+ The Fabulous Stains

Diane Lane - Fabulous Stains

I wish I'd discovered The Fabulous Stains as a teenager. The film itself is pretty entertaining considering the fact that it's low-budget, features inexperienced actors and took over a year to edit with the ending changed several times! It's 90% angsty, passionate girl power, 5% cringe and 5% "WTF?" in equal measure.

Diane Lane's portrayal of scornful teenager Corinne "Third Degree" Burns searching for fame to fill the void in her soul is just breathtaking. The haircut, the sullenness, the unabashed stage presence despite wearing a see-through top and skunk hairdo all combine to make memorable cinematic gold. The storyline itself is completely forgettable, but what I love about the film are the visuals and the cutting moments of dialogue that almost seem profound despite their place in a fim that barely anyone has heard of. I love the way her name almost suggests she's burnt out or is driven by a heated fury, as if all that's left in the ashes is her pursuit of fame and music (although granted, her band isn't exactly musical genius). Some of my favourite quotes include:

Corinne Burns: He was an old man in a young girl's world.

Lawnboy: Everybody wanna to go to Heaven, but nobody wanna die."

Corinne Burns: "Every girl should be given an electric guitar on her 16th birthday."

Lawnboy: "There's no difference between me and the next man. I is he and he is I, like I is you and you is me."

And my favourite...
Corinne Burns: "You don't fool me for a minute I know all about you. You came here tonight thinking you'd see some cute and wonderful rockstar. And you hoped he'd take one look at you from up on that stage and he'd fall in love with you just like that. Then your saviour could take you out of this dump of a town you live in - you could be different from all the other girls ... Suckers! Suckers! Suckers! Suckers! Be yourselves. These guys laugh at you. They got such big plans for the world but they don't include us. So what does that make you? Just another girl lining up to die. [...] I'm perfect! But nobody in this shithole gets me, because I don't put out!"


+ A Tribute to Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse on stage in Cardiff
Amy Winehouse singing live at Cardiff Student Union

I clearly remember the first time I listened to Amy Winehouse's album Frank. More than any other album in my life, the songs and the clarity of her lyrics had a massive impact on me. That's what her legacy should be - the ability to move millions with clever wordplay, biting lyricism and, of course, the way her expressive vocals make themselves home in your head and are almost impossible to shake away.

My friend text me about her death, which I received as I was making my way up the escalator of the tube, and I just wanted to break down and cry. Not just for the desperately awful waste of young life and talent, but for the world generally. I sincerely believe the world is worse off without her music and its effect on so many people. I know so many people who have found solace in her music during shit times, who felt her pain as if it was her own, and knowing that no more music of this calibre will ever get made again upset me hugely.

I even remember playing the music to my grandad, a life-long fan of jazz in all its forms, hoping to convince him that not ALL modern music is a waste of time. Thankfully, he agreed! What has really angered me about the reaction to her death is the sense that people cannot publicly comment on their grief without various people seeing fit to dictate that she does not deserve our sorrow because a terrorist attack happened on the same day, or because she was a "low-life drug addict", as one person on my Facebook feed commented.

How can we as people place deaths on a scale of what's more deserving of grief? It's completely nonsensical to me. Yes, she was a drug addict, and yes, her hedonistic behaviour was almost certainly the cause of her untimely death, but funnily enough I doubt she deliberately experimented with drugs with a view to becoming dependent on them... no-one does, isn't that the whole point of addiction, that it's an illness?!

Music is such a powerful form of expression, and Amy gave the world a gift with her beautiful music, as trite as it may sound. I for one will always be grateful that I got a chance to see raw talent in the flesh twice, and I pity those who cannot look beyond the headlines to appreciate it too.

Here are some of my favourite live performances of Amy:

+ Music on my mind #2


Devil's Spoke - Laura Marling

Laura Marling may not have had a string of Number One hits, but it's her understated success with critics and music lovers which suggests her hauntingly beautiful music will be around for decades to come. I have only listened to Devil's Spoke, the first release from I Speak Because I Can, a handful of times but it is permanently bouncing around in my mind - I love its energy and the video is stunning!

Rainbowarriors - CocoRosie

If you look hard you can find a
Rainbow trail it's deep inside ya
Fear not you're a rainbowarrior
Golden light on everything gleaming
Rainbow love awaits us
With hearts of love and tears

Quirky background sounds and feelgood lyrics to Rainbowarriors make this one of my faves!

I ♥ Pop

Lately, the first time I hear a pop song I lament its shittiness and wonder how on earth they manage to sell any copies at all. I had this thought with both Shakira's She Wolf and Cheryl Cole's Three Words after my first listen.

But something overtakes my sanity and all of a sudden I find myself pressing the repeat button, loving them in their three minutes' worth of cheese-tastic pop!


+ How To Be A Success

Clover Hill by Rowena R.

OK, this is written slightly tongue-in-cheek seeing as at the moment I am an unemployed jobseeker who these days gets regularly rejected from interviews. BUT, there are plenty of people on the internet who have some great advice, for me and you, on how to succeed. A lot of it is to do with being in the right frame of mind and refusing to accept anything less.

Remind yourself of what you've already been successful in

+ Megan at Charade Style has a stack of inspirational posts all about self-belief and success. One of my favourites is How To Get a Successful Mindset.

Write a list of five to ten things you have already been successful in, from the smallest exam, to the perfect interview, to cultivating an amazing talent or knowledge within a subject, beginning each line with ‘I am/have been successful in...’

By reminding yourself that you are already a success, the successful mindset becomes something far more solid and real-world to you, and perhaps you see that it was yours for the taking all along.

Act like you would if you HAD already achieved your dream

Gala Darling has a great article from 2008 about How To Set Amazing Goals.

One of the best ways to achieve something, strange as it may sound, is to pretend it has already happened. Let’s say your distant goal is to be a publishing magnate. How different would your life be if you managed to achieve that? [...] Start acting that way today. It will prove that you are serious about your goal, & you will start to attract the right people & opportunities to make your dreams a reality.

Keep a Dream Jar

+ Herbal Tang suggests that you should Dream Big:

A dream box is basically a box, or jar, or canister, that can hold your dreams. It's so simple to do. You write down your dreams, and goals, and aspirations that you want on pieces of paper and put it in the jar. Your goals and dreams can range from something small like reading a book, or traveling to Japan. But whatever, your aspirations may be write them down.

There is a lot of opportunity out there

+ Dumb Little Man regularly posts motivational articles.

Successful people have their mind set on abundance and opportunity and not scarcity and lack. Trust me this makes a world of a difference. Believe that life, energy, positivity, love, opportunities, success, happiness are abundant…because they are!

What are you waiting for?

+ Ali Hale a freelance blogger has a great article on her personal website about

In many cases, we feel that we can’t go for our real goal until all other conditions are perfect. Perhaps we tell ourselves we’ll write that first novel once we’ve quit the day job … once the kids have left home … once we’ve finished decorating the house …

The truth is, things probably aren’t ever going to meet up to our “perfect” standards: so we might as well make a start, even if it has to be a small one

And the last word goes to Glee...!


+ New Year's Resolutions for 2010

2010 - year of the tiger

The start of a new year is really just like any other week, but sometimes it's nice to use it as an excuse to bring in some much-needed changes into your life. Here are some ways you can make the Year of the Tiger full of action and passion!

My New Year's Resolution is to...

Read a book a week

52 books is my ambition for 2010! I don't know what will be harder, reading a 300+ page book every single week OR finding fifty-two books I want to read to begin with. You can't use money as an excuse not to carry out this goal, considering all the public libraries and charity shops around. Plus, you can join these really useful sites that allow you to swap a book with people of similar literary tastes, for example on BookHopper, Read it Swap it and Book Mooch. If time is an issue when it comes to finishing your latest paperback, make a decision to read every night before bed, or take the book with you to read on your lunch break. Even if you have to place it beside your bath so that you read it at some point every day, you can achieve it!

These days you can download ebooks onto your iPod, phone and if you're particularly fancy you can get a Kindle. Also, you can cheat on the whole reading thing by tapping into the growing market of audiobooks. Spoken Ink has a small selection or you could try Googling for rapidshare or megaupload links to some free samples!

Keep in touch with friends more

Since leaving uni and having met people travelling, my friends are dotted all over the country, not to mention the world. Facebook is OK for keeping in touch but why not go retro and start sending letters and vintage postcards to your friends abroad? Photo JoJo tells you how easy it is to make a postcard from your own photos - simply print it out 4x6, write a message on the bank and add a stamp! It really is that easy to send a personalised postcard to your friends.

Lose weight/Eat Healthily

It's pointless telling yourself to lose a few pounds and then proceeding to do nothing about it. Dumb Little Man has a great article on how to make sure 2010 is the year that you actually succeed in your diet. By making specific goals and keeping a food diary, you're more likely to commit to your goal.
Lately I've read up a lot on the paleolithic diet, where you basically cut out grains such as wheat, rye, pretty much all processed food, not to mention beans, peanuts and dairy! It sounds pretty intense, but from what I've read the health benefits and the potential to limit your risk of getting certain diseases makes it worth trying out.

Keep discovering new music

I'm of the opinion that you can never own enough music, and I am constantly seeking new bands to blow my mind. I used to LOVE Pandora, but they stopped its availability in the UK :( Thankfully, has helped fill the void, but I still want to find even more ways to discover great tunes. Inspired Mag lists 20 ways to find new music.

My personal fave is Jango an internet radio site which allows you to find similar artists to your musical tastes. Despite the annoying adverts it is a great way to learn of new bands.

Reduce My Ecological Footprint

I'm not by any means a model citizen, but I pledge to do my bit in 2010 by shopping mostly in charity shops and in vintage stores... who knew adding to your wardrobe would help the world?! Not only will I be saving money, I'm more likely to grab some unique finds.


"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." -- William Morris