The Glory of Ugly Shoes

It's getting towards Real Summer Time again so of course I'm noticing the way my jeans cling and the way my shoes rub more than usual as I'm looking through the big magnifying glass of steadily increasing temperature, but also I just went on holiday too, so I'm naturally thinking a lot about the endless wrestling match between style and comfort. I'm pleased to announce that I love ugly shoe.

These are my Skechers. My ugly beautiful children.

There's just something good about wearing the mildly ugly but intensely comfortable shoe of choice at any time while going outside. Shoes, after all, are the item of clothing most likely to become ugly spontaneously while being worn. Maybe this is partly because I wear work brogues to the woods at an alarming frequency because I am the fool who was transported directly from a Tumblr 2012 forest photoshoot of a girl carrying a satchel and wearing brogues, and inexplicably, cream (dangerous yet so cute) [editing note: I am talking about the colour cream, not the substance, to clarify]. Except really I'm a more gremlin-like and gurning version of that sweet, innocent, " maybe I'll make a account" relic, but the point stands.

These brogues? Only Tesco's finest.

To be clear, I love my brogues - they're a soft and comfy shoe choice that works in the most professional and most casual situations, and the forest debris does clean off just fine, but there is the matter of having to constantly tie and untie your shoelaces. This is usually okay with me (I know, I'm so brave, so resilient), but it does get a bit old when you have to awkwardly do this at the door of your airbnb every day while your host presumably silently constructs a list of your hideous faults and one of those faults is probably your lack of swift shoe conjugation.

These are my spicy Primark boots - the most exuberant of all my shoes - and only a small section of the little metal studs have fallen off so far after a good year of use!

Moreover, being on holiday always makes this thing happen to my brain. Always the same smart thoughts, which are either "why did I bother trying to look nice when tbh I could've just worn Big Legging?" or "wow why didn't I at least make slightly more effort to look nice when tbh I could've Brushed My Hair?" The constant dilemma. Actually, I think I did pretty okay on this holiday, but this post is really much more about the aftermath a week later, when I found myself wearing a long, pleated navy skirt and some Skechers.

This is the kind of clear and beautiful image you can expect on this - my photography blog. My Skechers look really good here because you basically can't see them. Mmm, cute!

It's kind of a weird combo - the neat and cute but loose and unassuming skirt, and these cute little honkers on my feet - but listen, I have never been more comfortable in my life. I just live for these Skechers. They are sort of ugly in a cute way. There's something satisfying about them. This is the same way I feel about a lot of the sorts of outdoorsy outerwear gear that every single member of my family wears. Little comfy fleeces from some kind of camping shop. The ubiquitous walking shoes. And that's how I know that my love for the ugly cute comfy stuff must be genetic.

But also, y'know, it's just a sweater thing. Seeing all your friends in big comfy jumper? In a jumper with a hole in it? In a jumper that is clearly borrowed from someone, a little out of shape? Sometimes those things that are a little bit broken or dirty or ugly are just better, or they have their own beauty to them, or they're just comfy as hell. And that's why I respect the power of ugly shoes. Sort of.

I know that you come to this blog to enjoy multiple pictures of me holding shoes, so here you go. You're welcome.

I don't know, okay, just look at my Skechers and love them as I do. Thank you.

The Carly Rae Jepsen Album (It's Extremely Good)

I'm listening to Carly Rae Jepsen's new album, "Dedicated", I'm about half way through, and I thought, yeah, actually, why not liveblog this experience. This is what a blog is for. All I can say so far is: wig.

Julien is a really interesting opener choice, of course I've heard this song before alongside the other pre-album releases, but it's such a sweet song. There's something nice about having a specific name. Julien!!! Who is he? I do immediately associate it with Julien Solomita, which only enhances my experience tbh. He's the only Julien. Anyway, it's such a nice, gently funky, smooth opening track. I feel like... listen, I feel like this is a great song to listen to in the bath. That's my opinion.

No Drug Like Me was my favourite of the songs available before the album came out because it's just so big and happy and soaring, on par with all the strongest and most exhilarating songs from Emotion and Emotion Side B, but not only does Dedicated bring more huge and incredible songs with that same infectious danceable rhythm (big favourites are "Want You In My Room" and "Happy Not Knowing", the latter being also Too Real in a most delicious way), it also on the whole has a really interesting softness and instrumentality to it that retains the core of what made her previous work intense, dramatic, tightly constructed pop music with dreamy yet powerful synth energy. This albums keeps that, but adds this interesting fleshy feeling with more little strings and clicks and also an unexpected saxophone on "Happy Not Knowing" that comes in so late and that I love so much.

I love the intro on No Drug Like Me - it feels incredibly purposefully slow and intense and breaks into clicks and then WOAH WE GOT A CHORUS. The sensuality of it in both the almost whispered verse parts and the imagery "a little ghost of us" and "starry eyes, blurry eyes" is woven really satisfyingly into a thrillingly rapid and classic Carly rhythmic synth crescendo. Thank you queen.

Now That I Found You is a natural progression from this and has a more straightforwardly driven dancey sound, and here we get a glimpse of some of the really fun vocal backing and cut up vocal pieces sprinkled through the album that really create a great, collage-y sense of depth and that just, uhhh, sound really good baby!!! It's like she has a little Carly Rae Jepsen Pokémon backing her up on this track. Also it's just, very cute.

Want You In My Room is a huge, immediate favourite. It feels super carefree, but also I love that it has a little bit of 90s jangly pop sound! There's a little bit of a Strawberry Switchblade kinda feel to it, and it is delightful, cute, and also on the fade out there's just a saxophone there. There is just a saxophone, there, for no reason and it's almost pointless but it's actually perfect and good.

Everything He Needs is another smooth song with some of the feel of Julien, but this song has such a gentle mess filter feel to it (and a jaunty piano that says "hello I'm piano ;-) I am here"). It reminds me of playing around in the bed section in Ikea as a kid and getting inside those white mesh bed curtain things. She was probably inside one of those the whole time she was writing and recording this song.

Happy Not Knowing is an immediate huge favourite as well - it's both an incredibly constructed song with a little bit of funk, some gently placed little guitar flairs that are really fun, a tasty build up to a chorus backed by a really nice bassy synth rhythm, and then also its concept is such a perfect bittersweet encapsulation of the pain, bliss, and denial of a suppressed romantic interest. You can feel the sting a little bit. It's so good. This might be my favourite song on Dedicated.

I'll Be Your Girl has a brooding feel which makes me imagine Detective Carly Rae Jepsen, and I expect this to be the sequel to Detective Pikachu (please). Too Much is a wonderful ode to worry and identity. The Sound has a really nice soft and constant sombre piano tune that does a really interesting thing during the chorus and just, becomes distorted - the contrast between the very clear piano notes during verses and the heavy phaser over the top during the chorus is such a great, involving choice and conveys so well a kind of mental/emotional breaking free too. I really like it.

Automatically In Love continues the sort of smooth and gently funk infused portion of the album here, and it's blissful.

In Feels Right, Carly Rae Jepsen has presumably eaten Zara Larsson eats Elton John, and Toploader, to absorb their powers. Electric Guest are great on this, and the smooth high notes they provide kinda let Carly do some more crunchy vocals alongside them, which are really fun.

Right Words Wrong Time has a sort of cradling, back and forth melody which I love. Kinda feels like a driving song.

Real Love is like a Lady Gaga song. It's partly the compressed slightly degraded synth in the background and the way the vocal sort of climbs and bursts, but then also there's this trumpet-y thing happening at some point and it winds back down into the classic Carly Rae Jepsen elements, which are, to me, a certain delicate brooding feeling, and also like........ trumpety synth time. Thanks yeah that's right, I'm a music blogger now and you're gonna hear all of my smart words.

For Sure is: Twin Peaks theme x clapping x probably Carly Rae Jepsen has broken into a church and is singing to the stained glass windows. The "da da da da" part and the clinky drums and the almost choral underlying synth make me feel like she should do some kind of Disney movie soundtrack. You know, like Tarzan, but it's Carly Rae Jepsen instead of Phil Collins. Oddly comparable vibe in some ways. Basically, idk, maybe get Carly to do the soundtrack for the live action version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame or something. Come on. Please. Also there's a sudden "ahhh" near the end which reminds me of a similar moment in one of the Hercules songs.

And I don't really need to say anything about Party For One. It slaps. But okay, I love the piano sound that kinda sounds like a marble bouncing up some stairs. Also there's such great percussion in this album! It's so layered! Okay bye! I love this album!

Scrapbooking Inspiration (via a Japanese drama)

I've been thinking about scrapbooks and travel journals and itineraries lately because I was thinking about how best to plan stuff for an upcoming holiday, and also how to make that stuff as cute as possible, and it turns out there are endless ways and endless fun stuff you can do in this area.

I was thinking, hmmmm, maybe I should carry around a little notebook and draw things I see and keep diary entries and tape in some tickets and cards and wrappers and things. The truth is that I was inspired by watching the Japanese series "My Husband Won't Fit" (it's a series about a couple's very specific sexual problem - it's quite sad and at times a bit too graphic for me, but it was an interesting watch and I've included two screenshots here from a really cool shot sequence I liked from an early episode), in which our protagonist, Kumiko, diligently keeps beautifully maintained and adorable scrapbooks about things she does with her husband. She sticks ice cream wrappers onto the brown pages and it looks so cool and cute. I was like, "wow... I wanna do that!"

Screenshots from "My Husband Won't Fit".

So I've been looking at a bunch of pictures of people's travel journals and scrapbooks, and something about all of them and their fun, haphazard, collage elements, their scribbly handwriting, and their element of collection when it comes to photos and tickets and brochures makes me really happy.

This one, made by April (Penguins Creative) had so many fun pieces. I like the use of stamps, and cutting out titles and characters from leaflets.

My favourite part of this travel journal by Heidi Swapp is the way she created these fun little circles to write inside. Such a great, creative way to break up a page! And I love her handwriting too.

This journal spread by Katie Licht uses white space and rough edges in such a perfect way, and I love the inclusion of an old photo. It has so much personality and space.

And finally, I thought this spread by Elsie from A Beautiful Mess was beautiful. Such a cute combo of dictionary pages and photobooth pictures with her husband. So simple, so good.

So maybe I can do something fun like this, but for now... I do have a very cute spreadsheet with important info and a table of activities that I'm building. I looked at some "travel itinerary spreadsheet templates" and took some useful elements from them to make my own, and I am now very excited about my spreadsheet. Thank you for understanding and respecting me while I work on my beautiful spreadsheet.

Also, check out this screenshot I took while playing an S Club 7 video recently:

Truly, the most perfect and singular moment of art.

Time Aren't Real

Doing a blog post sometimes feels like tidying. I guess it can be like decluttering your thoughts, or just like with making lists and diary entries it's like you're just putting them somewhere outside your own head. It's a nice feeling.

It's spring time, and I keep being shocked by the presence of so many Easter eggs in the shops. I wasn't ready for this time. I'm in some kind of timeless bubble in my head where it can't possibly be almost Easter. I feel like time has stood still for at least six months. Maybe I'm a 500 year old time freezing witch and I'm just not fully conscious of it. It's possible.

Things feel good though. I mean maybe this timeless feelings is because so many things have been there to fill the time. It's all jumbled into one pile of things. I've met new people, I've been animating a whole bunch of stuff, and writing and making videos with people. There's a freedom inside all this stuff. All this great and fun stuff.

Here's Jenny Nicholson and her Big Porg. Look at them. A perfect family.

The other day I was looking at some dresses. I very foolishly perused the Topshop sale items (and H&M because, of course) and found some stuff I thought was cute, so to relinquish my desire to GET CLOTHES I'm gonna post them here. Check 'em out:

Which one is the best? I'm getting the second one tbh and no one can stop me, but if not stopped I will obtain all dresses in existence, so at some point I have to be stopped.

Anyway, here's frog:


Here are some strange little paintings. They are coming to haunt you. I think my scanner is scanning them a little darker than before. They're lurking in their own shadows. The darkness is nice in its own way though.

Paint is a glorious little mess as always, and I may have lost 90% of my hand-eye coordination the moment I picked up my paintbrush, but no god or mortal can stop me. You know, like it's good to make these pure and thoughtless things. Find them under pillows or just crumpled and folded in all my drawers, stuffed in the clear plastic folders getting plump from too many paintings.

They're a fun and haphazard kind of nonsense creativity, is my point. And I miss posting them here in all their chaos. Painting feels like a sleepy thing to do right now. Like I can't really think or concentrate when I'm doing it. I can't really focus on my movements too much. It's nice to lean into that feeling and make hazy things. Lazy shapes.

This is my favourite picture though. The little bear on the ground. A small perfect thing. And lumpy, happy surprise. There he is! A little creature! Ain't nothing more blissful.

I guess my thoughts are kinda hazy right now too. Everything feels sleepy and tired. It rained a lot the other day, and it was suddenly cold again. I've been drawing in pencil and enjoying the texture. Something about it feels simple and almost grounding. Maybe I'll write some posts here that are more like stream of consciousness diary entries again in future. I don't need to think to come here and just enjoy the sense of pressing keys and hearing their pleasing tapping sounds.

It's nice to think out loud, and paint out loud, and have vague memories of things come with all those rambly words and muddy shapes.

Here's a little tissue paper boy. My sweet son. I love him the most. Look at him. He's so happy. I love that boy!

Happy Little Blobs

A while ago I made a weird little painted animation, and I've had these scans of the frames sitting on my computer since then, so I thought I'd post them. It's kinda cool to see them all together like this. Maybe they're really better in this form. All huddled together like a little collection of bugs, or a neatly arranged aerial photograph of all the receipts you just took out of your bag.

It's a nice little neatness looking at them all together. You can see how the colours gently fade into each other. It's interesting to look at and think about all the individual frames of an animation. You're really stopping time. But maybe even better is that they're all together on one page like this. Huddled close. Maybe I should have never separated them at all.

I was planning on drawing over them in pencil, but in the end I just decided to leave them blank. Simple paint blobs. Happy little blobs. Sometimes it's good to simply make a blob sacred.

Any kind of little mess can be perfect.

Perfect Songs

Last year I did a bunch of monthly blog posts choosing five favourite songs I'd been listening to each month, and it was a lot of fun to catalogue songs in that way and sort of define a month in loved sounds. I'm not planning to do that again at the moment, but I do just feel like doing something similar and listing some songs that are swirling around like bright and rushing blood in my head right now. So here are some songs that I really, really love at this moment.

1. Joan - All The Way

This is a true synthpop bop that came up on an autogenerated Spotify playlist for me (of course). Spotify just wants to feed me so much of this stuff and it is incredible. It's so bouncy, has fun little "Go West" style jingly guitar parts peeking around the corner of the song like me peeking into my autogenerated Spotify playlists at 1am and winking. It's really good, thanks.

2. The Good Natured - Lovers

This is one of those hidden little bands that seem to have slipped through a bunch of cracks and live underneath the grates with their amazing songs that you can see hidden down there. Lurking. Every time I remember their existence it blows my mind again. They're incredibly good at choruses, and have a very catchy sort of pop structure throughout a lot of their material that's blended really nicely with some fun, dark lyrics and a great sort of "thrown at the wall" indie style sound. This song will not leave my head and I like the home footage style music video. And I love singer Sarah's hair and penchant for shorts with tights. Style icon and legend.

3. Vampire Weekend - Harmony Hall

Vampire Weekend are a band that I never really listened to until very recently. I think I heard an early single and just didn't find it that compelling at the time, and that combined with their apparent ubiquity just kinda pushed me away from ever paying them much attention. But eventually when I finally sat down and paid attention to their albums I realised that I love them. I guess sometimes it takes sitting down and actually taking the time to listen to the sounds and words of a song or an album to connect with it in that big, warm way that feels so good. So I'm glad I did that, just sat down and listened to an album of theirs without really doing anything else. Because I finally got that gleeful feeling of hearing a weird, funny lyric for the first time and being like, "wow, okay."

Anyway, Harmony Hall/2021 was released in January of this year, and it's beautiful. They've mastered these really gentle, lilting swells. That same kind of calm, soaring release that I love about a lot of Cat Stevens songs. Such a very alive and dreamy feeling. I love Vampire Weekend. I love. Them.

4. Dolly Parton - Marry Me

I'm putting this here because it's cute and great in general, but the thing that really sells it is the laugh Dolly does at the end, which has rejunivated me and extended my life. I'm an immortal now, thanks to Dolly Parton.

Songs. They're good, aren't they?