27 January 2015

making faces :: can't somebody else do it?

i like to keep track of how people find their way here, both because i find it interesting for me and because it also helps me see what posts have the greatest power to draw interest from people who otherwise wouldn't know this blog existed. on such a check yesterday, i noticed a lot of referrals coming from one post.

this post.

i've played around with a number of ways of looking at colour analysis and what works for different people, but i don't know that i've ever done something as clear and informative as what this writer has. beauty bloggers, of course, make great subjects for study as to what works on certain skin tones, because they're constantly trying on all sorts of different things. so it's a great starting point to look at different bloggers wearing different shades and comparing what works the best versus what doesn't.

the post is specifically to do with choosing lipstick shades, but the idea could easily be extended to other items. it uses a slightly different system for evaluating colour than i have, but it's every bit as valid and extremely well explained in the post.

i like that the author makes it clear that going against your inherent colouring doesn't make you look bad, it just doesn't look as harmonious. [i think the high-contrast look from nikkie tutorials is striking in a way that i like and at the same time, the lower contrast look is clearly more at home on her natural colouring.] it's also an excellent object lesson in how appearances can be deceiving: look at all the different skin tones and how those that are closest on the surface can be opposites in terms of what works for them.

so after reading through this article, i have come to one clear decision: playing around with doing your own colour analysis can be fun, but it's actually way easier without being less rewarding when someone else does it for you. like most things in life.

26 January 2015

making faces :: apple of my eye

this should also be known as the "see? i can review things that aren't nars audacious lipsticks!" post. embarrassingly, this is a product that i've had for a month and it's even been documented on the blog that i've had it [in one of my nars lipstick reviews]. so i should have done this earlier. i guess i could claim that i was doing testing, but, as i'll get to shortly, the testing was pretty consistent and there's no reason that i couldn't have just said something earlier. but i'm going to talk about it today. any minute now. are you excited?

well, you should be excited. everyone should be excited. because this winter [which many cosmetic companies call "spring"] sees the release of a brand new eye shadow formula from giorgio armani. they're dubbed "eye tints", which made me think that they would be more of a sheer wash of colour, but the signature image for the collection says different:

she does indeed seem to be sporting some serious colour.

the inclusion of water in that image is important because, as it turns out, this formula is watery. not in a bad, thin way. consider it like holy water for makeup addicts. i'm not a huge fan of eye shadows that come in any form other than powder, but armani is one of those brands that i'll experiment with, because i've had such luck in the past. [ironically, their regular pressed powder shadows, reformulated and relaunched last year, were a bit of a disappointment.] i happened to be at my armani counter the day that their product and testers arrived, and after swatching the half a dozen shades they'd received [there are twelve in total, but the others hadn't arrived yet], i settled on purchasing just one to start: shade #11, "rose ashes".

mental health mondays :: let's talk [begrudgingly]

this will be a quick one, because there's only so far i can go praising an initiative from bell canada before i start to vurp.

nevertheless, as much as i might detest them as a former customer [and i do], i appreciate the fact that bell has mounted a campaign for the last three years on raising awareness about and reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness. the "let's talk" campaign is also, of course, a fundraising effort and bell donates money per tweet, per call, per text and per facebook share on wednesday, january 28th. they also have a community fund that provides grants to organizations seeking to improve access to mental health programs. plus they've given an arseload of money to hospitals, research bodies and organizations like kids help line.

the web site for the campaign is itself a solid resource for information on mental health issues and the corporation has even developed a nifty little toolkit so that you can organize your own mental health events/ discussions.

as i say every year, being a bell canada customer might not have been good for my personal mental health, but their "let's talk" initiative is doing a lot to help others. so yes, even bad corporations can do good things sometimes. and just as we should hold them to account when they screw up, we should give them a salute when they do things right. [otherwise they'll never learn.]

i will be making a concerted effort to create a tweetstorm on my own with their #bellletstalk hash tag, but please feel free to join in [especially if you're a bell customer, since that's where the call/ text money will come from] and speak up about your crazy and the right of all of us to have our crazy treated seriously and respectfully.

25 January 2015

strange birds, 2015 edition

a few years back, i did a post about the misogyningoistic horror that is the costume portion of the miss universe competition. although it was one of the more popular posts on the blog, i haven't returned to the subject since then, mostly because i haven't made much of an effort to see if the pageant is still happening, but also because i assumed that the national costume portion had been canceled after all the birds were exterminated.

this weekend, i found out that things continue to go strong and that, if anything, they've gotten weirder. the point of this contest seems to be to let the judges get to know something about your country and to let them see how it could be turned into a spiffing outfit. but eventually, people got tired of wearing lederhosen, cowgirl outfits or a bottle of single malt, so they got imaginative. and when they got imaginative, things got weird. i'm not sure what any of these ladies or their costumers thought they were communicating about their national identity, but in most cases the message that i'm getting is "never come here, it is is horrible".

if you want to see wittier and more comprehensive coverage, you should check out tom and lorenzo, who have something to say about everyone. for my part, i just thought we could play a little game called "what are you getting at?"

well, for one thing, there does once again seem to be an overwhelming global message of "fuck birds". i can only assume that many countries have grown sick of cleaning guano from their public spaces and have decided that they will send their beauty emissaries forth clad in all the goddamned birds. to whit:

a giant spinning hypnowheel of seagulls?

we could have stopped at the dress, but then nothing would have been killed
who weeps for the loss of the creme de menthe cockatiel?

wild turkey
you see them too, right? i think one of them just winked at me
miss costa rica apparently decided to make a statement in favour of letting the occasional bird live by letting her four year old brother do a little artist's rendition instead...

although on closer inspection, those birds do look dead
other beauties adopted the theme of "products you didn't know we made".

korea = those flags you hang everywhere during the olympics and the world cup

curacao = those shooters you'll regret tomorrow morning.
slovenia = toilet brushes
finland = meringues

singapore = hookers with big dreams

lithuania = sheer window treatments [psst... we can see all the way to vilnius!!!]
turks and caicos = plastic wrap
ireland = blood and vomit
british virgin islands :: cheap arabian lamp knockoffs. or large golden dildos. i'm not sure.
peru = uh... neck damage?

then of course, there are those countries who us the opportunity to tell the world something it never knew about them...

australia :: the sun shines from our behind
russia :: we stole the pope's hat. seriously.

guam :: everything here is made of paper
guyana :: our national animal is very sparkly. also vicious if provoked.
dominican republic :: the emphasis is on the dominicans

trinidad and tobago :: split personality by name, split personality by nature

of course some ladies just had to arse everything up and go boring and traditional...

miss sweden wore her confirmation dress. maybe half a point for the candle hat.
miss greece distracts with her beauty while her home country detonates the e.u.
miss portugal says women in her country are built to make rugby tackles
of course, the way their men fight, i guess they need to be: 

and now a special award for the ladies who obviously had no help at all from their parents...

miss sri lanka used all the leftover wrapping paper
miss gabon wants you to know it's not a pair of green hands.
miss nigeria twisted the pipe cleaners herself!
and miss lebanon was careful to remove the curtain rod first
miss germany thinks you should just look at her balloons
miss nigeria's mom was originally supposed to use the yarn to knit a proper costume...
"i'm idaho!" [actually miss turkey, not that it makes any difference]
my major wish was that my own country would avoid embarrassing us all by tarting up some white chick from a mississauga in "traditional native dress" once again. of course, it did not occur to me that they would find a new and shocking way to humiliate us...

and kate was never allowed to mock another nation for as long as she lived. the end.

23 January 2015

armchair centre back :: five reasons you should be watching international soccer right now

it's calling to you...
ah. the halcyon days of the world cup are long behind us. now is the time when we freeze our collective tuchas off and think of things that we can do to amuse ourselves until it's safe to venture outside again. [on an unrelated note, spellcheck is advising me to change "tuchas" to "unchaste". it also refuses to acknowledge "spellcheck", as if it's trying to deny knowledge of its own existence. spellcheck is like the area 51 of software features.]

as part of your battle to stave off death by boredom, you're reading this blog post [and thank you very much], but this blog post is here to tell you that you could be doing something better without even leaving your house or putting on pants. there are currently two major international soccer competitions happening and you should really be watching one or both. that's not exactly easy, given the time zone skills involved, but you don't have to watch them live [although it's kind of better that way, let's face it]. both of them are well underway, but there's still time to catch the big events.

first up, there's the 2015 asian cup, which is being held in australia. yes, for the purposes of sport, australia is asia. also, israel is asia [which it actually is, although no one thinks of it that way]. and all the bits that you normally think of as asia are also asia. and lots of them have showed up in australia to find out who is the best in the vast continent at the world's most popular sport. that competition has actually been in progress for a couple of weeks and has reached the knockout phase, with semi-finals to follow shortly.

second, and still in the opening round, there is the 2015 africa cup of nations. this is the african continental clash, where teams from all over meet to stake their claim to dominance of all the lands of the second largest continent [after asia, which doesn't include australia for measurement purposes].

if you don't enjoy the sport, well, this activity probably isn't for you, but if you do enjoy it, or are at all interested, here are five perfectly cromulent reasons why it's well worth your time to tune in:

1. people put in a crazy amount of effort for these competitions

the africa cup of nations was supposed to happen in morocco, but in october of last year, the moroccans got cold feet due to the ebola outbreak in western africa. whether they entirely backed out of hosting, or just said they wanted things postponed while the whole highly contagious virus thing got sorted out is unclear. what is clear is that the football police were not about to delay the tournament, since getting the time off for players was something that had to be negotiated with a variety of professional leagues. so they kicked morocco out of the games entirely and moved the event to equatorial guinea. [some of you geography-nerds may note that this actually meant that the competition was brought closer to the centre of the ebola outbreak, because apparently, soccer bigwigs like to live on the edge.]

"surprise! you're hosting an international soccer tournament!" are not words that any country wants to hear, but the tiny west african nation seems to have done itself proud. remember, most countries have years to prepare for this competition. equatorial guinea has had about two months. it's amazing that some of the games aren't taking place in the streets of bata.

not regulation size, but the surface discourages diving
and no one has contracted ebola. one guy got malaria, but he'll be fine.

of course, holding a tournament in australia doesn't exactly have the same challenges. even if australia had had the tournament foisted on them last minute, they've hosted the olympics and the commonwealth games, plus there is a professional league based there. and there's that whole first world wealthy country thing going on. yes, the flora and fauna are probably trying to kill you, but it's frickin' australia. everyone wants to go there.

but that doesn't mean that there haven't been some pretty spectacular efforts made by teams in order to get there. for instance, palestine were able to qualify [although they have subsequently been eliminated] and you can just imagine what obstacles they face. their country is constantly under siege, there are regular bombings and no money for essentials, much less for doing things like training world class athletes. there's also the problem that palestine tends to lose their best players to neighbouring jordan, since skilled athletes cross the border so that they can have luxurious experiences like eating. a significant portion of the jordanian national team [also represented, also eliminated] is ethnically palestinian. nonetheless, the palestinian team made it through the qualifying rounds and became one of the sixteen teams to play in australia. that, my friends, is dedication.

you can be sure cristiano ronaldo doesn't train here.
so the next time you think of professional athletes as being spoiled [and certainly footballers would likely be the spoilediest of all], remember that there are people who are dedicated enough to what they do and proud enough at the idea of representing their country that they will train in a war zone to show what they are made of.

there are other examples [iraq, for instance, but we'll talk more about them later], but i think i've made my point. a lot of people have put a lot of work into making these events happen. respect the effort.

2. it's an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on political issues

equatorial guinea has done an excellent job preparing for the cup of nations on short notice, but that doesn't change the fact that their government is routinely rated as one of the most repressive in the world. drawing international attention to the country and the plight of its citizens is an excellent way to put the government of teodoro obiang nguema mbasogo under a public microscope. and unlike a lot of african nations, equatorial guinea is an excellent target for change in the short-to-medium term. it's africa's wealthiest country, thanks to considerable oil reserves, and has the highest average gdp on the continent. the population is only two million and the area is small compared to many neighbouring states. the problem faced by equatorial guinea is in the distribution of money they already have, which is at least an easier problem to have than trying to solve serious social problems when you don't have any money or ways to get it. there is never a bad reason to educate yourself on unfamiliar areas of the world.

while my australian friends would argue that internationals should feel moved to protest the government of tony abbott, i'd say that one of the more interesting things happening at the asian cup has been a sort of feminist wave among iranian football fans: women taking selfies. that might not sound in any way political, but the iranian government would disagree with you. women are forbidden from attending sporting events in iran, so even being in the crowd is a stick in the eye of the theocratic state. moreover, women have been posting photos of themselves in makeup and non-traditional dress alongside male friends and family members, having a grand old time. it's enough of an issue that the iranian government threatened national players with punishment if they were caught posing for selfies with female fans. the injunction has apparently fallen on at least some deaf ears, however: gorgeous goalkeeper alireza haghighi has been more than willing to oblige female fans who have approached him for photos. no word on whether he accepted the marriage proposal.

oh, and may i just say, if the gentlemen back home ever see the pictures of what they're missing, iran's gonna be facing another revolution.

the selfie: it's not just for narcissists anymore.  [and yes, i'm aware that the above photos are not selfies, you don't have to point that out. they still get the point across and it's my blog, dammit and i'll be slack if i want!]

3. there's legitimate excitement going on

as much as people praised the goal-heavy world cup for its excitement factor, there's no denying that there were relatively few surprises as to who progressed in the tournament. sure, spain crashed out early and the costa rica hung tough, but while some games were unexpectedly lopsided while others were unexpectedly difficult, the scorelines almost always favoured the... favourites. not so in africa and asia!

reigning asian champs japan were bounced yesterday from the cup by the united arab emirates. that is an upset for the ages. uae finished thirteenth our of sixteen teams last time- that's the bottom half of the bottom half of teams; japan won the whole shebang and were among the teams expected to make it to the finals.

yesterday also saw three-time champions iran upset by their neighbours... that's right... iraq. to be fair, the iraqi national football team are no strangers to working under adversity. they won the asian cup in 2007, which tells you something about just how committed these guys are. although i was pulling for iran [call it the alireza factor, combined with a love for the enthusiasm for their astonishingly numerous fans], i have to hand it to team iraq for sheer grit. the game went 120 minutes in the heat of an australian summer and was decided on penalty shots [which is still a bullshit way for an important game to be decided] and even then, it took extra penalty shots to determine a winner. that, my friends, is a battle.

things are still in the early stages in africa, but there have already been some unexpected results there, as well. on paper, i would have said that ivory coast were almost unbeatable, what with established superstars didier drogba and yaya touré joined by resurgent arsenal castoff gervinho and swansea city warrior manchester city turncoat bastard powerful centre forward wilfried bony, all showing up for the big showdown. but the team squandered their first game, playing to a tie with cameroon and thus blowing everyone's bracket in the first round. [there is also a "group of death" situation happening, with algeria, ghana, senegal and south africa all competing for two positions. smart money would be on algeria and ghana, but smart money would have been on ivory coast beating cameroon and japan making it at least to the final, so smart money is gone.]

4. an international man candy pageant

time to taste the rainbow, ladies and gentlemen. ok, maybe not taste. that would probably get you arrested, but there is plenty of opportunity to just relax and appreciate nature's bounty. the nations involved in these competitions represent areas covering well over half our global landmass. while that might not give you quite the diversity of the world cup, it's still a pretty wide swathe, which affords a chance to catch up with some faces we haven't seen since the great global get-together seven months ago and to discover others who weren't lucky enough to make it.

of course, with things being at the stage they are in asia, that means that a lot of the sweetest pieces have already departed, including probably my personal favourite man candy in the footballing world right now, the aforementioned persian prince alireza haghighi. [reminds self of olivier giroud, iker casillas and the increasingly adorable alexis sanchez and bites lip. no. sticking with assessment. at this moment in time.]

what's the farsi word for "sigh"?

once you've exhausted your brain learning about all the different nations that are competing in these tournaments, nothing feels better than relaxing in front of a great bowl of multi-flavoured man candy. [unless you like girls, in which case, just go back and look at the pictures of the iranian fans above. or look anywhere else on the internet. if you can't find pictures of attractive women on the web, you probably shouldn't be online. you could break something.]

5. islamic state and boko haram don't want you to watch

it's not just playing soccer that can be dangerous in some parts of the world. in certain places, even watching it can be a pretty bold political statement. a group of thirteen teenagers in mosul, iraq found that out in the worst possible way when they were murdered by terrorists who have declared their city to be part of a caliphate. the rationale [and i use that term in its loosest possible sense] was that the boys had violated religious doctrine by watching a broadcast of the iraq vs jordan game at the asian cup. 

boko haram, the voice of extremist zealot muslims in west africa, has not done doled out punishment to "infidels" watching the africa cup of nations, but they did blow up a bunch of fans in nigeria watching a world cup match last year.

it is apparently the opinion of islamic extremists that allah does not want you to watch footie, because it distracts you from thinking about religion. i can't argue with the last part of that, because muslims in many parts of the world would probably eat a pound of pulled pork if it meant their team could bring home the world cup. but i honestly don't believe that there is anything in the qu'ran that bans the viewing of sports via satellite feed.

so remember: if you're not watching international soccer this weekend, the terrorists win.

for what it's worth, i think that the asian cup will likely go to the home team and australia's "socceroos" will have the incredible pleasure of lifting the trophy surrounded by their own fans. i'm a little less confident about the africa cup, but i still think that ivory coast is too powerful for the other competitors, assuming they get their shit together.

so sure, you could spend time getting errands done or having quality time with family or friends, but there are lots of perfectly good reasons why you should be doing nothing but watching tv or a live stream, having a drink and wallowing in the glory that is your freedom to do so.

africa cup of nations
asian cup
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