Set Three Goals

tumblr_mmao27cR6N1s9yt1no1_500First things first: let’s set some goals and plan for success. Via The Daily Post’s Blogging 201 program (20th October 2014)

A brief one from me today but I wanted to check in on Blogging 201’s first day and set out my three goals.

This is quite a hard one since I haven’t really thought about what I want to achieve yet, even though I’m over 100 posts in.

Well, beyond:

  • Get discovered and offered my own column in the Telegraph
  • Get paid filthy obscene money for one day’s work every week
  • Work from home blogging in my pants for the rest of my days

You know, realistic things.

I looked over the examples on this prompt and picked out a few I thought I could genuinely achieve. Not very original but there’s plenty of time for that in my writing, right? Right.

  • Create an editorial calendar for the next three months by November 1st. Honestly, I really need to look this up as I like the idea of having a plan, even if it’s not set in stone – but I have no clue how to do it.
  • Start, and maintain, a regular (weekly?) feature. Once I figure out what that will be.
  • Publicise and engage more on social media. And maybe think about gaining more followers.

The last one feels a bit forced since I’m honestly not in it for 1 million new followers. One more meaningful one would be enough.

Anyway, I’m going to go away and think about my new goals and I hope to start implementing them soon. Good luck if you’re doing the 201 as well.

Happy Monday all!

Halloween Movies – My Top Picks

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Chill, Mike, I got this

As a horror freak I have always loved Halloween. It’s not as huge here as it is in the US or North America, of course but it’s still always been my very favourite holiday. Ever since my Step Son came into my life and we’ve been taking him trick or treating it’s meant even more.

I particularly respect the adults who throw themselves wholeheartedly into their chosen part on the night. This year I’ve decided to go all out and have not one but two costumes planned. The B’s are going to a Halloween house party at the Haunted House on the Hill (AKA my friend Mix’s house). She’s been planning it for months.

I will most definitely reveal more of that when I can, but I’m keeping things under wraps for now. When Mrs B goes to town, she really goes to town. Instead, let’s talk about my favourite horror films to watch in the lead up to All Hallow’s Eve, shall we?

In no particular order:

Candyman, Candyman

So good, Christina Aguilera named a song after him*

Candyman (1992)
Man, I loved this movie as a teen. It still shits me up and everything about it, from the music to the story of the how Candyman became Candyman, was spot on for me.

Virginia Madsen is crazy good as Helen, the curious grad student intent on uncovering the local legend. Question is, are you brave enough?** Candyman, Candyman, Candyman… Nope, not me.

Calm down, dear

Calm down, dear

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
One of the original ‘Video Nasties’ of the seventies, this film is older than I am (and that’s pretty ancient, let’s face it). It’s up there with one of my favourites because I find Leatherface and his family utterly fascinating.

Even more fascinating is the fact that this is loosely based on the real life of Ed Gein who was a messed up individual. Horrible, bleak and hopeless, this is the complete opposite of a feel good movie but you’ll be rooting for the hippies all the way through it, even though they’re quite annoying. Maybe.

Quitting clownin' around

Quitting clownin’ around

House of 100 Corpses/The Devils Rejects (2003/2005)
Heavily influenced by the aforementioned Chain Saw Massacre, Rob Zombie‘s seminal masterpiece(s) hold their heads high in my top ten because they’re damn good. Horrifying, creative and at times hilarious, both movies follow the lives and times of the Firefly Family, a collection of truly heinous individuals.

They might be sadistic, twisted killers but I dare you not to kind of like them.

Just chillin'

Just chillin’

Haute Tension (Switchblade Romance) (2003)
This is a French horror thriller about two college friends, Marie and Alexa, who run into trouble when they spend the night at Alexa’s parents house.

This is one of those flicks that makes you feel sick and will have you peeking out from behind a cushion until its bloody climax. Jumpy as hell and very gory (which I love), it’s a strong horror contender which manages to keep you gripped until the very end. Definitely recommended.

You've got red on you

“You’ve got red on you”

The Descent (2005)
Another movie that likes to play on multiple fears at the same time, it follows a group of women on a caving expedition after one of the gang suffers a horrible tragedy. It’s no surprise that claustrophobia plays a huge part in the overall feel of the movie but that’s the least of their worries when it all kicks off.

Rumour has it that the American release of this movie changed the ending, which enrages me, as I feel the climax is one of the best things about it. Since it’s rare to get to the end of your average horror these days without being disappointed, that’s very annoying. This might just be a rumour but since you might not have seen this move yet, I’m not saying any more. Love this film as it is.

"I just wanna Axe you a question"

“I just wanna Axe you a question”

The Shining (1980)
Until very early this year I had no idea how good (and scary) this story really is. Like many people, I adore Kubrick‘s version of The Shining and, although I never thought too hard about it, was a little bemused by Stephen King‘s hatred for it.

Now I understand that it’s merely a re-imagining and most of the very terrifying events from the book aren’t really captured in the film. I haven’t watched this since I read the book and it’s been a while, so I’m not sure my fresh understanding will alter the way I feel about it, but I hope not.

I’m happy for there to be two versions. I must admit, at first, it was hard to imagine my own Jack Torrance without Nicholson‘s insane rendition getting in the way. But I coped.

"I got the key, I got the secret"

“I got the key, I got the secret”

The Orphanage (2007)
More of a ghost story than an all-out horror flick, The Orphanage is truly spooky. One particular scene has stuck with me and has to be squeezed out of my consciousness whenever I turn out the bedroom light.

Very, very good.

Not Another French Horror Movie

Not Another French Horror Movie

Martyrs (2008)
Even sourcing a still for this post has turned my stomach a little but I do think that Martyrs deserves its place on this list. The film seems to play out in three separate acts, and tells the tale of a young woman hellbent on revenge on the people who kidnapped and tortured her as a child.

I watched it after it was highly recommended to me by my work colleague and I had no idea what was to come. In fact, I thought it would be pretty standard torture porn fare but actually it gave me so much more than that.

I can honestly say I will never watch it again, since it’s a horrible ride but I think it’s worth it for the final reveal and for the concept itself. At least it tries to be different. Oh, and it’s also French and those French do horror bloody well.

Knife to see you, to see you... knife

Knife to see you, to see you… knife

Halloween (1978)
As if any Halloween list could omit the King of all horror movies! One doesn’t simply forget to reference Michael Myers and his sister, Laurie.

This movie has everything: the plucky heroine, the escaped mental patient with a past, the slutty BFF, the score… its pure perfection really and anyone who’s anyone will fit this into their viewing schedule this October. It’s practically the law. Thanks John Carpenter, for your contribution to the tried and tested slasher movie formula.

So there you have it – my favourites.

How about you guys? Now I know some of you are big film fans so I need recommendations stat! What are you Must See/Go To Halloween Horrors and why? Don’t be shy!

skeleton-spin* not really!
** say his name 5 times in the mirror and then… POW!

The Secret

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Door’s on the latch, Tom…

Before the madness of Blogging 201 kicks off on Monday (yes, I’ve decided to keep going), I thought I’d record a few thoughts as they lie right now.

More a record for my own sake than anything else, I just think sometimes putting things out there makes me accountable for them, and for any changes I wish to make. We’ll see about that of course, I thought talking about running would make me do it all the time and I’m still working up to that.

Anyway, the first thing I want to say is that I’m not that big on self-help books and all that jazz.

I believe in self help, am all for loving yourself and doing whatever it takes to make yourself happy. I’m respectful of other people turning to books, videos and anything to get what they need, but you won’t find me in the Self Help aisle rummaging for answers. Maybe I’m missing out.

But once upon a time I did read The Secret and it changed something. I’ve talked about it before elsewhere but the gist is that I was at the end of a bad scene, feeling hopeless and I picked up the book my best friend had left lying about after a visit.

It just made sense. Put out positive vibes, ask the Universe for the things you want and get them. Sure, it’s unlikely Tom Hardy will be knocking on my door before the weekend is out just because I want him to, but it’s an attitude I can get behind. Think about what you want and envisage yourself getting and keeping it. PMA all day, every day.

After I’d read it, I wrote a list that looked a little something like this:

  • Get out of this relationship
  • Get a new job

Underneath the two main wishes I detailed what I wanted in a new man (call me shallow):

  • Tall
  • Dark
  • Green eyes
  • Reads Comics

I didn’t dare write any more than that but I hid that list and thought of it often. Perhaps the Perfect Boy list was subconscious since I already knew my husband then, though we hadn’t spoken in years and I couldn’t have imagined we’d end up together. (You guessed it, Mr B ticks all those boxes).

Maybe just admitting you want more is enough to ensure you make moves to get it. Or maybe it’s magic. Whatever it is, it works. It worked then and it can work now.

Houseboat in Amsterdam, you will be mine

Houseboat in Amsterdam, you will be mine

I did get out of that relationship, less than a month later and then I scored my dream job at a dating agency. So I believe in The Secret and I’ll tell anyone. Sorry, not sorry.

Today I think it’s time to go back to basics. I’m getting to the point of being done at work for many reasons and it’s making me feel sick. Things need to change and whether that’s me moving on or something more drastic, I have to think about it. I’m not comfortable with the way things are and I need to fix it.

I know I’m worth more and right now I’m working in an environment that makes me feel insecure, paranoid and frankly undervalued in every way.

Time for a Positive Thinking Spell, I think.

I might update on this topic every so often, you know just to check in. Hopefully the next instalment will be a more positive one, rather than “I screamed, threw something and was escorted from the building by the caretaker”.

Do you have a go to method for making changes/getting happy? If so, what is it? Are you willing to share your secrets with me?

The Lovely Liebster Award (s)

one-lovely-blog-1I’m rather chuffed over here as I’ve been nominated for not one, but two blogging awards by two great new blogs I have been lucky enough to discover recently.

I thought I’d be time savvy and combine the two, so I hope that my nominators are cool with this. I’m being purely sensible as I haven’t had much time to sit down and write the things I want to this week due to a jam-packed schedule. I didn’t want to go too long without responding though.untitled

The awards are One Lovely Blog Award and The Liebster Award and they both have their own rules. Since I’m combining the two, my rules are a bit of a mish mash:

  • Post the award(s) on your blog
  • Thank the blogger(s) who presented this award and link back to their blog
  • Nominate 11 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and who have less than 200 followers
  • Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 11 questions (the last one is via The Liebster)

First up, thank you to both Hayley Margaret of A Stitch to Scratch and Jillian of The Pink Panther Snipes Again. Both of these great blogs have come to me via the Blogging 101’s Class of September ’14 and I’m really happy about it.

Hayley is a crafty little sew-er with a healthy respect for Taylor Swift (me too) and a talent for just about anything creative it seems, while Jillian has a snarky tongue that I very much appreciate, that and her ongoing relationship with Netflix and film reviewing (read this, it’s so far up my street, you don’t even know). Check out both blogs ‘cos they’re ace.

Blogging 101 has been great for getting communication flowing between new bloggers and I love it for that. But on to the rest of this post!

I nominate the following blogs for my hybrid award, The Lovely Leibster Award:

  1. #TinaWays
  2. Not Simply Red
  3. Fannie Frankfurter
  4. What If I Fall?
  5. The Bohemian Within
  6. Shrewd Health
  7. MashHead
  8. Almost Erica
  9. Berryduchess
  10. Movin’ it with Michelle
  11. Random Daydreaming

My answers to 11 Questions from My Nominator:

  1. What was the last thing you borrowed from a library (or from a friend)?
    My husband recently railroaded me into reading a sci-fi novel he loves, called Altered Carbon. I’ve not really into reading Sci-fi/Fantasy but this is really good. A kind of futuristic, steam-punky detective novel.
  2. Which ‘80s pop culture icon are you? Or, if you aren’t as addicted to online quizzes as I am, which ‘80s pop culture icon would you invite to a party?
    I bloody love a Buzz Feed quiz and I’m Madonna, baby!
  3. Favorite book? Or, if too difficult, favorite book you’ve read recently?
    I am obsessed with the Millenium Trilogy but I think my favourite book (today) is A Confederacy of Dunces. I just really love Ignatius J. Reilly.
  4. Cake or pie (and why)?
    Cake, all day every day. Because it’s cake, why else?
  5. Favorite post you’ve written or are at least somewhat proud of?
    I was very proud of the one I wrote about my brother.
  6. A Youtube video that always makes you laugh?
    Well, this is my happy place. But I love this video. And this one. And this one. And… must. stop.
  7. One thing you love? Food
  8. One thing you hate? Negativity
  9. The best thing on TV (or Netflix, Hulu, etc.) right now is American Horror Story Freakshow.
    If you don’t watch TV, favorite movie?
    I love TV obvs, but my favourite film is True Romance.
    If you don’t watch any of the above (as if!), how do you unwind after a long day?
    Wouldn’t you like to know?! (Sit on the sofa, drinking tea).
  10. A song you always pump up when it plays on the radio (or on shuffle).
    King of Wishful Thinking by Go West (listening to it RIGHT NOW). Also see: Under Pressure.
  11. This is really for my own purposes: any bad (or good) movie recommendations?
    Martyrs, Prisoners, Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman, Enemy,The Vengeance Trilogy… I could go on and on and on.

My 11 Questions for my 11 Nominees:

  1. Why do you think Britney sings Scream & Shout in a British accent?
  2. Do you prefer Serious Nicholas Cage or Action Hero Nicholas Cage?
  3. Which Tom Hanks would you be most likely to sleep with? (This question came up in the pub last night, mine is older Hanks or You Got Mail Hanks)
  4. What’s your favourite conspiracy theory?
  5. Which of your blog posts has been your favourite, yet not very well received by your ‘public’?
  6. Do you care about followers and likes and reblogs, etc? If no, why not? If yes, why?
  7. Which three websites are your most visited on an average day?
  8. If you could start your own business, what would it be?
  9. Who’s your favourite Batman?
  10. Text, Facebook messenger, Whats App, snail mail, old school face-to-face; which is your favourite way to stay in touch with loved ones, and why?
  11. What’s the meaning of life?

Have fun anyone who chooses to do this! If you’re on my list it means I’m into you and your blog… thanks for brightening my days <3

high-five-amy-tina

NB: The original rules for both of these awards says you have to share facts about yourself. I know it’s lame but I skipped this bit and removed it from the list. It’s because I’ve done it here and I couldn’t think of 11 brand new ones… If you want to give me 11 of your own, please do. I love facts.

Ten

What, just chilling over here with my mirr'r

Wha? Just chilling over here with my mirr’r

I didn’t do yesterday’s 101 challenge because I couldn’t find anything that really got me excited. This may have been down to being at work and having time only for a cursory glance over the Community Event Listings.

I am trying to play better, I promise. I’ve found some lovely blogs over the last few weeks. I lieu of the assignment, I am going to study my navel and ponder the fact that my stepson in ten years old today. Ten!

It just doesn’t seem possible that the tiny boy I first met, from whom I so desperately wanted just one sign that he thought I was okay, has grown into a beautiful, fiercely smart and hilarious bigger boy.

He was four when he first came into my life and I will be the first to admit, although I wasn’t against the fact the love of my life had a son, I definitely hadn’t prepared for it. Of course he lives with his mum so it wasn’t as if I’d walked into a scenario where I was expected to be Mum but still. I guess I hasn’t really thought about how I would handle it at all.

My previous relationship had involved two girls from a previous marriage and I cringe when I think how awful I must have been when they came to stay. Not because I was horrible, though I am sure I had my moments, just in that I was so detached for most of my six-year reign that they must have wondered if the lights were even on (They weren’t).

We now all enjoy a good relationship albeit from afar since they are in Derbyshire and I’m here, down South (minus the horrid boyfriend) so something went right in the end, but I think of that time often and would change the way I was then in a heartbeat, if I could.

With B, it was different. He’s a boy for a start, so an alien (or so I thought). His mother is local, so she’s more present in our lives. Which is a good thing for B, of course, to have us all within spitting distance.

You might know this, you might not, but I have never wanted children. All I can say when people ask me why is, “I just don’t”. It’s not a witty retort to the eternally irritating and over personal line of questioning people assume they have the right to use, however, that’s the truth.

But I do love my stepson.

It has taken us both a long time to get to the point we’re at now. It’s taken tears and heartache (mine). Utter bewilderment and slight annoyance (his) but we’re here; both in one piece.

It’s not easy to give your love to a person who is too young to understand it, who only sees things in black and white. Or share your loved one with somebody else, even when you know it’s a completely different kind of love.

I doubt it’s easy to go and see your dad as a child and have to deal with a woman you don’t even know, for that matter.

Now we have a funny kind of dynamic; I play my role of the desperate Step Mom vying for his affection and he gets it, plays along. And when he shows love, or appreciation, or admiration – I die.

Happy birthday B. You’ll likely never read this but this one’s for you, kiddo!

Pretty Eccentric

The Queen of Kooks

The Queen of Kooks

“My name Isobel,
Married to myself.
My love Isobel,
Living by herself”
~ Isobel by Bjork

There’s nothing I find more appealing that genuine eccentricity. The elderly woman who used to ride around my hometown on a shiny yellow bicycle, for instance. Or the Madam who used to bowl down St James Street in a fur hat and then got her own column in a local publication.

My mother. My fabulously theatrical mother. Who would probably wave me away with a “Oh, Darling, not me!” if I said that to her.

That’s the thing with eccentrics; they rarely know that they are. Sure, there will be a little awareness but the true kook doesn’t stop to consider other people’s perception of them and their behaviours. And that is where the wannabe falls down.

One cannot simply decide one day to become an eccentric. One is; or isn’t. It’s a rare gift, a bundle of idiosyncrasies and then some. An aura. And you can spot the genuine article a mile off. Trust me, you can.

There are different levels of eccentric, of course. Eccentricity is in some respects subjective. One man’s kooky could very well be another man’s ‘unique’ X Factor contestant but the real and true, I’m pretty sure just are, and nobody can argue with it.

Nothing but love for this dress

Nothing but love for this dress

Look at Bjork. You cannot forge a person like that from nothing, it is born. It is so delightfully nuts, so original, so poetic – it just is or, as we have established, isn’t.

When I was growing up I one day read a story, true or not, about young Bjork being told off for not getting ready for school. After much cajoling, legend has it that she got up, dragging her duvet behind her, cut a hole in the top, placed it over her head like a giant poncho and went to school as normal.

Hero. I think of that often and don’t care if it’s true or not. It’s just typical Bjork.

What I love about this woman is that everything she does has a ‘fuck it’ edge. Have you ever really read her lyrics? Bonkers. Seen her on a red carpet at a ‘serious’ conventional event? Swan dress. (I implore you to have a look at this for yet more evidence. It’s my happy place).

She may be a serious and fiercely talented individual but she makes it all look like fun and that is why I will always love her.

Incidentally, did anyone recently read the article about the woman who married herself after hearing the lyric (above) in Bjork’s Isobel? How I love that idea and what it represents.

An eccentric move if ever there was one!

NB: Sometimes it’s a shame my OBF and I aren’t talking anymore. She’d so totally get this.

Try a New Posting Style

Not me, but she looks like a poet (sort of)

Not me, but she looks like a poet (sort of)

Today’s assignment: build your storyteller’s toolbox by publishing a post in another format or a style you’ve never used before. Via The Daily Post’s Blogging 101 program (1st October 2014)

I wrote a poem.

I googled How to Write a Poem
Before I started this poem
Try another format they said
And I thought poem

Am I a poet?
Do I have a poet’s soul?
I like the Autumn and the leaves
Believe in karma

Am I a poet?
I once wrote an ode to the Pumpkin Spice Latte*
I think deep thoughts and am unhappy at work
I can be a poet

Try another format they said
Try something new
All I want to do that is new is walk out of the office
And wander the streets with no plan

I know I won’t do that
Give it all up to be a poet
Give it all up to be a poet
After one bad day

Instead I will write my poem
With no guidance from the internet
And I will sit back
A part-time, one-time poet

I don’t know if you can tell but I did this freestyle, no help from Google. It was quite fun.

Not sure if I have a healthy career ahead of me as the English Maya Angelou but that’s okay. Nobody will ever fill the shoes of such a phenomenal woman anyway.

*Just looked through my archives and it was an Eggnog latte actually.