22 October 2014

armchair centre back :: your call is important to us

well somebody's getting a penalty...
this weekend should have been a very happy one for dom and me, because for the first time in ages, the stars aligned and both of our premier league favourites had their games broadcast here. it's not always that easy to get epl coverage in canada, particular if you're a fan of a less "fashionable" team [hello, swansea] so a weekend where we could each see our team in action without having to wake up at seven and without having to fight over the remote because the games are happening simultaneously is an experience to be treasured.

or at least that's how it looked at first, before the officials got involved.

as it happens, the experience was kind of ruined for us because both of our teams got screwed by game officials making decisions that made less sense than i do before i have coffee in the morning. it's things like this that convince me that people who follow a sport, any sport, are really masochistic. you see something that you know is wrong, that everyone knows is wrong and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. because it's all about what the guy with absolute power says happened and in no way about the truth.

[although really, that might be good training for life. make your children watch professional sports, parents, because it will help guard against any feelings of optimism or autonomy they might be in danger of developing.]

first up, we got the arsenal game on saturday. dom is a big fan, having lived in north london, not far from the emirates stadium. of the teams that actually have a chance at winning things [see john oliver's brilliant explanation of this], they're definitely my favourite, because of dom primarily and also because of the exceptional man candy factor. now, to my mind, it's remarkable that arsenal can even field a team given the number of injuries they have, specifically the number of injuries they have to players who would normally be part of the starting line-up. [to watch the english premier league is to learn how many ways there are for a body to be painfully injured.]

arsenal were expected to win against hull, one of those teams that a lot of people outside their own city limits just ignore, but arsenal do have a tendency to make things "entertaining" by allowing lesser teams [and by "lesser" i mean "teams with less money"] to show them up. so it was exceptionally brutal that saturday's game ultimately hinged on a referee choosing to allow a goal whose scorer got into position by knocking down arsenal defender mathieu flamini [and possibly elbowing him in the throat].



and if you can spot the foul in that grainy internet video, it only stands to reason that the ref had a much clearer view...

we can say "what the fuck?!?" in as many languages as you can handle

the reason that sports have rules is so that the big guys don't just go smashing their way like cave trolls over everyone else [unlike in life].

people tend to dismiss arsenal fans' complaints of referee bias as so much butthurt, but when things like this happen, it should raise eyebrows. the game ended in a 2-2 draw, which isn't a total washout, but the botched call does make the difference between three points for a win and one for a tie. [note: this is not to imply that arsenal were at their best, or even their "walking wounded" best. most of the team seemed kind of demotivated and it was really just the jack and alexis show when it came to exciting performances. alexis sanchez didn't even lift his shirt a little bit when he scored a beautiful goal, which is just depressing. they still should have had the win.]

of course, on sunday, watching my beloved-but-unfashionable swansea, things got even worse.

one of the reasons that americans will tell you they don't like soccer is because that faking injury is such an ingrained part of the game. while my personal reaction is to suggest that any country that follows the kardashian family has no business criticising simulation in anything, i do understand the concept. it's supposed to be about physical/ mental competition, not getting a high school equivalency drama credit, so when one of these guys drops like they've been shot because another player breathed on them too hard, it's a little disappointing.



the most infuriating thing about that sort of move- and let's be clear, no one other than victor moses' manager is saying that that tumble was in any way legitimate- is that it triggers the most infuriating result in all of soccer: the penalty shot. i'll just state my opinion, for the record: i think that penalty shots are an abomination. you're asking a player who practices every day to kick a ball into what is essentially an empty net. keepers do occasionally stop them, but the odds are insanely in favour of the guy taking the shot. but the fact is that if you collapse in a heap inside an opponent's six yard box, chances are you'll be rewarded. [this is completely unlike hockey, where the penalty shot is a legitimate battle of brains and nerves, but ironically, penalty shots in hockey are almost never given.]

in this case, a+ drama student victor moses got his team rewarded with a victory: that penalty gave them a 2-1 win. and i actually think that a tie would have been a fair result. i don't think swansea deserved the win necessarily, because they just weren't on top of their game. some players [waves at ki sung-yueng and gylffi sigurdsson] did a great job. others [casts stink eye at wilfried bony who has been surprisingly awful so far this season] need to do some serious work.

i'm at least mollified that this case has gotten some serious media coverage, because swansea manager garry monk went off like a landmine, calling moses a cheat and saying that the decision to award a penalty was "a disgrace". that's a big deal. it's a tacit understanding in sport that no matter how terribly an official screws things up, you don't ever call them on it in public. that's partly politeness, but it's also partly because you just know that as soon as you open your mouth, you've basically taken your team into war with the people who set the rules. i fully expect that short of a swansea player literally being murdered on the pitch, garry monk will never see a call go his way again. [and even then, it'll probably just warrant a throw-in.] of course, if you listen to what monk had to say, he believed that his team were on the receiving end of a lot of questionable calls and he'd tried to contact the officials' union to have a word, but they'd not had the courtesy to call him back. i suspect that after this, he won't have to wait much longer for that call.

[it's also interesting to note that no less an authority than the bbc backed monk's opinions, if not his tactics. stoke city have apparently lodged an official complaint about commentator bias, all of which is just tossing fuel on the fire.]

and just in case there wasn't enough attention being paid to this, there were a handful of highly questionable penalties handed out today in the champions league:

here's cska moscow player seydou doumbia collapsing like a cheap deck chair, to earn his team a penalty and a draw with manchester city. [do you have any idea how hard it is to make me feel sympathy for manchester city???]

then there was an embarrassing dive from chelsea's branislav ivanovic [that link goes to a match recap, since all-powerful chelsea have apparently scrubbed the internet of any reference to a player of theirs being fallible] in their game against maribor. it's bad enough to do this when you're trying to salvage a point or three for your team. doing it when you're already up 4-0 is just the definition of cuntishness, assuming that was a real word that had a definition.[then again, that seems par for the course from the guy who thought he'd throw gas on the serbian- albanian fire last week.]

and finally the absolutely tragic case of jonathan silva. his team fought back from being down 3-1 and tied things up when he was penalized for a handball. [the fact that touching the ball with your hand results in a penalty shot is just one more reason why soccer should absolutely have dibs on the name football, but i digress.] it's bad enough to concede a penalty unfairly, but it really sucks when the referee tells you that you hit the ball with your hand when you actually and quite painfully deflected it with your face. 

one time, when i was up in arms about an employer's treatment of their workers, a peer gave me the advice "well you can't fight city hall". i consider that to be one of the worst lessons i've ever learned about the way in which the world works, both because it is so passive and defeatist and also because it's absolutely true. you can fight for lots of things, but once you start arguing with the people who set the rules and oversee their implementation, you've entered into a losing battle. even if you win, you're going to lose. in case you've ever wondered why soccer/ football fans feel the need to drink, it's really to numb the pain.

watching things like botched calls in soccer games should really serve as an education in the futility in fighting the powers that be. we all know that despite this apparent avalanche of errors, nothing will change; yet we still persist in the inexplicable optimism that change is possible.

never mind. we can always just sit back and wave our fists and scowl at our television screens and wait for that to make those officials seem all uncomfortable. 

21 October 2014

mental health mondays :: getting off

this is your brain off drugs
there's so much discussion about how psychiatric medication is over-prescribed, whereas non-pharmaceutical methods of treating depression and anxiety are neglected. it can be difficult to maneuver through the morass of information on who should be taking these medications and who shouldn't, plus there's conflicting information on how effective any of them are even if you do need them. the bottom line seems to be the same as it is with virtually everything in this field: brains are so unbelievably complicated that it's difficult to predict exactly what's going to happen with any individual until you try.

i do share the suspicion that a lot of doctors are a little too quick to prescribe pills when someone says they're suffering. i'd like to say that it's because people often wait to see a doctor until they're really suffering, so the doctor just wants to address the problem as quickly as possible, but given that antidepressants and anti-anxiolytics are slow to reach their full effect, that's not very likely. i do think that given how brief standard doctors' appointments are, many professionals just aren't getting the detail they need to properly evaluate each patient. drugs are way easier than figuring out other lifestyle factors that might be affecting mood and therefore remain a first line of treatment.

there are lots of problems with this approach, but one of them is that it can be extremely difficult to tell when you're ready to stop taking such medications, which begets there is a tendency to let people just continue right on taking them ad nauseum. after all, if the meds are working, how can you tell when the underlying condition is gone? after all, there is evidence that even serious mental disorders can pass over time even without treatment. a lifelong mental disorder is the anomaly.

so it stands to reason that at some point, it will be time to consider reducing and/ or discontinuing your medication[s]. before i get into this, i'd just like to point out again that i'm not a professional. i'm an interested amateur who reads a lot on the subject, but nothing i say should be taken as gospel. it's well-meaning advice.


19 October 2014

making faces :: two ways about it

source
this week in montreal we entered the season of the gloom, that point in autumn when it gets all blustery and there's rarely more than feeble light. although i'm easily depressed by rain and heavy clouds at virtually every other time of the year, i have to admit i don't mind it in the fall [as long as there are some breaks when i can take umbrella-less walks].

although it's tempting to just stay in bed under a blanket of cats, wearing pyjamas and not bothering to make myself presentable in any way, but i also get some enjoyment out of feeling like i'm preparing to face the world, even if i'm not exactly going to be making any television appearances. [i actually have, a few times, as a person on the street. i guess i make a particularly average looking citizen.] when i do go to steel myself to face the outside world in the face of the bluster, i've found that the decision on what to do goes one of two ways:

  1. flip the bird at the weather and opt to stand out
  2. work with the weather and do something that sort of reflects it

so i thought i'd share an example of each and let the world decide if one works better than the other, or if i'm just setting a bad example [multiple bad examples -ed.] for the rest of the world.

style one: shaking my fist at the wind

in keeping with my self-diagnosis as a bright season person in sci/art classification, it makes sense that i should try to keep with well-defined, somewhat bolder colour choices. although i'm not convinced that you have to change the tone of your palette to suit the seasons, i do find that brighter colours take an extra step forward in dull daytime light, so i do tend to wear the most shocking shades in the seasons when we're most flooded with light. but sometimes you just want something cheerier.

 


products used

the base ::
urban decay naked skin foundation "1.0"
dior star concealer "010"
mac paint pot "painterly"

the eyes ::
guerlain e/s palette "les noirs" [shimmery peachy white, frosted black, matte black, medium stone grey]
urban decay 24/7 e/l "smoke" [charcoal grey]
guerlain cils d'enfer mascara

the cheeks ::
yves st. laurent blush volupté #6 "passionée" [pink apricot]
rouge bunny rouge liquid highlight "sea of tranquility" [very light seashell pink with soft gold shimmer]

the lips ::
guerlain rouge g lipstick "genna" [juicy orange red]

typing this up made me realise that i haven't gotten around to reviewing that blush yet. bad blogger! bad! bad!

"genna" is definitely one of those shades that doesn't require a lot of adornment, which is why i decided to go with a high contrast but non-colourful look. rouge g being pretty much my favourite lipstick formula, it makes sense that this is my very favourite warm red shade. i love how cheery it looks. i love the fact that the formula is not just forgiving on lips, but makes them look plumper and smoother. [i did some damage to my upper lip earlier in the week and this is one of the few formulas i've been able to wear since.]

"les noirs" is, as you might expect, an exemplary smoky eye palette, but i also find it's one that can work to do a nice "framed" look. i've made minimal use of the heavier matte black, applying it in the outer angles and even then, blending the frosted black over it and into the crease. the satiny grey i applied with a fluffy brush on the inner lids and corners. i didn't want it to look severe, just shaped. the centre of the lids and the area along the brow is done with the highlight shade. because it's a little softer and more shimmery than a true white, the effect isn't sharp in that 1960s way, but more of an everyday take on that theme. these shadows blend like a dream, although the matte black is a bit prone to fading, so things looked softer at the end of the day.

style two: roll with it

it's the rouge bunny rouge palette again. i can't help it, it's just so easy to reach for... [how can any makeup be "difficult to reach for"? -ed.] on the other hand the blush i used here is one that just constantly seems to befuddle me. i feel like it should work, but it rarely does. i thought it was ok here, although the magic really comes courtesy of the ambient lighting powder.




products used

the base ::
same as above, actually

the eyes ::
rouge bunny rouge raw garden e/s palette "chronos"
mac e/s "dazzlelight" [softly shimmery neutral highlight]
urban decay 24/7 e/l "rockstar" [shimmery eggplant]
dior mono cream shadow "celeste" [icy lilac]
makeup forever extravagant mascara

the cheeks ::
mac powder blush "mocha" [medium ruddy plum]
hourglass ambient lighting powder "mood light" [ soft warm mauve]

the lips ::
mac lip pencil "life's a breeze" [yellow pink]*
chanel glossimer "murmure" [pinky peach]

i used three shades from the "chronos" palette here: the rosy taupe over most of the lids, with the warm champagne beige on the inner corners and the deep purple-grey on the outer angles. i didn't get a great night's sleep, so "celeste" is being used on my lower lids in this case to help hide some pretty serious eye baggage. [we talked about this.]

the lip pencil i used underneath was a limited edition one and i don't know of a great dupe for it. nars matte lipstick in bolero looks like it might be close, but more peach, less pink. and by the way, can anyone recommend a lip pencil that doesn't bleed but that doesn't feel like i'm punishing myself for something by applying it? i don't notice it so much with the gloss, but it's still a fairly uncomfortable procedure.

this is clearly a much "foggier" kind of look, but i find that the lip still gives enough brightness that i don't look too washed out. people who have softer colouring than i could probably do without the liner, since the gloss would probably add enough colour on its own. on me, it's lovely, but tends to look very sheer within about half an hour of application.

it is supposed to remain rainy and overcast for pretty much the next week here in montreal, which is probably enough time for me to get pretty sick of the soggy and start wishing for those crisp, cool october days i remember from my youth [and the week before last -ed.]. in the meantime, i'll undoubtedly come up with new and slightly odd ways of painting myself, but for now, these are the two edges of the pendulum's arc. [note: the pendulum tends to swing differently when i'm going out for the evening, because dark lips.]

p.s. :: i've gone back to urban decay's naked skin, which has become my fall-back foundation. i love it, but i was recently trying out a sample of yves st. laurent's new "fusion ink" formula and i feel like that raised the bar. ironically, i'd been wearing ysl "teint touche éclat" for a couple of months and while it's a beautiful product, it's too glowy for my combination skin, especially in the summer. it seems like i just can't win sometimes.

18 October 2014

that old black magic

in case you were wondering [they weren't -ed.] why world wide wednesdays happened on thursday this week, you can lay the blame solely on the sweet sounds of sweden, specifically those of the sadly defunct cold meat industry record label.

the show was part of a tour that continues to unfold from now until the 29th of the month and if there is any way you can find your way to one of the shows, i can't recommend it enough. seeing bands i've admired in the past has been an uneven experience for me. there were some shows that were so bad that they've made me question why i ever liked the act to begin with, while others have left me marveling at how old masters continue to possess a spark that's absent from so many younger acts. 

here's a little photo tour of my evening...
  


ok, so the first thing is that when we left to go to the show, we couldn't get to the metro because the street was on fire. it was hard to get a good shot because the air was so hazy that everything distorted, so this is just an impression of what it looked like. 

right here should be a picture of menace ruine, who stepped in at the dire last minute when one of the opening acts couldn't make it. very short, sweet set and caught me out, because i didn't get to take a picture. i just wanted to mention it, because performing is stressful for a band and opening a show with basically no notice whatsoever is pretty damn cool. 


lussuria, an artist about whom i knew little, but i did check out his latest release on hospital productions and am curious to hear more.


another lussuria. i played with the colours a bit to make it look more like it did in person than in the unprocessed photo above.


deutsch nepal, the only one of the artists who i'd seen before, was actually better than when i initially saw him in 2007, remaining resolutely difficult to define, unexpected and enchanting in the most magical sense of that world. one of the subtle pleasures of the evening was that the backing tapes that lina used were actual tapes. he kept popping cassettes out to provide the loops and background sounds required for each track. i'm not a fan of the whole resurgence of cassettes as recording medium, but this was great to watch.


it wasn't on purpose, but i kind of love how deutsch nepal's backing video bled onto the surrounding curtain. fyi to sala rosa: replace your goddamned screen. there are homeless people sleeping on things that would make a better projection surface.


 i got sort of fascinated by the big box of musical stickers.


i took a few steps back for raison d'être. [in the direction of the bar -ed.] although logic dictates that peter andersson is at least my age, i was kind of  shocked to see he could easily pass for my kid. the swedish health care system is even better than we've been told.



thank you, raison d'être, for providing the obligatory industrial show playing a piece of metal as instrument. 


a great power electronics set combines the visceral, physical impact of pure noise with the angry humanity of punk. brighter death now delivered on every possible measure. 


roger karmanik was joined on stage by lina [deutsch nepal] on bass. feel their shadowy menace.


i got this view a lot during the bdn set, when karmanik wasn't pacing, or barging into the audience, or doing unmentionable things with the microphone. if you're going to be in the front of the crowd, be prepared to become part of the show. i highly recommend it. he crouched about three inches from my face for much of "payday", my favourite bdn track ever. for a music fan, there is nothing that is going to compete with that experience.


the ending of the show [i don't want to spoil it for anyone who might be going] actually left me and others almost weepy. the bottom line? definitely the best show i've been to all year and probably on my top ten of all time. 

16 October 2014

world wide wednesdays :: the complexities of being caucasian

some really gorgeous caucasians in georgia
why do we insist on confusing things by using the same word to describe different things? is there some reason why we have to terrify people by assigning the word "lead" multiple meanings? is there not one other combination of letters that we could have used? [there are lots. umbry isn't in use, for instance and it looks like a perfectly adequate word.] so who decided to take the term "caucasian" which originally referred to the people living in the caucasus mountain region, and use it to refer to white/ beige people everywhere?

in truth, it was a guy named christoph meiners, a german philosopher of sorts who liked to come up with high-sounding arguments for some pretty racist things like "white people are the only pretty people" and "black people can't feel pain". people like that have no business screwing up words for the rest of us. [although it should be pointed out that he screwed it up only in german. the "rest of us" just followed his example like vaguely racist sheep. -ed.]

what's truly unfair is that properly caucasian people- the ones who come from the caucasus mountains- really don't need anything confusing their identity, because they already come from one of the most confusing areas on the planet. wedged between europe and asia, caucasian peoples are the inhabitants of a geographical area and a linguistic group and those things overlap, but are distinctly different entities.

linguistic map by jackson pollock
for reasons that aren't entirely clear, the caucasus have always been a region of staggering cultural and linguistic diversity. more than fifty ethnic groups speak almost forty distinct languages in an area about the same size as spain. and for reasons that aren't entirely clear, it seems to have more or less always been that way; herodotus marveled at its tremendous diversity in the fifth century bce. there are some reasonable-sounding theories, of course: the area is located on the fringes of a number of historical empires and thus may well have served as a haven for those fleeing invaders; the topography means that individual tribes and villages are easily isolated, so that even those who arrived speaking the same language would develop their own distinct dialect; it sits in proximity to a number of different ethnic groups and is accessible to all of them. the bottom line is that the caucasus has been an extraordinarily diverse place for as long as people have written about it.

the drawback  of being diverse is that the area has been rife with ethnic tensions through much of its history. and sadly, when there has been relative peace, it's been because the territory has been under the [often repressive] control of a foreign empire. most recently, that meant the russians and what little we hear about the caucasus region now tends to be tales of ongoing hostilities, insurrections and terrorism that has flared up to fill the vacuum left by the soviet disintegration.

the caucasus region is generally subdivided into northern and southern sectors. in the south, you have the former soviet republics of georgia, armenia and azerbaijan. in the north, you have a handful of republics, which are [for now] part of the post-soviet russian federation. republics within the russian federation are home to regional non-russian majorities have a greater level of autonomy than provinces. there are twenty-two republics all over russia and about a third of those are in the tiny caucasus region.

grozny, chechnya, 1996
the best known of the russian-based caucasian republics to most westerners is chechnya. an almost nightly fixture on news reports from the mid-nineties to the early part of this century, the chechen wars remained little understood in the western world and the western media, who seemed to show a reflexive mistrust both of the russians and the predominantly muslim chechens. [side note: because of the increasingly militant religious tone of the chechen separatist movement and the association of the boston marathon bombers with the neighbouring republic of dagestan, the media has created an impression that the caucasus region is largely islamic. but like all things in the caucasus, it's much more complicated than that. georgia and armenia are predominantly christian, while the republic of kalmykia in the northeast boasts the world's only buddhist government. muslim areas of the caucasus historically followed a more liberal branch of islam. fundamentalism in the region is more of a modern phenomenon, a result of and not a cause of the wars with russia.]

so who are the "real" caucasians then?

tblisi, georgia
well, if you want to be really specific, there's only one nation that could plausibly refer to itself as caucasian and that's georgia. how so? because georgia is the only nation in the world that is geographically and linguistically caucasian. the caucasian group contains about forty languages, but only about a dozen have actually been written down and only georgian was transcribed prior to the twentieth century. [side note: way prior. the current georgian alphabet is almost a thousand years old and prior to that, the there was an ecclesiastical script.] in fact, georgian is spoken by more people than the rest of the caucasian languages put together [about four million of the world's seven million caucasian speakers]. although armenia and azerbaijan are in the caucasus, but their languages are indo-european and turkic, respectively. almost all of the other caucasian languages are spoken in the russian north caucasus. so when you talk about real caucasians, you're talking about georgians. thank goodness the name "georgia" couldn't possibly be misunderstood. [side note: ironically for the racialist theories of meiners and others, georgian is not related to the indo-european languages that most white people speak. what's even stranger? georgian isn't actually related to other major caucasian languages, either. the caucasian linguistic family is actually two unrelated siblings adopted by the same geographical parent.]

caspian sea, azerbaijan
i can't imagine that this post has left you anything but confused. it's been confusing to write and unbelievably confusing to research. my brain is sweating as it tries to understand it all and i swear, we're just scratching the surface here. on the other hand, it's also possible to just sit back and marvel that such a splendidly complex area can even exist. indeed, the antithesis of western,  suburban, white-bread cultural hegemony would seem to be caucasians.


p.s.: whoops! i did have every intention of publishing this on wednesday, but i'm afraid that things didn't work out. but you already knew that.

p.p.s.: just because you don't hear about conflicts on cnn [who have recently converted to an all-ebola format] doesn't mean that the conflicts you've heard about previously have gone away. it's been years since we've heard about the conflict between armenia and azerbaijan over the border territory of ngorno-karabakh, but it's still a hot enough issue that in the qualifying tournament for the uefa euro cup, the armenian and azerbaijani teams had to be placed in separate groups to ensure that they could not end up playing each other. considering what teams who are willing to play each other have done, i can't even imagine what  would happen at such an encounter.
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