Tuesday, 30 October 2012

No Rest for the Wicked - Happy Halloween!

*Edit - I've put all three episodes in one place*

Halloween is only a day away so I have a treat for you - my first video for http://zubox.tv featuring the Prince of Darkness, Dracula himself!


Please share it with all your friends, rate it and enjoy!

Monday, 29 October 2012

WOW Japan Photo Contest

Hi guys! No Lucy Spraggan this week as she was ill however I have some interactive fun for you instead.

I would love it if you guys could vote for my photos on the WOW Japan Photo Contest Site.

Here is one to get you curious:

Here is it's link where you can vote for it: https://japanphotocontest.jp/eng/entry/?pid=11677 and if you click on my name you will be able to vote for my other photos.

Please also share with your friends and let me know if you enter too!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Friday Feature - Matt & Kim

This week's Friday Feature are Matt & Kim, an indie dance duo from New York, United States. Matt is vocals and keyboards and Kim is drums. Combined they are unashamedly rough and noisy...but it's an upbeat, energising, free spirited noise. Their rhythm led sound may be a little too aggressive for some but if you don't mind a beat for your buck then you'll find many of their songs such as Daylight, Gold Ol' Fashioned Nightmare and Cameras incredibly catchy (and if you listen hard enough you'll hear the lyrics are pretty deep too). 

Where will I have heard them before?

Matt & Kim first became popular touring however now their music's all over the place! Lessons Learned won the Breakthrough Video award at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, AF/FM Sound features on the TV show ChuckCameras appears on the soundtrack for Morgan Spurlock's 2011 film The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and Let's Go appeared on the comedy website Funny or Die however their best known song is Daylight. Daylight has appeared in various commercials; in the TV shows Community (which also featured Good Ol' Fashioned Nightmare), Entourage and Skins; and in the video games NBA Live 10, Need for Speed Nitro, The Sims 3: World Adventures (in Simlish) and FIFA 10 (a remixed version featuring De La Soul).

Featured Song: Cameras

Where can I hear more?

Sorry - no free songs but four fab albums for you to explore: Matt & Kim, Grand, Sidewalks and Lightning (just released this month).

What is their website?

They have an official website however it crashed my laptop twice so here's their wikipedia page and you can take you computer's life in your own hands!

Next week: We're going back to the 1960s to explore the original Garage Girl Group Sound!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Lucy Spraggan - X Factor Week Three

I'm not a David Guetta fan but I LOVE Lucy's interpretation of Titanium.

I'm loving how Lucy is keeping true to herself on a talent show that so easily can turn you into processed pop. Keep it up girl! 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Friday Feature - Kids on the Slope

This week's Friday Feature is a little different: the anime Kids on the Slope / 坂道のアポロン / Sakamichi no Aporon. Kids on the Slope is the coming of age story of Kaoru set in a small Japanese town in the summer of 1966. Kaoru is constantly moving from town to town thanks to the nature of his father's job. It has meant he has few friends and has become very introverted. Kaoru expects to be just as miserable and lonely in this new town however Sen, the school's bad boy, takes a shine to him and has decided whether Kaoru (or 'Richie' as Sen likes to call him) likes it or not that they are not only going to be friends but jazz partners. Sen originally seems a total blockhead however the more Kaoru gets to know him the more he sees he is a complex, passionate, protective friend. Through his relationship with Sen, female friend Ritsuko and other visitors to Ritsuko's grandfather's record shop, Kaoru learns the power of friendship, the pain of love and music's ability to bring even the most unlikely of people together.

Kids on the Slope has three good things going for it:
1) As you can see the animation is film quality and truly a feast for the eyes,
2) The story and characters are deep and involving,
3) If you have even the most basic interest in jazz you will love the soundtrack. Each episode features at least one performance of a classic jazz standard and to get the animation of the performances as realistic as possible these scenes are rotoscoped from performances by real jazz musicians. The cherry on the musical cake is that the original score (also jazz) is composed by Yoko Kanno, of Cowboy Bebop fame.

What jazz standards are featured?

Lullaby of Birdland
But Not for Me
Easy Waltz
Bag's Groove
Blowin' the Blues Away
Satin Doll
Someday My Prince Will Come
My Favourite Things

Featured Song: Kaoru & Sentaro Duo in BUNKASAI (Medley "My Favourite Things - Someday My Prince Will Come - Moanin'")

Where can I hear more?

There is a CD but it is a Japanese import.

Where can I watch it?

 English subtitled version: http://www.crunchyroll.com/kids-on-the-slope

An English dubbed version has been optioned so will probably be available in 2013.

Next week: Back to music with Matt & Kim

Monday, 15 October 2012

Lucy Spraggan - X Factor Week Two v The Automatic

Lucy sings Gold Digger by Kanye West (I love her shirt)

 Which reminds me of The Automatic's cover of Gold Digger...which is utterly mad and utterly fun!

Which is your favourite?

Friday, 12 October 2012

Friday Feature - Eisley

This week's Friday Feature are Eisley, an indie pop band from Texas, United States. Though being named after Mos Eisley from Star Wars there is nothing retro about Eisley instead really tight, lilting vocal harmonies courtesy of sisters Chauntelle, Sherri and Stacy and extremely polished instrumentals. Their songs range from playful to incredibly passionate (once again thanks to the quality of their vocals and also a heavy use of stringed instruments) but all with a magical quality due to a strong use of lyrical imagery - an Eisley love song isn't just a love song, it's a love song with magical forests and paper moons.

Where will I have heard them before?

These guys are actually really popular in the USA already however if you're not certain where you may have heard them it was probably at festival - for instance I discovered them on Spin's 2011 Bamboozle mixtape - or a tour, either one of their own or supporting some artists you will definitely know such as Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Brand New, Snow Patrol, New Found Glory, Hot Hot Heat, Switchfoot, Taking Back Sunday, The Fray, Bleach and Mutemath.

Conversely you may have caught music by Sherri's side project Perma or Stacy's side project Sucre.

Featured Song: Smarter

Where can I hear more?

Sorry - no free songs at the moment however there are three albums for you to enjoy (plus a fourth on the way). If I had to recommend just one for you to start with it would be The Valley - it really is a joy and a journey you won't forget.

What is their website?


Next week: Kids on the Slope / 坂道のアポロン / Sakamichi no Aporon

Bonus fact: Rose Dupree from The Automated Heart is named after Eisley's sisters due to the influence Eisley had on Rose's emotional journey and the magical aspects of the script. Igor Landers is named after Paul from Rammstein to reflect the influence Rammstein had on the horror side as well as Nancy and Dr Sandhill's characters.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Velma Dinkley: lesbian or just too classy for you? | Glasses

I was writing about Nancy from The Automated Heart yesterday and thought I'd slip in a Velma from Scooby Doo reference. I went onto Velma's wikipedia page and saw that the section about her debated sexuality is bigger than her character description and background combined!

Basically, because Velma's not conventionally beautiful (like Daphne), is intelligent (unlike Daphne) and doesn't need constant rescuing and reassurance from a man (like Daphne)...she must be a lesbian...according to some other men. God forbid she just be shy or might actually have enough self respect to not want to put herself around or act like a bimbo for the sake of fulfilling not only a gender but also a sexuality stereotype. Another part of their argument is the fact that she is not overtly heterosexual in the cartoons, which is a completely spurious argument as Scooby Doo is aimed at children and nobody is overtly sexual in it. It would mean Daphne is also a lesbian...which could never be...she's far too pretty...

I have no idea if Velma is gay and I don't care either way but what I do care about is why it matters so much to certain people that she has to be labelled at all. Why is it so unimaginable that an attractive woman might be gay? Why must a more masculine / reserved / independent woman be hiding a sapphic secret? It makes me think of the scene from But I'm a Cheerleader where Jan realises she actually is straight and no one believes her because she's the butchest one there. It is like, because a woman makes herself unobtainable to a certain type of man, he must instantly make her unobtainable to all men so as to help his own insecurities (though please note I am only referring to a certain type of man). In the end it just becomes offencive to both straight and gay women by a) suggesting being smart is less desirable than being stupid and more conventionally attractive, and b) by suggesting than because of this she must be a lesbian.

The one thing that is for certain is that however you see Velma (lesbian, geek, introvert, know-it-all) she's still damn cool and the Scooby Gang would be a bunch of goners without her...and if I'm being honest...I think glasses and knee socks are way cute.

In fact here are some other famous real and fictional female glasses wearers to try and change your perception:

Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire

Anne Hathaway

Enid from Ghost World
Dr Harleen Quinzel aka Harley Quinn
Daria Morgendorrfer
Hell there are loads...take a look.
And I guess because it's only fair seeing as I'm talking about girls in glasses...here I am in my new glasses, also proud to be a specky four eyes:

Maybe another time I'll do a post about men in glasses. I think they're super cool (sexy) too! Though just in case I forget...here is one of my all time fave glasses wearers (I'm sure you can't guess who...)

Yeah...any excuse...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Beauty According to Popi Atom

Once again I can't reblog from tumblr so I've copied and pasted with a link to Popi's original post. Warning! This comment does contain original thought!

"I have long felt uncomfortable with the generally accepted idea of beauty. The pressure over women to conform various specifications is overwhelming. There is some made up worth to beauty, some unspoken currency that as women we are expected to trade in. Our capability to be attractive, we’re told; will dictate our opportunities, our happiness, and even our worth. I enjoy trying to distance myself from those specifications, visually I enjoy being, for lack of a better word “unattractive” at least in the conventional sense. One thing that really fucking irritates me is when people suggest I alter my image in this way because I'm “insecure” or I'm not confident enough to show my natural beauty. I can assure you I am wholly secure, secure in my belief that personal beauty is subjective and societal beauty is poisonous."

Popi Atom's tumblr

And just in case you're wondering what she looks like? She's perdy to me:

Monday, 8 October 2012

Lucy Spraggan - X Factor Week One

Who would have thought that one of my first Friday Features would be an X Factor finalist? I should become a music producer! To celebrate Lucy's success I will be charting her progression through the show especially for those of you who enjoyed Lucy's Feature Friday  but can't bear anything else about the X Factor.

So here is Lucy on week one's show performing her original composition: Mountains

Saturday, 6 October 2012

October Writing Update

Hi blog readers! I've had some good news so I thought I'd share it with you:

1) My feature script The Automated Heart (here are some concept sketches) is a quarter finalist in the Screenwriting Goldmine competition.

2) Rail, the NFTS animation I wrote for Jack Tilley won the Audience Choice Award at the 2012 Canterbury Anifest. Thank you if you were there and voted for it!

3) I have written three Halloween virals for the new animated youtube channel zubox.tv so keep an eye out for them in the coming weeks! I'll probably bombard you with them anyway though XD

Lets cross our fingers that October will continue to have many good surprises in it for me and also for you!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Feature Friday - The Submarines

This week's Friday Feature are The Submarines, an indie band from California, United States. The Submarines combine plinky-plonky indie instrumentals, gently distorted guitars, playful and slightly husky harmonies via female vocalist Blake Hazard (best name ever) and a hint of dreamy electronics that never sound over worked. Each of their albums tell not only the story of The Submarines' evolution as a band but of Blake and John's relationship. Declare a New State! is their rough but fun first album, the more mature Honeysuckle Weeks expresses their pain about the disintegration of their relationship and Love Notes/Letter Bombs is a celebration of their reunification.

Where will I have heard them before?

Versions of their songs have appeared in many adverts and television series. 'Xavia' appears in Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, 'Brighter Discontent' was featured in the season 4 finale of Nip/Tuck, 'Brightest Hour' and 'Plans' appear in Grey's Anatomy, 'Wake Up Song' appears in Gossip Girl and Microphone appears in the Miley Cyrus film LOL. They have also recorded a cover of  'Little Boxes' for the second season of Weeds.

Featured Song: Shoelaces (possibly my favourite love song ever)

Where can I hear more?

Sorry - no free songs at the moment however they do release free songs to promote new albums and do appear on samplers. Luckily they do have three albums for you to enjoy. I recommend Love Notes/Letter Bombs to try first as it is their most accessible album.

What is their website?


Next week: Eisley
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