Saturday, 31 December 2016

Colouring In

Last week, I didn't have time to participate in the theme challenge at Delightful Aberrations.
However, the prompts were rolled over to this week, with the addition of five more!

So I've stuck with last week's prompt lip (with the prompt write included, kind of) for this image.
I may yet produce something for one or two of this week's new prompts, but shall have to see.

This time around, the image is a combination of photography and intense amounts of photoshopping! I wanted to give the effect of a pair of lips that are in the process of being coloured in to look 'realistic'.

Not as keen on this resulting image as some of my pictures from previous weeks, but this is better than a blank page!

Memory, Assassins and...Felony?

It's the end of the year, and here I am with a stack of DVDs and another challenge complete! I've really been racing the clock to get some extra ones squeezed in at the end of this year, though this particular challenge wasn't too difficult to get finished. Christmas is definitely the time of year for kicking back with a movie or two, and there have been a lot on TV lately as well!

So here are films 91-100, completing my goal!

91. The Bourne Identity (2002)
Genre: Action/Thriller/Mystery
In a Word: Amnesia
In a Sentence: Rescued from the sea and suffering from amnesia, a man finds himself pursued by assassins as he seeks to uncover his past, and his identity.
Recommended: If you like your thrillers on the mysterious side.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Fall Weather and Forgotten Saints

Autumn Wanderings
One of the goals on The List - in fact, one of the first I wrote down - has been continuously pushed aside due to lack of inspiration/time:
006. Paint a picture on canvas
I chose this one because though I had a couple of blank canvases, and certainly have enough paint, I'd never painted on a canvas.

As with creating an assemblage, this is one of the goals I wanted to get done before the year was up, and I completed it today!

I ended up with a lot of gold paint left on the palette after the first picture, above...

So I painted a second canvas, too!

Forgotten Saints #01

This one was a painted a lot faster, and has more of a primitive style to it--simply because I was using up paint left over from the first painting.

I was a little worried with this second one, because as I was painting on the gold background (which I painted across the entire canvas), it started to go baggy, as though I'd overstretched it with the wetness of the paint.

However, it tightened up again once it dried, which was a relief.

Of course I can nitpick issues with both paintings, but I think that's something every creative does!

I won't be rushing to paint on canvas again any time soon, though mostly because I don't have ideas (or canvases) and canvases take up a bit more space than paper does!

Another goal complete!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

The Country, Not The State

It's the final week of this challenge, hooray!
For week 52, I listened to two new-to-me acts from Georgia (the country, not the US state).

Formed in 2009, this four-member band released their first album in 2015 after several lineup changes.
Their music has a typical indie/alternative rock sound. The vocals remind me of another rock vocalist, but I can't think who! Since the songs are performed in English, it's easy to understand them.
As one of the members is a keyboardist, a keyboard/piano sound is more prominent in their songs than in bands that only use the instrument as an extra outside of what their lineup play. The music is easy to listen to, just right whether you want to relax or are feeling energetic!
Enjoyed listening to them!
LOUDspeakers on Facebook

Trio Mandili
This musical trio came to fame at the end of 2014, after they posted a music video online of themselves singing a Georgian folk song. It gained over two million views in two weeks, which led to them appearing on TV and radio. By 2015, they released an album.
The music basically consist of the three members singing folk songs in harmony to the accompaniment of a some kind of long-necked lute (the internet says panduri and tschonguri), which gives the tracks a really earthy, traditional feeling.
Most the videos I watched follow the self-filmed style of their viral video (which at time of writing has over four million views), and feature the trio walking along a street. Whilst the idea sounds amateur, the outcome makes the videos fun to watch!
I liked this group, so do give them a listen. It's great to see something different to what's on the radio!
Trio Mandili Official Website

With this post, I complete the challenge and can strike a goal off The List!
029. Listen to 2 new musical acts every week for 1 year
It's been really interesting to seek out and listen to so much new music, beyond the bands and solo acts I might have found in passing. There are always a few 'new discoveries' made each year, but through this challenge, the number of new-to-me acts I listened to leapt from a handful to over 100!
I didn't like all the music I found this year; sometimes the artists I heard made music too distant from the sort of thing I like. Other times, I was greatly surprised by how much I ended up liking some artists--I even ended up with some new favourites!

This was a really fun goal to complete!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Assembled Regression


As the end of 2016 looms, I've been looking over the goals I've completed this year and - perhaps in a bit of panicked, 'I've not done enough!' kind of way - been considering what I can achieve in the last few days of the year.

One of the goals was this one:
015. Create an assemblage
I've been procrastinating over this goal for ages, but today I finally knuckled down and got it done!

The items I used came from a number of sources, collected up over the years for this or that reason, or some found objects collected for another goal. The old London Transport Bus ticket (stamped for 7 old pence!) was found in an old book I found in a charity shop. The book was redonated, but I kept the ticket :) The screw goes through the punch hole.

Through this project, I finally found a use for some things that I'd been hanging on to for ages--a single earring, an escutcheon that ended up unsuitable for what I bought it for, a broken link from a watch.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

D.C. (A Tale of Zombies)

Way back in 2014, I entered a writing competition for goal #24.
I didn't win (I would have written here if I had!) but since I didn't, it means I can post it here!

I'm totally late with posting it, and I could have shared this at a more appropriate time of the year, such as Halloween, but for those of you needing a break from Christmas shenanigans, here is a story about zombies.

Warning: This is not a pleasant story.


Scott was having the time of his life.
He was also dead.
No thoughts, no feelings and no responsibilities dampened his spirit. Scott knew only desire and instinct: desire for flesh, for food, instinct to hunt and conquer. It was like a never-ending stag weekend.

It was the desire that changed things. As Scott lurched down a shadowy alleyway one evening, a busty woman fell to the ground ahead. Scott’s gut growled, stomach digesting itself for lack of food. Hungry as he was, his craving for food was squashed by a primal instinct to take the woman as his own. All men had needs—even the dead ones, and his body hadn’t yet forgotten the desires of living men. He felt no concern or pity, thought not of her wellbeing or even of his own. Scott staggered towards her.

That was when the humans attacked.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Indian Rock

I'm nearing the end of this challenge. It's hard to believe it's almost a year already!
This week's new-to-me acts come from India, home of real curry, Bollywood and the Kolkata Knight Riders (who I only know of because a friend is a fan!)

Formed in Kolkata in 1992, this Bengali rock act had been through several lineup changes and is currently made up of six members--two vocalists, guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and drummer.
Their music is clearly influenced by western rock, and they cite bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin (among others) as their inspiration. The difference being that they sing in Bengali!

Although the song embedded above has more of a hard rock sound, most of the songs I listened to were softer rock ballads. I prefer the louder stuff, though the vocals in the more balladic songs have a more prominent Bengali tone.
If you've never heard Bengali rock before, this band is worth checking out just for the experience of it!
Cactus Official Website

This four-piece alternative rock band hails from Thiruvanathapuram in Kerala, and formed in 2003.
Avial's songs are performed in Malayalam (a language mainly spoken in Kerala) and their name is taken from that of a southern Indian dish made from vegetables and coconut!
Like Cactus, they are inspired by Led Zeppelin, but also bands like Incubus. Their fusion of Malayalam lyrics with the rock genre creates a really unusual, melodic sound.
I found this band engaging and pleasant to listen to, so give them a try!
Avial on Facebook

That's it for this week's listening!
Next week is the final week for this challenge, though there will be a few days left of the year, and I like music, so perhaps I'll do a bonus week and write about it in the new year...!
You can read about all the acts I've listened to for this challenge by checking out my Goal 29 Tag.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Aliens, Explosions, and a Little Bit of Romance

As the months get colder, staying in with a stack of DVDs and a cup tea becomes more and more appealing.
So here are the most recent ten films I've watched for Goal #61!

81. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)
Genre: Comedy/Romance
In a Word: Whirlwind
In a Sentence: When Guinevere Pettigrew loses her job, her pursuit of a new one gets her caught up in the mad, fast-paced world of London socialites.
Recommended: If you like rom-coms set in past eras
(Note: This is adapted from a book of the same title, which I read for another goal. I preferred the book!)

82. Transporter 3 (2008)
Genre: Action/Adventure
In a Word: Vroom.
In a Sentence: Frank Martin is dragged out of retirement to transport the tearaway daughter of a government official from Marseilles to Odessa, meeting the usual assortment of bad guys on the way.
Recommended: For those that enjoyed the previous two movies and like predictable plots with lots of action scenes.

83. Iron Man (2008)
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
In a Word: Ego
In a Sentence: After being injured and held hostage in the Middle East, the genius billionaire playboy Tony Stark creates a weaponised suit that can save lives and fight evil.
Recommended: If you like your superheroes with an extra helping of snark and ego.

84. Iron Man 2 (2010)
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
In a Word: Egoier
In a Sentence: As his health deteriorates with no apparent cure, Tony Stark must battle against a madman with a vendetta against the Stark name.
Recommended: If you liked the first film and want a deeper look into the repercussions of a superhero's true identity being known

85. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
In a Word: ...humbled!
In a Sentence: After his work and home are destroyed by a terrorist, Tony Stark goes underground to start over, and stop the person responsible for the attacks.
Recommended: If you want an Iron Man film with a deeper plot.

86. Clueless (1995)
Genre: Comedy/Romance
In a Word: Whateverrr
In a Sentence: When a dorky new girl Tai joins her class, rich high schooler Cher makes it her mission to give her a makeover and boost her popularity, but doesn't bank on how tricky romance can be.
Recommended: If you love cheesy 90s teen movies

87. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992)
Genre: Action/Comedy
In a Word: Mothering
In a Sentence: Serious police sergeant Joe Bomowski's life is turned upside down when his bossy and interfering mother comes to visit.
Recommended: If you enjoy cheesy, funny cop films

88. Pitch Black (2000)
Genre: Horror/Action/Sci-Fi
In a Word: Darkness
In a Sentence: When a commercial transport ship crash-lands on a planet inhabited by deadly nocturnal creatures, the survivors turn to criminal Richard B Riddick to help them as the planet is plunged into the darkness of a month-long eclipse.
Recommended: If you and like playing Who Will Be Picked Off Next?

89. Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
In a Word: Conversion
In a Sentence: Fugitive Riddick ends up on Helion Prime, where an old friend pleads with him to help fight against the Necromongers, a race of crusaders who seek to kill all humans--or convert them to one of their own.
Recommended: If you want to know exactly what you can do with a tea cup.

90. Star Trek Beyond (2016)
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
In a Word: Frontierier (I'm doing good with these single word summaries, right?)
In a Sentence: The USS Enterprise passes beyond known space on a rescue mission, where they end up stranded on an uncharted planet, desperately fighting against an enemy set upon destroying the Federation.
Recommended: If you've enjoyed the previous Star Trek films!

Well, my film choices are still bordering towards action and science fiction, but what can I say, I know what I like!
Only ten more films to go before I can call this goal done!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The Sum of Those Who Went Before

The Sum of Those Who Went Before
One of the themes on Delightful Aberrations' challenge this week was ancestors. I knew exactly what I wanted to do for this one!

We have a suitcase full of old photos in the loft, so I decided to hang these up as a backdrop and take self-portraits inspired by the old images.
I couldn't find enough of the pictures in the style that I wanted to use (I'm certain there are more somewhere, I just couldn't find them!) so this had to be on a smaller scale than I wanted!
Perhaps if I had more time and/or did this again, I'd use a bigger variation of photograph styles (ordinary photos, carte visites, cabinet cards, mounted prints etc) so I could make a bigger wall of photos!

Honestly I can't say for sure how many of the people in these old photos are my direct ancestors, or even in my family! But it's more about the effect,  I think.

My £1.25 unbranded camera remote worked very well for this shoot!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Made in China

We all know a lot of products are Made in China these days, but what about Chinese music?
This week, it was China that I looked to for my two new-to-me musical acts!

Formed in Beijing in 2005, this indie rock band have become well-known in their home country.
Their songs are performed in a mixture of Mandarin and English, with an often aggressive, sometimes much softer tone to the vocals. It's interesting to hear songs sung in Mandarin, what with it being a tonal language.
The band clearly have a lot of musical influences, since their sound leaps between that of 80s alternative rock, 60s pop-rock and 00s indie!
The music is pretty catchy and is the sort of thing that has to be played loud to get the full effect.
Give them a try!
Hedgehog Official Website

Carsick Cars
Another indie rock group, Carsick Cars formed in the same city and year as Hedgehog, with their first album released two years later.
They have been through several lineup changes, and the band currently stands at three members.
Another band that performs both in Chinese and in English, Carsick Cars have a lot more of a laid-back sound. The tracks I heard seemed a little repetitive, though they are definitely the kind of band to chill out and relax to.
Carsick Cars Official Website

That's my new-to-me listening for this week! You can see all the acts I've listened to for this challenge by looking at my music challenge tag!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Destruction of Worlds

Destruction of Worlds
Prompts for this week's challenge on Delightful Aberrations included post and planet, which are the two prompts I picked up and ran with.

...or I would have run with them, if I hadn't spent the week with a cold.

So rather than take any new photographs for this week's challenge, I created a new image by combining some photos that I took earlier in the year.

I decided to interpret the 'post' prompt as being the word in it's prefix form, meaning 'after'. Combining it with the 'planet' prompt got me 'post-planet' and the result of my tinkering in Photoshop Elements was this--a constructed image portraying the end of a planet in a broken universe.

...huh, maybe next week I'll make something more cheerful!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Public Disorder with Invisible Friends

Continuing from last week's americas theme, this time around I'm looking to South America, with two new-to-me musical acts from Venezuela!

Los Amigos Invisibles
Active since 1991 with their first album released in 1995, four-piece band Los Amigos Invisibles have been active worldwide, having performed in almost 60 countries.
Their musical style is something of a combination of acid jazz and disco, though there's definitely something of a Latin twist in their sound.
Though I couldn't understand 99% of the lyrics (they're in Spanish, and my knowledge of the language is severely limited!) once again the internet provides translations, and even without them, the songs are enjoyable and catchy!
With a lighthearted, smooth sound to their music, this band is really easy to listen to.
Los Amigos Invisibles Official Website

Desorden Público
Formed in 1985, Desorden Público is a ska band that mixes rock, reggae and Latin into their sound.
Some of their songs are said to comment on politics and society within Venezuela and Latin America, though as before, I can't understand them without looking up a translation due to my non-existent Spanish skills!
Desorden Público's music is interesting to listen to, because some of their songs sound a lot more ska-like, whilst others have more of a Latin rock sound. Their music is lively and sounds fun!
Desorden Público Official Website (Spanish)

Were I learning Spanish, I'd probably listen to bands like these two for practise! Though listening in itself seems like a good reason to learn more Spanish. I started through various self-study means, but can't roll my R's and kept hitting the proverbial wall. Maybe I should think about learning some more (...alongside everything else I have languishing unstudied on Duolingo...)
Until then, I'll just listen to some more music! Onward to next week!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

A Strange Pair

Things That Grasp

One of the prompts for this week's photography & art challenge on Delightful Aberrations was pair.

A while ago, I read something in a book about how, when a number of people with schizophrenia were asked to group items together, their logic in categorisation differed to those the average non-schizophrenic would find most obvious. I don't remember many of the details but I think it was in Daniel Nettle's Strong Imagination, which I read two years ago (the book explored the connection between creativity and mental illness).

Things That Make Lines

Inspired by this, and remembering that the logic of those groupings actually did make sense, I sought out to make some unconventional 'pairs' of objects and photograph them for this week's challenge, the image titles being the object categories.

This was quite a challenge as I really had to stop and think about the purpose of an object, and consider what other objects serve the same purpose, but perhaps in a different way.
Things That Tell You Where You Are

My method of photography this time around was basically a piece of A3 white paper as a background, with a desk light slightly above (because it's winter, and the sun is nonexistent).
The light meant there was a bit of a colour cast on the images, but I fixed that with Photoshop, and then adjusted the levels and so on to make the photos more stark and contrasty.
Things That Add Colour

To summarise this week's mini-project (because that's what it was) into more arty-farty terms--
A Strange Pair is an exploration of the relationships between everyday objects.
Thinking up combinations for this was actually pretty fun, so I may continue this as a proper project at some point (and find a better way of photographing everything!) which will count towards another of my goals on The List.

You can see images from previous week's participation on my shiny new delightful aberrations tag!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Cultural Roots in Central America

Despite listening to so much music from around the world for this challenge, it's come to my attention that I've completely neglected Central and South America!

Therefore this week, I'll be looking at two new-to-me acts from Honduras!

Aurelio Martinez
This singer-songwriter is a well-known Garifuna musician, guitarist and percussionist who picked up drumming, singing and Garifuna rhythms through his family members, becoming - by the age of 14 - a well-respected musician. Active for over 30 years, he's been involved in a number of musical groups and projects.
Being that Garifuna is unique to the Central America, being part of the culture of Garifuna people, Aurelio's music instantly transports you to sunny Central American shores, with fast beats and very prominent percussion.
I'd never listened to Garifuna music (or even heard of it) before now, and though it isn't the kind of thing I'd listen to frequently, I still liked it. Aurelio's music is very lively and upbeat, and listening to it made this chilly winter's day feel a little warmer!
Aurelio Martinez Official Website

Guillermo Anderson
After graduating from University of California in 1986, Guillermo Anderson's first album, released the same year, was for children. He returned to his native Honduras the next year, and formed an artist movement called La Ceiba COLECTIVARTES. Based in the port of La Ceiba, Guillermo made around twenty musical releases during his career, which was cut short by his death earlier this year.
Some of Guillermo's music has more of a Latin sound, whilst other tracks mix in Afro-Carribean percussion and make use of Garifuna rhythms alongside more widely-known musical styles such as salsa.
His music is really melodic and full of life, whether it's an upbeat song or something slower. Once again it isn't the kind of music I would listen to frequently, but I enjoyed listening!
Guillermo Anderson Official Website

Well, this week's listening turned out to be a bit of a lesson in culture, as well as a discovery of new-to-me music!
Previously I'd never heard of the Garifuna people, who are "mixed-race descendants of West African, Central African, Island Carib and Arawak people." (thanks, Wikipedia). They have a deep-rooted history, and in 2001 their language, dance and music was proclaimed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Check out the Wikipedia article to learn more, or - even better - check out, an entire website dedicated to the history, culture, and modern-day society of Garifuna.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Weird, Whacky, and Why You Don't Get It

It's been a long time since I last wrote about any TED talks that I've watched...mostly because I haven't watched any in ages. I thought I'd reach my goal of watching 100 TED or TEDx talks fairly easily, but it kind of fell by the wayside along with a whole bunch of other stuff.

Anyway, I've been working through my 'watch later' playlist and found these ten great TED talks on the arts.

The Silent Drama of Photography | Sebastião Salgado
A talk by world-reknowned photographer Sebastião Salgado, of how his passion for photography nearly killed him, and how he came to photograph the world's forgotten people and places.
I'd heard of this photographer when I was studying for A-levels, so it was interesting to watch this talk, and truly staggering to see the difference he has made through his work.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Fading Gold

Fading Gold

Once again I joined in with the Delightful Aberrations photography & art theme challenge this week, and used the prompts quarter and gold.

This time, I wanted to do something a bit different to what I do normally, and create a final image made from several photos.
The 'gold' prompt made me think of the 'golden hour'--the hour before sunset or after sunrise when the sun is (supposedly) softer and redder than during the day.
So I combined it with the 'quarter' prompt and set off on a walk a quarter hour before sunset, taking a snapshot of where I was at every 1/4km I walked, and finishing a quarter hour after sunset.

The resulting photos were sliced up in Photoshop Elements; I went the whole hog with the quarter prompt and used just a quarter-width of each photo. To emphasise the difference in lighting (because in England in November the sky tends to be varying shades of grey) I added a golden-yellow to purple gradient layer on top, setting it to overlay and 46% opacity.
Finally, because I wanted to make this image more than just a bunch of photos slotted together, I added the glittering, slowly-fading golden smear across the bottom, using a photo of gold eyeshadow smeared across white paper. (Well why not make your makeup multifunctional?!)

I played around with lots of ideas for this one, even within the idea that I used. These were some really great prompts!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Loyal Men, Cheating Men

Last week, I listened to some Egyptian acts for this challenge. This week, I'm sticking with the African continent, and listening to some new-to-me acts from Nigeria!

A reggae/dancehall artist active since 2009, this singer-songwriter began his musical career with underground collaborations with a number of other artists, going on to sign his first record contract in 2010 and subsequently changing record labels twice since then.
Though his music is listed as reggae, though to me seems like an updated, evolved form of the genre, with vocal effects and visuals that are more reminiscent of hip-hop videos (which I'm guessing is the dancehall aspect? Not that I'm exactly an expert in these genres!)
The music videos I watched are definitely more like the hip-hop ones that hit the European shores, in terms of filming style, dancing, styling and imagery.
Patoranking's music isn't a genre that I'd normally listen to, but I think it's the sort of thing that would grow on me if I listened to it often enough! Even if you usually dislike reggae, give this guy's music a listen!
(Can't seem to find a website, boo!)

Yemi Alade
After making her musical debut in all-girl group Noty Spices in 2005, afropop singer Yemi Alade shot into the spotlight in 2009 when she won the Peak Talent Show. Her song 'Johnny' (embedded above) smashed its way into the charts of several countries in late 2013 after being leaked onto the internet--this even before there was a music video to go with it!
Yemi's music is fun and feisty with a lot of catchy beats and phrases. Her videos are as fun as and interesting as the music itself, filled with modern and traditional-styled clothes made from traditional prints, lots of people and dancing, and both urban and rural scenery.
I listened to Yemi Alade not really knowing what to expect, as I'd not knowingly heard any afropop before, but I found her music really enjoyable. Again, it isn't something I'd normally listen to, but that's part of the point of this challenge--to actually listen to those acts, and find new and awesome things!
Definitely give Yemi's music a try!
Yemi Alade Official Website

That's this week's listening done. I hope the people reading this check both acts out! Read past musical posts on my Goal #29 tag, and check out my challenge playlist on YouTube.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Me Gusta Las Iguanas... this instance, I'm not talking about the reptile, but the restaurant chain.
Las Iguanas specialises in Latin food, and has a nice-sized restaurant on Jubilee Street in Brighton.

I went there last week with a friend, after we'd been trudging around on a gruelling Christmas shopping trip. After being shown to a table, I sank down into my seat very gratefully, ready to stuff myself silly!

Las Iguanas has a special offer before 7pm, where diners can order three or five dishes from a list to share for a set price, which is what we opted for (more food? Why not!) They also have a 'happy hour' offer on some drinks, which meant we both got two for the price of one!

We ate nachos with extra chilli con carne, spicy chicken quesadillas, dadinhos (fried cubes of cheese--much nicer than it sounds!) and sweet potato fries. Virtually every dish came with salsa; the nachos also coming with sour cream ad guacamole, and the fries being served with aioli. Drinks-wise, I went for the 'tropical cooler' (mango, pineapple and lime juice with lemonade), whilst my friend had the 'citrus cooler' (a slightly more self-explanatory lemon and lime with lemonade).

The bill worked out at just under £28, which sounds like a lot but £14 a head is probably about average for similar restaurants in the area.
Rather than somewhere to drop into for a casual lunch or dinner, Las Iguanas is the kind of place I'd go to on a special occasion, such as a birthday or a rare night out (as it happens there were two birthday meals taking place when we were there!) It's casual and comfortable, and the food is really good. Now, hand me those dadinhos...

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Peer to Pier

When down on Brighton seafront at the end of October, I happened upon Tides, one of the exhibitions in Brighton Photo Fringe 2016, which took place 1-30th October.
Photo Fringe is a free, open-access festival of new photography that includes things like talks and workshops alongside its exhibitions.
I actually didn't realise that Photo Fringe was on, else I might have made the effort to go around more of the exhibitions. As it stood, I found this one by chance, but had limited time in the city before having to catch a bus elsewhere!

Tides was an exhibition of photography by The Peer to Pier Photography Group, a group of six photographers who collaborated to capture the story of the stretch of beach where the exhibition was held.

The photographs were displayed on chunky columns, the bases of which were those cages of rocks used as sea defences and retaining walls (I don't know the real name for them!) and the top part being of equal dimension but with wood inside the cage to act as a background for the photos. It was great that the method of display matched both the topic and the location!

I liked the fact that the six photographers produced such different work. Each had their own distinctive style, but by working with the same subject matter and theme, the group created a really cohesive exhibition that fulfilled their aim of telling the story of this part of the beach.

I particularly liked Audrey Marshall's moody, off-season black and white shots (as seen above, on the left) and by contrast, Colin Miller's brightly-coloured street photography images (above centre). Colleen Slater's macro images, arranged in sets of eight, were also interesting! Together with David Wilsdon (portraits of the seafront's workers), Leon Bellis (documentary images of work on the seafront development project) and Steve Boyle (silhouette-like portraits), these photographers made a really great exhibition--I wish I'd had more time to look at it!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Portrait of Mascara

Here we are once again at Music Time of The Week! This time around, I decided to check out two new-to-me acts from Egypt!

Portrait Avenue
Formed in 2008, Portrait Avenue began life as an instrumental act, but recruited a vocalist by the end of 2009. Their music has an experimental/indie sound, and their 8-member lineup includes a violinist and a keyboardist (and Sparta the dog). They have previously won Egyptian's Got Talent Battle of the Bands, and the Red Bull Bedroom Jam competition in the Middle East.
Something that really struck me with Portrait Avenue's music was the vocals, which were high and soft for what I'd usually expect from a male vocalist. Still, the vocalist are very easy to listen to!
The band's music strikes me as something that would be popular as 'chillout' music, or - given a more thumping beat and a faster tempo - clubbing music. It's interesting to hear such a similar sound played at a slower tempo, and I quite like it--really peaceful and relaxing!
Portrait Avenue on Facebook

Massive Scar Era
Nicknamed Mascara, this heavy metal band formed in Alexandria in 2005, though are now based in Cairo, Egypt, and also Vancouver in Canada.
As with Portrait Avenue, the vocals really stood out to me, this time in that the vocalist (and founder) is female, which seems rare for heavy metal bands, though this is only based on my minimal knowledge! Massive Scar Era began as an all-female band, only gaining more members in 2011.
The core of their music has the kind of heavy metal sound I'd expect, but including violin and classical and Middle Eastern influences (particularly noticable in some of the vocals) gives them a more unique twist.
Massive Scar Era's music isn't really my thing because I'm really picky when it comes to growling/shouting in music. However, it's really great to see a female presence in such a male-dominated genre!
Massive Scar Era Official Website

Well, these two acts couldn't have been much more different in genre--yet despite that still had similarities in other ways, such as surprising vocals and the presence of violin. Goes to show that genres certainly don't restrict content!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Colour Bleed

Colour Bleed

After a couple of weeks' break, I'm back to participating in the theme challenge at Delightful Aberrations.
This week had some seriously awesome themes! I opted to use the theme colour, and try something that would be abstract and quick to photograph.

I took the picture above by wiggling some embroidery threads in front of a piece of white paper. I shot several images using the 'burst' feature on my iPhone; unfortunately being an iPhone it means the resulting image was a bit pixelly, but I used Photoshop Elements to reduce noise and adjust the levels so that the colours would stand out a bit more! 

For an experiment, I don't think it turned out too badly!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

What's Energetic and Catchy?

It seems that music is all I've blogged about for the past few weeks, but - asides watching movies for goal #061 - I've not honestly done much worth sharing here. Time and energy have run away from me quite often lately, so I've not even had a chance to participate in the photo/art theme challenge that I like joining in with!

Anyway, music blogging isn't about to stop, because there are still a few weeks left of 2016!

So, in answer to the title of this post, what's energetic and catchy? Malaysian rock music!

Formed in 2005, this band apparently got their name from Sum 41's song, Crazy Amanda Bunkface.
There is definitely an American pop-punk influence to their sound, as well as their name, with a bouncy combination of rock and slightly-obnoxious (in a good way!) vocals.
The band have released songs both in English and in Malay (and with a mixtue of the two); most of what I listened to was sung in Malay with the occasional English phrase. I actually preferred the ones sung in Malay, though the English ones were also really catchy!
This band was fun to listen to, and worth a try if you like the genre.
Bunkface on Facebook

Kyoto Protocol
Based in Kuala Lumpur, this band has been active since 2009. Kyoto Protocol's have a really easy to listen to rock style, with catchy choruses and entertaining music videos!
This band performs mostly in English (I listened to one song that wasn't), and looking at their YouTube account, they've done a lot of covers, too (such as Summer Nights which is worth a look if you want a chuckle!)
I found this band really engaging to listen to, and will probably return to their music at some point so I can listen to more.
Kyoto Protocol Official Website

Really enjoyed listening to this week's new-to-me acts! Looking forward to hearing more new-to-me musical acts next week.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Tracks from the Other Side of the World (Ooooooooooh!)

My week has been tiring, and the week before this one was also tiring, so I'll cut the introductory babble and write instead about this weeks new-to-me artists, who come from New Zealand!

Darcy Clay
Active briefly in the late 1990s, singer/songwriter Darcy Clay came from Auckland, and recorded the instruments from his song Jesus I Was Evil (embedded above) on a 4-track recorder in his bedroom!
His music strikes me as a mix of sixties pop/rock with a hefty dose of punk rock mixed in for good measure, and seasoned with country. has his music tagged as 'stoner rock' which is also a pretty good way of categorising his sound!
I kind of liked his music, though some of it was a bit repetitive and it sounded a little unpolished. Still, if not for his death in 1998, perhaps Darcy Clay would have really honed his sound to the next level.
Give it a listen, anyway. There's something charming about this kind of countrified stoner punk rock.
(No official website. Boo.)

Concord Dawn
This drum and bass act have been active since the late 90s, and was originally a double act, though now the project of sole remaining member Matt Harvey.
Drum and bass isn't the kind of music I ordinarily listen to, though I have to admit this music woke me up from my tired state, which is definitely a good thing!
It has a lot of repetition which isn't my cup of tea, but the upbeat tempo makes it easier to listen to.
Concord Dawn's tracks are all quite long and have an electronic sound to them. Despite drum and bass as a genre not being my cup of tea, this is the sort of music I like playing as 'background noise' when I want to concentrate on something!
Concord Dawn on Facebook

Though I didn't dislike either act I heard this week, I probably won't be rushing to go back and listen some more. Still, both are on my YouTube playlist for this challenge, which you can find here!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Folk and Mysticism

Week 43 of my music challenge, and this week it's music from Tajikistan!

Muboraksho Mirzoshoyev
Also known as Misha but better known as Muboraksho, this singer-songwriter is considered highly influential in the Tajik music scene. Active from 1988 until his death in 2000, Muboraksho actually composed his first song, Chor javon when he was fourteen. It was later recorded, and became popular across Tajikistan. You can listen to it above :)
Muboraksho's music sounds quite unlike the pop/rock I'm used to; it's the sort of thing that would be found here on 'world music' compilations--the kind of thing my parents used to listen to on trips to Glastonbury (the town, not the festival)!
Apparently a lot of Muboraksho's lyrics were about sadness and mysticism, and even without understanding the language, that really shines through in the music and his soft tone of voice (and explains why it reminds me of those compilations!) 
As with several of the new-to-me acts I've heard recently, it sounds as though Muboraksho used lots of traditional instruments in his recordings, which really adds to the feeling evoked by the tracks.
I really didn't know what to expect when I listened to the first song, as I had no idea what Tajik music might sound like. But Muboraksho's music is really nice! I'll probably listen again.
Muboraksho Official Website

Nigina Amonqulova
Originally studying to become a doctor, Nigina Amonqulova (also written as Neginah Amonkulova) pursued a music career after performing at a school leaving party.
Nigina has become well-known for singing traditional Tajik folk songs, rather than singing in a more pop-like style. She also performs in colourful traditional costume, which makes her videos extra interesting to watch.
The songs themselves obviously don't have the sound I would automatically associate with the 'folk' genre, simply because these songs are Tajik folk, rather than Western folk. Despite not understanding the lyrics, I still enjoyed Nigina's music. Her voice is very gentle and emotive, and pleasant to listen to!
(Official website seems to be down. Boo!)

Though both of these acts perform in Tajik, there are translations of some of their songs online. My number one port of call is usually LyricsTranslate because nine times out of ten it has the songs I'm looking for!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Guilty Pleasures

It's been a couple of months since I last wrote about any films I've watched, and I got distracted by Other Things about halfway through this list, and left it a month before watching any more!
...And then I watched about seven films in a week, bumping my watched films list to over 80.
But since my aim was to write about them ten at a time, here's films 71-80.

71. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Genre: Adventure/Comedy/Drama
In a Word: Adventurous!
In a Sentence: In attempt to save his job, the cautious and imaginative Walter Mitty goes on a journey across the globe and gets a lot more than he bargained for.
Recommended: If you like feel-good movies about people coming into their own.

72. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Genre: Action/Adventure/Scifi
In a Word: Transformational
In a Sentence: Desperate to join the war effort, weak and unhealthy Steve Rogers participates in an experiment that turns him into Captain America: agile, super-strong, and the only one who can take down a terrorist organisation.
Recommended: If you like comic book adaptations

73. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Genre: Action/Adventure/Scifi
In a Word: Smash.
In a Sentence: Bruce Banner is a fugitive from the US government, trying to find a cure for the monster he becomes when he gets angry--only to run into problems when an enemy appears who is an even bigger, stronger threat. 
Recommended: For those wanting something to watch over a TV dinner!

74. The Ghost Train (1941)
Genre: Comedy/Horror
In a Word: Mysterious
In a Sentence: When a group of passengers are stranded overnight at a remote train station, the station master tells them of the ghost train that passes through on the unused platform--but things are not entirely as they seem.
Recommended: If you like unpredictable old movies

75. Avengers Assemble (2012)
Genre: Action/Adventure/Scifi
In a Word: Heroic
In a Sentence: With Loki threatening the future of the human race, the Avengers, earth's mightiest heroes, set out to stop him.
Recommended: If you like cheesy action movies.

76. Blade Runner (1982)
Genre: Scifi/Thriller
In a Word: Mind-blowing
In a Sentence: After a group of four dangerous 'replicants' (humanoid androids) commandeer a ship to take them to Earth, it's up to a blade runner, Deckard, to seek and destroy them.
Recommended: For those wanting great storyline and thought-provoking scripts.

77. Superbad (2007)
Genre: Comedy
In a Word: Alcoholic
In a Sentence: Coming to the end of their high school days, best friends Seth and Evan look to make their schooldays end with a bang by taking alcohol to a party, but their plans don't turn out as straightforward as they thought...
Recommended: If you like silly coming-of-age type teen movies

78. The Transporter (2002)
Genre: Action/Thriller
In a Word: Explosive
In a Sentence: A 'transporter' who delivers mysterious packages to unknown clients, Frank Martin runs into complications when one of his packages starts moving.
Recommended: For anyone that enjoys films with lots of fight scenes and explosions and a relatively straightforward plot.

79. Transporter 2 (2005)
Genre: Action/Thriller
In a Word: Explosiver
In a Sentence: Frank Martin is back, and this time has to prove his innocence after he's implicated in the kidnapping of a child--and prevent a plot to release a deadly virus into the world.
Recommended: Again, if you like fight scenes and explosions and plots that are easy to follow.

80. Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy
In a Word: Mad
In a Sentence: Alice returns to Underland, and has to travel back through time in order to help her friend the Mad Hatter, all whilst escaping the clutches of the Red Queen and Time himself.
Recommended: If you liked the first film!

As I noted at the beginning of this post, I'm already past 80 films for my '100 films' goal. The next post will contain some more cheesy action/scifi, and comic book adaptations, because cheesy action films are my guilty pleasure!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Treasured Worlds

Sunrise Over Seashore

This week, one of the prompts on Delightful Aberrations' photography & art challenge was gem, and you can bet your life I jumped on that one!

Layers of Sunshine
I've got tones of gemstones/crystals, and they have such interesting patterns in them, so I decided to make use of my macro lens conversion kit and take some closeups of some agate!

Black Hole in the Blue Planet
 The insides/patterns look like little worlds!

As for how I took these pictures (because I don't have a lightbox or anything fancy like that), I used that handy tool, blu-tack...

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Refuge in Music

It's music time of the week again! This week, I'm looking at a couple of acts from Syria. The country has been in the news a lot over the months and pretty much everything we hear about it is to do with conflict, terrorism and refugees, so whilst all of those things are serious issues, I thought it would be nice to look at something good about a diverse country rich in culture and history.
So...onto the music!

Khebez Dawle
Started as Anas Maghrebi's a one-man project during the Syrian uprising in 2012. Following the death of Maghrebi's drummer at the start of the Syrian Civil War, Khebez Dawle (Arabic for 'Government Bread') came into being as a indie-rock band in Lebanon in 2013 after the members had fled their home country.
An album was recorded in 2014 and, after selling their instruments in order to pay smugglers to get them across the Mediterranean, it was this album that the band gave out to tourists upon their arrival in Europe. From that point on, they played gigs using borrowed instruments and have since played further concerts all over Europe using instruments paid for by crowdfunding. Their aim is to break down the barriers between Syrian and European people through sharing the stories of refugees.
Their music is a combination of typical rock and traditional Syrian folk music, and their songs are performed in Arabic (though their website is in English, and has a lyrics section where English translations can be found).
Even without understanding the lyrics, I really liked what I heard of this band. I love the way they've combined musical styles.
Couldn't find much in the way of music videos on YouTube (the one above is pretty much the only one; everything else is concert videos) but give them a listen!
Khebez Dawle Official Website

Kulna Sawa
Formed in the 90s, this rock/pop act, whose name means 'all together' feature both female and male vocals, which make for some great harmonies!
Sung in Arabic, some of their songs feature a combination of traditional rock/pop and traditional folk sounds. I really like finding artists who use sounds in their music that are native to their culture as it makes for some interesting music!
Some of their songs seeem to have quite an upbeat atmosphere to them, whilst others are more balladic.
Their music was interesting to listen to, and the video I found was fun to watch!
I can't seem to find any current information on this act, so I'm not sure if they're still active or not.
Check them out for Arab-Western rock fusion and nice vocal harmonies.
Kulna Sawa on Facebook

That's my two acts for this week's new-to-me listening. I can't believe there are only 10 weeks left of the year. That's 20 new-to-me acts I have to whittle down from a list of over 200...

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


Before going to Stylist Live last Thursday, my sister and I had time to kill, and ended up in the Angel branch of the bubble tea shop Bubbleology.

I've had bubble tea before so the drink itself wasn't a strange thing to me, though making a decision about which flavour I want is always what takes me so long.

Eventually I went for lychee flavour, which I hadn't tried before!
I probably won't try it again either, because it wasn't the best bubble tea flavour I've had. However, the drinks here have a lot more tapioca pearls in them than other places I've been to, and the service was fast and friendly.

Not sure if I'll go to Bubbleology again, though this is mainly because I don't live anywhere near their shops. Still, their decor is cool, and they have a good number of options on the menu, so who knows...

Visiting Bubbleology counts towards another of my goals on The List:
036. Eat/drink in 30 new places
I'm at 27 now--nearly there!