the handmaid's tale - margaret atwood

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

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Blurb: "The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed . If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs. . . . ."

If I had to sum up a description of The Handmaid's Tale in one word, I would probably choose 'terrifying'.

In Gilead, religious fundamentalists have taken over the Government and implemented an oppressive regime based on chilling Puritan and Christian values. Any woman capable of bearing children has been forced to choose between two depressing scenarios. Become a handmaid/surrogate mother for a childless couple who are in a position of power or be sent to the Colonies to clean up radioactive waste/dead bodies and die a slow and painful death. If you choose the Handmaid option, you will adhere to a 'three strikes and you're out' rule, implying that if you fail to conceive a healthy baby (any with deformities etc are 'shredded' under the regime) in three postings, then you will be sent to the Colonies as punishment.

The Handmaid's Tale is told from the point of view of Offred (all handmaids must take the name of their Commander, individual names are simply erased and no longer used) as she goes through the motions of this enforced misery with irony, wit and a desperation to survive.

This is one of my favourite books and one that I feel everyone should read at some point. It is frighetningly realistic and relevant, a grim warning of a future that doesn't seem so far away. 10/10

P.S: A useful guide to read afterwards is the York Notes Advanced , which offers additional insight and brilliant suggestions for further reading.

notd: barry m's 296 coral

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

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inside/sunlight

Although I have tried out a few new brands recently (definitely finding a new love for O.P.I), Barry M still remains my current favourite for nail varnishes. Today's NOTD has been inspired by the re-appearance of sunshine this week, even if it was merely flitting. 296 is a perfect bang on coral colour, that beautifully mixed hue of orangey-red that reminds me of long, hot summer days and restless nights.

miss wyoming - douglas coupland

Sunday, 6 February 2011

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Blurb: "Susan Colgate is a teen beauty-queen and low-rent soap actress. Dragooned into stardom by her demonically pushy, hillbilly mother, Susan's career is at rock-bottom. When she finds herself the sole survivor of an air-crash, she views it as her opportunity to vanish, embarking on a voyage of personal discovery. Meanwhile, John Johnson, debauched star of such Hollywood legends as Bel Air PI, also longs to vanish. After a near-death experience, where he is treated to a vision of Susan's face, he roams the badlands of the western States. Back in L.A., a chance meeting sets him on a mission to unravel the mystery of Susan Colgate."

Anyone who has read Generation X, Life After God etc, will be fully acquainted with the wonderful and witty dialogue that has come to define the author's fictional work. His take on counter-culture irony and self-discovery is usually genius. Unfortunately, I felt that Miss Wyoming falls short of the mark. Whilst it starts off on a good footing, it soon rambles and unravels midway and then into a dismal anticlimatic mess which causes the reader to shout out 'Did you get bored with this yourself Mr Coupland?!' The characteristic Coupland dialogue is only prevalent in parts and soon becomes tiresome. In my opinion, it's just not that good. Read only after you've read his other novels first and see for yourself. Disappointed. 5/10

films i've watched recently

Saturday, 5 February 2011


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1. The Shining (1980) - Kubrick adds some classic horror moments to King's novel, but the book is so much better. 2. Shaun Of The Dead (2004) - one of my favourites, it still makes me giggle. 3. Flight Of The Living Dead (2007) - this is what happens when you buy those 99p DVDs from Amazon marketplace, really terrible. 4. Day Of The Dead (2008) - oh Mena Suvari, why did you do this movie?! It's awful. 5. Roadkill (2002) - awesome B-movie thriller about two stupid boys who piss off a truck driver, brilliant. 6. Bruno (2009) - you only really need to watch this once and then give to a friend who needs some silly cringey humour.

NOTD: Nars' Orgasm

Thursday, 3 February 2011

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This nude pink with tiny flecks of gold glitter, is indeed modelled after the cheekily named and infamous blush by Nars. I did three coats to achieve a semi-sheer finish. I'm not usually one for sheer colours, I definitely prefer solid opaques but this was nice for a change.

highs and lows

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have banned the advert for Yves Saint Laurent's Belle D'Opium perfume, citing 'stimulated drug use' as it's primary reason.

"The TV ad for Yves Saint Laurent's Belle D'Opium showed a woman dancing to a drum beat, pointing to her inner elbow and running her finger along the inside of her forearm.

The model was then shown lying on the floor as a voiceover said: "I am your addiction. I am Belle D'Opium. The new fragrance by Yves Saint Laurent."

The Advertising Standards Authority said it was concerned that the image of Belle running her finger down her inner arm could be seen to simulate the injection of opiates into the body.

It also expressed concern the image of Belle moving in a series of short, rapid scenes, before the ad concluded with her body seizing upwards while lying on the floor, could be seen to simulate the effect of drugs on the body." - Sky News

The advert can be viewed on Youtube below:-



Whilst I can see that the advert has been shot in a deliberately provocative manner to show the allure of perfume and it's 'addiction', does it really promote heroin usage? The overused 90s term 'heroin chic' obviously springs to mind here but what amuses me more is that the ASA then said:-

"While we recognised the name Opium was a well-known designer perfume brand and did not consider it irresponsible or offensive to advertise Opium branded products... we nevertheless considered the woman's actions simulated drug use, and therefore concluded it was irresponsible and unacceptable for broadcast".

So it's OK to have a product which is virtually named after a highly addictive Class A substance (let's face it, Opium is best known in its synthesized form as Heroin) but heaven forbid, they don't wish for a dancing model to point to her arm with no drug paraphenalia, in case some fashionable youth decides to turn to smack?

I think it's a bit ridiculous.

The Shining - Stephen King

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

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Blurb: "Danny is only five years old, but he is a 'shiner', aglow with psychic voltage. When his father becomes caretaker of an old hotel, his visions grow out of control. Cut off by blizzards, the hotel seems to develop an evil force, and who are the mysterious guests in the supposedly empty hotel?"

The Shining is a story that most people will have heard something about, mainly due to the Kubrick film adaptation in 1980 which terrified audiences. Who can forget that elevator of blood and those creepy ominous little girl twins who invite Danny Torrance to play with them forever and ever? And of course, Jack Nicholson screaming "Here's Johnny!" through a slit of beaten through door that has been parodied to death in popular culture.

Well, the book is a LOT better. A million times better in fact. King does what King is best at; writing supernatural horror and blending it with a human touch to bring the reader something that we can relate to, almost like subconcious nightmares comes true. The novel gives us a shocking insight into Jack Torrance's childhood and the sheer domestic violence between Jack and his wife Wendy, all give the story a hidden depth that just isn't that prevalent in the film. The Overlook Hotel is a million times more supernatural and sinister and of course, the ending is completely different.

In a nutshell, definitely check out the book. I liked the film but I loved the book. 8/10

P.S: How cool is that cover?! It's the 'King Classics' version which is (in my opinion) a much nicer format than the re-issued ones that are everywhere.
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