Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Running, Music, Peter Cushing and Roast Chicken

For the last 12 months I've been trying to be a bit healthier - I'm much more sensible about what I eat, I don't drink during the week anymore (or rather I v rarely drink during the week these days unless it is a special occasion) and I've started exercising. I've lost a bit of weight, got rid of most of my bingo wing flab and have grown out of some of my favourite clothes but back into others and got some lovely new ones - in short I feel loads better than I did this time last year. Not just physically but mentally too - a lot more in control of stuff.

But I'm finding running hard - I can do 5 - 6 minute bursts on the treadmill in the gym but struggle to keep going for that length of time out of the gym. I can run a bit more each time and am slowly getting quicker each time I go round the bridlepath and I can keep walking between each bout of running now as opposed to having to stop dead still unable to move and feeling like I'm going to hurl my guts up so I *know* I am progressing but I don't *feel* like I am. Door to door and round the bridlepath twice is just over 3 miles and believe me when I can complete that in one go you'll hear the whooping wherever you are in Leeds :-)

Anyways I've started running to music in the hope that that will keep me going but the trouble with that is - I must have a really odd shaped right ear as the headphone for that side just keeps popping out which means I'm forever fiddling with it as I try and run round and the kind of music I normally listen to for pleasure - Edith Piaf, Al Bowlly and Glenn Miller really isn't the best for moving along to, it's perfect for listening to dreamily and wanting to be in the 1940's (but without bombs please) but not good for running.

So to this end I've put together a playlist of the other music I like listening to that is mostly stompy industrial goth nonsense with a bit of S'Express and Gina G thrown in for good measure but if any of you reading this have any running or music tips then I'd be very grateful for them.

Sunday 26th May was the centenary of the birth of Peter Cushing and I celebrated this by raising a glass in his honour, rewatching Curse of Frankenstein, reading more of  'Peter Cushing My Life In Film' by David Miller and listening to him talk about his love of wildlife and birds in particular on this rather wonderful programme on Radio 4 Extra - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01slst0 which was lovely. I doubt however he would have approved of my roast chicken dinner yesterday as he was a strict vegetarian. Oh well, it was a free range one and very tasty........

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Photographers I Love :-) Man Ray.

I've spoken before about my love of George Hurrell's work, I also adore Man Ray's work and thanks to my lovely husband paying for the tickets and the decision of the couple who were getting married to have their ceremony start at 3pm - we had enough time (just) to be able to go to the Man Ray exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in that London before the wedding. The wedding being the main reason for a trip to that London in the first place.

The wedding was lovely and the Man Ray photographs were just gorgeous - beautifully monochrome though with a few later colour ones - which IIRC were done by a three layer colour technique that also involved carbon paper - though I may have got that completely wrong as I have said before - I am a intuitive rather than technical photographer and technical details are not my strong points. In fact thinking about it - I can't remember if I read that in a blurb next to the pictures or on a programme about Erwin Blumenfeld - another of my favourite photographers.

The exhibition featured work from 1916 when he was starting out in New York, his work in Paris of the 20's and 30's and his Hollywood work from the 40's - not as breathlessly glamorous as Hurrell's but still gorgeous and then his work in Paris until his death in 1976.

I first heard about Man Ray when I was in my late teens and slightly obsessed (a slight obsession that has continued) with Dadaism and Surrealism (my favourite painter is Magritte and I am lucky to have seen a lot of his work in the main gallery in Brussels) and I think I bought a postcard copy of his portrait of Nancy Cunard see here with all her wonderful bracelets from the Whitworth Gallery Shop. I was mostly skint as a teenager and postcards were an affordable way to buy copies of artwork. I still have that postcard somewhere. I also fell in love with the portrait of the lady who had a violin as her back -image no 5 on the slideshow   and the exquisite eyelashed eyes with such big beautiful round tears - see here

It was wonderful to see pictures of all the people and artists I had read about all those years ago, the names which I couldn't then and probably still can't pronounce flooding back to me in a lovely proustian rush. Those  lunchtimes spent in the library reading about the Armoury Show and Duchamps love of chess and found objects were not wasted. I could lose myself in that period of post and pre war horror many, many times over. There is a glamour and a playfulness and an inventiveness about his photographs I find utterly enchanting and I know I am going to lose myself in the exhibition catalogue many times over in the next few weeks.

Plus I find myself inspired to take actual portraits (in b+w obviously) something which I very rarely do as I usually prefer to take pictures of places, things or reflections so watch this space as I experiment. It seems you can recreate 'solarisation' in photoshop though that means sitting in front of a computer 'fannying about' so I might just have to resort to proper old school chemicals and light instead........

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Been A Bit Remiss...Horror Film-Ness :-)

It's almost a month since I updated this blog, in spite of the best intentions to get back into a habit of doing it regularly on a Monday I haven't. For lots of good reasons though aside from just laziness - I've been busy with WI stuff, been gothing about in that Whitby (though to be fair I goth about most of the time, not just in Whitby) and I try and go to the gym on a Monday night and if I haven't written a post before I go then the chances of me doing it when I get back are minimal as all I want then is to change out of my (black) gym kit and then  have something to eat whilst watching The Big Bang Theory and then fall asleep.

Last night I had a chum round for dinner and I made kedgeree and then we watched the restored edition of Hammers version of Dracula on blu-ray. It's shonky in places - some of the dialogue clunks, staked vampires still breathe and I'm still not quite sure why a servants daughter would be so close to the mistresses family but other than that it is a wonderful film. I am ever so slightly in love with Peter Cushing (for slightly read madly) and he is magnificent as Dr Van Helsing. Authoritative and charming - I'd want him on my side if ever I was involved in a fight to the death with the undead. Christopher Lee is good too though I prefer him as the Creature in the Curse of Frankenstein. But then I always feel sorry for the Creature - he's not made evil, he just becomes that way because his creator rejects him. There is a wonderful pathos to Lee's performance as the Creature though it doesn't quite reach the same heights (or should that be depth?) as Karloff's - there is something truly magical about that. Cushing is marvellous as the obsessed Frankenstein though - the near wink he gives when he knows he is going to get up to no good with his housekeeper is a wonderful moment. As is the look he gives when he locks her in with the Creature - ooh I might just have to watch it again this evening.

I'm not quite sure when I fell in love with horror films as such though I had long been a fan of Scooby Doo and Misty Comic - though I can remember when I fell in love with Peter Cushing. It was on a camping holiday in Wales and we had a portable b+w tv (the kind you tune in by a dial - the kind I still have in the kitchen) and we watched The Creeping Flesh. It was a wonderful load of campy old nonsense and he was magnificent in it and I was hooked from then on. I spent many a misspent hour in my youth watching unsuitable and age inappropriate films on VHS with my Dad which he 'got from a mate at work' and I don't mind the odd slasher type horror movie - Halloween and Friday the 13th are my favourites in that category and I'm rather fond of zombie dismemberment too - Night of the Living Dead and Dead Snow are my two favourite zombie films.

But really I like my horror to be oldey worldy, creepy, atmospheric and ideally in b+w  or gentle old technicolour as opposed to full on in your face modern torture porn things like Saw. I love the Universal films of the 30's and 40's - I even love Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and the wonderful creepy films made by RKO like I Walked With A Zombie and Cat People too though I will always have a soft spot for the original My Bloody Valentine. Though Night Of The Demon, all of the Corman Poe films and the original The Haunting are also some of my all time faves.  I'd be very hard pushed to say what all my all time favourite horror film is, though on balance I'd probably say Bride of Frankenstein. There is something really magical about it - might have to rewatch that soon too.

What are your favourite horror films/moments?