Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mystery Society - Steve Niles, Fiona Staples, Andrew Ritchie

Fiona Staples is probably my favorite artist working in comics today. She’s economical and clean and I love the way she draws emotion and expression in her characters. I’d never even heard of her before Saga, and her involvement is 100% why I picked up Mystery Society in the first place.

Steve Niles was an unknown for me, though upon inspection I probably should have looked at his work a long time ago. A lot of the titles he’s associated with - 30 days of Night being the big one - are pretty firmly in the category of Not Being My Thing (for future reference - zombies are not my thing), and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about him as a writer.

Mystery Society is a 70s Avengers-esque frothy and fun romp through military bases and literary history. It’s very setup-heavy, in that it isn’t a long book and none of the conflicts feel very earthshaking, but you can see what groundwork needed laying before (assumed) further adventures.

The cast are appealingly diverse and odd - Nick Hammond and Anastasia Collins, married couple and titular Mystery Society, Secret Skull (an entertainly sardonic female ghoul called Samantha) and Verne. Verne is the brain of Jules Verne in a robot body, and while this as an idea feels a bit trite, in action it’s sort of ungainly and adorable. The pairing of Verne and Secret Skull is a fun alongside to the central action - being Nick and Ana’s rescuing of a secret government project involving the imprisonment of a pair of pre-teen girls - Sally and Nina.

The art is slick and lovely, surprising no one, and I do think my fondness for Staples’ art influenced the appeal of the characters for me. A later story illustrated by Andrew Ritchie is nowhere near as engaging.

The main structure is occupied with setting up the questions that will assumedly be answered later - the immaturity and the power of the twins, the logistics of Samantha’s biology, the sudden wealth of the central pair and how exactly they learnt espionage and fighting to the level where they are breaking into government facilities. It’s a hard call. I’m conditioned to expect that these will be dealt with and fleshed out in the future, but if we treat this book as a standalone - which we should, really - it reads as fickle world building. The twins appear and disappear when necessary and are fitted out with an arsenal of undefined abilities, meaning there’s no consistent internal science and no clear explanation of what can be expected of them. They became omnipotent very quickly, and the government seems to give them up startlingly easily considering the threat they present.

The overall feeling from the book is a kind of indulgent adventure with some great art and the potential to be really expansive and interesting. I would pick up the next issue if I saw it, but it was published 2013 and I’ve not heard anything since. I hope there is more of it; it sort of reminds me of Fables: Legends in Exile, which I didn’t think was phenomenal when I read it, but when further volumes appeared the whole arc became one of my favorites.

Five out of ten. Better than many things out there, but also a bit undercooked.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Columbine - Dave Cullen

(how slick is this cover? not even an author credit. beautiful)

I went to Columbine after finishing A Thousand Lives by Julia Sheeres, probably the largest-scale and fully researched of the Jonestown massacre. Beyond an inclination towards masochism, these two show off my mental leanings recently. I'd also lump all the reading I was doing about the Batavia six months or so ago in the same category. There's always a central psychopath with a gift for lying and persuasion and a god complex. Jim Jones, Eric Harris and - reaching back five centuries - Jeronimus Cornelisz read very similar, at least before various factors push them out of the debatable sanity of psychopathy and into flat out madness.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed twelve students and one teacher, and wounded 25 on the morning of the 20th of April, 1999. When it happened, I was fifteen. Eric was three years older than I, Dylan two. I shared a taste in music with them, and Dylan filled notebooks with a very "me" brand of listless fatalism. There was a lot I recognized, there, but at the same time I fell easily into the trap of media subjectivity - I'd heard they were bullied, outsiders, social pariahs, but that was where my understanding of the incident ended.

It's been a long time since the shooting itself, and handfuls of information had only really shifted my perception of the whole thing very slightly. In my mind, Columbine happened because the US has a chronically idiotic approach to gun laws. What I'd never really focused on, in my understanding of Columbine, was Harris and Klebold themselves, and this is where Cullen succeeds in flying colors.

Columbine is an epically researched, near-definitive recording of Columbine - starting with the shooting itself and then radiating out in broader and broader circles until you see the effect not only on the victims but on the survivors, the wounded, the family, the professionals involved in the investigation. I don't believe the viewpoint is objective - Cullen is particularly gentle towards the parents of the two boys - but it's very close, and every statement is backed up with citations and accreditation and a lengthy list of people who assisted. I was occasionally librarian-distracted by how impressive this bibliography was.

Cullen himself was/is a journalist, and was intimately involved with the initial event and fallout. It's given him a very clear viewpoint on the media chaos from the inside, and also access to huge amounts of material from fellow journalists. I was regularly stunned by the scope of the material presented. This is a life's work of collation, and I'm a little surprised it took Cullen a mere ten years.

The picture painted of Harris and Klebold is vivid, and both frightening and desperately sad. Harris doesn't appear to have ever been a candidate for normal human behavior, but Klebold - poor, depressive, lonely Klebold - seems as much a victim as the students he killed. I really came away wondering if Klebold had had a friend - any other friend - who gave him the attention and affection he seemed to get from Harris - whether the shooting would have occurred at all. Harris was a psychopath, but he also needed attention and support, which he got in spades from Klebold.

One of the things I think the book did really impressively - and it reminded me of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones in this respect - is handling the wider families, in the months/years following the incident. There is no easy closure these people. Some fought legal battles against the school, the parents, the county for years. Some (many) took refuge in faith, showcased in the somewhat unsettling account of Cassie Bernall's death and her church's embrace of her martyrdom. And many of them imploded as families, through divorce, separation, and in one horribly sad case, suicide. Columbine didn't start and end in a day, and the book is all-embracing in its acceptance of that.

Obviously it's not going to be a light or fun read. But I do think it's an important one, if only to quieten down the part of us that looks for a reason when these things happen. By the books conclusion it almost feels closer to a natural disaster than an act of murder, which is a credit to the complete lack of blame Cullen distributes as the writer.

And credit where credit is due - no glossy photo insert. The book is full of accounts concerning how the media feeding frenzy traumatized recovering students, and tactfully chooses to omit that TrueCrime staple.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Buyin things.

Howdy ho, it certainly has been a while.

I bought shoes! This in itself isn't a big deal, but I was given a sizable gift voucher by my siblings for my birthday, and because of my one gargantuan post-op foot, I haven't been able to use it. And so - FIVE MONTHS later - I finally went with these ones. They look nothing like any of my other shoes which I am happy with. I had a shortlist of four short boots, and went with these because they looked "crunchy and weird". The nice Zomp lady didn't seem to know what to make of that.
They are Sempre Di - Neros, and they're leather and folded and crunched up and interesting. Also marked down to 195 from about 400, which doesn't hurt. I tried the size smaller, which fit, but was a little snug, so the 39s are winging their way to me from over east. Gimme. I'm a step closer to the hipster I always wanted to be and am also horrified by.

Whats up elsewhere? Well - not much. I had a fleeting trip to Tasmania about two weeks ago, spent a few days with my nan and flew with her back to Perth. Tasmania is beautiful. I'm so incredibly mellow and calm there. I would totally live there. Give me an opportunity.

Also - flights confirmed for Singapore in October, along with the boyfriend and the BFF. We are going to be a Singapore-Slingin Universal-Studioing dumpling quaffing power trio. Cannot wait.

What else?

Very little. I have had very little energy for many things, blogging being one of them. I'm also in a bit of a personal slump, which makes looking at photos of myself hard/impossible. But I am writing - a lot - which is something.

In other news, the world is spectacularly going to shit. I don't even have a witty line for this one. At least I can mitigate it with some Stefani.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Luckyscent sample order!

I think I found Luckyscents when I was looking for the Tilda Swinton perfume, and then discovered to my sheer delight that you can buy $5 (roughly) samplers of the majority of their stock - and believe me, you aren't going to find most of these lines on Strawberrynet. There is some absolute batshit insanity here.

Etat Libre d'Orange - Tilda Swinton, Like This : Starts off very sweet and floral, which surprised me a little, but the drydown goes into honey liquer territory and stays there. Smells like summer and dusky evenings. Verrrr nice, I'd half been expecting something really balls out and weird.

The Different Company - Tokyo Bloom: Peppery and humid, and yes, i'm steadily getting more obtuse as this post rolls on. It actually reminds me of Escentric Molecules a bit. Have you ever ground cracked pepper onto fresh lettuce? This is what it smells like. Really really nice, Would be a great day alternative to EM.

Blood Concept - O: I'm an O positive, so I went for this one...? I know very little about this brand, and quite frankly I'm hoping I'll love it so I can buy the ultra amazing full size, which looks like one of the canisters they store Kryptonite in under grade A security.
And Aargh oh god it is the weirdest perfume ever. It smells like dust and decaying fruit and centuries-old tobacco stains. It's not bad, per se, but it is not a scent you would/should apply to yourself intentionally. Hang on, I got it - this is what Tywin Lannister smells like. Money and contempt.

People of the Labyrinth - Amaze: I get it! Amaze! A - maze! Labyrinth! Nice work bros.
This one is strong. Sort of - cherry concentrate but not sweet, though it loosens up into something more palatable. I can see you making enemies if you wore it in a crowded office, though.

Serge Lutens - Un Bois Vanille: Okay. Okay you guys. I get it now. I smell like baking cupcakes!

The Beautiful Mind Series - Intelligence and Fantasy: Very incensey but kinda sweet and girlish. It keeps twisting in with the O scent and it is doing my head in.

By Kilian - Love: Oh man - this is gorgeous. it's like a cocktail built around a faint scent of musk sticks and bourbon vanilla. It's sweet and understated and quite daywearish, and probably the most potentially mature sweetness I've met. Very nice. Will further investigate this one!

Penhaligon - Amaranthine: This is wonderfully soapy. smells like a beautifully clean linen cupboard at your grandmothers, all creamy florals and lavender sachets and hot baths. Loverly.

Penhaligon - Peoneve: I think this is the first time I've met a peony scent while knowing that that is what it is. I think it sits quite close to Amaranthine, a similarly "old" scent but with a slight bitterness that's sorta lemony. Smells like an ultra cool grandma.

Penhaligon - Bluebell: Whoooooa. Full on bluebell. This is like picking one, crushing it and holding it immediately under your nose. It's quite solid though - not just the flower-scent, but the vegetable-ish stems, dewy moisture, dirt and sunlight. Whole deal. This one is almost Demeter-esque in it's devotion to that one central note.

Penhaligon - Elixir: This smells pretty much exactly like something called "Elixir" should smell. it's a bit liquorice and alcohol, very herbal and heady. It softens out to a more floral mix, but it's a more aggressive scent than the other Penhaligons.

Penhaligon - Endymion: This is a really fresh, marine scent. Sort of a wet garden smell, though its far lighter on the florals than most of the other Penhaligons. It loses a lot of the ocean scent as it dries, which is a pity - resulting scent is pretty unobtrusive and a bit forgettable.

Okaaay! I'd like to try another one of the Blood Concept line because by god I want one of those cannisters. I have a suspicion they might all be equally whatthechrist, but hey, I can talk myself into almost anything! 
Elsewhere I'm going to try a few more Kilians, and a few more ultra-niche ouds. I have a wishlist going on like you wouldn't believe. Do have a look at the site, a good 90% of their labels are ones I've never heard and it's fascinating!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Project 50 Pan: 36 - 40!

My shower recess looks like a pharmacy shelf at the current moment. The prehospital period of stress also triggered an almighty breakout across my chest and back (I don’t break out on my face like normal people, oh nooo), so I've been trying not to aggravate anything further. My small patches of scalp psoriasis likewise flared up in response to stress, which I haven’t had to do anything to for years, so I've dialed back all the nice smelling ritzy shampoos and am back on the pharmacy wheel.

Dermaveen’s Oatmeal Shampoo smells like oatmeal, surprise surprise. It lathers up quite well considering it doesn’t have any of the standard foaming agents, and though it’s only intended as a hypoallergenic and ultra-sensitive product, it also takes the fire out of my scalp, stops it itching and doesn't aggravate anything else if it drips all over me. I am well pleased with this development. It sits in my shower next to my mighty litre of Dermaveen Soap Free Wash, which is my all purpose makeup remover, shave lubricant and body wash. This has compelled me to investigate the line a bit further, though the Oatmeal Conditioner will have to wait - I have enough hair conditioning treatments lined up to see me through til Armageddon.

Elsewhere I’m trying a new tactic with moisturizing (thus the three bottles of body oil), based on advice from the effervescent and endlessly entertaining Grace Bellavue (NSFW - she’s a sex worker, it’s a professional twitter account), who has some experience with excessive showering and subsequent skin dry out. She recommended turning off the shower, liberally applying oil while still wet, toweling off the excess and away you go. You should follow Grace, by the way, she’s a fount of wisdom and boobs.

ECO Aroma is a brand I haven’t met before, though I’m positively inclined to both pomegranate and argan oil. It’s a very small bottle (95 ml), which is a shame when it’s a product intended for full body use. I would kill for a big container. I would happily double the price for a double-sized vial. I hope they consider this soon, because body treatments probably shouldn't be in such a dainty size.
My skin has stayed healthy-hydrated for longer than usual, and it doesn't give me the overheating greenhouse-effect that body lotion tends to. It smells lovely, but the smell doesn't linger long. What it did do was amazing things for my nails. My cuticles sort of just - disappeared. I don’t entirely understand this witchcraft, but I enjoyed it nonetheless (oh - and I've just seen this line appearing at Target! Go smell it, eez good). 

POME Skin and Hair Wonder Serum smells very similar to the ECO oil owing to that central note. It's an oilier oil, though, and takes longer to dry. I enjoyed this one a lot, though i have a quibble with the pump on the bottle. It's not very strong, and if you're oily handed and manage to send the central bit pinging all over the shower recess, it's both frustrating and time consuming to a.) pick it up and b.) fit it back into the lid, all of which naked and covered in oil. I can think of better hobbies. 

Lee Stafford Dry Shampoo I've been using for a while now, and it's pretty much alongside the original Klorane in terms of preferences. I know lots of people like the Batiste ones, but I can't bear the scents! I've tried, oh god I've tried. Anyhow, the LSDS has a generic clean smell and a powerful aerosol on it, and it dries into the hair really fast. And it's cheap. Until otherwise superseded, this is where it's at for me. 

Chocomania Beautifying oil has the most gorgeous delicious smell ever, which kills me since it was limited edition and now it's GONE, how could they do this to me. I've had a half full bottle floating around for a while, and faced with my sudden enthusiasm for body oiling ("boiling", for short?) it didn't last long. This was lovely to put on straight out of a hot shower on a winters night. Like wallowing in a hot chocolate. 

So yep - this is currently how I’m rolling. All the fancy colors and perfumes are on hiatus until things behave themselves again. With the exception of my new perfume, which is all lollipops and rainbows and delightful things and I’ll not hear a word against it.

(The ECO Argan body oil was provided for review)

P.S. Yes, posting has been sporadic. There has been Reasons. If you're pining for my dazzling wit, you can follow me at @HogSandwich while I get shiz sorted out on this end.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

James Cooper, Welshman extrordinaire

We called Granddad "Grancha", which I'd always assumed was welsh for grandad, but now I suspect was just an accidental carryover of how small children mangle worlds. He maintained the most impenetrable Welsh burr until the day he died, and after 30 years of contact I still didn't understand everything he said. He whistled better than anyone I've ever heard, had a hell of a singing voice and could tap dance. And he was a coal miner, like a reasonable portion of Cardiff men, and a blacksmith. More than anything else, he was hilarious, quickwitted and happy to wrestle with shrieking children.

He told terrible jokes and burst into laughter before finishing them, leaving the rest of us very confused.

Grancha died last night, and I don't really know how to process this. In the last 18 months my uncle, my grandmother (on the other side) and now my grandfather have passed away, and considering we have an extended family of maybe 15 people including the 6 in my family this is a bit of a blow. I'm sure it'll dawn on me properly later, at which point I'll have a normal teary response, but right now I'm staring into space with a poleaxed expression and trying to get my head around it.

"A fellow bought a violin and a painting by Stradivarius and Picasso, and thought "this is great! I'm going to make a mint!" but the painting was by Stradivarius and the violin was by Picasso!!" *crying with laughter*

Nice work, Granch. You'll be deeply missed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Project 50 Pan: 31 - 35! And newsflash: having feet is v. useful.

Empties first! Vegetables before dessert, if you could call my rambling complaining dessert which you almost certainly shouldn't.

Archipelago Botanicals Soy Lotion Milk - It's not empty, but I've had it for about two years now and it's starting to go goopy and weird. Massive bottle, well worth the $30 if you like the scent. Scent will not work for everyone (a "strong neutral" according to the girl who sold it to me) and I don't think this will cut it for those with really dry skin, but - pleasant.

Elizabeth Arden Good Morning Eye Treatment - This is great. Feels like a cold flannel across the eyes. Very light formula, and a little goes a long way. I tried the EA Millennium eye cream after the success of this, but it's far denser and I'm missing the Good Morning. Will be fetching more. And it's only $20 a tube, which is pretty crazy for eye cream, plus they're a Priceline brand so endless sales and stuff. All signs point to yes. 

Paul and Joe refill lipstick 105 - This is my first Paul and Joe experience, and sadly it didn't work out. The formula is lovely and the separate case and refill thing I am all cool with, but this particular lipstick could not tolerate Australian Summer. AS kicked it's arse. It melted, solidified, melted again, and I ended up giving up on it. I'm too enamored of P+J as a brand to give up on them, but I might try again when it's a good deal cooler. After all, I've got an empty lipstick case now.

Derma E - Psorzema Creme - I feel like I've spent a big chunk of my life talking about this particular product. Short answer - it's great, I'm on my fourth tub, get it from iHerb, you won't be disappointed.

Ego Sunsense - Pre tan scrub - This is really good! The texture is a sort of whipped cream type lather, absolutely loaded with walnut shell. It's not one of the ones that leaves an oil behind (which I see the pros and cons for), so if you like scrub to not be too intrusively perfumed and come off cleanly, this one is worth a try. Because walnut shell doesn't melt, you'll need to be prepared to rinse your shower recess out afterwards, but that aside? Definitely repurchase. If I had any gripe it would be my standard it's-in-a-tube-therefore-it-is-TOO-SMALL thing.

I'm just coming up to two weeks of enforced homebody-ing, and I really did think it would be funner. There have been upsides - I've discovered how much I like coles online shopping - but for the most part it is difficult to be motivated to do anything at all. Since four weeks seems like such a unfeasibly long time, I have no sense of time left or the value of time remaining. And while I've always preferred my own company, I'm discovering that I prefer my own company in the general vicinity of someone else. While Frank has been an attentive and smelly nursemaid, I am starting to go rather stircrazy.

Somewhere in this mix I also turned 30 (!!). This hasn't sunken in and I'm quite happy for it not to. I feel, act and look the same (admittedly a paler and squinting variant of my normal self), so as far as I'm concerned, it's business as normal. Being housebound also handily removed any obligations to celebrate this event, and enabled a rather lovely set of visits by various family members. My little bro has been doubly useful in this time period, hanging out and discussing Game of Thrones theories with me and leaving behind hard drives worth of entertainment.

My wounded foot is a giant swollen parody of the unwounded one, but since the bandaging is pretty extensive I can only guess whats going on under there. The tips of my toes (the only things visible) are an amazing spectrum of pink and purple. I'll spare you photos.
While I didn't rate a moonboot, I did get equipped with a moon-sandal-type-thing, which with the intense bandaging underneath makes me look like I'm wearing one ultra HomyPed granny sandal with a sock underneath. The moon-sandal is ultra rigid and makes things like stairs a very timely indulgence. I have crutches, which are helpful and all, but my wrists are weak and pushing my weight down on a 90 degree angled wrist is uncomfortable to say the least. I can't really exercise or go anywhere, so I sit in my loungeroom, read, watch things, nap, then repeat the cycle.

Accordingly my sleep patterns are laughable at the moment, as evidenced by the fact that I'm writing this at 4am. Even on the days I refrain from sleeping during the day at all, I've expended 0 energy which leads to difficulties when sleeptime comes around.  And the lack of light probably plays into that. I think I went five days before I literally stepped out of the house to feel sunshine. Before wincing and creeping back into the darkness, but nonetheless.

Movies watched thus far:
Forgetting Sarah Marshall - eh, it was orright.
Black Beauty (1994) - I'm horsemad and this was my first viewing.  Great moments punctuated with uneasy "how did they make that horse so emaciated :( :(" moments.
Bridesmaids - This is sort of shit. I was expecting good things, could not get past how much I hated everyone.
Lovelace - I liked this, but it's a bit of a mess in terms of a narrative. Amanda Seyfried is glorious as always.
My Neighbor Totoro - Compulsory viewing. Beautiful.
Marie Antoinette - should have been a six page Vanity Fair spread, not a movie.
The Canyons - Terrible, terrible Lindsay Lohan + James Deen vehicle. The dialogue is Room-esque.
Crumb (documentary) - Difficult to watch. Plays out like a Wes Anderson.
Deep Blue Sea - Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston. Great performances, but I sort of feel like we're past the point where a whole movie can hang on the device of a failing romance.
Walk the Line - So good! So so good. Emmys and awards landed all over this one and for good reason.

Plus a stack of Blackadder, Qi, Good Game and some documentary about David Attenborough and Bjork.

(plus about six or seven rewatches of things I own. I really have to force myself to watch new things, I'm sort of afraid of them. I blame Pans Labyrinth for being entirely what I was not expecting and traumatizing me utterly)

Anyone who follows me on twitter will know I've been griping about Myer's online store, which I'm fixated on at the moment because I was gifted a very generous gift card from the ladies at work and Myer will Not. Let. Me. Spend. It. Going to a store is out of the question, so I'm reliant on the online store. Internet shopping is the light that keeps me going right now. I must use this damned gift card, or so help me god.
But it isn't just me, right? It's been nearly 12 days and the store only just came back up today (the entire Myer site, not just the online store I should note), and then encounters and error at checkout and empties your cart. OH COME ON. This is just mean, not to mention commercial suicide. Almost two weeks? If we needed a clear sign that all was not well in Myerland...

So yep. It's 7.00am and I should probably go eat something and go back to bed. Gotta keep my strength up for - you know - harassing Frank with my camera or something.