The Glory of Old Films

 

Hello readers!

Some of you were no doubt around in the time when black-and-white films were the only kind available (i.e. ones in colour didn’t yet exist).

We’re now living in the age of special effects; films mostly being completely constructed ET_Moon.jpgout of computer-generated images. Most modern films are fantastic. Films like E.T. (released in 1982; not that modern, but I use ‘modern’ to describe films made in the computer age) could not have been created without a few special effects done on computer; the bicycle scene is what comes to mind when I think of this film.

Other films like Star Wars, Harry Potter and – much more recently – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are all crazily imaginative films. They are all full of the most amazing mythical beasts, space ships (in Star Wars‘ case) and magical happenings, mostly thanks to special effects edited into the shots. So how were black-and-white films so creative and captivating without all of that?thumbnail_20160811_181131

The Dance Routines (and perfect dance partners)

Think Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: their dance routines were legendary and brought even the dullest ballroom to life with their jazzy tap steps. Their outfits also helped with the ‘no colour’ effect, though. Fred always wore a black suit with white trimmings to reflect the light and Ginger’s dresses often contained a dark colour and a lighter one rather than one solid colour, just like in the drawing I did of them opposite.

The Musical Numbers

Singin’ In The Rain is another great example, although I must admit that the only part of the film I’ve watched is the short scene when Gene Kelly is dancing (and singing) in a downpour, using his umbrella as a prop rather than as a shelter. There never will be another musical number in film that measures up with it, I’m untitledsure.

The Humour

I’ve been meaning to watch Roman Holiday for ages, and only watched it recently. It’s a black-and-white film, but as with Fred and Ginger films, it’s full of life and humour. Watching Hepburn’s character jump excitedly onto a Vespa and running amuck through the streets of Rome (knocking over a view street vendors in the process) was one of the film’s best bits. The film is living proof that Rome – not Paris –  is the most romantic city in the world.   Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn on the film’s  iconic Vespa motorcycle, drawn by me. ⇓thumbnail_20160817_183752

 

Old films are usually brimming with witty lines; A Hard Day’s Night (1964) certainly is. Most of the film was apparently unscripted, meaning that The Beatles used their quick wit to come up with jokes and comebacks on the spot.

Fun Fact: The opening scene (when the song starts to play) showing The Beatles being chased by dozens of screaming fans wbdbf9cdc09ec879f119dd489f68592fe.jpgas completely unscripted.

 

 

 

The Film Plot

Sometimes films can be stereotypical. It’s the kind of films with original plots full of sudden changes and a turn of events that really captivate you. A case in point would be 4abb781b3764ca0e0e79ab2c49f498a1.jpgRolf Gruber from The Sound of Music: he appears at first as a charming Austrian fellow whom Liesl Van Trapp is in love with, but later reveals himself as a Nazi and betrays the Van Trapp family – ‘nough said.

 

There are far too many glorious films to write about, so I’ll stop here.

 

Until next time, then.

Meg 

 

 

 

 

 

‘*’* Happy New Year *’*’

To all my dear readers,

I can’t tell you how happy and grateful I am that you’ve carried on reading my blog ever since I started it up in the first week of February this year. Thank you so much!

Since I am not very good at writing lengthy end-of-year posts, I’d just like to finish by wishing you all a wonderfully happy new year. So here it is:

*Cue the fireworks*

>>>>>  HAPPY  NEW  YEAR! <<<<<

I’ll be writing again soon .

Meg  🙂

Why I love the ukulele

Hello readers!

My first ever post on this blog was a basic guide to playing the ukulele, and it has just occurred to me that I haven’t written anything related to it since then. If you’d missed 2016-02-20 14.02.16.pngthat post, you can find it here.

Back to today’s topic, then.

The ukulele is not commonly found today, or at least you don’t really hear of it that much. Those of you who know me know for a fact that I love the ukulele, either because you know me very well or because you’ve seen me carrying it around at school. If it is the latter, I promise you that I do not take it with me wherever I go (school’s just a fun place to jam with it during breaks), and if it is the former, I thank you from now for putting up with another ukulele-related discussion 🙂

I’ve decided to jot down a few reasons as to why I love the ukulele so much. Here they are:

1) It’s portable

Not just that, but it’s small enough and light enough to carry around. As much as I love my guitar, it isn’t always the easiest instrument to walk about with.

2) The sound is bright

They say that you can never play anything too sad on a ukulele, and that’s possibly true.

3) Everyone around the 40s, 50s and 60s played it

Or at least, it was very popular in those decades. Elvis Presley (in Blue Hawaii), George Formby (the ‘grandfather of the ukulele’), Marilyn Monroe, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Paul McCartney … there were so many celebrities who played ukulele.

 

gallery-hawaiian-shirts-e-003 Elvis in Blue Hawaii

4) It’s versatile

You can play all sorts of songs on a ukulele. Iconic guitar riffs such as those from songs like Come Together, Smoke on Water, Something, Here Comes the Sun and Back in Black all sound especially good on one. The intro of Romeo and Juliet is another fun tune to play – Mark Knopfler should have had a go at ukulele.

5) The blues are fantastic on ukulele

I wish I could say that I knew how to play them, but I do happen to know someone who can, and wonderfully so too (especially since he’s never picked up a ukulele in his life before – I guess it’s because he knows the blues on guitar like the back of his hand. If he’s reading this right now, he’s probably laughing 😉 ).

6) Ukuleles are just pleasing to the eye

I think I began to want one after seeing a cover of The Moon Song on YouTube (I had put a link to it in my first ukulele post). When I finally went to buy one I absolutely fell for a mahogany soprano-sized one; I even put my initial at the bottom of its neck.

7) It’s the kind of instrument you’d take on picnics or to the beach

The beach is slightly stereotypical, perhaps, but I think that a ukulele is the perfect accompaniment to a campfire (as in when you’re playing it by the campfire, not actually adding it to the campfire!).

I had seen a video of Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) playing a tiny ukulele by the campfire in the film Journey 2 The Mysterious Island. Look it up; I promise you it will put a smile on your face.

So what do you think of the ukulele? You might think it to be a wonderful little thing; I sure do. If you’d like to add anything to this list, just leave a comment below.

Meg  🙂

))) Vinyl Records (((

Hello everyone!

You may have noticed that I’ve changed my blog name from “The Little Green Journal” to “Meg’s Musings“. Please note that my domain name / URL will remain as it was originally, so all you have to do is search for “The Little Green Journal” as usual.

Now back to today’s topic: vinyl records.

This will be the first article I’m writing for the “Old but Gold” section on my blog.

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 Vinyl Record (n.) : an analogue sound storage medium in the form of a flat polyvinyl chloride disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove.

That’s the technical definition of ‘vinyl record’. Although they were used merely as storage devices (just as USB drives and SD cards are used today) till around the late ’80s, vinyl records are making a huge comeback and it’s no surprise why.

Until a couple of years ago, the joy of leafing through dozens upon dozens of record sleeves in a tiny record shop in search of the latest album was long forgotten, and in the case of the post-’80s generations (including my own), it was something completely alien. In fact, it was regarded as an odd kind of gimmick, because all we had to do in order to hear the most recent song was do a quick search on the Web, and imagesif we wanted to buy it, we’d just have to head onto an online music store for an instant download. We’d look upon our parents’ (and grandparents’) record collection as something utterly archaic. If we were asked if we knew how many grooves were inscribed in a record, we’d reply with either “it depends on the album” or “I don’t know; a hundred?”, and look surprised when we were told that there was always just one single groove inside the record, unless you counted the B side, which would mean you have another groove there.djrooms_audrey-hepburn-200x200

Times have changed, however, and it is now the record-user generation looking down at us (or up at us, in the case where we’re much taller than they are 🙂 ) when we eagerly search the Web in the hope of finding a vinyl record shop close by. We are now heading out to scavenge record shops for second-hand records and reprints of old albums (others are enjoying the feel of purchasing new albums – as in those of singers nowadays – recorded on vinyl, but I’m sticking with the oldies). Now, when our parents and grandparents are nostalgically going through their record collections, we burst into the room with a broad smile, record player in hand.

So why did vinyl records come back into fashion? Honestly, I think it’s a question one can easily answer. The real question is “how are they coming back?”. Well, for starters, old bands are reforming and other 20th century musicians (Paul McCartney andtumblr_mxq4q13wpp1r9v931o1_500 Jimmy Page, for example) are still performing and recording.

Besides having all the glorious things an old record player had, record players you buy today can be compatible with Bluetooth and others are in the form of brief cases, making them portable.

So I think I’ll just stop here and put on a record to listen to.

 

 

Bonus: Here is a type of record player we will definitely never find for sale (although it would be really cool to own one):

 

Hope you enjoyed that little blast from the past!

Meg

 

 

The New Beatles Film Is A True Gem

Finally – the perfect excuse for me to write a whole post about my forever favorite band.

Eight Days a Week, the new film celebrating The Beatles and how they came to be, premiered worldwide yesterday evening and it was fantastic!

Seeing the live broadcast from Leicester Square, London was a wonderful experience; especially when none other than Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr arrived on the blue carpet.

To celebrate Ron Howard’s new film, I’ve gathered a few moments from the film and put them into words.

*Cue the fan girl screams*

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  1. In their early years as a band, The Beatles played under many different names and had a completely different look.IMG_4579.JPG

 

That all changed when Brian Epstein stepped in and changed their look from leather jackets and jeans to suits and ‘mop tops’.

 

 

2. The Fab Four’s humour shines through for a lot of the film.

IMG_4578.JPGTheir quick, cheeky comebacks never fail to get a laugh. At one point in the film each one of them introduces himself and states what instrument he plays. George says that he plays solo guitar, and John follows by saying that he plays ‘better guitar’.

 

3. Beatlemania was a seriously crazy time.
We all knew that already, but in the film we actually get glimpses of young girls screamingimg_4581 their heads off, crying violently and some actually fainting and being carried away by policemen. The screams got worse each time one of the Beatles tossed his head and sent his hair swaying to the beat of a song.
3. All that head tossing and shimmying had a purpose.
Although Paul and John mainly hopped up
and down to keep the beat of the music, it also served as an indicator to Ringo who, like the other three band members, couldn’t hear a thing and so needed to know when to come in with his drum solo.img_4582
4. The Beatles couldn’t keep up with the screams of their fans.
Live concerts were a tough time for the four, especially when they performed at Shea Stadium in New York City in 1965, where a total of more than 56,000 Beatle fans screamed all through the show.
Shea Stadium

 

5. John remarked that The Beatles were becoming ‘more popular than Jesus’…

…which led to Beatle hate spreading like a wildfire through America -both metaphorically and literally- as radio stations actually asked people to ferry their Beatles records and merchandise to a dumping site where they would be set alight. It was pure madness. img_4589

 

6. The first ever non-segregated concert was one of The Beatles’ concerts on their 1964 American tour.

Upon hearing that their concert was to have the audience separated by race, the four refused to perform until they were assured that the audience would be mixed. Paul called the idea of segregation “stupid” and Ringo said that they played for all people, not for a specific race. It was a pure triumph for civil rights.

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Proof that civil rights were lacking in the U.S. in the ’60s

 

 

 

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A piece from a newspaper from the ’60s

 

 

 

 

In fact, Dr. Kitty Oliver is interviewed in the film and she recalls her experience of being surrounded by white people for the first time in her life in America (it was, of course, at a Beatles concert). She says that she was afraid to even knock elbows with someone, as she had no idea how they would have reacted. It was a really moving experience for her.

IMG_4587.JPG7. John was the first to consider stopping going on tours.

In the film he says that when he sang Help! he truly meant it. The Beatles began to realise that with all of the fans being beaten by police as they ran on stage and all of the casualties during their concerts, it was beginning to look like a “freak show”. The fans’ hysteria was so bad that the band had to be driven away from a concert in a truck used to transport meat as it was solid and had no windows on its sides which could be smashed by the mobs.

8. In 1969, The Beatles held an impromptu concert on the rooftop of the Apple Corps headquarters.IMG_4580.JPG

One of their most memorable performances and -though unknown to anyone at the time- their last one as a group. People in the streets below stopped to listen to the band for a full 42-minute set, before the police asked the latter to lower the volume.

 

9. There is more footage after the film’s credit roll.

IMG_4586.JPGA full half-hour (the entire set) of remastered footage from The Beatles’ concert at Shea Stadium in 1965, to be exact. At one point when Paul starts to sing I’m Down, John suddenly stops playing his guitar and goes off into a crazy performance, reacting to the fans’ hysteria. He plays the harmonium with his elbow, and this causes George to go into a mad laughing fit, losing the ability to continue playing as well. Needless to say, the audience (both the one present at the stadium and the one at the cinema watching the film)  loved every minute of it.

10. People who watched the film might have spotted their younger onscreen selves freaking out as the Beatles made an appearance.

It’s a funny thought, but could very well be a fact.

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And now, 56 years after they first formed, The Beatles are still considered to be one of the greatest bands of all time…

…so much so that when Paul or Ringo are spotted in the street, all is forgotten and the hysteria returns.

 

 


 

Let me know what you thought of Eight Days a Week (if you’ve seen it yet) and which is your favorite Beatle song in the comment section below!

 

The Little Green Journal

Play around with Photography

Whether you use a mobile phone, DSLR or a digital camera; fun, creative photographs are not difficult to snap at all. I’ve gathered a few ideas and tricks I discovered from around the web and other fellow photography lovers.

  • Experiment with effects

An obvious one, but all the same a great one. My favorite effect has to be the pop art setting on my digital camera. It enhances the colour whilst still giving you a sharp photo.

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  •             .   Don’t always centre your subject in your frame

Sometimes a photo is more interesting if the subject is shifted slightly towards the side.

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Use the macro or super macro setting when shooting something small

Make sure to get as close as you possibly can to the subject so as to focus the lens properly. 2016-09-04 17.25.32

. Keep away from cliché photographs

These are the subjects everyone photographs at the exact same angle and distance. Try to be original. Take a sunflower, for instance: instead of snapping a shot of the whole flower, focus on its centre. 2016-09-04 17.26.05.png

 

. Take advantage of lighting

Turn of your auto flash setting when outside in daylight. If your camera has sunset or night time settings, try them out. These help to brighten the colours in your photo.

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. Keep an eye out for tiny, hidden details

An intricate design engraved on a door or perhaps a delicate spider web caressing a few drops of dew in the early morning – these are the sort of things you should look out for. 2016-09-04 17.24.50.png

. Take several shots of the same thing

Snap lots now, delete later.

 

If you are looking for similar photographs to the ones in this post for your own publications, you may wish to browse through this catalogue:

https://www.shutterstock.com/g/Amy+Cora+Megan

 

The Little Green Journal

(Photographs in this post are all my own)

Travel Tips: Prague

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Ahoj! (Czech for ‘hello’)

It’s not nicknamed “the golden city” for nothing – Prague is a real life fairy tale with all of its beautiful Baroque buildings, breath-taking views, fabulous bridges and of course, its castle. I fell in love with this city just after one day of being in it, and I am sure many of you would too.

Here is a definite list of must see places and things to do in Prague, the heart of Europe:

  1. Go to Old Town
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View from the top of Old Town Hall Tower

Stroll through the charming narrow streets brimming with small shops, museums, coffee shops and the sort. The square is the main attraction here, and don’t miss out on what it has to offer:

 

-Take a lift up Old Town Hall Tower

-Watch the hourly mechanical puppet show inside the astronomical clock located on the outside of Old Town Hall Tower

-Admire the church of Our Lady before Tyn

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Church of Our Lady before Tyn

– Visit the art gallery.

2.     Visit John Lennon Wall

2016-07-25 10.37.48.pngThat’s right, Beatles’ fans; a wall covered in fantastic graffiti of Beatles song lyrics and many messages of peace is located right in the heart of Europe. The Knights of Malta own this wall and have painted over it several times, but have now given up and left it to be decorated by new artists each day. There’s even John  Lennon Pub just down the road from there.

3. Walk across Charles Bridge

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Charles Bridge as seen from a boat on the Vltava river

It’s the oldest bridge in Prague, and in my opinion the prettiest. Thirty Baroque statues of religious figures were placed along either side of the bridge, but many of the original ones have since been placed in the Lapidarium and have been replaced by replicas. Charles Bridge is pedestrian-only which gives you the best opportunity to take in the views, browse through the street vendors’ stands and enjoy the street performers’ music.

Top Tip: Look out for the small statue of a golden sleeping priest. Legend has it that if you touch the small metal cross resting on the bridge in front of it your wish will be granted.

 

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‘The Bridge Band’ performing on Charles Bridge

4. Take a river boat tour on the Vltava

You’ll get to see Charles Bridge from a different angle and will be able to go through one of its sixteen arches. Look out for the castle on top of the hill and keep an eye out for Franz Kafka Museum close to the river bank.

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A river boat next to a vegetation-covered wall

 

 

 

 

5. Take a tram up to Prague Castle

Have a look at the royal gardens before entering the castle. You are able to buy tickets to see specific areas within the castle since it is so big, but I highly recommend visiting the glorious gothic-style St. Vitus Cathedral; its 2016-07-25 10.37.06.pngstained glass windows are a must-see. Golden Lane is a quaint medieval street which can also be found within the castle.

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Left: Stained glass inside the cathedral. Right: The cathedral.

 

6. Visit the Jewish Quarter

In the 13th century, Jewish people were ordered to vacate their homes and settle in one area. This area is today known as the Jewish Quarter or Josefov, and still houses the various artefacts which the Nazis transported from other occupied countries to form part of a “museum of an extinct race”, as Hitler called it. All of the six synagogues (except the Old-New synagogue) and the remaining monuments form the Jewish Museum in Prague, which is open to tourists.

 

Miscellaneous Notes:

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