Sunday, 18 January 2015

Fall Out Boy on Radio 1's Live Lounge

It's no secret I love Fall Out Boy. One of my utmost favourite bands since I was eleven years old, they're special to me for lots of reasons and I don't think I'll ever get out of the habit of fan-girling over them at least a little bit every time I hear them.

In all honesty, I haven't taken the time to listen to their new album yet, but I am a little sceptical over the title track American Beauty/American Psycho. I get it, but I don't love it. Then again, I felt like that for months about the entirety of Save Rock and Roll but my opinion now is completely different. Hearing it played in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge perked my ears up a little more. On the radio it sounds a bit too chaotic (although that could definitely be my 8am self not being up for anything), but live it seems to slow a tad and I can definitely appreciate it more.

Anyway, this Live Lounge video is well worth a watch for any Fall Out Boy fans. The interview is quite sweet and made me feel kind of gutted that I missed out on tickets for their October tour because I picked Morrissey tickets instead (life is unfair, right?). They also play a cover of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' new song Uptown Funk, which is frankly fantastic. I loved hearing a live version of Centuries too, one of my favourite new releases from them. The interview pinpoints the song as sampling Suzanne Vega's Tom's Diner which I'm so glad about because it's been nagging at me for AGES as to where I recognise it from.

(You'll have to click here for the full thing - below is just the Mark Ronson cover.)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

14/365 Grateful Project

8th January - Books!

I suppose it's been a New Year resolution of sorts, but over the last few weeks I've vowed to start reading again. I grew up a little bookworm, but exams, essays and then work life got me completely out of the habit. I haven't read purely for fun in a long, long time, so I asked for books for Christmas, bought books in the sales and have been book window shopping ever since. I had completely forgotten how satisfying and therapeutic reading could be and now I'm speeding through every novel eager for the next one.

9th January - FRIDAYS

Friiiiiiiidaaaaaayyyy! This week has seemed to have lasted forever. I've been headachey and exhausted all week, so I've been so happy to just get home and chill for a bit.

10th January - George's Fish and Chip Kitchen

After a day of treating myself a little (a new Yankee Candle, a second-hand Fantasia Mickey figure and a volume of short stories by Angela Carter - I think I did well), I met up with Rhys after work and we headed to the Post Office to sort out his passport. Eighty quid down, one grumpy boyfriend and a long queue later, we decided to cheer ourselves up by visiting one of the newest restaurants in the city - George's Fish and Chip Kitchen. It was wonderful! It's one of those restaurants which has been built and crafted with every tiny detail in mind, from the guilded silver fish-shaped door handles to the candy floss on a stick which comes with your dessert. I had a platter of mussels, scallops, crispy squid and onion bhaji battered asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower. It was lush. Rhys went for a standard cod and chips - I had a nibble - genuinely was the best I'd ever had (and I say that coming from a seaside town). For dessert we had ice-cream, pictured above. Staff were pleasant, atmosphere wonderful. I want to go again and again and again.

11th January - Moi

Here's a little tidbit of narcissism for you: I'm really grateful for myself. I'm really grateful for everything around me and everything I have ever experienced which has led to me becoming me. Specifically, I'm very grateful that I now am the kind of person who will be bloody terrified about something but then do it anyway. Cool.

12th January - Sharlene

Today I came home to the most wonderful package. Inside was a pretty hip flask, a five year diary and the most gorgeous five page letter from my former housemate and amazing friend, Sharl. I've been completely bowled over by how sweet the gesture and letter are (also a bit jealous because I wish I was as lovely to have thought of it first). I am so, so grateful for having her in my life. I can't wait to see her again (and put that hip flask to good use).

13th January - Lush Presents

For my Secret Santa gift at work, I received a little box of Lush goodies. To be completely honest, I've never bought a thing from Lush before, but the Snow Cake Soap I was given is amazing. Leaves the bathroom (and me, obvs) smelling like creamy vanilla and coconut goodness for aaaages.

14th January - Bands

I'm a big music lover. Today, two of my favourite loves, Morrissey and Fall Out Boy, both announced arena tours with tickets on sale this Friday. I'm very grateful, oh yes, but I'm also a little bit concerned and a kind of grumpy. For the first time ever I'm at work when these tickets go on sale. I'll have to ring round a few favors for the Morrissey tickets ("Rhyyyyys, you know you love me...") and then perhaps nose around the internet for people selling FOB's at face value. Sigh.

(I've adapted this project from the 365 Grateful project that floats around Instagram and Tumblr.)

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Review: The Humans by Matt Haig

My second read of the year has been a wonderful novel by Matt Haig called The Humans. I picked it up as part of the three for ten pounds offer Amazon has on at the moment, not really paying too much attention to what it was about, but trusting the glowing user reviews.

In short, The Humans is the hilarious and touching story of an alien who has come to Earth in the body of a Cambridge University professor, in order to destroy information about an important mathematical discovery. Living as a human, the narrator experiences first hand new and strange things such as emotion, clothes and peanut butter sandwiches. In a sense, it's a coming-of-age novel turned on its head. You follow his account as he weighs up actually quite liking the humans with the destructive mission he has been sent on by his own kind. Fantastically written, it's a nod to the remarkable thoughtfulness insight Matt Haig himself must have on what it is like be human, particularly in modern England.

I'm always fond of books and films set in England, to be honest. I love the familiarity, even more so when it comes to witty novels such as this. It's full of true and humbling observations on science, religion, modern life and the human condition. Haig gets to grips with life from an alien perspective on things; the beauty of it, the rigidity of modern routine and the truth that Emily Dickinson knows everything. There's so many gems within the covers of this book, it's hard to resist getting the highlighters out. One of my favourites must be this; "Catholicism, I discovered, was a type of Christianity for humans who like gold leaf, Latin and guilt."

I really did love reading this book. It's Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy meets Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - it's charming, poignant, wonderfully funny and a fantastic journey of personal discovery I couldn't help but become immersed in. Often I had to stifle my laugh into my scarf as I read it on the way to work. It's also one of those narratives which effects your world view as you read it - I found myself thinking about the strangeness of some human habits we all have, particularly the 'state the obvious' nature of language and the subtleties of expression. There's a focus here too, as I mentioned before, on the rigidity of modern life. It's something I've been thinking about a fair bit about anyway lately. As a 21 year old, you have people pushing you this way and that, usually along the lines of "CAREER, CAREER, CAREER" or "give up everything and go travelling forever". The best idea seems to be ignore everyone and find your own balance, but there's certainly a fear instilled in me about spending my life doing things that I don't find meaningful. So, not only is this book touching, it's also very relatable and fairly philosophical, in a laugh-and-cry sort of way. I enjoyed it, a lot.

At the end, I was saddened. No spoilers, of course, but I really never wanted it to finish. I wanted follow the narrator along in his life and see how it all panned out. Despite never learning his name, the honest narrative of the storyteller is quite enamouring. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to fans of Curious Incident. This review is also a personal reminder to make sure I give my copy to my former housemate Amy, as it has her written all over it.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

7/365 Grateful Project

1st January - Visiting Home

I've been very lucky to have just come back from a short trip back home over Christmas. It's busy, chaotic and overwhelming with lots of family and my siblings running about, but when I'm away I miss it a lot. Games on the trampoline, a tipple with my Mum over some panel shows and catch-ups over coffee with my beautiful best friend Katie.

2nd January - Mini Adventures

Whilst I was home, Rhys and I took a walk down Southend Pier. Biting cold and getting dark, we were the only ones on there and caught the last train to land again once the sky turned black. We played Titanic and creeped round the eerie lifeboat centre after dark. I love love love mini adventures with Rhys, like our trip in the caves at Matlock Bath and spotting wildlife around the lake of my old university.

3rd January - Theon

I've always had cats and there has only ever been one I have been struck-to-the-bone in love with. Elvis died years ago now, but Theon is has proved just as lovely. More dog than cat, he goes crazy for scrunched up wrappers and plays fetch with frisbeed Pringles lids. Sometimes he's a real pain in the arse and I have to hide his paper under my pillow at 4am to get any sleep, but I love coming home to him after a busy work day.

4th January - Time Alone

I woke up today much earlier than Rhys. The house is quiet so I have been writing up a book review for the blog. I'm sociable, I'm not that shy, but I am undoubtedly quite an introvert. I love some alone time every now and then, quiet and peaceful, wrapped in a blanket writing by myself. If I was less lazy, I could go get myself a cuppa and it'd be pure bliss.

5th January - Getting Looked After

Last night I came home with a killer headache. Woozy and nauseous I was in bed by 8.30pm. I was very lucky however to have Rhys bring me tea, white Toblerone and digestives to make me feel better. :3

6th January - Cooked Vegetables

You can't expect all 365 entries to be serious and free from grump, so why not start in the first week? I'm grateful for cooked vegetables because raw ones are the devil and I hate them. It doesn't matter how much I try and convince myself that raw carrots dipped in houmous is great, it ain't gonna work.

7th January - Pilates

Today my modern pilates classes have started up again. On a Wednesday night, I'm not always feeling it beforehand, but honestly after every class I feel so much more relaxed and so much fresher. Our classes took a break over Christmas, so I'm bound to be rusty, but I love it when it feels challenging, so I can't wait to get back into it!

(I've adapted this project from the 365 Grateful project that floats around Instagram and Tumblr.)