31 March 2011

making faces :: product review [sephora haul]

if you're a lady or a lad who's into making yourself look good, sephora is sort of like the antechamber to paradise. it has everything you need to make yourself look, smell and probably taste perfect in every way before you make your big entrance. unfortunately, and for no reason i can understand, when sephora opened stores in the montreal area, they put them in the suburbs of laval and pointe claire, rather than establishing a presence downtown. well, i suppose that keeps my wallet happy, but it means that going there is something i can't do very often.

but this week, for the first time, i made the pilgrimage out to pointe claire to see what i'd been missing- all those brands for whom sephora is the sole distributor in canada. and, yes, i was like a kid in a candy store. i decided to let myself have a couple of treats, because what's the point of making the trip if you aren't going to come back with some kind of trophy? i also decided that i would stick exclusively to things that i can't get closer to home. i did pretty well on both counts. i don't know why i ended up with only lipsticks, but i do find that they're just such a good way to get oneself introduced to a brand...

i would like to take a moment and say a big thank you to heather and daniel who were way beyond helpful and truly did make the outing there like a fun adventure in toyland. who doesn't enjoying a few moments of escapism on a dreary day in march?

SEE WHAT GOODIES I RETURNED WITH AND MY THOUGHTS ON THEM

30 March 2011

siren songs :: ventricle records profile

there's hard to find and then there's hard to hear about in the first place. the first condition is predicated on the idea that it is possible that somehow, you're going to hear about a piece, either because it has a cult following, or a major label picked it up because they lost a bet, or your cousin used to date someone who was in the band when they first started out. those are the lucky ones. no matter how far below the radar they might have flown, there will remain a group who are constantly seeking them out, keeping the memory of their sound alive.

mauve sideshow album art
that second group is less fortunate. for whatever reason, some artists just don't take root in the soil of the subcultural psyche the way that they should. such is the case with ventricle records, an american label active from the early nineties to early, um, whatever you call that first decade of the century. (i always kind of liked "the noughties" but it never did catch on.)

information on ventricle is sparse, but it is remarkably consistent: "sites and sounds of mysterious female vox" is the phrase on their still-active web site and slight variations of that phrase are just about the only available words on the label or their artists anywhere on the internet. one is tempted to think that any publicity this label received was cribbed from one of their own press sheets and that no one took much initiative to investigate any further.

giving the people what they want


i was perusing my blog stats again this morning, which is a way of finding out what people are looking at around these parts, from where and how they get here. it's all very encouraging, since all subjects seem to get their share of love, but my favourite part (aside from the fact that march is already a record-breaking month in terms of site visits, eclipsing february's previous high-water mark) is seeing how the internet has directed people here.

the number one search term for the last little while is very simple: "orange". that's right, the little colour that nobody likes, let along wants to wear on their face apparently has a secret fan club who are searching for it through the wilds of the internet. happy to oblige.

steve bickley continues to have a popular following (in fact, he now leads the pack in all-time searches), as do other bell-related searches, but the last few weeks have seen a new term emerge: "abuse by bell". yes, it's obvious that there is an increasingly desperate group of people seeking support after their bell canada experiences. be strong, folks, there are many others like you and there are options available.

"kate macdonald benzos" is making regular appearances on the list of terms through which people get here, which makes me scratch my head a little, but at least it's better than "kate macdonald should be on benzos".

apparently, through the number of views and the number of search terms that have landed people here, people were happy to see a restaurant review of gourmet du vietnam in montreal. more nom reports to follow shortly. (you can also check out the reviews on drunk on food.)

but the absolute winners of the past week, which somehow led people to this site were (and these are probably my favourites ever):

"how to create a halo effect in a passion play"

which makes me happy that people are reviving the medieval tradition of passion plays. and our winner:

"things that look like desserts in space"

my friend, i can't guarantee it will be here, but i sincerely hope that you find what you're looking for.

29 March 2011

mental health "mondays" :: is it all in your head?

uh-oh
one of the most common questions asked about any sort of mental disorder diagnosis is whether or not there is an objective test you can take to confirm it. wouldn't that be nice? i dream of a day when i can go to the pharmacy and buy a little kit that allows me to pee on a strip and check back a minute later: two bars crazy, one bar not crazy.

the science of psyche (or psycho) is still so theoretical that professionals in the field can't even agree on what the disorders in question are, or whether they've been defined correctly. there seems little doubt that people can identify when they're having symptoms- they generally recognise depression and anxiety and, in fact, millions of them, almost half the population of the united states, according to some surveys, flock to doctors for relief from these conditions at some point in their lives. and doctors oblige them, handing out medications to deal with their ills and reassuring them that, yes, mental illnesses are real and treatment is available.

28 March 2011

ahem... nothing to see here... look away...

usually at this time of week, you'd be seeing a little post called "mental health mondays". however, due to a slightly messed up schedule, mhm will be delayed by a day for this week only... so pop 'em if you got 'em and hold tight for temporal lobe tuesday.

thanks,
the management

27 March 2011

making faces :: product review [estée lauder pure color lipsticks]

while i was out shopping the other day, i was given a sample by the lady at the estée lauder counter that caught me quite by surprise. it wasn't that i was taken so much by the product- i couldn't tell anything about it- but because the sample itself was so intricate and well-designed that i could immediately see that the company had spent a pretty penny (i always wondered what happened to the ugly pennies... but that's another story) creating this little card that they were handing out to women like me who stopped at their locations. someone at estée lauder wanted my attention.

what i received was a folded card with a plastic insert containing four little pots of lipstick and a mini lip brush to boot. it was quite adorable. all this was to announce the launch of a new  line of lipsticks- and a big launch too. lauder is launching a total of 35 new colours- 25 in their "pure color long lasting" lipstick (plus a few extra limited edition ones) and 10 more in their more sheer "pure color crystal" formula. all of this is being done under the auspices of creative director tom pecheux, who has taken on the challenge of reinventing the brand's image- taking it from the makeup of mothers and grandmothers to makeup for the young and successful that everyone wants to have.

REVIEW AND PHOTOS AFTER THE BREAK...

26 March 2011

and they're off...

i'll admit it. my first instinct to the official announcement that the government had fallen and that we are headed for a spring election was to curl into the fetal position and howl. we all knew this was coming. the polls indicated that it would be advantageous for prime minister stephen harper to call an election, the ad nauseum minority governments we've had generally reach their expiry date around this time. the opposition have been clamouring to defeat the government in the belief that their poll numbers are soft... there were lots of warning signals.
poll numbers? or my ekg when i heard about the election?

none of which change the fact that nobody wants the damn election. i don't like stephen harper, i don't agree with his policies, i don't think he should be prime minister of the country. on one level, my opinions count for diddly, because i live in quebec and harper has managed to hold onto power through two elections without making serious inroads here. on the other hand, my opinions count for a lot, because i'm just one more reason that stephen harper isn't going to win a majority and things are going to stay exactly the f**king same whether we have an election or not.

HOW TO COPE WITH AN ELECTION: READ ON...

25 March 2011

friday favourites 25.03.11

is it just me or does the first quarter of the year go a lot faster than the others? in fact, i think that time actually slows down the further in the year you get, because november seems to go on forever every year, whereas this week, i thought that people were joking when they were talking about it being the first day of spring. (i particularly thought they were joking the next day when we got a snowstorm.) every time i turn around, it's friday again and i'm thinking about things that made the last week good.

in this case, unfortunately, that's a bit of a stretch. snowstorm aside, i got a cold, which is never fun. the truth is, my immune system is pretty awesome- I've gone whole years without so much as a sniffle- but it has a tendency to breakdown like something the day after it's warranty expires on those occasions when it does collapse. Sometimes, this lasts just a few days. Sometimes, it's been known to go on for months. I'm hoping that this is one of those "few days" scenarios.

so, the combination of the weather and feeling under the weather has kept me close to home most of the week. that's reflected in a lot of my choices for my friday favourites, which this week are the product of much laziness around the house, watching movies and surfing the internet (as opposed to most weeks, where there's usually at least one thing that involves me leaving the house).

buckley's pills:: straight up, if it weren't for these, "friday favourites" would probably be getting posted some time next tuesday. i'm already a fan of their eponymous "mixture" for coughs (in fact, in defiance of popular opinion, it's the only cough syrup that's flavour doesn't make me sick), so a few years back, when i was in the midst of rhinovirus hell, i was excited to see that they also made pills to cover all my symptoms. this is a classic example of loyalty at work. there are lots of cold medications, but i never had faith in them until i saw the buckley's name on them.

almost too good for what ails you
now, i'll never use anything else. yes, they work. they come in conveniently separated packages of day and night gel caps that you take at the prescribed times and, in a few days... tah-dah! no more cold. they are the bomb at drying up your runny nose while you're healing, so you can breathe, the nighttime ones go from a half hour of "i'm not sure if it's working) to knocking me out for eight solid hours with a force normally possessed by a prize fighter (and the morning grogginess isn't too bad) and they contain an excellent anti-tussive (that's med-speak for something that makes you stop coughing). that's where things get interesting.

SEE WHAT ELSE MADE THE WEEK WORTHWHILE, PLUS THE FRIDAY CAT PIC!

23 March 2011

making faces :: in defense of orange

well, i wasn't planning on doing another post on a specific colour quite so soon, but i was struck by something that made me reconsider... pity. i happened across a study on colour preferences and i started to wonder: what the heck do people have against orange?

although it scores better than yellow, white and grey on a list of "favourite" colours, it leads the pack by a mile as the chosen least favourite colour (especially if you take into account that brown, which comes second, is a variant of orange). now that seems a little harsh. especially since it's something that both men and women can agree on. this despite the fact that most people agree it's the colour that they most associate with fun. jeez, you'd think that would be a good thing.

statistically, it does ok with youngsters, takes a beating with young adults, rebounds a little with those in their twenties and thirties and plummets thereafter to technicolour oblivion as a favourite. so why do we hate orange so much?

READ MORE ABOUT ORANGE AND SEE SOME LOOKS THAT MIGHT MAKE YOU LIKE IT A LITTLE MORE...

21 March 2011

mental health mondays :: big fat deal

well, the last few weeks have been kind of heavy in terms of all the information i've been throwing around on different mental disorders and the medications we can take to control them. so this week, i thought i'd focus a little more on one issue: psychiatric meds and weight gain.

as discussed in the last few posts, one of the things that worries people the most about taking medication for any mental disorder is the common understanding that these drugs will make you gain weight. in fact, a lot of patients stop taking their medications for exactly that reason- they simply can't handle the fact that dealing with depression, panic attacks or generalised anxiety involves the equally depressing spectacle of your body ballooning in size. ironically, weight gain as a side effect is likely to be mentioned in passing by a doctor if at all, when prescribing an anti-depressant. so if this is one of the most common reasons for discontinuing medications, why wouldn't it be part of the discussion on whether or not to take them to begin with? that has to do with prevailing attitudes about weight gain in general.


weight gain is not taken seriously as a side effect of medications, because, in this instance, it is largely seen as a question of vanity. and for many, that's exactly what it is. on the other hand, even if the concern is that one will be perceived as less attractive, or as becoming overweight, there are reasons to believe that others, whether they mean to or not, do judge people who are heavier more harshly than those who appear fit. there are also negative associations with sudden or ongoing weight gain- that one is lazy, indulgent, greedy, etc. the fact is that when most people see someone they know gaining weight, their first instinct is not to think that they may be on medications that are causing them to pack on pounds.

but weight gain is more than a problem of self-image and perception. everywhere, we are bombarded by messages that obesity is rampant, particularly in north america, but increasingly over europe as well. the dangers of being even moderately overweight are drilled into our heads in the same way that the dangers of nicotine were for decades. a billion-dollar industry thrives on our fears of weight gain, vaunting the benefits of "magic" foods to aid weight loss, low-calorie meals to control weight and restrictive diets of various sorts. and yet, when doctors are handing out medications, the topic of weight gain is treated as if it's frivolous. a bit of a mixed message to say the least.

as with all drugs, there is a benefit- liability analysis that should be done. if you're really depressed, medications may be your best option, but there are things that you should prepare yourself for, so that you can deal with them if they happen and weight gain is absolutely one of those. so here's a little primer on weight gain and mental meds. again, i'll specify that i'm not a doctor and, although i've made every attempt to draw my information from reputable sources, this shouldn't be taken as a medical opinion. consider it food for thought- that won't make you gain weight.

20 March 2011

i feel i can no longer remain silent

don't answer
listen
never listen
an apology
is an excuse
never mind
time wasted
and i beg your pardon
a common misunderstanding
quite forgotten
eyes out
pearls of no wisdom
all eyes forward
complete attention
the way of the flesh
and the way of all things
is that understood?
all that noise
and jolly promise
no evil in that
no bad intentions
no ill will
and feeling no pain
no more
and i thought-
that is to say-
say no more
poisonous aching unknown
don't answer
it is what it is
suck it up
keep in it check
a momentary lapse
of reason
of judgment
and nothing
of consequence
a crazy scheme
a fool's errand
don't break the chain
don't break the silence
say nothing
forget it
that is all.

19 March 2011

stop me if you've heard this one before

"Our goal is focused, our cause is just and our coalition is strong."

you have no idea how tightly my bowels clench when i read that statement. or maybe you do. because maybe you're one of the millions and millions of people whose sphincters contracted just a little bit when they heard president bush say that upon invading iraq. that would be the first president bush. when the second president bush said the same thing about invading iraq, i think a number of us scratched our heads and grew a little concerned about all those moralistic lectures we'd received about how drugs could cause you hallucinatory flashbacks when you least expected it.

what disturbs me about this quote, though, is actually that it comes from current president barack obama. i won't say it's verbatim what was said about iraq, but it's damn close.

to his credit, before saying anything of this sort, obama waited to see that he had the support of both the united nations and the arab league. but that quote still chills me to my core because it echoes the statements of two of his predecessors without irony.

i'm not trying to defend gadaffi here. i think his record speaks for itself and i think that a rebellion against him is long overdue. but i'd have to say that i feel the same way about repressive governments in yemen and bahrain, neither of which are receiving the international censure given to libya. in fact, it looks suspiciously as if the world (including the arab league) reaction to events in libya is serving to divert attention from other countries going through popular uprisings.

it also makes me wonder whether barack obama or david cameron would have the same reactions if there were rebellions in the united states or united kingdom. would they accede to international requests that their governments refrain from military action in atlanta or glasgow?

truth be told, i'm not choosing sides in any of these arguments, nor am i encouraging others to do so without further investigation. but in the relative absence of other voices doing so, i'm encouraging everyone to question why there are these differences in terms of how western governments are dealing with internal rebellions in arab and north african states.

18 March 2011

friday favourites 18.03.11

it''s friday friday! time for favourites favourites! why am i saying everything like jacob two-two two-two? well let's just get down to business shall we?

here are a few things that made my smile a little brighter...

the death of the music industry :: sure, people have been predicting it for years, but now we have ark records here to pound that stake through the heart of the last music mogul and nail the coffin shut just for good measure. excuse me, i've not written their name properly: they are actually called ark music factory and a more appropriate company name has never been entered in the ledgers of business registrations. i couldn't make that up, because i know that no one would believe me. they actually call themselves a music factory.

prepare to be rocked
the premise of this business is not to find and promote hot new artists, but to cash in on the eagerness of wealthy families to keep their teenage princesses happy in any way possible. so ark takes their money, flies their little snowflakes out to los angeles (assuming they're not there already) and has a team of songwriters compose something for them to record, fire up the auto-tune and let the music fill their ears (assuming they haven't just stopped them up with cotton or glue or anything else they found lying around). and it doesn't stop there. they then make a video with them dancing with their friends, tossing their hair and generally acting in a way that would thrill any pedophile and should scare the hell out of their parents. remember when britney spears was cute? your kids can't. they don't know how far they can slide.

SEE MORE FAVOURITES PLUS THIS WEEK'S CAT PIC!

16 March 2011

making faces :: a passion for purple

purple
apparently, purple is the colour preferred by most teenage girls. that doesn't entirely surprise me, because in their teens, girls still identify with the perceived femininity of the colour, but they've advanced beyond the pure girlishness of pink (although many circle back in later years, that's another story). but aside from it's feminine aspects, purple has always been the colour of the outcast- an appealing thought to any teenager- the colour of the minority. perhaps it's that's why it's still one of my favourites today; i never grew out of that phase.

in fact, there are good reasons why purple is an "outcast" colour. for starters, it's an outcast from the colour spectrum, because there is no such thing as purple light. there is violet light, which many people would say was purple, but in fact, in terms of their wavelengths (which are what makes our mind register them as colours), they are distinct. violet is much closer to blue than true purple, which is a mix of red and blue. purple, therefore, is ephemeral. it exists only as a mix of other colours.

violet
of course, originally, people didn't understand how colours in the light spectrum worked, but purple was still a special shade. the first use of purple as a fabricated colour came from phoenicia, where a colour now known as "tyrian purple" was made from ink extracted from a type of mediterranean snail. because the dye was difficult to produce, it became the purview of royalty. later on, the emperors and senators of rome adopted this shade as a sign of their nobility and thus began a long-time association of purple with the privileged classes. even after the collapse of the roman empire, when tyrian purple lost its allure and was replaced by difficult to manufacture blue dyes, a bluer shade of purple, now termed "royal purple" became the shade of monarchs.

EXPLORE THE MYSTERIES OF PURPLE AND SEE SOME LOOKS INCORPORATING DIFFERENT SHADES...

15 March 2011

google chef

are there some flavours that you always thought would go well together, but have never had the opportunity to try combining? things that you just know would work? combining elements in a stir fry or a roast is somewhat easy- i made up a mushroom risotto for supper based on what seemed to go together and cooked until it seemed done- but where it can get tricky is with dessert. after all, you can't just throw together baking. the proportions are important, like in high school chemistry. no one wants to be that kid who blew his eyebrows off because he wasn't paying attention to how many parts of each element were required.

the other day, i had a brainstorm. it involved three things that i always felt would make some kind of great dessert: rose water, cardamom and pistachios. i've never actually tasted them all together and i'm going out on a digestive limb because, while i'm not exactly allergic, pistachios have always wreaked havoc on my innards, steadfastly refusing to be digested. it's just that i love them.

GET LINKS TO DESSERT RECIPES!

14 March 2011

mental health mondays :: manic panic, part two

and now... the pills!

before anti-manics? or after?
unlike anti-depressants, you're not going to get these from your family doctor. putting someone on medication to control mania is something that's done by a specialist in the area, because the meds are pretty serious. the good part is, they're effective. the bad part is, the side effects suck worse than finding out the ex who stole all your belongings also gave you herpes. some are worse than others and what exactly you have prescribed depends on how off your rocker you've become, what other meds you're on or have tried and what your doctor is comfortable recommending. that last one can have a lot more to do with it than anything else, actually.

depending on what state you're in and what states you tend to reach when you're at your most agitated, the drugs serve different purposes:

1. to calm you down
2. to keep you stable
3. to make you rational

mental health mondays :: manic panic, part one

well, last week, i went through an exhausting, if not exhaustive, summary of recognising when depression and anxiety require outside help and what some of the options are. as promised, this week, we're turning our attention to depression's more alluring cousin, mania.

is it a good happy or a bad happy?
to start with, i'd like to return to my stock market analogy: the flip side of the sluggish or depressed market is one that is accelerated and expanding. generally that's the sort of positivity you want, but there's also a need to keep it in check. when a market begins to get overinflated, it gets wild and becomes risky and unstable. eventually the expansiveness becomes baseless and precipitates a collapse. most economists, and most psychiatrists as well, will tell you that these "manic" phases are actually far more dangerous than depressed ones.

the problem with mania is that it's not only a lot more difficult to diagnose, but individuals are a lot less likely to realise it's something that requires help. who the heck goes to the doctor because they're happy? or cranky? after all, manias are an extended period of elevated or irritable mood that can lead to unwarranted risk-taking and negatively affect one's social position and relations. the problem is, the person in the throes of mania doesn't realise how potentially dangerous or off-putting their behaviour is, because they are so incredibly overconfident and convinced of their own abilities. those who manifest the "cranky" (impatient, quick to anger) manias believe firmly that lack of progress or nay-saying is the fault of other people. it's virtually impossible to get someone in the midst of a true mania to admit that they're putting themselves (and potentially others) at risk.

13 March 2011

om nom nom nom :: restaurant review

ok, i can't promise this is going to become a weekly part of the blog, but given how damn much i love food and how much dom shares that passion with me, it would just be silly if i didn't occasionally write something about what we eat. i've posted here and there about the sort of things i've cooked, because i love cooking almost as much as i love eating, but i don't often talk about the places where we actually go to eat.

and that's a damn shame, because we do likey the restaurants.
by the end of this, he'll be smliing

so, in the spirit of sharing with those of you who find yourselves in montreal, i thought i'd share my thoughts on a place we happened by tonight: gourmet du vietnam.

montreal is generally very fortunate in its selection of vietnamese restaurants. while a great part of me still misses toronto for its unbeatable indian and sushi is at best an even split, vietnamese, with its delicate flavours, perfect grillades and ubiquitous soups are undoubtedly, within canada at least, the purview of montreal.

that said, there are a lot of places that let the side down. in the wake of vietnamese becoming the new chinese (meaning, the new foreign food that everyone had to try) in the mid-to-late eighties, a lot of sub-par places opened serving reheated meat patties with pre-etched grill marks and bowls of "soupe tonkinoise" that looks and tastes remarkably like used dishwater. au 14 prince arthur is generally my benchmark for excellence in vietnamese in montreal, but since they're not particularly close, i'm always on the lookout for a tasty destination within walking distance. and finally, it seems i've found one.

11 March 2011

friday favourites 11.03.11

wow. i almost forgot that today was friday... i realised part way through and so, yes, i'm a little late posting my friday favourites but hey, better late than never, right?

overall, this week was a marked improvement on last for me. although i'm still trying to figure out my mysterious allergy to food, i've overall been in a better mind frame this week than last. today, of course, was the mild, runny topping on the dessert of the week, because it was beautiful outside. it felt nice to enjoy fresh air for a change.

of course, the last twenty-four hours have given a lot of people a lot of things that are pretty damn horrible and my heart goes out to them. so one of the things that i have to feel good about is that i live in relative security.

and on that slightly sombre note, here are some of the things that helped me to think that i'm a pretty lucky lady:

firefox live :: i wasn't sure what my browser was talking about when it asked me to look at "firefox live". isn't an internet browser always live? but this is something completely different. instead, this is a joint project between mozilla and the knoxville zoo to raise awareness about the creatures that give the browser its name. it's made of adorable and stuffed with squee and it's exactly the kind of thing you need to remind you that the world is full of fascinating, lovable things.

SEE MORE FAVOURITES AND THIS WEEK'S CAT PIC!

10 March 2011

making faces :: product review [nars haul]

well, as promised, here are the reviews of the three nars products that i picked up with my makeover. two of them i bought on the strength of seeing them used, whereas the other i bought... just cuz.

i'm not a complete newcomver to the brand. i have a few of their eye shadows already, a blush and a lip gloss from them and I've generally been very happy with the quality. price wise, they're roughly equivalent to brands like bobbi brown and laura mercier- higher than mac and urban decay, but lower than luxury brands like chanel or yves st. laurent.  the big leap that i took with this round of purchases is that i bought one of their foundations; that's a commitment for me. i have lots of shadows and lipsticks, but foundation... well, that's serious. i'm sort of a serial monogamist with foundations.

but on to the products. these are just my thoughts, so if your experience is any different, please feel free to speak up.

SEE THE INDIVIDUAL REVIEWS PLUS A LOOK WITH THE PRODUCTS IN ACTION

09 March 2011

making faces :: my date with nars

as i mentioned last week, i took advantage of an event at one of my local nars cosmetics counters to have someone else do something with my face for a change. the deal was that, with the purchase of two products, you could have a free makeup session with one of their artists. i've only done this kind of thing twice before- once at makeup forever before a friend's wedding and once when mac cosmetics was having a similar deal. the results in the first case were interesting, but not really a look i'd do for myself (plus i now avoid mufe completely, since they're pretty snaky about saying whether they do or do not use animal testing). my mac appointment was a better match for me, but it was almost too good a match... it was done with very nice rose/ plum colours that are pretty much what i use a lot on my own. so sure, it looked nice, but it also looked a little too familiar.

i figured that, with this appointment, the experience would be different. i wasn't getting a look done for any particular function and, unlike with mac, i have relatively little experience with nars, so there was already more chance of coming out with a distinctive look.

SEE WHAT HAPPENED!

07 March 2011

mental health mondays :: when to say when, part 2

so you've decided to take drugs. congratulations, you've made a big step in dealing with your depression/ anxiety and hopefully one that you've thought a lot about. if you haven't. maybe you want to hit the pause button and go back to read part one of this post.

myself, i'm kind of ambivalent on depression meds. i think they're grossly over-prescribed and i think some people need them. i think some types of depression are better treated with chemicals and some aren't. what i have very little patience for are people who know they have problems and who have categorically decided that they will not take medication because "they can handle it themselves" without bothering to learn anything about depression or about the drugs used to fight it. these reactions hearken back to those same old prejudices about mental illness being somehow less serious than other forms of illness, something that shouldn't require actual treatment. i also find that "taking care of it themselves" is usually code for ignoring the problem and assuming it'll go away on its own, or finding ways to convince oneself that the problem can be dealt with by blaming it on other people, or by simply getting drunk/ high a lot. some people can deal with their depression and anxiety themselves, no question. and they're easily distinguished because they're the people who can articulate how they do it without resorting to sarcasm.

think of depression/ anxiety meds the way you would pain medication: if you take something for every little ache, you're not allowing yourself to deal with the fact that pain is real and that sometimes, you just have to work through it. when it gets a bit more serious, you might want to think about something to take the edge off and so on. and, as with pain medications, it's important to remember that drugs aren't correcting the underlying problem, ever. they're just easing the symptoms so that they aren't screwing up your life.

i am a big fan of knowing what you're getting yourself into and depression meds are serious chemicals that play with how your brain works. you should understand what the dangers and potential benefits are and you do that by collecting information. get on line and find information from the manufacturer, from current and former users, from medical professionals. look for case studies and, again, ask your doctor, counselor, therapist or whoever is helping you where you can find case studies and testimonials from sources not funded by the proponents of that drug. take the opportunity to get to know your brain and how it responds to various stimuli.

mental health mondays :: when to say when, part one

i'm glad to see that it's getting easier for people to admit when there's something that's not right in the old attic. personally, i try to encourage people to engage in these sorts of conversations, not so that we can have a group "woe is me" session, but because it tears the lid off how common it is to have periods of moderate to severe depression or anxiety and how increasingly common it is to take medications for a period of time to help alleviate the symptoms. it is easier to admit, but there does still seem to be a stigma that mental disorders are the domain of the weak or the hopelessly insane and that to admit that one has problems is to cast oneself into one of those categories. Not exactly something you want written on your c.v., for sure.

the great thing about open communication on the issue is that it allows people to better put their own depression and anxiety in context, which is the first step to understanding what can be done. because once you're able to admit that you're having difficulties, it opens up a whole other set of questions about how you're going to deal with them.

the disordered brain, actual image
first, let's dispense with the "weak or crazy" myths. these generally date from a time when there was comparatively little known about the brain, so it was largely assumed that everyone's noggin worked pretty much the same way (the sane way) as everybody else's. the only people who's brains worked differently were easily distinguishable by a mongoloid appearance, or by the fact that they were talking to god and refusing to wash for long periods of time. psychotherapy was highly theoretical and drew from the conjecture of a few influential figures who were able to do a lot of qualitative field testing.

over the course of the twentieth century and the first part of this one (over a decade in and it still feels weird to say that), scientists have been able to gather plenty of quantitative information about the brain. the fact that it still resists detailed poking and prodding while still in use means that it remains difficult to fully understand, but we're way ahead of wear we were when people came up with the idea that all brains were created equal.


love the grindstone



the idea of writing about "obscure music" is such a hipster trope that i hate myself for even thinking of doing it, but occasionally there are just these little undiscovered gems that have managed to slip beneath the cultural waves through no fault of their own. lots of music is forgotten and deservedly so, but there are a lot of others who never managed to get enough traction to form a more broadly recognised subculture despite being well-crafted, innovative and original. those of us who have a long-term relationship with off-kilter music of various sorts all have our special cases where we think a group, or groups got the short end of the historical stick.


one of the lucky breaks i've had in my life was that i got to spend the first half of the nineties working in various capacities at a radio station that exposed me to a wide variety of sounds. partly, that came through the on-air programming, but ckdu-fm was also home to a record library that really belongs in a museum somewhere. largely accumulated in the early to mid-eighties, there are records in there that even the artists probably don't remember recording. one of my favourite activities, something that cheered me when i was feeling down, was spending time in that record library grabbing random records and seeing what they brought me.

06 March 2011

more like stats

just because i write this blog doesn't mean that i always know what's going on with it. but thankfully, the nice folks at google have made it possible for me to learn more about the people (you) who read it and what interests them. here's a few things i've gleaned:

- the most popular post i've ever written is called "mixed nuts". it's just a bunch of on line tests i did dealing with mental disorders (while i was dealing with some demons of my own). there's rarely a week that passes that it doesn't get more hits and at this point, it's over a year old. i must find some new tests so that i can contemplate a sequel. eek! i've become as creatively bankrupt as hollywood! i seriously have no idea why this post should be so popular, but it has over three times the number of hits as my number two post.

04 March 2011

friday favourites 04.03.11

it's march! spring is less than three weeks away! ech. who am i kidding? i got up wednesday morning and looked out into a snow squall and it was -13 celsius yesterday in montreal. [insert grumbling sounds here.] i'll be honest with you. this was not one of my favourite weeks of 2011 thus far. a plethora of intestinal troubles have led me to investigate whether or not i might have developed some level of intolerance to wheat and wheat by-products, so some dietary adjustments have been in order. one thing i've noticed: having to pay conscious attention to your diet all the time makes you think about almost nothing except food and if you're thinking about food, you're going to get hungry. and in my case, hungry for things that may end up making me sick. hurrah. i also got politely refused for consideration for a job because i had the exact sort of experience they were looking for. there is seriously no typo in that last sentence.and, to put it politely, i am finding a couple of aspects of artistic projects a little trying at the moment.plus, there is a long standing tradition in my life of crappy things happening to me in march. beware the idea and all that...

but this is the sort of week that friday favourites is supposed to be about. it's never more important to think about the things that make you just a little bit happy than when there seem to be a lot of things getting you down. so in that spirit... here's this week's friday favourites!

SEE MY FAVOURITES PLUS THIS WEEK'S CAT PIC- CLICK BELOW TO CONTINUE!

[un]making faces ["get it off me"] :: product review

well, as with most people who like their beauty products, i tend to purchase quite a few of them. and since i've been sharing more of this part of my personality on the blog lately, i figured i'd share some of the good, bad and truly ugly experiences i've had with some of my purchases. i figured i'd kick it off with the antithesis of cosmetics, though: makeup removers.

ok, we were all young once. we all went through our twenties coming home at four in the morning and passing out with one of our boots still half on. ah, the halcyon days of youth when the removal of makeup was something that was accomplished by putting the pillowcases in the laundry. we've all most likely done the "makeup from the night before" look, thinking we looked disheveled and perhaps a little sexy. indeed. isn't it pretty to think so?

the fact is, it's not a good idea to wear your mascara until it flakes off and the oils on your skin do not make a good cleanser. whether you're like me and have reached an age where your face isn't going to forgive you for a few nights of too much wine and bad decision making, or you're part of a generation that realises it's not always wise to take your youthful good looks for granted (smart folks, you), it's important to find things that are going to get the makeup off your face and let nature preserve you as best it can.

here are a few reviews of products i've tried in the past to help guide you on your way. since this is a personal blog, i'm dealing exclusively with products i've actually bought and used, so it's by no means comprehensive. this is just my accumulated knowledge thus far (accumulated only since i stopped falling asleep every night with my makeup still on). prices and availability are for the canadian market.

CONTINUE ON TO THE REVIEWS/ RECOMMENDATIONS


03 March 2011

making faces :: smoke gets in your eyes

classic smoky eye #1
ah, the smoky eye. it's probably the most discussed and searched makeup look on the internet. you can find countless tutorials on how to give yourself this sultry regard in many ways, from basic to intricate, subtle to dramatic, in all sorts of colours, for all eye shapes and colours, every race and skin tone. it seems like something that every girl who enjoys wearing cosmetics has to try at some point.

the original "smoky" looks go back as far as the use of cosmetics itself. women in egypt lined their eyes with kohl, as art of the time records. in modern times, the look of dark-rimmed eyes became popular with screen vamps like theda bara and then with the thoroughly modern flappers who used makeup to declare their flaunting of ladylike convention (discussed earlier).

dramatic smoky eye
there are good reasons why this particular look is so popular. first of all, it can be done pretty simply, with two colours- dark and light- blended together into a gradient from lash line to brow and it doesn't require the precision of other looks. second of all, it's a clever way to disguise fatigued eyes- the darker colours camouflage circles and draw attention away from puffiness. when i lost my cat morgan after almost nineteen years, i cried for days. any time i had to leave the house, the smudgy smoky look was my friend. third, darker colours around the eye (and smoky looks are distinguished by the fact that they surround the whole eye, top and bottom) contrast with the whites of the eyes, making them appear brighter. fourth, while the look is often seen as something reserved for an evening out, the ever-broadening palette of colours and textures available in eye shadows mean that it can be extraordinarily versatile- a look done with soft neutrals is perfectly appropriate for an office, while a heavier look in black is striking for an night out.

see details on the smoky eyes pictured and more options!


dj kali & mr. dna @ the caustic lounge 02.03.11


well, this was our first night with the caustic lounge at cagibi. after a string of doing more dance-oriented nights, it was a bit different doing something geared towards an audience who were guaranteed to be sitting down. many thanks to everyone who came out, especially those who ventured out in the freezing cold specifically to catch what we were doing. you're what makes it fun to do this kind of thing.

dj kali
a.c. marias :: trilby's couch
crash course in science :: cardboard lamb
human league :: the path of least resistance
perverse teens :: little doll
cabaret voltaire :: yashar
these immortal souls :: marry me! lie! lie!
wovenhand :: terre haute
cocteau twins :: garlands
death in june :: europa: the gates of heaven
joy division :: the atrocity exhibition
sleep chamber :: el topo
coil :: ostia
zola jesus :: run me out
neither neither world :: all god's dogs
novy svet :: marlene
the coasters :: the shadow knows
liaisons dangereuses :: mystere dans la brouillard
colin newman :: alone
sleep museum :: who we are

mr. dna (who gave me the chance to relax and enjoy the heart of the evening with this most excellent new and no-wave (and more) extravaganza)
section 25 :: always now
pil :: poptones
dif juz :: hu
blue orchids :: disney boys
mission of burma :: secrets
ride :: chelsea girl
trans am :: futureworld
this heat :: horizontal hold
silver apples :: oscillations
the monochrome set :: the monochrome set (i presume)
in camera – die laughing
leben und arbeiten :: amanita
wire :: question of decree
red lorry yellow lorry :: take it all (away)
gang of four :: he’d send in the army
wall of voodoo :: back in flesh
josef k :: romance
joy division :: walked in line
the comsat angels :: missing in action
kommunity fk :: unknown to you
the flesh eaters :: the wedding dice
the cramps :: the crusher
deja voodoo :: my girlfriend
dik van dykes :: road warrior
buzzcocks :: orgasm addict
the dickies :: take it back
screamers :: 122 hours of fear
devo :: penetration in the centerfold
wall of voodoo :: ring of fire
hot chip :: playboy
new order :: leave me alone
interpol :: nyc

that's all for this time, folks! look for episode two of the caustic lounge coming the first wednesday in april!

02 March 2011

the great gluten experiment

as some of you know, i've been having some apparently food-related troubles lately. for the last few weeks, i've been prey to gastrointestinal difficulties, which i ignored in the hopes they'd pass. (this is often my way of dealing with aches and pains of various sorts and is generally pretty successful.) more recently, i've noticed that i was having a particularly adverse reaction when i ate cereal. every time i had a bowl, i'd become unbearably tired and quite dizzy, to the point where i'd have to sleep, usually for a few hours. i'd generally wake up feeling queasy and with a dull headache.

in fact, i noticed the same thing was happening- although not as seriously- almost every time i ate. i felt particularly sluggish and needed way more sleep than was healthy, plus i consistently seemed to have pain in my neck and upper back. that last symptom isn't unique, but it has been markedly worse.

suspecting that the reaction to cereal was the clue (being comparatively dramatic), i did what anyone in my situation would do: i asked friends on facebook to diagnose me and i went on line to diagnose myself. these studies yielded three moderately likely culprits:

1. processed/ refined sugars
2. lactose
3. gluten/ wheat


01 March 2011

bonkers for benzos

getting to know the benzos
last week, i blogged about psychiatric medications that are rarely (or, if you're in canada, never) prescribed, despite evidence that they are effective. as a counterpoint, i thought i'd write about a category of drugs that i find to be frighteningly over-prescribed: benzodiazepines. these are the drugs that are most likely to be handed out if you go to your doctor to complain of anxiety, stress, sleeplessness, recurrent headaches, generalised pain... well, put it this way: there are a lot of things that are likely to get you a prescription for benzos.

librium, the original benzo, was discovered in 1955, but was originally thought a disappointment. however, further testing and refinement resulted in a marketable drug, first made available in 1960. despite some concerns over the poorly-understood long-term effects of the drug and the potential for abuse, benzodiazepines were a marked improvement over their predecessors, the barbiturates (which, i discovered today, is a word i've been misspelling and mispronouncing my entire life). barbiturates had been the go-to medication to basically cure anything resembling a state of stress or even wakefulness for the first half of the century, but it was widely known that they were prone to abuse and that the stressed patients who took them had a tendency to use them for suicide. plus, of course, there were a number of soldiers in world war ii who were given "goofballs" to help depress their respiratory system, making it easier to work in the subtropical conditions of the south pacific (and probably making it a heck of a lot less stressful to risk their necks at war). the drugs seemed reasonably effective, but it unfortunately lead to a lot of pill-popping zombies coming home from the war, who were either forced into lengthy rehabilitation, or who continued as they were, leading to a widespread problem with barbiturate abuse in the post-war years. compared to that record, these spiffy new benzo drugs seemed like a good deal.


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