#weekendcoffeeshare III

tumblr_nu2dzbSIrK1uyl8cpo1_500I decided this week to take a break from the gym so my tattooed rib can heal. This, of course, is just an excuse on my part not to work out, not that I really ever need one.

I know that I suffer when I don’t push myself so next week I’ll be re-focusing on my physical activity. 4-5 times a week makes me feel so much stronger, and mainly in the mental sense.

The last few weeks have also seen a dip in my sweat quota and I’ve used work stress as my justification for that.

Ironic when you consider that I’d probably have been way less wired if my body and mind had been tired out. Sleeping would have been a piece of cake too.

Anyway, I’ve just read Shivani’s post about her fitness journey on Cloud in a Teacup and found it rather inspiring. While my own flirtation (looking for a permanent arrangement) with self care is slightly different, the end result is the same: we’re both looking for change.

I’m not doing this so much for weight loss. I think nurturing my attitude towards my body at the size it is is far more important than counting calories and saying no to cake. I’m an almost 40-year-old woman FFS, if I’m not who I really am now, then what the heck is going on?

But, while I’m mostly happy with my Size 18 frame, I am not down with lethargy and believe me on a weekend all I want to do is be lying horizontal whilst mainlining television. I will still do this but I think having a small level of fitness under my XL belt can only be a good thing.

I don’t know why I’m talking about my body so much over Weekend Coffee but there it is. From tomorrow I will be lacing on those disco ball Adidas and climbing onto the cross trainer with Faithless in my ears – and I will smash it.

I’ll also be settling myself into more of a routine when in comes to these sessions. I tend to get towards the middle/end of the week without having graced the hallowed gym with my presence and then having to cram all my visits into the end of the week, which is never fun.

Reading back this post, I’m actually looking forward to moving this arse again.

And now at least I have a hot tattoo to show off in the locker room afterwards, eh? <3

Goosebumps (Film) Review

20846872145_6e5bb2b6b4_oAfter a lazy morning in front of Modern Family and a fresh haircut at my favourite granny salon, we headed to our local multiplex to take in something a little family friendly but still edgy.

The fact that it also offers adequate Jack Black action didn’t hurt. He’s definitely having something of a revival in my crush rotation right now (must be because School of Rock (2003) was on the TV the other night).

But besides the perving opportunity, this was actually quite a solid way to spend Saturday afternoon (and almost worth getting dressed and putting on make-up at the weekend).

Almost.

I went into this movie adaptation of R.L Stine‘s nineties Goosebumps series as a GB Virgin. I think I was just a smidge too old for these books when they first came out so missed the hype, sadly. This is a shame really as I would have been all over them like a rash.

*Spoilers!*

Goosebumps (2015)

Director: Rob Letterman
Stars: JB, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee

IMDB Synopsis: A teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R. L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware.

My Review:

The set up here isn’t anything particularly new. Zach and his mother, Gale (The Office’s Amy Ryan) have moved to small town Madison from New York, following the death of Zach’s father. He’s dealing with this situation as best he can when he meets the girl next door, Hannah.

Unfortunately, Hannah’s overprotective father (Black – hello!) is none too pleased with this and quickly warns Zach not to come near either of them again. Luckily for Jack Black, teenagers always do what they’re told and never break rules. Zach also makes a new friend in the form of Young Tim Curry-alike, Champ.

One evening, Zach and Hannah take an unauthorised stroll to an abandoned theme park (as we all did as teenagers) and there’s a definite spark between them (duh). But Jack Black wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted Hannah to stay away from Zach and later there’s a domestic disturbance which leads Zach (and a reluctant Champ) to sneak into Hannah’s home to save her.

Expecting to find Hannah chained up in the basement by her crazed father, the boys are not at all prepared for the reality of the actual situation, though reality is a loose term in this movie.

“What do you mean you’ve never read Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives?!”

After finding a carefully (but not that carefully) secured collection of the original Goosebumps books, our heroes speculate about what happened to the author, Mr Stine. They then royally fuck up the system and accidentally free one of Stine’s most ferocious characters from the pages of one of the books. That’s right, these literary monsters have the ability to leap straight off the page and into real time. Ooooooh!

What follows is a monster mash of epic proportions as R.L Stine’s finest creations escape and tear up the town.

TWIST! R.L Stine, the elusive author is actually… Hannah’s father, y’all! Together, this motley crew take on a seemingly endless stream of ghosts and ghouls, legendary monsters and their mastermind, the wonderfully creepy Slappy the Dummy (also voiced by my boy Black).

That’s sort kind of it in terms of the story line. Stine and pals must get to the high school, where Zach’s mother happens to be Vice Principal and is also chaperoning the school dance. Stine’s beloved typewriter on which he wrote every one of his books is also displayed there and the gang have determined that the only way to beat these pesky beasts is to write them back into a new story.

“Put your pants back on Abominable Snowman!”

They must fight their way past werewolves, garden gnomes, a giant bug and the cast of the Thriller video in order to reach their goal – while keeping it together as a collective on the way. Will they make it godammit? To the Questions section!

Questions:

Will our intrepid teens make it to the school in time to help Stine save the day? Will Hannah and Zach GET IT AWN? Will Champ ever win the heart of the hot girl? Why does Hannah keep lighting up like a roman candle in the night?

How fucking creepy are ventriloquist dummies? And, finally, why didn’t anything this cool happen to me when I was a teen?

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George Clooney is ageing suspiciously well

My Thoughts:

I really did enjoy this film and not just because I love me a plucky werewolf. It offers a lot in the way of fun, the main characters are likeable (if nothing new) and Jack Black’s R.L Stine is superb. It’s always satisfying when Black plays it straight and I really appreciated the character’s obvious bitterness towards writing rival, “Steve” King.

There’s also a quite touching reason for Stine’s protectiveness towards his daughter, which we learn more about. I won’t lie, there may have been a tear shed on my behalf as the end drew near – I liked that Goosebumps packs an emotional punch as well as all the monster stuff.

I also love the writer within his own story gimmick. I’m not sure if it’s all true but Black makes ‘outsider’ Stine seem more sympathetic as he shares an insight into what made him write these characters in the first place. There’s even a little Stan Lee-style cameo before the credits roll, see if you can spot it.

All in all, fun fun fun. Not sure if my step son really loved it but fidgeting was kept to a minimum, which is always a good sign.

My Rating: 4/5.

Spooky Saturday Fun (and I might read some of the books now).

Ellie the Elephant

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Not Ellie, but I loved these fuckers too <3

Last weekend, as we Netflix and chilled at my brother’s (actually, ew), my Sister-in-law brought out Maeve, her childhood lion and I was reminded instantly of Ellie the Elephant.

In a forever kick-yourself moment, I handed Ellie over ‘temporarily’ to the great-aunt of that bastard I used to live with as we jetted off to start our new life in Canada. Last Chance Saloon I called it and boy was it. But Ellie couldn’t come for some reason and I’m so mad at myself for not stuffing her into my suitcase anyway.

I thought I could always go back for her and then everything ended, and now Ellie’s gone forever. You’d think that was a small price to pay for my freedom and maybe it is but still. I’ll always regret that decision.

In my heart I know she was probably burnt to a crisp in a garden bonfire, renamed Christa as a grotesque effigy of me after I left but I don’t want to believe she’s gone. I suppose I could pick up the phone, swallow my pride and ask for her back but I can’t handle the truth, or the inevitable abuse.

Ellie the Elephant, legend has it, was given to me as a newborn by a group of hospital staff in Toronto. My father had apparently misjudged my delicate character and presented a giant gorilla that made me cry so the antidote was Ellie, a baby pink elephant twice as big as me.

Life for us was a rollercoaster from that moment on and Ellie bore the brunt of everything I ever went through. All the rage, the playful torture from my brother, the kickings, the kidnappings – Ellie felt all my feelings, washed down by a million angsty tears. And she was rewarded for her loyalty by losing an ear and one glass eye. She was sewn up and re-stuffed more times that I can remember.

Ellie was the confidante and the cure; she was my very best friend when sometimes I felt like I had nobody. She didn’t travel as much as I did because I just couldn’t bear the idea of losing her in some far off land, or more likely Amsterdam but she was always there when I got back, she was there for me when I was happy and there when I’d given up all hope.

Seeing Maeve made me feel sad. Poor grubby Maeve with no mane and a distended body, looking like she’s carrying all Maddy’s secrets. Her and Ellie would have been great friends.

I want her back, wonderful crusty Ellie the Elephant, aged 38 (and 2 months) <3

My Book of 2015: YOU by Caroline Kepnes

7I can’t recommend this thriller highly enough and have so far rammed it down the throat of at least three fellow readers and gifted it more than once.

It’s the kind of book that you recommend but then instantly regret doing in case it’s not received as well as you’d like. So far reports have been fantastic but it still makes me nervous.

This thriller is so good that in some ways it’s spoiled me for other books in the same genre. I mean, how can they possibly compete?

But to the book itself.

It’s just really well written. Pitch black and peppered with film and book references, we’re given great insight into the mind of fucked up, yet somehow likable protagonist, Joe Goldberg.

Joe is a young, moderately successful man living in New York. He runs a bookstore and one day spots beautiful Guinevere Beck browsing the shelves. He does what every modern man would do, Googles her name (which he gets from her credit card) and stalks her online.

What follows is a dark tale of obsession, competition, loss and good old fashioned horror. I’m reticent to give too much away because a lot happens and it’s intricate in its design. It’s also genuinely terrifying in places.

As Joe fights to win the heart of the woman he claims to love, it soon becomes apparent that he’ll stop at absolutely nothing. Will he get what he wants or is it more complicated than that? Can a man like Joe ever truly be sated, even happy?

The thing about this book to me is that Joe feels like a neurotic Woody Allen type (Hannah and Her Sisters is quoted/referenced a lot) which lends it a retro feel, while still keeping much of the action, particularly the stalking element very modern, leaning on the pitfalls of social media for support.

This only makes the tale seem more real and potentially scarier. If we were all as careless as cavalier Beck with our online security, could we expect the same fate?

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Photograph not mine

Caroline Kepnes mentions Bret Easton Ellis as one of her influences on goodreads.com and you can really feel that in the tone of YOU.

Joe Goldberg is easily comparable to Patrick Bateman. Sure the former may be glossier, wealthier and bolder but Joe has certain Bateman qualities. Though Bateman kills for sport, it seems Goldberg justifies his blood lust as necessity and this is where they differ.

More often than not I just kept asking myself why Joe had to be this way. Surely he could just find a nice available girl and settle down? He’s obviously desirable, intelligent – but compulsion doesn’t work that way I guess and someone like that doesn’t just stop.

It’s harder to put your finger on why Joe isn’t completely repellent and that might have something to do with the fact that most of the other characters, including Beck and her best friend Peach, aren’t much better. They’re snobs and bitches and frankly, just not nice people. This doesn’t mean they deserve bad things but it’s easy to get it all twisted while reading this book!

I’ll park up here and just say what I’ve been saying for months: read this book. You can thank me later.

And you know the beauty of YOU, beyond everything mentioned above? There’s a sequel, and it’s good.

Book details:

  • YOU
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (18 Jun. 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1471137376
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471137372
  • Bought paperback (new)

Painting the Walls

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I’ve never identified more with an illustration found on Twitter before (Heather of Yummy Sushi Pajamas kindly sourced the artist, who is Suzeart).

This is exactly how I view my tattoos and how wonderfully that’s been put here. Too often I’ve told myself I’ll wait until I’m a certain way (thin, obviously) before I treat myself to nice clothes, a decent haircut – new tattoos. Once I even set myself the goal of a new tattoo at every significant weight loss milestone – how sad is that? If you want ink and can afford it, why wait? Treat yourself NOW dammit.

I didn’t really start to love myself until I started to take some ownership. To witness other fat ladies online doing something as radical as loving the fuck out of their bodies had such an impact that I can’t really put it into adequate words. I knew I had to start taking responsibility too. This involved taking back the word “fat”, using it as a descriptor rather than a derogatory term, accepting what I really look like and not hiding away in shame.

And not putting my body down.

That’s the hardest part for me I think, seeing myself caught on camera by someone else and not freaking out, feeling crushed by how grotesque I am. But nobody said it would be perfect, or easy. Learning and maintaining a strong sense of love for oneself is an ongoing project as far as I see it. I very much doubt you one day arrive at a permanent plateau of total and utter satisfaction for who you are – or maybe some people do.

I started getting more into brightly coloured tattoos about 2 years ago. Before that I had tattoos, but they were mostly rebellious or part of my rites of passage. I was lucky enough to make friends with a tattooist who could facilitate this on the reg and together we changed the landscape of my chubby little arm forever. Although we’ve both moved on and I see Alex now instead, during that time I started to think of myself as less of a useless lump and more of an empowered person, doing what I wanted without permission.

That felt good and although I’m nobody’s door mat, I sometimes find it hard to demand things for myself. Painting the walls and hanging pictures all over my body is a form of expressing exactly who I am, without having to use the words I so often stumble over.

I put myself under the needle again yesterday afternoon and let me tell you that ribs are a whole other ball game when it comes to tattoo pain. Youch. So so worth it though to be able to rock the piece below.

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Yes that’s side boob

This is my new mantra BTW. When I feel the need to run myself down to others or be derogatory or rude about my looks, I shall stop and remember that I love myself. More than that, I completely adore myself, rolls and all.

It’s fitting somehow that I went through Hell to get this tattoo (not really, my tattooist is very good) – a nod to the journey *puke* from utter repulsion to self-acceptance. None of it’s easy, for any of us but if we can at least get on the right track, we’ll start a happy life-long relationship with someone who will love us for the rest of our lives, and love us better than anyone else can.

It’s okay, I’m going now. I just wanted to share the above illustration and a few of my thoughts on moving into your body fully and decorating as you see fit.

I know tattoos and body modification aren’t everybody’s idea of expression but I think this can translate to how you wear your hair and make up your face, how you dress – not everything has to be permanent or set in stone. I just happen to like my paintwork that way.

Always have, always will <3

Lest we forget my inspiration for the above skin decoration, my original post featuring Artist Yayoi Kusama.

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (Film) Review

ive-heard-the-mermaids-singing-movie-poster-1987-1020204047Week one in our long-awaited Feminist Film Month (if you don’t count last week’s Tootsie) and Jillian chose this quirky tale of Polly, an ‘organisationally pared’ temporary secretary and full time kook.

I’ve personally been looking forward to starting February off right for lots of reasons, not least because January sucked full arse. I know my blog wife feels the same way.

So let’s all put our hands together in a slow clap for this new month and keep that momentum going until at least the Spring, yes?

But to our film, which is Canadian and, incidentally, voted 9th in 1993’s Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time (thanks Wiki!).

As always *Spoilers Ahead*

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987)

Director: Patricia Rozema
Stars: Sheila McCarthy, Paule Baillargeon, Ann-Marie MacDonald

IMDB Synopsis: Scatterbrained Polly gets a job as a secretary in Gabrielle’s art gallery.

My Review:

I identify with Polly in many ways, not least because she loves people watching and seems not to have any real direction. That’s so me! We begin this film with Polly speaking directly into the camera, telling us about the job interview she has at Gabrielle’s gallery which leads to an ‘incident’. She doesn’t use that wording but alludes to something that’s happened to her, or because of her.

It’s not really said but I get the impression that Polly is recording herself rather than talking to somebody else and is a little reminiscent of Miranda July in one of my favourite films, You and Me and Everyone We Know (2005) – although I think that’s just in my head.

At the interview, Polly meets Gabrielle, a rather serious French woman who takes Polly on to work in her gallery. During her introduction Polly admits that she isn’t very good at temping and has been described as ‘organisationally pared’. Gabrielle’s gallery is rather small but she definitely knows her stuff and Polly is quickly enamoured.

Polly FYI lives alone in a great little apartment and tells us that she has done so since the age of 21, when both her parents died. She is now 31. She enjoys taking photos and riding around the city on her bicycle. She is also prone to fantasy and often drifts off while waiting for her photographs to develop in her home dark room.

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“Say cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssse!”

I love her for these flights of fancy which see her in a variety of scenarios that made me LOL for the most part.

Polly is a great character and has an immensely likeable face. It’s so expressive that if the entire film were just of her enormous eyes and face, I’d still have come out satisfied.

One afternoon at the gallery, shortly after Gabrielle has offered Polly a full-time job, despite the fact that several past employers have criticised her work and she herself admits typing isn’t her strong point, Mary turns up.

Mary is a leather jacket wearing painter who clearly shares a history with Gabrielle. When the women go off to talk in one of the gallery rooms, Polly listens and watches them on CCTV, which may or may not be a video camera planted inside a sculpture.

She is intrigued to learn that the women are former lovers and that Mary is still very much into Gabrielle, even though Gabrielle proclaims herself too old for her. They kiss, even though Gabrielle is currently seeing a man.

Polly admits in her video diary that she is falling in love with Gabrielle, hence her fascination but doesn’t really want all the kissing and stuff. Her admiration for her boss seems chaste and it’s not clear what Polly’s own agenda is. She doesn’t even seem particularly jealous of Mary, just curious about the whole relationship.

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“BTW you’re wrong.”

One of my favourite scenes occurs shortly after Polly discovers this new facet to her boss, as Gabrielle is walking a potential (male) buyer around the gallery. The two are discussing a collection of paintings by the same artist, and Gabrielle’s enthusiasm and obvious knowledge on the subject manages to sway his opinion, which is very strong (of course it is, he’s a man). Gabrielle does this in such an impressive way that by the end of scene I was nodding my head triumphantly, along with adoring Polly.

Things begin to develop when Polly is invited to Gabrielle’s home for her birthday party. She arrives really late, carrying a big box and all the other guests have already scattered, leaving just Gabrielle and Mary. Mary takes herself to bed while Polly and Gabrielle stay up. Gabrielle is sad and confesses that she’s upset because the one thing she wants she will never have. That thing is talent.

Polly is surprised to learn that her boss is a secret painter and asks to see her work. Gabrielle is hesitant but shows her anyway. Polly is absolutely blown away by the paintings (which are displayed to the viewer as blank glowing canvasses, thus allowing us to visualise this art as we see fit). And as Gabrielle passes out on the couch, she makes the decision to take a piece.

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“Oooh this lovely piece will look wonderful in the downstairs toilet.”

Back home with the painting, Polly is inspired by Gabrielle’s secret talent and selects some of her own photographs to send into the gallery under a pseudonym. She hopes that they’ll impress Gabrielle as much as Gabrielle has impressed Polly.

Gabrielle’s painting, meanwhile, is taken into the gallery without her permission by an encouraging Polly. Polly tells Gabrielle she shouldn’t be so shy as she’s clearly brilliant and that one of her associates has already been in and gushed about it.

Quickly, Gabrielle’s names gets out there and she becomes an instant hit on the art scene. She’s delighted, and quickly sheds her humble demeanor.

Polly, unfortunately feels rejected when her photos come into the office and Gabrielle dismisses them halfheartedly as “simple minded”. She calls in sick and stays home burning every one of her photographs.

I’m going to leave this here as all is not as it seems and if you watch I want to leave some things sacred. But to the questions section!

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“I really hate your stupid scarf right now.”

Questions:

Will Polly gain her artistic confidence back? Will she continue to love Gabrielle? Is Gabrielle all she seems?

My Thoughts:

As I wrote those questions I remembered that the ending was quite harsh but definitely proved that Polly is no doormat, despite her sweet and quirky outer appearance. Gabrielle quickly turns in Polly’s eyes (and therefore ours) from the be all and end all, to something hope-crushing and it’s all there displayed on Polly’s trusting face.

I thought this film was really something special, not least because of Sheila McCarthy (who I swear I know from more films). She plays Polly in an wide-eyed way that doesn’t grate and that’s an achievement in itself. Her daydreams could easily begin to irritate but don’t, even when she’s conducting an orchestra at just the wrong moment.

It’s okay that Polly doesn’t have a plan for life, or any friends or family because she’s something else. Otherworldly? I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about Polly.

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“I can’t wait for Keep Fit class later.”

Gabrielle too is a pleasure to watch, and I like that she wears her age well (whatever that actually means). This being the eighties there are lots of giant leather belts, big earrings and arm cuffs – and she rocks them all. As an ageing woman, her lines are clear to see but she’s stunning and interesting, so much more for those things. She also casts quite the shadow as an idol fallen from grace but maybe doesn’t deserve the comeuppance that she receives.

I really liked Mary, and particularly in a scene she shares with Polly, after Polly has given up on her photography dreams. Mary finds a discarded picture taken by Polly and Polly dismisses it, using Gabrielle’s exact words to put it down. Mary accuses her of being harsh, and what does any of that matter if she likes the picture? It’s a wonderful way to look at art.

All those comments synonymous with the art set, what do they matter unless you like the piece? And what if you like a piece nobody else does? It’s still art to you. They don’t explore this much and I would have like Polly to be bolstered by their conversation.

It is all very female-centric of course, which is why it was chosen and hardly any men appear. Or if they do they are only there to illustrate the points of the women. Polly admonishes one in particular when he patronises Gabrielle, labeling her lucky to have got where she has when she first starts becoming famous. That was a triumphant scene.

All in all, I would recommend this film quite highly. I just really like the tone. Plus, the scene where Polly follows the kissing couple around and almost gets busted for peeping on them in the woods made me DIE. Why does this scene remind me so much of The Foxy Merkins, Jill?

My Rating: 4/5.

Did my honey Jillian hear the mermaids singing or was it more of a damp squib to her? Find out here.

#weekendcoffeeshare II

Over coffee I might tell you about my week, which wouldn’t win any prizes for changing the world but had some definite highlights. And was thankfully, a little less manic.

Since it’s been a busy weekend, and I suddenly started feeling very queasy, I probably wouldn’t be all that talkative so I’d show you my Instagram feed instead.

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  1. I’ve just started reading this book. So far, so good – I love that it’s written from Chief’s perspective
  2. Sending out positivity helps me
  3. A trip to the local chippy with my work buds makes Friday even better
  4. This is Margo. Margo is the prettiest girl in the world
  5. I do love this guy, for like ever
  6. Baxter
  7. Nothing worth having comes easy, a mantra my mother used to share and now a display on my sister-in-law’s office wall. Too true
  8. My brother and Baxter, before Baxter went buck wild with a little black dog called Archie
  9. More Baxter because you’ve got to love Baxter

It’s been a lovely weekend in Kent with family, celebrating a late Christmas. Now to chill out and prepare for the week to come…

How was your weekend? <3