Blue eyes

| by Lou | 2.20pm UK time |

Every time I see photos of myself from a social function I think "gosh I'm boring" as I never really move beyond eye-liner as my one and only "look". With a wedding coming up and Bel selfishly living on the otherside of the world so unavailable to do my make-up for me I've been doing some googling and trying to come up with some variety. (I swear this has nothing to do with the bride seating me next to that single heterosexual guy she's been wanting to set me up with for yonks.)

The interweb is telling me that for blue eyes I should be wearing browns (reiterated by Bel once putting some copper on me to great effect, but I can't track down that specific shade and am pretty sure I wouldn't be able to imitate her application). However I personally always prefer my trusty black-and-silver (which I have jazzed up by applying over a base of light blue). But then I wonder if I'm just really boring and don't like trying new things?

So dear readers, I ask you for your opinion - browns or black-and-silver?

I'm pointing at the black-and-silver

Further information: I will be wearing a royal blue dress, and my hair will probably be a lighter auburn colour.

Because I am taking this very seriously, here is a closer up shot. Which begs the question that has haunted my life - why do my teeth look so yellow in photos? I swear they're not yellow in real-life. And I don't smoke, and certainly haven't had enough cups of tea in my life to warrant it. Hmph.

Also why does it look like I have very little eye shadow on
when to me while applying it is practically bucketed on?

(I also don't yet have any shoes to wear, but that's not as easily solved via the interweb.)

30 Days of Film: Lou's Day 29

| by Lou | 11.33am UK time |

A film from your childhood

My earliest film memories are:

The Goonies

imdb tells me that it would have been 1985/86. My family and I were on holiday with friends of mum and dad's who lived in a small Canterbury town called Geraldine. I thought they were funny as we all had the Southland rrrrrrr and they had a seeming inability to pronounce an r - therefore my brother Kirrrrrk became Kik.

During the holiday it was one of the Canterbury kids' birthdays and they made her a witch birthday cake from the Australian Woman's Weekly Birthday Cake Book, using those chip sticks you used to get as the broom bristles. The weather was really hot so we celebrated outside in a yard of brown fried grass.

Us kids were allowed to go to the cinema to see The Goonies. One of the Canterbury kids had to come late as she had a doctor's appointment due to having arthritis-like symptoms in her hands. The seven of us sat along the front row armed with popcorn and lollies and feeling like kings and queens of the world.

The film was awesome. I have always dreamed of finding a cave waterslide that leads into a hidden lagoon.

The Princess Bride

It would have been 1988. I had watched The Princess Bride on television and was so overwhelmed by its wonderousness that I promptly wrote all about it in my dinky diary. (It was a purple one that a friend had given me for my birthday.)

I wrote with breathless excitement about a film I had seen that was so great and I might never see it again so needed to get the plot down on paper lest I forget. At the time my brother and sister and I were big fans of wrestling, so Andre the Giant's role in the film just made it even better.

Years later I saw the film again and was absolutely delighted to recognise it as the film I had so loved when a child. Rewatching it as an adult I can't argue with the judgement of my 7-or-8-year-old self - it's a glorious film that captures adventure and romance in a way that nothing else has.

In praise of the Moon Cup

| by Lou | 2.52pm UK time |

Join the revolution: the Moon Cup is awesome. Honestly. From first try you'll wonder how you ever thought it was okay to wad yourself with cotton.

I bought one 6 weeks ago on a whim, mostly motivated by environmental reasons and a dodgy tampon experience. (Dodgy in this case being the mildly disturbing incidence of the cotton not all staying in one piece. One tiny little loose tuft is quite wrong when it comes to internal useage.)

First impressions: it's smaller than I expected, and seeing it in person made it seem so much more logical than thinking about it in the abstract. After reading the instructions about a thousand times I waited for the time to come to try it feeling still rather skeptical.

First time round I found it quite difficult to get out (as in ten minutes of OH MY GOD IT'S NEVER COMING OUT - but hey, now I'm much better aquainted with my vagina!), but after a couple of goes (and a lot of googling) I've now found a technique that's quick and easy. It is extremely comfortable, in that I didn't feel it at all. And while obviously for the first two goes I didn't trust it to not leak, having now used it a few times I feel 99.9% secure.

I felt so secure that I took it on a beach holiday. This is the ultimate test. And five days in a bikini/ retro one-piece using solely the moon cup has me totally and utterly convinced that it is the best option.

(It's an especially great option if you're irrationally afraid of sharks like I am. As it actually creates a barrier there is much less chance of releasing that miniscule amount of blood that will send every shark within a thousand mile radius heading your way.)

Here are my reasons why you should give it a go:

  • Environmentally there is no question that a single reusable cup is a gazillion times better than constant disposal of wads of cotton.

  • Economically it is way cheaper, with the bonus that you'll no longer be supporting corporations to make dodgy products and market them patronisingly ("Have a happy period!" FUCK OFF!).

  • In terms of convenience, once the entry-and-exit technique is mastered it is an easy solution that cuts out that fricking irritating scenario of realising you don't have any tampons with you (and doesn't involve desperately looking around wondering where the fuck you're going to dispose of the used product because your old workplace only has open bins in the unisex toilets basically forcing you into the flush option which is soooooo bad for the poor waterways and sewage workers, but that's another story). However the only catch is that if you work somewhere that does not have a sink in the cubicle you'll need a bottle of water to give it a rinse. But having said that, I found that I could easily go 8 hours without having to empty it. And drinking lots of water is good for you anyway.

  • It just feels so much healthier. Honestly - I was sticking wads of cotton inside myself? Seriously?? And especially when you get to that end phase where it's sort of tailing off but not completely so you sort of still need to use a tampon but at the same time it feels wrong because there isn't quite enough there... Yeah, none of that.

  • It is thought that it reduces cramping, and based on my two months of useage I would agree. The theory is that it is allowing the body to shed the uterine lining in its natural way because it is falling down into the cup rather than immediately hitting a cotton barrier. I can't state it as a fact due to not having been using it longer, but usually for me at least one out of two times would involve horrific unbearable cramping and I have had none of that.

  • Lastly, it's actually kind of interesting and makes the whole experience of menstruation feel like a natural thing rather than some female defect that needs to be mopped up with branded cotton wads.

Colour me converted.

EDIT TO ADD: I forgot to mention that it requires some heavy duty thigh strength to do an empty out in aeroplane toilets. But it is possible.

101 things 1001 days: #75 Whale watching

| by Bel | 4.12pm NZ time |

A sperm whale, a humpback whale, a second, larger, sperm whale, and a pod of 200 or so dolphins. All hanging out in the Pacific Ocean just off Kaikoura in the South Island. Yes, this can most definitely be ticked off the list!

Completed on July 22nd, with 878 days left of my Day Zero Project

Pet peeve #12: Food courts

| by Bel | 9.19am NZ time |

You guys, how gross are food courts? Ugggh! So gross!

The main thing that gives me the heebiejeebies about food courts is that there is never any natural light.

It is always super harsh overhead fluro and you get the feeling that quite possibly it never changes, like those casinos where they want to deceive you against the passing of time.

I did a Google Image search for "food court" and look at the horror that hit mine eyes:


There is a generic aesthetic to food courts which makes them both abhorrent and comforting. You can rest assured that the formica table will be a little sticky, that the spindly aluminum legs of the chairs will scrape ear-piercingly across the tiled floor, that there will be confusion over where you should stack your tray and dump cutlery.

There used to be one great food court in Wellington. (Sorry, BNZ Food Court, your weird combination of cavernous and rabbit warreny, and the fact that you are underground and therefore INCAPABLE of natural light, means you will never be great at anything other than helping me get to Lambton Quay in the rain.)

It was next to the Rialto, when there was a Rialto cinema, down one street back from the waterfront. It had big double doors on either side which were always open and funny murals painted up high on the walls. There was very little use of neon signage. Of course it has now been lost to the perpetual reconstruction of our central city.

The Killing (Forbrydelsen) & the 5 Stages of Enthralled TV Watching

| by Bel | 3.30pm NZ time |

Have you seen The Killing (Forbrydelsen)? You need to. This blog is a spoiler-free taster to the mystery of who killed Nanna Birk Larsen...

  1. Initial Bemusement
    Why is it always raining? Why is it always nighttime? Does Sarah Lund only own one sweater? How does she manage to chew her nicotine gum in such an angry way? Is everyone in Denmark really this moody? Why is it always so dim in their police station? How come no one ever tries to turn on an overhead light at a crime scene and just uses their torchlight in a spooky way instead? Why do they all say 'Nanna Birk Larsen' in full every time? Nanna Birk Larsen. Nanna Birk Larsen. Nanna ... Birk Larsen.
  2. Captivation
    There are 20 episodes in this series, each an hour long. You'll have to at least take a toilet break at some stage. But you won't want to. You will be awash with disproportionate anger when someone asks to pause it so they can put the kettle on or answer the phone or staunch the bleeding from the gaping wound on their leg. You have no time for such petty distractions! Lund is silently gazing into mid-air, face expressionless and yet conveying the thousand thoughts rushing through her mind. What if she blinks and you miss it!!
  3. Brain-melting plot-twisting over-thinking
    Although this whole show is about one case, it is far from a simple story. It twists and turns and just as things become clear... it gets murky again. It's testament to the strong writing and impeccable acting performances that this is only frustrating in the sense that you're deeply involved in the solving of this case yourself and want a resolution to your own ruminations and theories. We want peace for Nanna's family, resolution for Lund - and a rest for our own frazzled minds!
  5. The moment you realise you are actually on the edge of your seat.
    Like, physically, literally, actually uncomfortably perched on the edge of the couch where previously you were comfortably ensconced with multiple couch cushions, lurching forwards towards the screen and possibly even holding your breath as the music builds to a cresendo and then suddenly the closing credits for the episode appear.
Lou, you will love this because I know what a nerd you are for crime thrillers. Sonal, you will love this because the character development and pacing will make you swoon. Lotte, you will love this for the reason explained below at the asterisk.

*The role of Troels is played by Lars Mikkelsen. I hadn't noticed his name in the credits but watching I was like "Holy crapballs that guy looks like Cheekbones!" AKA Mads Mikkelsen AKA pretty much my favourite actor. And guess what, you guys, guess what. It's his BROTHER. I know!!

30 Days of Film: Lou's Day 28

| by Lou | 8.30pm UK time |

Favourite film from your favourite director

Pulp Fiction, all the way.

Three fun facts about Pulp Fiction related to my Invercargill teenagerhood:

1. A school friend was given a VHS copy for her 14th birthday by our school's priest*. We started to watch it, but one of the girls there was the principal's daughter and her parents had come along. They conferred with the birthday girl's more liberal-minded parents in the kitchen, and before we'd gotten more than 2 minutes in they turned it off and forbade us from watching it. This of course made us even more desparate to see it.

2. My 5th form economics teacher was fresh out of uni and would willingly engage in a bit of a 'youth' chat**. One day he came over to help me and my friend, and somehow ending up telling us about how Morgan Freeman's character asks the robber to get his wallet out of the bag and the guy says "which one is yours?" and he says "the one that says bad mother fucker" and the guy pulls out his wallet and sure enough it said bad mother fucker. He thought that was the best thing ever. It probably actually is.

3. My mother decided that she was going to watch Pulp Fiction when it premiered on television, because people from her work liked it. I told her she was going to hate it***. She insisted on watching it nonetheless, but within 5 minutes had turned it off. I was watching it in the other room and so when they got to the adrenalin countdown evilly shouted out for her to change the channel, leading to her flicking over at this exact moment and being utterly mortified:

*Yes, he was a young and kind of weird priest. Later on the same school friend's mother stalked him and it's actually a really tragic story of psychiatric illness.

**Yes, this did go badly. Several of the girls in my class were precocious enough to entirely put him on edge by bringing him close to the line of inappropriate behaviour. I felt quite sorry for him.

***My mother doesn't swear. I once heard her say shit and was absolutely shocked. Luckily my siblings and I inherited our vocab from dad.

Sweets that I like and hate.

| by Lou | 12.30pm UK time |

My all-time favourite sweets are M&Ms.

(This prompted a conversation with a colleague regarding the fact that "sweets" are the British term for what Kiwis would call "lollies", but we wouldn't classify M&Ms as lollies even though they fit within sweets (Right? We'd call them chocolates?). So I have decided to betray my country and use the term sweets. (This led to discovering that the British use the term "lollies" to describe what we would call "lollipops". (Which then led to the question "So you have lollies, lollipops, and ice-lollies?" at which point I had to introduce the term "ice-blocks". (Do not fear, I will stick with lollipop and ice-block.))))

I like jaffas.

(This confuses me - Kiwis would consider a jaffa a lolly right? So why wouldn't we consider an M&M a lolly? Effectively they're the same thing, just with a slightly different flavour and shape.)

I like pineapple lumps.

(I actually didn't use to particularly like pineapple lumps when living in New Zealand, but mum has so studiously sent me a packet twice a year that I have grown to enjoy them immensely.)

I like jelly babies.

(These grew on me from London Marathon days where it goes something like "hand out a few to runners, eat a few, hand out a few to runners, eat a few" etc.)

I like mints.

(All kinds and types of mints. Any mint whatsoever makes me happy.)

I hate liquorice all-sorts.

(I hate any and all liquorice products.)

I hate pick'n'mix.

(Seriously - what is the point of buying a bag of sweets if you don't have any particular regard for most of the contents?)

I like and hate revels.

(I like the malteasers, peanuts and buttons, and hate the orange, coffee and raisans. (My perfect Revels partner is Sheree, who hates the malteasers. (Unfortunately she lacked the ability to tell which was which by feel, so I'd be happily chomping away while she had every second dip result in a "D'oh!".)))

Lollies that I like and hate:

| by Bel | 10.42am NZ time |

I like Eclair sweets.

I like Clinkers. (And I guess the colour each time before I bite in.)

I like jersey caramels, but the quality of these has dropped DRAMATICALLY since childhood years.

I hate with the fury of a thousand suns Fruit Bursts.

I hate Tangy Apples.

I hate Tangy Fruits, except for the sound their packaging adds to the small town cinema experience.

I hate Oddfellows.

But please keep in mind that above all, I do not have a sweet tooth and would choose a bag of chips over all lollies, block of chocolate or ice-cream any day of the week.