Here with some fresh pop culture, self care and relaxation recommendations is the rogue team… If you’re on the look out for a new obsession, activity or procrastination focus, fill your boots!
Liadán Hynes says… READ
Read Jump by Daniella Moyles. Her debut book is out on 5 June, and it is the kind of read you will dip into only to find yourself five hours later hiding from your family, determined to read just one more chapter.[restrict]
Jump, Daniella Moyles, published by Gill, available to pre order now from easons.com.
Jen O’Dwyer says… LISTEN
This week I have been mostly consuming podcasts, I listen to on average three or four podcasts a day. I love everything about them, my newest find is an absolutely gem: GOSSIPMONGERS by David Earl, Joe Wilkinson and Poppy Hillstead. Each host reads out an unsubstantiated local rumour sent in by a listener – it’s a rollicking good time. At the end of each episode Poppy shouts her favourite nugget of gossip out the window to help spread it. Pop it into your ear holes, treat yourself. Suggested episode to start with is season two, episode two: Joe Lycett. Skip to 20.35 for The Space Worm. Brace yourself, this is the funniest thing I have ever heard. NSFW.
Aisling Keenan says… DISSECT
I have not been able to tear my ears away from this podcast since I was first recommended it. Dissect is essentially long-form musical analysis where the host academically approaches albums, one per season, and goes through them in intricate detail. For anyone who loves music, it’s the dream podcast. It forensically observes everything from the lyrics of each song (it only looks at one song per hour-long episode, so you can imagine the minutiae it gets into) to the cadence, the chord progressions, the artist’s history and their inspiration.
The current season is exploring the ground breaking 2016 visual album Lemonade by Beyoncé. It takes the album song by song and the host, Cole Cuchna, is joined by Titi Shodiya as he weaves his way through the sampling, interpolations and inspiration behind what should have been (according to Adele and the rest of the world) Beyoncé’s Grammy Album of the Year – alas, they gave the prize to 25.
My favourite past season is the one where Cuchna examines My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West – the ‘Monster’ episode is amazing, but the whole season reveals Kanye to be the musical genius he himself so often claims to be.
Sophie White says… PAINT
At the beginning of lockdown, one of my absolute insta faves, Laura de Barra, started doing a #LockdownLifedrawing session every Sunday afternoon live on her Instagram. Basically LDB (she has graduated to acronym status) gets dressed up, sticks on some great tunes, bops around and talks us through an hour’s drawing from short drawings – as loosening up exercises – to longer still life drawing. I really wanted to join in but every Sunday I just felt like I couldn’t – I didn’t have the time: three kids, housework, work, yada yada yada. Then I put the foot down and decided I deserved to make space for this if I really wanted to do it.
The first Sunday I sat on my couch and drew a simple line drawing and felt an enormous sense of relaxation and peace. It was a revelation. It’s not often as adults that we give ourselves permission to waste time; to do something for the simple act of doing. I am not an amazing drawer but painting in pandemic has reminded me that at one point in my life, I loved it. Currently, Laura is on hiatus from her drawing sessions but instead my friend and I meet at the same time every Sunday on Zoom and work on our pictures.
It is something I look forward to with the same intensity and energy my six-year-old brings to, well, frankly everything. Creating and learning and being allowed to be slightly crap is liberating as hell, pals. At first, I was using my son’s art materials but a few weeks ago, I decided to treat myself. I wanted to learn to paint so I bought the Stay at Home watercolour kit from Kennedy’s and it was the best money I’ve spent in lockdown. A crisp €50 gets you everything you need to paint a picture in watercolours and be transported for an hour or so. See kennedyart.com.
Fiona Hyde says… SELF CARE
“Self-care” has had a rough ride. As a term, it came up through the trenches of Twitter threads and BuzzFeed listicles, at first feted, then dissected and later condemned, now mostly just acknowledged as a shady corporate vehicle for selling expensive bath salts to people who probably just need someone to talk to. Maybe self-care just needs a rebrand, girls (I’m joking). Anyway, as much as self-care as a concept was tarnished by the poisoned social media discourse around it, it’s still a real thing we should engage in – on a regular basis, sure, but also with renewed vigour and focus during this shitty pandemic. Rediscover the joys of mindless self-indulgence, that’s what I say.
The pubs are closed, and you’d probably spend the guts of a decent scented candle in there in one round. Why not divert the funds to something special? This month, I’ve allowed myself the foolish indiscretion (and the sheer luck, I accept) of funnelling my disposable income towards some nice new shiny things from beauty brands. I enjoy the extensive browsing online, the thrill of reading reviews and making my selection, of putting them in the cart and checking out – and then, the hot pleasure of tracking my package, awaiting its arrival, daydreaming at work about it. When it lands I will open the package, delve in and squeal as my profligate spoils emerge from tissue paper, and briefly experience something like joy – inspired by capitalism or not, quite frankly I just enjoy buying stupid lipsticks and I’m not apologising for that. With all that in mind, this month I recommend Superstar Lips in the shade Walk of Shame by Charlotte Tilbury.
It’s an utterly gorgeous thing and totally unnecessary, which makes it all the better. It’ll look good when I smile, which I’m planning on doing this month too.
Fionnuala Jones says… LISTEN
Kehlani’s new album It Was Good Until It Wasn’t has secured a place firmly in my brain – it’s the perfect R&B record for sound tracking your day-to-day. Standout tracks for me are Can You Blame Me? and I Hate The Club – enjoy slinking around the house pretending like you’re in your own music video.
Louise Bruton says… WATCH
New movie releases are few and far between now but there’s one woman who has solved that issue and she is actress and director Mary Neely. During lockdown, she recreated scenes from her favourite musicals, recording them alone on her iPhone and using props from her home, and posted them to Twitter. While her Les Mis is fab – her Hamilton BOLSHY – her magnum opus is Belle, the big, provincial opening number from Disney’s 1991 cartoon movie Beauty and the Beast.
She plays a multitude of characters, including Belle, Gaston, LeFou, a pig, the librarian and the woman who screams “I need! Six eggs!”, and she plays them better than the original. You won’t just watch this once, you will watch it five times. It’s a cinematic feat that doesn’t make you miss the actual feats of cinema at all. Watch Belle here.
Louise McSharry says… STREAM
I have really enjoyed the Netflix series Never Have I Ever over the last few weeks. It was co-created by Mindy Kaling and is partially based on her own childhood experience of growing up in Boston. It tells the story of the charming Devi, who is doing her best to function as a teen in the aftermath of her father’s death. That sounds like it could be harrowing, but it’s the opposite. A very pleasant and comforting watch, which I found absolutely perfect for these Covid times. There are ten episodes, none of which exceed thirty minutes, so it’s very easy to digest.
Additionally, I am absolutely loving Neom Organics Magnesium Body Butters (€48). Neom was founded by a journalist-turned-aromatherapist, and all of their products are about using scent to impact your mood. I apply the De-Stress (lavender, jasmine and Brazilian rosewood) one to my hands and forearms in bed every night and do the recommended breathing exercise on the back of the tube and I swear it has been helping me settle down for the night. Each morning I apply the Great Day scent (wild mint and mandarin) which promises to lift mood, and it smells so good that it absolutely does. They’re not cheap but last ages if you use them primarily for scent and comfort rather than lashing all over your body (although that would be nice too).
Taryn de Vere says… WATCH
The most fabulously enchanting and immersive tv I’ve ever watched is a HBO show called Carnivàle. Set in depression-era America the show follows the fortunes of a troupe of performers who work for a travelling carnival. The storyline draws on mythology, tarot and surrealism. These elements could seem off-putting were it not for the superb writing and acting, this is a show that always leaves you wanting more. The whole series is visually stunning, from the set design and detailed world-building of dust-bowl America to the historically perfect costumes, it’s an almost perfect piece of TV.
The series began in 2003 and true to HBO form, it contains real-looking people, which I particularly love. The cast hasn’t been dotted with beautiful people like most American TV shows, and thanks to the wonderful writing you grow to find some of the characters attractive, (I cared deeply about them after episode one). If you like Deadwood, Legion, The Leftovers, or Twin Peaks, this is the show for you. It’s the perfect escapism from our Corona life.[/restrict]