29 February 2012

making faces :: armani's lost world

so many discontinued lippies... why, giorgio?
with the exception of a few cult items here and there, i normally find that high-end brands are pretty good about giving their fans a shot at grabbing items from seasonal or special collections before they're whisked away into the netherworld of discontinued cosmetic goodies. however, i have to say that of late, armani are proving uniquely frustrating in this respect, throwing out items for short periods of time [the only counter in montreal sometimes has stock for less than a week], or making it unclear to all whether certain products are permanent. it's frustrating, especially since, in the last year, i've really gotten to love armani, particularly their lip products and their incredible eyes to kill shadows. what's worse is that i find that armani's permanent collection is actually smallish compared to their pretige cosmetics rivals and so it's all the more annoying when beautiful things appear and disappear in short order.

one of the most egregious examples of this on armani's part was the "downtown" armani collection. or the "hollywood ambers" collection. or the "my armani browns" collection. which are, in point of fact, different names for the same collection of lipsticks and glosses that were released between the proper armani fall and holiday collections late last year. if you haven't heard of them, you're far from alone. no one seemed quite sure whether this was part of fall, or new colours being added to the permanent line, or a collection unto itself. if you google any of the collection names, you'll find links mainly to a very small number of blogs, or to the armani site itself, which will tell you that pretty much the entire collection is unavailable. the fact is, most if not all of the shades are still available through online retailers like neiman marcus and nordstrom, but even they don't seem to know how to classify the shades. it's all very confusing for a makeup fan and, with all the nifty collections we keep getting thrown at us, we're a group who are already prone to confusion.

first world problems, i know.

FEEL MY PAIN...

28 February 2012

for art's sake :: nuit blanche in mtl [part 2]

here's a few more photos from my adventures in art on saturday night. i could seriously do this several times a year.

first of all, no one told me about the whole "roast your own wiener as art" part of the festivities. actually, the way i've put that does make it sound like some rather extreme performance art, but really, it's just that there were roasting stations [fires in bins] at several points in the outdoor portion of the event.


being the second largest french-speaking metropolis in the world does invite comparisons [usually not the most favourable] with paris. in this case, i believe that the message is "eat it, eurotrash, we are the city of way more light than you"


i was seriously concerned that when i looked at this picture, the unicorn i'd seen on the wall wouldn't actually be there.


you know what's really not artistic? putting a gigantic light-up ice slide in the middle of your arts festival. you know who really doesn't care? EVERYBODY. because having a giant ice slide in the middle of a downtown arts festival is freaking awesome. [sadly, this was one of the parts of nuit blanche that was most plagued by lines. staring at it to take these pictures, it looked like it would have been the most fun you could have after losing three limbs to frostbite.]




i sort of wish i'd captured more images of the video displays on this wall inside the place des arts complex. some of them were really interesting and the experience was quite different depending on your proximity to the wall.




these next shots are all from the artv [canada's french-language arts channel] area [sort of their own little gallery]. most of the work on display looked at links between art and advertising. 


readers may remember that i am a big fan of owls. and this year for nuit blanche, owls were everywhere. it's like they were decorating the whole place with them just to make me happy [even in the midst of the otherwise non-owl-related artv gellary]. which, i realise, is ridiculous. or is it?





this was fun to watch. the guy was making sculptures from wax, in this case things that looked like food adorning a refurbished street vendors cart. it did take all my self-control not to walk up and eat  a piece of the art, though.


the best part of this piece was watching people's reactions as they took a closer look at it. 






27 February 2012

for art's sake :: nuit blanche in mtl [part 1]

as i mentioned on friday, this weekend was nuit blanche in montreal, something i look forward to with a sort of whimsical spirit usually reserved for small children at christmas. there's just something about the idea of spending a night interacting with art, often in surprising and unexpected ways and places that stirs my imagination.

i hooked up with my good friend kathleen and we set out on our artistic quest.

while i feel that i did see a lot this year, i found the voyage a little bit frustrating. because the temperature plummeted on saturday night and the wind picked up, i decided to focus on the downtown/ place des arts section of the festivities. although the city offers shuttles and regular transit between sites, it's still necessary to run from one place to another in the plateau/ mile end area. so your options are finding one venue where you want to spend a lot of time, or spending a good chunk of your evening making sure you can still move your fingers.

unsurprisingly, a lot of people seemed to make that decision, which means that the crowds in the central area were pretty overwhelming. as a result, i feel like i missed out on a lot of things because i just wasn't willing to stand in long lines, particularly outside. compounding this was the fact that many of the installations in the underground city this year featured video and so they were housed in these adorable makeshift photo booths. it was an interesting presentation, but the problem was that those booths only fit two to three people at a time, which meant that things got log-jammed pretty quickly. as a result, i feel like we ended up focusing on whatever did not involve standing and waiting, which limited what we actually got to see.

the other problem, which is something that particularly afflicts the downtown "campuses" of nuit blanche, has to do with the audience. i really don't want to come off as a snob here. i think that one of the exciting things about having a combination of artistic and cultural events, some participatory, is that it should expand ideas of art and make it accessible to a wider audience. however, i really draw the line when "art's night out" turns into a playground for a lot of young drunks excited to be able to stay out all night. you know when you can be loud and drunk and get sick in public and stay out until all hours? every other saturday night.

i don't believe for a second that you have to be silent, reflective and "adult" in order to enjoy art, but if you're going to look at art, it's probably a good idea to, you know, pause from screaming at your friend three feet away and, you know, look at the art. and sure, you should interact with the installations when you can, as much as you can, but don't grab the bloody art if you're not invited to. don't lick the art. don't stick your body parts into the art. in the case of sound pieces, there is no prize for being louder than the art. and for the love of god, never push your friends into the art or try to knock it down.

in fact, if you think that any of the above sounds like fun, perhaps you should try to approach art slowly. look for stuff on the internet that's harder to destroy for yourself and everyone else.

now that i've finished my old lady rant, here are a few images i grabbed during the course of the night.

i apologise that the quality on many of them isn't great- the continuous movement and jostling all around made it difficult to do anything but grab a quick shot where circumstances permitted.

there was a certain temptation to grab one of these stacks and start placing them all through the nuit blanche sites, i must admit.


but instead, we just chose to be confusing by randomly pausing to explain the meaning of "art" we found. normally just destroyed stuff that carried a message of chaos and destruction. 


 these "potholes" were really amusing. i wish there had been more than three.


 and yes, this guy was probably our favourite.


 here's a little piece we like to call "dick move #5"


i think that this should really be left in the mall for good, personally


every year, there's a group mural that's made over the course of the night. most of it is comic and graffiti style and it's pretty much always worth seeing.





sure, it looks totally at home in an underground mall, but that door doesn't open. this was really well done and even had take out menus with advertised specials. the artist [and i apologise for not getting her name], apparently specialises in these "door to nowhere" type installations. 


this said it was art, but i'm increasingly convinced i was looking at some colourful siding leftover from an abandoned interior decor project. who leaves their art leaning on an elevator? 


this series of silkscreened doors was probably better in person, because the ethereal image and ghostly movement was surprisingly hypnotic and unreal.


it also gave me the opportunity to take a super-pretentious picture of myself. yes, i'm totally using this if i ever have to submit an artist statement for anything.


these people were really friendly and i sort of regret the fact that i forgot to go back and check on their woven project later on. i think it probably grew up to be quite awesome.


yes, i took a photo of the giant photo that says "photography prohibited". feel the meta. feel it!!


i'll have some more images for you in the coming days!

24 February 2012

silence is golden [movie review :: the artist]

if you're new to this blog, or new to knowing me, let me make something clear: i am a huge silent film fan. i don't mean that i like silent films as a sort of curiosity, i mean that if i were to list my top ten films of all time, there would be several silent films on that list alongside their talking cousins. associating all silent film with the hysterical melodramas produced by hollywood is the equivalent of judging all modern film-making by the works of michael bey. great silent film-making is an art unto itself, very different from "talking pictures" and when it is done well, it approaches the sublime.

in that, my opinions align with those of the hero of "the actor" michel valentin [the adorable and dashing jean dujardin], an icon of the silent film, whose celebrity lifestyle is both metaphorically and, for the purposes of the film, literally, wordless. on the screen, dujardin clearly channels the rakish charisma of douglas fairbanks sr. and the screen idol looks of john barrymore in his heyday and the resemblance, in all senses, is astounding. it's almost impossible not to fall under the spell of his smile from the first moment we see him. and, of course, if the smile doesn't work, we almost immediately get to see his heart-melting interactions with his best friend, uggie, the jack russell terrier. when we meet him, he is on top of the world and we want him to stay that way. but that wouldn't make for much of a film.

within a few minutes of the film's clever opening, valentin comes face-to-face with stunning fan peppy miller [berenice bejo] and the chemistry between them fills the screen with a silent electricity. it's a perfect recreation of that moment we've all felt when first eye contact with someone makes our heart race, even when the conversation is fairly banal. we see the characters going through the motions of chit-chat, but what is truly evident is that rush of feeling, the mythical "love at first sight" that these two have obviously found.

of course, things are not as simple as they seem. valentin is married, both to a chilly, aristocratic blonde [penelope ann miller] and to his career. and so the silent fireworks between he and peppy are immediately as problematic as they are undeniable.

after their first encounter, she shows up as an extra on one of his films and we get to see the force of the giddy, juvenile, embarrassing, incredible puppy love between them. he helps her get her foothold in the film and peppy, who embodies all the young, bold confidence of the flapper era- to go along with the lithe figure and bobbed hair- determines to work her way up from there.

SO HOW DO THINGS GO FROM THERE? KEEP READING...

friday favourites 24.02.12

image of the week- kinda nsfw
i would like to start off this post by saying that, contrary to what the bible might say, the wages of sin is exercise. when you've spent a lifetime on those small, seemingly meaningless sins that really shouldn't be sins at all, there nonetheless comes a time when you're forced to think about taking care of yourself. yes, that might mean minding what you eat, but really, it means that you have to take care of strengthening the various parts of your body that are prone to falling apart.

with that in mind, i set myself to work this week on an exercise regimen and as much as i know that this will benefit me in the long run, in the short run my days are full of pain and cramps and a sort of stiffness that makes me look like my grandmother did after her arthritis started to get really bad. even now, as i try to lift my hands enough to type, my shoulders are complaining. it's not a pretty sight.

that's my week, in a nutshell. there's other stuff that's happened, but basically every day of my week [including the one day off i gave myself] has been marked by this. i'm hoping that soon, i'll just skip forward to the benefits of this plan. i will say that i've generally been sleeping better this week, but that's really it. i'm wondering if the promised increased energy and sense of optimism are just lies told by health nuts to fool the rest of us into joining them in their misery.

but, of course, i still have some favourites i wish to share with you.

good news :: stuff i can't make up from around the internet

some people think it's obnoxious that the mormon church insists on "baptising" dead jews into their church. [they use a surrogate, which is considerably less creepy than digging them up, but still a bit presumptuous.] others have found a way to turn the practice back on the church.[thanks to disinfo for the link]

what's the weirdest thing you've found while renovating your basement? how about nearly $2 million worth of jewelry, a gun and a box of joy division and new order master tapes?

the road to hell is paved with good intentions. and unused t-shirts and shoes.

honk if you love libya.

yes, espn took it down within half an hour and they fired the person responsible, but this still has to rank as one of the most dubious moments in headline writing history.

omg. there's a nail polish colour called "santorum". now you know what to get me for the spring equinox.

goings on :: stuff you can [and should] participate in

if you're in montreal: it's nuit blanche this saturday! the all-out art fest where you can roam the city, viewing paintings, music, sound, film, performance and much more. events get under way very early this year- midway through the day- and continue well into the night. unlike other cities which have nuits blanches that go until dawn, things tend to wind down around two or three in montreal. also unlike other cities, which tend to have their nuits blanches in the spring or fall, when the balance of light and dark is about equal, montreal chooses to have theirs in the middle of february, despite having some of the worst winter weather south of the arctic circle. so bundle up and check out the festival's web site for information and maps so you can plan out everything you want to see. nuit blanche also has a very helpful smart phone app.

if you're in toronto :: check out burning chrome iii, a night of noise and experimental music taking place this evening at the charmingly named "devil's cellar" in the basement [how appropriate] of celt's pub. if i were still in toronto, i'd be there for certain. it's cheap and easily accessible and you can find all the details on the event's facebook page.

if you're in halifax [the canadian one] :: my old friend and former radio comrade waye mason is turning 40, which is sort of stressful, but he's turning his birthday bash into a fundraiser for the parker street food and furniture bank. several luminaries of the halifax indie rock scene will be playing sets starting at 10:30 sharp. the event takes place next friday at the venerable seahorse tavern and you can find all the details, including times for all the sets, here.  waye is also running for city council, so make sure to ask him what his plans are for the city. even better, wait until he's been drinking a while and then ask him.

if you're pretty much anywhere :: the oscars are on sunday night, hosted this year by billy crystal. [this is not a repeat from 1990.] meh. i'm hoping there are some "interesting" fashion choices, because i find it harder every year to get excited about film's big night. 

musical notes

i'm not the world's biggest prince fan, but i think it's impossible not to admire him, particularly when you watch this video. [thanks to dom for finding it.]


follow-up and shameless self-promotion

not too much on this front this week. of course, we're coming up on the big one-year anniversary of the caustic lounge on march 7th, so i'll be planning for that. other than that, i'll just take this moment to remind everyone that you can always access "a definable moment in time", the fiction serial updated tuesdays and saturdays, through this blog. the entirety of the story is up there, so you don't need to worry if you've missed an episode or two. 

of course, you can always count on me live-tweeting the republican caucuses, which will be taking place on tuesday. so you should either check your twitter account lots or turn off phone notifications, depending on how that makes you feel.

although i'm going to make every effort to stick with my exercise plan- meaning basically that i plan to exercise- i have a feeling that the rest of today will be spent very much following seth's lead:


i did want to mention that this week's "image of the week" comes from unicorn booty and is, in fact, a portrait of presidential candidate rick santorum made entirely out of gay porn. 

thanks for reading and i hope that everyone has a great week.

22 February 2012

making faces :: nars spring 2012- the eyes have it


i've been trying to be more responsible about my cosmetics purchases lately. and by "more responsible", i mean that i've been buying less and making sad eyes and dom in the hopes that he'll be impressed with my new found restraint and buy me presents. so far, this plan hasn't yielded a lot of results, but the cats have promised to help me with the sad eyes training.

all this to say that, if i'd had my druthers [i'm assuming that druthers is an archaic word for lots of money], i would have bought every single thing in the nars spring collection. well, every single thing but one, but still. it's that good. now, the great thing about nars is that the huge majority of their seasonal releases become permanent and even the ones that don't tend to live a long life on the company web site. i have to say that while that may mean that i buy things more slowly than i do with other companies whose limited releases are often limited to the day they're released [yes, mac cosmetics, i'm talking about you], i'm very happy to have the option of taking my time. and, when my druthers do arrive, i plan on going back for some serious second helpings of this collection.

as far as i'm aware, the only the "douce france" eye shadow trio is limited edition [and even then, i'm not 100% sure], whereas all the other goodies get rolled into the permanent line. bless you francois nars and your lovely marketing team i'd be happy to join if you were based in montreal.

PRODUCTS! SWATCHES! COMPARISONS! AFTER THE BREAK!


20 February 2012

the passion of santo

welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the right-off, the conservative battle of the new millennium, the epic war for the souls of the everyman. [everywoman is not in high demand, since we all know that her vote really shouldn't be worth more than half a male vote and she'll probably be too busy admiring her nails and her new lemony-scented oven cleaner to remember to vote anyway.] these are the days when the challenge is set and the red state warriors must stake their claim for the loyalty of little people like you and me.

well, not like me. and, if you're reading this blog, probably not like you either, because, like me, you're likely to be the sort of snide liberal shit who sits back and watches the republican nomination campaign unfold with a micro-brewery beer and the sense of superiority that rick santorum rightly accuses us of having. that's right people. we're the elite snobs. and, as it turns out, elite snobs are every bit as susceptible to the charms of reality t.v. as our trailer-park-dwelling cousins. we just like to be able to convince ourselves that we're watching something of great political depth and import. please don't tell us we're not. we don't want to have to stop watching because we can't fit it into our snobby world view.

but having watched this process for months [j.h. christ, seriously? months????], i have come to a decision that might surprise you: the republican party should nominate rick santorum.

and no, that isn't just the smirking liberal who sees an easy election win talking. it is, but that's not all it is. i've come to the decision that there is not really a good argument for any candidate other than santo for the g.o.p., unless they're being completely hypocritical. [o.k., there's ron paul, but the fact is that many of his policies fall well outside the comfort zone of the majority of republicans, who aren't really libertarians, even though they might like to think of themselves that way.] the more i watch the republican nomination process, the more i think that the party has never had a candidate who embodied their supposed ideals more than rick santorum. and if they choose to push forward with mitt romney, they're essentially admitting that their views are unpalatable to the majority of voters.

dammit, people. it's time that you stand up for what you believe in. for those of you who are still deciding, i'd like to lay my wildly inaccurate record on the line by exploding a few of the popular media narratives that have marked this nomination process.

popular media observation #1 :: "in 2008, the obama- clinton fight went until june and was incredibly divisive, but the party coalesced behind their candidate and the fight made obama stronger. what's happening in the republican party now is similar." 

no, it isn't. in 2008, the republicans were going through a nomination fight of their own. in 2012, the republicans are fighting a sitting president with a huge war chest and a money-raising machine behind him.

in 2008, two clear frontrunners emerged and fought each other. in 2012, among republicans, mitt romney has always been the clear frontrunner. even after santo's stunning hat trick of minnesota, missouri and colorado, romney is still the guy to beat. hilary clinton and barack obama were always seen as evenly matched, whereas whoever goes up against romney is an underdog.

of course, even if you do accept that the fights are similar, there's something to be learned from the conclusion. in the fight between the establishment pragmatist and the idealist, the idealist won both the nomination and the presidency. technically, that makes santorum the best bet.

popular media observation #2 :: "romney's strategy of using negative ads is working."

not exactly. it worked against newt gingrich, but that may be an exceptional case. for starters, it's just not that difficult to make newt gingrich look unsympathetic and untrustworthy. gingrich has a tendency to look pretty unsympathetic without any help. so sure, reminding people of all the things that he'd done wrong was an effective political move. you know what was even more effective for romney in that case? newt gingrich acting like a petulant child who wanted to blame his failure on cheating by the frontrunner.

but what works against newt is not necessarily going to work against santo. where gingrich is bellicose, santorum is positively humble. he has described himself as "not the most exciting speaker", but he's doing an excellent job of convincing people that that really doesn't matter too much. sure, to many of us he's a gay-bashing, woman-hating, war-mongering basin of leftover douche water, but he's also peculiarly likeable. the leader of the colorado republican party told cnn in no uncertain terms how santorum pulled off a rather stunning upset: he won big in areas he visited. in fact, santorum has won every state where he has put serious time into meeting and talking to people except south carolina [which he ceded to gingrich, not romney].

i've been aware of him and his most objectionable views for years. i shuddered when he got into the race, because i thought that there was no way that i could handle hearing him talk even at a single debate. and yet, on the morning after he released his long-promised taxes, i watched him being interviewed, talking about how he had bought a new home to accommodate his large family and how he'd had to take steps to pay down his debt when the house lost 40% of its value and i was practically levitating, because damn he was good. this is a man who makes almost a million dollars a year who is making a credible case that he understands the plight of the panicked middle class homeowner. [note: i have to admit that when i first typed that last bit, i used the phrase "i was practically frothing at the mouth" rather than "i was practically levitating". and then i realised that that wasn't a good idea.]

all this to say that, while romney has already started to carpet bomb santorum in michigan, where the former senator seems ready to open a particularly humiliating can of whoop-ass as of this moment, i don't know that the tactic is going to be as successful. you can crap on gingrich, because a lot of people don't like him very much anyway, but santorum? romney runs a serious risk of looking like the rich bully beating up on the nice kid who spends his after-school hours taking care of his brothers and sisters. as long as they're not gay.

although the media is strangely resistant to letting go of the idea that romney's negative ads work, they tripped over themselves putting the national spotlight on santo's response to the negative potshots of his rival. where gingrich was whiny and tantrum-prone, santorum is humourous and off-handed. while neither may be the case, santo looks noble and romney looks desperate.

popular media observation #3 :: "rick santorum does well with social conservatives, who haven't warmed to mitt romney."

yes, but that's missing the point. santorum certainly does well with social conservatives, but that demographic had no problem voting for romney in new hampshire and florida. he did pretty well with them, in fact. sure, when santo puts in the effort, he wins that group easily, but the issue isn't that mitt romney has a credibility problem with social conservatives. the issue is that mitt romney has a credibility problem with everyone. and unlike santo, who seems able to connect with people almost without trying, romney's favourability ratings seem to sink the more people get to know him.

that has to be the worst metric possible for a would-be presidential candidate. i mean, if romney wins the nomination, is his party planning on sticking him a hole somewhere from august to november and hope that plastering pictures of his chiseled jaw and perfect hair will be enough to win people over? how do you wage a campaign for someone who gets less likeable every time you see him? you can't. it's a losing proposition and i have to think that people in the republican party know this.

popular media observation #4 :: "if romney isn't able to overcome santorum [and the others] by super-tuesday, the republican party will pressure someone new to parachute in and take the nomination."

sure they will. if they're secretly going to vegas and betting the party's money on an obama win in november.

every time that rumour gets repeated on air, the possibility becomes exponentially more stupid. because every time it's repeated, more people realise that, if the party does throw a mitch daniels or a chris christie or, in their ultimate fantasies, a jeb bush into the ring, it is going to look like an establishment rejection of the democratic process. even if they were to manage to push their chosen one through [and, while i don't know much of daniels, i suspect that both christie and smarter bush are too shrewd to be conned into pissing away their political future on a maneuver that reeks of desperation], they'd be lucky to get half their supporters out on election day. no prize, not even the prospect of winning the presidency and both houses of congress, is going to overcome the wrath of a grassroots electorate scorned and the republican party would be wise to consider that.

so where does all this leave us? us? what are you, joking? i live in canada and we've got our own problems. i'm just an international observer.

where does it leave the republicans? well, it kind of leaves them up in the air. it's possible that santorum will self-destruct and clear the way to a romney victory. certainly, his deeply unpopular views on contraception and on reproductive rights could be an embarrassment for the party. on the other hand, those views aren't going to hurt him any with his core. and he has shown an uncanny ability to connect not just with social conservatives, but with blue collar workers, those downtrodden folk who have been most hurt by the exodus of manufacturing jobs. no one in their right mind is going to argue that mitt romney is going to be able to pull that off.

in fact, his popularity with that segment may make santorum more electable than romney, because he might be in a better position to capture potential swing states, even if he were weaker against obama in states that the democrats are already likely to take.

so what's my advice? well, not that anyone's about to ask, but here goes:

look, republicans. you've been making noises about this movement from the ground up of strongly conservative voters who want to see their views reflected in congress. you had a bit of a surge with that in 2010. now it's time to put your money where your mouth is. you have your choice between the next obvious choice, the candidate who you think is probably maybe going to be able to unseat the democratic president, or you can go with a guy who pretty much embodies the kind of things that you say you believe in. there's a good chance that whichever one you pick is going to end up on the losing end of the 2012 election, but do you want to go out with a compromise or do you actually want to put your agenda out there for scrutiny? i'd argue that if you really believe the things that you say, the choice you have before you isn't really much of a choice at all.  one candidate clearly embodies the sort of things that you say are important. the other one has nice hair.

no matter what you want to say about his politics [and believe, me, i have a lot of things that i want to say], rick santorum is completely [foolishly?] unashamed of who he is and what he believes. who among you, republican voters, can say the same?

[many, many, many thanks to dominic f. marceau for the fabulous artwork accompanying this piece.]

19 February 2012

making faces :: i'm a proud exhibitionist

hourglass visionaire eye shadow duo "exhibition"
after my initial hourglass experience, it was pretty much a given that i'd be going back to sample more of their wares. while their product line is lean- rouge bunny rouge and le metier de beaute, two brands i see as occupying a similar "face space" are considerably larger- the quality makes it worth grabbing pretty much anything that catches your fancy. and i must say that i like the fact that they've so far focused on adding to their core offering, rather than teasing the public with things that are available only fleetingly and snatched up by mean folks who live closer to a counter than i do.

one beauty that i always knew i was going to pick up was the "exhibition" eye shadow duo. after all, i loved the rich, smoky tones of "prism" and i am bananas for purple, so it is actually a statistical impossibility that this wouldn't find a happy home with me. and although i held off for a while, thinking that i already had many, many purples, i eventually realised that i was being foolish by trying to resist for the sake of resistance. i've never been a believer in the whole "martyr" theory that self-denial makes you a better person. i'm a perfectly good person the way i am and eye shadow is not going to change that.

this duo is a combination of a dusty, pinkish-mauve shade and an intense, dark eggplant purple. much like "prism", "exhibition" has awesome power. it's necessary to use a light hand or else you can end up overdoing things pretty easily. even if you want things fairly intense, i'd recommend building the colour in layers, rather than just caking it on. applying hourglass shadows too thickly is about the only way you can get them to crease. exercise a little caution and you can expect a full day of looking perfect. or more perfect than you usually do. [can i also recommend not jabbing yourself in the eye with the makeup brush while applying, the way that i did? because not jabbing yourself in the eye is wicked.]


17 February 2012

friday favourites 17.02.12

image of the week
where the heck did this week even go? i've been feeling kind of severely demotivated this week- not down, just demotivated [LAZY, you mean LAZY -ed.]. as a result, i haven't really accomplished much and suddenly *boom* it's friday again. despite the fact that i feel i sort of floated through the last week, i have to admit that there were so many things that made me laugh or at least smile that by monday afternoon, i had to start keeping a list. that has to be a good sign.

so without further ado [about nothing], here's a look at the highlights and "highlights" of the week:

good news :: stuff i can't make up from around the internet


the people are revolting! we've heard much about popular uprisings in much of the middle east, but easily missed was the fact that the tiny maldives- made up of a group of islands in the indian ocean- ousted their president, apparently at gunpoint. only in this case, there's an important difference: this president was the first democratically elected leader in the country's history, a proponent of public empowerment and a voice for environmental responsibility. he was given the boot in favour of forces allied with the country's former dictator of thirty years. the new leader does seem to be amenable to including former president nasheed in the maldives' future, but in the meantime, the people have spoken and they say you can blow your liberal government out your wazoo.

if i had to name factors that would make me turn down an employment opportunity, exploding pig poop would almost certainly be among them.

some surprising [and profoundly disturbing] reactions to chris brown performing at the grammy awards on sunday. i unfortunately have the feeling that these ladies will end up getting what they seem to want.

of course, this week was valentine's day, but if you forgot, or if you didn't have a chance to buy something for your sweetie, may i make a few suggestions? why thank you.

say it with 55 gallons of lube. [link from boing boing]

say it with duct tape.

say it with severed heads.

goings on :: stuff you can [and should] participate in


if you're in chicago: check out william bennett's new project cut hands tomorrow night [feb. 18], currently playing their first american dates. [more tour dates here]

if you're in st. jean-sur-richelieu: the ska-tacular rude mekanicals road show will be hitting town on february 25th with the forbidden beats, slater's sons and special guests. details here.

if you're in montreal: the venerable dark wave nights, a blend of electro, goth, new wave and ebm will be laid to rest tonight [feb. 17] at katacombes [corner of st. laurent and ontario]. although there have been many incarnations of the event, this is apparently the truly, absolutely final night. dj uriel will be spinning throughout.

the monthly post-punk night at casa del popolo takes place tomorrow. come enjoy a pint [or a few, if you prefer] and some great music, courtesy of dj's tyg and ciemnosc. details here.

sociologist caroline knowles will be conducting a workshop on mental health in urban environments at the canadian centre for architecture tomorrow at 5 p.m.. this is presented in conjunction with the exhibit imperfect health: the medicalization of architecture.

[note- if you'd like to submit any events for consideration, please email me with details.]

musical notes


well, since i've recommended their show, it seems appropriate to share a little taste of the noisy-percussive splendour that is cut hands. at the very least, it should make a good antidote to a week's worth of whitney houston on the news. seriously media people, you're overdoing it.



follow-up and shameless self-promotion


show your support for the printed word! "interference", my short story collection, is 30% off until midnight on saturday with the code FEBRUARYCART305USD. what a deal! place your orders here.

due to some camera problems, i wasn't able to get to post about the nars spring collection goodies i picked up, but here's a quick look at the new [and permanent] paramaribo eye shadow duo in use.



here's your weekly dose of kitteh! guess which one of these guys is just waking up...



coming soon on more like space: nars spring 2012 review [this week, i promise], a look at what's new in the world of the republicans and a silent film buff's reaction to "the artist". 

15 February 2012

the foxconn con

if you're an apple products user, you were probably as disappointed as i was to hear the horror stories about conditions in their chinese factories run by foxconn. tales of work days lasting twelve hours or more, exposure to poisonous chemicals and shockingly high suicide rates among employees [including, most recently a large group who threatened to commit suicide en masse if working conditions were not improved].

i'm somewhat mollified to hear that apple, a company known for its high standards, has initiated a review by the fair labour association and that, going forward, it will make its reports public. as a longtime customer, i'm disappointed that it took a public embarrassment to set this chain of events in motion. as a human being, i'm uncomfortable because i know that i've [unwittingly] enabled this sort of travesty as a consumer. as a person who has worked on many occasions with suppliers from china, i'm cynical, because i know that all the public reform in the world is unlikely to make a big difference in manufacturing practices. here's why:

one bad apple is still just one apple

if you think that this is something driven by apple's corporate greed and uncaring attitude towards its suppliers, you need to take a deeper look. foxconn is the largest electronic components manufacturer in the world. aside from the now-tainted iphone and ipad products, it also produces kindle, xbox 360, playstation 3 and wii. it's also the company that will be producing the much-touted amazon smart phone, due out later this year. virtually every major electronics company you can name- dell, sony, intel, microsoft, cisco, motorola- use foxconn as a supplier. it is the largest private employer in china and has factories in eastern europe and south america as well. about 40% of consumer electronics products come from foxconn.

that means that there are a lot of companies implicated in this scandal and apple, as big as it is, is only one of them. because apple's effect on north american markets is so profound, it's easy to lose sight of its size relative to other manufacturers. [it represents 3.8% of the s & p index on its own and its share of the nasdaq was so high that it forced changes to reduce its impact and therefore the risk to the nasdaw as a whole. canadians may remember that their stock markets plummeted when telecommunications giant nortel, with a hugely overgrown share of the market, fell apart.] in the last quarter of 2011, apple represented 19% of all consumer electronics spending. so even if apple represents a large portion of foxconn's china business, there is still a huge portion- at least half and probably a lot more- done by other manufacturers.


13 February 2012

"micro" mental health mondays

it really does seem that things are conspiring to give me stuff to talk about on mondays with regards to mental health.

in this case, it's the follow-up on the death of whitney houston and the rumours about what might have caused it. first off, kudos to the l.a. coroner's office for basically telling the media to cool their jets, because the death is going to be investigated when and how the coroner deems fit. blood toxicology takes weeks to complete and no amount of media pressure for information is going to speed that process up.

it has been reported that houston had prescription medications in her room, although medical professionals have told reporters that that's hardly cause for alarm. most people have a few prescriptions in their house and take them along when they travel. that gets no argument from me, however i was sort of curious at the specific medications that were listed: lorazepam, valium and xanax.

what jumped out at me there was that those are all benzodiazepines [drugs generally given to relieve anxiety]. while they're among the most prescribed drugs in the united states, i cannot fathom why anyone would need to have three different prescriptions for drugs that do basically the exact same thing. that strikes me as odd, particularly since benzos are addictive and houston was a recovering addict.

not to go all michael jackson here, but you'd think that her doctor would have known better than to prescribe her three different flavours of potential problem area.

just saying.

curious about benzos and what they do? i did a fairly in-deoth [but not overly technical] piece on them here.

making faces :: gentleman's choice

ah yes, we are fast approaching that day when we we're supposed to feel an almost unbearable pressure to come up with the perfect couple night- a romantic pastiche of candlelight and flowers and rich chocolates fed to each other between sips of champagne through the heady steam of a hot tub, the promise of passion lingering in the air like an exotic incense.

yeah, right.

most people i know are just getting over the psychological trauma caused by having to act out the perfect family christmas. surely we deserve more than a few weeks' respite before we have another holiday that makes us feel we have something to live up to? it's not like other holidays carry these sort of expectations. we have ten whole months when the calendar isn't making us feel inadequate.

besides, most couples i know have been together long enough that they're able to enjoy a casual sense of romance together pretty much throughout the year, without feeling the need to prove it.

alternately, having all of this romantic paraphernalia around can often make people acutely aware of how monstrously imperfect their relationship is, which might actually be helpful, now that i think of it. 

MY VALENTINE'S FACE, LET ME SHOW YOU IT...

12 February 2012

rough ride [movie review :: drive]

when i first saw the trailer for "drive" and heard that the man at its helm, dane nicholas winding refn, had been honoured at cannes with both a standing ovation and an award for best director, my first thought was "really?" because to me, the trailer looked like it could have been made for any slick action-noir, something made to draw in the slightly edgier summer blockbuster audience, but hardly the sort of thing that would wow critics. according to dom, however, who's much more plugged in to the goings-on of the film industry, the word was that "drive" was really something special, something potentially revolutionary that would mark cinema for years to come. i have to admit that, although i usually take what he says very seriously, i was still kind of skeptical. i finally convinced myself that it must simply have been the victim of a highly unimaginative trailer and that i was getting the wrong message.

as soon as the film starts, it's difficult not to immediately be struck by its visual language. winding refn has described his project as a sort of fairytale and, certainly, the setting seems to be some neverland-ish view of modern los angeles, all contrasts of garish lighting and shadows, human figures scuttling through it like foraging rats. against this, ryan gosling's nameless protagonist glides with a steely calm that illustrates his darwinian superiority- he has adapted to the conditions of life in this world and found a way to flourish.

well, flourish might be an understatement. as the film's credits roll, we find out [if we haven't already found out through the trailer] that he works as a mercenary getaway driver for criminals who are willing to pay his price and abide by his strict rules. the initial sequence, where he chauffeurs a couple of stress-addled thieves from the scene of their crime, is a flourish of directorial brilliance. it serves to immediately submerge the audience in the driver's world, but it's also a perfect introduction to the character himself. one of the film's only car chase scenes, it is less about battles of speed or force than it is a study of his methodical intelligence, where everything, even the radio he listens to, serves a purpose. by the end of the sequence, we know as much about the central character as we might in an hour of hearing him speak.

of course, we also soon find out that he has a daytime existence as well, where he works as a mechanic in a specialist's garage and does stunt driving for movies, in partnership with a gimpy father figure who dreams of achieving financial success for both of them through professional car racing. he lives a monastic sort of existence in a spartan apartment, where his connection to the "real world" is found in the form of a wordless, boyish crush on his neighbour, carey mulligan.

in contrast to his young protege, gosling's mentor is verbose, constantly and ill-advisedly talking, especially to gangster bernie rose, played by albert brooks in a much-lauded performance.

from these seeds, we can see clearly where things are heading: the driver's success is a product of his hermitic lifestyle and as circumstances conspire to link him to the outside world, things become more and more problematic.

to his credit, winding refn takes exquisite care in crafting his scenario. although it's clear that there's tension ahead and what its catalysts will be, "drive" takes its time, allowing us to enjoy the ride. the atmosphere created is like an unpleasant dream; you know that something is wrong, even though the unease has not yet resolved itself into visible form.

however, from the moment events start to rain down on the characters we've come to know, the film seems to lose its way. its stylishness, which does such a great job in augmenting the unreal atmosphere for the first part of the film, grows shallow as it degenerates into a sort of muddled crime-gone-bad caper. as much as the first part of the film promises that, even though we know what's going to happen, the filmmakers will find a way to surprise us, the last section falls a bit flat as we realise that we knew where things were headed all along.

"drive" has much to recommend it. it's a lush feast of visuals and is worth watching for this alone. gosling is solid as the controlled anti-hero whose repressed emotions are constantly threatening to erupt and ruin everything. mulligan is his perfect counterpart, sweet but with a martyr's sense of duty and a similar need for control and stability.

brooks, always under-rated as an actor, is a lot less terrifying than early reviews had lead me to believe. rather than being vicious and without conscience, he comes off more as an unbendingly pragmatic middle manager, someone who works within corporate rules, even though that corporation is a criminal syndicate. his performance, while spot-on, is representative of the film's confusion: is his character an actor behaving as he must in a world of pre-ordained effects or is he the real villain in the director's dark fairytale? the former would be an original angle, but it seems like he is supposed to be the latter and things fall a bit short.

"drive" isn't a typical action film by any means. it's clearly more linked to moody, often unsettling works like "the krays", "no country for old men" and "taxi driver", whose influence looms large over every part of refn's opus. it's easily enjoyed, moderately smart and stunning to behold, but it is not a cinematic revolution.

"drive" is currently available on blu-ray and dvd. it's nominated for an academy award for achievement in sound editing.
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