Posts Tagged ‘mother’

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act your age.

August 4, 2010

The other night I was on the phone to Toby walking through Tesco when I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a big cuddly Hello Kitty in a half-price toys bin. I checked the price (£10), fell in love with it, plucked it out of the bin and kept walking, all the while telling Toby what I had just done.  He chuckled at me, as people often do when confronted with my weakness for cute cuddly toys. However, all my friends know what I am like by now, and my family does too – they think it’s part cute, part bizarre, part they just shake their heads in despair.  The cashier at Tesco thought my mum was joking when, in response to what age the toy was aimed at, my mother gave me a glance and a grin.

In my bedroom at home, Hello Kitty joins my menagerie of Nemo, Ramón, Bing and Bong the white seals, Pikachu & a giant dog called Doug. I guess I always loved cuddling stuffed animals and teddy bears ever since I was a child, and they are soft and warm and comforting. They all come off the bed at night, except for in the winter when it’s cold and I want the weight of something on top of me to make me feel more cocooned and warm (hopefully Toby is my grown-up replacement! 😉 ).  They make me feel at once whimsical and cosy.

Unlike Taylor Lautner, who keeps me warm in a very different way:

After much deliberation and resisting buying the Eclipse poster in the cinema, I finally caved and bought the above poster yesterday in HMV, which is now framed on my wall as you can see. When I was with Toby (although it is in a slight ironic way, I do really enjoy the Twilight Saga!) queuing for Eclipse, I pointed out the poster and was tempted to buy it; the same happened when I was queuing for the same film with Karina, Davina and Deena. Both times I resisted, and Toby’s teasing reproach was that “get it if you want, if you have no problems with having pictures of teenage boys on your bedroom wall”.  Well, when he put it like that… I was briefly shamed into restraint, but as they say, resistance is futile.  Anyway, Lautner is 18 and therefore a legal adult, as well as a total hottie (far more than Robert Pattinson, at any rate).

Both of these purchases made me think that I’ve always had a certain kind of taste for both men and cuddly toys. I’ve not changed in that respect since I was young; I like big cute stuffed animals and I like sexy men; I doubt this will change from 13 to 30 to beyond. As a teenager, my appreciation of teddy bears was considered a cute throwback to childhood in the face of so many pressures of adolescence and incipient adulthood. And it’s natural to find others attractive as you become in touch with your sexuality: I always was attracted to people who were older than me when I was a teenager, and now it’s to people who are the same age as me.  Perhaps I’m an eternal late teen? Unlike Mariah Carey who claims she is “eternally 12”, perhaps I’m eternally 19. After all, Taylor may be 18 but he has a better body than most people in their 20s, and when sexualised as he is both above and in the Twilight Saga films, he comes off as early twenties rather than a teen. That’s my defence and I’m sticking to it, but while I physically age, my mentality and preferences will evolve and mature in some respects, but I guess that some of my tastes will remain constant.  This is just who I am, and I think that it’s very healthy to be in touch with your inner child and indulge that fun-loving, fresh side of your personality. 🙂

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Christina Aguilera – Bionic. (album review)

June 14, 2010

As you can tell from my current blog layout, I am very much feeling the imagery of Christina Aguilera’s current Bionic era.  It’s fierce, severe and pushes the envelope.  Artwork such as the front cover (above) and other graffiti-inspired cyborg manipulations handled by D*Face push the envelope and also serve to symbolise Christina as human machine which creates fine music hence “Bionic”.  Various analyses of this robotic imagery could be and have been made: on the one hand, Christina Aguilera in her superhuman form triumphs over all her competitors and makes superior , near-perfect music because she has this bionic element to her; on the other hand, as part-robot, Christina can only ever produce a facsimile of what music is supposed to be, while never quite getting close enough to the organic, human qualities in music that elevate it beyond the calculable – qualities which cannot be quantified or mechanised.  In Bionic, as in life, the truth lies somewhere between these two opinions.

Bionic the album is a long listen – 18 tracks in its standard version, 23 in its deluxe (with iTunes bonus track “Little Dreamer”, a likeable but throwaway confection, making a grand total of 24).  I’ll dispense with the additional 5 bonus tracks first: they are, by and large, bonus tracks for a reason: either they are not strong enough to be considered for the main album (“Monday Morning” is pleasant but lackadaisical; “Birds Of Prey” is lyrically mysterious and interesting, but musically and vocally it’s too much mainstream dance that Kelis would do a lot better with on her current Flesh Tone project), or they don’t fit thematically with the empowering / sexual / carefree / mature feel of the album.  “Bobblehead” is a thrilling production that stutters and races to its climax with the wonderful lyric: “I never play dumb to get what I want / and always come out the one that’s on top”; however, its main hook is a nonsensical mumble that may be the point of the lyrics, dissing idiot girls who dumb themselves down and preferring to deploy her own intelligence, but it’s still a nonsensical mumble which fails to use Christina’s vocals to much effect.  “Stronger Than Ever” is a ballad that is lyrically strong (and embodies my current struggle with my parents) and vocally able, but it just lacks that something.  “I Am (Stripped)” is a lovely album closer but is a more acoustic version of one of the main album tracks, and so it’s understandable why it’s relegated to bonus status.

So, to the main event. To my ear, Bionic moves in three arcs.  In its first, it goes for the jugular with relentless, futuristic uptempos; it then cools down into a sensuous, emotionally vulnerable, mature ballad section; finally, it picks up again for a closing triad of uptempo songs that epitomise fun.  While it’s possible that the album could be trimmed down to make a more concise, compelling listen, it flows very nicely throughout and only has a couple of stumbling points.  Christina Aguilera said that she wanted something which sounded futuristic, but with elements of the organic; something which integrated her new emotional maturity as a mother with her desire to remain playful and sexy.  On this point, she has succeeded: Bionic has elements of all of this.  Tracks such as “Bionic” and “Elastic Love” incorporate computerised effects to distort Christina’s voice, along with buzzing, whirring productions that sonically embody the bionic cyborg face of her album cover. However, on tracks such as standout “You Lost Me” and “All I Need”, Christina is stripped of the musical gloss of the faster tracks to be backed by little more than a piano.  “All I Need” is also a touching, mature tribute to her son, which nicely avoids being mawkish or saccharine like Britney Spears’ unlistenable “My Baby” from Circus.  Finally, sex is all over this album, and from the enticing “Woohoo” to the seductive “Sex For Breakfast” (which I have yet to play for my boyfriend, but when I next see him in July, I am using this song on him!), it’s explicit without being pornographic, edgy without crossing that line.  In this respect, the Christina Aguilera of “Dirrty” is still present, knowing how to be provocative while still being musically relevant.

However, in the video for “Not Myself Tonight”, Xtina makes her return and perhaps pushes the envelope a little too far.  S&M get-ups, Madonna tributes aplenty, and bisexual flirtations are almost par for the course at this point, and Christina Aguilera is more than entitled to use them considering her influence on current female artists in the mainstream over the past 10 years.*  However, although “Not Myself Tonight” is an understandable choice as Bionic‘s lead single considering its radio-friendly sound, it’s not futuristic and it’s not exciting enough to merit the edgy, sex-fuelled imagery.  Rather than hookless, it sounds like a bunch of hooks jostling together for attention over a dance beat (which has a couple of exciting tribal flourishes), the result of which means that sometimes the song sticks, on other listens it doesn’t quite get there.  A better first single might have been the thrilling, soaring title track, or uptempo album standout and follow-up single “Woohoo”, on which Xtina extols the virtues of good oral sex, recruits Nicki Minaj for a fine rap segment, uses her vagina (the titular “Woohoo!”) for a cowbell, and tops it off with a throbbing, buzzing dance break coda for good measure.  Along with “You Lost Me”, “Lift Me Up” and album closer “Vanity”, “Woohoo” is an album standout where all of Christina’s chemical ambitions for Bionic come together perfectly to produce some exemplary pop.

Bionic itself has no bad songs, but there is some filler: “Prima Donna” comes at the end of the first album arc of jugular-ripping uptempos, and is the weakest of them, with little lyrical know-how or production excitement to give it its own identity after the tracks preceding it.  “My Girls” is a ‘riding in the car with your top down’ sort of song, but comes off as fluffy compared to the album’s meatier offerings: although Christina proves (responding to criticisms that she oversings) that she can vocally restrain herself on songs such as “Elastic Love” with its amusing and witty stationery metaphors, and the tender “All I Need”, “My Girls” needs the vocal melisma to give it some spark; as it stands, it’s a little too laid back.  Nevertheless, 2 out of 18 songs (or 15, excluding interludes) is not bad and perhaps a better result than I was expecting.  Sure, several songs on the album are not immediate: “Glam” takes a few listens to hit its stride with its subtle, fibrillating beats and “Vogue”-esque spoken-word verses, while “Vanity” initially startles the listener with its unbridled use of the word “bitch”, references to Christina making herself “wetter” before marrying herself as her “lawfully wedded bitch” and effectively giving the finger to everyone who doesn’t have such bravado.  Only by the song’s end (and possibly a couple of repeat listens) does it sink in that the track is a storming highlight, a perfect album closer, utterly hilarious and ridiculous (and knowingly so), with a vocal flourish that knocks all competition to the floor before her son’s voice confirms all suspicions: his mother really is the shit.

At the end of the day, it’s this kind of confidence that makes Bionic a great success – Christina Aguilera believes that she rules the world, and this kind of ambition almost single-handedly propels her music to heady heights.  It’s a new page for Christina, and she’s secure enough in her ability to try different things: the mélange of styles is a little disorientating until repeated listens expose the subtleties and intricacies in her vocals, lyrics and the songs themselves.  “Lift Me Up” is another beautiful, soaring track that was slightly superior in its stripped down live version performed on the Haiti telethon, but still thrills within the album.  “I Am” is a declaration of humanity, imperfection and adulthood that lends substance to the polished sheen of Bionic‘s robotic side, deployed confidently, efficiently and effectively for example on clubsong “Desnúdate” (which neatly remembers and includes Christina’s Spanish-speaking audience and heritage).  If Christina experiments with textures in her voice, sometimes preferring subdued rumbles to soaring melismas, she still shows that she can do both better than most other female artists.  At the end of the day, Christina Aguilera is an musical artist with a personal and professional vision that she fulfils 85% of the time.  Her misfires are excusable and never in poor taste so much as merely a little bland or inconsistent – in time, Christina will learn to totally excise these from her projects.  Most importantly, while some of Bionic indeed caters to current mainstream tastes and is hardly an obscure sonic revelation, the majority of it is interesting and thrilling, and rings true as Christina Aguilera’s own personality and intention which doesn’t give a fuck about current radio trends (in my opinion, less than half of Bionic would get spins on mainstream radio).  For this, her sales might suffer, but her artistic integrity remains intact and hopefully the mainstream radio audiences and buying public one day will catch up.

* I’ll address this once and only once: anyone who thinks that Christina Aguilera is copying Lady GaGa is a) suffering from memory loss and should go back to Christina Aguilera’s last two album eras which were mired with controversy and blazed with exciting fashions and imagery, b) suffering from hearing loss as Christina can sing GaGa – and pretty much anyone else – under the table, c) has no respect for what Aguilera has achieved over the past 10 years – while GaGa has had a fantastic 2-year run and displays much potential (her music and videos are definitely getting more intriguing), she’s still only been around 2 years and more respect should be shown to anyone who successfully completes a decade in the music industry, and d) completely overlooking Gwen Stefani, whose hairstyle Christina mimics in her “Not Myself Tonight” video, and whose image, sound and career Lady GaGa has borrowed liberally from, mixed with a bunch of fashion designers, and passed off as her own to those too young, too unaware or too amnesiac to know any better.

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i keep it to myself.

November 1, 2009

I remember this song by Monica from her The Boy Is Mine album back in the day.  Although it wasn’t my favourite song from the album, I could resonate a lot with the idea of having a crush on somebody but not ever being able to bring yourself to admit it.  I’ve been in that situation a lot in my life, and guess what! I’m there again.

I’m not going to name any names on here, just in case the wrong person sees it (it’s unlikely, but I don’t want to take any chances).  After B, R, and any other initial you can care to name, I thought that I might have given up falling (or learned NOT to fall) for inappropriate people. When I say inappropriate, they’re either mentally or emotionally unstable, or unavailable for whatever reason – I think that that umbrella covers more or less all the experiences I’ve had in the past couple of years.  Oh, unless they were idiots.  And then I start to wonder, is it me?  Do I unconsciously seek out people with whom it just won’t work?  Is this an act of self-sabotage? Am I some sort of masochist?

Maybe, maybe not.  I mean, the latest thing I’m going through is different.  I’ve formed such a close bond with this person, it’s crazy, and I admire him and look up to him so much.  I wish that I could be like him one day (except he can’t spell “tommorrow” or “definately”. But apart from that.), the way he is with people.  He’s so strong and has a wicked sense of humour, and yet he’s so observant and sincere underneath. Plus, he may be older, but he’s pretty hot. Okay, enough gushing.  So I thought this crush was gonna be a phase, but apparently not – I can’t stop dreaming about him, I can’t stop thinking about him, the only time I feel normal anymore is when we are texting or when we are together.  It’s really bad, and it stomps all over the other people I’ve dated / not dated / been interested in the last couple of years.  It revolutionises everything for me, and reminds me of the once or twice I felt like I was approaching feeling in love when I was a teenager.  And yet, obviously I can’t tell him – not only is he very not single, but I can’t ruin the strong friendship we’ve established.  I’m not willing to do that, and so I keep it to myself.

Occasionally it hurts, but more than anything, our bond and our camaraderie keep me going.  We’ve gotten to a level of flirtation that is a bit weird (considering he is straight and attached) but it’s a lot of fun and I enjoy it, it makes me feel good.  I guess that I feel safe around him – not that I feel vulnerable walking around every day, but I feel that when we’re together, we’re popular and the leaders of our group and sorta untouchable.  I know people’s eyes are on us, and I also know that people think we are inseparable. That’s okay.  I don’t think people (apart from the couple whom I’ve told) know I have a crush on him – we are just real good friends, and as much as I look for him whenever he’s around, I know he does the same for me too.  It’s a 50/50 relationship, and it would be ideal!  Except it can never be.  That’s the only sting in the tail, but although sometimes I do feel a little bit down about it, I wouldn’t trade our friendship and the bond we’ve established in so short a time for the world.  I’m really lucky.

But again, because I don’t wanna risk anything going wrong, I’m not going to say anything.  I come home and feel empty, and my parents have their own problems and their own business.  We sorta exist around each other and orbit each other, with no real problems, but they have no desire to interact with me unless I have done something to inconvenience them, so I keep myself to myself at home.  And it does feel lonely.  My friends are supportive, and I really appreciate that so much, but there’s only so much that they can do – I’m looking to move out somehow and just get a bit more independence.  Free myself from that situation, because although I would end up being on my own, I would somehow feel less lonely because I would be less caged.  I think that even though I might be on my own, that would be my choice and the empowerment I’d get from that would make up for it.  Plus, I tend to get on better with my parents (and they seem to appreciate me more) from a distance.  But until that time comes, I keep my frustration with this whole situation to myself also.  I told Mike that it would be tempting to just move out, change my number and not tell my family where I was going – but it would just result in worrying them too much and they’d probably turn up at university or something looking for me.  I want to minimise the drama – that’s the whole point of having this plan – but until I can put it in motion, secrecy is the way forward.  Perhaps that’s a bit fucked up, but I haven’t got any time for people who can’t keep their mouths shut when it’s the appropriate thing to do.  So I try to have a sense of decorum about love and about life, and keep the right things to myself.

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friendship day.

August 2, 2009

I logged onto Twitter this morning and in the trending topics was “Happy Friendship Day”.  Now I didn’t know what this was because in England we don’t have “Friendship Day”, but I think that the sentiment is nice. Though at the same time, really we should appreciate our friends (just as with our mothers, fathers, grandparents and valentines) more than one day a year, it’s nice to have a day dedicated to cherishing our friends.  I am lucky to have accumulated a few very close friends around me (you know who you are) who are always willing to listen to me and help me out, and I’ve helped them out a fair few times myself.  We are honest with each other, and we are comfortable enough with each other to not have to fill every waking moment with chitchat.  We can big-talk, and we can small-talk, and it’s all fine because we enjoy spending time together.  So I wanted to thank my friends for being true friends.

I also wanted to touch on when people say (leaving high school or university in particular, this is common) “we really must keep in touch!”  I never really stress over keeping in touch with people, and I am not somebody who sends out mass emails or letters informing everyone of what I’m up to (usually because I would not have enough major stuff to fill half a page, and I could blabber on about minutiae for a book’s worth) – my philosophy is that if you want to keep in touch with somebody because they are that important to you, it won’t be an “effort” because it will be something you genuinely want to do.  If you and the other person let a friendship drift, then it just means that you’ve both moved on to other things in your lives and your friendship wasn’t built to last.  There’s nothing wrong with that, and it shouldn’t spoil the good times you had together – it shouldn’t tarnish the memories.  Sometimes people just move on, and nobody can take everything and everyone with them, otherwise you’re not moving on.  I don’t feel any bitterness towards people with whom I used to be friends with and from whom I’ve drifted apart, because that was just the way it was meant to be, and I am grateful that I had positive times with them rather than negative.  The occasional card / email / letter / text message is enough commitment for both of us, and it’s nice to know that we haven’t forgotten one another – friends can glow fondly in your memories even if they’re no longer with you! So I feel very zen about it all, and I wanted to take this day to appreciate my friends past and present, and future too. 🙂

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balance of power.

July 28, 2009

Growing up with my parents and their perennially “stormy” relationship (that is one of the most accurate and yet most polite adjectives to describe it), I have always been acutely aware of the balance of power that exists in relationships, friendships and even day-to-day interactions.  For example, many a time have I apologised to my mother after doing something wrong.  But I can count on one hand the amount of times my mother has ever apologised to me after upsetting me.  The reasons for this are simple: although generally, being man enough to apologise when you have done something wrong makes you “the bigger person”, it also means that you cede a massive amount of ground in the balance of power that exists between you and that other person.  Acknowledging your fault equates to acknowledging their lack of fault and thus their superiority (obviously not in reality, but in power-struggle talks, this is fairly accurate).  That is why “sorry seems to be the hardest word” – because it involves swallowing your pride and giving away a small part of it to your opponent.  And when you have to apologise just to clear the air, because you don’t want to fight anymore but you don’t feel you are to blame… well, I don’t bother with that anymore, because I have done enough of that already in my short 23 years of life, and another thing that my mother has taught me is how to hold onto anger.  The silent treatment is a fantastic invention for testing the balance of power, and me and my mother have gone 4 weeks without speaking.  Of course, I am not recommending not apologising, or refusing to speak to somebody for weeks on end, because it is childish and it’s better just to get on with your life.  I am merely explaining the logic that exists in my family of how important it is to maintain a position of strength in the balance of power that exists between you and everyone else.  The moment you are seen as weak or a pushover, that’s the end of you (until you find a devious way to turn the tables.  But no ground lost = no scheming necessary).

So I move onto the situation I have been experiencing recently.  My father has become pathetically obsessed with this online game called Evony (if you want to look it up, more fool you, but you can find info on it on youtube and all the usual places) where you build your own medieval town and then defend it from other people’s armies while trying to make your town more powerful and take over other towns.  And when I say obsessed, I mean it – he spends every waking moment of his time at home on his laptop playing the game, which doesn’t seem to consist of much more than staring at the screen and occasionally clicking on a little house, while reading inane commentary between other users in a chat box in the corner.  He is back at work now (he was off for 3 weeks on holiday) and still stays up until midnight playing the stupid game, despite having to get up at 5:45am the following morning. He drinks cider and shovels crisps in his mouth and does not allow me to sit on the sofa nor watch the tv.  And I am 30 years his junior, so I am DAMNED if I am going to go to bed before him without enjoying even 5 minutes of peace and quiet downstairs in the lounge, watching what I want on tv (the only chance I get to watch what I want is when my parents are not present, which is usually once they have gone to bed) and having a cigarette outside on the patio and listening to my music undisturbed.

This is where the balance of power comes into play.  I don’t know if my father has decided on purpose to stay up until stupidly late to try and annoy me, but it certainly does the trick.  I of course refuse to go to bed, and my advantage is that I do not have to get up stupidly early for work the next day (though I am, as of today, employed again!!! The hospital came through, yayyyy 😀 😀 😀 )… Whether this is, in his view, a struggle for power and supremacy by despatching me from the lounge or whether he is just single-mindedly playing his pathetic little game, I now view it as a competition for control of the television at least 1% of the day, and establishing myself as more than just another piece of furniture around the house who disappears without causing any trouble.  I will not be ousted from my own house by my own father who is 30 years older than me and playing an idiotic little game.  I will not be sent to my room before I am ready to go, and I will not cede control of my bedtime nor of my right to enjoy myself in my home.  I will stay up until he goes to work if necessary… I don’t care.  This is a battle of wills now, and I promise you one thing: Like Rocawear, I will not lose.