V for Vendetta, B for Bieber

So yesterday my girlfriend and I watched a Czech movie called Vendeta (which is an obscure Czech word for “vendetta”, to be sure).

It’s a dark and confusing tale of a man on a revenge spree. The movie contained a lot of inexplicable plot points, tons of footage of people running through forests and characters dying simply due to being tied to trees.

The movie requires a smarter man than me to fully understand. However, it wasn’t the plot or cinematography of the film that intrigued me the most. Throughout the whole movie my mind was busy asking one simple question…

“Baby, baby, baaaaby ooooh…..”

…what the fuck is Justin Bieber doing in a Czech revenge movie?! Sure, credits claim it’s some Ondrej Havel dude, but you and I both know a Justin Bieber when we see one, don’t we?! It’s not just me, is it? Please tell me it’s not just me seeing Justin there!

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Guest Expressed: “How to Avoid Looking Like Justin Bieber”

How many of you have always wanted to look like Justin Bieber?! Zero? Yeah, I thought so! Well Stuart Green is here to show you exactly how to avoid such a disaster! Enter Bieber:

Bieber Fever

Justin Bieber is a funny kind of guy, at least in the way he is perceived by “fashionable” men. Anyone who wants to retain a shred of credibility and confidence in their “manhood” will probably call him every name under the sun. The paradox of people such as Bieber is that, because women fall over themselves to get a look at him, men try to ape the look in order to illicit the same reaction. This is despite not being remotely famous for anything themselves and in some cases not even knowing what “You Tube” is.

For others, avoiding the “Bieber” is an important task. How can you avoid falling into the trap, or altering your look just enough to get away with it?

Hair

When it comes to avoiding celebrity trends, the hair is always a tricky one. The very best hairstylists in the world and importantly, ones used by celebrities, are proficient at producing a haircut that allows two or three different styles to be used. Although you do not want to follow in the footsteps of Bieber, having one of these haircuts can actually be of great help to you, as you can wear an easy to manage matte product to help with the styling, and simply change it on the fly as you go.

The hairstyle is the thing that will link you most to any celebrity look, such is the publicity that even the quickest visit to a salon seems to engender these days.

Jackets

This is where the celebrity paradoxes really come into strong focus. Although men everywhere do not want to look like Bieber, stores everywhere are reporting a surge in popularity in the Bomber jacket, regularly worn by the man himself. In fact, I would go so far as to say they are the trademark garment in his appearance.

So, the answer here is quite simple. To avoid looking like him, do not wear a bomber jacket. This will not be as easy as it sounds, however, as the surge in popularity for these garments is likely to see them featuring strongly in men’s fashion for at least the next six to 12 months. You may want to look at vintage track tops or blazers as an alternative, because everyone will be wearing them soon, with shops selling little else.

Taking fashion tips from celebrities is not a bad idea, except when everyone else is doing it. This will definitely be the case with Bieber over the next year or so. You have your work cut out to avoid becoming a lookalike by stealth. Consider any and all clothes purchases carefully, and pay that little bit extra for a haircut if you need to!

Stylepilot is a leading UK fashion retailer and personal stylist website that offers an extensive clothing range from mens coats, underwear, socks, and t-shirts.

Vietnam 2011: General Observations (Part II)

You may recall that a few days ago I’d started the process of converting my Vietnam travel notes into blog posts. 85% of my 3 currently active subscribers were overjoyed and screamed “more please!”. Since in all the years of high school I’ve never truly learned to resist peer pressure – here goes the second instalment. It will pick up right where Part I left off, so if you haven’t read that part yet you may want to do it first. While my blog isn’t strictly a travel one, you’ll probably see these Vietnam posts pop up rather frequently over the next months – for better or worse, but mostly for better. Onwards…

Observation 4 – Rats

Granted, Vietnam is home to a lot more exotic and noteworthy animals than good old common rats. However, it’s the rats that live in shadows close to most bodies of water. They come out at night in swarms to hunt human prey…or just, you know, hang out and mind their own business.

The first time we started paying attention was one evening in Hue. Katka was taking some night shots of the Truong Tien Bridge. The bridge had been wired with more lights than a Christmas tree at Central Park, which made for a pretty mesmerizing sight. Somewhere between setting up the night program and trying to find a good angle Katka let out a muffled shriek and jumped a few good metres to the side (Olympic athletes – take notes!).

Because she wasn’t in the habit of performing this sequence of actions on a regular basis, I figured that something was wrong. Oh yeah, I’m excellent at spotting subtle behavioural patterns. Upon a more thorough inspection, i.e. walking closer to the water and squinting my eyes against the dark, I discovered dozens of rats running sporadically back and forth along the shore.

Since then we have noticed this being the norm anywhere around lakes and rivers during dark hours. Once while sitting in an outside cafe in Hoi An and then later again in Dong Hoi. Here we were in a somewhat fancy restaurant, which had its own artificial lake around the perimeter. Rats were sneaking near this lake and paid occasional visits to our table. They were basically co-existing peacefully with the restaurant staff, Ratatouille style!

“Hmmm, is it just me or are these eggs a tad undercooked? Anyways, what brings YOU to Vietnam?”

Observation 5 – Propaganda Speakers

Mostly in the Northern part of Vietnam you still find propaganda speakers scattered around. Some of them don’t seem to serve any function at all, other than looking like outdated relics that they are. But in certain places the speakers are very much alive.

On several occasions we were woken up at around six in the morning by monotonous chatter of some anonymous dude. I assume he was talking about the latest achievement of the Vietnamese government and encouraging people to work harder for the common good. However, I know very little Vietnamese. Now that I think of it, “arigato” might actually be Japanese, which means I know zero Vietnamese. So the “propaganda man” may actually have been telling jokes, in which case he may want to work on his delivery.

These speakers were even present in a tiny village of Viet Hai tucked away on a remote part of Cat Ba Island, reachable only by boat or a super-human trek. We had rented a basic bungalow there, in the hope of having some peace and quiet for a few days, but the joke-telling speaker guy had other plans in store for us. Each morning he launched into almost one-hour tirades and every 15 minutes his comedy routine was interrupted by a song, usually involving a high pitched female voice singing something vaguely patriotic.

“All day, all night, all day, all night, all day, all night…..WHAT THE *BEEP*?!”

And speaking of singing stuff…

Observation 6 – Karaoke

No Asian stereotype is complete without an image of a man/woman singing on stage at the top of their lungs in a crowded Karaoke bar. It’s as typical as the image of a Russian/Ukrainian wearing a fur coat, fur hat, felt boots and zig-zagging through the streets drunk with a bottle of Stolichnaya vodka sticking out of the coat’s pocket. Now, this may be exactly how I look on some festive occasions, but that doesn’t mean it applies to all of us all of the time. What I’m saying is – beware of putting people into boxes or putting labels on them (Not literally of course. If you’re literally putting people into boxes and putting labels on them, I’m quite sure the police will catch you soon enough, you sick bastard).

However, it seems Vietnam is quite happily living up to this particular stereotype. We’ve seen a multitude of places with live Karaoke performances during our three-week long visit. Our hotel room in Hue was actually right next to a massive multi-floor Karaoke establishment. That specific night was “amateur night” of some sort (when is it not “amateur night” when it comes to Karaoke?) with many hours of performances from audience members. Performances ranged from “utterly tone-deaf” to “almost not horrible”, with the audience cheering for each and every one of them. I’m guessing the winner was whoever made others bleed from their ears the least.

Above: NOT a typical Vietnamese Karaoke singer

Although I must admit there’s something heartening about so many people coming together to celebrate out-of-tune singing (this also goes for Katy Perry’s live performances). I dare you to find a Karaoke bar with a depressing atmosphere and lack of energy in the air. It’s impossible! You have better chances of seeing a Justin Bieber concert that doesn’t end with bottles being thrown at his head.

In Dong Hoi, a city that is otherwise nondescript, there was a street with no less than five Karaoke bars right next to each other. I’m no expert, but it sure seems like overkill, even if you’re really into Karaoke. It would be like having a coffee shop on ever damn corner, it just doesn’t make…wait a minute…well played Starbucks, well played!

The final part of the general observations is now available here. Remember to check out Katka’s awesome pictures from this equally awesome trip! Also, remember to follow me on Facebook or Twitter or even subscribe via email, if you want to stay updated on all of the latest.