Where Do You Want to Go Today? An Ode to a Podcast.

As a person born in the 80s, I remember it well when Microsoft launched Windows ’95 and asked ‘Where Do You Want to Go Today?’. I remember along with the internet appearing in homes, and being able to ‘go’ where seemed like literally ANYWHERE via your computer and I remember that feeling still. I hadn’t had that kind of feeling since then, until I started listening to the Beautiful/Anonymous podcast.

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I started listening to podcasts as a means of keeping me interested in running on a gym treadmill for a full hour without losing my interest. I started with Serial (didn’t we all?) since that was what everyone was talking about at the time. I then added This American Life to my subs list, and it was during one of these episodes that I was introduced to Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People (or Beautiful/Anonymous).

Living in the UK, I’ll admit I’d never heard of New Jersey born Comedian Chris Gethard. But I immediately liked his conversational style, his use of friendly banter and (of course) his accent. The premise of the podcast is that the producers of the show will periodically put out a telephone number, people will call and if they get through they can talk to Chris, totally anonymously, about anything of their choosing. The caller can choose to end the call whenever they want, but Chris can’t. Then at 60 minutes the call is disconnected.

It’s a great idea. But how does this remind me of Windows 95? It all goes back to ‘that feeling’. I adored being able to instantly find out about people’s cultures and lives in other countries. I could watch a webcam of Times Square or a beach in Hawaii. I could see photos of someone’s quinceañera and feel like I was there. I could live chat to people in other countries in chat-rooms, and learn all about their lives! So when I started listening to Beautiful/Anonymous I started to get similar insights into people’s worlds. Where else could I listen to the story of an Australian Bushman? How else would I get to hear fun, disgusting, heartbreaking and sometimes very dark stories?

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And it’s not just American people featured. Chris recently put out a number for UK residents to call, and that call was just as insightful as the others. And obviously there’s not just Americans who can make a call from America.

But it’s not just the content of the caller’s stories that make Beautiful/Anonymous so engaging. Chris, the host, is fantastically natural and just as engaging on the calls. As a huge advocate of therapy and taking care of your mental health, he relates to a lot of the callers. He’s in a position where, even though he’s loathed to give the kind of advice you might consider counselling, he is a fantastic listener. He knows how to keep a balance between entertaining and prying – a skill I feel he has honed during the period of the 100+ episodes that have been put out.

But coming away from the podcast itself, we should also talk about the BA Facebook community. A community which is currently at 26k members and growing at quite a rate. I’ve never been part of a large community that’s so understanding, welcoming and diplomatic. That’s not to say that everyone agrees all the time, but with the help of some awesome moderators, conversation is just that – a conversation. A meeting of minds. It’s a respectful community where people celebrate differences of culture and opinion, bred from an environment of just that on the podcast.

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I have often recommended this podcast to people I know. People who I feel are interested in other lives and cultures and ways of doing things. But I have had a 100% decline rate on it. And here’s why I think that is – the people I’ve suggested it to, I’ve chosen being that they are all of the above – interested in other people’s lives etc. However, I have a theory – everyone who loves BA, loves it because they’re on a journey themselves. They’ve accepted their Self, and even if they’re still a work in progress, they’re willing to listen to other people who are also works in progress. They might be listening to stories that could challenge their own wellbeing and make them ask questions about themselves. And this is too much of a challenge for some, understandably. Because who can judge others when they’re not without judgement themselves?

It’s a theory, but it seems to fit for now. These stories aren’t gossip, they’re not going to make you feel better about yourself. But you will come away from each of them with something – a sore stomach from laughing, a heavy heart, maybe tears in your eyes, inspiration, admiration. Awe.

If you, like me, are genuinely interested in people, you might just like it. I’m subscribed via Apple Podcasts and I’m so glad I was there from the very start, to hear the journeys of these 100+ people. I hope to be able to attend a live show eventually, as they tape them from time to time.

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If you decide to listen, or if you listen already, please let me know. I’d love to know there was a fellow BA fan in my midst!

 

What I Watched in 2017 – TV, Film & Documentary

I know, I know, we’re so over 2017. But I usually write a TV and Film round-up and this time it’s coming a few weeks into the year.

I’m lucky to have a husband who keeps a note of all the things we’ve watched in a year, because it’s interesting to look back on it. This year was full of some fantastic TV and Movies and I’d like to share with you the ones I really enjoyed.

Let’s start with film. There were only a couple of stand out films for me this year, and neither of them came out in 2017, it’s just I only got to see them that year.

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La La Land was a stand out favourite of mine. I went into this film wanting to hate it, for some reason. I don’t particularly like musical films. I find them awkward and unrealistic. And I think that’s what a lot of people didn’t like about this movie from the start. It’s rather cheesy from the get-go. BUT I adored it. I think it starts off overly cheesy for a reason – to get you immersed in what’s to come, and then it gets way less cheesy and you’re committed to the fact that people might start singing for no reason. But I know a great deal of people didn’t make it this far, and turned the film off. A lot of the things that happen in this film are metaphors (they don’t really start flying in the sky at night, but it’s a metaphor for how they’re feeling about each other) The film is uplifting, frustrating and heart breaking. And despite everyone breaking into song, it’s also an incredibly realistic portrayal of a modern relationship. If you like classic film, you have an open mind, and you haven’t seen this film yet – SEE IT!

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Drive was another movie I hadn’t seen yet, but everyone kept harping on about the music, and I figured why not carry on with the Ryan Gosling fest. This movie showed me what a truly incredible actor he is. He can achieve such power in such subtle acting, it’s amazing. Anyhow, this movie took my breath away. One particular scene, I realised afterwards, actually had me holding my breath. Another scene was so intense it reminded me of one in Scarface. It’s not a happy film, it’s not a lighthearted one either. If you don’t like guns and blood and fighting, stay clear. The soundtrack is really awesome too – it sticks the whole thing together like glue. Really an awesome film (Dad, if you read this, I think you might really enjoy this one).

Honourable mention to Don’t Think Twice (if you like improv comedy then you’ll like this one), Get Out and The Big Sick. Also Trick ‘r’ Treat, Table 19 and Julie & Julia.

So let’s move on to TV.

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Obviously I have to mention the epic return of Twin Peaks. Gary and I watched the entire show ahead of the new season being broadcast. And we weren’t disappointed when the new episodes aired. There were a couple of scenes in this new iteration of the show which still give me chills thinking about them (both consist of someone screaming, funnily enough) I can’t wait to hear whether a new season will be made, since there was so much unexplained!

Other shows we watched and very much enjoyed were

  • Freaks and Geeks
  • The OA
  • Stranger Things
  • Atlanta
  • The Man in the High Castle
  • House of Cards
  • 13 Reasons Why

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A stand of of the year, I binge watched Bates Motel and really really enjoyed it. It was probably my favourite TV show of the year. And considering I watched some really good TV this year, that’s saying something.

I also watched some pretty bad TV shows – Riverdale being one of them. Pretty Little Liars final season was rather awful, which was a shame. I actually didn’t care whether anyone lived or died.

We re-watched The Night Of, True Detective and the whole series of The Wire. We gave Breaking Bad a first go, and though we enjoyed it, I wouldn’t say it blew my mind.

I also watched some really great documentaries.

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I’m a big fan of Chris Gethard, who is an American comedian. I listen to his podcast Beautiful/Anonymous and he recently put out an HBO special of a stand-up show he’d done. Presented by Judd Apatow (who I also love) this covers dark subjects but in a self-deprecating and humorous way. If you are easily triggered by mental health and suicide subjects I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you aren’t and you find a way to get hold of this Special, then I’d recommend giving it a watch.

I’ll also mention Audrie & Daisy, Casting JonBenet and Beware The Slenderman. Some heavy subjects covered in those, but if you’re a fan of true crime you might enjoy them.

I’ve already kicked 2018 off with a bang having watched the whole of the German show Dark and also Big Little Lies (which had been recommended to me last year and for some reason I ignored)

If you have seen something you think I’d enjoy based on these shows I enjoyed last year, then please pop me a comment in the box below. I’m always on the look out for something awesome to watch!

 

Obviously, all imagery are publicity shots and belong to the production companies of the particular shows and films.

April Favourites!

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This month I have been really enjoying fresh scents, springy colours and good entertainment. As with the weather changing (in parts for the worst!), I like to ‘change the air’ in all aspects of my life, meaning I like to seek new experiences and explore perspective.

So here goes with my April Favourites!

You might have seen my latest ‘First Impressions’ blog about NYX Cosmetics. If you haven’t see it, please pop over and have a read. Two of the products I picked up have made it into this month’s favourites.

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Firstly, the NYX HD Blush in Pink the Town (£5.50), which I’m really enjoying using. It’s lovely to build up and gives a nice matte flush to my cheeks. I’ve used it practically every day since I bought it and haven’t made even a small dent in the pan. Love it!

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Second is the NYX Control Freak eyebrow gel (£5.50). I’m still finding it much better than the Urban Decay equivalent I had been using. It’s starting to go a little cloudy in the tube, and I guess that’s just because it’s been open for a while. But the UD one did the same, and it doesn’t affect how it looks once applied. And at that price, it’s no match – I’ll be repurchasing this when it’s done.

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Next is an item I got in my GlossyBox and a few months ago. This is the Luxie Large Angled Face Brush 504 (£10.42) I love getting tools in my subscription box, as long as they’re good quality. I was in the market for a new blusher brush so this came at the perfect time. The bristles are perfect because they mean you don’t get too much on the brush (I’m heavy handed with blusher and I wish I wasn’t!) The angle is great for getting colour into the contours of my cheeks. And it’s really comfortable to use. I wouldn’t even mind if I received another one of these, they’re that great.

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I bought the Bare Minerals Perfecting Veil (£22.00 Light to Medium) a while back. I wanted something to set my under eyes without being too matte. When I used this for the first few times I was really disappointed. It was too matte, too powdery, smelled funny under my nose and just made me look old. Back in the drawer it went. Then at the start of last month, as the Spring weather started to emerge, I decided I needed something on my t-zone. So I pulled this out again – this time using A LOT less product. And I LOVE IT. I literally tap my large powder brush on the pan, once lightly, and then dust all over the necessary areas on my face with that one tap of powder.

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You can barely see any powder on my face which is great because I really dislike the matte look. My oily areas stay matte ALL DAY. If I pat my nose with my finger at the end of the day I can see some oil transfer, however I don’t look at all oily. I look just as I did when I put my makeup on – natural. I’m so impressed with this powder, and interested to see how it fares as the weather gets warmer. I have started using the little sponge disc puff which comes with it (stored underneath the powder in the compact) occasionally to set my under eyes. Pressing a small amount straight after application of my concealer under my eyes, and around my nose does help keep my makeup in place, and only creases a teeny bit if I use too much. I also find it handles Touche Éclat spot-highlighting on top very well.

Next I want to talk about Body Fantasies. This American brand have just launched in the UK and have brought 4 fragrances with them. Aimed at the teen and pre-teen probably, I was lured to them by the fact that they seemed similar to the Victoria’s Secret body sprays at a fraction of the price. These retail for £3.99 each but Superdrug often have them ‘better than half price’ which is when I picked them up. They’re 94ml each but state they have over 500 sprays in them.

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I picked up Pink Vanilla Kiss Fantasy, Twilight Mist and Japanese Cherry Blossom. They also do a grapefruit scent, which wasn’t really for me. I didn’t expect to like Pink Vanilla Kiss, expecting it to be way to sweet and girly for me. But I really loved it – think a mix of Hollister and Victoria’s Secret and you get a sense of the heady sugary scent, but it’s not too over powering. There’s a vanilla floral note to it that just screams summer. It’s definitely my favourite. Twilight Mist (named really well) is more of a floral musk. Definitely an evening scent – fresh and again summery. Japanese Cherry Blossom is a little bit ‘old lady’ but in a nice way. It’s the most floral of the bunch, but it’s clean and fresh and a little sweet. If you’re in Superdrug and you see them, give them a sniff. For the price they’re awesome and I’ll definitely be repurchasing them. Because they’re so reasonably priced I’m not afraid to use them liberally and every day – unlike perfumes that you don’t want to use up! I like how the scent lingers all day, and I get little whiffs of them as I go about my day. I know they have a much larger range in the US so I’m excited to see what they come out with next, here. I’m strenuously hoping for some kind of coconut or pina colada scent!

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Lastly for beauty, I’ve been trying out the Body Shop Oils of Life Sleeping Cream (£28.00) I was offered a free sample of this cream with my last GlossyBox. This lightweight night cream looks like a cream and feels like a gel. It goes on smoothly and smells really nice. It sinks into the skin fairly fast and then stays a teeny bit tacky. When I wake up in the morning my skin feels amazing – soft, matte, almost powder smooth but so so light. I had been using this every night but now I can see the bottom of my sample pot I’m only using it once or twice a week. At £28 a jar I really can’t justify buying the full size, and to be honest I can’t really see a massive need for this. It does make my skin feel wonderful but I’m not sure it’s adding anything to my beauty routine. Still, I’m adoring it whilst I have it!

Gary and I found we had run out of full TV series to watch, as a lot of our shows have ended. Having Netflix now we decided to give House of Cards a go. And I’m so glad we did. Kevin Spacey is an awesome actor, and the show is written so well. Set in Washington DC and based around the world of The White House, it’s right up our street. We’re on the 3rd season so far, and really enjoying it.

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And lastly, as an avid This American Life listener, a recent episode featured Chris Gethard’s Beautiful/Anonymous podcast. At an hour long each episode, an anonymous person can call in and speak to Chris for the full hour about anything they want. Chris isn’t allowed to hang up on the caller at any point, and the only way the show can end is if the caller hangs up or if the time runs out. It’s been really interesting listening to these, and I’ve just got to the end of the back-log so I’m now waiting on new episodes. Some of them have been moving, some funny, and some down-right weird. But I love listening. If you enjoy This American Life, check out Beautiful/Anonymous – you might just like it.

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I love listening to this kind of thing in the car when I’m driving, and I’m considering getting Audible – do any of you guys have an Audible subscription? If you do, what do you think? Worth the cost? I’d love to know what you think!

So that’s April – what have you been loving this month?