Leonard Kravitz is a hot bitch.
He knows it; he's cool with it- I'm cool with that. I'll always be a fool for (virtually) anyone with two barre chords and a nipple ring to rub together. I applaud him, hair, no hair, brows, no brows, ladyshoes, no ladyshoes, pants, no pants... There are worse things someone could say about you, but I do feel slightly guilty in my objectification of such conscious materia. Do I care for his music? Err... his what now?
For such a thickly-pigmented lippy, they are comfortable on the lips and light-ish to wear, especially at first; I am nit-picking here but after a little while there's a slightly funky lip-feel, almost like my mouth has been thinly shrink-wrapped in a few microns worth of plastic. Do they bleed? Only in the tiniest imaginable way after eating if you don't line or prime. Shame is the worst in this respect, but it's still better than most. Shame also settles slightly into lip lines.
Two thumbs up for this new Urban Decay formula; one point off for the naff and rather inexplicable metallic ummm futuristic (?) packaging, though. I still prefer MAC's sexy black bullets.
Photography by John McColgan / U.S. Forest Service
The orchard shivered with darting, olive-green birds and a loose mist of bees as Susan sauntered toward it with a bucket and a pair of scissors she had discovered in the garage. The afternoon was hotter than she had anticipated though she was not especially inclined to return to the house for a hat. Edward had made a generous, if hardly self-abnegatory offer of residence to Lilian and the two had passed the first half of the day relocating her few belongings, the process drawn out by delays that occurred both in his suite and in the shuttered garage. It had been Susan’s resolution to find flowers for her rooms; so engrossed was she in the pursuit that she almost walked into a stranger while rounding the trees at the edge of the orchard. Stepping back off the man’s shoes, she exclaimed and leant down to retrieve her bucket.
“Nathaniel Shaw, Trident Security.” he told her, producing a tanned and manicured hand at which she stared, still struggling with his improbability. "You’re...?”
“Susan.” she replied.
“Susan...?” Her expression altered again at his use of her name, its kindred vowels afforded fulsome treatment.
“Susan the housekeeper.”
His smile broadened, full of handsome geniality.
“Oh okay... good to finally meet you." He set his hands on his hips and looked around them, nodding to himself. "Interesting place... don’t get too many like this. Been out here long?”
“I don't really know... you lose track of time.” she admitted. He smiled so easily that the expression had been relieved of some of its effect despite its pulchritude. “Why do we need a guard all of a sudden?” His gaze shifted back toward the pool.
“I’m just walking the perimeter right now." He watched her frown develop as she looked down at the grass. "Keeping you all safe, I guess." She shook her head at the gum he offered her. "Can’t be easy, trying to keep a place like this square. What part of England are you from?”
“You wouldn’t know it.”
“Always wanted to get over there one day... guess I never get the time. So these guys... they’re okay? I just found a new place out this way, so I don’t want to hear that they put you out for nothing...” Susan bent slightly at the knees, looking through the orchard.
“I couldn't really tell you... it’s a job and a place to doss.” He held onto her gaze in the hope that he could stay her, but she had already entered into a move to pass him.
“What do you do for fun around here?”
“I’ll let you know when I find out.” she sighed. Shaw stepped out of her way and turned with her, meeting the glance she aimed over her shoulder as she walked on toward the trees.
Having gained the orchard she turned south along an avenue of hornbeams that had once formed a pleached walk between the fruit trees and specimen plantings. It had long since thrown off all constraint and sent its muscular boughs across the lane, casting a shade that cowed the grass and sheltered stands of ferny, speckled hemlock. That someone had preceded her was apparent in the herbage crushed by careless feet and Susan followed them until the avenue opened into a clearing ringed by lemon-green magnolias, their quilted crimson fruit poised upon the fingers of their mannered branches. Amid them crouched a large and rotund silver structure, its thick skin creased at the seams with the pressure of the air that held its turrets and spandrels aloft in bulbous association. William lay on his back on the mattress-like floor, hair hanging over the edge while he read from a handwritten page. She stood with her mouth open.
“Where did you get a bouncy castle?" she demanded, dropping the bucket.
“Stoner party hire guy... four weeks for a short pound.” he confessed. Beside him lay a chunk of drooling caramel-brown honeycomb on a platter of leaves. “Don’t tell Ed... he hates plastic. I had them push it over the wall.” She approached, wide-eyed, and smoothed both hands over the plump edifice, bending to inhale the evocative smell of its rubberized compounds. William tucked the letter into his trousers.
"Is it your birthday or something?" she laughed.
“This is my fortress of solitude.”
“Oh...” Susan straightened up as though to leave.
“My fortresses of solitude visiting hours are from one a.m to twelve fifty-nine a.m daily.” he laughed. “Anything’s better than sharing a floor with the beast with two backs.”
"I just want to hide in a corner with a blanket over my head.”
Smiling at the description, he made a gesture of invitation with both hands.
“Girls ride free.”
She clambered up, careful not to disturb his honeycomb.
“I just ran into a security guard.”
"Mr Shaw...” he smirked. “Nice piece. Observant, conscientious... keeps it tight for the ladies.”
“Nosey.” she added, wrinkling her nose. “Did you think he was fit?” He lifted his brow and nodded as he sucked the honey sticking to his fingers. “I suppose he is... I just hate security guards... wherever I’ve worked, they're the ones you need security from. I’m so used to them being completely dodgy.”
“His vanilla doesn’t make you crazy for him?” She shook her head. “His lack of dodginess is... dodgy? ¡Mierda, Christabel! You're a hard woman to please.”
“I know. Anyway...” Susan clenched both fists and sucked in her lower lip, looking down at him and making a small humming noise of coiled anticipation. William sighed, rolling over, and they chuckled as they retired to either side of the castle, then launched themselves into the air, alternating landfalls pushing them higher until they began to surpass the walls and gain rolling views of the trees outside, arms out to expedite their ascents. For a while they were content with moderate altitude and its various permutations, seeking them conscientiously with each other's aid, her flights floating the flesh loose from her bones at their weightless apex. Susan flung herself against a wall then down onto her back, innards looping as he bounced her onto her feet; she shoved him face-first into the southern turret and lost control of her own trajectory, catching his shirt and exchanging it for his hands as he used his weight to draw them higher. Her dress flew up around them in a china-blue flare. On looking down she saw the floor drop so far away that she cried out, grasping his arms tightly.
"Tourner!" he laughed, letting her go and turning in a circle; she did the same, shrieking again through her hair as the garden reclined in a swooping curve, the sun's especial brilliance allowing her heart to stay behind amid the empty air as she descended. Three times more she flew skyward, arms spread wide, her eyes streaming, the air a sugared pink inside her chest until she could endure it no more and threw herself down in a state of collapse, lying gasping on the pillowed silver. William smiled and stalled himself, flipping down from the edge of the castle to reclaim the detritus scattered from his pockets. His letter flapped beneath her arm and she shaded her eyes to glance at the diminutive, handwritten French in pale blue ink before handing it back to him. He stepped over her and lay down.
“Bad news?” she asked, still breathless. He nodded. “I don’t even know what my friends are doing... I haven’t called anyone since I came over here... don’t know why.”
“Separation tranquility.” he suggested. The phrase pleased her and she nodded to herself. The sun lifted the loamy walnut scent of the shaded earth beneath them, the living leaves glowing a hundred greens and diaphanous cellophane golds, Susan losing herself entirely in contemplation of them. William wished that he could share in her pellucid mood, his own thoughts poisoned by the missive that had come to him so full of the despair consuming its author, her bleak sentiments recorded in the strokes of her anachronistic hand.
His ruminations were disturbed by a bee that began to bumble around the castle, circling close to Susan and seemingly intent upon alighting in her hair.
“Get away! It’s going to nip me!” she cried, rolling sideways. He held out his hand and began to speak in a purring tone; the insect buzzed aimlessly for a moment before settling on his wrist and sitting still, wings shivering. She wrinkled up her nose, regarding the furry miscreant’s apparent master with as much suspicion as the insect itself. “What are you, king of bees? Where did you learn that?”
“In Kham, when I was young." Her naked disbelief solicited him further. "If you want honey in the mountains, you have to climb up great big ladders made of vines and hair and hang off the sides of the cliffs, where the wild bees have their hives. They’re the biggest, baddest bees on the planet... big as a baby’s arm... attention deficit bees, and they know you’re coming... you hang upside down with an axe and hack away while all these giant angry bees come out and sting the everliving shit out of you, so you either come down looking like a sausage with smallpox, or you learn to speak nicely to them.” He pushed the comb toward her, watching her eye the broken, oozing mess doubtfully. “You do like it... you just don’t know it yet.”
Susan turned over onto her side and leant on her elbow, breaking off a piece for herself and attempting to blow off the grass adhering to it, before putting the whole thing in her mouth. The strongly floral flavour of the honey melted into sweetness on her tongue and a perfume in her nose, redolent of lilac blooms and chapel candles, its waxy structures collapsing between her teeth. She leant forward, letting a wad of wax drop over the side of the castle and helping herself to more. William ate his own from the tips of his fingers, watching it fall from her chin and darken the front of her dress as she lost control of the piece in her hand.
“Did your family leave when the Chinese came?” she asked. He seemed puzzled. "Tibet or wherever..." William shook his head. “So... they’re still there?”
“I don't know.”
"I can not for the life of me imagine your parents.” she smiled. He shrugged and looked out into the trees.
“I only remember my mother.”
“You don’t speak to her?”
“So... it really is just you and Edward...”
Susan was surprised to see him struggling so visibly with her questions, his softly-spoken monosyllables fending if not extinguishing her curiosity, and she became concerned that she had traded felicity for contention. Reaching down into his jeans he took out the letter and handed it to her in a strange, autonomic concession.
“God no, William... it’s your business, not mine.” she assured him. “It’s not that I don’t ever snoop or anything, but... I'm not that sort of nutter yet." He returned it to his pocket. "But since we’re on the subject of nutters, have you heard from Rache...” The vehemence of his expression almost deterred her from continuing. “I was just saying that you seem to have done a good job of putting her off.”
He suppressed a smile.
“He might never get work at a daycare facility, but Ed's death ray is a special fucking thing of beauty." In her enthusiasm she had left a large blob of honey on the side of her face; he reached out and caught it with his finger, smoothing it in a salve over the bridge of her nose. Her skin was hot with developing sunburn as he put the hand to her cheek. “You’re burnt.” he smiled, adding another daub to the pink skin of her forehead. “It stops blisters coming.” She touched her face, still staring at his own, and confirmed his diagnosis absently, inclining her cheek against the coolness of his hand.
“Freckles.” she sighed.
"I love freckles."
"Because you haven't got any." He leant toward her and licked a bead of honey from her chin, his lips meeting the corner of her mouth.
"Come out with me Christabel or I don't know what I'll do.” he told her, the words breeze-blown in her ear. "I'll probably die and go straight to one-star hell, and you don't want that on your conscience... while we live, let us live."
A shadow fell across them. Lilian held out a telephone.
“For you. Some foreign guy with a dirty voice.” she advised. He accepted it and climbed to his feet, walking to the back of the castle to conduct the conversation in French. The intruder studied the inflatable structure and then his companion with a frown. “You got honey on your face.” she added.
Brushing herself off, Susan slid down and excused herself, stooping to collect her bucket. Lilian turned to watch her go, waiting for William to conclude the discussion that had degenerated quickly into conflict.
"That looked pretty fucking chaste. What gives, frankenslut?" she inquired.
"What's it to you, interruptingcow? Are you all done in there now? Need a medivac or should I just move out and leave you to it?"
Lilian took the phone from him and started back along the shaded lane.
C O N T I N U E D N E X T W E E K
© céili o'keefe
LIKE IT? TIP ME. BUY THE BOOK. $3.99
Their flowers range from startling silvery white to lipstick pink and safety yellow all the way down to murky blood-drenched purple. Anyone new to the cactus game could do worse than to start with this group, given their ease of cultivation (none required, really) and gratifying floriferousness.
I've not managed to kill any yet, so you should be alright.
* S U M M E R 2 0 1 3/4 *
( S o u t h e r n H e m i s p h e r e )
yes I know the first day actually sneaked past us
I was drunk at the time officer.
We loved Blomkamp's first grungy opus, District Nine, and prayed hard for other auteurs to run with the direction it seemed to provide to a genre mired in pointless visual noodling and suicidal plagiarism. But when I saw the first trailer for Elysium I half-complained that it looked too familiar. That's not really a legitimate criticism, at least not one that I'd tolerate in regard to my own work, having come to the (stunningly obvious) conclusion that worthwhile oeuvres are constructed over time, are necessarily self-referential and expand upon themselves according to the value of their fundamentals. Reiteration can be a very good thing and Elysium's mining of District Nine's rich conceptual deposits proves to be its greatest strength.
Max (Damon) is a meaty parolee caught in the brutal mechanics of post-economic and environmental collapse. Humanity's one-percent overlords administer the ruined Earth with droids and a cruel but firm hand from the luxury of their titular orbiting colony; this much is briskly established. After a workplace mishap Max is driven back to the criminality he was attempting to escape in order to access the organic renewal available only to the privileged residents of Elysium. I won't dump any spoilers on your head at this stage.
Elysium is pretty explicitly political and who better to twist first-world nipples than someone straight outta Jo'burg and privy to all the inequities that have us collectively circling the drain in reality? Anyone writing today can tell you this is a brave choice, given audiences conditioned by fey-mongering nerdboys and their preference for head/sand escapism. It gets a lot of things right, actually, like utilizing the scope offered by our current industrial complexes, the future they are engineering scarcely in need of the embellishment envisioned here. District Nine's filthy, no-star aesthetic serves it well, imposing its values on a narrative so often hijacked by aspirational design; stacking a lo-fi backdrop with the same achtung utilitarian stylings and weaponry was a solid decision. The FX as a whole emerge from the slightly budget functionalism of D9 to earn that most elusive of perceptual designations- mundane acceptance. Nasty little in-jokes and homages abound but Blomkamp exhibits laudable restraint, thankfully only ever sticking the tip in in this respect and he handles the polyglot dialogue with the same unapologetic assurance, vaporising all notions of tokenism.
That's not to say nothing was sacrificed to the god of popularism. It's too pacy for one, dragging us through dirt and space like we've got a foot caught in the stirrup, engendering a haste that strips out too much development, compressing characters and backstory that deserved a more meaningful treatment. The grimy vision suffers definite moments of inelegant embellishment-failure (the fake blossom trees *ahem* hot-glue-gunned into the gantry fight scene- ehh ohh). The gease imposed on Damon's protagonist by his misfortune seemed far too cursory; we hardly felt a thing when we should have been counting off the minutes with him. And in conforming to the one percent's drearily manicured vision, the off-world sanctuary itself feels just as suffocating as toilet-Earth; this is slyly apposite and a throws a small bone to the kind of reviewer who would bitch if it wasn't the case. Lol. Far more disappointing was the wide streak of meh we detected in the denouement, its nobler sentiments wilted by unoriginality and expedient kinetic scrummage.
It does rejoice in a diverse and broadly competent cast with the exception of Jodie Foster who fails to transition from contemporary MOR heroine to futuristic villain and just seems like a bleached sore thumb, smooshing poorly-timed verbal affectation and passionless grit into something thin and rather dismal. To be fair, she didn't have much to work with, but you can't help thinking someone else could have made a much better fist of its bare bones. Tilda Swinton could have nailed it in her sleep. Copley struggles more convincingly with the shallow arc of his machine-stamped psycho but I love Sharlto, so I may be giving him a pass here. Damon is good-to-okay as the luckless protagonist but I've had a problem with his down-tuning ever since Jason Bourne started mumbling and averting his eyes in a tight spot. While we empathise with the brutish limitations of his antiheroism, there were so many missed opportunities- for humour, for pathos- that his role feels like it was cut down with a machete. Braga is good as Frey, his erstwhile love, despite being set squarely in imperilled-maiden-eye-roll territory; fix that shit, Neill, seriously. Perhaps most astounding of all is William Fitchner as exactly the same deliciously soulless corporate fuckknuckle he played to squeaky perfection in Michael Mann's Heat nearly twenty freaking years ago! (We've had Heat on high rotation for the past year or so, coincidentally). OMG, right?
Elysium deserves your full Friday night consideration. We expected a lot and it largely delivered, within the unenviable confines of its commercial parameters. Does it benefit from a distinct lack of competition? Hell yes, but so did Blade Runner. I like Blomkamp for his (relatively) inclusive verité, gratuitous explosive ordinance, thickly-accented monologues and for entertaining us with threads plucked from the very catastrophe we're facing for real. If there's nothing unreservedly inspirational about his vision, I'm not sure the fault lies with its author.
M O R E R E V I E W S H E R E
Do any of you remember this Later with Jools show? There were some other decent performances but to my mind, Björk and Raimundo took the cake and pretty much sent everyone else home with this song. It remains one of my faves, despite a slew of melancholy associations.
I've always been a sucker for flamenco and the ragged passion of her vocal transcends any idea of naff appropriation. Muy bueno; ella me habla.
Now I want a pink cape.