Thursday, 28 January 2010

Bye bye Betty

The sad news that 'Ugly Betty' is finishing after this season devastated telly fans yesterday and I am still suffering the aftershocks (is it really inappropriate to be using earthquake metaphors after Haiti? I never know if it's bad taste or if it's good to normalise things again and stop them becoming taboo. Anyway.). Much as Betty's endless optimism and incredible work ethic have been known to get me down she is a role model on modern screens that I do not think we are ready to lose. While season four has seen Betty getting sleeker and more successful she certainly did not begin that way and more importantly, viewers have watched her work incredibly hard to get to where she is. Unlike, the girls we see in 'The Hills' or 'Gossip Girl' Betty was not born into a privileged lifestyle nor has her career been her birthright. In fact, the writers were obviously keen to show that this sort of nepotistic, careless handing out of jobs has a negative effect on business. In the Pilot, Daniel Meade is a hedonistic wreck with no idea what he is doing and not even savvy enough to recognise the most obvious plans to sabotage him. Cue Betty, who carries him for the entire season and rarely takes credit for any of it. Apart from hospital dramas, I think Betty is probably one of the most hardworking characters on television. Even when faced with difficult personal circumstances Betty always puts the job first. How many role models do we have doing that?

Which brings me neatly to my second point of praise for the wonderful Betty Suarez: her endless optimism and moral high ground. I won't lie, I'm one of those people who always likes the villains that little bit more. They're far more charismatic, entertaining and hell, they make me feel like a better person because compared to them my indiscretions are minor. 'Ugly Betty' has the Holy Trinity of bitching that is Wilhelmina Slater, Mark St. James and Amanda Tanen and they are fabulous. But they are also underhanded, scheming and mostly end up paying the price for it. Betty has been tempted to stoop to their level several times, but she never does in the end. She continually proves that being a polite, friendly and kind person (who works hard, never forget the work ethic!) can still allow you to achieve everything you want and more. The relationships that Betty has with friends, colleagues, family are genuine and built out of true love for her because she is worthy of that. Again, how many characters on television are really nice? Anyone who knows me will know that 'Gossip Girl' is, and always will be, my first love and I relish in it's vitriolic one-liners and life-destroying schemes but this is not a positive or healthy way to achieve want you want in life and I am not sure it should be so readily shoved down our generations' collective throat. We need Betty as an antidote to the bitching.

Thirdly, and this is my penultimate point so we're nearly done, Betty is a hit with men. As the cast member who weighs the most and is furthest from the American ideal of attractive, Betty has the most successful relationships out of any character on the show. The feelings expressed towards her by the opposite sex are always genuine and she is often in a happy relationship, full of respect. For those of us who are starting to doubt that good men exist and the ones that do are going to end up with the stick thin model-pretty girls anyway so we may as well give up now, Betty could not be more reassuring. Because while men clearly fancy her, she is also admired for that work ethic (yes, it's back) and because she is a GOOD PERSON. In these bleak times it is good to know that being nice is still an admirable trait and not as under appreciated as it seems.

Lastly, (well done for making it this far) Betty is actually believable as a real person. She deals with real problems, real discrimination and real arseholes. Most of what happens to her at work is explicit bullying. She is set up to be a victim but somehow still remains the heroine of the piece. In season one she spends a lot of time trying to get medication for her father when the insurance decides to stop paying for it. Then there's the whole issue of Ignacio's deportation. For a comedy, 'Ugly Betty' tackles darker social issues than many programmes would choose to. All of this brings a realism to Betty's character; she's not necessarily this paragon of virtue and hard work just because she's a good person, but because often she has to be. Her job at Mode is one of the few things keeping her family from poverty. While her goody-two-shoes act is a little nauseating at times, the show is careful to temper it with the deliciously devious acts of other characters, as well as by allowing Betty to slip up sometimes too. The kiss with Henry, witnessed by her boyfriend Matt, took Betty off the pedestal it's easy to put her on, making her more accessible and easier to relate to. No one is perfect and it would be a disaster if the writers tried to create her so.

Betty Suarez is one of the most human and admirable characters on television. Very few fictional characters actually inspire admiration in me but she has achieved it. The lessons she can teach a younger generation are indispensable; here is a woman who makes sacrifices, who often loses, who is a victim of the nastier people in this world but somehow remains positive, successful and most importantly true to herself. Unlike 'The Devil Wears Prada' that showed Anne Hathaway's character consciously choose to change herself to fit in, Betty did it all on her terms, proving to women everywhere that you can achieve your dreams without sacrificing your principles. What a girl. I am genuinely going to miss her.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Gossip Girl acrostics

Bitchy Laxative Addict, Incredibly Rich

No Actual Thoughts, Ever

Ruefully Underdressed For Upper (East) Side

There may be more to come...

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Away We Go

For some reason my blog was in Svenska as I was singing in. It was relatively amusing. And by relatively I mean not as funny as something that is actually funny but probably the funniest thing that is going to happen to me on this godawful train journey. I have been travelling, worldwide, from a young age and therefore developed coping mechanisms for long journeys years ago. I find that these days they are of decreasing use to me. Because part of the fun of those journeys was going abroad. This train journey just takes me to Newcastle. Now don't get me wrong, I do like Newcastle. But I just like home that little bit more. Plus, as my mum astutley pointed out, whenever I go back to Newcastle it's to do work so I'm never going to be rushing out the door to get back. Although I am doing a module on documentary this semester that's largely practical so that's a tad exciting. Anyway. I am on a train. I think that is the gist of this.

So, I said I would talk about 'Up in the Air' in my last post. When did I watch that? Oh right, Wednesday. I really enjoyed it. I know some who haven't...and fair enough, it's very depressing at the end, especially for the single and unemployed. The structure of the film is a little disappointing; the first two thirds are very funny and the last third is rather bleak. By the end all the good feeling of the funny parts is gone and you're just left questioning the futility of your life and wondering if you'll ever be financially secure/married/both. It's also a shame that they did not utilise the more excellent members of the cast. Zach Galifinakis, Danny McBride and J.K. Simmons are not in it nearly enough! Especially Simmons who is just one of the greatest comic actors as far as I'm concerned. However, the film does showcase Anna Kendrick who completely holds her own against Clooney and was really quite brilliant. Anyway, it's a good film. You should see it. Expect to laugh, but don't expect to leave the cinema feeling remotely happy.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

"Pull an ugly face"

Laugh? I nearly cried. In fact I did cry (with laughter) lots and lots. The mascara all over my cardigan can testify to this. It was probably due to intoxication but lord did I find these photos funny.

Watched 'Up in the Air' today but will blog on that at a more sensible time. Night x

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Twitter treasure trove

I usually think it's semi-lame to follow celebrities on Twitter and I have avoided many of the obvious choices. However, when I first started watching 'Glee' and my obsession was in it's deepest and darkest phase (yes, I would have killed a puppy for one musical number from the show) I found myself adding anything and anyone to do with it. Now that I am in recovery and only listen to 'Don't stop beliving' once a day it's probably time to unfollow those embarrassments. Except, somehow, one of them has proved worth keeping. Dianna Agron, who is unbelievably beautiful, also blogs and it is through a combination of her tweets and posts that I came across this jolly marvellous song! And now I find myself actually pleased that I went all uber-gleek. Because I really like it.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Greatest blog ever?

The Catorialist.

Anyone who is aware of The Sartorialist and loves cats will be all over this.

'ad astra per alia porci'

"To the stars on the wings of a pig".

All of John Steinbeck's books are printed with this insignia, after a professor told him he would be an author when pigs flew. Inspirational huh? When faced with doubt he used it to make a joke and then went on to be very successful. I am currently suffering some kind of crisis of faith. Or something. I remember when my friend James set up his blog he said it would be good writing practice. We're all English Literature students and no doubt, one day, we'll end up in jobs that utilise the skills we're supposedly honing during our six hours a week (six hours! A £10,000 education and I have six hours of lectures a week!) but I keep wondering what all of this is really achieving? Naturally, given the culture I am being raised and informed in, I assume that somehow I'll gain millions of followers, become some kind of icon and this will segue way into my dream career. And I expect it all to be frighteningly instantaneous. This is my fifth blog post...why am I not famous yet?

Because no one reads this.

And furthermore, why should they? I'm not saying or doing anything that thousands before me haven't. I am not particularly witty, clever or interesting. And I am constantly plagued by this sense that I am waiting for my life to begin, that defining moment where everything I want comes to me. Meanwhile, all the savvier people are working hard, taking as many chances and gaining as many opportunities as possible and making those dreams happen. Basically, I should be more proactive. I thought maybe writing this blog was going to help but it only will as long as I remember that is is for my benefit, it's for me to practice and develop my writing skills and NOT for me to be 'discovered'. Damn.

One for The Road

For those of us who work in a cinema and have had that particular line delivered to us several times over the last few weeks it's become kind of old. But, seeing as I decided to put myself through 'The Road' yesterday, it is an apt title. And there may still be the occasional person out there who hasn't heard the line and gets a chuckle out of it. Anyway, Monday. I toodled on over to my beloved cinema (Greenwich Picturehouse) where I was far too early to meet my best friend Rosie but thankfully another of my best friends, Melissa, was working so I annoyed her for an extended period of time and took pictures of her.

This is the view down box office, where I mostly work:

And here are several pictures of Mel cleaning box office:

And here is one of the most beautiful images in the world, the standee for 'A Single Man'...but much, much more on that later:

So, now that I've got all the photos out of the way, back to what I should be talking about. Although I have completely lost my intended train of thought. Right. Cinema. Yes. I met up with Rosie and then we went for lunch, after which we watched 'The Road'. I must say, I was completely terrified before watching the film; I have seen it reduce grown men to tears and sleepless nights. Bleak, soul-destroying, unrelenting and horrifically gruesome it's not exactly one for the fainthearted. Seeing as Disney films still evoke a huge crying sesh in me I didn't fancy my chances. Furthermore, I knew it was going to be bad as I actually began crying before the film even started. This is all due to the trailer for the much-anticipated 'Precious'. The first time I saw this trailer I was very hungover, nearing the end of a 10 hour shift and surviving on less than two hours' sleep. I attributed my overtly emotional response to these factors and figured that a second viewing of the trailer wouldn't have quite such a visceral effect, I would recognise it was just a film and not real life and I would be fine. How wrong I was. I cried even more when I saw the trailer for the second time yesterday. Tears were rolling down my cheeks while Rosie laughed at me. But I have honestly never seen anything so depressing or moving. If I can't survive a two minute trailer, lord knows how I'll make it through the film. I'm not sure I'm even going to watch it. Anyway, if you want to be equally miserable, check out the trailer - 'Precious'. I'm getting weepy just talking about it.

While I am on the subject of trailers I need to talk about about 'A Single Man'. Oh-my-frickin'-gee. I have not been this excited about a film since...ummm...something very recently probably, I get excited about films quite often. But this has gone slightly next level. Especially after the release of the trailer. It features a quote from The Times' review that lauds it as "a thing of heart-stopping beauty". That's a lofty claim, but one that the trailer, at least, more than lives up to. The juxtaposition of Matthew Goode's character lying dead on the snow surrounded by blood, with Colin Firth in bed surrounded by black ink is one of the most spectacular things ever committed to screen. The red of life, the black of mourning. But it's the man surrounded by the black who has to try to continue living. It is true to say I have found love in cinematic form. Plus it has Julianne Moore! JULIANNE MOORE! The woman is a goddess. Given the film has Tom Ford at the helm - once model, the designer who saved Gucci and creator of his own impeccable line - it is no surprise the film is sumptuous and alluring in appearance. I just hope it's not a triumph of style over substance. Reviews so far would suggest that there is a genuine heart under the beautiful facade so fingers crossed. I've included a link to the British trailer but if you want to see more footage from the film look up the American trailer. It's not quite as powerful but it does feature more footage. Not to mention shots of Lee Pace. Hot.

Now I have completely digressed away from 'The Road' I should probably return to it. I don't really want to talk about it in too much detail because I wouldn't want to ruin it for anyone else. As aforementioned, many many sentences ago, I was expecting to leave the film a quivering wreck. Somehow, I did not. I think it's because I only half paid attention to the film and tried to think about other things at the same time. For a post-apocalyptic world it was almost beautiful in its bleakness. Every shot is bleached of colour, apart from the occasional appearance of very red blood. I have one word for you in relation to that; cannibalism. Please let's not talk about it any further. What is most striking about the film is the moments of humanity that remain. While most of the world has given up on morality and fully embraced depravity there are occasional moments that are so moving simply because they show there is still some good remaining. It is an amazing film. Not one to watch if you're at all squeamish though. I reiterate, CANNIBALISM.

After the film I was doing a shift at the cinema so it was back to work, ushering. (Every day I'm usherin', usherin', usherin'...). Once a month at Picturehouse we have 'Out at the Movies' which is a screening of a film that is either pro-gay or just, y'know, about gay people. I'm not sure if it's because the manager and half the male staff are gay or because Picturehouse actually thinks it's beneficial to the community but I enjoy it. Last night was a film called 'Victim', that I managed to sit in and watch with Mel. The film was made in 1961 when the bill still existed that meant being homosexual was a crime. The film centers around a boy who is arrested for his association with a prominent lawyer and hangs himself in prison to protect the lawyer. It turns out that the boy was being blackmailed, as are several other local gays, and the lawyer tries to capture the blackmailer to avenge the boy's death. It was a really good film. The films ends with the lawyer working alongside the police, who shouldn't have been helping him at all, and about to lose his entire career when he is exposed as gay. The message is obviously that defending his human rights and preventing the further persecution of his companions is more important. It was not a comedy but I did find myself laughing quite a lot, especially whenever the police appeared to make arrests. They would simply walk up to someone, tell them they were being arrested and ask them to get in the car. There were no big chases, no handcuffs and it was all very civilised. Lovely really!

I rounded off the day with a lengthy walk home with Mel, in which we obviously put the world to rights. And stopped at Tesco and consumed sushi and Krispy Kremes. It was perfect. Here she is on the bus:

Isn't she a doll?

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Capsule Wardrobe #1

I am on a mission to create the most perfect (and therefore highly impractical) capsule wardrobe. From vague memories of Gok Wan's 'How To Look Good Naked' I think there are 24 key items, including accessories? I'm not including accessories because that's daft, you can't limit a girl to two pairs of shoes, one bag and one 'statement necklace'! Or rather you can't limit this girl. Plus I think I may then have to include my glasses as they are not just a necessity, they are currently the ultimate in fashion sensibility. Today, I was in Carluccio's in Covent Garden and the rather charming shop assistant gave me a free chocolate because he loved my glasses so much and thought I was generally very stylish. Probably the best compliment I have been paid in a while! So basically the glasses stay, capsule or not. Plus I have several rather loved pairs of shoes and the thought of having to dispense with some of them makes me feel a bit sicky.

Anyway, so far the wardrobe consists of:
- one navy jersey blazer
- one black denim skirt
- one black bodycon skirt
- one blue bodycon skirt
- one pair of skinny black jeans
- two navy and white dresses
- one floral dress
- one denim dress
- two black and white striped tops
- one satin navy and white polka dot top
- one oversized white vest, with a red and blue Eiffel Tower design
- one pale pink blouse
- one black vest top
- one red cardigan
- one oversized navy cardigan
- two pairs of black leggings
- one beige trench coat
- one red wool coat
- one faux-fur leopard print coat
- one tan bag
- one dark brown faux crocodile skin bag

Possible shoe options for the above are:
- tan brogues
- black satin winklepickers
- black leather Victorian ankle boots
- black ballet pumps
- blue suede two-inch heels

For anyone who isn't remotely interested in a) fashion or b) what I like to wear this is probably incredibly boring. But be prepared to be even more bored! Because when I get my new camera working there will be accompanying photos too; 'Wardrobe Capsule #2'...coming soon.

Today I had a lovely day with my mum. We walked along the South Bank and then did some shopping around Covent Garden. We stopped for lunch at Gabby's, which is one of those brilliant eateries that words can't quite describe. I've been eating there for years now and I still adore it, despite no change in the menu...well, ever. It looks like some kind of scummy cheap restaurant inside, it's all grey and formica. But the food is delish and relatively cheap too. And you can tell it's loved; nestled in London's West End it is surrounded by theatres and promotional posters for loads of plays adorn the walls, all signed by the casts who can't heap enough praise on the place. It really is a treat. In other food news, we then went to PAUL for afternoon tea, which never fails to impress. Mum had the lightest, creamiest cheesecake I think I have ever tasted and I went with a classic Raspberry tartlet that was the perfect mix of sweet and tangy. All in all, a successful day for clothing and food!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Julie, Julia & Me.

So, as I was brushing my teeth I began to think about a) how lame my blog is probably going to end up being, despite the grand dreams I have for it and b) blogging in general. My chain of thought sort of amassed into this: things I could blog about -> I work in a cinema and watch a lot of films -> I could blog about films -> 'Julie & Julia' is a film AND it's about blogging! I subsequently realised that the success of the eponymous Julie's blog centred around her premise; she had a challenge to complete and the trials of this completion were blog-worthy. She was inspiring and amusing and likeable.

I have no such challenge. And I am probably none of those things. Actually, a small majority would hold that I am inspiring/admirable but that's because they know the truth of the last few months and exactly what I've had to deal with. I suppose I could utilise my own horrors to try and help others in a similar situation, that would be a worthwhile thing to do. I read a magazine article the other day encouraging women in a certain situation to do a certain thing (excuse the vagueness) and it was full of quotes from celebrities and I felt patronised. What do they know? Unless they've been in the same situation what right do they have to tell other women to behave in a certain way? I guess that's the problem with the 'cult of celebrity', it knows no bounds and people will always exploit it, no matter the situation (the Redknapps on holiday anyone? Vile). Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes, I COULD try and do something positive and beneficial to womankind but the truth I can't be arsed. So instead this blog will remain a tribute to the fanciful flights of my tiny mind and occasionally camera...unless someone sets me a challenge/I have some kind of revelation. Both are unlikely.

Good night. x


So, I have actually possessed this little corner of cyberspace for quite some time now. I had previously made a few postings but they were during a 'bad time' and ended up being self-indulgent, overblown, terribly melodramatic lambasts. And nobody wants to read away they go and here this comes. I am not entirely sure which direction I am taking this blog, but it's nice to have somewhere to record my more interesting thoughts. Also, despite the monetary trouble I am in, I decided to buy myself another digital camera today (the previous two bit the dust, sadly). I'd like to get into photography a little more, I used to really enjoy it. Plus it's always lovely to keep a record of the mundanity of my life. Oh! And of course then there's the small matter of all the utterly bizarre signs that I have found so far in Newcastle. When I get back up there I'll be dedicating an entire post to them.

Currently watching 'The Parent Trap', 1998 version aka LINDSAY LOHAN. She's such a cutie. I have quite a soft spot for her, still. Although I had to stop following her on Twitter because she really does come out with so much drivel and it's all misspelt with poor grammar...etc. I can be such a pedant. As a child, any time I made an error in speech my mother would shout the correct word/sentence at me. It was one of the many things I despised about her and yet I find myself constantly biting my tongue around others when they make mistakes. I want to yell at them for being wrong! How awful. I become more and more like her all the time, which certainly is cause for concern. It's been known to keep me up at night.

Been feeling quite emotional today. There are many reasons for this: tiredness, excessive alcohol consumption, guilt... but primarily it's the realisation that I am soon to be alienated from all the people that I rely on most. Heading back to Newcastle means leaving the incredible and totally awesome Picturehouse crew, which is always heartbreaking. And now Newcastle is bereft of my top three girlies; Faye is moving out, Ria is doing a semester abroad and Amy is on placement. Rubbish! I am probably working it up in my head to be a bigger issue than it is, but just for once I would love it if life was complication and misery free. Just once! 2009 was a terrible year and I have worked hard to get back on my feet and the varying and questionable success with which that has been done has been heavily reliant on other people. I'm just hoping I am strong enough now to continue to make it alone. I sound like I have no other friends, ha. I have the most amazing friends, especially in Newcastle. I cannot wait to be reunited with them. But the friends that you have the most fun with aren't always the people you turn to for help. Different friends for different things, eh?

Anyway. I'm going to stop now.