The Middle Sister

The wonderings, ponderings and other 'ings' of me. Lifestyle, review, news and opinion posts. Chic with a hint of sarcasm... hopefully!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

When TV shows go too far

If The Walking Dead (TWD) were my boyfriend he would be getting some serious silent treatment after last night.  

I consider myself able to deal with a fair amount of violence when it comes to TV.  It can be entertaining when done with humour or in short scenes where we then watch how people cope with the adversity they face.  But there are limits and I think I’ve found mine with TWD's opening episode of season seven.

Spoilers - don't read if you haven't seen it!

I get that TV needs to keep reinventing itself and for the longest time (I'm talking to you the 80's and 90's) main characters in popular shows were never really in any danger of dying.  When that changed it did become more exciting, as you genuinely didn’t know which of your favourites were going to make it to the end of the series.   The problem however is while trying to shock increasingly desensitised and bloodthirsty viewers, writers push some of us over the edge. 

I knew there was always a possibility that Glenn would die this way, especially as in the graphic novel the show is based on, that is exactly what happens. But there has to be a point where I question if the senseless bludgeoning of a character I've come to love is worth a sleepless night?  When the violence is so graphic and relentless that all I'm left with is feeling stressed out, scared and sick it may just be the answer is no.  I admit I'm partly angry that I was lulled into a false sense of security by killing off Abraham first, but it goes deeper than that. 

You're jerking me around by doing something so lovely (Glenn dumpster survival) and then doing something so horrendous (Glenn eye poppingly excruciating death).   
Is it just to see how I react? 
To show me that life is hard? 
To prove that bad things happen to good people? 

So we need to break up, or at least have a little time apart while I investigate how to have you committed for homicidal mania. Because things have changed.

This isn’t a world of dragons and witches and iron thrones, nor is there one ring to rule them all.  
Now there's nothing in the show to differentiate fantasy story line from a just brutal world. 
Now its a show about how deranged a person can be.  
Now watching it means I'm enabling your behaviour.  

Like an audience member at the Colosseum, its all a bit sordid...

Frankly mate no, I'm really really not.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Stylist Live - Meeting Moran

Stylist Live, Where to begin?

I’ll start by saying it’s a blast, Islington Business Centre gets chock full of interesting stalls and wonderful lady people.  We had scent free peel off nail varnish, shoes you can design yourself, catwalks, talks by those I would definitely be stalking were I bit more touched in the head as well as a great deal more merriment.  I’ll expand on the catwalk and how totally cool I was when I met my idol Caitlin Moran, in a bit.  But first an organisers tip for next time.

Pet Peeve 1: Bad Planning.
If you have an event with talks due to begin at 2.30pm and all the above merriment starting at 2pm you have to get your paying customers in on time.  So when the queue wasn’t going down at 10 past the hour and the line snaked round the building we sensed a problem.  Dud QR codes seemed to be holding entry up and though I asked a security guard if those of us with Moran tickets could jump to the front (as this was due to start in a few minutes*) he said no.  A little disgruntled but cheerful enough we trundled back to our place in the queue.  So when 5 minutes later the same guard called out ‘Anyone for the Caitlin Moran talk make your way to the front’ we became a little concerned about the common sense of those in charge.

But finally we got in and after being directed to the wrong place by another stylist worker bee(!) we made it to our seats.  Where we spent a good half an hour listening to Moran and Sali Hughes on wonderful topics including:
Tights with a well-marked front and back
Women who don’t look to have enough female friendships (#WhereAreHerGirls!) 
How working class people who are successful DO NOT AUTOMATICALLY BECOME MIDDLE CLASS**  

The late start meant we missed out on a few precious minutes with these two ladies but we cheered ourselves by popping round a few stalls and then meandered our way to the catwalk where we had (very kindly) been given FROW tickets.  

Lovin' the 'tude on this chicks face!

The trends were as expected with 'Velvet Goldmine' being a bit to ‘The Little Princess’ for my personal tastes and it took me a while to work out what ‘Intergalactic’ reminded me of…
But then I realised – Babylon Zoo!***
If you’ve ever read any of my Caitlin Moran posts you’ll know I’m not just a total fan girl, I have a whole fantasy world worked out where I truly believe we are great friends… Anyway this meant that faced with the prospect of meeting her in the flesh I bricked it.  Luckily I had someone with me who knew how much I would regret this and insisted on getting her book and queuing for an autograph.

Another queue but this time I didn’t mind, it was like a grown up version of waiting to chat with Father Christmas.  Just as exciting but less patriarchal and much more eyeshadow.  And we got to see just what a poppet Moran is when faced with her fans.  Literally hugging and kissing every person that came up to her, saying hello beautiful, commenting on something about their person and generally being life affirming. 

I love ALL the people in this photo - Image supplied by @GirlRunningLate
@GirlRunningLate warned me to ‘be cool’ adding that I’ll never get her as a real friend if I geek out… quite right to. 

Que literally zebedeeing my way across to my new BFF when it was my turn for a meet and greet, babbling on about something I have no memory of.  Cooler than cool.  Nailed it!  I regret that when she apologised for making us wait I didn’t tell her that it’s fine and that I’ve waited longer for a burger.  I’m sure she would have questioned that and I could have advised it was for a van called Steak and Honor and that if she was ever in the area she should let me know.  It would have been friendship cemented!
… She’s not a vegetarian right?

After this encounter everything else paled.  We wandered the stalls picking up beautiful candles, handmade cards and constellation necklaces.  It’s at this point I did notice, and feel the need to comment on, another issue Stylist really need to get on.

Pet Peeve 2: Water Stations.
Humans are like 90% water and we need to replenish this stuff. More so if we’ve been hyperventilating about meeting those we hold in goddess-like status however there were NO water station available! OK a small lie, there was one but it was feck all use as it had no cups, not even those weird triangle things that are about as useful as a sieve.  I don’t carry a cup around with me, in fact the only cup I have considered having on my person for an elongated amount of time is a mooncup and let’s face it, not too hygienic to drink out of!  

This needs to be fixed before next time or I may actually dehydrate and end up being carted away in the middle of your, otherwise wonderful, event. 

Stylist Live is on until 16th October, are you going?

* and for me to get my yearly Caitlyn fix. 

** as all that leaves for working class to be defined by is successful.  We are successful Working Class not Middle Class - If the caps hadn’t clued you in please note it’s something I feel really quite strongly about!

*** This is not a slight, calm yourself!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

American Road Trip V - Five Star Experience, or the JW Marriott Way

Monsoon season had done little to dampen our spirits or mess with our itinerary until the last day of Williams when we were due to drive a 2.5hr trip for a horse ride.  When more rain came down in a few hours than I’ve seen on a Welsh mountain side* we were forced to readdress our plans.  Being a wildly vast state we knew AZ would be a damn site hotter in Tucson, where our trip was to continue after this expedition.  And so it was with the planning skills of big sis we ended up with an extended stay at the resort of JW Marriott

Now I’ve stayed in Marriott’s before but never one like this. After the countless ‘basic’ motels with air conditioning so loud it would drown out a war zone the switch of gears was more than welcome.  The disappointment of the missed horse ride soon dissipated as we were treated to beautiful accommodation, swimming pools (plural) and 5 star service.

Endless corridors and hallways housed bars, a fitness centre and a spa, you could see the cacti and smell the opulence at every turn.  The setting was a real treat and the staff ensured we were well cared for.  From the Aromatherapy Associates bathroom products to the different flavoured fruit infused water for the taking no detail was left unattended.  

Swimming outside in a thunderstorm, before the staff got nervous for our safety and moved everyone inside, was another memory making moment.  For a special occasion or say, if you happen to be called Beyoncé Carter, I can’t recommend this place highly enough.

I loved that JW Marriott embrace the nature and faith of the local area as well.  Their guided walk is well worth schlepping out to.  It leaves at 6am in the morning but if that didn’t stop my 17 yr. old nephew getting out of bed then you’ve got no excuse.  The views were spectacular but see below if you don’t believe me.

They also have a Cherokee Indian Chief come and give a morning blessing at 7am.  True when some guests got out their cameras it did seem a little ‘rich people paying to hang out with those they destroyed in a bygone era’.  However the essence of the blessing was wonderful and I was quite touched he shared his teachings with us.  

The hotel is also close to a Desert Museum which, other than selling giant pots of ice cream** housed another highlight of my trip.  The hummingbird enclosure meant we got up close to fairy sized birds, beating their iridescent wings inches from our hand. I honestly could have sat there for days.

Considering we only stayed there two days Tucson made quite the impression on me.  Have you ever been there?

Next time Tombstone and the Artist town of Bisbee

* and that’s saying something

** a tub of Hagan Das would look bite sized next to their ‘small’ serving

Monday, 26 September 2016

American Road Trip IV - Williams... But mainly The Grand Canyon

I already know I’m going to fail at accurately describing to you the Grand Canyon because the view defies description. I find language falls short of explaining truly awesome sights at the best of times* and having only English at my disposal means there is just no way to sum it up effectively.  I may as well make up words and say it was fluxastic, or wowgasum inducing and you’d be as informed as if I used anything that’s in the actual dictionary.  The Grand Canyon seems to have made itself so that you can’t tell all of its wonders and while I’m cringing a little at the cliché it’s true you do have to see it to believe it.

This was the part of our road trip that started with a town called Williams nicknamed the gateway to the Grand Canyon**. Three nights here may seem like a lot to most people as its basically two streets of Route 66 food venues, motorbikes and other road trippers.  However it’s safe to say this place hasn’t been spoilt by success the way Sedona has.  

But I digress…Drink, drunks, golf buggy taxis and a new cowboy hat later we had explored the town in its entirety which is why this post is pretty much solely about the inexplicable.  A brilliant topic for an essay if I do say so myself!

One thing I would advise when going to GC is make sure you pick the right side.  Those films when a lone hiker gets to the edge just as the sunrises and are the only one around like they’re in some post apocalyptic park? I believe that to be the North side.  The south side is a no less beautiful, but more established tourist attraction. It has a hotel, ice cream stands, a café and the tamest squirrels and chipmunks in AZ***. 

We were only there for a few hours and if I ever get the chance to do it again I’d definitely pay for an overnight stay or hike down to the bottom. The thing I found most peculiar about the Grand Canyon was how not scared I was of being on the edge.  As someone who has had trouble looking down from a high car park before, the sheer enormatude**** seemed to have a soothing effect on me.  I even sat out on the side casually calm, it felt a little like home. 

I reckon those that don’t believe in a higher power might just question this when faced with the Grand C, and those of us that do can just say fan-bloody-tastic God type, You had a good day there.  Hanging out with my family on the edge of the Canyon, watching two storms join up was everything.  I immediately knew this was to be a lasting and favourite memory, of the holiday and my life.

Have you ever been? 

...Next time High Luxury at Tuscon.

*Handy when you’re a writer!
**answers on a postcard as to why.
***Probably, I didn’t ask all of them.
**** New word I just made up. 


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Stylist Live... all over again

Today I'm having a small break from USA trip updates (don't worry there are more to come).  Am taking off my travel blogger cap and donning my health/beauty/style blogger cap to chat to you about Stylist Live which takes place next month.  Stylist has long been one of my favourite magazines and is the only one I read regularly on line.  To say I've read more issues than I've had lunches might lead you to believe I was the type to sneakily have a look during work time before I went freelance.  Something I'll neither confirm or deny cos its that's just not smart. 

Point being, Stylist got and kept my attention with it's witty articles that both entertain and inform.  Their firmly feminist but not in your face point of view, fashion coverage and quirky stories are in my opinion, one of the best ways you can spend an hour or so online.  The event launched last year and included an audience with my favourite girl crush, writer Caitlin Moran so obviously I couldn't not go (how are we to become friends if we never accidentally-on-purpose meet?)
The formula of the event is one you'll probably recognise. Stands overflowing with wonders, beauty tutorials and trials, fashion shows and eating stations fill Islington's Business Design Centre.  My review last year goes into more detail about the highs and lows of the day and this year I'm a little surprised but stupidly pleased that Stylist contacted lil' ol' me offering tickets in exchange for a review.
Rather guttingly* I had already purchased tickets for @girlrunnglate, my sister and myself (see a real fan here, no sponsored posts for me!) Still I reckon this means I'm one step closer to working with them in some sort of official capacity.  Whenever you're ready Stylist, I'm here for ya!

If you're anywhere close to London between 13th-16th October and have an interest in stuff, you'd do a whole heck worse than getting yourself over to Stylist Live.

Images supplied by Stylist.  

* what? its a word! 
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