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Personal stuff – Haircut

Well, I’ve done it - my hip-length hair is now reaching just below my shoulder blades. It’s still long by any means, but I feel half naked without those extra inches. But the state of my ends was crying out for a good cut – I blame the extra harsh winter for this, let me tell you. I take my hair seriously – no colouring, no blow drying, shampoo with as few chemicals as possible once a week, and so on.




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Well, it’ll grow back, but I love long hair and all the possibilities it gives for experimentation. I still need to learn more braiding techniques and perfect some (French braiding comes to mind). Perhaps the shorter length will prove an advantage here.

Having a mane really makes it easy to decide on the haircut, just not when air drying it after a wash.

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Song of the Week – 11

Rock of Ages, despite being one long music video, has inspired me to look up some of the songs I’ve always loved hearing on the radio as a child and teenager. Of course I was listening to the then groups and occasionally entered rock waters, but by the time my generation was in High School, most were hard-rock fans since that was the next big thing then (or rap, but I won’t go there). Unfortunately, I can’t stomach much of today’s rock music or rock-pop, but classics hit me in the right spot. :D

Song of the week is:
Journey – Don’t Stop Believing

MEME – Seven Places I’d Love to Visit

I’ve recently seen a list like that on a blog and I thought: “Why shouldn’t I make one for myself?”  I must say I’m a bit surprised at the results – when I focus on the cities I’d love to explore in my life, they seem to be centred on Europe. When I expand my list to countries I’d love to see (again or for the first time) there’s not a lot of variety either. I guess I must cross out Europe before my brain can focus on other continents. I wouldn’t mind travelling Asia or Middle East (if it ever settles down), but I’m wary of going where conflicts are likely to flare to life again. [more about that in another post]

So, here we go – Seven Cities I’d Love to Visit:

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Popcorn Bowl 06 – Samsara

 photo Samsara_zpsb7395e0b.jpgThe most beautiful and deeply moving movie I’ve ever seen. The first half draws you in and enchants you with the poetic beauty of Earth, the middle part breaks your heart and makes you cry, and the conclusion pieces you back together one important realisation at a time. You’re definitely changed after watching it and all for the better I hope.

I loved the scenes with the night sky, Buddhist monks and monasteries, deserts and the slow decay of time seen in the ruins of cities and buildings like the ancient city of Petra and post-Katrina New Orleans. There is some kind of poetic magic in the deserted houses – a fingerprint of human life, our hopes, dreams and desires. This just proves that everything, including desolate places, has a beauty of its own.

What I couldn’t stomach was the huge factories, especially the meat processing plants filled with workers in protective clothing and masks, endless stream of meat which was only moments before a living animal. It was beyond cruel – animals were reduced to objects, they were there only to end up as pieces of bacon or a steak. Especially the part, where huge animal farms were shown, graphically demonstrated the point. Those poor chickens and pigs...the conditions they live in are beyond appalling. Just because we eat them doesn’t mean we have to abuse them – in contrast, we must respect them and make their lives even better as a sort of compensation.

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However, the slums and the sex trade showed that even humans don’t treat their fellow beings any better. It is a sad, sad world, and en endless circle of pain and degradation.  Especially since the rise of capitalism and the consumer society – we eat more and more, want more and more, and then come up with new ways to fulfil our lives. Our bodies themselves become our canvas, not just our tool – plastic surgery, masks, dolls, bought bodies and clothes, bought beliefs... In the middle of this chaos we search for the meaning of life. Life is a stream.

The ending part shows us how we can work together, how we are joined in our humanity, religions, universal signs and experiences. And the dancers moving in harmony, with eyes on their hands, seem to symbolise our insight into the world, the all-seeing eye of the cosmos. In order to understand and become better people we must only look around ourselves and become aware. The smile on her face and her calm expression are very reassuring – the world may have its flaws, but they are balanced by beauty and love.

Samsara is a movie that tells a thousand stories with only its wonderful music and cinematography. It will blow your mind and you’ll never look at movies in the same way. I’m planning to watch the authors’ other movie Baraka as well and I’ll definitely write my thoughts on it.

Here's the equally stunning trailer:



Website links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsara_(2011_film)
http://barakasamsara.com/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0770802/
http://www.spiritofbaraka.com/samsara
http://movies.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/movies/samsara-a-documentary-directed-by-ron-fricke.html?_r=0

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International Women's Day

 photo International-Womens-Day_zps13736fcf.jpgToday is the day when we celebrate all women and girls, our successes and strengths, but also point out the things we wish to change in the future. A society is only as strong as its weakest members, and unfortunately that means girls and women. When women are educated and given equal rights in a society everyone benefits; I firmly believe that.

Yet this day has become like a platitude sometimes – we see women receive flowers, some words are spoken about working women and members of parliament – yet nothing seems to change. In fact, the position of women has never seemed so precarious; the global economic crisis has put pressure on women in particular, and more women face a slow slide into poverty and unemployment. Yes, there are movements all around the world protesting the abuse of women, but physical abuse is not the only thing threatening the lives of so many sisters around the world – it is also poor education, forced marriages and restrictive social norms, harsh or abusive working conditions, no agency over their bodies, and overall atmosphere of closed doors and career paths. So many of us are caught in the idea of what a woman is supposed to be like, look like, talk or behave, that we often falter on our road to knowing ourselves, our desires and strengths. Too many times we bow down to pressure and silence our own voices.

 photo 109364323_0e7839d097_zps4aed3993.jpgTherefore, I found it very irritating that most of the news focused on the custom of receiving flowers, on typical ‘women’ professions (kinder garden teachers...), and on what men think of the day. In fact, it was men talking about the day or the things they do at home that irritated me to no end – why is it natural to expect of women to clean the house but when men do it it’s suddenly newsworthy? What is wrong with men doing some chores and liking it? And the tone! Sweet Mother Nature – they were treated like some subspecies of men. Even if that was supposed to be a joke, it was in poor taste.

This is our day – the one day dedicated to us; the brilliant scientists and rulers, the often overlooked helpers, the numerous young women, mothers, wives, sisters, girlfriends, friends and partners who support their families and friends, or just women who are independently walking their road of life. It doesn’t matter if we are educated or not, if we are from Europe or Africa; this day belongs to all of us – women.

This day is here to give us a helping hand in changing the world. We only wish to point out that we are your equals, that we are competent and strong, and that we (as you) don’t deserve abuse or discrimination. We want equal pay, equal job and education opportunities, we wish to be free to become who we were meant to become - it may be a doctor, a writer, an astronaut or simply a mom... imagination is the limit. What harm could that bring that some still preach fire and brimstone if we don’t choose to become housewives or mothers? We never said anything to demand the men to become subordinate – no. We, who have tasted the bitter taste of captivity and discrimination, don’t wish to inflict the same experiences upon others. We want to walk next to you, next to the people of this world, and be happy. That is all.

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Happy Women’s Day to You too. :D
Swytla

Website links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Women's_Day
http://www.girleffect.org/
http://bitchmagazine.org/
http://www.blogher.com/

Song of the Week – 10

BBC Radio 2 comes through once again. :D I love the song, the rhythm, the colour of the singer’s voice... it’s just one of those magic moments when music takes me away on the waves of its melody and I just drift and ebb with its course. I’m already waxing poetic – this is just the power this song has over me.


Song of the week is:
Josh Groban - Brave



The lyrics are wonderful - here’s the chorus for you to enjoy:

You wanna run away, run away
And you say that it can’t be so
You wanna look away, look away
But you stay ‘cause it’s all so close
When you stand up and hold out your hand
In the face of what I don’t understand
My reason to be brave
This is another dangermousie recommendation. The movie is based on Jan Guillou’s trilogy called Crusades, which I promised to myself to read once in the future. I felt that the movie version, while very good, left too much of the subplots unexplained or feeling rushed. No wonder since there were three long books squeezed into one movie. I feel the novels deserved better, and I’m very much curious about what else I missed of this fascinating tale.
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The story is centred on a Swedish boy called Arn who is brought up in a monastery, away from the warring factions battling for the Swedish crown. He’s taught by a former Knight Templar in the arts of war, though nobody expects that to do him any good. Yet, the boy is a good student and he enjoys learning from the French brother Guilbert, so they let him perfect his knowledge of archery and swordmanship. One important factor is his ambidexterity – which comes in handy a couple of times, no pun intended.

His life gets complicated when he falls in love with Cecilia, a maiden who is promised to an enemy faction nobleman and who he had seen at the church
many times. They decide to wed despite the problems that would bring, and spend a blissful summer together, even consummating their relationship before marriage. As usual, this leads to serious problems.

Cecilia confides in her sister about Arn and her unborn baby, giddy with her vision of the future. The sister, however, desiring a marriage of her own and an escape from the convent where all maidens spend their time before marriage, betrays her to the Mother Abbot who belongs to the faction Arn helped to defeat. The two lovers are promptly excommunicated from the church and sentenced to twenty years of penance – Cecilia as a nun under the iron fist of Mother Abbot, Arn as a Knight Templar in the Holy Land.

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While Cecilia’s harsh fate seemed to be well covered in the movie, I found myself fascinated with Arn’s adventures in the Holy Land. I wanted to see more of him and of his unique relationship with Saladin. I think that may be because I saw the shorter version of the movie – the international one – and not the one from Sweden where the books were split into two longer movies.

What I loved about the movie besides the costumes and locations was the interplay of different languages – Swedish, English, Arabic, and some French. I love it when characters speak their own tongues; I can’t stomach movies where everyone speaks perfect English even though we know it can’t be possible. An example would be Valkyrie – it was painful for me to watch a movie about Germany where everyone was speaking English all the time. Imagine the Chinese shooting a movie about America and everyone on the streets suddenly spoke perfect Mandarin. It would look ridiculous, and loose all authenticity. Therefore - kudos to the authors of this movie for not making that mistake. We are all perfectly capable of reading subtitles.
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To conclude the post; this is a movie for all knight fans, who don’t shy away from some blood and gore, but also for those who love a good romance. I won’t betray more of the movie, but I seriously recommend it to you.


Website links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arn_%E2%80%93_The_Knight_Templar


Trailer:

Personal Rant - Cats and my room

If you wish to read about the disrespectful stuff my cats do with my room, go ahead.

[Rant under cut]I just can’t believe what happened. I am shocked, but mostly outraged. And I still want to puke. First though, you need to know the fore story to the incident of this morning.

My tabby cat was behaving oddly for a week or so – running away from us, shying from touch etc. – so we figured she’s injured somehow. We decided to stress her as little as possible since there was no visible injury anywhere, and we presumed it’s her teeth. She’s old enough for such problems (14 years) and there’s little anyone can do. The vet would have had to sedate her anyway and that’s not a good thing with older cats. Then there’s our experience with our tom cat; he has lost most of his teeth already a year ago. We were convinced he was going to die; he lost a lot of weight and refused to eat from the pain, but with mashed pieces of meat and milk he pulled through. So we waited to see if that’s the case with the ‘crazy little tabby’ as well.

Not so.

In a few days after lounging on the radiators we saw she had noticeable swelling on the right side of her face. We decided to investigate more thoroughly what was going on. To put her at ease, my mother and sister decided to gently comb her and inspect the swelling as well. We got a nasty shock. It was an infected bite or puncture wound of some kind just beneath her collar. Cue the first icky part – an enormous lot of thick green liquid. Ugh. Ick... I ran for paper towels and we cleaned her up as best we could, then gently squeezed the area to clear out the puss. Surprisingly, she let us do that with no fuss. I still don’t want to do that ever again in my life, but this was not the thing that almost turned my stomach.

The wound crusted over, the tabby was ok the next few days, but still a bit odd in her behaviour, though slowly returning back to her usual personality. Cue the second event, this one featuring my room.

I was just going to sleep yesterday night, when I hear a scratching noise under my bed. “That’s odd,” I thought, but did not freak out. I guess I’m used to night-time visitors of the furry kind – the tom cat often comes to sleep on my bed in the winter. I turned on the light and got on all fours to investigate. Of course it was the tabby, perched on my boot’s box far under my bed. I blinked in surprise since she rarely came to my room, but thought there would be no problem. And I didn’t wish to throw her out of my room when she was already skittish enough around us. I just opened my door to give her the option of leaving any time she liked. I returned to bed.

It turned out the tabby is a bad guest. I was woken up several times during the night since unfamiliar noises never fail to pull me out of my sleep. (You can guess what a joy it is for me to sleep in unfamiliar beds in hotels.) The tabby has an annoying quirk of walking like a trampling horse – you can hear every step loud and clear: tip-tip-tap-tap... not to mention the noise the box made every time she turned. And so I was woken up for the tenth time at three or four o’clock in the morning; I was really tired by then and a little bleary too. I looked at her, now perched on my carpet, and had the vague notion that she must want to go to her litter box. My subconscious already saw a giant puddle on the carpet – and a dead cat as a result... (just kidding, but it turned out to be prophetic)

I opened the door even wider and asked her if she wants to go, but she just looked at me with her wide eyes and stayed put. “Ok, so she doesn’t want to go,” I thought, “better leave the door opened wide just in case then.” I returned to bed. A few minutes later, I heard her return to the closed box under my bed. Then noxious fumes suddenly struck my nose. “I can’ *beep* believe it!” I thought angrily. Of course the cat had to fart right under my nose... It was unbearable. I jumped up and opened up my balcony door and the skylight window, letting in the icy cold night air. It eradicated the fumes successfully and I could sleep in peace until morning. The tabby was still on her box when I looked under the bed once I woke.

I went down for breakfast with my family. After cleaning up and changing clothes, I came back to my room. “There’s still something I smell in here,” I thought. It was really faint, but I could detect it. This was no longer funny. I started at my bed, sniffing out the scent. No, it wasn’t coming from there. “She wouldn’t...” I thought in horror and turned to my opened suitcase. The smell was coming from that direction, but nothing was to be seen, much to my relief. Now I moved to the right, to my desk and computer. I leaned over the flower pots and then I saw it – a monstrously big pile of shit. Yes, my tabby decided to do her business in my room, behind my computer. *facepalm*

I ran for disinfection wipes and paper towels, ranting all the way downstairs and drumming up my mom and sis. I was spitting mad. This wasn’t the first incident that happened in my room either. The tom cat had puked on my white carped twice in ten years, and once on my throw. It doesn’t need mentioning that he was banned from my room for a month and he knew, oh so well, why that was so. Now the tabby joined the awful tradition of messing with my room. I started cleaning up and the god-awful smell that suddenly burst from the pile just about turned my stomach. I was gagging. Ugh.

I wiped down the area thoroughly with disinfection wipes while my mother grabbed the tabby and carried her downstairs. “A day in the open won’t hurt her,” she said and released her onto the terrace and into our garden.

My room is now cold but free of any smell. No cats in my room during the night from now on, though. Not if they keep messing with me.


ETA: The crazy tabby is still visiting the box under my bed - apparently she took a shine to that dark place and won't budge. As long as she behaves, I don't mind (much).
dafs3
The month of spring is here! :D I love this time of the year when nature awakens; the garden is full of sounds and smells and colours... Spring flowers burst from the earth, fresh new green leaves unfurl on the branches, birds start building nests and general mayhem of life begins anew.

My beautiful magnolia tree is full of catkins that will transform into gorgeous white blooms, so numerous they will turn the tree into one giant ball of white petals. I love it – the anticipation is killing me, especially since the early snow damaged the poor darling. I hope the tree recovered enough to give me some spectacular photos.

The ground where snow has already melted is pierced by slender narcissus (daffodils) leaves, but snowdrops should be the first to bloom. Then it is time for tulips and daisies and irises and... the list gets endless. The birds are already in a singing contest frenzy, so we can soon expect some serious nest building. I believe our dog’s shed hairs will be in high demand again. :D

And in Japan the first outdoor events are taking place again. I can't believe the plum trees there are already in bloom. I was shocked when I saw photos from this years Baikasai - Plum Blossom Festival - to me it was still deep winter but there spring was already on its way. Crazy. Photos from this event are some of my favourite photos of maiko and geiko of Kyoto.

Since many photographers don't like people uploading their images to other sites, I'll list their flickr websites below:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/58347421@N08/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelchandler/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/54438796@N06/

Series Anticipation – Game of Thrones

Just a month and season three is here! I can’t wait! Fellow fans are freaking out at the forum, not ashamed one bit for their love and obsession about GoT, so I’m not going to pretend otherwise; I’m just as excited. :D

One of the best trailers is this one:



There are several fan-made ones that are just as great. This one, for example:



I can well remember my reaction at the end of the last season, how desperate I was for time to pass quickly and the next season to come. That’s the bane of being a fan. These trailers hits me in all the right feels, so I’m really pumped for the premiere on 31st of March. I know my sister and I will be glued to the screen when it’s time for the first episode, and the following ones.

And for those who had to look up the song, here's a lyrics version since the official one would not be entirely work appropriate methinks. You can look it up on youtube under 'MsMr - Bones'.


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