Friday, 12 January 2018

On the 12th day of Christmas...

...this blogger gave to thee ...
... twelve drummers drumming...
... eleven stranger things...
... ten dystopian outlooks...
… nine resin paintings…
… eight endings too soon…
… seven shoes to choose from…
… six party dresses…
… five gold rings…
… four living hinges…
… three books for reading…
… two felted tooties…
… and a day Binging with Babish.

Twelve drummers drumming, our traditional finale to the twelve days of Christmas, and as always, the first post I start researching as of January first… that said, there are some years I listen to tonnes of music, where there seem to be album after album of music I enjoy and listen to over, and over again. Then, there are some years, like 2017, where there have only been one or two songs that have grabbed my attention fully, I’m not sure I can even pin point an album, that didn’t come out a year or more ago, that I’ve really loved completely this year.

Last year, for example, was a really album heavy year with Bon Iver being the album I obsessively listened too most, and that made finding all the tracks effortless. This year, I’ve mostly listened to the same music as 2016, mixed it with old favourites, because sometimes you just want those familiar sounds which make you a creature of habit.

Anyway, as always, I’ve made both a Spotify playlist and a YouTube playlist for you all, and normally at this point in the post, I would tease David for his lack of Spotify by saying the other list is for his benefit, so that he doesn’t feel excluded. But, I am happy to announce that, David has Spotify at last!

So, the YouTube list is for any other readers who don’t have Spotify, or anyone who likes watching music videos instead of reading the ramblings of why I chose each song...

Low” by Todrick Hall feat. RuPaul

Last year I spoke about my love for RuPauls Drag Race, this is where I was first introduced to Todrick Hall, who appears as one of the guest judges on the show. “Low” is part of Hall’s musical Straight Outta Oz, his take on The Wizard of Oz and this song, I think I’ve played it every single day since I discovered it. If I have an irritating song stuck in my head, I put it on to counteract it; if I’m trying to cheer myself up, I put it on; if I’m playing music, it’s the first song I put on because it awesome, happy and addictive. Plus, the video is exceptional (that split witch dress!) and of course there’s a RuPaul cameo. 

Basically, for me it’s been the, “All About That Base” of 2017.

This song for me, isn’t going anywhere for a while… and I’m not mad about it. Question is, are you a “good witch, or just a bad bitch?”

Otherside” by Perfume Genius

Perfume Genius is one of those artists that I forget about. I never mean too, but it’s always a nice moment when I hear one of his songs and I rediscover his music.

That’s what happened with this song. My playlist ended on Spotify, it slipped into the terrifying land of Playlist Radio, where more often than not you're confronted with music you're not interested in. Fortunately, this is a gem, like someone's turning on a light in your head. Which is why this song reminds me of the end of Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, one of my favourite movies, and specifically the moment in the film where Cillian Murphy is confronted with a wall of light. Brilliant, all engulfing and illuminating explosion of light particles.

This is how I hear this initially softly spoken song, which explodes.

The Future” by San Holo (with James Vincent McMorrow)

No idea who San Holo is, but I am very much appreciative that he has partnered with James Vincent McMorrow, to create this song. Oddly, I managed to listen to an entire albums worth of remixes, without actually noticing it was just the same song over and over again… I may be unobservant, but I’m okay with listening to a good song repeatedly.

Slow Disco” by St. Vincent 

St. Vincent, is another artist I forget how much I like, until her music appears somewhere and I’m once again alerted to her. This time it was her singing this song live on Jimmy Fallon, or another American late-night show I can't seem to find the video for anymore. But anyway, the song reminds me of a film I’ve watched a couple of time, late night on BBC One, when I should be asleep, called Forget Me Not. In it two strangers spend a night wandering the streets of London, and at one point end up in a silent disco. 

There's also a line in the song which is exactly my attitude at a party, "I'm so glad I came, but I can't wait to leave", I've never been good at parties, I'll push myself to go, but I'd always fell out of place, like I'm not meant to be there. I drive, so I don't get to drink and I get anxious and uncomfortable around new people, so tend to be quiet. I wish I was a party person, you all seem like you're having fun. 

Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” by Rufus Wainwright 

I both love and can be a bit snobbish about covers of classic song. There is nothing that sets my teeth on edge musically more than X Factor contestants butchering The Beatles or Leonard Cohen, which I swear is the goal of the show. Ironically however, in respects to Cohen, I actually dislike his version of “Hallelujah” and infinitely prefer the cover by Jeff Buckley. So, despite the terrible warbling pop singers trying their best and doing their worst, I do love covers... just good ones. 

This is a good one. This one actually made me listen to the lyrics of a song I'm really familiar with, but I've always viewed it as upbeat because of the tempo and way Stevie Wonder sings. Rufus Wainwright however, takes the 1970’s classic and imbues it with his own melancholic style, which in my opinion enhances the story of a man returning to his lover, repentant and willing to place himself at their mercy, to get them back.

I found this song in July. I dread to think how many times I’ve now listened to it since them… if only I was still logged into LastFM I could tell you!

You Want To Start A War” by Klergy (feat. Valerie Broussard)

Is this an embarrassing thing to admit? That I have been watching Riverdale? It’s a bit of a hate watch for me, I don’t think I like it, but I like Cole Sprouse as Jughead enough to watch more. Point is, the final episode of season one was concluded with this song over shadowing it and, it got stuck in my head enough to warrant inclusion in this list. 

And on the subject of Riverdale, get rid or Archie (or at least recast him) and I’d enjoy the show far more!

Weirdo” by Vukovi 

If anyone who reads this went to Transmit in Glasgow this year, you may have seen Vukovi, a Scottish band I had no clue about until I was watching some of the BBC’s late-night coverage of the festival. The only song I heard was La Di Da, which I could not get out of my head but seemed to take me days to find because, not only couldn't I remember the name of the band, but I couldn't remember the song name or enough lyrics to search it out. Obviously I did in the end, but I made a meal of it. 

One of the main reasons I like this band, is how much they reminds me of acts like Hole, Auf Du Mer, Evanescence and Paramore, a.k.a. a tonne of bands I listened too in my teens... many... many... many moons ago! Which is nice, bar the now feeling very old part.

Lighthouse” by Patrick Watson 

This is the first of a few older songs, not from 2017, which I've listened too a lot this year. Every time I watch What If? which has been one of my favourite films for the past couple of years, I get obsessed with this song. I hear it, I look it up because I apparently can't keep any music in my head and start playing it over and over.

Plus, I particularly I love how towards the end, it starts to sound like an old western. It’s a random musical twist, but it fits the song and fits the film, which if you haven't watched, I'd recommend along with this song.

She Don’t Use Jelly” by Flaming Lips 

And immediately after the first of the older songs which has made its way into my repeat playlist for 2017, we have a second, and it was only partly because I was using it to torture my little sister. I don’t quite know where it started, we both like the song, we can both listen to it happily and enjoy it, but somewhere along the line last year, I started, I’ll admit, singing the opening lines of the song at her, with the main purpose of irritating her. 

Now, while my performance is… interesting… I think it was one of those situations where we went from, haha, let’s get it stuck in her head again and descended into mwhahah, let’s get this stuck in her head again.

What can I say? I’m her big sister, it’s my job to wind her up, and occasionally it’s not only very easy, but incredibly entertaining for me.
“Golden Slumbers” by Elbow

Okay, I know, this is the music from the big John Lewis Christmas 2017 advert, but, this is genuinely one of my favourite Beatles songs. 

I am a huge Beatles fan, my favourite album is probably Abbey Road and specifically Side B. Anyone not familiar with this album, I say Side B, because one, when I grew up listening to it, it was on cassette, which had a side A and a side B. I know, I know, I’m frigging ancient, but yes, cassette tape was the medium of choice when I was very, very young, but it was religiously and repeatedly played in the car while going on holiday. Reason two, is Side B of Abbey Road is also a 16 minute medley, of seven songs, in various stages of completion and strung together into something wonderful. And there, towards the end, is a lullaby. A beautiful lullaby based on a poem by Thomas Dekker called, “Cradle Song”.

I think Elbow’s Guy Garvey did it justice, he has a unique* voice, I love how he sings with his Manchester accent and that they refrained from embellishing it and making it bigger than it needed to be. There were no hellish, over produced X Factor style cover moments. Just a piano, some strings and his voice, and he will sing a lullaby

… and I swear if the monster at the end of the advert wasn’t there, I’d have been pissed!

Look What You Made Me Do” by Taylor Swift 

So far, I’m not as enamoured of Taylor Swift’s new album as I was of 1989. But, it has been the album in my car for the last few months, so I’m pretty biased towards it. I do like this song, however confusing it is that she’d sampled Right Said Fred’s "I’m Too Sexy", and part of that is down to her video and complete willingness to not only take the mickey out of herself, but to reinvent. Having all her various incarnations feature, and at the end bickering together I find pretty entertaining.

Happiness” by Molly Drake

Another old song, and this may seem like an odd choice, but my little sister introduced me to Molly Drake (mother of singer Nick Drake) at some random point during the year, and I went through a stage of obsessively playing certain tracks of her album. There’s something about this era, style or tone of music that I find really soothing. Maybe it’s because it’s so old fashioned and inoffensive, but there’s just something lovely about it.

Holocene” by Bon Iver

As I've said, I obsessively play certain artists every year.  Ray Lamontagne, John Martyn, Rufus Wainwright and Bon Iver, they’re never not played at some point during the year. 
They’re like old friends, they’re familiar, they’re comforting, and they make me happy, even if I’m low and listening them in a vague form of prophetic fallacy. 

Usually, the artists whose music and voices make me feel like my hearts beating more evenly, my breathing's slower, and I’m happy and calm, are the one that end up in this category. And every year I have a habit of focusing and obsessing over one song. This year it was Holocene, particularly the words “at once I knew, I was not magnificent” because I had it in my head, over, and over, and over again.  

These are the types of artists and songs, that can break my heart, but also, somehow put it back together again. These artists aren't just filler, they're special.

I Want You Back” by HAIM

I really, really, really cannot place why I find this song so familiar. It reminds me of another song, but I can’t work out what, it reminds me of a particular era or a film soundtrack, but it doesn’t matter how many times I listen to this song, I cannot for the life of me work it out. I don’t know what it’s driving me so insane, but I’m just like I like the track or I’d probably start throwing things.

To Love Somebody” by Ray Lamontagne and Damien Rice/The Howl and The Hum

Now there’s a happy coincidence with this choice, because I make a Spotify playlist and a YouTube list, so sometimes I substitute songs when I can't find the one I want to list. In this case, neither song exists, at this point in time, on both platforms, so I can indulge in both. 

Initially, the Ray Lamontagne and Damien Rice cover of this Bee Gees "To Love Somebody", was my much loved and much played track for this year's list. Despite the song being a ten years old live performance, it’s a favourite for good reason, these are two musicians whose voices just work together, making even the Bee Gees palatable. Ray Lamontagne’s voice is one, like Bon Iver, that makes me have all the feels, and this song is a lament to unrequited love, so he is perfect for that. 

The Howl and The Hum’s version however, which came out at the start of the month, and I just stumbled upon ten days before Christmas, is less moving and more sinister, it’s not a lament, it’s obsession. So it's actually really interesting to see who two different artists interpret the same song, and why some covers are great.

Too Good At Goodbyes” by Sam Smith

Sam Smith for me, is one of those hit and miss artists. I think he’s got a really good voice, there are some of his songs I love, but I can’t stand when he gets overly warbly at the higher end of his range. Diva style warbling and trills, done by the right person, at the right point in a song, for the right reason can be amazing. Thrown in willy nilly like the X Factor contestants I’ve been negatively comparing everything too this year, it can be appalling. I think for a while, Smith was a little guilty of this… he can and has done it well, but I’m specifically targeting this at his James Bond Spectre theme, which I think was the point I lost interest in his music. 

Too Good At Goodbye, however, might have swung me back around to looking forward to his new releases, which is a nice.

“All For One and One For Love" by Bryan Adams, Sting and Rod Stewart 

Now for 2017’s final track, and I’m going with a full blown nineties power ballad, as an ode to my little sister. 

She, I would say, has pretty good and reliably eclectic musical taste, she got my dad’s love of finding new and weird music, but she also loves eighties music and musicians like Bryan Adams. So, at some point this year, while we overhauled her bedroom for the first time since she was about ten, I mentioned this song, the theme music to "The Three Musketeers" (1993), and I don’t even remember why it came up, but I was appalled that she didn’t remember it. This is exactly up her alley. So, I found the music video on YouTube, handed her my iPad, and she left the room so she could hear it over the sound of the rest of the family chittering.

She came back with such a happy little face, beaming from ear to ear, which is always a nice site, and after that we kept putting it back on. Over, and over again. And I won’t lie, as much as I want to tease her, I kinda love it too. It’s an unashamed power ballad by three huge musicians, it’s familiar and enjoyable and as we switched between this, Todrick Hall's "Low" and watching the Hillywood Show’s "Supernatural Parody", it made alphabetising her crap much more fun.

So, as I out my little sister for her taste in music, it only feels fair to add it to the end of the list. It’s also nice to end where we started this year, with Oliver Platt**.

And there it is, 2017 is over, Christmas has left us for another year, New Years has whizzed by and 2018 has begun and I have run ridiculously behind uploading these posts.

How is it 2018? It was 2008 five minutes ago, I swear!

Anyway, one last time, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and the New Year has been treating you well, and for me... keep your fingers crossed for me that things start looking up or at least changing. Maybe if it does, I will blog more in 2018 and not only be a twelve days a year blogger.

* Big sister, if you’re reading this, you have no idea how hard I had to try to use unique correctly. I had so many, very unique ways of using it, but I refrained and chose to torture you in the footnotes!
** Oliver Platt started the year, as part of the inspiration for Binging With Babish's choice in name and ends it as Porthos in The Three Musketeers (1993), from which "All For Love" was the title music.

'Til next year... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Link || Todrick Hall | Website | YouTube | Twitter
Link || Perfume Genius | Website | YouTube | Twitter
Link || San Holo | Website | YouTube | Twitter
Link || James Vincent McMorrow | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || St. Vincent | Website | YouTube | Twitter
Link || Rufus Wainwright | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || Klergy with Valerie Broussard | Website YouTube | Twitter 
Link || Patrick Watson | Website | YouTube Topic | Twitter
Link || The Flaming Lips | Website | YouTube | Twitter
Link || Elbow | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || Taylor Swift | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || Molly Drake | WikipediaYouTube Topic
Link || Bon Iver | Website | YouTube | Twitter
Link || HAIM | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || Ray Lamontagne | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || Damien Rice | Website | YouTube  | Twitter
Link || The Howl and The Hum | Facebook | YouTube
Link || Sam Smith | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || Bryan Adams | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter

Listening: Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours) - Rufus Wainwright

On the 11th day of Christmas…

… this blogger gave to thee…
… eleven stranger things…
… ten dystopian outlooks…
… nine resin paintings…
… eight endings too soon…
… seven shoes to choose from…
… six party dresses…
… five gold rings…
… four living hinges…
… three books for reading…
… two felted tooties…
… and a day Binging with Babish.

We’re having a "science fiction double feature" for day eleven. On day ten we had Charlie Brooker’s dystopic sci-fi as our subject matter, and today we’ve got art work and parody galore relating to the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things.

If you haven’t come across Stranger Things yet, I’m deeply impressed since you’re obviously more of a recluse than I am. I’d shake your hand but that would involve interaction with other people...


Anyway, for those of you who haven’t seen or heard about the show yet, Stranger Things is based in 1983, in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. It’s a small enough town that everyone knows everyone else’s business, and the only real secrecy is what goes on in the nearby Hawkins National Laboratory, which says it’s researching for the Energy Department, but may have also opened a portal to an alternate dimension. From which something has gotten out.

This coinciding with the disappearance of Will Byers as he cycles home from a marathon Dungeons and Dragons campaign, can’t be a coincidence. So as Will’s mother, Joyce frantically looks for her son with the help of police Chief Jim Hopper and some Christmas lights, Will’s friends Mike, Lucas and Dustin start their own investigation, helped by a strange girl they found in the woods, named Eleven.

Stranger Things is a full-on homage to the 1980’s, full of pop culture references to the decade that anchor it in that time-period, including one of the queens of late eighties and early nineties cult movies for me, Winona Ryder. Starring in Beetlejuice (1988), Heathers (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Mermaids (1990) and Little Women (1994), these were some of my favourite movies growing up and have remained so, and I swear if you don’t at least well up a little during Little Women, I’m pretty sure you have a little bit of the Upside Down inside you.

Or maybe you’re a Demogorgan, and they didn’t have them in the Upside Down during the eighties and nineties. Maybe that’s why it’s so cranky!

"Eleven" by Taryn Knight (Taryn Draws)
 My little sister has this illustration, and when I saw it, I honestly wanted to steal it. I like how different her style and design is, especially compared to a lot of the other Stranger Things art there is around. There’s no hint of the Upside Down, no Demogorgan, no other kids, it’s just Eleven creepily wandering around the woods eating Eggos. 

"Mr. Mom" Lutfi Herdiansyah (Lysergi44)
When you watch Stranger Things something wonderful happens, they introduced the character of Steve Harrington, played by Joe Keery, and initially you’re not a fan, but actually, if I had to give a list of my favourite characters, his would be in the top three (Dustin, Chief Hopper and Steve). They made me very quickly and completely change my opinion on Steve, especially in relation to the kids and how he always ends up being their reluctant babysitter. This is more prevalent in season two, but the Mr. Mom persona is one he takes on well and this movie poster by Lutfi Herdiansyah (Lysergi44), looks exactly like the video covers I remember as a kid. Plus look at Dustin’s little face with Dart, adorable!

"Stranger Things Parody" by Hillywood Show

I couldn't post a series of Stranger Things homages without including the Hillywood Show's parody which came out this past October. The parody stars Hilly and Hannah Hindi, the creators of the Hillywood as Mike and Eleven, Phil LaMarr as Lucas, who you may be more familiar with as Hermes from Futurama, and Richard Speight Jr. as Dustin and Kim Rhodes as Joyce Byers, who both starred in Supernatural (as Gabriel and Sherriff Jody Mills), and it has the most irritatingly catchy parody version of “Super Freak” which I had stuck in my head for weeks! This is my favourite of the Hillywood parodies, both performance wise and musically, since their Supernatural edition. And hats off to the Hindi sisters for getting Mike and Eleven so spot on, and making this such a fun production. Here’s hoping for part two!

"Stranger Things Television Art Watercolor" by Penelope Love Prints

There are a lot of Stranger Things poster art with this kind of layout. A page split between Hawkins and the Upside Down with the kids and the Demogorgan respectively. But what I like about Penelope Love Prints poster, is the simplicity of it, with just black and white silhouettes and the dark but still colourful blue green colour scheme she’s chosen for the image, it's effectively making it menacing without using a tonne of detail. Plus, I’m a sucker for this kind of colour scheme. 

"Barb" by Thomas Humeau

Justice for Barb! Poor Barb, sitting all alone at the edge of the pool not knowing what’s about to happen, and as you can imagine from what’s under the waters surface, nothing good. Again, this is a poster that exploits the split between dimensions, but instead of simply making one dark and one light, Thomas Humeau has highlighted the fact that the Upside Down is a dystopic nightmare version of the town of Hawkins, mirroring the architecture in a state of complete decay.

Plus there's something really nice and particularly 1980's about the muted blue and pink colour palette, which now I think about it may also link to the outfit Barb wears during this scene... 

"Stranger Things Parody" by Sesame Street 

I have a long-standing love for The Muppets, and when I was a kid, I loved Sesame Street too, which they still showed in the UK, on Channel 4, back in the nineties. There’s just something about Muppets, they taught us about numbers, letters and rubber duckies and you always had your favourites, mine being Snuffy, Big Bird and the Cookie Monster… or the Cookiegorgon, as he’s known in the Stranger Things Parody, having eaten everything from the Snackside Down and is now laying waste to every Halloween snack in Hawkins.

See, everything’s better with Muppets!

"Stranger Things" by Ryan Ottley

This is a preparatory sketch by Ryan Ottley of The Demogorgan and Eleven, and while he’s subsequently finished his full piece of fan art, Ilike the sketch he did at his local draw night (I assume this is a drawing night, which is kinda cool), mostly because you can still see some of the sketching. However, what I really like about this image, is the similarity in the stand off poses between the characters. The fact that Elevens limbs are elongated to almost mirror the Demogorgan is a nice way to show the connection between them.

The Babysitter | Netflix Twitter

We’re going back to the idea of Steve being Mr. Mom, the best damn babysitter in Hawkins, but this time the poster design is based on that of the horror comedy movie The Babysitter (2017) in which a boy stays up after his babysitter thinks he’s asleep and discovers she’s not only playing spin the bottle, but part of a demonic cult. Steve Harrington is not part of a demonic cult, he’s just got to look after the kids while there’s a monster running around town.

Now, I can’t find the exact artist who created this poster – if you know it please let me know – the only attribution I can find is to Netflix, which given they distribute The Babysitter as well with the original version of this poster, I feel that they’re probably responsible for it. But, it has been used by various people on Redbubble and Etsy to make prints. So I can’t give you a specific name. Only a cool poster, sorry.

"Stranger Things Uncoated Lithograph with Glow Layer" by Barry Blankenship

Did you ever have glow in the dark stars when you were a kid? Stuck to your ceiling, glowing that weird creamy mint green that only glow in the dark objects have and that were probably the last thing you looked at as you fell asleep?

I did, and actually still do have a few, stuck to my door because as they fell from the ceiling over the years, that’s where they got stuck. But I admit, I still love things that glow in the dark. Which this lithograph by Barry Blankeship, definitely does. Which is just freaking cool, and yes, it absolutely swayed me towards including this.

"Stranger Things" by Glen Brogan

 I don’t know if this is intentional, but the thing that Glen Brogan’s illustration of Stranger Things reminds me of the most, is Walt Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland. Specifically when she’s in Wonderland, in the dark depths of Tulgey Wood where she first meets the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat and the momeraths outgrabe. There’s something about the stylised, almost paper cut looking manner of illustration, which both have, but in the warm/cool colour palette which shows the difference between Hawkins and The Upside Down.  

I think we can all agree, we’d take Wonderland over The Upside Down even with the Queen of Hearts penchant for removing heads!

"Stranger Things in Limbo" Paul Connor (ichigopaul23)

Okay, so, aesthetically I love this piece of digital art by Paul Connor, the colour and the ‘snow’ and creepy trees are all really evocative of the actually shows aesthetic, and I kinda loved the creepy glowing eyes on Eleven, but wasn’t one hundred percent sure why her eyes were glowing. Then looking at the description for the piece, I realised it’s a cross over with a video game I’d never heard of called, Limbo

The game is a 2D platform about a nameless boy, in the woods on the edge of hell, looking for his sister and trying to navigate his way through various dangerous traps and challenges along the way. Having now done a little research into it, it has an absolutely gorgeous aesthetic full of shadowy layers of trees and silhouetted foreground characters, it’s just beautiful and creepy and I may need to go buy and play it now. So I completely understand the glowing eyes and why Connor would want to combine Stranger Things with Limbo, for a really beautiful piece of art. 

And that’s the nice thing. Stranger Things have been one Netflix most popular and critically claimed originals, and you can see it in the sheer volume and variety of artwork it’s fans have created, which other than it being an excellent series which I can’t encourage you to watch more, is the subject of this post. Eleven homages to Stranger Things

… that said. I have excluded one of my favourites, which is the fan theory that Steven Harrington is actually the father of Jean Ralphio from Parks and Recreation

... you may need to be a fan of both to understand that one.

Happy New Year! Part twelve tomorrow... definitely tomorrow! Or today seeing it's twenty past two in the morning...

Link || Stranger Things (2016-) | Netflix IMDb | Wikipedia
Link || Taryn Knight (Taryn Draws) | Tumblr | Etsy | Twitter | Instagram | Society6
Link || Lutfi Herdiansyah (Lysergi44) | Tumblr | DeviantArt | Instagram
Link || Hillywood Show | Website | Youtube | Tumblr | Twitter | Instagram
Link || Penelope Love Prints | Tumblr | Etsy | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube | Redbubble
Link || Thomas Humeau | Tumblr | Instagram | Etsy | Pretty52
Link || Sesame Street Parody | YouTube
Link || Ryan Ottley | Website | Tumblr | DeviantArt | Instagram | Twitter | Big Cartel 
Link || The Babysitter | Netflix Twitter
Link || Barry Blankenship | Website | Geek Native | Dark Ink
Link || Paul Connor (ichigopaul23) | DeviantArt | Tumblr | Twitter | Redbubble

Listening: Stranger Boy (The Weeknd ‘Starboy’ vs. Survive ‘Stranger Things Theme’) - Flipboitamidles

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

On the 10th day of Christmas…

… this blogger gave to thee… 
… ten dystopian outlooks…
… nine resin paintings…
… eight endings too soon…
… seven shoes to choose from…
… six party dresses…
… five gold rings…
… four living hinges…
… three books for reading…
… two felted tooties…
… and a day Binging with Babish.

In a week where the President of the United States of America tweets out, I’m “a very stable genius” it doesn’t feel like we’re far off some sort of dystopian nightmare, if not already in one. You can only hope that the last year was actually an extended recording for an upcoming and completely insane episode of Charlie Brookers, Black Mirror. Otherwise, stock up on canned goods.

So far Mr. Brooker has predicted a Prime Minister interfering with a pig, computers in contact lenses, the all mighty power of social networks, likes and a sense of accomplishment, the link between death and social media as Facebook address life after death and that an erratic, sociopathic, morally bankrupt cartoon character becoming President.

Mr. Brooker, I’m pretty sure you’re a witch, but I like witches and Screen Wipe, and your books and Black Mirror, so carry on!

Black Mirror has managed to capture the not to distant future which for the most part seems not only plausible but probable, which is only marginally scarier than three more years of a “very stable genius”. Fortunately, illustrator and graphic designer is keeping things a little more old school with his nineteen seventies inspired comic book covers for each of the Black Mirror episodes – an ongoing project, which will continue alongside the dystopian dramas new releases.

And, as an added bonus, I’m going to try and describe each episode the covers refer to, in under 280 characters as an ode to social media, technology and idiotic tweets.

“The National Anthem”
(Season 1 | Episode 1 | Charlie Brooker | 2011)

Princess Susannah, has been kidnapped, and there is one demand of her kidnapper. Prime Minister Michael Callow, must have sexual intercourse with a pig. Live on television. Whilst the British public take to social media, judging the PM through plummeting approval ratings.

“The Entire History of You”
(Season 1 | Episode 3 | Jesse Armstrong | 2011)

There’s gossip in the ‘grain’ implanted behind your ear, recording everything you see and hear and easily accessible for playback after playback in your head. So, when Liam’s suspicions are peaked about his wife potential infidelity, what do you do? Rewind, replay and obsess.

“Be Right Back”
(Season 2 | Episode 1 | Charlie Brooker | 2013)

Ash died at the wrong moment. In a new house, just before Martha, his girlfriend, finds out she’s pregnant, but it’s lucky he was a social media addict. It started with a phone call, a program scouring social media to simulate his voice, then a replicate. But it’s not the same.

“White Bear”
(Season 2 | Episode 2 | Charlie Brooker | 2013)

Waking up not knowing who or where she is, then Victoria notices everyone is recording her on their phones, but not willing to talk to or help her. Then masked gun men are pursuing you, everywhere. But it’s Groundhog Day, with no sleep, just punishment and pain for your crimes.

“The Waldo Movement”
(Season 2 | Episode 3 | Charlie Brooker | 2013)

Comedian Jamie controls an erratic, vulgar, morally bankrupt CGI bear named Waldo. The character becomes so popular on late-night TV, he enters a local by-election to piss off the Conservatives. Jamie has morals, Waldo & his producer don’t, so where does that leave his career?

“White Christmas”
(Special | Charlie Brooker | 2014)

Matt and Joe are reluctantly together for Christmas, recalling being blocked by the women they love. Being blocked means you can’t see, hear or talk to that person, you’re just a blur to one another, which doesn’t always sit well, and Matt wants to get the full story from Joe.

(Season 3 | Episode 1| Charlie Brooker, Rashida Jones & Mike Schur | 2016)

Ever wonder what people think of you? No need when every interaction is rated. Lacie, is obsessed with improving her rating & goes out of her way to be nice, cheerful & rate others highly. But trying to improve her rating, via the coattails of an old friend doesn’t go as planned.

(Season 3 | Episode 2| Charlie Brooker | 2016)

Stranded in London after a bank error leaves him without money, Cooper, accepts a job testing implanted augmented reality technology, specifically a horror game. Things start to go wrong as the tech malfunctions, leaving him in trouble in his own head. All for a quick buck.

“San Junipero”
(Season 3 | Episode 4| Charlie Brooker | 2016)

Yorkie & Kelly meet one night in 1987, at a beach resort bar. Yorkie is shy, Kelly outgoing, but they connect immediately & fall in love. But there’s a decision to make, permanently download into the San Junipero community, or switch off permanently. Reality or simulated reality?

“Hated in the Nations”
(Season 3 | Episode 6 | Charlie Brooker | 2016)

DCI Parke & trainee DC Coulson investigate a series of murders linked to social media & an ADI (Autonomous Drone Insect) used to offset colony collapse disorder in bees, found in their latest victim. Now they must protect hacked ADI’s next potential target voted on by hashtag.

The last series of Black Mirror launched on Netflix on the twenty ninth of December, Butcher Billy’s been busy since and brought out the comic covers for six of the most recent episodes in the last few days. So, since I haven’t watched them yet and they wouldn’t have existed online when I was meant to finish writing this post, I’m excluding them. Because let’s face it, had I not still been writing this today, I wouldn’t have known about them yet. So go check them out for yourselves and we’ll pretend I’m not rubbish.

As for those which do exist, if these Butcher Billy covers were ever turned into fully fledged comic book versions of the Black Mirror stories, I would snap them up. The only comics/graphic novels I own are The Walking Dead: Volume 1 – Days Gone Bye. I do plan on getting more from that series, but generally I’m not going to become a collector unless a particular series or imagery really appeals. So, again, if these appear I’m buying them, but for now I’ll probably have to look forward to Brooker’s novelisation coming out in February.

Now if only Brooker had put out a 2017 Screen Wipe, last year would have been complete, but alas, it was not to be. Hopefully next year!

Happy New Year! Part eleven tomorrow… maybe… possibly… definitely before 2019…

Link || Butcher Billy | Behance | Redbubble | Society6 | Tumblr | Twitter
Link || Black Mirror | IMDb | Wikipedia | Netflix

Listening: Gossip in the Grain - Ray Lamontagne

Sunday, 7 January 2018

On the 9th day of Christmas…

… this blogger gave to thee…
 … nine resin paintings…
… eight endings too soon…
… seven shoes to choose from…
… six party dresses…
… five gold rings…
… four living hinges…
… three books for reading…
… two felted tooties…
… and a day Binging with Babish.

For some people, they get joy and relaxation from watching ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) videos of soft sounds and whispers, some like watching paint being mixed or fresh slime being touched. Some people like compilations of kittens, puppies, babies, nail art, lip swatches and makeup being destroyed.

It gives us that satisfying happy feeling without any naughtiness (unless you’re into that too, no judgement!).

For me, I like watching lots of different videos, I’ve said before I could watch makeup tutorials until the cows came home, but equally I find myself getting trapped in a loop watching craft videos. It’s probably because that’s what I do, but I love watching other people making things, and one of those people is Peter Brown. Peter Brown is primarily a woodworker and wood turner, so I enjoy watching his videos turning bowls out of wood, pencils, resin encased odds and ends because I like the idea of trying to use a lathe again, having spent a large portion of my final undergraduate year using one as part of my design work. But, Brown also likes to delve into other crafts and particularly seems to enjoy using resin.

Resin – another material I used a lot in the past – is a finicky two part liquid acrylic which you have to be incredibly precise when it comes to measuring because, since it relies on a chemical reaction, can go very wrong when miss measured, you’re additives have side effects or you mix it too much or too little. I like resin, but there is no love lost between us thanks to inaccurate measuring, slate/marble powder and bubbles. Oh, the bubbles!

Resin, you may have guessed, is the subject of day nine, and while Brown’s own creations in poured resin art inspired by Just Resin, don’t feature up front, I have included two videos of his in the playlist because he gives good instructions on how to do it, whilst learning how to do it himself. There’s a definite watch one, teach one attitude and he makes you laugh whilst doing so.

I’m not planning on saying too much about the individual designers, this is more about showcasing the technique of acrylic pour painting and the beautiful designs that can be achieved through a relatively simple process.
by Just Resin

This subject was inspired by Just Resin, who I found thanks to Peter Brown’s experimenting, however Tara Bach, AylaniDesigns (Etsy), Guy Lougashi, Shanpyatt Art and AntuanELLE (Etsy) are all here because when I searched for examples, they were the ones that I was most attracted too.

by Deborah O'Loughlin of AylaniDesigns

'18kt Gold '
by Tara Bach

They’re organic, both in the actual process of pouring and the finished artwork. Summoning up the appearance of agate slices, galaxies, moons and water, a lot of the outcome is down to the colours you choose and the initial pattern you pour.

by Guy Lougashi via Shanpyatt Art*
'Bliss Bomb'
by Deborah O'Loughlin of AylaniDesigns

Batches of resin and separated out and individually coloured in preparation. They’re then poured in swirls or layered pools and then the board is tilted to encourage the resin to move towards the edges of painting, the colours allowed to blend together to greater or lesser degrees. More and more layers of resin being poured on top, bringing back definition where it is needed and adding more colour where it’s wanted.
'New Life by Adam'
by Just Resin
'Yellow Orchid '
by Marie Antuanelle of AntuanELLE Designs

As the patterns begin to emerge, another tool is implement, a heat gun or blowtorch is used to warm the resin, encourage bubbles to come to the surface, which drags pigment up through the layers of colour. The force of the heat hitting liquid surface makes it ripple, pushing the pigments around like oil on water, creating edges and fine streaks.
by Just Resin
'Liquid Light' 
by Just Resin 

There’s something hypnotic about watching the pour patterns change and shift just using gravity and a little heat.  The translucence of the resin base making them look like layered glass when they’re fully cured. Waiting for resin to cure is the worst part. After eight hours, you can risk touching it, but that could leave finger prints, marks, dust and debris on the surface if you’re not careful. After twenty-four hours you’ve reached the hard cure stage, it should definitely be safe to touch the resin by now, but it can take up to seventy-two hours to reach fully cured, so long as your measurements were correct right at the very start.  Get it wrong and you can get a sticky, non-curing mess.

I haven’t honestly used resin for a few years, and the main project I used it on, I thought I’d got the measurements right, but was slightly off, meaning I ended up with spongy resin (mixed with slate and marble powders) which took far longer to cure than I needed as I panicked about deadlines. Will I use resin again? Absolutely. But I’m buying better scales first!

When I said at the start measurement accuracy was key, I wasn’t kidding. If you want to use two part resin, get good scales, ones that go up accurately, 0.1 grams at a time, so whether you’re working on a large scale like this, or miniature scale, you can get a good start.

And get gloves. Lots of gloves. Read the instructions, multiple times, don’t play fast and loose with those. Work somewhere you don’t mind getting messy, put down something flat, or make a box or tray just for resin and keep everything nice and contained. Open the windows and keep your space ventilated. Wear a mask to avoid fumes and, also if you have to sand your work (you have to in jewellery all the time in my experience), so you don’t inhale the dust. It’s bad for you. But let’s assume if you’re going to try this, or resin in general, you’re going to have done your research and taken the precautions.

Nod and agree. Okay, great, now if you ignore all of that, it’s not my fault.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Part ten tomorrow or there about…
(… twelfth night, decorations down and three days adrift. It could be worst!)

* Note: These are the only names I can find associated with this image, and I believe it’s Lougashi’s work, however I’m not 100% sure. So I’m pointing out both.)

Link || Just Resin | Website | YouTube | Instagram
Link || AntuanELLE Design (Marie Antuanelle) | Etsy | Pinterest | Blue Thumb
Link || Guy Lougashi | Website | Facebook
Link || Shanpyatt Art | Instagram | Pinterest (Image)
Link || Aylani Designs (Deborah O’Loughlin) | Etsy | BlueThumb
Link || Tara Bach | Instagram | Pinterest (Image)

Listening: Stand By Me - Ki: Theory
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