Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Bright Side

The Bright Side, established by illustrator and wordsmith Rachel Bright, has become my go to brand for cards and little gifts, for one very good reason. Their 'mantra' is on the back of each of the cards:

Be nice
Think happy thoughts
Champion silver linings
Love all things (not just cute things like babies and kittens)
And when you do love - love like they do in power ballads (you know like on a cliff with wind in your hair and your eyes shut, knowing you'll never know another love like this)
Watch out for dog poo
Smile at people - even grumpy ones
Be nice (oh I already said that)
Remember that anything is possible
And whatever you do always try to look on the bright side

...and really this is why they are awesome. They say things simply, how they really are and make people smile those little smiles. To me those little smiles are better than huge laughs because that funny thing will never be funny again but that smile will come back every time you see the thing that made you smile in the first place.

In addition to cards a local store (and Campus Gifts if you're an online shopper) now sell The Bright Side Gifts. At Christmas the women closest to me all got little stocking fillers from The Bright Side. Biscuit tin for my granny, sweet tins for my mom and my aunt (all filled of course) and my sister, the not-so-little-any-more monster, got a notebook proclaiming "evil plans and stuff" on the front.

My next purchases are a wedding planner for when my friend finally starts organising her "very big huge day" and some folders for me... Some things are difficult, some take a long time, some just really need doing and if this is the case I'm sure wrapping them in The Bright Side is the best way to do it.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Lancaster Library Gigs: Mona, Pegasus Bridge and Yuck

I had a weekend filled with gigs in a library, all part of my work for Get it Loud in Libraries. Luckily for me this means watching and interacting with some amazing bands in a very quirky venue.

On Saturday night Mona took to the stage supported by Tribes. Nick Brown, Mona's frontman, snuck out from backstage to watch Tribes play...I think really to assess the location but I don't think he was disappointed. Mona played as if they were in the largest and most traditional of venues and embraced the library with the usual "shhhh it's a library" type comments. The atmosphere was incredible, better than the Devlin gig but maybe I'm just biased because it's more my kind of music.

Mona at Lancaster Library, 19 February

On Sunday afternoon (yes...during the day time, weird right?) I was at the Yuck gig. They were supported by Pegasus Bridge who reminded me of The Kooks with a more electric feel. They have a great, positive sound that worked really well with the afternoon setting but that was also the failing for both bands because people just don't get as excited in the afternoon as in the evening. There was little dancing and interaction during songs, no clapping/singing along, but that's not to say it wasn't enjoyable.

Pegasus Bridge at Lancaster Library, 20 February

Edward Turner's vocals are what makes this band for me. It was good enough to convince me to buy the CD (the first CD I've purchased in about five years) and they have been the soundtrack to any travelling I have done over the last 24 hours. My friend was singing along to Ribena after only hearing it once and it is this infectious catchiness that makes them so popular, especially with teenage girls who swarmed around the band afterwards.

Yuck at Lancaster Library, 20 February

Yuck were, of course, amazing and coped with the effects of the gig setup perfectly. Two little girls stood right in front of Daniel Blumberg the entire time, dancing along and staring. (This is what you get for having no age restrictions and an afternoon time slot.) He smiled at them and said: "You're supposed to clap when we finish a song...I'm joking, only clap if you actually like it." They even carried on when, during the last song, those same girls knocked over a microphone. I can't wait to get their album, which came out today.

I am continuously surprised with how well bands take to the playing a gig in a library. They all seem to find it weird at first but adapt to it really well and afterward gush about how good the idea is. Ed, from Pegasus Bridge, said: "It was a little strange being to see every face in the room, but I enjoyed it." I think it's the uniqueness and the intimate living room feeling that it generates. You can't get more intimate than having a room full of people staring at you in broad daylight.

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Return of Colour

I went out for a friends birthday the other day and her lovely sister decided to compliment me on my pale skin tone. "You're ever so white aren't you, it's wonderful, it goes so well with your red hair. It suits you so much better than blonde. My friend likes to white up and make the best of her pale skin, she has all the make up for it you should speak to her later because you could do that too!" Bless her, she was being genuine.

See what I mean about ghostly? I'm just grateful this was taken with a terrible camera phone. 
My hair doesn't even look red on this photo so I can only hope that in real life I don't glow this much.

I have a bit of an issue with my skin tone pure and simply because I look a bit dead at times. I get stressed out very easily and this stress results in a wonderful array of dark tones beneath my eyes that just will not be covered. Needless to say I feel more ghostly than wonderfully pale. Thankfully, Twilight has meant the fact I look like a Cullen (I've been told I could pass for a vampire...charming I know) actually mildly acceptable.

Thank goodness that spring is coming though! I cannot wait to add a bit of shimmer, get out in the sun so I look like a normal human being in winter and throw on some bright colours. Yes, the return of colour this spring will be paired with the return of colour to my skin (I hope). Blue, tangerine or neon brights, they've filtered down from the catwalk and now the high street has some great options...

Hermanos Inglesos: Wanderland

This music video appeared on The Cool Hunter this week and despite the fact the song is infectious it is the video itself that interested me.  It is quirky, unique and produced in the mixed material style I just love. The combination of photographs with illustrations works perfectly and reminds me of some of Darren Firth's work.

Hermanos Inglesos feat. MeMe - "Wanderland" from Michélé De Feudis on Vimeo.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Force

My brother has become a bit obsessed with Star Wars. Personally, I thought it was a bit early for such an obsession seeing as he's only four but then I was reminded that at that age my favourite films were Grease (1 and appears I had no taste) and Dirty Dancing.

He has taken to watching the films over and over whilst simultaneously playing the game on the X-Box. This multitasking is something he struggles with and usually results in us doing one or the other and encouraging him to let us turn off the film so we can at least watch something else. This never works, in fact what actually happens is we have the game, the film and a battle with his toy lightsabers all at once. Turns out I'm pretty good with a lightsaber and I refuse to let him win (I figure he needs to learn how to be a good loser) and so he just changes the rules constantly...

Me: "I hit you. That means you're dead."
Caleb: "No you have to hit me three times."
Me (whilst prodding him): "One, two, three. I win."
Caleb: "Noooo I said five times."

...Isn't it convenient that when he hits me once though that I am then dead and expected to enact rather dramatic death scene. This happens so often that the batteries have in fact run out and now the lightsabers make no noise. I think my mom was happy about this but it means now we have to make the sounds ourselves.

Anyway, you can imagine how funny I found it when I saw the recent Volkswagen advert entitled The Force. I'm not sure if Caleb has seen it yet but I am expecting a reenactment of this advert at home very soon. In fact I'm sure a Darth Vader outfit will be requested... or Luke Skywalker if he has finally made the decision to be a goody rather than swapping sides.

Devlin at Lancaster Library

I'm working as a creative consultant to review and suggest developments for Get it Loud in Libraries, which pushes back the books in Lancashire libraries and fills them with amazing bands and musicians. So far they've featured Professor Green, Adele, Florence and the Machine, Smoke Fairies, Missing Andy, Katy B and many more.

Last night was my first library gig... I was put on the guest list to see Devlin. I'll listen to a lot, I'll move to anything with a good beat (but won't look good doing it) but it's rare I'd go to see Drum and Bass live. Despite a sore throat he acted as if he was in the biggest venue in the world not a little library in Lancaster. Plus, it turns out I know a lot more of Devlin's music than I realised and even found myself singing along to Runaway.

He constantly made reference to the venue and remarked "Drum and bass in a should be illegal." Whether or not this is because he find it genuinely liked the venue is a different matter. When Ellie Goulding played Lancaster library she was caught backstage moaning about it being weird and I suppose it is... good weird in my opinion.

Devlin, Lancaster Library, 6 February 2011

Get it Loud in Libraries is a great way to get people involved and see the potential in libraries as fountains of knowledge and entertainment. This is particularly important as libraries across the UK face closure. 5th February was Save Our Libraries day but rather than one off support something like this gives libraries an additional use all year round. If you live in Lancashire get involved...and if you don't suggest it to your local councils. My job now is to see what people attending really think of it and how to make it better for everyone. The next gig I plan to attend is Mona on the 19th Feb so if you plan on going let me know and come and say hello.