Friday, 31 October 2014

I Am The Pumpkin Queen | Part Two

I love these photos so much, they're sooo autumnal! I carved four of the pumpkins you can see above, can you spot them? There's Jack Skellington, a sugar skull inspired one, a scared looking one, and the classic pumpkin face. (Not too sure what that third photo is even of, but I really like it.)

We lit them up just as the sun was going down and it was really beautiful, and really hard to capture on camera! 

Those first two are mine and the bottom one is another example of how your pumpkin does not have to have a face. This cross one carved by my mum's friend is fantastic!

Ok, so then, classic me, I went a bit wild and started twirling around with my camera to get some photos like these. It's the little things. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

I Am The Pumpkin Queen | Part One

This week we're having a little Halloween party in our Community Garden (you can read a bit more about it here), and so it felt only right that we get people together to carve lots of pumpkins ready for the event on Saturday. I'm not going to tell you how to carve a pumpkin because a) I'm sure you already know, and b) there are people out there who can do it much better than I can. What I am going to show you is how I carved mine, and some of the different designs we came up with. Look out for Part 2 tomorrow when you'll be able to see the pumpkins all lit up!

We followed the usual steps; cut the top off the pumpkin, scoop out the innards (and save them to make pumpkin soup!) and carve your design. Below is my attempt at Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas, he looks better lit up. 

Here are some more of our designs, altogether we made about 12. As you can see, you don't have to carve a face on your pumpkin, abstract designs like this spotty one on the bottom left work just as well!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

October Jams

2014 has been pretty slow so far music-wise, so I was pretty surprised to find three albums I'd been waiting for ready to download in October. These came in the form of Ben Howard's 'I Forget Where We Were', Jessie Ware's 'Tough Love' and Taylor Swift's '1989'. (A quick aside: I don't like Taylor Swift, but, as I'm sure you'll have realised by now, I have quite strong opinions and like arguing. I therefore feel like I have to at least listen to her music to be able to intelligently argue my hatred. Cool, glad we cleared that up.)

I Forget Where We Were | Ben Howard

Ben's first album 'Every Kingdom' was incredible, so I had very high hopes for album number two. It's unfortunate then that I have to say that it didn't live up to my expectations. I think Every Kingdom was a lot more accessible, every song sounded like a single, whereas for this album it just feels like Ben is making the music he wants to make, with no thought of success or anything. This is great, obviously, but I'm selfish and would've liked another 'Only Love' at least. With all that said though, it is still a very good album, and I could listen to Ben's voice forever. 

Listen To:
  1. Rivers In Your Mouth

Tough Love | Jessie Ware

You can tell it's a great album when you struggle to choose the top three songs. The only bad thing I can say about this album is that the lyrics are very simple; they are quite predictable, and rarely include a word that's over two syllables. However, I don't know if I'd have picked up on this had I not been listening to Girls by The 1975 on repeat for the past 6 months. This is a really great album, better than her last, and can see myself listening to this a lot over the next few months. 

Listen To:
  1. Champagne Kisses
  2. Kind of ... Sometimes ... Maybe
  3. Say You Love Me (can you recognise the voice leading the choir?)
1989 | Taylor Swift 

Ok, so I'll admit that my hatred of Taylor Swift is pretty unfounded, she just really gets on my nerves and I want to punch her in the face. I've downloaded each of her albums over the years, and do tend to like about three or four songs on each, a tradition that's continued with this album. However, I think that there are more bad songs on this album that on her previous ones, and it does feel like she's trying too hard to be original and it's not really working. 

Listen To:
  1. Style
Skip: (the rest of the album, but especially these two)
  1. Welcome To New York
  2. Bad Blood

Monday, 27 October 2014

A Trip to Paper Gallery

Last week I went to visit some friends in Bristol, and while I was waiting for them I stumbled upon this incredible gallery in Broadmead.
There were some really fantastic artworks that have inspired me to get back into doing and making.

I wanted to buy everything, but a) I have no money, and b) I have no space to hang any art. However, I did buy a little card, that one with the insects on at the top, because the exhibition was free and they definitely deserved my £3.

If you notice a difference from my usual picture quality it's because these are taken on my point and shoot, I was too lazy to take my DSLR to Bristol.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Music Videos Don't Have To Be Offensive!

Over the past decade (or more!) there seems to have be a trend towards music videos having to include half naked black women shaking their asses. I for one am not OK with this! Even if you don't acknowledge the blatant racism and sexism, you've at least got to admit that it's getting boring, right? I don't want to get into a whole debate about this (I'll save that for another post), but I just want to share some videos made by people I think are doing it right. Music Videos, in my opinion, are an art form, but as chart music is getting more and more generic, so are the videos. Did Michael Jackson teach us nothing? 

The following artists show how videos can be great, without the need for objectification (but if you need a bit of objectification to satisfy you, stick to this). These videos make you feel something (other than anger), whether it's awe or confusion, jealousy or sadness, these are videos you participate in, you don't just watch them passively. These are 5 minute short films that can be watched over and over again. 

3005 | Childish Gambino

This video utilises a technique that you can pretty much only do in music videos (and I guess short films) - it is filmed in one single shot! That means this video must've taken a while to rehearse, but more importantly, it makes it quite disorientating. What I like about this video is that it makes you think. It's interesting! Every time you watch it you pick up something new. It's also very beautiful (the lights, not Donald Glover's face, but that's not too bad either). Bino's other videos Sweatpants and Telegraph Ave are also excellent examples of what can be done with Music Videos. 

Hideaway | Kiesza

This is another example of a one-shot video, but gives a very different effect to that seen in 3005. In this video the camera is moving about 75% of the time, and is still the rest; the opposite is true of 3005. This video is all about movement, and has me in awe every time I see it. I hate to think how many 'dress rehearsals' there were for video.

Won't Look Back | Duke Dumont

This video does something totally different, it's funny! I'm not sure what else to say about this video, but that scene where the guys are pogo sticking along a busy street with their masks on in slow motion is gold. To me that is art. I'm also a sucker for slo-mo.

Marry The Night | Lady Gaga

I wanted to include Marry The Night, because the first time I saw this video I cried. Granted, I'm an emotional wreck, something you know already, but I couldn't get over how perfect this was. This is the kind of video I'd like to make. Now, I definitely prefer the video after about the eight minute mark, i.e when the song begins, but everything before that is still pretty great. It's like a look into the wild, genius mind of Gaga. Plus, you need those first minutes to set up the rest. I like how every set up is perfectly styled and executed; it's epic. I also wanted to include this particular Gaga video to show that female nakedness doesn't have to be sexualised or objectified, something people seem to forget all too often. 

Don't | Ed Sheeran

This video, like Hideaway, is all about movement and dance, something that goes hand in hand with music. However, it manages to do it in a completely non-sexualised way. See, it IS possible! 

OK, I couldn't go through this whole post without calling out some of the worst offenders:
  • Taylor Swift 'Shake It Off', not only does she have these twerking black women has her back up dancers, she has the cheek to laugh at them and shrug their performances off as 'WTF'
  • Wiggle by Jason Derulo - urgh
  • Lily Allen 'Hard Out Here' - I don't even have words, she's just the worst. Again, urgh.
Writing this list is making me too angry, I'm going to have to finish here. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Best Ever Lady Gaga Playlist

My name is Dolly and I love Lady Gaga. 

She's incredible. Not just her music, but her message and her attitude too. Recently her popularity seems to have dwindled, and I'm not sure why. It's not because her music is any worse, ARTPOP is a great follow up album to Born This Way, with just the right amount of sameness and evolution. I guess it could in part be due a lack of promo, and quite a long time between the release of BTW and ARTPOP, BUT personally I think it's a psychological thing. When Lady Gaga came onto the scene she changed everything. Her rise to icon status was spectacularly fast, and led some people to ponder whether her descent would be just as fast. I think now that the majority of music in the charts is by one hit wonders, people expect artists to burn bright and then fizzle out pretty quickly. I also believe sometimes it is the novelty of a track or an artist that can make them successful, hence why so many artists don't get the opportunity to make a 2nd/3rd/4th album. Anyway, incoherent rant over, lets get to the music!

Gaga attempts so many genres, and masters every single one of them. She can make banging electro-pop anthems, tear-inducing piano ballads, and big uplifting love songs. These songs showcase all the sides of Gaga, and if you've not given her a chance before reading this, I bet you will now.

Note: the reason I'm writing this is because I'm seeing Gaga live this week and I'm so so so excited I can't stop thinking about it!!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Five Spooky Films to Watch This Halloween

Halloween is awesome, but enjoying Halloween doesn't mean you don't get a bit scared every now and again (or everyday if you're me). I love this time of year, but I prefer the spookiness over the scariness. While some people want to watch the gore-porn fest that is the Saw series, I prefer to watch old school classics that have just a hint of eeriness. Here I'm going to countdown my Top 5 non-scary films to watch this Halloween. 

Hocus Pocus

This film is a Halloween children's classic, and served as the breakout for some massive names including the one and only Thora Birch! 

Best Scene: Bette Midler singing I Put A Spell On You


This is my favourite film, hands down. I first saw it when I was about seven, and it awakened the creative in me. It was also my introduction to the genius of Tim Burton and Danny Elfman. 

Best Scene: That opening shot will never get old 


This film is a roller coaster of emotions all wrapped up in a bundle of laughs. Got this hooked up to play as soon as I hit publish!

Best Scene: Christina Ricci in that chair contraption

The Witches

This film is scary. At least to me. When The Witches take off their masks for the first time ... aaah! However, that doesn't take away from the amazing plot and the even more amazing Angelica Huston.

Best Scene: The first time all the witches take off their wigs and reveal their true selves

The Addams Family

Every single character in this film is a triumph; from Wednesday to Gomez, and Morticia to Uncle Fester, they all have something unique, and macabre, to add. It's also stupidly funny!

Best Scene: (Not a scene but) The way Morticia is lit

Friday, 17 October 2014

Dolly On ... Jessie J

I first heard about Jessie J when I was in Sixth Form, waaaaay back in 2011. A friend showed me this video of Price Tag live on Jools Holland and I couldn't believe how good Jessie's voice was and how much control she had.

We all became pretty obsessed, spending our free periods watching videos like the one below. I actually started a Jessie J blog on Tumblr with a friend, and although we don't really post on it anymore, it's still going strong!

Soon after this Jessie's first album Who You Are was released, and I loved it! For at least a month it was all I listened to. My favourite tracks are probably L.O.V.E, Stand Up and Who You Are, but I absolutely love the live version of Nobody's Perfect that Jessie's been doing on tour recently. With my blog and the album, 2011 was the year of Jessie J for me. I'm pretty sure I've seen every picture and every video of Jessie that was published in 2011/2012. 

I finally got to see her live in 2012 when I won tickets to her Vitamin Water gig at the Roundhouse. To nobody's surprise, Jessie's set was incredible! And, not to blow my own trumpet, I got some really great photos and videos of Jessie that night (see above and below).

Jessie then went on to do quite a bit of touring, she shaved her head, and announced a second album! I was beyond excited. It may be a surprise to hear then, that upon the release of Alive, I was more than disappointed. The album is generic and doesn't show off Jessie's incredible voice at all! Out of 13 tracks, there's only 3 that are anywhere near good (Daydreamin', Excuse My Rude and Conquer The World). I'll admit I probably do hold Jessie to a higher standard than some other artists, just because she has the best voice out there at the moment, but still, anyone could have made this album and it would've been shit. 

So, on to Sweet Talker. The album came out on Monday, and this post was meant to go up on Wednesday, but I've been out of action with an ear infection (ouch), so it's taken me a bit longer to get it all together. I hoped that Alive was just a misstep, and that this album would put Jessie right back on top where she belongs, but unfortunately it was not. This album, although not quite as bad as Alive, is still incredibly boring and doesn't define Jessie as the megastar she could (and should!) be. 

The tracks on this album are all over the place. Not only in their sound, but also their composition. Verses and choruses don't go together, making the songs feel very disjointed. For example, songs like Masterpiece have great, unique verses and pre-choruses, but then go into big generic poppy choruses. Burnin' Up is similar, with unconventional verses leading into characterless, sweeping pre-choruses. Aint Been Done and Said Too Much feel like they've been spliced together from scraps of other songs. It feels like Jessie wants to be original, but chickens out at the last moment.

The other tracks on the album are split between dull, wanting-to-be epic songs, and songs that actually aren't that bad, but are swallowed up and hidden by the rest of the album. In the first category we have songs like Fire, Get Away, Loud and Bang Bang. Fire is quite similar to some of the tracks on Alive, it wants to be an anthem, but it only just gets there in the last third. Get Away is unmemorable, like Loud, which feels like no work went into it at all. Bang Bang is a difficult one, I don't really like it, because I don't have a clue what it's about. But, obviously a lot of people do like it, it's been number one all over the world! Let's put it this way, this song wouldn't have even seen the top 200 if Ariana wasn't on it. 

On to something positive, the few good songs on this album. Sweet Talker, Keep Us Together and Your Loss, I'm Found are all sweet tracks that show off Jessie's voice. They actually feel like complete songs; verses merge into choruses, and they seem to 'know' what they are. Personal is another of these songs, and the first track on the album that I have actually been able to listen to on repeat.

Seal Me With A Kiss is my favourite song on the album, it's a modern twist on 80s soul classics, and really shows off Jessie's voice, and reminds me of previous album tracks Casualty Of Love and Daydreamin'. Jessie does this genre so well I don't why she limits it to one track per album! Now on to the best track on the album - STRIP! I don't understand why this is only on deluxe version! This could be the next Domino success-wise. 

All in all, I wish I hadn't paid £10.99 for this, and had just downloaded it illegally. When you listen to albums that define the medium, like Paramore, 4 and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, hearing something so unformed and obviously quickly put together stands out. Jessie still doesn't seem to have found her sound, and the eclectic mix of styles on this album just seems messy. The production on Jessie's music doesn't do anything for her voice. I think she should release a live album, of her best tracks, just to show people that she can actually sing. Something her albums don't show.

To read the rest of the Dolly On ... series, click here!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Five Episodes Of The Mindy Project You HAVE To Watch!

Notice I didn't put favourite in the title? Or Top Five? Well that's because every episode is my favourite (except for maybe two), and I could no WAY have decided on just five. Instead, I'm going for the episodes that I've seen the most times and are still hilarious (this is still pretty much all of them), and that I think will get new viewers addicted, as this seems to be my new life goal.

Wiener Night

Oh God I love this episode so much. Just thinking about the title of this episode makes me laugh. Out loud. In public. I've watched this episode more than any other because it's just absolutely hilarious! I think this is the episode that you'll get the most drunk from if you play my drinking game, mostly because of the amount of times the words 'Wiener Night' are said. I also love the trio of Brendan, Jeremy and Jason, and that particular scene where they're following Mindy. I guess the amount of topless Danny doesn't hurt either. 

Danny Castellano Is My Personal Trainer

Look at that still. Do you need any more reasons to watch this episode? No, but here are a few anyway. If you're a fan of Mindy and Danny together, this episode feels like a turning point for them, in a good way. If you're a fan of owls, then you're also in luck with this episode. Likewise if you're a fan of Morgan being cute with owls.

Danny Castellano Is My Gynaecologist 

I can't believe this is only the fifth episode ever. The characters are already so well fleshed out and acted. This episode heavily revolves around Mindy and Danny's relationship, with some awkward but priceless results. I don't understand how Mindy's delivery of just two words (any guesses?) can send me into fits of laughter. This episode is a great one to watch first, as you wont have missed much backstory.

You Got Sext

Both the A and B stories in the episode are gold, and blend seamlessly together. I think this episode does a great job of establishing Peter and Morgan as a troublemaking duo. Just look at that screen cap! There's also some great Mindy and Danny stuff in this episode, which by this point I think you can tell I like, as well as the reappearance of a certain Chloe Silverado.

Mindy's Minute

Again, if this still doesn't sell the episode, or the entire show, then I'm not sure we can be friends. If I had to choose a favourite season, it would definitely be Season Two, because I feel that's when the show truly came into its own, but that's not to say that there aren't some fantastic episodes in Season One. Namely this one and DC is my Gynaecologist. Danny gets himself into the most awkward of situations in this episode, and it's impossible to watch it without crying with laughter. 

Note: Last night's episode The Devil Wears Lands' End was hilarious. I laughed out loud a LOT! Maybe it could be on a Top 10 list in future?