Thursday, July 16, 2009

Things To Do In Belfast

Recently, my friend Marianne and I took an epic trip to Ireland. This included a visit to the city Belfast, in Northern Ireland. Despite the fact that Belfast is best known for its somewhat tumultuous history, we immediately fell in love with this place. In case you've never been and were wondering, "Gee, what does one do in Belfast?"...I've created a few brief tips and suggestions.

First, you could visit the headquarters of Sinn Fein, which apparently has a gift shop (closed unfortunately on Sundays, when we went to scout it out).

You could go see the Peace Wall, which is a bit ironically named, considering it acts to separate/segregate Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. Apparently there are over 20 of these "peace lines" in Belfast. Some have gates which close every night, effectively locking people in...and out. You can sign this wall, though, which tons of people have, which is kind of cool.
"Our divided society can be a better place to live."

In a similar vein, you can see the many, many interesting (and some slightly unsettling) political murals, which line many a wall in Belfast. The following two are on Falls Road (Catholic/Republican neighborhood). This one is from the "Solidarity Wall", which has murals of the Palestinian conflict, Fredericks Douglas, and Che Guevara.
This one is right outside the Sinn Fein office. It's of Bobby Sands, a famous IRA volunteer who died on a hunger strike in 1981.
This one is on Sandy Row, a Protestant/Loyalist neighborhood. It's helpful in case you've forgotten what neighborhood you're in.
From around Shankill Road, another Protestant/Loyalist neighbor. We saw this one while on a "Black Cab" tour, where a cabbie takes you around different parts of the city and talks about the conflict and The Troubles and all that jazz. The cabbie stopped and let us look around and see all a bunch of the murals in the area. When we came back, he asked "Did you see the gunman that was following you?" We immediately freaked out a little bit, but it turns out he meant the gunman on this mural. It's a bit creepy because it's like those paintings with the eyes that follow you - no matter what direction you're facing or where you're looking, the gun is indeed always pointed at you.
Also in Belfast - you can learn worthwhile lessons about products from bus stop advertisements, like this one. Apparently Tango causes hair loss AND casual sexism.
So, after you're done walking around segregated communities, listening to this city's (still) depressing history, might need to go get some drinks. Lavery's is a good place for this.

And of course, while traveling in Belfast (or really, anywhere for that matter), you must declare metal with random foreigners!
This has been an edition of Lindsey's travel tips. Goodnight, folks.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Top 5: Favorite Movies

I'm sure you all are on the edge of seats waiting for stories and photos from Ireland. But you'll just have to hang tight a little while longer. In the meantime, I'm been watching Current, which is a terrific channel. On it, they have the Rotten Tomatoes Show, which is like the TV show form. They bring on a celebrity every week to give their Top 5 favorite films. So, in case you were curious, here are mine. Despite the fact that I like and enjoy more "serious" film, if you asked me what would honestly be my five favorite movies...these would be it. Counting down!

#5 - Wayne's World
Hey, for movie based on a Saturday Night Live sketch, it actually works. Party time, excellent! it's not a perfect movie, by any means, but it's so much fun and has so many quotable lines. Which I'll spare you from now, because I like you. But really, the Alice Cooper cameo alone is reason enough to watch this movie.

#4 - Beauty and the Beast
As far as Disney movies go (pre-Pixar), I don't think you can find a better one than Beauty and the Beast. Told with sensitivity and heart, it's a beautifully crafted story with a good message. Also, the heroine is a book nerd, which I'm personally ALL for. And the Gaston song? AWESOME.

#3 - Quills
This movie has many things going for it. These things include 1) Geoffrey Rush, in a commanding performance, 2) Kate Winslet's cleavage (the rest of her is fantastic too), and 3) Joaquin Phoenix as a sexually frustrated priest. It's also a deliciously wicked and witty, as well as gruesome and disturbing tale of sexuality and censorship. Oh, did I mention it's about the Marquis de Sade? Yea.

#2 - Amelie
This is just an overall amazing movie, full of whimsy, romance, great cinematography and the adoreable Audrey Tatou.

# 1- Some Like It Hot
A classic. I could watch it dozens of times and never get bored. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in drag and Marilyn Monroe being her most...Monroe-ish. Could you ask for more? Also, rated AFI's #1 Comedy of All Time.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Top 5: Female Rappers

Let's just admit it right now - it's a man's world out there. I was listening to some grime on the way home from work today, which got me to thinking about hip-hop/rap in general (which I admittedly, am not terribly knowledgeable of), which led me to the random thought of the role of women in rap. Which made me realize that I couldn't name very many female rappers/emcees off the top of my head. Which made me a little embarassed. I mean, isn't that sad? Because I know there are plenty of good ladies in hip-hop that probably don't get their due, with all the Kanyes and Lil Waynes out there. However, I was inspired to create this list. Because even in a very male-dominated musical genre, these ladies are BOSS. Therefore, I bring Top 5 Favorite Lady Rappers.

#5 - Shystie

Shystie is a grime artist from the UK, where she's toured with The Streets and also stars in a TV series called Dubplate Drama, which is all about how hard it is to be a bad-ass female emcee. Rumor has it she eats the testicles of Dizzee Rascal for breakfast every morning. Don't worry. He re-grows them. Like that Greek myth where Prometheus steals fire from the Gods and is punished by being chained to a rock and having a giant eagle eat out his liver every night.

# 4 - Queen Latifah
Sure, she hasn't been doing much musically lately, but she is and always will be The Queen. She's awesome enough that I'll forgive her for Bringing Down the House. Which, if you've ever seen it, hopefully you'll agree with me that it's a terrible terrible movie. Also "Ladies First" is the one of the best Girl Power songs of all time. Fo sho.

# 3 - Lady Sovereign
What can I say about Lady Sovereign? Another export from the UK, she is, by her own admission, "the biggest midget in the game". She's loud, in your face, rude, and could probably out-drink and out-swear your crazy, alcoholic Uncle Phil. Also, she might not have the biggest breast-esses but she writes all the best disses! There is something about her crassness that I find utterly captivating and strangely adoreable.

# 2 - MC Lyte

MC Lyte has been rapping since the late 1980s and was a pioneer for women in hip-hop. Many female rappers today probably owe her a great debt. She's a phenomenal lyricist. She also appears to have a blog, I've discovered! Check out "Ruffneck".

# 1 - Missy Elliot

Do I really need to explain this one? Nah, didn't think so. Instead of a brief explanation on why Missy Elliot is so frickin' awesome, I will instead offer this quote from my AP English teacher, Mr. Ketch:

"Missy Elliot and Busta Rhymes need to get married and have babies. And those babies will be the best rappers EVER."