Monday, 30 June 2014

The Hunger Games and Skulduggery Pleasant

So the last two books I've read have been fairly light. I read the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy and I was sort of disappointed. I liked the movie more than the book. The movie was really close to the book, they managed to have pretty much everything from the book in the movie, which should tell you a great deal about the contents of the book. It's not much, it's not very advanced and it's not very detailed. To begin with the images I had of book-Katniss and movie-Katniss really clashed. Katniss is supposed to be small-ish and dangerously thin. Jennifer Lawrence is none of those things. I love Jennifer Lawrence, but couldn't the caster have found someone more like Katniss to play her? But there's something about the book, something that draws you in although you're not a fan. When the games started I couldn't tear myself from the book and although I was disappointed by it I'm still excited to read the other two books in the series. So I'm kind of torn.

The other book, which I finished yesterday, is the second novel in the Skulduggery Pleasant series. According to this old blog post I've already read it, which is weird because I don't remember reading it. I usually remember everything that happens in a book and when I re-read them it's just to relive old memories. Skulduggery Pleasant is a childrens series. On the back of the book it says 9+, but the humour in it is just too good. I can tell while reading that it's aimed at a younger audience than me, but I'm still laughing out loud while reading it cause the humour is just too good.

"I'm not weird like that. I'm good weird. I'm cool weird."
- Valkyrie Cain

Tanith Low: "I've got some shackles with your name on them."
Billy-Ray Sanguine: "Shackles can't hold me, pretty lady. I'm immune to just every binding spell I reckon you ever heard of, and a few more you haven't. That's what makes me special."
Tanith Low: "That and your Psychopathic tendencies."
Billy-Ray Sanguine: "Oh, those don't make me special. They just make me fun."

"What is it with you women? You come into our lives, you take everythin'! Throughout the years you got little pieces of me, of my very soul, and now? Now you got my damn straight razor! How am I supposed to kill people? How am I supposed to even shave?"
- Billy-Ray Sanguine

Brobding the giant: "I'm gonna kill you. Want you to know, it's nothing personal."
Skulduggery Pleasant: "That's good to hear. In which case, I'm going to knock you down and hit you with the pool table, and Iwant you to know, it's nothing personal either."

"Whatever you do, do not fall over. Falling over, I think, would be the wrong move to make at this moment."
- Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery: "It's not him. Idon't know what they are, but there are dozens of them, relatively small, moving as a pack."
Valkyrie: "They might be kittens."
Skulduggery: "They're stalking us."
Valkyrie: "They might be shy."
Skulduggery: "I don't think it's kittens, Valkyrie."
Valkyrie: "Puppies, then?"

Kenspeckle: "Have you eaten?"
Valkyrie: "One of your assistants brought me a burger for breakfast."
Kenspeckle: "I meant, have you eaten sensibly?"
Valkyrie: "I was very sensible while I was eating the burger. Didn't miss my mouth once."

Just that weird sense of humour keeps me reading this series. 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Who would I be

Sometimes I think about who I would be if Harry Potter wasn't in my life. I know some of you might not understand and some of you will think it weird that a series of books is such a big part of my life.

But the world of Harry Potter has been so much more than books to me over those 15 years I've known Harry.

Without Harry Potter, what would've been my world of refuge when I was 9-15 and the world was so harsh? Would I have another if Hogwarts wasn't there to welcome me? Every day when I came home from school I went up to my room to find my refuge at Hogwarts. 4-6 grade I always had a blue R written on the back of my left hand. A blue R for Ravenclaw. I pretended to go to classes at Hogwarts, I had friends there, I was popular and important there. And during those years when I was 9-15, Hogwarts was more important to me than the real world. Even today, when I'm home alone and talk to myself I pretend that I'm talking to some character from Harry Potter.

There are so many people I wouldn't have met if it wasn't for Harry Potter. So many people online, whom I now consider my friends, that I would never have talked to, if it wasn't for Harry Potter. Most people meet their friends at school, through a mutual friend, or at work. I get to know people through a mutual interest.

Who would I be if Hermione Granger hadn't taught me that it was alright to be intelligent and take pride in it?
Who would I be if Hermione Granger hadn't comforted me when others bullied me for getting top grades?
Who would I be if Luna Lovegood hadn't convinced me that it's alright to believe what I want and be who I want?
Who would I be if Ginny Weasley hadn't taught me that it's alright to be a tomboy?
Who would I be if Neville Longbottom hadn't showed me that bravery is to stand up for yourself?
Who would I be if Arthur Weasley hadn't convinced me that it's not about how much money you make, it's about how much you love your work?
Who would I be if my admiration for J.K. Rowling's work hadn't inspired me to start writing myself?
Who would I be if Harry Potter hadn't been there to open the doors to the fantasy genre for me?
Who would I be if the first Harry Potter computer game hadn't open the doors to gaming for me?

Who would I be?

Harry Potter is the groundwork for everything I am. Take away Harry Potter and it all falls apart. The way things are now, I wouldn't be able to leave Harry Potter behind even if I wanted to. What I read, what I play, what I write, what I take pride in... If I disect everything about me to find out its source, more than likely that source will be that 9-year-old girl who decided she could read the first Harry Potter book herself, despite thinking it was huge with its 379 pages.

My life begun at Hogwarts.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

I watch too many TV-series

Another bad part about summer is that all TV-series go on break. And that's when I discover new ones and the pile of TV-series I follow is ever-growing. Here's a list of series I've watched this spring:

SPOILERS. Don't read if you haven't watched unil Grey's Anatomy S10E24
Grey's Anatomy. I've followed this series since it started back in 2005, and although the quality of the series isn't even close to what it was 9 years ago I still can't seem to stop watching it. But now I can feel the end approaching. Sandra Oh left the series. No more Cristina Yang. How can there be Grey without Yang? I'm not fond of how things played out in season 10. They can't give Bailey OCD and break down her tough exterior. Derek can't leave for DC. MerDer can't break up because of that, but there's a hint that they will. The only happy couple at the end of this series was Arizona and Callie. And then there's the promise of a fight between Bailey and Alex on who'll get Cristina's seat in the board. Probably Alex, but that'll just give Bailey more self-doubt. And I don't think she can deal with that. So much drama.

SPOILERS. Don't read if you haven't watched until Once Upon A Time S03E22
Once Upon A Time. I did get sort of sick of Peter Pan several episodes before he was defeated. So the introduction of Oz, was welcome when the season came back. I didn't like that Henry didn't know anything for most part of the second half. I really liked Zelena, too bad she had to die, and why did Neal have to die? :( And I love that Emma is finally in the book! This second half of the season was an awesome half for couples. RumBelle back together and married! Captain Swan is finally a thing! And I loved Outlaw Queen! I had been waiting for that for forever and it finally happened. And then Marian shows up and destroys it all :( I don't think there's a single fan out there who likes her now xD Everyone was rooting for Outlaw Queen. But I'm really excited for season 4. Frozen has entered Once Upon a Time. I'm slightly wondering if they're doing Frozen or Frozen-fied Ice Queen.

SPOILERS. Don't read if you haven't watched until Mad Men S07E07
Mad Men. I quit this series after the first episode of S06. But then I heard on TV that the new season was the final season ever, and I just had to catch up. Turns out the final season is split and the ultimate end won't air until spring 2015, but at least now I'm up to date. The only character I still like is Sally. She's the star of the show. I have a feeling Betty and Henry won't work out in the end. Megan and Don are finally getting a divorce! I never liked Megan and I still think Betty and Don should be together, no matter what they have between them. They fit. I loved the part where Margaret left her husband and son to be a hippie. It was glorious! Then there was the shooting of Martin Luther King and the moon landing. Both very cool to see. But this first half of S07 ended in tears as Bert Cooper died. Cooper was an awesome old man and I'll miss him in the second half. Then there's the fact that Don actually spilled the beans about his upbringing, growing up at a brothel. It got him in trouble, but I think he gained some respect from Sally. I'm excited about the end of this series!

SPOILERS. Don't read if you haven't watched until The Big Bang Theory S07E24
The Big Bang Theory. Things worked out for the best this season. Raj finally has a girlfriend! :D Penny and Leonard are getting married! And Sheldon is on some trip to grow up and find himself. It's well-needed but ofc Amy doesn't like it. Then there's Howard and Bernadette getting some experience in how it would be having a baby by caring for Howard's mother. Wonder if that's a hint that they're getting pregnant next season? :P

SPOILERS. Don't read if you haven't watched until Game of Thrones S04E10
Game of Thrones. Season 4 was amazing. The death of Joffrey. Tyrion's imprisonment and awesome speech: "I wish I was the monster you think I am." Sansa coming with Littlefinger to her aunt, only for the aunt to end up dead. How will Robin manage being the actual Lord of the Vale? I'm still shipping Brienne with Jaime, and didn't at all like when Brienne was sent to find Arya. Arya grew a lot as a person hanging out with The Hound. I can't help but feel a little sorry for Brienne who's still looking for Arya in the Vale, while Arya is on her way to Braavos. Stannis saved the Night's Watch's asses. That battle was awesome, btw, although I hate that Ygritte had to die. Bran making it to his tree was brilliant, but I really liked Jojen :( Wish he could've lived. Despite knowing that Bran had to make it to the tree and that Jon would've tried to stop him, I still wish Jon would've discovered Bran. First in the mill when he ran from Ygritte and got all those arrows in his back. And second at Craster's Farm. Both of them would've been so happy at the reunion. And then there's Jaime helping Tyrion to escape. Tyrion's got a friend in his brother. I don't think he'd ever expect that. Shae got what she had coming. But I really didn't think that Tyrion would kill Tywin. I sort of grew to like Tywin in a twisted way.

After I had finished Grey's Anatomy, Once Upon a Time and Mad Men, I was a little torn to what I should watch next. I have a few series on hold and I asked on Facebook whether I should continue watching Pokémon, Classic Who or Lost. Instead I got a big heap of recommendations: Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, X-files, Torchwood, The Strain, Falling Skies, Terra Nova, Penny Dreadful, Girls, Supernatural, and The Addams Family.

So now I've started watching The Vampire Diaries. I saw the first episode and fell for it immediately. Now, two weeks later, I'm halfway through season 4. There was always a lot of action and I loved the first three seasons, but the first half of season 4 has been kind of slow and boring. Hopefully the last episode I saw was a turning point and the action will come back. Favourite character? Damon. I don't like Stefan one bit.

After I've caught up with The Vampire Diaries I'm probably going to watch the only single season of Terra Nova and then probably some Classic Who (I have to get past the boring Third Doctor). Maybe I'll restart watching Fringe with Toni too.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Graduation is in the air - have some memories

It's graduation time. Everywhere I turn I see people talking about their secondary school graduation or their college graduation or university graduation, or that they're going to some friend's or family member's graduation, and it brings back memories to all my own graduations.

Where I'm from we had one school for 1-6 grades and then one for 7-9 grade. 10-12 grade is college and works completely different. Everytime it was time for a class to switch school there was a sort of graduation.

I remember my 6th grade graduation when we spray dyed or teacher's hair and beard neon pink and then dressed his car in toilet paper. All of the 6th graders on the school had come up with the plan that during our entrance to graduation we'd make the alarm sound on the building and then run in with scarves covering half our faces. Like in cowboy movies. Every class had made a song to our teachers and the years we had had in that school. The others' songs were funny and happy, ours was kind of sad. We had a reputation of being the problem class of our year group and a substitue teacher could never last long with us. So our song kind of asked for forgiveness for being so troublesome :P 6th grade graduation was a big day for me, cause it was one of very few days that I actually felt like a part of the class and not just some outcast appendage.

9th grade graduation lasted a few days actually. One day we had the big masquerade parade through town. I was dressed as an elf, with long sleeves and flowing skirts and curly hair and a circled band around my head. In the afternoon the same day (or maybe it was the day after?) we had the annual brännboll tournament against the teachers. Teachers one team, 9th graders one team. We won ofc :P Then there was the day with the actual graduation ceremony. Grades being handed out, teachers making speeches, students and teachers saying goodbye. Then in the evening we had a graduation ball. Three course dinner and a dance floor, and since it was either the world cup or the european cup in football at the time and Sweden was playing that night we also had the game on a big screen in the dining room. The fact that Sweden won that game only added to the celebration, and it felt great although I couldn't care less about sports. There was no alcohol served at the ball, but some people had brought it with them anyway. The ball ended about 3am and that's when we were picked up and taken home. I remember I slept until 3pm the next day. But all I felt from graduating 9th grade was relief that it was over and that I would never have to see any of those people again. I felt free.

Then there's the big one. College graduation. I can't believe it's over 5 years ago now... It feels like an eternity has passed, but at the same time when I think back it feels like it wasn't that long ago... The sun was shining all day and I got terribly burned by it. My shoes chafed awfully and I was forced to walk barefoot through Malmö after my shoes had created blisters and then chafed through the blisters until they drew blood. So yeah. But the graduation photos turned out good. We were the last class to run out on the steps in my school. But it was worth the wait. Running out on the steps shouting, singing, jumping around and hugging each other. Then finding my way through the crowd to my parents, friends and family who put lots of gifts around my neck (mostly flowers). Then off again to the truck to ride and dance on it through the entire city. Lots of singing and hugging and even some crying. Then got picked up and taken home by my dad to where all my friends and family were gathered. Then there was food and more presents. It was glorious. We had a ball a few days before graduation, but I didn't go. I had that ball in 9th grade. Didn't need another one. Then there was also the game day a couple of days ahead of the actual graduation where my class was dressed up as pirates. And then there was the graduation dinner too, with all the speeches and flowers that we gave to all our teachers. That was awesome and so much fun. I miss my class, we were crazy, but we were so great. So I'm gonna put my home made video here.

Never mind me having short blonde hair and glasses for the first half of the photos and then blonde hair and no glasses for the rest of it. Instead of no glasses and red hair ;)

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Summer, go away. Sun, you too.

So I guess it's time for my mandatory "I hate summer" post.

Well, it basically comes down to the fact that I'm sensitive to heat and pretty much allergic to the sun. And what is summer? Heat and sun. Lovely combination, don't you think? Yes, I'm sure you do.

I'm sensitive to heat. I can't empty a sauce pan of water without oven mittens, I can't hold a pizza slice that comes directly from the oven, and my biggest pet peeve is when I'm served a latte in a drinking glass at cafés. I have to get about 5 paper napkins to be able to hold the glass and drink from it and I can still feel the heat through the napkins. And I have to let the tea cool for about 10-15 minutes before I can drink it without burning my lips and tongue off. And by then my tea drinking buddy has probably finished his/her tea. Summer heat makes my head go woozy, the sun's so sharp that on top of my woozy head I almost always get a headache when I go outside (even with sunglasses). I can't be in saunas cause it feels like I can't breathe in there and in summer time the whole world turns into a sauna = constant shortness of breath.

I hate to be sweaty. I love to just lie around in bed for about 30-60 minutes after I've woken up. It's hard to do that in summer time cause I always wake up from being too hot and too sweaty and I hate it so I can't just lie around. I have to get out of there. I also like sleeping. Sleeping is difficult when it gets too hot in the room even with the window open and no cover. I hate to be sweaty and going outside in summer time and moving around a bit, like say, going to the shop and getting some groceries, will mean that I'll come back home feeling like I'm melting cause it's so hot.

The sun hates me. For three years I was happy with my sunscreen for sensitive skin and with SPF 50. This year it stopped working. I got sunrash all over my forhead even with it on. Little bumps all over my forhead, is really sexy -.-' I burned my shoulders into a two-day pain even with it on. I'm white. Like really, really white. Other white people usually have like a pink tinge. I'm totally white. And I can't change it. The sun burns painfully and gives me a rash. Two days later it's like nothing happened. I get no colour from it. The red doesn't turn brown, it turns white again. I always burn my scalp in the parting of the hair and then it itches for days.

There are three things I like about summer.

Number 1 is the evenings. Summer evenings are cooler and I can finally breathe and the sun doesn't go down until 11pm, but after 6pm it doesn't burn as much so I don't have to worry about going outside. If I could I would sleep all through the day and then wake up around 4-5pm and live during the part of the day that's actually liveable. But I can't sleep all day cause it gets too friggin hot in the room.

Number 2 is the ocean. I can finally go for a swim in the ocean, and in lakes, and outdoor swimming pools. The only place I don't feel like I'm melting is when I'm soaked in water. I love the world beneath the surface. My favourite place in summer is in the water.

Number 3 is the food. BBQ is heavenly. Ice cream every day is amazing. Shrimp and crawfish make for awesome meals. And the little tiny potatoes.

So if I don't go outside much during summer it's because it's hard and mostly painful. Don't complain that I spend all my summer days by the computer.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Sweden Rock Festival 2014

After 5 days with too little sleep, too much to drink, lots of laughter, sunrash and a rather bad sunburn I'm back home from Sweden Rock Festival.

So let's see if I remember everything the way it happened.

Tuesday: Ricky and Madde picked us up at 4 am. Since our normal sleeping pattern is getting up at noon-1pm and then not going to sleep until 3-4am, we decided not to sleep before. Instead we slept some in the car. If I take anti-motion sickness pills I rather enjoy road trips :) Due to taking a wrong turn a few times we arrived to the camp site around 1pm (should take about 6 hours to get there, took about 10 xD) and while we raised our tents and the party tent rain started falling. My Converse got all wet :( Lucky I remembered my wellingtons ;) After everything was set up we turned on the music and started on the alcohol. The rest of the Tuesday was spent drinking, laughing and singing along to weird music. We attracted a few people during the day and evening. We were just a few metres away from "the peeing fence" where all the guys went to pee and so we attracted some of them while they were on their way and then they kept coming back :) This day also introduced our mascot - Jerker the Viking :)
First person to fall asleep. Covered with his own beers and crowned with the duct tape. Ricky and Toni bowing down to him :P

Wednesday: Raining all day and not really any band I was interested to see. Instead we spent the day pretty much like the first one. Except at one point in the evening Toni and I went to have a look at the main festival area with all the stages and stuff, in connection to finding some sort of food. In the area we found Ricky by himself. Him and Toni played around and were going to sit together on top of a recently emtpied out trash can, but Toni moved and Ricky fell halfway in, then he fell all the way in. A group of middle aged people close by saw it happened and they along with us had a laughing fit from Ricky falling in the trash can. Then the two guys from the other group got the idea to turn the trash can over and roll it up the hill with Ricky in it. Then they just let go and let him roll all the way down. We all laughed so hard, including Ricky. Too bad we were all laughing too hard to remember to film it! xD But that was pretty much the main event of Wednesday.
 1). Ricky with cool contacts drinking mead out of a real drinking horn. 2) & 3). Madde's G&T cans had these stickers on them... 4). Tequila hat! 5) & 6). Ricky in a trash can. 7). What happens if all of us stack our legs? Jerker is in there! 8). Toilet art :P

Thursday: The rain had stopped, but it was still cloudy and a little chilly. I was excited for this day. For this day I had planned on seeing four bands; Black Stone Cherry, Alter Bridge, Rob Zombie, and Alice Cooper, but in the end I only saw Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper. When it was time to leave for Black Stone Cherry the sky opened up and rain started pouring from out of nowhere. Pouring down hard. So I decided to stay in the camp. I had only heard a couple of songs by them anyway. Then when it was time for Alter Bridge, Toni was basically passed out in the tent, so I decided to let him sleep and skipped Alter Bridge too. Have only heard a couple of songs by them too so it was alright. Then we went to the Rock Stage to watch Rob Zombie. I haven't really heard much by him and I couldn't sing along to any of the songs (except when he played the first verse and chorus of School's Out just cause Alice was gonna play directly after him on the stage opposite), but he was cool and I will definitely check out more of his stuff! Then it was time for Alice Cooper. How I had longed for that moment. Three years since last time. I saw him in 2011 in Stockholm, I missed him in 2012 in Gothenburg, and in 2013 in Östersund, but now it was finally time again! And it was incredible! Not as great as last time, but nothing is as great as first timers. My only complaint is that they had turned up the dist on the guitars so much that I couldn't recognise several of the songs until Alice started singing and I recognised the lyrics :/ Favourites were House of Fire, Hey Stoopid, Feed My Frankenstein, Caffeine, The Ballad of Dwight Fry, School's Out (same as last time with Another Brick in the Wall during the bridge!), and Department of Youth. All in all a great mix of old and new songs, and still a few songs I didn't recognise! I need to listen to his albums a lot more, but 26 albums are a lot to take in! ;) Cooper for president! No one does gigs like he does. Other bands go out on stage do their stuff and get the crowd going. Cooper doesn't interact, he's got his stage persona and it would destory the atmosphere to interact. His gigs are like a mash-up of circus/freak show/old school horror movie and I absolutely love it! School's Out was the last song he sang and for this song Rob Zombie came out on stage and performed with Alice.
 1). Balloon as a table? 2). Rob Zombie on stage 3). Alice Cooper on stage 4). Feed My Frankenstein puppet 5). Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie on stage

Friday: First really hot day. After Cooper's concert I woke up around 4 am from freezing to death under my cover inside the tent. About 8 am I wake up again. This time dying from heat! I remembered to put on my sun lotion with the highest spf available in Sweden (50) and still I had burned face and shoulders by the end of the day :/ Around 11.30 I went with Johanna and William (Toni wasn't up and ready yet) to watch the National Day celebration. June 6th is the Swedish National Day. But it only lasted for 5-10 minutes. Swedes suck at celebrating their National Day. So we grabbed something to eat (pulled pork burger ftw) and watched Kings of the Sun for a while. At 1pm Electric Banana Band came on the Festival Stage and it was awesome! I listened a lot to them when I was little so I recognised most of the songs, although I was 12 the last time I listened to them. Totally worth spending an hour watching them. I love how a (sort of) parody band with a target audience for children can get a whole crowd of tough rockers and metalheads dancing to nonsense songs :D After that we went to buy soft ice and slush ice and then went to watch Rockklassiker All Stars on the smallest stage, but we left after 15 minutes cause the sound from one of the biggest stages (where there was another concert at the same time) completely drowned the sound from the small stage and as we heard nothing we left. Then it was all party party until we left for the stages again to watch W.A.S.P. This was Toni's hallelujah-moment, just like Cooper had been mine. And we can't agree which concert was the better - I think Cooper and he thinks W.A.S.P., but I guess it depends on whose fan you are ;) After W.A.S.P. it was time for Black Sabbath. Neither of us are Sabbath fans, but it's one of those bands one should see before they drop dead so we listened to maybe four or five songs before we left. I don't understand a word Ozzy says. I did discover that I liked Sabbath a lot better live than on CD. They make concept albums and I find that on a CD all their songs are too long and sound too similar that I can't really tell them apart, but during a concert all the songs are mixed up and it worked better imho. After Sabbath we bought T-shirts and stayed up partying until about 2 am when we finally went to bed. This is also the day we found Jerker brutally murdered on the ground. And the day the security guards gave us all a condom each xD
 1). Electric Banana Band on stage! 2). Rockklassiker All Stars on stage 3). Glam rockers walking around like this. Very show-off. 4). W.A.S.P. on stage! 5). Black Sabbath on stage! 6). Toni took the arm of Jerker and put it in his pants it was after this that we got the condoms xD 7). Poor Jerker brutally murdered... :(

Saturday: Woke up around 8 am with the feeling that I was melting, it was so hot inside the tent. After putting on my clothes I crawled out on all fours and the morning air was the best thing in the world. This day we had no concerts until 6 pm when I was going to see Within Temptation. There was a possibility that I was going to drive the next day and so I kept drinking to a minimum and only before the concert itself. It was my third time seeing Within Temptation live (first time on an arena gig, second time on Metaltown) and it was just as awesome as the other times. I really respect Sharon. After about 30 minutes Toni left and I stayed in the scorching heat to watch the rets of the concert. In the beginning most songs were from their new album like Let Us Burn, Paradise, And We Run, Dangerous, and Summertime Sadness, so it wasn't until the classics (Our Solemn Hour, Stand My Ground, What Have You Done) that the concert really got going. Sweden Rock was only the second stop on their promo tour and the album has only been out for a few months, so not everyone knew the songs yet. Since I was alone from the concert with a nice guy I had only known for three days, I decided to skip Billy Idol and went back to the camp with him. There we had some party and Toni decided to skip Arch Enemy. Their concert didn't start until 00.30 am  and we were pretty tired for all of this day. To the point that Toni and I actually went to bed at 11 pm already.
 1). Within Temptation on stage! 2). Toilet art

Sunday: Awoke around 4 am again from freezing to death. Then some sort of alarm sounded at 7 am. After Toni and I had both gotten dressed we started to pack our things. We decided to dump the tent there since the zipper to the door had pretty much stopped working. Even without all the alcohol it still took the four of us (me, Ricky, Madde, Toni) two rounds to bring all our stuff to the car. We got it packed in the trunk Tetris style and then we drove off. Ricky drove for about two hours and then stopped at a gas station where we bought food, drinks and snacks and then we switched. I drove for about an hour and then we stopped at another gas station to fill up the tank and we switched back. I think driving is boring, mind-numbingly boring. After 30 minutes I feel like I have driven halfway across Sweden already. The more I drive the more confident I feel about it, but I still think it's so terribly boring that I can't understand how anyone can enjoy it. I rather sit in the back seat and watch the landscape pass by while dreaming away. I also have a bad case of road rage and I sit swearing under my breath at all those drivers who don't know how to use their blinkers. But today I mostly swore over all those friggin trailers all over the friggin highway. We got home after about 6½ hours and I put dibs on the shower already before we set foot inside the door. First shower since Monday was amazing.
Post-festival selfie

And now, here I am. Sweden Rock is over and I liked it a lot more than Metaltown.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Asian in my iTunes library

Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge fan of Japanese music. 10 years ago (roughly) I was in that period where I listened to everything and mostly to the most well-known bands here in the west, like Gackt, Miyavi, Dir en Grey, X Japan, Moi Dix Mois etc. But I moved on from those. I've taken a big step back from visual-kei since those years. Mostly because I find that a lot of them (and I mean A LOT) sound exactly the same. I discovered Hello! Project through Morning Musume back in 2006 and it's still my most beloved Japanese agency, with the widest spectrum and the most versatility. For the last 3-4 years I've watched in sadness as more and more fans of Hello! Project have left and moved on to AKB48, whose charm I really don't understand. So here I am to give you a list and a small introduction to the Asian groups I have in my iTunes library. Most of them are in some way or another associated with Hello! Project and/or Up-Front Promotion. Beware, this is going to be a long post!

Morning Musume needs no further introduction from me. They are the idol group that started the idol surge in Japan. They were massive in the early 2000s and are now experiencing a new Golden Age with 5 number 1 singles on the Weekly charts in a row. Members change regularly and you never know what to expect from a single. There's their biggest hit ever, Love Machine, the jazz/blues inspired Mr. Moonlight, then there's the multi-genre Souda! We're ALIVE, the cuteness overload of Namida ga Tomaranai Houkago or Go Girl Koi no Victory, flamenco inspired Iroppoi Jirettai, the rocky Kanashimi Twilight, the dubstep inspired Wakuteka Take a Chance, and their latest single which I can't really put my finger on: Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe.

Berryz Koubou started as a children's group back in 2004. Their line-up has only changed somewhat with the graduation of one member since the start. From the early days of Piriri to Yukou! to my favourite Very Beauty, to the weird ones of Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance and Dschinghis Khan, to the cover of Thai hit Cha cha sing, to their more recent Rock Erotic. They have grown up and their music with them. Though, they are no absolute favourite of mine I love to see what their next single is going to be like.

C-ute started the same way as Berryz but in 2006 and their success has been greater. From the cuteness of Meguru Koi no Kisetsu, to the classical Japanese inspired Edo no Temari Uta II, to the rocky Dance de Bakoon!, to the sexy Ai tte Motto Zanshin, they prove that they can do anything awesomely :)

Buono! was one of my favourite H!P groups consisting of one member from C-ute and two from Berryz. Most of their songs have a rock sound and although being pop idols they pull it off amazingly well. And I love their outfits in every single video. There's the 60's inspired Rottara Rottara, the speedy and rocky MY BOY, and Zassou no Uta with is garage sound.

Juice=Juice is the newest group in H!P and they caught my fangirl heart immediately with their very first song Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne, which is incredibly catchy.

S/mileage isn't really a favourite, but I follow them on principle of being H!P. My favourite song by them is Choto Mate Kudasai.

Hello! Project overall has a tendency to mix group members into new (but short-lived) units. Right now I love Dia Lady. Old mix groups include DEF.DIVA, GAM, High-King, MilkyWay, ROMANS, ZYX, Aa!, Athena & Robikerottsu, Guardians 4, Kira Pika, Gomattou, Shugo Chara Egg!, Nochiura Natsumi, and Lilpri. But over the years (H!P has been on since '98) there have been groups and soloists as regular as those above. They have since been disbanded or left the agency. Those are: T&C Bomber, W, Country Musume, Coconuts Musume, Sheki Dol, Tanpopo, Pucchi Moni, Minimoni, Melon Kinenbi, Miyoshi Chinatsu, Nakazawa Yuko, Icecream Musume, Maeda Yuki, Abe Natsumi, Heike Michiyo, Goto Maki, Kusumi Koharu, Mano Erina, Biyuuden, Fujimoto Miki, Iida Kaori, and Matsuura Aya. All of them tend to have their very own style of music. On top of this many past members of Morning Musume tend to release some sort of solo work, but not going full-time into being a solo artist.

TNX is another agency affiliated with Up-Front Promotion and H!P. It's smaller and not exclusive to girls, although they mostly do have girls. There's enka singer Karen, girl groups Canary Club and THE Possible, soloists Ogawa Mana and Tokito Ami, as well as Tsunku.

Up-Front Promotion nowadays host many of the past and graduated members of H!P and groups including past members of H!P, but also their own people. Bitter & Sweet, Hangry & Angry, KAN, LovendoR, Nakajima Takui, Up Up Girls, Dream Morning Musume, Kikkawa Yuu, Kitahara Sayaka, Sharan Q, and Tasaki Asahi.

Then there are those that have left Up-Front behind completely and are no longer affiliated with any part of it anymore. I still keep track of them, because well, I love H!P. For example there's the folk rock group PEACE$TONE, classical Japanese group PRIEST, MoexKon, Kago Ai, Ohtani Masae, Shibata Ayumi, Umeda Erika, and Qian Lin.

Alright, moving away from Up-Front and Hello! Project. (And I've still only scratched the surface of the expanse of it)

My favourite Japanese rockbands are ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, BUMP OF CHICKEN, Ellegarden, L'Arc~en~Ciel, Miyavi, Miz, Tommy heavenly6, Vidoll, Karasu, Golden Bomber, MUCC, Kamiki Aya, Kitade Nana, and Lolita 23q.

ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, BUMP OF CHICKEN, Kamiki Aya, Miz and Tommy heavenly6 play quite ordinary western rock, while Ellegarden goes for the punk sound. BUMP OF CHICKEN tends to have a soft rock sound, and Miz knows English amazingly well for someone Japanese, same goes for Ellegarden. Kamiki Aya and Tommy heavenly6 always fight for the top spot of my favourite rocking girl.

L'arc~en~Ciel, Miyavi, Vidoll, Karasu, Golden Bomber, MUCC, and Lolita 23q are visual-kei (ish, there are so many kei nowadays) bands. Miyavi easily takes the top spot, although he has lost some popularity with me in recent years. I discovered both Golden Bomber and Lolita 23q as recently as last year. And then there's Kitade Nana who I'd say goes towards the visual-kei style, but not really.

My favourite Japanese pop groups outside H!P and Up-Front are J-Min, miwa, Rie fu, Beckii Cruel, Otsuka Ai and Nishino Kana. miwa easily takes the top spot here. I discovered her just after I had left Japan in 2010 and I've loved her guts ever since. She can do no wrong. Otsuka Ai was my first favourite outside Hello! Project and although she has in the last years completely changed genre into something I'm not sure if I like, I'll still always follow her career. J-Min is acoustic and Rie fu is largely English, but otherwise they are quite similar. Beckii Cruel's single last year was an eye-opener for me since I loved it, and Nishino Kana has a quite wide spectrum of good songs. She's slowly starting to take over from Otsuka Ai.

Moving on to Korean groups.

I haven't listened to much Korean music, but the first band I came in contact with was the rock band Cherry Filter, which remains my favourite to this day. Their singer Youjeen has an amazing voice.

I haven't really gotten on the Korean boy band train. But lately I've discovered two Korean boy bands that I sort of like. They are CNBLUE and FTISLAND. CNBLUE is mostly pop, sometimes leaning towards rock, while FTISLAND is mostly rock, sometimes leaning towards pop.

Then there's the completely new girl group of SPICA. I came across them by chance and listened to their single You Don't Love Me, which is 50's or 60's inspired and completely awesome.

Then ofc, you can't mention Korean without Girls' Generation. The first song I heard by them was Gee, and then Oh!. Both of them remain my favourites to this day, but I still follow their releases.

And that's it. I have been trying to find groups from China and Taiwan and other places of Asia too, but good pop rock seems hard to come by outside Japan and Korea. Seems like it's mostly r'n'b out there. I do have one Chinese song that's not affiliated with H!P and that's by Wilbur Phan: