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2012 HIGHLIGHTS . THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!

Toi December

In essence 2012 has been one of the toughest years in my life, not because of personal relationships this time, the truth is that something as common as losing a job in a critic moment, while there’s  a terrible economic crisis striking the country, can affect a person to unsuspected limits.

My last period uprising trend was suddenly stopped at the end of March, and 6 months unemployment have brought back quite negative stuff I thought being overcome and forgotten. I will focus on that in a while, not today, I’m not in the mood, but yes, I can advance you my self esteem has become more vulnerable to start with.

Being this 2012 mainly marked by this 6 month period, I’ve also lost some control of myself, and chaos has been present. Perhaps I’ve abused on partying way too much, routines disappeared for some time, and mayhem has been remarkable sometimes. Nowadays I’m trying to get back on the right track, and this year turning point might help me to focus.

Still, not everything has been crap, there are lots of remarkable things I will never forget, thus, being a list lover, I will tell you about them.

 1.    NORMA JEAN MAGAZINE

My relationship with this online magazine started when I was asked to write a review about Shame, the film. Since then, I’ve written more than 30 articles (in Spanish), covering a wide range of subjects: squirting, speed dating, flirting at 35, sex while menstruation, Tarantino and his chicks, corsets, women and music… and I’m proud of being involved in this project and become co-editor. Moreover, since I’ve been writing for Norma Jean Magazine in Spanish, I’ve received invitations for collaborating in order sites, and a proposal coming from an independent publishing house. Through this magazine I’m learning lots, and getting acquainted with very interesting people. Really, a blast!

nj cover

 2.    ANDREA

Lou introduced me to the other half of Norma Jean, Andrea, in April, right after losing my job. Chemistry was obvious since the very beginning and we liked each other right away.

Andrea is a hard worker, a great student and a perfectionist, yet she has a great sense of humor, very compatible with mine. With Andrea the team work has made sense for real, regardless the distance, and I have to thank her for being so inspirational.

Andrea and Toi

 3.    MISS ARIANNA

When I first discovered Arianna’s work via Tumblr, I knew I’d have a piece inked by her the soonest.

She had these 3 days available at Swan Song Tattoo in Rome as a guest artist, and I booked with her right away. I only spent 12 hours in Rome, 6 of them at a tattoo parlor, and I got my lighthouse, my guide, so powerful and firm, it really encourages me to keep on looking forward.  I will never thank her enough, and she will never fully understand what she did to me.

my lighthouse by andrea

 4.    THE WEDDING AND THE GIFT

Artie and Mayra got married, and Kiko, Agnès and I decided to look for the most special gift we could give them: a wood carved piece of the cover of Harvest Moon album awesome Bryn Perrot especially made for the occasion. A unique piece for one of the most rockin’ couples I know, and love. The gift arrived late, the wedding was amazing, and I can’t now wait for meeting baby Ariadna as soon as she’s born.

5.    RICH ROBINSON TOM PETTY, FU MANCHU

These are the artists and bands I moved my ass abroad to see live performing. Amsterdam, Dublin and London were the locations, and as usual, the quality of sound of the venues was impeccable. Special mention to my hostess Sofia, my rock sister, for having me at her flat even though she was in the middle of her exams, and my travel companions Artie, Mayra, Javi, Ani, baby Celia, Gonzalo, Yolanda, Veronica and Joaquin. Anytime, and hopefully soon, friends.

fu

6.    SINCE MY BABY LEFT ME

Yes, this blog, my pride and joy, and my actual baby. This blog was here for me, with its arms open to embrace any crap I wanted to pour on it during these previous months of uncertainty. I’m very glad readers’ response is improving and, even though you don’t comment much (I like to think shyness is to be blamed), visits, subscribers and fav’s are remarkably increasing.

Thank y’all!

 7.    VISITS FROM FRIENDS

This has been the year my Hellhouse has received most visits, and I’m glad my friends wanted to spend some time by my side. Lou, Andrea, Sofia, Agnès, Kiko, Dave, Arantza, Mayra, Marisa and Julio…it’s been great to have you here. Hope you have felt at home, at least I tried you did. Also those hanging out evenings and nights, watching films, eating pizza, playing poker, thanks for coming too.

hellhouse by Lou

Ah! Before I forget, those days I spent with my all time best friend Diana, at her summer house by the sea, were incredible.

 8.    QUIT SMOKING

This wasn’t a resolution for 2012. I didn’t plan it in advance, although I was getting disgusted with so much compulsive smoking. it was a box a day, too much considering I had been a social smoker all my life till my “divorce”, when I started smoking like craze. On Monday I thought I had to reduce little by little scheduling my cigarettes, however by Friday I didn’t want to have even a drag.

My initial anxiety was translated into sleeping 3 hours, truth is that as soon as I got unemployed I earned weight. There’s still lot to do to get fit and lose some weight but I’m on the right way. I’m glad I don’t smoke any more.

9.    COOKING

It’s been 2 years and a half since I stopped eating meat (I never liked fish) and chose to become vegetarian, and this year, in order to enjoy a more balanced diet and also tasty meals, I’ve been looking for new recipes and improving my cooking skills. I still have some challenges in mind for next year, I hope to accomplish.

 10.   SOCIAL NETWORKS

You might think this is something stupid, but thanks to FB and Twitter I’ve got acquainted  lots of new people, discovered artists and musicians, recovered old friends (Tani, so good to have you back!), and even flirted with guys. Thanks to ARF forum I’ll never go to a show on my own, news on Twitter, which spread lightspeed, attach me to reality even though I cannot stand TV news, and I know lots of tattoo artists worldwide thanks to FB. Remembering the main motto of Antonio Montana, with internet, THE WORLD IS YOURS.

The world is yours

Good times are to remember, bad times are to be buried, keeping only the lessons learned from the fall.

Hope 2013 is much better than this one. I wish you all the best friends!

I LIKE IT HOT, BABY

Dear friends. After so many posts related to music and live shows, even though I still have many albums of the week pending, I feel like writing about something different again.

First I have to apologize in case you feel disappointed after reading all this, considering the catchy title I’ve chosen for this post. Nope, not talking about sex, at least not now. What can I say? There are so many things which catch our attention by just a glance, I couldn’t miss the chance to try to make you notice me. Yeah! You can call me attention whore this time. I won’t deny.

Few days ago someone threw the question about hot spicy food. To be honest I started developing a taste for hot food about 10 years ago for no reason. It was weird because I couldn’t stand it, truth is that as I grew older, I felt the need of experiencing with stronger tastes.

Some of my previous experiences involving spicy food were remarkable. The most outstanding happened when I was living in London.

Joe, my ex, he did love spices, and also was fan of experimenting with food. We used to live in an Indian neighborhood, where many cheap typical restaurants were available. We are not talking about super cool and fashion Indian restaurants, we are talking about Indians and people from Pakistan who used to hang out those places, implying food was quite traditional. Also note these places weren’t precisely very attractive in their appearance and neatness.

He was very enthusiastic about a place named A1. The restaurant probably had a different name as the label was written in their language, and the only thing we could understand. Anyway, one night I accompanied him reluctantly to have dinner together. Of course I didn’t know what I was having, but it was kind of spinach or dolmas. I couldn’t try the second course. Those damn spinach were the hottest thing I ever tasted and nothing I tried to do was relieving my poor tongue and mouth burning. Even the Pepsi I was drinking tasted hot at some point. I cried and cried, Joe was laughing at me observing my reaction, but the worst thing was my stomachache which lasted for a week. Feeding was just  a torture after 5 minutes, with cramps and this nonstop feeling of nausea. I’ve never visited any Indian restaurant ever since.

As advanced, something changed in me and all of a sudden I found myself delighted by the strong taste of wasabi, pouring Tabasco on my Bloody Mary’s, adding cayenne pepper to everything when cooking, adoring jalapeños, and looking for strong stuff.

I’ve been suffering a bit of writer’s block lately, and especially with this post. I wasn’t very sure about the way to go on with it, but finally I found the solution, one of my favorite, a top 5 spicy shit I love nowadays. Are you ready to burn?

WASABI PEAS

I discovered wasabi together with all these Japanese rolls and felt in love with the taste right away. When I have veggie makis I can’t stop dipping the pieces with it till I start crying and my nose leaking. Wasabi is addictive.

At one of these international markets addressed to foreign residents, mainly Indian and Asian in general, I found these wasabi peas, quite typical in Japan, and even though I’m not very fond of peas, decided to give them a try. Holy shit! What a blast! This apparent harmless snack is hot, and super tasty. The more you eat the hotter it gets. I could eats tons of this.

PIRI PIRI

I bought this small can in Japan more than two years ago, and there’s still some remaining. This piri piri is also named Africans Bird Eye Chili, and is typical in countries such as Mozambique, Malawi, Ghana an others.

First time I added it to some pasta, my tongue was burning, because I exceeded in quantity. You just need a tiny quantity to cheer up your meals. Pretty cool.

JALAPEÑOS

I can’t recall the first time I tried jalapeños. I mistook them for pickles, but as soon as I tasted I realized they were something special. I love jalapeños with cheese nachos, in salads, accompanying hamburgers, in pasta sauce…it doesn’t matter, its texture, appearance and flavor can adapt to be part of many meals. It’s easy to combine.

Best combination would be nachos with jalapeños, guacamole, sour cream and melted cheese. I tried them in Manhattan at Tick Tock Diner, right by Penn Station 5 years ago, and I cried with sincere happiness.

SHAW’S FLAMING HOT CHUTNEY

I went to this typical British food shop for expats, close in my neighborhood, named A Taste of Home, just to have a look and buy those Cadbury Creme Eggs I love so much. in essence everything is triple more expensive than in the UK, but it’s actually great for occasional self-indulgence.

I haven’t tried to prepare homemade chutney yet, which is this sweet and sour strong sauce combined with fruits or vegetables, mixed with spices, mostly to serve with meat or similar (seitan in my case or even pasta). There were lots of different flavors, and started checking them: mango, ginger, curry… Hey! Wait a minute, what is THAT???!

Chilli, red peppers, mustard seeds…oh dear! That’s my kinda thing!

Went to the counter and the lady attendant stares at the jar, then stares at me, then stares at the jar, and eventually she says:

“you don’t want to try this. It’s super hot and you’re gonna hate me for selling you this”.

It took me a while to convince the woman I was purchasing the hot chutney at my own risk, explaining I love spicy food. She sold it reluctantly, and strongly warned me not to pour to much.

Honestly, it looks hotter than it is actually, but the taste is great. Believe me, I ended up the jar spreading the sauce directly in bread. Hell yeah! What a blast!

CAYENNE PEPPER

Nice and easy, one of my favorite condiment. I use it for many many meals. Stewed lentils, pasta sauce, rice, burritos… I need this pinch of hot to achieve the ultimate intensity in flavor. As a vegetarian, I really seek for food to be tasty, and cayenne pepper is perfect for that. I’m so used to it, people always comment the food I cook for the is spicy, yet bearable.

I’d love hearing some of your suggestions. Any particular spice I should try?

MASTERS OF INK & NEEDLE: JOHAN BIGFATJOE ANKARFYR

Imagine you get something tattooed as a souvenir, of any single city you’ve stayed at. How would your body look like? I’m not the most traveler person in the world, but looking backwards I can’t say I’ve been too static. It was almost one year ago in Stockholm, when I had this idea of getting a souvenir from each city. Once I’m settled and right on track, I think I’ll do it.

Right now, deep in the tattoo culture, I could name some artists I could visit any time in most of the cities I’ve ever been to, but there’s one in particular I discovered after being in Stockholm I’m regretting not visiting, because I really enjoy following his work. His name is Johan Bigfatjoe Ankarfyr, and his surname means Anchor-Lighthouse. Adorable, isn’t it?

I can’t recall channel I got to know him, I think I discovered right after I got my piece by Miss Arianna Settembrino, in April, but what I’m positive about it’s the piece I got a crush on, this Man Without a Face.

I had seen blind and faceless men, but this one was as attractive as sinister. The moustache, one visible eye through the glass of its monocle and the eyebrows, providing some kind of evil expression which fascinates me completely.

This piece would sum up the artist’s own words I love to do twisted, one off, personal tattoos with hidden messages and double meanings”.

We could say that Johan’s is this modern old school style, using a palette of intense colours, combined with the shading technique.

Regarding the subjects of his tattoos, there are no preferences. He loves humans, animals, and the personification and animalizing of them.

One of his most impressive pieces is this Underwater Fight among between these huge creatures, with a scared to death diver witnessing the whole scene.

The intensity of the color, the movement of the tentacles of the octopus grabbing the lighthouse and the diver, the menacing glance of the two creatures while fighting against each other. The whole composition has plenty of small details. It’s awesome!

Animals possess very marked personalities, they are very powerful, and when humanized their features become softer, and look sweet and tender. Personally I prefer the last ones, creating interesting and surrealist scenes.

Referring to humans, he usually chooses the early 20th century aesthetics as his main source of inspiration. It’s strange the appearance of robot tattoos, even though he always depicts the most vintage ones. In general, humans lack of face expression, and it’s hard to guess whether they are happy, upset or sad observing their half-closed and tired eyes.

Johan works on both big and small pieces, and complexity in details varies. What it’s undeniable is his technique, very clean, with the outlining very accurate.

It was really a pity getting acquainted with this incredible artist after my visit last year, otherwise I’d have visited him for sure. It’d be great if he was visiting us in the future, but in case he wouldn’t make it, having my Stockholm souvenir made by him would be enough good reason as to come back to Sweden, don’t you think?

If you’re willing to see the final result of these two pieces in progress, as I am, I suggest you follow him on his website or FB. I think he’s worth it.

*** NEW UPDATE***

Johan has just opened his own new studio, Crooked Moon Tattoo, in Stockholm. For appointments, you can find all the information here.

POPCORN AND MOVIES… TO BE CONTINUED

This post is about a blog I started almost 4 years ago, Popcorn and Movies. I have to apologize for the self-promo tone this might imply. Do I mean to encourage you start reading it? Well, yes, but it has to do with self motivation.

I’m not sure of the reason why I started Popcorn and Movies. Ok, I love both movies and writing, something I knew but I had seldom put into practice, but the memory of the actual impulse which made me create the blog in WordPress is blurry. I think it was some kind of experiment. HE encouraged me to start writing about something for selfish reasons, and eventually films was the basis of the project I thought it wouldn’t be subject to comparisons nor competition  and wasn’t meant to last too much, to be honest. I used to have some issues related to perseverance, I still have, but the improvement is also a fact.

David Cronenberg was my source of inspiration. He’s one of my favorite directors, I’m a huge fan of his filmography, his style, and all this reality-hallucination dilemma, so recurrent in his earlier stories.

I read some of my earlier posts yesterday, and have decided to review and rewrite many of them, as the length is very short and the quality of contents and the remarks are poor, compared to the post written in the last 2 years. It’s true I don’t follow any method, and don’t write based on a pattern, I basically update on the go, but analyzing a film and develops the ideas and feelings take longer than whenever I update Since My Baby Left Me.

My mood swings and the events in my life not only do not prevent me of writing about what’s going on here, but also are a source of inspiration, but I reckon the blog has been affected by my ups and downs in the past years. The result is that when I’ve been fine and focused I’ve updated the blog, however when I’ve felt depressed, euphoric, stressed or frustrated, analyzing films wasn’t a priority, thus there have been periods of complete block and lack of activity.

2012 hasn’t been a great year for Popcorn and Movies. I’ve only updated the blog 5 times, and don’t feel very proud. Thus at this point my friend Dichotomy turns up: should I stay or should I go now? Ha! I want to do this kind of things for pleasure, obligation is not a good motivation enhancer for me, I only deal with it when referred to work and responsibilities.

Eventually I’ve reached my decision and this post is some pressure I put upon myself as a kind of the signing of my commitment, involving you as witnesses of the same. I’ll keep on writing for Popcorn and Movies, and will try to update on a more regular basis.

Do you want to know what encouraged me to go on? It was David Cronenberg again, and his last film, Cosmopolis. It’s funny the way my head works sometimes…

Thus, after all I’ve just said, I’d be more than glad if you visited Popcorn and Movies. Hope you like it and feel like participating if you find it worthy.

Thanks again friends!

ALBUM OF WEEK 27 – DEATH OF A DECADE

Tonka always reminds me of my dad and the tonka bean he uses for preparing his amazing and luxurious gin tonics. There’s also this Tonka toy company featuring trucks and construction equipment. The sound of this exotic name also brings me to a tiki world.  No, none of these options can be applied to the named of this band from Springfield, Ha Ha Tonka are named after a skate park in Camdentown, Missouri. Isn’t it weeeeird? Ha ha…Tonka! 😉 Sorry guys, it’s Monday, my sense of humor is at its lowest and cheapest.

Again, I got to know this band through Viva Las Vegas podcast. I heard their first single, Usual Suspects, which also opens their last album Death of a Decade, and loved it immediately. It’s very catchy, with the mandolin arrangements. A very good starter, what do you think?

The album really made an impression on me as to include it in my top 10 2011 albums. I must admit I was not much updated on album releases last year, and didn’t include it in order to fill a list though. I still reckon it was one of the best.

The announcement of their upcoming European tour dates in Spain, specifically in Barcelona, and the happiness brought out, made me pick up this beautiful album from the shelves, and start listening to it nonstop. If I had some doubts about it, they were all finally erased once and for all.

Death of a Decade is one of these 11-track treasures, full of folk and deep America roots, very melodic and spiritual. It’s been said their music is inspired by the wisdom of the Ozarks, the American pioneers who first settled in this highlands area. Listening to Jesusita inspires me some kind of wonderful peaceful state.

The Missouri quartet are endorsed by the emblematic Bloodshot Records label, which have been working with  with relevant artists and bands such as Neko Case, Justin Townes Earle, Alejandro Escovedo, Scott H. Biram, and The Bottle Rockets, among others, which for me it means  a guarantee proof.

I was glad to read on Twitter a couple of days ago that they’re currently working on new songs, which hopefully we’ll be able to hear during these tour performances. These guys seem to be very excited for coming over, so am I, of course, and really can’t wait to see them. They’re scheduled to play at Rocksound, a very small but warm and friendly venue, in October. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be a blast, and I insist, they’re really worth giving them a try.

ALBUM OF WEEK 20 – REPEATER + 3 SONGS

One week delay, my apologies. Been thinking of what I’ve been listening these two last weeks, and basically I’ve been focusing on Soundgarden and The Afghan Whigs discography, for obvious reasons.

Two very different albums to talk about, a classic and a new release, I find really funny my musical  eclecticism and swinging appetite. I will start with Repeater + 3 Songs.

Spiderland was the last album of the week, and for some reason I relate Slint to Fugazi, thus I was so hooked to the first one, Repeater followed. This post-hardcore style both bands followed, make me find sound resemblance, especially in guitars and drums.

First time I heard of Fugazi it was in 1990’s, but didn’t pay much attention until a friend of mine told me his band had opened for them once. You might think feeling interested in a band only because of its name, or better said, its phonetics, is stupid, and yes, you’re right.

Here in Spain we pronounce English brands, bad names and lots of words wrong constantly. I’m an English phonetics’ fan, even though my marks at college weren’t outstanding basically because I never spent much time studying, I used to love the transcriptions and the characters to mark the different English sounds.

First time I noticed the difference in phonetics I was 10, and was Madonna’s diehard fan. I met this American girl, one year older, named Ginella, and when trying to talk about our favorite band she said something like /məˈdɑːnə /, who I wasn’t acquainted with, and I was saying /mɑː’donae/. We were both referring to the same artist.

I’ll always remember the day my English friend Fari told us she loved /mək’deθ/ and I was the first one to realized she was saying /meg ɑː’deθ/ (Megadeth).

Well, I like the word Fugazi, pronounced /fu’geizi/, as in Donnie Brasco film, and it meaning, fake.

I think it was 2004 a friend gave me one CD with all the albums compressed. I’ve already mentioned I don’t like copies of CDs, and even worse if there are 8-10 albums in the same CD. I’m lazy and never listen to them, with the exception of the IPod, of course. I listened to those albums several times and eventually forgot about them.

I’m not sure why Repeater appeared in my Ipod, guess certain person who used to hog and manipulate my laptop, uploaded it at some point, the fact is that from time to time I play it, and always have the same thought, “Fugazi are awesome!”.

I always loved the cover, don’t ask me why, thus, one year ago or so, I purchased it in vinyl, just because.

This Repeater is a rough album, mostly due to its lyrics and the raw sound. Violence, guns, drugs, greed, hatred…from this aggressive and angry angle. Picciotto and MacKaye’s on vocals are intense, again drums are impressive, and guitars combine these arpeggio and insane riffs, enhancing this sense of being in the middle of a battlefield.

I often listen to this album when moving around the city, sometimes just on the streets, and in other occasions being on the subway. I admit it, I can feel my aggressiveness growing inside of me sometimes, especially when subway is packed or people are just annoying. No, never play Fugazi when upset, you feel like killing someone.

Check this performance in front of The Whitehouse, it’s worth seeing

Thinking of the amounts of copies this album sold with the passing of time, it’s unbelievable the status of band of cult, Fugazi keeps. Also it’s very interesting to read about the philosophy of this band, looking for minimum profit and keeping gig admission tickets at its lowest. Perhaps it’s time to dig further to see what this band with a cool name can offer me.

Being one of 1,000 Recordings to hear before you die at least you should give it a try once.

FRIENDS, I GOT AN EXISTENTIAL QUESTION

I’d like to share with you a trivial yet existential question that has been kicking my head from time to time, but after 3 or 4 of my (female) friends have posted links related in the very same day, I really feel the urge to express my fascination.

I’m very fond of animals in general. Of course, I hate rats, and I suffer from cockroach phobia, caused by an unpleasant experience I enjoyed in London, and don’t feel very attached to birds. Apart from that, I like most pets, and am fascinated with wild fauna.

Focusing on pets, what happens with cats and dogs is quite similar to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, or Star Wars and Star Trek. You always choose a side, and often it’s difficult to conceal both together.

I’ve been always into dogs, and my family had two at different time. Pipo was MY dog when I was a baby, and Lola became my brother’s protégée when I was a teen. He also has a bulldog also named Lola, who is one of the most fantastic and tender creatures I’ve ever met.

Few months ago I expressed here my intention of adopting a dog, but unfortunately, due to issues concerning my landlord (a friend of mine), I cannot have one at this moment. But as he put it when I raised the question, such decision is not permanent, so I’m still having the idea present.

I have dog appeal, really. Dogs love me. Period. It’s not an issue if we are not acquainted, I can assure you, sometime dogs come at me to be cuddled on the streets, probably because I’m smiling at them 20 meters away. I don’t know, this is a useless talent that doesn’t work with men. Ha!

I wasn’t into cats due to an attempt to scratch and ruin my face by a Siamese when I was 10. It’s simple, I don’t trust them, and they know it. However, with the passing of years, I’ve enjoyed the pleasure of getting acquainted with, what I call, doggy cats, this is, cats whose behavior and attitude is close to a dog. These creatures are tender, follow you everywhere and they are seeking for your attention as much as a dog sometimes. Thanks to them, I’ve ended liking the cats too. Someone said I also have cat appeal. Well, what can I say? Probably she’s right.

Once this said, let me depict you the background for my question. These friends, cat lovers as well as cat owners, have posted several links and videos related to these animals in “cute” attitudes.

In many cases, I’m generalizing and not fingerpointing to my friends right now (so nobody must be offended), I find this cat loving just a hype, pure fashion, you know, this love for the cuteness which covers from cupcakes, to vintage dresses, to nice postcards, to old china tea sets…you all know what I’m talking about.

Do not misunderstand me. I respect my friends’ passion for cats, and I really understand they love them. But sometimes such love is too much.

Someone said once, if you’re a man in your thirties and live on your own with a cat, you must be gay or something. As you can imagine I disagree, but men are not so insistent nor want to highlight so much their love for cats, although they have one of theirs.

I don’t notice such behavior nor obsession among dog lovers. And dogs are cute too.

Thus, by now you’ve guessed already my question. I feel curious about which animal you prefer, cats or dogs, but existential question is, why such obsession with cats??? If you have an answer, please, let me know. In case you are a cat lover, quite obsessed, I kindly ask you to forgive me, because I don’t mean to offend.