2015 Playlist

In the absence of hard drive space (and a functioning computer) I spent far too much of the past year listening to the same music I’ve had for ages. That’s not to say that it’s bad music of course – just that I’ve exhausted it all through years of excessive love and repetition. Not to mention that ever since I got drunk in Okinawa and lost my iPod a few years ago (oops) I’ve been stuck using my phone as my only portable audio device. Whatever I can fit into its 2 KB of memory is what I have to work with.

In the last few weeks of 2015 I grew thoroughly sick of everything I had on my iPhone. No one artist or album or playlist could work its usual magic and keep me sane or motivated. I had resorted to shuffling through the comprehensive song list, which served as both a refreshing reminder of how much I love this music, as well as a catalyst for a massive flashback.

The few thousand songs on my phone constitute old favorites I can never go without as well as some of my more recent acquisitions (not new songs necessarily, but new to my collection). Some of them are insanely nostalgic; others inextricably remind me of times or places – or people, for better or worse. For the sake of posterity, here is a rough playlist of my 2015.


January

2015 rolled around to some old tunes, mostly Hole and Bikini Kill. (If my first post on this blog is any indicator, the end of 2014 + beginning of the new year had a lot of Bikini Kill.) My magnificent friend Cat came to visit me in Japan and brought with her a dose of college nostalgia. I was blasting 90s grunge all month like I was in my dorm room again.

February

Sometimes I download music just because Noel Fielding tells me to. The Kills gratefully fell into that category, but despite owning all their music since college I never had the patience to fully explore them until this year. I hesitate to admit that it might have been “Gossip Girl” that steered me in their direction anew…Hey, the show had good music, okay?

March

By March I had been in Japan for about half a year and was beset with as much culture fatigue as could be expected. Grasping at straws for entertainment – and, it has to be said, redemption, after a bad breakup – I found myself a new, fun “romance” in which to entangle myself. Naturally it was all a huge mess, but before everything blew up it allowed me a degree of vindication, which paired magnificently with The Zolas’ music.

I’m not even ashamed to admit that I first heard them in season 2 of “Hemlock Grove.” Season 2 was good, okay – and the music even better. What an anti-breakup song.

Unfortunately, with the dissolution (which was not unfortunate) of my weird pseudo-courtship, I couldn’t listen to this band for quite a while. I think I’m most bitter about that over all the other drama. Ruin “Cultured Man” for me? Fuck off.

I’ve gotten it back though. Finally.

Continue reading “2015 Playlist”

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Found Footage Fails

Blair Witch Project

“I’m sorry to my mom…for losing her camera in the woods forever.”

So while I haven’t seen 90% of the world’s popular modern film classics, I have seen an absurd number of horror films (not all of them gr8, but that’s another post) and routinely spend hours at a time searching for what I deem well executed and, ideally, actually scary horror films. Having seen, I would wager, all “classic” horror films (minus zombie ones because omg idc) and probably most cult classics, I am constantly searching for new nightmare material, which is unfortunately pretty gd hard to find. To me a “good” horror movie requires a very particular balance of story, execution, acting, and aesthetics, such that it holds up not only as a horror film but as a film in general.

This balance is, imaginably, pretty fucking hard to attain.

Of course I, having never made a horror movie myself, can’t speak to the semantic difficulties of one’s execution, nor justify any of the “failures” common of the genre. Likewise I am by no means a film scholar or expert critic – so consider that a disclaimer for all observations made in this and future posts. THAT SAID as a rather experienced layman viewer and lover of horror, and also as a self-important, extremely bored human being, I reckon I can contribute something of meager merit on the subject. 

There seems to be a fairly standard recipe for a “good” horror film and its presentation: setting the scene, building suspense, the first blatant reveal of a threat and thereafter varying escalations to the final shitstorm of spooks. Simple, tried but true, Horror 101 stuff. However basic there are still tons of ways to utilize this pattern successfully, creating a product with a strong story and good scares – and of course roughly 10 billion ways to fuck it up. Deviating from this pattern makes for even more of a challenge, but if properly executed an even more impressive and memorable product.

The standard progression of found footage horror films is perhaps even more predictable: people set out to film thing, thing becomes dangerous, shit gets real and they die. Of every found footage film that I’ve seen, only two of them deviate from this pattern. Two, out of 20+. That considered, I understand why people dismiss or dislike the genre; I used to be one of them. But for some reason I have been on a found footage kick lately and have seen far, far too many films not to write about them.

I have sat through hours of the good, the bad, and the inexcusably stupid to feed my new fixation. Some of that time could have been better spent doing laundry or punching myself in the face (both of which would’ve been more entertaining/scary than some of these films), but for the most part it was worth it. Excluding the total garbage ones, there were some decently spooky, if not particularly remarkable, movies – and to my own surprise some that I would even consider part of my top horror films of all time.

But let’s start with the garbage ones.


(Warning: There are slight spoilers in my discussion of the following films, but trust me you’re not any worse off for that.)

Devil’s Pass

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Summary: A group of college kids head to the Ural Mountains to uncover the truth behind the Dyatlov Pass Incident, in which a group of hikers mysteriously died in 1959.

As with most found footage horror I went into this one with low-to-zero expectations. Even so, I was disappointed.

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“U wot, mate?”

The film opens with a news clip concerning the students’ disappearance, immediately revealing its adherence to the standard found footage pattern. That admission aside, one would expect the film to make up for lack of innovation with some additional creative spin on the concept. It does not.

Every aspect of the film sticks to textbook basics, from the obvious progression of the characters (two-dimensional teen movie defaults) into madness, to the token romantic subplot they shakily employ. As for scares, unless pretty lights make you shit your pants you can count yourself safe.

Main offense: Found Footage Faux-Pas #1 – Special FX Overkill

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When in doubt, blame monsters…right?

The final moments of this film are a goddamn mess. Suddenly there are monsters and portals and time-travel – as if in the writers’ room they had listed every tired and contrived Sci-Fi twist possible and decided, Let’s just use all of them! What could go wrong?

EVERYTHING. In an apparent rush to wrap things up the film delivers a vague and haphazard explanation for all the mysterious happenings, involving secret government experiments during the Cold War. Had they explored this point further it could’ve made for a really rad story – especially considering the Dyatlov Pass Incident, the event on which the characters base their expedition, actually happened – but instead, they commit found footage taboo: falling back on cheap FX.

Not to say that special FX have no place in found footage films – they can be used effectively, which in most cases means sparsely – but for a genre dependent on the authenticity and believability of the product it’s insanely risky to incorporate CGI. Especially in the form of some generic monsters who serve no purpose other than inane shock factor. Devil’s Pass sacrifices story for cheap “scares,” and not well at that.

 

TL;DR: Clichés culminating in a cop-out.

Redeeming qualities: Like, I guess the snowy mountains were pretty.

Rating: This movie sucked. I rate it 0 out of 2 million babooshkas.


 

Continue reading “Found Footage Fails”

Death of a Rebel

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I will never know what it was like to lose Bowie as a husband or a father or even as a friend, yet here I am, one of the many thousands of people who loved but never knew him, distinctly poisoned by loss.

“Along with anyone who’s been awake during the last 45 years,” as my dad puts it. As for why, I think Amanda Palmer says it best:

 

A hole has been cut in the universe. The Earth’s energy is off-balance, as if some critical element has been removed. A man who as much proclaimed himself inhuman is dead, ultimately mortal, like the rest of us.

In creation myths gods may die, leaving in their wake a sense of devastation and loss. The world that they created and governed somehow goes on.

Music lost a god this week, as did fashion, eccentricity. A figurehead of rock ‘n’ roll and weirdness.

Often in these myths the death of a god entails some second coming.

I don’t expect we’ll have another Bowie, in my lifetime, if ever.

It’s not like me to soliloquize like this – much less to make public what are essentially irrelevant personal thoughts. I like to tell myself to save my breath, keep my feelings private, and ultimately squash them entirely. I like to moderate how I’m perceived for what I think or how I feel.

This is, therefore, an exercise in what Bowie stands for to me, more than his musical presence: self expression. Standing before whomever comes your way, unapologetic for what you are.

However undeniably sappy – and some might say unwarranted – this post may be, I get to express it. It’s how I feel. Thousands of people feel Bowie’s death, some much more than I, and plenty have been vocal about it. Even though I didn’t know him, never met him, wasn’t alive when he started changing music, I feel his passing, and I’m adding my voice to the thousands of others. It changes nothing. It harms no one. It’s an exercise in futility – but in expression, and if Bowie exemplified anything it’s that expression can be powerful, magnificent, ethereal.

There is a hole in my universe.

My world goes on – with the memory of a King and his influences in stone.

You will be missed, Bowie. May I hope to live half as unabashedly and authentically as you.

 

Confessions of a Pop Culture Pariah

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So… “Star Wars” just came out (#topical). Like…I guess people care about that.

I HOWEVER find myself in the delectably hip position of being able to say I do not give even half a flying fuck about the new “Star Wars.” Because I have never seen it. Any of them.

Unless you count the ~month my 9th grade Physics teacher played Episode IV for us after giving up on life (which I don’t, because I slept through it), I have never seen any of the Star Wars franchise. As much as I weirdly cherish the shock value of being a statistical minority in whatever context, I do find myself sort of bothered in this case. Star Wars is a massive cultural phenomenon spanning ~40 years and permeating international borders in a way only entertainment media can do, and here I stand on the outside, wondering who the fuck Han Solo is. (That’s Harrison Ford, right? I literally have no idea.)

Granted science fiction is not my thing, and as it wasn’t part of my childhood Star Wars may never make it into my top 10 favorite classic films or whatever, but I still feel like I should give it a shot. I’m compelled to watch at least the original three, at least once, just so I can consider myself a legitimate member of the human race.

Call it peer pressure – I call it practical, for on more than one occasion my pop cultural ignorance has caused *genuine* turbulence in my friendships. It’s not only Star Wars that I’ve more or less unconsciously avoided, but a staggering list of cult-or-otherwise classics I have somehow gone 23 years without seeing.

Below, an abbreviated list of Popular Films I Have Never Seen, AKA Reasons My Friends Threaten to Disown Me:

The Matrix
Blade Runner
Jurassic Park
The Godfather
Fight Club (book was p good though)
Titanic
Goodfellas
Forrest Gump
Saving Private Ryan
American History X
Indiana Jones (any of them)
Terminator (any of them)
Predator
Apocalypse Now
Citizen Kane
Oldboy
Braveheart
Full Metal Jacket
2001: A Space Odyssey
Willow
Life of Brian (or any other Monty Python film, except Holy Grail)
Seven Samurai (how did I complete my Japanese major?)
My Neighbor Totoro (I don’t know how I missed this one either)
V for Vendetta (what I did see of it was garbage tho)
Annie Hall
Sin City
Groundhog Day
The Truman Show
Love Actually
Jaws
any Rocky movie
any James Bond movie (except Casino Royale for some reason)
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hackers
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Clerks (any of them)
Dazed and Confused
Wayne’s World
Lethal Weapon
Mission Impossible
Die Hard (any of them)
The Hobbit
Gremlins (angry at myself for this one)
Armageddon
any Austin Powers movie
The Goonies
Caddyshack
Robocop (I’M SORRY)
any Fast and Furious movie
Ghostbusters (SORRY)
Scarface

And too, too many more.

…I mean, I’ll get to watching some of them eventually.

It looks like I’ve consciously avoided all mainstream box office phenomena since I was literally born, but I promise it was not my intention to skip out on all of pop culture. Arguably my interests just don’t align with the stuff of mainstream movies (there’s my inner hipster! knew she’d show up sometime in this post). Shou ga nai, ne.

…I don’t know how I have friends, either.

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P.S.: Re: this being a “fashion” blog or whatever: …uh. Yeah, whatever.

I’m gonna use this blog toward whatever end I desire on a given day, ‘cause to be honest fashion is an extremely marginal interest of mine. So let’s pardon Past Charlotte for tryharding and move on.

Not that I won’t ever post about fashion. I probably will. But why box myself in unnecessarily?

From now on this blog will constitute whatever I want it to. Anything about which I give fucks shall be posted here. This is the Blog of Charlotte’s Fucks.

…There’s no reason to make that title stick.

Bye. XX

Paint Me As A Villain…

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That “wicked” joke starting to make sense now? Barely? Good enough.

Since I’d already abused my hair into this gross straw color (and straw consistency, incidentally, oops) I figured there was no better costume than the lovely and psychotic Harleen Frances Quinzel, M.D.

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Me and the rest of the gd world, it seems.

I thought I’d get a leg up and go as Harley this year rather than after the movie actually comes out, BUT as there is no such thing as originality and thus is the unbearable lightness of being, literally everyone else in the world apparently had that same thought.

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Sigh. Figures.

Since there are roughly 6000 Harley tutorials out there already, I’m gonna abstain from dumping another one into the internet void. Instead here are the results of a totally sober photo shoot from this my second Halloween in Japan.

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Totally sober.

And I might as well go through the products I used. Pourquoi pas.

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Clothing:
Baseball Tee – 400 Yen Store (RIP) + my minimal artistic efforts
Shorts – Forever 21
Tights – Claire’s
Boots – DSW

Again, like last year, I had to make do with street clothes instead of any costume shop stuff, and since I’m lazy and unskilled the result is not an exact replica of the character. But who cares. Incidentally this is the exact outfit I wore on my birthday this year, except that the shirt got stained pink in the wash somehow (I don’t own any pink so…wat). Lucky Harley and I share the same taste in fashion.

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My costume choices are never much of a stretch from my actual personality. Interpret that as you will.

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Strong #Halloween #spoiler

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Makeup-wise: again, living in Japan necessitates heavy reliance on makeup for Halloween purposes, but Harley’s is simple enough that it turned out surprisingly spot on IF I DO SAY SO MYSELF.

Products:
White base – ねり白粉, crazy geisha shit

Eyes – Hijack by Urban Decay (blue eye)
Some nameless blush by YSL (pink eye…)
M6 Brown shadow from the Smashbox Full Exposure Palette
Smashbox Limitless Liquid Liner Pen in Jet Black (which I HATE for everyday use, but worked nicely over the white base)
Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes eye pencil (also used for the CHEEKy heart)

Brows – M1 (brown) and M7 (black) from the Smashbox Full Exposure Palette

Lips – Hourglass Femme Rouge Velvet Crème Lipstick in whatever the dark bloody color is

+ some drugstore eyelashes and mascara, and Claire’s hairspray that matched Harley’s dye job shockingly well
++ bruising and fake blood because why not it’s Halloween

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And anything goes on Halloween…

…At least in America. It’s safe to say not everyone was quite on my level of enthusiasm…So many confused passers-by.

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U wot, m8?

Don’t worry, guys. This is normal. I’m a cultural ambassador, this is literally my job.

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Normal, I tell you. Just ignore the bat.

Thankfully “Suicide Squad” hasn’t been hyped in Japan at all, so even within the gaijin crowd I was in fact the only Harley. And for all the nihonjin I encountered that night, they were just left to wonder why I was talking in such an annoying accent.

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Shouts out to my also totally sober photographers, who were kind enough to step away from beer pong and take photos of me on the street.

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And also during beer pong…

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Which was less of this…

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…and a lot of this.

Thanks for capturing my shame, guys. Guess Harley sucks at pong.

 

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I owe most of my badass photos to this lady, who unlike me actually knows how to use a camera. Instagram to prove it:
https://www.instagram.com/jazmanian_devil_/

Gracias, Furiosa. ❤

All in all, it proved to be a Halloween of fairly epic proportions. Moreover, it was the anniversary of my meeting the amazing fools pictured throughout this post – and that in itself was reason to celebrate.

#SuicideSquadGoals

Long live the Pussy Posse.

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