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2014 - Year in Review

So the new year started like the old one ended. Playing loads of Lego Marvel and getting really into figure skating in the lead up to the Sochi Olympics.

I managed to find a few dodgy livestreams of the skating and stayed up late to watch as much as possible. I was watching the livestream when Russian legend Evgeni Plushenko did a triple axel during warmup and came down wobbly and didn't stop holding his lower back after that. A few minutes later he'd withdrawn, to everyone's shock and surprise. No doubt that rattled all the other competitors because the men's skating was a bit of a farce. I came to adore Misha Ge, who went out with the intention of entertaining rather than medalling and succeeded with flying colours, and Michael Christian Martinez, a kid from the Philippines with fascinating moves and the first Olympic figure skater to hail from a tropical country.

Misha Ge during his rocking long program performance.

As my New Year's resolution was to learn how to make-up, I researched nail-polish again and discovered that formulas had generally changed and the nastiest chemicals are now omitted from many brands of polish. I bought a few bottles (8, because piCture pOlish has a deal when you buy 8 or more bottles), and my skin didn't protest at their use. So I bought more. And more. And discovered hundreds of nail art tutorials on YouTube, and that nail art supplies were cheap as chips on eBay, and let's just say I haven't had a week without nailpolish on since.

Nail art, inspired by Stephane Lambiel's "Magical Zebra" long program from the 2006 Olympics. See? More figure skating!

In the land of fandom, Game of Thrones started really veering off course from the books and annoyed many people, myself included.

But the really big event happened in April when I went to see Captain America : The Winter Soldier. It's now a new year and I still haven't stopped obsessing over these two super soldiers.

Suddenly my Tumblr dash was full of the terribly aesthetically pleasing Sebastian Stan and Chris Evans, so of course I had to investigate their catalogue of work.

Of Chris's other movies, the most affecting was the post-apocalyptic Snowpiercer and the most entertaining was the predictable but pretty What's Your Number?

The majority of Seb's movie career is rubbish, but I managed to watch the entire mini-series Political Animals in a day and be utterly heartbroken by TJ Hammond.

Then I turned to another of his old shows, called Kings.

Well. Like CATWS, I haven't stopped screaming about Kings since. This show aired in 2009 and got axed after one season when it desperately needed a 2nd to tie up its' loose ends. I've rewatched it all the way through about twice and keep rewatching random episodes and find new details every time. Religious overtones, political machinations, terrible people doing terrible things – it's an amazing show I recommend that everyone should watch it.

Other shows that I watched and enjoyed:
Hannibal – season 2 managed to have a few scenes that almost made me dry-retch. I am impressed.
Agents of SHIELD – This show just keeps getting better and better. It really found its feet during the CATWS crossover episodes, when everything went to hell with SHIELD. The mid-season cliffhanger has not left me screaming in anticipation as much as mourning some characters who deserved so much more.
Once Upon A Time – after watching episode 17 (the one where Sebastian Stan's character debuts) a few times I figured I should just watch it all. What a delightful little show. I still have to start on season 3 then catch up with season 4. I'll get around to it.
Arrow – I finally got around to watching all this. I went to Supanova when I was about 2 episodes away from finishing season 2 and got spoiled. But seeing as it was Manu Bennett (who plays Slade) doing the spoiling, I was okay with it. (I also got to see Ming Na-Wen from AoS at Supanova and discovered that she is a delightful bouncy fangirl like the rest of us).
Flash – Arrow's counterpart show. Less heavy and more predictable, but delightful. I just love all the little DC references in these shows.
Gotham – The other great DC universe show. Baby Bruce Wayne and rough-around-the-edges Alfred give me life. And finally an iteration of The Penguin that makes me interested in the character.

Guardians of the Galaxy was fantastic. Who imagined we'd all fall in love with a talking raccoon and a dancing tree (well okay, probably lots of people). But it was better than I even imagined it would be.

So my love of all things Steve and Bucky and my slowly growing collection of swing dresses had me starting to get into all things pre-WWII/1930s/1940s. Then a friend said I should come along to swing dance classes with them.

Since then 90% of the music I have been listening to dates from before 1945. I have become a huge fan of Glenn Miller and The Andrews Sisters. I have learned to Lindy Hop and Charleston and Shim-Sham and Balboa. I have met lots of cool people. I still haven't really made any friends – but that's always a challenge and a slow process for me. I intend to keep going to lessons and social dances. If nothing else it sneaks me a few hours of exercise without me realising too much.

I stopped getting my hair cut and growing my fringe out due to laziness, but that has evolved into a purposeful growing out so I can put pretty clips in it and do pompadours and victory rolls. My goal for 2015 is to learn how to do hair, because, like make-up, it's just one of those things I never really learned about previously.

Finally, the year has ended on a show from 2001 called Band of Brothers – which fits right into the whole 1940s/WWII thing I have going on. I finished it last week and have almost completed the re-watch already – it's definitely a show that requires a double watch through just to get all the people (I don't want to call them characters, because these were actual guys out there on the front-lines in Europe) straight. The show is visceral and immersive and amazing and harrowing. Don't watch it if you have a weak constitution (watch out for ep 9 especially, and a brief moment in ep 3 that I seriously cannot watch anymore), but DO watch it if you're interested in WWII stuff and want your heart shattered into tiny pieces.

At first, after the whole thing with Kings happened I figured we'd have another Year of the King like 2012.

But on further consideration I realised it was totally not a Year of the King. Three of the main characters in Kings were/are a General, a Major and a Private come Captain. Steve and Bucky are a Captain and a Sergeant with a unit of commandos. And Band of Brothers... well 'nuff said.

So I hereby dub 2014 – The Year of the Soldier.

Spotted yesterday

Observed yesterday on the way home from work - 2 crested pigeons at the corner or Abernathy and Gt Eastern Hwy Bypass

Nail Art 101 - Part 1 of Tools

Okay, so I have decided to start a series on nail art - because omg it's so easy to do really nifty, complex looking designs and everyone should know how. As with most things though I notice most sites and tutorials don't start with the basics, they assume a certain amount of pre-knowledge.

Okay, so I am definitely not perfect in the art of the nails. I know the theory of cleaning up the edges and applying polish neatly - but in reality neither happens very much. Most of the time I find myself picking off excess nailpolish in the shower the night after it dries (tip - it is easier to pick off the stuff on your skin when your skin is wet - but also make sure the polish is 100% dry - like 12 hours drying time).

Tools of the trade

You can do a lot of nifty designs with just variety of colours (I have 100+ nail polishes - you don't need that many, but if you get into nail art you may suddenly have an urge to acquire a certain colour or finish for a design idea - this is what happened to me) and some simple tools. I get all my nail art tools from eBay, they tend to only be a few dollars, but they can take a while to arrive from China.

- Base coat & Top coat

For ages I never understood why people would bother with base coat and top coat, but now they are essentials. Base coat will help strengthen your nails and stop the polish from staining them (some colours stain more than others) and top coat will smooth out multi-layered designs and protect your nailpolish - I find my polish lasts about a week with a good top coat. I also highly recommend finding a good black and white polish. I hate black or white nails on their own - but white is essential as a base for bright colours and black is used for various patterns and highlights, and also works as a base for certain types of polish. I go through black and white polish the quickest.

- Other household things that are useful

Save a few glossy magazines as a surface to do your nail painting on. This will protect your tables and provide you with somewhere to test out colours, create blobs of polish for dotting and painting, mix colours, remove excess polish from your brush... it's useful, trust me. Don't use newspaper - the ink will stain your skin and it's too absorbent for blobbing and painting nailpolish onto.

I use lids from takeaway containers for blobbing/testing/painting because it's even less absorbent than glossy paper, and also gives me a better idea of how the colours will look on my nails. Ice cream container lids would also work, or any bit of flat, hard plastic really.

I find a shotglass is very handy for putting some polish remover or acetone into so I can clean brushes easily.

Cotton balls are ideal for removing polish and cleaning stamper plates. In my experience, non-acetone polish is useless, I use stuff with acetone (straight acetone is best for polish removal but worst for your skin) and wash my hands thoroughly afterwards and moisturise.

Other things around the house that can come in handy -
- Plastic bags - for stone designs
- Toothpicks and bobby pins - for dotting and other fine designs
- Disposable plastic cups - for water marbling

- Dotting tools

Dotting is probably the easiest way to get a cute nifty manicure with not much effort. I bought a set of nail art brushes and dotting tools for about $5 for the lot. But you can also use a toothpick, or a bobby pin, or a round headed pin stuck in the eraser of a pencil, or anything else small and rounded.

You can find hundreds of idea for dotting designs on Youtube or Pinterest or Instagram or the nail art tag on Tumblr or just Googling "dotting nail art" or "dotticure" or something similar.

Here's how you dot

1. Paint your nails with a base colour. It's best to choose a colour for the base that won't show through the colours you are dotting. This will depend on the shade and the type of polish - I sometimes test beforehand on a takeaway container lid (I have plenty, and they are really useful for nail art stuff). If you really want a lighter colour over a darker colour you can dot with white then go back over with your colour.
2. Place a blob of the colour you are dotting with on a surface - I use plastic lids, but a glossy magazine will work as well, don't use non-glossy paper because it's too absorbent. Just pull the brush straight out of the bottle and gently touch it to the surface and a blob of polish should form. Don't blob too much in one go because it will dry quickly - just refresh it as you need to.
3. Dip the dotter of your desired size into the polish blob then dot in onto your nails. You can sometimes get 2 or 3 dots before dipping back into the polish blob. Clean the dotter with a tissue before moving on to another colour.
4. Once your design is finished wait for it to dry then apply top coat. Grin proudly as your friends fawn over your fancy "Bali" nails which you did yourself in the comfort of your own home.


The tale of the nails

My sister was a nailbiter, but it was a habit that never plagued me. I've always been able to grow long, nice looking nails. These days I can't let them get too long or else my ability to DO anything with my hands diminishes, and I also scratch myself to pieces with the claws.

I've always liked nailpolish. It was colour I put on myself, and it didn't feel gross like makeup on my face did. I had a decent collection of mostly cheapie nailpolishes.

Then my eczema moved to my hands, and painting my nails soon resulted in serious itching and irritation on my nailbeds. After a while I figured I'd better stop. I eventually gave my polish collection away to a friend.

At the start of this year I decided I wanted to learn makeup. Mineral makeup these days smells much nicer and is a lot less irritating. I'm not sure what I had Googled, maybe "Non-irritating nailpolish", but whatever it was, one of the hits was a site called Picture Polish. I leaped in and bought 8 bottles first time, lucky when I tried them, they didn't cause my fingers to itch like mad. I guess you could call the rest history.

If you buy nailpolish you may be familiar with the term "3 free", which seems to be popping up and more and more. As technology improves, nailpolish no longer needs some of the nastiest chemicals in it. The 3 which are used less and less nowadays are toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate. It seems that 3-free nailpolish is fine for me to use.

One interesting thing is that I can now sniff out polishes that I probably shouldn't use. These are often older polishes that friends have passed on to me, or some cheaper brands. If I smell that distinct smell then check the label, I'll often find toluene or phthalates among the ingredients.

I've now had my nails pretty much constantly painted since March, and they are in pretty good nick! Next up I'll do a post on basic nail art techniques. I've learned A LOT on YouTube and nail blogs, and nail art seems to be one of those things that clicks with me, even though I often say I'm as creative a brick, I can always think of something to do with my nails (often too many things - then I have a tough time deciding!)

Eeeee dancy dance

I almost talked myself out of it, but I didn't and I went to the Tuesday night class and we did Charleston variations and it was loads of fun. I really really like this whole swing dance business.

Now let's see how my knees are tomorrow. I really wanna do it again tomorrow night.
A couple of years ago I started noticing a pair of Crested Pigeons hanging around near the RSL around the corner. Seeing as I drive past there everyday on the way to and from work I always keep an eye out and see one or both of them at least once a week. I saw a pair elsewhere near home - I'm guessing it may have been the same birds.

A while back I saw one bird on the verge along Abernathy Road. Today a flock of about 7 birds flew across Abernathy on the way home from work. I am 99.5% sure they were Crested Pigeons - Rock Pigeons don't have that distinctive flight patten.

I'm betting we're gonna see a lot more of them in the metro area in the future. Soon they'll probably be as common here as they are in Adelaide.

Fans vs fans

Hello Livejournal, that's "Dear Diary".

So I was contemplating today... yesterday... sometime recently, the two different types of fans that tend to pop up (they can crossover).

You have your 'mainstream' fan. Someone who enjoys a movie, or a TV series or a video game or a book/comic and proceeds to purchase lots of licenced material to show how much they like the thing.

Then there are the 'fangirls' and 'fanboys'. People who are more likely to create and consume fanworks rather than licenced material.
Things like - fanfic, fanart, fanmixes, cute little handmade plushies, T-shirt designs sold on Redbubble, funky jewellery that subtly implies elements of the thing that is loved.

I was thinking about my main fandoms and the only licenced thing I think I own - apart from the DVDs, are Pop-Funko figurines.

Just a thought - feel free to comment or discuss.

Sep. 5th, 2014

I've been listening to so much swing music I'm worried I'll burn myself out and suddenly not be able to stand it anymore.

Mostly Benny Goodman's Sing Sing Sing and all the boppy upbeat Andrews Sisters songs. I just don't seem to be getting sick of them. But it was like this with figure skating music. Although - I do like listening to that again now.

Hrm... *goes on Youtube to seek out vids of figure skating programs to swing music* Awww yisss.

We're six jerks in a jeep - BEEP BEEP

My Nan and Pop would be proud.

I remember when I was a teenager staying with them and playing my music loudly and it was stuff like Bon Jovi and Trixter and a bit later silverchair and Nirvana and of course they complained about the noise.

The last few days I've been listening to (and singing) a bunch of Andrews Sisters songs. A lot of these songs are old standards, so I'm familiar with them, but now I know the words to them, some I didn't even know HAD words previously. I never thought something like Chatanooga Choo-Choo could conceivably become a favourite song of the moment.

It's amusing reading the comments on the YouTube vids of their songs - so many people going on about "How horrible and obscene" modern music is and how "OMG Candyman (by Christina Aguileira) is so disgusting and sexual, and stuff like Andrews Sisters isn't." Have these people ever listened closely to Hold Tight? That song is hella dirty, they ain't singing about fish & chips there. Really, nothing has truly changed, I'm quite happy to be bopping along to Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy one day and the next headbanging to Counting Bodies Like Sheep.

So yeah, Swing, which is my thing right now. Finished my second round of beginner classes and I'm starting to really get the nitty gritty of some steps down, which is great, it's all just practice and repetition - and bonus exercise! Intermediate class was learning a move called the Hacksaw, which involves frantic kicks and looks really nifty, and the Suzie Q, which is a low down shuffling move which is absolute HELL on my knees. Despite having the scary name, I'd rather do the Hacksaw.

The knees really freakin' hurt this morning, they are considerably better now but still not 100%. By mid tomorrow they should be okay.

And achievement unlocked - doing the Charleston to Sing Sing Sing. Happy BJ.

Sep. 1st, 2014

So I bought 17 more nail polishes.



Red Eye Platinum
Mixed feelings
My Tumblrog

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