Film Review: 10 Things I Hate About You

To make up for my neglecting the film-related parts of my blog, I've decided to revive it with tonight's viewing - 10 Things I Hate About You. For those (like me) who've never seen it before, it's basically a reworking of Shakespeare's play The Taming of the Shrew. Julia Stiles - where is she now? - plays Kat Stratford, an anti-social riot grrl who looks down on her classmates in that pseudo-intellectual way teenagers have a pretentious tendency to do. However, this means her sister Bianca cannot date until Kat does, something which frustrates many of their male classmates including new boy Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, probably most famous at the time for his role in Third Rock from the Sun but now 'that guy from Inception') and Joey the jock. In order to get a date with Bianca, Cameron persuades Joey to pay rebel Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to go out with Kat, but of course it's not that simple...

What elevates this above a typical teen comedy is the awesome soundtrack and the performances, particularly those of Stiles and Ledger, whose characters could have been the typical 'moody girl' and 'dangerous guy' but end up being able to give as they get in sparkling exchanges and actually making you care about their relationship. It also strikes a nice balance in the dialogue in taking the odd line from the original play and referencing other works but keeping the setting and the majority of the script in the present day, rather than the Baz Luhrman tactic of effectively just transporting the play to a modern day setting and putting it on film (which is not an adaptation in my book). And, although it feels wrong to type this about someone who's no longer with us, Heath Ledger is rather attractive in it.

The only flaws are that it takes a little longer than I'd like to truly get going, probably could have done with fewer peripheral characters (Bogie Lowenstein, who apart from hosting the party which acts as a fairly significant shift in Kat and Patrick's relationship, seems to serve no purpose), mostly raises smiles and giggles rather than belly laughs - apart from Kat's attempt to distract the teacher whilst Patrick escapes from detention - and has a slightly rushed ending. But overall, an excellent easy watch for a Saturday night if you're in the mood for something light, frothy and fun.

This week I am mostly...

Another 'This week I am mostly...' blog from me, after a very interesting seven days...

This week I am mostly listening to: Red Hot Chili Peppers. I was first introduced to their music by my sister (who, if you didn't know her as a teenager, would not strike you as a Chilis fan!) with their Californication album, which I still think is the best thing they've ever done, and have listened to them ever since. I just really love their grooves, whether they're upping the tempo or slowing things down, and without wishing to get too melodramatic I've been having a week where I've needed music for both those states. Anthony Kiedis' lyrics teeter on that fine balance between being completely random and strangely poetic, and their live performances are pure unbridled energy. It is music that moves you, whatever mood you're in. Plus their cover of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground is one of very few cover versions I actually like. I am both very excited and very nervous about their new album, which is hopefully coming out later this summer, as it's the first one in years without John Frusciante and I don't much like One Hot Minute, which is the last one they made without him - don't get me wrong, Dave Navarro is an amazing guitarist, but he just doesn't have that Chilis vibe. But I'm keeping an open mind about the new guy and hopefully they'll do something great.

This week I'm mostly reading: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, as part of my 'read more classic novels' endeavour. I must admit I'm not that far into it just yet, but currently it's pretty good - I haven't read a book that gripped me so much straight away for a considerable time so it's nice to have something I'm actually looking forward to reading. For those who don't know the plot, it follows a young art teacher called Walter Hartright who encounters the titular woman in white whilst walking home in the early hours of the morning, and then discovers she is linked to a house in Cumbria where he has been sent to teach two young women to draw. That's as far as I've got so I can't say any more about the plot, but at the moment it's a nice slow burner with just enough being given away to keep you reading. Highly recommended for those who like a good mystery.

This week I'm mostly wearing: Spring clothes! I am one of those people who has certain clothes which only come out of my wardrobe during certain seasons, and I always look forward to getting out the spring clothes after the spring equinox - which, roughly translated, means 'things that only go with Converse', as much as I love them they're not the most practical of winter shoes for the cold and wet north-west of England. My excitement about the spring clothes is admittedly a little odd, as I'm not much of a 'summery' person - I tend to find a lot of the high street stuff too floaty and pastelly so end up spending slightly daft money on T shirts in Fat Face and surf shops and then just wearing those with shorts and jeans all the time. Sadly a lot of my favourite summer clothes are currently languishing in my boyfriend's flat as I wanted to have the minimum amount of stuff to take with me when I move to London next weekend, but this week I've been marking the return of spring by sporting my favourite Gold by Giles at New Look electric blue trench coat and spritzing myself with Boss Orange perfume. And as of tomorrow, the Converse are back! I shouldn't be this happy about that, but in my classic overexcited way I am. :) :) :)

This week I'm mostly buying: much too much! I did a big Amazon shop this week (in my defence I had vouchers and two things in it were things I needed - new straighteners because mine have officially died and my mum's Mother Day's present), bought a skirt I really loved from Dotty P, two T shirts and some sunglasses from (well technically three because I'm not sure which size I need in one of them but the other one will get swapped for a Pacman belt), a jumper, a T shirt and a dress from Joe Browns and a stack of nail polish, make-up and toiletries. Oops! But hey, if you can't go a bit mad with your last paycheck from your first job before you have to be a proper grown-up with bills and rent to pay, then when can you? And it'll all get used/worn etc, so it's all good... Plus (shameless pimpery alert!) I've put a bunch of stuff on eBay and which hopefully will make a bit of the money back.

The door isn't closed, just ajar...

My second-to-last week before moving has been one of ups and downs. As regular readers of my blog will no doubt be aware, I've had two interviews in the past ten days or so - one for a job that I really wanted and which would have been absolutely perfect for me, and one which was a decent starter job but ultimately not what I wanted to do with my life. I didn't get either of them.

So now I'm moving in *glances at calendar* ten days, and I have no job to go to. I am therefore in what to some would seem like the worse case scenario and having to find a temp job. At this point I should stress that I'm not averse to that whatsoever, after all work's work and money's money. However, whilst temping has its merits, I admit that I've only heard my boyfriend's horror stories about it - having to earn your holiday, being made redundant from his job and then hired back - and there is a large part of me which is very reluctant to go into something so, ultimately, insecure where I mightn't get proper employees' rights and could be out of work at a moment's notice.

However, the ad agency have been incredibly generous to me and have told me that I'm more than welcome to come back and do another internship once I move, and that they will help me out with trying to find more placements, training, putting me onto other jobs that might come up etc. So at the moment, foolish as this sounds, I'm thinking I might go to London, do a couple of weeks there and get signed up with temp agencies until I get some paid work. I'm pretty sure that ultimately, this is what I want to do, and now I've got over the disappointment of not getting the job and started to appreciate how well I actually did to get that far, I've got a plan forming of how I'm going to get there in the end.

Beauty Review: Barry M Nail Paint in Racing Green

OK, so I know that this is kind of a variation on the green and glitter theme from last time around, but I felt that in honour of Saint Patrick's Day on Thursday I had to opt for Barry M Racing Green - a proper dark, mossy, emerald green. I have to say I really loved the application of this one; it went on really well and gave me a really nice effect coverage wise (my nails for various reasons tend not to take colours well straight off so to get full coverage in two coats was great!). It seems to be one of the things with a lot of cheaper nail polish brands that coverage seems to be a lot better than some of the more expensive ones, and that's definitely one of the many things Barry M have going for them, as well as an array of funky bright colours and their infamous crackle.

This is a mani of new colours again because I hadn't used China Glaze before either, though I have a fair few of their polishes. Fairy Dust is a bit of a cult product amongst nail bloggers as one of those things that, similarly to crackle, goes with everything - basically it's a clear polish which contains holographic glitter so when your nails hit the light they go various different sparkly colours. Again, I felt that this applied really well and had great coverage, although your perception of that might depend on your angle as obviously the holo is more sparkly when the light hits it than if you angle your hand so as to just see the silver specks. (And I guarantee you'll be moving your hands round once you've got it on to see what it looks like!)

So here it is:
Apologies that this hasn't come out fantastically well, it looks better in real life but this was the best one where you could see the green. (Note to self: get decent camera.) Base as always is Nails Inc Harley Street and top coat is Seche Vite.

I think I definitely prefer Fairy Dust to the Andrea Fulerton Annie I used in my previous manicure like this, mainly because you get much more of the true base colour whereas I felt Annie toned down the colour underneath it and made it look paler. But then Annie isn't necessarily designed as a layering polish, whereas Fairy Dust is, so it's inevitable that that would be the case (although it still has a role to play in my nail art). The other advantage of Fairy Dust is that it works on a variety of base colours, whereas black crackle for example wouldn't show up over the Racing Green because of how dark it is.

Overall I'm pretty impressed with that - I love the effect of the Fairy Dust and can see myself using that constantly over loads of different shades, but really like Racing Green too (in fact, although this may be a bit premature, dare I say it's my favourite of my greens so far?). In fact I can see this working as a component in a slightly clashing, cheesy red, green and gold Christmas-themed mani, but that's a few months off yet!

This week I am mostly...

With apologies for the fact that this segment should perhaps be renamed 'This month I am mostly...', here is the second update of the things I am enjoying this week:

This week I'm mostly watching: Pop's Greatest Dance Crazes. If you haven't yet seen it, iPlayer. Now. Basically it's your typical '20/50/100 Greatest Whatever' show, but featuring Robert Webb - whose merits for hosting it seem to be that Flashdance routine and being brilliantly sarcastic - the usual talking heads and a selection of most of the dances that you've done at family parties/school discos/in clubs after one too many over the years. But it is also peppered with brilliantly random moments of genius, particularly watching Phil and Grant Mitchell doing Kung Fu Fighting (I still can't work out if this ever actually appeared on the show or is some kind of charity spoof), Michael Aspel talking you through the moves to the Time Warp, Madeleine Albright dancing the Macarena at the UN, several Let's Dance For Comic/Sport Relief spoofs and choreographers taking themselves just a bit too seriously. The number one is predictable - and, in my view, wrong - and a fair few entries are just very good videos as opposed to actual dance routines, but for a few hours of nostalgia it's highly recommended.

This week I'm mostly travelling: Back and forth to London. I went down there yesterday for a fairly major meeting/interview about a job that would be absolutely perfect for me and which I would love to get, then I'm going back down there tomorrow to spend the weekend in London, and I've just had an email offering me another interview next week. I must be Virgin Trains' best customer right now. (Especially after the throwing away the tickets whilst on the train mishap yesterday, but we'll gloss over that one.) On the other hand, after the 2nd of April the train journeys up and down the country will be much fewer and further between, so I suppose I'm just paying my travel dues.

This week I'm mostly attempting to read: Cranford. I am the first to admit that there are many typically 'old' things I like (Radio 4 being the prime example), but I haven't read all that many classic novels, and thought that whilst I was living at home I'd take advantage of my parents' library before I move out. This was the first one I picked out, and so I'm endeavouring to finish it before I move out. Giving up magazines for Lent however does not seem to have helped, as I'm not actually doing any more reading, but I am determined to finish this book before I move out!

This week I'm mostly listening to: Stevie Wonder. I've always loved Superstition (I am very bad for being unable to pick one favourite song of all time - instead I find one I like, play it to death, get bored of it and go on to something else - but if I had to choose that would be up there for its amazing bassline) but must confess I hadn't listened to a lot of his other music. Whilst I was packing up all my stuff for moving this weekend I decided to play something I might not normally listen to, and I picked out the Definitive Collection - which, as is usually the case with these sorts of compilations, probably not all that definitive, but it was one of the first things that came up on Spotify. And I've got to say I really, really loved it - not all of it, admittedly, but there were so many great uptempo tracks that I couldn't help dancing to that I've downloaded the lot. Plus, in an odd way, it's only when you listen to someone like Stevie Wonder that you realise how much other musicians have been influenced by him. His version of Higher Ground, whilst so different to the Red Hot Chili Peppers cover (again, me with my thing for a good bassline), is equally brilliant, and in my knowledge fail I realised that Wild Wild West samples I Wish. Definitely going on the iPod for summer music or just when I want to feel happy and dance.

Beauty Review: Topshop Green Room

Remember how I said I wasn't a nail art person? Well as I've been bulking up my polish collection (oh dear, the less said about that the better), and on the inspiration of my lovely friend Cazza, I decided to tentatively dip a toe into doing more than just wearing plain polish...

I really like Topshop nail polishes - they've got a great range of colours, they're very reasonably priced at £5 a bottle and they apply nice and evenly. This colour, Green Room, is one of their latest shades for spring/summer 11 and ties in with the whole brights and colour blocking trend currently going on fashion-wise. It looks a lot more blue on the website though, but I have a bit of a thing about green nail polish so couldn't resist snapping this one up. Andrea Fulerton, on the other hand, is something I'd heard other people raving about but hadn't got to try for myself until now, as I'd seen the colour - a mega-sparkly silver glitter - in a magazine but couldn't find it anywhere other than the huge Superdrug in Blackpool. My original plan was to wear it over a nude polish, but then Cazza suggested putting it over green, and I couldn't resist.

Base as always is Nails Inc Harley Street and top coat is Seche Vite. This is using two coats of Green Room and one of Annie.
These are technically quite 'old' though as I did them on Friday but only photographed them last night, but I love the effect so much I couldn't bring myself to take them off for work yesterday (although they did get a compliment from my boss, win!). The other hand doesn't look so good as I was trying to get the hang of it and over-glittered one nail and smudged a couple of others, but trial and error I suppose - it needs quite a thin coat of glitter. As you can see it goes more like a mint green when it's layered, closer to Topshop's Gone Fishing shade (another favourite but possibly too close to the polishes I have to justify a purchase).

However, I'm considering this a highly successful experiment, and more glitter layering is planned for future manicures. Just got to decide which one to go for next...

My good deed for the day - and maybe yours too

I don't normally do plugs on my blog, but a contact on a forum I frequent has recently made me aware of a fantastic little website called Give and Make Up, who basically take donations of toiletries and make-up and give them to women and children who are in refuges after escaping domestic violence. Because often they flee so suddenly, unable to take many (if any) possessions with them, they arrive at the refuges without a lot of the simple products we take for granted like shower gel and face wash. As I have a huuuge toiletry stash I thought that the least I could do was package up some stuff to help them out and to give me less stuff to pack up and find a home for when I move.

So here's a photo of my parcel and its contents - this is a standard small size Post Office parcel box which you can buy at most Post Offices:

To give you an idea of what you can send, in the box are:
Simple Oil Balancing face wipes - bought on a 2 for £5 in Boots so figured I'd give the other one away
Cotton wool pads - also bought on 3 for 2 and then realised I still had some when I got home so have put some in the parcel
Body Shop coconut shower gel sample
Four nail polishes (two Boots 17 pinks, a Nails Inc cherry red and a Nails Inc greige) - nail polish isn't one of the listed items but I thought it would be a nice treat for someone who maybe hadn't had anything like that for a while
Boots Ingredients honey & jojoba hair mask
Benefit foundation brush - they will also take any make up tools like that you have, providing they're clean of course
Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume 4ml - again, they don't specifically ask for perfume but I thought it'd be a nice treat for someone
Three Body Shop shower gels (hemp, wild cherry and cranberry)
Two pieces of soap - Lush Love and an unidentified French one which was a Christmas present a few years back

There will also be a second parcel shipping in the next few weeks which will contain the big block of Lush henna I'm too scared to use (apparently hair dye is useful as some of the women want to change their appearance after they leave the abusive relationship) and loads of little samples that are currently living in my boyfriend's bathroom cabinet.

I'd really encourage you to donate anything you can to Give and Make Up, they will take pretty much anything (you can find the full list on their site, and lightly used/sample/gift with purchase items are fine too - basically if you'd give it to a friend then they consider it OK) and it really does make a difference to the lives of those who receive the parcels. Thanks for reading and please pass on the message!

2011 goals: March update

So, we're two months into 2011, and it feels like the right time to take stock of my achievements so far this year for March:

Learning to drive
At the risk of provoking groans due to my terrible puns, this has definitely stalled. However, because of slightly scary things that are now definites (more later!), I'm ordering a licence in the next few weeks and then hopefully will start lessons in April. So hopefully within the next few weeks that'll get moving (sorry, couldn't resist...).

Moving to London
As regular readers will know, a few weeks ago I effectively resigned from my current job, which means as of the 1st of April I will be moving to London. So I'm currently in a whirlwind of packing and cleaning and paperwork in order to get everything together before I move. It feels like there's so much more to do than there was when I went to uni - things like sorting out home insurance and registering with a new doctor and dentist and selling stuff on eBay and all the rest of it - and the realisation that I'm a grown up now has kicked in, which is both terrifying and exciting in equal measure. So that's one major goal for this year tentatively close to being achieved.

Dream job
No more interviews I'm afraid, but still applying to plenty of stuff. However, I do have one huge piece of news. Remember the internship I did before Christmas? Well, one of the copywriters is moving to another agency, and I finally managed to get hold of the creative director after spending weeks ringing him to find out that he wants to meet me to talk about taking over her job! Whilst trying not to count my chickens, it would be an absolutely perfect job as I could write all day and I would be working in a great location with a lovely bunch of people (and the money wasn't bad either). Next step: speak to slightly sceptical boss about taking a day off in the next couple of weeks to go and see him, and keep applying to other jobs - see not counting chickens.

£10k in the bank
Not to big myself up too much, but I have to say I've done well on this - I've got roughly the equivalent of £6,200 in the bank now, and hopefully I'll be able to increase this next month as I'm planning to move my ISA to another provider which has a slightly better rate of interest, so hopefully that'll up the extra money coming in. I'm also due a fairly big windfall from the taxman when they eventually sort my PAYE code out so that'll be going into the fund as well. In all honesty I'm not sure how realistic the £10k target is now due to finishing my job and having to spend money to stay afloat for the first month or so, but I'd like to get as close to it as I can. We'll see what happens.

Doing more exercise
Much better than last month I'm pleased to report - I managed to complete a 20 minute workout most days in February, and when I didn't I did other exercise like walking to and from the bus stop (about a mile each way) or around London. Still haven't got into swimming or sports classes, but again once I move I'll get signed up with the local pool and go as often as I can. I'm not sure I've lost any weight, but I do feel a lot better in general - I'm sleeping well and I feel like I have more energy, which can only be a good thing.

Sorting out my style
Not much more movement on this front I'm afraid, mainly because I haven't bought many clothes this month, but I have noticed I'm getting into skirts and ballet flats. This seems to be preparation for the summer as last year I went slightly mad on that look and really enjoyed it, so I think it taps into my girly side in that regard. One thing I am adapting though is to buy items with multiple purposes - for example, the other day I bought a pair of black platform chunky heeled court shoes in New Look, which will go brilliantly with loads of things in my wardrobe, and has meant that my strappy Aldo beauties (pretty but ultimately impractical if you have short legs) and beaten up Mary Janes (which would probably cost more to fix than to buy a new pair) have now been retired. The rule about thinking of three things you can wear your new purchase with may be a cliché, but in this instance it's true.

Watching more films and box sets
Pretty much the same as last month to be honest. I've now watched the whole first season of True Blood, and completely loved it, despite knowing how the second season starts through catching the first ten minutes of it on Channel 4 a few months back, and am into season four of How I Met Your Mother. Both of those will possibly come to an end this month, and so I'm thinking of continuing alternating a comedy and a drama. Next candidate for the drama is probably going to be Being Human, as I loved the first series but then fell out of the loop, and I'm thinking of getting back into Yes Minister for the comedy. Reviews will be forthcoming. And I WILL WATCH MORE FILMS!!!

Reading more
Most of this month's reading was World Without End by Ken Follett, which I did like in the way I liked Pillars of the Earth - too many attempts to defeat the characters and a far too neatly tied-up ending, but I did love the two main characters. So I didn't exactly read more as I'm way behind my book a week schedule, but it was worth it. I am however determined to go on a reading kick this month and get through as many of the classic novels on my parents' bookshelf as possible before I move out, unless I end up taking them with me...

Using up toiletries
I've used up 14 products this month, but bought/won 6, so this goal has been a bit mixed. But the stash is gradually getting smaller, which is definitely a good thing, and I just need to keep going so I can get rid of as much stuff as possible before the move - the goal is to get rid of 20 products by the end of the month. Plus I haven't spent anywhere near as much money as I used to on toiletries (we'll ignore my growing nail varnish collection), so that's a considerable improvement.

Dying my hair red
Honestly, not going to happen, for a while at least. I did buy the henna but just don't have the guts to do it right now, as well as the sheer amount of faff it involves. If I could go to a Lush and get them to do it for me and it looked OK I might be persuaded to go for it, but then I do love my natural colour and don't want to hate the red. So this one is on hold for the time being until I stop being a wimp and just do it.

So, they're the updates on . The general consensus seems to be that it's been more of a tick-over month, just trying to keep up with everything before it all goes a bit crazy in the spring after the move, but with the very exciting prospect of an amazing job on the horizon. Now just got to see how March pans out...