This Week I Have Been Mostly Listening To…

Key West

A month ago, I wrote about listening to Imagine Dragons. If you remember, I had invited some ‘young people’ to challenge me, to suggest music; bands, solo artists,etc, for me to listen to (shock, challenge, and make my music neurons wake up!) (I forgot to mention the age group of these young ‘uns – 18 to 21 years). To carry on with the idea of me- middle aged woman, being introduced to ‘new stuff’ in regards to music, I have been listening to Patrick’s suggestion –

Key West.

N.B: this is NOT a review – it’s simply an experiment in expanding my listening tastes.

What I listened to
1.This is Heartbreak– A slow, romance song with steady drum beat and gentle vocals. “Over and over again I can’t take it”, just about sums it up for me.

What does it sound like to me? ‘Soft’ Pop.

Did I like it? No.

2All My Mistakes Another romance, more upbeat with a cheeky little tambourine in the chorus. Has a kind of summer feel to it and I can definitely see the ‘young one’s’ dancing to it at a party. Me? I’d have to have a few G&T’s first!

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? If I’m being generous, it was okay. Kind of…

3.Carousel Another love song!! Gak!! A little upbeat, nice drum rhythm and clapping. Didn’t make me want to dance though – or ride a carousel!

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? No.

4. Stuck On ReplayAnother song about love, this time unrequited, sort of. A typical pop melody and rhythm that reminded me of so many other ‘love songs’ of the 90s. Even the lead singers voice has a very generic quality to it; ‘croaky pain’, check. ‘whispery pain’, check. ‘high-note sorrow’, check.

What does it sound like to me? Pop

Did I like it? No

5.This SummerDid that intro sound like All My Mistakes??? Slightly heavier beat (though still rather soft) – oh! I can go ‘Fuck yourself’!! Seems like he’s got over the girl/girls in previous 4 songs, and it makes a positive difference. It ends on a discordant note on guitar and piano – which I thought might bode well for future stuff…

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? Almost. Not quite.

keywest3
Key West look as thrilled as I did listening to their music

6.Electric Love The opening has potential, a minimalist feel with a slappy bass. But guess what? It’s ANOTHER love song!!! There is a bit of a western feel with the rhythm, like being on a train, which keeps the song feeling more ‘alive’ than others. But it gets quite repetitive after 2 minutes in.

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? Not really.

7.Messages From God Sounds like another love song to me. Blah, blah, blah.

What does it sound like to me? Pop

Did I like it? No.

8.Feels So Cruel Aarrgghh!!

What does it sound like to me? Pop

Did I like it? No

9.The Message Borrr-ing!

What does it sound like to me? Soft Pop

Did I like it? No

10.The Little Things – A stronger vocal opening than previously heard. Picks up into a bouncy little number after intro. Nice guitar and bass. A little experimentation at the end with some ambient sounds.

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? It was okay.

 
To round-up – I won’t be listening to Key West again. The name suggests a link to America, though they are, I discovered, a Dublin band. I had never heard of them before, despite the fact that they have been on the scene since 2012. The sound is too processed, too audience friendly – middle of the road for my liking.

Was I challenged? No. Were my middle-aged-lady sensibilities offended? Not at all.

By track 4 I definitely felt ‘Stuck on Replay’! I had determined to listen to 10 songs and to give them an even break, but boys, I’ve heard it all before. It’s so hum-drum, pedestrian with little creativity that I can see.

The point of this exercise was to have music that would challenge me, something new, something exciting, perhaps weird or a little ‘arty’. Key West is, for me, none of those things. The challenge was sticking with it long enough to form and write and opinion.

yawning
Key West had me yawning at my key board

 

Advertisements

Writing Prompts Linked List

Writing Prompts

It’s a list day!

Some people write for pleasure, some people write to inform, some write for money, others for therapy. Whatever your reason, sometimes you might find yourself stuck for an idea. Don’t be; there’s loads of sites out there to get your creative juices flowing.

As a writer however, I would urge everyone to at least try to come up with your own ideas – take pictures, go for a walk, even in your own neighbourhood, take a bus ride and write down what other passengers say (old people are the best!), sit alone in silence for fifteen minutes, keep a dream diary, question yourself.

It’s a list day!

So you tried all that and today your brain went on holiday. Instead of trawling through your search engine, I have dragged together a list of 15 sites you might like to visit. I have included fiction, non-fiction, poetry and Y.A links.

1.Penguin Random House Writers Academy                                                                

Divided into categories – so you can find the genre you prefer. This is a shareable site, so you can add your own prompts if you like.

http://www.thewritersacademy.co.uk/writing-prompts/

2.Daily Writing Prompts

As well as a list of prompts to get your ideas started, they have other suggestions for making your own prompts.

https://www.dailywritingtips.com/writing-prompts-101/

3.Edutopia

Primarily aimed at school students, but there is no reason why an adult could not find something of interest here. Can also be used to prompt essay writing as much as fiction. N.B: Star Wars fans might be interested to learn that this was set up by George Lucas as part of the George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF)

https://www.edutopia.org/article/50-writing-prompts-all-grade-levels-todd-finley

4.Tumblr

Snapshots of quotes, opening lines, pictures and more to get the juices flowing. Great idea as some of us are visually stimulated rather than through other people’s words.

http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/

5.Pinterest

Similar to tumblr. If you are not familiar with Pinterest it is like a massive series of online message boards. You can find quotes, images and text to get you started.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/explore/writing-prompts/?autologin=true

6.Think Written

Need a prompt for each day of the year? Here you will find 365 writing prompts, simple one-liners without too much input from the creators.

http://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

7.Reddit

Ideas submitted by members of the public (you can too!) Some of these ideas are really interesting.

https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/

8.Writers Digest

Hundreds of ideas to scroll through here, from the light-hearted and fun to more potentially serious issues. Click on one of the idea links and you are provided with some background to start you off.

http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts

9.Poets & Writers

I found this site a little awkward to use, you have to read through a lot of other stuff until realising, oh, this is the prompt.

https://www.pw.org/writing-prompts-exercises

10. The Writer magazine

As well as having lots of prompts ready to use, right there on the first page, you can sign up (free) to get weekly prompts in your mailbox!

https://www.writermag.com/writing-prompts/

11. Letterpile

Although small and limited, in comparison to other sites, I quite like the mixture of pictures and single lines as prompts.

https://letterpile.com/writing/200-Creative-Writing-Prompts

12. The New York Times

For narrative and personal writing, the New York Times has collected ideas from students, who had previously been prompted to write something in response to articles in the NYT.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/20/learning/lesson-plans/650-prompts-for-narrative-and-personal-writing.html?mcubz=3

13. The Poetry Society

Ideas from tutors and poets, not just prompts but how to go about writing a poem on a theme. Contains links to poets and other helpful sites. You can download and print off a PDF of ideas so that you can get off the computer and let your poetic mind wander over paper!

https://poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/national-poetry-competition/resources/poetry-writing-prompts/

14. Poetry Prompts

Although this is a tumblr blog, and I already have included tumblr, I thought this was beautifully clean and simple in its presentation. Looks like a series of prompt cards with a single sentence or word.

http://poetryprompts.tumblr.com/

15. Bookfox

Non-fiction writers don’t get much inspiration handed to them, so here’s a site for those of you who love writing creatively, but not fiction. He also has extra links at the bottom of the page – to push yourself!

https://thejohnfox.com/2016/06/creative-nonfiction-prompts/

 

Happy writing!

This Week I have Been Mostly Listening To…

I have been listening to…Imagine Dragons.

I wrote a little about having new Filthy Friends on 9th September, and decided to carry on with the idea of me, middle aged woman, being introduced to ‘new stuff’ in regards to music.

Even more than drugs, I believe that shifts in perspective, challenging tastes and opinions are mind expanding. As humans age, we have a tremendous capacity to think our childhood was best, our music was not so ‘hard on the ears’, our opinions, politics, fashion etc, etc are/were better than ‘the young people of today’. We get stuck in our ways – well I don’t intend to age gracefully!

So, I have invited some ‘young people’ to challenge me, to suggest music; bands, solo artists, for me to listen to (shock, challenge, and make my music neurons wake up!) and I am starting off with Scott’s suggestion –

Imagine Dragons.

N.B: this is NOT a review – it’s simply an experiment in expanding my listening tastes.

What I listened to

1.Radioactive – now I had actually heard this song before. A slow burn verse towards a burst of a chorus. Some industrial effects; dripping water, what sounds like wind in a tunnel and then a squeaky toy!

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Rock

Did I like it? Yes

2. Thunder – kind of synth n drums thing going on. Lots of repetition of ‘Thunder’ and finger clicking.

What does it sound like to me? Pop. Like the 1980’s band Men At Work, if they updated their style.

Did I like it? Not really.

3.Believer starts with a slow march beat, leading to some rap style lyrics before bursting into the chorus -You make me a believer .

What does it sound like to me? What I would call modern Rock.

Did I like it? Yes.

6rxcx5edobenot8b7huikduya.1000x1000x1
Imagine Dragons

4. Whatever It Takes – kind of rap influenced verse? Synth drums? Chorus slows down the pace with a kind of choral background.

What does it sound like to me? Pop

Did I like it? No.

5.Demons – a slow stadium rock feel with no alteration in pace, tone or anything.

What does it sound like to me? Stadium Rock/Pop

Did I like it? Not really.

6.On Top of The World – opens with a cheery little clapping, whistling, keyboard overlaid by what sounds like something rolling. Solo voice in verse joined in chorus by multiple. Near the end is a set of recordings of President Nixon? And some industrial effects – then back to bouncy, Carribean tinged chorus.

What does it sound like to me? Like it can’t decide what it is.

Did I like it? Not much.

7. I Bet My Life – I could imagine a barn full of people doing line dancing to this one! Someone/something shrieking in the background is annoying! The chorus – I, I bet my life, I bet my life on you,I, I bet my life, I bet my life, I bet my life on you is reminiscent of Ray Davis and the Kinks Days – Thank you for the days, Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me, I’m thinking of the days, I won’t forget a single day, believe mehas that same rhythm.(But not as good)
What does it sound like to me? Pop, gets it’s Stetson and boots on.

Did I like it? Not sure. Pretty much anything ‘country’ flavoured makes me baulk.

8.It’s Time – clapping, synth drums, tapping, something opening, banjo?! Slides into a short, smooth full-bodied chorus.

What does it sound like to me? A heavier early 90’s dance/pop tune.

Did I like it? Was okay.

imagine dragons gold
Imagine Dragons, Gold

9. Gold – slices of drums, whistling, speech before the singing begins. This is has a rougher, grimier feel than any of the others songs so far. Each bridge between verse and chorus slows to a slow stomp/march feel. Some ‘rock guitar’ solo at the end.

What does it sound like to me? Rock/Pop

Did I like it? I did actually.

10. Monster – a willowy guitar and synth intro suddenly turns to solid drum base. This sounded like another one – – just my imagination or did they run out of melodies? A nice strong chorus.

What does it sound like to me? By this point, it sounds like Imagine Dragons! Pop with a rock influence.

Did I like it? I did.

monster_by_imagine_dragons_by_theprimelegacy-d8a2fwi
Imagine Dragons, Monster

To round-up – I think I quite liked listening to Imagine Dragons, though I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it; I wouldn’t for instance, buy an album, although I might listen online amongst other stuff.

Was I challenged? No. Were my middle-aged-lady sensibilities offended? Not at all.

For my money, Imagine Dragons could be a whole lot better, if they quit trying to make songs that sell, i.e. Pop songs. They have potential to be great; if they used more of the experimental sounds, they have a variety of textures in their music which is overlaid by mainstream pop sounds.

I prefer the rougher, rockier, grimier pieces (later listened to I’m So Sorry, live recording – really liked it), to me, those pieces feel real. I’m not keen on their use of synthetic instrumentals; which is what some of it sounds like to me, I may be wrong, but I’d like to hear the rawness of actual drums, bass etc.

ImagineDragons_MakeTheCutMUG5Edit
Imagine Dragons – didn’t knock me out.

 

Desert Island Flicks

Desert Island Discs is a British radio programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4. It was first broadcast in 1942. The concept is, that each week a guest; someone famous or is a person of note, called a ‘castaway’ during the programme, is asked to choose eight recordings (usually, but not always, music), a book and a luxury item that they would take if they were to be cast away on a desert island, whilst discussing their lives and the reasons for their choices.

I decided to run my own ‘Desert Island’, but with movies.

As an avid film viewer, I have found this quite a challenge. I have seen plenty of movies that I really liked, but would I want to be stranded on a Desert Island to watch them over and over again? Which films bear repeated viewing? Which films have enough content, appeal or personal resonance that one could stand to watch over and over again?

I am sure that should I return to this in, say a year, I would alter my selection somewhat, but for today, these are my eight ‘recordings’:-

  1. The Good The Bad and The Ugly
desertislandflicks 1
Hey Blondie!

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach.

Director: Sergio Leone.

Genre: Spaghetti Western (so called because this genre of Westerns was produced by Italians).

Released: 1966.

Why watch it: Fantastic film shots of landscapes and close ups; especially in the final showdown. Terrific action and storyline – 3 gunslingers are after buried gold. Fortune swings back and forth between the characters, when one has the upper hand, he makes sure he gets the most out of the other one. The soundtrack is brilliant too, I always ‘sing’ along!!

Favourite line: “Who the hell is that? One bastard goes in, and another comes out.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09-GbpOd9T4

 

  1. Amelie (aka; The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain)
desertislandflicks 2
Amelie’s discovery is a life-changing moment

Stars: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz,

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Released: 2001

Why watch it: Romance without the ‘yuck!’ factor. Whimsical, delightful, extremely touching in parts. The way Amelie takes ‘revenge’ on unpleasant people. And the music; it still stirs my emotions. Keep an eye on the garden gnome!

Favourite line: “Narrator: Amélie still seeks solitude. She amuses herself with silly questions about the world below, such as “How many people are having an orgasm right now?”[scenes of various orgasms taking place] Amélie: Fifteen.”

 

  1. The Fearless Vampire Killers (Dance of The Vampires)

desertislandflicks 3

Stars: Roman Polanski, Jack MacGowran, Alfie Bass,

Director: Roman Polanski

Genre: Comedy Horror

Released: 1967

Why watch it: Definitely not your usual vampire film. A truly successful blend of horror and comedy, with beautifully shot scenes. Professor Abronsius and his young assistant, Alfred, are on the hunt for vampires, across snowy landscapes ‘deep in the heart of Transylvania’ to a remote castle. The physical moments with no dialogue are beautifully choreographed.

Favourite line: “…like a little birdy alighting on a branch…then, let an angel pass. Shall we allow an angel to pass?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=you86-CKNtI

 

  1. Radio Days
desertislandflicks 4
Joe’s new teacher is a delight!

Stars: Danny Aiello, Mia Farrow, Seth Green

Director: Woody Allen

Genre: Comedy

Released: 1987

Why watch it: Jewish screen family life at its best; a view of the world through a young boys eyes and the medium of radio; stories within stories and the effects on the listeners. The scene with the two burglars is brilliant.

Favourite line: “No. Have it your way. The Pacific is greater.”

 

  1. Pirates
desertislandflicks 5
Head or tail? Of the rat dinner…

Stars: Walter Matthau, Cris Campion

Director: Roman Polanski

Genre: Adventure Comedy

Released: 1986

Why watch it: Polanski actually had the ship built for the movie! Matthau, I think, is at his very best in this little known/shown film. Captain Reds lust for gold knows no bounds, and the whole film is a series of ploys to get particular pieces of gold – in particular, a Spanish throne. All the characters are wonderfully portrayed, pirates, naval officers, priests – the game of ‘Dead Man’s Nag’ is both hilarious and brutal.

Favourite line: “Well Padre. I once had a mind to eat the Frog.”

 

  1. Wild at Heart

desertislandflicks 6

Stars: Nicholas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe

Director: David Lynch

Genre: Thriller/Romance/Indie

Released: 1990

Why watch it: For its bizarre mixture of raging violence, dream scenes, illusions to Elvis Presley and The Wizard of Oz – true Lynchian oddness wrapped in what initially appears a ‘regular’ thriller. There are some truly disturbing characters in this film – be warned!

Favourite line: “This whole world’s wild at heart and weird on top.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf0rKQkvh2c

 

  1. Leon
desertislandflicks 7
Just keep walking, don’t look back…

Stars: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman

Director: Luc Besson

Genre: Thriller

Released: 1994

Why watch it: For one of the most beautiful relationships shown on screen. The 12 year old Mathilda finds herself in the ‘care’ of Leon, a hitman; but who is the child? This is at times, an extremely touching film, how does a man who kills for a living take care of a child? Scenes with his little potted plant reveal that Leon is not heartless, or a cold-blooded killer, there is something else in this taciturn man. Portman is absolutely excellent as Mathilda, the orphaned girl who grows up fast.

Favourite line: “The rifle is the first weapon you learn how to use, because it lets you keep your distance from the client. The closer you get to being a pro, the closer you can get to the client. The knife, for example, is the last thing you learn.”

 

  1. Spirited Away

desertislandflicks 8

Stars: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Genre: Anime fantasy

Released: 2001

Why watch it: Miyazakis’s first anime is arguably his finest. A feast for the eyes, with a beautiful plot reminiscent of a good old style fairy tale. Follow Chihiro into the magical town where spirits take baths and give gold to the greedy.

Favourite line: “There must be some mistake! None of these pigs are my parents!”

*

These are all films I own on DVD, I have watched many times and will watch again. I could have chosen pretty much any Allen or Polanski film; I have been a huge fan since early teens. Same with David Lynch although I don’t fancy being stuck for too long on a desert island with some of his characters or scenes in my head!

What would you take if you could only choose 8 movies? Have you seen any of the one’s on my list?

8 Things to do in London – when you have little cash!

I’m in London, staying in the home of my sister-in-law; so free accommodation. Like many people from ‘up North’, ‘His Nibs’ and I have less money than the average Londoner; or tourist even, and so it can get rather expensive. We have done well this time, apart from one ‘extravagance’ (see #7) we have only spent money on transport and food! (Oh, and alcohol!!)

So, how can you see stuff for little or no cost? Take a look at the list of 8 attractions I recommend:

 

1.Tate Modern

Located in what was once Bankside Power Station on the south bank of the Thames, the Tate Modern is one of the city’s most loved attractions. You can enjoy the permanent collection for free – it includes works by Pollock, Warhol and Matisse.

2.National Gallery

Housing masterpieces by painters including van Gogh, Renoir, da Vinci and Michelangelo, the National Gallery holds one of the world’s most important art collections. Miss the hordes by visiting on weekday mornings or Friday evenings. The permanent collections are always free.

3.Kensington Gardens

The delightful  Gardens are home to a trove of treasures, including the Albert Memorial, the Peter Pan Statue, the Serpentine Gallery, the Round Pond and the Diana Memorial Playground. All are free to admire or visit, and when you’re done with the sights, you can wander along the tree-lined paths which crisscross the whole park.

WP_20160802_16_44_07_Pro

4.Portobello Road Market

Located in the heart of charming Notting Hill, this atmospheric market sells everything from vintage clothes and sumptuous street food to antiques. It’s busiest on Saturdays, but there’s always something going on, whatever day you visit. It costs nothing to look and experience, but you might want to take some spends in case you see something interesting!

5.Buddhapadipa Temple

Surrounded by trees in over 1.5 hectares of tranquil Wimbledon land, this delightful Thai Buddhist temple actively welcomes everyone. The wat (temple) boasts a bot (consecrated chapel) decorated with traditional scenes by two leading Thai artists (take your shoes off before entering). Take bus 93 from Wimbledon tube, train or tram station. Free.

WP_20170810_13_44_15_Pro

6.Sir Richard Francis Burton Tomb

The most interesting tomb in St. Mary Magdalen’s churchyard is the mausoleum in the shape of an Arab tent where the coffins of Sir Richard Burton and his wife Isabel Arundell can be seen through a window at the back. It is to be found in the unassuming churchyard in Mortlake, South West London. Free.

WP_20170810_12_47_48_Pro

  1. Dennis Severs’ House

More than a museum, an art work, an experience, it is an intimate portrait of the lives of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724 to the dawn of the 20th Century. As you follow their fortunes through the generations, the sights, smells and sounds of the house take you into their lives. This does cost £15 pp, but is well worth it.18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields is more than just a time capsule.

  1. Speaker’s Corner

Every Sunday since 1866 a range of different speakers gather at Speaker’s Corner to air their views and the tradition continues today. Speaker’s Corner is situated in the top right hand corner of Hyde Park opposite Marble Arch. Many famous figures have spoken at Speaker’s Corner including Karl Marx, Lenin, William Morris, George Orwell and Lord Soper. Free.