Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Please Stand By...


I haven't died. I haven't stopped blogging. I haven't given up, I swear. This isn't like all those teenage diaries that I SWORE I'd finish and wrote in religiously until the second week in January every year.

I'm suffering from a combined case of RLT (Real-Life Takeover) and Blogger's Block. Real life - phew, where to start. This past few weeks have just been manic, between starting new things and wrapping up some old things, I'm barely left with enough time to pee, never mind blog. Last night I did something I haven't done since my son was a baby - I went to bed at 8:30pm when I put him to bed. BADLY WANTED.

Yesterday was also my 28th birthday, which means that I really should face up to the fact that I am, in fact, an adult, and not a young 'wan anymore. I don't know if I'll ever grow up to be honest - I went swimming last night (one of the new things I mentioned) and when I was walking into the pool I saw a group of young lads - about 16/17 years old. I immediately thought "Oh no, a group of BOYS." Like, seriously, I'm what - 11, 12 years older than them?! I suppose some things never leave you.

Speaking of leaving, I have a [sarcasmfont] wonderful [/sarcasmfont] day ahead of me on the bog. Thanks to the recent spell of wet weather, all the turf we had footed is now sitting in water, and has to be re-footed on palettes to air them out. Oh, the joys.

Enjoy your Wednesday (or humpday, as it's become known as in recent times - puke), I'll be back soon!

S xxx

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday Night Song #5

Tonights SNS is "Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence.



Who: Evanescence are an award-winning American rock band founded in 1995 by Amy Lee (vocals) and Ben Moody (guitarist). The story goes, that Ben heard Amy give a performance of a Meatloaf song at a youth camp in 1994 and formed a band. Their songs were played on local radio, and there popularity gave rise to demand for a live gig. They released limited copies of their music - the Evanescence EP, the Sound Asleep EP, and a full-length demo, Origin. The lineup was completed in 2003 with the addition of John LeCompt, Rocky Gray, and Will Boyd - friends of Amy and Ben who had already worked on their early material.

What: After the addition of the 3 "new" members, the band signed to the Wind-up Records label and started work on their debut album. The album, Fallen, spent 43 weeks on the Billboard Top 10, and it was one of 8 albums in the history of Billboard to spend at least a year on the Billboard Top 50. It went 7 times Platinum in the U.S. alone. Ben left the band in October 2003, citing "creative differences". Amy later said of the departure: "I don't know...he's more about the pop influence sort of thing, about being commercial and selling albums. That's the part of him we often disagreed on. I wanted to do the more artistic weird thing and he'd wanna do the thing that people would want to hear." Amy is currently the only original member left in the band - Will, Rocky and John are no longer band members and have been replaced. The band released their second album, The Open Door in 2006 and reached #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Production for their third studio album was not rushed, and it has been scheduled for a release in Autumn of this year.

Image of Amy Lee from www.orlandonewscenter.com

When: Bring Me To Life was the first single from Fallen, released in 2003. The band had originally planned to release Going Under first, but as Bring Me To Life featured on the soundtrack of the 2003 movie Daredevil, it became the first single. It had guest vocals from Paul McCoy (12 Stones). The song went platinum that year, and topped the charts worldwide. You can read more about the story behind the song here.

Why: Bring Me To Life was probably the first modern rock song I'd heard on mainstream TV and radio in years, if ever. I know that this isn't every fans favourite track, but it was the first time I'd heard this type of music on the radio and it was the introduction to what has since become one of my favourite bands. The video is fantastic (the clown still frightens me) and I still lose my voice regularly trying to sing along to the entire album. Fallen is one of my favourite albums, and will remain so for many years.

S xx

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Favourite Things #1: Why I Love This Lamp.

Post deleted because I sound like a wanker

Monday, June 6, 2011

Top Ten Movies When You're Down

In June of last year, http://www.everydayhealth.com/ published an article entitled "The 10 Best Movies to Watch When You're Down." Written by Anne L. Fritz, the article does what it says on the tin - it lists the Top 10 movies to make you feel good when you're feeling depressed or blue. While I admire the article, and the concept behind it, I disagree with most of the choices and am going to pick holes in her top 10 and slag every one of them off.

Okay, I'm mean and sarcastic at times, but I'm not that bad. I just thought I'd run through the list and give you my alternatives. Because I'm kind like that. Think of it as a Celebrity Deathmatch-esque type of thingamibob. All images were found on Amazon. My list is in no particular order, and I assume theirs isn't either, because frankly, some of their choices are downright weird.

Their No. 10: Love Actually. My No. 10: Titanic.


While I did enjoy Love Actually, I wouldn't watch it again. I thought that there were too many characters, too many storylines, and none of them were developed enough for me. Sure, it has Christmas in it, which usually means that I'll buy it, but it just didn't float my boat. What did float my boat (HA! I know, excellent pun, steal it if you want to) was Titanic. Having grown up with an unhealthy obsession for all things Titanic-related, I was blown away when I saw this in the cinema. Unfortunately, I happened to see it in the cinema with one of those people who eats minstrels really loudly and feels like they have to remark on every little thing ("Look, there's a plate. Look, there's a doll. Look, there's an iceberg. This is a bit long, isn't it?"). I bought the video (yes, I'm that old), the soundtracks (volume 1 and 2) and the DVD when it came out. I still reach for it regularly, nothing like 3 hours of tragic romance to make you feel all glad-that-isn't-me inside.

Their No. 9: It's a Wonderful Life. My No. 9: Just Friends.


I have nothing to say about It's a Wonderful Life apart from this: If this is the definition of wonderful, then I'd hate to see the movie entitled It's a Miserable Life. I don't like this film. End of. While I'm not a fan in general of gross-out/man-child comedies (American Pie, Knocked Up, etc), I fell in love with Just Friends immediately. The cast is perfect - Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Paquin, Chris Klein. The scenes between Ryan's character and his little brother are hilarious, and Anna plays the insane ditzy pop star to perfection. Chris Klein is the perfect choice for the sweet-as-pie-on-the-outside character trying to woo Ryan's love interest. Worth a mention, too, is the one scene that I can watch endlessly and it STILL makes me laugh - go to YouTube and type in "Just Friends: I swear". You can thank me later.

Their No.8: Tootsie. My No. 8: Mrs. Doubtfire


I'm a big fan of Dustin Hoffman, I'd have no problem listing him right up near the top on my list of favourite actors. I think he's a brilliant comedic and dramatic actor, but I just wasn't a fan of Tootsie - I think, to be honest, this is probably due to the respective ages of these movies - Mrs. Doubtfire has a lot of the same themes, and some say that it's just a cheap imitation of Tootsie - but I can't express how much I love Robin Williams in this film. For me, Mrs. Doubtfire takes me right back to 1993, when I first saw it in the cinema with my Mum and Sister, and I've only enjoyed it more as I've gotten older. There's just the right balance of childish and adult humour in it, and it's one I'll always think of reaching for when I'm down. I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't seen it, but I love the ending of Mrs. Doubtfire because it's realistic - it doesn't wrap everything up in a sugar-filled parcel just to satisfy the audience. A firm favourite!

Their No.7: The Shawshank Redemption. My No.7: Mermaids.


Like so many other movies that I watch again and again, Mermaids is one of those that I caught by accident on TV one late night. I immediately fell in love with it, and I NEVER tire of it - in fact, it was on TV again two weeks ago and I stayed up until 2am to watch it, even though I've had the DVD for years. I wrote a review on my nostalgia blog for it back in January, click HERE if you'd like to read it. I'm not going to dwell too much on The Shawshank Redemption, I'll just say that there are an awful lot of movies that everyone pretends are in their top 10 just because they're always in 'Top 10' lists. And I believe that this is one of them. Don't get me wrong - it's  fantastically well-made, but I certainly wouldn't be reaching for it if I was feeling down. If you haven't seen Mermaids, then seek it out, it's adorable.

Their No.6: Babe. My No.6: Big.


While I did enjoy Babe a lot (I even went to see it in the cinema), I wouldn't necessarily reach for it if I was feeling down. Sure, it's cute, and Babe is adorable, but I wouldn't watch it very often. I don't think I own a copy on DVD, but I've watched it once or twice on TV with my 6-year-old, who LOVED it. Big, on the other hand - it's been one of my favourites ever since I first saw it when I was 6 or 7. The very idea of a kid being able to jump straight to the adult world fascinated me, and I wanted to find that funfair and that machine to try it myself :). This was the first Tom Hanks movie I remember seeing, and I've always watched his movies since. If you haven't seen it, shame on you! Also, I'm kind of jealous that you'll get to see it for the first time. It's awesome.

Their No.5: The Blind Side. My No. 5: Where The Heart Is.


I've never seen The Blind Side - I'm sure it's excellent, given the reviews and the fact that I'm a fan of Sandra Bullock. I can't comment on something I haven't seen, and I will eventually seek it out or wait until it comes up on TV. Where The Heart Is, on the other hand, was another one of those accidental late-night TV finds. Natalie Portman is amazing in this - she plays Novalee Nation (you think that name's interesting? Wait until you hear what she names her baby), a young pregnant girl who is left to fend for herself by her boyfriend. She meets a variety of interesting, well-developed characters along her journey and the whole movie is just a total feel-good fest. There are heartbreaking moments in it, namely due to events surrounding Ashley Judd and Stockard Channings characters, but overall, it's a beautiful movie and if you haven't seen it, rent or buy it. You'll love it, I promise.

Their No.4: Up. My No.4: Edward Scissorhands.


I've seen Up once with my son, but it's not one I'd go back to watch again in a hurry. The visuals are lovely, the music is great, but I'm not a huge fan of animation in general (unless it's stop-motion). Nice story, nice concept, but not memorable enough for me to include it here. Edward Scissorhands has probably been one of my favourite movies since the first time I saw it. It's just gorgeous. It's a gothic fairytale set in a very uniform society, and shows the fickle nature of people to perfection - first they're falling at your feet, then they're trying to ruin you. Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder are perfect, and it also has the honour of having the wonderful Vincent Price in his last official movie role. The Danny Elfman soundtrack was the first CD I've ever bought online - the minute I had an internet connection and an amazon account, I knew what I wanted to buy. It's breathtaking.

Their No.3: Under The Tuscan Sun. My No.3: Only You.


I have to admit, I'd never even HEARD of Under the Tuscan Sun until I read this list. Apparently, it's a lovely movie in which the main character (played by Diane Lane, who I love), escapes for a much-needed break to Italy. I will watch it, but to be honest, it doesn't seem like the type of movie I'd go for - who knows! Only You was yet ANOTHER late-night TV find. It's the most beautiful romantic comedy I've ever seen, with perfect performances from Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei. It's all about Faith, who is told, as a child, by a fortune teller that she will marry a man with a particular name. A few days before the now-adult Faith is due to marry the man she is now seeing, she gets a phone call from a guest apologising that they won't make the wedding. The name of the guest? The name the fortune teller gave her. Faith immediately seeks out this man, but bumps into Robert Downey Jr.s character on the way, who instantly falls in love with her and will do whatever it takes to get her. This movie is the sweetest, most adorable romance I've ever seen, and it's one I never tire of. Actually, I think I'm going to go and watch it when I've finished this. :)

Their No.2: The Sound of Music. My No.2: A Night at the Roxbury.


I associate The Sound of Music with the week after Christmas, when there's nothing else on telly and everyone sits down to watch this due to a combination of boredom and tiredness. I think I've managed to sit through the entire thing about 4 times, and I can tell you one thing - I will never be buying this on DVD to watch by choice. I know that it's a classic, and I know that my taste in movies isn't to everyone's liking, but I don't get how this movie could cheer you up or comfort you if you're feeling down. Julie Andrews, legging it round a mountain, roaring about the hills, then trotting off home to make clothes from the curtains. Eh, fair enough. Also, I always thought that Captain Von Trapp was a grumpy sod who didn't pay enough attention to his children. A Night at the Roxbury is a true feel-good classic for me - the soundtrack has lots of classic early 1990s dance music, a terrific script, and excellent performances from Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan. It never fails to make me burst out laughing, and I'd happily watch it every day. It should be far more well-known than it is, because it's just hilarious and heart-warming.

Their No.1: Breaking Away. My No.1: The Snapper/The Van

Their number one, Breaking Away, is another one I've never heard of, but I don't think that a movie about cycling could be all that interesting to me, to be honest. It reminds me of those movies we used to be made watch in school to show the benefits of teamwork and co-operation. Snore. My number one is a bit of a cheat - I've chosen both The Snapper and The Van, because I usually don't watch one without watching the other, and they are part of the same trilogy (Roddy Doyle's Barrytown Trilogy). The other movie in the trilogy is The Committments, and while I like it, I wouldn't watch it unless it was on TV and there was nothing else on. The Snapper is a heartwarming tale of city life in Dublin in the early 90s, and tells the story of teenage Sharon's pregnancy, and how her family cope. This movie has to be one of the most quotable in existence ("7 pounds 12 ounces"." Is that a baby or a turkey?" and  "I haven't cried since I was a kid" "You cried during the world cup." "Sober, Sharon! Sober!", among many others). The only downside of The Snapper for me was that my name is Sharon, so when this came out in 1993, I could have made a fortune if I'd charged every time someone asked me how Mr. Burgess was. Moving on to The Van - it again has a stellar performance from Colm Meaney, this time playing Bimbo, a man who decides to buy a chip van and cash in on the 1990 World Cup. For those of us who remember the 1990 World Cup in Ireland, this movie captures the atmosphere exactly - it's like stepping back in time when you watch it. It's the old Ireland, the one we grew up in, the one we loved, the one we spent hot summers in and the one we miss greatly.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my equivalent, and if there are any movies you haven't seen, please do check them out. I'll be checking out the ones from the Everyday Health list that I've not seen (with the possible exception of that cycling one), although I think my list will remain the same. Those are the 10 (or 11) DVDs I'd keep if I had to throw everything else out. I deliberately didn't include any horror movies, because I don't usually watch horrors when I need cheering up - I watch horrors in any humour, and I couldn't pick favourites anyway. This turned out to be far more long-winded than I originally intended, so if you're still reading, bless you and go take a break, watch a movie :)

S xx

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Gay is not a Swear Word

Last night, I was watching  P.S. I Love You a highly intellectual and interesting documentary on Film Four, when I saw this ad during one of the breaks. It just stuck in my brain and I had to tell you guys about it, because everyone on the planet should see this video. Take a look at it first, and I'll talk about it afterwards.



That was the commercial released by Google to promote their Chrome web browser, originally aired in the U.S. during an ad break of Glee in May 2011. It focuses on the "It Gets Better" campaign, started by columnist/author Dan Savage after he heard of the disturbing recent trend of suicide in young gay men. Two high-profile cases were those of  teens Billy Lucas and Justin Aaberg. Billy and Justin, from Minnesota and Indiana respectively, were both 15 years old, and both took their lives after being subjected to anti-gay bullying. Sadly, these kids weren't the first to take their own lives after homophobic bullying, and are just two in a long line of young kids who feel like they're all alone in the world.

Image of Dan Savage from http://www.projectqatlanta.com/

Speaking to The Seattle Times, Dan Savage explained that he decided to make a YouTube video with his partner Terry to show gay teens that things CAN and WILL get better. "It just occurred to me that we could reach out to LGBT kids on YouTube before they committed suicide". In his original Savage Love article, Dan said of Billy Lucas, "I wish I could've talked to that kid for five minutes before he killed himself. I'd tell him that however bad it was in high school or middle school...it gets better." Here's Dan and Terry's original video:



Dan's project has inspired many, many people to make their own video in support of the cause, from ordinary everyday teenagers to President Obama, Ellen DeGeneres, Colin Farrell, Tim Gunn, and many more. Please, PLEASE go to http://www.itgetsbetter.org/ and take the pledge. Sign your name to show support for the LGBT youth and let them know that they've got worldwide support on their hands. I've just taken it, it takes about ten seconds for you to show that you're here and you CARE. Share the videos, link to the website, support them on twitter and like them on facebook.

Just in case you still aren't inspired to show support or do anything to help, here are a few statistics from the website:
  • Since the launch of It Gets Better, calls to the Trevor Project suicide hotline have increased over 50%.
  • 9 out of 10 LGBT students have experienced harassment at school.
  • LGBT teens are bullied 2 to 3 times as much as straight teens.
  • More than 1/3 of LGBT kids have attempted suicide.
That's only 4 - go to the site for more shocking facts like those. Whether you're gay or straight, parent or partner, single or married - these are our kids. These young people deserve to have a happy upbringing and take advantage of a good education without having to endure such shocking emotional and physical abuse. Homophobia is a major killer in todays society, and we need to stand up and show that we're not going to take it any more. We all have days when we feel down and alone - can you imagine if every single day was like that for you just because of your sexuality? This needs to stop, guys, and it needs to stop now.

Image: www.news.pinkpaper.com
One last thing I want to mention, seeing as I've used it as the title for this post,  is the fact that it's 2011 and people are STILL using the word gay as a term of abuse. I've lost count of the amount of times I've heard young people (and adults, too, by the way) say something like "Oh, I hate that shirt, it's SO gay." Gay is not a swear word. Gay is not a derogatory term. Gay is not an insult. And above all, Gay is not a choice. If you're STILL not on board, then I'm gonna come at you from another direction. If you find homosexuality offensive, then so be it - but  don't go out of your way to make someone feel bad because YOU don't approve. You have nothing to gain by making others feel bad. Every time you insult someone because of their sexuality, you are making someone's life a living hell because YOU don't agree with something they have NO control over. Is that fair? Have you ever been insulted or mocked for something you can't control? How would you feel if that was happening to you every single day of your life? Or happening to your son, your daughter, your sister, your brother, your best friend? Would you still stand by and shout insults? I'm not saying that you have to go and befriend every gay person within a 10-mile radius, I'm just asking you to see beyond the labels and stop the hate. If you hate someone, hate them because they're a bad person. NOT because they're gay. Stand up, and save lives.

LGBT Support in Ireland:
BeLonGTo
Gay Switchboard Dublin - Telephone Hotline 018721055 Mon-Fri 7pm-9pm, Sat & Sun 4pm-6pm
LGBT.ie


S xx

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday Night Song #4

Tonights Saturday Night Song (SNS) is, as promised in the last SNS post, is an 80s rock tune. I'll be honest, it was like Sophie's Choice to even pick one, because I am a HUGE fan of all 80s rock music. It's my favourite music genre by far, and I have the absolute perfect hair to start a tribute band. My day will come.....

Anyway, here's the one I picked, it's "Animal" by Def Leppard.


The above video is great for a trip down memory lane, but if it's top-quality audio you're after, then here's a track-only link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=somG2lTarE8.

Who: Def Leppard are a rock band from Sheffield, UK. They were formed in 1977 and consist of Joe Elliott (vocals), Phil Collen (guitar), Vivian Campbell (guitar), Rick Savage (bass) and Rick Allen (drums).

What: Def Leppard had much commercial success in the 80s and 90s. They had 3 fairly successful albums in the early 80s, but it was with the release of their fourth offering, "Hysteria" that came six hit singles, a number one on the Billboard charts, and sales of over 20 million copies worldwide. The band have had an extensive career, and you can check out their website for more, because there's too much to go into here at the minute. http://www.defleppard.com/

When: This song was released in 1987, the second one to be released from the "Hysteria" album. It was their first top 10 in the UK. Originally recorded in 1984, it took the band and various producers 2 years to achieve the sound they wanted.

Why: In my experience, many hardcore Def Leppard fans aren't too keen on the "Hysteria" album, saying it's too poppy. It is saccharin in places, but I don't care. I love it. This is one of the first rock songs I remember loving as a child, and it eventually lead me to buy all their other albums too. Def Leppard's Greatest Hits ("Vault") has genuinely been in one of the slots in my stereo since the day I bought the stereo. Enjoy!

S xx