Crispy spidery eyelashes: Maybelline’s Colossal Chaotic Lash mascara reviewed

Hello hello hello, I’m doing an honest-to-god beauty review. None of this will be as scary as my spider title up there might have you believe. This should be a mostly painless process.

The ads (above) for Maybelline’s new Colossal Chaotic Lash Volum’ Express mascara got to me with their mod nude lip/bold eye look, and I loved the messy and clumpy effect. Some people want their mascara to look natural; I want my mascara to look like I dipped my whole head in it. Or almost. I’m not one for subtlety.

I also resent shitty makeup marketing, even though I fall for it occasionally. ‘Falsies’ mascara? No. (Although I assume I’d love the look of false eyelashes even if I don’t love the process of gluing them onto my eyelids.) ‘Illegal Length’? No. ‘The Rocket’? These sexual euphemisms are boring as hell.

But ‘chaotic’ mascara? DING DING DING, PICK ME.

I have never bought Maybelline mascara in my life. I’m a strictly L’Oréal mascara person, more specifically Voluminous, which I’ve basically stuck to for the past ten years or so. I don’t believe in upmarket mascara and, however much I spend on other things, refuse to buy mascara anywhere but the drugstore. When I found this Maybelline product on sale for $7.49 from its original $10.99 price, I just bit it.

As you can see from the ad at the top of the page, the brush is supposed to be a bit bent at the tip. Mine wasn’t as pronounced as that, but I don’t think it matters.

Anyway, here’s my face with only foundation on it.

Here’s me with one coat of mascara on.

It’s pretty dramatic. That’s a lot of spiky black eye drama for one coat.

Here’s one more coat and me attempting to clump the lashes together a bit as per the instructions on the package.

Looks basically the same as one coat. Still dramatic. I’m pretty into it.

And here’s me with my usual spectacles on.

So, I can safely say that I’m a fan of how this mascara goes on and how it looks. It doesn’t necessarily look like the photo advertised above, but I concede that I haven’t put much on my bottom lashes at all. I like the look of a heavy bottom lash in theory and in this product’s marketing, but I don’t like how it impedes my vision (seriously, it looks like there’s things sticking out of my eyes) and wears off into dark under eye circles by the end of the day.

Now the dirtbag info. This stuff dries crispy. It’s a thick formula that goes on heavily, so it doesn’t surprise me that my eyelashes feel like they’ve got their own heavy duty plastic coating once it’s totally dry.

It’s also not the easiest to take off. (This isn’t the waterproof kind; it’s the normal kind.) My usual routine is to remove however much has transferred from my lashes to my top and bottom eyelids with a cleansing water. The rest stays on my lashes and I touch it up if I feel like it.

This means that it only totally comes off in the shower. With most mascaras this isn’t a problem. What I’ve noticed with this one, however, is that the dried formula, once wet, doesn’t break down entirely and just wash away. Wet strings of the product got in my eyes while I was showering, and I only realized this after the fact when I saw some weird lines on my eyes. Seriously. I had to pick this creepy damp string of shriveled mascara off of my eye after I showered. I’m sorry. It’s gross.

HOWEVER – and here’s where you might turn away forever – this isn’t a dealbreaker for me. I come from the school of applying so much eyeliner to your waterlines that you blow black eyeliner out your nose the next day. Picking a few strings of eyeliner out of my eyes doesn’t send this product to the garbage can for me. Maybe cool clumpy spider-eyes have their price. After all, I paid money for it, however little, and that would be wasting.

Did I say this would be painless? As Arabelle says, beauty is terror.

The new(ish) rock rundown, angry punk edition

What’s up?

My stuff for other sites has been going on with varying levels of success, but I should poke my head out of the sand every once in a while and say hi, I think. Hi!

It’s no surprise that I like some angry, scary, aggressive lady music. It’s not all I like, but I’ve found my listening habits in general lately have been really pulling me down a political, punk path. Or maybe it’s just that the stuff on my radar has been of a relatively specific kind.

Seeing conversations and queries among my facebook friends has prompted me to do an annotated list of the punk bands, new and not-so-new, that I’m currently really into.

Negative Scanner

A Noisey article a couple days ago alerted me to this Chicago post-punk group. They’re about to release their debut self-titled LP, which you can buy from Trouble in Mind Records and which I already have bought, because I’m nerdy like that.

Negative Scanner sound to my ears like Marissa Paternoster (of Screaming Females, obviously – and if you haven’t listened to them, you definitely should) fronting Wire. See if you agree. Feel free to disagree or kvetch anyway, though, as long as you listen. This sort of barely-contained, compact fury is my jam.


I have been aware and been a fan of this group for a WHILE now, but I just got around to buying their record, Bodies and Control and Money and Power, today.

You see, I checked their label page (at Don Giovanni) yesterday for purchase options while I was streaming, hoping there’d be an LP option, sign of a re-press, because the first run of their record was sold out. Only MP3 and CD options there, so I took to my friendly internet Discogs where Don Giovanni actually have a sellers account. Lo and behold! I’m happy to say that this 12″ will be winging its way to me shortly.

For those happier to have MP3s or a CD, I think you’ll find yourself in luck sooner.

PRIESTS are from Washington D.C. and are angry as hell at the state of America, as they should be. That anger comes through in their performance just as much as through their songwriting and lyrics. I’d love to be able to see them at some point.

Bodies and Control and Money and Power was released last year, so it’s not fresh-off-the-presses new, but was on my mind today and definitely deserves a place here (and probably in your record collection too).


Brooklyn’s Worriers, comprised of singer/songwriter/guitarist Lauren Denitzio and a rotating lineup of their talented pals, are not a new group. Worriers have existed in several incarnations, have put out a couple of seven inches and a 12″ EP (2013’s great Cruel Optimist), but their first full length is due next month and from what I’ve heard so far it is going to be grrrrrrreat.

Imaginary Life is due August 7, again on Don Giovanni, and if the urgency of tracks “Plans”, “They/Them/Theirs” and “Yes All Cops” is anything to go by, Denitzio’s signature pop-punk sound paired with their politically defiant lyrics is getting even stronger.

Flesh World

Flesh World’s music is a maybe a bit less aggressive, at least musically, than some of the above bands, but is none the worse for that.

Jess Scott, formerly of Brilliant Colors and a fixture of San Francisco’s noise pop scene, has joined up with Scott Moore of Limp Wrist, and together with Diane Anastasio and Andrew Luttrell they’ve made an album – debut The Wild Animals in my Life on Iron Lung Records – of darkwave/queercore/noise pop that’s deep and dreamy.

I’ve DJed with this record a few times recently and it’s equally at home with drier post punk, poppier new wave, and synthy experimental stuff. Highly recommended.

In other exciting news, my upcoming weekend boasts a full schedule of loud, aggressive music. I’m seeing Melt-Banana on Friday and Against Me! on Saturday. I’ll be sure to report back.

Zola Jesus interviewed and live in Winnipeg

I’ve been away for a little bit, but in the meantime I’ve been working on some things for other sites.

One of those things was an interview with Zola Jesus that (almost) coincided with her Winnipeg Jazz Festival show last week. The Quietus was lovely enough to publish the piece, and you can read it here. (Apologies for the poor copy editing in the first paragraph and probably elsewhere. I thought I could copy edit my own work. I was wrong.)

The gig itself was a rather surreal experience. Union Sound Hall [the venue] is a long, narrow, cavernous space and Nika Rosa Danilova – Zola Jesus – is a small woman, at least in stature. She brought her band along, comprised of percussionist Michael Pinaud, synth/trombone player Daniel Walter Eaton, and electronics/synth player Alex DeGroot. Background vocals and other instrumentation was programmed, but I appreciated the live horn. Even with the four performers onstage, there was still a level of nakedness in her performance that felt almost worryingly intense.

She appeared, apparently out of nowhere, on the rough plywood stage in bare feet, voluminous black Japanese-inspired trousers, and a layered white and shiny black cropped tank. Her look so far for this album has generally included silver band rings, a wide arm cuff, and brown hair (as above) instead of her previous fluctuations between black and bleach-white, and this appearance was no exception. She is surprisingly small in real life. I am 5’1″, and I’d be surprised if she is as tall as I am.

Her voice and presence are even bigger in real life than I expected. She is all business. She launched into a set that included most of 2014 album Taiga with an extraordinary, primitive dance that occupied the whole stage. Initially I did have the feeling that this performance was prompted by something internal and could happen whether or not there was an audience standing there, but that feeling dissolved as the set developed and she began to interact with the crowd more.

It was a curious feeling, standing less than a foot away from Nika as she performed her darkly dramatic songs without stage lights, without barriers, essentially without the drama that she trades in and navigates so expertly. The couple concessions to set dressing were her outfit and the iceberg-shaped lanterns forming a semicircle behind her feet on the wood floor.

Being long and narrow, the back of the room was less focused on the truly one-of-a-kind show that was happening up front, and there was far more chatter than was maybe appropriate for the a capella opening of “Nail”, and for other strange, weirdly reverential moments between songs. She has no stage shtick, no between-song banter, and it really ups the tension and the stakes of her performance. If something goes wrong, the people upfront feel it almost as acutely as she does – there were definitely some tuning issues on “Go (Blank Sea)” that I felt concerned about, and then upon realizing my concern, was amused – but no less concerned – by.

I have a tendency to feel a little embarrassed of some Winnipeg audiences, with their inattentiveness or unsubtle drunk applause, but I’m starting to appreciate that being in a Winnipeg crowd makes for some unique shows. Nika must have been at least okay with us, because she hopped off the stage and waded into the crowd fearlessly about halfway through her set. I lost track of her almost right away, but after about a minute she was back onstage, disappearing and reappearing not unlike some sort of dark spirit.

Onstage, her lunging interactions with the crowd – and one monitor-climb (pictured above) – were hampered by an unfortunate spilled drink puddle and sad soggy lime wedge directly in front of me. It was another strange distraction from a carefully engineered show. It was easy to tell that Nika wanted to let loose and dance right up to the edge of the stage, but she was obviously avoiding that puddle like any barefoot person would, and it had the effect of bringing those who noticed out of the moment.

The whole gig was an intriguing tightrope walk between feeling part of someone’s private negotiation with sound and show mechanics on a very intimate level, and feeling like this performer and these songs are meant, maybe not for a significantly bigger venue, but for a fraction more distance, a touch of space to help with the illusion of scale, of grandness. Nika’s ideas are big, her stage presence is moving towards commanding, and her songs are classics-in-the-making. In bigger cities where she has more of an audience and access to different types of venues this might not be relevant, but it was both the weakness and the distinct charm of this particular gig.

Regardless of this show’s idiosyncrasies, I’m really glad that Winnipeg Jazz Fest brought Zola Jesus into town. I’m not sure if she and Winnipeg are a total match, or if she just needs a different venue, or if I’m being terrible and I’ll think back in a year and be super glad that I saw her on such an intimate level in such close proximity, but this was certainly a singular and truly memorable show.

The last book that made me nod in agreement: John Doran’s Jolly Lad

John Doran’s is perhaps not a name known to many, or at least to many non-music nerds this side of the Atlantic. He is editor and co-creator of The Quietus, an online music magazine of good taste, nuanced opinion, and oddball home to simply some of the best music and all-around culture writing on the web.

Around 2011-12, he also filed a semi-regular column over at VICE entitled Menk, covering not music related things, but his personal life and family, his adventures as a recovering alcoholic, and his insights on being, in his words, “a 40-year-old man who writes about music.”

I was not previously familiar with the Menk column, which I why I wasn’t aware that Doran has not always worked as a music critic, writer, and editor. I also didn’t realize he’s struggled with drink and drug addiction problems for most of his life and that his solidly working class background didn’t actually groom him for a career writing about the arts. I didn’t know any of these things until I picked up his new memoir, Jolly Lad.

(Okay, I also bought it because such perennial Laura favourites as Nicky Wire of the Manics, Abi and Neil of British Sea Power, and Eccentronic Research Council contributed music to the accompanying CD. Look here, I’m weak and predictable, alright?)

The fact that Doran’s a fervent fan turned critic, or working class, or an alcoholic are not reasons in themselves for you to read this book. If he wasn’t a good writer, these things could very well all be complete shit to read about. His strength as a storyteller, as well as his willingness to plumb the depths of his past for material and still resolutely look forward to his future, combined with his strange and slightly sad life, make it worth it.

Doran recounts his early life in stories about his hard-working yet down-on-their-luck parents and his own childhood preoccupations with science fiction and pop music. Unsurprisingly, getting into popular music was a formative experience for him and foregrounds his discovery of the transcending power of drink and drugs, which happens soon after.

I love the way he writes about his incoherent escapades now, seven years into sobriety. He doesn’t romanticize, but he also doesn’t reduce the friendships made and the periodic good times had. The stories are wild, especially the ones from his late teens and early twenties – tales of drinking pure screened ethanol until he mistook a bicycle for a duvet and gigging in Manchester, blacking out, and then waking up…in Hull.

Of course, he also doesn’t mince words when recalling the times he got into injurious fights, pissed himself, and prompted girlfriends to break up with him. The low times were very low, or I assume he wouldn’t have quit booze in 2008 in an attempt to win back his girlfriend who’d just left him, and also not die.

For such grave subject matter, Jolly Lad is far funnier than I expected it to be. I don’t know why I’m surprised. I think you either have to be thoroughly privileged and without financial cares or hyper self-aware and self-deprecatingly acerbic to get into music criticism, and Doran certainly isn’t the former.

For what it’s worth, I think the combination of Doran’s alcoholic, working class defeat simultaneously combined with humour, tenderness, and optimism at turning 40, starting a music and culture website, giving up drink and drugs, and having a child is what made me love this book even more than I expected to. He’s aware that there are winners and losers in life, and for a long time he was a loser. The lot you’re born into actually has much to do with your outlook on life. There is no redemption, but there is responsibility in adulthood, and that responsibility is rewarding in its own small funny way.

He can be hard on himself, and why shouldn’t he? He pissed away over twenty years of his life. But in fatherhood, renewed health, writing, social issues, and sobriety, Doran’s sensitivity and gratefulness leap off the page. He messed it all up before, and doesn’t have as many regrets as others might on having spent decades in suspended, callous boyhood. The past is the past. His ability to forgive himself and look forward to life with his girlfriend and son enthusiastically – albeit cautiously and consciously – is the difference.

Buy Jolly Lad from Strange Attractor press

Nadine Shah + mean looks

Let’s lead with the music, shall we?

Nadine Shah is a recent discovery for me. She recently released her second full-length, Fast Food, and this was when I twigged. I feel terrible about taking so long. She’s everything I want in a musician: sleek, pared down, direct, a little bit mean, post-punky, angry.

Let’s listen to and observe her in the video for the lead single from Fast Food, “Fool”, which, lyrically speaking, maligns those sorts of men who fancy themselves much cooler and smarter than they actually are and who define themselves by their taste in “Nick Cave and Kerouac”; and which, visually speaking, essentially recreates the video for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow”.

At least, they both take place in what looks like the basement of a rural English community hall, they both feature a strange combination of tawdry, transcendent, singular dancing to the bands, and they both feature choreographed dance sequences.

Ballsy? Sharp? Incisive? The song and video are all of these things. This is why I feel bad about discovering her so comparatively late in the game.

You’ll want to watch the “Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow” video right away, I know, so here it is.

Aside from its intertextuality and clever references, the way Nadine Shah looks in this video is, for me, far and above the best thing about it.

Her body is covered in a slim black suit and shirt, her hair is tied back tightly, her eyeliner is subtly winged, her boots are big and stable. Her body barely moves, but her eyes do. She is unsmiling.

I want more pop stars to look like this.

She’s a foil to the dancers, who are dressed in a variety of retro and kitschy clothing and who move freely and unselfconsciously. She joins them once to lead a stiff, angular dance/mime routine, but still she never smiles.

I decided to try and and emulate if not this exact look, then this feel and this attitude with an outfit. I think meanness is an underrated, maybe totally ignored aspect of how women can look. Men can and are often encouraged to look mean, but women are supposed to be softer, brighter, more feminine.

I think women should be encouraged to look a bit mean too.

My soft round face is never going to be hard-looking, but that doesn’t mean my styling can’t be. All black, with ankle boots, dark lipstick, and eyeliner is a classic way to do this.

This last one’s not too mean, because sometimes you’ve just gotta be happy about good sunglasses and a good hair day altogether at one time.

I feel like I’m going to look like this for much of the summer, and I encourage all women to try something a bit harder than what they’re used to. Meanness in style is not a bad thing.

Sheer black blouse: Superstore aka Joe Fresh
Black slip dress: Forever 21
Leggings: C’est Moi via Out of the Blue
Sunglasses: Superstore aka Joe Fresh
Eyeliner: Rimmel Exaggerate Liquid Eyeliner
Lipstick: I mixed MAC Russian Red with MAC Cyber in equal amounts and applied with a lip brush. It gave me the reddish dark plum I was looking for.
Boots: John Fluevog

PS. If you needed any more reason to love Nadine Shah, the “Fool” single was released on black heart-shaped vinyl. It is perfect.

I don’t own this yet, but I have plans to.

• • •

Visit Nadine Shah and buy Fast Food and “Fool”

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The shoe soundtracks: Babycham rainbow trainers

Babycham, that particularly British fizzy pear champagne – aka perry – first launched in 1953, but its complete relaunch in the early ’00s alongside a range of brightly coloured, rather childlike shoes and apparel items apparently resulted in the reinvigorated booze sales the company was after.

Babycham have used their iconic fawn imagery since the ’50s, but the logo was also given a refresh, this time in the late ’90s, to tempt a wider age range of customers. (Below is a variety of older novelty items and merchandise, with the bottle itself a more current incarnation.)

Whatever, I’ve never even tried their perry, adorably packaged though it is, but I have worn their equally adorable trainers – part of that ’00s relaunch – on my feet.

They’re black, no surprise, but they’re some of the most summery shoes I own.

If you can’t get yourself some real, honest-to-god Babycham, lay your hands on some other fizzy wine, sit in the sun, wear ridiculous sunglasses, and listen to these sunny, summery songs for bad behaviour and good vibes.

PAWS – Boregasm
Annie – The Greatest Hit
Japandroids – Nights of Wine and Roses
Joanna Gruesome – Honestly Do Yr Worst
Kenickie – Come Out 2Nite
Pylon – Gyrate
Robyn – U Should Know Better
Teenage Fanclub – Alcoholiday
Tacocat – Muffin Top
Euros Childs – Be Be High

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The lust list: an enviable boob shirt collection

I sincerely wish I could tell you that I’d wanted a Gravel and Gold boob shirt for years, that it was one of my must-buys when I went to San Francisco last summer, that I’d been planning this ultimate mom-annoying, feminist-uplifting (heh) t-shirt for a long time.


It was an impulse buy.

I was wandering around The Mission, having eaten and drank and then spent LOTS of money at Dog Eared Books and Needles and Pens – seriously, if you like books and/or comics and/or little art zines, you need to go to these stores right away – when I stumbled across this little shop tucked in the corner between Lexington and 21st.

The store itself is minimalist and pared-down in that rustic, west coast way, with a small and deliberate selection of loose and easy-fitting clothing and unfussy accessories. My eyes immediately alighted, however, on a series of boob-printed cotton items: tote bags, pillow cases, T-SHIRTS.

You mean I can wear some boobs over my boobs? I think was basically where my mind was going.

With Gravel and Gold’s boob t-shirt, you DEFINITELY CAN. Your mom might be a little horrified, as mine was (“you’re not going to wear that out of the house, are you?”) but I think it is an excellent way to show your pro-lady, body-positive, feminist, appreciator-of-all-boobs stance.

It certainly got me some attention in the street the next day, even in Haight-Ashbury (okay, especially in Haight-Ashbury).

I’m not sure if my exact iteration is available anymore (the black on cream boob print you see above; the white on black of the bag was also available in t-shirt form last summer) but I know for sure there’s a breezy linen top with this print on it currently in their online shop.

My intense love of my new boob shirt, along with my near-constant Etsy trawling, got me thinking: could I add more boob shirts to my (not yet a) collection? Cool lady-designed ones like this?

Etsy, as it often does, held the key.

I’m madly in love with this reproduction of the classic Vivienne Westwood tits t-shirt. Okay, yes, I’m madly in love with the original, and with Vivienne herself and all of her work, but this one is more in my price range. Also it seems that the tits top is currently sold out of her online shop.

This one’s done by Etsy sellers The Pirates, and is lovely.

Next up, my Etsy search returned the cutest little boob shirt ever, another cartoon one, this time in the form of a silkscreened lady with perfectly circular breasts. She has a sweet little face and long, flowing locks: adorable.

It’s by illustrator and designer Daniel Zender, and if you appreciate this, you need to check out the rest of his Etsy shop for all sorts of misanthropic monsters in cartoon form.

I hope to add both of these t-shirts to my (not yet a) collection very soon. And to photograph myself in my Gravel and Gold t-shirt! See, there’s only certain places I can wear it, so while it does get some mileage, it doesn’t get a ton.

I know, I know, a better feminist would give less of a shit.

But only certain occasions and people are cool enough for the boob shirt, you know?

As a bonus, here’s a non-shirt related boob item that I would also very much like to add to my collection.

British ceramicist Amy Worrall makes these boob vases in a variety of finishes, and this one’s my favourite. Not currently available in her shop, but there’s a paint-spatter-on-white one that’s equally charming.

Her pottery and ceramics are the coolest.

On a boob-appreciating note, happy mother’s day. Show some appreciation for the boob’d and not-boob’d ladies in your life.

Because do boobs make the lady? They’re fun and functional and life-giving and everything, but they don’t make a woman any more than a t-shirt does.

Fancy outfit test drive + highlights from TO.

Hello again. How are you? I am well, thanks.

I was in Toronto last week gallivanting. If you saw my Instagram feed, you’ll know I saw some concerts and some weird and delightful art and drank a bunch of coffee. I mean, I did some other things too, but those were mostly food-related.

You probably don’t want to hear about my eating adventures. You might get a bit jealous.

Toronto yielded great things in the clothing department as well. Check out this perfect little vintage jacket I found at a Queen Street West shop called Tribal Rhythm (yeah, I’m not sure about their name either). It’s a velvety soft brocade fabric and it’s lined with shiny violet-coloured fabric. AND it’s short enough for my miniature arms.

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The littlest dirtbag

Sometimes I find myself wearing trends that I didn’t necessarily mean to.

I didn’t have the ever-so-popular grunge look in mind when I bought this dress, but trends are trends and definitely dictate what’s available in stores. I don’t really wear much floral, to be honest, but my love for mini dresses prevailed, and now this one is a favourite.

The furry hoodie – affectionately called the gorilla hoodie – is 100% synthetic and cheap as shit. I walked home today wearing it and was a sweaty mess when I arrived because it has a lining of purest polyester and keeps all my clamminess near and dear to me.

I can hardly ever be bothered to brush my hair, and so it forms fuzzy birds’ nests and matted waves and I totally love it. All I want is Mosshart hair, therefore I’m growing out my bangs and looking even more unkempt than I usually do in the process.

In other cool news, my first fashion story for Bustle went live earlier today. I wrote about six of my current favourite fashion bloggers and what they bring to a boring, kind of homogeneous fashion blogosphere. I love inspiration, and if you want to check out more of their stuff, the links are all down there in the sidebar on the right. Good ones indeed.

Dress: Sans Souci via Winners
Hoodie: via a Haight-Ashbury boutique in San Francisco whose name escapes me
Leggings: C’est Moi via Out of the Blue
Shoes: Chuck Taylors that I have owned for literally 13 years

Now we turn to music, as we tend to do around here.

The new Speedy Ortiz album, Foil Deer, is excellent, but a few tracks stand out to me more than others. Have a listen at “Puffer” and “Raising the Skate” and see if these don’t get stuck in your head for days.

The last book that made me frustrated:
Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band

I was all set to totally love Kim Gordon’s memoir, released in February of this year, entitled Girl in a Band.

HOWEVER, I am not a devout Sonic Youth follower. I have not been a longtime, committed fan. This may have coloured my reading. But again, this book is about Kim in Kim’s words, and not Sonic Youth in Kim’s words. I was hoping for personal insights, personal growth, a trajectory of can-do feminist awesomeness. I was expecting that to be tempered by some shitty infidelity stuff in the form of Thurston, yes. I did get many of those things from this book, yet something about it didn’t sit quite right with me.

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