Sunday, December 21, 2014

Food Reviewed: The Gardener's Cottage

I have let my Food Reviewed tag totally lapse and I regret my laziness. I have eaten out A LOT this year but when asked recently about my favourite dish I blanked. Really, I regret my poor memory and recall - if there was less of an active need for me to record my experiences there might be less of a sense of disappointment when I failed to do so. It is a strain to remember much beyond a week and although, if asked, I could probably tell you exactly what I ordered at the Modern Pantry that time I would struggle to spontaneously name it as a restaurant I ate at in 2014. Food is the greatest and it is probably my greatest luxury expenditure (I know that food is a right and a necessity, I am talking about restaurants and fancy baked goods here) and, as such, it is sad that I don't have a better record of food eaten and enjoyed. I have a book book and a Lovefilm watch list (2014 highlights to come) but I don't have an equivalent for food. I am going to try and remedy this in 2015. Starting now. Best foot forward and all that.

R and I recently spent a long weekend in Edinburgh and it was bliss. Edinburgh is a wonderful city in its own right but it is also a place where I have only ever been happy and that is a rare luxury. That sounds melodramatic, I suppose, but it is true. Home is home and I am very fond of Bristol and there are things I love about London but real life leaves scars. Home is where I cried snotty tears of adolescent heartbreak, Bristol is where I endured my own inadequacies and panicked about deadlines and grade boundaries and read books that I hated, London is where nobody paid or valued me and I couldn't afford anything and I learnt that my real life, post-recession career would not be what I had grown up to expect. Besides, London is not a city that can be loved in its entirety. Not by me. It is too big and expensive and crowded and impersonal. London is a city to be loved in villages and corners, food and art exhibitions, if it is to be loved at all. I have never studied or worked or lived in Edinburgh but I have spent enough time there to know it a little. I can objectively and subjectively say that it is lovely and we stayed, on this latest visit, in a really beautiful Airbnb.

We re-visited my favourite restaurant in Edinburgh and probably one of my favourite restaurants anywhere, The Gardener's Cottage. Double thumbs up for location. The name of the restaurant isn't ironic or designed to capture a mood - this is a Victorian gardener's cottage. A tiny bungalow in a city park into which they have managed to cram two rooms of seating and a tiny kitchen. We sat at a shared table and I was practically in my neighbour's lap. Sometimes I get cross about London's over-enthusiasm for shoving too many people into too little space but I was on holiday and I felt generous towards the world. Our neighbours were definitely not having as much fun as us but it couldn't have been the menu and although we were happy we weren't rowdy or disruptive. I got the impression they didn't know each other very well and were struggling to make conversation. They didn't linger despite ordering the full set menu. We managed to draw lunch out over about three and a half lovely hours. I think that, quite quickly, the staff realised that we were in no hurry and de-prioritised us which suited us fine. Courses came at a leisurely pace and we cuddled our red wine. To say that time is a luxury is a modern cliché but it is hard to beat a very long lunch when you have good company and nowhere particular to be.

The food at the Gardener's Cottage is local and seasonal without being aggressively trendy or sacrificing taste or elegance. There is a lot of beautiful food being grown and reared in Scotland and the Gardener's Cottage endeavours to make the most of those resources in thoughtful and delicious ways. My meal was everything you could want on a crisp December day - it was warm and rich and wintery without being overwhelming. It was a testament to why eating seasonally can be such a pleasure as well as a good deed, because what grows in any given season suits that season. Obviously there could be a thousand caveats to that statement but I don't want strawberries and salad in midwinter, I want root vegetables and bitter greens. I want foods that relish being cooked long and slow so the heat of the hob or the oven seeps out of the kitchen.

My love of sweet, carby squashes and the skill of the chefs trumped my general dislike of pumpkin and I ate it twice in one meal and it was delicious on both plates and totally different. I had pumpkin and gingerbread agnolotti (indistinguishable, as far as I can see, from ravioli but excellent nonetheless) which was creamy and spiced and sweet but not overly so. The crumbled gingerbread was crunchy and the sauce was satiny and I nobly resisted licking the plate because, whatever my mother may say, I do occasionally heed dining propriety. Mallard followed, accompanied by a plethora of roasted carrots and beetroots and potatoes, and, I think, roasted hazelnuts. Goddamn, roasted hazelnuts are a fine addition to a savoury dish. They are a fine addition to a sweet dish too. I would never pick hazelnuts as my favourite nut (a very highly contested field - the salted almond and pistachio duke it out for top snack nut, I love a cashew and I eat large quantities of peanut butter daily) but they really do enliven and perfect other foods. Also, beetroots. I came late to beetroots because a cold, boiled, vinegary beetroot is a disgusting thing but roast them until their earthy sweetness comes to the fore and they are all depth and gorgeous fuchsia joy. I have yet to cook one myself without ending up looking like a blood crazed murderer and ruining whatever I'm wearing but one day...

Pudding was smoked pumpkin cake with sea buckthorn ice cream and, I think, yoghurt cream. I don't remember much about the cake beyond a wave of pleasure and an enjoyable stickiness. It was warm and light and not disappointing in the way that cake sometimes can be. I baked many many cakes as a child and I love cake but I am only interested in it very fresh and still echoing the heat of the oven. By the time a cake has achieved room temperature I have generally lost interest. I very rarely order cake when I am out and about because slightly stale cake is both horribly common and horribly horrible. I can't guarantee that my pumpkin cake was fresh from the oven or just judiciously reheated but, if the latter, it was well done. The sea buckthorn ice cream remains the most vivid element. It was delicate and surprisingly citric. I want to say there was a slight salinity to it but I might be misremembering, romanticising, imagining windswept sea paths. It was certainly a lovely foil to the sweetness of the cake.

We swirled the last of the wine around our glasses and decided, sensibly, that we were too full for cheese or coffee. I don't really understand coffee at the end of a meal. It buys you more time but it wipes out everything you ate before it and shatters the delightfully soporific effects of a warm room and an excess of food. I suppose if you have strenuous activities to return to that might be desirable but I try and avoid such unpleasantness. Besides, the Gardener's Cottage needed us to leave - we had outstayed our welcome, there was a dinner shift to prepare. I can accept that, they did right by us food and service-wise and I am fond and grateful.

It was already dark by the time we left the restaurant. Not quite night time but well past dusk. The air was sharp and it wormed past the best intentioned scarves and gloves and socks, biting at bone; ankles, wrists, clavicles. I don't like being cold, I like to be hot all the time, wrapped in thick duvets or Sicilian sun, but there is something so particular and renewing about the contrast. That moment where you step out and everything is fresh and shocking, before you register the discomfort. It is tempting to write that you feel reborn but I don't think it is quite what I mean, it just sounds good, it is an echo of someone else's elegant sentiment. I do not wish to be insincere. Anne Carson write so perfectly about cold winds and I just want to say that it is nice to be on holiday and walking out of a lovely restaurant where you gorged yourself on lovely food and into a Scottish winter night. Oh well, any opportunity to link to The Glass Essay.

Edinburgh, as ever, was a pleasure; the Gardener's Cottage was a pleasure. We ate well. I'm not sure if I ate my favourite dish of 2014 over the course of that Friday lunch but it was certainly one of my favourite meals. And it is here on my blog and now I can't forget it.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Haircuts, K-Stew, Girlgangs

About a fortnight ago I had a fairly drastic haircut. It might have been three weeks ago - I'm not very good at keeping up with time passing. This ties in pretty neatly to why I'm not very good at haircuts. I think it has been a year since my last haircut. It might have been ten months, I'm not sure and I don't really care. It has certainly been long enough that whatever discipline that last hairdresser tried to impose on my hair has long since disappeared. I let my hair do its own thing for the most part - I wash it, I tie it up, I forget about it.



For me, the amount of time and effort I put into any given part of my body/appearance/self presentation is pretty much directly inversely proportional to the  'goodness' of that thing. Obviously that's super freighted and societal pressures and all of you is perfect just the way it is... blah blah. But, subjectivity aside, my skin is BAD so I put a lot of my energy and vanity budget into skincare and makeup. My makeup routine is pretty settled at the moment, I've come to a happy place with an affordable primer, foundation and concealer that I'm basically content with, but my skincare is in fairly regular flux. I find reading and watching videos about skincare legit fascinating and I always want to try new things in the (mostly) specious hope that this will be the product that changes everything - the holy grail of skin. My hair though, my hair is objectively GOOD. It is thick and soft and it grows fast. It isn't prone to split ends or noticeable damage (although this might be because I rarely tamper with it) and it is healthy and shiny (although not shiny like famous people and beauty spreads). My hair is nice and so... I totally disregard it. I use cheap shampoo, I never heat treat it, I rarely even brush it. I run some hair oil through it when it's wet but otherwise I just tie it up and keep it out of my face. Why waste effort on something that is fundamentally satisfactory? This possibly says alarming things about my thought processes and self esteem but bigger fish, ya know.



That isn't to say I don't mess around with my hair. I had a fringe for a long time and then I spent a long time growing it out. I first dyed my hair pink when I was thirteen and it has rarely seen its natural colour since then. I dyed it dark once, in an attempt to look like Kristen Stewart, but it washed me out. I henna-ed it a powerful orange for a long time, channeling Karen Elson and Florence Welsh and every red head I've ever loved (and there is no doubt that red is the greatest colour), and then spent a long time growing that out. The process of growing these things out, the ginger ombré, was undignified but I didn't really care. It was still basically good hair. I wish it was curly. I wish it held a 'do', the three times a year I actually try to style it, but whatever.



I had been considering cutting it short approximately forever. Why not? I procrastinated because I didn't think it would suit my blob face and I enjoy the convenience of a bun and it might puff out into an awkward triangle without the weight of x feet of hair. Also, I'm very wary of hairdressers and their repeated, apparently irresistible, urge to cut me a mullet. Historically I have asked for everything but a mullet and that is the only haircut I have ever received. Variations on a mullet, sure, a floppy 90s boyband mullet, a kind of fashion punk mullet, 'The Rachel' mullet, but a mullet nonetheless. All bad. It is no wonder I tie my hair up so much. There has been a lot of unwanted feathering. Still, I was sick of the sameness and I wanted a change, however badly it might go.



It's not really that short. I had about a foot hacked off and it is still only about collarbone length. What I really fancied was the full K-Stew but I wasn't bold enough. Baby steps for the lethargic. I was in love with Kristen's old hair, I am in love with Kristen's new hair. Much like Mallory, I am basically in love with Kristen. She is the greatest. I love her beautiful sullen face, I love her dirty tomboy style. I think she is fabulous. I tried to explain my love to a non-believer the other day and couldn't convince them that angry, angular and androgynous are the dream adjectives for a young woman. They were WRONG obviously. K-Stew's style is in a particularly glorious place at the moment. Because I am a stalker I have recently started following kristenstewartfashionstyle on Tumblr and it is the best decision I have ever made. Possibly, it is the best website on the internet. Look at her rugged, lesbian, hipster chic! The hair, the beat up trainers, the ripped jeans, the many perfect jumpers. She is the scruffy indie rock god every teenage girl lusts after. And she has many similarly cool lady friends. I WANT TO BE IN THEIR GANG/BAND/WHATEVER. They are all delightful. My new hair, nice as it is, will not do the trick. One day I am going to accept that nothing I can do with my hair will turn me into Kristen Stewart but that day is not today. Nor is it likely to be a day anytime soon...



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tonight and Every Night

As an internet dweller and person-who cares-about-stuff it seems impossible to read/write about anything other than Ferguson right now. I can't sit here and browse or write about soup or fashion editorials. But it is also impossible for me to write about Ferguson. Everything about the situation is impossible. As a white British woman there is nothing I can usefully add to a conversation about the experiences of black American men facing police brutality but I can't be silent. I don't write much here about current events or international politics but my corner of the internet has been subsumed by Ferguson and everything it represents in terms of unarmed black children being murdered by the state that should be protecting them and I can't ignore that. At the very least I feel obliged to bear witness and link to those better equipped to speak.
“Atticus–” said Jem bleakly.
He turned in the doorway.
“What, son?”
“How could they do it, how could they?”
“I don’t know, but they did it. They’ve done it before and they did it tonight and they’ll do it again and when they do it — seems that only children weep.” 
— To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Talk: Bijan Stephens
Different Rules Apply: Matt Zoller Seitz

The Case for Reparations: Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Racism Beat: Cord Jefferson

Is This Working?: This American Life

The Parable of the Unjust Judge or: Fear of a Nigger Nation: Ezekiel Kweku
Words: Roxane Gay

Exactly How Often Do Police Shoot Unarmed Black Men?: Jaeah Lee

#Michael Brown #Tamir Rice #Trayvon Martin #Jordan Davis #Renisha McBride #Roshad McIntosh #Laquan Macdonald #Carey Smith-Viramontes #Qusean Whitten #Dillon McGee #Diana Showman #Akai Gurley #Kimani Gray #Kendrec McDade #Amadou Diallo and on and on...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Summertime Gladness

Once upon a time, seemingly aeons ago, it was summer and it was happy and it was beautiful. On one particularly golden morning and/or afternoon (I can't remember, it doesn't matter), R, mulp and I went to Great Dixter and it was glorious. Clearly I am prematurely turning into my parents whereby an afternoon spent visiting a garden rates as a good time but what can you do? You like what you like and I frickin' love Christopher Lloyd. The original garden design was Lutyens but the insanely luscious, almost chaotic but carefully considered planting scheme is pure Lloyd, now maintained by Fergus Garrett. Flowers upon flowers upon flowers. The long borders and the wild flower meadow. So much colour and texture and barely contained botanical exuberance. It is everything I would want an English garden and my one-day dream garden to be.

I smile every time I see this Venetia Scott Vogue editorial that was shot at Dixter so I thought I would share it here to remind us all that summer happened and it will probably happen again. I think I am going to try and establish an annual pilgrimage to Dixter.




Dream a Little Dream
Vogue UK October 2013
Photgraphy: Venetia Scott
Stylist: Bay Garnett
Hair: Tomo Jidai, Make-up: Sharon Dowsett 
Model: Georgia May Jagger

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Friday Sound: Le Déluge

There is a lot of music around at the moment. I mean, sure, there is always a lot of music around. We live in an age of CONTENT. I always find the YouTube statistics particularly shocking - 100 hours of uploaded to YouTube every minute. That's insane. This might just be because they are more widely publicised and monopolistic than other sectors. I'm sure if Soundcloud/Bootcamp announced how many minutes of music were uploaded per hour or there was some book/news/web writing conglomerate that could give any meaningful estimation of how many words were published every day it would be just as overwhelming, if not more. There is a lot of stuff out there and it is easy to freak out about missing something important and just climb under your duvet and re-read your favourite book from childhood while eating chocolate biscuits and listening to an album from 2007 in an attempt to distance yourself from the horrifying imbalance and existential knowledge that you will never be able to keep up, that you are just a minuscule dot in an ever increasing flood of human culture, and that you will one day die still basically ignorant and alone. YOU DON'T KNOW MY LIFE. DON'T JUDGE ME.

That said/panicked, it does feel like there is a lot of music worth listening to right now and that is probably a good thing. Some of these are legitimately new (as in, the last month, obv this is not the home of the hot take), some of them are older and that's ok. All in your own time. Some of these are from albums but I'm only featuring a single track because albums can be overwhelming. Everything can be overwhelming. I'm clearly feeling overwhelmed at the moment. Here is some music to take my mind off things...

Love Again - Run the Jewels. Heads up, this is RUDE and maybe offensive? It certainly starts out pretty gross but Gangsta Boo brings some great balance in the later verses. And the lyrics are sharp and the production is great and the underlying beat is addictive. I have had this stuck in my head for ages and it is just so inappropriate to even hum at the office.



Twengerbibbytwo - Aphex Swift. Unlike most of the internet I am not a Taylor Superfan. I know, it's controversial, but I cannot wholeheartedly embrace that level of pop/country. It is not where my heart lies nor will it ever be. However. I do have a huge amount of respect for her as a business woman and a craftsman (some weird gendering going on there - business man and craftswoman both sound wrong and business person + craftsperson sound hokie. Language is hard. Businesser and crafter?). I think she makes basically perfect pop songs and, sweet jebus, they are catchy and persistent. Once a Tswizz song has got inside your brain it will not let go, to the point of mild hysteria. I love how reactive and engaged she seems. Her creation of herself as the biggest selling artist of the decade seems super conscious and I admire that even when it kind of creeps me out. She puts in the work and she lets you see (some of) that and that's awesome. I love a hard worker. Anyway, the Taylor I most enjoy is creeper-Taylor, murder-you-in-your-sleep Taylor, if-you-hurt-me-or-my-best-friend-I-will-end-you Taylor, who seems to be a predominantly internet creation but who, I like to think, is based in something real. The Aphex Swift mashup album by David Rees really draws out the creepiness and it's great. Taylor's voice modification is pushed and stretched and cut every which way and it is weird and hilarious. It's. Tiiiiime.



Younger - Seinabo Sey. I managed to listen to a lot or, at least, many repetitions of Seinabo Sey before I saw what she looked like and obviously it doesn't matter what a musician looks like but also she is gorgeous and unexpected and adorable. I like her face. Music crush blown out into full blown girl crush. The video for Pistols at Dawn just came out but I can't resist the folksy hipster charm of the Younger video and it is catchy as hell. Mostly this post is just going to be about amazingly catchy songs. Her voice and register will blow your mind. I can't wait for whenever her album comes out.



Lady fronted girl pop. No, I can't love bubblegum pop but I do love me some less commercial/less tween oriented pop. Whispy girl pop, spacey Scandinavians, 60s girl bands, Fleetwood Rock blues-rock-pop (what genre is Fleetwood Mac?? All music should probably just be that genre). And there are loads of great girls/girl-led bands around at the moment. I haven't had a chance to really get involved with Haerts debut album but I'm very excited that it is here. I think they make pretty perfect pop. 27 Club is trying very hard to be Lana Del Rey but I'm enjoying Ultraviolence/todestrieb/murder-teen era LDR and the lyrics are fun and silly and it is hella catchy (again). I don't have a bunch to say about Vérité but Heartbeat is also catchy and girly and great. All the girls.







To Do List:
  • Gay Dog Food - Mykki Blanco. Mykki's new mixtape is out and I've downloaded it but I haven't had much of a chance to get into it. I love her and I'm psyched for the new release but it is quite... abrasive... and it's going to take some work. I have faith though.
  • Broke with Expensive Taste - Azaelia Banks. Well, I will be goddamned. I genuinely didn't think this album was ever going to be released and now here it is. Only three or four years late? And AB's sound has changed a lot in the lead up time. I've heard a couple of tracks and liked them but I can't imagine how 212 is going to sit next to Heavy Metal and Reflective. Her new sound is pretty aggressive (I mean, it's always been lyrically aggressive but sonically) but HM&R really grew on me so I presume I'll enjoy the album at large.
That's quite a lot of things but if there are other new/not new musicz that I might/probably have missed then do let me know. Only in manageable chunks though, please.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ramblings: Songbirds and Cashmere

If wishes were thrushes, beggars would eat birds.

Right.

But… Ok? Hang on. No. I understand that if wishes were thrushes beggars would have a lot of thrushes but I can't imagine it is a lack of thrushes that is keeping them from eating birds. They probably lack proper bird processing and cooking facilities and an excess of thrushes isn't going to change that. If anything, it will probably exacerbate the problem.

Thrushes, songbirds generally, were a delicacy once (maybe they still are somewhere) but I imagine it takes time, attention and careful handling to derive much nutrition or pleasure from a thrush. They are not very big birds. They would be very fiddly to eat on the bone and I can't imagine there is much of them left off the bone. They must have been cooked on the bone (whole?) in those fancy pies. That would be a lot of tiny bird bones amidst your pastry, just waiting to spike you viciously in the gums or stick in your throat. Perhaps you ate the bones like those terrifying Filipino fetal eggs. You do you but even the thought of balut makes me feel a little queasy. Raw-ish egg and crunchy skull and tiny, sharp, choking bones and quills... That is a lot of texture right there. That is more texture than I can cope with. I love food; I love exploring food and new cultures and histories through food; I wish I could be one of those travelers who will excitedly try anything that is put in front of them but I don't think I could eat the most authentic balut in the world. I am too much of a coward. Or I am too repelled. I read or watched or heard an interesting talk about disgust once; about how (from my garbled memory) disgust, social or physical, is, at its most basic, a biological response designed to protect us. Humans are almost universally disgusted, across cultures, by the faeces of carnivores and incest because these things will cause us harm, they will poison us and damage our progeny. You are repulsed by rotten food because it can make you sick. That seems to give a lot of autonomy to the physical body but if you can flinch away from pain then I guess why not? QUASI-SCIENCE, Get It Here. I question how much you can expand on disgust-as-biology because so much of disgust is clearly cultural and because I am deeply wary of 'status quo disguised as evolutionary biology'. [Men's rights activists have really, horribly undermined the possibly sometimes legitimate field of evolutionary biology. OBVIOUSLY I am not a creationist but I nearly punched my computer that time I read that women like pink because they are used to searching for berries and men like blue because they had to watch the skies when they were on a hunt. Oh sure, just blithely ignore like 1200 years of Western history when pinks and reds were viewed as masculine colours and blue was for girls and Madonnas.] Raw eggs can give you salmonella but I don't think that is the heart of my discomfort and clearly it hasn't swayed balut eaters. I don't enjoy handling raw meat but people love steak tartare and Scandinavians like to bury food and eat it putrefied (#NotAllScandinavians). The world is a weird place and people have strange tastes and I should embrace that more but I struggle but I should try. But but.

I think they should have made thrush pies on the Great British Bake Off. I would swear blind that I saw pictures once of thrush pies that looked a little like crowns and they were rather beautiful. Can I find any photos? No. But, theoretically, they would be complicated, obscure and deeply British, i.e. perfect GBBO fodder. I mean, there would have been uproar but whatever.

Also.

I just realised that feathers are super pimped out hairs. Or rather, they are both integumentary systems. Bizarre. I quite fancy the idea of feather eyebrows but it also seems painful. Do birds get in-grown feathers? Asking the important questions.

If wishes were thrushes, beggars would eat birds. If wishes were scarves, I would be snuggled in cashmere? Certainly, if money was no object, I would be wrapped up in a Begg & Co. scarf. Their Arran cashmere scarves look lush. £240 might be a perfectly reasonable price for goats raised and wool spun and knitted in Scotland, I don't know, but it is sadly out of my price range. [N.B. The scarves are definitely made in Ayr but I can't see the source of their wool on the website and this post is quite long enough without going on another research binge.] Either way, they look lovely and local(ish) and I fancy one. I love their colour palette and apparent ethos. I would wear the hell out of that slate grey number. All I really want from my clothing is for it to be soft and warm - all cashmere everything. A cashmere cocoon. A cashmere sleeping bag perhaps? That would be the (possibly slightly sweaty) dream...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

These Are a Few of my Favourite Thing

I can't imagine why something like the Longform app didn't exist sooner. Maybe it did and I just missed it. I can admit that happens often. The app, which has a clean, mostly straightforward layout, allows you to follow your favourite publications and bookmark any interesting essays/longform articles to read offline. This is obviously great and the in-app reading experience is neat and free of distractions (there are a couple of issues with stuff like pull quotes and repetitions but I'm sure these will be ironed out). 

More excitingly though it allows you to follow writers directly. This may not sound like a grand innovation but I love it. Most writers write across more publications than I could read and although I follow lots of writers on Twitter I am too inactive and Twitter moves too fast for me to be able to catch everything. I follow some writers on Tumblr too which is great but, again, it's so easy to miss things in endless streams. In the app I have my own queue and I get notifications when the people I like write great longform things anywhere online! Revolutionary! I can then bookmark everything I want to read and have it in one handy place, safe from the abyss. Apparently I can't write about apps without sounding like an old. What can you do? One day I shall turn into my beloved Luddite father and eschew all machines. They have the devil inside of them...

In a fit of excitement upon downloading the app I brain-vomited up about 20 writers that I wanted to follow and I have added a handful more in the last fortnight. They are a solid 90% women and there is only one white man amongst them. John Jeremiah Sullivan gets a free pass because he has written some of my favourite essays, I mean, not a free pass to be awful but a free pass to be white and male. (Actually, I've just added David Grann. I'm sure there are others but I think 3% of my list is basically appropriate.) My list isn't conclusive and I'm sure there are some obvious people I have forgotten so let me know who I might be missing. You can also follow me on there since there is a 'recommend' function which I am enthusiastically using on anything particularly great. I am, as on Twitter (which I am trying to engage with more at the moment although it does not come easy to me), @cmiscellany. You can't come say hi on there or anything (I don't think?) but let me know if you're enjoying the app and recommending good things and I will find you.


New Ways to Consume Content. *barf*. Still, 2/3 of my favourite things. I can't be arsed to trawl back through my email to work out when I started getting into newsletters in a big way but I can tell you that Rusty was my gateway drug. The Tabs summer holiday/sabbatical/empty hole in my life was a hard time. Tinybitchtapes is the best and Ann Friedman does a great weekly roundup of her work and generally internet bizness. Real humans direct into your heart (inbox). Those are (relatively) old favourites but I recently signed up to a new baby newsletter that is bring me much joy. Heads up, it's not about new babies, phew - it is just a morsel of delightfulness and I have been receiving it for about three weeks. Laura Olin's Everything Changes near weekdaily email has made me smile every time I've opened it. Impressively random, no more than two minutes, a tiny flash of happiness. Dolly Parton facts (goddess - informative), the secret lives of emoji (weird - insightful), context-free animal gifs (obv). Awesome. I would highly recommend it. Do you have any favourite newsletters?


Transparent is so great. I had read many things saying it was great but I was and am still surprised at it's greatness. Amazon made this thing. Well, Jill Soloway and co. made it but on Amazon's buck. Wonders will never cease. I'm only about half way through and maybe (unlikely but not impossible) it will take a horrible downturn or have a very disappointing ending but that seems unlikely and, even if it is true, a half series of wonderfulness is a wonderful thing.

I did not particularly care for Afternoon Delight although I thought all the female actors were very strong. I feel like, with this kind of indie film, you maybe don't have enough space in 90-110 minutes to develop the likeable parts of a character that allow you to engage with the bog standard human awfulnesses. Of course, likeability is beside the point but I don't know if a film gives me enough to hold onto with more complicated characters? I'm not sure totally what I mean by that or even if I agree... A book (or perhaps a tv show?) character has 300 pages and a week or a month to engage you so they can be difficult and horrible because you get more, the character is unrestricted, but a film traps you in the mire... I don't know. Afternoon Delight made me feel miserable and Transparent makes me feel joyous even though everyone in it has their own brand of unpleasantness. It is warmer? I am just blissfully happy to have a trans protagonist and gender centre stage. I love a women-centric show but I really love that this blows gender up a bit wider. It is funny. It is beautiful and quiet but not mumble-y. The acting is great. Gaby Hoffmann hates pants. It is a good time for television.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Girl Crush: Meg Myers

I am deeply wary of nostalgia. I watched The Two Faces of January at the weekend and Kirsten Dunst's wardrobe is fantastic but no vintage dress can beat out the internet, easy access to birth control and hummus. [For reference, the clothes, settings and actors in the film are beautiful but - for me - its only appeal is aesthetic. I neither actively liked or disliked the film - it left me cold. I would only recommend it to those with a particular fetish for early 1960s structured fashion, sun-drenched shots of Athens and Crete and Kiki/Oscar. Admittedly, those things shine.] I want to experience original punk, the glamour of Hollywood's Golden Age, the party-going nihilism of the inter-bellum, Regency England (et al) but I'm not an idiot. I love Austen but I would lose my mind trapped in a drawing room.



It makes sense that the lost idyll that I truly regret missing is one within my own lifetime. If I was only 5-10 years older (and possibly American) I could have been a riot grrrl and still enjoyed the perks of 2014. I really wish I could have hit Fiona Apple and Sleater-Kinney and Liz Phair and Bikini Kill at their peak, at the right age. [N.B. For music purists and people who were culturally conscious at this time, I appreciate that I am blurring genres and epochs slightly here but since I missed both and they share DNA I am going to group them together. For more, see this history of riot grrrl and the 'angry woman'.] I can listen to their music now but I wish I could have experienced their rage/fierceness at its peak. I wish I could have listened to them as a teenager, become obsessed and seen them live. Seen them tear the world apart just as I was creating myself.



Of course, I've missed Meg Myers in the other direction. I am too old to enjoy her as an obsessive, bewildered teenager but at least I can bask in her anger and fierceness contemporaneously. I stumbled across her about a month ago and I am in mad love/lust. In my grand tradition of missing the boat she's been around for years - her first EP came out in 2012 and her latest EP came out in February. Whatever. Desire is a magnificent song with a magnificent video. It is dark and twisty and perfect. I love the viciousness, the sexual aggression and the barely contained rage, the challenge. She's beautiful and talented but also vicious and creepy. Heart dangerous girls...



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Article Reading Group: Allsorts


Baby LiLo via ITG

I have no coherent theme here. This is straight up: Stuff That Is Good On The Internet.

The Logic of Stupid Poor People - Tressie McMillan Cottom:  Just something everyone should read. Perhaps every three months or so. A reminder of how to be a human being.

The Transgender Crucible - Sabrina Rubin Erdely: Are we having a trans moment? Has the tide turned? Are we ready to abandon gender binaries and embrace a gender spectrum where people can self-identify however they please without fear or threat? (I’m not even going to try and posit the idea that we’re post-gender because ha!) Short answer: probably not. I’m thrilled that Laverne Cox and Martine Rothblatt and Jill Soloway’s show are enjoying success and getting good press but I am not touching the comments section of those articles with a barge pole and many trans/non- gender conforming people still face hatred, violence and systems of power that are stacked against them. CeCe McDonald is just one example of how much further we still have to go.

BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti Goes Long - Felix Salmon: Did you know... Jonah Peretti, founder of Buzzfeed, co-founder of HuffPo, ye olde Original Internet Dude, is the brother of Chelsea Peretti, Gina off of all-round excellent TV show Brooklyn 99? That’s hardly the main takeaway from this extended conversation with Peretti but it was news to me. I miss B99. Peretti is a thoughtful, interesting human being and he and Felix Salmon talk past and future internets. If those things hold any curiosity for you I would recommend giving this (admittedly pretty long) interview a try.

The Afghan Girls Who Live as Boys - Jenny Nordberg: This is awesome. I mean, awful but also awesome. The world is complicated. Obviously, as per Article #2, I would like to live in a world where people are not discriminated against based on gender – where a person’s access to education, employment, health, freedom is not determined by gender. But I don’t live in that world and the women of Afghanistan certainly don’t live in that world. And, given these flawed, patriarchal realities, I want all of the stories about the women and girls who cheat the system. The women who cut their hair and put on trousers so they can go out and fight and learn and support their families. Lady Fu Hao, the pope who gave birth, the bacha posh. These women can only exist in a society that denies women choice/agency/freedom and I don’t want to romanticise that but I love their determination and the way they expose so many of the moronic illusions of gender. Any further reading recommendations, esp. books, much appreciated.

I Re-Watched Garden State and Will Never Feel Again - Lindy West: Glorious. #NotAllLampreys

Thursday, September 25, 2014

R.I.P. Debo


Deborah Mitford puts a string of pearls on her pet whippet. Photographed by Madame Yevonde, 1941.

Oh, Debo. You were a champion. I can't imagine it was much fun to be the last of a generation but you will be missed.

Mitford recommendations:
Mitford To Read list: