Thursday, 31 August 2017

Summer's almost gone

Autumn is my favourite month, and I try my hardest not to wish time away and enjoy the last drops of summer. However it feels like Autumn is well and truly upon us at last. There's a still crispness to the air that wasn't there before, it's like I can smell the upcoming season from the trees. The leaves may not have yet turned, but the fruits and berries are getting fatter. I went foraging for apples down the lane and baked my finds into an apple crumble cake.

With a dusting of cinnamon sugar and a drizzle of salted caramel or blackcurrant curd.

Hearing of Chester Bennington's death last month hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. I was a huge fan of Linkin Park as a young teenager, I was even in their fan club and street team, LP Underground. I hadn't listened to any of their music in well over 10 years, but the evening I learnt Chester had died I went straight on YouTube to search for my old favourite tracks. It lead to a nostalgia session of my favourite bands from my young teenage years, and I rediscovered HIM.

HIM were my favourite band for many years throughout most of my teenage years. I'd listened to them more recently than the others, but not for a good 5 or 6 years at least (I believe I stopped just after the release of Screamworks. Not because I disliked it, I just drifted away onto other things). I admit to not first discovering HIM until the release of Love Metal like the rest of the UK (I still think The Funeral of Hearts is an absolutely beautiful track and is one of my favourites, I've been playing it on repeat) but their first album Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 was always my favourite. I've really been getting back into them these past few weeks, and it broke my heart finding out they're doing a farewell tour this year and calling it a day (although I completely understand and support their reasoning). It felt like fate I should rediscover this band that meant so much to me for so long just before they disband.

Naturally upon rediscovering a band I love, my first instinct as a vinyl collector is to check if their albums have been released on the format. I didn't hold out much hope, so was really pleased when I discovered they had!

It turns out they've released two separate box sets of their first 4 albums: Lashes To Ashes, Lust To Dust in 2014, and back in 2005 they'd released a box set version of And Love Said No. I was a huge fan when the CD compilation of And Love Said No was released, but I guess I just took no notice of the box set if I even knew it existed as I didn't know anything about vinyl back then.

I've been on the hunt for either of these box sets for a couple of weeks, and as you can see I managed to get And Love Said No for an absolute steal. It's in pristine condition, the previous owner said they'd never played it and I believe them. I do like HIM's later albums, but the first 4 have always been my favourite. I can't describe how excited I am to have this in my collection. I know what the soundtrack to my autumn is going to be! I can't wait to curl up with my record player and endless cups of tea as the nights draw in.

Now I just need to try and get a ticket for one of their final shows, wish me luck!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

'Maybe my passion is nothing special, but at least it's mine'

It's funny, I used to be able to sit down and blog about just about anything. I'd update numerous times a week about my thoughts and experiences, and yet now I feel like I just don't know how to do that anymore. I've forgotten how to document, what to even say. I've built walls around myself and become too self aware of who might be reading and what image of myself I might be conveying. I don't know when I got so guarded and self critical, but I'd love to stop over analyzing and second guessing myself and just blog freely like I used to about anything I fancy.

I've always been fascinated with Finland. When I was a teenager almost all of my favourite musicians and bands were Finnish. My favourite artist and writer (Tove Jansson) is Finnish. One of my closest friends in college was Finnish. A lot of my favourite bloggers have been Finnish. I have no idea why but it's a country and culture that's kept crossing my path and I've connected to a lot for many years.

I've always wanted to learn Finnish, but it's often described as one of the most difficult languages in the world. It's of the Finno-Ugric languages which are unrelated to most others. I decided 'it's supposed to be hard' is a pretty pathetic excuse not to try something so I decided to give it a go. This book and audio set by Terttu Leney is quite highly recommended by linguists so I'm hoping for the best. One of the first sentences in the book is "Don't believe people who tell you Finnish is difficult", and I have to say I've been getting along with it really well so far.

I've attempted to learn languages many times over the years; I studied German at school but didn't feel enthusiastic about it, and I've attempted to teach myself French and Japanese without much success. I can never get past the phase of translating each word for word from English to the other language as I'm speaking it so it never feels natural, but I've also only ever learnt it very sporadically. I'm planning on visiting Finland early 2018 so hopefully this will help keep me motivated and give my learning purpose. I fully believe immersion is key so I'm really trying to absorb myself in as much Finnish as possible.

I've splurged on a bit of tech lately. I'm not a 'gamer', but I've always enjoyed playing on Nintendo DS. I enjoy how portable it is and all of my favourite games are released for it. I bought the new Nintendo 2DS XL. I've wanted an XL model for years for the larger screen but have held back as I have a perfectly good 3DS. I prefer the 2D models so as the 2DS XL can play 3DS games it felt perfect. I also finally bought Animal Crossing New Leaf. Better late than never! It's exactly the type of game I enjoy so I'm not sure why it took me so long.

I also bought a secondhand Wacom Cintiq for my artwork. Earlier this year I bought an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil as I'd heard they were better than a Cintiq, but it's decision I'd come to regret. The iPad may be more portable, but I'm restricted by how much battery power I have which can drain quickly when it's used constantly. I've also grown tired of constantly having to transfer files between my computer and iPad, and also I simply don't like the feeling of drawing on glass, it doesn't feel natural to me. The Cintiq is textured to feel more like paper, it plugs into the wall so there's no power issue, and as it's attached to my computer my files are right there. It's an absolute dream to use and I couldn't be happier with it, it's made me feel excited about digital art again.

I've been struggling a lot with my art lately and feeling unmotivated. I've gotten myself into a real perfectionists mindset so I'm too scared to even begin anything for fear of it not turning out perfectly. I've forgotten how to just make a mess in a sketchbook, forgotten that no one has to see my sketchbook but me so I have total freedom. I think I'm finally breaking out of it at long last. I was looking through an old art tumblr account of mine that I haven't updated in about 5 years and remembering how much fun I used to have with my artwork, before it started to feel like work. I've also been watching a lot of illustrators on YouTube. I've always had a handful in my subscriptions, now it's almost exclusively all I watch. I'm thinking of taking my own channel in that direction, but I'm also thinking of stopping YouTube altogether so we'll see I guess.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Disneyland Paris

I'm missing the magic of Disneyland Paris ever so much lately. I'm very lucky in that I've visited each winter for the past two years; in 2015 for Christmas, in 2016 for Halloween. I've been many other times, but with both of these visits being in winter over consecutive years I feel as if I should be looking forward to the same treat this year, but it's not happening. I'm going to be in my final year of university so it really wouldn't be wise to take time off (and I have plenty of other treats to look forward to throughout winter, such as London Comic Con, and seeing many of my favourite bands live). I'm also trying to save money so I can have the financial freedom to set myself up after my studies are finished. But none of these facts stop me missing the parks! It's taking all of my restraint not to say 'to hell with it!' and book a trip anyway. I've been looking through my photos from my previous trips to try and immerse myself back in the magic.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Floating down, the sound resounds

Today is 50 years to the day that my favourite album of all time was released. August 5th, 1967. It still sounds fresh - I'd like to say as fresh as it would of sounded when released, but it was unlike anything that had ever been released before it so that's impossible. It's an album that gets overlooked a lot - even by Pink Floyd themselves. Nothing was released for it's 50th anniversary, no special edition, not even a previous edition repackaged for the occasion. Nothing. I'm bitter about that - when you consider how many editions of Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall have been released. Those albums would never have been made without Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Pink Floyd as we know it would never have existed without Syd Barrett. They'd never have been signed to EMI without him. So many people don't even know who he was, beyond the "crazy diamond" written about on Wish You Were Here. He was so much more than that. He wrote the majority of Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Pink Floyd struggled to find their feet with their sound after he left. They wrote a few songs that tried to imitate and capture Syd's whimsical essence, but never could. That's Syd's talent. He could take child like themes and play on words, yet there's an unexpected deepness to it. The songs on this album have supported me through some of the darkest times. It transports me to another world, a world where I am understood.

Pink Floyd recorded this album to sound like their live performances that were garnering so much attention. They'd record during the day, and then play a live set at The UFO Club or The Roundhouse in the evening. I can only imagine how fabulous those live sets were.

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