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.