Posts Tagged ‘smile’

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dream – infidelity and paulina rubio.

June 19, 2010

I was saying to one of my friends that it’s been a while since I blogged one of my dreams! I guess that sometimes if you speak something, it has a funny way of coming into existence.  I also must give some credit to the kebab I bought with Mike on the way back from our last course night out watching the England match (which was dull, although cheering along with the mindless supporters was amusing; I don’t think they realised Penny and I were taking the piss out of them) – the stomach ache I bear as a result, coupled with the disrupted night’s sleep I had, worked together to produce this crazy dream as well as my decision that, like crisps and popcorn, I will never eat another kebab again.  Anyway, here goes:

I found myself at university, staying in a dorm building which had several of my friends living on the same corridor as me. The hall was brightly lit, with a peach coloured carpet, and Toby lived a couple of doors down from me.  A few doors in the opposite direction, towards the end of our corridor, lived this random guy whom I don’t know in real life, and whom I didn’t know much about in the dream, except he was gay and had quite a youthful face and a happy-go-lucky, slightly crazy manner.  I remember on this particular day, Toby was getting ready to present a presentation he had worked on with his friend on a song they had written for a team they’d been given in a World Cup sweepstake.  He hadn’t let me hear the song, and he was quite nervous about it but pretending as if everything were fine.  To give him some space, I decided to get a bus and go to a string of shops which looked similar to the top of Gloucester Road, except with less shops and shops which looked even more run down than what’s there in reality.  The trip seemed fruitless, and I remember returning back to my corridor pretty promptly.

On my return, I bumped into the guy who lived near the end of the corridor.  He was burbling about something, and invited me to go back to his room. I was reluctant to go as I wanted to wish Toby luck before he started his presentation / performance, but at the same time I wasn’t sure whether it was a good idea to disturb him, so I decided to follow the guy to his room.  We chatted for a while, and then ended up having (anatomically incorrect – orifices do NOT look / contort like that!) sex.  Immediately afterwards I felt guilty, and made small talk while hurriedly getting out of there.  I ran down the corridor to find Toby, who was due to start his presentation.  I located the classroom (oddly enough further down the same corridor as where all our bedrooms were) and burst in through the open door, where Toby and his classmates were gathered in front of a lecturer standing at a lectern in front of a giant screen filled with the flags of the World Cup in some kaleidoscopic Powerpoint presentation.  Toby was stood on a chair, ostensibly about to sing his song, but everyone turned to look at me and Toby’s mouth gaped as I ran towards him, hugged his legs and nuzzled my face into his crotch.  He asked me what was wrong, but I decided to keep my infidelity to myself and said that nothing was wrong and I just wanted to wish him luck and let him know I was there for him.  At that moment, he smiled (which made me feel a combination of guilt and immense love), and the whole class sighed as if they wanted to get on with the presentation of the songs.

At this point, my stomach ache woke me up again as it had done periodically throughout the night.  I remember getting up to open the window; it was light outside and I hoped that some fresh air would do me good (as it happened, it made no difference) before getting back into bed and falling back to sleep.

I found myself going into a giant record store which reminded me of a huge Virgin Megastore from back in the day.  When I walked in, the front of store display advertised hordes of Paulina Rubio CDs, books, DVDs and other memorabilia at knock-down prices.  I was about to start browsing – there were items that certainly caught my eye even at first glance, when I bumped into my tutor from university, Mary.  She was sat reading a book on a cube seat, and she smiled at me and started asking how I was.  We had a conversation about the book she was reading, and about what some of my favourite books were.  I then saw two women approaching her wearing skirt suits, and Mary explained that she was interviewing for the course intake for next year, so she would have to say goodbye for now.  I smiled and left the seating area as one woman sat down and began to talk to Mary, who had closed her book; the other sat on an adjacent cube and began to read a book of her own.  I was about to start browsing the Paulina Rubio merchandise, which including products which both do and don’t exist in real life, when I bumped into Simon from the careers guidance course.  He asked me if I had seen Mary; I responded by indicating the cubed seating area, but then explaining that she was doing interviews so he might have to wait for a while before he was able to speak to her.  With nothing much else to say to him, I left Simon and began to browse the shelves.

However, during my conversations with Mary and Simon, a lot of the CDs had been snapped up, and I could barely find half of the products which had been on offer when I’d first entered the shop.  I spent quite a long time rummaging and amassing quite a collection of items, when I bumped into my mother, Deena and Davina.  They said that they had come shopping looking for a birthday present for me, and immediately handed me a big box of some kind of board game, and a smaller box on top.  They said that they were going to look for some other gifts for me.  My mother immediately disappeared, and Davina and Deena went off in different directions.  I followed Deena and asked her if there was anything I could buy for Davina, but I don’t think she had any suggestions.  Eventually, I found myself left alone by them and I had to go to the till and pay for my Paulina Rubio stuff, and also for my own birthday presents!

Afterwards, I returned home with all my purchases only to find that my mother had already arrived at home.  She looked at the amount of carrier bags I had, and then she engaged me in some meaningless, forgettable conversation.  I don’t remember what was said, but I remember taking a yellow sleeping bag with me and leaving the house. I wandered the streets and before long, found a wide grey pavement outside a run-down block of flats.  For some reason, in my head I had decided that this was an orphanage, and the area of town did not look very Bristolian nor very friendly; it was all quite dilapidated, and I felt quite tired so I decided to lay down on the pavement and curled up in my sleeping bag.  However, the sleeping bag was double-sized, so I still only took up half of the bag; the other half covered the rest of the pavement.  After a few moments, Mike came strolling by as if by chance, looked down and noticed me laying on the floor (I wasn’t asleep).  He spoke to me briefly, and we chatted before he told me to budge up, got down on the pavement and slid into the sleeping bag next to me.  This time, nothing sexual happened but we just chatted for a while and I remember feeling happy and lucky that I had a friend to spend time with.

That is about it!  As always, any thoughts or light that you can shed on this is more than welcome. A few connections that I can make: I watched the World Cup match last night, so perhaps the football was in my head; I’d seen Deena earlier in the week and I remember we were walking around HMV and she was considering looking for a present for her friend’s girlfriend.  During the night out last night, I was speaking to Mike about how much his friendship meant to me and how lucky I was to have him in my life.  I also spent a lot of the evening texting Toby, who is currently sunning it up in Florida (lucky man); I miss him.  Finally, Simon was the only person who hadn’t managed to get into the bar last night where we were watching the football; although Mary wasn’t invited to watch the football with us, it is interesting that Simon is the one who was asking me about her whereabouts, as if he were looking for someone from our course just as he was last night.  But the rest of it is beyond me!!!

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Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid (album review.)

May 23, 2010

I literally don’t know where to start with this review.  Comparisons have been made to James Brown (the lead single “Tightrope” has a funky, dirty bass and backchat with Monáe’s band), Judy Garland (“Oh, Maker” features a stately purity of voice in its verses, only to give way to a joyful exaltation of a chorus, and is one of the album’s highlights) and even Erykah Badu (Monáe sings with a knowing voice, sometimes sounding wise well beyond her years while not even connected to this cosmos).  But Janelle Monáe is undeniably her own woman: crazy hairstyles, performing in black-tie tuxedos, employing ethereal instruments coupled with double-time beats, composing her material in suites… It would be audacious enough if it didn’t succeed, if Monáe were above her station with this Metropolis, 28th century high-concept shit.  But she’s not.  Although at times The ArchAndroid feels a bit like it’s overreaching, the vast majority of it is exciting, mindblowing and more than a little bizarre.  This makes it one of the boldest releases to come out in quite a while.

I’m not going to attempt any detail of the story behind this album; it’s only vaguely important to the running order of the songs.  In very brief, Cindi Mayweather was an android who fell in love; the cyber-hunters were invited to hunt her down; she has since discovered the ArchAndroid helmet which displays the city of Metropolis on the top – yep, that’s the album cover above! – and has transformed from pariah to messiah for the robot population of Metropolis.  Monáe creates a textured evocation of this hyper-space reality within her music, and it’s appropriate that The ArchAndroid sounds nothing like anything else in current popular music.  However, its melodies are still catchy, its production tricks are still appreciable (although the music sounds far removed from anything Sean “Diddy” Combs would touch, Monáe is signed to his BadBoy imprint, whose releases normally display impeccable production values – if, at times, little else), and the meanings behind the inventive, often poetic lyrics (from “Say You’ll Go” – “Love is not a fantasy / A haiku written in Japanese”) go beyond the specifics of the Metropolis concept to speak more generally of love, society, and human emotions and situations.  In other words, Monáe hasn’t concept-ed herself into oblivion; the songs can still have meanings to each individual listener, which is important because we still need to relate in order to truly engage with the music.

Moving to the specifics of the music on The ArchAndroid, it’s a hefty album, comprising two suites that are much weightier then Monáe’s The Chase EP; that disc had three songs which were swift, exciting and irresistible.  The special edition had two extra non-concept tracks; a plea to the President for social consideration, and a beautiful, restrained cover of Nat King Cole’s “Smile”. Monáe may not be a vocalist in the same way as Beyoncé, Mariah Carey or Christina Aguilera, but she has an extraordinary control of her instrument, and displays its versatility when songs require it (similar, in a way, to Toni Braxton or Sade).  On The ArchAndroid, Monáe alternately displays grace (“Oh, Maker”), subtlety (“Sir Greendown”), uninhibited release (“Come Alive (The War Of The Roses)”) and an old-school sensibility that fuses scat, Broadway and Latin rhythms (epic closer “BaBopByeYa”).  Suite II (the first suite of The ArchAndroid) is generally more immediate and accessible to the uninitiated listener: after a classical intro (although its concept hangs together flawlessly for most of the album, the instrumental interludes may be slick but they are still unnecessary filler!), Monáe gets straight down to business with the help of spoken word artist Saul Williams for “Dance Or Die”.  Beats fibrillate below Monáe’s haughty poetry, and before the listener knows it, the song segues into “Faster”, into “Locked Inside”…; before you know it, you’ve reached subdued ballad “Mushrooms & Roses” and Suite II is nearly over.

The seamless melting of one song into the next is a neat production trick, but one that we have seen before.  It has its risks, since the listener has to pay attention to his iPod, CD player or media player of choice in order to determine where one track ends and the next begins.  If the songs are dull, they risk totally going over the listener’s head.  Luckily, the majority of The ArchAndroid has enough memorable hooks, production tricks and bizarre sections to stick in the mind and merit repeat listens.  Suite II is far stronger than Suite III for this however; Suite III, although shorter, is much denser and ethereal. Although Suite II had some lovely slower material (“Oh, Maker” and “Sir Greendown”), Suite III seems weighed down by the lack of upbeat or midtempo songs.  “Make The Bus” is an ok effort but hardly lives up to the breathtaking pace of Suite II; “Wondaland” seems altogether too precious.  However, Suite III comes into its own as it reaches its conclusion: “57821” (the serial number of the robot Cindi Mayweather) begins to engage the listener with its subtle, undulating backing, before the majesty of closing tracks “Say You’ll Go” and “BaBopByeYa” unfurls.  In all, Suite II is stronger and more addictive listening, but Suite III has its moments despite its more downbeat demeanour.

Why does it all work? It’s beyond me, as Janelle Monáe seems to have thrown everything and the kitchen sink into this album – in terms of lyrics, vocal approaches, production tricks, musical genres, concept… It’s a miracle that it doesn’t sound overblown, desperate or self-important, but for the most part – it doesn’t.  Only on “Wondaland”, “Mushrooms & Roses” and “Neon Valley Street” does Monáe sound a tiny bit like she’s faking, stalling while she scrabbles for a new idea with which to blindside us.  The vast majority of The ArchAndroid is not only severely impressive, but sounds genuine.  Which makes Janelle Monáe a hugely talented, innovative young woman, and one of the best new artists to emerge in recent years.  Take a listen to The ArchAndroid and prepare to be both mentally and aurally stimulated.

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ain’t it funny.

September 22, 2009

Following on from yesterday’s blog, just a quick update: Mike and I have a new recruit to Smoker’s Circle: Emma.  Lo and behold, Emma is the woman who sings in the soul covers band, and one of the people who took most interest in my musical prowess.  So I feel relieved that she likes a bit of nicotine every now and then too!  And perhaps I’m not being as judged as I thought, haha.

Ain’t it funny how little things get resolved?  Already today I learned the way to the cash machine and back; I have consolidated some friendships from yesterday; I feel a little more on top of what we are expected to do.  I keep wondering what I will do when I run into H from the Perfume Shop (it is bound to happen; we work and study in the same block).  I will not shout, I will not rant, I will not ask her how could she stand by and let them make me a scapegoat for everything that has gone wrong in their shop since I’ve been gone.  I did nothing wrong, and if they were talking about me in September when I left in June, then in a backhanded way, that’s a compliment to me and shows just how much of an impact I made on them.  I don’t want to let any of them know that their backstabbing made an impact on me.

So what I’m gonna do is this: I am going to smile and her, and say hello, and greet her like a friend.  She will never really be a close friend of mine again, and I will never trust her.  But I did what I needed to do, which was get out of that shop and get a better job and start improving my life.  And they did what they needed to do, which was blame me for things I never did, bitch about me despite the fact that I was the one they would come to with all their problems, and pretend to be nice to my face all the while.  That’s what they need to do to stay in the workplace, and that’s fine.  I don’t want to be there anymore, and I have no control over what they do there.  That’s their choice, and I have moved on.  In a way, H had the right idea: like Ayn Rand’s theory of Objectivism, “You should never do anything for me”.  The girls at the Perfume Shop never did anything for me – they put themselves first and once I was gone, they blamed me for everything in order to ease their consciences and facilitate their working life, I guess.  I had the wrong idea, because the whole time I was working there, I never put myself first nearly enough: “I should never have done anything for them”. I would call in every week or speak on the phone; I would listen to H crying and worrying about her uni course and assignments; I would advise them what to do if the shutter wouldn’t come down or the shop was evacuated for two hours; I would cover up H’s counting mistakes on stocktakes, and just recount them myself without saying a word to our manager. And I will never do anything for any of them again.  So H and I may be friendly towards one another – I’ll be civil and nice enough towards her.  But I will never do anything for her again.  Because just as they are all about them, now it’s time for me to be all about me.  I have better friends to whom I prefer to devote my time, and in whom I can trust more.  When H finally gains the courage to leave the Perfume Shop, I wonder what they will say about her?

I will make it a point never to find out.

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unintentional sexy.

July 16, 2009

If you’ve been following me on twitter (see the box on the right, or click here and follow me!) then you might have seen my tweets from the gym.  There is a guy there (well actually two, but the other one is a meathead and irrelevant to this story) who must go every single morning because it doesn’t matter which days I’m there, he’s always there.  He’s Scottish, he must be around 30, or late twenties, and he is (to put it simply) the sexiest motherfucker  (6pack, perfect body, rugged tattoos, tanned skin) I have laid eyes on in quite a while.  Obviously because we see each other quite often, even though we all keep to ourselves (I have my ipod, he has his braindead gym buddy), so over the last few weeks we greet each other (in a manly, nodding “alright mate” way – very masculine of course) and occasionally have conversation.  Last week, it was whether it was raining outside (it’s difficult to determine the weather from behind the frosted windows in the changing room).  One time, he asked me what the time was.  Today, he had difficulty taking his shirt off after his workout, and I expressed that was glad that it doesn’t just happen to me! So we effectively talked about removing our clothes.  Obviously, this is the beginning of a beautiful love story that will end happily ever after.

Anyways, I am pretty confident that he doesn’t realise how sexy he is, and certainly not how sexy he is to me.  As far as he is concerned (unless he is secretly feeling the same way – I won’t hold my breath) we work out at the gym and we are acquaintances who occasionally exchange pleasantries. So I got to thinking how the smallest of gestures or things that people do, without realising, can be so sexy and such a turn-on to another person who is observing them.  Here is a quick list:

  • In the gym shower, I look up in the midst of washing the shampoo out of my hair, and sexy Scottish bodybuilder’s eyes meet mine as he comes out of the sauna room.  He nods, I continue massaging my scalp while my knees go week.
  • Scottish bodybuilder in shorts that are really too short.  But that’s fine.
  • Scottish bodybuilder getting his shirt stuck halfway over his head, his lats and abs straining.  I had to hold myself back from volunteering to help him out.
  • Scottish bodybuilder’s ass crack slipping out over his towel.
  • Guy on the bus repeatedly wiping a spot on the steamed-up window so that he could look out.  The way he was wiping off the condensation was sexy in a weird way.
  • When someone has on an alluring or subtle fragrance.  One of the reasons why I love perfume so much, is that it is a purely sensual experience and it’s unique to each person and their body chemistry.  Different things work for different people, but when something works, it really works.
  • When a guy absentmindly scratches or rubs his stomach under his shirt.
  • When a pretty girl is delicately smoking a cigarette.
  • When a guy has tattoos that actually suit him, and don’t look like the same tribal design that absolutely everyone else has *yawn*.
  • When someone knows how to dress to flatter or compliment their body.
  • When someone smiles in a slightly dangerous way.

Okay, that is a very brief list.  Please add your thoughts and suggestions as comments, because I realise there are plenty of things left unsaid! And what is sexy to me may not be sexy to you.  But the sexiest thing of all, IMO, is swagger and confidence – not because someone else might be watching, but just because that is who you are.