Category: Media

Amy’s Art: Foxy Victorian Series

I’ve rediscovered my love for the Victorian era recently, so I started drawing this fox called Vivien wearing Victorian dresses inspired by 1870’s fashion, which had some of the most interesting bustles and silhouettes of the time.

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Vivien the Victorian fox

 

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Vivien and her parasol

 

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Vivien and the spyglass

 

For anyone interested in watching/reading stories set in the Victorian era, here are some of my top favourites:

Film: The Prestige, The Young Victoria, Sweeney Todd

TV: The ParadiseEmma (Japanese)

Books: Sherlock HolmesThe Infernal Devices trilogy, The Sally Lockhart trilogy

 


So, did you like my Foxy Victorian series?

Which one was your favourite? Watch this space for more foxes!


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Cologne: The Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour Concert

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On Saturday 20th June we were in Cologne for the Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour Concert and it was SO MUCH FUN. As I said in an earlier post, I’ve been listening to Taylor’s music since she first started nearly ten years ago and this was the first time I got to see her live, which was awesome.

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The golden tickets

Since Taylor and I are around the same age, I sort of feel like I’ve grown up with her through the years. Well written lyrics are really important to me in music, and I’ve always admired the way she writes and how honest she is in her songwriting. It takes a certain kind of strength to show your own vulnerability like that to strangers but I think that is also why everyone can relate to her songs so well.

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Lanxess Arena

The concert took place at Lanxess Arena in Cologne and it was a totally sold out show with 15,000 people all together! The concert was supposed to start at 7:30 PM, so we got there about half an hour early. After our bags were checked at the doors, we were each given a white plastic wristband that we were told would come in handy later.

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The making of Shake It Off

The arena was huge but to my absolute delight, our seats were about 10 metres from the right side of the stage so we had a really good view. While we waited for the show to start, the big screens in the arena played different video clips about Taylor.

Most of them I had seen before, like the making of the Shake It Off and Blank Space music videos and some I hadn’t seen; mini interview clips with Taylor about random things like what subject she liked in school (English) and didn’t like (Maths). There was also trivia quiz questions about Taylor and videos about her 1989 Secret Sessions.

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Opening act – James Bay

Seven thirty came and went and suddenly Taylor’s opening act James Bay was on stage. James sang most of the songs from his debut album Chaos And The Calm and of course, he left his most famous song Hold Back The River until last. His voice was amazing live!

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Welcome To New York!

After James Bay had finished and left the stage, we waited for about ten minutes and then the plastic wristbands we’d been given at the door all simultaneously started flashing in time to the opening beats of Welcome To New York and suddenly – there she was!

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New Romantics

TAYLOR. In the flesh! Ten metres away! It’s a pretty weird feeling to see someone that you’d only seen on screens for so long suddenly right in front of you, in real life, but it was an awesome moment none the less.

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I Knew You Were Trouble
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My favourite photo I took of Taylor

I guess I missed the memo about sign making because so many people in the crowd had prepared huge signs that lit up in the dark and they looked so cool along with the 15,000 wristbands that flashed different colours in time with the music. It was literally a sea of lights.

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Taylor’s eye on screen

I think everyone appreciates the effort of someone trying to speak their language and Taylor used a couple of German words during the show. She said Köln instead of Cologne, she counted the audience down with eins zwei drei and I even heard her say wunderbar a couple of times.

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15,000 wristbands lit up in How You Get The Girl

I have to say my favourite stage performance was probably How You Get The Girl. The stage went dark and Taylor’s dress lit up in pink lights as all of her dancers did their dance sequence with umbrellas and suits that lit up in different colours. It looked so cool, I wish I had recorded that one!

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Acoustic version of Wonderland

For the next few songs, the runway part of the stage suddenly moved upwards and around so that Taylor was sailing 360 degrees over the crowd whilst singing. She made the audience sing the ‘eh eh eh’ background vocals as she sang an acoustic version of Wonderland on her guitar.

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Taylor on screen

In between songs, Taylor would just chat to the audience, first thanking everyone for travelling such long distances to get to the concert and giving up their Saturday night for her.

Then she went on to drop pearls of wisdom to her largely impressionable audience about being yourself and saying that making mistakes and failing does not make you damaged goods, but makes you a stronger and wiser person instead – much stronger than someone who didn’t make any mistakes at all.

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Love Story remix

After introducing the song as her first international hit, Taylor sang a remixed version of Love Story. I really wonder how many times she has sung this song over the past nine years or so – do you think artists can get tired of singing their own songs?

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Style

Style is one of my favourites from 1989 and the live version did not disappoint! I actually recorded this one, so I will try and put up the video soon.

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Haim

In between songs, some interviews with Taylor’s friends would come on screen. The clips featured Abigail Anderson, Karlie Kloss, Lena Dunham, Jaime King, Selena Gomez, Lily Aldridge, Cara Delevinge and (my favourite) Haim. They talked about the first time they met Taylor, when they heard 1989 first, what they do when they all hang out and even some advice about love and relationships.

I really like this female celebrity friendship thing that Taylor promotes; all too often in our patriarchal society we’re taught to view other women as competition to tear down but it’s so refreshing to see famous and powerful women banding together as friends. We we are truly at our best when we build each other up.

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Enchanted/Wildest Dreams mash up

My favourite vocal performance was definitely when Taylor sang a mash up of Enchanted and Wildest Dreams on piano. These two are right up there in my all time favourites and the mash up of the two was just magic.

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Out Of The Woods

After the piano mash up, Taylor’s ball gown turned into a one piece sparkly tree branch patterned suit – so it was obviously time for Out Of The Woods. The video clip on screen featured two foxes running through the forest (naturally) and Taylor’s dancers were on stage waving about huge paper airplanes attached to poles.

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We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

After Taylor sang Bad Blood, she suddenly got out an electric guitar and started playing an awesome rock version of We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. I really like how she changes the arrangements of her older songs to make them different for the concert, like with the Love Story remix and Enchanted mash up too.

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Paper confetti rain

Last but not least was of course Shake It Off, which ended the concert with a bang (literally, because fireworks went off). The show was basically a two and a half hour Taylor mass dance party and it was so much fun – there was never a dull moment! I would definitely go again if I had the chance…thanks for the memories Taylor!

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Auf Wiedersehen Köln!

 


So, did you enjoy my post about Taylor’s concert?

Have you already been to/planning to go to one of her 1989 Tour dates?


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New Zealand Music Artists You Need To Listen To Right Now

May is known as New Zealand Music Month and there has been a lot of amazing talent coming out of the NZ music scene in recent years. Here are some awesome Kiwi music artists, besides Lorde, that you need to know about, stat.

Kimbra

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One word to describe Kimbra: majestic. You may remember her from Gotye’s hit song Somebody That You Used To Know, but she is so much more than that. Kimbra is one of those rare artists who touches your soul and takes you away into another realm whenever she performs. I am spellbound by her every time.

Kimbra is from Hamilton and is now based in Los Angeles. She’s won a lot of awards, including two joint Grammys with Gotye for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group performance. She has released two albums to date – the first called Vows (2011) and the second called The Golden Echo (2014).

This is my favourite version of her song As You Are, by far. I don’t know how she does it, but this video tore me down and built me back up again in the space of seven minutes.

Favourite songs: As You Are, WithdrawSettle Down and Two Way Street

The Official Website of Kimbra


Hayley Westenra

Hayley Westenra singing at the 2015 Cricket World Cup opening ceremony in Christchurch

Hayley Westenra is from Christchurch (yay!) and she is a classical crossover artist who has sung songs all over the world in over ten languages. She released her first album at age 16 called Pure (2003), which reached number one on the UK classical charts and has sold more than two million copies worldwide.

Hayley has released more than ten studio albums to date and she is also a UNICEF Ambassador who has helped various charities worldwide. Do you need any more reason to fall in love with her? I don’t think so.

I’ve always loved the way she sings this Māori love song called Pokarekare Ana. She has the voice of an absolute angel.

The Official Website of Hayley Westenra


Broods

Caleb and Georgia Nott from Broods

Broods, the sibling act consisting of Georgia and Caleb Nott from Nelson are making electropop waves in the music industry at the moment. They won the Smokefree Rock Quest music competition in 2011 as part of a band called The Peasants. It was there that they met and started collaborating with music producer Joel Little, who also produced Lorde’s 2013 hit single Royals. They released their first album called Evergreen in 2014.

Favourite songs: Bridges, Mother and Father and Never Gonna Change

The Official Website of Broods


Benny Tipene

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Benny Tipene is from Palmerston North and got famous from the first season of New Zealand’s The X Factor, where he finished third. He released his debut album in 2014 called Bricks and it is one of those albums where every song is good – there’s not one song that I don’t like on it and that’s pretty rare.

I admit I’m a bit of a Benny fan so I may be biased, but you should definitely check out some of his songs. His latest single is called Lanterns.

Favourite songs: Lonely, Step on UpOpen Ending and Make You Mine

Benny Tipene Facebook Page


Brooke Fraser

Brooke Fraser is from Wellington and is one of the most popular recording artists of all time in New Zealand. Her first album was released in 2003 called What to Do with Daylight and debuted at number one on the charts. I’ve always loved her music since her first album and I’m still really fond of her older songs, although her new stuff is good too.

Brooke has also helped a lot of people through World Vision as an Artist Associate since 2001. Her second album called Albertine (2006) was based on her experiences in Rwanda. Her latest single is called Kings and Queens.

Favourite soungs: Lifeline, Saving the World, Deciphering Me and Albertine

The Official Website of Brooke Fraser


Six60

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Six60 is a five piece band who formed in Dunedin while studying at the University of Otago together. They named the band after the street address of their house they lived in together. Their self-titled first album was released in 2011 and debuted at number one on the New Zealand charts and was certified gold within the first week of release.

Favourite songs: Only to Be, Don’t Forget Your Roots and Forever

The Official Website of Six60


Gin Wigmore

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Gin Wigmore is from Auckland and her claim to fame came when she wrote a song tribute to her father called Hallelujah, which won an international song writing competition in 2004. She went on to release two studio albums called Holy Smoke (2009) and Gravel and Wine (2011) with her third album Blood to Bone due to be released in June. Gin’s voice may be a bit of an acquired taste for some, but I’ve always been a fan!

Favourite songs: These roses, Hallelujah, Too Late for Lovers and I Do

Official Website of Gin Wigmore


Beau Monga
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Beau Monga is from Manurewa and was the winner of the second season of The X Factor New Zealand. His parents are part of a music group called Ardijah and Beau himself can sing, beatbox and breakdance. His winner’s single is called King and Queen.

In Beau’s first audition he did a version of Hit the Road Jack using a loop pedal and it was just awesome.

Beau Monga Facebook Page


Ginny Blackmore

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Ginny Blackmore is from Auckland and is most well-known for her 2013 hit single called Bones. She has previously written songs for Christina Aguilera and Adam Lambert and was the opening act for One Republic’s New Zealand concerts. She has an upcoming album called Over the Moon due to be released this year.

Favourite songs: Bones, Holding You and Sing for Me

Ginny Blackmore Facebook Page


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So, did you enjoy these awesome acts from the New Zealand music scene?

Do you have any favourites?


 

Japanese Cartoon Series That Were My Childhood

I don’t know what it is about shows you watch as a kid, but whenever you think of them, you only remember how awesome they were. If you were to watch them again now, you might notice gaping holes in the storyline or realise how strange/weird the story and characters actually were…but we still love ’em, right?

Get ready to be hit by a tidal wave of nostalgia, 90’s kids!

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Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon is an undisputed classic. Being one of the most popular manga series of all time, it brought female superheroes into the limelight and there it stayed.

Sailor Moon is about a middle school girl called Usagi who becomes friends with a talking cat called Luna, who gives Usagi a magical brooch that enables her to become superhero Sailor Moon. Usagi teams up with other girls who become fellow Sailor Soldiers and they fight against the dark forces of the world.

Favourite characters: Sailor Venus and Chibi Moon. Plus, the talking cats Luna and Artemis (I always liked the animal companion characters in any show!)

Moonlight Densetsu – The Japanese Sailor Moon theme song. I still remember all of the words to this…and yes, I had a Chibi Moon wand stick that would light up and I would run around the house waving it around.

Doraemon

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Doraemon is a Japanese cultural icon – every Japanese person knows him. The theme song is Japan’s national anthem (not actually, but it should be).

Doraemon is a robotic cat from the future who goes back in time to help a ten year old boy called Nobita. Using all sorts of futuristic gadgets out of the four-dimensional pocket on his stomach, he gets Nobita out of trouble daily.

The coolest recurring gadgets that Doraemon had (that I always wanted) was the Doko demo door (a door that you could go through to anywhere in the world), Takecopter (a propeller you put on your head to fly), Time terebi (a television which allowed you to watch events in the past or future) and the self explanatory Time Machine in Nobita’s desk.

Doraemon released some pretty awesome movies back in the day – I’m talking about the old Doraemon with the proper voices, not this recent New Generation one – and my favourites were Nihon tanjo (Birth of Japan), Kumo no okoku (Kingdom of Clouds), Buriki no meikyuu (Tin Labyrinth), Mugen san kenshi (Three Visionary Swordsmen) and Nankai Daibouken (Great Adventure in the South Seas).

Favourite characters: Doraemon and his sister, Dorami-chan

Detective Conan

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Detective Conan is probably the epitome of my childhood. I was watching from the very beginning, when it started in 1996. I have seen basically every single episode and film over the years, excluding the very recent ones. I don’t know a life without Conan.

Detective Conan is about a seventeen year old detective called Shinichi who witnesses a deal being made by a shady organisation called Kuro no soshiki (Black organisation). Shinichi gets caught by one of the members and is forced to ingest a drug that was supposed to kill him, but it actually made him turn back into a child – into his seven year old self. He chooses the name Conan Edogawa to hide his identity and continues solving cases and investigating the Black Organisation to hunt down their mysterious boss referred to as Ano kata.

Some seriously epic Conan movies have also been released over the years and as always, the old ones are the best. My all time favourite Conan movie is Hitomi no Naka no Ansatsusha (Captured in Her Eyes) – it just gets me everytime.

Other awesome ones include the first one, Tokei-jikake no Matenrō (The Time Bombed Skyscraper), Jūyon banme no Tagetto (The Fourteenth Target), Seikimatsu no Majutsushi (The Last Wizard of the Century) and the one set in Kyoto – of course I like that one – Meikyū no Kurosurōdo (Crossroad in The Ancient Capital).

Favourite characters: Conan/Shinichi, Ran, Haibara and Kaito Kid

Cardcaptor Sakura

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I read the manga of Cardcaptor Sakura more than I watched it, but it was still really good. The artwork in the book is so beautiful and I always just really liked her side kick called Kero-chan, who talked in an Osaka dialect.

The series is about a ten year old called Sakura who releases a set of magical cards known as Clow Cards, which were made by a sorcerer named Clow Reed. Cerberus (Kero-chan) who is the guardian of the cards, assigns Sakura to retrieve the cards which all have a magical ability and cause havoc around the town.

Favourite characters: Sakura, Tomoyo and Kero-chan

Black Jack

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Black Jack was written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka, who is most famous for creating Astro Boy and Jungle taitei (Kimba the White Lion) and he is one of Japan’s most beloved manga artists.

Black Jack is about a legendary doctor who takes on patients with peculiar conditions and often does good deeds and teaches arrogant and greedy people life lessons. Even now, it is a really good watch.

Favourite characters: Black Jack and Pinoko

Black Jack opening song – Gekkohana 

Black Jack 21 opening song – Destiny by Hitomi Shimatani (I love this song!)

Hamtaro

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I actually watched Hamtaro in English because it was on after school on television when I was around eleven or twelve years old. I’d always wanted a pet hamster but since we didn’t have hamsters in New Zealand, this was as close as I was going to get!

Favourite characters: Bijou and Pashmina

Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z

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Like every other kid in the world at that time, my brother and I were hooked on Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z. This was when there was still only 150 Pokemon that you could catch and we knew all of them off by heart. We had a huge stack of Pokemon cards between us and we would get the newest, coolest cards from Japan and be super smug about it when playing with our New Zealand friends. Oh, the good times.

Jigoku Sensei Nūbē

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Jigoku sensei (hell teacher) Nūbē is about a teacher who protects his students against supernatural phenomena by using the demon that his sealed in his left hand. The ghosts or monsters that appear in the series are usually based on old Japanese folklore, which I loved the idea of.

Favourite characters: Nūbē, Izuna and Yukime

My favourite ending song – Spirit by Pamelah

Himitsu no Akko-chan

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Himitsu no Akko-chan has been around for ages – there are so many remakes – but I distinctly remember watching the 1998 version. The series is about a girl called Akko-chan who has a magical mirror that allows her to transform into any person or animal. There was even a live action film of it released in 2012…here is the trailer:

Himitsu no Akko-chan 1998 opening song

Favourite characters: Akko-chan, the cat and the penguin

Ninja Sentai Kakuranger

This isn’t strictly a cartoon as such, but I still remember watching it with my brother a lot. There was a Power Ranger boom in Japan in the 90’s and although there were Power Rangers, Car Rangers and who knew what else, Kakuranger was our favourite because who can go wrong with Ninja Rangers, right?

Plus, the opening song was just awesome.

Favourite characters: Tsuruhime and Ninjaman

 


So, are you feeling as nostalgic as I am right now?

Did you watch any of these shows when you were a kid?