Sunday, 29 May 2016

Free Art and Lots of Walking

Yesterday, I met up in Brighton with my friend, Victoria, and we braved the rain and rumbling skies to See Some Art (and, as it turned out, Do A Lot Of Walking).

First off we headed to Fabrica to see Luminary by Ron Haselden (shown above). The artist works with LED light rope and likes to work from the drawings of people considered 'less visible' in society, such as the elderly, children, and prisoners. Luminary works from the drawings of older people in particular.

Taken from Fabrica's website:
"[The exhibition] combines two ideas in one: literally that the artwork itself emits light, and metaphorically that older people bring important knowledge and a longer perspective to the rest of society."

I'll admit that I had to look up the meaning behind this piece, as it really wasn't obvious to me, and I didn't read the information displayed on the wall (I rarely do when I go to art exhibitions, because I want to see rather than read).

I found it interesting how the different sections of Luminary overlapped when viewed from different angles, but the meaning was pretty much lost on me! (I really struggle with a lot of contemporary art!)

After leaving Fabrica, Victoria and I wandered through the soggy Pavilion Gardens and headed for the University of Brighton Gallery, which we reached just as the storms really started and the rain became torrential!

The current exhibition at the gallery is Turner Prize-winner Gillian Wearing's piece, A Room With Your Views, and is a co-commission between House Festival 2016 and Brighton Festival 2016.

The piece takes the form of a film made from video snapshots of the view from rooms around the world, each one submitted following simple guidelines.

Shown in a house-shaped room built in the gallery itself, visitors can settle down on beanbags to watch the videos of views across the globe (or in the case of a lot of other visitors, stand at the back and hope somebody moves soon!)
I found this work interesting in the way it connects people around the world, and it appealed to my curiosity of what other people look out on from their homes, but I wasn't engaged enough to stand through the whole thing.

The last art that we saw was happened upon by accident after the weather had dried up. We found this 'Street Gallery' on Ann Street, between Ransom's and St Batholemew's Church.

This 'Street Gallery' is currently set up on the boarding around a building site, and showcases a number of surreal images.

Obviously, being in the middle of the street, some of the images have been subject to acts of vandalism. It's bound to happen, but I would have liked to have seen all of the original images!

I don't know anything about these pictures, not even an artist or anything: the only information visible is what you can see in the photos: the image titles, and 'Street Gallery - Open: Anytime - Admission: Free - Owned By The Public'.

A lot of people walked straight past these pictures (maybe the images have been there a while?) which is a shame because of all the art that we saw yesterday, these were the ones I liked the best!

As for the walking, well...

There is definitely a reason I was exhausted after this day out!
I'm counting yesterday as one of my 3 weekly walks, because nearly 19k steps and over 9 miles is significantly more than I usually do, as you can see from the screenshot!

I'll update more about my walks when I have more to tell (it may be a case of, 'Look at these cute animals I saw!')

For more of the museums/galleries/exhibitions I've seen, check out the tag for goal 10!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

English Oak

Here is my photo for this week's theme challenge on Delightful Abberations.

Honestly, I was really stuck for ideas this week, and also ended up distracted by other things.

So I ended up picking the theme 'oak' and taking this photo whilst on a walk. Idyllic countryside is cool, right? As it happens, the sheep in this piece of land all wear bells, so as you walk the footpath, all you can hear is the wind in the trees and the slightly dull clanking of sheep-bells.

For once I didn't tinker with the levels of this picture, but I did photoshop out a house that was in the background. It's a nice house, but it was too distracting!

Two Nox

For this week's music challenge, I used a different way of choosing artists to listen to (rather than pick at random): artists with the same name.

There are actually multiple artists with this lists ten!
This week, I just listened to the required two. Maybe I'll listen to some of the others at a later date!

This Hungarian act make music that is poppy with a touch of techno, but also has folk influences. A lot of their videos incorporate folk dancing, though the video styles are far from being typically folksy.
Apparently they represented their country in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005, reaching the final and finishing in 12th place.
I'm still undecided on my opinion of this group, as I like some of the songs I heard but don't care much for others. They're worth a try, though.
Nox Official Website

This act comes from Lithuania, and also makes pop music. It was harder to find music by this one; I had to use my Google Fu to find album tracklists (based on the few songs mentioned on for this band) so I could find the music on YouTube. Even then, not all of the songs showed up in search results!
Their music sounds kind of like 80s pop to me. Admittedly I have no idea whether this is a current act or not, because I can't find any information about them online (my aforementioned Google Fu failed me at this point!)
The music is okay, but nothing I'm crazy over.
(No link to official site, because I can't find one!)

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Bumper Film Post!

It's been ages since I wrote anything about the films I've been watching for goal 61. So long in fact, that I've watched 20 since I last posted (which sounds a lot, but my last post was in August!)

Rather than split them up across two posts, this time around I'm making a bumper film post.
So here are films 41-60!

41. Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)
Genre: Comedy
In a Word: Flushing!
In a Sentence: Set at a toilet factory where the union representative calls for strikes over the tiniest issue, this entertaining film is full of jokes and silly storylines.
Recommended: If you early 70s silliness.

42. Carry on Loving (1970)
Genre: Comedy
In a Word: Farcical
In a Sentence: The Wedded Bliss dating agency uses computers to match up the local lonely hearts, but of course things go wrong, leading to some of the most ridiculous and hilarious matchups ever.
Recommended: If you like your rom coms more on the comedy than the romance side.

43. Ouran High School Host Club (2011)
Genre: Comedy
In a Word: Crossdressing
In a Sentence: Scholarship student Haruhi breaks a priceless vase belonging to the host club of her prestigious high school, and is made to work as a host in order to pay off the debt--but nobody realises that she is a girl.
Recommended: For any that enjoy some Japanese live-action ridiculousness, also if you enjoyed the manga/anime this was adapted from!

44. Hairspray (2007)
Genre: Musical/Comedy
In a Word: Sing
In a Sentence: Set in Baltimore in 1962, high-schooler Tracy tries to bring an end to racial segregation (with a fair few songs along the way).
Recommended: If you like your films with music, moralistic storylines, and John Travolta in a dress.

45. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
In a Word: Time-travel (it's totally one word)
In a Sentence: With mutants and humans facing certain doom, the X-men send Wolverine into the past to change events that have led to the dystopia the world has become
Recommended: If you've enjoyed the other X-men films

46. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
Genre: Animation/Adventure/Family
In a Word: Magical
In a Sentence: Cursed to look like an old woman, quiet girl Sofie seeks out the self-indulgent wizard Howl in his moving castle, certain that he will be able to break her curse.
Recommended: If you enjoyed the Diana Wynne-Jones book of the same title, from which this is adapted (though there are some changes). Also worth looking at if you've enjoyed other Studio Ghibli films, and if you like animated films in general.

47. Kate and Leopold (2001)
Genre: Comedy/Fantasy/Romance
In a Word: Time-travel (see, it's totally one word)
In a Sentence: Finding a gap in time, Stuart travels back to 19th Century New York, only to be followed back by Leopold, who meets Stuart's ex-girlfriend Kate in the fascinating world that is modern-day New York.
Recommended: If you like fantasy with your rom-coms.

48. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)
Genre: Comedy/Drama
In a Word: Exotic
In a Sentence: Sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this time the hotel only has one vacancy, and Sonny is dreaming of opening a second hotel--but the hotel is taking a lot of his time, and he has a wedding to think about.
Recommended: If you enjoyed the first film!

49. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
Genre: Comedy/Crime
In a Word: Cops
In a Sentence: Frank Drebin is an incompetent cop who has to prevent crooks from assassinating the queen.
Recommended: For all that enjoy ridiculous cop films with some slapstick comedy.

50. The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991)
Genre: Comedy/Crime
In a Word: Sequel!
In a Sentence: When it emerges that his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend is part of a plot to kidnap a scientist, Frank Drebin is on the case.
Recommended: If you enjoyed the first film (though you don't need to watch it before this one, they're still funny whichever order you see them in!)

51. The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994)
Genre: Comedy/Crime
In a Word: Another sequel! (Okay, now I'm cheating)
In a Sentence: The Police Squad discover a plot to blow up the Academy Awards, and bring Frank Drebin out of retirement to help infiltrate the gang and foil their scheme.
Recommended: If you liked the first two (though admittedly, this was the first of the three I ever watched, and this goal is the first time I ever watched them in order!)

52. To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar (1995)
Genre: Comedy/Drama
In a Word: Dragprincess
In a Sentence: Three drag queens are driving across the USA to reach a pageant, but when their car breaks down they end up stranded in a sleepy rural town where they end up shaking up a few attitudes and bringing the place back to life.
Recommended: For anyone that likes strong storylines about transformation, personal growth, and the importance of friendship. (That sounds so cheesy, but 'fabulous drag queens' isn't enough to describe this film. Which is, by the way, one of my favourites.)

53. The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994)
Genre: Comedy/Musical/Drama
In a Word: Australian
In a Sentence: Two drag queens and a transgender woman travel across the Australian desert to perform their cabaret in Alice, but meet a few people and discover a few things about each other on the way.
Recommended: If you like disco music, drag queens, and all the stuff I mentioned in the recommended section of the previous film ;) The core of these two films is pretty similar, but the two are pretty different.

54. Death Note (2006)
Genre: Crime/Fantasy/Drama
In a Word: Reaper
In a Sentence: When Light Yagami discovers a notebook that allows him to kill people simply by writing down their names, he decides to use it to kill criminals, but then finds himself being investigated as a criminal himself, and with the death god Ryuk watching over him, has to pit his wits against those of the genius detective known as "L".
Recommended: For those that enjoy dark storylines, and any that enjoyed the manga/anime of the same title.

55. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
Genre: Animation/Adventure/Comedy
In a Word: Christmas
In a Sentence: When the homeless trio Gin, Miyuki and Hana find a baby on the streets of Tokyo one Christmas Eve, they set out to find its parents, only to run into a lot more trouble than they bargained for.
Recommended: If you like feel-good animation with action and adventure.

56. What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
Genre: Comedy/Horror/Fantasy
In a Word: Vampires
In a Sentence: A documentary team follows a mismatched group of vampires who live in New Zealand, and it emerges that even vampires have problems--not to mention a rivalry with werewolves.
Recommended: If you enjoy vampire films, but also enjoy laughing.

57. Hellboy (2004)
Genre: Action/Fantasy/Horror
In a Word: Heroism
In a Sentence: Conjured by - and rescued from - Nazis during World War II, the demon known as Hellboy is raised in secret in the USA, where he fights against supernatural evils and (as happens in these movies) pretty much has to save the world.
Recommended: If you like your heroes red and sassy.

58. The Martian (2015)
Genre: Drama/Sci-Fi/Adventure
In a Word: Stranded
In a Sentence: Assumed dead, astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars, and has to find a way to let the team on Earth know he is still alive--and to remain alive until he can be rescued.
Recommended: For anyone that likes holding their breath for an entire film.

59. The Quest for the Eternal Harp of Golden Dreams Film (2012)
Genre: Music/Fantasy/Documentary (kind of)
In a Word: Fun
In a Sentence: A sorcerer and a band of heroes find a videotape and a TV-VCR on their travels to seek the Eternal Harp of Golden Dreams, and discover the story of Steam Powered Giraffe (seeing a few performances in the process).
Recommended: If you like the music and world of the band Steam Powered Giraffe, who I first heard, and wrote about, for my music goal.
Note: Okay, so I nearly didn't include this one but it is technically a film. It's mostly made of musical performances and in-character interviews, wrapped up in a storyline, therefore I consider it a film. You can watch it on the band's YouTube, where there is also a link for where to buy a copy.

60. The Expendables (2010)
Genre: Action/Adventure
In a Word: Boom
In a Sentence: A group of tough mercenaries are hired by a CIA agent to take out a dictator and a rogue agent, and lots of gunfire, explosions and hand-to-hand combat ensues.
Recommended: For when you want a film that's easy to follow and has lots of explosions, action cliches, and some of the most well-known action stars around.

That's it for the time being! It's seriously been months since I really got into watching films; I've always got other things to do (which is why I made this a goal in the first place!) 
Check my film tag to see all the films I've watched so far!
60 down, 40 to go... 

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Space Folk and Rock Dreams

The artists I listened to this week hail from countries that I haven't actually heard any music from before. I guess radio here tends to stick to foreign acts a little closer to home or something (plus American/Canadian acts...I don't know. I don't even listen to the charts anymore).
Anyway, here are the new-to-me artists I heard this week:

This act apparently comes from Greenland! Some of their videos have a really strange, surreal quality to them whilst others look like a standard pop video (I'm more a fan of the weirdass ones, of course).
I'm not sure how to categorise this band with regards genre, though their Facebook lists it as 'Space Folk/Tribal Pop'.
There's a fairly dreamy quality to this band's music, it's the perfect thing to daydream to.
It was Lilia who recommended this one to me, so thanks Lilia!
ZAZAZOZO Official Website

Carla's Dreams
From Moldova, this band performs in Romanian, English and Russian, and I'm having to glean all my information from Wikipedia (sorry) because English information seems pretty thin on the ground elsewhere.
The music is a combination of rock, hip-hop and pop. Their videos are engaging and though the songs I listened to weren't in English, the visual narrative made the music easy to follow.
Carla's Dreams Official Website (in Romanian).

Neither of these artists are the kind of band I'd usually listen to, but I enjoyed both!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Today's Main Dish...

Today's Main Dish...
Once again this week, I flexed my creative muscle to participate in the art & photography theme challenge on Delightful Aberrations.

Among the themes were tray and mushroom, which I decided to combine this week!
I know that toadstools and mushrooms are two different things, but they're both fungi, so toadstools totally count!

This week, I tried self-portraiture for the first time in ages, usin the self-timer on my camera.

As it turns out, it really isn't easy to use that setting, as it has to have something to focus on before it will start counting down and take the photo.

Not easy when you want to photograph yourself, across the room.

So I set up my old dressmaker's mannequin, and in the 10 seconds between pressing the shutter button and the camera taking the picture, I had to shift the mannequin out of the way, put on the mask, and grab the tray.  

Really not easy.

If I'm going to do any more photography like this, I need a remote. Or someone to press the shutter button for me!

 Bon Appetit
Needless to say, I ended up with just a handful of self-portraits, and had to do a lot of photoshopping to clean up the image, and remove ugly things like doorframes from the background (suitable backgrounds are non-existent in my house...)

Anyway, this week I ended up with two final photos: the toadstool-headed butler serving a meal, and the meal itself: a tasty bowl of moss and toadstools, served on a silver tray.

Though the image quality didn't turn out so good on the self-portrait (seriously need that helper), I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out, as this is the first week I've been able to do something a little different to usual.

It helped that I had everything I needed to hand this time around--I had all the props left over from past projects, and made the mask from cardboard and fabric toadstools that I made for a window display a couple of years ago!

Interesting set of themes this week; considering I spent some time racking my brains for ideas, I think the end result turned out pretty good.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Walking in the Countryside

Somewhat unwittingly, I started on another goal from The List:
028. Walk at least 3 times a week for 3 months 
Good, right?

You'd think it would be easy enough to simply get up and go for a walk three times each week, but honestly, it wasn't until I had that proverbial carrot dangled under my nose that I started actually doing it.
Said carrot is in the form of Bounts, an app that rewards you with points for selected tracked exercises, reaching 7,000 steps per day, and checking in at a gym. You can trade these points in for Items of Monetary Value, such as shopping vouchers. I like shopping...

In case you're wondering, this is not a sponsored post. I'm just telling you how I got moving!

I'm actually already halfway through completing this goal, because I started at the beginning of April. Thursday 7th, to be exact--but I'm considering the start of each 'week' as a Tuesday.
Mainly because my walks so far fit a Tues-Mon week better than the standard Mon-Sun. I briefly contemplated whether this is cheating, but decided that provided I do at least three walks within each set of seven days, it doesn't matter what day my walking weeks start on.
Besides, my music challenge weeks start on a Friday, so why wouldn't I go against convention?

When I started on this goal, I went out in long sleeves and a coat, and for the most part kept to walking along residential streets and paved footpaths. Which was kind of boring, but I managed to stick at it!

Of course, once we'd had a long enough dry spell, I could get onto the more picturesque, interesting footpaths, and I frequently end up roasting in jeans and a T-shirt!

Honestly, walking at this time of year has helped me to really appreciate the area I live in. I'm really fortunate to have so much countryside more or less on my doorstep. Tree-lined avenues, bluebell-filled woods, fluffy lambs, butterflies, grazing cows, bubbling streams and of course vast blue skies are among the delights I've been able to enjoy so far.

As this goal progresses, I might go further afield and try to walk in more new places. I've already explored some footpaths that I'd not walked before, and there are still many more to go!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Growl and Chill

There isn't much I can say by way of introduction of this week's music selection. I heard about both through the Power Of The Internet, and they are vastly different. Prepare yourself for some growling--and then some chillout.

I heard about this band forever ago, when they first started out, because I've been following the guitarist's work for around 15 years (one of his previous bands being one of the first Japanese rock bands I heard). But I'd never had the opportunity to hear them, as there was no way of accessing their music other than going to their gigs...which obviously I can't, since they're thousands of miles away.
Anyway they gained a new vocalist a little while ago, who was previously in another band I liked, so I watched this video with high hopes, and wasn't disappointed.
I'm not usually a fan of growling or shouting in music, but this vocalist does it well, and there's a good balance of that and regular singing on this track (and he does have a really gorgeous voice).
I've rambled more than enough here already. Maybe I'm biased in that I'm already a fan of two members of this band. But they really are good. Also check out their song ASPHALT. They only have short versions on YouTube right now, but it's enough to get an idea of how they sound.
DALLE Official Website

Clams Casino
This is an act I saw a mention of on a social media site a while ago, and added to my list to check out another time.
I wouldn't usually embed a video here that wasn't a proper video, but this is the song I first heard about, and it's the only one I really liked from the selection I listened to.
Clams Casino is an American record producer and apparently his genres encompass rap, hip-hop, instrumental hip-hop, 'cloud rap' and 'witch house'. (Well, it seems I've learned of some new musical genres with this act!)
There's something pretty relaxing about the song above, though the first video I watched, I'm the Devil, gave me a bit of a headache due to the tempo. The video itself has a pretty awesome surrealness to it though, so do give it a look!
Clams Casino on YouTube

As always, music I've listened to for this challenge - one of the goals on The List - can be found right here on this tag.
Or you can check out my YouTube playlist and listen to everything (except the videos that have apparently been deleted. Boooo)

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Broken Spirals

Broken Spirals

One of the themes for this week's challenge on Delightful Aberrations was flawed.
Did you know, when you image search that word for inspiration, you get lots of graphics with cheesy quotes on?

Anyway, here's my image for the week. I used a couple of the shells that I picked up when I went beachcombing.

I played around with some other ideas too, though this is the one that turned out best.

Pictures from past weeks are on my photography tag!

Monday, 9 May 2016

A Painted Skull

My birthday was just over a week ago, and sister #1 had planned...Activities.

I didn't know what those activities were until she turned up on my birthday and told me we were going to paint pottery!
...which looks so unexciting in writing, but when your options include skulls and wall-mounted shark heads, that's...well, exciting, isn't it!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Happy and Shouty and Bonus!

When it comes to this challenge, I would usually go to YouTube and sit down for a while with the sole intention of listening to music by two of the new-to-me artists from my list (or any others that attract my attention in YouTube's recommendations)

This week, I ended up listening to new music completely unintentionally, thanks to two different friends who sent me links during chat saying 'listen to this!'

The two this week are both from Asia, but vastly different!

I heard this Japanese rock band thanks to my friend Sparrow. Thanks Sparrow!
Their music is kind of typical to the genre, with some screaming/shouting mixed in with the singing, and some synth(?) on some of the vocals too. To some this might sound like hell, but it works really well! The vocalist has a great voice that reminds me a little of another Japanese vocalist that I like, and the electronic effects on the vocals give the band a more unique sound--I haven't heard any others from this specific country/genre who use effects and shouting on their tracks.
I could ramble more because I'm a nerd for this genre, but I'll stop here.
No official site this time because they've disbanded. Boo.

Akdong Musician (AKMU)
So K-pop (Korean pop) is a genre I pretty much never listen to. But my friend Sazz linked me to this video and said the song was catchy and she wanted the girl's skirt. So I got curious!
This genre really isn't my thing, but the song is catchy. (And that is a nice skirt.) The video is really fun and entertaining, which goes for some of the other AKMU music videos I watched. These siblings have great voices, and the music is also good.
Whilst I can appreciate the talent in this act, they're still not my cup of tea. But I didn't hate them, either--if you like happy pop music, check them out!
AKMU Official Website (note: this site is slow)

And now, a BONUS BAND because they popped up on my Twitter feed right after I wrote this post:

This is a shiny new Japanese rock band. So shiny and new that they haven't even played their first gig yet!*
The song in the video above is called 'akai ito', or 'red string of fate'. It's probably obvious from the video, but Japanese folklore says that lovers are joined by a red string of fate, tied at the little finger!
Obviously I can only judge this band on the one song, but whilst it has a pretty typical sound, it's an enjoyable typical sound, with some nice guitar riffs and some memorable lyrics (even if, like me, you can't speak Japanese, you can remember 'ichi ichi ichi, yon ichi ichi'!)
I actually liked this song better on the first listen, and hope to hear more of this band in the future!
Linaria Official Website

(*digging around on the internet gives me the impression that these guys were previously active under a different name.)

...I'm still on this run of liking only half of what I listen to each week, aren't I? I really need to stop with that!

Sunday, 1 May 2016

A Speck on the Landscape

This week, one of the themes for the photography challenge at Delightful Aberrations was lonely.
I had an idea for it so shot a few pictures with the help of my mum (thanks mum!) and look, here I am, posting the end result before the deadline, rather than right on it. Aren't I organised?

Shot on a Nikon D3300 and edited in Photoshop Elements (colour removal, level adjustment).

Here's a bonus picture, because though it doesn't look so 'lonely', I like how it turned out:

The Tangling of Clouds
That's it from me for this week's photography challenge. I had ideas for one of the other themes, and further ideas for the 'lonely' theme, but of course have to work with the props/location/weather(!) that I have!