Rooting for the villain

Rooting for the villain

Today I have a funny little topic for you, one that if we were to look at from a very serious perspective would probably not qualify as funny. But I say we keep it nice and light and ask ourselves casually: why do we sometimes find ourselves favour and secretly admire the bad guys? Or girls, we’re not talking genders here, only types.

Might be for a lot of reasons, like the fact that we all have at least a spec of evil in us, suppressed feelings and so on. Jordan Peterson talks about this in “12 rules for life”, so if you’re up for a deep dive in philosophy or history of religion, go for it. Funny fact about this – and the 3rd time I use the word “funny” in just 2 paragraphs – is that this book is supposed to be the “easy” version of “Maps of Meaning”, the other book he published. Well, it still makes my head spin…

In any case, one of the most comfortable ways of giving in to our evil inclinations is with fictional characters. There’s no harm when they’re not real, isn’t it? Well, the answer to that might not be too simple either, but let’s just not go there.

Let’s look, instead, at some movie villains that are really quite fun.

Joe from the Netflix series “You”. In fact, from the book with the same name written by Caroline Kepnes. I haven’t read yet, though, so we stick to the series.

Joe is a genuine sociopath. From very early in the first episode, you realize there’s something wrong with him, but it turns out it’s too late. You’re already hooked. This is probably because almost the entire plot is narrated from his point of view and his monologues are utterly charming. I mean he’s funny and smart, what’s not to like about this? Maybe that he’s a stalker, liar, he manipulates people, including the girl he allegedly loves, that he’s a killer? Maybe all this.

Oh, and don’t worry, these are not spoilers, it’s quite obvious early on in the series. But you’ll still like him. For once, because he’s also compassionate, although not towards the same people he uses or disposes of for fulfilling his purposes. He has a great sense of humor and he adds a sarcastic, yet hilarious twist, to all situations he finds himself into. Or rather puts himself into, because no one tells him to kidnap or kill people. These are choices he makes, and he always finds romantic or honorable justifications for his actions.

Now, I know I said we keep it light, but it’s worth noting that underneath what makes the series entertaining there are plenty of pointers on the type of behavior you need to run the hell away of if your gut feeling tells you to. Grrr, what a long phrase…

Red from the Blacklist series. Also on Netflix. And, actually, Mr. Raymond Reddington, to be exact. International criminal, on the FBI’s most wanted list, but secretly working with them as an informant. He helps catch the criminals no one even knew existed, but he always follows his own agenda and does all that to be close to one special agent.

Nothing more about the plot, but a lot to say about the character. He is a rather unimpressive middle-aged man, who steals the scene once he starts talking. He’s very intelligent and witty and, of course, he is kind and charming and has the capacity to inspire a loyal following everywhere he goes. Even in prison.

He has a story about everything and he appears to have seen every corner of the world. Most times he seems to not have a very clear plan in place, but as things unfold you realize he has thought everything through and carefully considered all his moves.

To put it briefly, he’s a walking anecdote and even if you’re not into FBI kind of series, you still need to give this one a chance.

Tom. What do you mean, Tom who? Tom from “Tom & Jerry” of course. He’s the bad character I always rooted for. Poor him, always tormented and beaten and made fun of by that little jerk, Jerry. I know you were supposed to like Jerry, because he’s the hero of the series, but I always felt so sorry for Tom and wanted him to win just once.

After all, he has a lot of qualities, doesn’t he? He is resourceful, very imaginative, very flexible and sings very good. Just to name a few of his strong points. It’s true that he’s on a permanent pursuit to catch and eat Jerry, but that’s a detail. I’m sure that in fact he just wants to become friends with him, but life gets in the way.

My gallery of villains, true or undercover, is not by any means limited to the above. But I’ll keep a bit of mystery to it, I learned at least this from them.

I’m curious, though: who are your favourite villains?

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S&C Features: Em’s World

S&C Features: Em’s World

Carrying on with the trend of things I should have done a long time ago, I’m sharing today another S&C Feature, this time on Em’s World.

Em has a very nice section on her blog where she publishes every Friday a short Q&A with other bloggers and I had the chance to answer her questions towards the end of last year. I really loved how simple this idea is and it looks like I am not the only one. There are quite a few bloggers whose answers you can read in this section, so it’s safe to say that this is popular with both bloggers and readers.

 

So, if you’re interested in what I had to say, just click here and then makes sure to discover some more of Em’s World!

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Sharp Objects: the series and the book

Sharp Objects: the series and the book

Are you the type to often obsess over a movie or a book?

Well, I must confess I am. And I also must confess that I intentionally inserted that “often” there, to discreetly (well, not so much so anymore!) imply that this is a state I found myself in more than once. Much more than once.

And this time we’re talking about a double obsession, as I’ll try to explain – and hopefully do that without any spoilers – what is it that’s so captivating about “Sharp Objects”, the TV series AND the book.

First thing to note, and a recommendation from my part, is to take them exactly in this order: first watch the series and then read the book. It used to be kind of a universal truth that you should start with the book; I find that this is not valid anymore, with so many movies and series that are standing on their own two feet even if they are inspired or closely follow the action in a book.
In this case, both are great. The book is written by Gillian Flynn, who is the author of “Gone Girl” and “Dark Places”, and she is also part of the team creating the series directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (does “Big Little Lies” ring a bell?).

So, there’s probably no surprise that the novel is a must read and the TV show one to definitely watch. But why see the series first?, you might ask. Because it bottles up the novel’s dark atmosphere and troubled characters and offer them to you straight up, unapologetically and somehow forcing you to see the essence of who they are.

To be honest, the TV show feels much darker than the book and while reading it I used to stop and think that the characters are more human and softer here. Also, the narrative is a bit extended, it offers context for how they got to be as they are. And the book goes further after the series abruptly ends with that “Don’t….”. Aaaaa, no, I said no spoilers!!!

Right, spoilers free then, here’s what happens: Camille Preaker is a crime reporter coming back to her home town, Wind Gap, to investigate the murders of two local little girls. Except that’s not the only thing she’s doing, as the story of her confronting her past – most gloriously embodied by Adora, her mother – takes center stage.

Now, and this is not a spoiler as it will be obvious from the first time you see her – Adora is the perfect villain. I saw an interview with Patricia Clarkson, the actress playing Adora, saying that Gillian Flynn advised her not to read the book and just follow the script. That might seem surprising, but when you read the book you understand why. Adora is, again, more toned down in the book, not as cold and sharp as she is on screen. So when you get to the book, you might find some explanations for her behavior, but it doesn’t matter because you will be already in love with her dark side.

Camille also has a dark side. Or several, actually, but I would say she is a kind human being. She is played by Amy Adams, who manages to bring life to all the ranges of emotions that Camille goes through, especially when dealing with her mother. In the book, she is described as the town’s beauty queen, dealing now with her drinking problem, among others. Adams’ performance dials down a bit the beauty part and up on the feeling. A feeling of unrest which complements quite nicely the quest theme.

The story, which I’m not going to detail upon, is pretty much about women. It might seem the opposite at first, but it is a feminist novel. The twist here is that it talks about equality, but from a surprising perspective: women can be as bad as men, they can do mean stuff, they can be criminals, they can have a dark side. They have the right to be as guilty as men who do terrible things. It does sound twisted, doesn’t it? But when you think about it, I would say it makes total sense.

And speaking of women, the character of Amma, Camille’s little half-sister, is one to watch. In the book, she’s really an annoying brat, but the TV persona is quite charmingly bad, in this case I really prefer the show to the book.

What’s really interesting about this whole series/book dichotomy is that both come from the same person’s mind, which I find so captivating. That’s reason enough to give both a try, but then the more captivating thing is that you get to replay the series by reading the book and now your own interpretation comes into play. You know, that movie that we play in our minds when we read a book. My movie would have been quite different shouldn’t I have seen the show in advance.

I mean…creepy filmed and lit scenes, haunting music, visual riddles? They wouldn’t have crossed my mind, I’m quite convinced about this. The written words may mean different things to different persons, especially when we’re alone with them and, to put it bluntly, I think that my own interpretation of this book wouldn’t have been so daring as the one on the screen.

And, speaking of written words, you’ll see that they play a central role in the action. But giving you more details on this would really be a spoiler…

Needless to say, I could go on and on about this, or rather around it, as it’s quite a challenge not to get in the depth of things. So not to drag this text for ever and ever, I’ll stop here.

But I do hope that you will not and that you’ll enjoy the story, however you choose to experience it.

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A little DIY never hurt nobody

A little DIY never hurt nobody

…and, just as I was typing this, I realized that DIY probably DID hurt some people, the chances of this happening are quite high. But as I am fighting the urge to change the title to satisfy my accuracy-related OCD, let me just go ahead and introduce you to the DIY we’re talking about here: my tree stump table, which you’ve probably spotted in the previous post.

Mind you, if you continue to read this (well, mostly look at the pictures…) you are agreeing that this is not a very professional example of a homemade tree stump table, as probably there are plenty of steps that I omitted. Mostly because I had no idea they were supposed to be taken or purely out of laziness (such as applying a finishing wax coat).

So, you will need:

1. A grandpa to help you get in the possession of a tree stump. Extra points if you are presented with a variety of tree stumps to choose from.
2. Someone to help you get rid of the tree bark. Suggestion: husbands come in handy for this step.
3. Chalk paint. Got mine from Hornbach, I can’t remember the price, but it was one quite affordable, nothing fancy.
4. Some time off on a Sunday afternoon to just paint. And wait. And paint again. And then stare at the finish product, which is quite nice, wouldn’t you agree?

Now let’s just hope it will not disintegrate or something due to the things I -let’s just say it like this😊 – forgot to do!

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That cosy feeling

That cosy feeling

If you know me, you know that one of the most predictable things about me – besides taking a trip to Italy every.single.year. – is an almost absolute preference for all things Scandinavian. Never mind the fancy restaurant, take me to IKEA and you’ll make my day😊 Just kidding… actually, take me to IKEA and order some good food on the way and that will do it.

On a more serious note, remember that Swedish company I mentioned here? Well, it just so happens that I came back, after one year…

While you ponder on this (believe me, I did too), corporate matters aside, let me lay the explanation out there: it’s really nothing very complicated, it’s just the cosy and comfortable feeling that I find in all things Nordic.

Flatlay on www.storiesandcolours.com, cosy, Scandinavian, Nordic

First and foremost, interior design. It’s still a wonder for me how Nordic homes manage to be so simple and yet so warm and welcoming. When furnishing my apartment, I literally devoured interior design magazines and websites and one of my go-to places was and still is the apartments section on www.freshome.com. They feature a lot of Scandinavian homes and I just found myself naturally drawn to them. It’s probably because they somehow feel lived-in or, to be more exact, made to be lived in. And, by the way…that IKEA thing, not a joke. I do love their products and, more then that, their philosophy.

Moving on to another type of design, Nordic clothing labels. COS, H&M and &Other Stories forever. I really am a simple girl, don’t need anything more than this. There are very few occasions in which I walk into a COS store and don’t find anything to my liking, I think &Other Stories cosmetics are the equivalent of candy and one of my favourite pastimes is to hunt for H&M items that look 10x their price. And no, this is not a myth, it can really be done.

I guess the question needs to be asked: what’s that damn special about them? Again, easy answer: timeless design and quality fabrics. It can actually get annoying at times; I mean, when your dresses don’t really get worn out, it’s a bit difficult to justify buying new ones, isn’t it?

Flatlay on www.storiesandcolours.com, cosy, Scandinavian, Nordic

Making it in my top 3, coffee. Not just the beverage, but the entire culture around it. Swedes, for example, do love their fika. And it seems that I love Espresso House, as the recent trip to Stockholm proved it. While going to the office, me and my colleagues used to spice up our morning train rides with a stop at Espresso House to fuel up for the day. Well, that and getting lost in the subway…but, shhh, that’s secret, don’t tell anyone😊

And to finish the list with a personal staple: at least 10.000 steps everyday. I think my Fitbit was ecstatic. At home, I get to reach the 10.000 goal only if I take a run or go to the gym or forget my phone or my coffee in the car and then forget the key when going to get them from the car…you get the drill. Not here, where people seem to walk everywhere and are impossibly fit considering all the sweets they eat. Yeap, if you feel envy coming up from the screen, that’s me counting calories…or something like that.

 

What about you? What’s your special attraction when it comes to foreign cultures?

Flatlay on www.storiesandcolours.com, cosy, Scandinavian, Nordic

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S&C Features: AMA session

S&C Features: AMA session

I have been away for a while… a bit of vacation, changing jobs, feeling a bit sick. Just life, mostly. On the vacation front, this means new places to write about, so do drop by soon for some new travel posts.

In the meantime, I realized I haven’t shared the AMA session I’ve been invited to hold recently, so I thought to do a quick post about it.

To be honest, I was quite flattered by the invitation, but at the same time pretty sure that no one will be interested in asking me anything. I’ve taken a look on the AMAfeed site, the platform facilitating the event and was impressed by the variety of topics and the interesting people who hosted similar sessions. So I said yes quite reluctantly, being very curious about the entire experience but not really expecting too many questions coming my way.

Turns out I was wrong. Granted, there weren’t hundreds of questions, but still a fair amount of them. And the nice thing is they weren’t easy questions; I mean I needed to take the proper time to think about the answers and just the fact that someone was interested in finding more about me and my blog made me treat this with genuine responsibility.

The session was hosted in the Blogging section of the site and the aim was just to share my honest journey in search of creativity. If you want to find out more on this and would like to take a look, you may follow this link. And should this spark any more questions or ideas to discuss, just let me know, I think I’ve developed a taste for it😊

Enjoy!

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