Not Buying Stuff?

I have just read Joshua Millburn’s post about not buying stuff for a year. I wonder…could I do this?

It’s a similar challenge to that of cutting sugar out of my diet. I can succeed temporarily, but when I attempt to prolong the cold-turkey resolution, the reverse happens, and I have yet to quite find a balance.

Perhaps I am under the consumerist illusion that I need Stuff. At least some stuff. The things that come to mind: Journals. Pens. Books for my course. Gear for climbing. Clothes. These things seem necessary.

In fact, looking over my past two months’ worth of purchases, they are mostly for food, postage, and events (theatre, cinema, concerts). The objects I have purchased are: a copy of French Vogue, record cards for handmade postcards, an umbrella, pens, gifts for people, and a bucket for hand-washing clothes.

Sensible. But just because these past couple of months have been in place with my morals doesn’t mean that the next couple of months will be the same, unless I watch them consciously. Let’s keep checking in…

How to Survive Outdoor Theatre

One of the great things about spending the summer in Oxford is that there is lots of outdoor theatre. And when the weather is hot and sunny and summery, attending a garden show is an easy, excellent way to spend an evening. Unfortunately, the weather is rarely hot and sunny and summery here, and preparations are required. Advice:

1. Dress warmly. Then add an extra layer. Then bring an extra layer just in case. It’s amazing how many freezing evenings it has taken me to take this advice seriously. Last night I wore my wool coat and beret and knee-high boots, and only then was I comfortable.

2. Including extra socks. In case your feet get cold in summery shoes or your first pair get wet in the rain.

3. And bring a blanket. Whether to sit on or wrap around yourself, I never regret having a blanket in tow.

4. And rain gear. If you’re allowed to use an umbrella and it’s raining, then you’ll want to have one. Otherwise a hood is appreciated. Even if it isn’t raining, the seats (or ground) might be wet, so account for that (perhaps with blanket above).

5. And maybe a pillow or cushion. If you’re sitting on the ground, some form of fluffy support is nice (or one of those little picnic chairs. But don’t be that annoying person who brings a ginormous lawn chair).

6. Invest in a hot drink. At the interval, if you’re cold (or even slightly cold), book it to the concessions stand and get a hot drink. It will warm your hands and your body (and your heart).

7. Make sure that everyone in your group is also prepared. It seems like a simple concept, but especially in Britain, where the weather is less than ideal (and rarely predictable) during the summer season (or any season really), some theatrical experiences bring light to the phrase “braving the elements.” Make sure everyone is as prepared as you and it will help everyone to enjoy the show more comfortably :)

“100 Things To Do Instead of Procrastinating on the Internet” Challenge Accepted! (1/100)

Gala Darling just posted this lovely list of “100 Things To Do Instead of Procrastinating on the Internet.” Because I like lists, checking off lists, and the exciting things that she suggests about life in general, I am taking on the challenge. I haven’t read all the way through, but that will be part of the fun. I will try to do the tasks in order, but might delay some depending on location, etc.

Today I have sort of done the first task:

1. Go through your entire closet & cull what isn’t working for you. This includes anything that is the wrong colour, shape or size. It also includes anything that you TRULY KNOW you will never wear. Throw them in a suitcase & trundle it to your nearest consignment boutique. I just did this on Tuesday, & I cannot tell you how peaceful it felt!

The truth is, because of my minimalism, I am constantly doing this, so it didn’t take long. I did put a few wearing out items in my charity pile, though, and set aside some that I won’t be wearing for the rest of the summer to pack away.

The finished product (everything except a drawer with some running/climbing clothes, and three more pairs of shoes in the back of the closet):

Image

A great benefit of paring down a bit is that I no longer rely on the extra wire hangers that were in my closet when I arrived. I would like to replace the hangers with extra pink plastic ones from my closet at home, but that will have to wait until Michaelmas.

Image

Why, Hello There!

Oh hi. It’s been a while, huh? Let’s catch up. But quickly. How bout some bullet points?

First of all, reflections on some recent posts:

  • Oscar Predictions 2012: I was really pleased with how the Oscars ended up. Given the limitations of the nominations, I think the awards were distributed to those who deserved them most (with the exception of George Clooney, perhaps). I get very involved with the whole predictions/support process here, and I fear that it drives me into negativity. Just because I loved Meryl Streep’s performance doesn’t mean I should be anti-Viola Davis leading up to the night. But as much as I know I shouldn’t be, a part of me is. I’m inspired by Woody Allen’s view on the matter and wish I were that cool: “The whole concept of awards is silly. I cannot abide by the judgment of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don’t”.
  • Challenge: Sugar-Free Seventh Week: Success! It was actually easier to abstain than to restrict. Every time I passed a pastry shop, I felt free because I wouldn’t even have to talk myself out of going in since I had no choice. It was that easy. I felt energized and controlled. Fruit became more of a treat. But okay, I did make an exception, I must confess – My favorite ice cream flavor was available at G&D’s that week, and it only shows up every few months for about a week. Wasn’t going to pass that up. As for today, I still eat more sugar than I should, but I’m working on cutting down.

And some reflections on life in general, since it’s the beginning of term and all:

  • I like living in Oxford a lot. I like being able to transport myself by foot and by cycle. I like that I am surrounded by friends with whom I can share my time. I like food shopping and cooking. I like being able to go climbing whenever I want. I like college. Exeter is totally the best.
  • Yesterday I tried my first class at YogaVenue, the first in a 14 day consecutive trial pass. 90 minutes of Vinyasa. I was completely challenged and completely drenched in sweat. Today I woke up more sore than I’ve been in who knows when, and while it was a bit difficult to function, I also love the feeling because it means I’m getting stronger, and I love that whole growth aspect of yoga. I was hooked when in my first class ever the instructor explained, “Yoga is about finding your limits and extending them.” Also, I forgot how addictive exercise can be. It’s awesome.
  • The days are SO LONG here because they are filled with stuff. Inspired by Tiger Cub Sophia‘s day-in-the-life series this week, I’ve started to keep my own private log of how I spend the hours of my day. Kind of fascinating stuff.
  • Got a new computer. An 11″ MacBook Air I’ve named Matilda. She is adorable and so minimalist. I haven’t had the chance to register her with the college yet though, so for the past week I’ve had no internet in my room. The result: Less time wasted browsing mindlessly and no useless TV-watching sessions. I do miss my YouTube mornings though.

That’s all for now. Fluffiness (and edginess) to come. In outfit form. You’ll see.

Oscar Predictions 2012!

The 84th Academy Awards are tonight. Or, in the UK, at 1:30am. After finally seeing all nine of the Best Picture nominees and many of the other films represented in other categories, I now present my predictions and commentary!

In order that they will be announced tonight:

Cinematography

★ Emmanuel Lubezki, Tree of Life

Bob Richardson, Hugo

Jeff Cronenweth, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Guillaume Schiffman, The Artist

Janusz Kaminski, War Horse

I think this is a sure win for ‘Tree of Life,’ although all are strong worthy options here (except ‘War Horse’). ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ should have made the cut though.

Art Direction

★ Hugo

The Artist

War Horse

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Midnight in Paris

My favorite category! ‘Hugo’ deserve to win, and all deserve to be nominated, except maybe ‘Harry Potter.’ This is the one category for which ‘War Horse’ deserved recognition.

Costume Design

Anonymous

★ The Artist

Hugo

Jane Eyre

W.E.

I don’t see a clear winner here, so why not give another award to ‘The Artist.’ That said, it could easily go to any of them, and for some reason I keep thinking it will be ‘Jane Eyre.’ Maybe because that film isn’t really recognized anywhere else and it’s the kind of thing that could snag Costumes.

Best Makeup

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

★ The Iron Lady

Albert Nobbs

Wouldn’t it be funny if this were the only Oscar Harry Potter ever won? But no. It has to be ‘The Iron Lady’ here – it should be recognized if Meryl Streep isn’t. More on that in a bit. By why no ‘J Edgar’ nomination?

Foreign Language Film

★ A Separation (Iran)

In Darkness (Poland)

Footnote (Israel)

Bullhead (Belgium)

Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)

I haven’t been able to see any of these, but ‘A Separation’ looks like a no brainer. It’s too bad that ‘La Piel Que Habito’ (‘The Skin I Live in’) from Spain and ‘Shi’ (‘Poetry’) from South Korea were not entered for consideration (not sure if ‘Shi’ would have qualified for 2011 instead of 2012 though).

Supporting Actress

★ Octavia Spencer, The Help

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Berenice Bejo, The Artist

Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Another no brainer category: definitely Octavia Spencer. Her performance was one of my favorites of the year overall, so I will be very happy to see her win. Jessica Chastain was also brilliant in ‘The Help,’ but I think her nomination should have been for ‘Tree of Life.’ Perhaps because ‘The Help’ was driven by so many strong female performances hers didn’t stand out as much as when she was the representation of women in ‘Tree of Life.’ I’m glad Melissa McCarthy got a nod here, and kind of glad that Shailene Woodley did not.

Editing

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

★ The Artist

Moneyball

The Descendants

I really want this to go to ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,’ but Best Picture and Editing usually go hand in hand. It would be my second favorite award to Art Direction, but it’s always so predictable. That said, I’m happy ‘The Social Network’ was able to grab it last year – while ‘Dragon Tattoo’ was brilliant, it wasn’t nearly as brilliant as last year’s Fincher.

Sound Editing

★ Hugo

Drive

War Horse

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Transformers

Can ‘Drive’ win something please? I do not understand the Sound categories at all and don’t know if I ever will. I loved the ‘Drive’ score, but it didn’t have enough original material to qualify for the Score category. So…sound? :) But no, I’m going to be safe and put ‘Hugo’ for both categories, hoping against a ‘War Horse’ upset.

Sound Mixing

★ Hugo

Moneyball

War Horse

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Transformers

*apparently after the Sound category presentations we are rewarded with a Cirque du Soleil performance!*

Documentary Feature

★ Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Undefeated

Hell and Back Again

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Pina

Haven’t seen any of these, but I just read Paradise Lost so maybe that’s why it’s sticking out to me…

Animated Feature

★ Rango

Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots

Chico & Rita

A Cat in Paris

My second least favorite category. I’m particularly bitter this year since they shut out ‘Tintin’ which had the best animation I’ve ever seen. To be fair, of the nominees I’ve only seen ‘Rango.’ The story is weak, but the concept is promising, as are the voice actors. And Roger Deakins. I’ll think of it as a belated ‘True Grit’ cinematography award.

Visual Effects

★ Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Hugo

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Real Steel

Transformers

The visual effects were all ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ had going for it. And James Franco, but that was wasted on bad writing. Anyway, the visual effects were great, Andy Serkis was great – they get my vote.

Supporting Actor

★ Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Christopher Plummer please! Another of my favorite performances of the year. ‘Beginners’ was such an overlooked film (as was its canine star, although he was nominated for a Golden Collar!). So glad Jonah Hill got an unexpected nod.

Score

★ Ludovic Bource, The Artist

John Williams, War Horse

Howard Shore, Hugo

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

The Adventures of Tintin

There weren’t any standout scores for me this year, so I’m happy with whatever. I’m quite happy with the nominees actually – while Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross did a good job with ‘Dragon Tattoo’ it was no where near ‘Social Network’ so it’s okay that they weren’t nominated again. ‘The Artist’ relies on the score for the entire film, so yes, this makes sense.

Song

★ Man of Muppet, Muppets

Real in Rio, Rio

Seriously? Why is this even a category? I liked ‘Rio’ a lot (no animated film nomination though? I guess I can’t really judge having only seen one of the films), but haven’t really taken the time to analyze either song. Nor will I be taking it.

Adapted Screenplay

★ Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton, Jim Rash,The Descendants

John Logan, Hugo

Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, Stan Chervin, Moneyball

George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, The Ides of March

Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughn, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

This is where ‘The Descendents’ will get their recognition. But they shouldn’t. It was at least better than the confused jumble that was ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,’ but not as cleverly woven together as ‘Hugo’ or as sharp and compelling as ‘Moneyball’ (still haven’t seen ‘Ides of March.’ I’m sorry, Ryan.).

Original Screenplay

★ Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Bridesmaids

Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

JC Chandor, Margin Call

Yes Woody Allen! My favorite film of the year deserves something and this is where it will get it. My glee for ‘Midnight in Paris’ shall outshine my fury that ‘Bridesmaids’ is on the list. Unoriginal and un-fun. I hear that ‘A Separation’ deserves to win, but I still haven’t seen it.

Live Action Short

Tuba Atlantic

★ The Shore

Raju

Pentecost

Time Freak

I’m not going to pretend to know anything about this category. At all.

Animated Short

★ The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

La Luna

Dimanche/Sunday

A Morning Stroll

Wild Life

Again, um, yeah. People seem to like ‘Flying Books.’ Okay, that then.

Direction

★ Michel Hanazavicius, The Artist

Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Alexander Payne,The Descendants

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Terrence Malick, Tree of Life

Best Picture/Best Director rule. Easy.

Actor

★ Jean Dujardin, The Artist

George Clooney,The Descendants

Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Demián Bichir, A Better Life

Clooney and Pitt deserve it more than Dujardin, but they will cancel each other out (Pity. Clooney should win.). Oldman and Bichir should just be happy to be nominated. It was an ‘aw’ moment to see them recognized. Still bitter about Uggie not qualifying though.


Actress

★ Viola Davis, The Help

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Glen Close, Albert Nobbs

This should be Meryl Streep’s year,but alas, it is Davis’s. She was great. But the character she played was not nearly as demanding as Streep’s. That’s always the tough thing about these acting categories. Best performance of the year was Tilda Swinton, but that was never going to be Oscar appropriate. My favorite moment of the awards season was hearing Rooney Mara’s name announced for her nomination – so unexpectedly wonderful.

Picture

Midnight in Paris

★ The Artist

Hugo

Moneyball

The Help

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Descendants

Tree of Life

War Horse

There is no question. ‘The Artist’ will win. And it should win. I’ve listed the films above in the order that I liked them. Of this list, I think that there should have been only five nominated, cutting off at ‘The Help.’ Kind of a dull year, but still some good films recognized. The theme of the year seems to be nostalgia – cinematic and artistic. The second, less interesting but still powerful, theme is persistence. Those two themes cover all of the films nominated for Best Picture. Except maybe ‘Tree of Life.’ I still just don’t get it.

Happy Oscar night, everyone!

Challenge: Sugar-Free Seventh Week

I love sugar. But I have come to realize that it does not love me back. It is detrimental to my energy, athleticism, and general health. The annoying thing is, sugar is so beautifully presented: carefully decorated cakes, enticing ice cream sundaes drizzled with chocolate sauce, brightly colored candy shoppe sweets…Not only does it taste delicious, but the treat looks like a treat.

But this week, the seventh week of term, I will resist. I have tried similar experiments, the most recent of which was the “no sugar except on special occasions” rule, which was decided upon in order to allow myself to enjoy halfway hall and baking climbing cookies, but turned into “it’s sunny outside, so that’s a special occasion to have ice cream.” No. There are no such occasions this week, so I shall resist. I will even skip my weekly pub cake on Wednesday and my traditional pre-tutorial affogatos. It’s just one week. A little experiment of my self-control with the added health benefit.

I’m announcing this publicly so that many people can hold me to it, or even help me through it. So don’t go offering me chocolate. That would be mean.

So here we go: Sunday through Saturday, no sugar. The fast will be broken with climbing truffles at the Lakes this weekend.