20 October 2014

The Remarking Dead

1. Rewatched 5.1: Darryl's lip-trembling at the end.

2. What up with Rick's eyebrows?

3. Seriously, have they always been grey?

4. Michonne doesn't miss her sword, but I do.

5. But where's Beth?

6. Carol ain't having none of this happiness.

7. But where's Beth?

8. Why so sad Bob? Is it because your name is Bob?

9. Or because your name isn't Bob?

10. Still think he's hiding something. He's the kind of sketchy who tries really hard not to be sketchy.

11. But where's Beth?

12. Bob-e-q.

13. They enjoyed it too much.

14. But it's not from Starbucks, Gareth.

15. But I guess it's organic?

16. And you caught it yourself, so, local?

17. Is Gareth cute?

18. Or is it like how people are attracted to serial killers and stuff?

19. Still doesn't compare to Glen or Darryl.

20. Mmmm, Darryl.

15 October 2014

The Walking Freakshow

Last week was an exciting week for people whose lives revolve around the spirit of Halloween: the new seasons of American Horror Story and The Walking Dead premiered on Wednesday and Sunday, respectively, and while one was absolutely phenomenal, the other was disappointing.

I actually wasn't surprised that I was bored by AHS: Freakshow. As a lover of all things witchy, I knew I was inevitably going to be let down by the previous season, Coven, and, after being quite underwhelmed by that whole season, I had no reason to assume that my feelings would change with this season. I know we're only one episode in, and I shouldn't jump to conclusions, but so far, in my opinion, Freakshow seems to be have the same problems as Coven. Firstly, I hate the time period they choose for it (ie: 1952). I get that the point is that freakshows are no longer popular and so Elsa and her crew will do whatever it takes to survive, blah blah blah, but, in terms of costumes and sets, it's sooo boring! If they would have set it earlier, like pre-World War One, they could have had a steampunk style, which would have suited the freakshow theme (as well as the dark tone) so much better. So far, the only styling that I like is that of the Clown and Bet and Dot.

Secondly, as with Coven, they're playing all their cards a bit too quickly. By which I mean, too many characters are introduced too quickly, and their story lines all seem too obvious. Like, with Murder House and Asylum, you had no idea about how the characters would progress through the season or where they would end up in the end. With Coven, because the characters were more stereotypical, you could tell pretty quickly what would happen to them. I feel the same way about most of the characters in Freakshow. The bulk of them just fall really flat, without any mystery of depth to them. The exceptions to that are Bet, Dot, and the Clown, who, in my opinion, should have been the entire focus of the first episode. The Freakshow should have been revealed to the audience totally through Bet and Dot's perspectives. Other characters could be introduced, but very little information should have been provided about them. It would have made sense to enter the Freakshow as an outsider (ie: like Bet and Dot) because for all intents and purposes that what the audience is. For us to experience the magic and mystery and horror we cannot know all the details. I would have kept background information about Elsa to a minimum - though, actually, I would have made her character totally different from what she is anyways (unless she turns out to be a con-woman, and if that is the case, well played). Her story is a little too familiar (see the musical Gypsy) and so far I'm just not into it. (And the singing. Ugh. I know some people really loved the Bowie cover, and are excited about the rumoured Lana cover, but I intensely disliked it. Not just the fact that the song is from a completely different time period, but also the way they edited the scene. It was impossible to tell whether it was actually happening or if Elsa was imagining it all or some combination of the two. And that the shots of what was happening on the stage were wildly different from one another - like sometimes there were acrobats, sometimes Bet and Dot were there, sometimes Elsa was alone - how are we supposed to make sense of that?)  I am very excited about the Clown, though. They have achieved excellent creepiness with that. 

I feel like I had more to say about it but I don't remember. It was only the first episode, anyways, so my opinion of it may very well change.

In complete contrast to AHS, the season premier of The Walking Dead was fantastic! Just so, so good. I completely agree with what Chris Hardwick said on The Talking Dead: that this was the most satisfying season premier ever. There's actually nothing that I would change about it. From the whack-and-slash opening to Rick's moment with the Terminus sign at the end, everything was perfect. (Okay, I have been anxiously awaiting the continuation of Beth's story line, but obviously they couldn't have dealt with that as well as the situation at Terminus within the space of an hour, so it's best that they have separate episodes.) I honestly thought that there would be a solid episode of them all being locked up and trying to figure out how to get out, so it was a pleasant surprise to see how quickly they moved out of the metal box and right into the action. I don't know how much I can say on here because I don't want to spoil it for anyone who may be reading this, but it really was both horrifying and gratifying. Honestly, I hadn't been this anxious for any of the characters since the whole thing with Hershel (though the stuff that went down with the biker gang was nerve-wracking too, it was more of a "how is Rick gonna get them out of this" situation, as opposed to the whack-and-slash of the season 5 premier, where, even though I had seen enough previews to know...certain things about individual character survival, I was seriously wondering if any of the characters involved would make it out alive). Just such a great episode. Even just the little things, like how the walkers were treated more as allies against the threat of the "Termites," was really clever. And Carol! Oh, awesome Carol! She was a goddess in this episode. It's amazing to think of how much her character has developed throughout the series. Some characters have been fairly consistent (ex: Maggie hasn't changed much, Hershel, Dale). Some characters change a bit (ex: Glen and Darryl) or more gets revealed about them so that the audience's understanding of them changes (ex: Michonne). But then there are the characters who have gone on total journeys of self-discovery, like how Rick has gone from Officer Friendly to insanity to a happy balance. Carol falls into the latter category. She had a rough life before the apocalypse and then things get even worse, but she didn't give up. She just keeps fighting through everything. It's been wonderful to watch, and I'm looking forward to seeing how she and the other characters continue to develop through this season. 

11 October 2014

Nuit Blanche 2014

So, last Saturday night/Sunday morning (ie: Oct 4th-5th) was Nuit Blanche, a free all-night art festival in downtown Toronto, and after many years of wanting to go, I finally attended! That's me in the picture with the Walk among Worlds installation by Maximo Gonzalez. It was 7,000 globe-print beach balls assembled kinda like a gazebo in the trees. The lights illuminating the globes would change from the regular lighting to blue lighting and then to red lighting. It was soooo cool and magical, especially when you just turn a corner and off in the distance you see some bright lights and as you get closer in looks like a fairy garden.

Unfortunately, I don't really have much to say about the whole event. There were a ton of people there - literally over a million people - and everyone was sort of wandering aimlessly through the streets looking for art. (Sections of Queen Street and Spadina were closed to traffic, so we could all walk in relative safety.) I did have a map of the event, but being only marginally familiar with the area, it was hard to find stuff. On top of that, the group of people I started the evening with consisted of my friend, her girlfriend, and her girlfriend's family, the latter of whom were generally not into the whole contemporary art scene, and my friend's gf is even worse with crowds than me, so it was rough sailing for a while. Plus my friend had messed up her back the night before, so you could say we were all fairly unprepared for what awaited us.

I had a whole list of installations that I wanted to see - there was a group of them based on The Night Circus, which is one of my favourite books, but we didn't end up seeing any of those. (Particularly wanted to see but didn't was an animatronic fortune teller. And there were a ton of interactive installations that looked really cool too.) Apart from a few video installations, which could be better suited so that you can watch them while waiting in line for something else, we saw five installations: the above Walk among Worlds, AMAZE (which was sort of a maze made out of gaze and light), Global Rainbow (a large rainbow of light emitted from the CN Tower, hovering over the whole event), Gap Ecology (big construction cranes with plants at the top), and a graffiti thing whose name I can't remember. We also saw several Screaming Booths (big yellow soundproof booths that you can enter and make noise inside) but we didn't go in any. We didn't feel like waiting in line to scream in a box, haha. Oh, yes, the lines. With all the people, it was a task just to find the lines. For AMAZE, the line moved quickly - it only took around ten minutes to get in. For Walk among Worlds, we waited about half an hour, but I'd say it was worth it. (I even told my friend that I wasn't going home until we saw the globes, so she agreed to stand in line.)

We also got to participate in an "independent project": a glasses store was inviting people inside to take Polaroids while wearing large-frame glasses. They then put the Polaroids in their window, to be on display for a month. They were also serving free hot chocolate. It was just a small, random thing, but it was actually fun because it was more spontaneous and random. Like a special little thing that you didn't expect to happen. 

Me on right, friend on left, shop worker's hands.

So would I go again next year? Yes. But I would be more prepared. Only go with people who for sure want to be there. Research the installations ahead of time, and get everyone's input on what the must-see installations should be. Flexibility is important too. Oh, and dress for the weather.

Nuit Blanche gets more popular every year, although according to some the art itself isn't of as high a quality as it used to be. But hey, apart from gas and parking, it's a free night downtown! There's so much energy in the air and so many people to look at (hipsters are so much fun to watch!), and, I don't know, it's nice to feel young and cool in the city.  

9 October 2014

I'll Get a Cheeseburger Happy Meal

I just can't get the cuteness out of my head, so why not post a bunch more pictures and salivate over what are essentially ironic knock-offs that I will never be able to afford!

(Conversely, there are some wonderful souls who have created other versions of such "ironic"/adorable bags. You can find a cute and basically affordable milk carton-inspired bag here. I keep coming up with other ideas for such bags. Like, what about a Tim Horton's Tim Bit box or coffee cup? Or a very large Oreo purse? Or a donut? Really, anything to do with food.)

Hamburger eye.

Just look at it's little capitalistic face!

Obviously Jeremy Scott's designs for Moschino are hardly original, nor is the general idea behind them...

...just ask Warhol (btw, you can watch a video of him eating a Burger King hamburger on youtube).

But that doesn't stop me from thinking they're cute. Granted, I also think that those McDonald's bibs with all the old characters on them are cute too. (Birdie! Grimace! The Hamburgler! Those little hairy Muppet-like things!) Anything to do with food and/or nostalgia will probably appeal to me unless it's just obviously terrible. Maybe I'm just hungry.

7 October 2014

Review of Nylon Magazine's October 2014 Issue

So, not since I was a kid have I really bought magazines - I used to read OWL which is for kids and it's about science and nature and other educational stuff; I used to look at Seventeen magazine but that stopped when I realized that I had no idea who or what they were talking about most of the time; and frankly National Geographic is just too American-centric. These days, I only buy magazines when there is an article on a specific person that I want to read. In the case of Nylon's "It Girl Issue" the person is, of course, Tavi Gevinson.

Nylon is a magazine that generally focuses on music, fashion and makeup, which is why, although I don't subscribe to it, I prefer it to many other magazines. Their writers aren't patronizing towards either their readers or the people they interview/write about, while still being fairly positive and light-hearted. There aren't weird quizzes that tell you who you should date based on what socks you wear - from what I have seen there is nothing related to dating or romance at all. The writing isn't particularly deep (it's really just light entertainment), but this may be intentional so that the moments of insight come from the interviewees themselves, which seems more genuine and less didactic. The vibes are casual meets clean colour-blocking. They seem to have taken cue from Rookie with collage-like layouts and funky illustrations, as well as with pop-culture references to things such as The Craft and using the song "Strange Magic" as a title.

Because this is the "It Girl Issue," the majority of the people profiled/interviewed are female (though there are some guys towards the end - a chef, a photographer, and a director), and it's also nice to see that a good number of the staff/contributors are women. There are interviews with (in order of appearance): illustrator/model/fashion collaborator Langley Fox, artist Alexa Meade, emerging model Paloma Elsesser, lawyer/fashion writer/drummer Preetma Singh, Dum Dum Girls frontwoman Dee Dee Penny, musicians Clementine Creevy and Julia Cumming (whom interview each other), editor-in-chief of Rookie mag Tavi Gevinson (with supporting interviews with Emma Watson, Rachel Antonoff, Michael Cera, Rostam Batmanglij, Jessica Hopper, and Stevie Nicks), photographer Chuck Grant (interviewed by her sister, Lana Del Rey), musician Jesse Jo Stark, the ladies of The Prettiots, model Chloe Norgaard, musician Kilo Kish, "professional doodler" Hattie Stewart, photographer/general creative lady Silke Labson, artist/director/designer/DJ Vashtie Kola, musician Charli XCX, actress Hannah Murphy, musician Tove Lo, DJ/model/restaurateur Hannah Bronfman, fashion-and-food writer Danielle and Laura Kosann,  musician/model/overlord Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, chef Dominique Ansel, food stylist/chef Victoria Granof, photographer Chris Stein and musician Debbie Harry, and lastly director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. 

As I already mentioned, the writing isn't exactly exceptional, nor are the interviews themselves. For instance, I read a lot of interviews with Tavi (in addition to reading everything that she herself writes), and most of them just repeat the same things: this is who she is, what she does, she is amazing. I had thought that the interview in Nylon would be a bit different, as it is written by Rookie writer/Tavi's friend Hazel Cills, but it is just more of the same (it's also weirdly short, just a column and a half; the supporting interviews take up more space, though I know Tavi is busy/just woke up when the interview was conducted). It's okay though, because Petra Collins's photography, while not her best pictures of Tavi, are still lovely: 

The supporting interviews with Tavi's friends/conspirators-in-awesomeness are nice to read, but of course, if you've followed Tavi's career, you won't be surprised by anything. 

The interview with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is more interesting. (I can't tell you how excited I was to see her in the magazine; the cover just indicates that there is something with a j-pop singer inside, then, when I open to the table of contents and see a photo of Kyary, I squeal and practically jump out of my seat.) It's excellent that American media is finally taking Kyary seriously as the pop-cultural overlord that she is (instead of just being all "lol Japan" about it). (The scans of the interview below are from the tumblog Sakuranamida .)

While I'm not a hardcore fan of hers, I always enjoy reading the things that Kyary says because she's so intelligent and self-aware and has an excellent understanding of the industry: "I try to create chemistry between kawaii and darkness...The dark isn't supposed to be there, but that's what I like about it." 

Kyary's most recent album, Pika Pika Fantajin, is actually available in North American now (peeps in Canada can find it at HMV). Here's my fav song from the album:

As you can see, her interview is fairly short too - but all the others are even shorter. Nylon isn't the magazine to go to when you want in-depth stuff. But if you're looking for brief introductions to people alongside nice pictures of them, then Nylon is the perfect choice.

Fashion-wise, there are several spreads: Light as a Feather (flapper style stuff, with feathers), All Access (featuring those cool, kitschy bags that have been making the rounds on tumbler), Directory (lots of plaid), some ugly Calvin Klein stuff (I'm sorry, I've never liked that stuff), Knitty Gritty (knitted stuff), and Something Wicked (witchy stuff, though not quite witchy enough for my tastes). There's also some makeup spreads, notably Bad Girls Club (inspired by Willow Rosenberg, Nancy Downs, Wednesday Addams, and Madison Montgomery) and Oh, Make Me Over (dedicated to '90s style hair and makeup).

Those pics aren't from Nylon (though both purses are featured in the mag). I love the lait de coco purse and all of Moschino's McDonald's inspired stuff - but my god is that stuff expensive! The Coco Chanel bag is like $5,000! A lot of the clothing featured in Nylon is fairly expensive too, in the $100-$1,000 range, sometimes even more. BUT, the makeup is all of the affordable kind, and the brands will be accessible to a good number of people (ex: MAC and Sephora stuff). 

It's also worth mentioning that there's aren't a ton of ads in Nylon like you get with other magazines (though you are paying for that privilege: $5 for 160 pages). 

It is a nice little magazine, though, and it's always great to see Tavi on the cover. :)