I've Been Watching... YouTube Edition!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Evening all! In this edition of I've Been Watching, I'm moving the focus from films and television to YouTube! Here are ten videos I've enjoyed over the past couple of weeks!

1. Laci Green - She Asked For It

If you know me, you'll know I love Laci Green, and really respect what she does with her YouTube channel. This video pretty much sums up a conversation I have had on several occasions lately. This video, which centres around the dangers of victim blaming, is well executed, to the point and informative as always. My favourite line - "You were mugged? What were you wearing?" - is something Emma and I talked about in depth a few weeks ago!

2. Shannon Saunders - All I Want (Kodaline Cover)

This is one of my very favourite songs of all time, and I think this is a lovely cover.

3. Meghan Trainor - All About that Bass

This song is number one in America right now, and I cannot get it out of my head. I love that a song like this, which is so body positive is sitting at the number one spot, and I love the video. The "tell them skinny bitches that..." line is, for obvious reasons, a little bit problematic, but if we're looking at the bigger picture I think this is a brilliant song.

4. Cassetteboy vs The Apprentice

This is one of my favourite videos of all time, and I rediscovered it this week. I cried laughing once again.

5. Sarah (Curious Cookie) - But I Don't Want to be a Real Person Yet

I miss Sarah's videos. This is particularly relevant for any recent graduates panicking about life in the real world.

6. Kate (DollyBowBow) - Archie Vlog

It feels like just yesterday Kate announced she was pregnant and now baby Archie is here! I thought this was such a lovely intro to baby vlog, and it was just amazing to see how much they both adore him!

7. Badgely-Mischka - SS15 at NY Fashion Week

I loved loved loved this stunning collection from Badgley-Mishka - I'm no fashion expert, but I know what I like, and the gorgeous pieces here really impressed me :)

8. Ella Henderson - Glow

Another young female singer I'm LOVING at the moment. I love her voice, and think both her singles so far have been amazing, but the feminist in me also loves that this is a different representation of a young woman. She isn't being overtly sexualised in her videos, isn't writhing around half naked or dancing in an attempt to capture the male gaze (can't escape the film and television student in me). We need a more varied range of women represented in terms of body image and sexuality in music, and I think the clear control Ella has over her sound, her image and her career so far, at such a young age, is hugely encouraging.

9. Melissa A. Fabello - How Can You Be a Feminist and Still Like Taylor Swift?

Melissa makes videos about body image, media literacy and gender equality, and I recently discovered her channel thanks to fellow Scottish blogger Morag! I've watched a lot of her videos now, but I particularly liked this one because it explores something that is important to me - that you can be "girly" or interested in what are widely referred to as "feminine" things, and still be a good feminist. It's all about educating yourself, folks.

10. Jimmy0010 feat. Ophelia Dagger - American Candy

I genuinely find any videos Jimmy and Chelsea film together hilarious, but this is still my favourite I think. I watched it again recently and it was still as funny as it was the first time I saw it. They've also started a joint channel (ChelsandJim) which you can check out if they entertain you as much as they entertain me.

That's all for today! Thanks for reading!

A Post-Dissertation Break in Aviemore

Monday, 8 September 2014

A photo heavy post from my trip to Aviemore last week! My mum and I headed up to my favourite place in the world for a couple of days after my dissertation was submitted, for a wee break for me to clear my head and chill out! It was, as always, just what I needed! The photos below are from Loch Morlich and the surrounding forest, the Highland Wildlife Park, breakfasts in the Mountain Café and dinners in Roo's Leap. As you can see, I didn't hold back when it came to the food, but you can't be counting the calories when you're on holiday, can you?!

Thanks for reading!

I've Been Reading #1

Friday, 22 August 2014

Hello all! I've decided that in addition to my I've Been Watching posts, I'm going to start doing "I've Been Reading" and "I've Been Listening to" (doesn't have the same ring to it, sadly, but what you gonna do?!) posts too! So welcome to the first I've Been Reading version. I'm going to do blog editions of this series too, letting you know what blogs I've been reading lately, but we'll get started with a good old fashioned book post. Baby steps, so I don't get overexcited...

I've seen the Bridget Jones movies but, despite loving them, I had never gotten around to reading the books. Emma decided the rectify that this summer, and got me the first two books (the only two books as far as I'm concerned, at the moment!) for my birthday.

What can I say - I adored these books. They are smart and funny without being pretentious or OTT-silly. They're clever without trying to be clever, and you cannot help but fall in love with Bridget. These books are so easy to escape into, like a cosy little refuge from normality. You can get lost in them so quickly, but without really having to concentrate on a complicated story. It's just like reading a letter from a particularly nutty and entertaining friend. I sat reading them on the bus into uni and laughed till I cried at some points, particularly in the second book.

If you don't know much about them, the books are (as the title suggests) the diary of Bridget Jones, an unlucky in love thiry-something year old Londoner in the nineties, trying to sort her life out. She's looking for love, a career she might actually enjoy, and balancing her own life with the mad-cap family dramas of her ridiculous mother and put-upon father. Basically, Bridget is the poster girl for every single normal woman, and that's what is so comforting about these books. She is far from perfect, and somehow manages to put her foot in it in most social situations. She and her best friends Jude and Sharon are all panicking about growing old alone, and Bridget's tumultuous career isn't helping her to feel any more confident. They drink too much wine, eat too much food, debate the workings of the male mind and worry about their appearance - they cannot help but remind you of yourself, however old you are! The brilliant thing about the books though is that no matter what trials and tribulations she faces (and believe me, come the second book there are a few), Bridget's unfailing optimism and strong friendships get her through it. Even when she's wallowing in self-pity after romantic disasters or a bad week at work, she picks herself up, drinks a glass of wine (or four) with the girls and never allows these setbacks to change who she is. It's such a refreshing read.

There's romance, there's comedy and there are some genuinely sad moments, all tied up in two of the easiest to read books I've read in a long time. So if like me you've seen the films but haven't bothered to give the books a shot, please do - you won't be sorry!

That's all for now, but I finished Gayle Forman's "If I Stay" a couple of days ago and again cried on the bus, but this time there was nothing funny about it. Seriously. I want to write a post on it before I see the film (which comes out next week I think!) so look out for that soon!

Thanks for reading!

I've Been Watching #7

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Warning - this post is mainly going to be me, fangirling about Orphan Black. Keeping it good and spoiler free though, nothing you wouldn't know from seeing posters or trailers for the first season.

This week has been a mixed bag. I've fallen behind a little bit with The 100, so I'll need to catch up with that when I have time, and I've watched a couple more episodes of New Girl Season 3. I hate hate hate admitting this, but I'm just not as in love with New Girl as I used to be. The first and second seasons are amazing, and The Landlord (S1E12) is one of my favourite episodes of anything ever. I was so excited about season 3 after the way season 2 ended, but for me, it's just gone a bit too OTT. Having said that, the sixth episode (Keaton) felt like the old New Girl!


I was in a documentary sort of mood last week, so I searched through every last one on Netflix and developed a sort of shortlist. In the end, I went for Connected - the tag line of which reads 'An autoblogography about love, death and technology'. This is a film from Tiffany Shlain exploring the interconnectedness of just about everything and everyone on the planet - something that genuinely interests me. Honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed this film, so I was a bit surprised when I read a lot of negative reviews of it after I watched it. A lot of people felt the film ended up being about nothing, but I disagree. It doesn't solve any of the questions it sets out to ask, but I don't think that was the point. If you go into it with the knowledge that the autobiographical aspect of it is a huge part of the overall documentary, and watch it with an open mind, it's a really touching look at a woman's relationship with her father, and the fact he always encouraged her to be curious, think big, and study and investigate the world around her. Technology is all around us, and it has made the world we live in virtually unrecognisable to the world people lived in even just a few years ago, Tiffany's wish that we could harness that connectivity and use it to fix some of the huge problems the world is facing really resonated with me - I feel like the overwhelming response to Robin Williams's death on twitter really highlighted that to me last week. If you're looking for something that sticks to the technology aspect then you'll be disappointed, because the family side of it wins out in the end, but that suited me just fine. I am now desperate to read a couple of books by Tiffany's father, Leonard Shlain - The Alphabet versus The Goddess sounds fascinating.

Orphan Black - Season 1

*Deep breath...*

Okay. Last week I finally sat down to watch the first episode of Orphan Black. I had heard people raving about it on twitter, but not to an OITNB or Breaking Bad degree, so I actually didn't know a huge amount about it when I put on that pilot episode. A few days later and I have binge watched the first season (in fairness, that's only ten episodes!), and I CANNOT WAIT to find out what happens next.

The premise is something that's either going to hook you, or it isn't. Our main character Sarah, who hasn't had the easiest time of it, is standing on the platform of a train station, and looks on in horror as a woman she doesn't know, but who looks exactly like her (we're talking the most identical of identical twins similar) throws herself in front of a train. This was enough to get me intrigued. Sarah is played by Tatiana Maslynav, an actress I recognised from one of my all-time favourite shows, Being Erica. It was only after I'd watched two or three episodes that I noticed that the executive producers of Orphan Black are the EPs of Being Erica - no wonder I'm loving it. I don't want to give too much away here because I hate reading spoilers myself, but it would be ludicrous of me to not praise Maslynav to the max for what she's doing here - she is playing several characters in this show, and she is doing an absolutely incredible job. During the first episode I was a tiny bit put off by her British accent - to her credit, it isn't the generic super-posh English that most people attempt, but it bugged me a little bit during that first episode. By now though, I'm completely used to it, and I just can't get over what an amazing opportunity this must have been for her. This is not a show, or a role, that comes up every day, and from the get go she had me forgetting that it was her playing every character. They all have such distinct mannerisms and body language and voices that it never once occurs to me that it is her every time. The characters are all really interesting and complex, and she deserves so much credit for this.

Moving on from the acting, the storyline is gripping. It's described as sci-fi but to be honest I think that's purely to give it a label, I don't feel like I'm watching a sci-fi show when I'm watching it. It's intense, and definitely a thriller, but mostly it's grounded in just exploring people and how they react to their world being turned upside down. It's totally my cup of tea and I really would urge you to go ahead and watch it, because it's just about the best new thing I've watched in a while.

*...and exhale*

That's it for today! Thanks so much for reading guys, and be sure to let me know if you've watched either of the above - I'd love to know what you thought!

Insta-Update #2

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Gill's Leaving Night / Commonwealth Games / Fancy Looking Cider
Barry M Sugar Apple / Barry M Mini-Haul / Barry M Waikiki
Eyeliner Art / Girls Night In / Meerkat Family

My pal Gill moved to London a few weeks ago for a new job, so we had a wee night out to celebrate - this involved cider in fancy glasses and dancing till 2am.

The Commonwealth Games came to Glasgow and they were amazing. Sadly I didn't actually go to any of the events, but I watched it unfold on TV and the buzz around the city was incredible. It made me really proud of where I come from. Not that I wasn't already!

I love Barry M - that is all. I did an updated Barry M collection video recently if that kind of thing interests you!

A bit of eyeliner art always soothes me, as bizarre as that sounds. I was recently thinking about what I'd do if someone told me I could only ever use two makeup products for the rest of my life (shock horror) and I really do think it would be concealer and liquid eyeliner. Everything else would have to go.

I had a lovely girls night in with three of my besties recently, where we ate too much food, laughed too much and watched Frozen. Pretty perfect, if you ask me.

We got a new member of our ever-expanding meerkat family - welcome to the gang Yakov :)

TGI Friday's Blogger Event / Strawberry Daiquiri / Party Party Photo App
Sanitise at the Edinburgh Fringe / RIP Robin Williams / Pizza Time
Hair Colour Booth app / Dissertation Organisation / Smokey Purple Eye Makeup

A few of us went along to a blogger event at TGI Friday's a couple of weeks ago and I enjoyed an amazing Strawberry Daiquiri the size of my head, and a cheeseburger (what a surprise).

I've become addicted to the Party Party Photo App lately - in particular, the little stop-motion videos you can make on there are brilliant, but the little collages are great too.

Iona, Lynne, Gillian, Laura and I went for dinner and then headed to see Sanitise at the Edinburgh Fringe last week. I would definitely recommend going to see it if you get a chance while it's still on!

The impact of Robin Williams's death on what seemed like everyone really blew me away. It's so sad, and I hope that his passing encourages more of an open conversation about depression. It just shows, you never know what struggles someone might be facing.

My friend Gemma (who has just started a new blog - check it out here!) and I went for dinner in Bunker recently and I had a pulled pork pizza with barbecue sauce. And yes, it was as good as it sounds!!

Another app I love to revisit from time to time is Hair Colour Booth - not only do I like to see what I'd look like with a variety of hair colours, I also decided to give blue eyes a go. It really doesn't look like me!

Just over a week until the dissertation goes in now - where on earth has the summer gone?!! I've moaned about this from time to time, but really I've loved it. I'm studying something that really, genuinely interests me and collecting and analysing my own data has made me feel like a proper researcher. What a big academic geek I am.

And finally, a selfie to show off some smokey purple eye makeup I was wearing last weekend. Not much more to say about that!

That's it for my little instagram update! Other than that, the past few weeks have involved celebrating Emma's 25th birthday, job hunting woes and binge watching Orphan Black. Hope you are all well!

Thanks for reading!

I've Been Watching #6

Sunday, 10 August 2014

All films and no tv this week - who am I?! This week I've been reliving my youth and embracing my love for chick flicks - although one film in the above collage certainly didn't fit into that category as much as I had expected it to. So let's revisit my viewing material from the past week...

The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2 - Royal Engagement

I was worryingly excited when I realised that The Princess Diaries (one of my favourite childhood films) and the sequel are both on Netflix, - I had only ever seen the second film once, so I embraced the opportunity for a double bill. My memory did not serve me too well, however, as I seemed to think I hadn't particularly enjoyed the sequel - this time around I loved it.

There's something dangerous about watching your favourite childhood films after going years without seeing them, because while some live up to the fond memories, others let you down. The rose tinted glasses you have on when you remember your favourite kids show or movie can make watching them disappointing, because you're now watching them in a totally different context, and through adult eyes. Much to my relief, this was not one of those occasions! I totally related to Mia as a teen, being the shy, incapable of talking to the opposite sex type, and I think every little girl dreamed of having that princess makeover. When I was watching it, half way through I found myself thinking "is this a really terrible representation of growing up, telling a young girl that if she's a bit awkward and geeky, with tough to tame hair and glasses she's not good enough to be a princess?". But as it progressed, I remembered that the whole point of the film is that through this transitional period Mia learns that the most important thing is to be herself, an important life lesson for anyone. Also, it might just have the most perfect ending to a teen/preteen movie ever; the soundtrack, the dress, the ball, the kiss... perfection. I'm 25 and I can quite honestly say, I'd still kill for a night like that. Escapism at its best.

The second film was so much better than I had remembered! I also forgot that a very youthful Chris Pine starred opposite Anne Hathaway this time around. Mia's ready to take her place as queen of Genovia, but an outdated, sexist law that states a woman can only be crowned queen after she is married gets in the way. Cue the search for a husband and plans for an arranged marriage. As an avid fan of the books, I think the second film bothered me because they split Mia and Michael up, and at the time I was not okay with that. With some distance from the situation, however, I can appreciate that the film was a perfect example of what it is - a daft, romantic sequel to a story about a girl who grows up feeling like a nobody and discovers she's a princess. It's cute, it's funny and it passes a couple of hours quite nicely. Once again I was loving the music over the credits at the end, and horrified myself when I discovered that the track I was dancing around to was by none other than Lindsay Lohan - but I know you guys won't tell anyone...

Beauty and the Briefcase

Ohhh dear. I never thought there would be a romantic comedy that would defeat me - I constantly defend this genre, and I can usually sit through even the cheesiest, most over the top romcoms without wanting to switch them off, but this almost got the better of me! Beauty and the Briefcase (an ABC original movie which is now available on Netflix), stars Hilary Duff as Lane, a wannabe journalist looking for love and her dream job at Cosmo magazine amongst the buzz of New York. You'd think it was just like any other run of the mill romcom, right? Well, it is, except that it is really, really terrible. In terms of other movies, one I'd say it's most akin to is Confessions of a Shopaholic, except that I actually liked Confessions of a Shopaholic; Isla Fisher was likeable, and the story was daft but made sense. I hate saying this because much like The Princess Diaries, I actually only put this on because I liked Hilary Duff when I was a child, but I'd be lying if I say there weren't a myriad of things that bothered me about this film. The acting was poor, the structure was dreadful (more on that in a second) and do not even get me started about the bizarre sexism - a feminist critic would have a field day with this one. I lost count of the number of shots of Lane as the "only girl in an office full of men", who are leaning out of their cubicles with their tongues hanging out of their mouths, getting distracted from their important, businessman work by her tight skirt, while the two or three other women in the office might as well be wearing bin bags. Because, y'know, if you're a woman in the business world you're probably uptight, unfashionable and unfanciable.

In order to avoid spoilers, I won't bother with specifics when it comes to structure, but all I'll say is that for a film that lasts an hour and twenty five minutes, this one wasted a disproportionate amount of time on the wrong storyline. Most films have a beginning, a middle and an end, and this one seemed to have an incredibly long middle, with a rushed end tagged on without much thought having been given to it. But that's just my opinion, I'm sure there are plenty of people who did enjoy it, so if you love a cheesy romcom, it's always worth watching the first ten minutes to see what you think!

Thanks for Sharing

And the surprise of the year goes to... Thanks for Sharing! This film genuinely surprised and impressed me. I went in with an already formed opinion, which is never the way to go! I knew it was a film in which Mark Ruffalo plays a recovering sex addict named Adam - from The Princess Diaries to this, talk about genre hopping - and I knew that Pink was in it. I had decided it would be one of those comedies that uses something controversial (sex addiction, in this case), to make people talk about it, and it would probably end up with a couple of couples falling in love, and a few awkward laughs at the expense of Adam et als' "lack of control". It really wasn't. It kind of reminded me of Friends with Kids - one of those films you go in expecting to spend two hours laughing at, but in fact find that it has a much darker undertone than you were expecting. I doubt it's going to be nominated for an Oscar any time soon, but I actually feel like this did a good job of highlighting the genuine, daily struggle of an addict, whatever they're addicted to. There are some pretty disturbing moments in it - again, I want to leave this spoiler free, but if you've seen it I'm sure you know what scene I'm referring to! I was also pretty impressed with Pink/Alecia Moore. While she doesn't get a huge amount of screen time, her very first scene was acted really, really nicely. I'm giving this one a big thumbs up as something that genuinely surprised me, and it's definitely something to check out. I wasn't really a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow's character, which was a pity because it put a bit of a dampener on that particular storyline for me, but otherwise this is worth a watch.

Now I must go and get on with my dissertation, but I do hope that you enjoyed that, and be sure to let me know if you've seen any of the above! Thanks for reading!

Top 10 Websites to Brighten Your Day!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

I'm the first to admit, there are a lot of bad things about the internet. Trolls, twitter fights, the ability to stalk ex-boyfriends/girlfriends/pals etc when life would be oh so much easier if that wasn't an option. However, there are also some really brilliant things about it. So I thought I'd do a little list of ten places on the internet that I turn to if I'm having a bad day! Most of them probably won't be new to you, but if any of them are, I hope they succeed in brightening up your day too!

The brain child of a team which includes the lovely Zooey Deschanel, HelloGiggles is my favourite website. It's a little internet haven that includes beauty and fashion chat, but does not exclusively revolve around those topics. Over there they talk feminism, film and television, books, life decisions, career, sex and relationships, body image... the list goes on! There is an article to suit my every mood, whether it's a link to a cute cat video somewhere on YouTube, or a deep and meaningful post all about the struggles to find a job/a partner/your own identity. It's a wonderful mish-mash of articles written by regular and guest contributors, who all feel very much like they are on the same wave length - trying to create a corner of the internet in which they encourage women to be confident and be themselves.

As a self confessed television addict and film lover, Honest Trailers (from Screen Junkies) is one of my favourite YouTube channels (and that is saying something!). The concept is pretty self-explanatory - they take famous movies, often from recommendations they get regularly in the comments on their videos, and create "honest trailers" for them. This usually involves pointing out all of the flaws in the film, from poor acting to confusing plot lines and terrible scripts. It never fails to cheer me up - particularly the trailers for all five (were there really five?!) Twilight films. They are excellent. [view my favourite Honest Trailer here!]

Pinterest - Quotes Tag

I love browsing through the quotes tag on Pinterest. If I'm ever having a bit of a down moment, or feeling a bit negative, reading through the inspiring quotes posted there always makes me feel a bit brighter. I think it helps when they have a pretty background too - it sounds so silly, but a really beautiful image with an inspiring quote over it never fails to cheer me up! [click here to see my own Pinterest Quotes board!]

I couldn't not include Buzzfeed in this list, could I?! I could easily lose a day of my life to Buzzfeed - it's ridiculous. I've lost count of the number of times I have laughed till I have cried at posts on there. It actually happened the other day, with this post of 17 Hilariously Inappropriate Movie Marquees; I was in the library (on a break from dissertation) and I literally cried reading it.

For an instant, 140 character pick me up, my go-to is the Very British Problems twitter account (@SoVeryBritish). I know there's a Tumblr and now a book of this, but the twitter version is my favourite twitter account (and again, that's saying something!). I doubt this would work unless you are from the UK, but it always makes me laugh - these observations are spot on. From "Finding someone standing in front of your desired sandwich, so pretending to study a pasta salad until they leave." to "Debating whether to open the bus window or just quietly succumb to heatstroke", it cheers me up every time.

I only discovered Bored Panda earlier this year, thanks to a couple of friends from uni who recommended it! It's sort of like a less commerical Buzzfeed if that makes any sense at all? My favourite posts involve beautiful photographs or art work - it has a very cool, artsy vibe. This site completely enables my wanderlust as it so often features stunning photos of beautiful parts of the world just waiting to be explored! Here's an example of a gorgeous collection of photos of "Tiny Humans Lost in the Majesty of Nature".

This is a mashup channel on YouTube, and anyone who knows me will tell you I love a good mashup. This guy is amazing, and he uploads new videos on pretty much a weekly basis. I think people probably get bored of my regular "listen to this amazing mashup of X and Y" posts on Facebook, but 90% of the time they have been made by this guy, and they are almost always perfect! A good mashup always cheers me up. [This is my current favourite]

I'm going to let you in on a secret - one of my geekiest little pastimes is doing geography quizzes on Sporcle. If I'm fed up and looking for a way to kill fifteen minutes, I will sit and name the countries of the world (all 197 on the occasions that I manage to remember all 197) till my heart's content. Or the 50 states. Or my recent favourite "Click the listed landforms in order according to the following repeated pattern: Mountain, River, Island, River"... I still haven't quite managed to get 100% on that one yet, but it will not defeat me. The site, however, has quizzes on everything from television and books, to science and sports, to baby names. Seriously. There's a quiz for everything on there.

A paid for service, I know, but nothing beats settling down at the end of a long day of work/uni/college/school/job hunting and getting all cosy in your bed with a cup of tea and an episode (or three) of whatever show you are devouring at the time. And you don't even have to go and find the next episode - Netflix thoughtfully just puts it on for you ;)

This one is very dependent on your sense of humour, but Stuart Heritage is right up my street. He talks films, tv and music over on The Guardian, and while his recent reviews of 24: Live Another Day were amazing, nothing will beat his X-Factor Live Blogs for me. Seriously, I get sad when the X-Factor finishes each year because it means I won't have the joy of reading his hilarious running commentary on a weekly basis. His love for Wagner will never wane, much like my love for his articles. [here's an example of a hilarious X-Factor Live Blog. I picked this one completely at random and was already laughing reading it after about a thirty seconds]

So there you have it - ten ways to cheer yourself up via the internet! I hope this put a smile on some of your faces, since they are all guaranteed to do that for me :)

What are some of your favourite corners of the internet?

Thanks for reading!