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Robsessions - October 2018

15 October 2018
If my calculations are correct, it has been a solid... 27 months since I last posted. 'What happened?' I'll pretend you asked - well, to be honest with you imaginary stranger - I couldn't tell you. The tweets stopped, the pics on Instagram were few and far between, there were a couple of far-from-valiant attempts to write blog posts, and suddenly we're now in October 2018. I wish I could say I've got a lot to catch you up on but if I'm honest, I'm pretty much in the same place as my last post, just with some great memories and a few little trips under my belt...

I thought I'd keep it low-key and go for a classic Robsessions to start the blog back up again. You know when you can't start your car, whip out your trusty jump leads you haven't used in a few years, and with the help of a good friend or even a wonderful stranger, get the engine running and suddenly all is right with the world again - that's what this post is. I mean, I don't drive, so I'm assuming this metaphor works, but when it came down to it I figured what way to enjoy writing again than to write about enjoying things... right? 

Film

My life has recently been taken over by A Star Is Born, and I'm not mad about it. If I'm completely honest, I've been sat here waiting with open arms for what feels like years. Was I expecting this to be a great movie? Yes. Was I expecting the soundtrack to blow me over? Of course. Was I still very surprised at just how incredibly this film was? Oh, you betcha.


Those with a strong connection to (one or more of the) original films may have found it hard to dive into a new version, a version which on paper was simply one of the lead star's directing debut, and the other leads' first proper feature film, who was also that popstar who wore a meat dress and was probably often referred to by your elderly relatives as a 'weird woman' - red flags everywhere right? As someone who watched the Barbara Streisand version a hot minute ago and forgot all about it, and is also a big fan of professional 'weird woman' Stefani Germanotta and her incredible vocal and songwriting talent, I suppose it was easier to go into it with an open mind. I also trusted Bradley Cooper - I didn't know the guy, still don't unfortunately, but I trusted him, and I was right to do so.

The movie is an absolute rollercoaster as Ally (Lady Gaga or L. Gaga as she's now known in the biz) is discovered by famous rock star Jackson Maine. After doing a spot of singing in French, Ally joins Jackson for the rest of the night and they bond over music. As well as developing a very initially sweet relationship, Jackson brings out the confidence in Ally, the main focus being her incredible songwriting, and we see the pair touring and playing shows until Ally is scouted and becomes a proper popstar and that. We then see the pressures between the pair as the cracks start to show, bad habits worsen and suddenly the question of authenticity is thrown into the ring, as Ally's music becomes a lot more commercial, something Jackson just isn't happy with. He's a real musician, you know.

There were effective little moments that really felt like you were part of this story, including genius shots that follow Ally as she takes to the stage for the first time - we're stood on the stage literally right next to her, experiencing this with her, as she belts out what might be the most iconic note of 2018. There are also fun little pop culture references that brought some familiarity to the story, such as the inclusion of Drag Race legends Shangela and Willam, whereas nods to SNL and even Halsey popping up at The Grammys made Ally's journey seem cohesive in 2018.

The story battles topics such as addiction, the pressures of the music industry, and includes a scene in rehab that is enough to reduce you to tears. Those who are aware of the original story will have a rough idea how it all ends, and as we reach the final chapter of the story, we see sacrifice and a dramatic turn which in a way seems a little rushed, and on reflection, almost a bit of an overreaction, but then I'm saying this as someone with a stable(ish) mind, with a form of logical thinking. Cut to a beautifully shot montage and a show-stopping performance from L. Gaga that will for sure win her the Oscar, and you find yourself having to sacrifice holding on to your friends to wipe away the tears. As someone's who shared the lead-up to this film with his two best friends, finally watching the film together was a real moment I don't think we'll forget for a while.

With everything that's happened in the music industry this year, this story feels more relevant than ever, and was told in the most beautiful way. Well done Bradley, well done L.

TV

If it wasn't for a friend at work, I wouldn't have tuned into Channel 4's latest reality effort, The Circle. With the vast amount of throwaway reality TV on at the moment, and the fact that I barely even made it past the launch night of Big Brother, I saw an advert for this social-media experiment and just thought... oh, another one. 

Not even my undying love for Alice Levine could twist my arm initially, however when talk in the office turned to a fancy block of flats filled with a guy pretending to be his girlfriend, an overexcited gay guy pretending to be a straight 'lad,' a woman not sharing the fact she was a mother and had her baby staying with her, and a (now iconic) turtle called Fiji, I was listening... Add to that mix the talk of a young Welsh female pretending to be her Grandad and I was in, and got instantly hooked.

It was a bit of a commitment watching 6 hour episodes every week, but time flew by as you saw these strangers interacting via a social media platform, forming friendships and alliances, completing activities and most importantly, rating each other. Those with the highest ratings had the power to 'block' another player, who would have to leave instantly - savage I know - but would get to meet one other player face-to-face. Cue a number of incredible moments where players found out those they trusted were not quite what they seemed. This series seemed so pure, as do most shows of this ilk in their first series, but with news of the show being picked up in other territories, and talk of a possible second series, I'm intrigued to see how future series pan out.


In other news, Doctor Who is back, and I couldn't be happier with the introduction of new Doctor Jodie Whittaker. I tapped out of the Capaldi era quite quickly - it just wasn't for me, and with the news of there finally being a female Doctor, in the form of an incredibly charming and adorable Northerner, my interest was re-piqued. The idea of having multiple companions felt almost off-putting, but the first episode did a great job of introducing them, and others, in a way that didn't feel suffocating.

The first episode featured what was quite a simple plot, but had enough of the villian/victim tropes to keep the episode going as we learn more about this new Doctor, the new companions and acclimatise to what is going to be an exciting chapter in the Doctor Who history books. The humour has been perfectly suited to the new Doctor's tone, and is reminiscent of David Tennant and even Matt Smith, where their slightly more innocent delivery keeps even the most dramatic moments light.

I have a lot more to say but want to wait until we're a few episodes in to get a good idea of what this series and, most importantly, this Doctor is about.

I can't talk about TV and not talk about my true love, Bake Off - we're at the point now where I love and care deeply for every remaining baker, though my heart is edging towards Kimjoy just a bit. There's a real cuteness to everything she makes, and she seems like she's just the sweetest lady - if she had a TV show or YouTube channel or something that would honestly be my version of ASMR - can someone get on that please. Ruby is just great for entertainment - she reminds me of Nadiya who won a few years back just not as technically consistent and Rahul is just a constant mood for me. Briony got a Get Out Of Jail Free card the week the guy with the moustache was unwell and somehow saved herself to make the top 5 and Manon peaked very early and seemed to fall into the middle safety net whilst others who were front runners crashed and burned - it would be great if she worked her way back to the top . Either way the real winner in all of this is us, if you discount the gut-wrenching feeling that you don't actually get to taste the delights that's even got Prue whipping out her own version of a Hollywood Handshake.


Finally, The Good Place is back, and spoiler alert, we find ourselves on Earth for Series 3. The ridiculous deaths suffered by the lovable foursome are prevented by a desperate Michael in a bid to prove they can be actual good people and end up in The Good Place - they just need to meet each other to replicate what happened many times before obviously. The only downside to this show that I find myself getting a little frustrated with now and then, is the idea of continuously starting over, and losing what was a really great backstory... or ten. Though necessary for the plot, it was something that was prominent for me in Series 2, but even moreso now we see them all starting again... again. The relationships formed in the past 2 series almost feel worthless, though it is Michael and Darcy's memories from the past however long the first two series were supposed to span that drive the plot forward, and I'm very intrigued to see where they take this chapter of the story.

Even outside of the engineered worlds created in earlier series, the show is still aesthetically pleasing and perfectly captures the self-absorbed anecdotes of Tahani, naive musings of Jason, indecisive distresses of Chidi and of course, 'real talk' from Eleanor. Ted Danson and Darcy Carden continue to be the perfect duo in this series, and the continuation of Maya Rudolph's judge is more than appreciated.

Food / Drink

It would be incredibly dramatic to say that the introduction of Cadbury's Darkmilk has changed my life, but it really has. 🤷 As someone who regularly battles between dark and milk chocolate (you're looking at someone who actually loves dark Bountys) a bar of plain dark or milk chocolate often both leave me wanting something more. Of course you can throw orange into the mix of either and hold potentially the closest thing we'll ever have to an inanimate deity, or you can do what Cadbury's did and take the richness of dark chocolate and the creaminess of milk and merge them. Genius. The slightly luxurious packaging also makes you feel like you're eating something special, and the fact it's not stocked in the little Tesco near work has been instrumental in cock-blocking a serious addiction. Step aside orange chocolate, you have a new contender for the throne bbz.



You might not have realised but the festive season is upon us, kind of, which means my favourite festive treat, Lebkuchen, is back on the shelves. Tesco do two versions, the Lebkuchen hearts (pictured above) that are also filled with apricot jam, and the originals, which again they don't do in my local mini Tesco, but makes a weekly shop all the more worth it. They're soft, they're tasty, they're stunning.

Finally, along with the festive season comes the cold and flu season. I'm sat here typing getting over what I imagine will be the first of many short bouts of cold which means one thing (of many) - I need Vitamin C. I'm a citrus freak by nature, and following a spontaneous trip into Marks and Spencer (I'm wild, me) I found their Clementine, Honey and Lemon drink, which also apparently has some turmeric in it too - fun! It's bloody lovely, though the fact they are suggesting 1 serving is 150ml is an absolute joke - who do you think you're kidding M&S? As they had an offer on, I also decided to try the Mojito juice drink - Mojito is my favourite cocktail and I find that it's either done very right or very wrong (let's not talk about the monstrosity that was the 7up Mojito drink of last year.) Whilst nice, it is very strong and also very sweet, and may work better as a mixer of some kind. I'll report back, don't you worry.

Music

As well as the 'A Star Is Born' soundtrack, the past month or so has been very good to me music-wise...


Little Mix have made a triumphant return with 'Woman Like Me,' a Jess Glynne penned track that leads their long-anticipated fifth album, LM5, announced today and shows more of a mature side of the stupendously talented ladies. Nicki Minaj pops in for a pretty lengthy verse towards the end, referencing her infamous 'derriere' and the fact she is a chameleon, apparently. All in all, it's a banger - that final chorus especially.

Other tracks making their way onto my playlist recently include Years and Years' All For You, Avril Lavigne's comeback single Head Above Water, Charli XCX and Troye Sivan's 1999 and Lauren Aquilina's Psycho.

Also...

Finally, a shout out to some of the other little things that I've been loving recently....

Words With Friends, a game that allows me to put my English Literature A Level to good use, and also teaches me words such as JA, XI and EE exist. Wonderful.


Also, this notepad I got from last month's Papergang box, designed by Gemma Correll. A much-needed little affirmation that boasts a smile so stupid you can't help but not want to smile back... metaphorically, of course. Smiling at stationery is weird.

Finally, face masks. More on that soon.
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