31 January 2012

making faces :: january's pretty things

'tis the post-holiday season of cold and wind and arctic air and snow and, to be honest, whatever excuse i can find to stay inside covered in a comforter and cats all day is generally a good thing. however, i have ventured out from time to time and even endeavoured to make myself presentable around the house so that dom doesn't have to come home to this:

how about a kiss honey?

i sort of wish that the weather wasn't so disagreeable, because low light and long nights are great conditions in which to show off pearly skin and deep lips, a look i prefer as a matter of course. but i suppose there's still lots of that left given that daylight savings doesn't kick in for a month and the sun stays mostly hidden until about the middle of march. and sometimes we get a bit of a thaw in february, which can be nice but also kind of a tease.

what i've been reaching for in my cabinet of pretties [actually dresser drawers] this month basically fits with what i mentioned above- highlighters to diffuse that wintry dullness, lips in shades of berry, plum and dark purple and, so as not to overbalance, a lot of neutrals and greys on the lids.

SEE SOME FAVOURITES & PHOTOS AFTER THE BREAK

30 January 2012

mental health mondays :: too good to resist

pick a colour, any colour...
that's right, it's mental health mondays. i haven't done one of these since suspending activity on this front a few months back and i'm still not sure if i have it in me to do this regularly, but we shall see. in the meantime, when i saw that my hero/ girl crush jenny lawson [the bloggess] posted this npr article on twitter earlier today, i couldn't resist resurrecting mhm at least for this week.

it seems that studies have shown ketamine, normally used as an anesthetic by surgeons and veterinarians and [at lower doses] as a party drug by ravers. ketamine is a fairly popular anesthetic because it has a relatively low side effect profile [at least compared to those of other similarly effective anesthetics, which have a nasty tendency to screw with your respiratory system]. in fact, even occasional recreational users are on fairly safe ground, since harmful, long-term damage has been confirmed chiefly in chronic users and addicts. timothy leary experimented with the mind-expanding qualities of ketamine and he was pretty much a poster child for surviving psychedelic excess.

MORE CRAZY TALK AFTER THE BREAK...

28 January 2012

the montreal metro project, part 8 [the grand finale]

here at last are the final photos in my series on montreal's metro system. i hope you've enjoyed this look at what i consider in my hometown pride to be one of the most fascinating underground networks in the world. although some stops show serious signs of disrepair, each one is unique, something highly uncommon in public transit systems in the western world. [subways in former eastern block countries were often made more with aesthetics in mind, with the aim of making them testaments to the power of the workers and the state.]

to start us off, there are a few images of the cote-vertu metro station, which lies at the western terminus of the u-shaped orange line. it's one of the network's most used stations, as it serves as the hub for buses going to the suburban west island and to the western side of laval, to the north. i had to transfer to a bus from this station for over a year and in my daily rush, i can't say that i ever remarked at how striking it is. it's that sort of reaction that made me want to do this series to begin with. 






from the western prong of the orange line, we skip over to the east, to take a look at the last few stations on the other end.

below are a couple of shots of sauvé station, which is more or less parallel to cote vertu. it's one of those unassuming "we couldn't think of a theme so we went with beige" stations, but i've always thought there was something a little spooky about it's long, shadowy corridors and blind staircases. i would love to shoot a horror film in here.




and from there, we move to station henri bourassa, formerly the end of the orange line, before it was expanded into laval a few years back. the image below is actually a piece of art, which shifts as you watch it [should've taken a video], but it's also a functional piece, since it helps direct passengers. not too shabby...


 MUCH MORE AFTER THE BREAK!

27 January 2012

making faces :: a mediterranean escape with edward bess

much of the hype around former model edward bess' cosmetic line is focused on his ability to make magic out of seemingly mundane shades. the collection is focused on naturals and nudes, the kind of colours that have been around a long time, but which still form the staples of most cosmetic stashes. after reading so many rapturous reviews of his products, i overcame a little of my hesitance [mostly caused by the fact that his line seems to have a distinct bias towards warm-toned complexions] and decided to dabble my toes in the sea of bess.

although the greatest number of rave reviews are for his eye shadows and lipsticks, i decided to take a chance on one of his "quad royale" palettes- a soft highlighting blush with four slightly different [both in tone and texture] shades designed to be used on the cheeks or as an all-over powder. i think i was drawn to these because it's dark and grey and snowing periodically and these quads are all named for locations along the mediterranean coast- "south of france", "summer in capri" and the most recent addition "monte carlo". these stir visions in me of gorgeous vistas of sea and sky and glowing, vitamin d-enriched faces lounging in the afternoon warmth and enjoying the sea spray in the air and a good strong cocktail à la "tender is the night".

i selected "south of france", the lightest and coolest of the three, figuring that this would perk up my pale face without giving me the "fake bake" look i so detest. i wasn't sure what to expect, because some highlighters hardly register at all, while others tend to be overly shiny and emphasise pores. since i was buying this sight unseen [thank you, zuneta], i was taking a bit of a chance. but i felt good about it and my guts are generally very honest with me.

and indeed, it steered me very, very right. "south of france" is a sandy highlighter with a slight mauve-pink cast that comes mainly from the deepest colour of the four. it would serve purely as a highlighter on most skin tones, but on pale types [like me!] it has enough colour to work as a soft blush. it comes in a sleek black case with a brush provided. the brush itself is good mostly for a light wash of product, but not much more. i actually think that one of arthur's paws would be perfect for this, but he has no interest in helping me out, even though opening a salon with cats who could apply cosmetics would undoubtedly be a golden ticket for all of us and we'd be booking appointments well into 2016 already. so i've been using a regular dense, fluffy brush, which gets the job done, but isn't nearly as cool.

MORE IMAGES AFTER THE BREAK

24 January 2012

h+m wtf?

i saw this on a friend's facebook page and felt compelled to share. basically, it's the story of a really sweet, decent gesture made by illustrator/ artist tori laconsay to show her appreciation for her georgia hometown. she decided to use a blank sign to send a positive message to the people in her community, which is something that a lot of us will never witness. what a wonderful idea for a piece of guerrilla art.

retail giant h & m evidently thought it was a great idea too. because somehow their design team came up with the same idea, using the same text style and the same heart for some of its housewares. h & m, of course, denies that their work is in any way derived from laconsay's.


this strikes me as the kind of thing that happens when you're a teenager and you come home at three in the morning and try to convince your parents that you haven't been drinking or smoking because, of course, it's not like they ever did anything like that when they were teenagers. in this case, h & m are the drunken idiot teenagers and the rest of us are the parents wondering who the hell they think they're fooling.

i suppose i can give them credit for deciding not to use the period from laconsay's original work. and they tilted the "n" a little. astounding creativity.

last week, i and a lot of others were fired up at the idea that large corporations were going to censor what we could see on the internet in the name of copyright protection. this is a case of the flip side. a large, wealthy corporation is using its muscle to scam an individual out of residual payments to which they would be entitled under the law.

you don't look nice, hennes and mauritz, you don't look nice at all.

22 January 2012

making faces :: quick peek [guerlain spring 2012]

today it was -15 celsius outside. "spring" is not the first thought that comes to mind. certainly not the particularly delicate palette of spring 2012, marked as it is by ultra-soft pastels from the likes of dior [see here], lancome [whose spring collection features a fragile mix of pinks and cool greens] and eve guerlain. i say "even" because last year, guerlain's spring collection seemed to target those who were spending the first quarter of the year hiding in the tropics until the mercury rose. although some shades had a lighter payoff, there was definitely a lot of colour- red-corals, peach, pinks and the stunning centrepiece of the collection, the torrid "blush g", which became a popular favourite.

from that offbeat take on spring, guerlain has swung to the other side, with a palette of pink, pink and pink for 2012. [they call it "pink & black", but the black seems to refer to the packaging only. or to their newly launched mascara, which is kind of a separate thing.] i went through the whole "pink blows" phase and have made my peace with the colour. in fact, i've learned to quite like it [especially since i figured out it actually tends to make me look better]. but i have to say that it seems guerlain has really loaded their pre-easter eggs in an exceptionally girly basket.

LOOK INSIDE THE BASKET...


21 January 2012

the right angles

i guess every girl eventually wants to write letters to the stars of her favourite television show.

dear mitt,

i hate to shatter your illusion that you're the aristocratic, above-the-fray president-in-waiting, but you need to know that your awkwardness is so pronounced that i feel awkward just watching you. the overwhelming tension that's evident when you smile makes me think you're being shot full of electrodes, or that you're about to fire me, neither of which is a good look for you.

we really don't care about your tax returns, but the fact that you squirm and stammer every time you talk about them makes us all wonder what it is you're trying to hide. and the fact is, i don't really think you're hiding everything. you say that you're proud of the success you've had, but your actions tell a different story. your reticence to throw a public light on your finances tells me that you're deeply uncomfortable revealing that you are a rich guy doing rich guy stuff with his money.






dear ron,

that moment in the debate where the crowd had to holler at john king to remind him to let you answer a question was kind of priceless. i notice cnn hasn't been running that one ad nauseum. in fact, it very much suited the outsider-ness of your entire campaign and i don't think that was lost on you.

some polls are indicating that you would be one of the party's strongest candidates versus barack obama, only a hair behind mitt romney and perennial front-runner "generic republican". i don't see you getting the nomination, but i love watching the general discomfort you cause for your party and the media.







dear newt,

whatever you're doing right now, you should take a break to send john king a great big gift basket filled with fine liquers, belgian chocolates and aged cheeses. by asking you that admittedly ill-timed question about your ex-wife and the open marriage ultimatum, he gave you a moment so powerful you could have blown your nose on your lapel, scratched your junk like there was an infection and napped for the final thirty minutes of the debate and everyone still would have said you were the winner.

i will never count you out of this race, because i know that you are the jason vorhees of the republican party. you can't be killed because you're more bogey than man. no matter how final your demise, you can just keep coming back when people think they're safe. you're probably the party's best bet, now that i think of it.





dear santorum,

i've recently realised that you bear a startling resemblance to a former boss of mine, a real leader in the asshat community. i thought maybe that was why i'd developed such an instinctive dislike of you and then i remembered that you're the one who stuck up for s.o.p.a. at the debate and who wants to ban contraception. and that you were selected as one of the most corrupt politicians in washington by an organisation that, despite what you say, targets democrats as well as republicans.

that said, i realise that i've underestimated you all along and what's repulsive to me plays very well with a certain group within your party. your performances at the debates have gotten consistently stronger, reaching their peak on thursday when your final speech. you were overshadowed by your conservative competitor and i think that, ultimately, he's going to get the better of you, but it's evident that you're going to go down swinging. and not in the gingrich way.

20 January 2012

friday favourites :: 20.01.12

so often, it seems like i wonder about what to write here from day to day, but lately, i'm desperately trying to deal with blog-log. i am literally so behind on things i've promised myself i'm going to post that i've had to start maintaining a list so that i don't forget them. the problem is that ideas i had for more general blog posts are getting pushed aside by ones that are a little more time sensitive. i'm already annoyed that i didn't post any insane predictions for the republican debate last night, but what's a girl to do? [nor any thoughts on the previous debate -ed.]

but i did promise myself that i was going to throw a few favourites out there, because i need my little pause for positivity at the end of the week.

sopa success! :: undoubtedly the high point of the week was watching elected officials run from the sinking ships of s.o.p.a. and p.i.p.a. like they were italian cruise line captains. [too soon?] three of the four republican candidates for president took pains to distance themselves from the publicly reviled legislation [rick santorum was noncommittal] and president barack obama said he wouldn't support it, which sort of made the temporary withdrawal of the legislation a little redundant. in fact, i would like to see smarter, more effective piracy laws put into place, but the only way that they're going to meet either of those criteria is if the people crafting them know what they're talking about, which neither congress nor entertainment conglomerates do. honestly, i had a feeling this was the way things were going to play out, but even i'm surprised that it happened so quickly. way to go, internet. we'll be keeping our eyes open for future developments.

cereal :: i'm actually shocked i haven't mentioned this one before, because i could live off the stuff. my preference is for grainy, flaky cereals, preferably with clusters of nuts and very lightly sweetened. [in fact, i'm perfectly happy to add a touch of honey on my own.] i dislike sugary cereals as a rule and any sort of sugar first thing has a tendency to make me nauseous. oh and if that weren't enough, super-sweet cereals also have the same effect on my blood sugar as they do on a six year old. and i've been told that a woman in her late thirties running through the grocery store or shopping centre screaming and drooling isn't as forgivable as a six year old. what, am i not sort of adorably eccentric when i slobber?

of course, part of the pleasure of cereal is the inevitable bonding it brings with my fur-babies, particularly arthur, who arrive in short order to share and serve as clean-up crew. don't worry if you've eaten at my house, i wask the dishes after they're done, just to make sure. as far as you know.






MORE TO SEE AFTER THE BREAK...


18 January 2012

the internet does not need a guard dog

a long time ago, i came across a really interesting piece about the mistakes people make in training their dogs, particularly those who are interested in having a companion who also serves as a form of protection for the home. the author [and i apologise that i can't remember her name] made the point that training a dog to defend its territory by attacking unknown intruders is a recipe for disaster, because a skilled thief will know easily enough how to dispatch with an animal, but a relative, friend, postal worker or emergency care worker will not. so training a dog to be aggressive is likely to result in some pretty horrific damage while doing nothing to address the problem of safety.

i've been reminded of that story a lot lately as i've heard about the draconian legislation currently before the u.s. congress, because i suspected that s.o.p.a. and p.i.p.a. were similar to the guard dog- endangering bystanders while doing little to resolve the larger problem. those who engage in large-scale internet piracy will know how to get around these rules. in fact, it seems that anyone who can find out an i.p. address would be able to circumvent the system proposed by these acts, but content providers- particularly start-ups without deep legal resources- would not.

the appalling vague wording of the acts makes it possible for sites like reddit, metafilter, fark [whose page you should really check out before it goes back to normal tomorrow], even google, mozilla [firefox] and facebook, which allow a diverse base of users to link to content they neither produced nor host, to have their domain name blocked and their advertising stopped. and far from stealing, these places are often doing content producers a favour by including them in listings and links. why else would we all have clickable buttons under our posts to make it easier for you to share them on these sites? if someone shares my stuff, i'm flattered. if someone steals from me, i'll try to address it personally, but even if i were protected by legislation, i wouldn't have the financial resources to launch a legal campaign against a really big copyright violator.

there's the rub. who does have the financial resources to make this legislation work for them? the people who want to push the bills through- giants of the entertainment industry. these people have spent a lot of money lobbying politicians and mounting advertising campaigns [largely focused on convincing the public that what they're really concerned about is the loss of american jobs because of piracy] to ensure that final say over what you can and can't see on the internet is determined by the people who brought you the debt ceiling crisis and gigli.

and just to be clear, no one is saying that content theft is ok. but a piece of legislation written by those who don't understand the internet advised only by those who have a financial interest in restricting its content is not the answer. 

here's a page indicating things you can do to help ensure that this legislation ends up in the trash bin where it belongs. 

here's a great little infographic on what the legislation is and what its dangers are.

here's a document summarising the p.i.p.a. and the concerns about it.

and you should definitely check out the oatmeal's protest, because it [like all of his stuff] is made of awesome.

and finally, here's a video that explains the basic problems with the legislation:






17 January 2012

making faces :: quick peek [dior spring 2012]

i know that readers in the united states have had spring programs on their shelves since before christmas [which, frankly, should be illegal, because it's way too confusing], but here in canada, we're just starting to get the first hints of spring colour in cosmetic displays. sure, we can order from the u.s., but that's cheating... in a way. and besides, if you live in montreal in january, you know that spring is a distant mirage that exists merely to tease you with the promise of its eventual visit. in the meantime, we know it's going to be cold and miserable until the middle of april. and even then, i wouldn't bet serious money on a thaw.

nonetheless, as i mentioned, some bold folk are starting to dangle their springy bits in our faces, at least in certain retail locations. this past week, i spotted the new dior "garden party" collection [because, really, who doesn't want to have a garden party when it's -17 a snowing?]. i was able to grab some very rough photos with my phone and i thought i'd share them with you, as well as some of my initial thoughts on what i saw.

i have to say, this collection is really well named. looking at the soft florals and pastels, one of the first things that springs to mind is a highly civilised garden party, complete with butlers serving crustless sandwiches, blush-coloured wine, intricate centrepieces on perfectly laid-out tables and ladies in old-fashioned hats. trust me, i lived next to the lieutenant-governor's house in halifax and the annual garden party there is a big deal. and it's bursting with hues like those found in dior's spring collection.

IMAGES AND FIRST THOUGHTS AFTER THE BREAK...


16 January 2012

way better than a golden globe

what was the high point of my day? finding out from the lovely and talented beautyfully inspired that i'd won my first award, the versatile blogger award. behold:




for my personal awards ceremony [which consists of me strutting around my place in sock feet], i have chosen to wear an all-black two-piece ensemble of a cotton top in need of hem repair with low v-neck and faux wraparound-style detail from some shop on queen street west in toronto and a pair of knee-length faux-riding pants that i'm never quite sure about from h & m. i've paired this with opaque tights without runs or holes in the toes.

posing for the paparazzi. which would be me.
for the hair, i've gone for an ultra-trendy "napped-in" look held in place by my ears. my makeup is by mac, benefit, inglot and rouge bunny rouge and for my nails, i am sporting an edgy worn-tips look with butter london's "marrow".

i would, of course like to thank my nominator and to all my readers, who really cheer me with their comments and even with their silent presence. and i'd like to thank dom, who dutifully reads all my posts and tries to point out the spelling mistakes i miss before they have the chance to really embarrass me and i'd like to dedicate the award to all of my feline children- arthur, seth, julia, simon and hecubus- who are consistently a source of happiness, entertainment and inspiration for me, as well as being one of the most popular parts of this blog.

i could not do this without you.

now, there are rules that come with this award. here they are:

1. thank the person who nominated you and give them a shout out on your blog with a link to their blog.

2. share 7 random facts about yourself.

3. send on the award to 10 other bloggers whose blogs you truly appreciate and let them know that they have won the award!

so here are seven random facts about me, to go along with all of the other occasionally disturbing tidbits i've shared over the years.

- my handwriting is so ridiculously tiny that i can't use a lot of standard pens- they don't have a precise enough tip. an ex of mine once showed my writing to a friend of his who worked as a psychiatric nurse. his diagnosis was "that's not normal". head of the class, einstein.

- i have a statue of the indian goddess kali on my desk at home and i've been using the moniker "dj kali" for almost twenty years, despite the fact that i've played very different styles of music over that span of time.

- despite the fact that i have a lot of problems with back, neck and shoulder pain, i'm extremely flexible. most massage therapists and physiotherapists are quite surprised by this.

- i have never had a cavity, but they sound awful.

- i can type legibly, although not quickly, with my elbows.

- streetlights have a tendency to go out around me. many people, including skeptics, have verified this.

- i have always been quite proud of being short. this makes it extremely easy for me to tell when people are claiming to be taller than they actually are.

14 January 2012

making faces :: au naturel with mac

photoshop, naturally
every year for the last few years, mac has released two complementary collections just after christmas. two years back, it was split between warm and cool tones. last year, it was soft and shimmery versus bold and bright. this year, they've more or less repeated that strategy with "naturally", a collection of neutrals and soft, shimmery mineral products for cheeks and eyes and an eponymous collection with the iconic iris apfel.

normally, anyone who knows me would expect that i'd immediately gravitate towards the bright side, but since i have a lot of bold shades already and didn't feel that there was anything that looked tremendously different from what i had already, i sort of hesitated.

when i arrived at my local store, a couple of days after both collections had launched, there were still some remnants of the iris apfel collection [although none of the lipsticks, which have been the real hit], but i found myself uncharacteristically drawn to the soft neutrals. me? neutrals? really? am i growing up or something? eek. i hope not.

the mineral shadows, perfect little planets of colour that are mixed to form a shimmery, dimensional whole in use are all very nice. they're generally warmer, but wouldn't be limited to warmer-toned skin. the quality of mac's mineral shadows has been greatly improved over the last few years. the texture has grown softer, the application more even and the texture less prone to grittiness and fallout. it's become a real specialty of theirs, so it doesn't entirely surprise me that they have several mineral-focused collections scheduled for the first half of 2012.

unfortunately, the improvements they've made haven't necessarily improved the experience for me. i've found that shadows released with recent launches just do not like my eyes. it figures. the product is undeniably better in every way and continues to improve. by 2013 i expect that applying one of these shadows will make you look ten years younger [or, if you're a teenager, make you look like you're of legal drinking age] and prevent cancer, but they'll make my eyeballs melt.

cloudy afternoon dry/ wet
since we're not quite at the melting point yet, i did get tempted by one shade- well, a few shades, actually, but i limited myself to buying one, "cloudy afternoon"- an interesting melange of a pinkish cream, light blue-grey, rust and a khaki-brass kind of shade. rolled together, it translates as a lighter grey taupe with a lovely  warm silver sheen, a perfect kind of neutral wearable under virtually every circumstance without ever looking drab [as neutrals can]. unlike some of the older mineral shadows, it won't give you that "frostilicus" look and it won't emphasise all of those "i'm not twenty-one anymore" flaws on your lids.

and so far, it doesn't make my eyes itch, which definitely has me doing a happy dance. [you'll have to imagine what that looks like, because there's no way i'm posting a video.]

MORE PRODUCTS, PICTURES, COMPARISONS AND SWATCHES [but no video] AFTER THE BREAK


13 January 2012

a box of dust

a box of dust is left
away from the eyes of light.
the stale air embraces it
and says "i will hold you forever."
and the box shudders and its contents-
dry remnants locked inside-
shift a little, mimicking life.
lacquered shell, blanched from days near sunbeams
its cargo crumbled to a mystery,
to a nothing, to an ending.

this might once have played music,
plucked out a tune naive and plaintive
or shown an image, diorama
some magical tromp l'oeil
to captivate and entertain and puzzle;
ladies and gentlemen- behold!
presented for your amusement
the sweet story in a light-box.

or maybe it his treasure maps
transcripts of ancient secrets
long since discovered and discarded
stained with the work of those
who passed them on.

could it be pandora's box
recovered from the fog of myth
its unwelcome contents cast
unwittingly throughout the world
[by the woman who had to know]
and that remnant hope languishing
in a wooden tomb?
it could.

and the air rests thick
around it,
showering floury dirt in micrograms,
committing the vessel
to its resting place
with all the worthless history
it holds.

friday favourites :: 13.01.12

ok, i totally skipped friday favourites on the first friday of the new year. i own up to that. as it happened, it got working on my initial rouge bunny rouge review and it took longer than i thought it would to put the whole thing together, so when i finished, all i could think about was rouge bunny rouge and the enchanted garden and, really, getting those products was probably my favourite thing last week, along with watching the insanity of the republican iowa caucus and "cnn after dark", which i'd also already blogged about. but now i'm back and i have more things that are cheering me through the darkest days of winter. [not actually the darkest days, since the solstice is passed. -ed.] [i was being metaphorical, tight ass.]


image borrowed from thebloggess.com
the traveling red dress :: technically, this is sort of a repeat from a previous friday favourites, which i normally don't do, since it's about "the bloggess" jenny lawson, but this time, rather than just making me blow tea out my nose with laughter, she's using the internet to do something really amazing.

this is a project that actually started a few years ago, when she invested in a beautiful red dress, just for the opportunity to feel the beauty, glamour and decadence it accorded. then, wanting other women to be able to experience those same feelings, she decided to send the red dress out into the world, offering it to anyone who needed that sort of fairytale magic in their lives.

although the original dress is apparently a little worse for wear [literally], the project was resurrected recently when lawson blogged about her battles with depression and her propensity to self-harm. while she has never made a secret of her mental health issues, she usually addresses them with the same humour that has made her blog famous and famously popular [over a million hits a month]. this piece was different, because it exposed the horrors of a woman trying at once to deal with mental disorders and their attendant social stigma and at the same time, trying to protect her young daughter from her shadowy passengers.

from this article flowed a new tide of "traveling red dresses", a network of women offering their own beautiful garments to others in need of a bit of joy. no corporate sponsor has donated to the project- it is strictly an internet phenomenon transmitted largely through tweets [twitter's resurgence after it was thought to be on life support a couple of years back is a sort of remarkable story in itself], with dozens of offers.

jenny lawson has become a sort of personal hero for me. reading her tweets and her blog are highlights of virtually every week and she could easily occupy a place on every installment of "friday favourites". i have to stop myself from putting her on here more often. i can't wait until the official launch of her forthcoming memoir "let's pretend this never happened" and i'm always looking forward to the next way she devises to make people "furiously happy".

THAT'S NOT ALL! MORE FAVOURITES PLUS KITTEH AFTER THE BREAK!



12 January 2012

ever wondered why

... you pay such high retail markup on everything, even though the basic costs are relatively low? sure, there's budgets for advertising, discounts, returns, damaged goods, packaging, employee salaries and such. but next time you buy something, keep in mind that you're also helping to offset the cost of doing clever things like this:




oh and in case that wasn't embarrassing enough... there were two more similarly sized items on this order that were shipped separately. the next day. 

zero to hero? [movie review :: super]

that "super" comes from the mind of writer/ director james gunn gives it a somewhat promising start. his previous indie efforts have been oddball and at the least interesting to watch and have their own unique spin on genre films. this is actually his second stab at a superhero story, after he wrote the script for "the specials", but rather than dealing with people who have actual super-powers, "super" is the story of one man who simply decides to become a superhero, without the normal mutations.

rainn wilson, best known as the uptight salesman-cum-beet farmer dwight schrute from the american version of "the office", stars as frank, an average [at best] guy who's married to sarah, the girl of his dreams [liv tyler], until she abandons him to go back to her former life as a drug addict with slick lothario jacques [kevin bacon]. bereft and profoundly depressed by this turn of events, frank is at a loss until he is touched by the finger of god and has the idea to take revenge on those who prey on misery and weakness.

aided by tiny, precocious comic store employee libby [ellen page], he concocts an alter ego called "the crimson bolt", who trolls the city for ne'er-do-wells in a hilariously ill-advised spandex mask and suit and exacts justice by thumping petty criminals on the head with a pipe wrench.

libby becomes aware of his secret identity and signs herself on as "boltie", the robin to his batman. able to indulge her own superhero fantasies, of course, libby turns out to be nearly completely psychotic and impossible to control, whose violent streak ups the ante of their crusading.

fighting crime on the street, though, is really a prelude to frank/ the crimson bolt's real mission: to rescue sarah and win her back from jacques and his gang of thugs.

the concept of the everyday guy with no special resources has a lot of possibilities- the positive message that anyone can find a superhero within, the comic possibilities of an actual superhero thrown into a modern city, the relationships between the various screwball characters- but it feels like, in an effort to keep the comedy dark and give the film a more typically "indie" feel, that gunn made some peculiar choices.

since we meet sarah when she's already pulling away from frank, we don't know her very well. and that doesn't change. she's a whacked-out blank slate for pretty much the entire film and the qualities that ultimately make her so special are articulated through frank, rather than shown. this is all the more obvious when contrasted with the over-the-top, explosive libby. from the first scene where she appears, page dominates the screen and the narrative, obscuring anything else that hoves into view. page's undeniable strength becomes the film's weakness, because the others just can't keep up. next to her, sarah's greatest strength is that she at least seems calm, but decidedly pallid.

the film also has an irritatingly hipster-ish soundtrack, which is not the thing that would sort of irritate me- or at least is the kind of thing i could normally tune out- except that it is all-pervasive. whether it's score or soundtrack, there is always jangly indie music chugging through the background [or, in a lot of cases in the foreground] and it becomes almost unbelievably distracting.

but the film's most problematic area can be laid directly at the doorstep of james gunn himself. despite being a dark-tinged comedy for its first two acts, the film takes an abrupt turn when it comes time for the crimson bolt and boltie to execute their raid on jacques' compound [in the middle of a high-stakes drug deal]. suddenly, you're watching a full-on, hurmourless action film with violent death, maiming and rape leading, of course, to a dramatic confrontation between frank and jacques that makes oliver stone seem light-handed. neither wilson nor bacon- nor tyler, who mostly whimpers in a corner- is up to the task of heavy drama and the weightiness of the script pulls them down with it.

it's a shame, because the opening of the story has great promise and much of the humour will crack you up at the same time you think "i shouldn't be laughing". during those times, you can see a pathos and vulnerability to frank that is lost when things get more "intense".

there's a fair amount of good in the film, but the pervading sense of confusion over style and message means that those things aren't necessarily what you'll remember.

11 January 2012

making faces :: another bunny tale

i promised that i'd follow up my previous post on cult cosmetic favourite rouge bunny rouge to let you know my thoughts on their "hues of enchantment" formula lipstick. i also decided that it might be a nice idea to post some comparisons of all the rbr products i bought, rather than just telling you that the shades were unique.

if you'd like to see my original review- with the "when birds are singing" shadows and the sheer lipsticks "succulence of dew" [i am still in love with those category names, as i am with most things rouge bunny rouge] by going here.

"hues of enchantment" is the family of rouge bunny rouge lipsticks that are more opaque. some look to have a frostier finish, but the shade that i got, "word of mouth", is a smooth, wearable red with no discernible shimmer. while not quite as super-soft as the sheer lipsticks, "word of mouth" is still very gentle on the lips. it feels creamy without being heavy and has the same beneficial nutrients as all the other rbr lipsticks. the difference between the two is chiefly in the pigment level.

although the formula definitely offers more coverage than the "succulence of dew" lipsticks, i wouldn't say that it's completely opaque. i'd liken the coverage to mac's cremesheen finish or chanel's rouge allure, where the coverage is good, but the colour of your lips can still affect the final shade a little. on those with more pigmented lips, i would expect that this shade [and probably the others in this family] would be darker than on me.

despite the fact that the coverage is fuller, i actually found that this shade lasted less time than the "succulence of dew" shades that i tried. after about three hours or so, the colour had faded enough that i reapplied it. i'd say that that's a bit below average for a full-finish lipstick, but it is about the same as i get from the comparable finishes in mac and chanel. a couple of things worth considering about this:

1. lipsticks generally do not last as long on me as they seem to on others.

2. my lips have been particularly dry lately, which usually means even less wear time for most lipstick formulas, no matter how good.

like their sheerer cousins, i do recommend these lipsticks for people who live in climates with a real winter. unlike a lot of lipstick formulas- even ones that are not drying most of the time- these will treat your lips with love and respect, no matter how foul the weather gets.

"word of mouth" is described by its maker as "creamy, shiny finish cool cherry syrup - the little black dress of lipsticks, very pretty and feminine", which is both evocative and pretty accurate. the shade applies very evenly, with a nice shine that resolves into a more satiny finish after a half hour or so. if we're talking fruits, i'd describe the shade as being more like a strawberry red than cherry, since it's not particularly cool. i'd describe it as a pretty neutral red that would suit either warm or cool complexions nicely. it's also a perfect red for people who aren't super comfortable with reds. although the shades are quite different, it reminded me a bit of yves st. laurent's "rouge vermilion", in that they're both quite muted, office-friendly reds. 


in terms of shades that it did remind me of, i went through my collection to see what was in the same neighbourhood. [note to self- it is not a great idea to do swatches for all your upcoming reviews at once. in fact it can be flat-out painful when you polish the first eight layers of skin off your inner arm.] as i've mentioned before, i have a real red army of lipsticks, but one of the reasons i've assembled that [aside from the fact that i plan to eventually animate them and send them out into the world to do my bidding] is because i there is a remarkable variety of red lipstick shades available. case and point: i didn't have a dupe for this one, despite the fact that it doesn't appear at first glance to be an especially complex red. 


chanel "antigone" is similar in the tube, but pinker and much sheerer. guerlain "rouge sensuel" is closer, but brighter and a bit cooler [and, although it's a little difficult to see swatched on my arm, the coverage is a bit sheerer as well]. 


chanel antigone, rbr word of mouth, guerlain rouge sensuel [l.e.]



not content to offer comparisons on just this one shade, i thought i'd go back and look at ones for the other shades that i reviewed. honestly, these were even harder to match. 


09 January 2012

om nom nom :: restaurant review [poissonerie omega]

a few weeks ago, my friend martin [also], a devout foodie, took me out for lunch to help kick my ass out of an end-of-year kind of depressive slump. somewhat bored with options both in our own neighbourhood and in the plateau [which is where we often end up], we settled on finding something in cote-des-neiges, crammed as it is with eating establishments of various sorts, most of them highly affordable.

we ventured down lacombe street, which certainly has its fair share of places and were thinking of going to frites alors. while that would have been fine, it did sort of defeat the purpose of getting out of a rut if we ended up going to a different location of a franchise where we had eaten many times before. so martin suggested we check out "the fish place next door". as a maritimer, the idea of eating fish in a non-ocean-adjacent city at a place that looked a little dive-y had me nervous, but i figured that it was at least something new.

upon entering, while the place definitely had the decor of a shish-taouk takeout, i was surprised to a selection of fresh fish laid out for us to choose from. far from a fast food joint, the presentation was more like a specialty market. the menu was not huge- it had between half a dozen and ten selections- but it was certainly less generic than i was expecting.

martin ordered a fish and chips, while i went with the calamari- basic staples, yes, but ones which are often poorly prepared.

the gentleman behind the counter set to work, battering and frying the fish/ seafood himself, illustrating that the counter display wasn't just for show. most times you get fried fish, you're getting something that's been battered and frozen, then just tossed in a fryer as a finishing touch. at omega, you're getting the real deal.

most surprising to me- the seafood snob- was that the fare was actually really damn good. my calamari were perfectly cooked, which is rare. a lot of times, calamari are served too soft/ mushy [undercooked] or become rubbery [overcooked]. as ubiquitous as they've become, they're remarkably finicky to work with.

martin's fish and chips [haddock] were amazing. the crust had a perfect crunchiness to it, while underneath was a perfect fluffy batter and delectable fish that almost melted together. the fish was not overbreaded and everything was moist without being mushy- the sort of delightful texture that most places fail to achieve.

as you might expect from the decor, omega is also budget friendly. dishes range from $8.95- $16.95, some permanent and some daily selections. they're also a fish market, so you can take some of those tasty-looking catches home with you to cook later. 

omega is as unpretentious as it gets- there is a small number of tables, no liquor license and a restricted menu. it's not the kind of place you're going to want to take someone for a first date. but after you've gotten to know each other and you'd prefer to enjoy each other's company over some tasty, hearty food, then this is the exact sort of place you're seeking.

poissonerie omega
3525 lacombe, montreal
514.461.9554

06 January 2012

making faces :: show me the bunny!

the internet can be a dangerous place. it can be dangerous when you interact with strangers, when you make personal or financial information available, and when you leave records of things you shouldn't be doing in your cache. these have all been explored. less attention, however, is granted to the alarming dangers the internet can present to your wallet, especially when you stumble across something like the russian-based, british-born makeup brand rouge bunny rouge.

i first heard of them as a "cult favourite" and the more i read, the more apt that description seemed. there were rave reviews and swatches on blogs and those who were into them were really into them, despite the fact that their products are fiendishly difficult to find, available almost exclusively to much of the world through british luxury cosmetics store zuneta. which piques a girl's curiosity. so i checked out their web site, which was just that more dangerous because it was so charmingly odd. meant to evoke images of both victorian england and the tsarist age in russia, the site [and the product packaging] is filled with whimsical, almost edward gorey-esque drawings of scenes from an enchanted garden, the basis of the fairytale that rbr gives as the genesis of the brand. you can read it here.

the brand truly draws you into its own world, where, along with extolling the more mundane features and benefits of their products, the playful minds behind the enchanted garden rekindle some of that innocent childlike wonder of discovering magical powders and creams that transform the world into a fantasy.

but the practical side of me wants products that are as stellar as the stars over the garden, especially since the prices for these little lovelies are not exactly faerie dust.

taking the word of other beauty bloggers, whose experience is broader than mine, i decided to take advantage of zuneta's post-holiday sale and see what all the hype was about.

typical of me, i jumped in with both feet, ordering two of their "when birds are singing" eye shadows, two of their "succulence of dew" sheer lipsticks [since when do i order sheer lipsticks on a first date?] and one of their "hues of enchantment" colour burst, fuller coverage lipsticks. well, what can i say? it was a really good sale. [fyi, as i haven't had the time to test it out thoroughly, i'll be reviewing that last lipstick on its own a little later.]

the most popular/ recommended shades of rbr eye shadow were actually out of stock by the time i got to the sale. [apparently, you have to get up pretty early- literally, considering they're on gmt- if you want to get the hottest items from a zuneta sale.] so i decided to try a couple of colours i hadn't seen often in reviews, but whose descriptions sounded intriguing- "periwinkle cardinal" and "angelic cockatiels".

this might be a good time to point out that all of rbr's eye shadows are named for birds, which is related to the tale of their origins:

The firefly festival is eagerly awaited all year in the Enchanted Garden. For then on this very special day, the best voices of the bird-world feed on tiny fireworks to embellish their voices and then gather to perform a single concert together. Their jubilant musical notes are inscribed in a syrup of figs and milk and preserved in tiny pots to be enjoyed all year round. Like this golden froth of musical syrup, WHEN BIRDS ARE SINGING... eye shadows are a time defying exotic enigma. This is plumage to adorn you in shades as deliciously mellow as soft silence that flows, or as brilliantly potent as jewelled notes. So addictive are these morsels that you’ll be causing your own kaleidoscopic ripples every time you wear them.

seriously, how scrumptious is that?

FOLLOW ME INTO THE GARDEN...


05 January 2012

dissecting the iowa carcass

i can't believe i watched the whole thing.

well, actually, i have to admit that i passed out before wolf blitzer went all rogue and started calling iowa election staff in the middle of the night, but i made it almost all the way. with a small nap in the middle, because it turns out that watching iowa caucus results come in isn't quite as exciting [or as tweet-worthy] as watching these guys debate each other.

but the first big challenge is over and one more participant has been voted off the grand old island, while one of the last remaining non-romneys has seen his star rise. a few thoughts on the whole shebang:

- ok, i really got it wrong with santorum. he'd been languishing in the basement of the polls everywhere for so long i just figured it was impossible that he'd ever get his turn as the flavour of the week. but with a barrage of negative ads having disarmed the newt-ron bomb, indeed, voters turned to rick santorum in a last-ditch effort not to vote for mitt romney. i guess it's only fair, since the guy's basically been living in iowa for the last several months. it does worry me a little that santa is apparently a rabid born-again, seeing as santorum got the biggest present of any republican, but i'm hoping i'll have a chance to live a long and interesting life before i'm condemned to the fires of hell.

santorum has been consistently my least favourite candidate, simply because almost everything he says is antithetical to my thoughts and to my idea of human decency. in the debates, practically every word out of his mouth has been a hateful indictment of some minority- muslims, gays, the poor, planned parenthood. but i've never laboured under the illusion that most people agree with me and spreading hate, xenophobia and suspicion has always been an effective political tactic.


dj kali & mr. dna @ the caustic lounge 04.01.12

the first caustic lounge of 2012 was indeed a great time, one of the best [if not the best] thus far. both mr. dna and i had a fantastic time and we hope that all who attended will remember it fondly. drinks were had, laughs were shared, underwear was removed... and oh yes, music filled the air. i'm not sure how we'll top things next month, but we'll sure try. thanks to all who attended!

mr. dna

coldcut :: return to margin
blur :: battle
p.j. harvey :: my beautiful leah
primal scream :: higher than the sun
the cure :: at night
hot chip :: playboy
depeche mode :: blasphemous rumours
front 242 :: quite unusual
soft cell :: memorabilia
orchestral manoeuvres in the dark :: electricity
polysics :: black out, fall out
ash :: cantina band
stereolab :: contronatura
new order :: the perfect kiss
lcd soundsystem :: us vs them
the rapture :: out of the races and onto the tracks
franz ferdinand :: do you want to? (erol alkan mix)
can :: mushroom

dj kali

the death sound :: this sick feeling
coil :: windowpane
lcx999 :: white ring
scorn :: light trap
numb :: revenant
imminent :: garn
mika vainio :: goths
calva y nada :: algazara
von magnet :: kedma
soft moon :: out of time
stephen spera :: the sound of the crowd
wall of voodoo :: they don't want me
hula :: ghost rattle
simple minds :: the american
ait! :: i wanna be your mann
clock dva :: techno geist
xeno & oaklander :: staircase
november novelet :: my fairy place
crystal castles :: empathy
klangstabil :: anti-communication
mu-ziq :: wannabe
o paradis :: luz del presente
lycia :: through the smoke and nails
current 93 :: fields of rape
november novelet :: fear
maska genetik :: white tracks
cocteau twins :: wax and wane
butthole surfers :: cherub
death in june :: love murder
novy svet :: en possession de te

03 January 2012

the montreal metro project, part 7

i hadn't posted a new installment of this in a while, but there are still more photos from the metro system! this is actually the second-last installment and features stations from the western end of the green line- the part to the west of the downtown section.

i'll admit, this is an area of the city that i know very little about, probably because it's largely residential and i've never lived there, nor had any close friends who lived there. like its east-end counterpart, it tends to be traditionally working class, although parts of it are starting to lose a touch of their traditional grit. the neighbourhood of verdun, which makes up much of the territory covered by the green line, used to be known as the borough of choice for the hell's angels, back when the biker wars were in full force.

although it's not what you'd call "hip", the area does boast large apartments at prices lower than much of the rest of the city and, since it's on the metro line, i'd say it's only a matter of time before gentrification starts to take hold.

this is charlevoix station, which is supposedly the deepest station on the network. however, i don't think that is measuring the depth of the station below the ground, but the depth of the station compared to sea level. it's in the neighbourhood of pointe-st-charles, one of montreal's poorest, which exists in a sort of hollow, so that its denizens are always looking up at the rest of the city.



next along the line, we have lasalle station, which competes with de la savane as my favourite on the whole network. seriously, just look at these photos... it's that surreal and disorienting and wonderfully strange when you're in it as well. and, in the third photo, you can see how the entrance is flooded with natural light. win.

 
 
by contrast, metro de l'eglise isn't quite so exciting, although it is located in an oddly trendy strip of verdun, lined with indie coffee shops and cute restaurants. and it does have some interesting cement architecture, particularly around the escalators.






this is verdun metro, which has pretty eye-catching architecture. it's also the only station where i was forced to stop taking photographs because i didn't have a permit...


jolicoeur metro, which is kind of cool with its bright orange accents on the platform...


... but really nice with its sunlit  mezzanine.


the wavy walls at monk metro make me feel slightly like i've eaten something i shouldn't have. or am having a flashback to when i ate something i shouldn't have in my youth.



but the real story here is upstairs... seriously, these things are bizarre and made of awesome. i tried to capture just how big the giant stick people from another planet are, because believe me, they're huge. they tower over you looking like a hybrid of a human and a praying mantis from another dimension, making you feel vaguely like they're about to reach down and start playing volleyball with your head. or someone else's head, if you're lucky.




these last two are shots of angrignon station, the western terminus of the green line. you can easily see what this station has going for it: natural light and lots of it. it also opens on one side to a large park where you can frolic in nature before zipping back to the city. the station is at the border between the boroughs of verdun to the east and lasalle to the west. lasalle is generally considered the gateway to the west island suburbs, which are entirely cut off from metro service. 



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