Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Hazards of Gift Buying

It’s the second to last day of my holiday. I’m in a busy market place. So many stalls, so many sights and sounds – so many gift ideas. I can feel myself starting to sweat, and for once it isn’t because of the weather. Where do you start when buying your boyfriend a present? A spontaneous present no less.

You often hear men lament ‘woman are SOOO hard to buy for!’ Or the ever persistent question of ‘what do women want?’ To these pointless questions I laugh, LAUGH I TELL YOU! What do women want? Just take five minutes to look around her room and you’ll know. The only reason men pretend otherwise, is that when they remember their GF’s birthday on their way home from work, and only one dingy service station is open, they can burst through the door and present said woman with some windscreen wipers and calmly say: ‘Well honey, you know I don’t find it easy shopping for a woman. The blame obviously lies with you for having a vagina.’

If men only took a minute or two to step into their partners ‘space’, the part of the house they have marked, not with urine, but with bunting that says ‘A GIRL WAS HERE’, they would know what said woman would want. Two minutes in my room and a monkey could work out that giving me anything from IKEA with a floral pattern on, or a box set from HBO would make me a very happy bunny. I want people to know what I like. Come birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, I basically send a list to my loved ones demanding shit that I want.


Because I want a lot of stuff and I haven’t learned to shit money yet.

Assigning people BBC dramas really boosted my collection at Christmas

This is the difference between men and women. Women need a lot of stuff. We have to buy make up, clothes, nice underwear, several piles of shoes, smelly shower stuff, smelly lotion stuff. By the time all this stuff is bought in order to make us look acceptable, we don’t have money to spare for things like The Wire box set. A man on the other hand, literally has to buy some deodorant once a month and he’s done. Instead of foundation, he’s free to splurge on Mass Effect 3, instead of Palmers Coco Butter, he buys that Futurama poster he spotted last week. Consumerism opens its arms to men and says ‘whats mine is yours TAKE IT! RUN FREEEE, AS FREE AS THE WIND BLOWS!’ Meanwhile, women are chained to the Topshop website, putting at least 50 items into their wish list and counting down the days until their next birthday.

What this ultimately means, is that come your boyfriends birthday, when you demand to know what he wants (‘and no love, a love coupon doesn’t count’) he breezily replies: ‘Oh I dunno, I’ve basically got everything I want’. To a woman this is unimaginable. Isn’t there a DVD you want? (‘Bought three last week’) A CD you want to hear? (‘Ituned that shit yesterday’) How about some new shoes? (‘I already have two pairs, I don’t want to go mental’) How about... erm.... a.... love coupon? (‘Now we’re talking!’)

Unfortunately for me there wasn’t a love coupon stall in Malaga. And besides, only 6 months into the relationship, sex is still pretty much a given. Maybe in a few years  time, when my libido has calmed down, and sex becomes one of those rare treats, like Lord of the Rings boxset days, I’ll be able to get away with a cheeky throw around as present material. Until that time though, I’m stuck staring at flip flops. ‘How about these?’ My Mum suggests, holding up some leather sandals. ‘No, he’s too fussy with his flip flops.’

‘These sun glasses.’

‘He has some.’

‘A Frisbee, didn’t you say he likes Frisbee?’ (My boyfriend doesn’t like Frisbee, he loves Frisbee. He’s the vice captain of the Frisbee team. He has a custom Frisbee kit. When we make love I can in his eyes my breast blur into Frisbee circles.)

‘I don’t think I want to step into that territory.’

‘Well what else does this boy like?’

I think about this for a minute. What does he like that he doesn’t already have? And then a see it, glimmering in the distance like Jesus in a sequin cocktail dress, ‘ROCKS!’

Not just any rocks, fancy rocks. Rocks with bits of crystal in. Shiny rocks. My brain isso frazzled by stress and the Spanish sunshine, that I have started to believe my boyfriend is half Geologist and half magpie. ‘Give me the shiniest rock you have, gimme that one on the left, it’s pointy like an arrow – it’s a manly, shiny rock.’

I failed to take a picture of this manly rock, so here's the Microsoft Paint version. Look how MANLY it is!

When presented with said ‘manly’ rock at the airport I can tell he is overwhelmed with the gesture. ‘It’s a rock,’ he says.

‘Yes but it’s got those shiny bits there.’

‘Oh yeah... Looks like Fools Gold.’

‘AHA! My plan all along! I’m helping you flecks your geology muscles. If presented with a question on Fools gold in the exam you’ll be able to think back to my amazing present – in fact it’s more than a present, IT’S HELPING YOUR DEGREE! IT’S MAKING YOU A BETTER PERSON!’

‘Well it’s the most revision I’ve done all week to be honest, I bought Mass Effect while you were a way.’

Shit, I think to myself. I was going to buy him that for our anniversary.

Maybe a love coupon isn’t such a bad idea...

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Why I Won't Be Watching The Voice

I can’t remember when I first became aware of The Voice, it now seems like one media-blitzing-blur. Some believe the buzz behind The Voice started around the time that Jesus guy popped his clogs for the second time and all his disciples cried ‘WE NEED A  MESSIAH!’ In many ways, I think The Voice would have us believe this too. There’s no denying their knight in shining armour approach to TV, the black and white way in which they tackle the Cowell shaped problems surrounding talent shows. In a very romanticised way The Voice is the good guy fighting the evil Simon Cowell. With his makeovers and sob stories, Cowell is the Lex Luther to The Voice’s Superman, the Gary to its Ash Ketchum, the Joker to its Batman, and so on and so forth.  The question is how much of this do we really buy?

Tom Jones is looking more and more like a young Santa with a bad spray tan - a San-tan HAHAHA!
My answer would be very little of it. The problem with The Voice is that for all the buzz, it’s turned out to be just that – buzz. And annoying drone that is easily faded out with something more... substantial.  Maybe this is just my problem, but with all the hype I expected it to be more than just a buzz, it expected a POW, a BOOM, or at the very least a VIOLA! I expected contestants to sing in darkness and then be revealed with glitter and fireworks and for the whole UK to be exclaiming on Facebook – ‘Did you see that?! It was a set of conjoined twins singing the whole time! That second head can really beat box!’

What we have instead is four judges, one of which is only referred to as ‘that Irish guy from The Script’, sitting on chairs and swivelling around like four Bond villains set of repeat. Swivelling chairs, this is the revelation. This is the messiah. Somehow this isn’t what I pictured.

The problem I have with the The Voice – the REAL problem, is that with the swivelling chairs aside, it is just another singing competition. In thousands of years historians will look back at shows like The Voice, X Factor, Pop Idol, and assume that music requires one good singer and that all the songs, instruments, producing, are done magically by elves. This we know isn’t the truth, I mean, just look at Calvin Harris. The man couldn’t sing Happy Birthday in tune, yet produces amazing music. Not because he’s a great singer, but because he’s a MUSICIAN.

Now I’m not naive, I know that Cheryl Cole and Britney Spears couldn’t write, play, and produce a song between them. I’m not suggesting that the charts are filled with nothing but people like Ben Howard. But there is variation. Next to JLS is Ed Sheeran, two different artists with different talents. Both can sing, one can write songs and the other can dance – in sync, kinda.

We need a variation in talent not appearance. For all The Voice’s subtle hints that they’re the good guys because they’ll let a thirty stone woman on the show because she can sing, even if they have to fork lift her onto the set; they seem to forget that Cowell crossed this bridge years ago with Susan Boyle. Not only did he cross it, he did it in style – 15 million album sales and Boyle’s net worth of £11.9 million. We already know that image isn’t everything. We’ve already seen what a truly good voice is worth.

But maybe it was best left unseen.
What we haven’t seen is a show that puts emphasis on music, I mean music in its entirety. Now maybe I’m being ignorant, maybe this show has come and gone, maybe it’s already out there on Sky. But if I am ignorant, then this show hasn’t gone the distance, and we need a MUSIC show to explode and fill out screens with a variety of talent. I want not The Voice, but The Music. I want to see people do mini-mixes with their laptops and decks, I want drum solos, guitar riffs, a string quartet, AS WELL AS people singing their hearts out. I don’t want people selling sob stories about their Nan dying and her last words being ‘BECOME FAMOUS... BUY A FARARII... BE ON THE COVER OF HELLOOOOoooo...’ If there are to be sob stories, I want them to be about a drummer looking for a great bassist, a guitarist looking for some kick ass vocals. I want it to be about MUSIC!

And sadly, I don’t think The Voice can provide that. Maybe when that Jesus guy returns...

What I'll be watching instead:

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Random Review: Mad Men 5.4 Mystery Date

With episode four, Mad Men is finally getting into the swing of things. Or are we? The problem a lot of people seem to be having with Mad Men, my flat mate included, is that some of the fans are having a hard time getting back into the grove of the 1960’s ad world. We’ve waited for so long, with such bated breath, for this fifth season, that only something seriously dramatic and something seriously BIG, would be able to satisfy the fan base. The major flaw in this being that Mad Men isn’t a BIG show, it doesn’t do LOUD, it doesn’t do DRAMATIC. Mad Men is subtle, pragmatic, quiet in a under-the-surface way. Or at least it was until Don strangled someone.

It feels strange to say it, but Don was definitely the weak link in this week’s episode. There was promise at the start. His burning fever, and the appearance of an old flame, which subtly hinted at his body rejecting the new monogamy his marriage requires. For a moment, as Don beaded with sweat and open the door to his forceful ex, I thought: ‘Finally! This is the Draper I remember!’ Ever since episode one I’ve been waiting for him to slip. Despite Don’s claims that his unhappy marriage is what led to his past promiscuity, we all know that Betty wasn’t a hundred percent to blame. Don is a flawed man, and that doesn’t just go away with a sexy French dance. But then for this moment of weakness to be swept under the carpet as a dream, to me it felt... cheap. A bit of a cop out, which isn’t something I’m used to in Mad Men. And the strangling? I know they were going for a bit of a macabre theme with the Chicago murders but, really? It was all just a bit too in your face for my liking. And it almost felt like the writers were trying to give the audience the BIG BANG they think they want. Except in this case it back fired, blew too loud, and just left you feeling disorientated.

"So you're black, I used to be fat, so I can definitely relate."

It wasn’t all bad though, Kiernan Shipka put on an engaging performance as Sally Draper. The bonding scene near the end with Grandma Pauline was touching and uncomfortable all at the same time. I’m personally a fan of playing the ‘How fucked up is Sally going to be when she hits her teens’ game. For a moment we had a glimmer of hope in Grandma Pauline, with her talk of discipline and her nice tuna sandwich. Only for it to be tarnished with a very mature bed time story (‘You’re old enough to know what’) and an introduction into soft-core drug abuse. However, despite this unorthodox approach, I’m interested to see where Sally and Grandma Pauline’s relationship will go. Unlike Betty, Grandma Pauline seems able to treat Sally like the grown up she’s becoming. Hopefully this might undo some of the damage Betty’s ‘go watch TV’ parenting has caused.

And speaking of relationships and growing up – Greg came back from Vietnam! And the quickly went back there. Personally I’ve never liked Greg, he’s always felt a bit tacked on to the storyline. As if the writers suddenly realised ‘oh wait, there’s no way a woman like Joan would stay single in the 60s’ and whipped Greg up. He’s so forgettable as a character that I was surprised to find the famous rape scene (one of the most disturbing Mad Men scenes) happened in season two. Other than get cheated on by Joan in season four, what else did he do? Where was he in three? Can anyone remember? This is kind of fitting I suppose, for a man so insecure in his own significance and masculinity. “I’m tired of trying to make you feel like a man,” was Joan’s perfect summary of their relationship as Greg left to feel ‘wanted’ by the twenty men serving him in Vietnam. Good riddance is all I can say.

There were also some smaller plots going on. Rodger now seems permanently relegated to office clown. Peggy tried to have a ‘I’m a woman, you’re black... and a woman’ bond with Dawn, only to blow it with a moment of casual racism regarding her purse. And Ginsberg talked, a lot. He likes to do that. My only quibble with Ginsberg (I’m forced to like him purely on the basis of him looking to be a good match for Peggy) is that why, after a very publicised murder of helpless women, would you push an ad campaign that revolved a woman being followed by a would-be attacker? The reasoning of ‘she wants to be caught’ doesn’t sit right with me, and maybe it is supposed to. Maybe it’s more subtle than that.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

My Reaction to 'Casual Vacancy'

Today J.K Rowling announced the title of her new book: Casual *snort* Vacancy. Here’s what we’re in store for:

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

When Barry Fairweather, when BARRY, BARRY – B-ARRY, dies. Barry – Harry. I see what you did there Rowling. I can only hope this is intentional, otherwise you may have just revealed your odd character fetish for men with names ending in ‘arry’. Also a preoccupation with these people dying. But less about my Rowling fetish speculations and more on... this news/revelation in general. 

If you have access to the internet, and have visited any review/news site that is even slightly inclined to nerddom, you will know people are losing their shit. Finally a replacement for the lighting shaped hole in their hearts! I myself am I huge fan of the Harry Potter franchise. While I find the movies a little lacking, the books are a tangible relic from my childhood. I remember Order of the Phoenix coming out one weekend and by the time I returned to school on Monday I had devoured the whole thing. Oh how I gloried in the power of the spoilers! Being one of the few people to have read the massive slab of a book, I would hang over people and whisper cruelly ‘Oh you like Sirius, do you? Attached are we? Oh you poor, poor soul... Muwaha!’

I have a lot of the actors on twitter. I know most of the spells, have spent hours, even days, considering which house I would be sorted into (I’m still torn between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff), and can do I an almost perfect Bellatrix impression – ‘itty, bitty, POT-TAH!’ So am I excited for Rowlings new book? 

Not really. 

I have to be honest with you, this extract doesn’t get my heart pounding. If this was the blurb to any other book that didn’t have ROWLING stamped over the top, I wouldn’t give it a second glance. If anything it sounds a bit... cliché. ‘Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.’ This to me reads like something off of Fictionpress. An okay fictionpress story, that gets a couple dozen reviews, but isn’t anything too special.

Maybe my standards are too high, maybe I’m expecting too much from Rowling. But I don’t let my love of the Potter fandom blind me to Rowling’s faults. Because looking back at her work, it isn’t the best writing. She doesn’t summon outstanding imagery, sometimes the dialogue is a bit wooden, the prose a bit stilted. Writing isn’t Rowling’s strong suit.

However, what she does do well is create a world we can escape into with ease. No fan of Harry Potter can say they’ve never spent an afternoon imagining what it would be like to be a wizard. You picture yourself in those iconic robes, consider which wand to buy, imagine what class you would excel in. This is the real pleasure of Rowling’s work. This is what makes her an outstanding author.

So for me to see her write something revolving around a... village, I can hardly say my heart is pounding. Maybe she’ll prove me wrong. Maybe this village will be the new Hogwarts. Maybe I’ll spend hours thinking ‘what Pagford pub would I have a drink in?’ But at the moment this seems unlikely that’ll I’ll get lost in the world of Pagford.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Why Start a Blog?

In the earlier days this question would probably follow ‘what the fuck is a blog?’ and ‘is it contagious? Do I need a laxative?’ Nowadays we’re a little more clued up, or at least, we like to think we are. We ask non toilet related questions, such as: are you doing it for money? Are you doing it to get a career? And, more importantly, do you think you’re talented enough? What have YOU got to say?

New blogs pop up every day (hello), some about cars, some about fashion (a lot about fashion), and some that don’t seem to be about anything at all. Blogs, I like to think, are like dogs. Dogs are all of the same species but not of the same breed. People never confuse a Great Dane with a Pug, similarly you wouldn’t confuse a blog on politics with the pretty pictures of The one thing that connects them all is the blog DNA which can be broken down into the genetic alphabet of html, awkward sentence structures, exclamation marks, and neurosis.  Mostly neurosis.

On the subject of dogs, here's mine. I like dogs, I like them a lot.

And this is the problem I have with modern day blog culture. Because blogs boil down to one thing – the person writing them. They’re all about opinions, about a person’s selfhood and beliefs.  And when you take someone’s selfhood and question its commercial value, it’s worth, its money making potential, then you’re really entering into something quite perverse, and I don’t mean that in a good way. For example, a friend opens up a blog. It’s nothing ground breaking, just little snippets of her day, what she thinks about new fashion trends, how she does her make-up; you know, girly stuff. In the old days we may have all coo’ed and called it ‘cute’. Instead we have people, usually Londoners, asking: what’s the point? Where’s the big picture? The pithy female intellect? Why the fuck do we care about what colour her nails are, unless it’s in high resolution and photography artfully next to a mile of pastel coloured macaroons?

People no longer accept blogs as cute little side projects you take up to kill time on your lunch break, now it’s almost a career. Cute doesn’t cut it anymore kid, the world demands PROFESSIONALISM.

Nothing says professionalism like a pink laptop and a take-away carton on the side

Now in my experience, when it comes to matter of the self, people in general are far from professional. The Coca-cola is professional, the brand of one Heather Shaw, is not. For instance, professional is slink and shiny. It’s polished cherry red with crisp, clear white writing. When I try and wear any white it usually has a Bolognese stain on it within half an hour. As a person I cannot be professional. In a job I can put on professional looking clothes, talk for a few hours with a British sense of what being professional is, but as a whole, me as a person, cannot be professional. And I strongly question whether anyone out there can – even politians.

Why then am I starting a blog? I’ll tell you.

1)      Because by naming said blog WizardFaces, it finally gives my twitter account of the same name, some purpose. I had mistakenly thought a username required quirky imagination and nonsense words, like most usernames do on other sites. This was before I actually took a closer look at twitter and saw everyone else using simple variations of their name like: steve_010 or Jane_EM. Making me feel a crazy beatnik who’s just walked into the Ad Agency in Mad Men and started singing marijuana-induced love songs to Jon Hamm.

2)    Because I want to wade through the bullshit that surrounds blog culture and dump myself (almost literally) onto the internet and go – this is me, this is what I think. Yes I may try and be pithy, yes I may even try to make you (the reader, who if rumours are to be believed, may or may not exist) laugh, and hell, maybe one day I’ll sit down figure out what all this HTML shit is about and make this blog all clean lines and nicely sized font. But other than that, this is not a career venture. This is not some trap in the advertising forest trying to snatch up some sponsors. All this is, is one twenty year old student, sitting at a laptop and trying to articulate one thought a week to you – the reader.

It’s me, nothing else that will drive this blog. I sat long and hard trying to think up a theme, some concrete genre this blog could be placed in (a student orientated cooking blog may or may not have been thrown around) but in the end I’m not just one concrete element. DNA is built up from more than just one gene that decides you’re prone to fart a lot. It’s about variety, expression, about being HUMAN. Having one post about where women stand in society and the social ramifications of state-controlled contraception, and then another on why I like to watch reruns of The Hills and why it got so crap when Lauren left. It’s not shiny, it’s not slick – it is a mutt, many breeds jammed into one misshapen, multi-coloured fur ball that will probably wee on the new run and chew up the sofa. But at least it’ll wag its tail in the process. 

Sunday, 8 April 2012


I suppose you want to know what this is all about (it’s got wizards in the title and a dragon in the header, of course you want to know what’s happening and whether or not you’re on drugs). Hopefully I’ll be able to explain what this brain fart is.
My name is Heather. This is my blog. Not a travel blog, a food blog, or a fashion blog – just a blog. Here’s a picture of me:
Pulling weird faces makes me look better 
I don’t have that haircut anymore, here’s what it looks like now.
I'm the pale one who's squinting - sexy, right?
Having a bad gum/teeth ratio doesn’t make me a good candidate for photographs so that’s enough photographs for now. So here’s what’s this blog is really about.  
The story behind the blog:

The truth is there isn’t one. I’ve always wanted to start one but I’ve just never had the lady balls. Luckily these two girls did: Bryony and Izy. Once two people I knew in real life started blogs, and weren’t burned at the stake by people on Facebook, I figured it was time to place a balls order on amazon.

I read on that you should have a topic in mind when starting a blog, something you can write about day and night, everyday if needs be. I tossed around a few ideas. I like food but I’m too busy eating to take pretty pictures of it. I also like fashion, but I’m too money conscious to break my ‘start with 1’ rule (for those not in the know, this is where I refuse to buy anything that doesn’t start with 1 eg. £15 is good £21 is bad. Of course, this is flawed because I will also buy things under a tenner – bottom line, I’m cheap, too cheap for fashion).

And then I bought a Times subscription and started reading Caitlin Moran’s weekly column. It was funny, sometimes personal, sometimes political, and always opinionated. I thought, other than a massive pay check and a professional publication, there really isn’t much difference between this column and a blog. And with this logic in mind I realised I could do a Moran and make a blog all about... well, me. Or rather my opinions on things. Just think of me as a modern SJP, only without the weird clothes and a terrible film sequel .

So if you like long sentences and abstract metaphors, and you enjoying reading one girls rant on the world and her theories on the fancy dress shop in Headingley, then you’re in the right place. If not, and you want something a bit more polished, more informative, with pictures taken on a DSLR camera, well... sorry about that. Maybe you should have googled more efficiently?

Want to get in touch? Want to send me pictures of you in a glitter thong? (this need only apply to James Franco) Do you need some freelance shit, someone to sign for a book deal? Someone to throw your money at? Email