she spent the lesson getting us to translate the lyrics of one of their songs (I can't remember which one now). I've listened to them a bit on and off, but was excited to see them live (I seem to recall making my Dad video the whole of the MTV European Music Awards one year just so I could watch their performance).

The crowd was mental! Pretty much the whole arena was full of people and everyone was in a party mood! The weather did fluctuate a bit but Die Toten Hosen gave a stonking show to make up for it! A particular highlight was them performing Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" to a very excited crowd!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Nova Rock: Friday Line Up

Friday dawned incredibly hot and sunny. I had had a terrible night's sleep due to the noise - the first night of a festival is always the loudest in the campsite (it gets quieter as everyone gets more tired) and I was kept awake by a cacophony of music coming from all directions (including the group of international people yelling in English). Still, I figured I'd persevere.

So, after a swig of iced tea and a trip to the toilet, the Beard and I decided to wander off in pursuit of a shower and some breakfast. The queue for the shower was massive, so we decided that it was OK, we could manage with a festival shower (aka the baby wipe wash) and queued for just as long to get something to eat. The breakfast places were horrendously badly organised and this was one moment when I longed for the insanely polite British penchant for queueing properly. It would have made things much easier.

Our first foray into the arena wasn't until 3pm, so we ate, washed up, lubed up (sunscreen) and cracked open the first of many, many beers.

First up, Lagwagon. We figured we'd go and watch the beginning of their set on the Blue Stage, before heading over to the Red Stage for Steel Panther. Managed to see a couple of songs, very good, a bit weird seeing a band like Lagwagon on a huge stage though! Soon, it was time to head over to the Red Stage.

Steel Panther

I hate Steel Panther. I think they represent everything that is wrong with the world today, and I know, its a joke, but I am fairly certain there are impressionable young kids out there who don't get the joke and will think it is OK to smack talk women and reduce them to their sexual organs. And I know that misogyny is not unusual in metal or any music for that matter, but I still think it is vile and unnecessary. Ergo in my mind, Steel Panther are a bunch of sexist twats.

That aside, they are actually pretty talented musicians, if you like that sort of thing. Which is like some kind of copy of Mötley Crüe. So, I was probably the only person in the entire crowd not cheering, but well, sometimes you just gotta know your enemy.

Next up, the show I've been waiting 8 years for....

Killswitch Engage

I first got into KSE when Howard Jones had replaced Jesse Leach and they had just released "The End of Heartache". I went to see them in 2004 at the Lemon Grove at Exeter University, the night before my final 2nd year exam (doing an exam with a hangover is never ever fun, but I still got really good marks!). To my utter dismay, my ex had a panic attack midway through the gig and we had to sit the rest out in the bar. Gutted does not cover my reaction as it is such a tiny space, I will never get to be that close to the band again!
Then I was going to see them in Bristol but they had to cancel with Adam Dutkiewicz injured his back. Then there was Download 2007 when they clashed with Within Temptation and I only got to see the end of the set. Then Download 2009 when I hadn't realised the time and was queueing for the loo and had been for a while...

So whatever happened this year, I was not going to miss their set. Nothing was going to stop me. And thankfully it didn't! It is 10 years this year since the release of Alive or Just Breathing, which I personally think is KSE's finest album (closely followed by The End of Heartache). And now that Jesse Leach is back in the band, it was all the more special to see them.

Epic. That is the only way I can describe it. The balance of songs picked from across their material was excellent, with the crowd singing along all the time. It was like classic KSE and Jesse Leach sang with passion and gusto. He's got an awesome beard too.

It was epically dusty!
 As per usual they finished with Holy Diver which is always an excellent crowd pleaser. It was a shame that Howard Jones couldn't carry on with the band, but Jesse Leach is no second best.

Then a few hours of hanging around.... more BBQd sausages and beer consumed then return for...

The Offspring

Now we were in the arena in good time for The Offspring but had to watch the start of the gig whilst trying to get some drinks. Spritzer Paradis may well specialise in 1l jugs of wine mixed with a variety of soft drinks, but the one thing the lack is the ability to run a bar in a large crowd. Particularly the one barmaid that we managed to get stuck by. In the end I used my wonderfully robust and forceful German on her and got us our drinks. On with the Offspring enjoyment!

I last saw The Offspring in 2002 at Reading Festival and from what I recall (I was somewhat intoxicated that weekend) they were pretty damn good. And they still are, just 10 years older and with a bit more material. It did serve to remind me that it has been many years since "Pretty Fly For A White Guy" was in the charts and that many of the people watching the band would have been pretty young when it was. Still, the crowd loved it. We all loved it. Who doesn't love a bit of bouncy sarcastic punk? Unfortunately it turns out I was enjoying myself too much (and so was The Beard) and I forgot to take any pictures.... ooops!

Unfortunately once The Offspring finished, it all started to go a bit wrong. Before they came on stage there was a storm warning posted on the screens. Now I've been to festivals where there have been storms before, but I had to remember that we are now in Central Europe and storms here mean something a whole lot different to storms back in the UK. Namely that there is a lot more lightning, and where we were on the Hungarian border, apparently a lot less in the way of landscape to temper the winds (which probably explains the hundreds of wind turbines in that part of Austria). Storms are pretty serious.

So when The Offspring finished, a bloke came on stage and told us all we had to leave the arena and go back to our tents, to wait further instructions. The sky was pretty ominous looking by this point and the winds were beginning to pick up. So traipse back to our tent we did, and hung out with the guys we were camping with waiting for it to subside.

After a bit of rain and a lot of wind, someone yelled that Rise Against had started playing on the Blue Stage, so we figured we'd head over to the Red Stage to check out....

Within Temptation

I decided to go to Nova Rock based solely on the fact that WT were playing. I've never seen them play at a festival (their set at DL 2007 got cut due to technical failure) and I wanted to see what they'd pull out of the bag for this outdoor set. And I love them. A lot.
When we got over to the Red Stage they were still trying to set things up. We waited a little more, got a good spot near the stage in the wave breaker area and waited. An announcement came over the PA that they were hoping to start the gig in 20 minutes. It was quite clear from the continued gusts of wind that this was a weather thing - the stage looked a little fragile when a gust of wind blew threw.

You can see where they took all the back drops down to let the wind flow through!

After another 20 minutes they announced that unfortunately, due to safety concerns, the set by Within Temptation had to be cancelled, but they were hoping to get back up and running for Marilyn Manson in another 30 minutes. I later found out that that got cancelled as well.

I'm not surprised they cancelled - when we got home and I got back onto Twitter I looked for Sharon's tweets under @WT_Official, and she said that the overheads were swinging backwards and forwards. If just one thing had fallen it could have been terrible. Safety has to come first, although the crowd was incredibly disappointed. Following disasters in the USA and Belgium, weather just cannot be ignored.

So then we went to bed.

Nova Rock 2012: Overall festival impressions

I originally started writing this as a big review post, but it started to get a bit wordy, so I’m going to write about each day separately.First though, let me round up my thoughts about the festival in general, and in comparison to other festivals I’ve been to. 

What were the good bits?
The line up was pretty stonking. I managed to see 12/13 bands across the weekend and heard a few more from our tent, making it excellent value for money.
The toilets were some of the best I’ve seen at a festival (it really is a continental thing, I’m sure in the UK they are still horrific!), and the availability of proper water flushing toilets with toilet paper for free was excellent. All the toilets were cleaned regularly and there was only the occasional time when you were confronted with horror.
Another plus point was the free showers. A first for me at a festival – free showers that were wonderfully warm (just what I needed Sunday morning!) and useable, and had free shower gel. The queues were quite long first thing in the morning, but with a bit of strategic breakfasting they could be avoided.  A big big plus point!
One of the things I love about festivals is getting to try some random food. I was a bit disappointed with the range of food stalls on offer, which were a bit repetitive. However, we did eat Pulled Pork (delicious), drank hot cider laced with mead (horrible, only because I hate honey), had some excellent kebabs (they are fantastic over here) and a tasty ass schnitzel burger.
The Coca Cola grill and chill area was pretty good too, it was really nice having your food cooked for you! It could have done with a bit more shade and bit less loud music though! 

And anything that could be done better?
The organisation wasn’t that great unfortunately. The website proudly proclaimed that there would be a supermarket selling meat from local butchers at affordable prices so that you could buy it for the staffed BBQs that were available. We searched high and low and couldn’t find any such facility. Which was really irritating as I’d factored that into my shopping for the festival; we took packs of sausages and not much else, thinking that we’d be able to buy food there at reasonable prices.
Artist times were changed without notice – I’ve spotted a couple of moans on Twitter, and I nearly missed the beginning of Corey Taylor because he started 10 minutes earlier than published. I wouldn’t have minded if there had been a notice put up on the screens – it wouldn’t have been difficult!
Some of the food service was incredibly slow – breakfast every morning was a good example of this: there was one type of stall that catered for breakfast type food. It was all pretty simple stuff – rolls and baguettes, yoghurt with muesli, scrambled eggs and teas and coffees. Every morning it took us at least 30 minutes to get served. Friday morning we queued so long that the queue for the showers disappeared while we were waiting! The Spritzer bars in the arena weren’t much better, with staff who seemed to have no clue how to serve a bar quickly and efficiently.

How does Nova Rock rate compared to other festivals?
Well, the organisation wasn’t as good as any other festival I’ve been to. Download wins awards for its organisation, it is truly excellent. The last festival we went to was Rock Im Park and that is the best festival I’ve ever been to in terms of organisation, quality and service. Nova Rock was ok, but it is quite a young festival – I think more practice would work well, but also feedback mechanisms similar to Download has, especially involvement of the user base. 

Would we go again?
I’m not sure to be honest. I love going to festivals, but I don’t know whether it is because I’m getting a bit old or because I just didn’t feel the magic entirely here, I’m not sure we’ll return in 2013. Of course it will depend on who is playing – if someone that I was desperate to see played then that would be a different matter.
I think maybe the isolated nature of the festival makes a difference – I’ve not camped at Download to be fair, but the village of Donington is quite close by (walking distance) and there is public transport from there and the airport into Leicester and Nottingham, so if you don’t have a band to see before 5pm you could go off and do other things. Nova Rock is in the middle of nowhere and if you don’t like drinking yourself into oblivion, or fairground rides, or have any desire to take a bus to a thermal spa, then it is a bit dull whilst waiting for bands you want to see, especially when the weather is really hot and you’re trying to avoid sunburn/stroke. Rock Im Park also had the options of going into Nuremburg to explore if you wanted to, but even just the grounds of the festival were spectacular enough to keep you occupied. 

Overall fun: ****
Organisation: ***
Location: ***
Food/Drink: ***

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Sorry, having internet issues!

I was all set to post my reviews of Nova Rock this week, but our internet has fallen over and it could be a couple of days before we get it fixed.

I am still writing them, so instead of feeding them to you over a week, you'll probably get them all in one go!

Back soon, I promise!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Weddings, weight loss and being beautiful

Is this really necessary?

Don't panic, I'm not getting hitched (again).

The gorgeous Hannah Millard has recently got engaged and posted this on her blog (she's also a pretty ace photographer), talking about how since she announced her engagement, her Facebook ads have been full of 'lose weight before your big day' type ads.

I was pretty shocked reading it - when I got married in 2001 the internet wasn't anywhere near as big as it is now - Facebook barely existed, if at all, and people who used the internet to communicate (as my fiance and I did while we lived apart) were considered a bit odd. In fact I'd go as far to say that society was a completely different place, and it was only a decade ago. Gossip mags were yet to take hold (I used to buy Prima or Take A Break for the odd amusing thing to read) and reality TV was just finding its feet. There certainly wasn't the constant stream of 'perfect bodies' we see paraded in front of us now.

So when I went to choose my wedding dress, I wasn't convinced to order a size down because most brides lose weight for their wedding (as another friend was told), nor did I have to contend with the level of pressure that Hannah describes. The biggest worry I had on my wedding day was whether the weather would stay nice!

This doesn't just apply to weddings though: really we should be comfortable in our own skin as much as possible. I often feel a bit guilty at succumbing to some kind of pressure to lose weight, and having lost just over 2 stone I do feel better about myself and the way I look. I have had to come to terms with the losing weight in a way that I hadn't expected - I had to deal with the fact that vanity was my motivator and I wanted to create a better silhouette for myself.

Now that isn't always a bad thing, but it is a very very personal decision, and journey. And one which you may choose to make in the run up to a wedding, but that should be your decision to make, and no one should be swayed or pressured by online advertising based solely on a relationship status update on Facebook.

Every bride wants to look and feel amazing on their big day - I was no exception. But ultimately Hannah's conclusion is right - two people in love are two people in love, and that is beautiful, end of story.

Film Review: The Dictator

Ok, so this was the first Sacha Baren Cohen film I have ever seen. I haven't seen Borat, or Brüno, or anything else for that matter. I attribute this neglect of his work to a sort of dislike to Da Ali G show, which I watched on UK TV when it first started. I didn't really find it that funny to be honest.

So, buoyed along by a couple of Austrian friends who wanted to see it, and my curiosity that this might actually be worth watching (I imagined it as something along the lines of Team America), we went to see it last week.

The film stars Baren Cohen as the titular character, from the fictional North African country of Wadiya. Called to address the UN on matters of nuclear weapons, he is betrayed by his advisor (played by Ben Kingsley) and has to fight to retain his grip on his country. Anna Faris (of Scary Movie fame), stars as the love interest. It is a fairly predictable storyline, complete with plenty of slapstick and dripping in satire.

My verdict? I really enjoyed it. Well, most of it. There were a lot of very funny jokes, even if some of them were a bit old and repetitious. But there was also a whole lot of sharp observation and the comedy was paced well enough to keep the film moving at a decent pace.

The only downsides I have are that the plot was a little predictable (but I'm not sure it was ever supposed to be anything else really) and there were a couple of 'gags' which I thought were, not too far, but not really that funny either; most of those were about women and I know that it fits into the plot and subtext but I just can't help but think that they were the obvious choices of gags about women. I also had to remember that it is a film, aimed at a mass market, and is therefore not going to spend half an hour discussing the finer points of state aid and democratic principles - edited for brevity was the name of the game. Unless you're a political nerd like me, it shouldn't detract from the funny!

Still, it was worth watching, and I think I will now go and check out Brüno at least.

Modal Corpus rating: 3.5/5

Friday, 1 June 2012

Footwear, rain and festivals

Hopefully this will not be the scene at Nova Rock...

As I mentioned last week, my beloved New Rocks have broken. Thankfully New Rock can resole them, for the sum of €80 (including pick up and return, which isn't that bad really given how heavy they are!), but alas, I need a little time to come up with that money.

But that was OK, because last week I ordered some Doc Martens - one pair of boots is not enough really, as I have zero contingency. But they still haven't arrived and I have no clue when they will arrive.

And the weather has now turned from endless days of sunshine to something a little more unpredictable. And the only shoes I really have are Converse. Anyone who has worn Converse will know that they are not the best shoes in the rain.

My other problem is that most of my wardrobe is designed around my boots. Some of it will work with Converse, but not all of it. And my biggest problem is what do I do if my boots haven't arrived, or they arrive and I haven't broken them in by next weekend, when we are off to a festival with uncertain weather? I do fortunately still have my old faithful Adidas campus, which are way more waterproof than my Converse, but they are also white. They are a decade old (wow, they are pretty much vintage by modern standards), and past experience shows that they clean up quite nicely (except when you get grass stains on the plastic) but they aren't really the kind of thing I'd normally wear to a metal fest.

Adidas vs Converse

This obviously has more to do with my own self image than it does about practicality and one half of my brain reminds me that I need to suck it up and just go with practical over pretty, because no one is going to be really looking at my feet and thinking "why is she here, she's not metal enough" (or however you think that in German). But then there is the image conscious part of my brain that tells me that a festival is a place full of impressions and this is one of those festivals where there are good facilities and stuff, and I can look nice....

Mind you,  if the weather is good I'm going to spend the whole weekend in some semi greasy oblivion trying to ensure that I don't fry in the sun, and if the weather is miserable I'll spend the whole weekend looking like a reject from Reading circa 1996 with my khaki green waterproof jacket, jeans and Adidas campus trainers.
So, Nova Rock, I'm coming. But I'm probably going to be in disguise. Please don't reject me!


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