With Sympathy: The Get Down

Some series capture our hearts, and hang around forever. We loved The Simpsons, and for that reason it has yet to end, despite the fact that it probably should. Some series are however, given a premature cancellation. Though they had so much more to give, they were taken away from us in their prime, for reasons unknown. An example of such is Netflix’s The Get Down (2016-2017). But do not fear, it’s hanging around, ready to binge-watch, so pick it up whilst you still can!

The Get Down aired on Netflix in August 2016, a fact you’d be forgiven for not knowing. It’s a hidden gem, and constantly faces threats of cancellation despite positive reviews. Set in the Bronx in the 1970s, it’s a celebration of nostalgia not unlike the far more successful Stranger Things. This time it’s less bikes and Eggo waffles and more disco and R&B – but there’s an equal amount of Star Wars references. The series’ lack of recognition is confusing, given that its creator is none other than Baz Luhrmann. He’s the man behind The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge. He does here what he does best: an aesthetically pleasing musical, complete with love, comedy and gangsters. Though it may not be quite as iconic as Romeo + Juliet, Luhrmann does not disappoint.

The story is told through the eyes of the loveable Zeke Figuero, a poet who finds his true talent in rap after meeting an aspiring DJ. The show deals with racial struggles and real-life issues facing the Bronx at the time by incorporating actual news footage. Yet these struggles are not historically exclusive, they’re relevant and relatable. Take Mylene Cruz for example: she longs for fame as a disco singer, but is held back by her strict religious father, who thinks her dreams are inappropriate. She’s hard-working, intelligent, fierce and independent. Mylene and her friends are not pit against each other, instead they support each other’s ambitions. They serve as important representation of positive female friendships, something often lacking in television. Each character has their own struggle, from class, to art, to sexuality.

Every actor is individually great, making each character distinct and memorable. Considering Hollywood’s recent whitewashing and lack of representation in general, celebrating black culture with a diverse cast like this is crucial. Perhaps the best addition to the series is Jaden Smith as Dizzee Kipling. In The Get Down, Smith has finally found his footing as a queer, philosophical graffiti artist. Forget his weak acting in After Earth and occasionally annoying tweets, Jaden Smith is a pleasure to watch in this series. He’s compelling, funny and unique. Not only is the series’ acting brilliant, the singing is nothing short of phenomenal. Part one gives us “Set Me Free”, a song you won’t be able to take off loop once the series ends. As always with Luhrmann’s work, each song is pretty much a masterpiece.

Though we might be used to seeing Baz Luhrmann’s work on the big screen, The Get Down is nothing short of a cinematic experience. As opposed to the usual two-hour cinema trip, there are two short seasons waiting for you. The first episode may seem long and drawn out, but it brings us one of the show’s most dramatic scenes, and it’s worth hanging on to see what the rest of the series has to offer. Perhaps the 1970s fashion is enough to sell some people alone. Part two was released in April of this year, and once you’ve run through all eleven episodes, you’ll be heartbroken that no renewal came our way.

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The X Files Season 11 Trailer

I only recently posted about a trailer, but I was spoiled last week with both Star Wars and The X Files. I couldn’t ignore my favourite FBI agents any longer. Even though most X Files content since 2000 has been something of a disappointment, I couldn’t help but be excited about Spooky and Starbuck’s return – and I’ve only waited 2 years, I can’t imagine how the ‘90s fans feel!

Spoilers for the entire series, so don’t read if you plan on watching! If you do, however, I have a non-spoiler list of episodes you should watch to get into it.

IMG_5571 Chris Carter ended the series in an unusual place – how is Scully supposed to be our skeptic after that? As well as this, the barely-breathing Mulder we left on the bridge is gone; he’s looking quite well for someone who has a mystery virus. I’m not too angry about this, after all, the series is only going to be 10 episodes long; if I’m going to suffer through it, I at least want Dana and Fox to be investigating together, rather than on death’s door.

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What I am mad about, however, is the return of Sick Scully. Sure, it’s going to make me weep over Mulder and Scully’s tragic story – but I could just as easily care about them while I watch them bicker on a case. I often think the writers forget what made us love the dynamic between Mulder and Scully: it’s their chemistry, their perfectly balanced relationship, the way they should be opposites who constantly disagree but care about each other. It’s not about high stakes. Besides, Scully is all too often the damsel in, well, a hospital gown. We’ve seen this arch before. I don’t want her wasted on an emotional pull, I want to see Gillian doing something!

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Speaking of which, it does seem as though Gillian might be doing something this time around after all. This scene looks fantastic. In the ‘90s episodes, it was often Scully who fought off the bad guys with her gun whilst Mulder lost his whenever he ended up in trouble. I’m excited to see that pattern again, if just for the nostalgia. Scully was a revolutionary role, let’s not forget that’s why half of us are still watching this show.

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The villains look good this season. There’s an actual monster, grey aliens, some suspicious men and this woman. This screencap reminds me of a scene in season 1’s Eve, where one of the Eves laughs hysterically in her cell – since that’s my favourite episode, I’d be very happy if a similar one came this season. Thankfully, this season will have 8 Monsters of the Week and only two mythology episodes. Given that Carter has become lost in the web of his own meaningless mythology, I’m glad to see MOTW outweigh. Monsters of the Week give Mulder and Scully room to interact with each other, as well as giving us a compelling plot. Where mythology is concerned, there’s usually time for neither. As for the rather ridiculous looking grey aliens, they feel very Darin Morgan to me, which can only mean good things.

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Then of course, there’s this. Look, I was glad to see CSM last season. I mean, I know he got pushed down the stairs, then a missile hit him in the literal face. It’s silly and it takes away from the show, but it was a fun call-back to the old episodes. Now it just seems silly. He once had a tube in his neck to breathe, now he’s sat in Skinner’s car, smoking. He can’t be taken seriously as a villain. Anyway, did we ever clear up whether he’s Mulder’s dad or not?

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There are characters I’m glad to see making a comeback, especially after I caught a glimpse of this in the trailer. The Lone Gunmen were a brilliant part of the series. They humanised Mulder and made him a bit more weird. I imagine this shot is a video taken by Langley before he died, but their return in any meaningful capacity would be fantastic. Last season’s drug-induced hallucination was a huge disappointment, so I’m glad we’ll be having none of that. I hope we see some Monica Reyes, who would’ve made a way better Mulder replacement than Doggett ever was – why didn’t she partner up with Scully from season 8 onwards? As for Skinner, I’m glad he’ll be a series regular this time, I always love the episodes where Mulder and Scully have to explain their bizarre situations to him.

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Let’s not forget, this is a Chris Carter series, so not everything can be perfect. It’s almost certain that agents Miller and Einstein will return this season – in a very small capacity, I hope. I don’t want a remake of the series featuring some less likeable twins of Mulder and Scully. If I wanted that, I’d watch Bones or Castle or Criminal Minds. I don’t want two new agents with a ‘TXF’ sticker slapped on them. I’m not invested in them and I won’t be, because the whole point of this revisit is the nostalgia. I just want to see Mulder and Scully investigate some cases and end up happily ever after – but when did we ever get that?

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However, I am looking forward to William. This plot has needed some resolution since the final season, but somehow I don’t feel we’ll get it. It seems as though William will become a villain of sorts. Is this final shot in the trailer William, channelling his (maybe) paternal grandfather? Well, he’s should only be 17, and there are some grey aliens behind him, so I’m not too sure. I’d just like to know a little more about William, if they’re focusing the mythology on that plot, and have it resolved once and for all.

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Most of all, I’m looking forward to some episodes in the woods, where Dana and Fox argue about existence and whatever else. A few gags and laughs, some aliens, some senseless-sensible Scully science and a pinch of muddled Mulder mythology. This trailer suggests we’ll get some of that. If we don’t, and the series is hilariously bad, at least we’ll get a laugh. But please, please, please no clliffhangers!

All pictures from The X Files Season 11 Trailer.

Album of the Month: case/lang/veirs

I discovered this album whilst wandering a bookshop. This story could be so pretentious. Yes, I was musing over the titles on the spines of books which bound the pages together, when I noticed the wonderful music echoing against the bookcases.

That’s practically what happened.

In all seriousness, the chorus of Best Kept Secret caught my ear, and I had to google the lyrics to learn what song it was immediately. I downloaded it seconds later and I’ve been in love ever since. Of course, each artist in this supergroup is an indie icon in their own right, I look forward to discovering each of them.

case/lang/veirs’ self-titled 2016 album is a surreal, indie-folk-rock sound that works against all odds. The three artists – Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs – are so distinctive. It’s almost like three separate albums on a playlist, as each time they take the lead it’s a different sound. Compare Lang’s melodious melancholy on Blue Fires to Veirs as she swerves in an indie-rock direction on Best Kept Secret.

In fact, Best Kept Secret is my favourite on the album. The very beginning is almost ‘70s disco, before it swerves to that all-too-familiar indie longing. It sounds like the end of a summer love – that person who was your secret and always will be, no matter how many times you tell the story. It’s timeless, this nostalgic, autumnal feeling. I am enamoured with this song.

case/lang/veirs is a comforting album that feels like the way leaves fall in October, I urge you to listen to it this month.

Guest Speaker – Light Night

This post is from a guest speaker – so you can read someone who isn’t me, for once. This guest speaker is Ffion, who I can only describe as a huge part of my life. She’s an incredible photographer but a more incredible person, inside and out. Ffion visited an interesting festival in Leeds and has some beautiful photos on it, so listen to what she has to say!

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Leeds Light Night is an annual arts and light festival held across the city of Leeds. Held over two evenings, a variety of different sculptures, performances and projections are showcased among the city’s landmarks. Having visited before, I had an idea of what to expect, and was pleased when the displays this year were bigger and better than the previous.

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This year’s carnival parade was undoubtedly the festival’s main attraction. Starting a little past 7:30pm, parade performers from Leeds West Indian Carnival set off from the Town Hall and began weaving their way through the crowded city streets. It included dancers wearing glowing costumes, walkers carrying handmade lanterns and performers waving their LED umbrellas. At the back of the parade was the biggest handmade lantern – a man operated BFG!

Light Displays

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Making use of the city’s beautiful and historic buildings, Leeds Civic Hall was a background for a series of projections created by artists paying tribute to local history of Leeds. The University of Leeds’s iconic Parkinson Building was lit up with pink lights for the event, which was also a nod to the fact October is breast cancer awareness month. One of the most visually amazing displays was to be found in Briggate which was lined with giant desk lamps. Towering above high street shops and Trinity shopping centre, they were cause for some amazing photos.

Fun for all the Family

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The event is well known among locals of all ages who are drawn onto the streets on these cold October nights or even participating in the parade themselves. Local school children carried home-made lanterns among professional performers adding to the communal feel of the event. The event also catered to children who weren’t participating as there were plenty of alternatives such as arts and crafts events in local shopping centres, if the children aren’t too keen on standing out on the cold streets all night.

Final Thoughts

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Light Night is worth a visit if you’re near the Leeds area next year. The community feel and buzzing atmosphere on the streets paired with the thought-provoking displays made for a fun night. As the displays are on the streets themselves, it’s a free event meaning not even students have an excuse not to visit! Plus, you have the opportunity for some cool Instagrams. There is a lot to see, and the only downside to the evening was that I didn’t get to see everything, although you could solve this by visiting on both nights. An interactive map available on the event’s website was incredibly useful in providing details of the display locations and handy if you’re unfamiliar with the city. My advice would be to plan your visit in order to see everything you want and get the most out of the evenings.

 

Follow Ffion on Instagram!

The Last Jedi Trailer

As an (occasional) film blogger and a huge Star Wars fan, I absolutely had to post my thoughts about the trailer for the second film in our new trilogy. You should know that I like to go into these films mostly blind, I only watch the main trailers – I avoid news from the set, rumours and TV spots. So, don’t worry, this won’t be as frustratingly pre-spoilery as the usual articles on upcoming films.

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The general feel I got from this trailer is that this film is, tonally, far darker than the previous instalment. Perhaps darker than all other previous movies – bar Rogue One, which was almost don’t-take-your-kids-to-this-movie dark. Whilst The Force Awakens had its dark moments, it was certainly the freshman film – it still had fun, and room to play with quirky new characters. Perhaps one of the problems of the prequels were that they weren’t dark enough (I’m looking at you, Jar Jar Binks). The first prequel was happy-go-lucky, the second lovey-dovey, and the third too jarring a shift in tone to fit in properly with the others.

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The point is, I’m glad that this film is going to be darker because it’ll segue more easily into the final act of the trilogy. I’m also excited for the darkness of this film because it’s going to be interesting. As we have established, there is some darkness inside Rey; our heroine seems to possess some interesting Jedi powers that I can’t wait to see explored. Also, emo hermit Luke seems pretty scared of Rey’s power. It’ll be interesting to see a hero who struggles with her abilities, rather than the clean-cut, black-and-white Luke. This grey area the new addition to the Star Wars films that we needed.

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On to the addition that I’m not sure we needed: Porgs. Sure, they’re cute and they’ll inevitably fly off the shelves come Christmas, with your child crying when Santa can’t get his hands on one because they’re taking pride of place on the fanboys’ shelves. But, remember what ruined Return of the Jedi? Ewoks. These guys might just be the new Ewoks, a frustrating waste of space whose cute-factor wears off within twenty-minutes. Besides, Force Awakens did so well in balancing a merchandisable yet genuinely likeable non-speaking side character in BB-8. Why couldn’t we have quit while we’re ahead, and left it at BB-8?

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Speaking of side characters, I need to talk about Finn. He’s had an outfit glo up that I completely approve of – even better when you remember that this is the first time Finn has been able to choose his own clothes, and is not dictated by what the First Order tell him to wear. I love Finn’s story – it’s never been done before in this universe, yet it still has that quintessential unlikely hero for which Star Wars is so well known. We see Finn fighting Captain Phasma, with the TR-8R weapon – both of which I am so glad to see return. Captain Phasma is such an interesting villain, she had that silent but impossibly interesting factor that made us love Boba Fett. Not only does the clip from this scene ensure more Captain Phasma for us, it tells us that Finn will continue to fight against the oppression he faced.

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It’s not only Captain Phasma who is a villain that needs exploring – let’s not forget Snoke. I was so relieved when Snoke turned out to be a hologram, as I was worried that he’d be a forgettable, silly villain. In this screencap he looks genuinely scary, but perhaps a bit too much like Palpatine. I want to know who he is and what his agenda is, and it looks as though we may get some of that in this film. Hopefully there are also some good guys we’ll get to know a little bit better, glad to see more Poe, hoping to see a lot of Kelly Marie Tran!

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A fight I’m less excited to watch is what looks unsurprisingly like the Hoth battle. We all know how to beat AT-ATs now, anyway. It could be a fun little call back if something very different is done with it, but perhaps this is a case of too much reliance on the original trilogy, once again. I’m not too concerned about the possibility of this film being another training montage, though that would be relying quite heavily on Empire Strikes Back, and I do not want this film to be the less good version of Empire. However, the training montage set up could be an effective way to have our characters better set up, more fleshed out and explored in depth. It’s not certain whether Rey or Kylo are good or bad, and this film could make them who they are, motivating us to care about them as we follow them into the final film.

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Kylo Ren is a touchy subject for me. I don’t know why everyone went wild for him, he strikes me as a little bit boring. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see a whiny man with anger issues as a villain for once – but that’s all he is. I wasn’t sure how he’d last a whole trilogy, but perhaps he isn’t. Will Kylo defect to the Resistance? Has he been brainwashed by Snoke? I somehow doubt he’ll end up as a good guy – people already lust after him as a villain (ew), why would the producers want to make him likeable. Let’s not forget, he killed Han Solo, how would a character who did such a thing ever be redeemed? Stranger things have happened, I suppose. Let’s not forget the title, which suggests that only one of Kylo, Rey and Luke will be left standing when the credits roll for The Last Jedi. One thing I’m very glad of is that his silly helmet is finally gone, I’m glad that was just a tease to attract us to the first film.

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I’m excited to see how Kylo and Rey relate to each other, whether they balance each other as equals, or team up. This shot has me wishing for December, and questioning everything I thought about The Last Jedi.

All pictures from The Last Jedi Trailer.

Halloween Watches for Horror-Haters

I am a massive scaredy-cat. I didn’t see It. I’ve never seen Saw. I think the last horror film I watched was Paranormal Activity 3 behind a blanket on my 14th birthday. Since I hate horror films, there’s some conflict between what Halloween is for me. I don’t like the blood and guts side of it, I like the fun side! Here are my top picks to watch this month for those of us who love Halloween but hate horror.

 

Rewatch Riverdale

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What better way to ring in the autumn than with a murder mystery set at the end of summer? It’s dark and snowy, and it has that vintage-Autumn aesthetic. Though Riverdale has its creepy moments – especially the weird zombie scene – it’s never genuinely scary.

Let’s be honest though – the story is weak and the twist isn’t nearly as shocking as it could have been. If you’re looking for an easy watch and some gorgeous upstate New York scenery, refresh your memory of this maple syrup conspiracy before the new season begins this month.

 

Start Stranger Things

Stranger Things is the antithesis of Riverdale – it’s about brave kids who care about each other, rather than a town backstabbing teens. If you haven’t yet touched this 2016 summer hit, this eight episode series is perfect to binge-watch this autumn. The new season drops on October 27th, making this a must watch for this month in particular.

The nightmarish Upside-Down and the dark themes of a missing child could have made this a horror, but somehow it isn’t. The characters are optimistic, kind kids who grow up before your eyes. If you’re a massive scaredy-cat don’t be put off.

 

Watch Practical Magic

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Every Halloween, my mum and I sit down with some chocolate and a cup of tea and watch Practical Magic. It’s the perfect horror-hater pick for Halloween. It centres on two sisters who are complete opposites, but happen to be witches. It’s not Hocus Pocus with the costumes, but it’s just as Halloween-y.

Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star as the sisters, and wear an array of ‘90s autumn aesthetic clothes. There’s also a scene where everyone drinks tequila all night. Could you ask for much more?

 

Revisit your Favourite Childhood Show’s Halloween Special

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As a kid, whilst I decorated our house for Halloween, I loved watching the seasonal specials of my favourite shows like The Simpsons or The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Autumn is a very nostalgic season, so think about what used to make Halloween so spooky when you were a kid and revisit those things. I would love to know your favourite Halloween specials in the comments!

Pieces For October

Here are a few different things I’ve been loving over the past month, that will barely leave my side throughout October.

Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Nail Varnish in Mellow Yellow 

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As soon as we hit September, I was in need of yellow nail varnish – but I couldn’t find any! No brands seemed to have any in stock, and absolutely none in their autumn collection. This was the only one I could find that didn’t remind me of a high-visibility football bib. Regardless, it’s the perfect seasonal shade and it wears well, it barely chips compared to my others.

 

Yellow Cardigan

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On the topic of yellow, I added this yellow cardigan to my wardrobe this week. This cardigan was subsequently added to almost every outfit I have. It’s surprisingly wearable, and makes any outfit so much more autumnal. It was only £9, so it’s already beginning to wear somewhat, but what more could I expect? Overall, I’m happy with what I got.

 

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On to a less wearable piece of clothing, though I can’t wear these trousers with much, I couldn’t leave them in the shop. They make the perfect outfit for a night out when paired with black heels and a black crop top. I hope they’ll make a cosy winter outfit if I add a burgundy jumper and chelsea boots. They’re perfect for my 4”11 self, so I can forgive the £39 price tag.

 

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At this time of year, I always pop to the Yankee Candle shop to pick up a few wax melts for the season. Personally, I wouldn’t buy anything larger than a votive for myself, as the larger ones can get pricy, and they’re a massive waste if you don’t buy the set. Luckily, last week the shop had some damaged candles and last year’s range for only £1 each, so I picked up these autumnal scents for next to nothing. There’s apple, cinnamon, roses and my favourite: Cosy by the Fire. They also had this seasonal candle holder on sale for £4.50, I couldn’t resist!

 

Cheap Spooky Decorations

IMG_5404 My new house in need of some Halloween decorations, as I absolutely love decorating for Halloween. However, I’m on a budget, so I couldn’t go wild. So far, I’ve only picked up these cute candle holders. They’re actually a good size, and I think the screaming pumpkin is adorable! They were £1 each, and I am so close to running off to get some more…

 

Sweet Jar

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My housemate brought this with her when we moved into our house last month, and I’m a bit obsessed with keeping it topped up with sweets. It’s so tiny and it’s such a cute decoration for the season that’s all about sweets. Little empty jars are cheap to pick up, or you could always repurpose the jar from a candle. The sweets are 60p from Lidl – I wouldn’t spend any more because we get through them so quickly.

 

Rimmel – Kate Lasting Finish Lipstick
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This is an old favourite for October. It’s probably the 4th lipstick I ever bought, and I swore by it back when I was 16. I’ve recently bought another one and rediscovered it, because it’s cheap, it wears okay and it’s not as drying as my premium lipsticks. I’m not ready to fork out for a whole range of expensive lipsticks in autumnal tones, so I might pick up a few different colours from this brand.

What have you been loving this month?

Our Rocky Road Recipe

Last year, I didn’t do much around freshers. I didn’t join a lot of societies or go to many events, and this time around I needed to make up for it. My friend and I decided that our first move was to join The Baking Society! They show screenings of The Great British Bake Off and have their own bake off every fortnight. You show up with a bake, try everyone’s and vote for your favourite. It sounded like fun and it was something to take our minds off the impending doom of lectures. So we went for it!

Here’s How to Make Our Bake:

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100g dark chocolate

100g milk chocolate

Half a packet of digestives (200g)

100g mini marshmallows

Some glace cherries

2-3tbsp golden syrup

135g butter or margarine

 

Smash Digestives Up in a Bag with a Wooden Spoon – you need big crumbs and little crumbs

 

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Half Your Glace Cherries

 

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Melt Butter and Chocolate Together – and add the golden syrup

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Once Melted, Remove Melty Mixture from the Heat and Add Biscuit Crumbs Glace Cherries and Marshmallows to Melty Mixture

 

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Spoon Melty Mixture into a Lined Tray

 

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Refrigerate Overnight Then Cut into Squares and Serve

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In case you’re wondering, we didnt win. However, people really seemed to enjoy our super easy bake as we had hardly any left by the end of the day!

 

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If you make it, comment below how it went!

 

Trouble Sleeping?

I tend to panic about a lot of things that seem silly. My most recent? Attending Lorde’s Melodrama Tour. Everything on the news tells us that it’s dangerous to leave our houses, and in an effort to stop my own anxieties getting the better of me, I’ve been working on little ways to combat them. I was particularly nervous about attending a concert, especially in Manchester, due to the connotations with the tragedy at Arianna Grande’s concert in May of this year. My invasive thoughts were almost exclusively about being put in that situation, and I needed to stop feeling that way. Before I could stop feeling that way, I needed to sleep!

It was getting late, and staring at my phone was making my head spin, so I decided to run a bath. I’d been given a set of Lush bath bombs by some very lovely family members, who managed to pick out the set with my two favourite bath bombs. I ran a nice warm bath late at night, and popped Lush’s Intergalactic in!

I would recommend Intergalactic especially, because it’s a calming, glittering deep blue: it looks like the night sky. The scent envelops you – with the refreshing peppermint and grapefruit, and the somehow homely cedarwood oil. Half of the process was getting my body to relax, and a bath absolutely did the trick.

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Now that my muscles were relaxed, I needed to shoo away the other physical symptoms of anxiety. Whilst I sat in the bath, I sipped on a cup of Whittard’s Dreamtime Instant Tea. There’s no teabag to dispose of, as it is mixed into hot water like hot chocolate. The container is absolutely gorgeous – I found it pleasing that the container matched my bath bomb aesthetic! I scooped it into one of my favourite mugs and let the scent relax me on the inside. I don’t always like non-English-breakfast-tea, but the flavour of this one is so lovely! Somehow it isn’t too sweet, it’s gentle enough to drink before bed. Even if it’s psychosomatic, this helped me sleep. I don’t know why I would complain about something being psychosomatic, as long as it works!

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The third and final part of me that needed to relax was, of course, my mind. It was still racing with thoughts, and it needed to occupy its self with something comforting and familiar. My go-to is always a relaxing playlist. If I’m listening to songs I know all of the words to, I can just mentally sing along. It’s comforting, because I know exactly what’s coming next. I decided on a short playlist, consisting of a few of the gentler songs in my library. My top 3 for any relaxing playlist have always been the following – The District Sleeps Alone Tonight (Birdy – hers is gentler than the others), Start of Time (Gabrielle Aplin), and last but certainly not least Glorious You (Acoustic) (Frank Turner).

After about twenty to thirty minutes calming down like this, I could finally drift off to sleep – in bed, obviously, not the bath! And guess what? Nothing bad happened at Lorde.

Sorry that I’ve been so quiet lately! I’ve gone back to university and if the topic of this post is any indication, I needed a little break.

 

Melodrama: Manchester

Guess who caught the first concert of Lorde’s world tour? I had a great spot and a lot of feelings about the tour, so give this a read for some great pictures of our favourite witch and some details about the tour.

There will be spoilers for the setlist and the performance, if you’d rather go in blind (as I do), come back here after you see her! Although, I have a feeling a few things will change…

 

The Setlist

Lorde’s flawless 1.5 hour setlist was split up into 3 sections, each flowed into the next, perfectly encapsulating the three personas of Lorde. These sections were complimented by a support act and an encore.

 

Support Act: Khalid

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I hadn’t listened to Khalid before the tour – I should have! He was fantastic. His voice is amazing, he’s the singer/songwriter we deserve. The terribly relatable Young Dumb & Broke had everyone singing back at him. Khalid definitely gets a crowd going. He danced away like he was having the best time of his life, with this genuine smile on his face. His dancing is also incredible – worthy of comparison to Lorde’s witchy swaying. The only downside to Khalid’s performance was his stage setup, the lights were way too bright and I could hardly see anything when they were flashing right in my eyes. Pretty, but painful.

 

Section 1

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Magnets was an odd one to kick it off with, but I have a theory about this that I will mention later. I’m glad she did it though, as it’s one of the songs I didn’t think I’d get a chance to see live. Magnet’s beat gave Lorde the opportunity to throw that jumpy dancing from her Pure Heroine era at us, something I was worried she’d lost to a change in her music’s pace.

IMG_5320I didn’t expect Tennis Court to be next, but it got the crowd ready for the show. Seconds in and we’re all screaming YEAH back at her. Since we didn’t get a tour over here with Pure Heroine, I was glad to hear this one.

Hard Feelings was so good to hear completely separate from Loveless, as it’s such a good song in its own right. “But I still remember everything, how we’d drift buying groceries, how you’d dance for me” is one of her best closing lines, and we know she does closing lines best. It says so much in so little: it’s these two unrelated, fuzzy memories that sum up the entirety of a lost relationship so accurately in her head.

I’m not lying, this is what actually happened for Buzzcut Season. Lorde crouched on IMG_5299the floor, brought out a glockenspiel and played the opening on it, as the music began to grow and take over for her. Only Lorde would do this, and only she would be met with screams and cheers for doing so. Aside from that, it was a really good song choice because yeah, you know what, right about now I’m sick of all the men on the news, I’m sick of a world that wants us to deal with our less-than-perfect mental health, because that’s just how it is right now. It’s in.

Sober lifted the mood without giving us whiplash – it was a great one to get us dancing again, to end her first section on a high. We knew the story by heart and we let her know it. As you can tell by Lorde’s outfit, this section was based on her gothy era. I think Sober perfectly encapsulates the transition to her next era: it’s still that raspy voice, she’s young and she’s uncertain, but the adult themes in the song tell us that she is growing up, no matter how scary that feels.

 

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The Louvre, undeniably my favourite song from Melodrama, was supposed to be my favourite live. It wasn’t. It was still fantastic, but it feels like such a deep and personal song, that something was lost on stage. The single disappointment of the night, and not a big one at that.

Everyone’s favourite at Lorde gigs is Ribs. I remember seeing a picture when I was sixteen and had just discovered Lorde, it was a crowd with their lights in the air, swaying to Ribs, and I dreamed someone would take me there. Someone did. It was soft and otherworldly, everything I’d hoped. It took me back to being sixteen, and how it’s so scary getting old, how some things I could give some people will never be enough.

Lorde did not tone down the emotional selection at this point, as it was followed up

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by Liability, which only reminded me how much her vocals have improved. It sounded just like it did the first time I heard it after its release – except this time I wasn’t sat on the bathroom floor of my university accommodation, helplessly in love with the song. She was sat in front of me, dressed in her puffy white Victorian gown, helping me to fall helplessly back in love with the song. Liability’s Reprise was no less fantastic, with Lorde rising in a red light as she hissed the lyrics to us.

It’s a well-documented fact that A World Alone is my all-time favourite song. I refused to believe Lorde would sing this – it wasn’t a big one at the festivals, I always feel like it’s underappreciated, overshadowed by the somewhat similar but more popular Ribs. There was something about it that was perfect for this show. Lorde kept saying “I can’t believe we’re all here together” and it was all “we”. A World Alone worked for this reason – this concert was our world. Some 3-and-a-half-thousand of us, along with Lorde, dancing is this enclosed world alone together.

Lorde followed this with a cover of Phil Collin’s In The Air Tonight. It was probably a good choice because I needed to calm down after crying so much at A World Alone. She has performed this on Radio 1’s Live Lounge, so check it out.

 

Section 3

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Jack Antonoff’s influence as a co-writer and producer is perhaps most evident in Supercut – it’s pop, it’s dance-y, dare I say it, it’s a bit Taylor Swift. However, it still has that electric Lorde feeling, live even more so. It felt like the beginning of her new era: she wore an outfit like the Green Light video, the Melodrama sign lit pink, she was over feeling like a Liability. She was her new self.

Royals is definitely not my favourite Lorde song. I remember hearing it for the first time in my mum’s car, and deciding I didn’t like it at all. For a reason unknown to me (perhaps fate intervened), I listened to all of Pure Heroine via a Spotify free trial, and I fell in love. Seeing Royals live felt like listening to Lorde had been leading to this moment, and it was pretty great.

Then we went to Perfect Places. It’s the ultimate gig song – celebrating our young, img_5333.jpgashamed selves, who’ll take any opportunity to feel good, even for a short time. Her raspy voice closed the song, and watching Lorde drop the f-word was raw, vulnerable and soft. There’s this fantastic juxtaposition between the eclectic chorus and the almost sad ending, because being in this perfect place was so short lived.

Team works when it follows Perfect Places. It’s about the little perfect imperfect places that we live, with our imperfect perfect crowd of friends, doing perfect imperfect things. Her vocals were again, dramatically better than the live performances around Pure Heroine’s time. It was a great penultimate choice, to remind us who she was, before she presents who she is now.

Which brings us to Green Light. I was not expecting the concert to end on this one, because it’s her biggest song right now, it took ending on a high to a new level. Of course, Lorde explained why this was. She said that Green Light was the song she needed to write after Liability, it was about learning to let go and being content with that. Sadly, it was time to let go of Lorde.

 

Encore

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She wasn’t quite done. Lorde stood quietly after a piano was brought out, and played a gentle melody as she sang Loveless. It was this brilliant reminder that Lorde is a part of our generation, singing our stories back to us. It was the perfect ending to a perfect night.

                                                                                                             

Outfits

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Lorde’s First outfit was a double split black dress a sheer mesh catsuit underneath. There were tiny moons on the mesh, giving her this witchy, celestial vibe. It was very Pure Heroine.

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Her second choice was, of course, a puffy Victorian number, much like her SNL performance of Liability. She became this ethereal white witch who sang away about rejection and love and growing up.

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For the show’s final section, Lorde entered in a subtly sparkly pink jumpsuit. The colour contrasted perfectly with the Melodrama sign as it was illuminated green, and of course it all reminded us of Green Light. It was totally different to her other outfits, it was the new her.

 

Liability Speech


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Any avid follower of Lorde will know that before Liability, she sits down to do a speech to the audience. She really enjoyed talking to the audience – each section was separated by a poem, and she didn’t hesitate to speak to us between songs. Lorde talked about love and loss, how she believes that everyone will leave her, because no one can handle the frantic thinking that comes with being so creative. But she said something that was personal and pertinent; after the Manchester Attack in May, Lorde tweeted the above. She said that she knew that some of the crowd would have been in attendance when it happened. She chose not to use graphic language, but called it something that perfectly explained it: “when someone decided to betray the trust you put in us as artists, to keep you safe and make you happy”. She apologised that the trust between us could not be as strong as it once was. It was heartfelt, gentle and important, as the elephant in the room almost scared me away from attending that concert. In a previous post, I talked about why Homemade Dynamite’s release was delayed. I believe she chose not to perform it for the same reason. If you attend another concert, she might sing the remix of her latest single, with Khalid since he’s there. If this was a decision, I think it was a respectful one. We didn’t ‘miss out on a great performance’, it was only rightfully replaced. It’s replacement may have been Magnets, as it was a strange song choice, but I’d like to believe it was A World Alone, because that song made me feel safe.

 

Merch

I was disappointed in Lorde’s Merch. It was all very simple, and it didn’t feel very her. There were t-shirts and sweatshirts, with a few different designs. There were two different ones for Perfect Places, one for Supercut, one for The Louvre and the Europe Dance design. None of the designs based on the songs were very pretty – they weren’t wearable, especially not The Louvre. Supercut’s design looked like Coca-Cola. Sorry. However, the Europe Dance sweatshirt was lovely, it had a gorgeous flower pattern on the back, with a small ‘M’ on the front and ‘I know this story by heart’ written beneath. It was nice, but not nice enough to queue for!

 

Venue

This concert was at the Manchester 02 Apollo. I’ve been to a concert there once before, and we had an awful spot. This time, we got there an hour before the concert and ended up right at the front, near people who’d been queuing since 10 in the morning. Big tip for you – if you’re on 02’s mobile network and you’re seeing a concert here, you and up to 3 friends can go in the 02 Priority Queue and get in first. Anyway, it’s a great arena if you’re down at the front, not so good if you’re far back. The floor is slanted and the stage is quite high, so it’s way easier to see than Manchester Academy. You also have the option to sit in the balcony, which is a calmer way to watch a concert. You get a great view, and there’s no sweating and pushing, so it’s a good alternative if you have anxiety in spaces like concerts.

 

I digress a lot – in short, it was otherworldly. Buy tickets!